Thursday, March 31, 2011

Travelogue: Amazing Jordan

It was November of the year 2000 when my sister and I went to Jordan. She had to attend a conference there for a few days so I thought I might as well tag along for the trip. We boarded a 2 1/2 hour Emirates flight from Dubai to Amman.

Formerly known as Rabbath Ammon in biblical times and as Philadelphia during the Roman Empire era, it is the modern capital of Jordan. Amman was originally spread over seven hills. We visited the 6,000 seater Roman amphitheater in the heart of the city. We made our way up to the Citadel, which shows a lovely view of Amman. Located within its grounds are ruins of the Temple of Hercules, and an ancient Arab castle.

Next stop was Jerash. It is located 45 minutes from Amman so we hired a car with a driver to take us there. One of the world's best preserved Roman provincial towns, it was a member of the Decapolis, a commercial league of 10 Greco-Roman cities. It was quite exhausting to explore its temples, theaters, hippodromes and Roman baths because it is sprawled over a very wide expanse. Tracks of chariot wheels are still visible on the cobbled stones of the colonnaded street.

But nothing could prepare us for the magnificence of Petra. After a 6 hour drive from Amman along the scenic Kings Highway, we reached this ancient Nabataean city in the evening and booked into a hotel. The next morning, we were off with a local guide, Khaled who was recommended by the hotel staff. Armed with a good pair of walking shoes, bottles of mineral water, and a packed lunch, we were ready to spend the entire day there. Arguably Jordan's most famous tourist site, Petra is an amazing city carved out of rose-colored sandstone mountains.

At one point in our exploration, we rode donkeys to reach the top of the mountains. I was terrified that they might step across the edge and plunged down the steep ravines but thankfully they were properly trained. We had our packed lunch c/o of the hotel on a flat surface way up in the mountains with a fantastic view of Petra.

On our way to Petra, we dropped by one of the many crusader castles that dot Jordan's landscape, the 12th century Kerak Castle. This fortress is a maze of halls and passageways and once housed 1,000 people within its walls. A bedouin guide, Adil showed us the chambers and provided commentary on its history.

The next day, we were informed by the concierge that we could travel to Aqaba. A spectacular desert landscape of granite and sandstone mountains jutting out of reddish sand oceans - such is the beauty of the Wadi Rum. It is also known as the "Valley of the Moon". A certified movie buff will know about this place from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia". We hired a 4WD vehicle to tour around Wadi Rum. It was amazing to view the hues of the sands changing as the sun was setting and nightfall soon enveloped the entire place.

My Jordan trip is one of my most cherished travels. The weather was pleasant (not too cold nor too warm), the historical sights were fantastic to explore and I was with my best travel buddy, my sister!


My cousin who is an IT expert gave me great advice on how to effectively promote the bizniz that hubby and company started - email marketing service. It was imperative that we establish a good client base and then email them visual samples of the products together with the price list. Then soon enough, we received several inquiries and that got the ball rolling. So I got to thank my cuz for his sound business acumen and his unwavering support!


While we were canvassing for the parquet tiles to be installed in our condo, we inquired about Wood floor installers and they gave us an estimate. But since it was way above our budget, we simply hired the carpenter who also painted our walls. He came highly recommended by the maintenance staff of the building. He did a good job and it was well within our budget. It pays to ask around first before you hire contractors who might charge you a fortune!

Junk Mail

Days of junk mail invading your mailboxes are long gone but now we have to deal with another kind of nuisance. Those unwanted emails known as spam that clutter our inbox. They seem to thrive and offer anything from search marketing company promising to increase your web traffic to drugs that supposedly enhance certain parts of our anatomy.

Of course, we can always use a filtering system to sort out legitimate emails from spam but I notice that some of them still manage to sneak into our inbox. Sometimes, some real emails end up in our junk folder so it is best to check it once in a while to make sure they are all indeed spam.


