Pinay in India

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How hard is it to visit India for a Pinay? Easy peasy for me. I applied my e-visa online thru https://visatoindia.org.in and got it after two days. Unfortunately there are no direct flights from Philippines to India, so I had to take a long-agonizing-connecting flight. Skyscanner’ s site skyhttp://skyscanner.com.ph made it all easy for me. Five days later, I was already paying my travel tax in NAIA terminal 1 (don’t ask me why the sudden flight).

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Aside from my passport, I was carrying  certain documents I thought was necessary too such as my e-tickets, my friend’s (Indian local) sponsorship letter, his passport page, his address page on passport, my e-visa… It was not enough that I have a return ticket tho’. Since I was an OFW, I was still questioned wether I was to return to the country or not. Good thing I registered for a convention in Manila the day after my return ticket is scheduled. I justified to the officer that I am coming back for the said convention and showed him the proof of my registration. Thankfully, he let me push through. It would be best if you have your peso changed to dollars before you reach India coz they won’t change your peso currency in the correct equivalent when you get there and money exchange in India Airport are the worst in the whole country.

20180508_221046.jpgThere wasn’t much que in Mumbai Immigrations (maybe because I arrived around 11:30pm) there were only a few non-Indian passport holders that came with me. I was the third in line and I was surprised I met some pinays too who’s also heading to Pune as I am. The immigration officer checked if I know my name and birthday (just making sure I’m the right person), asked for my e-visa, where I’ll be staying and what I’ll be doing. I mentioned some tourist destinations in my bucket list. So Okay,  he was pleased I’m a legit tourist. Smile for the camera!

So much for the travel logs now. Mumbai is a big City and I just want to enjoy this British colonized place! Welcome to a right-hand-drive country, now where is that rickshaw.

The train ride was absolutely one of the highlights of my travel. No, I wasn’t searching for Latika and the Jai-ho flash mob dancers of Bollywood, but I must admit I was kinda hoping to see some filming (Sharukh Khan please!). The train stations were a melting pot of cultural heritage in India.The People, the bindi, the sarees (cultural dress), the chappals (Indian sandals), the language, the vendors and the food! The train itself was a heck of an experience too.

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Mark Daulat, an artist (check out his works!), told me there are a lot of Forts scattered around the provinces of India, tracing back to the ancient times of Rajas and Sultans. I grew up from a country with rich hispanic influence, however it was devastated by the World War II thus I no longer see magnificent structures from the ancient world, just like this one (only a few remains). I was just in awe being here, I feel like I have lived for centuries!

Shaniwar Wada Entrance

Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune Maharashtra

Shaniwar Wada view

Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune Maharashtra

Inside Shaniwar Wada

inside Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune Maharashtra

Tourist in Shaniwar Wada

Tourist in Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune, Maharashtra

Shaniwar Wada Wall

The Walls of Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune Maharashtra

 

India is a home to atleast 9 recognized religion having Hinduism as the largest practiced (about 79.8% according to the lates census of 2011). 14.2% follow Islam and only 6% belong to Christianity, Sikkhism,and Buddhism). Us being Christians, Mark brought me in this old Anglican Church. Of the few Christian Churches here in India, he wanted me to spend my 1st Sunday in India here. What’s so special? Its their old PIPE ORGAN! Me, being a fan of old Christian Hymns ofcourse loved the euphoric experienc while he, on the other hand, came to enjoy the free chai at the end of the service.

We were supposed to visit Karla Caves in Pune but we missed the train and had to wait 2-hours for the next one. Unfortunately, the train trip to the place (Loonavla) got cancelled that time, so we decided to head to Parvati Hill instead.

