DISCOVERING THE STREETS OF JAKARTA

They say that to fully experience a different country, you must explore it by taking its local transportation. Let me take you for a ride to the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia and share with you one of my first Diva Discoveries.

BLUE BIRD TAXI
Owned and operated by the  Blue Bird Group,  the Blue Bird taxi is a common fixture in the streets of Jakarta and rightfully so because it comes highly recommended by everyone in town. They’ve earned their good reputation of being safe, honest, efficient and reliable.  You can get picked up anytime anywhere too! I mean, the kind of pick up where you make a call or send SMS then they’ll be at your doorstep. They also have the posh Silver Bird Executive Class,  the black Mercedes Benz E-Class series.  Wish I could try it someday… when I do my groceries maybe? 🙂

TRANSJAKARTA BUSES
In lieu of a metro train,  they have the TransJakarta which is a Bus Rapid System (BRS) launched in 2004.   It works as our regular MRT (Metro Rail Transit) i.e.  it has  designated pick-up and drop off stations (shelter) where the tickets can be bought too.  The seats face the aisle to accommodate more passengers and are likewise equipped with built-in speakers announcing  the shelter names in Indonesian and English languages.  The buses run on special lanes separated by concrete blocks.  I have a feeling these special lanes are only special on specific time of the day,  I often see other cars (including our own) navigating through these designated lanes.

image by: wikipedia.org

MOTORCYCLES
I’ve never seen this much motorcycles in the streets before, they literally swarm the Jakarta roads!  The first time I saw them I thought there was a motorcycle parade or something 🙂  And unlike in the Philippines where I see mostly men ride them, EVERYBODY uses it here.  Women executives, mothers bringing their kids to school,  a very old man buying his meds, a young boy on his way to deliver lunch packs, an entire family  of five who has gone shopping (well, this one is a common site in Manila too hehe).  And as a sheer display of  multi-tasking,  they can do other tasks while riding their motorcycles i.e. smoking, texting, and talking on the phone.

OJEK
I guess by now you’ve heard about the infamous traffic situation in Jakarta. Well, where there’s a problem lies a solution.  Ladies and gentlemen…. Presenting, the motorcycle taxi also known as the Ojek! Everyday you’ll see  students, executives, locals and foreigners take this mode of transportation.  Oh the convenience it gives.  You know how motorcycles can “fill in the blanks” weaving through the roads, right?  I bet you’ll make it to your appointment on time, dead or alive.  Just a few tips should you decide to ride one:
1. Avoid wearing white.  Unless  you can pull off that I-attracted-all-of-Jakarta’s-smog look.

2.  Bring some cologne.  You still would want  to smell fresh when you get to your destination, wouldn’t you?

3.  Bring your own helmet.  Go figure 🙂

Ojek stations are found in every street corner.

image by: jakarta.usembassy.org

BAJAJ
Once in a while you’ll chance upon one of Indonesia’s traditional transportation vehicles, the bajaj.   Equally popular in India, the bajaj is Indonesia’s counterpart to Thailand’s Tuk-tuk and the Philippines’ Tricycle.  It can seat up to five passengers… well, depending on their sizes of course.  They can operate on designated areas  only and are not allowed to  use the main roads.  Hence, the ride may be circuitous at times but could be great if you’re up for an adventure.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.  Stay tuned for more as I make more discoveries in this amazing city.

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FROM GLOOM TO GLAM

I’ve been busy lately that’s why I’ve been remiss from sprucing up our house with Christmas décor.  Last week, I finally had the time to bring out the  dusted décor box  and prepared myself  for the Martha Stewart task.  I excitedly ran down the drill on my mind:  set up the tree,  put on the lights, then the ornaments, then the star.   Easy peasy.

I recalled fond memories as I was taking the parts of our one year-old Christmas tree out from its box.  We got the tree last year along with a complete set of bling  as we were to spend our first Christmas season here in Indonesia.  You see, we used to live in  my mom’s house in Manila so the tree and the ornaments in that house were hers.  This one is something we can call our very own.  It was so special to us that we documented every step as we decorated our very first family Christmas tree in our very own (well, rented) home.

My sweet flashback went to a halt when I noticed that there’s a missing part on this tree.  A very important part.  You know that part on the tree base where you insert all the branches into?  It’s NOT IN THE BOX.  Imagine a tree with its upper portion intact  and just a metal pole on its lower portion.  See Exhibit-A for reference.   Apparently,  our  previous helper took care of dismantling and re-packing the tree while I took care of re-packing and labeling the decor last year.  I never noticed that there was a missing part.  And since she’s no longer with us, there’s no way to find out where it has gone :(.

