Thursday, April 14, 2011

From my brother

This is a response to my last blog, sent as an e-mail from my brother. I love how it's written, and so I've asked him if I can share it here. I don't necessarily agree with it all, but I like the alternative perspective.
By way of introduction: My younger brother and I are two VERY different people: I'm the hippy to his yuppy, the gypsy to his entrepreneur. However, we have learned over the years to live with our opposing philosophies (on almost every aspect of life!) - and now, as we grow older, it seems our ideas are beginning to converge more and more, moving towards each other to meet somewhere in the middle of the highway of spirituo-intellectual existence.
Without further ado, here it is, (with a few explanatory comments from me in italics). I love you, baby bro. xxx

"So I got up really early this morning and came into the office. I read your blog again and thought I’d post a comment or two. What happened was that I started writing and it turned into a full page. So instead, I decided to mail to you instead. Read through it, and decide yourself whether or not you want it posted.

Love you.

I agree with much of what you've written. The "News" as projected to the masses is (much of the time) a load of shit. A few years ago, in the early stages of IV Systems (the company which my brother single-handedly and successfully set up, and still runs today), I decided to get rid of my TV. Because I was working from home, it was too much of a distraction. But I still wanted to know what was happening in the world. This was in the days prior to ADSL, and internet connectivity was expensive and incredibly slow. So, I got rid of my TV, and started buying the newspaper daily. I have never been so depressed in my entire life. The amount of horrific, unnecessary bloodshed and human depravity in the world was mind boggling. Needless to say, after 2 short weeks, I went to get my TV back.

While I was always aware that these things were happening, they were always in the back of my mind. But what really bothered me is not that these things happen – unfortunately they have happened throughout history, and will continue to happen well into the future. What bothered me was that out of a newspaper with about 20 news pages, 19 were dedicated to rape, murder, political greed and religious hatred, while one page (sometimes less) was for the “feel-good” stories.

The point I’m attempting to make, however long winded, is that the media is responsible for much of the negativity in the world today. The reality is that people want to read about it. Perhaps it makes them feel better about their own circumstances. What they fail to realize is that reading more positive publications, in any form, will lift their spirits. And positivity spreads like wild fire. Unfortunately, so does negativity – possibly faster. It’s much easier to complain about what you don’t have, than be grateful for what you do.

Now, this brings me onto another point related to your latest blog. While I agree with your statements that the world is run by greed, and money = power, I don’t believe money (or power) is a bad thing. In fact, I love money. It’s my greatest passion. Making it, spending it, the freedom it allows me. I love making deals, buying, selling, investing.
Someone I love and care deeply about needed textbooks to be bought and shipped across the world last month (that would be ME, of course - his adored sister. HA HA. ;) ). Had I not been in a financial position to do it, another solution would have needed to be found. I have no doubt that one would have, but it would have been a pain. The point is, money is not a bad thing, but an understanding of the parallels between money and the Universe is imperative. Money, like everything else, has its own energy – connected to Universal energy, and needs to cycle. Greed is not an option. The fact that I was able to do what I did, made me feel great! Helping someone I love, making their life easier, is a phenomenal feeling. And when you feel good, the Universe responds. It really is as simple as that!

Money is a tool. A tool that can be used for good, or not-so-good. I’m not suggesting people should give all of their money away – I know I won’t. I’m far too attached to it. But if you have it – spend it on things that make you happy. Certainly invest or save some. But don’t hold it all back – if it doesn’t go out, it can’t come back in.

I’d love to conclude with a deep, spiritual statement about how I would rather be poor and happy, than rich and unhappy, but unfortunately, the truth is money makes me happy. The disclaimer though, is how much money is enough? It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately, and the conclusion is, quite simply, enough to do the things that make me happy. Today it’s one thing, tomorrow it may be another."

Some pics from the last time I saw my baby brother, taken last June when he came here for my wedding. What a magical few weeks those were. :)
Until next time, dear readers. Mwah! xox

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Musings of a Melancholy Mind in Limbo

It’s hard to become oblivious to what’s going on in this world and simply enjoy your life. But sometimes I feel like it’s the only way to survive. I’ve tried to steer clear of politicizing my blog since I started it. Everyone who knows me knows too that I have VERY strong opinions on most things, and politics is no different. But after spending a large chunk of my 20s embroiled in student politics, and having my illusions shattered and my heart broken by what I felt was my own personal failing in smashing the status quo and heralding in a new world order that was JUST, and GOOD - I took several steps back.

