Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tres Marias in Amsterdam

It was a great surprise when MadamE told me that Missy Balot, fresh from Cebu, will arrive in Amsterdam from Paris via the fast French TGV train.

Like MadamE, I knew Missy Balot [although she’s younger than us, MadamE and I are both 35] back home in Cebu, Philippines for a good 15 years already. My, my, my, time sure does fly so fast!

She’s in Europe now for a couple of weeks to attend a conference exhibition in Paris, as part of her job back in Cebu. I didn’t expect that she will push through with the plan because bookings were done on the last minute, and considering that December is high peak travel month, I would have guessed that she will just encounter problems. Well I’m so glad she made it and even visited us here in damp Netherlands.

The tres marias, MadamE, me and Missy Balot in Rembrandtplein Amsterdam with the famous individuals depicted in the Nachtwacht [Nightwatch] painting, the most celebrated one of Rembrandt’s collection.

The friendly Dutch Police took this picture.

I have actually seen this magnificent and huge painting [like the whole side wall of a room] in the Rijksmuseum. It was said that a few years ago, a freak tried to tear the painting apart with a knife, well unsuccessfully.

The tres marias again, me, Missy Balot and MadamE inside the Three Sisters bar. The name of the bar suits us well too.

And as usual, the time came to baptize tourists who are new to Amsterdam, with... tadaah... a) a red light district tour along the canals and, b) a souvenir shot with those ubiquitous titillating sexual objects displayed in the sex shops.

So there, we did the custom ceremony for Missy Balot but helaas, I am still waiting [did not use my camera] for the other sleazy shots, especially the ones where we modeled in front of the gigantic dildos.

After seeing for years all sorts of furtive indulgence available in a finger’s snap in this country, I think MadamE and I have become so numbed and immune to erotic anathema.

MadamE and Missy Balot posing right across the Sex Palace in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

The unwritten law or shall I say, the red light district etiquette, is to abstain from taking pictures of these prostitutes in their more or less birthday suits by the red lighted windows. We don’t want to be kicked in the butt by the gaudy sharp high heels they were wearing, so we behaved, tucked our tails and made sure not to shoot near their range. Goody girls we were, hehe.

Meanwhile, the seedy pimps in black coat and tie get up kept whispering to us in a gruff tone as we passed by, “We have NAKED MEN inside miss.” Awww... thanks for the kinky offer!!! But I was so damn tempted to whisper back that I don’t need these perverted naked men because I already got one at home. *tongue-out*

Me and Missy Balot giving our best smiles inside the bar.

I am really glad to see familiar faces of the past. I have lost touch with so many friends from Cebu after exiling myself in Manila for 10 years and then re-exiling myself again here in Holland.

But do you know what is remarkable when catching up with old friends? Its when you sit down together, talk and reminisce the past... the good and the bad times, the fun and the awkward moments and how we were like before.

Quite hilarious though, we thought that we looked and behaved exactly the same even 12-15 years later.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Kerst 2005

Kerst [also Kerstmis] means Christmas.

It snowed today, 26th, the second day of Christmas... but jammer the snow didn’t stay that long to make the country white, even for the whole day.

Christmas Today in NL

Unlike most [or once] Christian countries, where the 24th, the eve of Christmas, is the most anticipated and important moment that people celebrate, here in the Netherlands it is not the case. In fact people here commemorate Christmas for two days, the 25th and the 26th of December. Both are equally significant days and are spent with family having afternoon tea and partaking with the popular and lavish Christmas dinner. The latter is usually observed on the 25th, the first day of Christmas.

So yesterday, the 25th, the Dutchman and I had afternoon tea and dinner with the whole family in my sister in laws home.

My sister in laws Christmas tree, a real spruce tree from the north adorned with red balls and trinkets. And voila, the grand dessert [thats a pear in the middle coated with melted dark chocolate and rounded with portions of sumptuous cakes and ice cream] made by my brother in law. I only finished half of it though.

And contrary to the popular western belief, giving of gifts during Christmas is not at all practiced here in the Netherlands. Gift giving has its own special day, observed on 5 December, the eve of Sinterklaas [Santa Claus birthday].

Christmas in the flatlands is evidently the perfect time for family members to be reunited and spend a fabulous time together, Christian, atheist, or whatever belief you have.

The second day of Christmas though, which is the 26th, is strangely spent shopping or at least visiting the woon boulevard [home boulevard]. This is to some extent the same concept as the Boxing Day in England, also observed on the same day. I have no idea though how this practice of shopping on the 26th day came to life.

