The world needs people who have come alive

After sending emails to relevant individuals before I plunge into an intense 10-day UNESCO conference, I again felt the need to to sit down and be in my paradise zone. Today is another last day in Singapore. Like many other last days before taking a plunge for adventure, I am in deep thought, being fully aware of my emotions, hoping to decipher the meaning of these few seconds. I again will embark on a journey, or rather continue one as I see the fulfilment of a dream.

In 2012, I decided to take a journey to quit my job and fulfil a long time yearning for a masters degree and with that decision came the embrace of new ideas, experiences and seeing life in a different perspective. I initially felt scared leaving my comfort zone to decipher who I want to become. However after sometime, these emotions settled down and I became comfortable again with my own skin and I moved forward the connecting with people who are just like myself, passionate about the cultures of the world. Along the way, I have gathered new skills, for example, reading dense books on culture and sociology, discussing how local people adjust with challenges of the modern world, academically debating with international students from parts of the world I can’t even pinpoint in a map, learning to research more scientifically and lastly, becoming comfortable living in places where English was not the native language.

I spent almost two months here in Singapore at our lovely home with my partner and our two dogs, with my days filled with readings on cultural, historical and landscape matters for my final academic work. Hours pass with me huddled in a corner and all that I exercise is my brain and my fingers, churning up data on possible strategies to make historic places more relevant to people. You might think, that is such a boring life! but you know what, I feel that learning about heritage and culture actually makes me sharper, makes me look under the surface and it makes me connect far better with the people around me. I now see that everything has a certain meaning, our buildings, our traditions, our clothing, our language, our politics and all that we see are linked to something intangible. I feel more mesmerised with the world than ever before.

By tomorrow I will be in the middle east, in a dessert city I have only visited in transit to Europe. I will be going to a political and cultural conference on heritage, the biggest and most important one there is, and I will be part of a delegation advocating the conservation of nature. I would never have dreamed being in such a situation before my World Heritage Studies. It seems to me that the world has revealed something that I have never admitted, the world chooses where one should go. I try my best in what I do but it is fate that moves me forward and my life, dreams and future are dependent on so much more forces than myself. I am happy to now believe in such philosophy. The last few months have been such as a blessing to me and I am honest enough to say that I don’t know where life will take me. My task for the moment is to do “my job” everyday, maximising the capacity of  fate to pick the best choice.

As Oprah Winfrey rightfully said to the graduating students of Harvard University in 2013, “You will find true success and happiness if you only have one goal, and that is this, to fulfil the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being.” She yearns students  to maximise their humanity by using their energy to lift themselves up and the people around. She also quoted the theologian Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I believe that this masters has made me feel more alive.


The journey begins in 30 days

The months of anticipation has now been reduced to days. As of today, the calendar on the right hand side of my blog started counting down my final days in Singapore before flying to Germany. I have been reading a couple of blogs lately regarding Erasmus. My master’s degree isn’t really part of an Erasmus program but I wasn’t able to get a better comparison of what I am feeling to any other genre of blog. Doing a masters degree outside of your home country in my mind is like surrendering yourself to herd of wildebeest. You just have to let it happen, you just have to do it and you just let the herd take you to where it will mindlessly go. There is nothing more that I can do to prepare myself for the experience. All my tickets are booked, my visa sorted out, my dorm finally confirmed and the only thing that I need to resolve is my luggage. Come on, what can you significantly put in 23 kg of luggage space?

The feeling that I have now, “A bag of emotions” as Jose aptly described it, is so complex I can’t seem to get my head around it. I am trying to compare this feeling with my initial move to Singapore half a decade ago but yet, it seems too alien, too different to even compare it with this journey. Leaving Manila before was a sort of an evolutionary progression, there was no question about it was just a matter of intellectual, experiential and financial pursuit. Going to Germany is something like that too I guess (without the financial pursuit, more like financial sabotage) but my feelings are so much more vast and complex. So many things to ponder on, so many questions asked, so many memories to remember.

In a way, I feel that this move will make me a global citizen. I no longer will have the excuse that I am unaware individual with only a limited amount of experience and life choices. The joy and the burden of leaving the comforts of my old life, as a student in Manila, as a landscape architect in Singapore means that my choices, my path in life is now departing from the usual route, my path is now diverging to a less mainstream way of thinking. My perception of reality will be deeply personal and my commonality with my friends and contemporaries will be less and less. This is a good thing, in a way. I will emerge in two years with a different understanding of the world, learning cultures and heritage, of people and places but at the same time  I maybe alone in this path to knowledge? What a strange feeling this really is. I am intellectualizing something that has not yet happened and which I am unsure of myself.

30 days and counting down, where does the journey lead to?

A pause in the journey


I read a story of a lonely traveler that I want to ponder and reflect on:

The Power of Awe

An Awe Inspiring SceneryStudies done by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota found that people who experienced the feeling of awe felt less impatient, more willing to volunteer their time to help others, strongly preferred experiences over material products and had more life satisfaction.

According to the report,”These changes in decision making and well-being were due to awe’s ability to alter the subjective experience of time. Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment, which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”

In other words, time slows down when we have a (literally) awesome experience. As a result, we feel as though we have more time to give to others, are more satisfied with the state of our own lives and we prefer this deeper sense of satisfaction to how we might feel after a marathon shopping spree.

What is awe? The researchers define it as “the emotion that arises when one encounters something so strikingly vast that it provokes a need to update one’s mental schemas.” Basically, you see something so cool that you have to rethink everything that you thought you knew about anything.

Let us search for moments of awe that will inspire us and make us better individuals.


The report is found here:

*** Excerpt from an article written by ***

Opening My Eyes To A New Experience

12 November 2010
Fraser island, Australia

My trip in Australia has been an eye opener. Similar to Singapore, Australia is a multi-cultural society with Asians, Australians of European descent, native Australian mixing into one homogeneous society. They say Australians have a racial divide but I was not able to feel it for the seven days that I am here. As a tourist, I guess it is hard to tell. I was able to interact with one Filipino working in the airport link. I had a general feeling he liked it here. And I think this place is easy to like.

Singapore has taught me to be open to the possibilities of homogeneity and I see this place not just in a Filipino’s eyes but in the eyes of a man who believes in global citizenship. I am a man of the world and I respect each place’s inherent beauty. Every place provides a certain joy and charm that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. I take the beauty of this place as well as it’s faults as part of it’s charm.

Here in Fraser island lies the epitome of zoning out and relaxing. I find myself hanging out in front of this lake in the middle of the afternoon just listening to my Bali Dua music and looking at the birds and the sky. This place looks serene, unpretentious and beautiful. Without the luxury of the noisy activities of the city, this place calms my mind and opens it up to the possibilities of my new job. By the time I come back to Singapore, I will be working in a new company. I will tackle different challenges and meet new colleagues. I don’t feel any hesitations nor nervousness even though it’s only three days from now. I see it as the right time and the right experience. I see it as an opening of a new and exciting path of my life.

I will leave this place with only good things to say about Australia. I carry with me a relaxed mind, an anticipation of the future, a respect for transitional time and the amazement of the wonders of this beautiful landscape.

Thank you Jose for sharing this place with me.