Sunday, April 29, 2012

Family Reunions

I just learned that my relatives from my dad's side are organizing a family reunion on May 1. I'm a bit sad that I'll miss the event but somehow I feel more thankful that I'm thousand miles away and won't be able to attend. I guess I just have a lot of issues with my dad's sisters and it was even made worse with what happened at the last family reunion I've attended last Christmas when I was on a holiday in the Philippines.

I'm not out to any members of my family and my sexuality has somehow became a taboo topic ever since my mom and dad confronted me about it almost 6 years ago. They never asked me about any girlfriends or about my plans of getting married and setting up a family of my own. I guess they just don't want to know what the real score is. That silent arrangement actually works for me. However, I know that I cannot expect the same sensitivity from other people which include my relatives.

Last Christmas, while we're all having lunch, one of my aunts who I haven't seen in years, instead of asking me how I was, suddenly blurted out the question any closeted PLU will dread to be asked with.

"Alex, when are you getting married?"

I was caught off-guard but I tried to sound indifferent with my reply.

"Ah, matagal pa po siguro, I'm still enjoying being single..."

I thought that she just wanted a small talk and that will be an enough answer but I was wrong. I felt like being probed with her follow-up question.

"Do you even have a girlfriend?"

I was very brief with my answer.

"Wala po eh..."

One of my cousins even made a joke.

"Alex magmomonghe ka ba?"

I chose not to respond to my cousin and just gave her a smile. Another aunt joined the conversation.

"Mabuti yan. At least spoiled ang mom at dad mo sayo!"

However, she made another comment which I don't think was well thought of on her part.

"Si Luke (referring to one of my cousins), mukhang walang kahilig hilig din sa babae. Iniisip namin na bakla siguro yun!"

Using simple logic, it became clear what my aunts think of me.

Later that day, it was my grandma's turn to ask the same questions. However, unlike my aunts, I felt that her questions are out of a genuine concern for me.

"You'll need a wife someday who will take care of you Alex..."

My grandma also gave a vital insight as to what my mom's take on me getting married.

"I tried to open this topic to your mom but she said to not just talk about it"

That was one uncomfortable Christmas and family reunion for me. As much as I love my dad, I swore to myself I would never go to a family reunion with his side of the family again.

I've realized that when I was younger, my reply to those questions were easy. I had a girlfriend before and even though we've already broken up ages ago, I always claimed that we're still together just to shut the questioning at once. If I didn't feel like lying I would sometimes play the "too young and still struggling with my career card". But I think I'm currently in a point of my life where I already accepted who I am so instead of telling them a  made up a story that would please them I just tried to give the most honest response. The rest of the details, I would rather keep to myself, to some selected friends and hopefully in the future when the right time comes, to my family. They are the only persons who have the right to know.

I'm on a marrying age with a stable career and I know that people will keep asking me the same questions over and over again. Right now, I'm playing the "mysterious eligible bachelor card" which I hope will still be effective for 5 to 7 years more. After that, I really need a sound plan and I am thinking of relocating to far away place where no one knows me. But for the meantime, I guess my plan is to just try to avoid family reunions as much I could.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Travel Notes: Germany (Fussen)

From Berlin's city center, we then have to go to Tegel airport to catch our flight to Munich. Going to Tegel airport was such a mission. Luckily, a Filipina overheard us conversing in Tagalog and gave us directions otherwise we were bound to miss our flight. We then rented a car from the Munich airport for a road trip to Fussen.

2nd Stop: Fussen

From memory, the drive to Fussen took us more or less 3 hours. Dominic took charge in driving as I don't have any driving license. I merely served as an entertainer keeping everyone awake as it was already past midnight during that time. Good thing that we brought a navigator as it would be hard to locate our hotel by just relying on the road signs.

We checked in at Hotel Seespitz which is situated near a lake. This was the view that greeted us in the morning:

The view was breathtaking. I felt like I was in a movie or a dream. I can stay all day admiring this view with a good book and a cup of coffee by my side. But we had to go to the main reason why we were in Fussen, the Neuschwanstein Castle.

The construction of Neuschwanstein castle began in 1869 as commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was said that Ludwig II wanted this castle to be perfect that it was still unfinished until his death in 1886. Nevertheless, the Neuschwanstein castle is considered as one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. In fact, it served as an inspiration for some of the Disney fairy tale castles. I remember receiving an email thread about the places considered as "heavens on earth" and Neushwanstein castle is one of those places. I guess I was lucky, I have been to heaven.

Neuschwanstein Castle
The castle is even more picturesque during winter. Here's a picture I got from the internet:

We then had lunch at a restaurant with the castle as the background. I had pork knuckles for main course and strawberry crepe for dessert.

Pork knuckles. The closest thing to crispy pata in Europe.

Strawberry crepe and icecream

On the following day, we drove further to a place where they say you can get a good view of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It's like being in three countries at once. I felt for Dominic as the drive was a bit long. We actually had crossed the border of Austria getting to that place. Unfortunately, it was too foggy that afternoon.

