Singlish Ho Say Bo

I moved to Singapore in November 2010 for work.  When I first landed, I had a hard time understanding everybody.  From the taxi driver uncles to the store clerks, I had no idea what they were saying and I would just nod my head and agree.  Half the time, I didn’t know what was being discussed.  I got away with smiling and nodding.

Singapore is an multicultural island city-state with many official languages.  These are English, Malay, Putonghua Mandarin and Tamil.  Its only natural that their English would not be the typical American English many are accustomed to.  I was born in the Philippines but grew up in North America.  Filipinos speak good English but we still have our own Filipino twang when we talk.  I can do both Filipino English and American English since I am accustomed to both.  I wasn’t prepared for Singlish at all. It was a bit sing-songy and the pronunciation is totally different.  Lucky for me,  as  a Chinese speaker, I also understood the Singlish Hokkien terms.  Out of the 4 official langues, I can speak two.

It took a few months before I got the hang of it.  Once you’ve grasped the intonation, everything else is easier.  I roll my eyes whenever I hear people add “lah” to every sentence just to say that they’re speaking Singlish.  Its not just “lah”.  There’s a lot more to Singlish than just that one word.  I remember asking my colleagues for the meaning every time I encountered a word or phrase.  You build up your vocabulary and use strategically use them in conversations to show your mastery of the language.

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I even downloaded this app from the App Store called Hosay! and it even shows you how to use the word/phrase in sentences.  Words such as “aiyoh”, “atas”, “ah beng”, “shiok”, “alamak”, “blur” or even “vomit blood” or terms you won’t hear anywhere else.  I admit that I do miss hearing Singlish occasionally since I left Singapore in 2014.  Every time I land at Changi Airport, I get this tingly, good feeling hearing Singlish again for the next few days. 

After almost four years in Singapore, I can do Singlish well enough.  Not like a local, but I can do a spot on Singaporean accent. I can add that to my repertoire of English languages such as Taglish (Filipino English), normal English, and Singlish.

By the way, ho say bo means “all good?”


Happy vs. Joy

Happy vs. Joy

We live in a society wherein the primary objective is to be happy.  Whenever something happens, you ask yourself whether you are happy about it or not.  Before going to bed, you ask yourself whether it was a happy day or not.  It is this state of being that everyone constantly tries to achieve but it seems like the more we try to be happy, the more miserable we end up being.  Why is that so?

Let me quote my second favorite musical of all time, Wicked, and one of the more unappreciated songs sung by Glinda called, Thank Goodness.

(sung) That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:
(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Without consulting dictionary or Google, happiness comes across to me as a feeling that arises based on external situations. According to the song, happiness happens when all your dreams come true.  Then what?  What happens next?  We become so focused on reaching that goal in order to be happy.  We tell ourselves that we will only be happy once we’ve done this, achieved that, gotten this and surpassed that. And when you do get it, you know you will be happy.  You should be.  But have you ever felt a bit let down even when your dream did come true? And that it wasn’t how you anticipated it to be?

I had to grapple with this concept the last few months. In the past, I always thought that being happy was the most important thing in the world.  It was only recently that I realized that I wasn’t really searching for happiness.  I mean yes, who wouldn’t want all their dreams to come true?  I still do.  But I based so much of my self-worth and well-being on external situations and events.  These would be whether I get promoted, get a good bonus, get married and/or have children.  If I achieve it, I’m happy. If not, then I’m not happy.  It’s all very external-based and conditional.  I needed to change my mindset into being happy all the time, whether or not my dreams come true.

I realized there was something that was more important to me than being happy.  And that is joy. Somewhere along the way of trying to achieve my dreams, I seemed to have lost my joie de vivre. I’ve become an automaton. In my search for happiness, I realized that what I was actually looking for was joy. It was what I didn’t know I needed and wanted.  It is that cheerful enjoyment of life that I was looking for.  Whether or not my dreams come true, I will still have that same zest and exuberance for life.  I just want to feel excited to be alive even if it meant doing something new or doing the same thing over and over.  I want to find that sense of joy and wonder again when I was a child.  I want to be amazed at and be in awe of everything. Joy to me is an inner happiness and is unrelated to any external event.  In my mind, that is just how I differentiated between happy and joy.  Joy comes from within whereas happy is derived from the outside.

