March 31, 2005

The General March 2005 Archive

Indonesia (And Me) Under Stress
March 30, 2005

This is who I really am, you see. Writer and Speaker. The latter under pressure, but with more sleep and caffeine.

Let’s just say I didn’t get a drop or a wink in Indonesia.

My trip to Lembang was for a research project for GM crops. I didn’t think I’d have fun — my last trip to Indonesia was in December, and many of the natives kept on telling me to learn Bahasa because I look Indonesian. Funny. The same thing happened to me in Italy, where someone told me to keep on honing my Italian because I look Italian. What the HELL do I look like, anyway?

ANYWAY, business in Indonesia was as short as Singapore’s meeting, but meatier — so much more MEATIER. This time, I had to show off my speaking prowess (there’s a word for me in our language. I believe it’s mayabang, haha) and talk about Communication Strategies for the current GM project. Heck YEAH! This is so ME!

And yes, I wowed the crowd. High five, Papa Ramon! We did it again!

Now what made this Indonesia trip different? We were out of Jakarta, in the mountains, above fog and city. We were cold, freezing, but awestruck. I’ve put a few pictures of Lembang up, along with me talking. The middle shot is a view from the porch of my room. The last shot is of plants being grown in the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) high up in Lembang.

Down in the lowlands was Bandung — FACTORY OUTLET CAPITAL. Three words should tell you what I did at night. The bargains are out of this world. Now, if only I had money…(here we go again…)

All in all, highly satisfying trip. Very much fun. Again, I had dreams of taking my entire family there to have fun in the mountains and shop our wallets empty. Might happen, considering that the books are coming. The books are coming! The books are coming!


Singapore’s BIC Meeting…And Other Things…
March 23, 2005

Before I ram myself straight into my first trip to Singapore, let me introduce you to my sister’s pet, and our family dog, Oreo. Oreo is a Shih-Tzu who loves to play, demand attention, and mope when no one pays him any. He’s very lovable, and very, erm, loving. For instance, he runs around and chases us, then stops, turns around, and starts running so we can chase him. He loves to eat and demands treats. Oh, and he, erm, loves my sister’s leg VERY MUCH.

And now, for the Singapore accounts. Our office has satellites all over the world, in what we’d like to call a Global Knowledge Network. Its members are the BIC’s — the Biotechnology Information Centers — which are stationed in countries such as Malaysia, Kenya, Indonesia, Brazil, Bulgaria, etc.

Now, every year, the BIC’s gather for a meeting, and I was there to witness the event firsthand. This time, we all got together in Singapore…easily the cleanest city anywhere, with architecture that mixes new pop with old Colonial, with streets lined pink and green with flowers and plants, and with streets and areas so strictly zoned, you’d want to live there. Or, at least, I would.

I can’t divulge what went on in the meeting, but the tours were FANTASTIC. That’s me with Rochella of our Philippine BIC, posing before my favorite molecule (haha) in the National Institute of Education’s DNA Center. We also ran over to the Science Centrum (which easily rivals Boston’s Science Museum, with an matching Omni Theater too!) and Biopolis, Singapore’s research center. See, if these were the laboratories I’d be made to work with, I’d stay in science.

And then there was the shopping — not too big a deal, as everything’s expensive in Singapore. However, the country is one of the few outposts of Sapporo’s Royce’ Chocolates, and I was off to Takashimaya to get boxes for home.

These chocolates melt in your mouth (yes, not in your hand) and have such a rich, deep flavor to them that makes any eater forget the Germans, Italians, Belgians, Americans, and Australians…chocolates, I mean. Once you pop, you can’t stop!

For the most part, I was official photographer and videographer — those are cameras hanging off me in the picture — so I couldn’t go around as easily and as much as I pleased. I wasn’t able to do the night safari, or go to Sentosa Island, or try the underground aquarium. All I did was walk half the length of Orchard Road and marvel at the shops on our last night.

Now next time, I’m getting another seat on Singapore Airlines, I’m taking my mom, and we’re going to eat Royce’ the minute we touch land. Ha!

As for the money…well…the novel could sell…


A Letter to A Granddad Long Gone
March 10, 2005

Dear Papa Ramon,
I am writing this letter to you as your granddaughter, and as someone who misses you very much. A lot of my readers will call me crazy when they know that I pray to you for help during debates or speeches, but I don’t care.

