Search Results for: people of my year

On the spotlight: Celebrity moment? Certainly not!

Being a history buff — and lover of anything vintage-looking — a visit at historical places particularly the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople in Istanbul was something that kept me consoled from missing a lot of family gatherings and out of town trips (and snorkeling!) this month when cousins came home.

At Blue Mosque my colleagues went to the loo and asked me to just meet them near the gate so I was left to myself. Captivated by the maginificent beauty of the architecture — considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period — I lose touch of the present as I delve into the soul of the place. I was brought back to reality by a teenage girl. She doesn’t speak English but her hand gestures seem like she’s asking me to take a photo of them. I smiled and said sure. She looked very excited as she rummage inside her bag for her camera while asking me where I’m from. I said the Philippines, extended my hand to get hold of her camera only to realize that she wants to have a photo with me. I cannot grapple any sense out of the fuss but I gladly granted her request. (Pose, awkward smile, click)

I continued roaming around only to find another group of girls asking me the same thing! Okay, that was the second. I started to wonder why but still consented their whim.

There were too many people at the mosque and getting a good shot was pretty hard. I was occupied with finding the right angle when another group of girls approached me… again? Could it be that they have mistaken me for someone known in their place? But that doesn’t make sense, not with me. I felt it’s time to leave. I went to the meeting place but couldn’t find my colleagues. A group of teenage boys came and asked me for, well, a photo with them. I said no. I started to panic. Feeling pretty was never an option especially in a place stormed by foreigners. All I could think of where horrible possibilities.

What are they gonna do with those photos? There was an ongoing protest around the area. Could it be that I look like someone suspicious or an enemy with my costume all in black (remembering the time when wearing red in Thailand is…) except for my colored scarf? But why do they look beguiled? Will I die in this place? Scenes out of my paranoia caught me literally trembling with fear.

An old man was standing behind me. I took the risk and asked him why those people wanted to take a photo with me (rather know why before I die eh). Just when he was about to answer another group of men approached us, guess you can tell why. Sensing my discomfort, he shooed them away. Then he said, “maybe it is because you are pretty and your dress is more contemporary. If you are feeling suspicious, just tell them no.” It dawned on me that I might have looked too scared that he thought I was being suspicious of his compatriots. That was rather embarrassing.

My Turkish sim no longer has credit and I don’t know how to request for an emergency call. My Philippine roaming sim doesn’t have credit too (lesson learned, always have your roaming loaded when travelling abroad) and my Thai sim is just useless. I started searching for someone who could speak English and lend me a mobile so I could call my colleagues.

Three little girls — I’m guessing grade schoolers — came, said ‘Hi’ in a very sweet way and asked where I’m from. I said Thailand (change of address but not really, paranoia on). While the one who speaks little English tried to make a conversation, the other one took her camera and started snapping (should I just forget about the fear and started feeling like a celebrity then? Good try but not the kind of situation one can find humor with. Nice talking to myself). I asked them if I could use their phone to make a call. While trying to make them understand that I want to call someone, more teenage girls started to gather around us. Finally they understood and lend me the mobile. I turned my back on them as I made the call avoiding the… omg cameras! Very strange.

On the way back to the hotel I found an abandoned house filled with grasses and white flowers. I just loved the sight of it. I sat on the bench in front still bemused by the incident at the mosque. I calmed myself down by taking pictures. Then the words of the old man flashed back, “maybe it is because your dress is more contemporary”. I dress very simply and if they still see me that way, then I can’t help but feel deep sadness. Surely, that simple act stems from a more profound reasons. I silently wished that it’s not because they see things in me that were deprived of them. Many things crossed my mind, some of them the worst plight experienced by other women.

While relaying the story to my friends earlier, I remembered an article I read in the newspaper on the plane on our way to Istanbul. I know very little about the place and never had time to do some readings so I thought the newspaper will give me a glimpse. The news was about a 23-year old woman who killed her husband as a self-defense after he beat her just because she look at a naked man from a movie they’re both watching!

I was reminded of the book, A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini which is a story of two Afghan women. It is very sad that so many women do not enjoy the kind of freedom that we are having in different aspects particularly in making choices on how to run their own lives. The issues they face are too many to mention, some too complicated to digest.

I never thought I would ever encounter such a strange experience. But I’m thankful for it made me appreciate the kind of womanhood I’m blessed with. Many women don’t realize the kind of power they possess to influence the society and make a positive change. Hopefully women in a free society will be able to extend their hands to those women binded by men’s power and not just be too engulfed with fashion and make ups.