I still have dreams that I want to achieve.  Whether or not I achieve them, should not affect the unqualified joy I have for living. Sure there will be happiness, sadness, disappointment, contentment and many other emotional states.  What I want to maintain constant is that unwavering vibrancy to life.  Can’t believe it took me a while to realize that.  But I’m still glad I did.

Pinto Art Museum Saturday

Pinto Art Museum Saturday

Last weekend, we decided to go to Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo to get away from the city.  I’ve been there last year with a different group of friends.  We met for lunch and proceeded to sightsee afterwards.

There is an entrance fee of PHP200 to enter and and PHP20 road fee if you want to park your car inside the village.  Everything in this museum is owned by a private collector and this is a residential property converted to a museum.

Some of the modern art pieces are shown below.

It was a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with friends and we got to sit in the al fresco cafe for some much needed catch up stories.


Religious Hodge Podge

I was baptized at a young age (I think 1 year old.) and was raised a Catholic all my life. I went to a Catholic school until I reached university. That’s how it is here. Schools are mostly run by Catholic priests and nuns unless you attended the non-denominational international schools.  Even when we moved to Canada, I still studied at a Catholic all-girls school. That pretty much showed you my religious upbringing.

Both my parents are baptized Catholics, the non-practicing kind.  Both are second-generation so they’re still pretty much traditional in many ways. My dad goes to the temple on required occasions. My mom goes to the Buddhist temples with my grandma. We then went with parents to the  Buddhist temples during Chinese New Year, festivals, on ancestral birth/death anniversaries, and pretty much when she wanted us to.  We had a Buddhist altar in our house. I didn’t find anything off with this practice and figured it was better praying to two Gods instead of one. Good to have all bases covered.

As a child, you accept whatever is taught to you. Back then, children aren’t as precocious as they are now. You just listen, remember and repeat. Easy peasy.  Even though we would go to Buddhist temples with my parents, my mom would still push us to attend Mass every Sunday. Sometimes, you feel like it’s such an effort to go to Church every Sunday. We would look for a Catholic Church while out on trips to make sure we don’t miss Sunday Mass. When traveling to Asian countries, we would also look for temples to drop by and pray.

I was like that till I started working. By then, we weren’t “required” to go to Church every Sunday anymore. I ended up going at most three times a year: Christmas, New Year and Easter.  It turned out that I accompanied my mom more frequently to temples than going to church. I would joke that I was a non-practicing Catholic and a practicing non-Buddhist.

It was only till I reached my late twenties that I started to think for myself more regarding my faith and process how faith and religion affected my daily life. Some may consider what I’ve concluded for myself blasphemous but to each his own. I have reconciled these two religions as a definitive part of my life. In my mind, there is only one God and each culture has interpreted and unified these beliefs and practices to unite their own cohesive community. My definition comes across quite sociological by nature.  The main purpose of religion in my  life is to guide me to live my life accordingly. Religion serves as moral motivation so that people are moved to goodness.  Following this rationale, I’m able to accept that there are other religions out there and that my God is the same as everyone else’s’.

It was only in the last year or so that I have picked up on where I left off when I was younger and became a “more” practicing Catholic. I still go to Buddhist temples whenever mother tells me to.  I’m actually thankful to my mom for “forcing” us to go to Mass every Sunday when we were younger.  I didn’t appreciate it as much then but now I know she tried to instill faith/religion/belief (whatever you want to call it) as a habit or basis for us.  Like a moral compass.  She did so in order for faith and religion to be a foundation of our lives.

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday To Me

This is it.  The day has come and gone.  I just crossed over to a new decade. Gasp! Do I feel any different?  Not really.  I don’t know why I made such a big deal about turning 40 years old.  Okay fine.  I do know why.  It was because I focused on the lack in my life instead of what I had, the blessings in my life.  Whenever I looked at other people, I saw what they had and what I didn’t.  I did stop to think of my blessings but somehow, it always felt like it wasn’t enough.