I prayed to you for the longest time, to make my Jam 88.3 interview go well.
I bet you were watching me. Damn, was I having so much fun! And I bet you would have been really proud of me if you were alive and well and listening. Would you have been the first to buy my book, I wonder? I mean, it’s deathly expensive, but I’m sure you would have been proud to see your eldest grandchild living the life of a writer and speaker. That would have made you very, very happy, I think, even if I’m not a lawyer, the way you wished at least one of us would be.
It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I was only 9 when you left — too young to understand what my tears were for, and yet old enough to know that they would one day be for this. You know, the wishing — wishing that you were here to witness all this, wishing that you were here to read my books and order them yourself and order EVERYONE to order them, wishing that you were here to see me debate and speak and write and win every time.

I wonder what you would look like, clapping and smiling, sitting back to see the new generation triumph with the talents of the old, maybe even swinging a beer bottle my way, or lighting a cigarette to signal the start of a party. But I don’t drink, papa, and I don’t smoke, because I remember how they took you away from us — they took away a grandfather I wish I had, leaving me with a grandfather who still keeps me guessing even when he’s gone.
So, I’ll go back to marketing my book and writing my news and doing my job…and missing you, I guess. Silly as it may seem, I do miss you. And strange as it may sound, I still will pray to you, every time I need your talent in talking, or every time I have to stand up in front of a crowd and show off our famous Zamora panache and skills. We’re just so damn talented it’s sinful.

One day, when we’re both in heaven, I’ll show you my book, and I’ll make one of my hyperactive debate speeches, and I’ll watch my grandfather clap his hands and smile.
In the meantime, thank you for that great interview. I owe you big time. Again.


At least 10 Words…
March 2, 2005

…describe how mixed-up I am right now.

But before I forget, I’d like to give a big shout out to Ma’am Mida (whose blog can be found here) who wrote me the best, most encouraging, most enlightening letter I’ve read yet. I love you, Ma’am! Can’t wait to return to the fray and…er…speak to the dead? Oh dear!
And now, for the 10 words:

1. Lazy – I have a talk to give on April 7th, along with a workshop on stem cells, xenotransplantation, and cloning (it’s an exciting topic! REALLY! IT IS!), and all I have is the talk outline and some research mishmashed up into data and pictures.
2. Busy – I have news to write for this week, and I’m up to me bottom in them dratted Arabidopsis genes. Interesting topic. No, really.

3. Giddy – I’m listening to the official soundtrack of the Phantom of The Opera now, and I can’t help but dream of my own Christine-Raoul affair. Now, if I could only sing and find a childhood friend as my patron…

5. Worried – I can’t find more news articles and my deadline is ready to smack me senseless.
6. Frustrated – Damn I wish I could sing.

7. Enraged – Internet slow. No news. Murderous now. Ready to kill.
8. Jittery – Lulu Dot Com is offering FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING FOR THE WHOLE OF MARCH!!! That means I can order my book and, get this, GET IT IN 8 DAYS OR LESS!

9. Cold – *shiver* Aircon too strong *shiver*

10.Nervous – Less than a week to the interview *shiver again*

The New Site – The Soft Launch
March 1, 2005
For the first time in my life, I am going to keep a public diary– right on a site that used to contain most of my written works, all of them masking everyday occurrences. Now, the stories will be real, and the dream has come true.

November 2004 changed me entirely: I began a novel and ended it, making the deadline for National Novel Writing Month along with 6000+ other writers. I thought it was the pinnacle of my year’s success, until offered us a copy of our books for free, and in trade paperback.

This is nothing to any other person, but to a writer who has long labored with love, and who has been searching for agents and publishers, only to be rejected so many times over – for a writer who loves to write, seeing one’s work in print is like having your heart beating again after having it broken repeatedly. The hope of seeing SANCTUARY on real paper, with a real cover, nearly consumed me; I set to work immediately.

Now, with buyers, with real books, with the presses churning out my pages and my words, I can only thank God repeatedly – and pray that I sell.

I’ve forgotten all the heartaches of the last few years, whether or not they had anything to do with writing. Then again, everything has to do with writing; every breath, every word I’ve spoken, every heartbeat that was lost to pain and tears – everything has to do with writing.

I don’t know whether to wait for a bumpy road ahead, or go down on my hands and knees and suffer while I pave it. That is, I don’t know whether I should wait for people to buy my book and suffer waiting in the process; or put out a lot of cash and time and start marketing it.

Time to think of new marketing techniques…ahhhh…the fun never ends…neither does the suffering, but that’s another story altogether…


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