One of the first things that D and his friends did was to hire a logo designer. They brainstormed and came up with several ideas on the emblem that will represent their company. There were several rough drafts, modifications were made before they all finally agreed on a logo that best depicts their products. Now they get rave reviews from their creative and artistically designed trademark.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Even though I mentioned in one of my previous posts that D was against me taking the MRT again, I believe it is the faster and cheaper way to get from point A to point B.
Today I was extra happy when a young guy gave up his seat for me. Here I thought that men being chivalrous in this country was a dying breed, I was fortunately vindicated.

But on a serious note, I believe that good manners is really lacking in today's society. Gone are the days when men would open doors for you or let you alight first from the MRT or the elevator. There are also some people who will talk really loudly on their cellphones at the cinemas or worse during Mass. Just the other day, my neighbors had a really ear piercing karaoke session. I tell you it was really reverberating through the walls, the loud bass gave me palpitations.

Some people have simply lost proper decorum and behave like crude, crass human beings who have no consideration for others. That my dear fellow bloggers is a very lamentable fact. We need to revert to our moral compass and behave like a civilized society and make the world a better place. Now na!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When I was small

New Delhi, India was my father's first assignment overseas. He went ahead to set up things while my mother, my sister and I were left behind to tie up loose ends. Our house was a spacious bungalow made of red bricks. It had 3 bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, an attic with a maid's room and an open roof top where we aired our laundry.

We had a chunky living room set which was nicely upholstered with emerald green (green is my mother's fave color) cushions. Dining Room Furniture consisted of a big oval shaped dining table and 6 chairs. Plus a high chair for my sister who was just a baby back then.

I have fond memories of that house which was located in a tree lined street that was also known as diplomatic row. I was go to the park across our street and play. I would ride my tiny red bicycle around the block. Until I got bitten by a puppy and that saw the end of my bicycle riding days as well as instilled in me a huge phobia of dogs. So I get really terrified when I walk the streets in this neighborhood as there are many stray dogs loitering around. Yikes.

Anyhow back to the house, there was also a wide porch area where my mother tended a little garden. She planted roses, daisies and sampaguitas and they would bloom quite beautifully enhancing the facade of our brick house.

Here we are in matching flaming red corduroy pants with my father looking slick in his cashmere suit. I guess this was taken one winter day, decades ago.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


A co-faculty member of D is having his house renovated. Years of wear and tear and neglect have put a heavy toll on their ancestral home. They want a complete overhaul of the entire house. Flooring estimates from several contractors were acquired. Housing materials were purchased. Workers were hired. It is still a huge work in progress but I'm sure once it is finished all the expenses would be worth it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Forever in Blue Jeans

I usually devote Sundays to listening to songs from my distant past. I think I've always been an old soul even when I was quite young. My musical influences were usually the artists whose records/albums my parents would play incessantly on their record players or cassette tapes. CDs didn't exist back then. So in my adulthood songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s still hold fort in my heart.

One of my fave singers is Neil Diamond. His deep rashy voice is very melodic. He sings about his childhood growing up in New York. His ballads talk about loneliness and lost loves. Most of his songs are quite easy to sing along to. He is known for hits like "Sweet Caroline", "I Am ... I Said", "Cracklin' Rosie", "September Morn", "Play Me" and many more. My sister told me that she is reminded of me when she hears "Forever in Blue Jeans" because I'm now always wearing jeans. :D

My fave song of Neil Diamond is a poignant piece called "The Story of My Life". Do listen carefully to the words and let them warm your heart and touch your soul.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Precious sleep

Another school year has ended, classes are out. D is mostly home and busy doing the grade sheets of his numerous classes. This also means the irritating kids in this neighborhood are out playing their boisterous games. Screaming, running, shouting, being rowdy all day until the sun sets. I hate to admit that my tolerance level for noisy kids is absolutely zero. Something that doesn't bode well for someone trying to have kids of her own, but what the heck I was born this way. :D

I usually take short naps in the afternoons. Being a light sleeper, the din and the blazing sunshine prevents me from enjoying my forty winks. My only option is to hie off to the condo, switch on the aircon, pull down the vertical blinds and snore the afternoon away.

