Since I love trying new things, I found myself hobby-licious, defined as having too many hobbies. Don’t bother to look it up in the dictionary. The word doesn’t exist. But don’t tell my niece when we’re playing scrabble.

Anyway, I had a cross-stitching phase. I still do it when I find the time and a pattern I can’t resist. It made me richer when I had no job and even got me connected to teaching small kids in school. There’s something relaxing about the connection of needle and thread to Aida cloth that allows you to probe the depth of your being without having to think real hard. My mind just wanders into the different areas of my life when I’m stitching. It also allows me to be still and examine myself without commitment. It’s a mindless task that’s best done after a day’s cerebral work. Sad to say, I never had a pattern made that I kept to myself. There’s joy in giving away a year’s work of stitching. Ah, except for one, of a wooden cross wrapped with a red cloth. That one I gave to my Mom for her birthday. When she died, I had it transferred to my room. It now hangs over my bed. I sign my work MD. This art requires precision and a surgeon’s steady hand.

The second phase was portrait-drawing. I made one that I find close enough to the real person and soon after, I was researching about perspectives and materials in the internet. And I bought different kinds of pencils, drawing paper and erasers and got my hands dirty and nobody could talk to me. This one requires time … and inspiration. Because you just can’t draw if you don’t feel like it. But it does require a lot in an artist. A lot of observation, patience, angles and an eye for detail. It’s a passion that takes you by the hand and you instantly forget everything. My drawing phase. And I sign my work DMS, in chinese. Hehehe. Not very original, I know.

Next was the HTML phase and the computer geek re-surfaced. It all started with a very innocent Website Design training. And it sent me into a phase where image-editing, tags and other programming tools nurtured me like I was starving for years. My butt became a permanent imprint in front of the computer. Sometimes, I find myself having the need to kneel, and not in a prayerful way, to relieve butt-soreness. It did not end on HTML however, but went on to Access, Excel, Visual Basic and now, the ever mysterious Borland C++. I have put it to good use too, in my work. But it gave me little patience with computer babes who insist that F4 is found in Taiwan but not on the keyboard. It also started the craving to have a laptop at home. It made me more logical in almost all my decisions. “Can I take you out for a movie?”; “That depends, which movie? length? good?” Of course, art also is required here. But sometimes I sacrifice art for a faster ‘.exe’. During this phase, I had no name at all. I lost it somewhere in the bytes and pixels of the hard drive.

Next phase, the writer phase. Well, it’s not exactly a phase since I’ve been writing since I was ten. But this was the first time I actually took it seriously. And started reading books and developing my own ideas of a romantic love story. But I discovered soon enough that it was not that easy. And the writing will maul you at any time, any place, even when you are not ready for it. So I made it a habit to carry a notebook, just in case something comes into mind and I can’t find a piece of napkin or a receipt to write down an enthused thought. I only read novels for fun, but went on to re-read them to examine styles and character development and twisting of plots. I even went to a high school textbook phases and I did every exercise on that book. Some of them, you find in this blog. But who cares, it’s a great way to express yourself and the best way to discover things about yourself that were not meant to be critiqued, but just to be accepted and appreciated for its oddness. That’s when ilongga70 was born. And so was this blog.

My next and hopefully my last phase is photography. Writer friend sent me an Olympus OM10 SLR camera with 50mm lens. Don’t worry, when I first got it, I didn’t know what SLR means or how important a 50mm lens is. Before that, I bought myself a Canon never-mind-the-model-because-its-old camera. I don’t like taking pictures much. It’s an uncomfortable job that requires you to be shameless. And I still haven’t grown enough face skin to be that self-assured. So I’d rather take my pictures when no one is looking. But I soon realized there’s no room for timidity in this business. It’s an imperfection that I have yet to overcome. But I do like the hmmmm and ahhhh, I get when people see my photos. Of course, I make a lot of duds too. Still photography does interest me to the point of excitement. So here I am with an old classy camera, trying to understand apertures, depth of field, manual adapters, lenses and exposures. It looks like a complicated toy and an expensive one. Very fancy professional stuff. But that hasn’t stopped me before. No name for this one yet.

