Prince Charles and Lady Di of Batch E

(Day 4 – Your Parents)

They were known as the Prince Charles and Lady Di of Batch E. They had the looks, the grace, the elegance and the love story to compete with the then popular fairytale couple. But though the aforementioned royal pair’s wedded life ended in a tragedy of divorce and death, Joel and Ma. Azucena’s did not. Twenty-six plus years later, their marriage is still strong, still becoming sweeter as the years go by.

The dashing Baguio boy and breathtaking Cebu girl met during their undergraduate years at the Philippine Normal University in Manila. They became college sweethearts. They graduated, got physically separated, but they battled it out for love nonetheless. Finally, on December 22, 1985, Joel and Ma. Azucena tied the knot. The pair got married in Visayan territory before moving and settling in Cordilleran terrain. Three years later, a siopao-faced daughter came into their lives, followed by a soyfee-hued son one-and-a-half year later.

They first lived in a closet-sized home affectionately called as the “sultan” during the “early years”. By the time Siopao Face turned one, they had however moved into their new home – the second floor of a former dormitory for students.

A framed picture of a brick abode with the words “A house is made of brick and stone but a home is made of love alone” hung on their house’s door. In actuality the residence was made of wood and metal shingles but with l-o-v-e saturating the rooms, it was indeed… a home.

When Siopao Face and Soyfee Hue (aka Mari Anjeli and Quantum Yuri) were old enough to listen to and understand stories, Ma. Azucena filled their nights with tales of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, Mowgli and Shere Khan, Kangaroos and Rainbow Snakes, of the King Shahryar and Sheherazade.

Joel in turn filled their skill bucket with the basic things they needed to survive life – bikes and bike-riding, balls and ball-catching, bridges and bridge-crossing, dishes and dishwashing, eggs and egg-cooking.

Together they taught the children about honesty and generosity, about patience and diligence, about dreaming and persevering. They were good parents and, though the two kids have almost grown up, they are that way – good – to them still.

And speaking of teaching and parenting, Joel and Ma. Azucena, through years of firsthand parenting, spent time being second parents as well. Both have become established in the craft of educating and inspiring college and post-graduate students. They taught them math, statistics, physics, and everything else in between.

Now, both have reached the golden years but are still filled to overflow with love. And, though their wedded years have just gone pass silver, they’ve still more affection to give out.

Sweeter as the years go by. :) Photo by Karl Michael Bugante

Cheers Papa and Mama! Here’s to the many more love-filled years to come! And so I attempted to spin a fairy tale of some sort given the handful of information that I have about your years together. I shall write a much, much longer one, when we sit down together and you share more stories with me. Love you!

Time Lapse

Half-past three. My brother and I walk through Maude Street with Maddy and Lucien who’ve decided to take the long way home with us. The Rottweiler at the other street freaks us out, thus it’s ideal to take this route. Besides. Passing by Maude Street means passing by the playground. We ride the teeter-totters there for a few minutes before we finally make our way home.

We march on to 5/54 O’dell Street with bindies latched on to our socks. Mum has milk and cookies set on the table. We gorge them down, watch some Rugrats and Ahh Real Monsters, and do some homework in between. Dad arrives after a day’s worth of PhD-ing. It’s my turn to set the table. I’d unset them later and then it would be Quantum’s turn to do the dishwashing.

He looks funny perched on that plastic chair, soap dripping from his hands.

Half-past four. Sir Nang-is is droning on as usual. What he’s sharing is actually interesting. He’s telling stories about Perseus and the gorgon Medusa. He says we’ll split into groups later on and present our interpretation of the play. Awesome. But my mind’s preoccupied. I’m thinking about the school paper meeting we’re having after this last class.

Of course my brother will be there. Along with the rest of his troop. Warren and Raymond (the twins) and then Shamal. The quartet would bring comic relief as choleric me would do the ordering around. Kiti-kiti, the guidance counsellor describes them. Okay, not them. Just my brother.

Who’d have thought that we were related?

Half-past five. It’s another Wednesday fellowship. Yey. This time it’s different, because it’s the first after EGR1. We’re having a celebration. We play a game of evolution. Sing songs. Someone gives a message. Then we divide into groups.

Our group leader asks us about our EGR experience. I am jubilant. I tell them that it was awesome – I felt like singing my way down the Math Building after that life-changing weekend.

I tell them I have but one wish though.

