catching up

Catching Up!

The pandemic really intensified my introversion but after nursing a cough in January and trying to isolate for long periods, I missed the outside world. I have slowly eased into going out and seeing people.

What better way to lure me out of my cave than the prospect of food. We went out to buy durian!

I had also a long overdue spa treatment with Mitzi . We went to eat arroz caldo and takoyaki at our favorite place after.

Lani came to cook us buntaa, a Butuanon crab dish.

I went out with friends to check out Malihao Forest in Bonbon.

I finally went out on Valentine’s day! Not on a date, though. Ha! Our friend got married on Valentine’s day and it was also a time for me to catch up with these group of friends since I have not seen them in almost a year.

We also continued the catching up until dinner because one friend did not prepare his shoes (please explain, Yoshi) for the wedding and missed the event. Another friend also only learned about it the night before and it was too late for him to file for leave from work so we met him after work.

My friend, Wilbert, was in town. Mitzi and Dinah wanted to show him what is in Claveria and I have not been there so I tagged along. Claveria is a beautiful mountain town in Misamis Oriental with Mt Balatukan mountain range as its hidden gem. There were different developments sprouting in the area- coffee shops, accommodations, gardens. I hope the people in the area benefit most in these developments and that the environmental impact of these developments was being thoughtfully considered.

Although it seems like everything’s back to normal, I do not go out every day. Much of my time is spent at home. Planning my next art piece, practicing some painting techniques and working on projects took much of my time. I have errands to run and bills to pay.

There are days that I leave my schedule open and let spontaneity carry the day. I have three stories to tell because I like to remember them and process what happened at the same time. Three characters from the three different stories have told me, “You better write about this day.” Flattered that they wanted to be exposed (hahaha) in my little space in the internet, here I am scrambling my memory of the moments.

Story Number 1: Gatecrashing

One fine Sunday morning, my cousin Azenith bombarded our family group chat with photos of food that she cooked since she would be having guests for lunch. They looked yummy but I did not insist going because the food may not be enough for her guests. Her brother, Arvin, thought otherwise. As I was about to change to my house clothes after attending Sunday mass, he convinced me to go to Doongan and just hang out in their brother’s home (Alan) which is beside Azenith’s home and bond with the niece and nephew. It was a spur of the moment notice. He said we would just surprise them. I just came from Sunday mass and in my Sunday dress. Off I went with Arvin.

And we were met with a surprise indeed.

The house was locked. The family went to the mall. Here I am sitting outside their house.

And it was raining. Such was our luck!

Azenith brought us food and we ate at the makeshift table and chairs outside the house. We looked like those uninvited party guests who were given food outside the venue. It was worth all the trouble because she gave me the best part of the dish.

This is paksiw ng mata ng isda. Paksiw is a vinegar-based Filipino dish. Mata ng isda is eye of a fish. I know it might be weird for some but I love these kinds of food- fish eyes, fish roe, pork and chicken innards, balut, chicken feet, etc.

The family came home after a few hours and they still caught up on us eating the food. They brought more food!

My niece showed me the toy her kuya got from the arcade game.

Hugs to the chef!

Mission accomplished! We achieve what we intended to do: eat well.

Story number 2: My much-loved umbrella.

I do most of my errands in the middle of the week. I avoid crowds and lines. It was an early Wednesday afternoon. I already finished my tasks for that day and I decided to drop by favorite takoyaki place for some food to go. It was past 1 PM and the place was almost empty except for these two! This was completely a chance encounter with Mitzi and Erns. (Oh, it was Ash Wednesday).

Both were almost done with their tasks for the day, too. We decided we hang out and catch up with our lives. It had been awhile since we last had a chitchat. We dropped by a bit at Erns office as she had some things to finish and we found another friend, Eulyn, there. She planned to go to a home store to check out some items for her house. We tagged along with her.

This is Erns trying to show stuff to Eulyn.

This is Mitzi and I just hanging out in one of the areas in the home store.

We went to the mall after.

We passed by some wall installation and had to take some photos.

We had dinner. Mitzi and Erns wanted to get a massage and I am not a massage kind of person so I went to the grocery while they were getting massages.

