What goes around, comes around

Then universe is a curved mirror .  Like the kind we use to check our facial pores.  What you transmit, goes back to you in multiple folds, in a magnified version.  For what it showers back on us, we can only be thankful.  Acknowledge with a grateful heart all the good things that you have.  This starts the cycle of continuous blessings and positive energies. This sounds so new age, but come to think of it, various religions and spiritual groups advocate the same thing in many different terms.

Most people do not cherish the smallest conveniences around them.  Mostwould easily fall into the trap of seeing what is lacking, complaining and rejecting, that they fail to see the many other good things and good people surrounding them.  In other words, they wallow in a cycle of ungratefulness, continuous defeat and overall frustration.

Being grateful allows you to see the good in every situation, in every person.  It magnifies all the little good things happening around you.  When truly acknowledged, it will leave you feeling light, happy and positive.  And these are the energies you transmit all around you.  And the universe will respond…many folds.

Meet the Family

Our Family Name in Chinese Characters

 

I recently attended the family reunions of both my paternal and maternal side.  They were two very different events.  On my paternal side was an annual celebration where no less than 500 people, all with the same last name, are in attendance.  The proceedings are very predictable and one that I am familiar with since my childhood.  This is why even if it is a huge crowd, it still feels like family.  There is a certain comfort in knowing that the family hymn is still sung and sung by almost the same roster of old ladies.  That it will always be a lauriat meal every year, that there always will be prizes raffled off before the party ends.  For my parents, this annual event should never be missed. 

From my maternal side was a birthday celebration.  Now this one is very rare.  Busy with our separate  lives, we tend to keep to ourselves even if most of the family is in Cebu, even during special occassions.  So when a cousin of mine decided to throw a bash for his now 77 – year old mother, my AE (Auntie) Hayling, it was a really pleasant surprise.  We all wore the requisite red.  We all had a great time catching up with each other, old uncles and aunts getting to know their fast growing nephews and nieces, and just plain enjoying each other’s company. 

I have always wondered why most people feel uncomfortable with reunions.  Mine is not a perfect family but I have always cherished it.  Family keeps me grounded.  It reminds me that I have roots.  That I belong to a larger community who share my heritage and who will share in my journey to the future.  Family gives me a sense of purpose.  It encourages me to strive to become better and better knowing that we all are interdependent.  Family keeps me safe.  It is that warm, bright and happy place that you retreat to everyday, in your heart.

So be it a big family gathering of 500 or just my little family of 5, I am there.  Always!

How about you?  Do you like going to family gatherings? What kind of feelings do family reunions evoke in you?

Century Eggs!

Growing up, I have always been exposed to a lot of culture on the Chinese side of the family.  My Mama, most especially, insisted on it.  I spent grade school and high school not just in a typical Chinese (Fil-Chinese) school, but a Buddhist one at that.  Once in awhile, we had to attend ceremonies at the Temple, and not without dropping to my knees and kissing the monk’s feet everytime.  I was signed up for weekend and summer lessons in our clan’s brotherhood haus( it’s like the western equivalent of a “club” but exclusive to family members of the same last name).  She made sure I socialized with either Chinese or Filipino Chinese kids, even if it meant putting up with brats most of the time.  She taught me how to use the chopsticks at age 8 and insisted on me using it at home. I was enrolled in dance lessons(?!) with Chinese choreographers even if it meant I was the only male in the class.  All of these I entered not without embarrasment.

If there was one consolation, it was the Chinese food invariably served either at the school dormitory, the temple, at a family or social gathering.  One of my early and pleasant discoveries was the Century Egg.  Somehow, I immediately liked its pungent, lingering after taste.  Mama used to buy a half dozen tray from the Chinese grocer downtown, peel off the clay and rice husks covering it, and then boil them.  I enjoy the expert way she would slice them using just a strand of kitchen string after they are cooked and chilled.

At home, we enjoy these delicate slices as side dish.  Nowadays, I like them served with pickled ginger root as hor d’ovres.

I never knew how they were made or what the story is behind these yummy delicacies until recently.  You may read more from here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg.

Every bite of this dark food would always remind me of those days growing up as a Chinese mestizo and how Mama took great pains never to let that fact slip my mind.

(photo courtesy of Weng Rosagaron!)

Summer 2010

The Holy Week has always been my signal for the start of summer.  It is because when I was growing up, the Lent Season officially ends the school year.  During this time, usually around late March – early April, the heat starts to come up to record highs of 33C-36C.

Summer this year was loads of fun and gave me new discoveries about myself.  The requisite beach parties are still present.  It was my first time to enjoy Moalboal, south of Cebu.  Then there was the island hopping trip, I thoroughly enjoyed the good company of the “Efrens”, not to mention, the simple joy of boiled bananas and salt- fermented fish as we cruised along the Mactan Channel.

This year, we also celebrated my sister and her recent accomplishments!  She graduated in March 2009 and passed the nursing licensure exam in December.  But all that time in between was a flurry of busy activities for her and we never really got around to celebrating with her.  So on her birthday last May 5th, the whole family went on a trip to Bohol.  The first time in a very long time since we had a vacation together.

It was also during summer this year when I was given some tough assignments at work. First, handling some challenged performers at work and then sent to another department for 2 months of cross training.  It was great learning experience for me and along the way, I made a few friends too.

