La Trinidad Summers

It’s starting to get hotter here. The other day, it was around 27 C and in the coming days it might reach 30 C. A friend of ours living in Metro Manila said, “Nakakahiya sa 40 C dito!” (How embarrassing for our 40 C here!)

Quite true. At night, we still wear jackets when we go outside. Our bedroom still feels like the air conditioning is turned on 24/7. But Marikit can now wear sundresses and I can take ice water baths at night without complaining about the cold. (We don’t have a shower – we go by the tabo system in our new home).

“Do people look forward to summers here?” Adrian asked me one time.

“Hmm… I don’t think people look forward to the warm weather in particular… I remember looking forward to summer when I was a kid though because it meant not going to school…” was my hazy reply. To be honest, I don’t think I looked forward to the heat because – prior to living in Los Baños, then Malaysia, then Metro Manila – I avoided hot weather as much as I could. But when I left home, it was an everyday part of life.

I remember summers though when we would make ice candy using Milo, melon, and buko juice. I think we were also able to have avocado flavored ones one time and that was a treat! It also got hot enough for us to crave for the halo-halo our neighbors sold only during the warm season. It got to a point when we would eat halo-halo everyday.

I still remember summers more though for what we did rather than for how high the temperature went. Daily Vacation Bible Schools when I was young. School-schoolan with my cousins wherein I got to be a student, and then eventually a teacher, then a principal at some point as the years passed. Ten days fieldwork as an initiation to high school. Violin lessons and voice lessons. And finally, UPCAT reviews and then eventually graduation parties.

Now it’s Marikit playing with her cousins at the compound pointing at bugs, butterflies, birds, lizards, and frogs. It’s supervising them running around, throwing mini-tantrums every now and then.

If the heat wouldn’t give way to the rain and to the cold yet again in the next few months, it would somehow feel like an endless summer here. Everyday I feel I am experiencing the summer of childhood with work sandwiched in between.

It’s a pity we can’t take Marikit to the beach like our parents would take us at least once each summer when we were young. And that GCQ has kept us from parks nearby. But she’s happy with our yard, with the compound, and with our parents house. I guess that will have to do for now.

Summers bring me back to simpler days. I guess the three of us are lucky we can enjoy these simple days here. For what it’s worth, with all the chaos happening in this world, it still pays to pause for a moment to look for and be thankful for uncomplicated things like these…

Oh to be a child enjoying the summer life.

Mountains and Valleys; Ponds and Playgrounds

It’s ECQ/MECQ Season 2 at the National Capital Region. As in many places in the world, COVID-19 cases have kept on increasing in Metro Manila. Yet we have hopes that the stricter lockdowns implemented the past month have somehow helped slow down the spread caused by the early reopening of the economy and the emergence of more infectious variants.

In Benguet, we are under the less strict GCQ. I know, all the terms (MGCQ, GCQ, MECQ, ECQ) are all confusing. Truth be told, they seem to be all synonymous with each other. We are still on lockdown, mass gatherings are still dangerous, and – if you can help it – please stay home as much as you can. For my hometown, GCQ means Market Passes valid only for specific days per Barangay, disinfection Sundays, border restrictions among neighboring municipalities, and home-quarantined minors and seniors. As one friend put it, “You guys are technically in ECQ, the ‘G’ is just there to keep the people happy.”

True. But at least our family’s situation here in the province is still better compared to our quarantine life a year ago in Makati. What I mean is, we made the right decision to move back here and we are blessed because our jobs actually allowed us to do so.

One year ago, Marikit was stuck crawling around a tiny one-bedroom apartment (it wasn’t tiny pre-Marikit, but all her *stuff* have made it smaller). One year ago, her interactions with people were limited to me, Adrian, and pixelated faces in Zoom and Messenger calls. One year ago, we always caught her looking out from our fourth floor balcony and I would point out to her cats and dogs from afar.

Here, Marikit has more space to run. Our family lives next door and the compound has a pond, a playground, and dogs and cats that Marikit can now see and play with up close.

By the pond at the compound.

It’s sad and infuriating because our country’s situation has come to this while there are others who are already on the journey to herd immunity, who have been maskless for months, whose healthcare systems have not been overwhelmed. But as pandemics do not immediately come to an end, if we can do something to make the most of the situation we are in (and even help out), by all means let’s do it. For our family, it means moving to the mountains – to this valley.

We’ll be staying here for a while. I get homesick for Makati like I got homesick for Malaysia and Elbi. But home is wherever family is and home is wherever God has placed and called us to be.