I still do a little of everything because I’ve learned to like all of them. Add all these to dancing, choir-singing, leading a ministry, TV, movies, taebo and badminton, how can I find the time? I’m too hobby-licious.

I should start calling myself Jackof all trades, master of none. I like trying everything out. I might like it. I might not. But what can I do? It's discovering the unknown that makes life interesting. And one is never too old to learn.


First Assignment

Had my tattooes erased with alcohol, my cheeks blushed with too much sun, my Olympus 10M SLR camera cleaned and resting. I mourn the loss of one roll of film which contained my best shots, because it was that roll that I mingled wit the tribes and took close-ups. All of it lost because I was in a hurry. Lesson learned. Never load a camera in a crowd, in haste. Always use your glasses if you have impaired vision. Never take moving shots if you are an amateur. Never assume you understand everything by reading the manual. All things are better learned through experience. My first assignment as an amateur photographer, and I'm disappointed. I expected too much. And I assumed too much. Still, I hope you like them. These are some of the sights during the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City held January 22-23, 2005.


Last Temptation

I'm twenty pages away to finishing Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird". I'm having a trouble putting it down. Was tempted to file for leave this morning, just to get the chance to curl up and play with Jem and Scout - but also wanted to be sensible. And it's because of them children that I now have my priorities in question. I keep looking back at the book. Had to finally lock it up while working so as not to get myself distracted. Seeing the gray cover don't help me any - when my In Tray is packing up with papers to read, files to store, reports to write and print.

Sigh. I now want to marry Atticus Finch. And now wish he could be father to my children - hehehe. It doesn't seem to bother me that he's nearing 50 and he lives in an era where black people are still afraid to walk the earth. But ... (sigh) ... why don't they make men like that anymore? And if they does, where are they'all hiding? Probably in chatrooms ... hidden under absurd names. Hahaha.

To my researcher friend, I now got my premise to write the blog I promised. (Evil laugh). But it will have to wait till after I clean up my In Tray. And if temptation wins, after I'm finished with Harper Lee.

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."



Left an office meeting-filled Friday only to dodge cars, bikes, karitons and people traffic because of the Dinagyang opening salvo. Met my dentist and had my teeth electrocuted and examined in preparation for oh-my-God I’m-too-old-for-these braces. Left dental office only to discover that taxis have become extinct and rare jeepneys are flowering with boys with drums and spears. So had to walk, a mile, ten miles – can’t remember because it seems like the length of the Great Wall, and was eventually rescued by cousin who gave me a ride to the nearest pit stop. Had a contemplative two rides to Eric’s Talabahan to join three single fair-skinned females already devouring two pantats (catfish - salamat doc!) and crab meat. Examined the intricacies of ex-boyfriends, present beaus, starting-over issues, the bliss of being single and the long possibilities of dating. Was unaware that next table was listening to our philosophies of love and life. Whispered rest of conversation among muffled laughter and found need for a more private hide-away to share valued viewpoints. Took car to Messe to remove after taste of talaba with Turtle Pie and brewed coffee - mmmmmmm - till the wee hours of the morning. Got home in better spirits and in caffeine stupor. It’s 2:30am and too early for bed. TGIF. Can sleep till kingdom come in the morning.


Proudly Filipino

I am preparing a small box of things to send to my writer friend (who was nice enough to teach me the basics of photography and give me a camera to get me started), just to give him an image of what my country is like. And I do mean a small box because I’m not of the rich kind. I made sure that he was not one of those foreigners who say “What!? You have doorknobs in the Philippines?!” Good grief. I choose my friends wisely. I don’t like having to explain that not all Filipinos wear loincloths and hold spears. But I have met some who thought that but that was years ago. Anyway, the internet has made the world smaller, people more alien to each other, but more aware of what’s happening in the other half of the world.

