Will You Kiss It For Me?

Dear Helene, 

But sadly, I cannot. 

I cannot kiss it for you, Helene. I cannot do that anymore because I do not have the time machine to go back to the years where the bookstore is still open. Based on the research, it was a tiny store near Baclays Bank, within the far end of the Charing Cross Road, where the Cambridge Circus was. 

Found this 1955 photo on the internet, thanks to the man who posted this!
But now, even the circus was gone - it became an intersection between Charing Cross and Shaftesbury Avenue . Look, the bookstore is not the bookstore no more. It was turned into a bistro. 

Google maps says this is what replaced the bookstore, back in 2012.
Oh, Helene, if only you knew. I went to London two years ago. I went to the Palace Theatre, too. But sadly, I haven't found any bookstore along the street. You see, I can easily take the tube from Tower Hill to Tottenham Court Road and stroll towards the circus, and look for the 84 Charing Cross Road. If only I read your book couple of years earlier, I would've ask for the golden plate which immortalized the location of the bookstore - like those letters of yours that immortalized not only the place, but also of the person who manages the bookstore.
I used to live near the Tower Hill Station, and I always carry my oyster card.
It was only recently that I've encountered your collection of letters - it was a traveling book that the book club owned. It was only yesterday that I've read it in one sitting. It was supposed to be read weeks ago, as soon as I received the package, but because of workloads and other stuff, I wasn't able to.

Tina sent it via courier because I wasn't able to attend the previous book discussion.
My sight literally zoomed in to my name - knowing it was a package sent. And when I opened it... tada! It was your letters immortalized into a book!

I felt your letters, Helene. It was heartwarming and full of those Ye Olde English books that are worth reading, but since I am not familiar with the others - I cannot relate to your bookshelf, actually. I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but all those dated 1800's, I cannot afford to own or even read one - for me they maybe too difficult. I still have to read Virginia Woolf's collection of essays entitled The Common Reader. 

I researched the books entry in Wikipedia to double-check your bibliography! And I re-concluded, we can share our sentiments about Mr. Darcy. haha!

But what I loved the most is how those letters are kept to the heart and were able to salvage in two decades~ and that for me, is very tough. I live in a tropical country with heavy monsoon rains. My diaries and psycho-graphs dated back in my high school years were simply swept away by flood. Even precious photos of me and my family when we were younger. Oh, I just loved your mails. You started with a formal greeting and ordering those books you needed - then as time goes by, you became sweet not only to Frank and his family, but also to the other staff of the bookstore - even to Megan who went to the land far far away. You even wanted to convince her otherwise! 

And then as Shiela grows up, you didn't stop being affectionate, you sent parcels of food, cheered for the Spurs (of Tottenham), and you watched The Queen's coronation in the wee hours of New York morn. And you continue to order books and greet everyone from the other side of the world. 

But people come and go.

It maybe sad, but it is futile to live with regrets. I was so happy that Frank remained the sweet man I thought him to be. As well as you, you remained the same thoughtful woman I imagined you be.

I wish I can hug you. I wish I can kiss you.
But sadly, I cannot.

An aficionado of books,


Monasterio ala Rio De Janeiro: Tarlac

If only I can go to the Americas, I prefer here:

Considered as the sixth largest city in the world, Rio is filled with beaches and nightlife. But when you are down and lonely and wanted to do a pilgrimage - you can go to its 30-meter high statue located on the top of the Corovado Mountains.

But given that I don't have enough funds even to apply for a VISA and be a tourist, and not really into travelling (since I prefer reading more), I was yet recruited as a foreign exchange student by the classmates' field trip and went to a province having the same vibe as with the Jesus the Redemeer's.

We went to San Jose, Tarlac.

From the wikipedia blurb:

San Jose is a third-class municipality in the province of Tarlac, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 33,960 people. It was created into a municipality pursuant to RA 6842; ratified on April 21, 1990; taken from the municipality of Tarlac City.

The municipality is a quiet place filled with vast farmland and goats and cows. I remember my travel in Northern Ireland filled with green pastures and SHEEEEEEEEPPPPP~ (baa-aaaaah!). I was fortunate that I only went there for a weekend getaway, since I used to live in the city, and being stuck in the countryside will be painful for me. Do not get me wrong, I actually envy those who retire in these places filled with serenity and fresh air; but as young as I am, I'd rather stay and work in the city.

And being that joiner in their weekend getaway, before doing the pilgrimage, we became guests in a farmland resort owned by a retired officer of The GFI - and small world - we used to be counterparts when I was back in the government service. Deja vu encounters, eh? We used to talk about opening up new bank branches to cater financial services to the target clientele.

It was fun meeting him again after years, when I became part of The Bank and he - happy and retired, with his son succeeding his footsteps and his advocacy.