I was in the grocery when I realized I was no longer holding my umbrella. I know I had it when we had dinner because we used it to reserve seats. I was trying to think where I could have left it. I was buying takeout food when I got a text from Erns asking where I am. I had to asked her if they have my umbrella.

Translation: Hey, you guys got my umbrella. I am no longer holding an umbrella.

I sounded like I accused them of getting my umbrella. haha I missed the punctuation. The tone changed. If I had the question mark at the end, the translation would have been: “Hey, did you guys get my umbrella? I am no longer holding an umbrella.” I was thinking that Mitzi might have picked it up mistakenly. She was carrying a large bag. Hehehe

I suddenly remembered where I left it. I went to the rest room before going to the grocery and hanged it on a hook inside the cubicle door. I forgot to bring it when I finished using the toilet.

Just a little senior moment for me.

Later that night, when Erns sent photos from her phone, I got a reminder on how the day went. That is my umbrella. Hahaha!

Story number 3: Millennial bonding!

Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. My friends are these young people so who am I? A young person, of course! Truth be told, by the time I get my 20% discount card, they will still be at the peak of their careers and in pink of health. Ha! It is a wonder how I got along with these bunch when I am almost two decades their senior. Probably we meet halfway, they are wise beyond their years while I was stuck in my juvenile self. This I am sure, we all clicked and agreed to travel to Digos one March weekend.

I think I like this kind of traveling where all I have to do is pay for my share and show up. Ha! They all did the planning. You know you are traveling with a younger generation when you are given a 2 AM call time. Ha! I really showed my age by asking if it was safe to travel that early. I know some of my peers would ask the same thing for three reasons: security concerns, sleeping time, vision. The younger ones were more adventurous and in best of health with their future ahead of them while I worry about body aches, eyebags and hunger. I brought all my snacks from my stash like a certified tita.

Three friends took turns driving and all (except me) shuffled seats whenever drivers switched. I did not get special treatment for my age but for my condition. I have motion sickness. It is easier for me to get out of the car and throw up if I am seated near the right door.

By the time we arrived at the destination (Camp Sabros), we were already hungry and headed for lunch.

While waiting for the food to be served, we got ice cream first. Ha!

Our accommodation had a nice view of Mt Apo.

Much as I would like to just stare at the mountain, time is gold. We headed to the place that allowed us to do what we wanted to do that afternoon in the Apo- Talomo mountain range- swim! Ha!

Montefrio Garden Resort has an infinity pool that had this for a view.

The water in the pool was cold! It took a while before we acclimatize to low temperature. Eventually, we were able to adjust to the cold water.

We just stayed longer in the warmer part of the pool.

After we made the most of our pool time, we headed back to Camp Sabros and just chilled (literally). We huddled together to keep warm. Ha! That second floor unit was our accommodation.

Here we are in our jammies, chitchatting before we went to bed.

Before we checked out of Camp Sabros the following day, we needed fill our memory vaults with pictures. Off we strolled around the resort.

Our next stop was Jardin de Senorita, a flower farm.

They were telling me that only I, an artist who is fond of painting flowers, would be happy in this place. I was more interested in taking as much photos of the flowers than posing for pictures.

Sadly, it rained. We only got to take fewer photos than expected.

We also went to a cactus farm.

That night, we slept at the house of Pia’s brother in Davao City. We had samgyupsal for dinner. By the way, Pia makes authentic (and delicious) kimchi which she learned to make from her Korean hosts when she visited South Korea. Her pickled radish (danmuji) was also yummy. (I took a break from writing this post to message her to put me on the list of her next kimchi delivery. I also egged her to make danmuji. hehehe)

Pia’s brother’s family lives in this beautiful house. I love the design of their house- modern, minimalist, clean. More importantly, I love how the owners were so down-to-earth, kind and accommodating (pwede daw kami balik, guys!) and even entertaining us with funny and heartwarming stories about their lives. Plus points for them, they thought I belong to their age group.

Shout out to Rotchie Glen for the photos. He made me want to work harder to be able to buy the same phone (which I know I will hesitate to buy when time comes that I will have money hahaha; I will spend it for travel instead). Because I did not use my subpar phone to take photos, I did not have photos to show my aunts where I have been so I had to nag him to send the photos immediately.

