my own

I used to think love was burning desire, fueled by another

I used to think love needed to be pedestals with compromise

and pain and enmity, followed by intense reconcile

I used to think love was other


Maybe it still is, but now

Now love is more


Love is music

Love is art

Love is adventure

Love is freedom

Love is gratitude

Love is healing

Love is home

Love is You

Love is …..

my own

My happy place 

Got lost in the woods then found my solace among the trees. I’ve been hiking a lot lately, and it has become my peaceful workout and motivation. Didn’t want to crop or edit the photo, as it captures the precise feeling of gathering my thoughts along the way.

Poignant, don’t you think?

Because you are alive, everything is possible!

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We often tell ourselves, “I’ll be happy when….” or “I’ll feel better about myself when….”. Sure the motivation is great, but what about now? What about enjoying what life presents to you, right now? Whatever you give out in thought, word, feeling, and action is returned to you. Whether the return is negative, or positive, failure or success, is all up to what you give out.  The trick is: keeping the right perspective. It’s easy to question our worth, how or why things happen to us, but don’t take your thoughts, time or life for granted: “because we are alive, everything is possible.”  

cheers to newness


I wrote this post back in January 2011, but look back on it every year as a refresher


Here comes another year, another season of hope and expectations, and another threshold of change. It’s kind of a ritual isn’t it? At the end of every year, we reminisce on the good, tuck away the bad and hope against hope that next year will be better.

Next year we’ll be thinner, healthier, richer, able to travel more, able to find (or keep) the love of our lives, able to progress in our careers, more accomplished…yes, that’s the hope the new year always brings. Some sort of assessment of who we’ve become and a fresh start to once again, become who we’d rather be.  Goals, resolutions, deadlines…whatever it takes to bring out the new and improved version of ourselves.

It’s definitely a great feeling: part euphoric because of it’s hopeful newness, part nerve wracking because of the uncertainty, but an all encompassing reminder that life is giving us another chance. That even though we’ve aged, struggled and may have missed out on a few opportunities; time and life are giving us another chance to try again. Not to simply start over and repeat the process, but to do things differently, with a more fervent passion and perhaps a little more direction on becoming who we’re meant to be.

So goes 2 rather pertinent questions: What will you do differently in 2016? Who do you want to be at the end of it?

Where is home?

It’s interesting how what seems like an easy question, can reveal so much about someone. Asking where home is can also mean: Where are you from?  Where were you born, raised and educated? Where do you pay your taxes? What place goes deepest inside you?  It’s something I take to heart in getting to know others.  Or rather, know myself in the world.

I remember asking this on a first date, his answer was so unscripted that it led up to 4 (or more) hours of an interesting conversation. By definition of place, he was born in the UK, raised in Boston, lived in many countries in between, and was in San Francisco for work. By affiliation, however, neither place felt like home to him.  Most people just assume home meant their address, but he naturally opened up how home was purely contextual for him. We shared how “home” brought up feelings of (mis)identity, our paths of finding our “niche” among social circles, our family life, the places we’ve seen and lived, and our communities in general.   Years later, I still remember that conversation as if it were yesterday.

As it is now, home is more of a feeling rather than a place.

I’m back at the place I was born and grew up in, but it doesn’t feel the same.  It used to be a small town with a mountainous playground, a cheerful people and places to explore, now it’s an even smaller polluted town filled with traffic and grumpy people.  (LOL…I realize I sound like an old grump saying “back in my day….” but you get what I mean about change)   I’m very grateful for childhood friends and family of course, thanks to them, home is as comforting as can be.

Of course I miss my American home.  I miss Seattle, San Francisco and the communities I’ve set up for myself that make it home.  I miss the freedom and diversity of life there.  I miss the sense of ownership I worked hard for.  I miss the rewards of the work hard play hard lifestyle.  Home meant making the most of routine.  Home meant overcoming those challenges.  Home meant fun.

But I also miss the feeling of home “out there”.   Foreign as it is, there’s a sense of belonging travelling to a different place instills.  That feeling of knowing who you are, where you are meant to be, or simply making the most of not knowing when you could go back to that same time and place. It can be so naturally ours. Being out there can even be the best home there is.

So then….where is home? I found this TED talk by Pico Iyer and got my answer.

“Take pieces of many places and piece them together into a stained glass whole. Home is a work in progress of constantly adding improvements.  For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. Home would have to be whatever you carried inside you” – Pico Iyer

TED talk on Where is Home (click for video)

Thanks to his short talk, I’ve been reminded that home isn’t just the place where you’re born, or where you are.  It’s not just where you sleep, it’s the place where we stand. It’s the place where we become ourselves.  ‘We find this place by stepping out of our devices, making the most of our present and constantly creating a home to keep going back to.

Home is simply the pieces and places that create where we belong.

