Newfound Friends

Friday, November 30, 2012

Funny how things end up better than we sometimes expect it, as with the case of the Skillmax Course I took which began during the last week of October 2012. When I enrolled in this 5-week jobseekers’ course, my main objective was to find a job as soon as possible. In fact, I didn’t expect that I’d finish the course at all. My friend, Lanie, had been guiding me since we met a week after I came to Australia even before I took this course. So I had an idea what to expect and this actually killed the interest a little so it got me a bit bored during the first week of the course.

Top (from L to R): Abhishek, Jenny, Yan, Lalitha, Aswini, Harmanpreet, Mythily, Runpinder, Stephen
Bottom (from L to ): Majid, Dewa, Saeed
Excellent class ^-^
Taken after Saeed left for his family back in his home country. Good luck to you mate! See you when you return here with your family. ^-^

We started out 16 in the class. Most of us were from India, two from China and I was the only Filipino student. A week afterwards, one of us got a job which was great! The teacher did inform us that towards the end of the course, the class would be getting smaller because some of us would be getting a job. But it ended there. Up until the last week, the class didn’t get small mostly because of the season.

Yesterday was our last day in classes. We decided to have a simple lunch party to celebrate our friendship. We were not just classmates anymore but friends who support each other towards our goal. Indeed, everyone was just so helpful. One of us went back to his home country and will return next year with his family. Some of us will be taking additional studies. Others have found volunteer jobs and the rest of us would be pretty much keeping hopeful that we get our jobs if not this year, God willing early next year.

It’s funny how much we know about each other now. When I first met them, I thought I won’t be able to even associate their names with their faces, which is a talent I am very poor at. But throughout the short period we’ve been together, sharing burdens, happiness, interests, opportunities, we gained new friends. We could talk among us and point out the soft skills we demonstrate in each experience… Hehe, just kiddling. It’s kind of a private joke that all this job hunting stuff would stick to us like glue forever… ok that’s exaggerating of course, just until we get a job.

We may not have gotten out of the course with a job but we gained something more important, friends. For new migrants like us, who encounter the difficulties of first time settlement coupled with the nagging feeling of missing our home country, meeting new friends is a very fulfilling experience. It helps a lot in keeping us from getting despondent. Yesterday, we went home feeling happy and sad at the same time. We will not be witnessing each other’s mock panel and one-on-one interviews anymore but I know we will continue supporting each other in achieving that actual interview.  The class has ended but not our friendship. We have become part of each other’s journey in this new chapter of our lives which we have started in our new home… and I thank God for this simple experience which I now value as a gift.
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Food for the Soul

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This has been a most refreshing day in my life despite the fact that I had only 4 hours of sleep. I feel so inspired and energized. I was so struck with the lecture we had at church yesterday. I wish this feeling would stay on longer for me.


I'm still overwhelmed and all because of these verses:

Mark 8:35-36

35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?


For days, depression gets the better of me from time to time. Being away from my family, and still no hopes with getting a job soon, I sometimes felt exhausted and helpless. I was losing my mood for anything. And then the changing weather somehow broke down my immune system. I don't feel well for 3 days now.


I can't explain in words so pity I can't share why I am overwhelming now. But I just felt like I can overcome anything if I live up these verses. If I strive to do my best as a faithful servant despite all my weaknesses, despite giving up all the comforts in the world, I know I will feel peaceful with it. Because there is a reserved life waiting for us, a lifetime of pure joy. If I would live for say 50 more years, what's that compared to infinity? I would rather sacrifice many more sleepless night than to lose the chance for that eternal life.


Life here may not always be a bed of roses. In fact, it's more of 75% striving and 25% comfort. When we eat, we cook the food longer than it takes us to consume it. We sleep 6 hours a day, 8 if we're lucky, and work for the rest of the hours. Life indeed is full of difficulties. And yet it's just a very tiny fraction of the life we will inherit someday.


I'd rather sacrifice in this life now in order to follow Christ than to live in all comforts, thinking selfishly, and enjoying all the empty vices of this world. If I have to swallow all my pride for the sake of Christ and the gospel then so be it. All these are nothing, if we lose our chance to have that eternal life...


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Yummy Butterscotch for Dummies! :D

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When I was a lot younger, my aunt used to bake butterscotch when she visits us in the Philippines. It was the best I tell you! My mom copied her recipe and used to make it back when we still bake. That was a really long time ago so imagine how happy I am when my aunt made butterscotch last weekend! It was so nostalgic like homecoming, except that I am not really "home" anymore or rather, I am in my new home and still denying it because... well, I'll be having my family with sooner though (this shall be another post) and thank God. I am so happy amidst my desperate situation :D

So let me share you the butterscotch process although not the "secret ingredient" if there's one hehe.

First, you take 4 cups of flour. Mix in 250gms/ea of pitted dates and prunes (sliced into small pieces) and chopped walnuts (depends on how much you like to put in).

Then in a separate mixing bowl, melt 500gms of butter, mix in 1kg (yep that's 1 KILOGRAM) of raw sugar and 8 pieces of egg.

Then use a mixer to blend the ingredients together. It should turn out smooth like this:

Afterwards, mix in the flour with dates and prunes and walnuts. It should look like this:

Then place the mixture in baking pans. Cover the entire surface with foil.

Uh-oh... I knew I was going to forget something important. I failed to take note of the temperature and for how long! Anyway, I'll just update this post when I get this info. For now bake them in the oven is the next procedure.

Finally, you could enjoy yummy dessert after meals, when watching TV or when you feel like relaxing. It's perfect with a cup of coffee! Enjoy!
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To “B” or not to “B”

Friday, November 9, 2012

To “B” or not to “B” that is the question. But first let me show you something...

