April 30, 2020

Timeless Thursdays

Timeless memories will forever be vivid to us, especially if they include people who are very dear to us. Old photographs have its own way of making my heart happy no matter where or who's in it, but of course, it's a different feeling when it's someone we know is actually in it, at a point in time that I as a viewer does not yet exist.

I would like to share a couple of photos of my late mother. She was born in 1958 so these photos were taken in the late 60's where she is attending Grade school. Seeing these pictures makes me miss her more but at the same time, makes me feel happy because it reminds me that for a time, she was also a child. 


She passed away last 2011, just a few months after my college graduation, after along battle with kidney failure. I miss you forever Mom. Please keep on guiding and praying for all of us.

I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join this new Linky that I thought of starting - Timeless Thursdays. (Bear with me for any short-comings, this is my first link ever)


Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

This runs every Thursday at 12 am (Manila/Perth Time) until Wednesday the same time (12 am)

Please add a link back to my blog so your friends and viewers can also join and visit other timeless memories they want to share. You can use the badge on your blog post.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

April 27, 2020

A Therapy for my Anxiety

With the current COVID-19 situation where a lot of the world is on their own levels and modes of alerts and lock-downs, anxiety is very rampant especially to people who already have them even before this outbreak started, one of which is me. I have not been diagnosed with Anxiety clinically but it has always been a problem about me, especially when it comes to thoughts about health. I have type 2 hypertension so it also became an extra factor as to why I am having a hard time in this scary period of time.

What usually happens to me is whenever there are outbreaks like these, I start by the usual reading about what the disease or illness or virus is about, then I tend to get too immersed on reading more about its symptoms, until it gets to me very badly that I can;t stop thinking about it, most especially now that we are on lockdown and it's quite hard to distract myself that even if I have work and graduate school, the constant scare and thoughts just never leave. Do I have it? What if I have it? What if I become a reason for my brother or father or yeya to get sick? (Yeya is our maid and who is a family member because she has been with us for 32 years now, 2 years before I was born).

With constant thinking, it takes its toll to me and then I start feeling the symptoms physically which is very scary. This might be confirmations and manifestations of the virus, but of course I still start to think that 'it's all in my mind' especially that I never went outside our house for a month and a half now because we all are locked down at home and only my brother goes out to get our supplies because he also has to go to church and serve almost every day. It ran for weeks and weeks, symptom after symptom but the thing is, whenever I get successful in thinking that it's just all in my mind like the time when I felt so hot and scared that I have a fever (thermometer says I'm not getting beyond 37 degrees) and it was gone after a couple of days, another symptom will show up like difficulty in breathing, then once a new one starts, the last one will then be gone. The only thing that persists is my fear that words from my close friends that relieve me works for a time until my start woud automatically worry again.

As a Christian, I pray the rosary everyday and talk to God in my personal prayers which does help especially if I'm feeling very hopeless and needed some rest for my mind. But still the anxiety lives through. Then one day after prayer, I suddenly thought about an old garden here at our house terrace. As you see in my older posts I have a small garden of succulents and cacti on cups but I thought about what if I fix that side of the house and revive the beauty of it that was once my grandma's sitting place on late afternoons when she was still with us.

It took me three days to work on this garden into a better state, and you know what, it did help me with my anxiety. As compared just staying at my room almost the whole day since I also work from home at my room desk during evenings, having this garden not just as a project but as a growing place to relax at gave me peace and an effective means to stay away from thoughts of fear for bigger chunks of time on the day.

My Grandma's old terrace garden

Above you can see a photo of the Garden I was talking about. Most of the plants here were mine from about half a decade ago until I just left them to thrive and yeya to water everyday. Yeya has a green thumb and she even was succesful to make our Moth Orchids flower again for the third time since it was bought only as a decoration for my Mother's Tomb two All Saint's Days ago (Here in the Philippines, we visit the tombs of our loved ones during November 1st). But every thriving Bromeliad were left from my old planting stint. All I wanted before was to plant these plants but not really to make a garden with it, which I was hoping now.