The trip recharged me from my pandemic bubble. I realized I needed that trip to reenergize my body to this new life we have after a two-year slump.

A few days after the trip, I was out swimming with my cousins, nephew and niece.

March just passed by so quickly and it felt like we were slowly getting back to our routines just like a few years ago before the world slowed down.

I was able to force myself to paint some art studies for an exhibit. I still have to do more so I can finally decide on what pieces to make.

And I painted something to give to my friend, Erns, on her 46th birthday. I painted a piece based on a photo I took of her last year. I am glad she liked it. I also painted the used gift bag to hide my name written on it. Ha!

There were gatherings that I missed. I missed a cousin’s wedding ceremony and reception due to miscommunication and my introversion but I was in her virtual one. I even put on makeup. Ha! Here’s the proof:

Although I did miss a few gatherings for various reasons, I know there will be more of them in the future. For the ones I did not miss, I was happy to be there. It is nice to see people again!

life lately

Life Lately

And just like that, it is already February of 2022. I think January was challenging for many of us. I was hopeful since I was already fully vaccinated for COVID last September, got the flu vaccine in October and got my COVID booster by January 5.

Then I saw many people in my Facebook feed getting sick. I hope February is a better month for everyone – a restart of the New Year since it was also Chinese New Year last February 1.

I recently chatted with friends and I remarked that I felt that my 20s just passed me by like a blur and before I knew it, I am already in my mid-40s. This is the reason why I keep a blog. I wanted to remember moments, people in my life and make them count. So, let me recall the past four months.

I joined exhibits. I joined the Mindanao Art Fair and the SketchPod online exhibit.

Thank you to my friends who supported and visited the exhibits. I am honored you took time off your busy schedule to see my paintings.

After we got fully vaccinated, my cousin, aunt and I went out to visit a mountain park in the next town.

I also started to attend mass.

And then I found out that some of my shoes have cracked in the storage, I have not used them in more than a year. What I did what was use a different pair every time I attend mass so I know if they were still okay. I photographed them every time I wear them.

So far, only two pairs were victims of the pandemic.

It was nearing November so we visited our loved ones who were long gone.

Some friends visited and I met up with some of them. Even for a short moment, I got to catch up with them. I was really happy to see them in person.

I also got to bond with my nephew and niece.

I also went out to support my friend’s new venture. She has this fermented concoction that boosts the immune system. In case you’re interested, check out Sower’s Pick Facebook Page.

After so many missed chances (schedule or weather woes), we finally went out to walk and we ended up having breakfast in my friend’s super beautiful pad. I get to play with her pets, too.

Christmas is in the air when you see our house (my titas’ and mine) with Christmas trees. We put up our tree before November 30 because, in 1983, my grandmother passed away that day and she already had her tree up before she died. We kept that tradition.

Oh, we went swimming! I was with my cousins.

I also went to the beach with my cousin, nephew and niece. They swam. I did not.

Towards the end of the year, I had beach time with friends, too! I also did not swim. It was too cold for me. But I was happy to spend time with them especially Shirly because we used to vacation together to a beach destination but pandemic happened.

I was also able to attend my high school’s virtual homecoming. I got to join the final game and our batch won! Woohoo! Grand champions! ( ‘Kala mo naman may ambag ako. Hahaha) I only joined to form a group of 3 to avoid disqualification. See my worried face? No other face looked as worried as I was. Ha! I did not answer a single thing. My super smart friends took care of the answers.

In December also, while we were looking forward to Christmas, Super Typhoon Odette happened. Our neighboring provinces (Surigao and Dinagat) were severely affected. I hope they recover soon. We were spared. Our street was flooded but it dried up a few hours after. Our major problem then (which some areas are still experiencing until now) was scarce water supply. The city’s water source was damaged by the typhoon so for almost a week we were buying water from areas with supply and collecting water from the rain. I am also thankful to a good friend for sending us water.

We were still able to celebrate Christmas.

This is my family. I am blessed to have them in my life.

We also had Christmas lunch with relatives.

I was able to attend different get-together with friends.

How are we able to do this? Our COVID-19 stats were very much manageable then. I was hopeful.