Well, that’s a shame now isn’t it? I bought this wallet before I left my home country, it’s only been a month and now it’s damaged… I really want to say F! as in Fine! That’s what I get for buying cheap ones hehe. Actually, the gold buckle at the end of the strap that’s supposed to close it just got loose, but it’s still very much useful. It seems like a disaster though especially since I don’t have my craft materials here to do the trick. A tiny dot of glue stick could fix the whole thing really but I left all my materials at “home.”

I’m not sure if this is a sign or a test. But quite coincidentally, I saw this Guess shop inside Westpoint – Blacktown having sale on their bags and ladies’ wallets. Of course I’d been dying to own one of those chic but cute wallets but I kind of didn’t NEED one… until now maybe?

So the question is to “BUY” or not to “BUY.” For 2 days I’ve been going back to the same store and although I’ve probably familiarized myself with every style they have, I seem to be in deep thought as to what to choose. But in fact, what I was thinking deeply about was if I should buy one. I’ve found a really cute one, it’s black (it’s not the cutest but it would do coz it’s the cheapest hehe) for $14.99 and for less than 25% that would be $11.25!!! Not bad even if converted into peso so I was really tempted to buy it. Afterwards I got away feeling kind of saintly for having that much discipline to say “no.”

Well, at least I don’t feel the need to buy one yet. Probably when I’m earning my own income I’d consider it a necessity but for now I could do with this little damage in my wallet. With lots of more important expenses to save the money for, for fare, first and foremost, and mobile charge next ‘cause it’s starting to diminish, replacing wallets are just not on my list of priority at the moment. So I ended up with the decision not to “buy.”

And what do you know? I made the right decision! I carefully inspected the little gold buckle and discovered that it has two tiny screws on each end so that if I press the screws down really hard, they would make a tight grip on the strap and the buckle won’t come off! So now it’s fixed. I’m glad I didn’t purchase the cute wallet even if it was the cheapest otherwise my conscience would have been the one damaged now hehe just kidding… I’m glad I made the right choice. It pays to be frugal after all… oh, forget I said “that’s what I get for buying cheap ones.” ;)
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Sunday Sound Trip # 10: If I'm Not In Love With You

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Remembering the days when you were trying to win my heart, dear love...

If I'm not in love with you
What is this I'm going through
And if my heart is lying then
What should I believe in
Why do I go crazy
Every time I think about you, baby
Why else do I want you like I do
If I'm not in love with you

And if I don't need your touch
Why do I miss you so much
If it's just infatuation then
Why is my heart aching
To hold you forever
Give a part of me I thought I'd never
Give again to someone I could lose
If I'm not in love with you

Why in every fantasy
Do I feel your arms embracing me
Lovers lost in sweet desire
Why in dreams do I surrender
Lying with you baby
Someone help explain this feeling
Someone tell me

If I'm not in love with you
What is this I'm going through
And if my heart is lying then what should I believe in
Why do I go crazy
Every time I think about you baby
Why else do I want you like I do
If I'm not in love with you
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Reminiscing: My Choir Days

Was it like 8 years ago? Quite a long time ago but such were good memories I will never forget. In fact, while I reminisce now, I see everything as if they happened yesterday.


I was once a choir member in my home locale Church, Village East, where we started out as a humble group of more or less 10. Small as we were, we did achieve great things and as incredible as it may seem, we competed in the Annual Music Ministry Competition finals division once upon a time. Of course, we didn’t win. What, against the local choir of Cubao, who at that time held the championship title for 3 consecutive years, if my memory’s not mistaken? Still, we reached that level hehe. Our almost winning piece was “Ito Ang Araw” which became a memorable thanksgiving song for me.


So much has probably changed by now. Back then, choir groups competed for 2 categories: “Himnario” and “Tanging Awit.” For the “Himnario” category, the judges picked out 2 songs for us to perform, one lively and the other one solemn. Now our Hymn songs are numbered and they just pick out the numbers, not the titles. It was up to us to associate which song was picked. With more than 100 hymns and lyrics to memorise, plus 4x voicing to learn (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), it was a wonder we even qualified to join at all. After all, we were considered a “young” group of choir then. But that's how it was back then. They encouraged us to learn the hymns by heart so that we may get rid of the hymn booklets we're holding out every time we lead the congregational singing. Nowadays, choir members are a lot luckier. With the overhead projections installed in most locales, they had gotten rid of the booklets alright, by more convenient means hehe.


Anyway, back with the competition, we put more effort with the “Tanging Awit” then. We learned the voicing and choreo by heart, etc. I am not delving deeper into the details though. The venue for the final competition was the Apalit Convention Center which the stage alone was almost 20meters wide already (forgive my poor ability to estimate but that’s how it honestly seems to me) and we were like 10meters away from the judges and farther away from the audience. Being heard had been a difficult task to perform already especially when your voice box has a limited volume like mine. Anyway, I said I wasn’t going to discuss details here and frankly I vaguely remember anything except my heart pounding. Besides we didn’t win, so there's no really justice if I even took the lime light.


Overall, being a choir member had been an amazing experience for me. I was never the talented and self-confident type or person to be even considered for such. But that’s what made our Church choir beautiful: we sing because of faith, not because we’re great...


Looking back, I know I will always be gratified for this opportunity. Despite the extreme intake of ginger ales or raw ginger itself, or the shortness of breath which could probably have killed me (joking), or despite almost ripping my vocal chords apart trying to reach the HIGH soprano pitches, even if I never became a good singer, I will always be thankful. Because nothing compares to the joy of being able to dance at the slightest recognition of a thanksgiving melody (without a care and as if we were toys operated by keys), the happy memories with fellow choir members turned friends, and most of all, to have been able to praise and serve God with joyful song of praises... those were priceless...
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