He Is (at 32:45)

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year, New Place Jan 2009 and Some Older Blogs

Yeah, it's year 2009 and we're living in a new place - Auckland. We had moved in the past year, Oct 2008 i.e., and I have lots and lots of personal effects, files, notes and things just shoved into boxes, corners, storage bins and side boards. Whatever. I have disposed of loads but there's still just more to be systematically stored somewhere... coz this, our rented new place, just doesn't have enough room. In some ways I'm glad - I have less space to clean and tidy-up, we save on heating costs in the cold months - but in some ways I'm stressed by the plain want of space. So, I guess the best way is to store things out of the house: Lots are stocked in the garage, and of course, notes am going to shelve in the virtual world, where there's lots and lots of space! So,... here goes blog!! Yipppeee!


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Happy new year!!
Images from: www.tenebril.com

Internet = Beer

Dated 13 Aug 2008, 1:38pm, Malaysia
(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

I feel sad when I look back and reflect. When we were small, my siblings and I would do things together in our family. We cook together, we do chores, we pitch in in the work that needs to be done in the house, etc. There was a lot of cooperation. A celebration was the best time when you could see everyone working together to make it a really happy and successful family activity. Well, that was my family. It's sad that I failed to duplicate that, or at least to inspire my family to do likewise. Sometimes I wonder, is it the computer, the TV? Is it the fear of being labeled as a nagging mom? Actually, our family epitomizes that of my in-laws' family. The mom does all the work in the house, she loves it, it is her life and she's made everyone expect her to do it, all the time. Well, almost. I feel sad that being in this Chinese culture and under my husband's "banner" I have actually fallen into the mould of the typical Chinese housewife and our family, into the mould of the typical Chinese family, when it comes to labor allocation on house chores. In this aspect of our family life I have made very little impact, I guess not even a dent. In fact, I feel I'm an utter failure.
Tonight I cooked four kinds of dinner - tuna sandwich and salad for John, fried fish and vegetables with rice for Jayne and my husband, yellow noodles soup (made from the basic ingredients) for Jed and warmed up chicken curry from the ref, with rice and fried vegetables, for Joche. And what did I eat? Same food as for my breakfast and lunch - Jed's packed lunch left-over which was cold fried yellow noodles. I was soooo tired after four hours of cooking and preparing fruits in the kitchen. I went upstairs to bring John's fruits to his room and I was tempted to lie down in bed for a few minutes (less than ten min.) and meditated on Jesus. When I came down my husband was mad. In that ten minutes he happened to have come out from his study to take his dinner and he saw the messy kiwi fruit peels I forgot to clear up and he was soooo mad. To think I was cleaning up after I finished serving one dish and before starting on the next. All the while, while cooking dinner, I was so stressed that I was actually thinking of driving out right after so I could relax, maybe buy myself a root beer float in A and W. Photobucket Ha! Ha! It's funny how that same "daydream" keeps running in my head whenever I'm cooking. And it never materializes. Now I understand why Western moms end up at the pub at the end of the day. It's time to relax after a full day's work. As for me, I end up relaxing in front of the computer. Ah, now I understand. Internet = Beer for me. Well, not really. I do drink my green tea while I'm at the www.
Image from www.stevegarufi.com

I'm Just Swamped

Dated 11 Aug 2008, 1:12pm, Malaysia
(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

