Graduation

6 June 2008

Every end is a new beginning.

I have a thing for cliche sayings, and this is one of them. IB exams are over, I got into UBC, everything’s done. I received my high school diploma from Jakarta International School last week. I’ve been anticipating graduation since January. However, its only now after I’ve graduated that it has started to hit me: high school is over.

People have started to leave Jakarta, either going back home or going somewhere else to continue their studies at the tertiary level. The Filipinos in the Class of 2008 who were going back to the Philippines for university left this week – they start school next week. I feel sorry for them in a way – not because they’re going back to the Philippines – but because they only had a week-long holiday between the end of high school and the start of college!

I’ve been anticipating graduation for so long, and now that it has already happened, I find myself asking “now what?” With friends leaving (5 of my friends left the country on a permanent basis) within the next few weeks (I’m in Jakarta till August), I’m starting to see the world as I knew it beginning to slowly collapse. I didn’t think that I’d never see some of my high school friends again.

High school had both its pros and cons. I didn’t like the “school” part of high school, but I certainly enjoyed my time with friends. The routine I basically bound my life to during my senior year, which consisted of eating, sleeping, chillax-sessions with friends, 2 am homework sessions, swim practice, procrastination and club meetings was something that I both loved and hated, but will certainly miss.

**

Sorry for a sappy post. I’m slowly regaining my blojo (blogging mojo)

Advertisements

On Camden, Australia

26 May 2008

I died when I heard this on the news.

People in Camden, New South Wales, have come out in full force protesting against the construction of an Islamic school on the fringes of the town because it will “change the character of the town”. In one particular open-air town meeting, people vented their anger against Muslims, uttering unbelievably uninformed and frankly bigoted remarks:

“Why hasn’t anyone got any guts? They’ve got terrorists amongst ’em… They want to be here so they can go and hide in all the farm houses… This town has every nationality… but Muslims do not fit in this town. We are Aussies, OK.”

And then there are people claiming that these complaints are clearly based on town planning grounds:

“I have said all along that this is an issue that’s not a religious issue, it’s not a nationalistic issue. It’s an issue to be based on planning.” – Chris Patterson, Mayor of Camden

“This is not a nationalistic issue, it’s not a religious issue, it’s a planning issue, and it will be addressed on those merits.” – Chris Patterson, Mayor of Camden

First of all, Muslims are practitioners of Islam, which is a religion. The word “Muslim” does not designate a person of being a particular nationality, it simply designates a person as aHat practitioner of Islam. Secondly, how can this issue be based solely on “planning” grounds when the people clearly against it are simply anti-Muslim?

Did it really have to matter whether it was an Islamic school or another type of school being built there? I mean, don’t Australians (regardless of whether they are Muslim or not) have the right to educate their children wherever they want them to be educated?

I lived in Australia for two years, and for a country that advertises prides itself on being “multicultural”, I’m very disappointed. Yeah, there were a few times where I encountered racism during my stay there, but overall I perceived (and continue to perceive) Australians as friendly people – not bigots like the people of Camden. Yeah, I called them bigots. Sorry, I know its wrong to generalize all the people of Camden as bigots, but honestly I really can’t restrain myself right now – if the issue of building an Islamic school in Camden was being debated solely on “planning” grounds, why were a significant portion of its residents getting angry of “being taken over” by Muslims and wearing hats saying “No to Islamic immigration”?

I hate to say it, but in a way I’m glad I’m not moving back to Australia. Clearly racism has become an issue in Australia.

Sources: BBC and Sydney Morning Herald


Update

10 May 2008

It’s been a while, I know. Sorry for not posting, but I’ve been busy as hell since February.

Here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going on with me since February

1 Bali Spring Break (March)

Was freaking awesome. I love Bounty. ‘Nuff said.