A time to break away

Have you been planning to have a break in a place you’ve never been to but keep postponing it? I was on the same boat with you.

I had always dreamed of escaping from the hustles and bustles of city life and find tranquility in nature. But the thought of planning a trip seemed so much hassles already. I find it quite a lot of work to search for the best mode of transportation, accommodation, places to go and how to get there, and where to eat plus finding good deals.

For over a year, the thought of lulling to sleep by the sound of crickets, waking up with the song of chirping birds, seeing the sun rise and set, watching the sky change its colors, gazing at the stars against dark evening sky, feeling the cool northern breeze and getting lost in a new place remained just a longing until I finally grabbed a plane ticket.

The moment I set foot in Chiang Mai, the first thing I thought was what took me so long to come here? I have been there before but never really had the chance to explore the city. I was rather oblivious of everything because work occupied my mind. So being there with only my backpack and an overload of glee made it feel like it was my first time.

Leaving all the workload, stress and worries behind, I can only feel the light weight of my backpack; it was easier to smile and talking to people was a wonderful experience instead of as a heavy obligation (‘coz sometimes, burnout makes it hard to talk).

There is that special kind of joy and excitement to be in a place where everything seems to tell you that a brand new life can always start right now, right here.

So, if you feel like your world has shrunk and your life has become solely driven by technology — where even the air you breathe seems to be just coming from the air conditioning — it’s time to get off that couch, disconnect and breakaway!


Volunteering in relief centres: things to keep in mind

Little girl packing clothes

The flooding in Thailand has left thousands of people homeless and in danger. While a lot of people particularly those in safer zones were busy discussing how things came about and who to blame, others were busy volunteering at evacuation and relief centres. We decided to join the latter.

On Saturday off I went with friends Anake Lekkon and Nesszi Lapin to Don Muang airport to help pack goods for the flood victims. Being a VSO volunteer not so long ago, I thought I was ready – just a T-shirt, short pants and slippers – then I realized there are a few things that I should bear in mind. These may be simple but still worth sharing.

What to bring
When our mind is too focused on what we can do, we tend to neglect what we can bring. With houses submerged in water, some people have barely anything so bring whatever you can. This is the best time to clean your closet and let go of things you haven’t used for the past years.

When we reached there, the first thing I got involved with was unpacking  cartoons and packs. How I wished then that I had brought my cutter, it would have made the job a lot easier and faster.

Comfort is one important factor to be able to work efficiently. So, bring a mask as there will always be different kinds of odor to deal with. Better yet, have a menthol inhaler in your pocket. Don’t forget your handkerchief and for ladies, anything to tie your hair. It also pays to bring a band aid.

What to wear
Wear a T-shirt bigger enough to allow you to move comfortably. For ladies, this helps when you have to squat. Shoes will allow you to move or run quickly than slippers and it can protect your feet better too.

What to do
This actually never crossed my mind before I went there because I expected that we will pack goods. However, when we reached there we were greeted by a crowd of people – and I mean massive crowd. Some were busy working but a lot just stood there without doing anything. The manpower was not maximized and it was not very systematic.

A little boy collecting nylon ties and garbage

In this kind of situation, just try to use your initiative and start working without being told. You don’t need to have a specific task. In my case, I went back and forth distributing and tying sacks, carrying packed goods and even gathering trashes. Just try to help the other volunteers do their job more efficiently and easily.

On Sunday, we decided to go to the ThaiHealth Relief Centre instead. As there weren’t as many people as there were in Don Muang airport, the organisation staff were able to manage the volunteers and gave us specific tasks to do. Our group, composed of friends from the Youth Engagement Summit Nyo Min Ko, Pimsiri Danphitsanuparn and Ruby Manchada,  made EM (Effective Microorganisms) balls which will be thrown unto the flooded areas to reduce water pollutants that can cause the spreading of diseases. We learned that sending donations to ThaiHealth is better as they send them off to the affected areas right away.

What we did last weekend were just simple acts of kindness to our affected Thai brothers and sisters. But these little acts when put together can already make a difference. After all, caring for others is more meaningful when it becomes a verb.

ThaiHealth Relief Centre
BorBorSor Bldg, near Paholyothin Soi 3. By BTS, get off at Sanampao Station. Get out at Exit 3 and walk towards Aree for about 100 meters. The center will be on your left. For more information, call Ms. Patsy Tapasan at 0898148800