Sunday, December 25, 2016

happy holidays!

It’s that familiar time of the year. Only this time, I am in very unfamiliar place. Thankfully, familiar people surround me in this season of cheers and gratitude.

Greetings from TGB

From Team Carnice in TGB and AKL to yours, along with your relatives and friends, may you have a happy, colorful, Christmas every day of the year. Being joyful and grateful for the blessings and challenges overcome are just a few of the many great gifts you can give to your loved ones all year round (and perhaps also to one’s self).

With the most beautiful birthday girl this Christmas

On top of that, I’d like to add a shout-out to my mother who is celebrating her birthday on this special holiday. Christmas is never complete without her radiating light of love and beauty from inside and out. I wish I could be witness to more of her smiles and various acts of kindness in the coming years. My love for her is as profound as the birthing of a universe.

Greetings from AKL

Once again, happy holidays! Many grand things exist in this world to (ful)fill this lifetime, and one of them is to be reminded of what’s good, honest, and precious in this world. Have a great day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

changes this christmas

I’m on Day 17 in this foreign land, with 1 day or 24 hours left before Christmas (which also happens to be my mother's birthday), and just 7 days before I welcome another year in this lifetime. It is a privilege to be here, to be in new light (the sun springs out of the shadows at five in the morning and hides back in darkness only at nine in the evening), to be thousands of kilometers away from a country that does not seem to run out of emotional upheavals, political grievances, personal (ir)responsibilities.

It is, at the same time, bittersweet to be away from my family, relatives, the usual culprits who I’ve spent many holiday seasons with in the past. Never have I been so faraway that my skin tingles at the thought of ice-cold winds in a sunny summer alone. It is like living in Baguio or Tagaytay—only taken several notches higher.

But “change” is the word that is incessantly heard all throughout this year. Like a bell that never stops tolling, it demands to be noticed. It insists to be as relevant as ever that it now verges on a kind of desire or an ideal that seems so close to our reaches but always slips out of our hands. Perhaps this time it didn’t slip, perhaps this is the change that the universe has afforded me.

It is not without hesitation though, this change of scenery. Coming here brings a baggage that is not easy to carry, both figuratively and literally. When you live in the now, there is no denying that the past is close to the present, that yesterday is just a stone’s throw away to the next day. Hence, despite the overwhelming expanse of this country, one would never know when the ugly head of the unexpected goes peeking out of a corner.

Nevertheless, the past few days have been kind, have been brimming with beautiful possibilities. Fluctuating temperatures, jet lag, and change of time zones be damned! Some people have asked me, a genuine worry in their voice, if the place is too quiet for me. I gladly respond it is what I need: Peace from all the noise of this world. From Hamilton to Matakana, from Mission Bay to Royal Oak, from Matamata to Onehunga, from Tauranga to Ngatea, from Western Springs to Rotorua, from Queen Street to Bay of Plenty, so far so good. I have the say the travels are eventful. There’s more to come, and the season’s cheers and excitement are already feeling like close to home. Christmas is here to stay, in our hearts, and I will enjoy the holidays no matter where my feet take me to.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

favorite things

This morning at Onehunga I got two of my favorite things in this world: books and cats. Big, chunky, delicious books from local writers for less than $20 and a pair of kitty bookends to prop up those books for $15. Bargain level: Expert. If I’ve known way, way earlier, I’d probably be spending the past few weeks in those hard-to-find bookshops. But all in all, it still feels like my Christmas has arrived way too early. What a day.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

find them!

In theory, David Yate’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” is a difficult material to grapple with. It is not based on an actual novel but on a fictional textbook used in a fictional school. It features weary-looking adults that we are not familiar with. And for all its heavy-lifting to connect to the Harry Potter universe, it does not feature the three main characters that have made that universe endearing in the first place. I think this is why J.K. Rowling herself, the mastermind behind said universe, is hitched to write the movie’s script. The first story that showcased Rowling’s Wizarding World was released on 1997 and the latest was in July 2016 in the form of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a stage play performed in London and soon in New York. Now, decades have passed, and two factions have grown between the sporadic updates that Rowling expertly drops here and there: those who relished the revelations and those who grow tired of over-selling the story. As a millennial who first introduced the Harry Potter books to my elementary classmates when I was eight years old, obviously, I belong to the former. After thousands of pages of histories and back stories that all started in 1997, it is nothing short of fantastic that everything seems to connect so flawlessly into one elegant narrative, one that links the brand-new story of Newt Scamander in 1920’s New York in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie to The Boy Who Lived. Its plot is simple: a wizard goes to foreign land, accidentally unleashes mayhem, solves the problem, and stumbles upon new threats along the way. Eddie Redmayne was an odd choice to play Newt, but he proved himself capable of fitting into the world of nifflers, alohomoras, and wizard politics without standing out too much. Speaking of standing out, Alison Sudol’s mind-reading Queenie and Samantha Morton’s ultra-orthodox Mary Lou Barebones were clearly the salt and pepper that spiced up this movie. They stood out in many good ways. As for that surprise in the end? Not so much. I won’t spoil it here. There seems to be missing arcs in all the characters which drags the story from becoming truly exceptional. What is Newt’s real motivation for coming to the Big Apple? Why is the magical community in this city so backward? Why does Tina look eternally teary eyed? Despite the presence of the beasts that give the movie its bright humorous spots, there’s a veneer of sadness on each scene, or an undertone of something sinister and terrible is about to happen soon. Rowling is often accused of expanding (and milking) too much the Wizarding World, but with a tale teeming with cultural paranoia, political discontent and bigotry, this feels solid and relevant. Even with the obvious plot holes and the need for more instalments, I’d be happy to dive right into the chaos. I’m a fan.

[ photo borrowed from this site ].