Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Music: My Grown Up Christmas List

As the holidays season is in the air, this Christmas song will always be a classic favourite.

Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well I'm all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child but my heart still can dream

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list

As children we believe
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely wrapped beneath the tree
But Heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal a heartached human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only lifelong wish
This is my grown up Christmas list

Credits to the Youtube video owner.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ten Things I Learned in Marathon

Leg muscles died but manage to smile at the camera 😜
Running my first ever full marathon in the Standard Chartered Marathon here in Singapore is definitely one of the highlights of my 2016. Beyond bucket list moment. An #invest-in-experiences-not-things life goal. This #roadto42k journey did not just made me stronger physically but also thought me significant learnings I never imagine I could gain from running.

1. Respect the distance
Whether you are running 10km or 21km or 42km, you have to do your part in terms of preparation. Distance makes a huge difference when it comes to training. Longer distance means more commitment to training, planning for proper nutrition and choosing the right running gears that will help you endure the distance. Kudos to Rocky who has always been there during our training, constantly reminding us to respect the distance for the distance will not train for itself.

2. Marathon humbles you
Aside from the magnitude distance of marathon - 42.19km or 26.2 miles which is by itself already a humbling reality to a petite-figured girl like me, marathon has thought me resilience and patience. How flexible I am enough to unlearn my old running tricks that does not help and learn new things I can apply to my run. While you need enough confidence, you also need to accept your deficiencies so you can start improving from there. Marathon also stretched my patience through waiting for my leg muscles to fully recover after the run, this means walking slowly and carefully for the next 3 days while my sore muscles are trying to recover.  

3. Training is the marathon
Marathon does not begin in the START line, marathon was conceived the moment you decide in yourself that you're going to do it. It was born the day you started training, because the real marathon is the training. Your marathon journey begun from your rigorous training of short and long distance run, speed training, circuit and cardio exercise. The actual running event is just a demonstration of your training effort.

4. Enjoy the run
Struggles like waking up early(as in 2am) on the actual day to catch the 3am bus to the drop off point. Running under the scorching heat of sun for several hours. Approaching a hydration point which runs out of water. Having your first day of period after more than half way of your marathon. Earphones malfunction on the actual run. While all of the above are enough reason to be irritated, I choose to face them head on and remind myself that I am already in this battle might as well enjoy it. Few years from now, you might not be able to remember the unfavorable situations you've been through but you will always be a marathon finisher.

5. Evaluation is the mother of improvement
Your training enables you to learn more about your body. When likely you get leg cramps, which socks to use to avoid blisters, when your leg or ankle likely to hurt, which shirt or undergarment is comfortable. Things you discover early during your long distance run training allows you to be in better shape on the marathon day itself.  

6. You can if you believe
Your body can achieve, what your mind can conceive. Marathon is not only building physical strength but also mental stamina. Just like how you invest training your body, spend time promoting your psychological preparedness as well because on the actual day when your legs already give up on you, your mind can get you to the finish line.

7. Never try new things in the marathon day
This day is not a good day to be adventurous. A day before the run, just eat what you are used to eat, do not experiment. On the actual day, do not wear anything new - new shoes, new clothes or new gear. Stick to old apparels you have used before while training. This will not only save you money but will also save you from unforeseen disaster like upset stomach or nasty blisters from new shoes.

8. Consistency is vital
Train and know your pace then stick with it. Do not start strong and faster than your usual pace just to exhaust yourself early on the game resulting to less energy at the end. Running constantly at your pace can save you from unnecessary leg cramps. Keep your pace and finish strong.

Garmin moment 😆😜
9. Marathon is a commitment
Commitment of your time, energy and resources. There might be weekend gathering that you need to skip because you are following a training schedule. There could be other physical activities that you need to let go because you're committed to workout routines. There will be necessary running apparel or gears that you need to purchase because it will provide optimal marathon experience. Whether you are giving away your time, energy and resources to marathon, in return marathon gives you back a rewarding sense of accomplishment, confidence in your body and inspiration for others.

10. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
At mile 20, I thought I was dead.
At mile 22, I wish I was dead.
At mile 24, I knew I was dead.
At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to be dead.

Finally marathon does not end in the finish line because post-marathon recovery is equally critical. But while the pain of sore and stiff leg muscles can be disabling, I also learned that pain is temporary. With proper nutrition and recovery tricks you'll be back to your normal routine - a stronger and fitter version of you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ten Reasons Why I Run a Marathon

While some people can find dozen of reasons not to run a full marathon which may seem valid, there are few good reasons why it's worth a try. With proper training and preparation, you can make your first marathon experience pleasant and optimal with less body pain and hopefully no injuries.

Here are ten reasons on top of my head right now why I am choosing to run my first 42.195km in #SCMS2016 marathon this coming December 4, 2016.

1. To tick 'run a marathon' off from my bucket list

2. To have a stronger heart
Running makes your heart stronger and healthier because it gets bigger and able to pump more.
Cardiovascular activity increases the number of new blood vessels, which means more places for blood flow that leads to more efficient circulation. Running also helps lower high blood pressure, improves your blood sugar levels, reduce bad cholesterol and boost LDL "good" cholesterol.

3. For a challenge BIGGER than me
When I run my first 5km in 2009, running 10km never slip my mind. But I was wrong, a year after I found myself running my first 10km which was followed by bunch of 10km runs. Flying to Singapore makes it more viral where there are almost 40 running events yearly hosted by the country that means minimum of 3 opportunities to run every month. After running my first 21km in 2015, I gained more confidence that I could eventually run my first full marathon maybe next year. Sure I needed more push, more training and less procrastination. Thanks to Visa running club and Rocky(our trainor) who have always been passionate in training and running.

4. To keep me disciplined
Running a marathon does not begin in the starting line of the actual event. Running a full marathon begun when you first decided in your mind and heart that you will do it. This should be followed by a rigorous training plan, proper nutrition and constant reminding of yourself that you need to get up, put those running shoes on and run.

5. To prove others who doubted me(including myself) that I can do it

6. For a good night sleep
Running 5-10 kilometers never fails to provide me a sound sleep as I allow my muscles and body to recover over night.

7. To have guilt-free dinners and desserts
One of the best reasons why I run and will continue running. Running allows me to indulge in those sinful, decadent, guilty and divine food once in a while without feeling remorse to myself.

8. So I could encourage my kids(in future) for whatever undertaking they'll have. 
"Sweetheart, sure you can do it, mom did marathon in the past and finish it."

9. To give back 
Organization like GiveAsia together with marathon events(like Standard Chartered) allows you to select charities that you want to support. I share advocacy with Singapore Red Cross and World Vision, you can check my Run for a Cause page through this link.

As this is my first time to run full marathon, I wanted to make a difference by not just finishing the race but dedicating this run to organizations who have big hearts changing the world.
More than just a bucket list moment SCMS2016 is a moment worthwhile for others. A moment of giving back. A moment of change.

Hence this is my simple way of restoring humanity.

10. To learn about my body, its capacity and limitations.
Training and running for a marathon enabled me to discover strength, endurance and determination I never knew I had before.

"Ordinary people know their limits, marathoners push theirs."

Before and aftermath of #SCMS2016 :D
All praises to God! The author of life and my ultimate source of strength!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Doppelganger Moments with Kathy

Research says that finding your doppelganger is one in a trillion chance, that's way far from the actual population we have -- more than 7.4 billion people(and counting) living on planet earth according to this site. Although this study is close to impossible, there are few lucky people who beats the odd and find their real-life look-alike.

Adopted from German word Doppelgänger, consisting of two words Doppel meaning double and Gänger which means walker or goer. Literally it means double of a living person. While fiction portrays doppelganger as paranormal phenomenon, today the word is generally use to describe any person who physically resembles to another person.

