Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ladycup Update

After the first post I guess I never bothered to write anything about my Ladycup adventures. The second month was better and by the third month, I felt like a pro. I'm really happy using a menstrual cup right now. Helping Mother Nature and all that. Some people are concerned about how safe it is to use one, but I'm not worried about it because I did my research before I purchased one and I make sure it's clean before insertion plus I sterilize it every month. I'm a satisfied user and because of certain considerations, I bought another one recently, a large this time. Like last time, I ordered from Ebay but instead of having it sent to the Philippines, I had it delivered to my Vietnam address. I paid $24.50 for it via Paypal. I received a notice after about 3 weeks, picked it up from the post office and didn't have to pay a fee for storage like I had to back home. 

Under Construction

planning to delete my other email addy so I moved house. will design soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


"When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake."
-From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Not sure when it started, but as young as 5 years old, I remember being urged, begged, and scolded --- to sleep at a decent time. I tried not to disturb other people and would quietly slip out of my parents' bed and wander around the house as soon as my parents, or just my mom, would fall asleep. I'd visit my room --- yes, I had my own room but I didn't sleep in it until I was 8 or maybe 9 --- and play with my toys, watch TV with my dad, drink copious amounts of water, or other sorts of amusements. In some ways, nights were the best part of my days. But, oh hey, don't get me wrong. I was never one of those people who hated mornings and would be a monster because I didn't get enough sleep.

As I got older, it got worse, or better. Depends on how you want to look at it. I moved to my own room and would to go to bed when the rest of my family did, and unlike my sister, who basically slept through anything, woke up instantly when someone (usually my mom) knocked on my door. My secret? I wasn't really sleeping. As soon as I heard my parents' door sliding open, I would turn off my lights and jump into bed. Sometimes nobody would come to my door for about half an hour so I could either catch a few winks or just laze abed. It was harder when my dad wasn't around, though. My mom would leave her door open so I would sometimes get caught with my light on. I'd make the half-assed excuse of forgetting to turn it off or saying that I woke up a bit early when I was given my own alarm clock.

I guess, up to a certain point, my family was aware of my sleeping habits. It was a running joke even among my cousins that I had a lot of time in my hands. One cousin tried to teach me the guitar and told me to practice at night, unfortunately (or fortunately, for the neighbors and my family's ears) I never got into it. My sister would ask me to wait for her to come home so she wouldn't have to ring the doorbell and wake our mom. Then in college, when I lived with some other people, they got used to going to sleep with me on the computer and waking up with me still on the computer. When they needed to wake up early, I was always the person to shake them out of the zzzs.

Sleep deprivation causes muscle cramps and I depend on its intensity to remind me of how much I need sleep. I have a lot of bedtime rituals that sometimes helps me sleep. Honestly, I continue drinking alcohol because it sometimes gives me a few hours with dear old Morpheus. Sleeping pills never quite work like they're supposed to. A few times I was in the hospital, they injected me with sleeping aids but they didn't work either. It just annoyed the hell out of me every time they  said my name to check if I was sleeping. Thing is, even if I'm sleeping, soon as you mention my name, I'd wake up.

I know my sleeping habits should be considered a problem. Yet my main problem is, I don't mind so much not being able to sleep. Sometimes I complain about it, but then I think, if I could just turn it into doing something productive, I'd be better off. So now, I'm signing off to do some reading, maybe do my homework for Vietnamese class. Or maybe not. Probably not. :D

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back on the Horse

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.
Winston Churchill

I did it again.

I neglected blogging again. Like so many things in my life, I kept putting it off for one reason or the other. I can give the same reason that I used to give... That there are so many things going on that I don't know
what to write. Or that I'm too busy to go online and start typing away. But then I'd be lying. So enough with
the excuses. Enough with the reasons.

I could've written about the CELTA. Wrote about my day to day schedule, the assignments, the jokes, the drinking and my friends. I could've written about the vacation I had after that, decisions I had to make, and changes I forced on myself to do. But of course, I didn't.

