Category: Musings & Ramblings



I rested 5 whole months for my recent trip to Egypt. Between October 2019 to February 2020, I dutifully and patiently heeded doctor’s and family’s “orders” to stay put and take it easy. If you’ve been following this site, you know that I enjoy being out, whether with friends or going solo for some adventures here or there. Like arriving in the morning from an international trip, and leaving in the afternoon for yet another. Or deciding to stay in one place, alone, while the rest of your traveling buddies fly home. Even while in Manila, I’d troop to Binondo just to walk aimlessly after spending a few hours in the museum. I’d enjoy a cup of coffee while digesting a book, or just simply walking around BGC. I could have made a career walking dogs and end up with truly happy canines. It has been 5 weeks now since we arrived from Egypt. We’ve booked ourselves for trips to South America this July and Europe this October. Plus I’ve booked our holiday cribs with family this August-September. Is it happening?

Karnak Temple inLuxor, Egypt
Hot-Air Balloon Over the Valley of the Kings

The year 2019 (and the years before that) was full of adventures until the last quarter. The “break” was a painful reminder that health matters and that TIME is precious. I learned the first lesson the hard way and the 2nd lesson in time to celebrate life and friendships as gifts. In these COVID-19 times, we are made even more aware of these 2 gifts. The quarantine makes us miss a lot of things, but it has also made us appreciate a lot more. People and stuff we were blessed with but took for granted. Life lessons? Perhaps.

I have lived in a condominium the last 30 years but hardly found time to chat up my neighbors. These days, I see them doing their morning walks around the pool while I take my coffee. Late afternoons, I see the kids and now get curious whose children they are and which units they live in. I take delight seeing them kids try crafting a thousand paper cranes, believing their wish will come true with the 1,000th origami crane. I’ve also been talking more to our dog as if he understands every word as I sip the cocktails concocted by my Nieta. I reminisced over my travel memories and wonder what the rest of the year holds. Bookings have been made for 3 trips but I’ve long stopped worrying if they’re happening or not. I have also stopped worrying when this pandemic will be over. There are reasons why this is all happening now. There’s a new normal and all that matters now is how we spend our precious time and how we keep ourselves healthy to enjoy this time.

And so we’ve formed some kind of daily routine to deal with this quarantined way of life. I still long going out for coffee with friends but now realize my coffee machines (I switch between the 2 😊) give me good brews and I can enjoy my cuppa while chatting up my friends over cyberspace. I miss my happy hours with some buddies but realize that my Nieta can whip up a good cocktail for me. My late post-dinner evenings are spent with 2 young adults who now keep me company and liven up my otherwise quiet nocturnal nights. I sleep late with these young adults ( bad, bad) to the consternation of their parents and aunts. But happy hours have extended into happy nights and I think that’s what make it precious. That sofa bed? It’s more a bed and hardly folded back as a sofa now. The siblings bond long after their abuela hits the sack. After all, they never shared a room until now. Happy times amidst a crisis? Not really. The sad news still bother us but we’ve learned to live from day to day and try to worry less. We’re coping and dealing with this pandemic the best way we can. Much is beyond our control and we’ve accepted that. I do not know why this is happening but I’m sure we’d all come off it with a new appreciation of what’s truly important in this world. 🙏


Just 5 nights on this chartered boat sailing from Luxor to Aswan. Offshore excursions included. Karnak and Luxor Temples. Valley of the Kings. Temple of Hatshepsut. El Kab. Edfu. Kom Ombo. Temple of Isis in Philae. All these as we glide through the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. And while sailing, unli food and unli drinks. The 8 cabins good for 16 pax are not big but good-sized and kept clean and neat. Then there’s the salon where we can choose to dine when it turns really cold, and the deck where most meals are served. A lounge for cocktail hours, a jacuzzi, beer and soda ref, coffee and tea stations. Good food, and even better service. What a treat! This is most certainly my kind of holiday.

The boat’s engine runs to make life comfortable for all 16 of us. Well-appointed, air-conditioned rooms. Hot coffee & tea. Cold bevs and hot meals. Good music and adequate lighting. A tugboat pulls us across the River Nile and the splash we make as we glide through the Nile is a symphony we’d likely miss once we get off. How nice to wake up to catch sunrise and enjoy wine or beer as we wait for sunset. A few hours in the morn and another after lunch make up our offshore excursions. Just enough activities for each day. Even more time to enjoy each other’s company on the boat. Life seems slow, unhurried, and savoured. The way it should be.

