Black, white, asian, middle-eastern, dutch. The church was full of all colors, even sizes. My 10-month old nephew could probably understand the homily more than I.

Yesterday was my brother-in-law’s birthday celebration. The house was full of all characters–karaoke singers, karaoke dancers, Filipino couples, Filipino-Dutch couples, Filipino couple soon-to-be married, Filipino teenager raised in Holland, a short Filipina with a tall guy for a loverboy, an Elvis (japorms and all) and then “there’s this fish…” (an inside joke I can’t really explain).

They were speaking in tongues–Dutch, Bisaya, Tagalog–of which only the latter I could understand. These people have come together, relating because of one fact, that they’re Filipinos. Wherever one is in the world, you’re kind of inclined to go back to who you are, and you try to find who you are in wherever you are. Living in a place other than your country makes you live life more excitedly. At least in my opinion. You put more life in to your everyday, knowing somehow that these are temporary, that you are not staying in this foreign land all the days of your life.

Maybe this is one of the secrets to living life fully: to keep on moving, such that you cherish every place, every person you meet, every food you eat, every handshake of a stranger, every new word you learn. Every experience, every moment is a moment that’s gone by.

I want to make photographs, but not just still photographs. I want to make moving photographs.

You might say I want to make films. But I just really want to create moving photographs, or shots of moments. Not movements, but moments in milliseconds, to catch the blinking of the eyes, the fluttering of the lashes, a smirk, a short smile, the flair of the hair, tiptoeing legs of a baby, a moment to sit on the pavement, a glance, a sweet glance, a pair of eyes looking up a stranger, the quick hurt caused by a glaring light, a soft touch on someone else’s cheek, eyes that water from laughing, growling of the coffee pot, a kiss from a rose.

Moments that define us, moments that burst of happiness, moments that don’t last forever and therefore we cherish them.

It’s Sunday today, and not just any Sunday. It’s Beatles Sunday. The songs, for sure, will play in my head all day today. It reminds me of the Sundays at home when my dad would hit the DVD player with Ed Sullivan’s The Beatles episodes. It reminds me of home… six thousand miles away.



A moment frozen in time

*This is part of a 68-Day Travel Diary called Reflections of a Nearly Thirty. Read the full Reflections Series here.

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About hellopenville

Writing is my one true north. (The other is eating spaghetti. I make the best pastas in the whole world I swear!) I have been writing since age 10. I remember being in another school a lot because of Campus Journalism contests. I was a grade-school copyreader, headline-writer, and feature writer, who emerged to be a college editorial writer and eventually a TV news writer. However, I have always been an insecure artist. These constant condescending thoughts always stopped me from creating: “No one would read this.” “This has been written before and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not interesting enough and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not relevant, or factual, or trendy enough and therefore no one would read this.” But I learned to risk to write even if no one reads it, than not to have written anything at all. To resist writing is to resist truth itself, to betray that which comes freely to you when you do not allow it to be manifested through you. I didn’t think writing was serious work. But every time I thought about writing, it would make me nervous. It would rattle me and frighten me. I would shake the ground under me. Aren’t dreams like that too? Read more at


Holland, Travel, Travel Reflections Series (3 months in Europe)


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