CAPTURING MOMENTS || December 2015


 12.1-2 (San Francisco, CA, USA) → 12.2-1.6 (Boston, MA, USA) → 12.18-21 (Toronto, Canada)


  • Finally back home after a year and a half abroad!!! Thank you Tim for making this moment possible for me #bestchristmasgiftever!!!
  • Enjoying a day-date touring around San Francisco with Tim
  • Surprising my mom, grandma, and brother at 2 am and jumping out of trunk to surprise my best friend for her birthday
  • Watching a Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics basketball game with Tim (our home teams competing against one another)
  • Being able to sing with my choir at Christmas Eve service in the church I grew up in with people who traveled near and far to be there
  • Roadtripping to Toronto to attend the engagement party of close friends from Korea and spending time seeing the Toronto Christmas Market with my cousins


two piece prom gown UK

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, Beverly, MA @ 9:24 pm


best wedding veil


Synopsis: Mia Alvar’s nine-piece short story collection details the lives of Filipinos in diaspora and in their own country during the time of martial law. A college student fantasizes about her brother’s life in the Middle East only to realize the fictionalization was not that far from reality. An exiled politician’s wife embraces her life abroad. A strong community of overseas workers in Doha are shaken by the arrival of a stranger. Even as the stories span the globe from the Middle East to the USA and returning home to the Philippines, the pieces are interwoven into anecdotes of those searching for a place to call home.

When I came across a book about the Filipino diaspora on Fathom’s Summer Reading List of 2015 , I was definitely intrigued. Rarely do you see fiction about the Philippines let alone on a popular literature list so there was no question I would have to read it. The diaspora motif is one that hits home for me as both of my parents immigrated to the States so each tale deeply resonated with me. But beyond feeling pangs of familiarity in the stories told, Mia Alvar is a master at her craft. I’m not big on short stories since I find the closure aspect usually very lacking but here are nine stories that sink in like a good, long read. Each piece is hefty and take present you with an intimate look into the lives of those who have love and lost as they search for meaning in their lives abroad. She offers an indiscriminate wealth of perspectives: from politicians to health workers, special needs instructors to college students. The Filipino experience abroad and at home have finally been given a voice and a powerful one at that as penned by Alvar. I felt exhausted after each tale having been invested in the protagonists’ journeys. The pieces were solid stand-alone but I preferred some more than others (hence the 9/10 rating.) For me, my favorite one was “Old Girl,” a supposition of Ninoy Aquieno’s time in Boston through the eyes of his wife, Corazon Aquino. In this story, Alvar stunningly writes about the married life in juxtaposition with running a marathon. The protagonist, an exceptionally strong feminist figure, must contend with her husband’s obvious displeasure with his life in-exile while she finds herself happily at home for once. While reading this on the road, I was instantly transported back home to Boston. This is the first time the Filipino experience abroad versus “in the country” has been brought to the forefront. I’m certain people across the globe who have felt any type of displacement will connect to the depth of this freshman writer’s richly imaginative prose.

rating ✪✪✪✪✪✪✪✪


  • PureWow’s Pump Up Guide 2016 is an annual compilation of 30 things to look forward to in the new year
  • Driven by the belief everyone has a story to tell, Artifact Uprising showcases photographer Mimi McCormick’s  once-in-a-lifetime family reunion of 75 strong in Hong Kong as made possible by her 91-year old Uncle Richard
  • Inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, learn how to stay comfy and cozy during the winter months without compensating the fun factor
  • Keep it Canada is the brainchild between Vice and Chef Matty Matheson, a video series documenting Matheson’s enlightening journey around his native country through its foodways
  • My favorite piece on Lucky Peach’s “Top 10 Articles of the Year list” is their Regional Guide to Ramen, giving you twenty different ways ramen is prepared in Japan. Who knew noodles could be so interesting?

 UP NEXT MONTH: Three weeks island hopping around the Philippines! xoxo Izzy

Filipina-American Millette Stambaugh is a thirty-something former expat who has traded her nomadic ways for Philadelphia living. Corporate worker by day, content creator by night, Millette specializes in visual storytelling and joyful journeys and wants to help others find their "next somewheres." Follow her escapades on Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok @thenextsomewhere.

post a comment