2 University

Of the 9 schools I applied to, I got into 8. After much thinking, I’m now stuck between UBC and Queen’s University. I got into UBC ages ago, but I’m still waiting for a decision from Queen’s. I’m becoming more and more inclined to go to UBC, but Queen’s is such a good school too. I need to make a decision by 28 May – it’s the last day I can accept an offer from an Ontario school, but that’s if I get into Queen’s. If I don’t get into Queen’s, then I’ll go to UBC.

3 Exams

I’m halfway through IB Exams right now. I finish this coming Thursday.

Expect more (and better) posts over the next few weeks as I begin to have more time on my hands.


Last race

6 February 2008

The IASAS swimming tournament in Manila can be summed up in one word: epic. The privilege of competing in IASAS is not something that one can gets automatically just by being a member of the Varsity team – only those who are deemed to have earned their spot are selected. I had my last race ever last Saturday. It wasn’t an individual event – it was a relay (400m freestyle). For this race, there were four people in each relay team, and each person in a relay team had to swim 4 laps (100m) each. My individual time for 100m freestyle was around 1:09 (I think, I have to check this up). Not only was it my last race, but it was the last race of the entire three-day tournament.

We were pumped up like crazy. It was amazing – all I had in my mind was doing well in the relay. What happened the previous two days of the tournament were irrelevant – we (the relay team) had to focus ourselves on what was happening there and then – in the present. We had a few minutes to get ourselves ready because the girls 400m free relay went before us. I wanted to cheer for our girls relay team, but both I and my relay teammates were just too busy getting ready for our race. The other five teams were also there behind the timers and the diving blocks, stretching, watching the progression of the girls’ relay and performing their personal pre-race rituals.

At the conclusion of the girls’ relay (I don’t remember what place our girls finished), I got together with my relay teammates. We needed to do well in this race – relays were were double the points one could earn in an individual race, and the points were desperately needed by the whole team. Before the race started, other members of the swim team who weren’t in the relay began cheering. Though it wasn’t enough to get my nerves down, it got me ready for the race and made me feel energetic.

I wasn’t the first/starting swimmer for the relay – I was swimmer number three. The first relay swimmers stood by the diving blocks awaiting the starter’s whistle. But before that happened, the announcer introduced each relay team to the crowd of watching swimmers and spectators. When we were introduced, the cheers for us were louder than the rest (I swear it was). Afterwards, everything became silent. The starter blew the three whistles, indicating that the first swimmers should step on the blocks. Then yelled out through the speakers, “take your mark,” and then a beep signaled the start of the race. Suddenly you could hear the deafening cheers from spectators sitting at the bleachers and at the other end of the pool.

I continued my pre-race ritual of swinging my arms and stretching as the first swimmer completed his leg of the race. He kept up with the others. As he neared the completion of his fourth lap, the second swimmer stepped onto the blocks and began his relay start, which consisted of following the approaching swimmer with his hands outstretched, with his hands getting closer to his feet as the approaching swimmer approached (for lack of a better word). As the swimmer was an arm’s length away from the wall, the second swimmer swung his arms forward allowing him to gain maximum distance on his dive, and began the second 100m of the race.

I was up next. The anchor (the fourth and last swimmer) reminded me of the importance of this race: we needed to do well, the team needed the points. As the second swimmer neared the completion of his leg of the race, I stepped up on the block, and began the motions of the relay start. And off I went.

I’m a mid-distance swimmer, so I can swim 50-200m events. As I was swimming 100m, I had to sprint all-out. I had to maintain a fast stroke, yet at the same time ensure that my pull could get me far enough, and that my legs remained kicking. It was tempting to look at the other lanes underwater and see how they were faring, but I didn’t. If I turned my head and looked at the other lanes, I would have been slower. In contrast to being above water, all I could hear as I sprinted were the splashes of my stroke and the breaths I took. I’m the kind of person who thinks about everything at once. All I had in my head was finishing that race, and finishing it well. I didn’t worry about what would happen the next day, or regret my poor performance in two of my individual events the previous day. For the first time ever, my mind was in the present.

