Thursday, December 30, 2010

No More Metrostar Ferry

We had a failed outing yesterday.  I searched on the internet for a ferry trip around the Manila Bay and I found some posts on Metrostar ferry which we had seen several times on passing by the area near SM Mall of Asia.  I saw that their schedules were every hour on the half hour and estimated that the 5:30pm tour would give us a good view of the Manil Bay sunset.  We left the house around 4:30pm and came across several traffic jams before Quiapo and Roxas blvd.  But as we approached the Metrostar Ferry terminal, (Jojo and Benjo went to find parking), there was a post on the outside of the building with the title Traffic Advisory, there were no scheduled departures for the day.  There were a couple of people inside the building and upon entering we were told that the Metrostar Ferry was no longer in operation.  By the time Jojo and Benjo were back from the parking area, it was already 5:30pm.  We were told by a person who saw us coming out of the building that there were boat tours on the other side MOA.  But as we walked towards the mall, I saw the sun setting and realized that even if we wanted to go on the boat ride, we would miss the best part of the trip - the sunset.  So, we scheduled our ferry boat ride for another day and just took a walk in SM Mall of Asia and had dinner at the foodcourt.  There will be other days and many other sunsets to watch.

Going Back To My Bible

It's almost the end of the year.  I'll be bringing out my bible for the first time in ages.  Not that I haven't read from the Holy Scriptures this year, but I have been using Kerygma's Companion for the past 3 years, which has the daily scriptures, commentaries and a place to journal your thoughts all in one.  Before Companion I used Didache, which has just the commentaries, I had used this alongside my bible to read the scriptures which were listed on the side of each Didache page.  This practice helped familiarize me with the books of the bible and I really miss flipping, holding and reading directly from the bible.  So this year, I decided to buy the smaller and cheaper Didache and go back to reading the scriptures from my bible.  It will be a bulkier load to carry when we do go on our travels, but I shouldn't mind because it is like gold, no, a much pricier treasure than gold.  It is the Word of God ... that heals, cleanses, guides, and lights my path and my days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Reflection

With the rush and stress of all the pre-Christmas activities, we tend to forget the real meaning of this season.  I was reminded of this by an email that I subscribe to: Henri Nowen, the late priest who wrote inspirational works and worked wondrous inspirations in the lives of many especially the less fortunate, (or so we think that they are less fortunate).

Anyway, the phrase that hit me is this: "A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . ." (Isa.11:1-2). 

A shoot, a small shoot from an indiscreet stump, will sprout the One who will be our Savior.  And here we are looking to find "Christmas" in all the big, fancy, bright things around us - the gifts, the events, the parties, the shopping, the givings and receivings, the decorations, the lights!  And yet, it is in the quiet, the smallness, the nothingness (or so we think) that we will find the true meaning of Christmas.

He was born in a manger, among the animals, among the hay.  Nothing fantastical about that.  A manger, in a barn, smelly and dirty.  Not a place for Him who is our King.  And yet it is this place that He chose to come into this world, to be one with us, with humanity.  This is how great His love is for us.  He chose to step down from the comforts and perfectness of heaven, to be with us in our imperfect, sinful world.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Great Find!

In my continued search for items on my shopping list, I made another trip to 168 Shopping Mall in Divisoria.  This was my second trip to 168 so I was more familiar with the stalls.  On the way to 168, I walked in one of the stores on one of the main streets leading to 168 (will try to find the name of that street, but for those familiar with the area, it's one of the busy streets with vendors on all sides).  I first noticed their little figurines thus prompting me to walk in their store, then I glanced upon the seat/storage boxes at the corner.  I had contemplated on buying these on my first trip.  The saleslady said that they were only P125, a better deal than the P150 price they were offering at 168.  I looked at the different prints they offered and decided to take two of the seat/storage boxes pictured on the right.

I must be attracted to this print, seeing the similarities it has to the jewelry box I bought in my last blog.  It is a great addition though to our living room area.  The saleslady said that it's made of plywood, (which I would like to believe) and not of the usual hardwood, and covered with non-woven fabric and plastic material for the lid.  When you buy the seat/storage boxes, they are folded as shown below:

Very handy to carry and gift wrap.  Though I bought these for our own personal use, I am thinking of going back and buying some more as gifts.  They are very sturdy and quite comfortable to sit on.  I've sat on them several times, though Jojo doesn't trust himself to try it out.  Great for storing items such as books, magazines, newspapers or phone directories as we have done...

I'm thinking of getting one each for the kids.  I saw one in a Princess design priced at P175.  I hope to find one in a boy's design.  It's a tidy storage box for the kids' toys and will serve as their seats when they watch television.  Two gifts in one - a seat and a storage box!

