an un-gendered christmas present

i received a surprise from my boss on friday (the good kind!), a little gift with a touching note dropped off at my work-station. i went to thank her and told her I’ll be saving it till christmas, but she insisted that i open it before i go on holiday.


wow! i never would have guessed! and im also impressed at receiving this because she has not gender-stereotyped me while i gender-stereotyped myself! i mean, wow. who ever thinks of giving a sleek mini toolkit, a victorinox swisscard, to a female? i don’t even know which section of the mall sells such a thing haha. but I’ll be sure to pack this nifty ‘card’ into my check-in luggage!


film screening by emancipasia

i attended a film screening by emancipasia last weekend, and watched two documentaries: anonymously yours (about the sex trade and women trafficking in myanmar), then daughters for sale (about domestic child labour in nepal).

these documentaries are old, but not necessarily dated. if anything, i believe the problems to be worse now, given the improvements in infrastructure which facilitates trafficking, and increasingly high consumption patterns which in turn drives the demand for cheap labour.

i appreciate the work that sylvia is doing in raising awareness about these issues, and had the privilege of a chat with her.

“so, do you have a day job, or have you retired?”
with a playful smile on her face, sylvia replied, “well, i like to think that i have re-wired.”

that, is sass and passion for you. find out more about emancipasia and do attend future film screenings! they are held in town at the arts house, and are gratis, free!

a rainbow over san agustin

we rushed for anticipatory mass last saturday, nearly not making it due to the terrible traffic in manila.

here’s what greeted us at the church


“And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”
-Genesis 9:14-16 KJV

a hard promise for the philippines, to be sure, what with an average of twenty-two typhoons a year.

i didn’t attend mass as my colleague, an agnostic, was interested in doing so and i let him take my place. i took a walking tour with the rest around intramuros instead. that was just as well, for we ended up at the manila metropolitan cathedral-basilica, and i was placed in the unique position of explaining the significance of various rites and practices to non-believers. weirder yet, when they realized that im protestant and proceeded to ask about the differences regarding the two belief systems. i don’t think i did a good job of it, being much too simplistic and superficial, but there’s a first for everything, i guess.

two sunsets, a year apart

somehow, i notice the sun rise and set more when im out of singapore. is it because our daily hectic lives distract us from it, or because our view has been obstructed by all the skyscrapers?

above, on the outskirts of siem reap, the sun setting over a wasteland of grass, potholes and thatched huts, admired by us all after a long day trying to help but ultimately hindering the work of local carpenters building a classroom.


below, the sun setting over the pasig river at baseco, manila, after a day planting mangrove seedlings which we pray will survive the typhoons over the next two years at least.

three consecutive years now of overseas service learning missions, but i am as conflicted as ever about our role and purpose in those communities. more in another post. meanwhile, enjoy this hilarious comic regarding sunsets:


doesn’t everyone wish for this?


that said, i had a free day today upon my return from the philippines, but i only read about four pages worth of margaret visser’s the geometry of love. (it arrived while i was away! yay!) it seems that whenever i do get a little spare time, i squander it away doing everything else instead of reading the things i want to. anyone has a similar problem?

getting a sense of location

i didn’t get to go to baseco today as i was sick-sitting some others. the good thing was, i had the opportunity to explore the area around my guesthouse while hunting for sick people’s food. having spent the previous days being shuttled to and fro the project site, i could hardly get my bearings. i didn’t even realise that we were so close to manila bay.

i thought the following quote from rebecca solnit in wanderlust: a history of walking resonated strongly with my insecurity today.

“…the sense of place that can only be gained on foot. many people nowadays live in a series of interiors – home, car, gym, office, shops – disconnected from each other. on foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. one lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”

i do feel a little more secure now knowing what lies around the corner of the guesthouse. it was slightly unsettling, as always, to walk past the homeless, then wondering whether it’d be better were they to move into an informal settlement (but that would compound the spread and problem of the settlements)

* * * * *

bought myself a snack by the name of ensaymada – a soft bread topped with sweet cream, then a liberal layer of grated cheese


and also ran into a feast day procession for our lady of remedies.


generally uneventful but restful sunday, I’d say.