Sunday, May 21, 2017

Life These Days

A few weeks ago, in a newly opened bookstore in town, I decided to browse and buy something interesting to read. It took me about half an hour to get through most of the stuff. Then, as I flipped the pages of the book 365 Days of Wonder, I found this:

Such an interesting thought by Edward Morgan Forster. And I guess, in one way or another, this applies to most of us. I, for one, have just experienced what it's like to let go of my initial plans and go with what life has in store for me. But just to clarify, this doesn't mean that we just wait for what's going to happen without having some sort of plan or setting some goals. It's still important to have them because they will be our guide, our map to living the life we want.

I have always wanted to do a PhD abroad. After finishing my Masters in South Korea in 2013, I went back to the Philippines to prepare and search for PhD programs and, at the same time, to work. In 2015, I started reviewing for TOEFL and GRE, and took both in October of the same year. My plan was to study PhD in the United States which requires TOEFL and GRE. My TOEFL was good, however, my GRE was a disaster so I reviewed again and planned to retake in the coming months. In 2016, I started emailing professors and applying to various graduate school programs (mostly in Europe and Australia since I haven't taken my GRE yet). Then, US elections came and the results made me rethink about my plans. The US economy looks fragile and funding for research was not that high. Now, this is the part where E.M. Forster's quote comes in. I decided to let go of my plans of doing PhD in the US. I abandoned it but I did not abandon my dream of pursuing a PhD. I knew that I just have to look for other options. I still continued to search for programs and vacancies. Then, in January of this year, I found a scholarship announcement for PhD Studentships at the site of Nature Jobs. I submitted my application to the coordinator and it was forwarded to the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI then contacted me. And the rest is history... Haha just kidding! To make the long story short, after getting through interviews, I was finally accepted! *insert HAPPINESS*

So, in everything that we do, I think it's important to be guided by our dreams or goals but also (as what E.M. Forster said) be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lola Luisa "Loleng"

Been missing my lovely, wonderful, and courageous grandmother every single day.

Mahal na mahal po kita Lola. (I love you very much grandma.)

I hope you're having a grand new life up in heaven!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

See You Again Lola

It's been eight days since you left us and my heart still hurts.

I miss you deeply, Lola*.

Whenever I walk in your room it's as if you're still there, lying in bed. But I'd like to remember you sitting on the porch, waiting for me, and seeing your big smile whenever I come home. Or when you're sipping a cup of coffee, asking me if I already have breakfast. Or hearing all your stories from your (difficult) childhood to how you (together with Lolo) worked so hard just to send your children to school until they finished college.

You lived with so much strength and courage, even in your last days.

I know the time will come when you will meet God and I only have one favor, I pray and ask Him to give you a big hug. But more than that, I know that God will shower you with eternal love, peace, and happiness.

*Lola is a Filipino word for grandmother.
  Lolo is a Filipino word for grandfather.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy Week

The Lenten season or Holy Week is a way of remembering the suffering and passion of Jesus, dying on the cross to save us and His resurrection on the third day, which is on Easter Sunday.

Here in the Philippines, the Holy Week is a public holiday from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Usually, people go to their homes in the province to spend the Holy Week with their family. I, on the other hand, was all alone in the apartment. I wasn't able to get a ticket going home since the buses were already fully booked. It's probably one of the loneliest moments I've had in Los BaƱos. Also, my grandmother's condition is not good. She has lost appetite and is experiencing muscle atrophy. I went home two weeks ago to spend time and take care of her even for just a few days but this Holy Week, I wasn't by her side. She's in my prayers though. Always.

This Holy Week is probably one of the loneliest but it's also one of moments where I really prayed hard, not for myself, but for my beloved grandmother. It has also given me time to reflect about life and to go back to what Jesus did for you and me.

We can never repay what Jesus had done for us, dying on the cross to save us. But one thing we can do is to have a deeper relationship with him.

Happy and blessed Easter everyone!

P.S. Dear reader, may you include my grandmother, Luisa or Lola Loleng as I fondly call her, in your prayers.

image source here

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Never Give Up

If you remember my intro in my post about Pinto Art Museum - about my life these days and that I have some great news to share. I think now is the time to talk about that. =)

Finally, finally! I've been accepted in a PhD program! (This gal is a bit teary eyed right now.) It's been my goal for several years already (all my entries can be found in the label Road to PhD) and now, it's starting to become a reality.

I would say the whole PhD application process was not an easy road. I applied to a lot of grad schools and emailed professors in different countries since January 2016 and every time, it was either "There's no vacant position." or "You are not accepted." or no reply at all. It was depressing and emotionally draining. Every time I get rejected, I checked another school, another professor. And then I get rejected again. It came to a point of even asking myself whether I still deserve to do a PhD. Self-pity and weariness took over. That's the point where I realized I need to surrender my dreams to God. One weekend this January, I had a very honest, soul-baring talk to Him. I prayed, cried, demanded answers, and just said every single thing that's running in my mind. I did not hear any answer at that moment but after sometime, I got the answers. Things started to fall into place. On the fourth week of January, I received an email from a scientist in one of the PhD programs I applied to at the start of this year. It was very encouraging. Week after week, interview after interview, prayer after prayer, I was finally accepted in his group. I've been meaning to do biomedical research and now it's finally becoming a reality.

So, I guess, what I get from the whole experience is that it's a test of patience and perseverance - that we should never give up on our dreams no matter what, no matter how long it takes. And that it's also a walk of faith - that God's plans are what's best for us and His timing is always perfect. And He has given me people who also play a part in making my dream a reality:
  • my family who has always been there for me since Day 1, who has always supported and loved me, especially in my unlovable moments;
  • my previous supervisors in the Submergence team, advisers/professors in my undergrad and masters, and supervisor in my current work, for not only sharing their knowledge but also for influencing and helping me navigate in the field of scientific research and for the recommendation letters they made countless of times in all my grad school applications;
  • my friends who have been a shoulder to cry on whenever I discuss my PhD dream and the rejections I encountered along the way and who also lend a helping hand during the interview process (someone became my consultant and gave some interview do's and don'ts and another came with me when I needed to do interviews at the office and one time, we even spent the whole night at the office for a late night interview).
I will forever be grateful and honored to have all these amazing people in my life.

Ultimately, my dreams and sacrifices, my achievements and failures, every bit of my being, I offer them all to God. To God be the glory! 

Before I end this post, here's a gentle reminder for all the people who are chasing their dreams.

image source here

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Works of Art

Sharing some of my favorite artistic creations at the Pinto Art Museum.

Bright, Cheerful and Pleasant Acts by Arya Balingit (Oil on Canvas)

How realistic looking is she? Loving the color combination and the blending.

Looks like a sketch using a pencil but it's actually made of thread on silkscreen.

This doesn't look like it but it's actually made of threads. Can you just imagine how much work was put into it?

Because sometimes, we just want to goof around - us trying to portray the two birds.

Wires, wires, wires everywhere! An artwork installation made of wires.

When technology meets art. X-ray films and photographs in one.

Fall of the Carnal Being by John Marin (Oil on Canvas)

My most favorite! There's something very compelling when you look at it.
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