So now. Back to writing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CELTA mode

Sorry I've been MIA for a while. I moved to Saigon last Thursday and started the CELTA course on Monday. I've probably mentioned it before but I'll just say this again. CELTA is an initial quailfication for experienced/non-experienced teachers of the English language. It can last from four weeks to over a year. I'm doing mine at ILA Vietnam (51 Nguyen Cu Trinh St., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City) and it's supposed to last for four weeks.

Week 1 was a whirlwind of activities. I met 10 participants and some ILA people in a welcome dinner at BBQ Garden last Saturday night. 845am Monday morning we were in school to meet the rest and start the course. Day 1 was the easiest day of course.  Orientation, a sample of a foreign language lesson and we met our tutors for lesson planning. There are 18 of us all together and we're divided into 3 groups. We do input sessions together but lesson planning and teaching practices, we're with our tutors and 5 other groupmates. The whole group is great, not just the "A-Team" which I'm on, but all 18 of us. Benita, one of our tutors, mentioned that we're a strong group. It might partly be because some of us are experienced teachers, but I think it's because everyone is so into doing the course and everybody's helping out everybody. There's no competition to speak of, which is great, because it's not high school. We all have the same goal and we're being assessed individually anyway.

The youngest person in class is Ginny, a fresh graduate from Pennsylvania. The eldest might be Viviene, a Filipina who's worked in China and Saudi Arabia as a teacher. All 3 trainers are British, the trainees are 3 Filipinos (including me), 1 Canadian, 1 Polish, 2 Australians, 5 Brits and 6 Americans. Everybody's so different, it's interesting to see what everyone does. Teaching styles and approaches vary and we see something different everyday, even from tutors, so I get different ideas all the time. Whenever friends and family ask me how it's going, I say that information overload's difficult and can be overwhelming. At the same, though, it keeps me on my toes and wakes up my neurons which I feel has been dying in my 2 years in VN.

This week I only taught twice but next week I'll be doing 3 teaching practices. That means 2 lesson plans that I need to pass and show my trainer--written lesson plans are required from TP4 to 9. First assignment is due in the middle of the week so I want to finish that by Monday night. Starting Tuesday, I'll be in the Pre-Intermediate class along with my groupmates. We started out teaching Elementary level but we're switching to Pre-Intermediate class after my TP3 then Intermediate class the following week.

It's not all work and no play by the way. I've been doing yoga and I've been out with some of my CELTA mates. After teacher observations Thursday night, I was out drinking and playing drunken darts till 3am with some other people. It was funny the next day because they were so worried that I might miss school. One of the guys was so woozy, he went home for a nap at lunchtime. Friday night we went out for a bit then last night we had yogurt at Penguin's then Karaoke at Pham Ngu Lao. It's supposed to be an advance celebration for Ginny's birthday on the 19th. Oh yeah, last night was the first time I drank Korean soju. Candice and Jamie, who worked in Korea, said that they needed some shots before we could head to the karaoke place. We walked past a Korean restaurant and they figured soju would do the trick. They even had a drinking game--Submarine, shot glass floating in a mug if beer, you use your other hand (left for righties and vice versa) to pour some soju in. If the shot glass sinks, you have to drink it all up. I had to drink 2 mugs in a row. Aargh! We had just come from the yogurt place where I had 2 or 3 glasses of tra da (local iced tea) plus I don't really like the taste of beer. It took me a while to finish the 2nd mug but after a bathroom break, I got back into the game. Todd drank the last shot of soju because he lost in a Rock-Paper-Scissors game to Jamie. After that, we went to 357 Karaoke and stayed for 2 hours. Anyway, drinks or no drinks, I was trying to get away with not singing much but Ginny and Richard kept at it till I held the microphone again. We ended the night with Bohemian Rhapsody.

OK, that's it for this week. I have to go to the bookstore, buy some pens and head over to ILA for lesson planning and possibly starting my assignment. =)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hunting for Accommodation in Saigon

I'm moving to Saigon next week to get ready for my CELTA course on October 11. Last Sunday I stayed overnight in Saigon so I'd have time to for apartment/room hunting. I was busy meeting friends for lunch and dinner on Sunday so I started Monday morning with a light breakfast then I was off.

