September 17, 2020

Ruínas de São Paulo - Timeless Thursdays 16

First of all, let me share you my newest blog banner at the top of my blog. I thought it looks cool to hand-write my banner so there it is! Thank you so much to my friend Kathleen, (yes the same Kathleen on my latest PROFILES segment), for vectorizing my penmanship into a digital image.

Once a cathedral built during the 16th century by the Portuguese, The Ruins of Saint Paul or the Ruínas de São Paulo in Portuguese, is now a landmark and a national symbol of Macau Special Administrative Region, China. Now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the facade of the Cathedral of Saint Paul is the only left atop the hill along the old complex. 

Facade of the Ruinas de Sao Paolo

It was a sunny June day of 2012, from Galaxy hotel where we had our first lunch in Macau from Hong Kong, we took a cab that went straight from Taipa to Macau which is on mainland China. It is connected by very long bridges to and from Macau and Taipa. In the heart of the city, the Senado Square is Located. It is a beautiful town square wherein the original colonial buildings are still conserved and in use up to this moment. 


The Senado Square at Midday

The square is paved with small decorated tiles all the way up to the alleys leading to the ruins at the top of the hill. One of the buildings that are featured in the Senate Square is the Leal Senado Building or the loyal senate in Portuguese. It was erected at 1774 with the administration of Portuguese people and when Macau was turned over to China, it became the headquarters of the Institute of Civic & Municipal Affairs.

As you trudge through the paved ways that gradually gets higher and higher, the first thing that you will pass by just before the avenida becomes alleyways is the Santo Domingo Church. It is a big church painted in yellow which I shall be featuring on my next posts. And tons of shops and outlets from Levis to Giordano to Adidas are lined up beautifully along the way. 

Some of the little crossings along the alleys that lead to the Ruins.

Aside from these big shops of popular brands, a lot of smaller stores also are lining up as the alleys become higher and higher, smaller and smaller. As people crowd up, it means you are getting closer and closer 

Though there are crossroads along the way, it is not that hard to reach the ruins because signs are posted along the road all in Chinese characters, Portuguese and English Language. Along the way, as you pass the cookie and beef jerky shops, one little stall you will surely notice because of the people that line up is the Turkish man's store! He serves fresh and authentic Turkish ice cream that everybody seams to love! (I failed to have a taste of it because of the crowd! Maybe when I get to Istanbul someday) 


Turkish Man selling his Ice Cream.

As the road gets very narrow and the shops seem to sandwich you along the way, you can now see it straight. As it gets bigger and bigger to sight, you get closer and closer to the ruins. It's a beautiful sight to see and as to most landmarks, I told myself "Wow! Now I'm in Macau!". It was beautiful and the feeling is just so rewarding! That after miles and miles and a few hundred yards of walking, I'm there, I reached the top! 


The view from the Ruins from beyond. It gets closer and closer and closer.

Never will I forget this trip especially this very moment that I have shared with you! Macau truly is enchanting, a natural concoction of east and west over a period of Time. Macau is just magical, it was 8 years ago, and surely it still is at the moment. Wish I can go back someday.


Me at the Ruinas de Sao Paolo.

 Never Stop Exploring! 
Steven

***
I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join Timeless Thursdays.


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 Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)

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September 13, 2020

PROFILES: Kathleen Lumandas

 

Checking on old posts here on my blog, I stumbled on my old segment "PROFILES" which enabled me to interview two close people, one was my younger cousin Caren, and the other was my college professor and friend Maam Sheryl. It brought me back to memories that made me feel like a journalist, one of the thing I wanted when I was growing up. Then I thought, why not do it again and this time, since I also have a blog, I can also make my ambition to becoming a talk show host (I know I want a lot of things, but hey, as long as I can do them, why not right?). Luckily, I was blessed to have a friend who's always ready to support me in anything I want to do, I am blessed to have Kathleen.

Kathleen and I were classmates since freshman year in college up until we finished our Bachelor's Degree. After that, we also joined the academe as instructors, together with another classmate Jayson, and the three of us shared our teaching experiences for another five years!

