11.11.11: My Original Speech for the Bride (With a Little Variation)

It’s been a few days now but I’m pretty sure that many of the guests during the Canlas-Salazar wedding still can’t get over the event – and one of those guests is me. I gave a toast to the bride, who is my best friend in the whole wide world, but I wasn’t able to read what I originally wrote because I was so embarrassed with the paper I wrote it in. Good thing I knew it by heart (I’ve been thinking of what to say for months now) but I also knew that there were a few hits and misses because I also blanked out while delivering my toast. I didn’t want to cry so I promised to make my speech light. See, I already cried the last time we really talked about her wedding, even if it was just via SMS (and Love can attest to this as she was there to witness it but that’s an entirely different story). Hindi kasi uso ang drama sa aming dalawa and we seldom talk about serious things when we are together so I wanted to make my toast as light (and maybe a little funny) as possible.

I didn’t give Tracy a gift but I told her that I will give her a copy of what I originally wanted to say. Here’s the first draft of what I gave her:

Chie is one of my oldest friends. I’ve literally known her half my life – 13 years to be exact. From being merely seatmates, who would’ve thought we’d go this far? I wasn’t blessed with any sister so I consider her as my sister from another mother. Pili ka na lang Chie kung si Tita Irene or is Madir. They’re not much different anyway, kaya siguro magkasundo rin tayo. Hehe.

It’s rare in life that you’ll find a friend na magkatinginan lang kayo, magtatawanan na kayo. Or makarinig lang kayo ng kanta, you’ll both break out dancing. With Chie and I, it’s like that. So Chie, you’re very lucky to have me as a friend.

I have a lot of fond memories with Chie. It just gets crazier with time. It’s hard to pick the best but one of our best memories would be the yearly celebration of her birthday. Lagi kasing maraming pagkain. There was one time that she left us freezing on their rooftop, which we call Tagaytay because it’s just freezing cold up there, dahil nakatulog na siya sa sofa nila sa sobrang pagod. Buti na lang, as always, masarap ang pagkain namin paggising.

When she asked me to be her Maid of Honor, sabi ko talaga sa sarili ko, “Gosh, moment ko na rin to,” kasi nga I see her as an extension of myself and vice versa. So sabi ko talaga, dapat maganda and sexy rin ako today kasi feeling ko magrereflect kung anuman ang itsura at kilos ko this day sa kanya. I’m just not sure if na-achieve ko. Anyway, yesterday, I realized that today isn’t just my moment, it’s our moment sa tropa dahil ikaw ang unang ikakasal.

Chie, I know that this is your day and I’m happy that you got your dream wedding. I know that we never actually talked about this stuff but I can really see that you’re happy. Thank you for keeping me grounded. If you all don’t know, she is one of the reasons why I’m on the right path. She’ll always be, like, “Lala!” everytime I tell her of my kalokohan. So deep down inside, underneath all this craziness of hers, she really has a good heart.

To the two of you, congratulations. I feel like such a bad friend kasi d ako masyadong third wheel sa inyo, as is normal sa atin, but I know that you’re happy. Sabi ko naman sayo when you shared the news that Ron proposed, I felt it nung birthday mo last year. O diba, sisters from another mother talaga tayo? To Ron, I know that we actually didn’t have the time to bond talaga but I hope that this is the start. I also know that I don’t have to say this because I know you’re doing it na but I think it’s my job as the maid of honor to do so I’ll say it anyway, please take care of our Tracy.

Again, congratulations Tracy and Ron. Please don’t turn into those couples who become boring after getting married. I’m happy that you guys found each other. You’re a team now. Thank you for making us believe that true love exists and that it can last forever.

More or less, my toast went something like that. I know that my moment is over but again, hindi pa rin ako makamove on sa fact that my best friend is already married. One thing that’s made me proud is that she did it at the right way – she did not marry out of convenience or necessity. She married out of love and that is something rare at her age, okay, our age.

