San Mateo Morning

Yesterday I woke up in Long Beach, Calofornia, in a different bed, a different home, and a different family from the one I had gotten used to the past two weeks. 

Today, I wake in San Mateo, California, seven hours away by a long drive, this time, in the San Francisco Peninsula. To help me acclimate to my new home, I take a morning walk and deliberately get lost. Funny thing: I found myself going around in a circle!

(Photos for your wandering pleasure.)

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One can never get lost when one is already pleasantly wandering to begin with. :)😄☺

I carry my heart with me…

It feels weird to be leaving this family that I’ve been a part of for the past two weeks.

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my Murrieta family

Tomorrow, I take a bus to find another adventure.

Today, Alyssa’s party, is my last “big thing” with this family until I return (in many weeks) for my flight back to Manila, back home.

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My neice and I getting ready for her party

They have been really good to me, this family, and the kids, specifically Alyssa and Marco, have been quite close to me.

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Coronado adventure with these two funnies

I will miss Murrietta and Temecula. The flowered walks and runs, the wide open spaces, the cool mornings and bright quiet evenings. The picturesque skies.

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Murrieta landscape

Tomorrow, I will be building a new “home” again overnight at my brother’s fiancee’s aunt in Long Beach, then meeting my mom’s cousin in LA for some city-touring before we drive off to San Francisco with wonderful views of coastal America (hopefully).

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from Pinterest

From there, I spend two weeks and Fourth of July with different families then I fly to even-sunnier Florida on the east coast and get ready to explore New Jersey and New York.

So many different homes in so little time.

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From Lisa Frank

Home is where my heart is, and for this American Adventure, I carry my heart with me.

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just a simple reminder

P.s.

Thank you for the homes and the hearts that have gladly, wholeheartedly, excitedly welcomed me even as I am just about to arrive at their doorstep. God bless you.

New Filipino Words added to the Oxford English Dictionary!

Mabuhay ang Filipino English! Oh what lovely news; now I can officially use these while gallivanting across America!

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Cheers, Pilipinas!

“Excuse me, where’s the ‘comfort room’?” Hihihi.

“Lock your car. Someone might ‘carnap’ it.”

“Kids, pack your ‘baon’.”

“When will the ‘despedida’ be?”

“Let’s get some ‘pan de sal‘.”

Click on this link to check out more new Filipino words in the OED.

On Photography

I’m not a professional photographer, but everywhere I go, I try to find wonder in everything I see: how the flowers frame an amazing landscape, how a person looks against a blue backdrop, how an ant perches daintily on a leaf, how the sky dazzles me as I run, how appetizing a pie looks, how a child laughs.

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Grabbed from Pinterest

Taking photographs helps me keep the wonder of childhood alive. Everything is new if you can only find a way to see things from a different angle, a different perspective.

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One of my favorite shots of hot-air balloons from a distance. At Murrieta, California. Taken with just my Samsung KZoom, in Macro setting.

No matter how wonderful your camera, it is only just a tool that helps you see the world differently.

Thank you for the gift.

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This.

p.s. Thank you also to my teacher, Gerry Leonardo, who mentored me in B&W photography, pinhole photography, portraiture, and film photography. I was the only woman in my class then, and I had to deal with that at an age where photography wasn’t a thing for women to do, and when darkrooms and chemicals were not cool. Thank you also to my Granny, who gave me my first SLR camera.

Becoming Auntie

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my cousin’s kids these days.

First, four-year-old Alyssa and I got acquainted picking fruits off their backyard on the morning of my first day.

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Backyard fruit-picking with Alyssa

Then I started reading books to Alyssa, who is sweet and innocent, who loves pink and drawing in full-color, and who is quite the storyteller.

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Alyssa and Auntie

After a couple of books, the storytelling became a bit of a thing we do in the evenings. Last night, even eight-year-old Marco asked to bring his own book into the room so he could “join the party.” Yes, those were his very words.

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California summer get-up with Alyssa and Marco

This morning, both of them decided to continue with last night’s amusing paper projects.

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Testing each of their paper boats in the bathroom sink

From testing paper boats in their shared bathroom sink, to creating paper crowns and a complete paper armor suit today, these little bundles of energy and funny comments sure will keep me on my toes the whole time I am with them.

And I really don’t mind. I have lived all my life away from my cousins’ kids and my brothers and I are yet to be married, so there isn’t really anyone who calls me Auntie quite as sweetly as these kids have the past week.

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Lunch with Hawaiian guests Marco and Alyssa

And since I have no kids of my own yet, it is endearing to hear such innocent wisdom, to imagine a world understood differently, to remember why fairy tales are true, to find enjoyment in paper toys, to feel sorry for tears shed for reasons so innocent and so pure.

Oh to see the world from the eyes of a child again.

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Alyssa with her Father's Day project

Here’s hoping that this will be practice for when I hold children of my own.

Running amidst all this…

When I found out I would get the opportunity to visit the United States, all I really wanted was to experience running its roads and trails.  Sure, I would be playing the little tourist in the weeks ahead, but a majority of my happiness will always come from being out on a run and seeing the beauty and the blessing of this land that coined the term “The American Dream”.