Tip!:  These seat/storage boxes are a little heavy to carry, especially if you buy 2 or more.  I would suggest buying these last on your way back to your car or on your jeepney ride home.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jewelry Boxes For Gifts

Here's another gift idea:  I got this gift for a special friend who was visiting here from the US.  It's a jewelry box which has many sections as you can see - a place for your watch, rings, necklaces, etc.  You can buy this from the Dapitan Arcade behind the Suki Market on Dapitan Avenue.  The seller was asking for P350, but I was able to haggle it down to P300 (a more expert haggler may be able to bring down this price even more).  It comes in different designs, some solid colors of black, brown or red and in different sizes and styles.  It's made of hardboard and looks durable.  I got a similar jewelry box for one of Jojo's cousins last Christmas and the price hasn't changed.  You can't miss their stalls, it's one of the first stalls you'll see when you enter the arcade on the left side, at the back of Suki market.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Giving Our Time This Christmas

Not all gifts have to come wrapped.  There are some gifts that are not found in gift boxes but still bring out big smiles and shouts of laughter, especially for the kids in our family.  For example, taking out our loved ones to watch a concert or to an amusement park would be a gift that would be worth more than any toy and will create memories they will surely remember.  "Time is a treasure", as the saying goes and how true this is.  Setting aside time to take out the special people in our lives to an event or place they haven't been to is giving both of our our time, our money and ourselves.

I've compiled a list of the places where I would like to take my family this Christmas.  We won't be able to go to all these places, maybe just one or two.  But it doesn't have to be just for this Christmas, many of these places are open year-round:
All of the above places (except the Greenhills Christmas display) have entrance fees, a little steep for some (please link to the respective web sites for entrance prices).  But the Spirit of Christmas really means just spending time with those you love, so any place - even at home or at a public park, playing games or sports with your children and other family members, will truly be a Christmas they will cherish.  The above picture is of the time after Benjo's 7th birthday when he learned to play Bingo with family and relatives.  This to him is memorable, maybe even more than the swimming party he had earlier in the day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Home Designer Help

Home design TV programs are my favorite shows to watch.  This is probably another sign that I took the wrong major during college - Computer Science being far from the artistic side of my brain.  A frustrated designer I may be, that's why I buy Home and Living magazines to browse the professional designs of people's homes, watch the home design shows on TV and look at more designs on the internet.  Truly amazing are the makeovers that I've seen, especially on Clean House, which I think any makeover would be an improvement with the mess of the houses they feature on that show.

One of the home design shows I watch is Color Splash.  I saw David Bromstad win the first Design Star competition to be the host of his own show.  I love how he creates his own pieces, customized paintings that match his designs.  How I wish I could do that, just make my own designs.  But I have to admit I'm challenged with originality and need to see what others have created and try to imitate it.  So I may be more of an imitator than a creator or artist.

Our living room is still a challenge for me.  About a month ago I challenged myself to makeover our sofas before my birthday on November 28, which is fast approaching.  So far, I just added some cushion covers, but the sofas remain girlscout green.  I have about 2 weeks.  Will I have enough motivation to get this goal done?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not Again...

Okay, I folded... broke another promise, this time publicized here on this blog back in July.  I once again succumbed to the game, the temptation even greater with the new PSP that Ate Connie sent.  As I watch the kids holding this hand-held toy, I think that it will be my turn soon.  It's another "food" game that I played and am starting to get addicted to.  It's not that bad yet, so I can nip it at the bud.  Actually I just started playing it yesterday, but since then it's already taken up too much time.

Why food games, it used to be Hotdog Bush, then Spongebob's Patty Panic and now Yummy Yummy, where depending on the level, I serve up pizza, hotdog or tacos to my customers.  Am I a frustrated cook?  Or do I really want some sort of restaurant job?  I'm trying to see the logic in this, see if there is any subconscious meaning to this senseless pattern of addiction.  Or maybe it's just a way to try to escape reality.  I really don't know, but I do know that playing games isn't productive and does not serve as a good example to my kids.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Basketball - with the 45+ Age Group

It's a Sunday, nearing evening... just woke from my short nap, it's really a requirement to nap if one wants to survive the rest of the evening... there is at last 4 hours left in the day, a day which began at around 6am.  Joselyn also just woke up.  We're waiting for Jojo and Benjo who spent the day in Binangonan.  They'll both be tired, mainly from the travel, Jojo extra tired from playing basketball. 

Jojo joined the 45+ basketball league.  Yes, Jojo now falls into that age group after turning 45 last May.  Basketball has always been one of the sports close to his heart.  He was good at it, he and others say, but how long has it been since he actually played.  Much too long and his body felt it.  A new muscle and joint aches after every game.  They've won 3 games so far, lost the first one.  Jojo has contributed less than 10 points, for all 4 games, though his game is getting better, with each muscle waking up after each game.

It's a little funny (okay, it's pretty pathetic) watching a basketball game of middle-aged men, non-professional ones at that.  In the beginning of the game, everyone seems to be pretty pumped up.  But that only lasts for a few minutes.  After awhile, instead of wanting the ball, the players shake their heads signalling the person with the ball to not give it to them.  Some lag behind at the back court while others make an excuse of needing to go home and then never returning to the game.  The first game I watched I literally worried that we needed to call emergency, scared that the players' heart condition would not take the gruelling fast-break runs.  But they survived, taking many time-outs or substitutions.

Jojo says he's not used to getting jeers instead of cheers.  He was one of the star players back then and how he probably wishes he has his old body back.  When he did take a nice jump shot that actually went in the hoop, a bunch of his "fans" cheered, a rare score, but that small success and two seconds of fame was enough for him to drive the two hours every weekend to that concrete turf and revive the basketball days of old.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo Gift Idea

I try to put more thought in the gifts I give.  It is so easy to just pick up something in the store, wrap in up and give it as a birthday or christmas present.  But it is harder to choose a gift that person will actually appreciate and hopefully put into good use (and not recycle as a gift for next christmas!).  And the gift does not have to be expensive.  I had mentioned in a previous blog that I had bought photo frames for our close friends from the kids' school.  The photo frames are very ordinary, dull even.  But I put in some "labor of love", choosing the right pictures from my collection of shots, editing and arranging the pictures so it is something that I hope, when opened, will be both a joy and surprise.  Here are some samples of those photo editing jobs that I still have to print out and place in the frame...

