20 days of summer break

It’s already been almost a month of summer break so far, yet it doesn’t feel like it at all. As much as I’ve always looked forward to bidding the past chapter of my life goodbye, the fact that it had actually already happened is such a hard pill to swallow, and I’ll be honest about that. I’ve always considered myself to be someone easily attached to people—I might call people I met at a workshop-seminar for five days my best friends; label people from the internet I’ve Skyped and QQ-ed with to be amazing people in my life. But to the ones you’ve practically grown up with during your awkward and pubescent years, well… I pretty much am feeling a mild case of hashtag sepanx with quite a few.

Anyway! Enough rant for now. Jotting down tidbits of my lazy, summer days because this 127-day summer is simply overwhelming:

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Day 2. Went up again to the mountains of Rizal to see the Lady on top of the hill. I found out I was going just literally minutes before I was about to sleep (and I wasn’t quite prepared to wake up by sunrise…). Nevertheless, it felt nice to have done a good deed for the Lenten season. Right after, we went to the Cathedral in Antipolo. I offered a prayer for the intercession of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, which is pretty much self-explanatory. I felt like such a high maintenance kid having done that (well, haha), but nothing better than being guarded by your faith, I say!

Day 4. Had our visa appointment at the very guarded and strict embassy located in Roxas Boulevard. So that’s how an interview felt like!  I was actually impressed by the US embassy’s regulations—everything was so organized, from the lines by the gate to the queue numbers! Oh, and can I say that the married couple just right before us was denied of a visa… imagine what we felt being right after them. I really felt bad for them, but I was more anxious as we were the next ones in line. Grateful and thankful to the consul who even kidded around about what degree I would be taking up as an incoming university student. “What ya gonna do with that?” he said. Biggest blank face of my life ever. What I was supposed to say even? I will never forget that instance. Haha. In hindsight, I should have stated my exact major instead of its “old name”, but with that, I say, thank you. So, Meiguo, see you in a few!

 

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Day 9. Went on a daytrip to Tagaytay with my high school peeps! I wasn’t able to join them in the sleepover the evening before that because I caught a fever all of a sudden, and was in the E.R. a couple of days before that. I am so annoyingly high maintenance, I say again. We enjoyed the breathtaking view and awesome sights, played two games of bowling (and yep, I have never been embarrassed in my whole life having dropped the ball as I was just about to swing my hand, hahaha, yep, I got EQ issues), saw little ponies, played that boring fun Aligator toy (as Anna coined it to be), spent quite a while in the quaint wood-walled cottage, tested Anna and Joy’s Tagalog skills on the way home. Knowing how we’re all going to different universities, it sucks to think that this was the “last”. Why am I caught up with the idea that it’d take years for all of us to meet as a group again? Well, enough negativity for now. Can’t thank Anna and her mom enough for the warm hospitality and kindness!

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Day 10. Felt like pre-senior year and review classes time. Mariah spent the next few days here. We went to the salon and got our nails done (I got nude polish, while she got a pink-platinum combination on her nails!). Was supposed to have a picnic with my lovely neighbors aka Nitch and Yomi, having chips and that red-checkered tablecloth-turned-picnic-mat ready but life priorities happened (read: college stuff). Well, at least we got to talk to Nitch for like 30 seconds on the street!

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Day 12. Spent the day in three different malls in three different cities. Had lunch with my other high school buddies at ATC! It was short albeit sweet. Again, split up into different universities, so it was a sad feeling to part. Gonna miss these people! 😦 Caught up with each other’s lives (wow, reunion?) over great grub at Banapple. I had to leave right after eating to go to Greenhills and SM North after. Hashtag busy girl, hehe.

Day 13. Went to 168! I am at my happiest when I am here—cheap finds that don’t make me (and my wallet) cry, and for the obvious reason that I am, uhm… in my turf. Overhearing chit-nng-sã convos, familiar tunes playing, ideal venue to practice my reading ‘skills’? ‘Nuff said. Okay, I know. I shall stop. Hahahaha. Everytime I’m here, I order the same dish for lunch all the time, which never fails to make my tummy happy. Order “egg cha fan” at Lanzhou Lamian, 5th floor!

