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Clay Life: An Exhibit by Jon & Tessy Pettyjohn

Sometimes, one is fortunate enough to meet other human beings who are defined by their passions and humility.

I recently interviewed one such couple, Jon and Tessy Pettyjohn, who were the pioneers of pottery in the Philippines over 30 years ago. Over lunch, we chatted, and they told their stories—meekly, with such “normalness”, and no airs of superiority. This elderly couple, artisans in their craft, made me wish that I could grow old in this way—uncorrupted by the egotistical ways of the world.

When they spoke to me, I felt like a daughter, a friend, or an apprentice, learning from the masters. Tonight, their exhibit opens in Alliance Francaise, displaying the works of their hands.

Jon & Tessy Pettyjohn exhibit: Clay Life

An exhibition of stoneware and porcelain by JON and TESSY PETTYJOHN

Date: November 3, 2011
Venue: Alliance Française de Manille’s Total Gallery
Time: 6:30 pm

209 Nicanor Garcia Street,
Bel-Air II, Makati City,

Read the full article here, now published in Mabuhay magazine.

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Paranoia is Normal, when You’re a Mom

July 25, 2011. Karsten’s first injury at school.

It’s the dreaded phone call you hope you never get—the one with the cheery teacher’s voice, where you swallow the lump in your throat, while reassuring yourself, it’s nothing serious.

The chirpy voice on the other end tries to explain as nicely as she can—but you know it’s not exactly good news: there’s been an accident, a minor one.

She says there was blood, and they want to take your son to the hospital. You come to your senses, because the lot of blood, you are told, was just a gash on his lip from a tumble, that lip that always gives him trouble.

If your husband were here, you reason, he wouldn’t freak out. He would be sensible. “It’s just a busted lip,” he’d say, “And he’s a boy!”

Boys will always be boys, you know…but this is your boy. Your only boy.

“Don’t take him to the clinic,” you answer calmly, into the phone. “Take him home.”

He comes home, thirty minutes later, the longest half-hour you’ve ever waited for him. He’s draped over the nanny’s shoulder, his face fixed in a little frown, but his eyes are closed, asleep. You know there were tears, loud ones, and they still trickle from the corners of his eyes. But he’s here now. And you just needed to see him to know that he’s okay.  You tuck him into a safe bed, kiss him goodbye, and hope that when he wakes up, he won’t remember the pain.

Then, you quietly slip out the door, to leave for the day’s work.


Will the lifelong task of being a mother, never be one of anxiety and endless worry? I watched Nat Geo’s documentaries last night of people, both around the world and in my own country, in troublesome places—the horror, the living nightmares. And I wondered about how my own son would fare in the world.

Perhaps all mothers feel that.

I chat with my husband later, to tell him the news. I know—I hear—through the screen, that he is concerned, but not as paranoid. He is a man, and has known a lot more pain. My child’s first few tumbles will not be the last ones—especially, not if he is anything like his adventurous father.

And so life carries on. One day after the next, one tumble after the next, more tears, more hugs, more getting back up again and facing another day. More knowing that nothing in the world can ever compare to the immense love a parent has for their child.

And no feeling will be better than knowing that child is home, safe and sound.


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Lago de Oro, the First Cable Wakeboard Park in the Philippines

Many wakeboarders come to the Philippines and go straight to Camarines Sur, known for its Wakeboard Park, Lago del Ray. And why not? The province is also full of beautiful, rugged beaches, mysterious caves and island secret spots (think Survivor series, because a few International ones were shot here), and easy to get to if you’re flying in from another country. Besides, the party buzz is all there at the Park, with crowds of buff and beautiful people coming to show off, or just observe.

However, if you live in Manila, an easier option may be to drive two and a half hours over to Calatagan, Batangas. Here, you’ll find the original Wakeboard Park, Lago de Oro. It’s a private cable park built on farmland, and perfect for beginners. A little simpler, a little quieter, and a little easier to access. You can come and go in a day, or stay the night in the resort, have a room-service massage, eat brick-oven pizza and buy cold cuts to take home. I was told this is where Governor LRay (who put up the park in Cam Sur) actually learned to wakeboard.

For other fun stuff, below are the prices.

We went last week for their 7th Perpetual Wakeboard Competition, to shoot an episode for Living Asia Channel. During the after party, my colleague won a raffle, joined the I Dare You game, and got a free IPod. Can’t say I wasn’t jealous!

Learn more about Lago de Oro Cable Ski Park and Resort at

Or take the drive to: National Highway, Balibago,4215 Calatagan, Batangas

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What has inspired you lately?

I’ve been inspired by other people’s blogs, some who write so simply, yet straight to the heart. Others are more eloquent, and I only need to read a few lines to feel refreshed.

We escape into words, pondering them—first, in our heads, then in our hearts. Sometimes a single word can spark so much emotion, and so can the absence of it.

Here are a couple I read this morning which seemed to do just that:

Have an inspiring day!

