Clara Falling Hard on Love

When she left the comforts of her home to work overseas, Clara left behind a boyfriend. Not exactly the kind you tell your parents because before the invention of Facebook relationship code “it’s complicated” Clara already had hers that way.

It was though the real one for her. She fell hard for him to give everything up. She thought she was of age and was ready for it, so she gave in, and the relationship flourished until it is time for Clara to leave.

The sad part though is that Clara, because she’s very ambitious she thought she doesn’t need anybody telling her what to do – she went ahead and accepted the offer and told the boyfriend weeks before she has to leave. He didn’t like it of course, but he accepted her decision – he loves her, and it’s all that matters.

Clara in her new place and new life thought that nothing has changed between her and the boyfriend she left behind, but she was wrong. The guy found another love – someone that was there when Clara was settling in her new life. It hurt her, she confronted him but what can she do, so she let him go, and they both went their lives, but Clara didn’t forget the first love she had.

As she continue to work and now had moved on to other countries, Clara met different men, whom she thought are the love of her life but it always ended her getting hurt. The one time she had her first long distance relationship it was not easy. The Internet during those time was not yet as friendly as it is now, they struggled and met one or twice a year was the only ideal and economical way for them to be together but not more.

She came to the age where marriage was the next best thing. Clara has a good job, a career rising the ladder and the new boyfriend was also an established jeweler in Canada so life can be good. Oh, so she thought.

Back in the 90’s random blood check for infectious diseases was not common in Canada and Clara’s boyfriend contracted Hepatitis C when he received transfusion after an elbow surgery back in his diving days, and it only manifested decades after. Soon enough, the proposal of marriage was canceled and Clara was left alone again far away from the man she thought she would marry until he passed away because of his disease.

Another broken heart but Clara continue to live as if love is not all that matters to her now. She’s still as ambitious as she was when she was younger and because having a family has taken a back seat, Clara pursues to continue to climb the professional ladder and pretend that life was good.

Years after being heart was broken and an imminent move to another continent, Clara decided not to fall in love again. She decided, no more commitment but can still enjoy when the situation presents itself. But a month after moving in, Clara found herself again falling in love with someone within her new circle of “white” friends. She enjoyed the attention, Clara being based in the bush most of the time, having someone in the city ready to lay the red carpet for her was something to look forward to.

She eventually accepted the new man in her life, and she felt she’s in-love again. The new man was very passionate, persistent and ideal in the category of being attentive to the needs of Clara including shopping for her and preparing food. Clara was showered with love, attention, travel, and gifts and she enjoyed it as much as she could.

It was a dream come true for Clara, and she doesn’t want to leave him behind, and even when they moved apart, the relationship lasted for several years but not without bumps. Clara realized during the time they were together that she lost her identity and became submissive to what the current boyfriend want. She cannot enjoy the same freedom she has in the bush when they are together; she always has to abide by his wished which was not Clara, being the stubborn brat she was.

Eventually, they parted, as circumstances would have it both of them cannot cope with the distance and the cost of being apart even if money is no object. The lack of communication was too much to handle for both of them, but it was also a welcome break for Clara.


Falling in love is the next best thing to happen to any women at different stages in our lives, and Clara had shown us that we could have a different experience and come out strong from it or not – our choice. When she was younger, her ambition led her to leave someone she loves but later realized he doesn’t love her as much as she did. Years later, the proposal was overshadowed by death which devastated her but still came out strong and eventually loved again.

Unfortunately the last true love she thought she had was not the ideal one – when she lost herself and became submissive something was wrong in the relationship, and I think Clara is a strong woman to be able to distance herself from an abusive relationship in the making. Which is not always the case for many women I know who in spite of knowing the red flags still continue to be in it hoping tomorrow will be another day, a better day.

Love is an unyielding emotion and when we fall in love we should always keep the balance between ourselves and the other person at all times so that when something happens we don’t fall hard that we stay down, instead we fall, and we come back up as soon as we can.

Article first appeared at https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/coolasas/posts/67384 

Clara on being different … is she really?

Clara was young and thought she was not naïve.

Coming from a big family, she thought she knew the different stages of life by observing her parents, siblings and many aunts and uncles go through it. So when it was time for her to be in the world she knew she’s ready to let go of the home she feels protected and venture into the unknown.

Life was very good to Clara. She’s given responsibilities she knew she could do and eventually proved to herself and others that she is ready to move up the ladder and maybe move to another country. After several years honing her skills and getting her network bigger, the offer to move came. Although when asked by the HR department months before she already expressed her desire to experience new culture and challenges.