I stopped reading newspapers, I actively stopped watching the “News” on TV (although the term “News” should be used very lightly – biased propaganda does not a news report make). I immersed myself in everyday living: partying, relationships, a typical selfish existence which most of us lead. Moving to Asia also made it easier to slide into political oblivion – I could quite easily avoid paying attention to news that was speaking to me in Mandarin! Sure, there was always cable TV and English-language newspapers to turn to – but I didn’t WANT to know. The really important stories would filter into my world anyway – from my knowledgeable and intelligent friends. I would still get involved in debates, but less vocally, less heatedly.

It infuriates me what is going on in the world. It is shameful that the world is run by GREED. Money = power. More money = more power. Wars are waged on ridiculous premises, all in the name of the great god of our capitalist world: MONEY.

Or even better – RELIGION. Because THAT’S what your god wants you to do – KILL EACH OTHER. Hate breeds more hate… breeds more hate… ad infinitum. The knowledge that religion and spirituality is about LOVE – for the Universe, for each other, for our world, for whatever god you believe in – seems to be entirely lost on most members of the major religions these days.

I remember coming home 3 Fridays ago to news that there had just been a devastating earthquake in Japan and an ensuing giant tsunami, and that the Philippines was at risk of being hit by another giant tsunami in a few hours time. There’s nothing quite like suddenly facing your own mortality to make you re-think things. For a few short hours, I was plunged into depths that I had been refusing to plummet for so long, forced to really LOOK. With wide open eyes. The picture was chilling.

A few days later, after the threat of the tsunami had passed here in the Philippines, the news-media was suddenly awash with a new threat: that of a nuclear disaster. Alarming texts were being sent around Asia – warnings of radiation poisoning, how to avoid it, what to do in case of emergency… It was terrifying. This dark, imperceptible threat loomed large upon the Japanese horizon, no-one knew exactly what was going on, whether there was a cause for concern or not, what the fallout would be.

I found myself dwelling on things that I haven’t allowed myself to think too deeply about for a long time. I fear that if I do, I will begin to drown in the sadness. The fact is – we are KILLING our world. Nature is being destroyed at an alarming rate. I don’t need to start quoting statistics about sea life being wiped out by over-fishing, about animals becoming extinct daily, about pollution and waste and deforestation and and and…!!! Not to mention all the socio-political NONSENSE. It's abhorrent. Politicians lying to their populations, wasting money on war, instead of feeding their people, relying on distraction and dishonesty to push their selfish agendas at the expense of the masses... Children starving, homeless people, poor and desperate souls all over the world… It's enough to break your heart.

I remember when I was in India – by far the most difficult country for me to travel through, as I felt every day like I was being bombarded with sadness. In India it’s tangible. You smell it, you see it, you live it. I remember waking up every morning and talking to myself, steeling myself for the day ahead, giving myself pep-talks about how I wasn’t going to be sad about what I see, about how I need to block out the poverty and misery, and focus instead on the beautiful things: on the bright colours of the clothing draped elegantly, on the sound of the women’s anklets as they jingled down the street, on the kindness of the strangers who insisted on sharing their lunch with me on trains, on the bright smile of a child waving from a platform.

I see my month in India as a metaphor for my life. I once wore only black. I had multiple facial piercings which I hid behind, and an aggressive hardness that I used as a shield. All the while inside I was drowning in a way that only an over-emotional, romantic young philosopher can drown within themselves. I lamented, I wept, I sank. And then I learned that that attitude was pointless. It wasn’t helping me, it wasn’t helping the world. I accepted that the impact that I make on this world, and the way in which the world presents itself to me, is entirely dependent upon ME, and that I must make of it what I can, and what I will. So I started wearing bright colours. I started covering myself in - and surrounding myself with - things that shine and sparkle. I became frivolous and flighty and flippant. And it was wonderful, and liberating, and FUN!

But it wasn’t ALL me. It was real enough, it just wasn’t complete. And that’s what I’ve been realizing in the past year or two. I am trying to balance the sides, the energies, the dark and light, the troubled intellectual and the fanciful flake. The scales, I find, seem to sway heavily to one side… almost all the way down… before the balance changes again. Perhaps one day it’ll be only slight sways from one side to the other? Eventually, what I hope will guide me is my profound optimism, my unshakeable hope, and an unerring belief that somehow – ALWAYS – everything will turn out fine. Because really – what else CAN we believe in?

