English: There, here and over there. Basically, in a sense, to mean restless. A collection of thoughts, musings and ramblings...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rules for the single and available girl

What is love?

Like a song by Scottish pop rock band - Wet Wet Wet, love is all around. Everyday we are surrounded by it. Every song we hear on the radio is written about love, the good ones at least. Have you ever watched a movie that didn't have at least some love or romance injected into it?

There is quote by some unknown author who sums it really well.
"LOVE: We think about it, Sing about it, Dream about it, Lose sleep worrying about it. When we don't know we have it, we search for it. When we discover it, we don't know what to do with it. When we have it, we fear losing it. It is the constant source of pleasure and pain. But we don't know which it will be from one moment to the next. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define and IMPOSSIBLE to live without."

Most people tend to think of love in its most romantic form. Of Valentine's day, of roses, of chocolates and candlelight dinners. But in reality, there are many kinds of love besides romantic love - the love of a mother from the first sight of her newborn, the love for one's country, love for one's work, love for oneself (which is one that is most overlooked), love of a hobby and love of nature, to name a few. It's all different, yet sort of the same.

When I summarise all those feelings of love, I realised a few things. Love means something / someone that fills your heart with happiness. Love makes you want to do great things and be better. Love puts you in a beautiful mood. When you lose that love, it takes you so long to recover and get back on your feet. It is not something you can see with your eyes, yet it can hurt more than any physical wound.

Yet, if Love makes us happy, why are there people in abusive relationships, who stay in the name of 'Love'? That seems to only happen in romantic relationships. For example, you wouldn't stay in your job if you didn't love it. Or work extra hard for a cause, if you didn't feel passionately in love with what you do.

I am blessed to have experienced many different types of love at this point of time. However, year after year, I find that my Prince Charming and the Happy Ever After that comes with it are still nowhere to be found. Still, I am happy with my life and my perpetual singledom, but now and then... I wish for more.

As the Valentine's day season creeps closer, I decided to form a list of rules for the single and available girl (after a series of failed attempts and kissing a number of frogs), which is not only supposed to serve as a guide to the seeking ladies, but also to serve a reminder to myself ;-)

Number # 1: Be confident
Remember girls, if he is really into you, no other girl (regardless of how hot she is) will be able to steal him away.

Let's face it, women tend to have their claws out the moment they sense the presence of another, perhaps more attractive woman. Their competitive spirit immediately goes into overdrive, especially when the man they have their eye on starts responding positively to this unwelcome presence. Then the ugly side starts coming out.

I have experienced being the 'unwelcome presence' more than once. A good example was when I started being good friends with a relatively well-known, good-looking (and SINGLE!) man. I liked him a lot, but I wasn't sure I really wanted to make any moves on him in case he didn't feel the same and that it would destroy our great friendship. And as good friends, we would be really chummy on Facebook and off, talking about various things that we mutually liked. Then came a girl who developed a huge crush on him. She added me on Facebook, which I just accepted because we had a few mutual friends. Then the storm began. She posted all kinds of spiteful remarks about everything I did, especially anything that involved my guy friend. I am sure made her feel good, but to what result? He wasn't interested in her, and no matter how much she brought me down, that wasn't going to change his point of view. He wasn't attracted to her. And behaving in an ugly manner sure wasn't going to win her any favors either.

Does the above story ring a bell? Perhaps you know of someone with a similar story, or maybe you've been that position as well. Conclusion? If he likes you, he just does. If he can't see you for the great person that you are, walk away - there will always be something better out there for you. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If he happens to be yours, TRUST HIM to make the right choices. Don't stoop yourself too low. Be a lady.

Number # 2: Set standards
If he really likes you, he will try hard to be what you want / need. Don't settle for less than you deserve.

I know a few men who got defensive when they read this statement. Don't get me wrong guys, I am not asking for a man to change, and neither do I mean standards as being 'handsome' or 'rich', or 'dressed like a Korean superstar' and so on. Maybe when I was 16 and naive, those would be the top requirements on my list.

What I mean by standards, is asking for respect. Making sure that you are not put in a position where you are forced to do something you don't feel comfortable with. Or been made to feel unimportant, which should actually be a 'red alert' signal that he really isn't that into you.

