Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Welcome to Manila

I just had one of my worst weekends. Thanks to the typhoon named Falcon, what I thought would be a free weekend, when I can go home to Batangas and to take some time off from studying, turned into a really really bad (if not stressful) introduction to Manila lifestyle.

Everyone blamed the reconstruction of Dapitan Street (the street inferio-parallel to Espana Boulevard) for the immense flooding in the side streets of Dapitan, including Asturias, Concepcion, and our own little street, Rosarito Street. What the constructors did was to raise Dapitan but left the smaller streets behind. If you can imagine what I’m trying to say, you can also probably imagine that little concrete slides were formed in every junction of a side street and the main street Dapitan. I’m sharing this quite extensive information so you’d understand the gravity of the flood I experienced for 3 days and 4 nights.

The first night of flood was actually quite fun. I enjoyed watching people wade through the murky and bacteria-filled water from my bedroom window while the rain poured for the rest of the night. But the fondness for this rain didn’t last very long because when I woke up the next day, ta-daaah!

My first thoughts were water and breakfast. We were low on water supply, but thank God I was able to go to the supermarket earlier that week to buy food. Well, not really the kind of food that you’re supposed to have when there’s a flood outside your house. I had oatmeal, green peas and instant coffee (huge sigh of relief right there!) that were supposed to sustain me for the rest of the weekend. It was also a good thing my sister know this carinderia near our place that delivers food (yes, even during floods) with no extra charge! 50 pesos spicy pork adobo never tasted that good. If it weren’t for these things, I probably would have cried all weekend wishing I did not have to go through this hassle.

So in case you plan on living anywhere near Dapitan Street or somewhere in Sampaloc, Manila, maybe you’d like to take into consideration certain points.

Side-street-main-street height ratio
I should have insisted on living in the main streets like Dapitan, Lacson or Espana where the streets are higher and are less likely to get flooded. I can’t say the same for P. Noval; last time I heard, this street was just as bad as ours. But yeah, the wider the streets, probably the better. And looking back, I’d say the same for Katipunan. I’m happy I lived on Katipunan Avenue per se and not in one of those smaller streets that got flooded during the typhoon 2 years ago.

Food and water supply
It’s really true when they said drinkable water should always be available. Always always have tons of distilled water at home. You never when you’ll need it. Tap water just wouldn’t do, especially during this flood season.

The walls of your building
This didn’t make sense to me before, but when I saw brown flood water coming from I don’t know where, I had to do some environmental observation to see what might have caused this. No dripping from the ceiling. Windows were closed. But when I touched the walls, basaaa! The water from the flood was seeping into my walls! It’s crazy I know! But it’s really wet and the water was still coming in! I’m still not sure how the water from the flood three floors below can seep into my wall and my wall only.

This wasn’t how I imagined my life would be like when school started. I didn’t imagine myself wiping my own floor just to prevent the flood water from reaching my shoes. I didn’t think the flood would be so bad that I seriously can’t leave the house. It’s hard, really really hard. Katipunan would be a great luxury compared to Dapitan. But I don’t know, I’m getting tired of complaining.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Thing or Two About Making Friends

It’s been two weeks since classes started and I still feel like a stranger in my own school. Does this sound too emo? As much as I want to stop talking about it, it’s really just becoming too hard for me to reach out to people I’ll be with for the next four years of my life. I guess everyone else who’s not from this school is having a rather difficult time to make friends whom you can eat lunch with or hang out with after class. I mean, I just want to have new friends. When did it ever become so hard to make friends with strangers now? I’m not sure if it’s the school’s culture or the students themselves or if it’s me that making life harder than before. Or probably, there’s really no time given for us to actually mingle with other people. And this is my cue to say that I absolutely miss college and the forced interaction with blockmates or orgmates through group dynamics. In med school, the only things we can call group dynamics (or time to relax and small talk) would include passing papers or handouts, 10-minute bathroom breaks and the waiting before the morning or afternoon class starts. I just really hope that it’ll get better as the days pass, because I would really love to interact with new friends and not talk about school with them.

