The Most Irritating, Funniest and Sweetest: Elder Brother

We did a lot of things together as kids. This was when Papa had to stay in the house because he was sick and Mama had to work in another country. We had some money. We swam in our pool. We swam with our swans. We played with our dogs. We fed our doves. We broke things inside our house. We played with other kids in the neighborhood. We went to school. We did our homework. We went to parks with Papa. We opened Mama’s presents.

He was so irritating. He would always tease me. We would bite, kick, punch, push, ride, curse, choke and drown each other.

We would often end the day in exhaustion.

We fought a lot. He was there around me all the time.

We did a lot of things together as teens. This was when Papa died and Mama had to stay in the house because no one was left to take care of us.  This time no money. We made bead necklaces and braces which no one bought. We talked to people about recruiting them to our business but no one listened. We helped Mama cooked meatloaves but no one bought it the second time around.

He was so funny. One time our aunt’s mother-in-law bought ten meatloaves from us. Being an entrepreneur that he was, he decided to get the most value out of our products. So he gave our aunt’s mother-in-law eight meatloaves for the price of ten.

We would often end the day in frustration.

We cried a lot. He was there with me all the time.

We’re doing things together more than ever now that we’re young adults. We’re helping each other reach our dreams. We’re pulling each other’s burdens. We’re thinking of each other’s welfare. We’re fighting – for each other’s happiness.

He’s the sweetest. He bought me my laptop. My video camera. My watch. My toys. My bags. My shoes. My shorts. My shirts. My toothpaste. My toothbrush.  When I was applying to different study programmes, he paid for my IELTS Test fee, file request fees and courier fees. Now that I’m submitting all my documents for my study programme in Europe, he’s paying (together with Grandma) my dorm fees, registration fees and visa fees. Last time we skyped, he bought me my winter clothes and my soap-and-shampoo pack.

We’re skyping a lot. He’s there for me all this time.

We’ll enjoy a lot. I’ll bring him to Europe.

I’m here for him until the end of time.


Skyping with E

Just talking with E through Skype awhile ago. I was cooking rice in the kitchen and the laptop was on the dining table. That meant she was as if sitting right there on the table too. I was talking to her the whole time I was cleaning the rice with water and putting it in the cooker and plugging it.

I love Skype.

I can still remember way back while I was in the undergrad.  Letter after letter. Just to comfort myself from loneliness, I have to write it down. Keep the letters for a while. Give it to her in a bunch whenever I see her, which is about twice a month. Long nights. But I somehow survived. She was writing to me too. I still keep the letters.

But in Skype, just brilliant! I get to see her face. I get to hear her laugh. She gets to see me cook rice in the kitchen. I get to make her laugh. I get to see the strands of her hair and how the sunlight touches them softly.

Just staring at her means more than a thousand letters.

Can’t wait to show E how beautiful my dorm room would be in Universiteit van Amsterdam. Can’t wait to make her meet my roommates. Can’t wait to show her how beautiful my room’s view would be. Perhaps it would be snowing too. But must not bring laptop outside on freezing temperature. Not a good idea, I think.

Getting a Dorm Slot Half the World Away

Another amazing thing happened today. Received an email from the University of Amsterdam and asking me on my housing when I arrive.

Now receiving that email about housing from this European university was such a delight.

Of course, the letter was long and I had to make effort in reading every line. Interesting to find out that I can now already apply today on a slot in one of the dorms. I easily typed a few information on Step 1 of the application form. Then Step 2 was called the “Inspectors Question”. A cyber inspector? Wow.

I was in a virtual office where I was proceeding, through clicks and presses, from one window to the other. And I was doing it halfway around the world.

Everything can be transacted through the internet. Splendid! Their form even asked me on whether I prefer “a shared room”, “a single room with shared facilities” or a “single room with single facilities”. All the prices and the terms and conditions were already stated in that online portal. And if I can get my brother to lend me his credit card so I can pay early, I can even enjoy a 30% discount promo on my housing fees for the whole semester!

Thank God for these blessings.


