Video Call City

So for the past 6 months, I’ve been living in New Zealand with my sister and her family, and though it’s been great, there are days when I miss my friends a lot. Enter technology! I have/have had, basically all the messaging apps known to man (LOL) and because most of them have the video call function and my sister’s place has WiFi, it’s really not that difficult to see my friends. Of course, I still have to schedule the call with them, we are in different timezones, after all. But it’s a small price to pay for the ability to see and talk to them relatively often.

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Clockwise:

K and M at Magnum Opus – K went home to the Philippines from Singapore (where he works) last November and so he and M met up at one our favorite coffee shops. I got so jealous of their specialty coffees, but then remembered that I was in Wellington, the coffee capital of New Zealand! I fixed myself a cup right after the call. 🙂 Oh, and! Cameo appearance by one of my nephews as they happened to call me while I was still babysitting.

Virtual Noche Buena with M – Noche Buena isn’t really a tradition here in NZ and M back in the Philippines didn’t have anyone to spend it with as other members of her family were busy with work and stuff so she called me on Messenger at dinner time on the 24th and we ate our meal at the same time. 😛 Our video chat lasted ’til after midnight so when I realized it was December 25 already, we decided to take a screenshot of our video call while I was standing by the Christmas tree in my sister’s house.

Sunday with R – I am glad that R makes time for me every other Sunday (more or less) because most of the time, he only has one day off per week and he’s kind of a workaholic. And though our video call sessions are usually spent with me babbling about irrelevant things and him occupied with something else on his laptop (read: Morning Musume news), I’d like to believe that this is still quality time spent together as a couple. ❤

Christmas Dinner + ATC Lakwatsa with my Pre-school Friends – Obviously, I couldn’t go to the annual Christmas get-together that my pre-school friends (We’ve been friends since before 1st grade!) and I have, but this is the age of 4G and Z has unlimited data, so! They called me when they had dinner at Sushi Ninja in Westgate, and also while they had their takeaway desserts at the open area of ATC, which as you can see (kind of), is currently beautifully decorated with twinkly Christmas lights. 🙂 It was super fun as they told me how their holidays were so far and showed me the food they ate as well as the gifts they got. It really felt like I was there with them. 😀

Not in picture – All the Skype sessions my sister (and her twins) and I had with our parents (and other family members, e.g. our aunts and brother and dogs). Since we usually talk to them while we’re taking care of the twins, it can get difficult to find a place to put the laptop (where the twins can’t get to it) let alone take a presentable screenshot of the conversation. So, this mention will have to do.

I really am so grateful to technology for making this possible, and of course to my family and friends for taking the time to make the almost 10,000 km distance between us feel significantly shorter. 🙂

Christmas in Wellington

Just when I thought there was absolutely no way I would be able to relate to all (basically) of the Christmas clichés that I know of, because this year I’m in New Zealand where it’s summer in December (and therefore there are no chestnuts roasted in open fires), it suddenly rains. And on the day my sister and I decide to go Christmas shopping, too. Hence, people in jackets were abundant, and we felt like going to a café for the heat. And now at home I’m in a Christmas sweater sitting by the tree having a hot chocolate.

Of course it’s nice to have a different celebration for Christmas once in a while, but I am also glad to have this moment this year. 🙂

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Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Year Summary in Music

Some people would argue that your Spotify playlist can reveal more about your personality and experiences than Facebook can since in the latter, everything you post is mostly edited. But just like numbers, music preferences don’t lie, and so it could be in Spotify where you can truly get to know someone. I can’t imagine anyone, even the biggest of posers, listening to music they don’t like just to keep a facade. I mean, sure, you may listen to a new artist every now and then to see if you like them or not, but surely not enough times for their songs to make it to your top 100. Or at least, not your top 10.

So here are my Top 2016 Songs according to Spotify. Or, in other words, here’s what happened to me this year:

The first three songs, You, Everything, Diaries from Tomorrow, and A Step to Oblivion are all by sleepersecond, a musician I met in late January. I turned up to a friend’s gig, at which he (and many others) also happened to be. I liked most of the music I heard that night, though I have to say that as soon as sleepersecond started his set by playing the intro to You, Everything, the atmosphere began to change. Everyone got quiet, started to pay more attention to the music, and then consequently, their feelings. I suppose any kind of music can do this to people, but there is something about sleepersecond’s compositions that reaches into your guts. “It demands to be heard,” my friend M described. And upon hearing it, the feelings you thought you’d buried deep would surface and demand to be felt. sleepersecond’s music, and You, Everything in particular, made an extraordinary impact to me, and since I found out about it in the beginning of the year, it’s no surprise that it got the top spot (actually the top 3!) in my 2016 playlist.