Thank you for the gift of running and the gift of photography. This is how I see the world around me, and I am sharing it with you.

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Sunrise peeking over Crown Valley Park

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These flowers are so lovely

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A pine tree, I think

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Sunrise at Murrieta.

All images captured through my Galaxy KZoom. Subject to copyright.

My First USA Run

Now I know why running is so popular here in the USA, and not for the medals and loot bags in the races.

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Perfection.

It was already 6:30am when I stepped out the door. The sun was up early and yet the air was cool, like I was in Bukidnon, Philippines.

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Good morning, California.

As it was my first run, I didn’t venture out so far yet, but it was wonderful to be running in tree-lined lanes with spectacular views: mountains, hot-air balloons rising in the distance, and trees and flowers everywhere. Then there was the occassional bunny (or two or three) that would hop alongside me, and a crow or two for company.

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I could run this route each morning.

Next time, I will add a few hundred meters to my route.

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Hot-air balloons from a distance

Good morning, America!

It is my second morning in America.

After a day of sleeping on and off and acclimatizing to this totally new environment, I decided to start the morning off the way I usually would: slowly. A quick and uneventful shower and prepping up, then getting to the kitchen for some water and my daily dose of vitamins.

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My room windows in Murrieta, CA

I return to my room with the shutters opened wide and watch bunnies hopping about in my cousin’s backyard.

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Bunnies. I have named them Hunny and Bunny.

The sun is shining outside (unlike yesterday’s still and foggy morning) and somehow today feels like it’s always been this way.

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My stationeries and a couple of books on this table to make me feel at home.

And yet I know it couldn’t be. It is only my second morning in America.

My heart’s little song

I never imagined this would happen, and so soon. As this post uploads today, I hope to be halfway across the Pacific Ocean on my way to North America, to see the great United States.
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I received my tourist visa just this January, and it seems that everything has lined up to allow for this new adventure to happen.

So here I am. Alone up in the clouds, suspended over 30,000 feet with strangers around me. In a few hours, I hope to be landing on the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

This is my first trip outside of my home continent, outside of Asia, and outside even of Southeast Asia. And while I have taken a handful of trips abroad alone (and with friends and family), I feel that this adventure is going to be the most epic yet.

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Where?

I relish this solo adventure because I feel that God is closest to me when I’m on my own. The good, helpful people gravitate towards me. They extend their arms beyond their personal spaces, they move in my favor, and they support me. And while it is also true that I am a likely target for the bad people, I will have my wits about me and I will avoid compromising situations as much I can. I cannot enjoy the rest of my wonderful life if I am not also careful and vigilant while having my little adventures.

Yes, for this trip, I will be with family and friends most of the time, yet I also look forward to exploring on my own: urban runs, trail runs, city walks, street food discoveries, perhaps biking the length of the Golden Gate, or even just sitting quietly for hours at a sidewalk cafe.

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One moment at a time...

To be honest, I have very little expectations. I have a set schedule (because I don’t want anyone to be burdened with having to adjust to me so much) and I have a loose idea of the places I would like to see (Florida beaches, the California strip, Alcatraz, the buildings of New York), but that is all.

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Inspiration from Pinterest

As opposed to all my other trips where I research extensively and I prepare plans A, B, C, and D; this trip has stripped my travel-planning mind and reduced it into an “uncarved block.”

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Alice's adventures

And this, I believe is my subconscious’ way of telling me that this trip will be an epic learning experience. In much the same way I entered into university eight years ago to start slowly earning my Master’s degree, so today I enter into foreign airspace with an eager mind and spirit; hungry for much learning; eager to soak up a variety of sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences.

This much is clear: In my over two months abroad, I want to have a wonderful time of discovery: new ideas, new insights, new directions, new friends, new horizons!

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Cheers to growth and change and learning through the University of Travel and Life!

This is my simple prayer. This is my heart’s little song.

When (former) students become colleagues

I had a most-wonderful time hearing about my former students’ careers last Saturday.

It has been three years since I had left their alma maters, and when I did, some of them were still sophomores in college. The rest graduated the same month that I resigned.

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Apple and Hannah

Three years later, we all meet again, amd not just on social media. It was an actual, old-school, meet and greet reunion of some of the best and brightest, most- creative students I had met in that university. These were also the same students who were under me for some writing and editing-related courses, many of whom struggled under my “lovenotes” and comments on the quality of their outputs and papers.

Being a young professor, meeting (former) students who are now professional educators themselves is a fairly new experience to me.

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Malling like a bunch of college undergrads

It brings me joy to have listened to how a class I taught helped them cope as new educators—even if the realization came four years later. It listened in silent applause as my young new colleagues talked about how they dealt with issues in the classroom, or issues with their own students’ personal concerns.

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Silly groupfie

I listened with a joyful heart when one student told me that he had finally realized that sometimes, it is much better to sit and listen. And be quiet. And write. He was one of the bubbliest, noisiest, most creative students I had.

I am grateful for this experience. To see where weeks of lectures and mentoring has taken my students is truly a joy. To know thay I was part of their awakening is sheer fulfillment.

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Posing just like old times.

I have come full-circle as a young educator. I have seen my students become.