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Hindu Priest

A Hindu Priest

Ladies, don’t follow my bad example, sorry for this. Don’t wear shorts,  even if you have your boyfriend as a knight-in-shining-armour to protect you. Most people in Mumbai are liberated, they know English well, and have been to other countries themselves. But still better to be safe right? On the plane returning to the Philippines, I’ve read on the news that a foreigner wearing skirt got raped in Goa, in-front of her boyfriend

news link👉 https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/woman-allegedly-gang-raped-in-front-of-boyfriend-in-south-goa-two-arrested-one-missing/story-V8Kr04gy5nDr9IkCLJy4XP.html

Moving on to the happy news. The Elephanta Caves is now maintained very well, so I’ve heard. The price for foreigners 500 rupees, the price for locals, 30rupees. Guards are apprehending litterers (yay!). Absolutely no video capture of the caves and no flying of drones not only in Elephanta Caves but in the whole of India (not happy about it but well, I get to enjoy this anyway, no stress!)

Elephanta Caves

Carved Statues at the Elephanta Caves, Mumbai

I’ve been seeing the statue of Shivaji all over Pune, and Mumbai. At first I thought he was some god or something. Turns out he was a real life warrior during his time and he’s the most prominent hero among the Maharashtrans. Here is one Statue of Shivaji at the Gateway of India in South Mumbai. Majestic isn’t it?

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Gateway of India

Let the pictures do the talking now.

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careful, don’t be so nice. They are cunning!

I filmed some cute little squirrels too! I wish I could take one of the rascals home. They can’t sit still in the picture tho, but do watch out in my youtube page for their feature.

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I admire this country for embracing their own culture that it made India so colorful.  Not only because of their colorful clothes,  their colorful spices,  their colorful gods,  their colorful festivals,  but also because, it is the cradle of human race, it is the birthplace of human speech. This country has one of the richest and most vivid history and heritage in the world. No wonder India is such a photographer’s haven.  Take me back!!

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Abandoned Mansion

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Abandoned Mansion (from the Abandoned Series Photo Essay, coming soon)

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Originally Constructed back in 1911 where the American friars resided. It was taken over by the fleeing Japanese soldiers during World War II and was bombed by the American Forces. Has been televised since 2010 for being the most Haunted Mansion in the City. People mobbed the place. It was renovated in 2012 where it became a Nature Park.
My Story:
2007, a lone sucurity guard sleeping in the gate, his canine companion awake and shouted a few barks at us, but we came prepared. We climbed the gate, handed the canine some of our “pulutan” and we’re in. The swing at the side of the building was swaying, not sure if its because of the wind or something else, it was a cold summer night. We started to make the night warm so we took out the regular Red Horse and “Empe” Lights. Halfway through our drinking session, we heard people talking, and a girl scream. It hit me, we were trespassing (illegally). The guys checked what it was all about, and us girls hid ourselves qiuetly. We had different interpretation of what happened. I decided in my head that it was (probably) a drug dealing situation, and the scream? It was maybe my imagination.

Came back in 2018, with a camera, a tripod and remote with me ready for my selfie shoot 😅. Beautiful sunny day, but in one of the rooms, I felt the chills. As if there’s someone watching me.

Japanese hidden Tunnel in the City

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Is the era of treasure hunting and cave adventures over?

In a small city where invasion of the Japanese and the Americans  occurred,  we grew up with stories of buried Yamashita Treasure, underground caves, urban ghost stories and more.

I’ve heard of a tunnel /cave in the hunted Mansion of the old Diplomat Hotel where locals where believed to have dogged it to escape the Japanese invasion in this Mountainous City. They say it exits to another province in the low lands (La Union). 20 Years later, without parental restrictions and improved structure (developed for tourist), I am now permitted to see one urban legend come to life, it is the Japanese Botanical Garden Underground Tunnel. So it’s not exactly the same story as what I’ve heard during my childhood days but the facts still sound as an adventure.