So here’s an extension of my message to the bride:

Chie,I know that in the past year or so, we never really got to hang out as much as used to with our busy schedules and all but I want you to know that I’m just, as I remember saying during the toast, a province or two away. Ngayon pa lang ako naiiyak but I’d like to think of it as not losing my best friend, but rather gaining another one in Ron. Thank you for being a part of my life, for keeping me grounded, and for always, always, knocking some sense into my head. Hindi mo lang alam but your opinion really matters. With all my craziness, you never left my side. We’ve had our ups and downs, mostly ups dahil nga hindi uso sa atin ang drama, but the challenges that our friendship made along the way only defined who we are to each other. Thank you for accepting who I really am, kahit na alam kong hindi madali sayo nung una. Alam kong may 2 days tayong d nag-usap nun when I told you that I’ve turned to the other side. Looking back, that was really funny. Hahaha.

But anyway, I’m very proud of what you’ve become and what you’ve accomplished. Thank you sa family mo who always treats us with the best hospitality Coloong can give but most of all, thank you for the friendship. I will miss hanging out with you but don’t think that just because you’re married ay titigil na rin ang pagcrash namin sa bahay mo. Medyo malayo lang nga ngayon dahil sa Pampanga ka na, pero pag gusto, may paraan – lalo na kung may pagkaing dadatnan (o diba, it rhymes?).

To Ron, thank you for being the man who made Tracy’s dreams come true – for giving her what she really deserves. Aside from Love, she is one of the few and most loyal and faithful partners I know. I am looking forward to knowing you more and I hope that we will get to hang out in the future – you, Tracy, me, and the rest of the Tropa.

In behalf of Tropang Plan B, congratulations and we love you both. 🙂

 

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Climbing Mt. Kinabalu: Day 2 (Part 3)

So it took me a few months to finally finish my post on my experience as a first-time Mt. Kinabalu climber. This is a tribute to my ever-supporting partner-in-crime, I mean, partner-in-life, because upon descending Mt. Kinabalu, she was the one who was more determined to finish this life-threatening challenge.

As I mentioned before, the descent took 7 hours. We left Laban Rata late; in fact, James Lee had to shoo us away just so we could reach the base in time for dinner (or earlier, at least). Before leaving, however, we prepared for our descent by me eating a lot of breakfast (I mean a really huge breakfast I sampled all dishes) and Love wrapping her oh-so-weak knees with Omega painkillers and a bandage. We also purchased wooden sticks, 2 for each of us, to help us balance during the descent. We vowed to take this sticks home to Manila. Luckily for us, we did. Yey! James Lee, the ranger, made sure we were prepared enough and bade us goodbye.

My kind of breakfast
My poor girlfriend gearing up for the descent.

Since it was relatively early (though late to some experienced climbers) and a lot of climbers were hiking the trail with us, we were more than eager and motivated to descend those steep steps of Mt. Kinabalu. The trail had gotten so steep that you wouldn’t be able to see the next step from where you were standing at. However,  we still managed  to stop and take more pictures than the previous night had allowed us – at first. With the fog, the cool weather, the great scenery, the hikers we met who were climbing and descending the trail – we predicted it was gonna be a better day.

We’ve come prepared!
Wooden sticks became our new best friend.

There were a few personalities worth mentioning though because they made the descent even more fun. One was an old man who could pass as our father who had two (or was it three) lads accompanying him. We thought, “Hey, we can descend faster than him, I bet!” But we got so relaxed the first few stops we were surprised we missed him on the next stopovers! Now where did that old man go? Did he finally succumb to his weakness and had to be brought down using a stretcher? That I did not want to think of. I’d like to think he was just a faster hiker than us.

Next off: Two gentlemen – one experienced, one who was not. These two dudes were so funny cause they asked if we still needed our wooden sticks. The experienced hiker wanted to buy our sticks for his friend who was so flushed from their hike they had to stop and rest before even reaching the next shelter. Haha. He immediately defended himself by saying he was more of an office guy. We only said one thing – “Yeah, so are we.”

Finally, there was a group of 7-8 (maybe 10) year-olds who were climbing the trail as part of their expedition. I had to look at Love out of sheer surprise and astonishment as to how these kids could even muster enough strength to do the hike. They must have started early, like 8am early, for them to be at this point in their climb. One kid looked like that ubercute chubby kid from “Up” and when Love saw him, his face was so red, he rested his chin on his stick, and suddenly said, “I’m so tired.” Now, isn’t that just adorable?