That my brother would experience the same thing as well.

Half-past six. The Wallbreakers Encounter is coming to an end. It’s the final session. I am nervous. I know God is moving, but I can’t bring myself to see what’s happening. I survey the room anyway.

But my eyes are locked to a specific corner in the room.

Sir RJ prays for him first. I can’t read his reactions. He’s so…  still. I keep praying. Kuya Verge approaches him next. He spends a considerable amount of time with him. Funny really. He’s the oldest kid in the bunch. An incoming senior college student in the midst of high school youth. What was I thinking, inviting him here?

But then he falls. I approach him. He sits down. I wrap my arms around his shoulders. Tears. He says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over again.

I am overwhelmed.

Half-past seven. I’m on the road. Travelling from work, hoping that I won’t have to wait for two hours to get a good standing position inside the train.

“You should get a car,” he tweets.

Yes. I will. And I’ll drive him around when he comes to visit me.

But he’s telling me that I should go back home. “Congratulations! Now that you’ve finished your Masters, you can now come back to the Philippines and stay here!” he comments in Facebook.

I think he misses me.

I miss him too.

Half-past eight. I’m finally home. Not home home. Home still.

I realize that blood is thicker than water.

Dearest Quantum Yuri Balberan Lubrica, send me a letter please?

Thank you. Miss you. : )

Blood is thicker than water.

Quantum Leap

Dearest Quantum-dear,

I’m posting this ‘thing’ a whole day before your actual date of Graduation because I’d like you to be able to read it as soon as you are able to. Like, before you will sleep tonight or something. Or when you get up tomorrow morning. Or… I don’t know. Basta.

I want you to be smiling the whole day. I’d like it that when you go up on stage to take that diploma, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear, happy because your whole family is rejoicing with you. :)

Anyway. There was this time that one of your orgmates asked for some messages for your grad presentation and I thought of reposting mom and dad’s messages here. And maybe I’ll add my own as well.

To my brother’s friends who’ll happen to drop by this little-ol-blog (and to my friends as well) — I hope that as you read this, you’ll be able to have a glimpse of  ‘Balong’ as we see him, ‘Nini’, as he is to us.

Balong, here are our simple messages for you on your graduation day. :)






When you were in my womb, your father said your movements were like quantum particles. And that’s how you got your unique name, “Quantum Yuri” from Quantum Theory.

When you were growing up as a child, you lived up to your name. Such a bundle of energy, so restless (especially, when you were brought to a warmer place like Cebu when we had our vacation), only stopping to move around when you are fully “discharged”. Your father and I  almost decided to have you nicknamed “Pacifico” to calm you down a bit.

The first day you went to pre-school, you didn’t want to be left there. Teacher Nora had to hold you to keep you running after your Papy and me. “I don’t want to go to school!” you screamed and kicked hard.

But that screaming and kicking child has become an enthusiastic young man who became Salutatorian in pre-school, a Valedictorian in both the Elementary level and the High School level in the Science Curriculum, and an Honor graduate in his BS Physics course (Cum Laude?).

Quantum seems to do things effortlessly, that’s why he often surprises us with his quantum leaps. The first time he joined the regional Press Conference in grade school, my heart sank in sadness when the all the  awards were almost given out (starting from the 5th placer to the 1st placer) , saying to myself the 5th place would be enough as long as Quantum will have some award so he wouldn’t feel so bad. I cried in half-disbelief and half-amazement when Quantum emerged as the first  placer! My heart burst with pride as he marched nonchalantly to receive his award.

When he was in third year high school, he asked for a Sony Playstation II as his birthday/Christmas gift. It was quite an expensive gift and I thought if we would ask something from him that is quite difficult to achieve as a condition for us to buy him the Playstation, he might be dissuaded. So, the condition was, for him to become First Honor in his class. However, he surprised us again when his grades improved and he was already leading in his class in the 2nd to the last grading period. Yes, he did get the Playstation II as his prize!

In his 4th year in high school, he still graduated as Valedictorian despite spending much time watching wrestling in the TV and playing Playstation.

Now, in college, friendsters, facebook, farmvilles and basketball games did not distract him from his studies, though we did worry that they would.

And Quantum would be graduating in his BS Physics course very soon and what I could say to him as his mom? WELL DONE, MY DEAR SON! YOU’VE ALWAYS MADE US PROUD! WE LOVE YOU! MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!




