1 July 2018

The Aunt who Glitters Learns to Love Spring

by misslampa

At the Bureau of Education here in Higashikawa and even in the schools I teach at, I’m probably best known as she who could not wait for winter in Hokkaido to be over.

Because for all its beauty, winter can and does zap your genki.

2018 Winter Doraemon

Even Doraemon doesn’t seem so crazy about it, see?


Or turn pedestrian crossings and sidewalks into skating rinks that make you fall on your butt.



How about we just slide to work today?




It’s pretty and all, but only if you don’t have to go outside.

But mostly, I’m not a fan because it gets freezing cold up here. The temperature outside ranges from -12 to -22˚C during wintertime in northern Hokkaido, and since I come from the Philippines where the average in Manila hovers just above 30˚C for most of the year, it really wasn’t a surprise that the cold got to me. Back home, we turn on the air conditioner to keep a room cool – and by that, I mean 21˚C. Positive.

People were amused when I started wearing scarves once the temperature dipped to low 20s. And then genuinely worried when I transitioned to thick down coats in November, when everyone else began using their scarves. (To be honest, I was worried about me, too.)

But when my kind boss told me in mid-May that I must be happy to be welcoming my favorite season, it was my turn to be amused. Because although I am not big on winter, I don’t ever remember referring to spring as the most wonderful time of the year. My thing is fall and its vibrant reds and yellows and oranges, and hearing the colorful carpet of leaves crunch under my feet. But I digress.


(Still digressing, sorry, but look at how pretty this tree in my town is in autumn!)



Truth be told, the main reason why I was looking forward to spring was because it marked the end of winter, which lasted for Seven Painfully Long Months this year. The spring flowers are a nice bonus, but I’m not really a flower person, either.

Well, I wasn’t. Until I am.

You see, one thing I didn’t see coming was how the park and the playground would once again be filled with children playing and coming up to say hi. Months of ice and snow that kept kids either indoors or on the ski slopes seem to have made me forget.

But the sweetest of the 3- to 5-year-olds compel you to remember. I pass by the pre-school playground on my way back from teaching an after-school English club and every week, without fail, they run up to me and ask to do a fist bump a la Baymax and won’t leave until we get to the fa-la-la-la-la bit. (My colleague and I taught them that, haha!) Or do a high-five but take my hand in theirs the moment our palms touch and just keep it that way just so I’m theirs for a while longer. Or hold my face in their hands and call me Oba Kira, which Google translates to “Aunt Glitter.” which is one nickname you won’t hear me complaining about because hey, it’s kawaii.

I am fully aware that those hands have been in places unspeakable before they were on my face, of course, but I try not to think about that.

It takes me a while to go through this routine with the kids, which isn’t really new since I did this back in autumn, too. But it’s springtime in Higashikawa now, so guess what the cute little munchkins scramble to give me right before I leave?

spring 2018 flowers

Some of this season’s super tiny flower bouquets, made up of flowers from whichever weed was closest to them when I start saying goodbye.


What an adorably cute way to be reminded of how simple and straightforward it really is to let someone know you like them back when the world has yet to train your heart to be afraid and hold back.

So from now on, yep, flowers are a thing for the aunt who glitters, too.




22 May 2014

Life’s a b*tch and then Juanderkid dies.

by misslampa
Amer, more popularly known as the blogger Juanderkid was all about finding and spreading light and love.

Amer, more popularly known as the blogger Juanderkid, was all about finding and giving light and love.


The week former Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Jesse Robredo passed away, you wrote what remains to be my most favorite Amer Amor quote of all time:

What does [death] tell us about life? That it is indeed fleeting. That we should always be grateful. That a life well-lived and well-served will be remembered long after we’re gone. And that we should not delay love. We should not delay love.

You simultaneously touched on loving and living a full life and being grateful for everything – things we relentlessly talked about whenever and wherever we wanted to indulge our patriotic, hopeful, dream-big selves. It didn’t matter whether we were exploring the cobblestone streets of Intramuros together or simply exchanging messages on Facebook or WordPress at two in the morning; we’d find a way to feed off of each other’s positive energy, love of travel, and addiction to stunning sunsets.


We were supposed to have a repeat of this soon. I guess this means we're gonna get stood up.

We were supposed to have a repeat of this soon. I guess this means we’re going to get stood up.

But I don’t know how to proceed from here, now that it’s you who’s gone. I’m sorry, but right now, I couldn’t care less about all the prose and positivity in the world.

Alam mo, I just find myself really, really stumped.

I was so certain I’d see you again sometime this month or the next, you know. So much so that I had the gall to repeatedly say no whenever you asked for details when you found out I’ve fallen for this awesome guy while I was living overseas.

Anuba! ikuwento mo na kasi, Donna. May malalim kang pinaghuhugutan.

Saka na ‘pag nagkita na lang tayo, Amer. Wala namang masyadong ikukuwento. I think hinayaan ko siyang matapos bago pa man masimulan.

Kahit na. ‘Yan ang mga the best na love story.

And so to make you stop, I’d laugh and tell you I miss you and I love you and I’d tell you about it in time. It was the only time I remember saying no to you because for the most part, ours had been a giving relationship, of supporting each other’s dreams and simply letting the other be. Of not sweating the small stuff whenever meet-ups got cancelled or promises weren’t kept. Of poking fun at each other’s quirks and sharing our intense hatred for incorrectly used expressions and phrasal verbs. (I can still hear you ranting about why people keep using “touchdown” to announce their arrival in a city or town when they didn’t even take the plane to get there. Wala namang gulong ng eroplano na nag-touchdown, ano kaya ‘yon?)

I was looking forward to years and years of our crazy little talks and adventures, dude. :(

I was looking forward to years and years of crazy little talks and adventures with you. :(

I don’t even know why I said no and chose to delay love that one time, Amer. But if telling you all about it now could bring you back, I’d bore you with everything I can remember about that non-love story. I’d break our journalism code of ethics even and throw in some details that never happened if that would mean I’d get to hear you laugh and see your face light up again. Anything to undo the motorcycle accident that took you. Anything to keep me from having to grapple with the reality that you are gone too soon, and for good.

Because in all honesty, of all the plot twists that could ever happen in this life, this having to dream and do and explore and love without you from here on out was something I never saw coming.

Which is also why exactly a week after you’ve left, I’m still bereft of whatever life skill or mindset can get me through this grief. I’m just really, really sad that you had to go.

I still can’t bring myself to say goodbye, Amer. And I’m not sure how long it’d take until things start to make sense. But I’m hoping you’re happy and at peace wheresoever you are Juandering now. I imagine the sunsets we’re so crazy about look even more magnificent from where you’re now watching them.

Also, I bet there’s no one there to infuriate you anymore by using “touchdown” incorrectly. And because I love you, I’m going to try very, very hard to at least be happy about that.






In memory of Amer Amor aka Juanderkid (23 Oct 1982 – 15 May 2014)

I miss you, I love you, and I'll see you on the other side. <3

I miss you, I love you, and I’ll see you on the other side. (PS: I took some of your pictures for this post. I hope that’s okay.)

20 March 2014

One day

by misslampa


Note to self: don’t fret.

One day, it’ll dawn on you that you’ve been inexplicably drunk-happy quite often in this life.

That you’ve been giddy like a kid about nothing in particular, while you’re in the middle of nowhere, with no specific someone to hold responsible for your smile.

I know you’ll bless the day you realize you’ve known true joy, and on the occasion of this year’s World Happiness Day, I wish that day will be today.

And every awesome day after that too, of course. :)