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 Baños. 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pinto Art Museum

So sorry for being under the radar for a couple of weeks now... Life is kind of busy, sometimes filled with anxiety, but exciting and surprising at the same time! I got some great news to share but for now, let me reminisce my time with my friends three months back.

Being an introvert, I prefer places which are not crowded. My best bets are communing with nature or checking some creative works in museums and galleries. Last year, the latter was done by visiting Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo, Rizal with a couple of friends. I've seen it several times in Instagram posts and other social media platform and seeing it in person was something I've been meaning to do. The place is not that big but I have to say it did not disappoint. You'll definitely find art in every nook and cranny.

And when you're done looking at the paintings, sculptures, and various art installations, just go outside, take a breath of fresh air, enjoy the sunshine and the rustic feel of the surroundings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Apsan Park (앞산공원)

Aside from KNU, another favorite place in Daegu would be Apsan Park. I've been here several times already, in several seasons (Autumn, Winter, and Summer). I remember the first time I came here in 2011 (see here). It was my first autumn experience and the foliage was either brown, red, or yellow. I came back in the summer of 2012 with a friend, then in the winter of 2013 with my family (see here), and in the autumn of 2014 with my travel buddy (see here). Now, on my fifth time, it was the summer of 2016.

It was still the same. I was greeted with lush greenery, numerous walking trails, and my favorite way of transportation going up the mountain, the cable car.

It was still summer but some maple leaves were a little excited about autumn.

I was literally on top of the world. It felt good but there's something more... I love solitude and really value my me-time but for some reason, in that moment while at the peak of Apsan, I felt a pinch of sadness. So, I guess, what I get from this experience -traveling on my own- is that it's liberating and enriching but at some point, it gets a little lonely, especially when going to places you've been to before with the people you love. But ultimately, it's still worth it and I'd do it over again.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Little Braver

Because I'm finally done watching the Korean drama Uncontrollably Fond...

Sharing this beautiful song from the official soundtrack.

When it gets hard
I get a little stronger now
I get a little braver now
And when it gets dark
I get a little brighter now
I get a little wiser now
Before I give my heart away

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Throwback: Sights and Scenes Around KNU

Even though I live in a tropical country, the months of December to February are pleasantly cold. And speaking of cold, I am currently nursing cough and cold. It's a bit crazy here, actually. There are days when it's rainy and so cold, then suddenly, the next day, the sun is shining so bright. As a consequence, my immune system is kind of lost and confused. He he.

I remember I still haven't finished up posting about my trip to South Korea last August. Sorry for being slow in the blogging department. So, here it goes:

After a day of exploring Busan, I traveled to Daegu the next day. As I said in my previous posts, Daegu will always be my home away from home. Every time I go to South Korea, I always make it a point to visit Daegu. And the first on my list is none other than Kyungpook National University (KNU), my alma mater during my Master's. The following are some of the sights and scenes around the campus.

KNU's North Gate

Went to my former laboratory. Finally got to meet my professor again.

This used to be my daily path from laboratory to the apartment.

Just couldn't resist taking a pic of this beautiful rose

KNU's Global Plaza

Manicured lawn and old-style Main Admin. Building. Such a lovely, lovely sight!

Even if it's already months, I still feel like all these just happened yesterday. And I'm suddenly missing KNU.

I still have lots of pics and I'll try to upload them next time.

Meanwhile, I'm off to buy myself some multivitamins.

Have a great and blessed week ahead dear readers! =)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Supposed to be posted on January 3

Today is the third day of the year. It also marks the end of my holiday vacation at home for tomorrow I will be traveling back to Los Baños where I work. For me, every vacation means spending time with family but the hardest part is leaving again. But, such is life my friend. I feel sad but I don't want to be overcome by it. Okay, so before I start being too emotional, let's move on to other things. Let's talk about my favorite topic, that is -- how time flies.

Last time I check it was 2016 and now, we're in 2017. With the new year comes several resolutions in different aspects of our lives. But I don't want to do that this year. I actually don't want to expect much. I felt tired with my last year's major goal (which up to now is still hanging in the air) so I just don't want to pressure myself too much this year. I just want to take things slow and easy. I just want to live in the moment. 

One thing that I would love to do this year though is to focus on my health. Hopefully I could eat healthy and nutritious food more often and avoid skipping meals during the weekends. I also would like to exercise more and to be able to continue swimming. Gosh, I definitely miss swimming! I also would like to have a consultation with an OB/GYN because every time I have my period, for the last 12 years, I always have dysmenorrhea during the first day. I take pain relievers but I think now is the time to really see what's wrong. There's probably a hormonal imbalance but hopefully nothing serious. Also, I'd like to have a good state of mind, free from emotional clutter. And now that I'm getting older (I'll be turning thirty tomorrow by the way), I want to avoid being aggressive when it comes to dealing with unsuitable situation and people. I am hot-tempered and sometimes I can't control that so hopefully, this year, I would be able to minimize the damage. So yeah, that's all. 

Happy New Year guys!
Throwback to spending Christmas with family and relatives in 2016. Oh, hello self-timer!

My 95 year-old grandma

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Here's a random thought realization on the first day of 2017:

If you want to marry, marry someone who complements you, your attitude, and the things you believe in.

And if you don't find him or her in this lifetime, do not settle for less. Live life to the fullest even if you're on your own.

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