Sending love and light to you all, wherever you are in this world. xoxox

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More than just a beautiful beach

I just had a lovely, lovely weekend, and it didn’t involve me going to the beach at all!

I usually come home exhausted on Friday evenings. After a week at work, all I want is to be in SILENCE. To not have to talk, or think, or be aware in any way. Hubby and I have always had a great understanding – we are not attached at the hip. We do our own thing, follow our own plans, and can happily go out without each other and still *gasp* have a good time! ;-)

So last Friday, D had plans to go out with his friends. PERFECT. I relish nights on my own. I love cooking dinner for myself, while I futz around online without feeling guilty for ignoring my man, I love sipping on a glass of cold wine while I watch period pieces and musicals and silly romantic comedies (all the movies I could never put D through in good conscience), and I love just BEING.

Then to fall asleep and be woken by my slightly drunken, freshly showered (D always showers before bed, no matter how drunk he is when he gets home), incredibly loving and oh-so-sweet hubby crawling into bed and cuddling… NIIIIICE.

Then all of Saturday, D was teaching kite-boarding on the beach, and I had promised myself that I would hit my studies. I tried. I swear I did. I did some, but not nearly enough to even mention. But I had another great day to myself! I made myself a supremely delicious frittata, had an hour-and-a-half Skype call with my 2 best girls in Taiwan, where we laughed and bonded and chatted and pretended we were all in the same room (never mind the same country!), watched another movie, caught up on another girlfriend in London’s blog (scandalous yet wonderful!), and just enjoyed the sunshine falling on my lush tropical garden from the comfort of my living room. HEAVEN!

That morning I had woken up craving a seafood extravaganza. And what better night for it than Saturday! Before I knew it, I had rounded up 12 friends to head out to the wet market for a veritable feast! I LOVE the wet market. It’s the cheapest and freshest seafood on the island, and you can really treat yourself like a queen! You choose your food while it's still alive, buying it by weight, and then take it to any of the numerous eateries dotted immediately around the live food display, and choose how you would like it prepared. We ended up with a table brimming and overflowing with goodies! Coconut curry crab, ginger and garlic clam soup, baked oysters, peri-peri prawns, garlic butter prawns, baked cheese and garlic scallops, sweet and sour grilled fish… Ah! My mouth waters just at the memory! The night was crowned by some dancing at my favourite beach bar – toes in the sand, waves breaking just metres away, rain falling all around, wind blowing… magic.

Good friends + good food = HAPPINESS

On Sunday again I debated going to lie on the beach and get some sun, but opted instead for a lunch with my girl Anny, who’s awesome. Ice-cold beers, Japanese food, on a balcony overlooking the sea. Good, honest, positive conversation, lots of laughs, tremendous tales… too good!

And just to top of this perfect foodie weekend, my husband and my lovely friend Anna tag-teamed on a home-made tuna and salmon sushi dinner on Sunday night that was simply wonderful.

Good food, good friends. It takes so little to make me happy, really. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mid-term Break

A MAJOR perk of being a teacher is the time off. I won't pretend otherwise. It's rather spectacular to get approximately 12 weeks off a year, of paid leave.
However, before you all start cursing my luck, let me put it into perspective for you a little: When was the last time you spent 7 hours a day with a child? Now times that by 5 - for every day of the week. Now times that by 13, which is the number of kids that I teach. AND THERE YOU HAVE IT: We teachers DESERVE all the time off that we get!!!

Teaching is draining, and exhausting. You are constantly carrying the energy of an entire room. You have to be strong, supportive, encouraging, patient, loving, firm... all the time. You hold the psyche of an individual in your hands. You can either crush someone's spirit, or make them shine - with a single sentence. It is a COLOSSAL responsibilty, and a COLOSSAL gift. I love what I do, but even I need to recharge sometimes.
Me with my TA and our kids on the last day of school for 2010

And so, when I get even a mere week off from teaching, I RELISH it. I had grand plans to start studying in the break. My coursework packs for my Postgraduate Certificate in Education arrived a few weeks ago, and I keep making myself futile promises of getting to them. I think my excitement started to wane after I unwrapped the package, however. This IS studying, and studying IS hard. I am infinitely excited to start, but I am also painfully lazy and a fantastic procrastinator - my entire University career was something of a fluke, which I owe in large part to simply taking excellent notes in lectures and having an exceptionally good short-term memory when sleep-deprived.
Woohoo!!! My study materials arrive! So exciting!