Unimaginable as it it can be, I have found my real-life doppelganger in workplace. Personally did not notice the resemblance, it was my close friends who first saw Kathy and told me I have a look-alike in other department. Few weeks later I finally met her, who happen to be Filipino as well and realize we're attending the same church. This doppelganger wonder between me and Kathy became more substantial when overtime more and more people are mistakenly identifying me over her and vice versa, both in church and in the office.

To name a few, here are some of the funny and awkward circumstances that other people wrongly identified us:

** One Sunday, one guy called Kathy with my name, where she answered her name to correct him, this name-calling-game happened twice and consistently Kathy gives her name. Baffled, the guy even ask why we look the same.
** Same Sunday, one girl from Children's ministry(where I am volunteering) called Kathy with my name and thought I was her.
** Different occasion, while I am having lunch with mixed group of men and ladies in my small group. I was introduced to a guy, who is puzzled that I am part of CBD group when he recall that I am the one who introduced him to a certain girl whom I don't recognize. After lunch, I immediately message Kathy if she knew that name and confirmed she was part of their group. This confirmed my assumption that she mistakenly identified me with Kathy.

** While road runner team doing the mannequin challenge shoot, we we're reviewing the video and as the camera pan to Kathy, the man beside me commented "Ooh that is the Girlie post, where is she?" I answered, "Uhmm that is Kathy."
** One guy is asking me about blister tape which I agreed to bring to show him in our Tuesday running session. Kathy arrive early and this same guy approach her asking about the tape. Kathy was lost answering about the tape, thankfully one guy corrected she was not Girlie.
** During badminton, one guy approached me telling me he saw pictures of mine travelling with a girl named Cristine(who happen to be his former colleague) whom I am not familiar with. He even showed me the profile pic of the girl, still no recall in my side. That night I message Kathy if she knew some Cristine, Kathy confirmed it was her housemate whom she had travelled with.
** Kathy bump into a colleague whom she greeted "long time no see" but the girl replied she just saw her yesterday in badminton. Kathy has never played badminton during Mondays for long time, I do.
** One girl saw Kathy in 11F after some chit chat she mentioned she thought Kathy sit in 8F because she used to saw her there. Kathy persists she never sit in 8th. Oh yeah because again I do.    

We were teasing we will both wear a name plate next time. Just in case you're still skeptical here's a photo of me and Kathy. By the way the eyeglasses is a give away so you would know who is who :P


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Indonesia: Water Rafting at Ayung River

Today we are about to crack the famous tourist attraction and an adventurous outdoor activity here in Bali - white water rafting! Yey! We have arranged with our tourguide / driver for an early pick up from our hotel around 7:30 am-ish then travelled more than two hours to reach the Payung Rafting in Ubud.

Ayung River is the longest river on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Flowing from the northern mountain ranges all the way to Badung Strait, Sanur near Denpasar which is 75km stretch.

All geared up! Now where is the raft? :D

Our white water rafting experience starts with gearing up on helmet and lifeguard jacket. Personal belongings like mobile phones, cash and camera are then kept in a water proof bag for safety. We kickoff by descending in the endless hefty-step stairs that takes forever to reach the bottom. Mind you its steep and slippery so you need to be extra careful. After a tiring downhill workout, finally we can hear the splash of the flowing river. The yellow-colored rafts were carefully docked in the side of the river, and after inflating it our guide brief us with things we need to remember during the drill. Instruction keywords like "boom boom" which means 'sit low and hold the rope, we are approaching a fast rapid' (that is just me paraphrasing), "left", "right", "shake your bum", "abante" and "atras," wherein the last two words are both Tagalog terminology which means forward and back respectively. One thing I am amazed about our guide, the moment he realized we are from the Philippines, he talked about PacMan the boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao. Looks like someone cannot hide his inner fanboy (wink, wink).