Back to my package. I decided to go to the Filipiniana section of the mall, to find some of the things there I might be able to send. There were plenty of possibilities, but I do have to stick to my “what-budget?”. The enchanting stuff I happen to like also happen to be the expensive ones, and that’s probably the reason why Filipinos own more China and Taiwan-made items than those “proudly Filipino”. But I am with hope and in a mood to explore.

I am quite impressed by the beauty of things Philippine made, nevertheless I doubt its usefulness in the western world. The first thing that caught my attention was this wooden statue that I remembered since childhood. It’s a figure of a naked, native man standing, with a barrel covering his lower body. If you slide the barrel up, something long springs into erection. Hehehe. The Filipino jack-in-the-box, shall we say. It used to make me laugh when I was a child. It still does. I’m sure my friend will find it funny, but I’m not sure his wife will so I left it where I found it. It amazed me, too, that there were several ashtrays with male organs attached. Its significance escapes me but tourists might have found it charming because they display so much of it in marble, wood and Pinatubo ash. What is it about fertility idols? Do we really believe that when exposed to reproductive organs, it will increase our ability to bear children?

Moving on, I saw baskets, of all kinds and colors. I loved the baskets but waved them off. They are quite bulky and will not be appreciated as much by the male specie. They also have these adorable jewelry and jewelry boxes made of shells, attractive stones and hand-woven materials, which will also be lost in the Mars section. I decided on a jeepney keychain. It’s light, easy to carry and carries a most common Filipino symbol. Jeepneys, to the untrained, are the primary mode of transportation in the Philippine soil, like mini-buses. It’s sad though that they don’t make jeepneys like they use to. I remember them in very bright colors with plenty of silver art decorated on each side, and different colored tassles waving in the wind celebrating wind and sky as the silver horses prance in the hood. The horses remind us of kalesas. Oh, those were glorious days! I found some hand-painted bamboo letter openers, paper-clips and wood magnets too. They are simple, artistic and pleasant. There was this stuffed tarsier. A Tarsier is the smallest monkey in the world, about the size of a thumb and can be found in the Philippines and Indonesia. But it looked too hideous to be cute, so I skipped that.

Towards the end of my exploring, I found something that all Filipinos can’t do without … the ultimate, ever useful, wooden back-scratcher. My late grandfathers each had one. My dad has two. Maybe it never occurred to our forefathers, that when one finds an itch in hard-to-reach places, one could always find the nearest door post or a nearby love one, and be relieved of the predicament. But in the tradition of Juan Tamad, everything must be on hand to make a person comfortable. Thus, we have our basic wooden back-scratcher, with pretty hand-painted designs. That’s the ingenuity of Filipinos for you. Adding a book by the late Nick Joaquin and some postcards, I’m off to find myself a jeepney to take me home.



She listens quietly, when I need to pour my heart out. She knows my kind of music and plays it when I ask her to. She plays my kind of games and she’s never lets me win just to make me feel better even if I’m in a bad mood. She allows me to put things in her head, like stuffed monkeys and one-eyed bears. She doesn’t mind it when I drag her around the house when I feel like it. She obeys orders but she let’s me know when she has had enough. She doesn’t mind my mess. She doesn’t lose her temper when she’s working too hard. She’s silent when I need her to be. She doesn’t talk back when I’m mad at the world. She’s solid and she’s permanent. She’s easy to please. She understands privacy. She understands my impatience. She’s great in keeping secrets yet tells me thing I need to know. She’s a great research partner and introduces me to new things, new friends. She entertains me when I get bored. She enjoys new gadgets I take home as much as I do. She’s not the clingy type who pouts when I spend too much time with my other friends or stay out too late. She understands it when I need to ignore her. She’s my new best friend, Kimberly … my very own computer … ahhhhh, finally.