I found a couple of agents with websites and narrowed it down to 3 who had a lot of listings for serviced rooms in District 1. The first one, Jon directed me to a place in Nguyen Canh Chan St. He wasn't around to meet me personally so he just called the maid who let me in and showed me around. The house was in a quiet alley and seemed like a nice place but it costs $300-330 without electricity and I don't think I'd like to walk to school from there. The other two agents I spoke to, said they'd get back to me after I said that I'd prefer a room within walking distance, gave my budget as $250 a month but said I'd consider something a little higher if utilities were included. 

After Nguyen Canh Chan St., I went to ILA at 51 Nguyen Cu Trinh St. so I could start looking around for guesthouses nearby. The hotels/guesthouses I found within 500m-1km from the school ranged from $340-500 a month. All had wifi, fridge, ac and cable TV. Some of them let me look at the rooms and some turned me away. Others that were a little bit further in the backpacker district cost $180-320 a month. If I were just staying for a day or two I wouldn't mind a room without a fridge but a month without one ---- where would I put food, hmmm.... There was one rude lady who said she had a room available but when she found out I wouldn't be moving in till next week, she pushed me away and said that all her rooms were occupied. I was a bit miffed but after more than 2 years in Vietnam, I've faced worse than that, so rather than let it ruin my day, I just shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

I had a quiet lunch on De Tham St. then met agent number two, Tony Ngo. He's short, about my age and seemed like a nice, mellow guy. He showed me two places around District 1, the first one was at 69/22 De Tham St., $300 all utilities included. I was showed an occupied room, it was big and airy, everything was well kept and the bathroom was nice and clean. Second one was on a side alley connected to Tran Hung Dao St. It has an elevator, available rooms range from $260-320, electricity not included. If I had a roomate, I probably would've chosen the first one. 

The last agent I met was from VNRental, Tin sent over a guy named Alex to take me around. Can't remember the name of the street for the first house, but it was quite far and the house had a weird smell. The place was clean, I guess, but the walls were a bit dingy and the place was cluttered. It seemed like families lived there, not sure how big the house was because it had a lot of rooms. The room I was showed had a small window, own bathroom, wifi, TV, fridge and even a small kitchen with an exhaust fan. It costs $200 a month, electricity not included. It was a good deal, I guess but it was far from the school and I'd have to pass under a flyover to get to it. The second place he found for me was the same place on Tran Hung Dao st. that Tony showed me, however, he said it would only cost me $250 a month. I apologized to Tony and decided on the Tran Hung Dao room.

Wednesday morning I went back to Saigon to meet the landlord and sign a contract. He speaks a little English and mentioned that a Filipino used to live there, too. He said that since I was a teacher, he won't ask for a deposit anymore. I paid the $250 up front and he said that that was it.

If you want to see pictures, click on this. I can't tell which one is mine because they look the same because of the sheets but I have a small room because I got the cheapest one. Anyway, the pictures are pretty accurate, the house is newish and very well kept.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Litterbugs Beware!

Bishop supports MMDA’s revival of anti-littering law

This was the heading of the newsletter I received today from the EcoWaste Coalition. Yey! I think it's about time. If people start having to take responsibility for their litter, they'll probably take more time in thinking about the amount of trash they produce.

Some years ago, I was on a jeepney (i.e. means of transportation in the Philippines originally made from US military jeeps left over from WW II), when I saw a mom and her young daughter eating peanuts. The kid  was about 6 years old and was trying to hold the peanut shells in one hand while eating with the other hand. The mom, on the other hand, would crack open a peanut, eat the kernel and throw the shell onto the jeepney floor. I guess the mom finally noticed the kid holding on to the shells, they were getting a bit too much for her small hand and she was looking helplessly toward the trash can a few feet away----the mother, took her kid's arm and shook it till the shells dropped to the floor. She snapped at her kid and basically told her daughter that she was stupid for not doing that in the first place. I wanted to scream and rail at the mother right then and there. However, at that time, I was a kid myself, and I didn't feel like I could get in the way of her revolting parenting skills.

That's just one of the littering incidents that happen everyday back home... It probably happens in a lot of other places, but it doesn't make it right. It'll take a while before Filipinos become as disciplined as most people are in Singapore, but baby steps towards a litter-free environment is way better than no steps at all.