The only consolation for the long drive is the magnificent view of the countryside
It was too foggy. Even a ferry ride wouldn't guarantee that we will get the view that we want. 
We just had a picnic and left the place quite earlier than what we have originally intended. We stopped by a nearby town.

I forgot the name of the small town
Food trip once again. This time trying out the breads.
This is where my blogger profile pic was taken

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ikaw Lamang

I was trying to kill my boredom by doing a movie marathon, alternating between foreign and local films when I heard this familiar song from the movie Dubai:

I didn't realize that this song is a soundtrack of this movie. This is the song you used to sing to me. When we were walking in the mall, you'll put your hand on my shoulder and sing this song in my ear making sure that I'm the only person who hears you. I would always show my disapproval as I hate any form of public display of affection. I really never appreciated this song. I really never appreciated you.

You came into my life through a message popping out on my screen. You said you've mistaken me from another person with a similar name. You asked for my Friendster account and then for my number. I was going through a difficult phase in my life back then. I just found out that Mark was cheating on me. I thought I can use you to get even with him. In fact apart from you, I was also seeing another guy to show Mark that I can do better.

I genuinely feel that I loved you on that short period of time that we're together. But everything worked against us. I still loved Mark even though I hated him. I was so confused with who I am as well and was contemplating to live a "straight" life instead. I was also about to leave the country. It was too much for me and one day I just decided not to respond to your text and answer your calls.

I hated how I acted such an a**hole but I'm not the type of guy who's good in sitting down and talking through things. After a week, I just sent you a text explaining everything. Your reply was short but full of sting. For you I was already dead.

Ikaw lamang ang tangi kong minamahal
Ang tangi kong dinarasal
Sana'y habangbuhay tayong magkasama
Ang puso ko'y ibibigay lamang sayo 
Ito ang aking pangako
Mula ngayon hanggang magpakailan pa man
Ikaw lamang

I never paid attention to the meaning of the song. Now I realized how much you loved me more than I did. I couldn't help but feel sad but I don't have any regrets. I'm glad you've accepted my friend request on Facebook and I completely understand why you didn't respond when I sent you a message asking you how you are. To you I was already dead.

Through this post I want to thank you. You made me feel special and loved when my confidence was at its lowest. I hope you are happy now with that person who makes you feel special too and who sings you a song of love that you really deserve.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Travel Notes: Germany (Berlin)

Late September of last year, me and my best friend Dominic together with his wife, Cielo, decided to go on a 7-day holiday in Germany. I must admit, that I wasn't excited to go given that I'm still recovering from a break up and to be honest, I was on a tight budget brought about by my last minute decision to go back home to the Philippines. However, since I've made a promise to Dominic and Cielo, I had no choice but to oblige and join them on their trip.

1st Stop: Berlin

We've boarded an EasyJet flight from UK to Germany's capital, Berlin. First impressions of Germany? I love their "honesty policy" in their subway train station. Unlike in the Philippines and other countries, there are no ticket barriers going to the train platform. Of course you have to keep your ticket with you for any surprise inspection. They say that the fine if you get caught travelling without a valid ticket/pass is 40 Euros equivalent to 2,000 Pesos.

We joined a free tour around Berlin city on the first day of our trip. The meeting place was at Starbucks just 15 steps away from one of Berlin's well-known landmark, the Brandenburg Gate.

The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate originally built in 1791 to symbolize peace. Ironically, the gate was incorporated into the Berlin wall during the years of the communist government dividing East and West Germany. This gate was damaged during the World War II and has only been fully refurbished in 2002.

Our tour group
Our tour group was comprised of different nationalities. There were a handful of Americans, a Briton, a Canadian, a couple from Australia, a couple from Brazil and of course us, Filipinos. I took a stolen shot of the loner Canadian boy.

He's the guy in the middle. I wanted to make friends with him but I was a bit torpe.
Our tourist guide is the guy with the red ID lace. Although the tour is free, he asked for a tip from everyone of us at the end of the tour which for me is just about right given the amount of knowledge he shared to us.

We went from one tourist spot to another all by foot.

The Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust Memorial looks like a cemetery but actually, there are no remains inside or underneath the nicho-like structures. Our tour guide was quick to warn us not to step on these. He said that the last thing in the world you would want is to be shouted at by a German police speaking in German.

Berliner Dom
Checkpoint Charlie
And of course, what is a visit in Berlin without seeing the Berlin Wall.

The remains of the Berlin Wall
The structure itself is not spectacular. It's not comparable to the Great Wall of China as one may expect. But it is the history behind this wall that makes it interesting.

This how the Berlin Wall used to look like
Families were separated by this wall for years. Can you imagine yourself not being able to see your loved ones who are just on the other side of the wall? The area between the two walls was called no-man's land as there were an order to the East German guards to shoot anyone who attempts to climb over the wall.

We also went to Reichstag building which serves a parliament building of Berlin to get a good view of Berlin at night.

I still like Makati skyline better kahit polluted
The following day, we went to Potsdam, which is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany because of its palaces and gardens.

Before anything else, we had German sausage for breakfast. There's a whole lot of variety to choose from. 

Note: Most of the pictures were taken by Cielo. Unfortunately, I'm a rubbish photographer.