All that said, let’s continue to stay healthy and keep safe. Wear a mask, follow minimum health protocols. In the meantime, our family hopes to send you good vibes from Benguet. See you in the next post!

Naimbag nga aldaw!

Guess who’s back, back again?

Mari’s back, tell a friend.

Alright, those who were out of the early 2000s music scene probably wouldn’t get the reference. And Eminem might not be the best fit for my personality and brand. But let me just say, almost four years later, that I am back and ready to have a word party once again!

So many things have happened in the past three-plus years. I got married as mentioned in the last thing I posted before this blog went into deep slumber. I had a baby who’s turning two this year! (I kept a secret/private blog about this probably only fit for readers ready to know all about trying to conceive or – as forum posts call it – TTC). Our family of three moved back to Benguet because of the COVID-19 pandemic (to get away from the rising cases in NCR). I’ll probably write more about topics related to those events mentioned in the coming months.

I’m excited to do this thing again. This blogging thing. I think I stopped because I had this feeling that nobody would stop by and read these scribbles anyway because people are more into images and videos these days. But there could be a few people who still love to read. And I have to make sure that whatever talent I have in writing does not go to waste.

Now with all that said, what would you like me to write about in my next posts? Show some love and leave a comment! And… see you around!

No Goodbyes (and an Announcement)

It’s been a while. To fill you in on what’s been going on – it has been a month since our #LoveTeamForever day. And so here’s a little poem from “Chocolate Ink” for you all. 🍫

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NO GOODBYES

You dip your head and whisper
“Goodbye”
I reach out, breathe out
“Take care…”

Fast forward to a few
months from now, we
won’t have to
utter restrained
farewells

We’ll fall into
bed and fall
asleep

Home
in each other’s arms

© Mari Anjeli

Book Launch! #ChocolateInk

book launch

Yes, that’s right! Say hello to Book 2 – Chocolate Ink!

I haven’t been posting these past few months because, aside from work and preparation for other monumental events, I have been working on this project. And so here it is! My second baby is out!

All the love and a whole lot of credit go out to:

  • Chito Rosario and Christina Crisanto for their lovely illustrations
  • Edward Louie Nonay for designing the book cover
  • Kate Ashlyn Dayag for her calligraphy skills
  • Adrian Crisanto for organizing the event, for the poster, for his support, and for his amazing idea box
  • Kristine Cimafranca for letting us use her cafe for the launch
  • Books On Demand Philippines, Inc. for printing my books out, once again

Find the event page for the launch here. More details about Dialogue Cafe here. <3

The Girl Who Sailed with a Star

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There is a village in Benguet where a giant wearing a broad-brimmed hat spent days staring at the sun and nights talking to the moon. They called this giant Mt. Kalugong. For, the truth was, he was simply a mountain who came alive while children slumbered underneath thick knitted blankets and dreams.

At the foot of Mt. Kalugong, there lived a little girl shy as a tiny mouse. She rarely went outside the doors of their steel and wooden house.

“Nabuteng, please buy vinegar from Manang Rosa.”

“Can someone else do it, Mama? Aling Rosa scares me.”

“Gahh, fine, I’ll ask your brother. Balong, gumatang ka ti suka! Did you ask Manong Nestor if he’s done making your uniform already?”

“I haven’t, Mama. I don’t think I can speak in front of Manong.”

“If you won’t ask, who will? Not me, not your Papang, not Balong. Hay!”

Such was the usual exchange between Nabuteng and her mother.

One February night, a star danced over the child’s bedroom window. The star had heard about the girl who was too timid to go out. She peeked through the curtains. She watched the child’s chest rise and fall, and rise and fall, and rise and fall, and she wondered what scared Nabuteng so when she was awake. Sleeping, the child didn’t seem to be afraid of anything.

“Child, come away with me.”

They had already soared over mountains, over valleys, over hills, over plains when Nabuteng’s eyes flickered open. “Whe-where am I??? Wha-what is happening to me?”

“Hello, Nabuteng. Welcome to the world beyond.”

“Be-beyond?? Ta-take me home! Take me home please.” Nabuteng whimpered as she covered her face with her hands.

“You’ve made it this far. I will take you home. But I have yet to show you more.”

The child continued to snivel. But slowly, as they continued to sail over more mountains, over more valleys, over more hills, and over more plains, wonder replaced the fear in Nabuteng’s eyes.

“This… This is amazing…”

“It is. I’d like you to meet some other stars, too.”

“Wha-what? Other sta-stars? No – I can’t!”