Almost a Local

Although, I still deny it I’m pretty much a local again.  Can you believe it? I’ve been here 9 months already. Gggguuuullllpppp!!!

It’s also been 2 months since my last blog post, so I have a lot of updating to do.

I took over the management of a small beach resort.  The project entails everything from repairs and remodeling, hiring staff, setting up an operations and finance system, marketing and advertising,  concierge and guest services etc.  The works! It’s been a good exposure to the ways of the land. Here are a couple photos of the pool and sunset beach:


I’ve also been helping out with my cousin’s wedding styling business. I like that it’s a balance of creativity, art, project management and business.  We’ve decorated weddings with fun themes like travel, rustic, victorian, ethereal, literary etc.  Here are a couple of our designs (will add more later)

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Hmmm…what else? Baguio doesn’t feel like my niche yet, but it’s home for now.  While it’s been great reconnecting with family and childhood friends, the small town mentality can also been stifling at times. I sure miss the independence and variety of people and things to do in the States.

Lastly, I got a REALLY bad eye infection from my contacts.  It’s called corneal ulcer.  It was so bad I could barely open my eye, couldn’t see and a month later, still have blurry vision. It’s been a good wake up call to slow down and make the most of basics. So in case you’re wondering why the lack of communication (blog or otherwise), it’s because I’ve only been able to see half the world lately. Thankfully, it’s gotten better (or I wouldn’t be writing this) but UGH!!! I sure am itching for when I can explore and travel again!

Actually I highly doubt anyone is still keeping up with this blog, but much love folks!

New Year Dedications

So I just got a new journal as a Christmas present.  This one’s colorful, compact and potentially easy to use. It immediately served it’s purpose as I find myself sitting in a cafe late at night.  I’ve obviously had a lot happen recently, which also means I’ve also avoided facing my feelings. It’s been 2 weeks since Mom left and it’s only now I finally gathered the courage to write out everything on my mind.

I’ve constantly been replaying images and memories of Mom.  I definitely miss her presence and loving nature.  I’m very grateful for everything about her and constantly wish we had more time together. However, I take to heart some advice Mom had often told me.  It goes…“Rise above the emotionalism and trust that when the road seems foggy someone will be sent to guide you”.  Talk about practical faith.

As the new year beckons, I dedicate my 2015 to celebrate Mom’s profound zest for life.  She was a risk taker, an adventurer, a tireless empath, and a powerful woman of wisdom. I, too, choose to continue a life of unconventional successes; to take risks to follow my heart, and to always trust I will always be guided.

In your memory, Mama, here’s my heart and soul. Thank you for being my Angel.10846212_10204346705325460_7043391556949502071_nadventure awaits

Happy Thanksgiving!

I get the history of it all, but I really do wish Thanksgiving was a universal holiday.  I mean, why not? It makes absolute sense to celebrate gratitude.  It’s one of those American holidays I never really understood fully – a feast of gluttony with an excuse of thanksgiving.  What about the pilgrims and Indians again? Oh yeah, right…..they awkwardly became friends.

I considered preparing our own thanksgiving feast at home.  Just the 3 of us – dad, mom and I – with the usual mashed potatoes, beans, casserole, lasagna and turkey (for dad) but then I realized that the ingredients were too foreign here that it turned out too expensive.  Not only that, but with mom’s selective taste buds and eating habits these days she may not even be able to partake in the feast itself.  So instead, we just had our usual dinner, but this time, expressing our thanks for each other and for the sustenance of life itself.  It turned out more intimate and meaningful, something I’d cherish for its simplicity and significance.

This year, I’m sincerely grateful for life and the relationships I’ve been blessed with.  Even though we’ve been going through a rather difficult time in our life, I can’t say thank you enough for all the genuine concern and support through everything.  I love that we’re all going through this together.

How about you, dear friends and relatives, what are you thankful for? 🙂

I miss you, Trader Joe!

I miss your well-stocked shelves filled with delicious treats and healthy snacks.  I miss your meatless meatballs, soyaki glazes, mango salsa, wasabi chips and nuts, healthy frozen dinner options (Japanese fried rice, pad thai, mushroom truffle pizza ftw!) and yes I won’t lie – I definitely miss your “two-buck-chuck” wine.  I was never really a big fan of your cookie butter, but yes, I sure miss that too. I miss the intentionally one item trips that ended up taking an hour longer and $100 more of random purchases.

Now that I finally have the time to experimental cook and bake, it sure isn’t the same without you, Mr.Joe.  Not the same kind of soy or almond milk, not the same kind of nutty mixes, not the same rewards without your mint ice cream cookies or choco-orange slices. NOT.THE.SAME. UGH!

Oh you mecca of everything amazing, you were too good to me.

I miss you and everything about you, Trader Joe’s……even your lousy organic dishwashing soap that couldn’t even clean.