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Quick Avocado Salad Recipe

1. Wash and halve a ripe avocado, scoop out the meat but reserve the shells

2. Toss: Chopped avocado, tomatoes, red onions, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper

3. Transfer salad back into avocado halves

4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds; garnish with lime slice

5. Share with a friend!

Some said benefits of avocado: Boosts metabolism, reduces the rate of heart disease, helps prevent cancer, aids the body with needed minerals like potassium, folic acid and Vitamin C…and it tastes real good, too!

Personal Tip: I like avocado recipes and salads because it’s easy and quick to make, plus its good toddler food that I can make double portions of to feed my husband, too. The boys are not very picky when it comes to eating, and we all enjoy this tasty tropical fruit.

Have you discovered any easy-to-make goodies recently? Please share!

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Two Years Today

It’s the first time I tried blogging from a  busy airport, and with just 15 minutes to kill, I’m rushing a coffee at 8:30 am to board a flight. I normally travel for work, but this time, it’ s purely pleasure.

John and I have been married for two years, today. And although we don’t make big romantic celebrations or actually “plan” for anything, it just so happened that the day I am meeting up with him in another part of the country happens to be our anniversary.

Two years flies fast.

I never got married thinking of the “forever” or, “till death do us part”. It’s always been one day at a time; every day, a chance to start over. Because we are human.

Perfect relationships are overrated. Perfect marriages–even more. So, on that fateful day in Denmark, when I wed in my jeans and tennis shoes, I knew that what was coming up was lots of work.

And yes, it’s been two years of still working at it, but enjoying it even more. We have had so many adventures together–from a rainy Charlesbridge in Prague, to the chicken-market bus station of Manila, to the rice terraces of Sagada, to the age-old street corners of Venice and Rome.

Married life continues to take me on a journey full of surprises…I’m off to board the plane now, off to Palawan, and welcoming even more adventures.

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Two Minutes with Paula Abdul

When Paula Abdul showed up for the press conference in Resorts World Sentosa last May in a little black lace dress, there were about 100 reporters clamoring for her attention. When I raised my hand, she called me out of the crowd, so there was a split-second chance to ask her a single question. I threw in two for good measure, and here was her reply…

My question to Paula:

“What do you look forward to when travelling to Asia, and what do you take back home with you every time?”

Paula Abdul:

“All the memories I have of Southeast Asia have been the beautiful people I’ve met, the culture, the sophisticated yet gentle nature of the people I have met. I take home so many wonderful memories. I am guilty as charged of being the ultimate tourist! I have to go to where everyone else is brought because I think it’s a blast—and I love taking home beautiful things for my family and friends. There are great memories, and friendships that still exist.”


Another reporter asked her what was the secret to eternal youth and beauty, and Paula cheekily replied, “Sitting next to Simon Cowell will make anyone look good.”

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Lee DeWyze Live

Shortly after moving into my new condo last month, Lee DeWyze, the winner of last Season’s American Idol, did a free concert just down the road from us. How cool is that!

When we met backstage, he gave me a hug and said, “Mabuhay!” (Tagalog for hi or welcome) …you could tell he was still very humble, I heard it was his first time out of the US. He was patient and cordial with all his fans, and I like that he still seemed down to earth, no huge makeovers or changes since he first showed up on worldwide TV screens.

I met up with a friend for dinner where the concert was, so we could sit and drink our beer and barbecue while listening to him playing live for background acoustics.   I hope Lee stays as down to earth and as nice as he seems.

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“My Pinoy Life in Uganda” in Illustrado Magazine

So much has happened recently that I want tell you about, but this is a quick post before bed as Karsten has just gone down and I am preparing for two trips: One to Mindanao and one to Singapore.

In the meantime, here’s an article recently published in Illustrado magazine, a special magazine for Filipinos in the Middle East. It’s an honor to be asked to share my story about life in Uganda, hope you enjoy it!

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I Used to Dance


And the freedom of moving to a rhythm that carries you away without thinking too hard about it, was exhilarating. When recruited for a dance group, I always forgot the steps (we did Bollywood and theater performances!) and had a hard time keeping proper pace with the others.

But I still loved it, and am reflecting on the high that music gives, setting the spirit free to move. Then I realize, sitting here in my chair, that human beings were meant to move, to wander, to go far.

Nowadays, my movements are mostly limited to watching “So You think You Can Dance”, and just being amazed at the performers. I don’t dance “professionally” anymore, and it’s a rare occasion that I find myself in a club, throbbing to some spastic music like the hundred teenagers around me…

But I remember a few weeks ago, John and I went to the Opus lounge in Resorts World for some drinks and a fun evening. Did we dance?

Like nobody was watching.

And we closed the bar, long after the crowds were gone. It certainly helped that we were booked into the Marriot (courtesy of Resorts World, for whom I was writing a review of the new 6-star hotel) just upstairs, so could hobble our way out, but that night was fun. I didn’t care that every other woman in heels and glitzy dresses were there to see and be seen, or that my makeup was fading with every song, or that it felt like I hadn’t danced in forever.

Dance is a different form of meditation, but something that connects you all the same, to the center of yourself—to your spirit; to your core. And at the same time, it also sets you free to move against the rhythm, to do just whatever it is you feel like doing.

A good friend of mine just invited me to a traditional dance class , something native-Filipino…and I’m thinking, it’s about time.

(Kampala, 2004)

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