Exhibit-A: Ooohh Christmas Tree…

My stint in the Marketing field trained me to solve ANY crisis.  I was wired to make things happen.  So even when Dear Hubby decided that it’s already useless and just put everything back to the closet, I gave myself a couple of more days until I avert this Christmas tree crisis.  Okay,  I never had any home decorating experience but I watched a lot of Lifestyle Network, Urban Zone and Special Agent Oso so I think I can rock this.

The apartment owner has two home pieces that we never used.  A bronze bowl of sort that’s filled with dried cut flowers and potpourri.  It never served its air freshening purpose but it succeeded in collecting dust.  Another one is a glass vase with plastic flowers.  No offense but, except for Christmas ornaments, Dear Hubby and I were never fans of  artificial plants.  See Exhibit-B.

Exhibit-B: The potpourri bowl that we hide in a dark corner shelf and the artificial flowers that we place on top of the fridge.

A little mixin’ and matchin’ did the trick.  Our home now has a more Christmasy atmosphere! I was happy with the outcome and Dear Hubby was impressed.  As they say, the show must go on and our home is all glammed up for the holidays.  I’m taking back the Martha Stewart influence, Gwyneth Paltrow is more like it! 🙂  By the way, I’d appreciate suggestions as to how I can recycle our poor tree.   Enjoy the holidays everyone!!!

In lieu of the nativity (no Baby Jesus here in Indo) I'm making do with this. I know someone is out of place but Humpty Dumpty is better than the dinosaur my Little Boy previously wanted.

Probably the BIGGEST CHALLENGE in Santa's gift-giving career!

BACK TO THE GRIND

Yes, it’s back to regular programming for me!  Thanks so much for your sweet “get well” messages, they gave me comfort when my taste buds were not working and my skin burned from too much wintergreen ointment.  I knew I’ve recovered from the bug when thoughts of  working in the kitchen suddenly appealed to me (!), anything that will get me out of the bed :).  I am just so glad that I feel better now to attend to quite a number of important events: a recording album launch one evening (not mine of course!), parent-teacher meeting and play date the following morning.  Too bad I didn’t get well soon enough for a very dear friend’s surprise birthday party.  Nevertheless, this domestic diva has managed a balanced life this week.

IMELA KEI’S ALBUM LAUNCH

We met Imel because she’s married to a half Filipino-half Indonesian guy, Marko (of Mike’s Apartment band).  Both have established strong ties within the Filipino circle in Indonesia.   Imel, who is a member of the Ten2Five band, a composer and arranger, recently came out with her first solo album and we’re honored to have been invited to its launch.  ‘Twas my first time to watch her in action (I just see her on dinners and parties :)) and I was blown away by her voice! Imagine Amy Winehouse, Adele and Alicia Keys rolled into one petite frame!

Here's to the "White Lilies" launch!

Marko and his band, Mike's Apartment, opened the launch.

Not only does Imel have a powerful voice, she also has a mean piano prowess!

That night was also Imel's birthday celebration!

Cheers!!!

PARENT-TEACHER MEETING I might just post a separate article on this.  My discussion with Little Boy’s teacher was so interesting we nearly went overtime (each parent was given 15 minutes).  Had there been more time, I would have taken some photos.  I know, I’m weird that way hahaha!

THE PLAY DATE

My co-parent, Irene Connolly, once again opened the doors of her lovely home for a play date.  Their house is an ideal place for kids to run around and get busy in.  It’s spacious enough to have bicycles, toy cars, scooters and skate boards running simultaneously INSIDE the living room area .  She has two little girls but the collection of toys can likewise be enjoyed by the boys.  The tent and the trampoline are always a guaranteed hit with the kids too.  I don’t know how she remains calm and composed when kids play on her white couch and eat spaghetti on her equally immaculate carpet!  And because she’s such a gracious host, her kitchen is a favorite cook-out “playground” among the moms too 🙂

The calm before the storm.

Aaaand the chaos begins...

Girls just wanna have fun!

The kids having a blast...

Getting all the kids together for a group photo was a challenge!

See you again soon, moms!

PILIPINAS GOT THAILAND


I never played any sport (unless patintero is counted as one) but I’ve always been surrounded by people who played competitive and exhibition sports.  And while they struggle for those elusive scores or beat the hell out of their opponents, I’m there cheering them on.  Wearing whatever  required color, memorizing the chants,  and waving those official banners.  Cheerleading at  its finest, baby!

