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2023 || Sunshine Glow

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 Here comes the sun. That's how 2023 felt like. The pandemic was over. The rains of La Niña were over. The restrictions were gone. People were up and about! There were many good things about 2023, but the best part was the ray of sunshine it represents - the sun was a mighty force last year as the sunny El Niño replaced the dark and dreary La Niña! I look back on 2023 with "sunshine glow" as its all-embracing aura and vibe. We didn't even have typhoons, which is a first in many, many years. We could all breathe a sigh of relief that 2023 has been a good year, nature-wise, at least in this part of the world. That alone is enough to be thankful for. Mood-Setting Music At the very start of the year, I was hooked with Mozetich's "Affairs of the Heart." It is a beautiful composition that feels both primeval and futuristic. Just as when you thought you've heard the pinnacle, the music goes on as if it would never end.  I played it several times in 2023, es

Pastel Villas

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Own Image, September 2023. A tiny vivid city Rising from the sea Where villas dot the scene With pink, yellow, and pale tangerine Its roads are filled with stardust On wintry summers each passing year Blown everywhere by howling gusts And gentle whiffs music to the ear The rains of the island play jazz As they pitter-patter everywhere Like yesterday, like the other day Every day, as it always has At sunset, a lingering aroma Invades every corner, every villa With a quaint blend of sangria, Lavender, and a touch of vanilla In the middle of the island's forest Is some secret garden Where the most exotic, rarest Flora and fauna are hidden Meandering through the forbidden garden Where the way follows a scent Is a small cascading waterfall Hiding precious gems unknown to all There is a woozy labyrinth Somehow, somewhere underneath Leading to another island Where marshes and swamps expand The islands are riddled with enigma Every corner, every villa Has a strange story to tell Written in

The Vivid Netherworld

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  A sea serpent, perhaps descended from the four-legged creature  that  lured Adam and Eve,  spoke to me and said: "Come, the netherworld is actually as blue  as your   most vivid dreams..." Tikling Island, Matnog, Sorsogon Own Image. All Rights Reserved. The snake continued to hiss... "Dive into the blueness of the sea where you will find the luster of each and every creature of varying colors and shades. You will see them swimming and crawling amongst the most vivacious of corals where a pearl of pinkish hue is hidden. Take it. It's more valuable than your future dream house! It is so precious that it is worth all your sought-after desires and more! Oh, what festive paradise you will have when you find that one pink pearl!" Temptations abound on this exotic island, as if telling me to liberate myself from the bounds of the earth... To forget work, to forget everything... And go yonder, to the deepest reefs of the ocean, to the farthest of the islands, to get l

A Usual December Morning

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FotoSearch/Getty Images Image Source Chapter II,  Timeless Casanova . Gertrude could not believe she slept with the same man her very own grandmother slept with sixty-four years earlier. “How come?” She wonders. They could not sleep well that night, staring blankly at the ceiling. They slept in the same room as the situation made them feel uneasy to be alone.   She wanted to ask, “how was it?” She was very curious, but the mere thought of it made her puke.   “Oma, are you sure?” She finally inquired, breaking the long, awkward silence. “Are you really, really sure?”    “You ought to stop, Gertrude,” Oma was still awake, who, like her, couldn’t sleep well too.    “I tell you, I cannot be mistaken. I remember him vividly. He was the most handsome man I have ever talked to! How can I forget?”   “But how come? How has he remained the same all these years? Young all throughout? How is that possible?”   “That is what I also want you to know. If you ever happen to see him again, ask him. That

Sisid

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 Lumiliwanag na buwan Sa gitna ng kadiliman Sa kalalim-laliman Ng malawak na karagatan Kung nais mong alamin Kung nais mong tuklasin Mga sikreto kong damdamin Ang dulo'y iyong sisirin   ©  kittisun kittayacharoenpong / Getty Images Akala mo ba Wala kang makikita Aba, aba Huwag na huwag kang mabibigla Pagkat sa pagbuka ng liwayway Magliliwanag ang iba't ibang kulay Ng mga isdang buhay na buhay Sige, abutin mo nga ng 'yong kamay? Huwag nang mahiya Binwitin. Lutuin. Kainin. Ubusin. Simot-simutin. Hanggang sa wala nang matira, sa aking damdamin Copyright, Raymond M. Andes. 29 February 2024 All rights reserved

The Multiverse of Manong Johnny

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  Image Source: Presidential Communications Office through Phil. Star In another world, Leni won the 2022 elections by the same margin she won 6 years earlier. Her vice president, however, was not Kiko Pangilinan. It was Sara who emerged victorious, locking down the first time in history where the two highest positions of the land were both held by women. Bitter exchange of statements were hurled in the next six years, both making claims about the latter's incompetence. Soon, rivalries emerged, coups were staged to unseat Leni. Meanwhile, BBM remained jobless for the entire period of Leni's rule. Predictably, Enrile outlived her administration. He was still alive by the time she completed her presidency. By then, the pandemic is over. He was already 104 years old but he still ran for president with the same tagline he had in previous elections --- "Gusto ko, Happy ka." The masses loved his campaign jingles but it was Sara who snagged the presidency, making another f

The Tuscan Countryside 🇮🇹

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  As we continued to explore Italy, we realized that this peninsula alternates between beauty and idyll. Some parts were dazzling such that everything's smothered with things that shine resplendently. The other parts, on the other hand, were so much simpler. But make no mistake, a simple view of farms would breathe stressors away, giving you nostalgia for older times you will never live through... In Tuscany, it's the latter part that was more common. This idyllic region will whisk you to a bygone era that still exists to this day, somehow preserved while all the rest were completely obliterated by ravages of time. Tuscany is a region so popular that it is regarded as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance. On its countryside, we saw dozens of vineyards, scattered among countless rolling hills. Tuscany, after all, is also known worldwide for its wines, wines, and wines.  En Route from Siena One of the more noteworthy sights in Siena, which we saw while our bus was drifting away.

Siena, the Gothic City 🇮🇹

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Our next destination was Siena, a medieval city adorned with Gothic structures. During our walking tour, we marveled at the city's beauty and fascinating history and culture. It was a nice start for our Tuscan Country tour, setting the pace and mood for the rest. Though Siena is, by now, reduced into a small city, barely inching up from its 50,000-population during its heyday, it is by no means an ordinary town. It remains grand and special in so many ways.  En Route from Florence Mama Sarah and I just behind the Train Station as we waited for our bus. Our Tuscan Country tour began just outside the Santa Maria Novella Train Station in the middle of a huge piazza in Florence. We waited for our bus, which would take us to our next destinations - Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa. Davide, the tour guide, was punctual even though he lost his voice due to drinking and partying the night before. But beware, Davide was austerely punctual - he gets cranky when somebody arrives late, regardles