Merci, Paris!

Also known as: The lovely city of Paris <3

Oh Paris. <3

I always thought people who fell in love with the city of Paris was, well, kind of cliche. Maybe I’m just avoiding being mainstream. Or maybe, I just thought other places — like Italy, for instance — would be way better, more romantic than Paris. Some of the people who has visited Europe before told me that if I should visit some countries there, Paris is just okay compared to say, Rome, which was amazing. But still, Paris is Paris, and I am not one to choose.

So after three-hour train ride (and an impromptu household to boot!) from Geneva, we arrived at Paris-Gare de Lyon. Bonjour, Paris!

Just disembarked from the train

We were welcomed by Ashley and Angela, two girls from YFC Paris and they led us through the metro to get to the girls’ host home at Ashley’s sister’s place. Interesting thing about our hosts (and most of the YFCs in Paris) is they are French citizens but they came from Filipino families, so they are fluent in Filipino and in French. It was actually quite nice to hear them speak in Filipino — think of Ilonggos speaking. It just sounded so nice! And when they all start talking in French, all we could do was listen in awe. :)

Anyway, we arrived at Mel’s (Ashley’s sister) place in Liege, where we were welcomed by Mel and Toto, who were busy cooking spaghetti dinner for us. What followed was a fun dinner full of plans for the next day and things to do and lots of awesome, awesome French talk that we could not understand but loved to hear. It was a fun evening, and they were all so nice that I haven’t even been in Paris for more than six hours and I already knew I loved the place. Maybe it’s Filipino hospitality, or maybe, the “Paris magic”1 has caught me. Needless to say, I was very excited to see the city the next day2.

Tourist Guide – Paris

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  1. Or at least, I’d like to believe it is! []
  2. Especially since I only had one day to go around, because the morning after that, I was headed for Vienna []

Bonjour, Geneva!

Also known as: The little city of Geneva

Our first stop for the mission was Geneva, not only because the mission volunteer for YFC Europe was based there, but also because the cheapest plane fare we could get was from Madrid to Geneva. After another day of “shopping” and booking tickets (for me to go to Vienna), two of the three mission groups headed to the Madrid Barajas airport for our flight to Geneva. As if to excite us further, we also met another WYD delegate in the airport who was going back home to Geneva and she started telling us about the different things we should do in the city. :)

Our Swiss Air flight was delayed, which I kind of didn’t mind even if I was separated from the group again (I have the worst luck with plane seats). I managed to get some reading done and also a nap, which helped a lot because we arrived in Geneva around midnight because of the delay. It was a short flight, but because of the travel stress, we were glad to get there. :)

Welcome!

We were all expecting it to be cold there — at least, colder than Madrid was — but alas, it wasn’t. Oh well.

The YFCs in Geneva picked us up from the airport and the couple coordinators for the area gave us a ride to go to our host home. Here’s an interesting part of our journey there. We arrived at Geneva, but our host home was actually across the French border. So in one night, we managed to be in three countries: Spain, Switzerland and France. Awesome. :)

We had late, late dinner at our host’s house, and I must say: Filipino hospitality extends even to the other side of the world. :) We were happy and full that night, even if I ended up sleeping by two in the morning to finalize the rest of the mission details. I also ended up rebooking my flight back from Geneva to Madrid so I can stay longer in Vienna — I thought it was only a 6-hour train ride from Vienna to Geneva…turns out it was 13. Heh. Ouch on the wallet!

Buenos días, Ginebra … er, Francia!

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Community

Also known as: On Missing Community

A few days ago, I had to go to a World Youth Day pilgrims meeting at the new head office of the Catholic community I’m a part of. Or maybe I should say, was a part of, because even if I am still a member, I haven’t been attending any gatherings in the past…oh, three years? You see, once you’re in the community, you’re a member forever. You can disappear, but you can be a member by name.

YFC International Leaders Conference Bacolod, 1999. Spot the girl with the dorky round glasses. :P

So anyway, it’s been ages since I last attended. I haven’t been showing up because I was busy with work, and honestly, I felt like I’ve outgrown it. See, I grew up in community — I was a member of the Catholic community my parents belonged to since I was a kid. My parents, being community elders by then, attended all sorts of elder events, dragging me along. Being the youngest, I sort of had no choice but to go and do what they say (my older brother was cut a bit of slack there). So from being in the kids ministry, I joined the youth, and…that really made my life different.

I loved being in community. It was my second home, and I met most of my closest and best friends there. Not to mention that being in community brought me closer to God, which is the real point of being in one. I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now if I didn’t spend all those years with them. Truth be told, I thought that I wouldn’t get tired of it, especially after that one year I took a break. I seriously thought I would even be working as a full time missionary, if not for the discernment and decision that led me to the corporate world.

But that doesn’t mean corporate world and community didn’t mix. Other people manage, so why didn’t I? Why couldn’t I?

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