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!

Gift of Turnaround: Two Turning Points

So I almost started typing the lyrics of Bonnie Tyler’s hit tune, because, you know, that’s how my brain processes and all. But this is supposed to be a serious entry! We’re talking about turnarounds and all! (Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round… ugh, okay, hit pause now.)

Fine. Time to get serious. What two things turned my life around this 2013? Was it saying yes to a boy I love who, as fate would have it, lives more or less 1555 nautical miles away? Was it finding out that my body is not as young and healthy as I thought it was? Close, but I would say that these two are very important runner-ups. But if I were to identify the two top turning points for 2013, it would have to be the following (‘sides, I already expounded on the two in my previous entry):

Turnaround 1: Typhoon Haiyan. This November, a super typhoon wrecked havoc in the central region of my motherland. For days, we tuned into the news, feeling a mix of helplessness, indignation, sadness, anger… Many of us wanted to do something about the situation but couldn’t or didn’t know how. The news reached my office. And guess what? My faith in humanity was restored. Donations came in both in cash and in kind. People surprised me with their heart to give, to be a part of something that could somehow help out people whose lives were shattered in an instant. Really, there’s more goodness in people that we actually give them credit for.

Turnaround 2: The Big Move. As some of my works of flash fiction suggested, yes, people, we have moved. After two years of staying in the previous condo, it was time to face those boxes again, do those negotiations with agents again, tow around all those belongings again. You know how in Despicable Me, there’s this shrink ray that’s supposed to shrink the moon to aid in the pilfering process? I wish that shrink ray was real. Then moving wouldn’t be so laborious. Anyway, now we’re in a new place and it’s time to leave the old memories behind. Sigh. Nothing’s really permanent, you know? Oh melancholia.

Well, this is the last entry for this year, the last entry for looking back. Tomorrow we begin to look forward.

Here’s to the last day of 2013!


New walls to decorate.
New walls to decorate.


The boxes of memories were piled up. High, one on top of the other. Behind the cartons, through the uncurtained windows, we could see the city skyline. It was different from the provincial view which had welcomed us a day, a week, a month, a year, several years before.

Something inside me crumbled as I realized how transitory time really was and how nothing remained permanent. We were in a new place now. A new season had opened up before us.

* * *

An empty carton lies in front of me. Several more needing assembly sit behind me. I start putting several items in — necessities like kitchenware, towels, and tablecloths. We should have disposed all of those stuff during the first move. But they did contain a lot of sentimental value. And you’ll never know when there’ll be a need for one dining set or more.

We’re moving again. I shall see those boxes piled on top of each other yet another time.