The new place was unknown to her, but she read a lot about Africa. There she felt coming from a small island in the Pacific; the continent was a mystery. In fact, she only thought all the people living in Africa are darker than her – called it even “black continent” and she got the scolding she never had from a dear friend.

She was assigned to a country in the sub-Saharan region and was given the responsibility to oversee three projects in the middle of the bush – an exciting prospect she knew she can do but how was another question.

Clara thought she was the only Asian girl in the country. She experienced first-hand how it is to be discriminated, to be stared at and called many names other than her own. They never guessed where she’s from so they always assumed she were from China and talked as if Clara can understand cling, clang clung!

Until she met others – other than the dark skinned African people she had worked. The new group of people are not so much like her but also different. They are white – European and American white but there are those also from the Pacific brown like her. She was happy to know other “different” people, and she doesn’t feel so much alone.

The clamor to be with her kind was strong. Being based in the bush weeks before she sees other people made her want to go back to the capital more if work allows it. The travel took 12 hours and to stay the weekend was not practical, so it was always planned around official trips to enjoy the luxury of being with what she called her kind.

Clara starts to question her motives when going back to the capital; it doesn’t seem right, but every time she meets others she goes back to work in the bush excited and ready to tackle the work and the loneliness of living alone until she meets her kind again.

But it still doesn’t seem right?


The problem starts when we set ourselves apart from where we are, in the case of Clara is from who she’s with. One will think they are immune to life’s tragedy because they with their kind but it’s not true.

Being different opened Clara’s eyes to the reality of how it is in the world – outside her comfort zone, being with people other than who she knew.

When she moved to Africa, she experienced what many people she knew experienced from where she’s from, and it didn’t felt good in the beginning but eventually accepting that we are all different even if we have same white, brown, black colored skin we still are different. Even when Clara thinks she’s with her “kind” there still exists discrimination for many other reasons than her skin color. 

Article first appeared at https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/coolasas/posts/67098

Clara Opens Her Heart to Love and Lost

Clara is back, and she has some sad news.

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Clara enjoyed her singlehood – no attachment, no commitment, only responsible for herself but she’s never selfish especially when giving out love.

Some time ago in one of her trips she met this man through a friend. A friend she was dating, so the meeting was nothing until the friend left. She didn’t seek him out, but Clara’s friend left her something for this man so eventually, they met again and became more than friends several months after.

The new friend turned lover was more than what Clara hoped for; she was not particularly looking for love but because of his persistence in coming over and bringing pizza the friendship blossomed into something special. The two became inseparable and made sure to be together every chance they get.

Their relationship lasted for over two years until his mission ended, while Clara still has some years to finish off her project. They promised to continue to be lovers long distance and see how much the love could endure living poles apart. Clara was not very keen, she had long distance relationship before, and it never lasts no matter how much both try to make it work, the distance was just too much to bear. With very limited opportunity to see each other at their whim it really couldn’t work, but they tried, they kept the faith for almost five years, and both would continue to hold on to what they have for each other – love.

Yes, the “L” word was spoken in the course of their relationship, and it didn’t come very easy especially for Clara. Her heart had been broken once before by a man she thought love her more than anything in the world because every breath was punctuated with the words “I love you.”  She, thought, being young and naïve that if a man utters such words means he does love you – and she was very wrong.

An angel in the form of a taxi driver made Clara realize that in life when you want something or mean something you’re careful to get it or say it. Having ridden his taxi crying the driver was kind enough to give her time to cry in his car until she’s ready to go home. It gave her time to vent her frustration and pick up the pieces of her young heart. Made a promised to herself that next time it would be different.

The experience left Clara mindful of what she wish for and of what she tells people – be it friends or lover especially when it comes close to investing her feelings.

So yes, finally the “l love you” was uttered in the heat of the romance and was reciprocated by Clara though a little skeptic at first and enjoyed every minute of it. Until now Clara didn’t regret her show of affection because it was the kind of love worth sharing – the man was worth it.

The long distance began earnestly, too excited to let go of each other, missing each other on end and continue to declare love to each other via social media. 

They followed each other’s life. He knows what she’s doing, who she’s been with and sometimes feeling jealous for not being there with her and her friends. The same thing for Clara, but she’s more jealous of his work than being with other women.

A year had passed since the last time they saw each other, and both of their careers had blossomed. Clara was given wider responsibilities by her company while he got promoted to be second in command of his force with more serious responsibilities and this scared both of them. Him because he knows the danger he was in and her because of what he tells her about his job and the people he made an enemy of and they can be nasty and get back at him.