Captain is a kindly 56 year old Egyptian who has a younger brother also working on the boat. We don’t know what the younger Ibrahim does but we all remember him as the young lad with good dance moves when we feel like turning after-dinner sessions into dancing parties. Where we shake left to right, Ibrahim’s extra moves tilts up and down while swaying left to right. The Chefs cook up real good meals and have good dancing feet too! Same goes for Mandouh who is forever charming us with his stories on his 7 year old twins and always beat us with his keen sense of anticipation of what we need. A vodka here, some toast, more desserts, another glass of wine. To feel spoiled and pampered is an understatement. These men made us feel so comfortable and truly took good care of us.

This isn’t my first time cruising the Nile. Back in ‘96, we sailed on a bigger boat M/S Oberoi from Aswan to Luxor . Meals and service excellent but nothing beats having the boat all to yourselves. Besides, it wasn’t an open bar back then. Our Tour Guide sailed with us too and Mahmoud is a gem of a guide. He doesn’t mind us calling him “Superman”, by the way. His spiel had just the right amount of information laced with just enough excitement to keep us interested. Never too much info to douse our interest or give us indigestion over too much historical facts. This guy knows his stuff.

Over the 6 days and 5 nights cruising the Nile, Mahmoud’s itinerary covered the same spots I’ve visited 24 years ago, plus a couple more which I particularly enjoyed. El Kab and the Sandstone Quarry of Gebel Al Silsilah are worthy sites to visit along the Nile. I am including the link to our boat’s website for those who are planning to do a River Nile Cruise. We still have 2 nights to go on this riverboat cruise but this comes with our recommendation. We are that confident it can only get better! (https://www.divenewswire.com/aggressor-announces-new-brand-aggressor-river-cruises-with-the-nile-queen/)


It’s been 9 weeks. And before then, around 4 weeks of clinic visits and lab procedures. I haven’t had 13 slow and easy weeks in the last few years. A quick check of my busy travel calendar the last few years confirm this. And you know what? If you’ve been under “house arrest” for a considerable time, the first day out heightens all your senses to appreciate the air you breathe, the noise you hear or perhaps the lack of it, the temps that make you sweat or the breeze that cools your skin. The Harbour Square within the CCP Complex is a favorite spot within the metropolis. Antipolo too but it’s too far out and the traffic going there is near-unbearable. So between the waters and the mountains, I longed to instead count the yachts bobbing up and down in the bay.

There are still a few days before the year is over but Bali was def the last trip in 2019. Thoroughly enjoyed with the family despite the intermittent chest pains, which I assumed must have been acid reflux. My guardian angels must have worked overtime to bring me home safely and guided a family doctor to remind me to see my cardiologist instead of a gastro-enterologist. I did, and then had medical attention in the nick of time. After more tests pre- and post-stenting, my cardiologist declared I’m good to travel again. Yey! Two trips lined up for next year, and now working on a possible 3rd and 4th. I am so happy. And thankful for the trips made in the year 2019 without mishap. I still cringe at the thought that any one of these trips could have turned really nasty. I am thankful as I remember.

Same group on 2 separate trips to Brunei and Malaysia

Ticked off a few squad goals including this Hokkaido in Winter!

A third of the fambam in London.

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/21/touchdown-london/

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/23/one-in-a-million-stonehenge/

Cardiff Castle in Wales

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/24/from-london-to-london-2019/

Amsterdam, Volendam, Marken, Giethorn , Zaans Schans, Delfth and The Hague

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/05/25/its-been-awhile-amsterdam/

Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/01/touchdown-brussels/

The Cotswolds

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/06/16/the-cotswolds/

Off to Graz, Ljubljana, Trieste and Istrian Peninsula (Croatia

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/08/18/road-trip-through-austria-slovenia-italy-croatia/

A family trip to Bali, Indonesia

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/2019/09/05/bali-highs-💕🏖😍🎶🧜🏻

So what’s in the drawing boards this coming 2020? Well, there’s a booked Nile cruise in Egypt, and the South American adventure should soon be firmed up, plus there’s that wedding later in the year in Barcelona. Same travel buddies…. unless of course we start growing tired of each other 🙄. We have yet to plan for that trip to Europe with my soon-to-graduate #aponimamu. And another adventure with my soon-to-retire dear friends. We’ll see. Meanwhile, let’s have a truly Merry Christmas in our hearts and a Prosperous, Harmonious New Year ahead.