Dear S-O-N

– Papa

Dear S-O-N,

Congratulations on the occasion of your graduation! It is good that you opted to take up BS Physics. Otherwise, you might have to consider a name change later (e.g., Integer B. Lubrica, if BS Math; or Pacifico B. Lubrica, if BS GeoSciences, …)

You have been a ‘quantum’ – a bundle of energy – even before birth. Continue being energetic, especially in relation to the spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional aspects of life. Maintain your culture of ‘putting the rainbow in your work’ (i.e., excellence).

Your graduation, with honors at that, makes me a very proud father, and as I have read, makes your mom very proud, too.

Your mom and I wish you all the best. Our prayers are with you.







– Ate Mari


O siya, tama na ang kadramahan na ‘to. Jokelang. :)

Yey. I really, really wish that I could be there for your graduation. I still remember how the Lubrica compound travelled all the way to Elbi two years ago just to hear me get called up three times on stage. Oh no. I hope you won’t get called up three times on stage as well.

You have your own legacy. Your own story. And I hope you know that I believe in you and that I am so very much proud of you. I remember our talk at the Trinoma Coffee Bean last year. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I wish we could have had more talks like that. On the other hand, I also remember the talk (err, chat) that we had the other night. Haha! Your lips are so sealed, right? : )

Anyway, this is as far as I can go as graduation gifts are concerned.

Watch as the next chapter in your life unfolds. Greater things are yet in store for you. I believe in God’s great plan for you.

I love you. :)


Ate Mari


To Love or Not To Love?

To love or not to love? To give or not to give? To receive or not to receive? Who to love, how to love, when to love and – why on earth even bother with the word itself?


Why am I even typing away about this strange, strange, strange thing called love? Mengapa, mengapa, mengapa? Bakit, bakit, bakit? Why, oh why, oh why?

Sigh. I feel as if my heart’s about to burst because of all the love that it wants to give and because of all the love that it wishes to receive and contain.

Do I sound like some lovesick girl in dire need of a love doctor? Haha. Fooled you. I’m not talking about that kind of love here. I’m talking about a different kind of love – a love that I get to experience every moment of every day, a love that I know that I will cherish forever and ever.

I’m talking about “love from all over”.

I wish I could call up Mr. Webster and tell him to include that phrase in the dictionary. I wish I could phone the guys at Google as well, telling them to regard the entire thing as a single noun-slash-verb (instead of treating it as that weird phrase enclosed in those two strange double quotes). But since I can do neither, I’ll just have to make do with a semi-make-believe “word” for a while.

Yes, the “word” is semi-make-believe. But the emotions, the heart, and the truth behind that “word” are anything but. Because this “love from all over” thing is just so, so real to me right now. And because of that realness, today, on my 22nd birthday, I would just like to thank all of you for giving truth to that “word”. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone for giving meaning to this “love from all over”.

I am so tempted to keep this entry short because I’m afraid that I might bore and eventually lose you. But you know what? I’m chucking the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) principle for a while (kelan ko ba sinunod yon? Lol) and let my fingers dance on this keyboard for as long as they want to, letting my heart and emotions go as far as they wish to. I shall thank and appreciate all whom I can thank and appreciate, without bounds and without limits. (Haha. I think I can hear a few “uh-oh’s” from the other side of the computer screen).

But hey. It’s my day, okay? So allow me to start things off with my beloved family.

My Beloved Family. Ma, Pa, Quantum – you have no idea how precious you all are to me. I have a feeling that everyone around me already knows about you all as well. Who hasn’t heard of my corny, intellectual, yet oh-so-loving parents? Who hasn’t come across the name of my odd, melancholic, yet quirkily sweet brother? I am just so, so blessed to have you all. God knows how deeply your simple (and crazy) calls, messages, and comments touch me – how they encourage me and how they lift me up during some of the lowest points of my stay here. I am proud, honoured, and blessed to be called “daughter” and to be called “sister” as well. I miss you. From the kid whom you fondly call Anggolik.

The Entire Lubrica Clan. Yey. Here’s to my cousins who I grew up playing house, skul-skulan, tagu-taguan, and yes – baril-barilan with. Here’s to the households downstairs with the awesome collection of books, references, hand-me-down-school-uniforms, VCDs, Sony Playstation games and PS cheatsheets. Here’s to the kiddos whose sunburns are proofs of our family outings at the beach and Asin resorts. Here’s to my all star aunts and uncles whose borders and influence now reach different parts of the globe. Here’s to our family at the States whose FB, blog comments, and posts are all great encouragements to that girl called “Madi.” And here’s to my Lola who is still as active – and of course – as loving as ever. “Madishu” sends out her love.

