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Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

I have a love-hate relationship with summer. I love it for all its vibrancy, for all the blooms that shine in their saturated states, and the cheer and comfort the landscape gives us. I dread it for its extreme heat! Living in the Philippines is living most your year in summer, but the months of March to May is actually where we get to seriously experience the extreme weather. It's weird because as a kid, I didn't remember summers to be this hot, but with global warming and climate change happening over the past couple of years, things have really become more heated up in this side of Asia.
If this was a normal time, I'm sure most of us would be planning a beach trip or two. It's also a time where friends and family plan hiking or camping trips or simply gathering in their homes for a simple barbeque and gathering. But with something extreme as COVID, these activities are still placed on hold to keep ourselves and the people in our homes protected. Yet again for the second year, here we are spending our summer in the safe comforts of our homes - along with the people we love and care for.

Early in March, I started sharing bits and pieces of the budding summer on my Instagram. I wanted to share the beautiful and inspiring colors and textures that this season brings and hopefully by doing so, encourage people and cheer them up in my own little way. I called the series Summoning Summer to celebrate different plants, landscapes, and views that we see in our homes and around our neighborhood. 
April has been a month where I mostly stayed at home because of lockdown version 2. The cases here in the Philippines is on its all time high and most if not all the hospitals are already in their full capacity. To help ease that, we underwent a strict community quarantine for the first 2 weeks of this month. The only time I went out was to get essential groceries and food supply and the daily afternoon walks and bike rides.

Today I wish to share with you some images that I was able to capture in the past few weeks. Mostly taking them during car rides or walks in the carpark after a quick grocery run, doing this series encouraged me to look around more, go on walks either with my husband or even alone, and spend some time in the garden. It helped me to be more intentional and conscious all at the same time. It helped me look beyond and somehow escape temporarily from the distressing nature of events around me.
Last month, I got myself a bike and named it Olivia. I fell in love with the color, I initially felt cheerful just by looking at it and so I got it to keep reminding me to smile and find ways to remain hopeful. I wanted to keep myself moving even with my existing plantar fasciitis. Walking or running has been a bit painful after I've gone quite a distance and I still don't feel that confident to go to the clinic and get Physical Therapy for this so the bike helped me ease that pain and still remain active. It is also, in a way therapeutic mentally.
Riding around especially in the afternoon during the golden hour has been healing to the soul. It felt great to look into the horizon, occasionally look up to the sky, and just let the air pass through my skin. It remined me that although at that time I was physically alone, I am being embraced and reminded by the wonders of creation and the gentle, protective love of God.
My husband and I have spent our mornings in the garden, sharing breakfast. It was great to breathe fresh air to start the day, to talk about how our days will go by and plan our activities ahead, to discuss random matters that come in, to watch Cari Cakes take us to different parts of South Korea during spring, and to just listen to the birds sing in the background.
I don't think I've been this attentive with the type of flowers I come across with. I truly enjoyed looking at each of them and observe how they actually change forms or color depending on the time of the day. There are a lot of local blooms in our country that bloom vibrantly during summer, and I tried my best to capture them and share it with you.
I noticed that in our village park, there's a lone mandarin tree in full bloom! It was actually my first time seeing this type of tree in actual and encountering it by chance was just pure delight to me. The fruit was a combination of sweet and sour, perfect for juicing or just purely snacking. I was reminded that we can be extraordinary wherever we may be - we can do things well regardless of our setting or situation, and all we need to do is to give ourselves time to grow, to bloom, to learn, to mature, and bear fruit.
To break the monotony of things yet still remain within the rules, we decided to order doughnuts for takeaway from our favorite cafe & bakery Bungalow. We shared this while sitting in the car as we parked in the nearby park. All this took place as we allowed the golden hour to pass and paint the surroundings with different strokes of tree silhouettes and shades of yellow.
I lost a a really good friend to COVID 2 weeks ago. He was one of the smartest and most dedicated Professor, Researcher, and unforgettable friend. I first learned about Golden Shower tress from him when he was randomly sharing things about trees that bloom during summer here in the Philippines. I remember him saying that we actually don't need to go abroad to enjoy vibrant blooms and trees during this season because we actually have various ones here at home. I took that to heart and kept looking for these trees every summer.