There is much to celebrate and birthdays are perfect excuses. We celebrate the gift of life, and we remind ourselves that truly, gratitude resides in the heart. And so, we stop counting the candles on the cake and instead give thanks for the multitude of blessings. On my 60th birthday, I celebrated by gathering my family for a weeklong trip to South Korea. To this day, we tag it as our best-ever family trip. Everything went right on that trip. Everyone in good spirit. When we returned, I decided to throw an impromptu party with family and a few friends from college days. You bet we all felt like the teenagers we were when we first met and lived together in a dorm.

Seoul, South Korea. 2013.

Hotel Celeste. 60th Birthday

It has been a blur since. Having turned 60, I went full-ON with my travel adventures. I remember celebrating a birthday in India. Then another in Madrid after a nearly 2-week trip around Morocco which included spending a night in a bivouac in the Sahara. Back home, we didn’t miss getting together again for a birthday weekend in beautiful Balesin Island. At 64, I struck a dream destination off my bucket list. Macchu Picchu thrilled me no end, and no racing heartbeat could stop me from enjoying this heritage site.

India. 2014.

Casa Botin. Madrid. 2015.

Balesin Island. Quezon.

Macchu Picchu. 2017.

Turning 65, it would have been a good idea to hold a party but my Sydney-based sister and brother-in-law were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary so off I went Down Under for a birthday and golden wedding anniversary celebration. My friends based in California lost no time to join me and we had a blast. I’m not really into big parties anyway, and celebrating with family and friends “on a trip” is really my idea of a birthday celebration.

Sydney. 2018.

There are many ways to celebrate birthdays. You can plan all you want but sometimes the best plans come unhinged. Not because they were necessary spoilers, but more so because they couldn’t be postponed any longer. The last 5 years or so breezed by, packing many unique adventures. As I kept still the last so many weeks, I found time to pull apart many such recent memories threatening to get blurred with the passing of time. Some weight attaches to each — some light, others heavy with meaning. By no design, the ones that stick out are those that one cannot explain. Forever grateful for such unexplained, intuitive wisdom. Guided. And guarded. One tries not to overthink while slowing down to appreciate life and becoming more aware of one’s mortality. Not much else to say but “Thank You”. I need not understand every single thing. Thank You.


This April 11, 2019 is Anna Patricia Bautista’s first solo exhibit. Showcasing eleven of her paintings, the exhibit will run till April 27 at J Studio in La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue (formerly Pasong Tamo) in Makati City. The overriding theme of her exhibit is “Art and Consumerism” — so relevant in this time and age of rising consumerism where society’s obsession with material possessions threatens to define what we are. In this young artist’s mind, this mentality is leaning towards a subconscious layering of society that trivialises a person’s true worth and substance. Bordering on satire, Anna’s wit cuts across her art, like broad strokes on canvas.

The Invitation. CONSUMED. Solo Exhibition of Anna Bautista. 2019

Influencer. By Anna Bautista. 2019

McBoodle. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Young, petite and profound. “Anna Bauti” juggles her time between art and school. Her passion for art developed only after she quit from her school’s swimming team. Finding much time otherwise spent doing pool laps, her doodles graduated into portraits and shirt designs. After representing her school in athletic meets, she was soon representing the same school in art competitions. By 16, she found art as her self-expression. A voracious reader, she delighted in expressing her new learnings and experiences through her art. She painted on paper, ceramic, canvas, wood, fabric, and leather using pen and ink, acrylic, oil, gouache and watercolour. She never stopped painting since. By 17, she was painting on walls. At that young age, she gave up weekend parties to work on her murals.

Cariñosa by Anna Bautista. 2019

Manong Andy. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Comme De Garcia. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Early on, she painted animals — dogs, cats, horses. Then she tried portraits.Or just “at the moment” paintings like when she painted a crowd scene inside the Louvre in Paris, a monument in Ciutadella Parc in Barcelona, sketched that famous spider in Bilbao and the seascape of San Sebastián-Donostia. She’d linger as long as 4 hours in an art gallery or museum, walk many blocks searching for street art, and spend lots of time reading art books or browsing in bookstores. Whatever she earned from her art projects, she spent on more art materials and books. She paints for hours till midnight and when she needs to rest her mind, she paints something that is completely unrelated to what she’s working on, as if to “rest her mind”. Call it a “break” if you like. As in mindless painting to rest from some serious painting? Perhaps.Except that those breaks are pretty good artworks too.