The downside is that I will be away from my hobby ooops I mean my hubby and I don't have DSL connection at the condo. I probably need to just stay put and chalk it to another Lenten sacrifice I need to endure. Grrrr!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


At the start of this year, I decided to set a rule unbeknownst to my clueless hubby. We would go out on monthly dates that doesn't involve hearing mass and grocery shopping. I usually time it around the 15th of the month which is our wedding date. Coincidentally this month, the 15th happens to be my mother in law's birthday. She turned 80 years old! So it made my 'plan' much easier to implement. We had lunch at President Tea House which is located at the Annex of SM North Edsa.

We feasted on crabmeat green soup, crispy noodles, shrimp balls dimsum and chinese style beef tenderloin.

Our table was located near the fish tank/aquarium where you had a few Lapu Lapu and King Fish swimming. They were quite oblivious of the fact that soon enough they will end up in some diner's belly. So out of pity, I didn't order any fish dish! Hehe

The Annex section of SM North Edsa is less crowded than the main part. It has brightly lit and spacious interiors. Here is a picture of the innovative lighting structures on the 4th floor which captured my attention.

Here are a couple of shots taken from the 4th floor. It shows the sprawling grounds of SM North Edsa as well as the MRT tracks that winds above the busy Edsa highway.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tweet tweet

No, this isn't a post about Twitter. In fact I don't have an account. I believe we have a nest of maya birds on our windows. Since I still have a pesky cough which keeps me up at night, I would drink water, pop in a lozenge and wait till dawn. Then the sound of little birds chirping can be heard. I like to believe they are singing or talking animatedly. Yes, it is that loud. It is certainly music to my ears. It is a delight to wake up to such a sound.

Until it is rudely interrupted by my neighbor screaming her lungs out by barking orders to her hapless daughter. Gosh! But at least I woke up with a smile. A nice way to welcome a new day and give praise and thanks to the Lord. This morning, I also offered my prayers for the people in Japan affected by that devastating earthquake.

I got this image from google. I can't seem to capture the Maya birds perched on my windows. They tend to fly away once they sense any sort of movement. A movement caused by me flicking the curtains away to get a better view. Heh!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A series of unfortunate events

  • The cab that my sister was riding in rear ended the car ahead. It was caused by the sudden stop of 2 cars ahead of the cab. The impact must have been strong because they were on the highway when the accident occurred. So my sister hurt her left foot which she used to cushion her bumping against the front seat. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt because she was at the back. Her toes were black and blue, her ankle started to swell and she had difficulty walking. Not a good condition to have as you all know that in Singapore walking is such a big part of one's daily activity.
  • My mother slipped and fell on her behind at the mall. She used the short ramp instead of the few stairs (she has bad knees) and her hands were full with grocery items so she couldn't hold the railing. 2 kind teenagers helped her up and guided her towards my father who had no idea and was really shocked. Her left foot suffered a sprain but no bones were broken. I worry about her because at her age, she has very brittle bones na.

  • The next day naman, my father drove himself to the hospital because one of his eyes was itchy, watery and very red. Of course, my mother accompanied him and was limping the entire time. It turns out it was due to some bacteria and not sore eyes. He was given eyedrops. His eyes have always been prone to redness, unfortunately.

  • D's monitor sparked and got grounded. It even emitted an air of smoke as it splattered to its demise. Not really a good thing as he needs to check his emails as his students will be submitting their final exams through the Internet. Good thing he can always use mine.

  • But Monday night, our DSL was having issues staying connected. The light on the modem kept flickering. I called the service provider and they sent a technician, Tuesday afternoon. His assessment - there is nothing wrong with our modem or DSL. He referred me to the phone company and was advised to get our line checked because there were a lot of static.

  • The phone company could only send service guy on Wednesday since it was already almost 5pm. I told the call center agent, we will be out (since it was Ash Wednesday had to hear Mass) so kindly send someone in the afternoon.

  • I figure that 3 days without internet connection was enough sacrifice to start the Lenten season. But it turns out that D had other sacrifices as well in mind. So whatever, I will follow his instructions to be more spiritually fulfilled.

  • Last night, I had terrible coughing spells I couldn't sleep properly. I would wake up coughing my lungs out, then I'd drink some water so I could breathe. I'd pop in a lozenge, then go down to answer the call of nature. This cycle was repeated till the morning.