Basketball is not new to me.  Okay, I may not know all the mechanics and not understand all the referee’s calls but I can always bug my seatmate to translate the jargons 🙂  When you regularly watched the inter-school UAAP as a student and  used to work for a company that has three basketball teams in the professional league, you somehow get educated on this.

Dear Hubby and I were privileged to have watched the Sinag Pilipinas team win the gold medal for the men’s basketball division here at the Jakarta SEA Games.   Though I’ve seen live basketball action before, I could still feel that this experience  was different.  We played against Thailand so the Thais cheered for their team and the Pinoys cheered for Sinag.  Nothing unusual.  What I was surprised about was the other nations watching AND cheering for team Philippines!   They were cheering for the right team alright, team Philippines did not disappoint.  Even our Indonesian friends are amazed at how Filipinos play basketball.  “They can actually dunk??!”  To which we just reply “What football is to you, that’s what basketball is to us Filipinos”.

The DUNK that never fails to elicit "ooohs" and "aaahhs" from the crowd. Hah! Warm-up pa lang yan!

The RP bench. Yes, that's THE coach Norman Black right there!

Look, South East Asia. This is how we do it!

The real thing!

And this is how WE do it! Upper right photo shows a big group of Filipino teachers based in Jakarta, lower right photo shows a group of Pinoy expats. And the one on the left is, well, the ultimate groupie.

The Thais came in well-prepared. Darn, I should've worn a "Singkil" costume!

But our boys were better prepared... we got the GOLD!

Not to be left behind are our Women's Basketball Team winning the SILVER!

It all didn’t end at the awarding ceremonies, little did I know that there were more surprises waiting for me that night…

CYNTHIA TIU, the Team Manager of the women's division who also happens to be our wedding sponsor was there!

My cousin ALBERT ROLLE who's also the rapist, err, Therapist (P.T.) of our men's basketball team was there too!

He was gracious enough to let me wear the gold medal for some photo-op. Thanks Abet!

WARNING: FAN GIRL MOMENTS ahead… You may skip if you want to 🙂

Girl power right there!

Asian special from Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia

This is Bobby Parks' little big boy, Bobby Ray. One of the highest pointers in the game and I think he's cute too! Parang Will Smith. Watch out for this boy...

Aaand who doesn't know NORMAN BLACK of San Miguel grand slam fame and the four-peat coach of the Ateneo. I refused to go home that night without shaking his hands, the photos were just a bonus. Once you go Black, you'll never go back!

It was indeed a glorious night not only for sports fans but for all Filipinos as well.  To quote my Twitter entry that night…

“Singing Lupang Hinirang in a foreign land with the Philippine flag raised above two other nations’… Surreal! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!!!”

MANNY MANIA

I’m not writing about how the Pacquiao-Marquez fight should’ve ended, or whether I agree with the results or not.  You’ve already got your Facebook, Twitter and  TV overflowing with opinions, I don’t want this site to stress you out. Mahal magpa-Belo 🙂  However, this post is still about the match and how it united the Filipinos here in Jakarta- one fine Sunday.

As if you still don’t know, a Pacquiao fight has always been a “sacred” event for Filipinos.  This is one time when Philippines has zero crime rate and the roads are miraculously clear of traffic.  You wouldn’t want to miss Manny’s bloodied face saying his victory message (in English!) with the Philippine flag waving on his background. Or Mommy Dionisia fainting.  Or Jinkee’s new nose, I mean, Hermes bag.

Anyway, Pinoys here in Jakarta wouldn’t want to miss the action so a group of friends organized a viewing/salu-salo in Demang Restaurant strategically located near Sta. Theresia Church, where Filipinos would normally start their day on a Sunday.  The place was jam packed not only with Pinoys but also foreigners  i.e. Indonesia (of course), Germany, USA, Sri Lanka, Belgium, etc.  By the way, there was also a lone Mexican guest who was brave and sport enough to watch the fight with us.  Let me take you there…

The banner announcing the Big Event. I erased Billy's and Luis' numbers, they've already got too many "friends"... and proposals 🙂

Our hardworking and very efficient friends manning the registration area.

Like a real Pinoy event, it all started with the national anthem and a prayer.

Fun games prior to the main event.

A German national won the beer drinking contest, must’ve had a lot of practice from the recent Octoberfest. San Miguel Beer Indonesia presented the award. Behind them was the lone Mexican guy in the room. Such courage and sportsmanship! 

And the action begins. I must say, this game almost gave me a heart attack!

Then the RP Basketball contingent for the Jakarta SEA Games arrived.  We didn’t know all of them but the ladies just shrieked and swarmed around them for photo-op.  Me?  Nah, I kept my cool the whole time… Wait!  Did you just say Chris Tiu?!?!?!?