We were able to spend a wonderful New Year with family and relatives, too!

Even on the day I took my booster shot, the stats were okay

A week after, numbers started to rise.

I remember this day because this was the day I felt like I was a superwoman who could do all these productive things in one day. I was out the whole day doing some errands. I went to 2 banks, 2 government offices, 2 malls, 3 stand alone stores and 1 pharmacy. The weather was fickle. It rained without warning and was sunny again a few moments after. I walked to most of the destinations and only rode the public transportation twice (jeep and tricycle).

The following day, I started coughing. It was mild. I had certain triggers. I coughed when talk long periods like leading the family prayer which I had to beg off. Then 2 days after, the coughing was already bothersome. I started to distance myself from the people in the house. I did not go out. I ate alone in my room. At one point, I got paranoid. Many friends in my Facebook feed got sick. I told my aunt that I might need to get swabbed. She referred my condition to my cousin. I really did not have the other symptoms and my aunts did not get sick. If this was omicron, everyone around me could have gotten sick. If this was delta, I should have trouble breathing and feeling worse. If this was alpha, I should have lost my sense of taste and smell. I was not a close contact of someone who tested positive. We did not want to risk going to the swabbing centers and get the virus there. They decided that we just observe my condition and continue my quarantine. Coughing eased up a week later. I take lozenges now to relieve my scratchy throat.

I rested another week after that. So two weeks after, my aunt told me, “You know what? Quarantine and isolation protocols for vaccinated COVID close contact were reduced to 7 days. You were not even a close contact. You only had a cough. You’ve been quarantining for too long.” hahaha I was enjoying my do-not-send-me-to-errands-need-to-isolate card way too much. I finished two k-dramas, guys! I was able to watch ‘Encanto’, too! Yes, I know why we do not talk about Bruno! hehehe

I thank friends who checked on me. Mitzi sent me her Oriental Herbal Nutrient which was great for my throat.

One friend was alarmed when I did not answer the multiple calls. I just wanted to rest then and did not want to be bothered by a phone call.

I had to send proof of life updates.

I am okay, guys. A bit crazy but no COVID.

It has been 4 weeks since then. I am now up and about with tiny specks of cautious optimism, if there is such a thing. I only do one errand a day in one area now. No need to be a superwoman. Being a woman is super already, right?

Hello, February!

PS. Most of my life updates were based on images (by me or by my friends) that were taken over a certain period of time. There were many moments that I cherished that I did not have a photo to show. I do have a written journal to help me remember. I hope someday I will be able to share my thoughts about them. I am thriving in this pandemic through videocalls and conversations with family, chats and phone calls with friends, creative outlets I indulge in, podcasts I listen to, series I watch and pets I hug. I thank family, friends and furry friends for being there for me.  I am praying we all get though this pandemic as better people.

My COVID Stories*: The Past Five Months

(*Stories of what happened to me during the COVID-19 pandemic)

I have not posted anything in this blog for 5 months now. Just like the past posts, this is a life update so that my future self has something to look back.

The COVID-19 delta variant has now become the dominant variant in the Philippines. I used to be alarmed whenever the COVID-19 cases in my city reach 500. As of September 18, there are 1,524 active cases in my city. Now I live in fear. If can delay going out and doing the grocery, I delay them. I try do all my errands for the week in one day. I stay home the rest of the week. This is one of the many privileges I have as a freelancer. Not everyone is as lucky as I am so I try my best not to get the virus. I have that advantage of staying at home.

Glad I was able to meet up with friends and family before the COVID cases increased.

I met friends for dinner when many of them came home to visit family.

I was able to spend time at the beach even in the middle of a typhoon! hahaha Talk about bad timing but we had fun anyway.

We spent some time in the “mountains” even if I was on the look out on those amphibians that I feared most.

I was able to attend the wedding of a good friend.

There were quick meetups just to catch up a bit.

I spent time with family.

I have been vaccinated for the 1st dose only because I got the rarest vaccine of them all- Sputnik V. Ha! There was difficulty in the production and delivery of the second dose. I try to see the positive side of the situation. Not having the 2nd dose yet made me a lot more careful. I take comfort at the reports that more antibodies are produced at longer vaccine intervals.