  • I know it is entirely my fault because I don't drink any meds for my cough. I simply rely on hot kalamansi juice, lozenges and vicks vaporub on my chest to soothe the constriction. The acidity from kalamansi juice upsets my stomach. The Vaporub is sticky and warms my body which just makes me cough more.

  • I don't like to add more toxic meds to my system because I feel so bloated already from the vitamins and fertility drugs. Plus, I have this nagging thought that I might harm the fetus IN CASE I am already expecting.

  • I feel horrible that I was too sick to accompany my parents to the hospital. I constantly worry about their well being now that I don't live with them anymore since they are already in their 70s. My sister naman has been having a series of health concerns which are quite alarming but she is too busy with work to take some time off to attend to them.

  • I know I worry too much for my own good. But bleh I was born this way, nothing's going to change that! :D

Monday, March 07, 2011


I'm afraid I'm turning into a hypochondriac in my old age. As much as possible I try to eat a balanced meal. Most of the time, we only have either fish, chicken and veggies as our dishes. I make sure the fish has low mercury content. The chicken without the skin has to be boiled 2 times before it is turned into a dish. I also avoid veggies which will give me a high uric acid like beans and okra. I've stopped eating pork products for ages now and I've ceased to drink soft drinks. I shifted to iced tea as my beverage but just last week I decided out of the blue to stick to plain water for fear of contracting diabetes.

Of course, I am only human so once in a blue moon, I give in to my cravings. For instance I would eat nuts and chocolates. Then I would notice my knees and joints start to ache (uric acid) and I would develop pimples so I stop. The other week, I started freaking out when I noticed bubbles in my urine. I checked online for answers and it just made me more paranoid. So even though the Internet is filled with a myriad of information, I believe it just feeds into my heightened sense of anxiety when it comes to health matters. Hehe!

The strange thing is that I am not a pill popping individual. I compensate by using alternatives to medicines. For instance, I drink hot lemonade at the first sign of a sore throat or a cough. I rub some balm on my forehead when my head aches or I simply rest my eyes. I drink peppermint tea when my stomach is not stable. The only pills I take are vitamins and my fertility meds which thankfully are coated and have low dosage.

This past week, I had to go for ultrasound TWICE for my fertility tests. I swear there is nothing like waiting for your turn at a hospital to convert you into a hypochondriac. The thing is people who have nothing to do would engage in small talk. So there I was surrounded by women of different ages in various stages of pregnancy and they would inquire about my condition. I notice that all of these women are way younger than me. Some of them are already having their second or even third child. They also talk about how difficult it was for them to conceive. But my eyes would just roll when they tell me they are just 32 years old or there was one who was only 27 years young. So I guess me being 42 years old, all I can really hope for is divine intervention. A miracle (aided with really expensive medicines) is all I've been praying for nowadays.

The good thing though is that once I enter my OB-GYN's clinic, the mood shifts. You see my doctor is like a ball of sunshine with this really positive attitude that is hopefully contagious. She would check my results with a smile even though in my desolate opinion the tests further proves my infertility. She also patiently answers my endless questions with gusto. Questions which stem from me reading so many medical bulletins on the Internet.

So that's it. I figure if my doctor who was trained to specialize in this field gives me the thumbs up, who am I to contradict her valued diagnosis, right? =)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Moving on

Due to our transient lifestyle, it became difficult to keep track of some of our belongings. Naturally, the actual packing of the big items like furniture, electronics, kitchen utensils would fall on the professional packers. Usually a week before the actual packing, the Moving Company would supply us with several boxes. So we would sort through our things and arrange them, accordingly. Items to be discarded were assembled in one box. Fragile things in another box. Clothes were neatly folded and packed nicely in yet another box. While the things we were going to bring in our luggages were also separated from the rest of the items. It was really a tiring and messy process but we didn't really have a choice. It was our lifestyle.

Once we reached our new 'home', the whole process was repeated. But this time, we had to sort out the boxes and unpack. Up to this day, I still have things stored in boxes. For instance, winter clothes which I'm sure won't fit me anymore are still neatly folded in an old box at my parents' house. I've also lost track of what some of the boxes contain. Although sometimes when we talk about our travels, I would wonder whether the souvenir I bought is still around in some box somewhere or was it misplaced and didn't survive the transatlantic journey.