I used both Paintshop Pro to edit the pictures and Microsoft Word to layout and add wordart.  Paintshop Pro doesn't seem to be flexible enough in arranging and re-arranging several images in one project.  The hardest part in creating these projects was tracing the contours of the images in order to give it a solid background.  At one store in SM, I saw one technician easily trace the contour using Adobe Photoshop.  In Paintshop, I use the freehand tool, using it in several sections and cutting the selected section.  I'll have these printed out at a nearby Kodak store, which will cost P7 per printout.  Hopefully the sizes work out for the frames I bought.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eco Bags Vs Plastic

We were at Puregold Supermarket yesterday.  I was thinking the other week, during the time when I was trying to find ways to cut down on our use of plastic bags, how shopping at Puregold is much more convenient than other grocery stores and the products there are cheaper with the option of buying in bulk or per piece.  But whenever we bought at Puregold we always went home with so many of their clear plastic bags.  The clear plastic bags are probably used so the checkers could easily see the items contained in the bags.  With other major supermarkets trying to go green by selling reusable canvas-like bags, Puregold was being left behind in this environment-conscious age.  But I was wrong. We were about to leave when I saw at the corner of my eye a cart filled with colorful canvas bags with Puregold's Aling Puring character printed on the bags.  It was such a wonderful sight, among all the other carts with plastic bags, one shopper had his Puregold reusable bags.

I have to admit that with all my blogging on trying to be environmentally conscious, our household still uses a lot of plastic.  There have been times that I have forgotten to bring our eco-bags and even one time I had brought a foldable one in my shoulder bag and was reminded by a teller asking if I had a "green bag" and thankfully I did, thereby saving another plastic bag.

SM has their own green bags, so does Shopwise and now Puregold.  I have a National Bookstore canvas bag which I bought for P100 and Joselyn has collected 2 bags so far which were used by two of her classmates as their giveaway bags, instead of the usual plastic loot bag.  So now, instead of plastic bags, we are literally collecting bags made of some non-woven material, which isn't all that bad, but still, do we really need all these canvas bags?

We reuse the plastic bags that we accumulate when shopping, mainly as garbage bags.  Funny though that with the more frequent use of the canvas bags, it is sometimes becoming harder for us to find big enough plastic bags for our garbage.  We have tons of smaller bags that we hardly use, like the ones from Mercury.  As a compromise, I will try to count the number of bags we get from purchases and the number of plastic bags we use in a week.  Hopefully they even out so we don't have so many plastic bags in stock.  Another thing to look into is the amount of garbage we have each week and how to minimize this.  But that's another story which I'll leave for another day...

Toy Kingdom Sale

For those who have kids on their Christmas list, Toy Kingdom will be holding a warehouse sale at SM Megamall's Megatrade Halls (1 & 2) this weekend, November 5-7.  We were at one of these sales a couple of years ago and a warning for those who plan on going this weekend: expect lots of people, long lines and chaos ... we parents should be used to that - toys plus kids plus sales usually equals chaos.

Some tips:  (1) Try to figure out what you want to buy first and go to that section of the hall.  It's better to prepare a list of items to buy and try to stick to that list.  (2) Leave your kids at home or else in one of those play areas, like Dave's Funhouse, so you can shop without worrying about the kids getting lost or adding to the cost of your shopping with the kids wanting to buy toys too. (3) Bring your canvas shopping bags and your SM Advantage and/or Toy Kingdom cards. (4) Shop early if you can.  Friday should be the better day to shop.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Avoid The Crowds - Shop Online

We were at SM San Lazaro when they had that 3-day sale in the beginning of the month, during the time when they were offering the 10% additional discount for the first 2 hours for SM Advantage card holders. Oh, what a crowd! It was the first time in ages that we've seen this mall packed, as in sardines-in-a-can type of crowded! We were there to get a gift and ended up empty-handed. We were trying to do our shopping before the time we had to pick up Benjo and the line we were in didn't seem to be moving. So we just left what we wanted to buy and decided to go back the next morning. Then two weeks later came another sale at SM Megamall. I had thought that since this mall was bigger, it wouldn't be as packed. But how wrong I was! Jojo could already see by the way that some cars parked along the street that we would have a hard time getting a place to park. So strike 2, we made a u-turn and headed for Greenhills, less crowded and surprisingly, also had sales where I ended up buying a few gifts from my Christmas list (check-check, it feels good to see the list getting shorter).

Since the bazaar list that I have on this blog is the most read, I thought of offering another list, this time for those who don't want to worry about traffic, crowds and other time-consuming hassles. Yes, there is such an option and it's called online shopping, browsing and buying right in your own home (or office for those not-so-busy employees). I bought from ebay several times, both when I was still in the US and also here in the Philippines. I also got to sell several items on, which was a lot of fun and profitable.