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Day 15. Had a haircut, which I liked at first, but really, really regretted a few minutes later. I always get a haircut on a whim, and end up hating it after. I will never have my hair cut ever again. Also, finally had the opportunity to have the point-and-shoot fixed at a service center (after all these years, mein gott). Getting a new and better one isn’t really a good idea (again, priorities). It’s not the best camera, but it pretty much suits what I need. This camera’s been with me for so long that I’d hate to disown it, having gone to many places and having immortalized memories with it. Now that the switch for the video now functions, here’s to more vlogs in the future!! Oh man, I am so excited, nobody knows how I feel.

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Day 15 (still). Breathing all the Chinese I can, because, you know. I was studying Chinese as if it were for a legit exam one day last week, and read 70 pages for three hours straight. The day after that, I forgot everything I read. It’s so sad that in these three years of lazily learning the language, I know nothing (okay, I probably know something compared to who I was in grade seven, but you get the point), lol. I’ve been trying to memorize survival Mandarin phrases and photographic memory-ing tones. Concentrating on pinyin now because pinyin = survival. Why does this seem like a chore?! Haha.

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Day 17. Witnessed the Washing of the Feet during Mass and did Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday with my relatives! No pictures of exteriors of churches because I prefer taking pictures in daylight. It’s been a really long time since I’ve done the latter. Visited the churches of BF-BF-Padre Pio-Eastwood-Nativity-Diliman-Claret in that order (yep, I’m a self-proclaimed Q.C. girl). Joined the bandwagon and tasted the green tea sundae at Family Mart for the first time. Obviously, I’ve failed at the twirl-all-you-can scheme!

Day 20. Not much. Just spent the evening on the laptop video jumping on Youtube. Ended up on radio interview videos of Khalil Fong and Weibird Wei. I always knew Weibird spoke perfect English, but wow, his articulate speaking skills simply astounded me. Aaaaand Khalil Fong, wo zui xihuan de geshou, what else? His rendition of G-Dragon《That XX》just raised my admiration level of him a thousand steps higher. How did I not know this video existed? You. are. amazing. And the soulgirl in me says: 小方,很棒!!非常爱你!

 

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The only real failure in life is the failure to try.

生命中唯一真正的失败是没努力尝试。 
Shēngmìng zhòng wéiyī zhēnzhèng de shībài shì méi nǔlì chángshì.

13 more days and the anxiety is building up on me as the days get closer. Why do I feel like I’m the least prepared person out there? I feel so lost and I don’t really know how to go about it. Right now I’m working on my post-lab report, but I would rather be reviewing my notes from way back… stuck in between. I have no idea what to prioritize; what matters more at this very moment. Now or the next?

When Words Just Mean So Much

I wasn’t planning on blogging about anything today, but  things happened, and the only way for me to immortalize them is to write about the happenings on this blog. Amazing how things happen just like that.

So today, I logged-in the chat website I use to meet my languages buddies after a good month. I was able to talk to a number of people — native speakers, fellow language learners and time-passers. I added a couple on Skype and QQ, something I haven’t done in a really long time, so it was such a great feeling to be able to do one of the things I genuinely enjoy doing.

One in particular was Veronica from China, who is a few years older than me. We were an instant click — the moment I found out that we shared a favorite song of Xu Song, I knew we would get along. She even mentioned that our chat was 缘分 (fate), and I believe it was. We had so many things in common, and she was able to relate to practically everything I said and mentioned, even if our topic of interest was something as shallow as the new blonde hair of Jay Chou.

Because I felt extremely comfortable talking to her, I asked for her help regarding Chinese. And it wasn’t just about anything, it was regarding the letter I had with me for the past seven months, the letter I never knew what was contained in it.

