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Uncle Ali (THE BRUNEI-MALAYSIA EXPERIENCE, PART 4)

*I will be using pseudo-names for the privacy of the people I met in Brunei*

Amir, one of my hosts in Brunei took me to a foodcourt in downtown Brunei. This is my first day here. It was a Friday. Fridays in Brunei are different. They close everything at exactly 12noon and will open at exactly 2pm for their prayer time. They take their religion seriously. I am not sure if this is an advantage for me or a disadvantage since I only have a day to travel Brunei and the prayer time will take away 2 hours from it. But I have decided to respect it and not do anything during that moment.

The food court is like a Singapore Hawker but less the noise. Brunei is a quiet country. We were there at around 10:30am so Amir and I must go back to the flat in one and a half hours. I ordered a Beef Soto (Beef Soup) and a Teh Tarik (Milk Tea) since I cannot eat any seafoods because of my allergies. You know how hard it is for me to be a traveler in Asia and cant eat 80% of their cuisines? The story of my life.

While sipping my hot soup, Amir saw his Uncle. He said hi and offered our spare seats for his Uncle’s family to join us. Amir introduced his Uncle Ali. Uncle Ali is one funny guy. He is married with a Filipino girl. In fact, he is good in Tagalog which made me appreciate Uncle Ali more.  He interviewed me and asked the usual “What are you doing here?” , “Why are you travelling alone?”, “How long are you going to stay here” questions. But he asked me a question which i did not expected:”Are you a Christian?”

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you if you say YES!”, he added. I grew up in a community where we fear people with religion other than ours. That is one of the reasons why I have started traveling and exploring the world–to get the right perspective and away from the  limited thinking of my community back home. The moment Uncle Ali asked me that question, I took it as an opportunity to learn from a faith system which is really controversial from my Christian-based beliefs.

“I was born and raised as a Christian, but I am now searching for truth”, I answered. Amir and Uncle Ali, both Muslims smiled at me.

“You know why we don’t eat pork right?”, Uncle Ali asked.

“Yes, because pork is unhealthy and dirty”, I answered.

“You are right. So why do you keep on eating pork?”, he asked. I was speechless because Uncle Ali was right. I know what pigs eat in our country and it’s really nasty. How they slaughter pigs is another problem. Back home in the Philippines, we eat everything, all the nasty things sold in the streets. Uncle Ali challenged me without any intentions. And then he asked me another question.

“Do you know why we Muslims can marry 4 times?”

“No. Tell me about it”

Uncle Ali explained to me everything. I will not write the explanations now because this same question was asked to me by another Muslim I met in Malaysia. I will be writing about it soon.

It was 11:30am when Amir and I parted ways with his Uncle Ali because we need to rush to the mosque. I took a picture with him then he hugged me and gave me some advises about my travels and how to get from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu.

It’s a bit sad to leave Uncle Ali because that short conversation I had with him is life changing. In fact, I already stopped eating pork.

Ancient Wisdom

Last year, I have read a number of fitness magazines and I realized that although they are good reads, I cannot really find them applicable. I can say that one doesn’t need any fitness magazines. One study will definitely disapprove another study in the near future. The ancient rule will always be applicable: find balance in everything

Last night, Jogs and I went for a 5k Run/Walk. I enjoyed it. I felt good about it physically and emotionally. When I got home, I’ve read a magazine and it left me confused. Bummer. 

Ancient wisdom will definitely disapprove modern studies! Nothing beats that! 

No turning back

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Yeah yeah, fitness (exercise) is addictive. One week without it is really terrible. Although I still lack consistency, the habit is already there. Do you think it’s because of the 21-day rule? 

Anyway, last October 6, my friends and I ran the 5k marathon sponsored by Jollibee, the “number 1” fast food chain in the country. How ironic right? Fast food and exercise aint good together. But at least we were able to finish it. Too bad I finished the 5k race in 32 minutes. Last week, I was able to finish 5k in 22! Hmmm?

World Tourism Day Fun Run

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Yeah, the first 100 finishers for the 5K Run got a medal. I got one. In fact most of the runners in the category did. But 5 kilometers is still 5 kilometers. And for a person with a congenital heart disease and finishing it in 22 minutes, I really deserve that medal. I could have not done it without my friends of course.

For a healthy lifestyle!

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The “Color” Run

What I expected:

I have been excited to join a Holi-ish fun run ever since I fell in love with India. I have been seeing international Fun Runs which adapted the said concept. It reached the Philippines, if I’m not mistaken, a year ago but only in the Metro and other “posh” places in the country. While in the midst of frustration that I wasn’t able to go to India this year to celebrate Holi,  I got excited when my friends sent me an SMS that there will be a similar fun run to be held in our city. Image

What my friends expected:

Like kids, my friends planned for an overnight stay at Jogs’ crib in preparation for the big run. They were excited as well. Image

What actually happened:

Well, it was far from what we expected. It was a face paint run and not the get-bloody colorful-and-dirty run we were all excited about. The organizers handed us some water soluble face paint and face crayons while telling us that the best face paint will win a special award. BOO! As we looked around, people are painting butterflies, stars, flowers and hearts on their shoulders legs and faces. I almost fell asleep while watching these people do their thing. More BOOS!

My friends are even more disappointed as I am. The hostile cold morning air was suddenly felt. I saw them starting to draw hearts, flowers and other plain stuffs on their warm-turned-cold skin.

What we did:

Because of too much frustration, I took a huge amount of green paint and splatted it on my friends and shouted, “Come on guys. Lets have fun!” One thing I love about my friends is that they don’t give a damn on what other people will think or say. They took large amounts of paint and they started to have a “paint fight” right beside the butterfly infested skins of our competitors. Paint is all over us. You can hardly recognize us. Mission accomplished.

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Lesson learned: We create our own happiness and it cannot be found elsewhere but in you.

By the way, remember the “best paint award” I was talking about earlier? Guess who nailed it…

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Mama Cing’s 80th

Yesterday, my grandma celebrated her 80th birthday.

It was indeed a miracle that she’s celebrating her 80th with a very good health. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cervical Cancer. We thought we are going to lose our beloved grandma. We were wrong. For a 79 year old woman, we thought that it would be difficult for her to survive the pain of radiation and chemo therapy. Again, we were wrong. She survived it despite of drastic weight loss and painful bowel movements.

She is a strong woman with a positive spirit. She is a fighter who clings on to God when hope is miles away.

She still fights everyday. She is getting stronger. She is gaining weight.

To sum it all up, she defeated cancer at the age of 80.

Who say’s there’s no hope?

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Although grandma never experienced the feeling of having a great grand daughter, she was blessed with 7 handsome great grand sons. These boys are really lucky to experience having a great grandmother (and a great grandfather of course)
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Grandma’s grandkids. We were not complete when we took this picture.
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One of the many reasons why Grandma is fighting everyday

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