Anyway, the Dutchman and I went to the home boulevard, hoping to find some shops that are offering great discounts, instead this is what greeted us...

Santa’s Quartet Band in Utrecht home boulevard was non-stop serenading all the shoppers in the streets.

Urban planning such as zoning is strictly complied in this small country, thus furniture shops and anything that caters to home related items are all located in an area that is called, woon boulevard [home boulevard]. Quite organized huh. They are found in every city and province in the Netherlands.

Religious Christmas in NL

I was told that the traditional Dutch Catholics, which are at present a minority here, since there are more Calvinists and about 60% are self proclaimed atheists, observe a similar ritual that we have back in the Philippines. On the 24th, the eve of Christmas, they go to the Catholic Church to attend the “Nachtmis” [night mass/simbang gabi] and afterwards they come home and have a special dinner [something like the noche buena]. The Dutchman and his family used to do this when they were young and living with their parents. His parents however still keep this tradition alive.

The Calvinists from the Reformed Protestant Church on the other hand just nurture the holidays with family get togethers during Christmas.

I spoke to a Muslim guy who bought a Christmas tree for his kid. He told me that he is not really celebrating Christmas per se for its sake but mainly because his little boy fancies the Christmas tree. Additionally he said that he can’t deny the fact that he liked the feast and the holiday mood that goes with it. I enlightened him that decorating his home with the Christmas tree has nothing to do with Christ at all.

Christmas a cover-up

Since I do not advocate to any organized religion, I tend to see Christmas as a year ending feast. In fact, the way I see it is quite similar to the real story behind Christmas and the origins of its feasts.

The decorations such as the beautiful and lushful evergreen boughs, mistletoes, garlands, yule logs, wreaths, Christmas trees... then you have the lights, banquets and the merriment during the end of December have always been a practice in Europe [and also the Middle East] before Jesus Christ came and before the Catholic Church instituted itself in Rome.

I didn’t have a remembrance picture with my fake Christmas tree so I asked the Dutchman to take this today before we had our second day of Christmas dinner. Too bad, the golden peak of the tree was cut when he took the picture.

December was a merry month with many festivals that reveres pagan gods and persuade fertility beliefs. For others, it was to welcome the winter solstice, celebrate the year end and its mid-winter harvests.

What we now witness in our present time is a historical metamorphosis of the Christmas cover up as legislated by the Catholic Church sometime during the middle ages and the famous saying, “Bad habits, die hard.” The Protestants are no better though, as they continued to keep the same habits but with a little bit of gist twitching here and there.

Besides, let’s give credit to where it is due. The Catholic Church, I must say, is indeed one of the greatest institutions in this world that has always managed to influence or as others would say, manipulate history. It sure was successful in integrating [or intentionally casting a shadow over the] pagan rites and customs into Christendom. The odd truth: Jesus Christ was born sometime in September and not December.

People may argue that it’s the thought that counts. Ah, what else can we say, religious tolerance undeniably is being politically correct and of course it has its own fair share of tainted truths hidden in the vaults of world history.

Origins of some Christmas Customs


End of the year feasts and merrymaking [ancient Babylon]; December pagan gods feasts [Italy, Germany, England Celts, Scandinavia]; Fertility feasts [England, Scandinavia]; Mistletoe and Holly [England -Druids- and Scandinavians]; Poinsettias [Mexico]; Gift-giving [Italy]; Christmas tree [Germany]; Garlands, wreaths, evergreen boughs [Italy]; Herbs such as ivy, laurel, rosemary, etc [all over Europe]; Caroling [Italy and England]; Yule log/Yuletide seasons [Scandinavia]; Lights such as candles and oil [Babylon and Italy]; Fruit Cakes [still a mystery]

Christian Inspired or Related:

Christmas Cards [England]; The Nativity [Italy]; Christmas seals [Denmark]; Santa Claus [Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany]; Letting out of shoes and hanging stockings [Netherlands and England]; Rudolf, the red nosed Reindeer [America]; Candy Cane [Germany]; Advent wreath [Germany]; A candle on the window on Christmas Eve [Ireland]; Burning of candles in the advent wreath [Denmark]; Gift-wrapping [Denmark]; Twelve Days of Christmas song [England]; The word Christmas -Christ Mass- [Germany]; Xmas abbreviation [Greece] X stands for Christ; Christmas lanterns -Parol- [Philippines!]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Shoe Fetish

December is the best month to buy shoes in the Netherlands because it’s that time of the year when the shoe shops slashes 30% to 50% on the prices of their normal shoe collections. There are also 70% discounted items but these are usually the ones you wouldn’t take a second glance. By the way, most of these shoes along the 30% to 50% discounts were, where else... made in Italy.