So I started by repotting the pups or 'babies' that you see growing on the mother plant's roots and sides. Some of the old mother plants are already dying so I had to take them out to give way to the pups to grow better. I said my thanks to every mother plant that I decided to take away, just like what I do before I throw away some old things that are not functional or not needed anymore, learned that one from Marie Kondo and it is a peace-giving practice for me at least.

In the next two photos, you will see a before and after. Old and dried leaves and mother plants with the thriving pups crowd the pots (left). The other photo shows a repotted version with 1:1 ratio of plant per pot(right).


For those that have more than one pups, I transfer them to other old pots here at home, especially the large ones, the smaller ones I converted into hanging plants. My larger variety of Bromeliads gave me two more large pups that I repotted also on the separate pots while the old mother plants were thanked and discarded.

This is how it looked like on Day 2 of my Garden project.


While I was here and there from the garden and on my bedroom, I saw an old wind chime that I got from an old grandpa vendor here in our city, which I only bought because I wanted the grandpa to have sales and then kept on my room with no use. So after all those years, now I knew why I bought it.


I then thought of an old brass bell I bought during my first international trip. I got it from a market in Ayutthaya in Thailand near the Wat Mahathat heritage site so it is both memorable and sacred. I had initial doubts whether to hang something so precious on my garden but I thought it is meant to be blown by the wind which never happens indoors so yes, it went to the bar with the other chimes and hanging plants.


I was still not satisfied because I thought that this garden would be a good place not just to visit and pass by, with the cooler afternoon winds, this place is a good place to stay at during hot afternoons inside the house. This terrace is facing east so the sun is already on the other side which tends to make it cooler a cooler choice of spot to be in on this lockdown summer days.

So I did a bit of further rearranging to give more space for a chair and a small laptop desk, and also perhaps for a small table where I can invite my cousins or friends when this lockdown is over. So here it is!


As of now, it's been 5 days since I started this garden project and I am beyond happy with the results. I even got recognition from my father and yeya who also helps me in things that I need for like pots and soils and things like that. Now I feel so happy that I have something to visit everytime I wake up. I talk to the plants and greet them good morning and that I will be back in the afternoon to join them, just as I am in here currently writing this blog post for all of you my dear friends.

I still have my anxiety visits and some symptoms that I still tend to feel whenever I have idle moments these days, but I can say that this garden has helped me a lot and hope this is just the beginning of my path to a better and more peaceful mind, because it really is true that whatever stresses our minds really shows in our bodies.

Aside from these plants, I also want to thank all the blog friends I have gained in the past couple of months since I went back to frequent blogging through this personal blog and my Cavite Daily Photo for you all have been so helpful for me in keeping myself sane because work and school alone has not done a good job in maintaining my peace away from this pandemic. Your comments and visits make my heart so happy!

With this come prayers for all the people in every nation who experiences the same anxiety that I suffer from and every patient and victim of this horrible virus.

***

This post is part of "My Corner of the World". If you wish to see other points of views from across the globe, click on the image link below:

My Corner of the World


Never Stop Looking for Peace
Stevenson

April 21, 2020

Mosaics from 10 Favorite Cities

Day 35 of the Philippine's Enhanced Community Quarantine and as a home buddy, I don't really mind staying at home that much. But time to time, my mind does wander on its own and just this morning, it went far as the cities I have visited in the past decade. I have been blessed to have traveled to a total of 22 countries and territories since 2011, all of it for vacation and pleasure because I never got the chance to be sent by my company to another country for training or meetings of any kind. With that I believe that anybody can achieve their dreams, it's just a question of how much they wanted and how willing they are to make them a reality.

As a citizen of a developing country, it's quite hard for me to travel a lot not just because of our proximity to the world but also because of certain factors such as visa regulations and the power of my passport which is not so high in the passport rankings. But I really have my eyes and my mind fixed on my dream destinations ever since I was a child so there was no choice but to visit these places, it was just a matter of time. I still have a lot on my list including countries in my dream continent South America, and Africa, and of course who wouldn't want to see Australia and New Zealand? 