I will continue to add to this list as I find more sites online.  (Most of these sites are based in the Philippines with Philippine-made products.  Buying locally helps the environment, less travelling time for your product means less use of fuel.  Plus you will be helping a talented and deserving entrepreneur/kababayan and our local economy.)  - Buy gifts and accessories made from native products online - Bid on an item at this local version of the popular online shopping site, - Similar to ebay but most sellers have hand-made products for sale
Human Nature - Organic health and beauty products, from a group of socially-conscious entrepreneurs helping local farmers (founded by the children of Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga)
National Bookstore
Shepherd's Voice - Bo Sanchez's Kerygma products, such as Didache and Companion.  You can also donate to their ministry online.
Suelas Shoes - Flatten it, Fold it, Roll it - fashionable, comfortable shoes

  • Check your seller's profile and selling records (for ebay and etsy) before buying. 
  • There are several options for paying for your items - paypal and gcash are a couple of options.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The True Reason For The Season

All the hustle and bustle has already begun... shopping here and there, sales galore, stress level getting higher with the number of days 'til Christmas getting lower.  But why does it have to be this way?  Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  This I would like to believe, though another glorious time, and this maybe even better than Christmas, is Easter.

As we go about trying to buy gifts for our loved ones this Christmas, let us not forget the true reason for this season... the birth of Jesus, our Savior, our Hope, our God who comes to us to be like us...

Amidst the busyness of this season, let us make room for Him, give time for Him, leave a special space in our hearts for Him...

Another Way To Wrap Gifts

Here's another gift wrapping idea...

You may have seen these in the stores or the tiangges.  I got these for P12 each wholesale at one of the first stalls I saw at 168 Shopping Mall in Divisoria, but after walking further I saw another stall selling the same pouches for P8 each.  Another lesson for me is to canvas the items first, if you don't mind doing a little walking, to find the same items at a lower price.  And something I've noticed too is that the stalls or paseos that are nearest the entrances are usually the ones with the higher prices.

The pouches come in different sizes, colors and designs.  They're made of some nylon fabric and are see-thru.  So in terms of making the gift a "surprise", you may have to add tissue paper or some other thin material to cover the actual gift.  What's great about these pouches are that they're reusable, therefore environmentally-friendly and easy to use, just put the gift inside and pull the string to secure.

Related links:
Gift and Gift Wrapping Idea

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music Inspirations

I was going through the paper this morning as part of my usual morning routine.  This time in our bedroom, taking peeks from behind my paper to see what Joselyn was up to.  She had her own show going, playing this time with these markers, putting them on top of the other and finding that they stack together and she can actually balance several markers without them falling.  She's enjoying her 2nd day out of school because of Bagyong Juan.  We continue to pray for our countrymen who have been directly affected by this recent typhoon.

As I was saying, I was reading the paper and glanced upon the Top 10 list of best-selling CDs, something that I don't usually take notice of.  But I noticed that in the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) class, there are 3 Christmas CDs on this list!  I was actually thinking of purchasing a new Christmas CD and it seems like that I'm not the only one who wants to add to that "Christmas spirit" by listening to sounds of Christmas tunes.

For now, I'm contented playing my old Christmas and Christian music CDs or listening and watching some tunes on youtube.  I have not entered the world of the iPod yet, but I don't think I'm missing much.  Here's one of my favorite songs which I love listening to.  It's not one of our traditional Christmas songs, but it sure emcompasses the spirit of Christmas ...  "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant:

While I'm in this inspirational, musical mood, let me share with you another of my favorites.  Composed and sung by the late Rich Mullins - "If I Stand"...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Colorful Touch To Our Sofas

I wrote about wanting a living room makeover a month ago, but have only done minimal work in making this "wish" a reality.  I've looked over several home design magazines and have pondered countless times on what I would love to do to make our space more lively and attractive.  I've added small touches, but haven't done the major makeover, such as to change the sofa covers.  I want to try to sew the covers, but I'm not sure if I have talent nor time to sew this project.  The next best thing was to add cushions to add color to the area.  When I went to Divisoria, I found these covers for P75 a pair...

I love how such a small addition has added color and life to our blah sofas.  Getting the inspiration from these covers, I think I will choose the color of the sofa from one of the colors on the covers, maybe the maroon or the yellow-orange, or something similar.  I'm setting a goal for myself... to either sew the covers myself or to have someone else sew them before my birthday on November 28, a birthday gift for ... moi... from moi!  Hopefully blogging on this will make this goal more concrete.  We'll see...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gift and Gift Wrapping Ideas

Christmas draws near with only 73 more days, but less considering the time when we actually distribute gifts.  For our school friends, it will be on the last day of school before Christmas break, so that's approximately 63 days left.  I already have a wonderful gift idea for our close school friends.  In our many outings this past year, I've accumulated countless pictures with the kids and their parents.  I'll put this on CD and print out a few, one I'll put in a frame.  So one item on my list, which I've checked off today is to buy several photo frames.  I specifically wanted a wooden frame since I'm trying to stay away from plastic products this Christmas and be more environmentally conscious.  I got a great deal on these frames which I bought at 168 Shopping Mall in Divisoria for only P25 each - wholesale price (at least 6 of the same item)!  I had found a smaller frame at one of the first stores I entered and they were offering the smaller sized frame for the same price,  so I consider myself lucky to find a better bargain.

