Friday, 2 September 2011

I Heart Manchester

Can I still call myself a MANCYPINO (Mancunian Filipino) if I'm leaving Manchester to start a new life in London? I have been working my three-month notice for what seems like forever, and whilst October seemed so far away back when I gave my boss that white envelope with my brief but polite resignation letter on it, my departure from this great city is imminent. In three weeks, I shall leave this city I have called home for more than 12 years.

As our possessions become reduced to boxes, I ponder how I'll miss Manchester. From the great shopping to my favourite Chinese restaurant, Happy Seasons (trust me, it's the best - I've tried loads of other restaurants), Manchester has welcomed me with open arms. Despite the constant rain, it's a brilliant city to live in. Mancunians are a proud people - and they're proud to be Mancunian.

What I'll miss about MCR:

  • The famous European Christmas Markets - drinking mulled wine on a freezing cold winter's evening, munching on Bratwurst and buying too much cheese, this month-long market really brings the festive spirit to the city.

  • Half price dim sum in Tai Wu on Oxford Road - char siu bao, congee, siu mai, prawn cheun fan. Sundays just wouldn't be the same without it!

  • Platt Fields and Heaton Parks - I have enjoyed many a picnic and fun runs in the city's famous parks. I've been to a Diwali festival, bonfire night and open-air concerts here.

  • The Northern Quarter - from eclectic vintage shops to cool bars and cocktail joints, NQ is a great place to soak up the city's vibrant atmosphere

  • The Curry Mile in Rusholme - you can smell the lovely aroma of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine from this street of eateries, shisha cafes and ice cream parlours. I have enjoyed many meals with family and friends here (and my fair share of dodgy tummy, too!)

  • Museum of Science and Industry - as a tribute to the city's industrial heritage, this is a great museum for engineering type geeks, but has also loads of cool stuff for techy geeks like me!

  • Castlefield - on the rare days where we get scorching hot weather, Castlefield has played host to many lazy Saturday barbecue get togethers with friends. It's where I met Chris Tarrant during a PR event for work, had a number of shindigs in Albert Shed, and countless eaving dos in Dukes.

  • Key103 - I can't imagine going through the rush hour traffic without Mike & Chelsea's daily banter. I love that they unashamedly play great cheesy pop and top 40 hits to wake me up before I've had a cuppa

  • MMU and Salford Uni - these are the two places where I spent most of my days - at work. I have made many friends in both unis and have learned loads, too. I've had the best (and the worst) bosses during my time, and can honestly say I love working in Higher Education, even if the pay is pants.

  • Arndale Centre, The Shambles, Exchange Square, & the Trafford Centre - I love to shop and these places have given me countless hours of retail therapy!

  • King's Church - filled with amazing people who love God and who desire to make Jesus famous (for the right reasons!). From the leadership to the wonderful friends I have made in this body of people, I have been blessed, supported, challenged and spurred on.

Of course there's more I can add to this list but these are the ones that come to mind as I write this. If you're a Mancunian, I salute you. You have a wonderful city, filled with warm and generous people. If you've stumbled upon this blog and have never been to Britain's second city, please give it a go - I promise you won't be disappointed.

Manchester, I'll miss your humour, your steely determination, your quirky sense of style. It's not goodbye...but see you again soon. And I'll do my best to visit often.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Out of My Comfort Zone

Today, I was in Prestwich town centre in the north of Manchester singing my lungs out with other friends from my church home group to declare God's goodness to the local community and to invite people to our Easter Concert entitled, Alive!

It was a bit nippy, and there were a good few people milling about. I was nervous, like everyone was; we don't exactly make a habit of singing in public! But as we got going, people started watching us, a few approached us and thankfully, no one was rude to us. The Alive! concert we host each Easter is amazing and powerful opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to demonstrate His love in a real and practical way.

I'm excited to see what God will do on the 24th. I am expecting the unexpected!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Spiralling Out Of Control

In recent weeks, I have read articles, tweets and comments from social networking sites about Jan Jan, a child of six years old performing a 'macho' dance number for a noontime show in the Philippines called Willing WIllie. Naturally, there was outrage and public condemnation. And rightly so - the incident was blatantly child abuse, clear exploitation and should be unacceptable in any modern and evolved society.