I may be locked inside my room right now but can you join me as we travel all the way to my favorite cities in the world that I have been to? All the photographs that you will be seeing are taken by me. I'll take you to a beautiful world where there is no need for passports and visas just us and these mosaic memories. I'll be counting down the top 10 cities in the order leading towards my most favorite! hope you guys enjoy it, the way I enjoyed going back through my old files.

Paris

From top left, clockwise: Seine River Cruise; Hôtel De Ville; Champs-Élysées; Tour Eiffel from Montparnasse; Late Night Wine at Chatelet

10th - I may have visited this city at a wrong time (December Greve happened from start to end of my trip) but the lights and the views of this city never failed. Plus I got to reunite with my two high school friends who are now living their lives in the French Capital.

Beijing

From left, clockwise: Sidewalk to Tianenmen; Mutianyu Great Wall; Temple of Heaven; Cute boy at a local Beijing Restaurant; Forbidden City.

9th - Beijing was my first city in the People's Republic of China. I did this trip last 2013 with my Dad and cousin Judy. It was also my first winter and it was an amazing experience for me. What I love about Beijing aside from its ancient wonders is the delicious food I was able to taste.

Brussels

From Left: Grand Place; Church of Our Lady of Finistère; Place des Martyrs; Manneken Pis

8th - A layover in Brussels for just 6 hours did not stop me from exploring this tiny heart of Europe. I took the bus and went to the city center, had a waffle and a stroll around the beautiful landmarks of old Brussels. The place was packed but it's grandeur was enough for everyone to share.

Seattle

From top, clockwise: Seattle Skyline from Alki; View from Public Library; Dancing Couple at Pike Place Market

7th - There's something about Seattle that no matter how crowded some attractions were that summer of 2015, there's this unexplained peace and quiet that I felt which was something I only feel from home. Seeing Seattle through my friends from school Paula and Kuya Bailey was a big reason why I wanted to see this city again soon!

Rome

From top left, clockwise: Orange Garden; San Giovanni in Laterano; Via dell'Olmata; Piazza del Popollo, Colosseum

6th - Another dream come true which was a leg on my European trip last Winter. What better way to see the glory of Roma than with family. I was blessed to have my cousin Carmina adopt me for a week in Rome where I also spent Christmas for the very first time away from home. It was beautiful, Rome truly is!

Kyoto

From top left, clockwise: Japanese couple at Gion; A young boy alone to school; Soba condiments at Honnke Owariya; Fushimi Inari Taisha; Shiba Inu at Arashiyama

5th - This old capital of the Japanese empire surely will charm you with a dense amount of sights, sounds, and tastes! It's hard to choose these shots because I have a lot more to share about this beautiful city! Another unforgettable trip with my favorite cousins in the whole world!

San Francisco

From top left, clockwise: Transamerica; Golden Gate Bridge; Emporio Armani Building; Westfield

4th - Truly one of the most colorful and cultured cities I have ever been to, San Francisco boasts of its melting pot of cultures not just about different nationalities but on all points of views! My brother lives in the Bay Area so I spent 3 months around this beautiful city. Truly one of my favorites, and the best for for me on cities in the USA so far.

Prague

Form top left, clockwise: Vltava River; Charles Bridge; Astronomical Clock; John the Baptist at Maltézské Square; Tourist at John Nepomocene Marker

3rd - This has been one of the biggest dream come trues for me. Prague was amazing both in my mind and in person. It was a great trip with my cousin Carmina and seeing it in winter gives is a cool and quiet light but my cousin said seeing it in Autumn gives it a golden filter! Someday again, hopefully.

Bangkok

From top left, clockwise: Jim Thompson House; Monk on a Train; High Schooler at Sky Train; Kind Lady and my breakfast at Hua Lamphong; Rama VIII Bridge.