I am now a decade older and a decade wiser than my thirty-year old self.  I had a great time celebrating my birthday with friends and family filled with love and good wishes.  Here I am writing a belated birthday wish for myself for the coming year.

Dear B.

On this milestone birthday, I wish myself to always be the best I can be. From now until forever. It is a milestone not because I turned 40, but because I was able to process and let go of notions that weren’t helping me grow.  It is difficult to be uncomfortable, but it is through this that I can know more about myself and accept myself.  This way, I can be the person I really need to be, instead of who I think people want me to be.

I wish for myself to always be humble, grateful and to accept people and situations with an open heart.  My wish is to always face the world with a smile because just one smile changes everything. I also wish to live for today, not tomorrow but TODAY because today is what I have.  And what I am today is good.  I am whole and complete right now. 

Happy birthday to me! 😘

Love B.

Life Begins Now

Life Begins Now

It’s not my birthday yet but I decided to change the name of my blog to LIFE BEGINS NOW.  For the first two months of 2017, I was at a low point.  I felt lost and unsure of what to do.  The enormity of turning 40 while still single haunted me.  You can add in my feelings of un-attractiveness to the mix. I was miserable and felt like an utter failure.   It seemed like I failed myself, my family and mostly myself. I was my own worst enemy, my harshest judge and critic.  I had reached the ripe old age of almost forty with nothing to my name. (I exaggerate. I am healthy and so is my family and for that I am grateful.)  And that was why I named it “Confessions of an Almost 40-year old Single Woman.”  I was sad and that was how I saw myself.  Looking at it now with more positive eyes, it felt like I pitied myself.  There’s nothing wrong with 40 and single.  It was all in my mind.

Starting the blog was a way for me to “release” my thoughts.   If you had started reading the posts chronologically, you can sense the sadness and the emptiness.  But as the days went on, I took charge of my life and what is within my power to change things.  I embarked on a lifelong journey to eat healthy and concentrate on fitness. I started doing  more creating instead of just thinking.  I worked on my lip balm experimentation and my arts stuff.  As I planned my blog entries, I felt this sense of empowerment and fulfillment. I was being productive in reality and not just in my mind.

It has only been a month but the positive effects are evident.  I know that I wanted to change the name but I decided on Life Begins Now because I have this tendency to postpone life and happiness until a certain future event occurs like when I get married, when I have a family, when I get rich, when I get promoted or when I get thinner.  But life doesn’t work that way.  I can’t keep postponing happiness.  It has to begin NOW no matter how perfectly imperfect I am.  I choose to be happy and live in the NOW.

If It Isn’t Baroque, Do Not Fix It

If It Isn’t Baroque, Do Not Fix It

Last weekend, we went to watch the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast and it did not disappoint. I have to confess that I did not watch the recent Maleficent and Cinderella. As much as I heard how good they were, I was just not interested.   I just did not connect with the stories. Beauty and the Beast, however, was altogether a different matter. It was just THAT good! I could go on and on about how good it is from the production, to the casting, and everything else. Again, I just have to repeat that the movie is so good that I will go to the theater to watch it again.

It was back in 1991 when the animated movie came out. I loved everything about it then.  Everything! The scenes, the characters and the songs. I was fifteen years old and in junior high. My journey was just beginning. There were so many things I wanted to do and experience. I can totally relate to Belle when she sang:

I want much more than this provincial life!
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they’ve got planned

Fast forward to 2017, twenty-six years later and I am almost turning forty. I’ve learned a lot, experienced many things and yet somehow I still get it when Emma Watson sang the same lines in the movie.

And that’s probably why I still feel this connection to the movie. The emotions and hopes that you feel are real. I was brought back to that time in my life when I was younger. This nostalgia made me feel like a teenager again.   It felt like everything was possible and there’s that sense of wonder.   The adventure doesn’t have to be somewhere else. I wanted much more than the box that I enclosed myself in under the guise of cultural norms and traditions.

The old animated movie was great. They didn’t need to fix much with the new live-action remake because it was great to begin with. Me, on the other hand, am also good. No need to fix, since nothing is broken. I just needed time to look within myself for answers that I’ve been steadfastly ignoring or refusing to acknowledge. It’s ok. I am happy in the present moment and living life to the fullest.