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Filipino American Expat in Singapore

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Congratulations but you are now at the centre of the city’s no. 1 dengue hotspot.

With almost 100 cases reported in the area, you briskly walk towards the bus stop on Guillemard. Because you’re bored and you want to visit Parkway Parade. You know, one of those malls that are not connected to the MRT network. You want to go there and explore. You want to go there and make something of your otherwise mediocre Summer Friday.

Five minutes at the bus stop becomes almost fifteen. Finally, a double-decker Bus 197 approaches and the moment you stand up… you make eye-contact with a young woman behind you who is about to board the bus as well. She gives you this funny feeling. Because her eyes gave you this funny feeling. You know, where you feel like you have to show her that you’re not interested in women. Or how much make-up she had on.

You enter the bus with a mission to sit on the upper deck to get a view of the Hari Raya lights along Geylang. From upstairs you see a long queue outside that Vietnamese restaurant two bus stops away. It’s raining slightly. You wonder if the bus you took is correct. Since this was uncharted territory for you.

It’s already nightfall and there’s nothing much to see. Only the uniformed orange-tinted streetlights of the city as you zoom past a mix of shophouses, empty roads, and condominiums. Katong is a lovely neighborhood, you wonder.

You alight in front of Parkway Parade with a sense of excitement. Even if there’s nothing much to be excited about since almost every suburban mall in the city is a copy paste of the other one. Inside you spot every single restaurant, store, or kiosk you once enjoyed in Bishan. Challenger, Cotton On, Yankee Candle, KFC, Starbucks, Giant, that Korean BBQ stall at foodrepublic. You take delight at spotting a llao llao yogurt stall as bonus.

While everything seems nice and pretty, you accidentally see something you wish you did not see. A woman, on the floor, not moving. Someone is rubbing the woman’s back slowly while a security guard was standing next to the woman. You don’t know what’s happening but the first thing that comes to mind is the question, “Is she still alive?”

It’s terrible actually. But you continue exploring the mall trying to erase the image in your head. You go upstairs to look at the stores and see if there’s a cinema level. There isn’t any. But there are cute restaurants you wish you tried instead of settling down for the same food court food at the basement.

On the way back down to exit the mall, you are on the escalator and look down. You see that same spot with the woman who collapsed. Now, she’s wrapped in a blanket of what looks to you like foil. And it’s even more disturbing. “She hasn’t woken up?” you wonder. Are you looking at a dead body? This can’t be happening.

So you look for an alternate way to get to the front entrance of the mall without having to pass by that spot. You end up walking around the perimeter corridors and spotting a Marks & Spencer, Q-Cut Korean $10 Haircut stall… until you see an exit on the side of the mall which leads into an empty playground. It’s drizzling and there’s a couple there looking for privacy. You note the several CCTV cameras placed at the playground. But you continue to walk towards the street, mindful of not staying too long in the drizzle since you are recovering from a cold.

An ambulance is already parked outside the drive-way of the mall. And immediately you wish to leave before seeing the woman for a third time. You head towards the nearest bus stop. But decide to treat yourself to Koi hazelnut milk tea just to make you feel a bit better. You ask for a carrier so you can enjoy the drink back home. You feel like making eye-contact with the server because she has a pleasant smile. You do this because you need something sweet to remember Parkway Parade.

There’s a temptation I can’t exactly put my finger on in Hong Kong.

Is it the temptation of having a new city to explore? Or is it the excitement of having the chance to start anew? Hong Kong is both familiar and unfamiliar. Its streets and alleys are vibrant and mysterious. It feels safe with a bit of danger. Am I still describing a city?

***

The whole of Summer Friday 2016 No. 4 is documented in this post.

There’s this guy I connected with during the short window I had on Grindr back in April. (I’ve since deleted Grindr because things can get out of hand quickly. Or rather, I could run of hands. Or wait. Wait, what?)

I didn’t meet the guy until kagabi lang here in Singapore. He was visiting with his family and we planned to meet up (NOT HOOK UP, MMMKAY!). I thought we were meeting up on a Thursday night. In short, we were meeting a day earlier. I wasn’t really prepared. I was in-between two days of filming. I was carrying a large Crate&Barrel bag filled with precious ceramic plates. I didn’t have time to fix my hair or wear the good pair of pants.

But anyway.

