pinay e-motion

a heart across the ocean

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Glam Challenge Update

If you have been following my blog, then you have probably read about the glam challenge I accepted from my friend Mrs. D. sometime in May of last year. At first, I thought the challenge would be easy peasy: just dressing up and taking a selfie. You would think it is a piece of cake, right? Well, not even close. Mrs. D. and I have encountered some hiccups along the way. A couple of those I considered the most challenging are the following:

Busy schedule or lack thereof 

The idea of our glam challenge was to celebrate success: we both were starting our dream careers and felt a need to digitize our activities away from books and “no comb” days. While you would think it is simple to take a photo of ourselves before heading to work or going for a husband date – well, hell heck no, sorry! We have no training when it comes to modeling. Remember, I am an instructor and Mrs. D is a lawyer. So you can imagine our struggles just to get a decent photo. Most often than not we had a tendency to take the glam out of glamour.

A One Woman-Show

I didn’t realize the complexity of fashion photography until I got myself involved in this glamour challenge. Initially I would just ask my supportive husband to take my photos. To his credit, he went along with my shilly-shally whims and fancies for months until I became a picky subject. My husband can only take one or two shots and he’s out, so that didn’t last very long. In fairness, however, he didn’t leave me totally in the dark. I told you, my husband is the best. On my birthday he surprised me with a tripod, and I interpreted it as his way of saying to me you are on your own.

I must admit, the tripod was a tremendous help; however, the problem in photography is not only having a good photographer. Chasing good lighting as well as perfect timing are also important factors. I realized that if you’re not a trained model or someone comfortable having your photos taken in public, it could be real challenging.

Mrs. D has shared the same predicaments. Perhaps hers were even greater than mine since not only is she a career woman, but she’s also a full-time mom. Thankfully, despite our struggles, we persisted and successfully accomplished our goal. From May to December last year we were able to put together 20 collages of our glamour efforts, and here are some of my favorites:

Glam challenge update

To celebrate the success of our first venture, we are coming up with our Glam Challenge Year 2. This time we are taking our challenge to a higher level; perhaps coming up with more artistic shots and meaningful concepts. Indeed, something to look forward to. However, let me clarify that our glam challenge is more than just exchanging photos; it is about our friendship.

We often forget that friendships are like a garden. They need tending, too. You need to weed, water, and nurture to get those fabulous petunias with those funnel-shaped corollas. Making good friends may be easy, but keeping them and developing into best friends is the difficult part. This is true for people like Mrs. D and I who live on two different continents. It is so easy to give up friendships when you are apart and juggling career in between household chores and other responsibilities. So, that is the real test of our Glam Challenge project. Mrs. D. and I will attempt to keep our friendship alive by bridging the gap of time and distance that separate us. As a testament to our hard fought battles to attain our new careers we truly believe that there is nothing impossible to those who persist, including our friendship. Wish us luck!

“Friendship is not just about hanging out; it’s finding time in spite of having very little…” Pinay E-motion





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Year 2016: It’s a Wrap!

Although I must admit the year 2016 was “fast and furious” for me, with intermittent gut wrenching challenges, it has been a meaningful and productive one. Here are some of its highlights: I graduated from my second Master Degree in August, and I’ve been employed as a college instructor immediately after. My husband and I had two short getaway trips: one in spring, and another one in summer to celebrate our anniversary. I attended four workshops on TESOL, one of which I met a well-known theorist in the field of linguistics. For the first time I also participated in a political event with the sitting US President as the guest speaker. And, finally, after a year of delay, I successfully finished reading the book “An Astronaut Guide to Life on Earth” by Col. Chris Hardfield.

In hindsight, I must say, some goals I intended to achieve this year fell a little short. Not because I didn’t work hard enough but because opportunity just didn’t present itself. This has brought me to the realization that indeed everything has a time and a season. No matter how much I try, I don’t think I can force things to happen if they are not meant to be. However, it doesn’t mean that I have to lose faith and give up on my goals. I think it simply means that I just have to wait longer and probably want them more. I am convinced that sometimes there is something going on in life that is greater than what we think before planets align. That being said, before everyone gets revved up to turn the page for another year and another beginning, let me share with you some important lessons that 2016 has taught me.