These climbers were definitely more disciplined as we were. As soon as we left Laban Rata, people were already arriving at that very same place. And all of them were astounded with our 13-hour climb from the previous night. Yup, we are record breakers indeed.

I have one word for you: OMG.
I’d sue the school if they forced our kid to do this.

As with the previous climb, the first 3kms were relatively easy. My knees started to gave in after passing the 3km mark. By giving in, I mean that every step down felt like my patella was going to protrude from my skin. I had to go down really, really slowly for fear of seeing my bones pushing out of my body. Now it was Love’s turn to lead the way and encourage me to finish the trail. She constantly checked if I was okay – looking back and waiting for me if she thought she veered too far away from me since I had to stop and rest in small intervals. I also had sores in my hands due to holding my wooden sticks so tight for support.

Of course, our not-so-useless mountain guide ought to be mentioned still. Fortunately for us, James Lee, the ranger, instructed him to wait for us and check on us if he starts to descend faster than a speeding bullet that we could no longer catch up with him. He also carried most of our heavy luggage, with additional costs, of course. As we were slow climbers, we were also slow descending hikers. We had to let fellow hikers pass us by since we don’t want to ruin their momentum. There really is a certain adrenaline rush when you have a big group hiking with you and that made us descend with the same speed, even for a short moment. Then it was back to slowing down due to the insufferable pain of my knees.

We knew we were close when we saw the falls. It meant we were less than 500m to Timpohon Gate and I tried my very best, of course with words of encouragement from Love, to walk and thankfully, the trail became easier. Not much of the steep steps anymore as with the previous ones. And there it was – like an apparition from heaven – the deadly steps that led to Timpohon Gate. By that time, it was already 6pm and yes, we were the last ones to arrive – AGAIN. Before climbing the steps to Timpohon Gate, I rested for what seemed like forever because I never thought I could walk another step again. Then it started drizzling. To my surprise, Love was already at the gate. She really was determined to finish this hike. So I had no choice. I climbed. Every step begging for this hike to end. And it did. We were going to see our families after all.

I think I kissed the ground but I’m not so sure.

Bioarchaeology and Its Complexities for a Non-Medical Student

Entering the Archaeological Studies Program combined my love for science and history. I have always been fascinated with Classical Archaeology – a term I only learned when I got into the program. My curiosities were also piqued by the ancient South American civilizations – Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t find an undergraduate degree for Archaeology at the University of the Philippines. Fortunately, my boredom and need to constantly seek for intellectual pursuits led me to enroll at ASP – a decision not once have I regret. During my interview, I was asked if I have any thesis topics in mind and what areas I would want to study. Immediately I knew I would focus on human remains.

My desire to study archaeological assemblages of human skeletal remains was born primarily out of my frustration to become a medical practitioner. You see, I’m a sucker for Biology way back when I was still in grade school. I was interested in the human body and all its curiosities. I even listed Microbiology as my second choice when I took an entrance exam in one of the two universities I applied for. I was waitlisted. I probably would have pursued it had I not been accepted at my first choice at the University of the Philippines. My back-up plan then was to take up Microbiology as a pre-med course should I be interested to pursue it post-graduation (No, I never wanted to become a nurse). Of course, that plan never materialized. That might have been the universe’s way of telling me (subtly) that handling medical cases involving living people is not for me. I have a weak heart. By weak, I mean that it would be very difficult for me to bear the thought of losing a patient’s life because of something I may or may not have done, which is probably the same reason it never crossed my mind to become a lawyer. Suffice to say, I do get disheartened easily. I may not have excelled in Science as much as I did in English but it was certainly one of my favorite classes – and it was something I wanted to pursue in the future.

Did I ever mention that I am addicted to forensic dramas? As a Broadcast Communication graduate, I am in love with most forms of media – television, radio, movies, and the internet. My television and movie-watching habits were formed at an early age, during which my family and I would gather every evenings to watch movies on VHS. Now that each of us has different interests in movies and television shows, I found that I am mostly interested in crime, courtroom, and forensic dramas. I first became a huge fan of the CSI brand, watching all episodes religiously (including CSI Miami and CSI New York), even going home early during the days these episodes are shown. Then came Bones, a television show starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. Bones is about a forensic anthropologist and an FBI agent who team up to solve crimes that involve, you guessed right, bones. While some of the techniques they used to solve crimes borders on unrealistic and sometimes impractical, it still shows viewers the huge amount of information bones can tell us only if we look closely and analyze them carefully.