2nd - Yes, Bangkok really did outplace all those grand and beautiful European cities. The main reason why it has a special place in my heart is the Thai people. Thai people have been the kindest and nicest and most polite people I have ever encountered in my travels. I always get mistaken to be Thai but once I speak they always say "Ohhhh! Philippine!". Food is amazing, Transport is a breeze - Oh I love Bangkok, I'll be heading back very soon!

***drumroll please***

Amsterdam

From top left, clockwise: Swans near Centraal; Rozengracht Bridge; Boats at Oosterdok; Hotel Kooyk near Leidesplein

From Paris, I took a long journey to the Flixbus station due to the greve, seated at a very skimpy seat, arrived at a very dark morning, but all of those en route to a city which will become my most favorite of all! I was alone in Amsterdam the whole two full days but never did I felt lonely. The beautiful winter views, the smiles of the locals, their laid-back bike rides to work at 11 am gives this little city its charm for me. Two days was short especially I only got to see one museum (Anne Frank of course) but a big piece of my heart was left there and hopefully I can get reunited with in time.

***
That was a fun 3 hours to prepare all these photos, write this post, and ride on the dream train to memory lane. It's hard to choose just ten out of all those beautiful places that has their own flavor and filter to the views I have in mind. I always feel blessed to have been to all these amazing points on earth and with all my heart, praying to see more of the world and meet many more people.

Blogging has enabled me to know a lot of amazing people around the world and I hope someday aside from the views and landscapes of their cities, I can see them as well in person and greet them with all my happiness and gratefulness. 

How about you? What are your favorite cities that you have been to and why? What places would you recommend me to visit someday? Hope you had fun on my mini tour across 10 cities, I sure did!

Never Stop Travelling!
Stevenson

April 18, 2020

Flowers at 124

White Phalaenopsis (Phalaenopsis blume)

Since I had a lot of fun taking photos with my old Nikon D3100, last night I thought why not take shots of every flower that we have in our gardens here at home? These plants are being taken cared of Yeya. Yeya is our house person and she has been with us now for 32 years, she even took care of my starting when I was born until now. 

This lockdown, I am very grateful for the plants that she took care of and the flowers that it blooms to make us happy and hopeful. Here are the flowers I took photos of this 10 in the morning on our gardens, these are all at our house.
(Top) - Welcome Plant / Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas)
(Middle) - Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
(Bottom) - Fuschia Bonggavilla (Bougainvillea)
(Right) - Rosas de alas Diyes (Portulaca grandiflora)
(Top Left) - Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
(Top Right) - White Bonggavilla (Bougainvillea)
(Bottom Right) - Black Mustard Seed - (Brassica junsea)
(Bottom Left) - Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)
(Top Left) - Rosas de alas Diyes (Portulaca grandiflora)
(Bottom Left) - Yellow Bell (Allamanda cathartica)
(Right) - Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)

Wherever you are, no matter how big or small your space may be, there will always be room to grow a pot or a plot of plants. Make sure you have at least or two that blooms with beautiful flowers for it gives so much joy to a lonely heart. Just as they say, no matter where we may be, make sure you "bloom where you are planted"

Never Stop Blooming!
Stevenson

April 14, 2020

Pocket Gardening


Since the lockdown a month ago, I got so bored and has a conversation with my cousin Caren via messenger and we both thought about gardening. I have been helping Yeya on her vegetable garden on our rooftop while Caren has started her own pocket garden of succulents. She wanted more info on planting Peppers and I also wanted some ideas on how I can start my own collection of pocket garden plants.

So after our chat, I went to our garden and saw an old Dish Garden pot that I used from decades ago and decided to start from there. There are also a lot of untended but thriving cactus plants on our terrace garden which I thought would be a great start through re-potting.

The one on the left photo was my first dish garden that I worked on two weeks ago. That big chunk of cacti head has roots on it already and I just re-potted it here also the tall 'snowman' looking cactus at the back. But all the other small heads on the left part of the dish are made from cuttings and honestly, I don't know if they are alive.
You can see on the above photo, on the left part are four little pots of different types of cacti and succulent plants. They were given to me earlier by a good family friend Ate Lanie. Thank you very much Ate Lanie, you made me so happy and encouraged to continue with my Pocket Gardening.