Balberan Peeps. The Pacific and some other seas and oceans may separate us all, but your love has never failed to reach our humble abode. As a kid, I would always go gaga over the balikbayan boxes that you faithfully post to Betag. Thank you for the unending supply of clothes, toys, chocolates, gadgets, and of course – love, love, love, love. I wish I could visit you all again someday. Anjeli says thank you to you all. : )

Highschool Friends. “As we go on, we remember all the times we’ve spent together” (Graduation by Vitamin C). How is everyone? I’m sorry for being so out of touch these past seasons – but know that you all are still in my very heart of hearts. Congratulations to all the wedded ones, to the employed ones and to all those in-between – haha, what was I saying? We’ve grown a lot from those kids who bagged those jingle awards, from those guys and girls who made the student teachers cry. I miss our turon and toknene days. I miss rolling my eyes at the befine boys as well. I hope that we can all catch up with one another soon. But my deepest gratitude goes out to you all who made high school life the best for me. : )

ICS Dudes and Dudettes. We can change the world! Yey! “Turn off your monitors. Bring out one fourth sheet of paper.” I so miss saying those words out loud. I so miss my room at C-117, going to Tita Flor and Tita Au’s room to get my printouts, going up the PCLABS, and manoeuvring  through the often crowded ICS hallways. To my ex-teachers-turned-ex-co-teachers, to my classmates, to my students, to the ICS staff, to my adviser and to the heads of the departments – much thanks for all the lessons that I got from you both as a student and as a teacher. Thank you for making my UP stay truly worthwhile.

Destiny Family. Whenever I talk about home, I would always have to explain that I have my hometown but that I have a place which I consider as my second home in the Philippines. All because of you people. SOD, Professionals, Teens and Kids – can I just mention all the sectors here? Can I mention all the names of the people who fill up the seats of the MaGym centre and upload all the pictures of every precious, precious “kapamilya”? You have all played a big, big, big part of my life. You still do. You have helped me in my growth as a person, as a princess of the King. It’s funny how I can truly call people whom I am not related to by blood “family”. Thank you for leading me, for guiding me, for supporting me, for releasing me, for believing in me. Thank you for inspiring me, for pushing me, for encouraging me, and for simply loving me. My heart goes out to all of you. : )

The Original Cell. It does sound like a buko pie! Cell’s and The Original combined. : D But you all know who you are. Gosh. Time flies so fast! And yey! It’s a joy to see how we are all flying to wherever God is taking us. Ate Jez, I’m going to give you a special mention here – I know God is preparing you for something great, great, and great. I owe you my most heartfelt gratitude, because if you had not “chased” after Marian and me (oh-so-discreetly, yes) – who knows where I might be right now? Baka nasa kabundukan na ako. Or something. Thank you. And to the cell, especially to Nanay Patty – I love you all. : )

My Girls. God knows how seeing each one of you grow in Him brings such joy and encouragement to my heart. Ask my batchmates what made me cry at the Baguio-Anda outing and they’ll tell you that it was the mere thought of leaving you girls behind. I’m so proud of each one of you, at your “accomplishments” whether big or small, demonstrated on stage or done in secret. I wish I could have been there in your productions, in your SP defences, in your project presentations, during those times that you simply needed a hug or a shoulder to cry on – but I hope you know that I’m still here. A chat or a letter away. I miss you, dearests. I thank God for bringing you girls to me. : )

Mentors, Leaders, and Friends. Those three words do go together. Mentors-leaders-and-friends.

No words could express how much I honour each one of you – every leader, every mentor who has pushed, prodded, and inspired me to grow up, to be released, and to simply fly.

And I thank God because I have also found friends in each one of you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for raising your ceiling so high so that our – my floor – is sky-high as well. I honour you all. Thank you so, so much.

Covenant Peeps. Gusto ko man kayong isa-isahin dito, pero kumusta naman tayo diba? I’ll end up with an entry that’s at least 10 pages long. But I believe you’ve already had enough blog stardom in my “Ode[s] to Friendship”, in my “Granny Moments a.ka. Memorable Moments with my Batchmates”, and in that “Growing up” thing – so this small section will have to do for now. : ) You already get enough of me from those letters that I send you guys every now and again, anyway.