In my previous blog, I wrote about finding alternative ways to wrapping gifts.  Another great idea is to use handkerchiefs, which you can purchase for P10 each or buy in packages of 12 for less than P5 each.  Wrapping the frames or any other gift is quite simple as illustrated in the following pictures.  Use a fabric ribbon and tie a bow to secure the gift and make it extra attractive...
Spread out handkerchief.  Choose bright, colorful prints.

Put the gift item in the center and fold each corner of the handkerchief towards the center.
You don't have to use any fancy folds, the print of the handkerchief and the ribbon will give you the
decorative elements you need.
The final product.  Simple and elegant, yet cheap and environmentally-friendly.

Related links:
Another Way to Wrap Gifts
Using SM Eco-Bags To "Wrap" Gifts

Monday, October 11, 2010

Using SM Eco Bags to "Wrap" Gifts

I've been thinking about different ways that we can package the gifts we give out this Christmas.  Getting gift-wrapping paper or gift bags are usually the norm.  But with the amount of waste we accumulate after all the gifts have been opened, we need to be more creative in wrapping our gifts in order to reduce waste and help Mother Earth. 

A great idea, and I'm probably not the only one who's thought of this, is to buy an Eco Bag from SM.  I've seen them displayed in different stores around SM.  I saw their ad in the Sunday paper and was surprised how cheap they are. The canvas bags are only P35, which is about the same amount you would pay for some paper gift bags.  The bags are colorful and fashionable and would fit most gift sizes.  (I'm not trying to promote SM and am not affiliated with them except as a shopper.  I do honor SM though for their goals to be more environmentally-friendly.)

By using the SM eco bags, we are actually giving 2 gifts in 1 - the gift and the bag!  This would be great for gifts like clothing, books, toys and other gift items that would fit in the bag.  It may not be so practical for smaller gifts.  For smaller items we could use recycled paper and wrap it with string instead of using plastic tape or plastic ribbons.  I've yet to find a supplier of recycled paper.  I'll post it here once I do find one in the area.

October 13, 2010...
We were at SM yesterday and I didn't want to leave without buying the said eco bags.  I bought the set, a total of P140.  The canvas material is quite thin, not as sturdy as I thought they would be.  The designs would look better on cotton, but hey, considering it only costs P35 each this is still a good deal.  Joselyn wanted one of the bags, but I told her that it was going to be used to "wrap" Christmas gifts for our friends, and she had one of her moments.  I am thinking of going back to get some for ourselves.  The orange is my favorite, but I think the other designs and colors are just as great.

I was at Divisoria today and found some great alternatives to wrapping gifts, plus other finds.  I'll write on this on my next blog...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reviving My Passion For Running

Oh I felt it, after so many years... I could almost hear the noises from days of old ...  "On your mark, get set, GO!", someone shouts as the gun goes off and we runners sprint as fast as our legs could take us, our whole body and being focuses on that one goal, the end of the 100 meter track.  It's been so long.  I was still in elementary, competing against my schoolmates at Duffy Primary School in Canberra, Australia.  Then selected to be one of the representatives our school and one time getting to be part of the city's inter-district competition.  Walking on that field I could almost feel my heart beat as it felt when I was eleven, twelve - so nervous that it seemed my heart was next to my ears, then feeling the wind blow against my face and the feel of either grass or ashphalt on my bare feet.  I didn't have good running shoes back then and I seemed to run better without shoes, but that ashphalt sure stung my feet.  But oh, the competition, the adrenalin, the feeling of being victorious, some of the time.  Mostly I came in second, our relay team sometimes coming in first.  It was at the city's track and field competition that I was humbled.  I didn't even make it to the championship round.  But it was there that I felt that I got to experience what real track and field was, the modern stadium with the tracks just as modern, with lanes numbered and measured to perfection.

This was different though.  I was brought back to reality.  This was the Philippines and it's almost 30 years later.  The stadium is old, a repaint job the least of their worries.  The tracks, oh the poor tracks.  I felt it and it was far from that rubbery material that I felt in that stadium.  Rough, worn-out.  This was concrete - broken and cracked.  I could imagine how many runners were victimized by these cracks.  But still it served those willing to train in this stadium, for a minimal fee.  Kids with a dream of maybe one day competing in the Olympics.  At the long jump field, some kids were practicing under the heat, jumping higher and longer.  Games, maybe, but some were serious in doing better than their last jump.

I wanted to run on that cracked and worn-out thing they called a track.  But what kept me from running?  I didn't have the right shoes, yes, but that never stopped that once 11-year old from running.  There was a shyness in me, conscious of the stares from the older folks, folks my age, that were watching on the bleachers, scared of looking foolish.

That feeling of wanting to run again hasn't left me.  We will go back to that broken and old track.  Then I will be ready, both with my shoes and with my self-confidence.  It will not be for that ribbon nor trophy any more.  It will be just for me, to find out if my body is still in shape to run, or to start an exercise regimen to make me get in better shape.  I was a runner then and I feel in my veins, even on these worn-out tracks and in this worn-out body, that I am still - a runner.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Food For Thought

I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish this blog in one sitting.  I'm writing under pressure.  In less than 10 minutes, I'm going to hear the doorbell buzz, buzz and buzz again notifying me of the arrival of my big bundle of joy, my 5 year and 10 month old girl.  She'll be bringing with her stories of her day in school, the new lessons, songs, sounds that she's learned, plus funny stories like "mabaho si so-and-so, umutot siya" ("So-and-so is smelly, he farted!"), along with a laugh that sends her in fits.

