Tag Archive | love

Best moments of 2013

At the end of the year in the last 2 years I have written ‘people of my year’ articles to honor a few individuals who have inspired me. I learned this practice from one of the women I admire, Bianca Gonzalez.

This year I decided to write about my most memorable moments instead. A lot of people have made a difference in my life this year. Some of them sailed with me through turbulent seas; some matched my insanity and laughed with me like there is no tomorrow. But this year has been more about me confronting the different versions of myself. I have encountered my benevolent self, my rebellious self, my fragile self, my stubborn self, my feminist self, my empowered self. And imagine them fighting with each other making my head much like an alive volcano.

So I want to remember the moments which reconnected me to the depth of my soul; moments which made me appreciate the priceless joy of living amidst the chaos in my head.

Squatting at the top of Sarangkot hill in Pokhara, Nepal
It was the best start of my year. Pokhara is a city that exudes an air of rustic pleasure that penetrates a restless heart, easing the turmoil inside. Wherever I look was a splendor to behold. Below us was Phewa Lake while the fog covered Himalayas sat behind us. It was a very serene moment away from the hustles and bustles of Bangkok metropolis. And as I sat there I savored not only the beauty of nature but more of the joy sitting with someone you feel connected with brings. It is very seldom that we find people we can sit quietly with and still end up feeling we just had the best conversation. That rare moment brought me back to the essence of connection and companionship.

Sarangkot Nepal

Himalayas Nepal

Skygazing and wandering in Ubud, Bali
I went to Ubud for the sole reason of meeting Ketut Liyer in person. And nope, I did not go for palm reading but for the sheer thrill of meeting a character in one of my favorite books. But every part of the trip ended up as special. I met a coffeemaker who let me taste all his tea and coffee flavors and told me his inspiring life story in his garden. I’ve also seen an Asian palm civet for the first time. I enjoyed spending the night in Ketut’s garden, listening to the rustling of the water from the fountain and gazing at the sky. I wandered around Ubud and was always in awe of its richness in history and artworks. Ubud is indeed an enchanting place and heaven for artists; a place I can fall in love over again. There, I felt how it is like to be happy being just with myself. I appreciated being independent and in control of my life even more. I am reminded how priceless traveling is and the experiences of meeting different people and embracing their culture.

beach bali

ubud bali

Exploring the Secret Garden of Chang Deok Gung Palace in Seoul, Korea
There is this Korean song that I listen everyday. No, I’m not exaggerating, as in every single day. Some songs relive old feelings. Early in 2011, my cousins suggested I watch this Korean drama. I was hesitant at the beginning as I feel Korean dramas are for teenagers. But when you live alone 1,405 miles away from home, you will succumb to just about anything that saves you from eating yourself alive. Since it is a feel-good soap, I felt amused watching it. The song reminds of that feeling when I’m able to shut my mind out from the rest of the world and just enjoy a silly drama. I listened to the song over and over again while I walk around the Secret Garden. The thought of finally listening to it in Korea made my heart smile. It also brings that chill down my spine –in the most delightful way—reminding me that sometimes it’s better if we stop thinking about the complications of love and life but instead savor the feeling while it lasts.

secret garden korea

Reading a good book
I am so proud of myself for having read 8 books in 2 months. Like, seriously I have abandoned reading books for longer than I can remember. Having read that much is already a huge achievement for me (insert doing the cartwheel here… but only in my head haha). I mostly like reading on the train, a 30-minute ride to and from work. Reading doesn’t just make me feel extremely happy. It also brings me to the attention that there is so much I don’t know about the world. It puts me grounded that my knowledge doesn’t even amount to a pinch compared to how much there is to learn and discover in life.