But that just goes to show how special you all are and how truly special you all make me feel. Yeah, all of you – in your own crazy and unique ways – do have that effect on me. Let’s do something fun shall we? Say this to yourself: “I, *insert name here*, am special in my own crazy and unique way to Miss Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica.” *Muse on a memorable moment with me while you say this aloud. ;D*

Full force parin, right? I love you all. : )

My Home away from Home. I think I’m just going to cry a bucketful of tears at this point. No, not because of sadness, but because of extreme gratitude. What can I say? Thank you. Terima kasih banyak-banyak. Maraming maraming salamat. I am grateful for the people who spent the night at the Sungai Buloh hospital waiting for the arrival of a person who was actually already there, for the folks who supported an “illegal” girl through her passport and visa episodes, for the bunch who laughed through the lost gal’s bus ride escapades, for the crazy peeps who continually tease the bunso to death. I am grateful, grateful, grateful to be part of this family. I look forward to sharing more memories with you. I do. : )

Kawan-kawan saya. Kepada kawan-kawan saya sini Malaysia – that’s about as far as my BM can take me and I’m not even sure if my sentence construction is right. Tapi, saya nak cakap that I am just so grateful that your hearts are wide enough to let this strange Filipino girl in. Terima kasih for the makan-makan sessions around the campus or wherever. I hope to be able to spend more time with you and that I’d be able to see more of this country through your eyes. Boleh? ‘Ma Kasih. : )

Him who is my Everything. How can I not thank the One who is the greatest source of Love?  My greatest source of Love? Lord… God… Father… Here I am. Just your daughter. Just your child. Ready to receive more of Your love. And ready to just simply overflow. I simply live for You. From You, through You, and for You. I love You.

* * *

Thus ends this long discourse. Thank you, if you have gotten this far. I know that I am sometimes limited in my loving – I used to have intimacy issues, sidestepping away at the slightest hint of true nearness – but I know God is changing me. I extend my deepest apologies to all those whom I have hurt intentionally or unintentionally along the way. Minta maafkan.

And so, once again, from the deepest, deepest, deepest part of my heart – Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Thank you for giving me this “love from all over”. Thank you for making my 22 years in planet earth oh-so-worthwhile.


It Runs in my Blood.

So I found out that my brother made a report on my recent “The Painter” blog series, using it to illustrate what literature means to him. He sent me the word file containing the essay and after reading it — I felt — well — I didn’t know what to feel. Proud? Humbled? Happy? Yeah. Heart-meltingly happy. Aww.


Okay, okay. Enough with the drama.

I’m posting his piece here so that you can see what literature means to him and so that you can have a view of how my little project — in one way or another — made a difference to him.

Here’s to my brother who grabbed the feature-writing pen from my hands. : )

WARNING: This essay contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so if you haven’t read “The Painter” yet — by all means, read it! Start HERE. But if you’re done reading the series — go ahead, and read my brother’s literary piece. : )

– 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 –

Quantum Yuri Lubrica                                                                 March 23, 2010

Humd. I Essay: My Literary Experience

Based on my experience, literature is art which reflects the writer, and which the reader can relate to. I say that literature is art since it is made of an array of letters, words, and thoughts – all put together by an artist. The said array is unique for every writer, and the way a person writes is influenced by experiences, knowledge, imagination, and mood. I say that literature is an art which the reader can relate to since certain parts of a literary piece are more striking to some readers than others, and the degree to which a reader can relate to it is based on the reader’s past experiences.

Let me illustrate my point using a short story, entitled The Painter that was recently published by Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica in her blog. Art is all around us in many forms. I believe that art is at its finest when it is recorded. Painters cannot be considered artists if their imagination isn’t recorded by oils, colors, and brush strokes. Musicians cannot be considered artists if they don’t express themselves by producing melody, rhythm and music as a whole. Thus, writers cannot be considered artists unless they organize their thoughts and reveries into a collection of uniquely arranged words and punctuations that is of course a form of self-expression. Thus, I believe that an important requirement is that literature, being a form of art, should be written and recorded – preferably even published, for it to be recognized and considered as a literary piece.

