Saturday, June 30, 2012

Moving On...

By the time you read this, we would have already arrived at our next home: Singapore.  But right now, I’m writing this on our very last full day in Sri Lanka as residents.  I’ve never been this sad moving to a new place.  Before I left Manila, I have been living there for most of my life and itching to go because I have been missing my hubby terribly.  In Sri Lanka I feel we have just settled, we have just made it home then we leave.  Plus all the huge milestones in my adult life happened here!  Last Wednesday, the packing was done, the movers have pulled out our stuff and the shipment all set and ready to go, as I was watching our container van leave for the port, I felt like I was watching a funeral. 

Our life in Sri Lanka, all boxed up and it is over.  As I said in my Facebook update, I am beyond sad.

BUT in 10 days I will see that “box” again – in a different place with a new set of possibilities that lie ahead.  Exciting times are yet upon us again!  How can we be so lucky?

In my sadness there is also a lot of gratefulness – for the grace-filled almost 2-years in Sri Lanka.  I’ve never felt so blessed!  And I am hopeful that the gifts will overflow even to our next destination.  I have so many learnings – about myself, about living in a different country, about life in general – that I am just excited to unwrap and apply.  In the process there is always growth and the moves have “forced” me to grow up.

In as much as there is a deep sorrow beyond sadness, deep in my heart I also know and understand it is time to go.  I am feeling my feelings but I am also going with the flow.  And that’s the big lesson Sri Lanka has taught me.  Go with the flow and trust: Surrender, Discover, Create.

At the end of the day what matters most is that we’re doing this together – hubby, Luna and me.  And wherever in the world we may be, that is just where I want to be.

This blog will remain open to those who need information on life in Lanka and because I want it to forever live on.

But I will be moving on to a new platform of expression!

As most of you know, I have my own site myself!  For reflection and inspiration to cultivate vitality, check out

So as they say here: we’ll make a move and see you next in Singapore! 

As they say here too: I will go and come.  (I'll be baaaack!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Matters Most To Me In Sri Lanka: Wrap Up

So What Does Sri Lanka Mean / Matters Most To Me?

Through all these I learned to…




And that there is no place like home.  

And you can create it.  

And you can have more than one.  Yay!

This is Livin’ La Vida Lanka.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Create + Home

The last (but not the least) thing that Sri Lanka means to me is Creating + Home.

I came to Sri Lanka excited to be married but with a two-year timeframe in mind.  It’s hard to dig a foundation for a home if you are only looking at it for the short-term, contingent on hubby’s assignment.

Sri Lanka is homey.  I think it’s the chillaxing vibe.  Or the surprising similarities with the Philippines.  Or the friendly people.  Or just being with hubby.  Whatever it is, it invited me to feel at home.  And I did.  I do. 

The regional HR head in my previous job flew in for a visit.  And he was asking me how I feel about being in Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka was in a “state of war” for around 30 years which only ended around a year before we arrived.  So I guess the stigma that it is a war-torn country is still primary in people’s minds.  He was pretty much curious about how I feel safety wise.  Honestly I actually feel safer here than in Manila.  I was born and raised in Manila and paranoid to the core.  I know I can wing it in any country if I wanted to.  I didn’t need to do that here.  Even if trishaw/tuktuk/bajaj drivers still rip me off (as they do both foreigners and locals alike I suppose), I have trust in the people here.  Case in point, we had a workshop in a hotel around an hour away from Colombo.  As we were heading home, I realized I forgot my personal laptop in the meeting room!  It was already 2 hours since we finished and the butterflies in my stomach were really bouncing all over the place.  What do you know, it was still there and I got it back safe and sound.  In Manila, “sorry ka nalang.”  Anyway I digress.  So I just answered him, “to me, Sri Lanka is home.”

In as much as it was homey I didn’t find it “home” for a long time.  In my mind I was comparing it to Manila but more on what it lacked.  It didn’t have a “proper mall” and GASP, STARBUCKS.  Really on that point alone I think I have outdone myself.  A Starbucks addict.  I realized that what I was trying to do was I was trying to bring Manila to Sri Lanka so I can be “at home.” But as my father always tells me, “you have to appreciate it for its own charm.” 

And thank God I did.  And more.

I found out that I could be happy without a mall, without a Starbucks and yes, without wardrobe shopping.

It created a safe space for me to work out “issues / traumas” I left behind in Manila.

I found out that if I just let go, in the tiny teardrop country of Sri Lanka, a whole new world was opened up to me.

And I found out that yes, even if I am miles away from home, I can create a home.

And gain another home.

I am one of the lucky few.  Manila / Philippines is Home.  Colombo / Sri Lanka is Home.  And I have another chance to create another home in Singapore.

My brother and I were discussing.  He was sharing how, when he was studying in Melbourne he purposefully didn’t “make” it home.  And I guess that is where most of my regrets stemmed from.  I started out well but eventually all my issues came up, things got busy, pregnancy hormones raged.  Not a good combination when you want to set up a new home.  