We're in the middle of moving house, again, and I am so busy, yet not seeming to make any progress in my packing. Obviously, I am busy enough coping with the givens of life – cleaning, cooking, washing, chauffeuring, home schooling, etc. – that adding the packing on top of it just doesn't make sense. Some more, people sometimes come to "view" our house because we are putting it up for rent when we move out. That means having more pressure of keeping the house clean and reasonably decent. And then that also means spending time talking with these people, who most likely won't close the deal anyway. Think of the probability of people looking and closing a deal. :-)
My four children finally all finished the whole course of the chicken pox scourge. Thank God! My younger son had it the worse, the first case, because he was vomiting and having high fever even before the rashes showed up. My oldest daughter had the mildest case, for the mere reason that we found out that if we give her the medicine at the slightest suspicion of chicken pox (i.e. 72 hours after onset of symptoms), the medicine can actually suppress the outbreak, considerably. Since my oldest son was taking his full course of medicine when she started showing signs of it, I quickly "borrowed" his tablets for her to take until the clinic opened the following day. The clinic closes on Sunday afternoons and evenings and she got her first symptom on a Sunday afternoon. So, that did it. She hardly felt any discomfort at all, there were very minimal skin rashes and she just finished the whole course of the medicine as if she never had it. What a blessing, considering that she has already dry skin problems as well as acne.
Because of being under so much stress, I lost some amount of money, a big amount for me, and for most people I relate the story to. I won't tell here exactly how it happened as it's just unbelievable how I blacked out that precise moment and lost my cash. It was incredibly stupid. I made the proper reports, including a police report at a police station, and prayed. I just prayed. Everyone I talked with, and even I myself, believed the chances of ever getting it back was near to nil. But then again, I have a God of the impossible. Actually, I made the report at the police station on my birthday itself. That day I was thinking, "This is going to be the saddest birthday of my life." And I believe, so far, it really was. Well, you can just imagine the soul-searching that I went through that nearly-two-week period. Huh, it truly was a time to get right with God, again, in many ways, and learning new things on how He deals with our character flaws. Six days after the incident, I got a call from my bank verifying the details of the report I submitted and that was it. There was no mention about getting the money back. My bank was doing its investigations. Then, almost two weeks later, I happened to withdraw some money and noticed that my bank balance exceeded exactly the amount that I lost. I had it verified, and true enough, the amount I lost was there, exact to the last Ringgit. I had the transaction verified, whether it was a cash deposit or not. It wasn't. It was a credit that came from the bank itself. My older son said it's probable the bank took responsibility and shouldered the loss. Phew! Whatever and however the money came back, I informed my bank that I had the money back. And the credit was actually done just five days after I lost my money. I came to know about it only later because I never checked my bank balance again after I lost that money. I didn't want to be hoping for something that may never come back, though I did pray every day, every time I remembered that loss. It was painful, man. I cried. And when I got it back, I cried again, being so touched by the presence of God in my life. I actually prayed that He would send an angel to bring the money back, and probably, that is just what happened. (BTW, only my oldest son knows the exact details of this story in my family. I find this story is just too "unsafe", or painful, to tell to most people.) Actually, I told only one person about this incident right after it happened, a close friend of mine whom I asked to help me pray. She herself even thought I shouldn't bother to make the police report because it was humanly impossible for me to get the money back, and at the same time it would only risk my husband knowing about it if the bank or police happened to call and my husband picks up my handphone. Of course, I didn't want him to know about it or I would have been scolded to death. But thanks to the bank receptionist who encouraged me to make the report anyway, and for my sense of "tidying up a loose end." I thought, just make the report anyway and move on. And if I never got the money back, this story would never come out here and nobody else would know about the embarrassing story either, except me, my close friend and my God. But because I got the money back, now you know the story, my son knows, and my church prayer group knows - all for God's glory.
I hate packing and thank God, my older daughter is able to help me do it. But we are not half-way through yet and the movers are coming end of this month. Then you ask me, why am I wasting time writing these stories, then, huh? Believe me, I also don't know. Maybe because it's just me. I just need to let it out somewhere and this probably is the most suitable and "safest" place – no chance to be judged or rejected – just read.
Images from:

My Birthday Dinner

Dated 2 Aug 2008, 2:55pm, Malaysia
(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

It was a full day for me, as usual. I sent my younger son to school and older son to work (well, it was him driving so he could practice). Also, his work started late that day; he was attending a meeting, so we did the bank errand he needed to do, before he went to work. My younger daughter was with us all along because my older daughter was still in bed and couldn't child-mind her. I did my chores for the day, as usual. In the evening, after I picked up my older son from work and younger son from school, we passed by the McDonald's drive-in to get some snacks. Then we dropped by the Domino's Pizza outlet nearest our house to collect my order.  My older son still had no idea. He was still asking why we were having pizza for dinner. :-) It was our first Pizza meal since he came back from the US for the summer school holidays. He said he didn't really mind though he had too much pizza in the US in the past year.

