Let’s celebrate us in all our quirky, wonderful and beautiful glory! Happy International Women’s Day. The images below are from a series of watercolors called “Women Defined” by a brilliant artist named Jay. I first saw Jay’s work while trawling the Internet, particularly from my godchild’s tumblog and a few others. And finally found the source, which I am linking here. Aren’t these images wonderful and empowering? And as she says in her blog, aren’t we awesome?
Ever since high school, I’ve jotted down quotes and passages from books, magazine articles, TV shows and movies I’ve watched, people I’ve met and even overheard conversations of random people in various notebooks that I’ve been lugging around with me ever since. But with the advent of Facebook and the various incarnations of social media (like this blog), my tendency to record stuff has tapered off, which is really a pity because jotting things down was sort of how I kept track of things that happened in my life (“Ahh! Wrote this while I was having coffee with whatshername and she told me about that thing with whatshisface…” stuff like that) or was a good creative source whenever I feel blocked about what I’m writing — which is what is happening now, actually. However, this past weekend, after updating my phone’s software, I was scrolling through my notes, and it turns out I’ve been jotting down or taking photos of random stuff and I just haven’t really realized it. So I’m putting them here, before I delete them forever from the phone. Warning, some are sappy, some are wise, some I’ve posted on my Instagram or posted on Facebook, some are funny and some are just plain, “huh?”
Because looking at this goofy adorable face makes me laugh and want to go home and play with her. I hope she grows up to be funny and sassy, confident and kind, intelligent and streetsmart, delightful yet down-to-earth, able to wear princessy pink dresses but still want to look goofy and fun — the kind who wears sneakers under all the frou-frou
[originally posted in tumblr]
Duolingo’s fun interface
I’ve been meaning to enroll in a language course for a few months now. I think learning a new language is not only fun, it also adds to your knowledge about other cultures. And as someone who deals in words everyday, I am always fascinated by how words and phrases evolve in language (yes, sorry, nerd flag flying proudly!). I also figure, learning a new language is a skill and can’t hurt the resume. The thing is though, language courses are expensive and it’s no joke trying to squeeze in several hundred dollars from an already strained budget.
Enter the Duolingo app, which I read about in Slate a few days ago (subhead to the article: “Stop Playing Candy Crush and Learn a Language Instead — It’s Just As Much Fun”. OK then, I’m convinced! Read the full article here). Apple named it iPhone app of the year for 2013, and with good reason! I downloaded it a few days ago to test it out and see if I can actually learn Spanish (The app currently teaches Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese to English speakers, and teaches English to speakers of those languages plus Dutch, Russian, Hungarian, and Turkish, with more on the way). Because I am Filipino, and my native tongue is speckled with Spanish words and phrases (from 300 years of Spanish colonization) and I took 12 units of the language in college, I thought I would have a leg up in really learning it. And so far, it’s been fun!
Duolingo uses gamification to get users to learn a language. The app basically transforms language study into a fun game involving points, video game lives (in the app, they’re designated as hearts) and when you finish a level, you get a trumpet fanfare. Fun! Unlike my Spanish classes in college, it doesn’t teach the words by rote memorization of conjugations (flashback to college and Señor Arespacochaga’s class as he tried to instill in us verb conjugations. Bebo, bebe/s, bebemos, beben, anyone? ). Instead, Duolingo’s teaching style is quick, bite-sized and upbeat — the visuals are bright and cheery too (which definitely helps for me). It won’t explain the concepts and logic behind the grammar. What it does is throw you into the thick of things and lets you start learning. If you can’t cope, don’t worry. You can repeat levels and practice as often as you want to. My only problem with it is that there are portions where I have to habla out loud. But then, those are my insecurities talking and not the app’s fault.
According to its co-founder, 34-year old Luis Von Ahn, the app is not designed to help you with phrases for your next trip abroad. What it hopes to do is transform you in the course of a few months into a well-rounded conversationalist. “You won’t sound native,” he says in the Slate article, “and when you’re talking you’ll do a lot of simplifications. You’ll probably mess up the subjunctive form. But you’ll get around. You’ll understand what you hear very well. You’ll be able to read books and watch movies in the language.” Good enough for me.
A swan in Singapore Botanic Gardens’ swan lake. In the few times I’ve been to the Botanic Gardens, this was the first time I’ve seen swans on the lake!
Went on a “just-because” picnic with friends at the Botanic Gardens last Saturday. “Just because” it was a beautiful day and we needed a break from the usual malls and cafes (and also, it has to be told, we were lacking in funds). Turned out, it was a great way to just relax and feel the balmy breeze out in the open. As my mom used to tell me when I was a kid and holed up in my room reading a book, it’s good for the earth to get to know you. Sure, in Singapore it’s well-manicured grasses and well-tended shrubbery and plants, but it’s still nice to actually touch the ground and lie on the grass.
“Well, I’m back.” — Samwise Gamgee, after seeing off Frodo, Bilbo and the elves to the Grey Havens
The neighbors’ house as seen from our porch. This is what I miss about home — the greenery! I’m surrounded by greenery in Singapore as well, but it’s different at home because it isn’t… tamed. Shrubs and plants and trees are allowed to grow where they must.
Was trawling through my phone’s camera roll, and found myself smiling at some of the pictures of my Christmas break at home. I didn’t really take a lot of photos because well, vegging out to me means forgetting about the world outside for awhile, disengaging and just letting provincial life take over…
This morning, I interviewed Filipino-Canadian author, Marie Claire Lim-Moore about her book, Don’t Forget the Soap and Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother. We got to compare notes about our childhoods and how we were raised and she mentioned that the hardest lesson that she had to learn from her mom was the idea of gratitude — to be always mindful of and grateful for what we have and what is given to us.