Lovin’ Universeitat van Amsterdam

Another wonderful experience I’ve had preparing for my studies in Universeitat van Amsterdam (yup, starting to learn a little Dutch now. I now know dank we jel which means thank you). They sent me an information package that says which courses I am allowed to take for my semester there. What is even more brilliant about it is that each course has its detailed description of what I am about to study in it and most importantly what is the final output I can create out of such course.

Through their online course catalog, everything is laid on the table. What the course is expecting to get from me (meaning my deliverables and tasks) and what I can expect to get from it (skills and knowledge I can learn).

Just wonderful. I have already submitted to our Programme Manager my chosen elective course and methodology course. Can’t wait to learn new things and apply them directly to European society.



Papa, I’m Going to Europe!

It’s hard to begin writing to you. I don’t know where to start. Guess I want to say, I miss you. It’s been ten years since you passed away. I never thought I could overcome the grief. Eventually, with Mama’s guidance and the Bible, I did. I always thought you were the best, guess I always will. Yup, it’s from a song. But it’s true. I will always look up to you.

I remember when I was still little, I would see pictures of you on a gray coat, white shirt and gray slacks pants, standing in front of a majestic high rise building. You were all smiles. Then I remember another picture of you standing in front of a pagoda wearing a comfy looking sweater. You were so proud of telling me all the time whenever I asked where were those pictures taken. You would say, “Japan”. After twenty years when I began working in the government, I had the chance to go to India also with an office mate like what you did. This time for a Student Exchange Programme. I saw the Taj Mahal and took millions of photos of it and it with me, all smiles just like you. I realized then why you were smiling so wide on those photos.

One of your closest friends was an Australian diplomat stationed in our country for an international organization. Eldest Brother always tells me that you often took him to your friend’s house, a condominium unit with a pool. With maids. And the pool had lights on the floor. The maids served Eldest Brother and Elder Brother cold juices while they swam.

You also had another friend, an African American pop singer.

Your dream was to go to Mexico and see the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You were  reading about Her all your life. You had dreamt about Her once and since then you became a believer of her precious grace. You always wanted to see the spot where San Diego found Her. You always wanted to go to Mexico. You never had the chance.

Maybe because I grew up seeing you having the time of your life with friends of different skin colors. Maybe because I grew up with our house filled with paintings of places and by artists of other continents. Maybe because you respected everyone and had never looked down on any of them based on who they were or where they came from. Maybe because you were laughing your way on life. Maybe because you knew what each country’s flag look like. Maybe these are the things why I am who I am today.

In a couple of months I’ll be going to Europe. I will be having the time of my life. I will be taking pictures with friends of different skin colors. I will be marveling at the paintings of artists who speak different languages. I will be breathing freely on a society that will respect me for who I am. I will be laughing so hard. And as I look at the evening sky, at the stars, I will be talking to you in prayer. Maybe you have an internet connect up there. Visit my journal.

Thank you for teaching me how to love the earth in its entirety, how to love everyone regardless of race and color, how to have fun in life everywhere in the world, how to marvel at the wondrous beauties of our humanity, how to smile.

I hope I’m making you proud. Papa, I’m going to Europe!


Europe, Here I Come!

Ok. I have been silently keeping this within my heart for so long. But the happiness and joy I could no longer contain. It is bursting from my rib cage. I have to write this down.

I am N. I am a 24-year old Asian who has been accepted in a Masters Programme and is about to study and live in Europe for two years. It is only about two months to go before my flight. This is the reason for my euphoria. God has indeed heard my prayers.

But why am I to write these experiences now as I sit here in the living room of our house? I am writing these down and a force within me says I have to write. Because what I am now experiencing and yet to experience in that promised land is the testament of God’s love. I am the vessel from which He will prove to the world how gracious, merciful, how true a friend and a father He is. To His children. Like me.

Secondly. It so much damn fun to write a happy moment. Because you get to focus yourself more on those seconds…when you feel that everything that revolves around you, the stars in the sky and the leaves swaying from the distant trees, are all moving in accordance to God’s destiny…for you.

So join me. As I prepare myself to embark on wonderful journey. A journey that would forever change my life for sure.

Europe, here I come!



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