Turning a new leaf

golden sunrise!

golden sunrise!

Picture this:

-waking up at 0430 so you can prepare and have breakfast with your husband when you used to come home around that same time from being “out” with friends

-leaving home at 0730 so you can be at work by 0800 – when you used to leave home at 0830.

-you commute to work during rush hour (plus 3 big highschools within 1km radius from where we live) and have to walk from your “drop” to the office, some 1.75kms away, in the nasty heat of the dry season’s sun that you arrive at work sweaty and smelly at times, all before you start your workday.

-you are at work and you ACTUALLY WORK! no more Facebooking, or 9gag or Buzzfeed…only emails and Skype messages, because the boss in on Skype and it is easier to communicate that way.

-emails are 99% about work! no more chain mails and forwarded funny emails (those are restricted to FB and other social media, when you get your fix), even your Spam folder contents do not multiply so much anymore. you actually look forward to emails containing stuff you can use for work, ugh.

-you barely have time to facetime with your family anymore, as when you get home from work, they are already in deep slumber, around midnight or a little after. no more unscheduled Google videochats, these are usually done on weekends now.

-and when you get home, you are deadtired from the 8-9 hours of hardwork, and the horrible commute during rush hour that you just want to sleep.

BUT…

> you have a wonderful husband who does most of the work at home because he understands how tired you are and sometimes even offers a massage when he thinks you need it;

> you have a wonderful job that gives you great satisfaction psychologically, emotionally and intellectually (and yes, even socially!), who pays well, never mind the extra hours sometimes

> your boss appreciates all your hard work 🙂 major extra points for this! and your colleagues are very welcoming and friendly.

> there is still FB and Googletalk and Skype to “talk” to loved ones so far away – you get updated on chismis pa! LOL! although i wish i would have more time for this like before!

> all that walking (huffing and puffing and sweating!) and traveling to/from the field for work has actually done wonders for your physique – you are surprised to see that you have lost some 10kgs from since you arrived back in April. yayy!

I guess what i am saying is that some months back this is exactly what we have been praying for, my husband and me (he always gives the best prayers for us and the family “back home”). And I/we got it finally. I am sure that our prayers, plus the efforts of my sister who never fails to lift me up from my slump, and the family who always prays for us here greatly helped.

So YES, I am just happy and grateful for all the blessings we continue to receive. Turning a new leaf or not, I am grateful. ^_^

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1 year ago today

a year ago today was my last post on this blog – no matter how hard i try to keep this updated i just can’t, for many reasons – both valid and just plain katamaran (laziness). i guess when one turns a new leaf one is entitled to say something online for her to read again at some point, just to remind her (not necessarily anyone else) of things that have happened in weeks, months or even years.

it might be better too to do this chronologically, because sometimes that’s easier to do for me:

November 2013 – a year ago on 08 November, Typhoon  Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines, showing no mercy at all. Eastern Visayas and some parts of Cebu had the most damage and most number of casualties. I remember seeing this on CNN right when it happened, like I was just at home in Manila watching the news on TV. I remember seeing the dead strewn on the streets like dolls after a great flood. They showed Tacloban, or what’s left of it anyway – mud everywhere, people in shock – crying in all the interviews, but i think most are just in shock – all makeshift housing flattened to the ground, buildings broken, ships (!!!) brought ashore by the strong wind and water combo (storm surge will be a new weather jargon that won’t be forgotten). Tacloban was washed out to almost nothingness. One can barely see it anymore. So was Guiuan. But in Guiuan the LGU managed to get the people to abandon their homes for safer ground. I remember crying with the people who lost their homes, their families and friends, their pets, their livelihood. And i cried some more when I got news that my father’s 3 sisters and their families were still missing. November 2013, that was a horrible time for my home and my heart. (NB: we got news 6 days later that they were all safe, and were on their way to Manila)

December 2013 – After Haiyan happened i was glued to the TV for news back home, and to Facebook with my siblings to check on our aunts and cousins – we finally received news that they were all alive 6 days later, after we had thought them dead or washed away somewhere (thank heavens they’re alive!). Family doing better – cousins and aunt had the medical attention they needed. My own family was over the moon with the news. We even had a small reunion, a thanksgiving for another chance at life.

I was also offered a post by my old organisation for the Haiyan Emergency Response, and i took it – I was planning on volunteering anyway – a real paid job just made the decision easier for me. Husband was worried, but he was more unhappy seeing me so affected by what was happening back home. He reluctantly agreed to 4 months – nothing more. Anyway we will be seeing each other midway through it when he comes to Manila to finally meet the rest of the family. Tickets were purchased, reminders (for him) written down, and I was in Manila on 09 December 2013. By the next day I was already in Cebu City. I literally hit the ground running, only to be told to run faster. And so I did. December was a flurry of events – orientation, coordination meetings, situationers, land and air travel to Samar and Leyte, forming a team and started working with other programmes. In two weeks I was able to do work for 3 people for a month! I had missed meals, calls, sleep, that I actually lost weight. I thought that the CNN coverage of Haiyan 24/7 would somehow prepare me for my actual visit to the places where we work. It didn’t. The first time I had to go to Barangay San Jose in Tacloban, I was so shocked at what i saw that i did not even notice tears streaming down my face like someone was rubbing onions on my eyes. I couldn’t stop them fast enough, so i just let them fall freely. The driver noticed my tears, but did not say anything – just let me stay there for some minutes. I think he understood why.