#4 is Lose It by Oh Wonder, which I consider to be my favorite discovery of 2016. I listened to a lot of new artists this year, and Oh Wonder quickly became my favorite once I heard this song. There’s no particular reason, although when I asked my friend to listen to it, she said, “It sounds so you.”

The next songs, Reflections by Misterwives, Roses by The Chainsmokers, Celeste by Ezra Vine and Drive, also by Oh Wonder are the songs I like to listen to when I’m commuting to and from work. And since I did this literally every weekday for the first six months of the year, it’s also no wonder that they placed #5 to #8.

#9 is Tala, which I have no doubt placed so high in this playlist because when I found out that it was Sarah Geronimo’s song, I was so happy about her evolution I listened to this on repeat for at least two consecutive weeks. In those two weeks, I also deluded myself into thinking I could sing like her and so tried to memorize its words so that the next time I went to karaoke with my friends, I would blow them away. No such event ever happened, but I did learn to appreciate how realistic the lyrics of this song is.

(One more detail about Tala–As you can imagine, I’m not in the habit of looking up the producers of songs, so when I first heard the music of Alisson Shore by the magic of SoundCloud suggestion, though I thought it sounded familiar, I didn’t think anything of it. And then I met him at a gig and found out he was actually one of this song’s producers! Suddenly, it all made sense. It’s really interesting how things like these can happen, isn’t it?)

Speaking of realistic lyrics, the last song on my top 10 is Song About a Song by Alana Henderson, which I believe, has the most accurate and easiest to understand description of how one feels after a heart-wrenching break-up. I actually have a lot of difficulty understanding poetry (and therefore, also poetic song lyrics) so I’m really happy when songwriters are able to convey their messages directly, and without having to sacrifice the artistry of words.

If you don’t know the song and would like to find out what I mean, just check out the lyrics here. I was thinking of quoting an excerpt from its lyrics, but I couldn’t choose which excerpt to take, all the lines in the song are way more meaningful when you see them all together, or in fact, when you hear them sung in the context of the song, so just listen to it as you read the lyrics online.

Special mention must be made to #21, Paincake Patrol’s Reactor (plus Why I Can’t Write You a Love Poem by Carla Nicoyco). I’ve been claiming all year that I’m Paincake Patrol’s #1 fan and I do think this is the reason why he asked me to do the write-ups for his LP Consonance / Dissonance (Available for purchase here!), which was launched last August 6. If you’re wondering though, why none of Paincake Patrol’s tracks are in the top 10, my excuse/actual reason is that I have the mp3s of Paincake Patrol’s songs so I normally listen to his music offline.

Anyway, the album Consonance / Dissonance has 15 tracks, each of which I wrote a story for. It wasn’t easy as I had to listen to each track carefully and repeatedly as I recalled the artist’s explanation for them and then incorporate those explanations into the stories I wrote. But it was a real interesting challenge for me and my writing skills, and though I’m sure not everyone will agree that the stories are good, I’m quite proud of what I was able to come up with and consider this one of my greatest accomplishments this year. Sure, it’s not exactly a book published by Bloomsbury or even Adarna House, and the original ideas for the stories aren’t completely mine, but still it’s an anthology that I think adds a lot of value to the entirety of the album, we’ve received many positive reviews about it, and I think collaborative works should be celebrated, don’t you?

Here is a page from the booklet that the LP comes with, featuring one of my stories and corresponding art by Zom Kashwak:

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Photo taken from Paincake Patrol’s Instagram

And the song on Spotify if you’d like to have a listen:

The whole album is on Spotify, too, if you’d like to check out the other songs. But to get a copy of the album itself, and the booklet that contains my stories, you’ll have to order here. (Please do!)

The rest of the tracks are mostly random songs I heard from the Radio function and because I liked them as soon as I heard them, I saved them. They would play whenever I shuffle played my saved songs and since I do this more often than I choose a ready-made playlist from the Browse option, this is probably the reason why they’re in my top 100. They range from Justin Bieber and Katy Perry to instrumentals and classical music to OPM and J-pop. I do believe that the way to truly appreciate music is to listen to all kinds of it and though I’m still really just listening to Pop basically, I’m happy to see songs/tracks from so many different genres in my playlist. If I ever need to be reminded that my life isn’t some stagnant, boring construct, I have only need to listen to this.

