Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Date a Guy Who Reads

Sometime last year, I read articles entitled “Date a girl who reads” by Rosemarie Urquico as an answer to Charles Warnnke's  “Date an illiterate Girl”. It made me smile and laugh hard. The things people write when inspired or heartbroken.

When I was in Brussels, I saw this one guy who read at the platform near the escalator of Brussels Train Station! Sweet. I snapped a photo of him and was inspired to write my own version of “Date a Guy who Reads.” Teneee

So here’s my own version of the  itsy-bitsy teeny weeny flirtation with guys who read.


Reading is a habit one picks up at a tender age. A child is very curious of the world and he/she must be encouraged to discover the word through written words. Now, more and more children are into watching TVs  than discovering the world through their imagination.

The book helps us imagine, create worlds beyond our grasp. Reading should not be only the “habit of the rich.” In a country with expensive books, literacy program on nil and changing education system, parents must instil the habit of learning. And reading should not be expensive. Second hand bookshops abound. If you’re creative and patient enough, Classic books can be bought at Bookshop. Befriend the Bookshop attendant, give them the titles you’ve been dying to get your hands on and they’ll happily keep it for you.

I’m always drawn to a man with a book on his hand/ or on his bag. There’s nothing sexier than looking at the man you love holding a book, reading, Then he suddenly stopped, looked at you lovingly and smiles. Or winks.  

Date a guy who reads because he will understand your moment of lunacy; he’ll understand when you talk alone trying to figure out the characters’ desires and reason for vengeance. He will understand why you forgot the time as you’ve been too engrossed in a book.

He will smile when you cry over a death scene on the pages of the book. He will be your knight. He knows that chivalry is the way to win your heart. Bookshops will be your dating place. A good bench at the park is his place to de-stress. He will recite excerpts of Sylvia Plath on your birthday, hand you Maya Angelou when you’re down or show you political ironies of Middle Earth and that of your own country. He argues with you over Vonnegut or with Beckett.  Books and literary humor that will make most of your memories with him.  

He will listen to you describe a character, or plot of the current David Baldacci mystery or swoon over Neil Gaiman’s simple, surrealist writings. He will mourn with you on the macabre and hallucinatory feel in Haruki Murakami.

He will write you looooong letters when he’s away because he knows how you love written words. He knows words soothes you and he knows how you love reading and rereading it. He will carry your bag, not complain how heavy it is as he knows it does not only contain lipsticks or work-stuff things, bigger weight belong to the books you bring to read when caught on traffic or while waiting for the dentist.

Sweet nothings, he will not just post on the ref but insert into the page of Paulo Coelho you’re currently devouring. Bookmarks, highlight pens and post-its- he understands these as your essential company. 

He will understand why you scorn, what makes you giggle. He will understand the power of Foucault. Silences between you two are never uncomfortable. Your best time together is him sitting on the couch while you rest your feet on his lap; both holding books separate in both worlds but conscious of each other’s breathing.

He will give you long tender and lingering kisses because he knows how precious these moments are and words are not enough to describe that. He understands the longing one has;  the excitement when seeking words are beyond reality. You can go on without sleeping, just talking about novels, stories of conquests, survival and love. He is never boring; he has more stories to share. He knows reading Pablo Neruda’s poems arouses you. Sometimes, he can be like Mr. Darcy- aloof yet romantic. He knows how sensible and sensitive you are. He knows you need some time alone for discernment; that one needs time to eat, pray and love.

He will not judge you. Covers are not an assurance of best stories. He knows it takes time to contemplate a Tolstoy novel, that war and peace is at both end of the spectrum but he’s willing to wait.

Date a guy who reads. And most probably, he also writes. Date him. Love him. 

Date a guy who reads. He will have a unique proposal to you, unequaled with creativity.  Marry him. He will be a good storyteller to your children as he will continue to believe in fairytales, imaginations and happy endings. He believes in the power of a book- the Bible to change the course of humanity. He will teach that to your kids. He will tell them that a reader is a leader. And  vice versa.

Date a guy who reads and you’ll both not regret growing old together spinning stories and holding on, fighting for “forever”.

PS. Guys who read, for me are just hot. For a visual treat you can visit Ohlala! :D

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wander and Wonder!

The Holstee Manifesto

 I saw this picture as my collegue’s Liezl’s laptop wallpaper. I immediately fell in love with the simple words. Every word resonates a twentysomething’s yearning, a person seeking for his/her place under the sun. Who wouldn’t want to travel and learn more from the experiences? Who wouldn’t want to do the things they truly believe in? The things you are more passionate with? Not everyone is given a chance but most have fallen into the system, taking the conundrum and has forgotten about their dreams?

