Thursday, July 18, 2013

How everyday and everything in life can be a miracle. And a post-party batchoy dinner after the Belgian National Day.

At the Belgian National Day tonight,
with Madame Yan Donko of Austria, 

Assistant Secretary Evan Garcia of the Department of Foreign Affairs,
 Consul Luis Ablaza and Consul Amelita Ablaza 

Before writing out an account of tonight, I thought I'd share with you an interesting saying from a little airplane book I picked up at Johannesburg airport last November, just before we boarded our flight to Cape Town.

We'd stopped at a bookstore to get a guide book and a driving map for Cape Town, and I'd seen this tiny book with all kinds of funny and wise sayings in it. I don't usually buy books like this, but for some reason I decided to get this to read on the two-hour flight.

We actually ended up reading this whole book on the flight -- or at least leafing through the sayings.

One of my favorites goes: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Yes, life is what you make of it, and how you look at it. And you know which side we're firmly on, in our never-endingly eventful Travelife....

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Tonight was the national day celebration of Belgium, held at the Raffles Hotel.

It was quite different from most other national day celebrations as they had full-scale entertainment, including singers, dancers and actors.


Photo from the Belgian National Day party tonight

It was also here that I bumped into some friends I hadn't seen in a long time.

One of them asked me: "Do you go to these parties all the time?"

I replied: "If I'm invited and I'm free, and if I like the people doing the inviting, I go." Yes, basically I go out every night of the year. But the best times I have are the small dinners with one, two or three people max.

Photo from the Belgian National Day party tonight

My friend said: "You must feel very comfortable with them, to be able to talk to people like these all the time."

When she said "people like these," I guess she meant pretty important people like ambassadors and government officials.


Photo from the Belgian National Day party tonight

So I replied: "It's really very enjoyable because almost everyone has led a very interesting life. It's like a front row seat in a history or political science class."

Then I recalled to them how just the previous night, I was at a sitdown dinner next to an ambassador who was good friends with President Obama and who knew the infamous Charlie Wilson, whose life was colorful enough to make into a movie, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Almost every night in my never-endingly eventful Travelife involves talking to someone like this.

Most of the ambassadors I've met are very well educated and good conversationalists, and they've had first-hand experience meeting with the movers and shakers of the world -- the people you only usually read about in Time Magazine, for instance.


So how can it not be interesting, especially to someone who wants to know so much about the world? But you do need to get beyond the cocktail party chatter to talk to them about Travel and Life.

And just that evening, I'd made an appointment to meet an ambassador and his wife for dinner after the Belgian National Day cocktails -- and this ambassador, too, has met many global leaders. It's fascinating to hear his stories.


I hitched a ride with them in the ambassadorial car, and we went off to have batchoy tonight at XO46.

After so much fancy dining recently, all I wanted was some comfort food. It was a good introduction to Philippine culture for them, as well.

The ambassador and his wife loved the batchoy.

We sat in the restaurant until late at night, talking about Travel and Life, and all the wonderful things that come with a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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