Ignore the fact that just the sight of him makes you swoon and dream about the beautiful babies you will have together. A man who doesn't respect you is not worth clinging on to. Let me ask you, who doesn't want a man who behaves like a gentleman and who treats you like a princess? I've known too many, myself included, who have dropped everything to be with the first guy who even gives them a second look, and willing to overlook some crucial behaviour patterns just so that they can be part of a couple.

So, if you set your ground rules from the beginning, e.g. not tolerating him if he asks you for kinky favours that you are not comfortable with, or if he doesn't respect the time that you have sacrificed to be with him, you might just be able to pick out the winners from the losers. The winners are the ones that know how to treat a lady right and is a keeper.

Important point to take note: Do not walk into a relationship thinking you can change a guy. You are going to fail miserably. Avoid, at all costs, the man with abusive tendencies.

Number # 3: Be your own person
Never change who you are to mould yourself into what you think is his ideal. Love who you are!

If you have special interests, say so. And don't pretend you know a lot about something when you don't. If you've ever watched 27 Dresses, you will know how disappointed guys get when they find out their dream girl doesn't actually exist. A lot worse than if they know who you are from the very start.

A lot of women fail to appreciate their own intrinsic beautiful qualities and instead focus on the parts they don't like about themselves. Self esteem determines a great deal about how you approach relationships. Personally, I believe low self-esteem it is the root cause of women remaining in destructive relationships. If you don't love yourself, you can't expect others to. Set a challenge for yourselves today: 1. Name 2 things that you would like to change about yourself. 2. Name 5 things that you think are great about yourself.

Now, doesn't that feel good? Go now and portray those great qualities!

Number # 4: Equality rules
Being equal applies to the dating world as well. You are entitled to make the first move. Just as it should be mandatory for a lady to at least pay for part of the date.

I felt compelled to include this in my list of rules after some feedback from a couple of friends. Especially men, who commented that they would love to see a woman take matters into their own hands and get what they want. Which I guess is great for them, and is also a great way for a woman to showcase her confidence? (refer to rule # 1). Nevertheless... it seems quite scary, and I worry that I would end up like one of the rejected in this video -

But... better to know and get it over with, I guess? Then never knowing and wondering what could have been.

And there you have it - my 4 rules for the single and available girl, which was inspired by tips given by dating guru Matthew Hussey (www.gettheguy.co.uk) and EDGE of David (www.edgeofdavid.com) as well as my own personal experiences. They are definitely rules that I need to remind myself of as well, as I am no expert in the issue of L.O.V.E. (read: still searching high and low....)

Happy dating and wishing that 2012 brings you love!


Almost 13 years ago...

I woke up at 5 a.m. in the wee hours of the morning, pains shooting down my back. 'Oh ohh... this is it!' I thought.

28th February 1999. Right on the dot, that was the last estimated date the doctor gave me on the baby scan. I am ready. I MUST be ready. I was 19, but I was ready to be a mother.

The sun had just begin to rise, casting its light over the world. So serene, so peaceful. I was going to meet the little person that I have been carrying inside of me for the last several months.

When I arrived, the nurse took one look at me. 'You can't be serious. Are you sure you're in labour?', eyeing skeptically at my small baby bump. I guess she thought that since this is my first child, I couldn't really ascertain whether those are real contractions I was experiencing. She took me to a room to check how far I was dilated, thinking birth would still be far off by a few hours.

Her brow furrowed, she looked at me. 'You're already 8cm dilated! Baby is coming soon!' and rushed to prep me, hooking me up with something to monitor the baby's heart rate.

Yes, surprise surprise. My contractions actually started the night before, but I dismissed them as normal stomach pains and went to sleep. Until the pains began in the morning.

2 blue stripes.

Shit! This can't be happening!!

I checked the package again, to be sure. My period has been late for weeks. It happened frequently to me as a teen, so I didn't think much about it. Except that I started having a quesy feeling in my stomach whenever I smelt fried foods. The smell of food on my clothes after visiting a restaurant. Yuck!!!

After much thinking and soul searching, I finally got the pregnancy test kit at the Guardian pharmacy in the nearby mall. I prayed that it would turn out negative, but when the positive result came..... I felt a strange sense of relief wash over me.

A baby! I always had a fear that I would be unable to conceive, having nightmares at times about it. And now, I am pregnant.

Nobody knew. For months I kept it a secret, except from my then boyfriend. My priority then was to sit through my A-Levels and pass. Give up my baby? That was unthinkable.

I flipped through the pages of my A-Level biology book to the section on abortion. Horrors! They cut up the innocent baby in the womb before pulling it out? No no no!! This is not going to happen to my baby.

