the long haul

the pencil nebula
the endeavour used to be here.

and now it’s HERE!!
the endeavor in la

i was sent on assignment by my boss to go over one of the endeavour’s flyover points and take pictures (the above are not mine) — completely unrelated to the tv post production world, but totally related to MY world. she didn’t even know i was a space fan, but she told me to take the day and bring back some pictures. what a perfect excuse for a day off!

it was foolish of me to have underestimated the crowd that was drawn by the endeavour’s last flight, and at the griffith observatory of all places! two hours to drive 12 miles should have given me ample time to get to the observatory — even considering morning traffic. but the streets below were littered with cars, practically unmoving, along with a line of cars signaling to get into an already gridlocked right lane. when i turned into one of the streets leading up, i found it closed to observers. the hill had filled up. so i parked in a residential street and started hiking two miles in high 80 degree weather with a camera bag filled with lenses and tripod in tow.

but what a sight. the energy at the top of that hill was electrifying. there it was flying before me– a space ship…that’s been in space…during my lifetime…and now lives in my city.

this one’s mine.


Day 09 – Your beliefs, in great detail

the other day, a foreign friend asked me to share my testimony via youtube for his christian online magazine, onfire. i was all of delighted, humbled and nervous about fulfilling his request. unable to relate to contemporary christians, i have — for so long — felt disconnected from the christian community. the youth group i once belonged to had disbanded many years ago as our small church drama caused our families to scatter to new churches, and i have since been unable to find a group of christian friends i can emotionally connect to. consequently, seeking a new church on my own while being inherently shy hasn’t helped much. so without any accountability, i’ve lived my life teetering in between a Christ-centered and self-centered life.

i am human, flawed in every way imaginable, but in Christ i have a reason to strive for perfection — to be more like Him. i believe in the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost whom He left to dwell within us. i believe in christian apologetics, defending the faith through logical reasoning. not everyone will understand christianese or respond to aggressive “fire and brimstone” evangelism, but everyone understands logic, and logic can open the door to a real relationship with Christ.

a few years ago, i had slowly drifted from an every-sunday-church-goer to an every-once-in-a-while-church-goer. i was living on my own, and without the daily pressures of my overbearing, baptist mother, i became lax with my spiritual life. with an insufferable night work schedule at a low-paying job, i lacked a social life and became lonely and depressed in my tiny los angeles apartment. in 2009 i made a few new years resolutions. out of all the wishy-washy resolutions i had ever made in my 20-some-odd years of living, i was committed to taking these seriously.

  1. go to church every sunday
  2. tithe
  3. run

and i did. and when i did, inexplicable things started happening in my life. every single sermon spoke to me, not because i was searching to be spoken to but because the Lord knew i would finally listen. with as little money as i made, i committed to giving the small sum He asks for, and suddenly opportunity for overtime and a raise came flooding my way. i ran, literally, 5 times a week, but as i started to notice the evidence of God’s grace in my life, i realized where i was running to. the more i continued to live for Him, the more my eyes were opened to the blessings that had always been there. i wanted to change my life, run to Christ and never stop. this world, however, is filled with distraction. the christian life is not without struggle; we draw near and fall away until God breaks us again. i am human, flawed in every way imaginable. but despite my shortcomings, God continues to make Himself shown regardless of how well i pay attention.

change of heart

“your hair looks longer,” he said as he sat down on my chair.

“you feel taller,” i said as i hugged him goodbye.

funny how much things change (even if they really didn’t) after not having seen someone for a month.

an ocean of fears

california summers are nearly endless, but on the hottest days, most people like to go to the beach. i, however, don’t head down there nearly as much as many of my fellow californians do. don’t get me wrong; i have no problem with the beach. (i used to when i was an insecure teenager who didn’t know how to put on sun screen) in fact, i love it. well…most of it…which brings me to this:

i’m terrified of the ocean for the following reasons —

1) it is filled with creatures unknown. we know as much about our oceans as we do about outer space. in its deepest depths live alien-like creatures that seem to have come to life from the pages of science fiction rather than from our own planet. when you’re in the water, you don’t truly know what’s swimming with you and what’s contaminating the water you allow yourself to be consumed in. i suppose it’s not the creatures, themselves, but the mystery beneath that i fear the most.

2) naturally, we are not made to be in the water. our skin prunes; we can’t breathe or see without man-made contraptions; our bodies are not properly equipped to handle the pressures of the deep…

alright, so we’re not made to be in the air either, but that’s why there are also people who fear flying.

but what happens when you’re stranded out there without the equipment that allows you to survive? you’re in the ocean’s turf, baby. it’ll do with you what it wants.

at a loss for words

it’s been a year since my last active post. but now that i have more time on my hands, look out wordpress! things are going to change around here. this past year or so i’ve let writing teeter in and out of my life and fall nearly into oblivion. and since i’ve stopped actively writing, i found that i’m more at a loss for words than ever. i haven’t been able to articulate my thoughts properly, which has caused me to stutter and stumble on my words, which have made me insecure about the way i speak, which has made me more quiet…

writing was like a cork that kept everything in my brain. and when i let it crumble away, everything started to leak out.

progressive yuppies

union lake from kite hill– gasworks park — seattle, washington — may, 2011

seattlites far and wide took advantage of the sunny interlude from the daily gloom while i was up visiting a few months back. so i got an opportunity to observe the intriguing people of seattle while they were outdoors enjoying the warmth of the sun. it was no surprise to see white-asian couples and their cute, little hapakids flying kites because, well, that kind of family has become quite commonplace these days. and while international adoptions have skyrocketed since they were popularized by the jolie-pitts, what was fascinating to me was the number of white couples i saw with full asian children. a town of progressive yuppies, they are.

hip fruit vendors at pike place market — seattle washington — may 2011

an edwardian sorcerer and a grown-up page boy selling fruit. for some reason, i take these guys seriously. maybe i’m just jaded about hollywood hipster culture, but there’s something more organic about the hipsters of the northwest. and i’m not just talking about their fruit.

rocked like a hurricane irene

i briefly talked to ian today as he was getting on the train. he is okay.