PS It was Kathleen's Birthday last Saturday, so this post is like a birthday present for her (which she helped build right? HAHA)

***

We both just finished our respective shifts at work in the comfort of our homes when we did this interview. She was feeling a bit nervous but I told her it's just both of us on the interview, and the whole world to watch and listen and read haha. Here are a few excerpts of our interview that was supposed to run for 8-10 minutes but finished at 26 minutes.
Kathleen, Me, and Jayson in a Jeepney in Northern Philippines

Stevenson Que: ...Right now, at your current job, maybe you can give us a background of what you are doing right now and why do you tend to stay. Because after teaching, you have been at your current job for five years now so in a way, you do love what you are doing. So maybe you can share with us what you are doing now.

Kathleen Lumandas: So I've been in my current job right for five years now, Yes to me, 'coz it's a very good milestone for me being in a company for five years. So for a little background I am doing technical stuff, doing script programming, attending to technical issues of the people. I have to handle some of the projects that are given to me, especially with the emergency policies that we have in the company. And yes, I do love what I'm doing because at first, joining the company, I have been into the re-engineering process, wherein I used to come up with training materials, and eventually handling some of the training myself which I love.

"So what makes me stay with my company?
I always say it's the people. I have colleagues
who turned to be like family to me,
trustworthy people who you can lean from and
also learn something from them. 
I value those people." 

Stevenson Que: Oh it's like you were also like a teacher for the company.

Kathleen Lumandas: Yes, and what makes it fun is that you are learning more things that you didn't know, and when you are learning new things, you tend to love what you are doing, because you handle it very well. And after a few months of handling re-engineering, I was moved to tech support, which is slightly a bit of development, project management, and also giving training sessions to people. So what makes me stay with my company? I always say it's the people. I have colleagues who turned to be like family to me, trustworthy people who you can lean from and also learn something from them. I value those people. 

Kathleen Lumandas: It is also worth mentioning that don't be scared on trying something that is not familiar with you because in the process, you are gonna learn all those things with the people behind you that will let you learn all those things. And now, you know what? I just wanna go back to teaching and share all that I have learned to the students. When you are just full of knowledge, you just wanna share it to others so I will not lose it.

Millenials


Stevenson Que: Kathleen, we belong to the millennial age, we belong to that generation that people have been telling that we are indecisive and immature, but in the same time creative and brave. I believe in that, creative and brave! that we are not afraid of what we want and we are not afraid of what we want to do. What can you say about those traits that are being linked to becoming a millennial? Do you agree one them or do you somehow disagree?

Bali, Indonesia - 2019

Kathleen Lumandas: I disagree on those things like for the indecisive and unstable. because if you are learning new things, you are not indecisive, you are not unstable because you wanna learn. You wanna learn the process, you wanna go into different skills, so if you are already stable for a long time, it only means you are stagnant. 

Stevenson Que: Ugh! Perfect!

Kathleen Lumandas: Your knowledge is not improving anymore.

"...if you are already stable for a long time,
it only means you are stagnant."

Stevenson Que: I really agree and I would like to emphasize on what you said about learning, because millennial really learn not just from books and from trainings. I think one thing that millennials have to be proud of is that we can learn by ourselves. And it's not a hard task for us to be given a different task and then we learn it for ourselves and people would say "Oh that's just because you are talented", No! Because we are not afraid of clicking buttons, we are not afraid of trying something new, we just always know that there's a cancel button just in case it's not gonna work out. At the same time, we know when to stop. We just know when to stop if it's not for us. We don't just make ourselves stuck on a situation or on a level that would become very stagnant. We want improvement, not just for our lives but also for the companies that we work in. We want improvement for them

Kathleen Lumandas: Yes, because actually, we are promoting continuous improvement, like we have files that we need to improve for the long term.

A decade after graduation - Mark, Me, Kathleen, Florence, and Zarah - February 2020

To those that feel lost


Stevenson Que: Before we wrap this interview Kathleen, this is for all the millennials out there like us, who are wondering what life is. Just like what we have discussed earlier, one thing that best describes a millennial is is continuous growth, and trying a lot of things, and doing what you love. 

Kathleen Lumandas: Exactly.

Stevenson Que: But at times, for some of the millenials that look for those, for things that they love, they tend to just try and try everything until they just don't know anymore what they love, what would be your advise for those millennials who feel lost? Like, they just don't know what to do anymore, they just become burned-out, like, those that are stuck are continuously stuck, and then we have those that are quickly jumping from work to another work, to another position, to another company. What would you advise them?

Bali, Indonesia - 2019

Kathleen Lumandas: Actually at today's [theme?], I can simply say that we are all wondering about what's ahead of us, what will be our life?