His property - the farmland - has also a man-made resort to accommodate guests who are planning to go on a pilgrimage. We are not the first set of dabarkads who did this - he accommodate lots of folk. But it was tough to market his place - since San Jose is far from his place, two hours via jeepney. But knowing his place has a swimming pool, might as well use it and spend the night merrily before attending a solemn sundate with the Lord.

His residence is where the orchids were planted. And his residence isn't near the farmland.

They got a swing to where you can relax. This is one nice residence.

If this isn't called a selfie, then what is this? Duofie, then? Haha

Farmland on a sunset

Ella and Bianx poses at their tipsy point

Pictures for swimming~ because we were tipsy and we need to swim and we love picture-taking

I met new classmates! There's the son named Gene, and there's a guy with a girl who topped the graduating class in law school named Jake, and there's this brother from another chief named Chris! Chris is also a protégé of my chief way back in my government days, he used to be my partner in another agency - from the Department of Budget and Management. He recently resigned from the GFI to be part of the big bank - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

And so a cloudy sundate arrived. We have had our breakfast buffet and photo-op, yet again...

Field-trip participants (from left to right): Bianx, Josh, Jules, Jake,
Jay, Gene's bro and dad, Gene, Chris, Ella and Jed
Before leaving the resort, we enjoyed the videoke sessions and did the #TimeMachineSundayTunes, a recent term I coined while we sang all the songs of the 80's - the country and those old rock that are full of soul. It was Chris who started it, then I joined... and so did Jed and Jay... we sang the songs we remember from our parents. And it was awesome. HAHAHA

And so we did the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage-half-of-the-way: the group striked the pose in the middle of the road

The "weeeeh~" pose


We're here!
The Redeemer Statue in the cloudy sky

Flowers in the garden of Monasterio

Group picture under the Redeemer Statue

Proteges of the same chief: We finally met after years of phone correspondences in the workplace

I feel like a proud ate of these kiddos
Lovers in Tarlac
Klasmeyts: Future Seniors of the GFI looked at the serenity of Tarlac's greenery

Pumi-Pre-nup ulit?
And so it was. We offered our praises, said our graces and surrendered our problems in the holy mass for the pilgrims.

Facade: The Servants of the Risen Christ Monastic Community Church
offer masses for the Pilgrims at 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM

Landscape and peer photos are owned by Jed Ambojia. Read his romantic rants and escapist episodes here


Two Sides of the Coin

There are two sides of the coin - either take the bet on HEADS or TAILS. Just like life, in the eyes of this accountant, she took the two sides of the coin in one of the most unforgettable episodes of her life. That's when she took the CPA Board Exam. 

Again, we are in the season of accountant's Hunger Games, where the freshie professionals dream big, chart their career steps, and plotting their targets for the next five years.

Five years ago, I have that intensity of dreaming big, being assertive, and too enthusiastic to learn. Where am I now are the results of the five-year-planning of the corporate life. I may not have the best of the worlds, and I've faced lots of compromises, but I guess as of today, I am not regretting anything yet. 

I took the board exams TWICE. The first time have an average of a mere one point to pass or to make the exam conditional - a 0.14 (which is one correct answer over the seven subjects). The second time I took the exam included this 0.14 - it was 85.14 to be exact. 

As I dedicate this message to readers who have the same profession as I have, may I wish to share my messages from facebook notes I've compiled and created, and wishing you all the best in this career life. 

There are two sides of the coin - all believe me, I've been there. So I am sharing the two sides of my life.

For those who have the odds in their favor:
What is the next step? - RUN!!! 
Tila isa akong ina na nakita ang kanyang anak sa isang entablado na maganda ang pagkakaganap sa isang dula. 

Natatawa ang isang officemate kung bakit ako pa ang tuwang-tuwa sa galak na makita ang mga kaibigan na nakapasa sa Lehitimong Tagapagtuos ng Bayan (Certified Public Accountant) - eh hindi naman ako nag-exam.

I've been there mga tsong, I've failed once before I rose and continued the fight. I prepared my weapons, forged my convictions, and battled the inhibitions. And at last - the victory has been made. Walang alinlangang sinugod ang Board Exam, sa paniniwalang kahit konti ang aking alam, ang mga natutunan ay hindi basta mapaparam.

Congrats mga tsong, savor the victory - as I always say, that is LEGENDARY. Pambihira ang ganyang pagkakataon sa isang accountant... savor the taste of sweet revenge mo sa mga questions, problems, and multiple choices. Simutin ang lasa hanggang sa mawala ito... dahil, for sure, that celebration will only last until you have taken the oath as a Legitimate CPA runner. Believe me, I'VE BEEN THERE.

So what's next for a freshie professional? My answer to that is to plan your track. Gusto mong makipag-sabayan sa audit? Go with Audit Firms. Gusto mong mag-corporate finance? Go with multinational firms. Gusto mong minsang tumulong sa bayan - BE A WORKFORCE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE. Be a public servant. Gusto mong magpamana? BE A TEACHER. Be the personification of an accounting book.