Then cases started rising so I stayed at home.

I made my stay-at-home time as pleasant as possible.

I spent time with my furry friends.

I joined my high school alumni online games. I placed 5th against these super smart people. Wohoo!

I continued to be a plantita. Nah, I just took photos with the plants of my tita. hahaha

I did more art. ( I will write about these more in the separate blog posts)

I watched more K-dramas, listened to podcasts and chatted with friends and family to constantly keep in touch.

Oh, I spent another pandemic birthday at home. Actually, I like spending birthdays quietly. The best birthdays are the ones where I do not have to fuss about preparing and hosting well-wishers. I wanted the chill kind of birthday so I just ordered Jollibee for breakfast and Mang Inasal for lunch and ate leftovers for dinner.

My very thoughtful friend, Gail, all the way from Pasay, made an effort to search for Butuan cake supplier on Facebook and ordered this awesome cake. She contacted Maxim and had this cake delivered to my house. Since I have been wanting to go to the beach, she brought the beach to my cake! The Katriona name was an inside joke (now made public hahaha). A few years ago, I made a Tiktok dub with Catriona’s winning answer in Miss Universe.

My friends, Mitzi and Erns, dropped by to give me their gifts. I am blessed with thoughtful friends.

I got videocalls, Facebook posts and greetings that day. I feel loved especially that they remembered my birthday even when I deactivated birthday notifications on Facebook.

This is my 44-year-old self. I need lighting to blur out the fine lines. hahahaha

Till the next life update!

My COVID Stories: Home Repairs and Spring Cleaning

For more than ten years, I have been using a toilet and bath that has a defective flush, uncovered shower drain and leaking sink. Our toilet flushed so well when it worked before because Papa, the mechanical engineer, configured the toilet system with vent pipes. He explained the configuration to me before when I asked why our toilet flushed better than the other house but I forgot the science behind it. Don’t ask me the details. The problem with ours then was that we needed to change the toilet bowl itself. Rust developed and the tank could no longer carry water for flushing. So, for more than ten years, I was using a pail of water to flush my toilet. Yes, more than ten years.

Family and friends who stayed overnight in my house knew this. I had family and friends from first world countries who had to contend with my lousy toilet. They endured the inconvenience and I never heard them say anything bad about their stay. You know you have friends for keeps when they remained friends even after subjecting them to a primitive toilet system.

Finally, I decided to do something about it this year. Since I have been living with an ugly toilet for years, I went beyond the bare minimum and decided to really make it beautiful. I was not aiming for just a repair. I wanted a makeover.

This was day 1 of my toilet renovation. Workers removed everything and started working on the floor and walls. I did not take a “before” photo because that would ruin whatever good reputation I have. Makadaot ug dungog! Hahaha. It was that bad.

I have a 1.8 meter by 1.5 meter toilet and bathroom space. It is fairly small but the space is enough for me. Without further adieu, this is my finished bathroom.

toilet

I bought a pre-fabricated enclosure from a hardware store so I do not have to scout for suppliers or contractors for the enclosures.

shower enclosure

I also chose a narrow sink to save space. The sink is so narrow that I had to gingerly wash my face. Bawal malaki ulo sa sink ko, guys. Hahaha I also found a narrow cabinet from a home store for my toiletries and towels.

bathroom

And I now have a manual bidet. Tabo no more!

toilet

I kept our old louvered door but opted to turn it to sliding one to save space.

louvers

My toiletries are very minimal.

shower

While the workers are still available, I took advantage of tapping them for the minor repairs in my house. I had my leaking roof fixed and some parts in the ceiling had to be replaced. I also had the cabinets in my parents’ room repaired. The house was infested with termites years ago and the damages on the cabinets are still there so I had them fixed.

Fixing the cabinets meant I had to unload everything in it. I still have some of my parents’ things. It has been more than 10 years since they have passed away.

spring cleaning

These are the interesting things I found and each piece has a story to tell of the life we lived.

I found my toy train and letters from friends.

toy train

I remember Papa asking me what I wanted him to buy in Cebu. He and my cousin, Kuya Edwin, went to Cebu to buy materials for the construction of my aunt’s house. I told him that I wanted a toy train since the impressionable child in me saw in a book an illustration of children playing with trains. Papa, the educator, had to chime in that the men on the moon went to Cebu to buy me a toy train. (Papa’s name is Neil. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, gets?)