Karla. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Maldita. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Luisa V. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Looking at her recent artworks for this solo exhibit, she badly needs her own studio now. The entire house cannot accept visitors anymore whenever she’s in “session”. Her art is all over, so to speak. But it’s the kind of chaos and mess that delights and soothes the soul. Anna never had any formal art lessons. Through the years, her art has evolved and continues to evolve. She isn’t sure what to call her painting style. She wouldn’t even call it a technique – those “blotches” that seem to compose a surprising “whole” when viewed from a distance. Her work invites us to fill in the blanks or to dare make an interpretation while her art attempts to be playful behind a serious message. She is more partial to modern, contemporary artists, curious about their techniques and impressed with their art innovations and representations. Who knows where this passion would lead this young lady? Once I asked her what inspires her to paint. Anna nonchalantly said her mood to paint is prompted by a desire to share something she just experienced, discovered or learned. While others would talk about it, this young miss would rather paint about it. 👩‍🎨

Chi Gou. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Flag. By Anna Bautista. 2019

Making Limos. By Anna Bautista. 2019

PS. Many thanks to Derek, Lucky, brothers Ralph & Randell, to her Teachers Ayong and Asid, to her many friends who gamely posed for her, and to everyone else who believed in her. Special thanks to those who encouraged her by buying her artworks long before she knew she could make a career out of this passion. 🥰

My name is Anna Bautista. Call me Anna Bauti.

Update: Here’s a couple of articles about the artist and her April 11 solo exhibit.

https://www.philstar.com/other-sections/newsmakers/2019/05/14/1917462/consumed

http://diskurso.com/2019/2019-04-08-april-2019-diskurso-picks-of-the-month.html#sthash.HDpPJX9z.dpbs


I came to Sydney for 2 major reasons. To attend my sister’s and brother-in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary on October 27 and to celebrate my birthday with my “OZ family”. My visits are rather regular, but this comes more special for those 2 reasons. Not every couple is blessed to celebrate a golden wedding anniversary. And another year tucked under one’s belt is always a good reason to celebrate. My birthdays were always spent in Manila except for 3 celebrated in India, Madrid and Peru in recent years. While travel adventures provided novelty and excitement, nothing beats being with family on such a special day.

I still have a long wish list and trust there is no limit to God’s mercy and generosity. Like a child, I unashamedly ask that God grants my heart’s desires. I’ve asked for much — for myself, as well as for others. Mostly “little things”. And just as much if not more, thank Him for answered prayers. I honour Him with much joy in my heart, and celebrate His gift of life.

To my family and friends, I have you all in my prayers. Praying for good health, safety wherever and with whomever we are, harmony and precious joy in our hearts. Most of all, we humbly thank You Lord for the time to celebrate with our loved ones as well as for the lessons learned from our poor decisions and ill-thought choices.


Took me a few minutes to roll out Buduruwagala without stuttering. Budurugawala means “the rock with the statue of Buddha”. It is the largest standing Buddha statue in the island’s Wellawaya in Uva Province and is actually all of 51 feet. Easily 5 stories high. It is also one of 7 rock sculptures to be found in this ancient Buddhist temple complex dating back to the 10th century. A trio of statues stand to the left and right of the 15m central Buddha. With that streak of faded orange, one can only imagine how this set of rock statues must have looked back then. Impressive now, it must have looked truly majestic then.

(Trivia: It is the tallest standing Buddha statue now after the Taliban destroyed the one in Afghanistan in March 2001)

Our bus brought us to the complex gate, after driving past a lake and through this very narrow bridge. Certainly required skillful driving and in that instant, I forgave our driver for all the times he alternated between speeding, overtaking on curves (omg!) and suddenly stepping on the brakes esp while I’m sleeeping. Pheww!

(Trivia: Sri Lanka’s crime rate is largely comprised of road accidents/traffic infractions. That plus adultery, according to our guide)

The complex gate entrance is a short and pleasant walk through a park to where one finds the 7 rock statues. Very well-maintained with a “zen ambience”. The walkways are hemmed in by full grown trees that provided shade on that otherwise hot and humid day. You hear birds chirping and find many butterflies around in this very serene complex. Two resident dogs were found sleeping just before the rock. Took a photo of the pair while my pseudo Buddhist friends paid their respects. Hmmmm.