Eventually, the frequency of chats and phone calls decreased and often when they can they are reduced to leaving voice ao short messages. When possible one would return call and chat quickly. The love was still there, Clara knows. He still tells her everything when he can, and Clara did the same. He often closes the conversation with “I will never forget you mami rica” and Clara’s heart would flutter and would be enough to keep her going until he calls or leaves messages again.

Months passed without a word; Clara saw photos of him traveling outside his country with his family. Not jealous but annoyed for not being told about the trip – that he will be out of reached, so don’t bother to call or leave messages. Nobody in his family knows about Clara; the same goes with her – his name never floated in any of Clara’s conversation with her family or friends. The affair was so private only very few close friends were aware that they are a couple.

Then she found out he died.  

Clara found out online – through a common friends post in one of the social media site. At first, she was baffled, her Spanish was rusty, but she managed to understand something about someone saying goodbye to him. Couldn’t believe what she was reading she translated the page and was angry, sad and confused.  It dawned on her that he will never pick up his phone, nor send her photos, no more “I love you, and I miss you” on the other line.

Clara couldn’t contact his family for fear of being rejected. She couldn’t exactly ask how everything happened – she just saw smiling photos of him and the next day he’s dead? Days after, an article came in the mail with the story of his death – an ambush from one of the gangs they were pursuing while he was on his way to work in his jeep. Such cowardly way to retaliate, he didn’t have time to defend himself and be the hero, Clara’s hero.

She kept the article and all the memories of their relationship. The man she gave her heart out is now gone to the heavens bringing with him her love that she’s very selfish just to give to anybody. Clara is grieving his death; she felt she lost the one person she thought she could end up. It will take time until she opens up her heart again to let another love comes and take hers.


Often when we lost someone, there’s always some form of regret – we didn’t say it enough or show it enough. But if we truly made a mark on one person’s life, I think there is no reason to regret what was missed because you live at the moment when you were together and celebrated the life and love you have – being happy, being sad, being passionate. So there should be no regret instead accept death as part of life and be glad that you had the opportunity to share it with someone, however, short it is.

Now is the time to live, don’t waste it.

I hope Clara’s love is happy now where he is and is looking out for her until it’s time to move on.

Stuck

I wanted so bad to live up to your expectations, but it seems like a force is pulling me back from making sure I get to the end of it.

I am trying to find ways to juggle life – work balance but the pressure, the stress seems too much that I find myself sometimes stuck, unable to move forward.

The mind is willing, but my body does not budge to get me moving and doing what I should.

That is me living here in Gaza.

When I thought I am tough enough to endure living in a foreign land and meet new people for almost two decades now, I met my match being here. It’s hard to explain because, on the outside, I look fine, sometimes I feel fine, and recently felt at home in Gaza I wish to stay longer. (Read here)

Strange how that may sound but that is how I feel, and I am trying to figure out where my problem lies  – is it the place? The people? The work? I don’t know!  I don’t want to blame where I am for my feelings in the last six months, nor the people and especially the work for the love of what I do.

I have seen good things here in spite of the history of the country and the recent crisis they endured, and somehow I empathize with their being unable to move freely out of Gaza. Not that I can’t move out from here, being an expat working for an international organization gave me some freedom to shuffle in an out at least every three weeks and be like everybody else. Unlike most people I know and work with they will need permission from Israel to go out for a limited time only, which is not given readily and benefits only very few.  In my case, it may not be the same as for most people, but my being closed off from where I live somehow gives me a little understanding of the people’s lives in occupation.  Not being able to go out and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea across my room can be frustrating. Not being able to walk around town and catch a glimpse of life or experience it does not allow me to live my time here actually.  Creativity in my case is boxed online – I see the world like most people here via the social media.

So little out of the ordinary activity is very much appreciated, like yesterday, being the last day of the work week, I was able to enjoy the morning with some of the people we support in the community outside, in the sun, harvesting olives in one of our beneficiaries farm — that was incredible! When asked by some people how I felt (being the only foreign in the group who obviously had not done olive harvest before) all I said was great. To be out in the sun and not see patients for the most of it for a change, and my colleagues with me are so much fun even if most of the time they speak Arabic.