I asked for her help in helping me know what this letter meant, the letter I posted on my past blog post, the letter that remained a mystery. I promised myself that I would never bother to know what was written here, only because of the reason for this handwritten letter to motivate me to learn Chinese, and that I would be dependent on my own “skills” to be able to know what this letter means.

But I don’t know, seven months have passed but I can’t seem to wait for forever to be able to know what’s written.

Maita:

“If you have a friend afar who knows your heart, distance cannot keep you two apart.” I’m really happy to know you. Thank you for your constant enthusiastic help for me. I hope we can communicate more, learn from each other, help each other,  and make common progress.

May all go well with you.

-Liam
2012.04.21

As I finished reading, I couldn’t describe how I exactly felt. Nobody may believe this shallowness, but tears were gushing down my cheeks. I caught myself saying endless “aww’s”. I was just touched with the words written in this creased paper. I couldn’t believe I actually blinded myself from this all these months. I didn’t know how much meaning there was to this; how grateful and appreciative my friend was.

The first thing I did as I sniffed my tears was to check if that person was online on my list, but he wasn’t. I checked my message manager, and it was only then I realized that we never talked anymore. Our last conversation was in August, and that was it. A word was never heard from him ever again. That day was a few days before my misery started — the day I didn’t even think twice of having no life online, but that’s another story. Because of how pathetic I was, and still am, I decided to sort of put a period to my online life. I blamed the internet for the terrible performance I exerted during my exams that time. I considered my online friends a distraction, which is why I opted to never go online on Skype and QQ again, but if I would, I would be invisible. I realized how my selfishness and the way I tried to help myself academically put a lot of my friendships in vain, like with this. Although I can say that my grades improved so much when I did all this, all I can say is that: it all wasn’t worth it. I slowly drifted away from friends on the internet, and I can name a bunch of them who I know feel this too. What used to be fun-filled conversations led to awkward and soon, non-existent ones.

Now, nothing but the feeling of regret creeps in me, hoping I didn’t become too dramatic to end up like this.

Nobody knows how I feel, and until now, I’m still crying because of emotions I can’t describe. I miss all the friends I left, whose messages I ignored, whose calls I declined… all the friendships I can never take back.

I’m thankful for Veronica translating it, but if everything remained to be unknown, I wouldn’t be feeling any of this now.

I miss my conversations with Liam, he was the da ge  I never had.

Moments With My Online Friends

We all probably have that friend we met through the monitor or computer screen. To some, it might be through adding mutual friends on Facebook or following random people on Twitter, while some fortunate enough to be able to form deep friendships with fellow bloggers, or people they’ve met through forums or fan sites.

When I go online, I talk to more people I’ve never met than people I actually know. My Skype consists of people I might not even know how they may look like, and the people I know personally on my contacts are my close friends from school, and the number doesn’t even reach twenty.

Aside from Skype, I have a QQ account which is really unlikely for a person like me to have one (a Filipino, or a foreigner, that is). QQ is somewhat like the Skype of the mainland Chinese community, so a person from somewhere outside China having one is something a lot of Chinese users find absurd and plain weird. So of course, my QQ contacts list is 100% Chinese-populated, with personal messages and status updates all written in Chinese. And, well, yes, you can say that I have never breathed the same air with any of my contacts on QQ, but ironically, I don’t feel all “alone” when I am logged-in there.

My online friendships all started in late grade school, early 2008. That was the time I first started writing to penpals online through e-mail. It was something I got to do often until high school came, where I temporarily said goodbye to that favorite hobby of mine. Although quite a lot of them are my friends on Facebook, I wasn’t able to keep in touch with majority of them. If I had mentally counted it right, more or less, I had over a hundred penpals. I had amazing friendships with each of them, with a few who I swore that I was best friends with — through the keyboard and monitor.

