Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Books and Lessons

"Das lesende Madchen" by Johann Georg Meyer von Bremen

Goodreads makes it easy!
Please click here to see my 2015 in books, courtesy of the awesome Goodreads site.

The stats are depressing, though. 29 books read, out of my goal of 52. *sigh* It's worth noting, however, that the 29 books do NOT include the romance novels I read, or what my mother calls "those trashy novels." Hehe. They're like chocolates for the soul. As I grow older and more cynical, I find that these romance novels give me hope for mankind, that there IS love and passion and joy that I have yet to experience but no doubt exists for others and hopefully, in the future, for myself.

29 books out of my goal of 52 books for a year. Ugh. Then again, I'd like to think that I did more living than reading.

And as for lessons, a student of mine asked me to answer three questions for his article for the school newsletter. Here they are:

1) What did you learn about yourself from this past year?

I learned that I need to rest and take time to recharge, instead of saying "yes" to everything. Productivity is good but rest is important, both for the body and the soul. I also learned that I am capable of commuting all by myself, even in "dangerous" places and at night!

2) Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

I learned how to cook! Haha, I also learned how to commute to unfamiliar and far-away places, clean the toilet, do the dishes, and buy groceries. Hopefully 2016 will have more opportunities for me to hone my domestic/explorer skills!

3) Given all your experiences, insights, and lessons learned from last year, what's the best advice you could give yourself for next year?

*sings a la Elsa* "Let it go....."

We should let go of the things we cannot control. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I struggle with this, but last year taught me that less is more, that letting go is liberating, and that freedom in all its forms is a future to strive for.

Happy new year to all of us!

Previous Years in Books posts:
2007 (a partial list)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Trial by Jury: A Philippine Premiere

It is rare that one gets to watch an almost perfect performance of opera in Manila. The only complaint an audience member could make was that it ended too soon (running time was under an hour)! But everything else was as perfect as perfection could be, a shining testament to what happens when there is proper funding and when all the members of the production are the best in their field (when you get the likes of Floy Quintos to direct, Ohm David for set design, etc.). It was an unforgettable evening!

A few musical snobs (or rather, a few musically discriminating aesthetes --  to be politically correct) might say that operetta is not on the same level as grand and epic opera, but to those people, I say: "Pah!" Having seen my share of Italian verisimo operas, tragic and comic alike, I must say that watching an English opera was a special treat. There is truly no substitute for word-for-word comprehension, and comedy works at its finest with lightning speed wit that had the esteemed  and distinguished audience laughing heartily, just as if they were watching a HIMYM episode. 

It certainly had all the plot ingredients for it! The lecherous old man judge, the suited-up dandy, the plaintiff's counsel (whose character, of course, HAD to be graduate from UP Law ;), "Where else?" ), the innocent-kuno bride-to-be, the closet gays, the judgmental ladies... it was one hour of non-stop frolic and not-so-clean fun!

I was particularly struck by the amount of sheer talent on one stage last night. When one reads the program and the names listed therein, one is struck by the fact that it is a veritable Who's Who of the finest singers and production people in Manila.... the opera equivalent of a movie that's sure to be in the running for an Oscar. Pick any member of the ensemble or "chorus" and there's a distinguished career/background to go with the pretty face and voice, with the likes of Master's degree holder from the Royal College of Music, London, soprano Anna Migallos... top voice teacher and multiple award winning soprano Camille Lopez-Molina... and of course, the highlight of the evening were the performances by the singing lawyers, Dot Ramos-Gancayco and Kay Balajadia-Liggayu! Proof that there are really super women amongst us who can excel in any field of endeavour, be it law or the arts.

Congratulations to the UP Women Lawyers’ Circle (UP WILOCI) and Zonta Club of Manila I for mounting this production! If you have the chance to see their upcoming shows, DO seize the opportunity because shows of this standard don't come along very often!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


There is this lovely painting entitled "Drinking Coffee and Reading in the Garden" by Edward Johnson, and to me, it represents the ultimate luxury in life: leisure time to do just this! Not necessarily in a Philippine garden, with all the ants that might take sips from your coffee. But somewhere nice and peaceful... perhaps a cafe, or a park.

It's the middle of summer, and I'm so happy to have had some chances to read, stroll, have dinner with friends, watch concerts... and everything done leisurely! The older we get, the more frantic the pace of life becomes. And so these oases of calm and quiet are precious moments of renewal. And since this is my first blog entry of the year, it's also my way of reviving my dormant blog.

The revival of spirit, of creative impulses is the first task of any teacher during the summer. We love our jobs but the stress can eat away at one's passion, and so we use the summer to soak in all the art and culture that we can get, so we can pass it on to our students during the school year.

I am struck by how stilted, how forced my "voice" is now. Evidence of a rusty hand at recording one's thoughts. All the more reason for me to continue blogging!

Now tilt your head sideways, so you can read my Summer To-Do List.

Now tilt it back to normal. Isn't it refreshing? A simple change of perspective can make everything so different! And that's what this summer is all about.

I've ticked off quite a few of the items, and am looking forward to doing No. 2 and No. 3 soon! Especially since it's National Heritage Month and the National Museum is open, free of charge, all month! :) Oh Spolarium, it's been a decade since I've last seen you!

Revival of spirit, renewal of passion. That's what summer is all about. Not the beach parties, nor the drinking sessions by the seashore. But a simple breath of fresh air to breathe new life into the beautiful one we already have. (Going out of town would be nice but rather expensive and not very teacher-friendly, budget-wise.)

Have a great summer!

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