While it took us almost two hours to traverse this 12km body of water approaching rapids in different levels of difficulty or should I say excitement, the experience was worth all the muscles and energy you put into the paddle to navigate the stream. Ayung river features wild rainforest and impressive waterfalls.

We paid 35SGD/pax all-in for the entire rafting package including the gears, fee for the guide, towels and a buffet lunch after. Not bad huh!

For more details and reservation you may inquire at Payung Rafting with the contact details available in the right banner image.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Jordan: Petra

Petra, the ancient city in the region of Edom also known as the Red Rose City. This archaeological rock-cut architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is famous for its half-built, half-carved into the rock and surrounded by mountain riddles with several passages. Located between Red Sea and Dead Sea, Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom and has been inhabited since 300 BC.

From the Visitors Centre, tourists have the option to walk or ride a donkey all the way to the Entrance to The Siq with fascinating display of rock formations. This narrow canyon passage with delicate rock carvings in the wall leads to the famous Al Khazneh better known as The Treasury which is featured in blockbuster films such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Mummy Returns, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the like. As you continue your journey you will have a chance to visit the Streets of Facades, Royale TombsTheater, Colonnaded Street, Museum and the Monastery.

Petra without a doubt is one of the most elegant remains of antiquity and Jordan's most valuable tourism treasure.

Here are some of the biblical references that points to Petra:

The border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward. --Judges 1:36

He killed of Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000 and took Sela by war, and named it Joktheel to this day. --2 Kings 14:7

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

CCF: Being Good While in the Bad

Joseph is brought to Egypt
Genesis 39-40
Bro. Fred Magbanua

Aside from Jesus Christ, Joseph is one of the few characters in the Bible who has no account of misbehavior or wrongdoing. In previous chapters of Genesis we learned that Joseph, was loved by his father Israel more than any of his sons. At a young age, he had a dream about the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to him, a dream which made his brothers hated him more. His father Israel then sent him to Shechem to find out about his brothers who are herding flocks. But his brothers took this opportunity to get rid of him but Reuben persuaded them to not kill the boy which they agree. Before Reuben could rescue him, Judah urged them to sell Joseph to the Midianite merchants and deceived their father that Joseph was already dead. Joseph was then sold by the Midianites as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt.

Image courtesy of
If you were Joseph, how would you respond when things gets out of hand, when you are placed to uncertainty and security is taken away from you by the same people who are meant to protect you? Not because you did anything wrong. Joseph's story offers us various lessons of refining our character and enduring trust to God. Genesis 39-40 teaches us how to stay good and do the right thing while in bad situation.

Move forward with God no matter what the situation.

The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. --Genesis 39:2-4

The eyes of the Lord is certainly set to the righteous people. He blesses them in spite and despite of their unfavorable situations. God's blessings on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now rests on Joseph. Joseph being a man of God found favor in the eyes of his earthly master because his heavenly master was with him.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. – Psalm 1:1

This is definitely not a prosperity message, Joseph without wrongdoing was betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave, not so fortunate situation. But this did not stop him from seeking God. In spite of his lowest position as a slave, he exhibits good character, faith in God as a result the Lord bless him.
Joseph could have ran away from God, worked without joy, became negative and operated without God in mind, but instead he believed God is in control, worked heartily, remained expectant and trusted God.
Similarly, are we representing Christ's nature to others? Are we living out our belief not only in the church but in the workplace and home? Are we good witnesses of Jesus Christ?

Move forward with God despite previous successes.

Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him – Genesis 39:19-21

Joseph when faced with a potentially compromising situation, he knew exactly what to do – run. Run away from temptation. But despite being loyal to his master by avoiding Potiphar's wife Joseph ended up in prison. Once again obeying the Lord landed him to a seemingly failure situation. Imagine from a favored son to becoming a slave then eventually in prison could have been overwhelming journey for Joseph. But even in prison, Joseph remained faithful and operated with God in mind, thus the Lord was with him.