  1. On my GTA Program: Success is not the result of taking chances, exploiting golden opportunities. It is the determination, hard work, and persistence to make these opportunities work to my advantage.
  2. On my graduation: Big events in life – my graduation for example – is ephemeral. Soon afterwards, the applause and adulation will stop, the spotlight moves on, and so do I.
  3.  On my job as an ELS instructor: Understanding diversity makes me see myself as no different from others. It makes me kinder to humanity.
  4.  On reading and travelling: Reading, as well as travelling, broadens me as a person.
  5. On both challenging and rewarding experiences: More than material things and fleeting victories, the most important thing in life is making most of my time I have in every situation.

There will be many endings and beginnings in our lifetimes. I surely agree with Hardfield, and I quote “Endings don’t have to be emotionally wrenching if you believe you did a good job and you’re prepared to let go.”

I wish one and all a happy New Year – 2017 bring it on!



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After going through a demanding curriculum while attending graduate school, a timeout, albeit short, is absolutely delightful. That being said, you can call my last two weeks a pleasure. A simple pleasure, that is. There was no grand trip nor big revelry. Rather, I was afforded with a much-needed uninterrupted long sleep in the mornings followed by unhurried afternoons of unostentatious activities. Ahh, tranquility! At first, I thought it was lovely – except for one thing:  after being on a roller coaster with non-stop actions of twists, turns and drops, the idea of inactivity was almost inconceivable for me.

My first few days of my hiatus, I was constantly searching for things to do: cleaning the house, and then cleaning the house some more. Can you believe it? When I was in school I had yearned for the day to come when I could just laze around and not worry about anything at all. I thought it would be wonderful, yet when I was finally face-to-face with inactivity, I seemed not to know how to handle it. Like getting off a roller coaster ride for the first time, I felt disconcerted that all the action suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly, I felt a little bit thrown off balance.

My loving husband, of course, came to the rescue. Despite his busy schedule, he was kind enough to give in to some of my whims and fancy. No budget buster, but fun nevertheless. I realized that even as simple as quick dip in the pool, a round of Frisbee throws at the park, or a trip to the movie theater were more than enough to satisfy my hunger for adventure. After a while, I felt a quiet sense of joy and contentment just hanging out with my husband, compensating for those QTP (quality time plus) moments we both missed.

During lackadaisical afternoons, I quietly engaged myself in pleasure reading. I’ve started reading (again) the book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth…” by Col. Chris Hardfield. I got his book in summer 2015 while I was doing my internship at St. Petersburg College; however, I temporarily abandoned it when I started my Graduate Assistantship Program at UCF.  It has been a year since I laid it down. Until I returned to the page I last left off, I have almost forgotten how much I appreciated the insights he shares of his life experiences as an astronaut. I must admit, as a non-science person there were many scientific jargons I hardly understood, but still I have enjoyed it enormously. I found many bits and pieces in his stories that I felt were not only thought provoking but also worth emulating. His wit, tenacity, and humility are indeed inspiring. I was captivated by his adventures, so much so that while my co-GTAs were travelling to exciting destinations in the country and other parts of the world, I, on the other hand, was travelling in space orbiting the earth – in my mind.


Photo borrowed online

So it goes with my timeout.

Next week I am returning to work: new work place and new job, that is, and beginning a new chapter in my life. I’m excited!

Thanks for reading.


Live Well or Just Live

The past couple of months were truly challenging. Everything went by like a gust of wind; there was hardly any chance for me to breathe. I was sprinting from one course requirement to another. It was an ordeal, especially the idea of sitting for the Comprehensive Exam, which I considered a high stake test as it determined whether I would graduate or not. For preparation, all test takers for the Comp Exam were given four concepts for each of the eight core courses in our program, which was a total of 28 different concepts to commit to memory. Although the exam only required us to explain 5 concepts, still we needed to study all the materials as questions were randomly picked. The exam was also timed which made it more stressful. Thus, I assumed when the test paper was passed around, every one of us hit the ground and running – as fast as we could. It was nerve-wracking, especially the waiting time for the results. No wonder when I received my e-mail announcing the outcome, I couldn’t help not to get teary-eyed. It was a feeling of relief and gratefulness for being able to get through and pass the exam.