But you know what, one fine day (as they would say here) It. Just. Did. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

People + Connection

The fourth thing that Sri Lanka means to me is about the people we've made connections with.

Our life in Sri Lanka wouldn’t be as beautiful and grace-filled as it is had it not been for the people we meet.

The first new friends I’ve made was in Sinhala Class.  Looking back at it now I’ve realized that in as much as we were of different nationalities, ages and what-nots – we have so many things in common.  Our love of Yoga, our love for our husbands (we’ve basically “followed” or “stayed” in Sri Lanka for them!) and our love for learning to name a few.

Office friends are essential.  My first office friends here were actually hubby’s team.  They welcomed me with open arms and are just authentically awesome people.  When I started working I got my own set of office friends too!  And they are as great!

One thing that I was actually wary of mingling with are Filipinos.  This is coming from a warning that Filipinos will just borrow money.  But I had a totally different experience here!  They did not borrow money at all but they are one of the most generous people I have ever met in my life.  I guess it’s the sense of solidarity and brotherhood for people from home in a land far away from home.  Or just the kinds of people they are.  They have gifted us with food, invited us to the parties and basically opened their arms and made Sri Lanka feel like Manila.  One thing about money though is that they are one set of uber entrepreneurs.  They make longganisa, siopao and even bring in Dunkin Donuts from the Middle East and sell it for a nice profit! 

During my pregnancy my doctor was a ray of sunshine and calling me “Sweetie” was pretty calming amidst the stresses of a first-time mom-to-be.  Our birthing class teacher was a source of strength and reassurance.  My yoga gurus gave powerful meditations. 

Closer to home, I feel we’ve developed a sense of family with our nanny and driver.  In as much as in this warped world they “serve” us, we have endeavored to serve them as well.  They are our parent’s age yet they work for us but I look at it this way, they take care of us.  This is the first time I’ve ever “managed” household “help” and I didn’t think I would be this sentimental about it.  I guess we were lucky to have found them.  Avid readers would know that I’ve had my fair share in driver troubles and cleaner woes.  But the two who are with us the longest and with us now are truly exceptional – not only in their work but also as persons.  As Nanny McVi once said, “I know you have a good heart.”

The place is just a place until it becomes rooted in the people there.  Nanny McVi was showing how sad she was on our leaving.  You see her expertise is taking care of children from 0-12.  By the time they celebrate their first birthday, she moves on to another newborn.  In as much as in each leaving there is sadness, with her “Sri Lankan” babies, she knows she can still see them.  But us, this may be a “real” goodbye.  I sure hope not.  And to go all MacArthur or Schwatzenegger, “We will be back.”  Or you will visit us in Singapore.  Or we’ll keep touch on Facebook!  Whatever mode - we'll definitely stay connected.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The third thing Sri Lanka means to me is Motherhood.

Maybe because I didn’t give birth in my own country makes where I did extra special. 

Getting pregnant and giving birth in a country where no family exists is tough. And first-time pregnancy and birth are milestones that are meant to be shared with the world!

I was depressed for most of my first trimester.  As regular readers would remember.  I hated where I was.  I longed for home.  Maybe it was because of the morning (all-day) sickness or the hormones.  Whatever the reason I was struggling with the fact that I was not in the Philippines.

As we went on with our pregnancy, I realized that it could actually be a good thing!

Not having food I craved for means I didn’t gain as much weight – in the end I still did but imagine if a Kare-Kare was within easy reach…

People also were more cautious to tell you what to do because aside from being “medical”, pregnancy and childbirth are very much culture-laden.

Because it was “just us” – we started off parenthood our way.  Luckily hubby and I are pretty much on the same page.

Aside from the benefits of “exclusion” at the end of the day we still shared the milestone with the world.

Thoughts and kind gifts found its way to us – from Australia, US and the Philippines.  With that I discovered how awesome the Sri Lankan Post System is!  And started to use the old school mail again.

I felt in as much as the family and friends I grew up with were not around, we gained more with friends who “took care of us” and treated us like family.  For that Pinoy friends are a must.  We were exposed to the utmost kindness from our kababayans (countrymen).  But not only them, all around kindness abound – especially if you’re pregnant!

In the end, My Team Luna was complete.  Hubby and I are together.  For him I would get pregnant and give birth anywhere.  But it was made even more complete, my mom by my side.  My mom for her and for what she stood for, my family and friends back home.

At the end of the day, Sri Lanka will always be special for making me a mom.  But really underneath that for making me grow up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Island Explorer La Vida Lanka Part 1

Because our great friend The Island Explorer came to town, we did what we most wanted to do: visit Dambulla + Sigiriya.  

I first heard about Sigiriya when Ian Wright did his show Globe Trekkers on Sri Lanka.  The story is that there was this prince who killed his father to be the king.  He was so paranoid that his brothers would plot the revenge of their father's death that he situated himself and his palace upon a rock fortress: enter Sigiriya.