He was staying at River Valley which was a few blocks away from where I was. I was already dead tired but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to meet someone over supper. I didn’t have the energy to ask him to go to Tantric (which was the original plan). So I told him I’d like to take him out to “Spize”– that resto that stays open late.

Lo and behold, “Spize” was just next to his lodging.

I took the bus to River Valley and make my way into Spize. I fix my hair a little bit. I wipe a little bit of sweat off my face. I feel rugged in my overworn pair of Cotton On brown jeans and not-too-flattering maroon v-neck. I didn’t know if I wanted to remove my glasses (SHET BULAG AKO BAKA DI KO SIYA MAKITA) or keep them on. My profile photo on Grindr back in April was one where I wasn’t wearing glasses.

TEKA. HOLY CRAP. I was meeting a guy who is willing to meet me based on the shallow interpretation of how I look like on Grindr. I looked a bit buff and a little bit tall in the photo. It was a photo of me in Boracay. OK WHATEVER.

I spot him instantly as he enters the restaurant.

Dayyuummmm he’s tall. / I’M SO F-CKING SHORT!

But the most natural thing occurred. I simply looked at him and smiled.

I mean, it wasn’t the flirty smile. It was just an honestly friendly smile. Happy that he showed up. I was intimidated a bit by his height. But I kept telling myself that it’s not about the height. Let’s just have a great time learning more about each other.

Because seriously I don’t do this.

I don’t go out on dates. This was purely a “meet the other person”. Wait, this might not even constitute a date. It was a meeting. It was meeting someone on Grindr, without the sex.

***

Three hours later.

We couldn’t stop talking.

It was 1:30 AM at a nearby pub (we never ate at Spize, no beer). The lights were already switched off and our table had a few empty bottles of beer and a basket quarter-filled with cheese fries. Of which lost its battle with the humidity.

It’s like the longer I spoke to him the sweeter his smile. It was a bit tender looking and shy. But you could tell I guess it was a damn real smile because his whole face smiled. Eyes squinting. And we didn’t seem to be tired even if we actually both were tired. I had a early call time for my 2nd day shoot. He had an early call time for his bus ride back to KL.

I’m writing about this because it’s the experience and rush of blood again that means so much to me. Like, because of this simple meeting, the first of its kind in ages… I feel like there’s potential for something. Like parang… not all is lost pala. Because since I broke up with my ex… I’ve just been floating around.

I’m not really looking to settle down yet or again anytime soon… but this guy gave me butterflies. And butterflies felt good. And maybe I’ll get hurt because I’m seeing rainbows while all he might be seeing is another dude. I don’t know. Maybe this is what all guys feel on a “first date or meet-up” before it fades away. I don’t know. He might even be reading this because people have mad stalking skills these days. I know I do.

Basta, masaya ako nung gabi. I was happy. In its simplest form.

More so because instead of that kinda awkward hug when he waited with me to flag down a taxi… is that I actually wish I kissed him.

KISS AGAD?!

Okay fine George. Maybe the hug was the BEST thing. Keeping it classy. Ending the night on a sweet note. Entering the cab, waving at him… and actually looking outside the cab window to see if he was still looking in my direction.

A refreshing ray of light in a cloudy sea of gloom.

7:32pm, HKIA Terminal 1

Sad to go home! But excited to come back.


6:34pm, Outside IFC mall

Take-away Tim Ho Wan at the transfer point to get onto the Airport Express. Just me, fresh shrimp dumplings, pork bbq buns, and… these waterfalls. Enjoying the people I’m observing here. A woman and young child waiting for “daddy!” to emerge from an office building. A trio of “ates” bantering nearby. Another girl sitting by herself. A hug between lovers (boy and girl) looking as if they were so happy to see each other again. Chill George.


5:28pm, Tom’s Guesthouse

Rested at the hotel room in the afternoon. Packed up and now ready to leave for the airport.


2:16pm, Tsim Sha Tsui outside Chungking Mansions

I took a stroll around the neighborhood.


12:40pm, CocoIchiban Japanese Curry Rice

I was going for authentic HK noodles but ended up tired and settling down for Japanese curry rice.


12:23pm, Stacks of Buildings at Causeway Bay

There’s a laid back vibe here. Looking for a place to have lunch was quite tough. I ended up on the 11th floor food court.


11:57am, Donguri Republic at Times Square

Kawaii! So cute! R and D would love this place.


11:50am, Times Square at Causeway Bay

T and R left for Macau early in the morning. I decided to sleep in and then squeeze in one part of Hong Kong I’ve never been to.