(Trivia: Other historians have actually dated the statues to the 6th century)

To the left and right of the gigantic standing Buddha is a trio of rock-cut figures all belonging to the Mahayana school of thought. The one on the left is believed to be a Mahayana deity Alokiteshvara, flanked by an attendant and his consort, Tara. The trio of sculptures on the right consists of Vajrapani ( the Tibetan Bothisatva) flanked by Natha (the future Buddha) and Vishnu. The rock on which these were carved looks like a kneeling elephant with a head bent towards the ground. Tantric influence can be gleaned here as one finds Vajrapani holding an hourglass-shaped thunderbolt symbol of Tibetan origin. Of interest is the hole near the right foot of the central Buddha statue. Shaped like a flame from an oil lamp, it is always wet and smelling of mustard oil. There is not one explanation for this.

(Last photo: Thanks, Angel R)

Buddhists, Pseudo Buddhists, Buddhist-wannabees and non-Buddhists will all enjoy the serenity of this place. So peaceful, so quiet. You may visit way too many temples and shrines in Sri Lanka, but please don’t miss this if only for a few minutes of calming silence. Besides, you don’t need to take off your shoes here. 😊


I have drawn up my bucket list back in 2013 and has since struck off a few from the list. Problem is, for every country ticked off, there’s 2 more to add. So yes, it is a growing list. Wanderlust. Why fight it? Well, for one — my travel fund is fast depleting while the list keeps growing. I am also starting to feel my age 😢 though I strive to shake off any such anxiety. Keeping in mind to travel safely, comfortably but not necessarily luxuriously I need to plan my trips more wisely. And resist visiting the same favorite destinations —God help me! 🙏🏻

Like an old truck seeking new directions, I am very happy with the places I’ve visited and the experiences I’ve shared with family and friends. Finally, I managed to travel to Peru, India, Halong Bay (Vietnam), Myanmar & Finland since the list was drawn. I have also managed to do not one but 2 caminos — the last 100 kms from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, as well as from Viterbo (Italy) to the Vatican City. Plus the challenging first 24kms of the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port. Not bad for an old hag 😜

Yet the unchecked list remains. Galapagos. Northern Lights. The many lovely countries now comprising the former Yugoslavia. Hungary. Iguassu Falls. Canadian Rockies. New Zealand. Exotic Sri Lanka. Tibet. Other South American and African countries. Not to mention the list of domestic destinations waiting to be struck off! And perhaps another (longer) camino.

Photos from the Net

This March, Sri Lanka is it. Come April-May, my childhood friend and grandnephew should be free to travel with me. Destination yet unknown. Before my Schengen visa expires this year, I may as well do another trip to Europe. And in October-November, another trip to Sydney to visit family and meet up with friends who’d hop from Sydney to Kiwi land. I am very, very tempted to join them for the New Zealand leg too but we’ll see. This wanderlust is making me rethink my retirement. Not in the sense that I want to go back to work but more in terms of seeking other funding sources. (How????) In the same vein, I seriously need to plot my travel calendar within my travel fund in the next 5 years. Age is creeping in, and the “bolder, more adventurous, more energy-demanding trips” seek precedence over the more leisurely, relaxing, boketto-mode travels which can be dealt with once I (sadly) turn septuagenarian! 😫 — by which time, I plan to run a blog series on “Easy Travels for Seniors”. Wish me luck, I need it. 😘🙄🤪

The Joy In My Heart


Once, I waxed poetic

Nothing grand, nowhere epic

Wordsmith, surely I am not

Just speaking from the heart.

Every morn I ponder

Thinking aloud, still sober

What countless blessings You gave

So much more than I deserve.

It’s this joy in my heart

The cheer in that sacred part

Such a gift, so precious

Stuck in my subconscious.

Not everything is on fleek

God lets happen even if you’re meek

Your gift of cheer I seek

To live life’s joys at its peak.

(Photo taken more than 30 years ago)


Eat well, laugh often, love much! This is our wish for everyone in 2018!

Who cares if you keep going back to the same “pre-loved” places? While I do have my bucket list, it can’t be more serious than being with loved ones. My family. My friends. The new friends I meet are a bonus. And my heart overflows with gratitude.

As the year ends and a new one begins, my heart is filled to the brim with fond memories that money can’t buy. What’s been, has been. You can’t go back and “create” your history. You make it as you go along. Your past is THAT. Can’t change it. So be mindful of your present, to gain a past to remember with fondness.

From my family to yours, God bless us all this Christmas Season as we remember Him who is our greatest present. Merry Christmas, everyone! 🍾🍸🥂