Standing in Thailand and looking at Laos across the river
Day turned to dusk and the sky displayed a magnificent hue. It was cold and serene. I felt deep sense of connection across humanity. I am reassured that we are all but one. Geographical boundaries are just but lines that can easily be erased with just one stroke of love.

mary antonette abello

Photo by John Hyde

Receiving unconditional love

There is a saying that goes, “Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves”. True, forgiving frees us from the agony of grudge which silently wrecks havoc in every aspect of our life. But obtaining forgiveness is equally freeing. More than that, it teaches one to be more forgiving and compassionate; feel more valued and loved. I have never seen love in its purest, selfless countenance until I did wrong and that love held the broken parts of me through forgiveness. That forgiveness was materialized by a blue cross necklace. He said, “This necklace is from the most peaceful place in the world for me in Assisi. I hope when you are feeling down, this necklace will bring you the peacefulness of that place.” I have no words, just tears of profound gratitude.

Making peace with myself
For once I will let my ‘people (person) of my year’ to be my own self. This year had been the most emotionally bumpy one. I let my vulnerability be naked. I gave in to childishness. I rebel against my own good judgment. But amidst those delinquencies, I did not lose sight of my own goodness and value. Crying is not a sign of weakness; it is giving ourselves a chance to release negativities before we stand back up again. Giving in to childishness made me see what I didn’t want myself to be; it made me appreciate the mature me even more. Letting my guard down and my vulnerability seen is like opening a dam and letting the water with a very strong current pour upon, destroying whatever is on its way. But the process made me realize how strong I can be in going against the current, turning things around and making them better.

mary antonette abello

Thank you 2013. Let’s do it 2014!

Meeting Ketut Liyer of Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, LoveOne of my favorite books is Eat, Pray, Love written by Elizabeth Gilbert. Although I’m usually disappointed with movie renditions of books, the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts was quite good, I even watched it twice. I didn’t know much about Bali aside from its beautiful beaches which did not entice me so much because we have beautiful beaches in the Philippines too, add Phuket and Krabi in Thailand where I’m currently based. But the glimpse of Bali I saw from the movie and the fact that Ketut Liyer is for real made me dream of stepping into that majestic island.

In March, my dream came true. I went to Bali for an official trip and extended my stay for 3 more days to visit Ubud. My Indonesian friend helped me find a car to rent. I was very lucky that the driver Danny speaks good English. He was kind enough to drop me to several tourist spots on the way to Ubud which I will write about in my next posts. I only paid about USD20 for the one way trip and a funny driver/tourist guide. I told Danny I want to see Ketut Liyer so he has to help me find his house. It was easy though because everyone in Ubud seems to know Ketut.

When we reached Ketut’s place, I was overwhelmed with thrill. I love books and seeing a character of one of my favorite books is like seeing a fairy from those childhood storybooks. I recognized the gate of his house right away and I was like oh my God this is it, the place where they shoot the movie!

Ketut Liyer house Bali

DSC_08

DSC_09

Finally he was in front of me. I couldn’t contain the excitement. When it was my turn, I sat across him. He held my hand and read my palm. I did not come there for the palm reading, I was not interested in any way. I just want see him but well the experience would not be enough without the palm reading ‘ritual’ so there I was smiling while he read my palm.

DSC_05

DSC_01

DSC_02

As I waited for Danny to get the car outside Ketut’s house, I saw two cute twins playing with their mom. I asked if I could take a photo of the kids and that was the start of my conversation with Pushpita, Ketut’s granddaughter. Pushpita was so warm and friendly my heart could just melt with her tenderness. She told me interesting stories when they shoot the movie at their house and seeing Julia Roberts in person. Then I remembered I don’t have a place to stay yet so I asked her to recommend me a hotel. Fortunately, they have a room available at their new bed and breakfast for USD20 per night so I stayed. Oh the thrill of staying at Ketut Liyer’s place! And my room was very pretty. I also liked the Balinese massage Pushpita had arranged in my room, how soothing made me sleep like a baby after.

where to stay in Ubud Bali

Ketut Liyer house Ubud

The compound of Ketut’s place has Pushpita’s house, Ketut’s house, a house which displays his paintings, a temple and near the temple is a gate leading to the B&B, out of sight from the area flocked by tourists. It was such a peaceful place with plants, birds, and a massage area where I used to hang out in the evening for stargazing.