I live in Butuan City but I spent my high school in Davao. During summer vacations, I wrote letters to friends to keep in touch with what was happening with their lives. In these letters specifically, they wrote about where they would be enrolling for college.

Speaking of college, I found some IDs I had in college. The library of the UP College of Science then went digital. Library cards were replaced with Borrower’s ID with bar code. And I used to have a student’s discount card for Philippine Airlines. Plane fares are expensive. I only used this a few times when I traveled alone. I usually traveled by ship if I had someone to accompany me.

IDs

I also found my ballet costume. I had ballet lessons for a year and it was supposed to train me to have a better posture. Indeed, I had a better posture when I dance. I could do the pirouettes, plies, arabesque, jete and others. I was told I was a graceful dancer but when I am not dancing, I am back with my bad posture. Ha!

ballet

This is my aunt’s maid of honor dress that she used during my parent’s wedding. The little girl is my cousin who will be turning 50 soon. (I will not identify who she is. In real life, she looks way younger for her age. )

maid of honor

This is my Mama’s wedding gown and Papa’s coat. My parents would have celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary this coming May.

wedding

I also found my father’s job acceptance letter. I was 5 months old when he got a new job at a match company. He was paid Php 950 a month then. I hope it was enough to feed an infant who drank milk like it was water. I was an S26 (milk brand) baby.

letter

I also found a few of their old passbooks. My parents always had a bank account even if their savings were minimal.

passbook

Owning a refrigerator then was a big deal. They were issued with a Certificate of Ownership.

refrigerator

Owning a stereo system required a deed of sale. Wow.

deed of sale

I still have that unit but the different parts are now used as a tables.

stereo

The stuff I found gave a glimpse of how my parents took good care of their things.

I am lucky to inherit their things.

This was my mama’s dresser even before she got married.

dresser

I replaced the mirror, changed the knobs and repainted it. I am now using it in my bedroom.

dresser

There were also things I needed to let go.

This was my parent’s bed. It had been my bed since birth. (I slept in their room until my father’s death. Papa had a separate bed in the room).

bed

This used to be our setup. Mama and I slept in the big bed;Papa in the small one. (My Mama had separation anxiety when it came to me. I was away for school for 8 years.) When Mama died, I slept in the big bed alone and Papa still slept in his bed.

When my father died, I moved to my room but I brought with me the top mattress of the bed.

That is the only bed I had …until recently. The springs were already poking me. Before tetanus kills me, I decided to replace the bed.

I had the carpenter customize the bed for me. I wanted lots of storage space…

bed

…and an upholstered headboard. Voila!

room

Since I wanted a makeover, I decided to rearrange things.

This was how my bedroom used to look which, I think, was already cozy.

my room

This is now my new bedroom with my new bed and mama’s dresser. It is more functional this time around. I painted the artwork so that I have my own art in my own room. I moved my photos over my bed to a different area in the room. The photos still need to be updated. I have new nieces and new dog.

room wide lens

As a postscript to all these stories of repairs and spring cleaning, I also found the house plans that my father kept.

My father had these plans made when he and mama planned to buy a lot in a good subdivision here. They were not able to buy the lot because the money they saved for it was used to help my grandparents redeem their pawned property.

This was supposed to be our house.

house plan

I am kilig that they labeled it “daughter’s bedroom”. My room!

plan

My parents acquired another lot in another subdivision and Papa also had a plan drafted.

And there’s the daughter’s bedroom again. Excluding their planned walk-in closet, my room is bigger than theirs. Awww.

plan

I have always wanted a bedroom on the second floor.

But life is what happened when we are busy making other plans.

We did not live in a subdivision. My parents already sold that subdivision lot. We live in a small house in a small barangay. My bedroom is not on the second floor but I would not trade our house for another house. This is home. This will be my home for as long as God allows me.


Oh, I realized my father did build me a second floor bedroom even though I do not live there. I was even part of the planning. I even made a layout using Sketchup. This was the last project I did with Papa.

sketchup

This is my backup home for the zombie apocalypse. hahaha

house

I wish my parents lived longer. We could have done a lot of cool stuff together.