I want to encourage the freshie CPAs to leave a legacy to this race. Kapag tumakbo ka, mag-iwan ka ng mahalagang marka. And believe me, this is not only a Utopian Dream - this IS THE DREAM ITSELF. Kaya mo yan. Sinisimulan ko na nga eh.Kung kaya ko, kaya mo rin. 

At sana, sa pagtakbo mong ito - marating mo ang patutunguhan mo at nag-iwan ka ng importanteng marka na pwede pang-gayahan ng susunod na henerasyon ng mga Lehitimong Tagapagtuos. YOU JUST DO NOT RUN IT - YOU HAVE TO OWN THE TRACK. 

Good luck sa Buhay Propesyonal Bagong CPA! :D
For those who have the odds against their favor:
Other Side of the Fence? - MOVE!!! 
I looked at my phone after the last subject of the Exam. Sakto. 4PM. Bawal umatras. Once you have left the room, you have left everything in there - Questions. Theories. Problems. Naputol ko ba ang mga lapis? Napasa ko ba ang papel? Naiwan ko ba ang eraser? Ang paborito kong ballpen? I looked at my bag - it's all in there - Scratch Papers, Scientific Calculator, Black Signpen, and two broken pencils.

Inhibitions? Present. Low Self-Esteem? Present. Haggardness? Present.

Noting that the CPA Board Examination is one of the hardest Licensure Exams in the country (take note, this is comparable to Bar Exam, only the latter does not involve multiple choice questions and "shadable" circles), fear of the upcoming results is innate in most of the contenders. Once the clock strikes four, the countdown starts for the release of those who made it. From four pm, you have twenty hours to dream, to imagine and to pray. Wishing that your name is one of the list is a long wait.

Echos are being heard around the corridor. Smiling faces, Worried physiques, Tired minds are everywhere.
"Anong sagot mo sa may Court Ruling? Akalain mong may ganong tanong!"
"Nakakaiyak nga eh, hindi natin nareview yun!"

"Ako sagot ko A kasi sabi ni Sir __ the Assessment should be ___."
"Eh bakit sabi ni Sir __ dun sa ___, the Assessment should be ___."

"Tsong sarap! nasagutan ko ang P2! Ang gaan! nabasa ko ang tanong!"
"Galing naman. Ako nga ngarag eh!"

I looked for a sanctuary. Bakit sa UE parang nakakulong ka, I thought to myself. I ran (literally ran!) to the nearest church in Mendiola, and there I prayed. "Bahala ka na dear God, if you think that I did not do what I did in there, please assess them. Alam kong boplax ako sa MAS, pero please let it reach the 65! Pati pala BLT ko, at Auditing Theory! Ipasa nyo na ako (in demanding tone). Hindi ko kasi alam kung anong gagawing ko kung wala pangalan ko sa Results. Amen"

Twenty hours later, siksikan sa review school. Ang ingay! Few are anticipating the top ten list - the rest are anticipating the rest of the list of successful examinees. Ang init! walang aircon. Ipopost raw sa corridor ang list. Two hours later, may sumisigaw na. May umiiyak. May nagsasabing WAW, may nagsasabing AYYY...

And then my name is not on the list. But why don't I feel anything? May nagko-congratulate na mga friends ko. He was smiling. "Ella, sayang. But grabeh! WAW! Top two!!! Thanks God!" 

Hindi ako makaimik. I do not know if I was awestruck because a friend of mine made it to the top ten, or shocked because my name is not on the list. Puzzled maybe, because walang consideration ang PRC sa BLT, Auditing at MAS ko. Tired, literally, because of the energy invested in aircon-less and people-ful corridors.

"Ella punta ka bukas, baka condi ka naman! Wag mawalan ng pag-asa! Kaya yan!" (A conditioned examinee possesses grades, of which majority of the subjects are above 65, while having an average grade of 75 and above)

Twenty-four hours later after the released of successful examinees, I went to PRC to determine my grade. As I received the grades, I broke down.
TOA - 74; BLT - 73; MAS - 64; ATh - __; P1 - 81; APr - __; P2 - 84  = Average of 74.86

I broke down because of one point: ONE point in TOA makes me a conditioned examinee in the subject MAS; and ONE point in MAS makes me a CPA on May 2008JUST ONE POINT DIFFERENCE. If you are in my place, do you think you have the means to pull your average up on a ONE notch? You have no choice but two things:

(1) Curse the PRC, curse the CPA Exams, live with bitterness of having a failure; or
(2) Grieve as much as you want, but move on - continue the started fight.

Days passed. Tears have fallen. Finally, I've decided. I will continue this fight (mantra statement last June 2008).