However, I find it bizarre how Filipinos reacted so violently over the incident when Philippine television is filled with programmes that exploit the poor, objectify women, and poke fun at those who are seen less important or less beautiful in society. You've got noontime entertainment shows that have scantily-clad women performing sensual dance routines, contestants in game shows that wear offensive or inappropriate clothing (I still remember an episode of Wowowee where a contestant wore a t-shirt with a huge swastika splashed across the front!) and drama shows that portray darker-skinned characters in a negative light.

Until producers, TV hosts, artists and everyone in the entertainment industry change their mindset and deliver high quality, informative and non-sensationalist programming, you'll always have victims like Jan Jan, who, in his family's desperation for a cash prize that they would never get to earn even if they worked 24/7 for the rest of their lives, are exploited and abused.

And unless government remains unable to provide its citizens with decent jobs paying decent wages, people will do whatever it takes to survive. Even if it means putting their nearest and dearest in perilous situations.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Hang Up on the Hung Parliament

The most exciting thing that's happened to me recently (apart from bagging the latest shoe purchase) is being given the opportunity to vote at the UK general elections on 6 May 2010. Now this isn’t the first time I have voted in the parliamentary elections, but it is the first time where the whole nation was riveted at the goings on in Westminster. The Press were so obviously backing their new golden boy, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, poor Gordon Brown of Labour couldn’t do anything right, and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, once seen as a non-entity was surging in the surveys due to his performance in the televised Leaders’ Debates (and eventually will have the ‘privilege’ of being the ‘king maker)’.

On 06 May, we all voted – and despite all the television and news coverage we still couldn’t quite decide on one particular party to represent our nation to the world, thus we have a hung parliament.

And while the nation waits in bated breath, I can’t help but be slightly worried at this disconcerting series of affairs. At first, I wanted to vote for the Liberal Democrats because their platform was the one that I thought would benefit hardworking people most – increase the income tax threshold to £10,000, smaller class sizes, the abolition of those stupid ID cards…it sounded really, erm, sound. The TV debates also proved that Mr Clegg can handle difficult questions under pressure, and I was more and more convinced that the Liberal Democrats were the real alternative.

I found the Conservative manifesto shallow – the supposed marriage tax which provides tax relief to married couple will not, in my view place more value in marriages. If it did then it wouldn't give the same rights to the civil partnerships as they do to married couples. Their policy on immigration and the economy are flimsy at best, so they weren’t even on my radar. Normally a Labour voter, my view of them turned sour in recent months – what with the recent expenses scandal of top ministers while the country dipped deeply into recession…I was ready for a change.

But as my husband said, ‘People keep on talking about change – but a change from what?’. It’s true the expenses scandal was unforgivable, but in reality, Mr Brown has gotten us out of the recession and was leading us further away from it. Inflation was low and so were interest rates, and his government has introduced a Australian-style points system to manage immigration. I liked the way he called Mrs Duffy a bigot – because that was what she was! And despite Jeremy Paxman’s annoying interview style and unfair accusations, Gordon Brown actually conducted himself well and articulated clearly his plans to continue the economic recovery of Britain in his one-to-one with him. What Brown lacks in charisma and stage presence he certainly makes up with economic knowledge and experience.

So on polling day, I found myself changing my vote back to Labour. But it looks like it wasn’t going to be enough to make it the leading party. Mr Brown is stepping down as Labour leader, the Conservatives are putting the pressure on the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with them. Today, after all the negotiations, Mr Clegg will make the all important decision – will it be Lib-Con or Lib-Lab? God help the United Kingdom if it happens to be the former. That is essentially Mr Clegg selling the nation’s soul to the devil.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Fullness of Life

I find that when reading through the Old Testament, there are loads of scriptures that refer to the coming of Jesus, as well as the end times. For example, Isaiah writes:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

(Isaiah 53:2b-5)

The more I read the Bible, the more I know that it is the true Word of God. Everything that was written in the Old Testament points to Jesus – His birth, His ministry, His life, death and His resurrection. And that He is the Christ, the Messiah.

With Christmas fast approaching, no doubt there will be numerous nativity plays in schools, movies and TV shows on offer. But more than hearing about Jesus, finding out who Jesus really is, and how He is alive today and continues to change lives is what really matters. He certainly changed mine. I don’t know what life would be like if I didn’t know Him, and I wouldn’t even want to find out. All I know is, in Him I have fullness of life.