Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hong Kong Lessons After Two Weeks

My fascination for Hong Kong is not a secret to people who have known me considerably. I am a frequent visitor of Hong Kong but I had the opportunity to spend more than half a year in what the world now knows as one of the Special Administrative Regions of China, the other being Macau.

At that time, I would discover many things, peculiar to but at the same time close to home. Hong Kong, after all, is just too close to the Philippines, it is practically like going to Quiapo from my place in Makati. (I have already taken into account the traffic factor, LOL.) The following is part of my egroup post. I thought about posting it, thinking that it would be interesting for me to see how Hong Kong is in my eyes, more than 3 years and many life-changing events after.

Impressions are always subject to change, this much I can say.

I love Hong Kong, still.

February 13, 2007 (Tuesday)

Today marks the second week of my stay in Hong Kong. I reali
se that I
still need a lot of catching up to do. So far, these are the things
I've learned:

1. If I want my US dollars changed, I should go to Mon
g kok. In Shatin, money changers are more uptight, probably because they don't get to see a lot of tourists. I was refused by two money changers in Shatin because of a red stain at the edge of my USD100 bill. How crappy was that? Mong kok money changers (and probably those in the Hong Kong island as well) must have mastered telling the fakes apart. It is best if the shop could give you a rec
eipt, too.

2. Hong Kong residents in establishments do not exactly like people who loiter. A nurse in the operating room went out of her way to accompany me to the
theatre this morning. ("They might send you out if they see you here
walking alone," she said. Oh, thoughtfulness.)

3. In the train, I can tell if one is from Hong Kong or from the mainland by both their luggages and the clothes they wear.

4. Don't take major offense if the locals come off as hostile, or speak to you in a hostile manner. I am guessing it's the communication barrier that's behind it.

5. I can actually stretch HKD100 for a week.

6. But a pack of smokes is definitely costly at HKD28. That's more than PHP150.00. And no, there's no such thing as buying by the stick here, as it appears to be a practice endemic only in the Philippines.

7. The most enduring form of personal identification here is the Hong Kong ID Card. It supercedes even the birth certifi
cate and the driver's license.

8. Hong Kong residents put premium on customer service. If they do have to turn down a client, they do so in a manner that won't get you too mad (just a little, hahaha.) And they do offer solutions, more often than not.

9. But, then again, they are not as perfect. They can be l
aw-breakers too. They throw litter in cigarette trays which should only be a receptacle for cigarette butts. Some eat in subways, as I've already witnessed. And some would make a mad dash in the streets even if the pedestrian sign has yet to turn green, making sure though that there are absolutely no vehicles in the street. In Manila, however, it's an
entirely different story, and it's worse.

10. Hong Kong residents in general are just like any oth
er Asians who are suckers for telenovelas. Of course, I am not surprised.

11. Transportation by train is undeniably efficient. The bus system is quite fine but I've already seen traffic congestions in the Northern Kowloon area.

12. Hong Kong has so many faces. And I have yet to scratch the surface
of the general personality of the people here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Will Never Fall In Manila (A Walk In The Memorial Park)

Wow, two weeks into 2011 and already it seems to me that half of the year has gone by. There are so many mind-blowing events and issues of late that keep me physically and mentally occupied. What a way to anticipate the Year of the Metal Rabbit.

Last weekend, though, I found the time to walk around the memorial park where Je, my grandparents, and a very good friend were buried.It was a relaxing walk, much like a stroll in the park. I saw a number of families having picnic by the grave of their loved ones. I thought it sweet for families to bond this way. It is a far better alternative than going to the stuffy shopping malls or overcrowded amusement centers.

I do my own bonding as well, and this I try to do on a regular basis. Why I do so, there is no earth-shaking answer. It is just my quest for calm and communion ... and I think, I have a feeling, that I may not be able to do these visits to the graves on a regular basis in the near future anymore ....

You see, just when everyone here in the city is beginning to think that Manila will never get to experience below 22 degrees centigrade temperature, the weather has become gray and a bit cold in the past few weeks. It is a pleasant surprise. It is still not as cold as the Manila of my childhood, when we would bundle ourselves with jackets and vests during the cold months of December and January. Presently, I still do not feel the need to wear warm clothing.

So I walked, the wind gently hitting my face as I looked around. I took photos of trees that have shed their crown as if they know what autumn means. Autumn, for the information of my readers who have never set foot on Philippine soil, does not happen here.

Nor does snowfall. Too bad, for I have never seen snow. Someone once told me that watching a calm snowfall is akin to gazing at nature's poetry. This photo can probably deceive, though. It is as if Manila is entering into winter, and all that lacks is snow. Of course, it is an illusion.

My own snowfall is somewhere else. I am still seeking it. Maybe it won't take long til I find it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Je

Je Bautista: Jan 1, 1966-April 4, 2009

You would have been 45.

Someone saw you in his dreams recently. It was a very vivid dream, he said.

That particular friend and I were talking to a priest, asking how you are. you were said to have spoken directly to him, my friend. Something to this effect.

Don't worry about me. I am happy where I am now.

Then a vision of Heaven.

When I heard this story, I was filled with every emotion imaginable: longing, sorrow, elation ... joy.

But it is ok. I do not mind my human sorrow, for it hardly compares to the gift of eternal joy.

Happy Birthday, Je.
Do not worry much about me. I can take care of myself in this world.

L'amour est L'eternel. Take care forever.

HAPPY NEW 2011: Resolutions, Looking Back, Looking Forward

My current pet: Pegasus

What better way to revive this sleeping blog than to make my first ever post here for 2011. :)

This is the start of a new decade, and hopefully a start of a fresh chapter in life. The past few years are some of the most trying, most life-changing, most enlightening, most joyful and sorrowful in my entire existence.

Experiences have both been hard and enriching, gut-wrenching and awe-inspiring. My life may not probably be the best, nor the worst, but definitely far from being ordinary, much to my chagrin. (I always find myself wanting to be more, uhm, "regular" ... but "dull" is not a main ingredient in my life, it seems.)

The Things That I Have Added To My Realizations List In The Past Few Years:

1. It will never be easy to cut oneself from someone or something that made you a better person, even though that person or thing has long gone away. As such, the term "moving on" does not apply.

2. Despite having adequately prepared, no one is completely ready for anything, whether that be love, marriage, or death.

3. Kindness comes when you least expect it. (I keep on forgetting this.)

4. Time will always be the best healer. (Also often-forgotten, it is not a new lesson.)

5. Time will come when unloading is inevitable.

I have made a vow this year. This decade will be mine. I wish everyone a Blessed 2011.