This morning, we had a failed attempt at enjoying the view of Lake Geneva. It was raining. Winter plus rain equals major gloom.


Winter trees at Lake Geneva

So after a quick breakfast at a humble cafe, we started moving again. Today, we had an important appointment, a casual meet-up feigning to be a business one, with a good friend of mine who happens to be a Philippine official to Geneva. She was an indirect boss of mine at one of my first jobs. She was Marketing Manager there, the same level as my direct boss, who told me those words that would later on linger in my mind, actually up until now. Her advice?

“Joie, make things happen.”

I didn’t understand it then, I was only 20, fresh from college, and already in my second job, the first being in a call centre where I was kicked out because I couldn’t improve my AHT or average handling time. I thought I was supposed to help customers over the phone to fix their internet connection. I didn’t know I was supposed to end the call as soon as possible, whether or not I helped them.

Eight years in time, that failed first job does not matter now, although it did aid me fake an accent I never had before. Thanks to that job, I am often mistaken to have studied in the US, which I never did, but do wish I did. I’d like to believe I took my former boss’s advice to heart. The fact that I am in Europe makes me think that I probably learned how to make things happen. I hope she’s proud of me.

So yeah, we made it to my friend’s house place in Geneva. We were served rice (oh how we missed it!) and Filipino dishes like Sinigang na hipon, Lechon kawali, Kaldereta, and Leche flan and cakes for dessert. That was her first deployment as Commercial Attaché. Her only son and parents joined her, being without a husband who passed on very early in their marriage. We learned how her son, now in secondary school, is coping with the culture and the French language in school.

I thought moving to Geneva for that job deployment was a milestone in their lives, but a relative one to each of them — to my friend, a widow 10 years my senior; to her son who had to leave his friends behind in Manila; and to her parents, retired and settling in a foreign place probably for the first time.

We were there only for lunch, passing through only from Switzerland to France, our next country in the itinerary. We were accommodated the Filipino way however briefly. I could tell they were pleased, more than bothered or hassled, to have had kababayans visit them. I hope they were delighted as we were.


The Filipino meal we earnestly wished for — and was granted.


*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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  1. […] at all these European cities — Cologne, Nuremberg, Munich, Salzburg, Lucerne, Grindelwald, Geneva, Paris, and Brugge — in that order through a ten-day European road trip where I saw history […]



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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


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


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