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Now I am back in my apartment, being a Friday nothing much happens here so I am stuck to my computer and live out the day watching movies, catching up with friends online and talking on Skype to my family. That scenario made me somehow understand what most felt day in day out. The frustrations of the young people to be out and enjoying liberties other young people in other parts of the world enjoy. The dreams of parents to give the best to their children – good education, freedom to travel and to choose the life they want to live. Not the current life where everything has to be dependent on what the other person behind the counter say so — it can be too much.

I think that fuels the hatred, the fear and the tension in an already tensed situation since the 40’s basing on their history. The history is written for the Palestinian people by outsiders thinking that lives would be better if foreign people write it for them. And here I am years later, foreign, trying to understand what is incomprehensible because of the kind of work I do. Humanity comes first before politics, and often I am in no liberty to talk about politics (even religion), and I wouldn’t dare even if I want to.  Instead, I will continue bridging the gap of what the world failed to do for these people and support the best I can when I can until it’s time to say hati waqt lahiq (until later).


Being stuck may seem bad for the most of it, but that also gives one perspective of the life we have. To understand that life is not equal in many regions of the world and to experience it in a short time somehow allows me to speak about it. To live it out with these people gives me the profound respect for the resilience of the Palestinians I meet every day be it for work or the little leisure I have here.

My spirits lift when I can pen these feelings and hope those that reads this understands my whim and not take this as drama. Life as an expat may seem appealing for the most of it, but the emotional investment we have is sometimes more than what we can give if we don’t have ways to vent it out.

Now I have to get going … I have pending paper works to accomplish if I want to reach my destination.

It Starts to Feel Like Home

Its 2am, the power is out, feeling the breeze coming from the sea

Very dark outside, you hear nothing except the waves lapping at the shore,The weather is changing I can feel it, it will be cold soonNot sure if I am ready for it

Now, I enjoy the quiet of the night

I can see light from the horizon, from fishing boats waiting for the fishes to bite

And I am still awake, talking to myself, willing myself to write about

How I feel right now … how I feel at home in Gaza.

Of all places, I am here living a life of a hermit after 4pm

Not allowed to be me, to be at places I freely wish to be

Because of the danger – true or imagined

So I am confused why am I feeling at home?

Is it the place? Maybe I tell my dreamy self.

Gaza does not bother me, even though I know of its history

Even though I know of the rift that they have with Israel

Or the fact that in most people’s mind I live in a god-forsaken place

Governed by terrorist, mostly said by people who had never stepped foot

In the holy land, or in Palestine.

I am at peace here believe me, it is not what outsiders say it is

I should know, I am living here for a while

And when I am up at two, I am overwhelmed by the feeling of belonging at where I am

Forgetting I am far away from home and yet I am really sure this place

Has not the allure to make me feel this way

But will not be here for long, will have to go soon

Which is starting to sink in the more I think about it

I would stay if I could but that all depends on my welcome here

Until the time to go comes, I will enjoy the peace,

The solitude, and the overwhelming emotions

That I can call Gaza home even for a short time.

Trip of a Lifetime: The Plan and the First Day

Mentioning to a friend I am going to work in Gaza, a plan was set. W is working and living in Europe making it easy for him to plan the trip, it has a direct flight from his place to Tel Aviv and being Filipino, a visa was not going to be a problem.

Days passed, we agreed on a month – the best time according to the guidebook to visiting Israel and the Holy Land, September! Wanting the trip to be more fun we invited two other friends from home. Unsure whether they will accept or not, W  and I proceeded with our plan.

As early as May the dates were set for the first week of September, in time for the Eid Al-Adha celebration. Not long after, the two other friends from the Philippines agreed to join us and started to look for cheap flights to here. Now we are four!

As the day of the “trip of a lifetime” approaches, more plans are set in motion – where to stay? How much is acceptable rent? Airbnb or hostel? And what will be the itinerary considering the time would be very short – 5 days! Until almost a week before the scheduled trip we haven’t made up our minds, but in the end, we settled for a hostel and tried to arrange our trip a la DIY.

The holiday begins for me … 

I left Gaza via Erez on a Wednesday, before the weekend and will wait for my friends to arrive on Thursday from Philippines and Europe.

Since I am officially on holiday, I felt like I needed a little pampering, so I went to have my nails done and in a relaxed mode, received news that the two friends who started traveling from the Philippines the same day was stuck in Hongkong and was not being allowed to proceed to Beijing because of the airport traffic that could delay their flight to Tel Aviv to at least four days. Even if they can proceed they don’t have the transit visa for China to let them stay for more than 2 hours (and ridiculously if they do get to land in Beijing our planned holidays would be over by the time they arrive in Tel Aviv).