Zeroing in on a single topic to study human skeletal assemblages was, for the most part, a torturing process. For someone who does not have any medical background, the possibilities are endless and overwhelming. It took me a week to single out a research study that I would really be interested in pursuing, only to realize that I have no specific archaeological site where to get the samples to study. There is scarcity in recovering human remains from archaeological sites and the assemblages that one could study in the laboratory are very few. This, I think, is the main problem I had to overcome in researching for a potential thesis proposal. While there are future excavations wherein human remains are expected to be unearthed, it will take months of waiting before I could actually start writing my thesis. It was proposed in class that I join the An Son, Vietnam and/or Nagsabaran excavations which will occur late in the year and early next year so that I would be with the project from the very beginning until the post-excavation analysis. While I have other thesis topics I can pursue that also relate to human bones, I would really want to do osteological analysis in the laboratory. As mentioned, my lack of experience in analyzing human remains further poses a problem as I need the required skills and training to study skeletal assemblages. I finally decided on joining either (but hopefully both) the Vietnam or Nagsabaran excavation. The months-in-waiting can be productively used to get the skills and training I need to do my thesis.

So what exactly am I doing for my thesis proposal? I decided to investigate the use of musculoskeletal markers (MSMs) as indicators of activities of ancient populations. I was advised by an expert that the topic is quite complex and doing my thesis in Vietnam is quite costly so why not just research an assemblage in the Philippines. As easily disheartened as I am, I actually pondered on that thought for a moment until I realized that at this point, anything I do, any method I choose to analyze human skeletal remains is complicated because of my lack of medical background. I made a decision to accept the challenge then, just like going into the Archaeological Studies Program was a way of challenging myself whether I could earn a Master’s degree or not.

I am not in a hurry to learn just as I am not rushing to get my degree. I don’t need to earn my Master’s degree in the shortest time possible. I would like to think that I took my time learning while having fun at the same time. Experience is the best teacher and this is what I hope to get out of my research.

Help Save the Animals – Volunteer!

So everyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about animals. Currently, we have 7 pets: 2 German Shepherds, 2 Shih Tzus, 2 hamsters, and a rabbit. My mom does all the hardwork for taking care of the dogs while I care for my little hamsters and rabbit.I also lost my very first Shih Tzu a couple of days after Ondoy and a German Shepherd 9 months after that.

This post is inspired by a recent trip I had over the weekend. Love, Elena, and I went to Batangas to attend the Pinagbayanan Exhibit in San Juan but the bad weather kept us in Lipa instead. As we boarded the bus to Lipa, we were appalled to find out that there was this guy who took the bus and placed his goat in the storage area of the bus (not sure what it’s called, but it’s where the bags are put during the trip). I am not a goat but I know how hot it is in there. So Love made small talk with the goat’s owner and said that it was “safe” to put the goat there since it was also put there when they traveled all the way from Isabela to Manila. Dear Lord, I cannot imagine how inhumane this is! Elena tried to make light of the situation and told me that this is the life the goat was meant to live. For me, it’s not enough. Putting a goat inside the compartment where the vehicle’s machine is is pure torture. If it were up to me, I’d put that goat owner inside with his goat so he’d know how it feels. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I saw this happen.

A month ago, my family and I were on our way home to Manila from Pangasinan and this family was about to board an ordinary bus (you know, the one without the air-conditioning system) and they had a dog in tow. It wasn’t an aspin, the dog was a cross between a Lhasa Apso and a Shih Tzu, not sure which of the two. Since animals are not allowed inside buses, the conductor suggested they put the dog inside the compartment too! Good thing the family refused. But they still didn’t know how to care for their pet as the mom tried to lift the dog by the leash, choking the dog through her collar. The little girl also dragged her pet as they walked towards the bus. I mean, is this even legal?