Well, I made a big mistake of buying a pair of black leather high heel ankle boots a few months ago. I couldn’t wait because I used it for business. I paid the full price. [stoo-pid]

TIPS to the ladies: This type of low-cut high heeled boots is a must when pairing them with business-cut pants. Get a type that doesn’t have too much design in front, or rather make it plain, so the continuous flow from your pants to the shoes is smooth. Great with dark colored pants, best with black. The pointy snout gives class and femininity.

I’ll have to say that a lot of women here have the Imelda Marcos chronic disease, although, I think women in general regardless of race and nationality, have some degree of shoe fetishism in them. I myself have countless of shoes which I dare not count anymore. I am ashamed because they continue to multiply.

The Dutchman doesn’t really understand why I have to buy another pair of shoes to match a bag or an activity. In his uncomplicated world, shoes are shoes, worn to solely protect your feet. But then, men are men, they wear and use anything they lay their eyes on as long as it’s wearable and usable. It’s the same case with food; they eat whatever fodder you shove under their noses in the dinner table, as long as it smells good.

Simple creatures… if they aren’t women, they sure are missing a lot in life!

Anyway, last Sunday was a “Koopzondag”, meaning the shops are open even if it’s a Sunday. Normally, shops are closed on a Sunday but since it’s the holidays, they are extending their hours to suit everyone’s luxurious mood this Christmas.

Since the Dutchman was busy helping my brother in law with his internet connection, I made a decision to treat myself to some window shopping and I brought with me my native basket, to carry merchandises, just in case I see something worthwhile and buy it. I’m a Girl Scout you know, always prepared, haha! But it’s chic anyway to be seen with one.

I quickly checked a number of shoe shops, looking for the type of boots that I have been eyeing for in the last few months. I wanted a new low heeled black boots for normal and everyday use. I have two other black boots pairs but they are high heeled and although I have other pairs of low heeled colored boots, my argument is, I don’t have a black one!

The Dutchman does not understand this type of feminine rationalization but what the heck, his opinions *yawn* on matters such as these does not really offer any solid substance. It’s not his money anyway ;-)

So this is what I bought at 30% discount, a fold-over high-cut low heeled almost flats black leather boots. I am so damn glad I waited; at least I spent a bit lesser. As they say, the good things in life always come through waiting.

TIPS to the ladies: These high-cut boots [up to the knee but can also be folded] are best for slender thighs and legs as it gives more emphasis on leanness. They are best paired with a mini skirt and tights, a little above the knee skirt, and fitted pants [jeans or not] that are tucked inside.

Actually I have succumbed to the inevitable: To be practical and to use low heeled shoes and leave the high heels for occasions that do not require longer hours of walking.

I remember two years ago, the Dutchman and I were having a three day city holiday in Antwerp, Belgium. While we were walking in the cobbled streets in the city center looking for a restaurant to eat, the Dutchman, with a disapproving look all over his face said to me, “I really get tired with your outfit, you wearing these high heels and that mini skirt in this kind of road. I don’t understand it?

I, of course was annoyed so I growled up at him, “Shut up, stop trying to understand me, it’s my feet not yours!

Well… well… vanity indeed has its price and vanity is a hard habit to break.

We surely can’t change a person’s mindset or sense of fashion overnight, more so if this person is used to wearing high heels since high school. Anyone who can precisely relate will understand. But a good example would be trying to convince Sarah Jessica Parker of the famed Sex and the City series to wear flats with a dainty pink mini frilly outfit. She will, I’m sure, insist on wearing sexy stilettos with it.

It took me roughly 2.5 years of my 3.5 years existence in the Netherlands to come out of the high heels closet [I still wear them though from time to time].

So basically, those years spent walking in high heels in the cobbled streets of Europe [you will be lucky to see a cemented or even-tiled city center here!], occasionally slipping and slam dunking my heel edges in between the unpolished stones, and though strenuous as it is, you will not hear any groans from me, were what… a vigil of high heel penance?

Oops, such narcissistic lifestyle was futile then! I was fooled!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Musings on red wine, food, weight, health and diet

It has been some time since I developed a love relationship with red wine. It started back home in the Philippines but it grew stronger when I came to live here in Europe, where wine is treated like water, stocked up in crates in every supermarket aisle.

For many people, drinking any sort of [preferred] alcohol is an acquired taste, which I quite agree. I remember when I was young, soft drinks, in the guise and makers of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were the Philippines’ number one drink. And much to my parents chagrin at that time, my brother and I would kick each others elbows in the dinner table, fighting on who gets the most from the 1 litter bottle ordered. I was a slave of the super and mighty soft drink.

When I was in my late 20’s, around the 1990’s moving towards the year 2000; my body metabolism rate slowed down. I understood that it was a typical body development for certain types of women approaching their 30’s. But to add insult to injury, my mother has the full blown apple shaped body and I can’t face the fact that I might become like her! Genetics... *Horrors*

Decision: I have to strictly watch what I am eating, and well, the soft drinks must go too.

I became so obsessed with my weight, that I started to monitor and record into this excel spreadsheet anything that I dump into my mouth, every single day. Of course, I boycotted Coke and Pepsi, and replaced these with juice, water and red wine. This was when I started my love relationship with red wine because I read in an article that this type of alcoholic drink is actually good for the heart, therefore healthy.

Since I was living alone, my eating habits were not a struggle to sustain. I pride on the discipline I advocated, ---well before. At night, I rarely cook real meals because I can survive with steamed or buttered vegetables and a glass of red wine. It was quick and healthy.

When I finally arrived in the Netherlands, my diet has drastically changed. Living in the land of milk, honey and cheese has little to do with it but mainly because I have become the official chef at home. Being alone was in fact easier, I can always give an excuse to be lazy but living with someone else, who eats twice as much as I do and by the way has very impressive microwave skills, made me all the more convinced to be the person in full charge of the kitchen. This judicious decision I made has both advantages and disadvantages. I ate well but I ate more. *Deep Sigh*

I am not actually overweight, far from it really. The last time I checked, my weight falls under normal in the BMI calculator with a steady fluctuation on the middle range weight going to less. I am still within the small size collection, thus I am quite safe and far from any distress... but… I miss my old self.

This is an old picture of me at 32 with my desired weight 3 years ago [2002] in Mongkok, Hongkong before I flew to the Netherlands to relocate for good. I think I was not even 100 lbs here!

I miss being light and not having to inhale in front of the mirror and hold it for a second to feel good. You see, I am also extremely creative in hiding those unwanted love handles so if someone sees them accidentally, they will surely get the shock of their lives! And it doesn’t help too when I have tall and slim in laws, yeah I swear with no gram of fat. When I am with them, I feel like a stuffed chicken ready to be baked in the oven, or better yet grilled, so the oily fats can drip off mercilessly. Yuk. I know they will laugh and tell me to shut up, but hey, I have my weak moments too, more than ever when I lay my eyes on the likes of Glamour and Cosmopolitan.

So even though it’s quite hard to be disciplined at this point and being 35 with a slow metabolism rate, I shall try and slay the dragons that lie in wait in front of me.

I am still on my red wine routine though and in fact I have totally lost my acquired taste in soft drinks. I could not even finish a small glass of it and if I insist, I would end up with a sore puffed up tummy - what every girl hates! Ugh.

An interesting information I found... based on a research carried out by a team of scientists in London circa 2001, the Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes were the best there is amongst the 23 wine selections they tested, reporting to have the biggest impact on our heart’s well-being.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s make sure we have a bottle of Cabernet-Sauvignon on the table for Christmas dinner ;-)

I shall then say, “Proost op een gezond leven!” [Cheers to a healthy life!]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Segunda Mano

Being a licensed Interior Designer in my previous life, which is not anymore a secret to the IT world that I now belong and which I also admit, is a big waste [that I gave up this career], is something that I look into during my free time as a value add in my home-making activities.

As a designer, I delight on the purest of things: Simplicity and Structure. And although I prefer the earth colors leading to the monochromatic representation and veering away from littered curios, I do make an exception when it comes to rendering an accent and emphasizing a focal point. This is when the exotic items I fell in love with comes into play and where the theme of simplicity and eclecticism achieves a culmination of harmonious co-existence.

Aside from that, we as Interior Designers have this relentless habit of creating something worthwhile from scrap materials or any used items. It does somewhat demonstrates a sense of cheapness, right? But the main idea is about --- ingenuity.

For many of us, the goal of this transformation has literally something to do with the challenge of re-creating something original and unique from out of nothing. These “nothing items” manifests in many forms such as surplus goods, leftover accessories, second hand discarded items, or even waste belongings of other people.

When I came here in 2002 to relocate for good, the first few places I visited were the flea markets, second hand shops, kringloopwinkels [recycling stores] and the Leger des Heils recycling shop [Salvation Army]. I had their addresses and schedules in our old computer desktop’s favorites and during my idle moments, I would spend my time surveying what they have to offer.

There are just so many treasures hiding in these places and it doesn’t necessarily warrant a trained eye to locate them, albeit it does take knowing what you need or want and having a good feeling about it. These low key and unexpected places are full of adventure with fabulous items waiting to be discovered.

One thing that I also learned here in the Netherlands, or in the western world for that matter, is that these cheap markets and shops are often frequented by moneyed people and well even the unanticipated. The negative stigma of buying used clothes or items, at least in this part of the world does not exist. It is not a taboo and it is surely not looked down upon.

A well known socialite painter in the Netherlands was interviewed a few night ago on TV about the stunning designer dress she was wearing. The interviewer asked her what type of shops she frequents and what kind of items she prefers. She, with full confidence and without hesitation said, “I like vintage clothing and I frequent the second hand shops.” Ah, there you have the answer, straight from the so-called elite’s mouth!

Anyway, last week, I had the chance to start my inevitable window shopping [that means not really buying, but just looking from the window or shelf] for my winter sport ski outfits and accessories. Not that I enjoy doing this chore, but I prefer to canvass for at least a reasonable period of time before finally buying them. So while I was busy hopping from one shop to the other, I passed by this recycling shop of the world renowned Salvation Army. This one was a huge branch in Utrecht Oude Gracht occupying three doors straight.

Naturally, my instincts were swiftly alerted. I got tempted and went in to check what they have.

By the entrance, I saw a black Persian inspired wooden footstool sitting on top of the large table. The footstool was covered in a slightly worn-out dark beige leather. Upon careful inspection, I concluded that it is a worthy item, could be antique, and coming from the Middle East. I flipped over the tag, it says, SOLD. Damn.

So I marched up further into the hallway of the Salvation Army stockpile, eager to take this short journey, knowing that maybe, just maybe, I will be treated to some pleasant surprises in the end. I found so many polished junk and wondered who would be crazy enough to buy these things. Well, of course silly me, people are unique and we all have different tastes indeed.

The shop was busy, I saw people come and go, some knew what they wanted... they attacked the targeted shelves with precision. Others were just lingering aimlessly, like me, in the hopes of finding a gem amongst the piles of rubbish.

A very interesting observation though, some of the people were very well dressed and I could hear from the way they spoke and the grace they bared, that they come from good backgrounds. Trust me, I know one when I see and hear one, regardless of race and the frock cover up.

About an hour later, I left the charity shop with a huge bag, with these interesting pieces:

A Gold Pot

This golden flower or plant pot reminisce the Emperor and Empress Eras, which apparently suits well with my home’s earthen color scheme. It also matches my round beige medley marble-top center table with edges adorned in Greek gold inlays.

Cost: € 4.50

A Plant or Candle Holder

This one is a wrought iron large candle or plant holder. I think this is great to hang in the outside wall of my entrance doorway with a plant that scales down.

Maybe an English Ivy Bush would be perfect?

Cost: € 2.50

A Wind Candle Lamp

And this, a big glass wind candle lamp with a wrought iron design stand and is about two feet in length, is now guarding my southern window at night. I can also put in two or three candles inside, well maybe after this red candle is finished.

Cost: € 5.00

“Segunda Mano” is a Spanish phrase and also a Cebuano phrase that means: SECOND HAND.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Glamorous Tree in Holland

Finally, my fake Christmas tree is up!

Well, the truth of the matter is... I would have loved to have a real alpine, spruce or fir tree towering in my living room. The idea that once I prick its needles will give off that fresh citrus-y heavenly fragrance was very tempting. But after weighing its pros and cons, I finally came to terms with the fact, that I am just one of those 21st century practical women.

First, I want my money’s worth [this tree was bought inclusive of lights]; second, I want to use it for years; and third, I hate cleaning the floor when the leaves start to fall off. To me, the debris it brings forth is just additional housework that I hate.

I made a promise to myself though that at least once, I shall put up a real tree at home ;-)

And voila, the glamorous tree in Holland! The color theme is none other than glamorous gold… brown with a touch of gold, porcelain off white with a touch of gold, silver with a touch of gold. Everything is a glam of gold. Click to enlarge the foto.

About 90% of the décor balls hanging in this Christmas tree were bought two years ago, a day after Christmas. Well last year we were in the Philippines for Christmas so we didn’t bother to put up anything at home. From the original price of €5.00 per box of 5’s, I bought the balls for a discount price of €1.00 per box. That was a great deal indeed.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch puts up their Christmas trees and other decors after Sinterklaas [Santa Claus birthday] which is 6 December. Back home in the Philippines, people start to decorate their homes right after All Saints and All Souls Day [1 and 2 November]. Some even earlier, hehe!

Then after New Years day, everyone here takes down their trees, which to me is quite early. I plan to take down mine after the 12th of January. You see, I love the long holiday feeling. *grins*


Did you know that the Christmas tree was first seen in Germany around the 7th century? It served as a pagan symbol of worship.

And did you know that it was the Augustinian German monk turned protestant, Martin Luther, who first lighted the Christmas tree with candles?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Feed Me

The other night’s news on TV was quite shocking to the comfortable Dutch. The bad news that hit the land was one of those ugly truths out there that many citizens of first world countries are afraid to come into terms with.

1 resident out of 10 in the Netherlands sits in dire poverty.

In the Philippines, the politicians and their cronies only benefit from the tax money. The poor will remain miserable, the middle class will always struggle, the rich will be richer and the politicians sustain corruption and are the gods of the land.

But what actually is poverty in the Netherlands? How difficult is it? Alright, let’s put this into proper perspective and lay down the basic bricks of information on the table.

There are about 16 million residents in the Netherlands. The income poverty index is € 1,103.84 NET income per month, that’s after taxes inclusive of holiday pay. That is roughly, Php 70,645.10 NET or US$ 1,304.68 NET monthly income [as of 1/12 forex] but take note, the Netherlands or Europe for that matter, has a higher standard of living. Therefore consumer items are more expensive and tax levels are also higher. The only consolation these people have is that they get social welfare benefits such as different kinds of subsidies: housing, food, tax, medical and etcetera. Thus, for a developing country standard, poverty here is not really that bad.

What is quite alarming though as confirmed during the news is that the residents who are in the poverty level group were mostly migrant foreigners. Very few were of Dutch origin and majority of these people are coming from the backgrounds of, in order: Afghans, Somalis, Iraqis, Moroccans and Turks.

One can say, what has gone wrong?

On that light, the Dutch government is currently set to task and has launched an investigation on this matter. It will take some time before a factual update will be presented but I am quite interested since I too am a foreign migrant.

In a travel board, I saw members discussing about poverty and a survey on countries and how well-fed their citizens are. The Philippines was in the top bottom with something over 40% complaining not having enough to eat.

My reaction was, “How come? The Philippines is a large country with fertile ground. No matter how poor you are, anyone can live off with what they can plant.

But lo and behold, people prefer to exile themselves in the city. They squat and gamble their so-called luck only to find themselves in the dead-end road. This is a familiar continuous cycle that happens in every developing country. There is nothing wrong with this pursuit for it is man’s nature to seek greener pastures… but until up to what point? Like what we always say back home, “Maayo pa mobalik na lang sa bukid para magtanum ug kamote!” [It’s better to go back to the mountains and plant sweet potatoes!].

A paradox though, there are some that get emotionally worked up with this kind of truth indirectly slapped onto their self-protective face. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly understand that there are individuals out there that are easily affronted, they cannot take criticism and would even cry foul at the mention of the Philippines as a third world country. Instead of thinking a mile, they chose to think a foot away with a 10 inch width glasses that fits wall to wall.

Well, countries such as Germany and Netherlands have 3% hunger complaints.

Damn whiners, these 3% cheese heads and sauerkrauts must try going to Somalia!

The Dutch national pastime is to whine like a rhino, I am sure the Germans do the same thing since both clans come from the same Aryan tribe. People can get spoiled, rather easily, and that includes you and me.

Anyway, there is no nation that has the sheer dominance of bad or good news.

I do know that many foreigners from the rich western world visiting the Philippines and other neighboring South East Asian countries are shocked with the brazen poverty and homelessness. But to me, there is nothing more depressing than seeing homeless beggars in the streets of Madrid and Paris and in the metros of London and New York. These are supposed to be highly industrialized countries with food overflowing in the table, but…

The truth can be ugly.

It’s the same as talking to your partner face to face about his bad habits that annoys you and vice versa. This does not mean that you don’t love him. You are just being honest. Like nature, there’s got to be some balance. Life is not just about wearing those rose-colored glasses; we’ve got to also smell the rotting garbage outside of our homes.

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