Stevenson Que: This new normal

Kathleen Lumandas: Yes, but then, my message would be, hold on everyone. Because there will be things, like, maybe a change? maybe a vaccine? or instances that will make our life change, so hold on. And actually, I would like to give an advise to my co-millennials out there, that as long as you're making progress with yourself, you are in a right place. 

"...you measure success when
you are in the phase of helping people"

Kathleen Lumandas: And aside from those, do not measure your success by [new] things, by the latest ones, the latest gadgets. But then you measure success when you are in the phase of helping people, because it means you are rich with time, you can spare your time, and spare your resources. So for me, you are successful when you are helping people, because you have more than enough to share- your resources and your time. So don't be discouraged and hold on, seek help, if you need a specialist, or your friends. Don't close doors. Because if you wanna seek help, you wanna get better.

***
For those who would like to watch the full interview, I have shared my VLOG episode below on a segment I called "QUEUE-stions". Hope you enjoy all 26 minutes of  our interview. I asked Kathleen that our interview be in full English for this first episode so that I can shre it specifically with you, my blog friends from around the world, our thoughts and insights. Enjoy!



***

PROFILES is a segment on my blog which will be a one-on-one interview with an interesting personality, as I ask them to share a page of their life as they know it. I've always wanted to be a journalist so this is my way of feeding my hunger for that little taste of being a host. Through this blog, this world that I can call my own, this is my talk-show.

Would you be willing to be my next guest? Just let me know :)

September 10, 2020

Petronas Towers - Timeless Thursdays 15

When I hear the Word "Malaysia" of all the things I know about this beautiful South East Asian Country, it is always and will always be the towering, silvery bright Petronas Towers flashing on the screens of my brain. This was by far the most beautiful skyscraper I have seen in my entire life in my travels. (Some runner ups I've seen include Tokyo Sky Tree and Taipei 101, but if the Eiffel counts, okay it's going to be a tie to be honest)
The Petronas Towers at Night. Stunning!

Way back 2012, after dinner at Jalan Nagasari from a very generous Indian Restaurant owner who gave us a great buffet dinner just a few blocks away from our Hotel, we thanked the man and bound a taxi that took us directly to KLCC where the Twin Towers are located. We all know that haggling is prohibited between the drivers and the passengers but we can't refuse because it is night time and we hate to argue. Besides, the price is not that high (8 MYR) so we said yes and he took us there. 

As the towers get bigger and bigger to my very own eyes, we come closer and closer and closer until it went blocked from our view when we got down our cabs because the Mall was on our sight. Of course if you look up, the Towers will be seen in above the Mall but I refuse to give it a look that early because my friends are still on the other cab and we are waiting for them. I truly am quite the sentimental so I told myself to take that grand, complete look when I'm at the most perfect angle to see it. 


When the rest of my friends arrived, we gathered around and started walking beside KLCC Mall and there were so many Malaysian Flags floating and flying around the place, actually most of Kuala Lumpur, since August is the month where the Malaysian Independence Day is celebrated. 

The Vertical version of the Malaysian Flag on a building close to the Towers.

So when we were already at the front of the Towers, I continued walking through the offed fountains until I reach the very possible end wherein other tourists and travelers are in. When I saw them taking their own shots, I realize that it's time for me to take that marvelous and most awaited perfect angle look. And there it was, shining ever so bright along the beautiful sounds of Kuala Lumpur. The Towers truly are the star at the grounds of the City. The feeling was breath-taking! 

My Friends are all so busy taking pictures of them with the tower! When one has a good shot at some place, all of them should have one of the same shot, WITH THE SAME POSE! Hahaha It's so much fun being with them! 

Me in front of the Towers

Will I let that moment pass without a shot of me in front of the Petronas wonder? of course not! Thank you so much to my friend Dianne for taking this cute shot of me and the Towers! 

Once seen only on movies and on Travel shows but now, I am on my own travel show at front of the Tallest structure in South East Asia. It was a sweet moment I wish would last forever (But it did last long though). The whole moment, I savored the beauty of the Petronas! I will never forget that encounter between me and the twin towers that happened that evening of the 8th of August of 2012! 

And of course, What trip can be better without the presence of your High School Friends! We call ourselves High School Friends but we have been friends and classmates ever since Kindergarten! We did had our ups and downs through the years but on that very moment, on that very trip, It was all fun and love! I love you guys so much! Thanks for sharing my Malaysian Moment! 