In the late 1970s, many Japanese tunnels were discovered in Baguio City and the one at the Botanical Garden has its entrance at the park and it exits into some three to four kilometers away. War history shows that the members of the Japanese Imperial Army especially those in the Far East led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita were so skilled in making tunnels for their shelter against the falling bombs from the Allied Forces, in fact there’s also one cave found in Davao City but it is believed that the one in Botanical Garden is bigger. The tunnel stretches to parts of Barangay Pacdal, Outlook Drive, and The Mansion in Romulo Drive. While the story of WWII isn’t an amusing one, we are thankful that it has ended and disputes are settled. For the adventure seekers, this is one archaic find. For me, it’s an imagination coming to life.

Music taken from the soundtrack of my favorite online game

Pinoy Pride and Prejudice

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I never really let anyone’s opinions get into my head, coz I’m too happy living my self acclaimed fabulous life. I don’t have much (yes I own a paddle board, a dslr, and a full 88key piano, all squeezed in a tiny shared rented room) , but I sure am blessed in different ways.  And I guess it can’t be helped sometimes coz when things are smoothly flowing you feel like you’re filled with God’s favor, there will always be elements that will make you feel you’re mortal. People can destroy you even with their words and accusations, thats the hard truth. Debate with me if you think otherwise. But this one thing I know is bigger than the hard truth; that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has brought me to this land, brought me out of my previous employer and will bring me out of this prejudice.

Ghosting

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“You’re not dead, but not alive either. You’re a ghost with a beating heart”

I almost forgot how it feels like to walk-to work-to face people (they are everywhere), feeling like a puppet being dragged to get on with life. I’ve been doing so many things the past couple of years. I’ve been winning battles, having adventure with friends,  and sunny days knowing my family’s love is with me.  I’m planted in an awesome community, my church. But  I feel like the ghost is creeping again. And I am suddenly reminded how my life was living like a ghost.

That feeling when you want to be happy but you know there’s no happy ending. You try to make sense of things. You analyze situation and you realize everything is meaningless. How you laugh with friends at the simplest jokes. How you wish for new clothes and latest gadgets.  How stupid you are to please people you don’t even like.  Meaningless, all meaningless! How talking to people can be so hard because you have to put up a face. Deep inside you want to talk to them with something else, a conversation deeper than a Targeryan language. You are sure they won’t understand but they’ll eat your head insisting they would. And the fact that they are insisting is already a CLEAR SIGN they really won’t understand. And you deal with the fact that you’re alone.  No one but your own smart head every minute of your breathing life going back and forth with your own thoughts.  Suddenly, you seem not to be afraid of anything painful anymore. Would you feel better if you just cry? But it’s not happening. Eating is just another chore.  Waking up is another meaningless task. It’s like carrying a big empty drum. You know it’s weightless, but when you drop it you’re done. And you still debate in your head wether it’s better to still carry it, or just get it over with,  the easy way.  Once and for all.

Oh I know this gate, I’ve been in here before and now I know it leads to nothing. More meaningless despair. Love conquers all, and knowing this makes me stronger to fight  and lead myself out back to the sunny days of dreams; music, adventure, and drones. Instead of looking at what I lack (which is a portal to nothingness), I will focus on what I have. I brought myself in this situation (me and my smart head, entertaining thoughts) and I  need to get myself out. The so called “divine intervention” is there, I just have to open my eyes and see it, like how Moses noticed the burning bush and went nearer. I will draw nearer, the call is already there! I need to move.

To be honest, I’m no expert in this. But if you’re someone going through something like this, there are people sincerely willing to help. And if you choose to carry the weight of that empty drum by yourself, try placing your love ones inside. That would give you a meaning to carry it further (should you really have to). It’s never easy to accept things we cannot change, but it could be easier to just let go and give it to someone who has endured all things. He listens and He still do miracles. Get to know Him before your head makes remarks.

Job 17:15
15 where then is my hope— who can see any hope for me?

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Psalm 3:2-6
2 Many are saying of me,“God will not deliver him.”[a]But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.I lie down and sleep;I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

 

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Doing life with them

 

 

 

 

My Enigmatic Water

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Caught myself swimming
in my thoughts of you today.
I've been lingering around this pool for some time now,
diving into some kind of a deep teenage dream.
I rise to the surface once in a while, 
but I return back digging up pieces of you
in my memory. I'm soaking wet every time.