Disheartened, the trip must go on even if it was to go back to the original two-person trip. Luckily they managed to get another booking via Ethiopian air, but it means they lost 1 day of their holidays by arriving after midnight of Thursday (Friday) and spending unplanned cost just to get to see the Holy Land.

From 2 to 4 to 2 and back to 4

W arrived according to plan and prep the coming days while waiting for the other two to arrive later that night. We managed to see a little of the area where we live – walking down Jaffa street from Ha Davidka station to the Jaffa Gate and not to pre-empt the tour, we exited immediately to the New Gate and spent the rest of the afternoon over Middle Eastern cheese platter and beer at the Notre Dame restaurant overlooking the old city and all of Jerusalem city (and neighboring town if you know where to look).

Returning late, we continue waiting over wine and more cheese (European) in our room. A little past midnight the crews complete, and after a little chatter with stories of adventures from Hongkong to Ethiopia Adis Ababa to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport and lots of laughter we were all happily settled in our bunk beds getting ready for the day trip around the old city – Jerusalem at sunrise.

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(Photo courtesy of W) View from the Notre Dame restaurant, Jerualem (2016)

We are all looking forward to the trips from Friday till Tuesday to near and far, even though for me, this is my third time to be going to the holy sites in the Terra Sancta. I don’t mind because every time I am with a different company and with every visit, I discover new places, new things, new information and maybe new friends.

The holidays begins … finally!

For the meantime enjoy the photos.

And if you want to know more about Notre Dame click here!

My Habibi

First encountered the word when I was in Sierra Leone, a call of endearment thrown my way by my then love of my life. It sounded very exotic, me having no understanding of Arabic word whatsoever, and I felt so much loved.

Habibi is an Arabic word directly translating as “my baby” or “my darling”; Habibti is feminine form of habibi, which means “my love”

Arriving in Palestine early this year, the first recognizable word I heard was Habibi, and I was culture shocked to hear it spoken between men — whoa! Only to be told I interpreted the exchanges wrongly (and maybe with malice) and should let it pass. I did, or so I thought, but I am not over it.

The word means my beloved, and in normal conversation, it is normally used between close friends of the same or opposite gender or between couples romantically involved.

For us non-Arabs, it can be (in English)  “my friend / bro / sis” when used among friends, or “my love / baby” when used romantically. In Tagalog, it can be “pare” for men and no idea what can it be for women 🙂

After being here for a while, I can let it rest and accept it as part of the normal conversations in taxi, offices, and meetings but I will keep the first impression and feelings I had when I first heard it nine years ago.


I discovered too that there are books of the same title that tells stories about love … from the looks of it, maybe I should get then and start reading about my love …

 

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Habibi bt Naomi Shihab Nye

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. 

 

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Habibi by Craig Thompson

Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

My dear habibti … hope you enjoy reading!

Third Time’s the Charm @ the Holy Land

I am on leave again, the second for the current post and I am still spending it here in the country. But this time, I will be hosting friends from the university who became best buddies over the years and don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining … one cannot get enough of the Tierra Sancta to be complaining! 

I started this post on the first day of the trip we labeled “trip of a lifetime” while waiting for each one of them to arrive. As they started to join me here in Jerusalem, the writing took a back seat and only now I am finishing it five days after romping from here to the north and ending the last night overlooking the hills of Beit Jala in the West Bank.

The first time I went around the old city, it was the holy week. The experience was surreal – never imagined I will be spending THE Holy Week in the place where it all happened. It brought out all the emotions one could have reliving the life of Jesus Christ and remembering my parents, especially my mom of how much she wanted to come here when she was alive.

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Palm Sunday entering the Lion’s Gate  from the Garden of Gethsemane

The second time was with a very good friend, who also did visited the holy land in the past but didn’t quite enjoy it with a big pilgrim company. So he decided to come over since I am here and we spent a week visiting the life of Jesus from birth to His resurrection.

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The Icon of Jesus nailed on the cross in Golgotha (inside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre)

Now the third time, as they often say is the charm 🙂 and indeed it was! It was the most enlightening so far me (at least) and hopefully to my three other friends as we had discovered more than what we asked for – understanding beyond the biblical history of the intertwined countries of Israel and Palestine.

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View of the side walkway in Masada (Photo credit to Wayne)

But as much as we wanted to see all of the sites regardless of faith, we missed to visit the Dome of the Rock because of the celebration of the Eid Al-Adha. Having said that, I take it as a sign that there will be a fourth round to my romance with the holy land before I end my mission next year!

 

 

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