To cut the long story short, my online friendships now shifted to people I call my language-learning partners and buddies. I didn’t meet them on penpal and friendship sites; my friendships with them were formed through a good conversation on language-chatting sites and through fellow language-learners as well. Since I am learning Chinese, at least half of the people on my contacts list are native Chinese speakers and fellow learners. But of course, I don’t exclude people not learning the language for me to be able to chat with them. More than the sentence construction and help I get to exchange with them, it’s the friendship that I have with all of them that I value the most. Never mind the new characters I get to learn; the slang expressions I get to share with them — being able to talk about anything and everything with them is such a great feeling. Our conversations become so fun-filled or even intellectual that the thought of them being “online friends” doesn’t even cross my mind.

And of course, just like with friends I know in real life, I have fond memories with them, with a lot being shallow and weird, but whatever it is, is unforgettable and memorable enough for me to jot down. Exactly ten months ago, I had my first conversation with a person online who I absolutely had no idea I would be really, really great friends with. Although we don’t get to talk as much as we did in the past months, that person will always remain a best friend to me; someone close to my heart, which led me to write this blog entry.

And if there’s something I appreciate more than anything, it’s their thoughtfulness! It’s so infectious sometimes I want to cry tears of joy. Random acts of kindness are just too much to handle.

This has got to be the first since I remember this being one of the first pictures I ever received from my online friends this year. I loved my conversations with this person because never were they so dull or lifeless. Victor is a genuine person who you know is really interested in having a good conversation. We literally talked about anything, from uni life to nai cha! But this made me go “aww” the day he sent this picture, and even up to this day, his thoughtfulness still makes me feel so happy. He knew how much I loved milk tea… so there goes the thoughtfulness!

And I am the ultimate sucker for anything handwritten, so there goes another point for thoughtfulness. This is the closest I can get to snail mail, and don’t you just love seeing someone’s handwriting? I love that feeling!

Don’t look down on my ability of memory.

This is the same person who sent the note. There was a time that I was at Angelique’s house along with Mariah and Mika, when we had a sleepover from Pueblo. Coincidentally, I was online on QQ that time and I was chatting with Victor. I don’t know how it started but we ended up voice and video chatting with him! It was so amazing, and it was the best feeling ever — my friends getting to know my online friends. Weeks have passed since that time but he still remembered their names perfectly. So sweet!

My name stylized in Chinese. If that isn’t sweet, I don’t know what else is.

I remember talking to Kunpeng while he was using a Chinese writing brush for something school-related. It was super nice of him to paint my name! It also looks so nice and perfect, although he kept on saying his writing was ugly. I don’t care, it looks so beautiful!

If I remember it right, he was the one who actually “baptized” me with this Chinese name of mine. Although my name isn’t the best (because, clearly, my name is for a boy, not gonna lie), I still use it because, well, it’s the most accurate and nearest!

Another fond memory of mine is giving my online friends their English names. I usually ask them for their English names so that I could remember them more easily. While some of them didn’t have, I took the privilege of naming them! The names I remember are Charles, John, etc. It always feels like I’ve done them a good deed baptizing them with a name.

That smiley is the accurate drawing of the QQ smiley!

Anyway, a thoughtful person is thoughtful. I loved how jolly he always was when we would chat, with exclamation points and “haha’s” in every message sent.

This one is so corny I swear, but every time I remember what happened, I can’t help but laugh. I was at Francis’ house along with my groupmates and while we were having merienda, I was on the laptop, chatting on QQ. Although nobody knew, I was on voice chat the whole time, just to let Ciniy hear them. They were talking the whole time, and they found out when I was giggling weirdily. Francis suddenly put his mouth by the laptop and said, “Konnichiwa!” FAIL! I said, “What the hell, Francis, she’s Chinese!!!” Boisterous laugh filled the air, while my Chinese friend was on the line, silent, weirded by what was happening. It was so funny.

Maita: How come you always say “haha”?