Now, I'm definitely not going to finish this blog, 'cause I'm totally off my topic.  Which was???  Okay, let me refresh my thoughts, try to relax and think that I have infinite time to write...

Happy Monday!  The sun is bright, promises of a very warm afternoon.  I got in my inbox this morning an email from Bo Sanchez' Soulfood Newsletter.  A very inspiring message about the importance of making our wishes (goals, dreams, etc.) clear.  Read the message and you'll understand what I mean.  Oh, here's my bundle of joy now...

Just want to share this link for the meantime.  My thoughts on it will follow...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Letting My Hair Down

Kulot, kinky.  Just two words that best describe my hair.  You can't tell most days since I always have it in a ponytail.  I don't go out without mousse thus giving me that sometimes wet look.  But last Saturday when we went out to SM, I decided to not put my hair up but just let it hang loose.  It was cool enough.  Part of the reason for putting my hair up is the weather, I hate sweating from the heat and having my hair down causes more sweating especially at the back of my neck.  Plus we were going to the mall where it would be air-conditioned.  I put on more mousse than I would usually put, so as to make sure it wouldn't just spring into an afro!  And you know what? I felt so free with my hair down.  I always felt that I'm a little stiff (maybe it's that "teacher/Miss Tapia" look) with my hair in a ponytail.  And I have glasses to add to the conservative image.  But with my locks down I had such a carefree feeling.  And I don't know if it was my imagination, but I got more looks from boys and girls alike.  But then again I don't know if it was one of those "she looks weird/strange" looks or "she looks different in a nice kind of way" looks.  But hey, I'm 40 and very much taken, so it doesn't (or shouldn't) really matter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Capturing Beauty

While browsing my old folders, I found some of our pictures from a couple of years ago.  There were a couple of good close-up shots of flowers that I thought I'd share.  The camera I was using was our older  Canon Powershot A200.  Though I don't have a lot of control with the focus on this camera, these pictures goes to show that lighting is key in taking good shots...

These two shots were taken at the Japanese Garden near Luneta.
You can see Jojo and the kids at the background

This one taken at the Quezon City Memorial Circle

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christmas Bazaar List for 2010

Christmas trees on display at Trinoma Mall
Looking for a great gift for that special someone?  Christmas bazaars or tiangges are usually great places to buy that hard-to-find gift. I've compiled a list of this year's Christmas bazaars which I hope will help both shoppers and bazaaristas.  You're welcome to leave your comments if you know of any other bazaars that are currently not on this list.  When available, the email and/or web site of the bazaar organizer is provided.  Please link to those sites or email the contact person for additional information.

Christmas Bazaar List for 2010


1American Women's Club Monthly BazaarPasay CityWorld Trade Center
The Abundant Year BazaarPasay CityPTTC
Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. cor. Roxas Blvd.
3-5Christmas Tinsel BazaarQuezon CityNuvo City, Libis
Cris at 502-3632 or +639178278928
Dore at 215-7306 or +639178261810
3-1610th World BazaarPasayWorld Trade Center
Christmas Bazaar @ The LevelsMuntinlupaThe Levels project site
Pacific Rim Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang Muntinlupa City

Sponsored by Filinvest, Four Seasons Creative Ventures Inc and Danza Fashion Fair;

Fridays  10 am to 12 midnight
Saturdays 10 am to 12 midnight
Sundays 10 am to 10 pm

December 16 - 24 & 26 - 29 Schedule

Weekdays Monday -Thursday 10 am to 10 pm
Weekends Friday-Sunday 10 am to 12 midnight

December 24: 8 am to 6 pm
Mobile No.: 09177465691; 09222757355
Tiangge Sa DonaPasigDona Juana Subdivision
4Latagan Sa Cubao XQuezon CityCubao Expo's 2010 1-day Holiday Twist Bazaar,
Cubao Expo
1pm - 12midnight
4-5The North Greenhills Christmas Unity BazaarSan JuanMcKinley Park, North Greenhills
Email or call at 0915-969-7068
Unity Marketing
My Seoul In Paris
PasaySMX Convention Center
Hall 2 (next to SM Mall of Asia)
12pm - 12 midnight
Sponsored by De La Salle University’s Business Management Society
For inquiries, contact:

Alyssa Lapira – 09179651890
Jessica Bello – 09178965856
4-5Holiday Food BazaarMakatiRockwell Tent
10am - 7pm
Contact Kenneth Culala at 4152272 loc. 4818 or
Christmas Bazaar 2010MuntinlupaVictoria Homes
JRF Covered Basketball Court, Don Pedro Ave.
Contact April at 0917-5170908 or email me
Karl Edwards BazaarTaguig@ The Fort, NBC Tent
5Bazaar At InterconMakatiIntercontinental Hotel Manila
Grand Ballroom
Ayala Ave.
Contact: 793-7000
6-7Angel Sent BazaarMakatiEnterprise Center
Paseo de Roxas corner Ayala Ave

Contact: 828-1885, 799-4018, 0920-876-6505
or email
11-12Santa's Christmas Bazaar @ La VistaQuezon CityLa Vista Clubhouse & Basketball Court
11-12Santa's Gifts BazaarQuezon CityQuezon City Sports Club, E. Rodriguez Ave.
9am - 9pm
11-12The Holiday Rush
(Year 2)
Quezon CityChrist the King Church, Greenmeadows
10am - 9pm
17-19The 5th Christmas Toy Fair (and Mom's Holiday Finds)PasigMegatrade Hall 2, SM Megamall
18-19La Vista BazaarQuezon CityLa Vista Clubhouse & Basketball Court (near Miriam College & Ateneo)