Everything went smoothly: my stroke was long but fast, my legs continued kicking, and my turns were in good order. My heart beat faster and faster as I completed my last lap. In order to go as fast as possible, I had to keep myself from breathing. When I touched the wall, the anchoring swimmer dove off, and I climbed out through the right side of the pool. When the race was done, the coach told me that I broke my 100m free time, from 1:09 (I have to check this) to 1:02.

We finished third, and got a bronze medal for the race. My last race ever.


Egged on

23 January 2008

I haven’t been on here for a while – sorry guys, I’ve been quite busy.

I came back from Singapore on Sunday. The swimming exchange was bloody awesome. I made new personal best times for 200 m free, 100 m back, and 50 m free (I only swam three or four events – and a relay… I think). I was housed by an Irish-Australian family. When we got to their house on Friday, I swear they stuffed the both of us with so much food: curry, Ben N Jerry’s ice cream and cookies. They gave us cookies to eat during the meet for the following day in case we got hungry. After the meet, the team went to one of the nearby malls for dinner. SAS had their “homecoming” thing happening right after the meet. We as a team collectively decided not to attend, mainly because the American concept of “homecoming” seemed alien to us – though some of the Americans on the team attempted to explain what “homecoming” was about. In the end, we didn’t go – it was an SAS thing, and in any case, we wanted to go around Orchard Road, eat dinner, and some of us wanted to do some shopping.

While around 26 of us were eating dinner, two people (a guy and a chick) sitting next to me at the dinner table began talking – in French (they take French class, so they can more or less speak it). The girl (she’s a senior by the way) spoke to the guy (a junior) in a gossipy tone. In my head, I asked myself: why the need to speak French? The freshman girl sitting next to the junior also seemed bewildered, but kept on eating. The guy (some people deem him to be odd) seemed bewildered by the course their conversation was taking. I don’t speak French, but I do take Spanish and I know that there are some words that are similar, because French and Spanish are Romance languages. I couldn’t really understand what they were saying, but the senior kept on glancing at the freshman girl (who didn’t know what was going on), and laughed when the junior gave matter-of-fact answers, which seemed funny to her.

After dinner, the team split up – some people stayed at Causeway (that’s the name of the mall we went to), while others (including me) went to Orchard Road on the MRT. The train station was underground, so we had to take an escalator. I was in front with my roommate, who incidentally is Singaporean and knew his way around the city and the MRT system (which by the way is really easy to use). People at the back of the pack were laughing. I looked back – some of the girls and guys with us were in gossip mode, laughing and whispering to each other. The junior guy and the freshman girl at the dinner table earlier were a few steps behind me on the escalator. I was busy looking for the the place where we could buy tickets, while at the same time I overheard their conversation, which went more or less like this:

Freshman girl: What were you and [senior girl] talking about?
Junior guy: She was asking me who I liked on the table?
Freshman girl: Oh really? Who was it?
Junior guy: You.

As I walked out of the escalator and headed for the ticket-selling machine, I felt the urge to laugh, and in all honesty, the first word that came to my head upon hearing that conversation was “nasty”. Then I looked back. The freshman girl seemed slightly uncomfortable. The people that trailed behind them walked and glanced at them briefly – observing them, scrutinizing them. I don’t think they knew what happened on the escalator – otherwise I would’ve heard about it.

We got to Orchard Road. Most of the girls with us wanted to go shopping, while we guys couldn’t really be bothered, and decided to just hang out in one of the malls that lie along Orchard Road. The freshman girl went with us. We all agreed that we’d meet up at Borders (its a bookshop-cafe) by 8:30 pm. I decided to walk around Orchard Road on my own for a bit, and everyone kinda split up. I came to Borders a little early, and the guys were sitting at one of the tables. The junior guy was there with them. I asked where everyone else was, and they said that everyone else was on their way. The freshman girl took a taxi back to her host family’s house on her own early.