Chamin: Haha

*utlimate facepalm*

I’ve mentioned this in one of my blog posts below. I was on voice chat with a Chinese friend, Claire, and Mika joined us just for the heck of it. We sang my favorite song and it was the greatest feeling ever! I couldn’t believe I actually agreed (well, looking back, it was actually me who offered, lol) to sing. I sang. Over the internet. What in the world?

Singing my favorite song with a native speaker, with a friend of mine knowing how it’s like… I couldn’t ask for anything more.

This was way back sophomore year. He mentioned he loved Math, and if I needed help in anything related to it, I could ask him with no hesitation. This time, I really needed it since I couldn’t ask for anybody else’s help. Never in my life did I think that someone online would be helping me with my homework! He’s so amazing, and I’m grateful even up to this day. This is just one of the many things he’s done to help me, concerning academics, languages or not. I remember I needed help in my Trigonometry homework and Josip even made a freakin’ step-by-step tutorial for it on Photoshop! I don’t get how some people can be so effortlessly kind and thoughtful. I envy how natural it is to them.

And I repeat, this is just one of the many, many things he’s done. He’s even helped Mariah in Algebra this school year, I remember!

Scroll down!

So Chamin found Joy beautiful… hahaha. Told ya Joy, you look so pretty in this picture! I kept on laughing on my seat when I was reading his reaction. So I asked why he found Joy pretty and I mentioned she was a Korean. Chamin asked what chatting tools she used, and I told the truth since I didn’t know what to say. He was actually interested in getting to know Joy. But his “nope” meant a, well, no. Haha!

See Nahshin, I wasn’t lying!

When I told her this at the canteen, Joy said, “YEY!!!”

I hope she doesn’t kill me for this… hahaha. :p

I was talking to Alana through voice chat, and our conversation ended up on music. I asked her if she knew who Xu Song was, my favorite singer. She suddenly shouted in the background, and there was sort of a commotion in the other line.

Alana: 她也喜欢许嵩!(She also likes Xu Song!)

Roommate: 真的吗?!(Really?!)

Alana: 她是菲律宾人!(She is Filipino!)

She probably thought that I didn’t understand what she was saying. She got too excited that she told her roommate that I liked Xu Song too! Turned out that her roommate was a big, big, big fan of him, so even I, was shocked. She was obsessed with him, and she was happy to find out that I liked him too. I was more than shocked because I have honestly never met someone who actually had the guts to say that he or she was a fan. It was so amazing, and I didn’t want the moment to ever end! Her roommate immediately added my account on QQ. Not only did I gain a friend that evening, I gained another! The feeling was indescribable. She also liked Show Luo, and wow, I couldn’t believe it. I never met anyone like her. It’s so amazing that the friend of my friend became my friend. I don’t know how their Chinese names, I don’t know how they look like, but knowing that we had something in common made everything else unnecessary. It’s so amazing how an interest immediately creates a bond between people!

I received this letter seven months ago and even up to this very moment, I have no idea what’s written in it. All I can read is the first sentence which is 你好! And after that, I barely have no clue of what is written. I can read some, but not all. There’s something that says he’s happy to meet me and he is thankful. I don’t know if that’s even right, and here I am posting it hoping that a good Chinese soul would tell me what this letter means. I told Liam to purposely not tell me what is contained in the letter so that I would be more encouraged to learn (and hopefully master) Chinese; that whatever he wrote would be a mystery. Well, being a weakling I am, I ended up asking for it anyway, but he didn’t give it. So here I am, stuck with no idea what is written here! I can’t even say if there’s anything “private” written here, but I hope posting it where anybody can see is not a bad idea… lol.

These are just some of the many and endless list of moments I had with my online friends that I would always want to remember. Although I wouldn’t deny that half of the people on my list are just there, online on my list, I itch to have a conversation with all of them. The paranoid and anxious me says that they might be too busy to chat, or that they might not be interested. Some may not even remember chatting or even know that I am part of their contacts list, but these shallow memories will always be remembered by me. Life goes on, people change, but memories remain. I don’t think they even remember writing these notes, sending these messages and singing over the internet but I truly treasure all this!