When we got home I tidied the kitchen and started preparing the fried tanghoon ingredients. Then I realized I would have to put the apple pie to cook first or we won't have a cake substitute. I didn't bother to buy cake because nobody eats iced-cake except me. My younger son and older daughter do eat but only a little bit. Then the ice cream in the shops nowadays are too soft and frothy, I decided to forgo that, too. After making the pastry, cutting up the green apples, mixing, and shoving the apple pie to bake in the oven, I cooked the tanghoon. I asked my older son to help me cut the kiwis, which he did, and ate some of it as well while he was at it. :-) My older daughter and younger son helped a bit in setting the table. We had kiwifruit, dragon fruit and durian to go with the apple pie for dessert. Then we warmed up the pizza. We had fizzy grape juice in ice for drinks. I lighted an old scented candle that was supposed to be discarded since my older daughter already packed all our big candles and table lamps. I think it was a nice simple dinner. We got to talk! We used hubby's cell phone camera to take photos since our own old camera seemed to have finally decided to "retire." I haven't downloaded the photos; I might put up some later, if they are of acceptable quality.

Mud Cakes

2 Aug. 2008, 12:01pm, Malaysia
(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

On 10-12th July 2008 my elder brother went back to our hometown of Pavia, Iloilo together with his wife and they took pictures of the state of affairs in our house and neighborhood. So, 20 days after the flood, this is how the caked mud looks like, mostly inside our house:

The piano pushed down by the flood waters, obviously beyond repair. It survived a house fire in 1966 from its former owner but it didn't survive this flood of 2008 in our possession.

The muddy wooden furniture.

The muddy cooker. It became functional again after thorough cleaning.

Mud on everything.

The muddy kitchen.

Mud caked on the kitchen tiles.

PhotobucketThe clock stopped at ten minutes past noon, when the flood level reached 6 feet. It must have been around this time when the mayor of the town of Pavia was heard crying for help on the radio, but no help came. Rubber boats would have been needed to rescue those stranded on their roof tops, but there were no rubber boats and fire trucks were immobilized by the rising waters as well.

My mom rescued this muddied picture frame of her grandson which was on display on top of our piano, before the flood waters rose to its maximum 6 feet height inside our house.
A relative of ours standing in front of her house. On the day of the flood itself the second floor of her house accomodated a total of 40 people – she, her family, relatives and most likely, neighbors. There are not many double storey houses on this street. Notice the debris still left on the roadside though the mud had been scraped off the road.
A shot taken from the veranda of our house. Furniture and fabrics drying out in the sun can be seen at the front yard of our nextdoor neighbor. On the night of the flood, our neighbor had to sleep on the roof of her one-storey house.
Clean up time. It took days and days to clean up the house, what with water coming only every other day and only during the night!

Water was coming in trickles and it took hours to collect bottles of water.

The muddy road outside the house. This is the same in all the roads of our town.

Some roads were cleaned up using a "grader" truck but they have no place to dump the mud, so, it's piled right next to the drain. When the rains come the mud pile would flow back to the drain and clog it again!

Some workers hired by the local government to clean up the clogged drains.

As of today, 1st August 2008, 41 days after the flood, most of the mud had already been cleaned off inside our house. My mother was able to find trusted people to help her clean up. The toilet is now back in operation, the water is back, same with the electricity and the phone lines. Only the mud in the streets needed to be cleared. But the damaged furniture are forever gone. We had some damaged pictures hanging on the walls and on top of the piano and lots of destroyed books and clothes that had to be thrown away, having been reduced to rubbish. As for the jeep, my brother still hopes it can be overhauled and be made functional again.