Literature is an expression of the writer and thus somehow reflects the writer’s background. Mari’s use of ‘nth’, which is a mathematical term, is an example of this since she is a BS Computer Science graduate. Even the pairing of ‘semi’ with the word strange – something that isn’t unusual for us, tells something about her roots and way of life. The use of the word ‘demeanour’ instead of ‘appearance’ somehow gives an idea of her educational and social background, and possibly even her mood. Her usage of “–” and placement of commas dictates how she imagines the way the story should be told – where the pauses should be. Notice how she uses ‘colours’ and ‘demeanour’ with a ‘u’ – an influence of her present residence, Malaysia.

The Painter is actually seven blog entries that started out with one original story that was essentially a summary of the eventual whole story. Because of the encouraging comments, according to Mari, she was inspired to continue on with new entries and she wanted to unfold the life of the painter. She spent parts of her days just imagining how the story would turn out to be – imaginations that must have been influenced by the many things happening around her. She describes it as “the painter knocking on her mind”. From the comment of one reader expressing interest about a boy, his father and a kite, Mari eventually even wrote a length entry about it – this shows how even feedbacks can influence how and what a person writes. She mentioned that the painter’s father died because of cancer, he had to leave his beloved girlfriend and even his family, but eventually had his dreams realized – social realities that may not have happened to the writer, but it must have happened to people around her, whether fictional or real, for her to be compelled to include these in her story. Her Christian life is also reflected by her usage of “Daddy God” in one line of the text.

I would now like to use the reader-response theory – that the reader is an active rather than passive participant – to elaborate on why I say literature is art that readers can relate to basing on their past experiences. The setting of the story is a small park, filled with people, grass and benches. How would someone who has never been to a park be able to relate to this story? The person may possibly be intrigued by the new idea, or may lose interest in the story altogether. Mari has also used some words that may be uncommon to some – such as apparel, joshing, nostalgic, insurmountable, limacons – but may also be very fitting (and strikingly familiar) to others. The things that the writer includes in a text, together with the way the words are written, and also the present state of the reader, affect the overall experience of the reader. I say this since I was almost brought to tears as I was reading the conversation of the painter and his girlfriend. I was moved since I have a girlfriend of my own, and have had some misunderstandings leading to pain. This, the writer’s choice of words, and the fact that I was alone while reading the story influenced how I experienced the literary piece – with all the goose-bumps, pounding heartbeats and a heavy feeling.

The reader is actively screening out some details while embracing other details, contributing to the overall experience while reading. What to keep and what to throw out is based on the reader’s personality, knowledge, motivation, and even mood or state at the time.

I had a one-of-a-kind feeling while reading my sister’s work – a sensation that I was reading my own work. Yes, Mari Anjeli is my sister, and though we have been living apart for almost six years, our way of thinking and writing style is still somehow similar. This is how I realized that indeed literature is an expression of oneself greatly influenced by one’s background, imagination, knowledge and frame of mind. I realized that I, too, can write excellently – I only have to do just that: write down and organize those messy, jumbled up thoughts. Once I do that, I can make a literary piece that I can share so that others may be able to relate to it.

By the way, the story ended with a girl fitting the description of the painter’s girlfriend, visiting the park looking for someone. The final scene brought me hope and enthusiasm. It shows the wit and creativity of the author. It also reveals the ability of the reader to understand, interpret and connect ideas, since an inattentive reader would fail to catch the implication of the final scene due to the way it was written.

I’ve Got Mail!

I’m in the state of euphoria. I want to jump up and down, twirl around, and sing, sing, sing at the top of my lungs.

Forgive me. But I’ve got mail.

No, not e-mail.

real mail!

Real mail. Aunt Pena’s package had come in last week and it was timing that the crazy dorm matters brought me to the Za’ba office this afternoon. I went to the office to inquire about my reservation for the next semester and was waiting in line when Abang Kholid called out – “Mari, is that you? You have a package.” Oh. My. I have a package!!!

Define bliss.

I so love receiving letters, notes, and packages of any kind. Letters make up a big part of my love language – I give out notes and letters to make people feel loved – and when I’m on the receiving end – well, you’re sure to get a happy, happy, happy Mari.

Happy, happy, happy, happy.

I would have skipped my way back from the office to my room if I hadn’t been thinking about my reputation as a Masters student. But I walked gracefully and once I’ve gotten inside the safety of my room – well, let me just say that I became a bit undignified.