Because he is gone and because I still do think about the loss, I enjoyed the Golden Shower trees this weekend with my good friend in mind. You will remember people and the things they have taught you more vividly when they pass. And that is very evident to me at the moment. He would have enjoyed these views as much as I did, for sure. I will always remember him through these trees, and the legacy he has left us will be lived on by us and the rest of his students.
It's hard to look past the bad things that happen to us, especially when they happen simultaneously. But it's always good to be grounded and have a sense of comfort from the people around us, indirectly or directly. Encouragement is like inspiration, they are everywhere and we just need to keep looking and allow it to be absorbed by our hearts and minds. It may take time - one thing that I have learned over the past year is to be more gentle with myself and allow it to process grief and disappointment properly. This helped me tune down the way I react to these things and in turn, allow me to understand what I truly need to do after these things occur.

Just like the blooms of summer, we are not always as vibrant and fruitful as we expect ourselves to be. I hope that whichever state you may be in at the moment, you'd be reminded to give yourself time to heal and allow yourself to go through each process of growth knowing that one day, you will have a time to be fruitful. Allow yourself to reset and rest, allow yourself to recalibrate if needed. Great things take time, and there is nothing more perfect than God's perfect time for us.
Summer is not yet over for me, so expect more summoning of blooms and landscape! I just wanted to check-in and share with you a bit of how life has been with me this past couple of weeks and as always, remind you that you're not alone. We may all be going through different phases in life, but it's always great to have an avenue to refresh and support each other regardless of the platform. Now more than ever, at a time where trouble seems to be everywhere, I hope we continue to use our voice to lift up each other, no matter how small or big the medium is.

Wishing you a bright, warm, and sunny Happy Heydays ahead!
In loving memory of my dear friend and brother, Architect Merant De Vera.



  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. He seemed to have quite an interesting and infectious perspective in life. I hope the memories you have with him comfort you.

    I, too, have a love-hate relationship with summer. I hate the heat, but summers also mean beach trips which is something to always look forward to regardless of one's ability to swim (or lack thereof).

    Your photos evoked memories of my own childhood summers: lazy afternoons playing outside, walking around the neighborhood, exploring with my siblings while we ride our bikes, eating mangoes, and picking up flowers and making daisy chains out of them. Life was simple.

  2. What a fantastic neighborhood you live in! You have captured summer beautifully!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, your friend sounds like a beautiful person, and I love that you have the trees as a heart-warming reminder of him.

    Beautiful photos too, summer looks and sounds amazing (despite the heat), and I love the shots in this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Anika |

  4. Wow, such gorgeous blooms! It's still very spring-like here and things are only starting to bud. Your pictures are so pretty! I am so sorry to hear about loosing your friend to COVID. I hope you take some comfort in the golden shower trees. They are absolutely beautiful.

  5. I've been seeing those photos you've been sharing on Instagram and they are absolutely wonderful to look at! I'm more appreciative of nature and its beauty these days which I intentionally notice when I go out which is rare these days of course given our current situation. Also I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I know what you mean about remembering things people you've lost taught you when they were still around. That's certainly been the case for me when I lost a good friend in the past.

  6. My condolences for your loss. Your friend sounds like a really cool person too, I can imagine. I'm not sure how you feel right now, but me reading about how he reminds and taught you lessons as simple as about the Golden Shower trees gave me a bittersweet feeling. May he rest in peace.

    Your photos are very beautiful, by the way. They really radiate peaceful energy.

  7. I found this post was so beautifully and thoughtfully written. I love how despite the grief and hardship, this post really helps look at simple things such as the vibrancy in summer to ground yourself. Your outlook and perspective here is so inspiring, whilst also acknowledging the difficulty in the feelings. I love how honest and open this post is. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend - sending virtual hugs and I hope you are well.

    Esterella |


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