I plunge to where I find you, 
lying in the sand. Your chest on mine, 
our bracelets intertwined. 
Can you feel the warmth inside me this time?
As I stroke my way to you, synchronizing the
rhythm to your heart beat. 
I could live in this lido forever.

Don't just be a silhouette. 
It pains me.I'm left here, 
chasing your shadow every time.
Face me. 
Exhale me a cloud of your cigarette, 
I can almost taste you. 
You are my sweetest surreptitious.

So I swim into the further. 
Nothing but cold water on my breast.
I'm drowning, I can't breathe. 
I'm suffocating, you are my air. 
Your tongue as a vessel,
You are my delicious secret
and I'm dying. I'm reaching for you. 



 

Eye Testing in Clinical Practice Vs. Commercial Practice

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Currently employed in an esteemed Eye Clinic facility (clinical practice), I have nothing against commercial practice when it comes to vision care. In fact, it is in a commercialized practice that I received my first professional pay-out after graduating in college. I have worked in the top 3 most well known commercialized optical practice in the Philippines (namely, Sarabia Optical, Ideal Vision Optical, and Executive Optical) and I had wished to worked for George Optical (running in the top 3 nowadays so I heard). I was fortunate enough to be accepted, but due to personal circumstance I wasn’t able to push through.

Having been employed in the said prestigious commercialized practice, I can say that it has helped me as a professional, provide most options available for vision correction in the market. But let me be honest. I can’t say they offer the best options, and I can’t say it is the most ideal vision care provider there is.

Commercialized practice basically offer a lot of products. For frames alone they cater to branded and non branded products, latest trendy styles and fashionable eyewear in all sizes. There’s a variety of lens wear options that you probably haven’t heard of in your lifetime. Contact lenses are FDA approved for both colored and clear. The good thing about purchasing your contact lenses here is that most common powers are readily available. They can even help you put it on if it’s your first time. But they mostly have soft contact lenses. If you’re looking for special custom made lens (hard, scleral, hybrid, high power…), you are lucky if you walked in a good optical shop with good equipments to fit you with these. It won’t be readily available for sure, but that is not the bad news. The bad news is that most stores would refer you to visit an eye center facility first. Let ye be warned that they are absolutely excellent in marketing and selling their products. I was one of the second best in optometrist sales in 2012 (we actually had a competition for selling, thats how aggressive it is).

Like I’ve said, commercial practice can offer a lot of products, but I won’t be as confident as I am with clinical practice when it comes to their service especially for first timers. You see, doctors are not magicians where you walked in a store, do a 5 minute eye test and get clear vision voila! We analyze everything we investigate. I have experienced a patient bragging about a 5 minute eye test he considered was so genius and spend the rest of his hour looking for a frame. He ended up spending a fortune for glasses just to develop mature cataracts in less than a year. In a clinical setting, you spend the rest of the hour investigating your eyes and then discuss treatment options to the doctor(Optometrist/Ophthalmologist), that includes glasses and without glasses options. It is not magic, it is science and a lot of hard work for the medical team.

While it is true you can’t find fashion and trendy products in private practice, they offer wider range of treatment options and services. And while it is true that a visit to a clinical practice can get you trapped into long waiting queues, you are guaranteed of the quality of consultation service. There’s a saying that goes:

“NEVER RUSH INTO SOMETHING, ANYTHING WORTH HAVING IS WORTH THE WAIT”.

I’ll just leave that saying there and let it sink in for a while.

In another scene, someone was bragging about his 90 year old grandma who didn’t wear glasses, there’s actually science behind it. We didn’t study years and years not to know about such cases.

You’re wondering why your eye has a different power between the other? We don’t simply speculate to give you answers (you probably have axial length difference or different index of refraction). We have a technology for that. We actually measure how long your eyeball is without taking your eyes off. It’s just how we normally investigate patient’s cases, and sometimes you don’t’ even have to ask. Chances are we might already know the answer (through diagnostic testing), and we can show you evidences too. See for yourself.