I had to take a break for Christmas. I thought i deserved time to recharge and be with family. The time spent in Tacloban drained all my energy and happy thoughts.

January 2014 – ahhh, New Year! finally getting the hang of things and team recruits in place already. Finally scheduled a trip to Guiuan where we again met another typhoon (Agaton) while staying in a cheap tent inside the UN Hub – all the big, sturdier tents were full! Managed the two-day gender orientation for the whole Guiuan team during the storm anyway – nothing could stop us! (Was supported by a global gender advisor)

On the last week I traveled to Manila to fetch the hubby who was coming to meet the family. He arrived on the 23rd January. We stayed in Manila for 1 busy social week with family and friends. Hubby had a grand time shopping, eating out, meeting family and friends, and just hanging out with my parents. We even went to a sabungan (cockfighting arena) one time because hubby requested for it -hubby wanted all of that experience. He was so intrigued by how Tatay is so fascinated by it until now in his 70s. Tatay was just happy to oblige and brought us to his usual haunt in Pasig – and we had a grand time!

Brought the hubby back with me to Cebu as I needed to be back at work. We had the chance to meet up with two of my dearest friends in Cebu so that was nice; but I was working all the time. We even got as far as Bantayan Island (again for work), which he enjoyed a lot. I just wish we had more free time to explore – i was working and he was left at the hotel by himself most of the time. I felt bad for him, but i think he tries to understand my work.

February-April 2014 – Hubby left Manila February 12, so i was back to work, work, work. These months have been the most stressful for me, but also the most rewarding. I was finally ending my 4-month stint and ready to pass on the torch to one of the officers whom i think can do the job very well. I was literally Haiyan’d out — so tired and ready to go back to my quieter life in Cameroon. Another flurry of meet ups with friends and family, and then I was off to Cameroon.

When I got back to Cameroon mid-April, husband surprised me with a piece of property (land) near our apartment, which he bought for us. This is where we (he) are planning to build next year.

May-August 2014 – quiet life in Yaounde, interspersed with a few social activities in between – mostly with other Pinoys in Yaounde. It was great seeing them all again after a long time. Attended a huge Cameroonian wedding in August, and 2 kumpils – one for husband’s nephew. I was back to learning French (level: Elementaire!) and doing well in school, cooking some more, but I was also starting to jobhunt again.

September 2014 – One of the NGOs i applied at called me asking me if I wanted to do something that was not the post i originally applied for (i was a strong candidate and they liked me, they said, but in the end they took an old staff who reapplied – because, yes, my French still needs to be at a certain level). Naturally i said yes. And i am glad I did.

The post was as a consultant (project manager) for an NFI distribution project in the East region — it was aid for refugees and for the host communities. I will also do partner management – something i had already been doing so much of before. It was perfect. Just something I can sink my teeth into! The post was only for 2 months, but it was as good as any offer at that point. I was excited again! (I will post some photos next time of all our shenanigans in the East) 🙂

October 2014 – a year later from my last post I am in an entirely different place in my life now – my marriage is better, I have a job that lets me do what i like best, which is working directly with communities, i get to travel a lot for work (well, mostly to the same places) and i gained the trust of my employers and the partner/team i work with directly on field. So much so that the partner wants to pirate me (i said no – the East is not exactly like the Northwest), and my employer just extended my contract to 2 more months (yayy!).

 

It is November again now, 2 days before Typhoon Haiyan’s anniversary. I think I have come full circle, and I am exactly where I want to be. I am blooming where I am planted.

Hopefully I would be able to write more updates and post more photos again (I always, always say this — never happens!).

black sesame ice cream

tadaaa! black sesame ice cream

tadaaa! black sesame ice cream

2 weeks ago i found black sesame seeds at our local supermarket. it is quite hard to find here in cameroon (the white variety that i use for cooking is more), so when i saw it i grabbed a pack and began hunting for ice cream recipes on the net.

i was inspired by food blogs i read and of course i really want to make something different — so, black sesame ice cream!

got the recipe from some random site but there was one rule i didn’t follow – i didn’t grind the seeds too much (to powder form, that is) because i wanted something that i can bite in my ice cream.

does not photograph well (it’s grey and looks more like pounded ash or vulcaseal – accdg to one friend haaha), but i assure you, this was delish!!! so yummehhh ❤

a week to go.

i will be starting with my second module for basic French on 7th October. more than having nice and fun classmates, i am really hoping for a good teacher. my module 1 teachers have been great (okay mejo hindi yung sa video class ko) so my hopes are high for this next one.

there was one substitute teacher who’s good but i think he will be teaching higher levels this semester. wait and see na lang, and i need to review naaaaaa!

meanwhile i found this really old French grammar book (s.1961)!

a French grammar book printed in 1961!

a French grammar book printed in 1961!

Pawpaw smoothie

made papaya smoothie this morning. perfect for breakfast :)

made papaya smoothie this morning. perfect for breakfast 🙂

we got 6 papayas from the market yesterday and one was already over-ripe. thought that it’d be better to blend it than to throw it away.

1 solo papaya

1 cup of fresh milk

2 tbsps honey

juice from 1 lime.

blend it all in and enjoy its goodness ❤