To those on the other side, I dare you to move. Passing the exams is just around the corner. Ano naman kung nahuli ka sa byahe? Ano naman kung CPA number ko is 125082 and magiging number mo is CPA no. 129_ _ _? It's all about timing differences. It's all in the interpretations of our creative minds versus the pre-emptive notions of the negating heart. This is my advice:

So to you, dear accountant, you may have passed or failed this recent May 2013 CPA Board Exams - but do not forget to hold that passion within you. 


Touching the Clouds: Caleruega

It was a rainy Sunday. It was two days after the first month of being official.
My first shared experience. With someone special.

I asked him if this is possible. A pilgrimage. With all these things going too fast and slowly getting out of control - we both needed a guidance. Maybe if we go to a spiritual place together, we will feel the inner peace and feel grateful for all the things we have.

But it was a mess.

Plans not being thought through, we got lost. We were mad. We were cranky in an early Sunday morning. He lost patience, I broke down. 

When we managed to take this pilgrimage together, we both did not feel the inner peace we both sought for. And so I prayed for us to survive the upcoming challenges. But I have had that feel - 

If this is love, then why we have to suffer? When love means utter freedom, why we are prisoners in this sad slumber? When love means flight, why don't we flutter?

And so weeks later - another challenge came. Unfortunately, we never managed to get through it. Yeah, all things are out of control. Shared experiences were rough. And it is better to take a step back and rethink. That maybe letting go of him is like letting him take flight - let him flutter like butterflies.

And so that's what happened to my first visit in this holy place.

Months later, as a newly-recognized-insta-friend by the GFI "classmates", I feel like invited yet again, thrust into the world of joining lakwatsa and field trips. For me, I was being adopted as a foreign-exchange student (yes, foreign, since I work in an American Investment Bank) and they welcome me to the new world and treated me as a new classmate. 

Ergo, the second coming to Caleruega. To touch the clouds and to seek for inner peace.

This time, I came prepared. Hair, dress, and all.
Bound to go via bus to Nasugbu on a Saturday afternoon, we stayed the night before in an inn, a homey-place-for-a-weekend-getaway. The inn, named Twin Pines Hotel, is owned by a retired official in the same GFI - and inspired us with her Pandesal Discussions of work ethic, discipline, and being dedicated to both careers - of being a banker and being a wife and mother. Small world as it is, I used to call her relating to the questions of different cases when I was part of the Government Sector before.  

Pandesal Discussion Participants (Left to right):
Bianx, Josh, Ella, Tita Menchu and her husband, Jules,  Jed, Jay
I do not want to compare this second coming to my first shared experience, but there is a similarity with this - the second coming was brought about by the truth that two classmates of mine, a month after being an official couple, wanted to see the place for themselves.


But this time around, even the clouds were in their favor. It was a vibrant afternoon, full of colors.

And as I remember my first time entering the church and pray for a miracle, I see myself in her, praying for the same. But it was of a different aura in her, it was pristine, it was full of vigor and positivism. Maybe because we are all there to support them, as good friends and loyal fans of their newly-bloomed relationship - when all of us think of floating hearts, colorful balloons, and fluttering butterflies. Yes, all were cheesy, denied or not. 

So there, freethinking thoughts shall end here. Let me post these photos and be merry and cherish this wonderful field trip.

Snippets of the fellowship, the night before - 

Jed and I sat beside the sign, talked about the past, and shared sentimentality
- even without drinking any liquor yet! 
Team red! Jay wears the shirt with the GFI logo, me realizing it is a legit Friday night-out, availed the leave on the Friday night shift
Roomies - Jed, Jay and me. Bianx was in washroom~

Fieldtrip celebrating the first month:
Jed, Jay, Ella (bata-batuta-tsura), Bianx, Josh and Jules
And so, a Sunny Saturdate, we touched the clouds - together.

We all roamed around, and being happy. And with the sunny weather, we reflected our own sunny personalities - being a child-at-heart, and do limitless photo-shoot sessions. :)

Photo-inception: Ella captures Jed capturing Bianx in the location.

Mimicry: Jules tried her best to do what the statue did. It was perfect!

Waiting by the bench:
I sit here with the perfect smile hoping that when you see this, you'll smile too.

Couple-shot? Hi cutie~


Buwis-buhay shot: If I don't hold tight to the lamp post, I'll roll down the mountaintop

Thinking of you? Hi cutie~

And so I shall wait.


"That is Batulao, a mountain with many peaks. Like our love. For us to see all these wondrous peaks, we have to climb the mountain - together." -In the thoughts of Josh

Jed wants to have the picture taken, too. HIHI

Group picture! Just because.

The girls wanted to have their shots taken!

Happy first monthsary Josh and Jules! Wish you all the best - floating hearts, flying balloons and fluttering butterflies included. :)