I imagined the life growing inside of me, depending its life on me. Who will he / she grow up to be? What right do I have to take this life away? It's not his / her fault. It is mine.

The days turns into weeks, and then into months. I could feel and see the changes in my body. My hands, where they used to feel cold, are now warm. My body no longer shivers in the cold air-conditioned classrooms. I craved yoghurt every single day, sometimes more than 2 times a day. My back started to ache frequently and I keep having this wierd taste in my mouth.

At around 2 months, I can feel another heartbeat in my belly. At 4 months, I felt something move. At first I thought it was a flutter in my stomach. Then I realised it was my baby kicking and moving.

I was about 6 or 7 months along when I sat for my A-Levels exam. Two times, I almost blacked out during the exam. First was during the practical for Chemistry in the lab. I suddenly felt cold sweat breaking out all over me, and darkness creeping all over me. I sat down, prayed and waited for the feeling to pass, not wanting to bring any attention to myself. And then I continued. Same thing happened during my final maths exam. I remember asking myself - is this why women are considered to be less 'intelligent' during pregnancy? Is this going to screw up my results?

I think that the worst feeling of all, was the feeling that I let down my parents. They had all these hopes for me, and I screwed up. I wanted to be a model daughter, I could have told them about the baby sooner...but they might take the baby away from me. I couldn't let that happen.

We went to 3 different clinics. I felt scared before each visit. But thankfully all of them said no, they cannot allow an abortion. I remember the most clearly was the visit to Tung Shin hospital. The doctor was someone my mother actually knew before back home, and some sad story linked. I was scanned, yet again... but this time the doctor printed out a picture of the scan and gave it to me. It's a girl, he said. See, this is the head, you can almost see her face. Don't give up the baby, there are people out there would love to have one of their own.


I was wheeled into the the delivery room, all ready. My mum left, saying she couldn't bear to see blood and that she would see me later. So it was just me, the doctor and a nurse. Here goes. Doctor joked, 'wow, your tummy is so small... baby must be all skin and bones'.

Norma Ashley was born at 8.10a.m., weighing in at 2.8kg. My first thought when I saw her? 'Hey, it's you! I know you!' It was like I knew how she would look like all the while.

Her skin was so pale, and I remember staring and her tiny fingers. The doctor wrapped her in a cloth and put her on a counter. She was all quiet and I looked over at her and she had her eyes wide open and it was like she was staring at the wonderful new world around her.

Laying in bed later, I had the best, most peaceful feeling over me. I know I did right, I just know I did.

It's been almost 13 years now. 13 years of memories, 13 years of laughter and 13 years of learning and discovering. While life has not been all that I have imagined and hoped it to be, I know it was one of the best decisions I have made.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why $$$ fails to motivate me

I think I was pretty lucky - I grew up at a time when my dad was at the peak of his career as director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sabah. At 13, I was driven to school by his personal driver in a Mercedes, I was brought up to dine at fine restaurants, travelled extensively, and stayed in expensive hotels where there would always be chocolate mints on the pillow at night. It was a great childhood. I lived comfortably, with the luxury of music and dance classes, My mum used to say I was the girl who had everything, even though I do not really remember demanding for much. Back then there were no thousand ringgit phones, no expensive iPads and television shows worth watching only played on specific days and times. Probably the biggest demand I had for my 16th birthday was for a video game console to play Mario Bros.

If you had told me at 13 that I was going to grow up barely scraping through each month's salary, I probably would not have believed you. But that is the truth, and I still have my unfulfilled wishlist of things me, as a woman, would love. Though I cannot seriously believe that I would ever splurge RM700 for a branded bag or shoes. Anything over RM200 I think is complete madness.

One of my bigger dreams involves one day sailing on a big cruise ship with not a single worry on my mind. Just to be pampered 1st class. Dress elegantly, sipping wine and munching on blue cheese and crackers. At the moment, I would feel blessed if I could even scrape enough money to attend the JCI Asia Pacific Conference held in Hong Kong in June.

I scrimp and scrape, but yet.... come to me with a business proposal that 'guarantees' me a huge return for a small investment, and I just completely shut down. Promise me an early retirement, and I actually feel... what is that feeling, disappointment? A voice inside of me says, 'No! That's not what I want!'

And that brings a question in my mind. Who am I? And what is my purpose for this life? If it is not to live filthy rich and buy all that my heart desires, then what?