The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
I don't know with you but if you've situated yourself on top of that rock, well, it is indeed difficult to get to you.

The Island Explorer at the Base - the farthest I could climb, for now!

I didn't.  I could only climb upto the base of the rock - I don't want it to be another Ulsanbawi experience.  When we were in Korea, we climbed Ulsanbawi and for the next couple of days I couldn't walk straight.  It sucked because our next location was the city of Seoul.  Imagine feeling like 80, body aching walking through the city.  But I digress.

Plus the hornets freaked me out.  Yes there are bees flying around.

Plus the wind was terrifying.

Ok now you know I am afraid of heights.

I want to say it here, when we come back for Luna's 7th birthday or something, we will get to the top.  Promise.  

Back to the story, I was intrigued about it but what surprised me more was the view.  From that height (the base) you would just gasp and say, "Look at my beautiful kingdom."  It was a-ma-zing.

The Island Explorer climbed to the top and showed us his pictures.  It was more than amazing.  There was a "proper" "castle" up there!  They were ruins of course but it was crazy finding a pool from that height.  

After that we had our dinner at the beautiful Vil Uyana.  It's a short drive from Sigiriya and such a cozy, posh and polished Sri Lankan look.  At USD300 a night, it was way beyond our budget so the strategy with those kinds of places are eat there! Wohoo!  The food was great as with the service.

We stayed in Heritance Kandalama, this one nearer Dambulla.

It's one of the premier eco-hotels in the country but it's a full-blown hotel as opposed to Vil Uyana which has a more resort-y feel.

The next day we went to Dambulla Cave.  Gosh, another climb!  But not as high as Sigiriya.  It has a beautiful ancient temple with beautiful temple art on its walls.  These would date back to thousands of years ago!  It's pretty amazing too!

During this trip, The Island Explorer was struck at how beautiful Sri Lanka is.  Of course we, hubby and I, know about these places already but it's different actually going to these locations.

Sigiriya and Dambulla are in one area so if you want to see them both, better if you allot at least 3 days for the trip for a leisurely experience.  We only did it for 2 days which was quite a blitz but we were still able to appreciate it.  Kudos to Luna our little trooper!

The area reminds me of Seam Reap, Cambodia.  As The Island Explorer would say, Uma-Ankor or Cuma-Cambodia.  Hmmm... I it has this chillax feeling but you know around it greatness lies.

We were also planning a trip to the ancient kingdoms of Pollonarua and Anuradhapura but The Island Explorer wanted to go to the hills (Hatton) and the sea (Galle).

More on our adventures with The Island Explorer next!

White Space + Blank Page

The second thing that matters most to me in Sri Lanka is being given a White Space + Blank Page.

I knew I needed to make new friends – so I enrolled in a Sinhala class and found my first dear friends and who are just awesome people.

I also wanted to deepen my Yoga practice and it just so happened that my first two Sinhala class friends, A and D were avid Yoga practitioners!  How cool is that?  I tried both their recommendations and found that what D referred was one that spoke to me more.

My Yoga gurus – the mother-and-daughter team of Nandini and Nitya of Aurora Yoga Studio is just awesome.  Nandini pushed me to achieve poses that I never even dared possible – all in the safe space that she created.  She was tough but kind.  I was practicing with Nitya most of the time because I did more Yoga when I got pregnant and after I gave birth.  She is an excellent Pre and Post Natal Yoga teacher.  I love the mini-meditation she facilitates: drawing prana and imagining it filling my tummy and enveloping Luna then in the womb with love and compassion. 

Sri Lanka provided me a white space, a blank page where nurtured passions that were just brewing back in Manila (Yoga) and expanded myself to really put myself out there and make new friends.  Something that I wouldn’t take the time to do in Manila because I was pretty much operating in my comfort zone.  Of course I would make friends when I attend a retreat or moved to a different company but that was facilitated by the situation itself.  Whereas here, I really had to think of opportunities where I can actually meet new friends!

More than that, what I thought I would just pick-up where I left off was career.  I am a person who anchors my identity on my career – for the longest time that was the center of most of the things I did in my life.  However when I came to Sri Lanka, I found out that it was actually difficult to get a work visa and there is actually a possibility of not getting one!

I took on the advice of my former boss to learn something in the event of not getting employed.  She suggested coaching.  And the rest was history.  That pretty much lead me to the next season of my life that beautifully aligns with my new role as a mother and a trailing spouse. 

Had it not been for Sri Lanka, I would have continued on to what was comfortable back home.  I’m sure I would still experience growth.  Because at the end of the day learning and progressing is all upto you.  But not all people are afforded this whiteness of a space and blankness of a page that most of the time comes with packing up your bags and starting a new in a new country or a new geographic location.

It has expanded me into a realm that I never would have dreamed of because I never knew it existed.  I have everything to thank Sri Lanka for that!
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