Me and my High School Friends in front of the Petronas. Myrcel, Dianne, Ivy, Ate Judy and Lea

Never Stop Dreaming!
Steve :)

***
I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join Timeless Thursdays.


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 Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)

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September 7, 2020

Pandemic Treasures

aus Deutschland

This morning, I was awaken by a very unfamiliar guest who was once a friendly face, my Postman! I was super happy to see him not just because he surely has something for me but also because it's been a while since I saw his friendly face. He handed me the claim slip for a package for me and I was super happy and amazed! I'm already 30 years old but receiving gifts for me has never been different from when I was 4 or 5.

Fast forward, I received this box of treasures that you see above from a very dear friend from Germany. She is one of the reasons why this pandemic because a little bearable for me because she has been a good friend and always there despite the distance and the fact that we have never seen each other yet! Just as always, the sentimental me, I did not just open it at once, I spent a good long minutes appreciating the box and how amazing it is that something from Germany is now in our house in the Philippines. I've always been amazed by the traditional mail system, and will always will.

A little "Diary" of the box

This was a very special gesture by my dear friend, to send me a box of happiness for my birthday as I turn 30. She was really sad that she was not able to send it on time even if she did her efforts to go all the way to her post office just to find out that our country is in code Red, meaning, not receiving mail from any country. (Fast forward to now, our COVID cases are a lot more worse than other countries) I was feeling shy already to my friend for all her efforts and she is just golden to be so sweet and thoughtful.

So what she did was write a diary on the box (isn't it the sweetest?) about the box's or as we both call it, Lil' Corrina's journey of waiting and longing. It's just so special not to post it so I can share it and also have a record of it. Seeing my friend's handwriting is just so special because aside from the fact that we somehow have similar penmanship, it's just so warming to read through a person's handwriting and not just printed computer fonts. Don't you agree? (Plus I super love the box's tape!)

Left Germany at July 28th, arrived after 42 days

So it did arrive after 6 weeks but the happiness it brought me was so much more than a million! Up until now, I cannot get over this beautiful present that my friend sent me. It has been a heavy last month at work and stresses plus the six month's worth of anxiety brought by COVID, but somehow this gave me so much joy that has been kind of absent in the past months. 

Gifts from Braunschweig 

I am just so touched by my dear friend's kindness. It's amazing that in a short span of time that we started being friends, she has known so much about me and was able to send me things that are both my favorites and also some things that I always wanted to try but cannot because they are not easily available here in the Philippines just like the Muesli. The Apple tea is a very beautiful treat for me too as a tea lover. I can't to steep a cup of this while I relax on my garden in the coming days. 

***

To my dearest friend from halfway around the world, thank you so much for being so generous not just with things but with love and thoughts. I am so grateful with the joy and happiness that your gesture has brought me. These yummy and beautiful things truly are treasures but you are one of those I can really call a pandemic treasure. Something like a silver lining or a golden star that we can rarely find in a big gray cloud of sadness and depression. Thank you for the friendship, and just I always tell you, I hope and pray that I can go back again to Europe on another trip  soon so that I can get to see you and have a beer with you! Thank you again a million!

Never Stop being Grateful!

Stevenson

August 27, 2020

Ashes of Pinatubo - Timeless Thursdays 14

Off-Road to Mount Pinatubo

It was a day after my Grad School orientation which was 4 hours of commute to and from my hometown. My High School friends have been bugging me all day and night to join them on their trek to the famous volcano, but how will I ever make it without much sleep? I arrived home at around 8 in the evening feeling sick and if I was about to join them, I have to get up at 1 in the morning - Yes, just barely 4 hours of sleep, to climb a volcano! But hey, I said, let's do this!

We left Cavite at around 2 in the morning and waited for other joiners in Quezon City by 4. We left when we were complete. By the way, our group joined an organized tour, TakeFive Outdoors, complete with guides and 4x4 rides that will take us to the jump off point of the trek. the mountain range where Pinatubo is part of stretches to multiple provinces so we arrived at the province of Tarlac to make our way by wheels and by foot to the province of Zambales where the crater is located.

Unusual Landscapes - Am I still in the Philippines?

We rode on our 4x4 vehicles about half an hour before day break. It was amazing because it really feels like a literal "adventure" because we are on the back of these huge jeeps! When the sun started to rise, we were at awe to be on a totally different world! Everything around us is like pictures of the moon! There's lahar in just everywhere! Our guide told us that just three decades ago, everything there were covered with lush greens and sadly, large communities of people who were buried alive by the massive eruption.