I used every amount of self-control to keep myself from ripping the box open. Hey, I was excited. But once opened – Oh, if only you could see how my eyes lit up when I saw those two beautiful packages of beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cards. Cards made by loving hands. Cards made by one so passionate and so in love with art, that she used her gift and her talent to bless, encourage, and inspire the recipients of those wonderful creations.

I drank in the colours, inhaled the papery cardboard smell, and fingered all the wonderful textures. After having a rough start to my week, those cards were more than a breath of fresh air. Already I thought of all the words that could go inside those cards, of all the cards’ future recipients. Mmmm.

And then I saw that sealed envelope. With my name written in front. A note. I opened the envelope and saw a purple-orange masterpiece inside. I was deeply touched by the short, yet inspiring note from my Nanny Pena. There were a few lines written inside, but my favourite was this one:

“Keep pursuing your dreams.”

My Nanny’s cards are a mark of her pursuing hers. And I am so, so, blessed, encouraged, and inspired. I will continue to pursue my dreams.

Thanks, Nanny. : )

Staring at a Not so Blank Wall

It’s been a long, sorta tiring, but fulfilling day. Attended the Service Science Meeting, went around UKM to post some fliers, and spent time with Kim, Iris and Siew Chen after being rained on. Got an exhausted brain, tired feet, wet hair, weary eyes, but happy heart.

In all honesty, I just want to wash the dirt and grime from my face and plop on my bed, but it’s still a good-one-and-a-half hour before my bedtime. I do have some slides to review for my midterms next week, but I just want to give my brain a rest for the night – it’s been overworked for the entire week. (Naalala ko tuloy ang comment nina Georjinah when we crossed paths at the bakery – “Wow. You look like you’re about to pass out!” LOL. I did look like a zombie that time. A zombie in search for coffee. :D)

I want to watch the live stream but all I’m getting is a statue of Kuya Nick (he’s been stuck in the same position for, like, forever).

So here I am, typing away, contemplating at staring at my not-so-blank wall for the rest of the night.

not so blank wall

Staring at my wall is actually not so bad. My wall is one of my greatest sources of comfort this season. I’ve put in a lot of effort into making my wall look the way it does now. And I’m glad I put in that effort. Because during nights when I’m just stuck on doing acads, I’d look at my wall and press in. During mealtimes when I’m eating alone, I’ll just take a glance and not feel so lonesome anymore. And during mornings when I’ve done pouring out everything to God, He’ll tell me to lift my eyes up to my wall and then I’d be smiling for the rest of the day.

I love my wall because all the odds and ends posted up there are all sources of encouragement to me.

Family Pictures and Nanny’s Card. When I went home last December, Mom, Dad, Quantum and I went to Kayeson for our annual Christmas Photo. The year before last, I forced them into wearing pink for our pictorials. Thankfully, this time, Mom already had a theme in mind. And so we posed in royal blue and deep red. I have the photos blu-tacked to my wall. And we look so, so, sophisticated. Ang funny parin ng pose ng kapatid ko. Hehe. I’m starting to miss them again. Sigh.

Nanny’s card is also up there. It’s the one Lola gave me on my graduation last, last April. The one with the long love letter inside. Hehe. “This will come whether you like it or not.”

Levites. “Call forth the Levites.” That collage containing the pictures of my cellmates as well as the worship team has been with me since my ICS days. This yellow cardboard has been with me since late 2007. On the cardboard I’ve stuck pictures of the “original cell” (parang buko pie lang) with Ate Patty, portraits of my son (hehe) and daughters at the DL Umali hall and LB Square, and snapshots of the wacky worship team having a blast at the Olivarez Cinema 3 (yes it was still Cinema 3 at that time).

I’ve had the most growth with the people in those photos. Yeah. With all the stretching, the discipline, and all the blood and tears. Hehe.

Fullforce 04. I’ve got two sets of 04 pictures up on my wall. One’s a collage of EK and IRRI pics (the bench and the teleserye ads, haha). The other contains pictures that had made their way from my wallet to the wall – 08 Graduate pics, the formal 04 pic, and the wacky pic with the infamous Jona Pose. Sigh. I miss those people. Been a long time since I’ve talked to anyone of them. I mean, really talked.

Doc’s Letter. Doc gave our (their, hehe) G-12 presents last Christmas. Aww. So she wrote a letter for each one of us and I stuck mine to my wall. Like, you can read what’s written on the picture. Hehe. Thanks, Doc.

