On Saying Goodbye

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I have seen it several times the past few months I have been here in Indonesia and though I can say that I have learned how to hold back tears and control emotions, it doesn’t make it any easier. Today, I said goodbye to one of my best staff. She was crying and I was just hugging her telling her everything is going to be alright.

I almost joined in her tears but it doesn’t look good losing my composure especially when I already look terrible to begin with. It is my day off and I was lazily enjoying my bed in my pajamas and messy hair reading blogs when my phone rang. An unknown number popped out. I answered and it is her. She said she wants to say goodbye. I don’t have time to take a shower or dress up as she is outside my door. I pulled my hair in a ponytail or a semblance of it and did a quick physical check if I am wearing undergarments. No time even to wash my face. When I opened my door there she is, tears welling up in her eyes. I hugged her tightly thanking her for the wonderful service she has done and that I wish her success in all her plans in life.

As I look at her and hug her again and again, there was a slight pinch in the heart. In as much as I want to compartmentalize my life treating work as work and personal as personal, there comes a time when the merging happens without us knowing. I cannot claim that all those people who have said goodbye to try something new or to welcome new experiences are very close to my heart, but those few who were able to transcend the imaginary professional block that I have created occupy a very special space within me because they found a way to touch me dearly.

I am trying to hold back tears now as I type this but I am also joyously aware and thankful that I am allowed to feel this kind of emotion.

I know the coming and going will always be a part of life. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it worth living.

To all those ex colleagues who became special to me in one way or another, thank you for touching my heart. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in the story of your life the same way you played yours in mine.

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Ms. Philippines is Ms. World 2013 (insert Proud Filipino here)

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North Sumatra, Indonesia

You can really depend on the gay community anywhere in the world to remind you of the international beauty pageants happening around. I was out of the loop about the schedule as I rarely watch TV nowadays but I was gladly reminded as this event is very much anticipated even by gay people here in Indonesia. And while watching it earlier with Indonesian colleagues, I get constant update from my Indonesian gay friends in BBM as well about the event. Kudos to these great friends.

Even before the live telecast, I have been proclaiming to everyone here that Ms. Philippines will win. No doubt. Ms. World 2013 is ours.

And true enough, HOORAY to Ms. Philippines, Megan Young, for bagging Ms. World 2013 here in Bali, Indonesia! And hooray also to my gay Indo friends who joined and shared with me this moment of gaping at the TV with frequent shrieks and matching jump-with-joy every time Ms. Philippines’ name is called on stage! It was like I won as I get SMS and BBMs from Indo friends congratulating me for winning. Wooooooooooooooooooooo!

During these moments, it is extra beautiful to be a Filipina.

And tomorrow I am looking forward to jests from Indonesian colleagues on why I don’t look nowhere near Megan Young. I couldn’t care less.

Congratulations Ms. Philippines!!!! 🙂

 

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Traditional Batak Dishes

Yesterday, over talks on the eruption, we got hungry. A colleague asked me if I would like to try traditional Batak dishes. Batak is one of the many tribes in Indonesia and is one of the most popular in Sumatra. I actually have no preference at that particular time but at the mention of Batak, I immediately thought of Babi Panggang Karo (BPK) or grilled pork. Though Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world, many Bataknese are Christian due to the missionary work of Catholics and Protestants from a long time. Proof is you can find a church here every 10 km or so. No kidding.

After getting stuck in traffic for almost an hour just to get to that place which the colleague argues is serving very good Batak dishes, we arrived. The place has zero ambience. It’s like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. No air condition. No table cloth. No fancy whatever. Just authentic food.

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And these are what we got.

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Saksang, according to the colleague, is a typical Batak dish cooked every time there are festivities like weddings and birthdays. This is mainly composed of chopped meat cooked in (animal’s) blood, coconut milk and spices. Saksang comes in two variations, pork meat or dog meat. Pork meat for now for me. I still cannot imagine eating dogs.

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The colleague called this Kecap. Kecap actually means sauce here in Indonesia. I reckon Kecap manis with asin (sweet and salty soy sauce) with tomato sauce was used here. It tastes like adobo to me without the sour taste.

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And this is my lovely Babi Panggang Karo or grilled pork. The pork doesn’t really taste anything special but this comes with a bloody sauce which gives this dish an interesting flavor. The bloody sauce tastes like Saksang actually, just spicier.

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And these are the happy eaters.

As they say when in Rome, do what the Romans do. I have stopped asking for spoon and fork every time we eat out in places like this. Instead, you get a bowl of water to wash your hands with. I am no longer complaining, just embracing each and every moment of this wonderful culture that I was blessed to experience.

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Looking like an authentic Indonesian here.

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And that bulging stomach tells the whole story of how the lunch ended.

All In A Day

I woke up early yesterday as I need to go down to Medan and attend a meeting. Given the distance of the hills to the city, I will need about 3 to 4-hour drive with no traffic jam.

And since Sinabung erupted last Sunday, September 15, 2013, I was looking forward to taking photos of the said volcano from a different vantage point.

Sinabung was looking calm when I took this at around 8 AM.

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It did not reveal any plans it has in store for the day.

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And then this. (Photo from http://www.stasiareport.com.)

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On Panicking and Simplicity

Last night, as I was lying in bed doing some night reading, I got into a slight panic attack. I sneezed. No, that’s not the panic part. That sneeze could have very well been because I had my dinner in an open air without bringing even a light jacket knowing for a fact that temperature at night here can drop to 16-18 degrees Celsius without gusts of wind at that. No, I attributed the sneeze to the ash fall from the volcanic eruption that is happening as of this writing in Mt. Sinabung here in North Sumatra, a quick 45-minute drive to the hills where I am living.  

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I imagined that the wind has picked up the ash and is now blowing it straight to my window. I checked the side table for signs of gathered white powder. None. The table was squeaky clean from the good service of the housekeeper early in the morning. Still, my mind was not appeased.

I started packing for my emergency get-away bag. Seriously. I put my cash, wallet with identification cards, valuables, change of clothes, bottle of water and a box of chocolate inside. I also readied another jacket and hanged it where I can grab it quickly just in case I need to evacuate. In addition, I charged my hand phones to the brim to ensure that I will have enough battery to contact the necessary people in my life just in case.

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As I lay that emergency bag next to my bed, I was amazed at how I was able to pack quickly and in a small bag at that the things that I consider necessary. No one will seriously lug around a 4-wheeled roller. I seriously won’t.

We forget everything that we think are important like that night cream we put on our face before we go to sleep or that DSLR camera we bought at 0% interest, 12 months to pay scheme. No, all we will be thinking will be how to save our lives during those defining moments with the littlest items to hamper our quick escape.  

And this again connects to the practice that I am trying to test on myself the past few weeks, simplicity. Living with enough. In cases of natural disasters or life and death situations, we seriously wouldn’t think of packing that pillow which we swear to high heavens is needed to give us a good night sleep or that new 3-inch high-heeled pumps that we bought in a heartbeat. No, I realized all are dispensable.

How about you? What will you pack when disaster strikes? Do you have a quick emergency bag ready? What is inside or will be inside? Here is what I packed last night looks like.

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