9am - 7pm
Sponsored by MBCI

18-23Christmas Shop Expo 2010/Noel BazaarPasayWorld Trade Center

 Trinoma Mall's Christmas Light Display
 And don't forget to be responsible and environmentally-friendly shoppers.  Bring your canvas or other reusable bags so that the concessionaires will not use plastic bags.  Try to find more creative ways of wrapping your gifts rather than using paper with tape.  Think of the long-term effects of the gifts you buy.  Happy Shopping!  And Merry Christmas!

Using SM Eco Bags To "Wrap" Gifts
Gift and Gift Wrapping Ideas
Another Way To Wrap Gifts
Avoid The Crowds - Shop Online

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shrek - Forever After

We watched "Shrek - Forever After" last week.  I've been seeing the ad in the papers for the Playback screenings of these second-run movies.  We hadn't seen this movie and I'm sure it's already out on DVD.  But it sure was great seeing it on the big screen.  We paid P25 each (for adults and kids) to see the movie.  We could've stayed to watch "Kimmy Dora" too, which was bundled with the price, but we were already tired out.  The kids come out of school early on Tuesdays and though much further from our house (Novaliches - about a 45 minute to an hour drive), it was worth the commute.  The Playback movies are still ongoing for those interested.  For more details and other upcoming movies, browse the Robinsons MovieWorld site.  The next showing for the Animation/Kids genre is "Avatar - The Last Airbender", Sept 29 to Oct 5.  But look at the site for a more accurate schedule.

I laughed and cried at some parts of the movie.  The lesson I got from the movie: we have to look around us and continue to count our many blessings.  There is no thing as "they lived happily ever after".  Well, there is, but not here in our world.  We must look behind what seems to be dull, boring, everyday simple moments and see the wonder, the magic.  The magic even in the simple smiles, giggles, hugs and words that were always there but we may have taken for granted.

Image Editing Using Paint Shop

A bit on the lighter side of life, to brighten one's day, mine as well as yours...  I was playing around with the pictures I downloaded from our camera.  I've been practicing some closeup shots and some turned out pretty good.  With automatic focus on digital cameras, it's sometimes hard to really focus on the object.  This is something I'll continue to work on.  I played around with the images using my image editing software: Jasc Paint Shop.  A little less popular than the commonly-used Adobe Photoshop, but this is the software that I've "grown-up" with and it works for most of my editing needs.  Here's some that I came up with...
Original shot taken of roses at Sta Teresita General Hospital.  The camera that I'm using has a great flash, so even if this was taken in a dim area, the flash worked wonders.

First put on greyscale and then used the negative image.  I love the way this turned out.

 A white flower from a plant (which I'll try to find the name of) just outside our house.  It took me several tries before I could get the focus on the flower itself and not the leaves around it.  I put this in greyscale.

A totally different image with the use of Effects - Geometrical - Twirl.  This is fun!  This picture makes me want to imitate it :)

I've taken similar shots of the Quezon City Memorial before.  I like how the sun is shining behind the tree here and covers up the shot so it didn't turn out too dark.  This is the original shot taken.

More fun with Paint Shop.  This time with Colors - Histogram Functions - Equalize.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Jueteng.  It's so much in the news nowadays.  It was so much in the news in days and years before.  It's like... my eczema, like a disease that keeps coming back and you don't know what to do about it.  I haven't directly bet on Jueteng, but the people around me have.  It's not rampant here where I live, but who knows?  I'm not one to standby on the streets and judge the lady with the shoulder bag who has a pad of paper as a jueteng collector.  But it is rampant in the provinces.  Shall I dare name these provinces?  Well, the likes of Archbishop Oscar Cruz and reporter Anthony Taberna dares to name names and bring out into the open what almost everyone knows is already out in the open.  Except for the officials who are supposed to be apprehending the operators and the "lords" of this illegal numbers game.  "Eyes wide open", is a term that comes to mind, and this is what these politicians and policemen are doing in keeping watch over jueteng.

When we went to the burol of my aunt in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, almost after the people just wake up and before they even to get to wash their faces, there is someone taking the "numbers" for the morning draw.  Mom got into it, asking for numbers all around, even from the kids.  She paid for their bets and one of my aunts ended up the winner for one of the draws.  But no "balato" from the winner, even for mom who paid her bet :)

Innocent game you would think, barya-barya lang for most of us.  But those barya (coins) when collected and counted sum up to a big amount.  Millions, even billions.  And those that I know who bet are poor - the money they bet are hard-earned money that they hope will bring in a jackpot.  Little do they know that they put out much more than they would ever take in.  It's a pasttime and without it, it seems that the already quiet small towns, will be quieter still.  People who sweat and toil over their crops, retired people getting meager benefits, housewives who happen to have a few pesos to bet.  All of them play the illegal jueteng game in the hope of bringing home that jackpot, at least for the day.  But if their numbers don't come out, there is always hope for the next draw.