The world we live in right now demands us to have a higher paycheck, get a stable job, acquire luxurious things in order to be seen as ‘successful.’  Earn money first. Travelling, you can do later in life. Probably after you paid the mortgage. It could work for some. But for me, life is a series of adventure and doing something you are truly passionate with. When you love what you are doing, you are not working; you are living! J

When we were younger, we were thought to dream, to look at the stars and shoot for the moon. My Lola Luz taught me to explore beyond our baryo, to dream big beyond our city. My aunt, Mommy Suzette told me there is more beyond the places you are comfortable with. When you travel to the place for the first time (and you don’t know anyone from that place), you’re giddy, nervous and uncomfortable but you have to conquer that. You must keep that ‘giddiness’ of experiencing something new. It makes you alive, she added. 

With my Mommy Suzette, the ultimate traveler in the family.
We fear the unknown. We are afraid of taking risks that we opt to continue with the routine. Because it’s already a habit we had formed and it’s hard to break it. Get out of your comfort zone. How many times have we heard this? Getting out of the things we used to do and trying out of our established routine. It might not be something really huge, we can start gradually until we have seen a bigger picture- that something  more is out there. 

It is only by acknowledging and accepting the need, to take the big leap of faith. In order to go to new places, we have to accept that we don’t want to be in a place we are right now. Some are afraid if they will be doing it alone.

We always see pairs of people. What if something happened, we continually ask. Having a company is really great. Traveling for instance with a buddy or with a group is comforting. But traveling alone is a different experience!

When in group, you have to have an itinerary. You have to plan it out more. Or even with a buddy. When I travel, I tend to walk aimlessly. And whenever someone would like to join me, I have to warn him/her. I can go on walking and could not care less. I can go with no itinerary or specific areas to see. Some people can be uncomfortable without plans. After all, we were told to plan always, to be prepared and be ready. But getting lost in a journey and without a plan could be a plan after all! 

It is only by getting lost that you’ll find yourself. The Holstee manifesto said. And it’s only when you get lost that you’ll be able to see unexpected sights and meet people who’s willing to lend a hand to bring you back ‘on track’. And it's having no expectations that you'll see more the magic. Sitting alone, having the time with yourself- you'll learn more and see the world clearly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brussels: The Touristy Act


Brussels is a huge, historical prominent city full of surprises. Since the CS meet-up was unsuccessful, I decided to do the most touristy act in my whole trip: Sightseeing Brussels on a hop on hop off bus  for 20 euros (student price. Yes, because I look like one. haha! No ID required.)!:D

Here, they use the audio tours. And I don’t know why but I don’t like audio tours. It’s either my headphone’s not working or my ear drums refused to listen! Haha! Most of the seat I took, the English tour didn’t work. So I just ‘see’ these works of art and guess based on the brochure given by the bus operator.I took the best seat in front of the double decker bus but later on, I had a seatmate who’ s smell will just take your breath literally away! (Any idea why? You can guess. Hehe) 

I went out and stayed with the Spanish teachers group outside of the bus. I wanted to stay on at the back of the tour bus where it’s open but the chilly wind made me shiver. I still need to go back in Amsterdam in one piece and healthy so I have to go back inside.

When we arrived at Bus stop 9, it rained hard. The mini-Europe park was closed so I took the Atomium tour instead. 

Atomium was constructed during the 1958 World Fair. It became Brussels’ key landmark and became known internationally for its futuristic design. A seminal totem that houses the prestigious design during the Expo 58. It’s a haven for engineering and architecture students wherein different models of former pavilions, permanent exhibitions of that glorious event. It was designed by Andre Waterkeyn, it symbolizes an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. The nine large spheres are connected by 20 tubes, and supported by three enormous pillars dominating with a height of 102 meters. The spheres with 18 meters diameter were fitted out by architects Andre and Jean Polak. 

architects and engineers would love this place!

The Floating balcony for Kids

the 360 panorama view
The upper sphere also offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city. At this level, you can also the mini-Europe, Planetarium and King Baudouin Soccer Stadium.

mouth-watering waffles! :D
Still, meeting and talking to a local is the best tour that you can do. I would not recommend this unless you have no other choice. Sadly, it rained hard in the afternoon. I even panicked when I learned the last bus was only until 4:30PM. Atomium is a long drive from the central station and I don’t want to spend another dime for a bus! Good thing the bus here are not on the dot, so I was able to catch the last one but I have to run as fast as I could! Breathless and a 5 minute- search for the bus ticket, I was able to reclaim my good seat in front on top of the double-decker bus. And I have to smile and thank the universe for a handsome seatmate that time! 

All izz well. 

Time to leave

the Platform.