“Yes, you can.”

And on and on they sailed.

“Hello, Nabuteng.”

“Hello, child.”

“Such a lovely girl.”

Little by little, the bashfulness in her heart disappeared.

“He-hello.”

“Hi… I’m Nabuteng.”

“Hello… Nice to meet you, star…”

And on and on they went some more, until Nabuteng realized that they were home.

“See, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

“No… It wasn’t. Thank you.”

The child crept back to her bed, the stars and the mountains tucking her back to sleep.

The next morning, as Mt. Kalugong said good morning to the sun, he saw at the corner of his eye a little girl emerging out of a steel and wooden house waving at the sky.

Assignment 3 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)

The Frozen Guitar

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Billy’s guitar was frozen. Yes, frozen. No, not broken. He hadn’t used it in a while. Well, eleven-and-a-half months to be exact. A few more days and it would be a year since he strummed its silver strings and cradled its mahogany body. How he missed making melodies with his faithful friend.

But Billy wasn’t as faithful to his friend as his friend was to him. He had unintentionally tossed the guitar aside ever since he got busy with school, with his football team, and with trying to impress Leah, the loveliest girl in his grade. Actually, Leah was the reason he got into football in the first place. He reckoned she’d be into guys who did a lot of sports.

Yet, after months of kicking a black and white ball around, Billy apparently still didn’t manage to make it into the girl’s radar. As much as the smart, beautiful, kind schoolgirl made butterflies flutter inside his belly, Billy decided it was time to let Leah go and move on.

“There you are, old friend.” Billy found the guitar freezing away in an isolated corner of his room. Frost had crept along its neck. Icicles were hanging from its tuning keys. Crystal strings had replaced its silver ones. “What happened to you?”

The instrument hummed weakly in response. Regret washed over Billy as he recalled all the songs he and his guitar used to play together. “Remember Elvis?” came a feeble sigh. “Remember the Beatles? Remember Imagine Dragons?”

“I remember.”

Billy took the guitar into his arms. As he did, the ice began to melt away. Not magically, like in movies and cartoons. It was messy. Drops of water gathered around his bedroom floor. He patted the instrument dry using an old sweatshirt. “Let’s start making melodies again.”

Assignment 2 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)

By the La Trinidad Bonfire

bonfire

There was nothing more delicious than the taste of marshmallows roasting on an open bonfire. Liwayway took a bite and the sticky sweet melted into a sugary blanket across her tongue.

“Is it Christmas in Australia already?” Liwayway’s younger sister was tugging on the hem of her woolen sweater.

Liwayway scrunched her eyebrows together. “I think so, Ningning. It’s around 10pm here. It should be already past midnight over there.”

Ningning pulled the bonnet with the words “Baguio City” tighter over her forehead. “Is it cold over there, like it is here?”

“No, Ningning. Tito Pacifico said that it is summer.” The little one was snuggling closer to her. Reluctantly, Liwayway put her arms over the child’s shoulders. When she looked at Ningning, two eyes as round as Jeepney headlights were looking up at her.

“Summer??? How can it be summer???”

Liwayway shook her head, exasperated, but only a bit. “It’s because they’re… down under.” Tito Pacifico had sent a greeting card through email earlier that day. It had a drawing of Santa Claus wearing shades and shorts, drinking lemonade by the sea. There was a red-nosed kangaroo beside him. “Merry Christmas from Down Under!” It said. Liwayway wasn’t exactly sure she could give a lecture about Northern and Southern Hemispheres just yet.

“So, does that mean… we’re up over?” Ningning began humming a portion of the Benguet Hymn. “Dear land of mine underneath the starry sky so close to God…” She thought to herself as she wriggled out of Liwayway’s arms. Surprise lit up her windburned face. “We are up over!”

Tita Maricor, who overheard the girls’ exchange, let out a hearty laugh. “Now what are you two talking about? I think you’re just too hungry, waiting for the Noche Buena. Come, let me pour some Tsokolate for you.”

“Yehay!” The two girls scrambled towards their aunt in excitement. But then Tita Maricor saw Ningning’s eyes cloud over slightly.

“What’s wrong, balasang?”

Ningning tried to smile. “Tito Pacifico won’t be able to enjoy Christmas as much us. It’s too hot for Tsokolate over there.”

“Oh, Ningning…” Liwayway chuckled as she took a sip from the piping hot drink. Hmm. Actually, there was something more delicious than roasted marshmallows. Tsokolate. And the tender love of her little sister.

Assignment 1 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)