I have re-poted the topmost and the leftmost plants and they are made up of many small plants on a cluster and using my old mugs, I placed them all one by one. But the larger aloe looking plants (please help me name these plants) have been placed on a new dish garden on the photo before this one above.
Here are some shots of my humble but growing Pocket Garden! I am blessed to have people like Ate Lanie who are very supportive of my new found hobby during these times which I will continue on as long as these babies live. I'll do my best for them of course!

Aside from seeing these beautiful plants grow, it also makes me happy to give these old and unused mugs that we have here at home a new life! Since I can't drill holes at the bottom, I line up a third of the mugs' interior with pebbles of different sizes from an old aquarium.

***

HELP! Can you please help me by naming these species of cacti and succulent that I have? It will be very much appreciated!

Keep on Growing!
Stevenson

April 8, 2020

Geographical Thinking

Geographical Thinking
Stevenson M. Que
Department of Social Studies Education, Faculty of Education
University of the Philippines – Open University, Los Banos, Laguna

Fort Nuestra Señora dela Soledad, Guam

As we move around this planet from point A to point B, we recognize and see that not only are the coordinates where we are standing at changes. People, plants, wildlife, language, and a lot more about the world unveils its diversity right in front of you. Thinking Geographically empowers us to learn not just the differences but also the relationship of all things, living and non-living, with each other no matter how displaced they are in the world that we live in. Travelling one thousand miles westward or eastward will not change your views as compared to traveling a few hundred miles north or south from your current location. How can we explain such phenomena to ourselves? Geography.

Almost everything about the world with respect to places, location, and the environment can be understood and explained by geographical thinking. People sometimes associate Geography with just the topographical make-up of a place or region but really, it is more than that. Geography tackles the differences and presents them in a way that people can distinguish the life and environment that a place is made up of based on how it is displaced near or far apart from another. Just like the scientific method that is being used by scientists to experiment and find solutions, geography as a social science also follows the same steps of observation and data collection, data analysis, and display and presentation techniques but revolves around a central element: space (ESRI Schools and Libraries Program, 2003).

Thinking geographically for me is having that sense to analyze problems about almost anything in the world with respect to how the environment, location, and all the life that exist within its vicinity has a direct effect to whatever the problem is. Geographical thinking can provide concrete conclusions as to why the behavior of a certain tribe is viewed as a taboo on another culture. Anthropologists can best explain such cultural questions and inquiries but having a geographical standpoint on thing can empower their analysis in formulating an answer to normative questions as such. Another example I can give would be in the field of economics. On one of the books I read entitled “Why Nations Fail?” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (2012), a good comparison that was discussed was the case of two cities Nogales, Arizona in the USA and Nogales, Sonora in Mexico. Explaining the wide gap between two cities, or we can say a city divided by history into two, having an understanding of the ways how a place can be different even if they are directly adjacent to each other would give you the idea how things vary when it comes to the lives of the citizens living on respective cities.

Probably the most important ideas in geographical thinking is space. How space differs from one point to another, a space from another space, and all the lives and things that exist on a specific place directly affects the composition and its identity. Understanding how space affects both another space and the space itself will enable one with geographical thinking to answer questions that are beyond the clauses of geography as a social science. Understanding identity to a specific space or location depending on the demographics of the people and the composition of its environment can help anybody have a distinction to those places that can help them formulate solutions based on those identities. Another important idea is environment. Environment differs in a very dynamic sense and understanding how the surroundings both near and far can have a specific influence not just on the lives that are within the same environment but also the lives of other environment that depends on the other. A good example of this is the importance of the Amazon rainforest. Having a geographical thinking will give meaning to its importance not just to the people of Brazil or South America but also to the world since it is the largest rainforest and emits the most oxygen that is needed to sustain the lives of every living organism especially us humans.