Goodbye Brussels! :)

In transit: Antwerp and Ghent

Antwerp. I first saw it’s outline when we were exploring Oosterschelde Deltawork. I told myself, I will go there. And  took the courage to explore Belgium after the training, bought the train ticket, and started the trip solo. I will have to see Antwerp even half for a day.:)

Half day, of course is not enough. And walking on a very cold weather is really not comforting. But hey! I’ll only be here for three days, might as well maximize and enjoy the trip! I searched online for some possible places to see here but then again, I don't write it down and I don't know how to read maps. So forget about maps or GPS. Walking aimlessly is more fun! :D

By 9am March 5, I took the train from Amsterdam Centraal.
Be on time or else the train will leave you.

Passing through different stations (Slaterdijk, Leiden, Delft, Rotterdam and Dordecht) with different views, we finally arrived at Antwerp Centraal by exactly 12noon. Good thing I made a sandwich earlier that morning and packed chocolate cake I ate during travel. I am still full and ready to walk! The station itself is a marvelous work of art but I’ll save it for later afternoon exploration.

First stop is the St. Jacobkerk (Church) now turned into a musical center. 
St. Jacob's Church

It’s closed  so I continue the journey, walking when nature called. I kept on walking hoping to find a good place to relieve myself when I saw a church yard. A garden desolate and with a poster for an upcoming concert. I entered only to realize it’s an elderly commune.
The yard to the elderly commune
I went inside. All of the eating elders looked up at me. I smiled and asked the lady at the counter if I could use their toilet. She smiled and said, “Of course”. And pointed to me where it was.

I stayed for a while and chatted an old man at the garden. Being old and left at the commune. Gone are their productive days and they’re living with their pension. I wonder, are their children still visiting them? One thing we are proud of is our strong familial ties. Putting your parents to the home for the aged is still being frowned upon.

Then I saw one of the most magnificent steeples. The majestic Cathedral of Our Lady. Looking at its very intricate designs, it’s not surprising that it took 169 years (1352-1521) of labor to raise the 123m heavenward-reaching steeple of the Cathedral! It is the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries. The Cathedral is an iconic treasury, with an impressive collection of major art works, including a series of paintings by Rubens. Now, after twenty years, the seven-naved church has been restored to its former architectural glory. Fascinating features include Rubens’ ‘Elevation of the Cross’ and his ‘Descent from the Cross’.

the magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady
Amazing work of art!
Sadly, by around 3:00PM, it started to rain. From a soft drizzle, I can still managed to walk on this weather. I told my body, "Go on". But when big raindrops started to fall, and I didn’t bring any umbrella, I have to go back to the Centraal station. And of course, going back is not easy for me. I got lost (and I expected that already! Haha!).

After 20 minutes more of walking, asking directions from random people, taking more photographs of old amazing buildings, I finally saw someone hurriedly walking with a luggage. I surmised, she’s surely going to the station so I just followed!  Instinct. Common sense and just follow that ‘little voice’ within and you’ll be fine, my colleague Liezl advised me. So I did.

Antwerpen Centraal

 Antwerp’s Central Station is considered one of the most beautiful stations worldwide. In 2009, it was declared by Newsweek as the 4th World’s Most Beautiful Train Station! (but the Antwerp map  for young travellers disagreed. They are the best, according to them! Of course, love your own!haha!) . It was built in 1905 and looks like a basilica with high marble columns and elegant staircase. Between 2000 and 2009 the monumental building was completely modernized and expanded to accommodate the high-speed rail line. More platforms were opened on two additional underground levels, an additional entrance with station hall was built in Kievitplein and space was created for shops and restaurants. The unique metal platform roof had previously been restored. 

Souvenir shot taken by the policeman! ^_^

The train station itself is a good place to explore. I went inside the flower shop and smelled these beauty! 

 Perfect gift for your loved ones when you get back home! I always swoon when I see husbands buying flowers for their wives (or maybe even mistresses? Haha!). 

Diamonds are forever and a girl's best friend. REALLY?
After watching Blood Diamonds, I don't buy this marketing.

Antwerp is also a Diamondland. It has been into the trade for over 500 years now. Just across the station, the diamond shops abound! The Hovenierstraat, there are four diamond trade markets. This district provides around 10% of the Belgian national income. Back in the old days, the diamond trade business was done by the Orthodox Jews, but now, players from India, Eastern Europe and Chinese took over.
Remember your platform and the time of departure.
By 5:18PM, I boarded the train going to Brugge. Brugge is a wonderful city that enthralls every tourist. (it’s on a separate entry). But I still have a stop at Ghent. 

Although it's a 45 minute ride, I never slept. I tried to feast my eyes on the scenery. I tried to fight my droopy eyes. And I tried to listen to the Dutch train announcement and check if I can understand it. I didn't understand anything. What I did? Look at the digital board and check what's the next halte (stop). When taking the train solo, just remember not to oversleep. :) 


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