Move forward with God despite being forgotten.

After sometime, the chief cupbearer and the baker both offended their master and sent to the prison. They are both placed under Joseph's custody.

Why are your faces so sad today?” Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.” – Genesis 40:7-8

Notice how Joseph as an administrator showed concern and kindness to people under his care. He asked them about their dream and pointed them to God as the source of understanding. Joseph explained the meaning of their dreams and after three days both interpretations happens just as Joseph said.

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. --Genesis 40:23

The cupbearer could have forgotten Joseph, but the Lord did not forget about him. God is sovereign who allowed Joseph to be sold as a slave in Egypt, but continue to be with him so he found favor in his master; locked up in prison for doing what is right; eventually becoming in charge of all Egypt and second most powerful man next to the Pharaoh.

There are times that we can't see where God is leading us and we don't understand why bad things happen to good people. But one thing is for sure, we can continue hanging on to God and know that He is in full control, the One who causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him.

Transcribed by:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Vietnam: Hanoi Hoy!

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city in the country is known for its centuries-old architecture and rich culture with fusion of Southeast Asia, Chinese and French influences. We visited during the month of March which is cool and mostly dry winter season. The chilling temperature between 15 to 22 degree Celcius on an average, was perfect for a leisure walk around Old Quarter area either for food expedition, cultural journey or shopping spree. The narrow streets of Old Quarter are roughly arranged by commercial products, which makes it fascinating to explore. It is like a whole city of marketplace with diverse line of merchandise. 

Along Ma May Street where Hanoi Guest House is also located(85 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem Hanoi), we found a traditional Vietnamese house(87 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem Hanoi)

Ma May Street once located on the bank of the Red river was a very lively commercial harbor. It is consisted of two small streets: Hang May and Hang Ma. Hang May, located near the pier, specialized in the selling of rattan and bamboo products, Hang Ma, close to Hang Bac Street, sold votive papers. At the beginning of the 19th century, the two streets were combined into Ma May Street.

This traditional house was built at the end of the 19th century. Shopkeepers' families lived there successively until 1945, when a family bought it to sell herbal medicine. In 1945, the government requisition the house and five families settled down there until 1999. This house has been restored within the cooperation agreement between Hanoi and Toulouse(France) cities and was inaugurated on the 27th October 1999. Since then, the house helps to promote at local and international levels the cooperation projects, and more specifically to present the Vietnamese architecture and building techniques. It was recognized as Vietnamese National Heritage in 2004.

(Excerpts from Hanoi Old Quarter Heritage Information Center voucher)

Few minutes walk away from Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem Lake("Hồ Hoàn Kiếm" in Vietnam which means "Lake of the Returned/Restored Sword") and Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre of the small island. Hoan Kiem Lake is a scenic spot where it is interesting to observe mixture of locals and tourists. 

Just be very careful while crossing the high way towards the lake as a force of motorbike riders who are dashing through the streets have invaded the roads. Definitely not a walk in the park experience. One word you have to keep in mind as you cross the streets - FEARLESS. Just keep going, cut across as if there is no motorcycles on your way. I know this is not the most practical and safest advice you're heard, but believe me. One Vietnamese friend of mine says, just cut through the street without hesitations, the motorbike riders will be the one to adjust for you. Well thank goodness, we went home in one piece.  

Local artists offering on the spot painting service

As night unfolds, Hanoi area transforms itself into multitude of bar, music joints, food quest, cultural shows and night market. 

3D hand-made colorful cards for all occassions
Glaiza sneeking in the the kitchen
Artist Thahn Nguyen Duc
Sidewalks turned into food hubs
Street lights
Colorful lantern Vietnamese Restaurant
Street foods
Vietnam cultural street shows
Streets of Old Quarter at night
Local Vietnamese singer
Finding Glaiza