Despite the Comprehensive Exam’s result, however, still the two weeks that followed were a marathon of  research papers writing  and final exams preparation. These two tasks combined I am determined to believe are my Waterloo. As a field dependence (a big-picture) person, my ability lies in looking at the field as a universal whole, rather than analyzing variables without the contamination of neighboring parts (makes sense?). Add to that my being a right-brain person who is more comfortable in inductive (e.g. processing holistic, integrative & emotional information) rather than deductive (e.g. logical, analytical, linear processing) data. In short, looking at minute details is not my cup of tea, which I realized eventually is a “disaster” when dissecting information imbedded in abstract evidence, in particular statistical data in research. I must admit, this Term was surely rough and tough. But again, we don’t stop in pursuing our goals and dreams simply because it is difficult, do we? Justice Sonia Sotomayor says, and I quote, “People who live in difficult circumstances need to know that happy endings are possible” (My Beloved World, 2014). That being said, I want to believe that my sacrifices will bear fruit one day, and that I can honestly say that I just didn’t live my life; I have lived it well. I gave it my best shot!

Now that the Spring Term is finally over (and it looks like I passed all my courses this Term, Thank God!), I am taking a mini break just enjoying the tranquility around me, and the joy of inactivity. Hmmm, what a wonderful life!

epcot 7

End-of-the-School-Year, Epcot Adventure with my friends

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Finding Balance

February quickly passed like a Florida afternoon summer shower that I barely noticed it. After Valentine’s Day I scanned my calendar, and I realized how many assignments were awaiting me. I panicked a little bit, and my first impulse was to take ahold of my calendar for some serious planning. I filled each box in my calendar with things-to-do, making sure that every assignment will be met before its corresponding deadline. Surely, it was no fun. It was not what I’ve envisioned of taking things in a stride as I originally plan to do this year. But, I have to do what I need to do.

My life right now is all about finding balance. In other words, I cannot let my social life outweighs my academic life. Otherwise, everything I have worked for the past years will poof up in smoke. I can imagine some of you arching your eyebrows and asking, is graduate school that daunting? Well, I guess it depends on the person. I remember my last year in my first graduate program also overwhelmed me because of the thesis writing (you see one Master’s Degree was not enough pain so I am doing it again *sarcasm). I had to bribe myself of a trip to the US (never mind if that means breaking the bank) just to motivate me to finish it. This time, I opted for a non-thesis track; however, I have a Comprehensive Exam to pass and get through, or I will not get my degree. I know some people in my class are taking it lightly. Some of them are juggling two jobs besides family and graduate school, and yet they seem to be doing very well. As a matter of fact, some of them are scheduled for a trip while all these deadlines are pressing and passing. I call them “superheroes” for their brave invincibleness. I wish I had their superpower, but unfortunately I don’t operate like them. I’m more like the ordinary student who has to spend time with books to pass the course. I’m pretty sure if I slack off, I either go haywire and off the rails and repeat my courses becoming a retread.

Therefore, here I am on my Spring Break racing with my assignments due right after I return from our week of our spring hiatus. One thing I have learned in my experiences as a GTA (Graduate Teaching Associate-Instructor) is to always anticipate. I need to get on with my forthcoming assignments because surprises are just inevitable. They’ve started early this term, and have never stopped. For instance, last month my Listening 1 class was observed three times. Oh yeah! Usually, you just get one classroom observation a semester, or if you are lucky, maybe one in a whole school year. Imagine, I had three last month: one from my Skill Coordinator, and two from a colleague at work who is doing a project for her Ph.D. class. Not that I am complaining about the idea, I am just making a point about life’s unpredictability. Nobody knows what is coming; thus, preparing ahead of time is an important lesson to learn, or at least I must say, one thing I’ve learned.

Having that in mind, I race with my forthcoming assignments, which consists of a slide presentation, an interview transcription, a research paper, and a review for my Comprehensive exam. For days I did nothing but tackle one assignment after another, deciphering academic text as I burned my eyes in front of my computer. Sure, I have beaten my deadlines, but just like anybody who goes in to a race or marathon, after racing non-stop, I’ve felt my body deliberately slowing down and feeling the exhaustion. When I’ve started feeling it, my first reaction was wanting to sit down and catch my breath. I can feel my body feeling overwhelmed by information overload. No wonder, I begged my husband yesterday to go out – for a little fun. I know that “fun” may be an absurd word right now because I am in the middle of schoolwork and my teaching job. But, I don’t think “killing myself” (okay, that’s an exaggeration) is what finding balance is all about as well. Because of my obsession to beat the deadlines I self-imposed, I sometimes forget that my brain is not the only part of my body. I also have my heart and soul that I need to feed, or I would never feel the wholeness in me. So, as I am writing this, I am waiting for my husband to get ready for our small adventure. Hopefully when we come back I will be refreshed to continue my race to get through the finish line.