You’ll never know what’s best of the best until you get your eyes checked. We all deserve the best service possible and we all deserve the most trendy and fashionable options but to wear correction or not to wear correction? that is the question I will leave for now. And if you want to know the answer, why not book a consultation at a credible clinical practice.

-Sherisse C. Condenuevo O.D. , Imperial Healthcare Dubai Healthcare City.

Responding to Modern Innovation in Vision Correction

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My 5-minute reunion with a previous classmate of mine got me browsing through the timeline of my career as an optometrist. Back in college days, I thought we already had enough management options in my field to the point  that I complain in getting all these treatment options in my system. I had to devise a flow chart in my mind where the endpoint of each patient visit is either patient satisfaction, or referral to Ophthalmologist. Now, I am employed under a prestigious clinical institution, I had to re-device my flow chart. I had to be more involved because we receive the referrals this time, the patient has no where else to go. Instead of putting a limit into my practice, I needed to embrace new technology and learning.

Working under a doctor hungry for avant-garde in our eye facility, I can say I am fortunate to be a part of technological modernization in my profession. From the art  and science of prescribing glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy and detecting eye problems, I am now involved in a myopia-GONE-IN-60-SECONDS-procedure! That’s without cutting/touching the patient eyes. While doing vision screening for patients, some are still amazed by the fact that the treatment will just involve patient looking at a light-bzzzzzbzzzzz (for the laser)-heal time-then voila! (that’s only one treatment option)

Sometimes I think patients are still not informed that along with the rise of technological advancement in the  market today, the high-tech innovations in the Optometry-Ophthalmology field is not far-off too. Believe me, it does not only make life easier for patients but also for practitioners as well. There are modern treatments available now, not only for eye diseases but also for refractive correction for the young and old.  I am surprised myself with the overwhelming rise of the options too, but I have to keep up as a practitioner too don’t I? Quoting from the words of a well known Naturalist:

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.—Charles Darwin

There are so many beautiful things out there to see. We are already living in the days where we can make the most out of our lives if we want to.  So I told myself I had to respond to the call of modernization, move out of my comfort zone so I could give the best attainable quality of life for others too, my patients particularly.  Fellow colleagues and patients, will you respond the same as well?

 

Keeper

At the start of 2017, I already felt it. The pressure creeping up on me every night before I sleep. People are making a difference, my co-millenials are making a move.Teens discovering cure for cancer.Twenty-one year olds developing famous apps. Some young millionare’s retiring at age 30; even my baby brother is taking care of my family now! What am I, a mere mortal should do to make a mark in this world too?

I’m getting old and I’ve been busy living my life (oh it’s my birthday today!) Taking the roads to where I know I would be happy, but somehow, year after year this bothers me. So I thought maybe I should document things, I get old too and I don’t want to forget the journey. So I started this writing countdown (March 1-23) since 2016 to share a part of me to the friends I have gained over the years. I may not be some kind of a famous icon, but I am a friend who listens to your stories and I keep them. I have a treasure chest you see, a chest full of memories…

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Last Two

Tired and frustrated, I started ranting about all the wrong things on my way home. You know that situation when you tried to make it all work (really put your back into it and not only just verbally say it) but still thingsss doesn’t go your way? It’s disheartening, and it’s like a series of unfortunate events. Suddenly everything is wrong! I believe in the saying:”If there’s a will there’s always a way” so most of the time failure is not an option for me (I was once a hard loser). I started nagging “All this hardwork for nothing!”

Thank God for good food, I woke up from my negativity instantly (or maybe just HuAngry). See this is what happens when I spend overtime at work without accomplishing anything. One thing I have learned the hard way is to just let go of things you can’t control and move on, for each day has enough troubles of its own. God will always bless hardwork. I’ve seen it before.

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