**

We went to Changi Airport for the flight back to Jakarta at around 10 am. I basically ate lunch there with a few people (Burger King). The newly-built Terminal 3 is awesome. After boarding our Singapore Airlines plane, we went to our assigned seats. We weren’t the only school team returning to Jakarta – our school also sent the rugby team and the girls basketball team – so the plane was packed full of high school students. Some people in the swim team decided to do some seat-switching. The junior guy decided to switch seats so he could be next to the freshman girl. Incidentally, senior girl was on the same row. She went on gossip mode again, and started laughing and talking to the people in the row in front of her. The freshman girl seemed uncomfortable. The junior guy, lacking the sense to know that he’s being used as a tool of amusement, was oblivious to it all.

As the plane began to taxi out to the runway, and the in-flight safety video was turned on, instructing us on how to put on our seat belts, and warning us that smoking in the lavatories was against Singapore law, I feel asleep.


Perseverance

12 January 2008

“Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.”

The second semester will begin on Monday. I’m nearly done with the homework I had to do for English class. I’m also nearly done with the Extended Essay – I just need to deal with grammatical errors and typos. College apps are a different story, but I still have time. I’m not looking forward to anything academic, but I am looking forward to the extracurricular and social sides of school. Next weekend I’ll be traveling to Singapore for a swimming exchange (its basically a swim meet with a school in Singapore, and a school in KL). It’s gonna be awesome.

And then two weeks later I’ll be heading off to Manila, to participate in the I.A.S.A.,S. swimming tournament – its basically a regional tournament with teams from my school in Jakarta, along with international schools in Singapore, KL, Taipei, Bangkok and of course Manila. This tournament finishes the swimming season, and is viewed by many as the highlight of high school swimming. During my sophomore and junior years, I not picked to participate in the tournament, which, frankly, made me feel bitter. After being rejected for the second time last year, I seriously considered quitting swimming. I’m not a year-round swimmer, but I do dedicate myself to training when I need to. I’m glad I didn’t drop swimming. I don’t know if I’m gonna win any medals, hopefully I do, but we’ll see.

I know a few people who dropped out of swimming, and many other sports at school, mainly because they didn’t make I.A.S.,A.S. I’m glad I persevered. What a great way to end my high school swimming career. All those grueling hours of training have finally paid off.

 

PS yeah i changed the custom image header (the pic at the top). i didn’t have time to steal pictures from the internet, so i’m stuck with “i bumped my head on the wall, now i got a bukol.” i’m trying to be funny here.


On privacy

9 January 2008

Blogging has its pros and cons. The pros: people comment on your posts – and you get to meet people over the internet. Blogging helps me blow off steam sometimes, and its nice having commenters sympathize and empathize. The cons: the offline world can catch up to the online world.

One of the primary motivations behind my move from my previous blog, to the blog I’m currently using now, is privacy. On my old blog, I put in a lot of information about myself: my name (not my whole name), where I lived (city, country only – not address), and at some point, I even mentioned the school I attended (indirectly). Having moved around a lot, I even disclosed which cities I lived and when I lived there. Not that this is bad – it’s not like people can suddenly steal my identity based on an online blog. I didn’t reveal too much about my personal life in the other blog, but the info that I did provide allowed my blog to be exposed to the offline world, somewhat.

Last year, someone I knew bumped into my blog. If you read my blog last year, you might remember (I think I put a password on the affected post though). How did they bump into my blog. He typed my name, the name of my school, and the word “blog” on Google, and that’s how he got to me. At first I was like, oh cool I can be searched on Google. But then he discovered a post on my old blog that concerned him, and didn’t exactly portray him in the best light (what can I say? he deserved it). And then he goes on bitching away for a few days at school. Not that people at school cared – rumors are common in my school, but generally, people are more apathetic. No one cares. But still – its a violation of privacy.

So I’ve decided to be a bit more guarded about privacy over the internet. Particularly now, during the App season. Yeah, I do put in a lot of personal stuff on this blog, but you haven’t seen me putting in my name, home address, phone number, and so on, do you? Over the last few months, blogging has served as a sort of “therapy” for me. I hate having my online monologue/therapy sessions being ruined by the offline world.

Have you ever had “unpleasant” blogging experiences?