In my own understanding, geographical techniques revolve around the same techniques within other research areas especially closely linked to history. Just like what was discussed in historical method, geographical experiments and studies for me revolve around three main stages. Data Gathering, Data Analysis, and Conclusion. Data gathering is an important part of any study. We gather as many quality data from authentic and credible data sources. Unlike history wherein facts are usually based on the people’s standpoints and accounts, geographical data is quantitative. Data about area, demographics, climate and all other geographical topics can be measured using tools and instruments that provide numeric value. Once the data has been collected, then it will be analyzed. Samples are very important because analysis of these will be the fortresses of the study that will provide theoretical frameworks on the development of conclusions. To analyze data, geographers now use GIS or Geographic Information Systems to compute the data and create visualizations from the given datasets that are fed as inputs. Visualizations vary from maps to matrices that don’t just talk about the physical component of a region but also the number of drug related Crime in Florida or to present the climate and vegetation change in the eastern United States (National Acamdemies Press, 1997). In my line of work in Marketing Analytics, we use a visualization tool called Tableau. This tool presents data into visual dashboards that can tell not just the measures but even creates a story that is beneficial to the marketing department. One of the visualizations that I use are maps to show how contacts are engaged and the rate of their engagement based on the US states that our company is catering at. Having that visualization can lead our executives into conclusions and decisions where our marketing dollars should be spent at to increase the company’s revenue. Even in the field of marketing, one can understand – through geographical techniques and thinking- how revenue can be maximized depending on the demographics and population of the people on the states that are competitive and those that needs more engagement programs.

Geography talks about the relationship between us human beings and the environment. Just as Susan Hanson suggested on one of her papers, geographers have this advantage that offers an unparalleled lens for understanding the world. This advantage can then be shared to non-geographers and can then improve their understanding and even can be advantageous to growing the number of geography practitioners (Hanson, 2004).

As a little boy, growing up memorizing the flags, capitals, and the location of all the countries in the World Map given by his uncle, I have always been fascinated by places. I had an early understanding of how people differ from place to place and that empowered me to be more understanding of the world I am living in and gave me the lenses to see the relationship between diversities. I am continually learning to think geographically, and hopefully someday I can call myself a Geographer.

References

Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2012). Why Nations Fail.
ESRI Schools and Libraries Program. (2003). Geographic Inquiry: Thinking Geographically. Retrieved from https://www.esri.com/Industries/k-12/education/~/media/Files/Pdfs/industries/k-12/pdfs/geoginquiry.pdf

Geographical Association. (2012, August). Thinking Geographically. Retrieved from Geographical Association: https://www.geography.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/Support%20and%20guidance/GA_GINCConsultation_ThinkingGeographically_NC_2012.pdf

Hanson, S. (2004). Who Are ‘‘We’’? An Important Question for Geography's
Future. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 715-722.

National Acamdemies Press. (1997). Chapter: 4 Geography's Techniques. Retrieved from Rediscovering Geography: New Relevance for Science and Society: https://www.nap.edu/read/4913/chapter/6#59

April 2, 2020

Lead Me Lord


During these troubling times, we can only have much power through prayer. But that power spans to infinity, especially if we all do it together and believe that nothing is impossible with God. Just as the song says, let us let the Lord lead us during these times, and through it, we shall be taken to the right path. With His help and guidance, there's no hardship, no sickness, no anxiety, and no pain.

Lead Me Lord

Lead me Lord
Lead me by the hand
And let me face the rising sun
Comfort through all the pain
That life may bring
There's no other hope
That I can lean upon

Lead me Lord,
Lead me all my live
Walk by me Walk by me
Across the lonely roads that I may face
Take my arms and let your hand
Show me the way
Show the way to live inside your heart
All my days,
All my life

You are my light
You're the lamp upon my feet
All the Time, my lord I need you there
You are my light
I can not live alone
Let me stay, by your guiding love
All through my live
Lead me Lord

Lead me Lord,
Eventhough at times
I'd rather go along my way
Help me take the right direction
Take your road
Lead me lord
And never leave my side
All my days, all my life