11:05pm, the mall in front of CM

Ending the night.


10:29pm, Eye Bar

Rooftop bar!


7:54pm, Tram Ride at Hong Kong Island

Westbound and then Eastbound. For the feels.


6:51pm, Apple Store HK

A bit of geeking out. Tried beats. Awesome view of the harbour.


6:25pm, Tim Ho Wan at Hong Kong MTR

Took us some time to locate this. But we did! Selling at HKD 18.00 for three pieces.

6:16pm, Outside IFC Mall in Central

Reminds me of Orchard on a Sunday. 🙂


5:03pm, HK Disneyland Resort

Dropping by to use the bathroom and the wi-fi.


3:47pm, Cable Car ride back to Tung Chung

Heading back to the city!


2:28pm, Ngong Ping Garden Restaurant

More food! This time… Dumplings!


1:20pm, Ngong Ping Village

Lunch.


12:28pm, Monestary


11:38am, Tian Tian Buddha

Built in 1993. Same age as Miley Cyrus.


11:26am, Po Lin Monestary

Such a hot day. But perfect weather.


10:58am, Ngong Ping Village

A light snack! Red Bean Tofu dessert.


10:26am, Ngong Ping Cable Car Ride

Beautiful weather and gorgeous views of the surroundings.


8:56am, Tsuen Wen Line en route to Lai King

Good morning. We’re off to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride in Tung Chung.

9:36pm, Peking Road en route to Chungking Mansions

Starting to feel a bit fatigued. Resting up for tomorrow.


9:08pm, Harbour City Mall

Ryan meets his Totoro.


8:36pm, KFC at Harbour City Mall

Because. KFC chicken.


7:50pm, Hong Kong MTR

Rushing back to Kowloon for the Symphony of Lights show.


7:05pm, sky100 observation deck

Sunset over Hong Kong.


6:17pm, vista café (sky100 observation deck)

Two bottles of Cabernet Merlot. A slab of sliders with hints of blue cheese. Conversations about love, life, and survival. A view to kill.


3:26pm, sky100 observation deck


2:54pm, sky100 observation deck

WOW. What an amazing view of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline.


2:36pm, Taxi en route to ICC (sky100)

With many museums closed including the Avenue of Stars… we decided to go straight to the sky100 observation deck.


2:29pm, Taxi Stand at Star Ferry Terminal

Trying to get to the sky100 observation deck.


1:17pm, Tsim Sha Tsui

Getting lost.


11:46am, The Alchemist (Art Mall)

Breakfast.


10:57am, near HK Avenue of Stars

Touristy things!


10:36am, Outside Chungking Mansions

We exited the building and instantly the hustle and bustle of HK is in front of you.

 

12:53am (next day), Chungking Mansions

First night = snacks and beer


11:45pm, Chungking Mansions, Kowloon

Bewildering feeling emerging from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR and landing yourself straight into the streets of Hong Kong. This is a very interesting neighborhood of puddles borne by dripping airconditoners and shadows, broken street tiles, and walls of cheap advertisements. Finding the guest house reception on the 16th floor was exciting.


10:39pm, Airport Express HKIA to Kowloon

Just met up with my two friends! We were trying to get pocket wi-fi but discovered later we were queuing for the ones that locals would use when they travel abroad. We decided to buy local SIM cards instead.

toni, ryan, and george go to hong kong

Hong Kong International Airport (Arrivals Hall), 9:21pm

Landed safely! Now waiting for my two friends arriving on Cebu Pacific 5J 142 from Manila. Feeling somewhat of a slight sore throat. This airport is massive and so… clinical. ;p


Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:56pm

Dinner is served. Chicken with Rice. The other option was Seafood Pasta. Ice cream and wine was also served. Finished up “How to Be Single?” and a 50-min cultural documentary about Hong Kong. The flight is smooth.

Onboard CX734 to Hong Kong, 6:51pm

How timely and relevant? “How to Be Single?” is my inflight entertainment.

 

Onboard CX734 parked at Gate D32, 4:52pm

Boarded the plane! It’s kind of a dated Boeing 777. The IFE system looks quite old. Reminds me of the 1990s. Plane is packed. See you in Hong Kong!