So, my 2016’s been fun, eclectic and emotional, according to my music preferences. How about you?

2016 So Far

Well, I haven’t been reading any books if that’s what you were wondering. I have been watching a lot of old TV shows with my sister, though. Star Trek: Voyager, Selfie, Eureka and now we’re on Season 3 of Castle. Other than that, I’ve been busy helping her take care of her kids. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and sometimes we talk about the things we see on social media that upset us. I don’t think I need to go into details to explain that one.

In many ways, I do think that 2016 can be considered as the worst year in the history of mankind (so far), as some people say. Opinions and events have never been so divisive/polarizing as they are now, at least, not in my lifetime. But as I’ve been told over and over that the way to be happy is to count one’s blessings, that’s what I will do.

  1. My family’s safety – amidst the political turmoil in my country and the earthquakes in the country where I’m in now, I am extremely grateful that my family remains unscathed. Maybe our hearts are hurting because of what’s been going on in the world, but as long as we can all still talk to each other and assure each other that we’re okay, I feel at peace. 🙂
  2. My real friends – I read somewhere that to unfriend someone on Facebook because of their political views is ridiculous because you’re supposed to value your friendship with them instead of be affected by their opinions. But I think it’s not just people’s political views that are being expressed on social media nowadays, but their core values as well. Hence, I don’t regret unfriending many of my high school batchmates whom I now know, support the killing of innocents, dismiss rape as “nothing but drama” and think that torture being a bad deed is “a matter of opinion.” And I am really happy to find that the people I’m really close to and whom I really trust have the same values as I do.
  3. My super cute nephews – It’s tiring and difficult because of all the, again, differing opinions and contradicting information, this time about how to take care of kids, but I am genuinely enjoying doing my aunt duties. My nephews are crazy cute and lovable and I’m happy I can help take care of them.
  4. Bonding time with my sister – Before my sister moved here 10 years ago, we still shared a bedroom. She was my constant companion to basically everything–watching movies, going to the beach, going to the mall, baking stuff in the kitchen and even (or especially) when just watching TV at home. All that changed when she moved and of course I’m happy for her that her move here has been good for her personally and professionally, but I do miss a lot the times we hung out together when she still lived at our house in the Philippines. I’m happy that we’re kind of re-living that period now, except instead of going to the mall to eat donuts with friends, we’re going to the supermarket to buy baby food and nappies. And eat donuts. 😉
  5. 2016 technology – Well, I guess the technology available now has more or less been available since a few years ago, but I am still amazed at how easy it is to chat with my parents and friends and send them pictures and videos, etc. Gone are the days when you really had to set a time so you and the person you needed to talk to would both be online. Now, because of smartphones and mobile data, most everyone’s just online all the time. It helps alleviate homesickness a lot. And I’m really happy this technology is available to me and my loved ones.
  6. Speaking of loved ones, one thing I’m really grateful for this 2016 specifically, is my boyfriend. All the previous items on this list, I’ve been grateful for for quite some time–my family, my friends, technology… but unique to 2016 is my relationship with R because this is the year it started! Or, okay, I suppose it all started when we met, which was a few years ago, but it was only this year that our relationship transitioned from being just a friendship into a romantic relationship. And it’s so official, too, i.e. he’s introduced me to his lifelong friends as his girlfriend it’s so official. And, I don’t know if you know this about me, but for me, this is a really big deal. ❤ So, nevermind that we’re doing our first few months as a couple long distance, I mean, I did just mention how technology nowadays is so amazing at keeping people connected, right?
  7. Art – Whether it be visual art, music, film, literature, or comedy (Yes, I consider this an art.) I am grateful that art exists and is easily available. I seriously don’t know where I would be if I couldn’t listen to music to calm me down during particularly stressful situations, watch movies and TV shows to distract me when my mind just keeps circling back to the problems that stress me out, or read stories that have happy endings to give me hope against all odds.
  8. Food – I believe no explanation is necessary for this one. 😉

I suppose there are more, but they are I think only subsets of those I’ve already listed. Or maybe I’ll add them here in the future. Meanwhile, I would like to say that I am glad that I did this. It does make me feel better knowing I have at least eight things I’m incredibly thankful for.