Note: All photos are courtesy of my brother Manong Mike.

For the Record, the Panay Flood Caused by Typhoon Frank

8 July 2008, 1:24pm, Malaysia

(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

The article below was lifted from the online newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer. This is used without permission, for the record. PDI might eventually remove this article from their online archives, so, I keep my personal record here.

Photo taken on day 1 of the flood in Sambag, Jaro, Iloilo.

The untold story of the ..Panay.. deluge ....

July 08, 2008 23:28:00....
Amando Doronila ....
Philippine Daily Inquirer ....
MANILA, Philippines—Two weeks after Typhoon "Frank" cut a devastating swathe across the country, two of the worst-hit regions—Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas—were still knee-deep in flood waters, and the story of the scale of the human catastrophe is just beginning to unfold.....
The immensity of the catastrophe has been covered up by a flurry of investigations into the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars, inquiries that have now degenerated into a colossal blame game as to the responsibility of Sulpicio Lines and a host of government agencies charged with maritime safety, including the Philippine Coast Guard and the weather bureau, Pagasa.....
Relatives of typhoon victims on ..Panay.. ..Island.. returning to ....Manila.... after a visit bring tales of Visayans talking about "anaw" (a deluge), of flooding they had never seen in a lifetime. I have not read any single story from the news media about the scale and depth of human suffering from the calamity that has been trivialized into statistical summaries, where human lives lost have been reduced to digits.....
Typhoon reports have been so routinized in an archipelago that is swept by an average of more than two dozens a year, and media stories on the typhoon toll have been no more than accounts of the typhoon tracked by progress reports of the PAGASA weather bureau, their velocity in terms of center winds at 120 kph at the height of the storm, and the usual infrastructure damage measured by roads, bridges, buildings and homes destroyed, and estimates of lives lost, and crops destroyed. These reports have dehumanized the human tragedy of a great disaster.....
The story I get from fellow Ilonggos, Visayans and relatives tells of the horror of the flooding that saw water rising from the floor up to the neck in a matter of minutes—not hours—sending people scampering to the second floor, and rooftops for safety, a story not at all captured by press reports.....
Following her arrival from a "working" visit to the United States, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made a quick visit to Iloilo and the Visayan islands, which stood on path of the typhoon and lashed by its torrential rains, to demonstrate two things: She was a "hands-on" president in times of national disaster and a workaholic, and she was full of concern with the sufferings of the Visayan people.....
The visit was partly intended to make up for her absence when she was in the US at the height of the typhoon, and that part of her activities in the US was to lobby for the nomination of an Ilonggo, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, at the United Nation, for a seat in the International Court of Justice.....
Ilonggos remember that ..Santiago.. was not home and was gallivanting in the ..US.. when disaster struck, and when her home town of ..La Paz.., in ..Iloilo.., was submerged in flood waters and several of her constituents sought safety on rooftops, and for the first time, Ilonggos saw the ....Lizares-Gamboa..  ..Mansion...., in Balantang, a tall building, half-submerged in flood waters.....
The sight of the President in ....Iloilo.... did not hearten the Ilonggos. Upon her arrival at the new ..Iloilo.. domestic airport in ..Pavia.. as well as in Sta. Barbara, one of the heavily flooded towns of ....Iloilo...., she called local officials who had been ordered to produce at least 250 "warm bodies," to meet the presidential entourage, apparently for photo opportunity. She then ordered the local officials to conduct an inventory of the infrastructure. There was no mention of an inventory of the human lives lost, and she didn't have time to listen to the tales of woos of the victims who clung for dear life for days on the rooftops.....
The first wave of relief to the victims did not come from the government agencies. The flood of relief came from the relatives of victims in ....Manila..... The relatives shipped boxes of used clothes for the victims who lost not only their clothes, cars, household appliances and utensils in the monstrous flooding that inundated most of ....Panay..  ..Island.........
The floods were driven by one of the heaviest rainfalls that have ever fallen in the island in 24 hours in years for generations. Three dams of the ..Panay.. hydraulic and irrigation system broke and sent water cascading down the mountainsides. It was the water from the mountains that flooded the lowlands, destroyed the crops, and the fishpond dikes.....
As soon as the President had ordered an inventory of the damage, she left for another quick visit to another Visayan island, near Romblon, to view the sunken Princess of the Stars, at Sibuyan. Her quickie visit left Ilonggos resentful and remembering that in the 2004 presidential election, it was the Central Visayan and West Visayan votes that gave her the reserves to overcome deficits in Luzon and ..Mindanao... They were bitter that when she visited and gave orders to the officials, they were still sitting on the rooftops of their flooded homes.....
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that excessive rainfall, not depleted mine fields and forests, were to blame for the apocalyptic and swift flooding. The Catholic bishops, reacting as if in conditioned reflex, had been quick to blame the flooding on environmental degradation caused by depleted forests and mining activity.....
The DENR said the rainfall on June 20 reached 354 millimeters in one day, much higher than the region's average monthly rainfall of 196 millimeters. This was compounded by high tide that reached 1.8 meters. The high tide prevented excess water from the Tigum and ..Aganan.. ..Rivers.., the main tributaries of ....Iloilo...., from flowing into the sea. The DENR claimed there has been no significant logging on ..Panay.. in the past decade.....
Copyright 2008 INQUIRER.net and content partners. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Photo taken on day 2 of the flood, around the towns of Leganes, Dumangas and the city of Iloilo.
Article taken from:
Photos from:


Total Silence as the Water Rose

8 July 2008, 12:15pm, Malaysia

(Pacific SA Std GMT -4hour)

Piled up motor vehicles after the flood in Jaro, Iloilo.

Today is day 18 after the flood of 21st June 2008 caused by Typhoon Frank in my home town of Pavia, Iloilo, Philippines. My brother in Manila had once again talked with my mom through the phone. Mud has not been cleared yet from the ground floor of our house and my mom is getting tired of having to go up and down the stairs as she is forced to live upstairs. Before the flood she lived on the ground floor, having already changed her bedroom from the second floor to a room on the ground floor. The difficult situation of the flood aftermath is catching up on her age. She's 86.

She's finally found two male persons whom she trusts enough to clean the mud off our house. Water comes in trickles only at the middle of the night, every other day. My mom's TV has already been fixed and will be delivered back any time, same with the refrigerator. So far my other brother living in Iloilo City had been bringing her food every day. The toilet is still not functional but the phone (landline) is back. Also, my mom's feet seems to be having some mould infection because of the damp surroundings, even though she wears rubber boots to move about the ground floor. Also, my brother said, according to sources, that the town of Pototan was also affected by the flood, having 5-foot water levels, not just Pavia and Jaro. Of course, other towns of Iloilo may also have had floods, as well as the towns in the Provinces of Capiz, Aklan and Antique, all on Panay Island.
According to my brother in Manila, my mother said,  quoting my brother's email:

"She observed that on the day of the flood there was complete silence all around town. There was complete silence, too, around the neighborhood. Nobody shouted to ask another about their fearsome situation. Mom said that perhaps the reason is that everyone was terrified of the fast rising waters that nobody dared to ask another about their situation. Nang L (a neighbor further down our street who is a bit younger than mom) had to go to the roof of their house to avoid getting drowned. She also had to move her bedridden husband, Nong F, to the roof. S---J---- whose house is a bungalow (single-level house), had to stay on the roof of his house to survive. Manang A and her family and her relatives (our distant relatives who live along the Tigum River bank) are still having no communication with Mom. It means that, according to Mom, everyone in Pavia is still focused on solving their daily predicament that even relatives, or brothers and sisters, for that matter, have no more time to check on one another and see how everyone's doing after the flood."

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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D