One of the things I pride about myself is how I got myself up again, dusted off and tried again after a botched life at 19. My plan this year is to get myself into MIA exams and be certified as a Chartered Accountant. I gave up on CPA Australia even though I passed all exams after it got too expensive to sustain, and very limited benefits for people living outside KL. I would still work because..... I'm fulfilling a purpose in life. I am doing a service for others because I am needed. I am useful! And that, I feel, brings me far more satisfaction. Doing charity, fighting for a cause, and filling my head with knowledge... those are the things that make me feel truly happy.

If I join in an organisation that offers me oodles of money, without a real purpose, I wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't be able to put my name to it and say 'this is my idea!'. Not like if I ever fulfill my dream of owning a candy / ice-cream store called 'Sweetaholics Anonymous'. When I die, I want to be remembered as someone who had a passion, a dream and a legacy.

Not to say that money isn't important to me. It just doesn't take precedence over everything else.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sabah issues: Project IC

When I think back to my childhood, I remember that I always had a Filipina 'Kakak' looking after me. She would braid my hair, cook for me, make sure I was ready for school and lots of other things while my parents were too busy. In fact, I had many such 'Kakak's, and they were there on the birth of my first and only child, among many other milestones in my life. Having being very young that time, I don't really remember if there were issues about documentation.

She sometimes would take me to her water village home, which was just a walking distance away from behind my house, behind the hill with the muslim graveyard. As a child, everything seems just normal. I wondered how life is so different for her, and how it was so different for me.

My family has always this way of treating workers, no matter who they are, as family. We now have 2 Filipino workers with us, taking care of the daily activities at the Bed and Breakfast better than any of us, actually. They cook, they clean, they fix broken things... When they had birthdays, we celebrated with them. They would be the ones that ensured that home was always safe from intruders. When my mum had her accident, they were the ones who cried and did the best they could to fix things around, made sure that everything was as normal as possible. These are people with the proper documentation, who left their country to be in Sabah, because life is so much better here.

Recently I went to a talk about the issue of undocumented migrants in Sabah, which apparently is a 'hot' issue, which is close to the hearts of many Sabahan people. Some people loathe the influx of foreigners into our beloved state of Sabah, and often credit a great number of crimes to them.The talk was conducted by Dr. Chong Eng Leong, consultant surgeon by profession, former senator and an activist against illegal immigration.

Chong wrote a book on the controversial issue entitled “Lest We Forget” which focused on how illegal immigrants came to be given citizenship status in a plan to dilute the overwhelmingly Christian population and increase the proportion of muslims in the state. He believes that based on the last census there are probably more than 600,000 “new Sabah natives” and more than 70,000 of them are so-called phantom voters and registered on the electoral rolls. The new Sabah natives, or “New Malaysians” as they are increasingly referred to here, are those foreigners who allegedly became Malaysian citizens through dubious means including false declarations and the infamous “Project IC".

Some of the discussions that took place during the talk were:-

1. Malaysia still pays a cession payment of RM5300 a year to Sultan of Sulu for Sabah. Why is it so?

2. Chong reiterated his statement that the number of foreigners (including Project IC holders) in Sabah is now far higher than the state’s original Malaysian population. Since this is the case, he said it was no longer necessary for the Malaysian government to pay the annual payment of RM5,300 to the Philippine government because the “reverse takeover” has taken place

3. Sabah's 16 points allows  the state government to deny entry to non-Sabahans. If that is so, why are the borders so permeable for a great number of undocumented migrants, yet Haris Ibrahim was stopped from entering Sabah on 7th of December 2011?

4. Dr Chong also pointed out that West Malaysians have to face hurdles to get PR status in Sabah yet for foreigners much easier. For West Malaysians (and Sarawakians), a permit is required in order to work in Sabah legally.

5. According to his research the number of registered voters in Sabah are 864,741, but it was found 70,000 are from project IC. He showed us slides on his research. Some entries on the electoral roll was also very suspicious - e.g. people who are not yet of legal age are already registered voters.

6. Government officials are still denying the existence of such a project Govt still in denial over Project IC

I have never had the intention to be involved in politics, and neither am I that articulate (or that well-informed) when discussing such issues, so what I write here now is just my viewpoint. I guess I take the role of an 'innocent bystander', who doesn't take sides. Perhaps because my passion is actually for other issues.