Anyway. On the first day of the break, I managed to sort everything out: Read the study packs for each of the 7 subjects, get my head around when my assignments are due and what I need to do for each of them, and compile a list of the necessary textbooks that I need to buy and order online (This part is actually harder than it seems: I need to find the books online - of course, they aren't all available at the same place! - then arrange for them to be shipped to my brother in Johannesburg, who in turn will mail them to me to a friend's sister's house in Manila, who will then send them to me here in Boracay. Whew!)

Anyway, that done, I decided to relax. And never quite managed to look at the textbooks again for the rest of the week! What I DID do is read a lot, watch a lot of movies, sleep, cook, and relax. I spent 2 beautiful days at the beach, watching the sun set with good friends and enjoying my island, and went out to our favourite local bar (which is on the beach) where we danced in the moonrise and laughed like children.

I've been back at school for a few days now, and I feel like a new person. Sometimes all you need is 5 days to yourself to feel human again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Valentine's Surprise

This past week, D and I shared our first Valentine's Day together as a married couple. We had discussed it briefly the day before, and had decided that - as we had always done previously - we would simply ignore the made-up, fake holiday and celebrate our love whenever WE chose to, and decided to, and were inspired to. We made loose plans to go out for a nice fancy meal later in the week, and left it at that.

Mid-morning on Monday, D texts me at work, telling me he's going out grocery shopping, what wine should he get for the house? I respond by saying "Hey! Let's go shopping together later instead!" (It's this weird thing I have - I really love the ordinary-ness, the domesticity, the coupley-ness, of shopping together for the basics for our home. There's something about it that just makes me happy, in a very old-fashioned housewife kind of way.)

Anyway, my husband texts me back with: "You can't meet me because I'm shopping for the surprise dinner I'm making for you tonight." !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaaaawwww!!! SO CUTE! So we decide that I would get the drinks, and he would do the food. I settle on a delicious Argentine Malbec wine, as D doesn't really like white wine, and although it's a little pricey, it IS a special occassion. (Someone mentioned Malbec on FaceBook last week, and it reminded me of my days in Buenos Aires, where we drank at least a bottle of that - or some other delicious red wine - daily. I'd been craving some good, robust red wine.) I also bought some French champagne - nothing too lavish, but bubbles are a veritable MUST at any celebration, and this was DEFINITELY a celebration!

I came home to a table laden with candles, my FAVOURITE cheese (Cambozola - a super-creamy gorgonzola blended cheese), fresh wholewheat baguette, and delicious buttery salmon sashimi and sushi rolls.

My husband very proudly showed me that, upon closer inspection, it was clear to see that he had rolled all the sushi himself, and made it into the shape of a heart!

Not only was the meal DELICIOUS, but it was all so lovingly and carefully prepared, and THAT'S what made it so amazing. D had run around our tiny island where things are so hard to get, and sought out seaweed wrap, fresh salmon which he himself cleaned and cut and rolled and prepared, he bought all of my favourite things that he knew would make me happy ...! We topped dinner off with some yummy steaks, which went PERFECTLY with the juicy Malbec, to round off the evening beautifully.

As to what happened after THAT... Well, I know my husband would be the first to assure you that all of his hard work most certainly paid off... ;)

I hope that every day is a day filled with love for you all. xoxox

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Weekend for the Record Books

I just had an UNBELIEVABLE weekend!!! AMAZING!!! The best one I’ve had in AGES! I woke up on Monday morning feeling INCREDIBLE!

Do you want to know what I did this weekend? AB-SO-LUTE-LY NOTHING. And it was blissful. Boracay is well known in the Philippines and – even beyond that – in much of South East Asia as THE party island. It is. There’s always something going on, always a bar pumping out music, always a drinks special to take advantage of, and as island-locals – it’s always someone’s birthday, or special event, or promotional party of some sort… In short, finding time to do NOTHING is a rare treat indeed.

This weekend I watched a ton of movies and series that I’ve been downloading over time, I slept a lot, I e-mailed a lot, I ate a lot of junk food… and that’s practically all I did.

Well – wait. We also tried to nurse a baby toko back to health. Tokay Gecko’s, known as Toko’s in the Philippines, are BEAUTIFUL. They grow to be about 30cm long, and are grey-blue in colour and have these bright orange spots on them. We have one that lives in our roof, and comes into the house in the evenings, hanging out on the wall eating the bugs swirling around the lights.
Tony the Toko, hanging out on our wall.