Beautiful evening in Ubud Bali

In the evening, Pushpita invited me for dinner. She was so accommodating that even if I’m just a guest at their B&B, she asked me to have dinner with her like a friend. While eating, Pushpita had to rush inside the house to check on the twins so I was left by myself. Suddenly Ketut came and seemed like he was looking for something. He could not tell me in English and I could not make what his gestures were saying until I saw that he was wearing only one slippers. I helped him look for it and we found it below the dining table. The thought of looking for a slipper with Ketut kinda amuses me.


In the evening, the family gathered near the temple to just talk and savor the calmness of the evening so I joined them. Then Ketut led me to his house and showed me his treasured possessions from his old wooden box. Some were Elizabeth Gilbert’s letters and a copy of Eat, Pray, Love with her message. I’m not sure if Ketut can still properly see at the age of almost a hundred years old. He pointed to me where his name appeared in several pages in the book like a child, it really made me smile.

DSC_014

DSC_016

Staying at the garden in his house while listening to the chirping birds and flowing water from the small grotto as the wind kissed my cheeks was very comforting. I had been very busy that a break like that reinvigorated my soul. My visit to Ubud was one of my most memorable experiences not only because I met Ketut Liyer but because Ubud is one of the most magnificent places on earth!

P.S. Anyone interested in going to Ubud, drop me a word and I can connect you to Danny and Pushpita 🙂

Becoming the monster I abhor

Plato quoteA friend introduced me to her colleagues who were visiting Bangkok over the weekend. One of my joys being away from home is to meet old and new friends visiting Bangkok. Touring them around is also my way of getting to know Thailand better.

All of them –my friend’s colleagues—were nice and fun to be with. But one of them is just extra warm, it’s like her heart is full of kindness which radiates from her sweet smile and soft voice. She’s the oldest among the group, much like our mother. But really, I felt so at ease around her that I couldn’t help but mention it to my friend. That’s when I heard an interesting story.

My friend said that she has never really spoken to that lady except for work-related matters. “People say her personality used to be like that, kind and loving. But she suddenly changed about two years ago. They say she suddenly became aloof. She doesn’t talk to people anymore except for work. Even after meetings, she doesn’t join her colleagues for a cup of coffee. She became strict and unfriendly, very opposite to what she used to be. Even people who have been so close to her, who have worked with her for over 10 years couldn’t understand what has gone wrong with her. She was like that for two years and now she is back to how she used to be, kind and friendly.

I got curious. I told my friend; maybe that lady has gone through very challenging trials in her life. And tough times always bring out the worst in us. And I smiled at the thought that I had my own share of unleashing the monster in me.

I hate confrontations. Whenever I encounter misunderstandings with people, I would opt to stay quiet and not defend myself even if that means I have to take the blame. I could not speak out for myself because sometimes it would mean revealing the other person’s mistake and I could not stand that a person is humiliated or hurt because of me.

My colleague once told me, “nobody can stand up for you except yourself. You can’t just let people abuse you.” I also read somewhere that staying silent and suppressing your emotions is not good. It will eventually take its toll on your health. But I was stubborn. Until one day, I just lose it.


I was overly stressed at work and was facing a lot of problems in my personal life too. I had been suffering from insomnia and I couldn’t eat well. I just don’t have the appetite for any food. I knew something was wrong with me. I was aware that I was not being myself. I just don’t know how to stop the negativities. I cannot decide whether I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder (see, I have already made my own psychological diagnosis hahaha). Kidding aside, I knew now that I could have been better if I had enough sleep then.

But anyway, in that not-so-good episode of my life, I turned into the monster I abhor. I made this stupid argument with someone and ended up saying words I could not imagine coming out from me. Now that I’m over those dark hours of my life, whenever I think about it, I would regret why I had not dealt with the negative situation positively. But regrets don’t come first and feeling it would not help either.

I believe that the first step to move on is to forgive ourselves and accept that we are just humans; we are not perfect and we are bound to commit mistakes. Like what Rahim Khan said in the book The Kite Runner, “there’s a way to be good again”.

People who we see as bad, people who are cruel and unkind are people who are hurting inside. They need our understanding and love, not our hatred and scrutiny. And when this happens to us, let us not forget to appreciate those people who stayed by our side, the people who never gave up believing in us when the rest of the world slummed its doors.