The issue here is not really about the influx of foreigners, but more of the fact that a lot of these foreigners are accepted to be bonafide natives AND allowed to vote. Do I know some of these people? Yes I do. Some of my Filipina Kakak's are such people who has Malaysian NRIC high up on their wish list. In fact, I also know of many who have been cheated by unscrupulous people who promised to get them proper documentation. These people just want to have a better life than what they know back home. For some, this IS home, and they do not know any other place to belong.

Let's put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. Say that we live in a place where the future seems dark. You barely make enough to eat. Security is of great concern. And there is a country of milk and honey, where people can go and find decent jobs with pay that is so much better. Wouldn't you do anything to stay there?

Apparently, this is what Sabah is to some people. A land of milk and honey and endless possibilities. And when citizenship is offered, of course they would say YES.

One, we cannot blame those who came because of our own lax laws, they only want what is best for themselves. The people we should blame are the people who opened the floodgates for illegal immigration. Or are they really 'illegal immigrants' if they are given papers? Also, Sabah is in need of manpower. The real Sabah people are fussy. If you don't have a 'decent' job in an office, behind a desk... people look down on you. So why blame those who are willing to do menial work?

A controversial YouTube video was shown, that foreigners were everywhere, taking over our land, spreading diseases and increasing crime rates. Can't help but think we are looking for scapegoats to take the blame for an issue that was already happening in Sabah for many years.

I've had my fair share of being robbed, having my house broken into a couple of times. One of the strangest things to have happened was having our washing machine stolen right from our front door. Or one time late at night when my parents happened to see two men carrying a television on the back lane of our house. They thought 'hmmm.. how strange, people are moving in the middle of the night. Wait... hey! That's our television!!'. Upon hearing the commotion, the two men gently put down the TV on the ground and ran away.

To be perfectly honest, I feel much more in danger when I was living in say... KL, than on any other day that I spend in my hometown of KK.

In conclusion, Dr Chong suggested that Project IC holders should have their citizenships reviewed, and to give proper documentation to undocumented immigrants. They should be allowed to stay. They should, in no circumstance, be allowed to vote.

I think this is quite reasonable, but this hate for foreigners should stop. Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. We are just lucky to be born as true citizens of Sabah.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If only...

My idea for writing this post started I guess when people started asking me why I am still single. 2 different people, different places, but both within the same month. I thought it was funny. One assumed that I was simply too busy to socialise with the right crowd. Which may be correct. The other said that maybe I have lost the feeling of trust. Which could also be true. Then there was also Ashley, who, even though is still a child, seems to understand my dilemma as a single mother who still has her own wants and needs. She even said, maybe a little jokingly, 'Mama, you should get a boyfriend'. And my response would be, 'yeah, ok... maybe later. I will stop at the supermarket and get myself one'.

Right. Why couldn't finding love be that easy? Walking into a store and getting what you want off the shelves. Dream on! ;-)

I mulled a little more about this idea later on during the day and modified it a bit. Because people don't come with a one-size-fits-all tag. Soooo...

Ice cream! What if finding your life partner was like going to an ice-cream stand... (yes, sometimes I do have kooky ideas :-p) Ones that you can pick and mix the toppings.. mash them all together, to get your perfect bite. I didn't even realise I was thinking about Cold Rock ice creamery...

But anyway...

If I could pick and mix the characteristics of my ideal guy like a tub of Cold Rock ice-cream... ;-) I guess I would order:-

a cup of 'sweet'
a dash of 'funny / humorous'
a pinch of 'committed /responsible'
a spoonful of 'passion for what he believes in and does'.
And last but not least.... a sprinkle of 'good listener'
Topped off with a good dose of kindness

mmmmm.... PERFECTION! LOL!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What is Peace to you?

Peace to me means...

Acceptance of all people, regardless of


Peace to me means...

Being able to talk to each other, discuss, eat together, sit together, laugh, share stories... in perfect harmony without discrimination.
It means helping ALL, to live a life worth living

This was how I was brought up to believe in Sabah and this is what I hope will remain in the future. Set your prejudices aside, because while God created each of us unique in our own ways, we are still equal. 

I am supposed to shoot a video on this for The Peace Project by the Youth PREP Centre :-) https://www.facebook.com/events/143540975758987/ Still in the process... Planning to sing ;-p

Talented people, send in your videos now!

Oh, here's mine ;-)

What is Peace to you? from Sabrina Aripen on Vimeo.

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