IFE onboard CX734 to Hong Kong

Changi Airport T1 Gate D32, 4:16pm

The CX aircraft (a Boeing 777) arrived late so there’s an hour delay suddenly. It’s okay since it’s a chance to quietly read the book that I can never seem to finish. I’ve also deleted my Facebook App. I hope it’s a perfect opportunity to zone out.

Reading the “opportunity” chapter.

Changi Airport T1 Departures, 3:28pm

Checked-in! First time to skip the traditional check-in counters and proceed straight to gate after immigration. No bags to drop.

Exchanging some SGDs to HKDs 🙂

17 Jun 2016 (Friday), 2:53pm

En route to Changi Airport to catch the 4:05pm CX flight to Hong Kong. Thank goodness for office summer fridays! First time to fly between these two super-cities.

Boarding Pass all on the phone.

Follow me on Instagram: @bekpackr

The past week was loaded with training not in Kallang, but at International Plaza:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro 250 – A Course for Experienced Editors
  • New Top Secret (LOL) Interface our department will be using to upload promos

The third summer Friday was toned down. I was a bit exhausted. I hit the gym in the afternoon and then went to Bishan to collect some of my remaining clothes at my old flat. I also packed up my shoe rack.

And, I cried.

I couldn’t keep it in. I was hugging my favourite stuffed toy which I decided to leave with N. To sort of… “accompany” him so he isn’t lonely without me there.

I started crying when I remembered how beautiful this master bedroom was at one point. I had Star Wars Clone Wars blasting on Netflix, playing on my TV. My two lamps were keeping the room looking warm and welcoming. Our laundry was filled to the brim… his clothes and mine.

I remember the excitement I felt when I would hear the gate close outside. This would signal that he was arriving from work. I would try to switch off the lights and disappear under my quilt… so that when he entered the room he would think that I was already asleep. WHICH NEVER HAPPENS. He would enter the room, all dark… and then pause for a moment… and then say something like “Ang arte mo” (you’re acting1) or “Hindi ka pa tulog” (You’re not sleeping!)… then he would switch on the ugly fluorescent light and reveal me under the quilt… I would be smiling or HIDING MY SMILE.

Or when he would cook pork adobo or sinigang or that pork giniling… and we would eat it together on the bed… on top of this IKEA thingy intended for laptops.

Or the countless stupid things we would giggle about… together.

So yes, I cried. And I couldn’t stop crying. Because I had made the decision to move out three weeks ago. And I was crying because quite frankly… he didn’t even bother to stop me from leaving.

***

N arrived later that evening and we spoke for quite a bit. It was the first time we saw each other in two weeks. He noticed I had been crying.

My Uber arrived. I took my shoe rack and a bag full of clothes, and shut the gate in the softest way possible.

That’s my third summer Friday.

I went to IKEA Alexandra with two of my editors.


We were shopping around for new office decor. We moved into our new space last month. It’s kind of a bare space, so we were given a little something to do something about it.

***

For the office, I got myself a Kvart desk lamp. I like mood lighting.

For my new place, I got:

  • A laundry drying rack (expandable, perfect for the condo balcony)
  • A hanging dryer for socks and underwear (the one that looks like an Octopus)
  • A laundry flexible basket
  • New bedsheets… A MUST (I can’t go on using old things can I?)
  • An IKEA memory pillow – firm type
  • An IKEA softer pillow to compliment the firm one
  • One more HOLMO lamp bringing my amazing collection to FOUR.
  • New quilt cover, a green one with stripes… green reminds me of RENEWAL.

Took a cab from IKEA Alexandra to my place in Geylang… and daaaaaymm it set me back by almost SGD 20.00. Argh.


***

For dinner I tried the corner coffee shop and ordered Salted Fish Fried Rice. I was eating it by myself and still trying to get used it. Sigh.

***

Where am I on the “Ten things I hope to accomplish during this year’s Summer Friday”

  1. Take a stroll around Fort Canning Park. — soon
  2. Enjoy a sunset at a beach in Sentosa. — soon
  3. Visit the Fitness First branches in one-north and go swimming there. — soon
  4. Travel to Hanoi, Vietnam on a shoestring. — doesn’t look likely given budget concerns
  5. Travel to Ko Samui, Thailand on a shoestring. — same
  6. Travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia on a shoestring. — same
  7. Explore further the National Gallery Singapore. — soon
  8. Play arcade games one afternoon. AND ALL AFTERNOON. — soon
  9. Volunteer for something. — looking into this, for an LGBT org
  10. Find a good dentist in Singapore. — soon