Apparently our poor athletes didn’t have a transportation service going back to their hotel so the organizers asked if anybody could lend their cars.  I volunteered, Dear Hubby could take a cab 🙂

Oh it was an honor taking these boys to my apartment... I mean, to their hotel 🙂

How else do you celebrate a Pinoy event but with authentic Pinoy goodies

International photographer Romy Gacad taking this shot as I waved the flag in victory. His photo later on made it to local (Phils.) and international news. I'll have a separate post on this brewing international "stardom" next time.

A word from our sponsors. This event was made possible by generous Filipino expats in Indonesia (and the companies they're connected with) and by the Philippine Embassy.

Like any Pinoy gathering, the event was punctuated with lots of stories, drinking, singing and dancing. No, "My Way" wasn't part of the repertoire.

It wasn't just a gathering for nothing. The proceeds of this event was donated to the victims of recent typhoons back home in the Philippines. The donation was coursed thru our Philippine Embassy.

I’m no boxing expert nor a sports analyst.  All I know is that millions of  Filipinos all over the world are always brought together by one man- Manny Pacquiao.  Now to those still insisting for a re-match between Philippines and Mexico, see you at the Ms. Universe!

DOMESTIC BECOMES ME

image by Royalty-Free/Corbis

If you’ve read the “About The Diva” page then you’ll know that before I took on being domestic, I was once a full-time corporate slave in the marketing rat race.  A job that requires frequent travels, late nights, crazy deadlines, stressful presentations, and regular visits to the salon.  No. I just made the salon thing up, that was self-imposed 🙂 My point is, I was a weekend mom– a term better than “absentee mom”, don’t you think?

Anyway, my son practically grew up with the nanny. We were so lucky to have one who was with us before the Little Boy came until the time when we had to move overseas.  She was ever dependable and I totally trust her with the boy so I felt no jealousy when he uttered Ate” before learning the word “mommy”…. none at all… Okay, I wanted to scratch her face when I first heard that but hey, she was taking good care of my boy while I was gone so I should be cool with that.  When weekends would come and it would be my turn to look after him, Little Boy would give me a puzzled look.  He was too young to talk so I could just see his thought balloon saying “Who is this woman???” to which I would reply, “Anak, ako ang tunay mong ina.” (Son, I’m your real mother).  That would be his cue to cry.  When the nanny would come home from her day-off, he would run towards her and exclaim “I miss you, Ate!”.  Again, no jealousy there even when he would only give me a wave when I would get home from a week-long trip.  And when he finally learned to talk, he even coined a nickname for his nanny: Ate Cute, while he calls me The Stepmother. Darn those fairytales!

Little Boy and Ate Cute enjoying Baguio City while I was attending an official event in Burnham Park.

Then Dear Hubby got an opportunity to get cross-posted overseas, a career break that was hard to resist.  I knew that a regional assignment was his biggest dream… second to having me as his wife, of course! “Living separately was never an option”, he said.  Making sure that family relocation was part of the package, he was bent on taking our little family with him.  Isn’t he the sweetest?  It took countless discussions (some of them intense) to finally got me packing.  You see, it wasn’t easy letting go of a corporate post handling breakthrough projects in the Philippines’ biggest manufacturing firm. But I was willing to give up career for love – showbiz??!! 🙂

I gotta give props to Dear Hubby because he got everything laid out when he made the relocation “pitch” to me– complete with a visual presentation!  And by presentation I didn’t mean a lap dance but snapshots of potential residences and their facilities, etc.  He had all my concerns covered i.e. double income in Manila vs. single income in Jakarta, education, safety and security, medical benefits etc.  And to make things convenient for me, he got me a brand new MacBook Pro so I could reconnect with family and friends back home. I told him it was too much and that I’d be happy with a Sony Vaio.  He just replied “You’ll love that, it’s idiot-friendly.”  Okay, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by that, he just wanted everything to be easy for me.  Sweet ‘no?… He also got me an iPod to keep me company while alone at the gym, a BlackBerry for easy communication even while I’m mobile, and a large, hot pink, hard-luggage (this one nailed it!).  He is just sooo sweet! One more suck-up comment like this and he just might get me the latest iPhone or iPad this time… oh, but an iron curler will do 🙂

Well, here we are in Jakarta, Indonesia which the three of us call home (for now) building our new family life together.  We could be in another city in another country in a few years but still together and making some more memories.

How about you?  Any wonderful beginnings or breakthroughs in your life recently?

And the journey begins...

Day 1 in Jakarta, making a fresh start...

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