This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


One of the most difficult things to do is to budget one's finances. With prices of commodities and services increasing at an alarming rate, more often than not we have nothing left to store in our savings account. Add to that the compounding credit card bills so yes budgeting can be a daunting chore. But in this age of instant connectivity, there is hope for us to effectively manage our finances.

One way is to subscribe to a free online brokerage. It will offer the proper tools needed to handle our budget, our expenses and anything that involves money and financial matters. You register for an account in less than 5 minutes then you can get everything organized. Bank accounts, investments, expenses, credit card bills are neatly displayed in categories. They can also provide a comprehensive trading guide on tracking investments and loans for our easy perusal. It can also draw up an easy to navigate budget plan for your money to last until the next pay date. Every financial details are cleverly itemized through charts and graphs. The best thing is that you can be sure the website can be trusted with all your information and data properly secured and validated by VeriSign.

I believe it is very helpful and reassuring that at the click of the mouse, we can visibly view and track our money at any moment of the day or night.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

MRT tayo

If I remember correctly my first tram ride was in Brussels, Belgium, the place we called home in the early 1980s. It was way shorter than a MRT and it normally passes through the middle of the streets. My sister and I were very young then so we were always accompanied by our parents. Then whenever we traveled, we would more often than not use the Mass Rapid Transport (the name varies in different cities) to get around. It was cheaper, more convenient and it was a good way to explore a new destination.

During our many travels as 'adults', my sister and I have had many interesting anecdotes about our MRT rides. The most complicated to figure out was the Tube in central London. The many connecting colored lines, the several stops were like a maze. We did get lost on many occasions. In Rome naman, we were packed like sardines in one coach that we couldn't get out and missed our stop. In Paris, France I've even had scary encounters with drunk men who start shouting at you while you are waiting at the train station for the Metro to arrive.

In Berlin, I clearly noticed the contrast between the East and West part of that historical city while traveling on their MRT. In Bangkok, the MRT station nearest our hotel didn't have escalators so my poor mother (who was already in her 70s) had a difficult time going up and down the steep stairs. But they are always game and are very enthusiastic in using the MRT. In fact, one of my parents favorite past time was to ride the MRT trains from one terminal to the other terminal in Singapore. By the way, the above picture was taken in Singapore.

This brings me to the MRT here in Manila. I first rode the LRT when it newly opened and our destination was Baclaran. It wasn't a pleasant ride as the coaches were not properly air conditioned. And once you get down, you have to deal with the throngs of people, the heat and the lack of pavement to walk on with the gripping fear of getting sideswiped by buses, cars and the ubiquitous jeepneys. Eventually, we had two cars so there was no point of subjecting myself to the packed like sardines atmosphere of our Mass Rapid Transportation system.

But things do change. When we were still dating, I once suggested we just take the MRT to get to Gateway Complex in Cubao to watch a foreign language film. He was hesitant at first but eventually relented because we were running late. The fun(ny) thing is at the Boni station, there are separate coaches for men and women so we were separated. He knew I had not ridden the MRT in ages so he kept texting each of the stations before we reached Cubao. I found it funny because I felt like a child. But he has and always is protective of me, so there!

Nowadays, whenever I need to visit my parents in Mandaluyong the really convenient way is to take the MRT from the North Station and alight at the Boni Station. But with the increase in taxi fares, I noticed an equal increase in the number of commuters using the MRT. I figure it is still cheaper not to mention a really fast way to reach your destination. But I really wish they would increase the frequency of the trains so the amount of commuters don't build up at the stations.

Last month for my first Friday mass sojourn, the trains were really packed that I had a difficult time getting out of the MRT. I kept pushing people in front of me to move and get out of my way but to no avail. I managed to barely squeeze myself out by clutching dearly to my handbag. My knuckles were so red from the tight grip. D was horrified to see my sweaty, disheveled self panting once I was able to free myself. He insists that is the last time he would let me ride the MRT.

Hmmm well we will see about that! :D