Day 07 – Your best friend, in great detail

calling someone your ‘best friend’ is like saying ‘i love you’ for the first time. you don’t want to say it unless you’re certain the other person feels the same way. when you call someone your ‘best friend’ you’re saying they mean the most to you out of all your other friends. revealing this can make you a bit vulnerable, which can potentially lead to jealousy if others claim your best friend as their own (eg. bridesmaids).

mark and i have known each other since he befriended my brother, lance, at caroline tran’s birthday party in 3rd grade. soon enough, he was coming over to play sega genisis, and when lance became too cool to play with little kids, we started to hanging out on our own. many years of pogs, comic books, park swings, “clueless” quotes, naps, joy rides, fights and late night car talks followed. we became permanent fixtures in each other’s lives, and i’m pretty sure i’m still the only person outside of his family who calls him by his middle name.

i’m content with saying that jeff mark munar is my best friend even though i know he holds that status in other people’s lives. i mean, come on. who wouldn’t call him their best friend? his magnetic personality and boyish, yet salacious, charm harbor nothing less than genuine sincerity. it’s easy to spend hours talking to him because intimate conversation is so natural with him, and before you know it you are telling him the most visceral details of your life. his zest for life and charisma are captivating; his work ethic and determination are admirable; he’ll tell you how it is and call you on your shit. and he’s one of the most devoted friends you will ever have. he lives in san francisco now, pursing his career as an art director for a top advertising company, but hanging out after long gaps of time remains the same. i tell him i love him every time we talk, but that still doesn’t quite express how dear he is to me.

Day 03 — Your parents, in great detail

my father was born in san juan, metro manila, philippines of a chinese immigrant and a filipino native. he’s the 8th of 10 brothers and sisters (the first-born lived with his mother and two cousins are pictured along with the family above). at age 23, he came to the states by way of guam and served in the US army during the vietnam war. i’ve always described his demeanor as “so chinese.” often quiet and stoic, he masks his feelings of meaninglessness behind an underbitten smile. after 20-some-odd years of living under his roof, i realize i don’t know much about my father. every time i asked about his past, he would give me brief, diluted responses. i got a sense he was avoiding it because there were emotions he chose not to revisit or express. so i left it.

we had a tough relationship growing up. i longed for us to have the kind of father/daughter relationship i saw on tv — a father whose heart was softened by his little girl — but we just didn’t understand each other. i wanted him to be uplifting, supportive and compassionate. instead, he was critical, unsupportive and stone-hearted. he wanted me to be an obedient daughter who trusted and respected him. instead he got one who was rebellious and challenging. i always wanted to pick a fight. i thought if i was terrible enough he would somehow realize i was trying to get his attention, and then he’d magically be the kind of father i needed. he was never a violent man, but i once tested him to the point where he raised a hand at me. we were both prideful, but it took several years for the Lord to soften my heart and give me the wisdom and understanding to realize that in order for us to have any kind of civil relationship, i had to swallow my jagged pride and set aside all the anger i was harboring. i understand him more than i ever did before, so we have the most loving relationship we could possibly have now.

my mother grew up in pasay city, metro manila, philippines. as the only daughter of a moderately wealthy family, she was spoiled but restricted. she had a maid, a driver, and a seamstress who made her new clothes every week. everything she wanted was hers, except freedom. her brothers — who are 13 and 16 years older than she — kept a constant watchful eye on her. she always used to tell us how much she longed to join the girl scouts, but all her parents allowed her to do was buy their cookies. after graduating college, she decided to see what the states had to offer and moved in with her eldest brother in east hollywood (where 30 some-odd years later, i would find myself living on the exact same street).

a devoted catholic for most of her life, she became a born-again christian in the 80s and started taking us to a foursquare church. she raised us to be God-fearing children, but as i got older, her fundamentalism and conservative upbringing came head to head with my youthful desires to “rock out.” i went to church every sunday, was consistently involved in the church youth group and friday night bible studies, and yet late nights in hollywood attending phantom planet and yeah yeah yeahs shows (but not necessarily doing anything bad) still labeled me the black sheep of the family. i grew tired of my mother’s constant preaching to “save my soul” when my soul was never lost to begin with. everything she said reflected everything i disliked about southern baptist/conservative filipino beliefs, and i left her church. as some of you may have caught (if you pay any attention to my posts), i left her church, but never left the faith.

living away from my parents was the best thing for our relationship. it gave me a chance to step back and appreciate who they are without the dense fog our differences created. despite my mother’s annoying tendencies, the heart in this woman is incredible. she is the hardest-working, selfless, most loving and generous woman i have ever known. her inability to understand sarcasm and american idioms is one of the most endearing things about her, and when she tries to use them, it’s so hilarious that we all laugh until we’re red in the face.