It is always refreshing to experience new friendships. When life becomes a blur of the same activities day in and day out, weeks, months, years, new friendships provide that necessary break and reminds you to stop, breathe, and enjoy some of the things you would have missed if you continue with your mundane grind.  For the first time after a long time, not unlike all other things I did this summer, I started going out on weekend nights again.  I so missed dancing and was glad that my new friends enjoyed hanging out at dancing spots.

In fact, we went out dancing on my birthday.  First time I celebrated my birthday this way.

I am not sure if its the El Nino or just the stars, but this Summer also taught me a new outlook when it comes to work, love and friendship.  It validated some of my beliefs when it comes to trust, the value of honesty, being straightforward in all dealings, and it also redefined some of the things I thought I wanted.  I can only be thankful to the friends and family who had always stood by me no matter what it is I go through, no matter the decisions I make.  Especially those who accept me for who I am, without judging.

As summer came to a close, our department gave us a huge treat and sent us to the Shangri-la to plan out the next fiscal year and for some RnR.  I had so much fun feeding fish and seeing them so close!  The last time I really snorkeled was in 2007 at Balicasag in Bohol.

This summer sure presented a whole bunch of new experiences, reviving old ones that I used to enjoy and the promise of more adventures to come.  While I am thankful that finally the monsoon rain is here, I also look back and can only be grateful for all these wonderful Summer experiences and the wonderful people around me who are witness to them all.

Chicken Cannibalism

Our neighbor has taken a new “hobby”.  She has decided to raise chickens, yes, chickens in our downtown Cebu apartment compound.  I personally think she is bored out of her wits.  She has further decided to position the chicken coop at the left side of the gate.  Every time one passes by the gate, you are greeted with the smell of chicken crap.  She has also taken on an environmental vocation, turning chicken crap into some kind of fertilizer for her houseplants.  We hang our clothes along two clotheslines at the parking lot, our neighbor decided to dry the chicken crap just below our two clotheslines.  Flies swarm around the dump like bees. More like environmental hazard to me!

 One morning, a friend came to visit and passing by the chicken coop, he saw that one chicken was almost dying when all the rest were ganging up on it.  They were pecking on the tail and my friend also saw bleeding and some hanging guts.  The chicken did not survive.  Everyday, for three days, I always see our neighbor’s housemaid carry out another casualty.  Today, the chicken coop holds just three chickens, from its original count of 8 or 12.

 I read about chicken cannibalism.  They say, this is caused by the chicken’s urge to play out their foraging instincts.  When locked in a coop, chickens cannot walk around and forage.  In my neighbor’s coop, she crammed 8-12 chickens into a coop about 1 feet by 1 feet in measurement.  Good bye foraging.  Another cause is the lack of food.  I cannot blame the chickens, I swear there were times when I passed by the coop and I can almost hear them call out to me for food, I also saw it in their eyes.  Poor chickens.  I doubt if they get enough food and if they are fed at the right intervals.  It  was also said that sometimes, chickens also turn into cannibals if their source of food nutrients is mostly based on plant source protein like soya based feeds. 

 Limited space and limited resources turn chickens into cannibals.  I think it is natural, even with humans.  

 However, the problem with humans is that there are times when there is no real lack of resources.  It is only a perceived lack.  There are those among us who operate on a mindset of want and lack and limited resources.  Even with the most minute of things. 

 A classic example is the office politics.  Everyone has a role to play.  The subordinates, the supervisors, the observers, the ambitious go getters, the back stabbers, and the drifters, etc.  However, when any one of these people perceive some kind of lack, their natural instincts come into play.  Like a cannibal, this person can attack from behind, pecking on your tail, attack your gut or slowly peck your feathers off and then your skin until you bleed.  This lack can be true or not.   But cannibals are very real.

 Did one really need to create this mindset of “lack”?  Maybe or maybe not.  A lot of factors can come into play, this need may be created due to personal aspirations, professional growth, the urgent need for higher income, fulfillment, maybe just plain bad upbringing, lots of envy…envy…and envy.

 Was it the Bible that said “grow where you are planted?”  In time and with perseverance, the opportunity we long for will come.  Meanwhile, one may want to sharpen one’s beak and be ready for such time.  Do not peck on others behinds. 

 They say one of the remedies for chicken cannibalism is to add a richer mix of protein sources, mixing animal based protein sources with the regular chicken feed.  In the workplace for example, when one is faced with “high skill – high will” team members but do not have opportunities for growth, sometimes, a richer mix of activities and rewards to “excite” them will do the trick. 

 Some trim the chicken beaks.  Sometimes, in the workplace, the single most destructive weapon is the mouth.  The source of gossip, backstabbing, gripes, etc.  How do we trim our beaks?  Or shall we just go ahead and make pies out of these chickens?

 Another sure fire remedy is to let chickens loose, out in the open, not in a coop.  In an office setting, I would not want this to happen.  I see the office as an organization, not a coop. It is a place where people work together towards one direction.  People, not animals.  And people bond and even when some people just tag co workers as co workers “only”, for me, I grow and develop friendships..sometimes…organizations grow to become a family.  Call me a mushy wimp, self righteous bastard, hypocrite, etc.  But God knows my heart.

 It will be really sad when resources are scarce that organizations just have to let go of some people to forage on their own or when people who perceive a scarcity feel the need to forage, someplace else.  But then again, just like the chickens, it may also work for everybody’s good!  Everyone stays alive, feathers intact.