Anyway, we’ve grown quite fond of our Tony the Toko (as is clear by the fact that we've named him). We're slightly worried that he’s been eaten by one of the local cats as we haven’t seen him in about 2 weeks now. Anyway, Hubby rescued a tiny baby toko from the evil clutches of our neighbour’s cats on Friday, and we thought we’d look after him for a while, until he didn't seem so terribly traumatised by the event. He was so little – the size of my thumb! – and seemed to be blind, as his pupils didn’t dilate at all. We force-fed him some water, and I even caught a tiny moth which we put into his mouth for him, but he spat it out. By Sunday morning though, the little guy had died. We were so sad! RIP, little one!Tony up close. The colouring is quite remarkable!

And that was really the extent of my weekend. That was the most active thing we did. But it feels SO GOOD to have a weekend like that again. To not have to go anywhere, or do anything at all. To collapse on the couches in the lounge in a pizza-induced food coma and fall asleep to the latest James Bond film, to cook home-made pasta on a Sunday night and devour it together with my love while getting lost in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”… THESE are the things that make me truly happy.

I think I may keep up this pattern in future. I feel FANTASTIC.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Island Hoppin' to Scenic Cebu

So after a brief 3 and a half days of work following the madness of the FunBoard Cup, off I went for another adventure! This time, Hubby and I joined some friends and their visiting family members and set off for a long-weekend getaway. We flew into Cebu, and then took a 2 hour boat-trip to Bohol – a beautiful little island famous for its pristine beaches and unique wildlife (more about that later).

We arrived, checked into the hostel, and set off for a DELICIOUS, authentic Thai lunch on Alona White Beach. Next, we got geared up and got on the boat for 2 consecutive scuba dives. The first dive was a little uncomfortable for me – I didn’t have enough weight and kept floating up, then ended up over-compensating for it and going too far down… ugh. The second dive was magical. I love being underwater. There is something so beautiful and peaceful about hearing only your own breathing. I love how everything underwater has its own rhythm… everything sways in the current… to… and fro… Magic. The corals are spectacular and other-worldy, and Hubby and I stayed back from the group, holding hands as we swam. Breathtaking.

That night we went to an exceptionally good French restaurant, where I had escargots – for the first time in almost 10 years, I’d guess! Also delicious caribou cheese salad – creamy and spicy and decadent. Dori fish and crème brulee topped off what has been the best meal I’ve had in ages… bliss.

Day 2 we filled with sight-seeing. Our friends (one of the couples we’d come with) know the island very well, and hired a van with a driver to take us around and see as much as possible in our limited time there. We got to see Prony, the largest python in captivity (I don’t quite know WHERE, exactly – only in the Philippines, or in Asia, or in the world. Either way.) I also saw tarsiers, which are the CUTEST, teeniest little things ever!!! Smallest primates in the world, native to the Philippines, they look like little adorable furry gremlins – with the biggest bug-eyes you’ve ever seen! Want want want!!!THIS is a tarsier!!!THIS is how tiny they are!!!
Me and my little friend MJ, and Prony the Python.

We had lunch on a floating restaurant, on a cruise down the Loboc River, saw beautiful old churches and buildings, and went up to see the Chocolate Hills too – approximately 1800 mounds created from coral deposits, rain water, and erosion… and the passing of time.The Chocolate Hills

I loved this trip. It made me feel a little like a traveler again – traversing lands previously unknown (to me), discovering more beautiful parts of the world, experiencing the power and wonder of nature and the natural world that we as humans take for granted all-too-often…

I loved doing this with my husband too. We haven’t had much opportunity to travel together, and he’s an ideal travel-mate. Calm, relaxed, quietly appreciative of everything around him…

After a mad dash around Cebu before our afternoon flight – we caught a Sunday mass at a beautiful, grandiose 500 year old church, practically overflowing with pious Filipino Catholics; got our fast-food fix at Dunkin’ Donuts and later KFC, both of which we’re deprived of on our island; and a “big-city shopping-mall” experience – we were back on the plane and ready to head home.

And there is nothing quite like coming “home” to turquoise waters, palm trees, and sun. I love our little Boracay. I really do. I don’t know how long we’ll stay here, and when anyone asks, I always say “As long as we’re happy.” And we are. We really, truly are.

