Tag Archive: Musings and Ramblings



It’s been over a year now and while the lockdown has restricted us to our sacred bubbles and sanctuaries, I am particularly entertained by how productive my Nieta has been with her art. Since the pandemic changed our new normals, Nieta has had 3 solo exhibits and a spattering of group exhibits. Of her artworks, some evoke more Covid memories in my book. I’m sure the ones who purchased these art pieces would look back to these times whenever they view and hopefully appreciate the meanings behind these expressions.

Art By Anna Bautista

Her models revolved around our household staff and condominium’s maintenance and security crew. In her 3rd solo exhibit, her recurring theme of consumerism marked her artistic interpretations of the fruits, plants and flowers mostly found in the gardens. Some expressions even found its way on silk scarves. And resin trays.

Anna Bauti’s 3rd Solo Exhibit
Anna Bautista’s 3rd Solo Exhibit at MODEKA Art Gallery
Exhibited at Pintô Art Museum July 12-25, 2021

In between her 2nd and 3rd Solo Exhibits, she painted for charity projects and group exhibitions. Here, she drew inspiration from the “new normal” permeating our daily lives as well as current social issues. It was even interesting to discern that very rare but relevant political concerns in her artworks.

“Sapin-Sapin”, inspired by the ABS-CBN Shutdown

Her 4th solo exhibit dwelled on everyday chores —- seemingly “gray matters” or dull moments which are now punctuated by interpretations of how life can be made more exciting with pockets of colour to cheer us on. Truly, pandemic fatigue and lockdown depression can set in, but one’s attitude (and I say, gratitude) is what it takes to brighten our moods. Just like how many of us found joy in growing plants, herbs and flowers. Or in enhancing our kitchen skills like baking and cooking. The new norm may stick for a few more months, even years. And with such, new skills are deployed to strike a new balance in our lives.

It may be a while before the next solo exhibit next year. After all, she was on a roll since 2020. Now a college graduate and gainfully employed, Nieta has to mindfully manage her time. Good luck, apo.

Art on Scarves by Anna Bautista

The pandemic seriously restricted our social life and daily routines. Online shopping, dining in, Netflix-bingeing and virtual meet-ups have become the norm. But I’m happy to note that the art world is still very much vibrant and many artists — forced to stay home and finding more time to indulge in their art — have drawn inspiration from everyday life otherwise taken for granted.

While we stayed home much of the time, we haven’t given up on the stuff we enjoy doing. Thank God our neighbourhood is lined with deli shops, restos, bar joints, art galleries, furniture shops and not too far away, specialty home decor shops where one can spend entire afternoons. Our white walls are now adorned with newly-framed artworks which made trips to our favorite framer so very pleasurable. The art galleries are such a delight to visit and the adjacent coffee and snack bars provide interesting breaks. The alley we frequent even boast of resident cats who’ve since become attractions of the place. Now, here’s one area where feline and human creatures seem to live in true harmony amidst all the beautiful artworks. Swell.

Eating out is restricted to only a few establishments which we found to be safely observing health protocols. But eating in is no less satisfying. We even sourced some of our dinners from our favourite restos as food deliveries have become our new normal. One lovely discovery is the joy of enjoying good meals without worrying about finding a parking slot nor of having to drive home. The convenience beats worries of prepping for meals and washing the dishes. Over time, we’ve grown accustomed to serving the food in their delivered state” to do away with stuff filling our kitchen sink. No big deal, really.

While we have since started brewing our coffee and creating our cocktails at home, we didn’t miss out on sitting in outdoor cafes and bars if only to immerse ourselves in the ambiance of shooting the breeze, so to speak. Besides, it’s really nice to sit it out for some beverages after being on one’s feet in the many neighbouring art galleries. The pandemic may have reduced the visiting crowd but certainly not the interest and enthusiasm of the few who come. Online shopping for art may be the new norm but a serious collector would still want to view such creations up close and personal. There comes also this newfound respect for young artists as one observes how their art evolved through this rough period.


Life under quarantine. The new normal. Covid times. Social Distancing. These describe our present situation. No one was prepared for it. As the situation unfolded, acceptance of such reality took time. Unless and until lockdowns were put in place, flights may have gone on, dine-outs and parties pursued, get-togethers and meet-ups going non-stop. After 9 months, people have adapted to the more restrictive lifestyle. Zoom meetings replaced physical meet-ups. Online masses rather than actual trips to the church. Even weddings are via zoom. It’s a chore to go to the salon for haircuts and beauty treatments. Online shopping is doing brisk business. Same goes with food deliveries. So, how are we surviving?

We’re saving a lot of money making our own coffee. And it’s an adventure to try different beans and pods. Three coffee machines occupy space in my tiny studio and the first decision for the day is which machine to run. Our “Manang” regularly checks YouTube for baking lessons and her repertoire now includes bread, cakes and pies. More savings! The fragrant aroma wafting from the kitchen may have inspired the resident artist to paint for her 2 solo exhibits last April and October, and a couple more group exhibits she joined. Though few and far between, the light traffic encouraged me to drive again — just short trips to the tiny, boutique art galleries in the neighbourhood before or after meals in some outdoor cafe. At home, we have also grown experimental with our cocktails. And Netflix has become a way of life for us.

We’ve adapted reasonably well, but I do miss meeting my friends for lunch or coffee. More than that, I miss my travels and trips to the beauty and massage parlours. I get by with drive-thru bloodworks and medical consultations via Zoom but I do miss my regular visits to my dentist! And because of the restrictions, day-outs are very infrequent but absolutely treasured. My smiles come really cheap whenever I step out of the house with either family or with friends. We’ve also rediscovered the joy in joyrides! Yet again, a new routine has emerged and my daily life is truly nothing to complain about. Our only anxieties are health-related but our paranoia has dwindled down without being reckless. A few more months, maybe. Or perhaps a year or so. We’d all manage. We can overcome this!

Is That It for 2020?


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. 🙏


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.

In The Nick Of Time


Only You can time it so perfectly
One-week off schedule with my doc sickly
Then there’s the Lab needing repair
And a switch of hospitals without delay.

Through all that I depended on Your mercy
I wanted to cry, with the growing anxiety
Helplessness setting in, my head spinning
With each setback, with every mishap.

I was afraid, and You know it
I wasn’t used to feeling helpless and weak
With that last fainting spell, I knew
As morbid thoughts crossed my mind.

But at a certain point, You took over
Mishaps behind me, it flowed so easily
Happy with my doctor and the medical crew
Each so kindly, not one was grumpy.

In the nick of time, I heard quite clearly
The sedation didn’t cloud that perception
I shed tears when I heard my doctor murmur
We got it, just as that artery shut with a purr.

I still cringe over what could have been
Could have been nasty, yet You allowed me
Those solitary walks on the Camino
Traveling solo with much gusto.

You know what lies in the recesses of my heart
Waiting for You to restore me back, my Lord
Not just the body, but more in mind and spirit
As I tread a path in this Camino called Life.


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.


I just realized I didn’t do a blog summary on my 2017 trip to Peru. Specifically, on my adventures ticking Machu Picchu off my bucket list. Instead, I lumped my blog links on Peru, Miami, Utah and San Francisco, California all together. Not very neat. Especially for a trip where I honestly worried I could die. And so, this blog summary which I can now share with you.

Machu Picchu

Sacred Valley

Cusco

Lima

Andean Delights


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)