Thank you, Singapore!

I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while now, but I got a bit lazy fixing it and almost trashed it. Then I read this new post in one of the blogs I discovered over the weekend, and I realized that I shouldn’t just let this post fade into oblivion because I’m busy. This is a personal milestone, a check off the bucket list! This should be written down!

So here we go. :)

* * *

The first time I went to Singapore was in 2007, when my dad had a conference and the entire family tagged along. My only mission I had for going there: buy a MacBook. Because, well…I needed a new laptop, then, so that was all what I wanted to do. (I was very gadget-centric back then.)

I did see a few things back then: Sentosa, Ikea in Tampines, and I also got to visit the Arts House to meet some of the NaNoWriMo participants in Singapore. I also got to roam around in Chinatown for a bit, but that was because that’s where we bought our first dSLR for my brother. But there’s not a lot of things I remember after that, because there weren’t many sights to see or places to go within that short span of time that I stayed there. Heck, Universal Studios Singapore wasn’t even there yet.

A few months ago, I was chatting with a friend about how I was feeling restless, and how I wanted to go somewhere. I want to pack up and leave. Go on a trip. There were no immediate trips to look forward to, and I needed something new. Something different. Something, oh, I don’t know, brave? I told my friend that I want to go somewhere, and she said, “Go.

Pretty much everyone who I talked to about this told me to go, what’s stopping me, and it should be fun, yadda yadda yadda.

But I’m not that impulsive. And where could I possibly go? I’m not sure if I can afford it. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Still, the idea of going somewhere on my own was very attractive. And I felt like I badly, really needed it. And I figured that if I want to go to New York City someday, I better start practicing now, right?

So I gathered the courage and asked some friends if I could crash at their place if I decide to book a ticket to Singapore. They said yes, and then I gathered more courage and booked a ticket. (Complete with trying to book my flight several times and finally taking a deep breath before clicking that button that confirms my flight.)

Ta-da! I’m going to Singapore!

* * *

My Singapore trip, in a nutshell:

  1. Midnight arrival, and enjoying the internet speed at the airport. (It’s fast, my friends. Very fast. :D)

    Hello, Changi!

Core People

corepeople“Here’s something I realized,” G said, as we sat under that red umbrella, soon after the fan and the lights were turned off. It was late — way later than I expected to be up on my first night back at this country. I wanted to be in bed earlier for the long day tomorrow, but it was the only time we would be with R while I was there. In times like this, I learned that you must sacrifice sleep for things that may never happen again. So we sat there, the night dark and humid around us, with bottles of beer in front of us going along with our discussions. Over at the other bar, the band that was playing earlier had started packing up, and all we can hear were the noise of the people talking, laughing and drinking the night away.

“I realized that you don’t need to be friends with everyone,” she continued. I nodded slowly as I took a sip from my beer. “You just need a some people, outside of your family. I mean, you can be chatty and chummy with everyone you meet, but you only really need a core group of people. The ones I know and who know me and the ones I trust. And with them, I’ll be okay.”

“They’re the people you can run to anytime and won’t judge you.”

She smiled at me. “Exactly. And you won’t judge them, too. They’re the ones you would keep for life. The friendships you will put a lot of effort on.”

“The ones you’d call at three in the morning in the middle of a breakdown, or the ones you’d call first to celebrate with good news.”

“There’s one you’d call for financial advice, and another for love advice. And maybe another one when you have a stupid decision to do and they’ll remind you of the things you don’t need to do.”

“And they’d cry with you too. Or just let you cry until you’re all out.”

“Then they’d find a way to make you stop crying and make you laugh again.”

We laughed at this, because it was true.

“And they’ll be the first ones to tell you that you will be okay, even if you feel the furthest away from it.”

R, who sat on the other side of me, smiled. “My psych friend from college said that people don’t always need counselors or psychologists to help them feel better. Sometimes, all you need to make you feel better is a good set of friends.”

We sat in silence for a while as we let the words sink in. It was dark and humid, and the fan that whirred over our heads earlier that made us choose that table among the many tables in the bar had long been turned off. There were empty bottles of beer in front of us, some cigarettes (for them) and other knick-knacks (for me) from the day-long tour. It was so late into the night that it’s already considered early, and I was tired but also not so much. I sat there, thinking and feeling and being, and in a place 2,391.81 kilometers away from home, I smiled. Because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I already have my core people.

* * *

Good friendships are like breakfast. You think you’re too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired. In the same way, you can try to go it alone because you don’t have time or because your house is too messy to have people over, or because making new friends is like the very worst parts of dating. But halfway through a hard day or a hard week, you’ll realize in a flash that you’re breathtakingly lonely, and that the Christmas cards aren’t much company. Get up, make a phone call, buy a cheap ticket, open your front door.

Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sounds of their laughter and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments.

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist



I was supposed to blog about my birthday week, but this is a more pressing matter, so the birthday post will have to wait a bit. Pardon the length of this entry — I just want to pay a tribute to a friend.

Dear Batman,

I have always been afraid of dogs, so when my brother and his then-girlfriend-now-wife brought you home, I wasn’t sure what to make of you. I was afraid you’d bite and chase me around, which was the reason I thought I was a cat person more than a dog person. But you were a sweet (and fat) little bundle of joy, and you immediately warmed up to all of us when you first arrived at home. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I could probably learn to love dogs after your first day at home.

Batman at one month old, with my sister-in-law.
Batman at one month old, with my sister-in-law.

I remember that time when you first got sick. I remember reaching into your cage to pat you, and you leaned to my hands because you were feeling weak, and for the first time, I felt genuine worry for you. I was afraid you’d be like the last puppy we had, who lived with us for two weeks before finally passing on my birthday. You were more of my brother’s dog than mine, but I have grown to like you then, and I couldn’t imagine you leaving us too soon. Thank God you got well.

Let me see if I could remember how you are as a puppy: you like snuggling into little corners, hiding from us so we’d have to look for you and chase you around. You were friends with one of our old cats, and I remember my brother taking a video of you trying to play with that poor cat who was trying to get away from you. You liked digging around the garden, and every now and then, we’d find you trying to chew on a rock you have claimed as your own. You liked baths, but only if my brother gives it to you. On my 21st birthday party, I had to put you away from the visitors and you kept on barking. I thought you were barking because there were strangers at home, but it turns out, you just didn’t want to be alone. You quieted down when I went there, and I found it really funny when some of my friends decided to sit near you and you sat like the good dog you are.