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Hostess with the Mostest"

So last week I had to draw on my superhuman energy reserves to get through 6 days of non-stop go-go-go action, from early morning until the wee hours of the night! Apart from my regular work schedule, I was also asked to be the hostess of the Boracay International Funboard Cup competition: an annual kite boarding and wind surfing competition held practically on my doorstep.

Every day the competitors would race (while I was at work), and then every evening there was a fun event planned – all around the theme of Reality TV shows! We had a Welcome dinner that ended in a Fear Factor challenge, an 80’s party that involved a Project Runway make-your-own-crazy-costume challenge, a fashion show for the sponsors coinciding with a Boracay’s Next Top Model night, a VERY elegant White Party (cocktails and raffles), and then a Boracay’s Got Talent competition on the last night – where my very butch and manly husband lip-synched his way through a 5-man Spice Girl drag cabaret act, complete with make-up (self-applied!), purple wig, and sexy corset and hot pants!!! (See pic)

Initially I found it rather daunting, to be honest. I have never hosted anything before, and to suddenly be standing in front of a room full of mostly strangers, introducing sponsors that I’ve never met before, with a TV camera light shining directly in my face and blinding me… whew!!! But as the days progressed and time wore on, I eased into the role completely, and by the end of it all I was casual, comfortable… and so exhausted that I had no more energy to be nervous!!! :)

The dinners were delicious, the parties were fun, and I relished the opportunity to get dressed up and made up (and even wear high heels again!) for 6 nights in a row! Of course, when it was all over, I was delighted to have a break again, and go straight back into my easy-breezy low maintenance island existence.

But I feel honoured that I was asked to do this. I am blessed at the opportunities which present themselves to me, and I can only hope that I portrayed this joy and gratitude in the delivery. I like to think that I did.

By Sunday, I was DEAD. But delighted. After a full day in bed, watching movies, eating junk, cuddling with my handsome hubby, and basking in the glow of my life, I am ready to hit the world again with full force! Next week we're going away to Bohol with friends. Watch this space! xox

Your happy hostess.

The Spice Girls! (Hottie in the purple wig = Husband)

Me 'n mah grrrls. We ROCK the 80's!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day

WELCOME TO 2011 !!!

Today seems the perfect day to begin this years' blogging! What a week it's been!

Firstly, I'm back at work - back into the swing of things, back into my everyday/ idyllic life - after my first ever family Christmas with my new Filipino in-laws. And the holidays were FUN! New Year's Eve on Boracay Island is an insane affair, with giant platforms filled with fireworks rigged about 50 metres into the sea. The island virtually EXPLODES in bright, beautiful colour and light and noise for over 30 minutes. In a word: SPECTACULAR!!!

Secondly, with the help of 2 beloved friends and a beloved father-of-a-friend, I have managed to register for a postgrad degree in Education this year! This is something I've been meaning to do for years now, but the thought of wading through South African bureaucracy to collect all the necessary paperwork and then submit said paperwork to more bureaucratic institutions made me numb. Friends (with dads) in high places made it all happen! I even have my exam dates already! So I'll be studying part-time via correspondence for the next 2 years, at the end of which I'll be renting a lovely little place in Cape Town for 3 months with my 2 wonderful co-conspirators while we fulfill the practical teaching requirement. Happy Days! I'm SO psyched for this!

Then today, I had a meeting with someone from the mayor's office, and I will be getting my official volunteer card made up imminently! Ever since I got here, I've wanted to get involved in how things work and how things are run on the island! I want to make things BETTER! I want to change things, implement sound policies, save the beauty that still exists before it is devoured by the greed-monster - rather than be one of those people who sits around complaining and does NOTHING. That's just not my thing. Obviously. Soooooo... THAT'S going to be an exciting addition to this year too!

And finally - the Boracay FunBoard Cup starts next week and I've been asked to be one of the hosts of the party events at night! What a rush! What an honour! Granted, I probably just got the gig because I have a REALLY big mouth and am particularly good at telling people what to do... but still. My role will be to run the games evenings and such. There are so many fun nights lined up - I can't wait!

Apart from that - I am still loving my friends, loving our home, loving my island, loving my students, loving nights out, and deeply and profoundly and oh-so-sweetly in love with my darling husband.

Life is good, life is beautiful, and here's to a fabulous new year!!! It's turning out just GRAND so far...