Four hours of sleep and a volcano to climb. Wore my 21K Finisher shirt as a driving force.

We crossed a lot of streams and huge rocky drifts but our energies and excitement are sky high due to the beauty of the unusual landscape that surrounded us. I have been to more than 40 of the Philippines' 81 provinces including amazing spots like Palawan and Boracay but personally, this is the most beautiful place in my country I have ever been to so far. But that's not yet it.

Strike a pose! (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

What we love about the tour group that we joined, TakeFive Outdoors, is that we also have a Photographer with us. One thing Filipinos love are pictures not just of landscapes but yes, of ourselves. Well I for one but especially my friends! It's not about being conceited or vanity, we just really treasure moments that much, especially me who admittedly is a very sentimental person.

Moving on, we stopped by this large patch of lahar and sand to take more pictures and interact with the locals that were there. It was a very heart-warming moment to be able to bond even for about a half-hour with the Aeta kids. The Aetas are one (and actually the first) of the three original tribes (Aetas or Aborigines, Indonesians, and Malay) that first came to the Philippines during the prehistoric times. With their interactions to travelers passing by, they speak good Tagalog and English aside from their native Kapampangan. They are very sweet kids and I really felt blessed at the beginning of this journey because of them.

Found new friends! God bless these sweet kids

I bid goodbye to my friends and we went back to the jeeps to bring us further into the jump off point. We had to go down and leave the jeeps behind because the streams are starting to get deeper, rocks much bigger, and entries become narrower.

Welcome to Mount Pinatubo

These might look like a welcome point but we already walked a good half an hour to reach this part. Imagine how far it would have taken the earlier travelers since the volcanic eruption of 1991 that displaced tons of lava and rocks around the area and even as far as 34 kilometres in the air and 480 kilometres across reaching our neighboring countries despite us being an archipelago. 

After 500 years and more of being dormant, it killed a lot of families and burried cities and towns that were around it, including the US Military bases in Subic and Olongapo which was then left by the Americans after the eruption. Until now, when heavy rains and typhoons pass by Central Luzon, the lahar that was left still posts as a big danger to the nearby areas.

Who's excited to see the Crater? (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

From this signage that you see, it says that at my age, it will take us about 18 minutes more. But behold, me and my friends reached it after more than 30 minutes! HAHA We are even worse than the Senior Citizen rate that was posted on the signage! Well maybe if you are a triathlete and people like those, then really, it might be possible to reach it on the listed duration.

Path from the terrace park to the Crater Lake

Truly, the views will fill up all the efforts and sweat that one would take. It was a bit sad though because one of our friends twisted her ankle and she decided to just stay at a hut where people rest at along the way to the crater. The aeta family there were very nice and even gave her pain medicines. Look at that view! That very lake you see is the gateway to all the destructive materials from the earth's inside that killed and displaces families across our islands.

The gang! Me, my High School Friends, and their three nieces (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

It was a beautiful moment to be there in such an amazing spot on earth. I kept thanking the Lord every time I look at the crater lake not just for the beautiful view but for reminding us that His power through nature should never be underestimated. And of course, I thank my dear friends who I shared this amazing journey with! Always an amazing memory with these people. Cheers to 26 years of friendship, that's 85% of my life!

After about an hour of appreciating the views and taking pictures, we started our descent. It was a lot faster than the hike up of course but it's an amazing feel because even if we just used the same trail back, we discovered new things on the opposite direction of things, also because we passed it by on different times of the day.

At the lakeshore. (Photo by TakeFive Outdoors)

The eruption of the Mount Pinatubo has been devastating to millions of Filipinos at the beginning of the 90's. I just turned one year old and a few days that day when noontime turned into night. For me as a Filipino, it is a timeless memory of sadness and grief but also a timeless story of nature, of reality, and of hope. And for me as a citizen of this life, it is a living memorial of something so scary and something very beautiful at the same time, which makes me respect nature a million times more.

Watch the First Part of my Pinatubo VLOG

Pinatubo is a living memorial of what used to be and of what is now, and at the same time, a reminder that one that is dead can be given a new life again - a new beginning for a devoured society and also a wake-up to a sleeping, deadly volcano.

Never Stop Climbing!
Stevenson

***

I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join Timeless Thursdays.


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 Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter