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I’m a daddy’s girl. With a dad like Dr. Ricky Conde, who wouldn’t be?

Happy father’s day, Dad! I love you!

I have never been out of the country alone, so you could just imagine my excitement dashed with a bit of anxiety when I left for Kuala Lumpur last Monday for training. It was honestly hard to believe how I was being shipped off to meet my other Asian counterparts just after 2 months of starting my post, but after the 4-day training, it seemed better for me to learn about the Foreign Ministry’s SPIP as early as possible.

Because I was at training for most of the day, I only had the late afternoon and evening to go exploring.

On my first night, I dropped my bags off the hotel and left to Central Market and Chinatown. This was the first photo I took of the Petronas Towers from the street of my hotel, Jalan Ampang, which reminded me of Makati Avenue.

I took the train and made it to Kuala Lumpur’s most famous shopping spots. Well, it might be a shopping haven for Europeans, but it’s nothing new for us Filipinos who have Divisoria, 168, 999, etc. I had my dinner instead amidst boozing locals in a busy karinderia-type eatery in the heart of Chinatown.

I can’t recall the name of this hotpot, but it was good. Really good. As I was enjoying my noodles, two Indian tourists sitting on the table adjacent to mine struck up a conversation while we feasted on their deer meat dish. One was named Singh, and the other’s name was so unfamiliar to me that I just couldn’t remember it exactly. They ended up inviting me to Singh and his wife’s wedding anniversary that night (but actually, early morning) at Zuoc, one of Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife attractions. I politely declined as I was to start my training early morning the next day.

 

These are my Asian counterparts from Malaysia, Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia with our instructor from the Foreign Ministry in France. I became buddies with the one from Singapore, who sadly isn’t in the photo, as she was my seatmate during the whole seminar. These people were seasoned professionals in the field of communications as many of them were former journalists. I gained heaps of insights on the local dynamics of other Asian countries, which I might leave for another post.

After the first day of training, I got a cab driver to bring me to Batu Cave, a popular place of Hindu worship.

One would need to traverse over 270 steps to get to the cave temples, with some monkeys crossing your path as you make your way to the top.

The caves were magnificent, with Hindu gods carved into stone in various corners of the cave. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, partly because I haven’t an idea of the exact significance of these as I visited the cave unguided.

The taxi driver who drove me to Batu Cave brought along his 2 kids who were with him for the school holidays. I taught them Filipino, and they taught me Malay. Good enough deal. We then drove to the National Palace.

The National Palace is the residence of the king of Malaysia. According to what the taxi driver/tour guide told me, there are 9 sultans representing the different Malay kingdoms. Every 5 years, the kingship of Malaysia rotates between the sultans of the different kingdoms, and a king is chosen by election. Like modern monarchies, royalty is more of a national symbol, while the government, in Malaysia’s case, the Parliament and the Prime Minister, maintain administrative and political power.

As surprising as it might seem for us Filipinos, but this photo was taken at 7:48pm.

After, we dropped by Merdeka Square. Also called the Independence Square, this was where Malaysian independence from the British was declared and where the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time on August 31, 1957 at exactly 12 midnight. I would visit this again with my colleagues during my last night at Kuala Lumpur.

I wasn’t able to take photos anymore, but we passed by the National Mosque and an Indonesian restaurant where we had dinner. It was a good day of sightseeing, and I would highly recommend the taxi driver who brought me around the city.

My third day was spent shopping for pasalubongs after training. I went back to Central Market and Chinatown to buy boxes and boxes of chocolate and what have yous. With my arms sore from carrying all those bags, I went back to the hotel to drop off my goods and immediately walked around the block to get myself lost.

The Petronas Towers are known as the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world. One tower is solely used by Petronas, the national petroleum company, while the other building is available for rent for other offices, whose renting fee is the most expensive in Malaysia.

Also, I read from Wikipedia that among the chief engineers responsible for the twin towers are Filipino or have Filipino heritage.

Because Malaysian tourism has made a hefty investment on night decorations, Kuala Lumpur is a great place for night photography. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my tripod with me, so my slightly shaky arms had to do.

My second to the last day in Kuala Lumpur was probably the defining moment of my clumsiness. We were invited by the French Ambassador to Malaysia for lunch, and my lack of French fluency was quite embarrassing as all of them were Francophiles. But hey, I’m getting better.

After training, my colleagues and I went on a night out around the city. We passed by Merdeka Square, which I visited a few days before.

These are some of the last few photos I took because it rained hard that night, and I slipped in front of my colleagues as we were rushing to the train station. As if  my misfortune wasn’t enough, a part of my camera lens chipped off, and now it couldn’t lock to the SLRs body.

Oh, the pain, not of the fall, but of my crippled camera.

I wasn’t able to finish the training as I had to leave early for my flight. I can say that I had quite an eventful adventure in Kuala Lumpur. Hey, I didn’t get kidnapped or end up some unforgiving territory, so I could say I did quite well.

I think I’ll be traveling alone more often now. Selamat jalan, Malaysia!

One of life’s simple pleasures: filling up all those boxes in the paper’s daily crossword.

I thought that the phenomenon known as cramming would finally leave my consciousness the moment I graduated from college. That isn’t quite the case now.

After roughly a year of abandoning my pursuit of French fluency, I have three-hours worth of lessons tomorrow, taking off where my class ended. To be honest, I am extremely nervous for not being as conditioned for the lessons as I should be. Now, I’m left cramming what’s left of my French notes from last year.

Oh la la, aidez-moi, s’il vous plaît.

First stop: Josephine Restaurant

Next stop: The Mountain of Salvation

Last stop: Caleruega

People said that the 31st of December is the last day of 2011, so it’s best to make the most out of it. We did just that. I feel so fortunate to have been born into such a wonderful and (food? Haha.) loving family.

 Dad, Tita Tah, Kuys, Tito Aries and Mares, I love you all!

Welcoming visitors to the Rizal Shrine is this huge masterpiece by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco entitled The Martyrdom of Jose Rizal. Not only does it depict the hero’s death, which today’s holiday seeks to commemorate (it is NOT his birthday today), but illustrates significant phases in Rizal’s life.

As much as I appreciate efforts to bring Rizal’s god-like stature closer to us Filipino mortals, I can’t help but notice how it has been overdone, exaggerated to the point of commercialization.

Yes, people are more conscious of Rizal, but on a level of superficiality. Are people aware of the debates of whether Rizal was for or against an armed revolution? Have we probed deeper into the meaning of his works than the number of women he’s allegedly dated? Do people know of his little utopia in Dapitan during his exile? Do we even know that he was exiled in Dapitan? Should he mean more to the Filipino consciousness than a neon-colored bust adorned with a Ray Ban?

We are shallow because we do not read, said F. Sionil Jose a few months back. We are shallow because we have slipped into a false love for country and history that have reduced martyrdom to a mere shirt design worth a few hundred pesos.

I always look forward to the 24th of December not just because the day after is Christmas, but because it’s also my mother’s birthday!

Our handa for her included a sansrival cake from Silvanas and, because of our financial abundance, three lechon. Yes, you heard it right, three…

… of these cute little pigs of yeast from Julie’s Bakeshop. Har har.

Everyone had a kick out of the piglets, especially the birthday celebrant.

We even invited some friends over to join in the celebration! So kind of them to drop by.

Happy birthday, Tita Tah! And from my family to yours, happy holidays!

I can’t log into MLS either. Harhar.

Who would’ve thought that I would miss those nerve-wracking nights of suspense and drama just for grades? Too bad the youngins never got to experience this:

To stare your professor in the eye as you are handed your card (sometimes face down, sometimes with the grade covered by their finger) while everyone else can see pure raw emotion as you look down on those two digits with a period in between. Whether it’s an emotion borne of a passing grade or a failing one, it’s just priceless.

Oh, the joys of university life. Let me claim it now: I’ll be seeing you soon!

Andres with best bud, Mabini

Who wants to undress Bonifacio?

*tom tom snare*

Get it? Get it?

Nevermind.

I hope more people realize that Andres Bonifacio isn’t just some temperamental and uneducated war freak belonging to a lesser league of heroism/kabayanihan as Jose Rizal.

Happy Bonifacio Day, Philippines.

Isn’t it just fitting that I bought myself Paul Auster’s Moon Palace as a graduation gift?