I should go back to cleaning before I get sentimental and bawl over these memories. Grief, they say, is love persevering. Something like that. Writing this post is my excuse for taking a break from cleaning.

I can do this. Aja!

My COVID Stories: Life Goes On

How’s your 2021 so far? It is my 14th month into this pandemic and I thank God for His graces. I wish I can be a prolific blogger and write as often as my neurons transmit information to other cells in my body but the middle-aged woman in me just wanted to feed my brain with lots of sleep, carbohydrates and k-drama. When it comes to art and this blog, I follow no deadline. So here I am going through my photos and trying to tell a story of what happened in the last 108 days.

My anxiety meter comes from the Butuan City PIO Facebook Page. This is where my city posts its COVID statistics. I am a numbers person so I am hyper-aware when I see figures.

Mid-January statistics was okay.

So I found myself making up for lost time. We went to visit my family’s ‘mausoleum’. I have not visited my parents’ tomb in more than a year.

I went to see my nephew and niece. My niece was sweet that day. She was giving hugs and I needed lots of it.

I went to another niece’s birthday after.

The week after, I met my cousins for a trip to the mountain to feel some cool breeze.

Then, COVID hits the family.  Two of my cousins tested positive for COVID-19.

This was my scared face as I was on videocall while Azenith was inside the ambulance en route to the hospital. She spent most of her February in quarantine.

Looking at my anxiety meter, there were lots of cases in February.

So I stayed home and pretended I was vacationing somewhere and this was the hotel lobby. Ha!

In reality, this is my aunt’s garage floor.

Feeling helpless over what was happening, I found a way to make meaningful contribution with just a little effort. There was this call for donations and I qualified since my hair was untreated and long.

I cut my hair short and donated it to Makati Med.

I only went out to buy essentials. Yes, potato chips are essential.

And even in my house clothes, color coordination is essential. Kidding!

Valentine’s came and it was a surprising one for me. My friend, Teram, sent three of us, her single friends, this cake. The english translation of the message on the cake is ” No boyfriend but loved by many”. It was a ribbing to my singlehood and I love it! Who does not love a free cake?

I spent most of my February painting.

By March, the number of cases dropped and my anxiety waned also.

We went to the beach to celebrate the healing of my cousins. Thank you, God, for their lives.

I pray for the people who lost their lives and I personally knew quite a few and it was heartbreaking.

There is something about being in an open space that calms my nerves.

I also went to see my teacher friends.  Three are getting married, two bought new cars and two moved to their new home.  What an impressive bunch!

My couple friends live in this awesome tiny house. I am so proud of them for building their first house.

I also found the part of the fence that my father donated when he still taught in this school. I think it was more than 50 years ago- way before I was born.

For the first time in my 43 years, I attended a debut. Finally, my friends’ daughter was able to celebrate her debut which was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Congrats to my friend, Cez, for successfully organizing the event.

It has been awhile since I last used my DSLR and my skills are a little bit rusty. My rusty skills are better than not having any photos taken so I said yes to shoot my friend’s sister’s wedding.

Holy week was fast approaching and cases in Metro Manila were rising and so was my anxiety. I stayed home for the Holy Week and did some spring cleaning (which I think needs a separate blog entry).

I celebrated Easter with a few of my relatives.

Oh, I went to my friend’s house blessing.  Bam built a pad for her and her mother in her brother’s compound so that they can have their own space. We visited this space in November but I was not able to take pictures with me in it because we came from walking. My sweaty self was not camera-ready. I took pictures of our breakfast then and the cozy space.  Look at that! You’d think I downloaded the photos from a magazine. So beautiful! I am so happy for Bam and Nanay.

Fast forward to 5 months after, I was able to finally pose for pictures in this awesome space.

I spent much of the first week of April cleaning.  I still am not done but there are silver linings. My room is clean and organized. I got myself a new bed.

I finally renovated my toilet.  I will write about the renovation soon.

The cases are rising in my city.  It looks scary.

I got my new bed and new toilet. I will stay at home. With fervent prayers, I will be okay.  Life goes on.

Sending you love,

Kat