Speaking of friends, one of my dearest friends is leaving for the States tonight. I would consider myself as someone who’s used to friends coming and going. High school and college have taught me to master this trend of friends flying in and out of my life. But this one, I realize, seems to hurt a little more than the others. And I’m not saying this because I know this special person could be reading this by now. Heehee. You see, I tend to take things in very slowly, the in-denial type. When something big happens, it takes a while before it registers into my head, but when it does, BA-BAAAM! Patay kang bata ka.

It was after-high-school-during-college phase that I really got close to her. UP Diliman being 10-15 minutes away from Ateneo made it easier for us to meet up for dinner or after-dinner coffee. It was also during this time that I’ve found my own foodtrip buddy. Our palates would take us everywhere, from Maginhawa to Katipunan and to those restaurants that foodie blogs would usually rave about. It was also during this time of my college life that I’ve found my "sensei" – the expert on perfect spots, taboo FAQs, and specific positions. I believe that every girl has to have someone whom she can ask about things that, you know, people aren’t very comfortable to talk about and I feel lucky that I’ve found someone who fits that job fairly well. She was also one of the few people who had to endure my rants and raves about all the relationships I’ve had during college. They weren’t many, but good Lord, were they dramatic and childish. She has this kind of wisdom that doesn’t rub in all the crazy mistakes I have done in my life, the one who laughs a lot at your crazy stories but you know means well when she does. And again, every girl has to have that kind of friend. And when you finally found that kind of friend like I did, keep her. Hold on to her, because believe me, she’s not really replaceable.

So thank you for everything that we have shared together and for the things that we will share in the future. I’ll miss you, but I’ll always be waiting for your return.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Baler, Aurora with Trail Adventours

Last weekend, my friends and I went on an adventure to Baler, Aurora with Trail Adventours.

I know what you’re thinking (and I probably would have thought the same too), why the heck am I going out of town on a med school weekend? Well you see, our official classes only started this week so there was pretty much nothing to study for during the first weekend. And I thought of this trip as the real official hurrah before med school, and what a hurrah it was.

Let me just clarify myself that when I said we went on an adventure, I can really call it a legit adventure. Imagine the three of us riding a van with 10 complete strangers for 8 hours, up and down mountains, across cities/provinces/regions. We hadn’t thought of how perilous this may have sounded had our own parents known about it. But, what the heck, we were young and thirsty for some adventure. (Hello to our NFFs!)

 The view from our room in Aliya Surf Resort 

 A handful of surf shops and surfers' lodges by the beach

 I love thiiis! I love those coconut trees!

Aside from risking ourselves on that awful drive from Manila to Aurora, it was pretty challenging for me considering this trip was not your usual college outing that included booze and beach lounging the whole time. We actually went surfing. Don’t’ get me wrong, I’m not scared of water at all, it’s just the idea of having to try a sport that made me feel anxious. Just so you know, I was never the sporty girl. I like my place by the shore, just lying around and getting a tan while my friends try skimboarding or whatever’s there to play with. You could only imagine how scared I was that I might hurt myself from surfing. Thank you to the surf instructor from Aliya Surf Resort for being so maalaga and for being so patient with all my girly screams when I fall down.

Photo taken by Lorenz Zapanta

But what do you know, surfing felt so different. It was challenging yes, but at the same time, it felt exhilarating…fun…extraordinary… I can’t say it right, but it was really like an out of body experience! Well, it didn’t feel like that the first 5 times I tried standing on the board, but when I was able to actually stand and move with the water for a while, it felt so good! Like you’re really one with the sea or with nature or with the entire Pacific Ocean! Hay, it’s not the easiest thing to put words into unless you’ve tried it yourself. But let me tell you this, it’s really okay to fall and feel stupid during the first few tries, because this will all be worth it when you find yourself traveling with your board from like 20 meters away from the shore then back. Aaaah! I really want to go back to Baler and surf some more. In my dreams, I will surf.

Thanks to Trail Adventours, surfing was not the only that I discovered in Baler. I was commenting to one of my friends how it was really smart of Trail Adventours to also include a tour of the city into their package. It would have felt kulang if it were just the beaches and the surf lessons. On Sunday morning before the drive back to Manila, we went around Baler and nearby municipalities like Maria, Aurora. I especially liked the visit to one of the biggest Balete trees in Asia that’s found in Maria, Aurora. The height and the view was just amazing, but it felt even better when we went INSIDE the tree! Yes, inside the Balete tree! I felt like Totoro when I went inside the tree and saw all those roots/branches with the ray of sun coming in from the top. The inside felt colder than the rest of the place, like the tree was really alive. Hay, nature really amuses us in ways unimaginable.

 Inside Quezon Museum

 The famous church from the Siege of Baler (both in history and in the movie)

 Trekking in Ermita Hill to get to the Ermita Cross

 View from Ermita Hill, you can see the whole Sabang Beach of Baler 

 The Balete Tree!

 Going inside

Those I believe are tree trunks?

Before the tour ended, we had lunch at one of the baby falls in Baler. I forgot the name, but a lot of people really go here with their baon to have lunch and swim by the river. Sarap! Grilled liempo and fish lunch by the river was one of the most delicious meals I’ve had this year. After a full meal, we took a dip in the super cold river with waterfalls. The water felt so clean and fresh that we didn’t have to take a bath when we got back at our beach resort before packing up. Nature, nature, nature, I love you!

It’s really true when my physiology professor from college said that your 20’s will be your strongest and probably most alive years. It’s really during this time that we all thirst for some adrenaline rush and some thrills and spikes in our young lives. So, thank you Trail Adventours for making me feel so alive and young!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Positive Things

There are so many things that I can complain about medical school, but my biochemistry professor this morning shared something to us that sort of changed my mind on how I see things here in Dapitan. He said, positive things make things possible. I know, these are things we usually read from shops like Papemelroti or from Hallmark cards. I just felt that it’s probably time for me stop talking about how much I hate the crazy mob during lunch time, or the nighttime heat, or the unfriendly university personnel. It’s time to see things from a more positive perspective. I feel like I’m lying to myself, but this is real, seriously.

So far, med school has been good to me. This is me speaking after one full day of sitting down on two 4-hour classes. I’m not so sure if I should treat this as a good thing. But I’d love to say that today felt like a really good day of learning. I just missed this kind of day when you’re really eager to learn and to listen to your professor because you know you’re getting almost every slide that she shows you. You know that feeling, like you’re really hungry for knowledge. Haha. That’s too much, I guess. But seriously, I feel like I haven’t been this excited to use my highlighter for the sole purpose of wanting to learn the next chapter and not because I just wanted to try out my newly bought highlighter. That’s how it usually was during college. So, let me remember this day as the day when I have rediscovered my childhood thirst and yearning for knowledge and for information. And here’s to hoping that these days will last forever.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pilot Post

My dad once told me how I seem like the type who likes to keep on moving from one place to another. He was referring to the schools I’ve attended. Every time I graduate, I’ve always been transferring from one school to the next. And medical school was no different.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the schools where I’ve spent at least two or four years of my life in. I think it’s just that I have always been the kind of person who gets bored with things. Not the short-time bored of this show I’ll go to the next channel kind of bored, but the big-time kind of bored. Wait, let me rephrase myself. I don’t want to keep on using the word bored. I would probably think of myself as someone who likes to wander, to go around places, and to see new and different places rather than to savor the view on a single destination.

Sometimes I think it’s bad that I like to keep moving since it’s not only my schools that get affected; sometimes, even the relationships I’ve had with other people I’ve met along the way can follow this little routine. I’m lucky I found really good friends that stuck together during high school and college and even afterwards. But from grade school, I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure about med school either, but I hope I can prove myself wrong. And what scares the shiz out of me is getting disconnected and eventually awkward with the people that have grown on me. I used to whine about this fear to a friend, and my friend shunned me off saying that’s not supposed to happen. After a few months, the same college friend makes me feel like I’m just an awkward acquaintance. True story.

You see, things do change and people do like to keep on rushing to places. But I don’t know, sometimes I just want things to keep still, so I can just breathe in that moment and stay there. I’m not trying to sound abstract (though I feel like I am) moreso poetic (because God knows I'm not made to be one). I guess this is what usually happens on a pilot post when you’re still trying to figure out how this little blog will turn out.

Also, I’m not sure how this is any different from my old blog, sans the ancient high school drama posts, but probably, as I carry on writing and posting my periodic whereabouts, I’ll get somewhere. For now, this will have to do it.

So, welcome friends to my new (and hopefully more mature) blog! Cheers!