Thanks for reading!

My favorite events in February

VDAY racquetball

Capping VDay with a Racquetball match with my favorite stud muffin



Hearing Dr. Stephen Krashen speak at the Ist Annual UCF World Languages International Studies Colloquium

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Creating My 2016 Masterpiece

I was watching an Italian soap opera last night and was struck by one of the lines uttered by the lead actor. He said something about creating a masterpiece in our life. I thought it was very timely since almost everyone at this time of the year is talking about his/her New Year’s goals and resolutions. For a minute or two I pondered on the word masterpiece, or a stunning success as the dictionary defined it. How do we create a masterpiece by the way?  Did our famous artists have a picture in their head when they created their masterpieces, or they just created them by chance?

I guess you can say it is pretty easy to imagine something beautiful in our mind. Many of us actually do it a lot; we daydream. However, imagining and creating are two different things. The latter entails not only hard work but a substantial amount of tenacity. I guess that is why we put a high value on anything considered a masterpiece. As for me, I am not setting any grandiose daydreaming/planning or even resolutions this year. I will gladly open my arms to anything that will come my way. I will take my chances and create my “masterpiece” one stroke of luck at a time. This way I will get the chance to see and enjoy the process of creating versus just admiring the final result of my haphazard endeavor.

For full disclosure, I wrote this almost a month ago (sorry, I forgot to post it) and so here am I a month later still trying to keep my mantra very much alive, albeit sometimes struggling. I’ve started this year with quite a hefty workload. My Spring Term has presented me with two teaching assignments (Speaking Level 1 and Listening Level 1) and three graduate classes. Not very easy to juggle, considering the unavoidable “surprise” of an extra-curricular activities every now and then. These surprises may be inconvenient sometimes, but in retrospect, I believe these incidentals are what make life more interesting. They challenge and stretch me to my limit. For instance, last week we had the Accreditation Reviewers visit the Institute. It was my first time to be involved in such a process, and it was tedious. For three Fridays we attended boot camps to familiarize ourselves with the Institute’s workings: from mission statements to students’ initiatives. The GTA Lead used my GTA report I submitted last Term (we now refer to it as the GTA Handbook) as a reference. I didn’t anticipate that my work would eventually play a role, so when I received a document from my GTA Lead with my report as an attachment I panicked. I went through each page of my report just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. Well, I did miss some words, and so at the last minute I edited and updated the report. Besides the “surprise GTA Handbook,” one of my classes was also chosen to be observed. My initial reaction was total serenity; I thought it would be just one of those days when I have to go to my class and go on with my teaching routine, easy as pie. I’ve had observers in my classes before, so I thought it was no big deal. That was what I thought until I was preparing my lesson plan for the scheduled date. I realized this is for the Institute’s accreditation, and I couldn’t mess up. I was having butterflies in my stomach when I entered my classroom that day. Thankfully, the 20 minutes ordeal went by very fast, and thank goodness, I did not throw up or pass out while on my toes trying to make a good impression. One final surprise was on the next day when I, together with a couple of GTA colleagues sat for an interview for the same accreditation purpose. We were on pins and needles, but we proudly made it.

Now that the hustle and bustle at the Institute is over, I would like to say I am up for another surprise (oh, that is pretty bold) – but please not today (c’mon be a peach). Fast forward: I haven’t come up with a research topic for one of my classes yet, and I have three presentations to prepare in another class. I would like to enjoy the ride, soak in all the lessons I need to learn, and at the end feel grateful to God for all the experiences and the opportunities. That in mind, I have to be mindful of taking things one day at a time. After all, life is short, and as my friend eloquently says, “All we have is today.”

Blog 2016

Thanks for reading!




  • As I saw your feet today,
  • A sudden tinge of pain tugged on my heart strings.
  • I wonder how many ladies can change their shoes every day,
  • When there’s so many of you who can’t even buy a pair.
  • As I saw your feet today,
  • I imagined how does it feel to walk with  flatten bottles.
  • Can the worn-out string holding your feet survive a long way?
  • Please tell me, does wearing them make you feel  like fighting hard battles? 
  • As I saw your feet today,
  • I realized that life may not be fair.
  • How I wish life is the other way:
  • when everyone is equal, and all of us do care.  

note: picture borrowed online