I know animals are not a priority in this country and it sucks that animal rights are not as big an issue as in the United States. Because of this, I am now, more than ever, determined to apply as a volunteer at the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). This is something that I had been wanting to do since college and hopefully, this time my plan will push through. I have the time and I think I have enough resources to do charity work by this time. To give you a briefer on what volunteers do, here is a list of the different activities volunteers can participate in (From PAWS):

Office Assistant – Man the office, process adoption paperwork (including counseling), answer the telephone and assist callers and visitors with general questions/directions. This includes giving a tour of PARC to visitors and guests, informing them on the role of the animal shelter in educating the public and creating awareness on the plight of the animals in the country and what they can do to help.

Admitting – Monitor rescue operations and incoming animals and assist in completing necessary paperwork and animal database including taking photos and data encoding.

Direct Animal Care – Assist approved adopters, walk the dogs and/or puppies, socialize the cats/kittens, clean cages, help with feeding, bathing, medication and basic grooming as needed.

Adoption Team – members of this team do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to get more “exposure” for shelter animals and tell their stories to increase their chances of getting adopted. Some members are also bloggers who try to utilize the web to spread the word about adoption! You can become part of the team by simply blogging!

Match-Maker – Works side by side with the adoption team, the matchmaker matches animals with adopters who are looking for a particular breed or breed mix, personality traits, specific size, sex or age.

Adoption Follow-up – Monitors adoption cases to see how the animals and their guardians are getting along. The program was developed to assure fewer returned animals. These calls may be made from home or office.

Clinic Technician Assistant – Assist PARC veterinarian in the clinic. This includes preparing medications and assist in spaying and/or neutering of shelter animals. Proper training and close monitoring of the veterinarian is strictly implemented.

Foster Care – Care for shelter animals in your home. These animals are future adoption candidates too young or ill at the time of admission. All medicine and supplies will be provided by PARC. Additional training is required.

Animal Rescue Team – rescues animals in distress

Dog Training and Rehabilitation Team – Works in close coordination with volunteer trainers and senior volunteers/dog handlers with the task of making shelter dogs fit for adoption by socializing them and working on their behavioral problems like aggression, fear or shyness. Interested volunteers should have pre-exposure shots and should undergo special training with our volunteer trainers and dog behaviorists.

Humane Education – Gives presentation at elementary schools regarding issues such as responsible pet ownership, pet handling and safety, pet overpopulation and endangered species.

Campaigns – complements all the major projects of the organization with flyers, posters, celebrity endorsements, organizing protest rallies, etc

Dr. Dog (Pet-Facilitated Therapy) – Together with certified Dr. Dogs, volunteers visit nursing homes, adult day-care centers, hospitals, schools and other establishments. They give patients the feeling that they are the most special people in world. With a loyal new friend who won’t judge them for the way they look or their illness, a Dr. Dog accepts them regardless of class, race, age or disability. Despite the advances in medical science, our Dr. Dog partners agree that love is still the best medicine!

Spay-Neuter Team – main goal: raise its own funds to be able to offer free spay-neuter to those who cannot afford even PAWS’ low cost spay-neuter rates. (Done in close coordination with Shelter Veterinarian)

Special Events – Represent PAWS in local events where PAWS is actively participating, helps in manning adoption booths and selling paws merchandise.

Disaster Relief – Assist the disaster relief team in the disaster site or at command posts.

Fundraising Events – Help out in organizing events to raise funds for the shelter.

Lobbying and legal work – meeting with government officials, attending hearings, giving legal assistance to those who want to file cases against animal offenders

Reminder: Volunteers must be prepared to render at least eight (8) hours a month doing work at the shelter or outside the shelter for animal welfare to be in our active volunteer database.

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Personally, I would like to try all aspects of volunteering especially those that create public awareness. I can see myself campaigning, lobbying, and educating the public to be more aware of how animals are being abused and how we can take care of these poor creatures. Just don’t put me in the Animal Rescue team because my heart is too weak to see first-hand the state abused animals are in. And I also cannot be around when animals are euthanized. I’ve witnessed it once and I cannot bear to do it again.

In the meantime, here are a couple of websites you should check out if you are interested.
http://www.mefindhome.org
Philippine Animal Welfare Society

*Photo taken from PAWS