Azzah’s Bear. Before we left for the Philippines last October 2008, Azzah gave me this bear. Bear hasn’t got a formal name though. But I’m sure that, nameless as the bear is, it’s pretty happy that he/she (goodness, I don’t know if it’s a he or she!) is back in his/her home country. Haha. I’m happy that I’m back here in Malaysia as well.

My Awesome (yes, awesome) Schedule. Yes, that’s my schedule. It doesn’t look too jampacked, but if you include all the papers that I have to do at night – you could understand why my brain is sometimes reduced to computer-gibberish mush. But I love my academics. If for Ate Odie, “my work is my ministry”, then for Mari, “my academics (and a whole lot of other things) is my ministry”. The purple blocks in my schedule are the best times though. J Diba, Daddy God?

Faber Castell Colour Pencils and a Sketchpad. Faber Castell Colour Pencils have a soft spot in my heart. For one thing, my brother and I used to colour with those back in my primary school days. We’d colour in Crimson Rosellas and Cockatoos with them and just simply let loose the artists in us. Now, I’m just using those pencils to let loose the child in me.

So why are they stuck on my wall? Well, simply because the child in me needs to jot down encouraging wall posts in colour – and having the colour pencils up on my wall is simply, well… convenient.

SOD-SFC Alumni Homecoming Souvenir. “Change the World and Make History.” Nuff said, right?

Empty Spaces. There’s still whole bunch of empty spaces on my wall. Spaces for more pictures, more people, more letters. (But not more schedules. Please. Not more schedules. ) I’ve just realized I haven’t got a picture of my Malaysian family up on my wall yet. Will have to print out a photo of us all soon. But anyway, that’s why the empty spaces are there. Because those spaces will soon be filled up with more. J

One last thing. Haha. I just realized that my mirror is up on my wall as well. Yeah, the mirror encourages me, because through it, I get to see the most glorious human being in the room, pimply and bug-eyed as she may currently be.

Well, I’m done staring at my not-so-blank wall. Bed time’s already fifteen minutes away.

Be doing some serious slide reviewing tomorrow morning.

Some Things Never Change

I have a stiff neck.

I’m blaming it on the long bus ride home. I think I spent almost eleven hours on the road yesterday. Sleeping. Thinking. Sleeping again. Bumping my head unconsciously on the Victory Liner side window as I slept some more.

Thank goodness one bump knocked me back into consciousness just as the bus entered the city limits. Or else I would have missed the pretty city lights that have always signaled the end of my long bus rides and have always welcomed me back home.

Some things never do change.

I still get that warm, fuzzy “I’m home” feeling whenever I see those city lights.

* * *

I slept in this morning and woke up to groggily answer Jona who called me up using Prince’s unlicall-enabled phone. I wandered around the empty house (Mom, Dad, and Quantum had all left for school) as Jona and I chattered on and on about God-knows-what. As I made my way from room to room, I noted that indeed, some things have still remained as they were, as they are.

Our small bathroom still serves as a mini-library. And Mom’s shampoo and conditioner collection is still growing, growing, and growing.

My bedroom is still that colorful interior designer’s nightmare. My goodness. My colorful posters-slash-artworks are still up and my bed is still that mess of oranges, blues, greens, and pinks. And yeah, two-thirds of the colorful mess still serves as mom’s walk-in closet. Hahahaha.

The living room hasn’t changed a bit and the Cowabunga mirror (which has been there since forever) is still there, serving as a reminder of my teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-filled childhood (hey, I was a fan of Michaelangelo and his grappling hooks!).

Okay, okay. So I’ve been away for only five months. Parang naman daw ang daming magaganap na pagbabago sa limang buwan na yon.

Well, my brother has a new desk in his bedroom (say bedroom in a small squeaky voice). And there’s his new laptop.

And there are the million changes that have occurred inside Mari that I can’t explain and contain even up until now.

* * *

Okay. So I still can’t seem to express myself in the way that I want to. “Basta yun. Ewan.”

Has it really been five months that I’ve been out of the country? Has it only been five months?

It feels like five years. No, it feels like five days.

Sigh. So much has happened. But in some ways – it feels as if I had never left.

Ay ewan.

This is as far as my melancholic mood can get me today.

More writings later. Like, after the batch outing. Hehe.