Their hope is in the wrong place.  Keep the money you would bet and let it grow.  It will sum up to more than that jackpot.  What should we do?  What can I do?  For one, I should not play the game, however tempting since almost everyone does at one time or another.  Let me set an example first.  This much I can do. ... but it doesn't seem enough.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Silence Despite the Noise

If you don't like it, then just bear with it the best you can.  This seems to be the sentiment or the attitude of most of us Filipinos.  It wasn't mine when I first came here to the Philippines after being influenced by the more agressive, expressive and action-oriented American culture.  But there is a way that one's attitude changes with the culture you live with.  And living here in the Philippines now for over 8 years, I have now acclimatized my ways, so to speak.

This topic comes on the brink of the noisy night and restless sleep we had courtesy of our neighbors.  I hear them, I may even know some of them (by face more than by name), but I do not care for the way they keep us and our neighbors awake from the "party" they have outside their homes.  Our windows are not noise-proof and even with the windows closed shut, we can hear their boisterous talk and laughter.  With the warm weather, many houses most probably had their windows wide open.  When I went downstairs to get something, the noise from the open windows was much louder and I could imagine the frustrations of our other neighbors.

So why does no one do anything about this?  Are we waiting for the others to make the first move?  What are we scared of?  These people, these neighbors should not, in the first place, be drinking on the streets.  There's a law against this right?  And to think that the barangay is just one street away from us.  Is it because it's only around 10:30pm and they think that people are still awake at this time?  But I could still hear them after 12 midnight.  There was no singing this time, thank goodness!  Drunk men with microphones... they sing as if they're the best singers in the world!  But it was just the loud voices and the singing or chanting, mostly of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ....!", over and over and over again, as if chanting this would persuade the celebrant to give them another round.  Even if it's not someone's birthday, there's still an occasion to celebrate and to drink.  But who needs an excuse to drink?

I did not call the officials this time.  I was more willing to give in, to bear the noise, to be as someone had said, na magpakisama.  The tiredness I felt during the day helped bring me to slumberland.  I fell asleep and didn't care as much about the noise these disrespectful neighbors were making.  Let someone else call if they felt the need.

"Maingay." (Noisy.), my neighbor told me, in a sort of whisper, this morning, after I asked her "Napuyat po kayo kagabi?" (Didn't get a lot of sleep last night?).  They are willing to bear this.  They are elderly, the noisemakers young.  To keep the peace?  "Love Thy Neighbors" is a commandment that is especially hard during times like these.  I wish they would learn to love their neighbors, by firstly being respectful of others, being sensitive and responsible for their actions.

What will this silent culture bring us?  How long can we keep the silence?  How much longer do we have to bear this burden?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Revisiting Our Electricity Consumption

I searched for a previous blog I posted about conserving electricity and finally found it: Conserving Electricity, smart title :)  At least I was able to find what I needed.  Well, two months later, I again have our electricity bill in front of me as I write: P4916. Well there was some improvement, our usage did go down from P5600 two months ago.  Mainly because one member of the household being away.  Mom loves to watch the TV constantly when she's here and keeps it on even when she's sleeping.  I would still love to see this bill go down even more.  It is supposed to be the rainy season with cooler weather, but we still need the air-conditioning on at night.  The timer on that aircon I think is broken.  I wake up in the middle of the night to turn it off.  I see the kids and Jojo all wrapped up in their blankets from the cold, then slowly as the warmer weather comes back, they slip their blankets away and continue to sleep.  The computer is another electricity hog.  It uses up 3 sockets, 1 for the main computer, another for the internet box and another for the speakers.  Then there's the washing machine...  I'm going to list down some ways that we can conserve electricity, in the hope that we can follow it and find a greater improvement in next month's Meralco bill:

1)  Turn off the water cooler more often.  It is on for most of the day, but if we keep a container of water in the refrigerator, we wouldn't have to use this at all.
2)  Use the low-energy electric fan as opposed to the industrial one as often as possible.  Like right now, it's on the "1" setting and directed at me.  It gives me cool enough air with lesser noise.
3)  Unplug the appliances that are not in use.  I always thought that this didn't matter.  If you didn't turn on the appliance, the meter should not be running.  But I heard somewhere that this "standby" mode is still using energy.
4)  Watch only the TV shows that you think important or essential.  This one will be harder to do, as Jojo now turns the tube on.  Too many television addicts here at home.  But I will do my best and hopefully the others will follow.
5)  Try to wear clothes more than once as to lessen the washing machine loads.  Also, try to hand wash more.  Ahh, another added chore, but will try...
6)  Use the air-conditioning less often.

There are probably more, but this is all I have for now.  Let's see how next month's electric bill turns out.  Abangan!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Have An Old Nokia 3310

Our cellphone won a prize!  Well, the contest was just a children's party "bring me" game and the prize was just a pencil.  But we won because of our cellphone.  What did the party emcee ask the kids to bring?  "Bring me an old model cellphone!"  I delved into my bag and proudly took out my Nokia 3310.  To be honest, I wasn't that proud, I have to admit I am sometimes ashamed to bring out my cellphone when others around me have all those new and fancy ones.  But Benjo quickly took our old cellphone with its bright violet casing to the emcee to claim his prize.  He came back with a big smile.

There have been times that I have thought about upgrading our cellphone.  I saw one advertised in the paper this past weekend.  A recent model phone with TV/video, 2megapixels camera, FM radio and other eye-catching features.  It had a nice look to it and it was on sale, around P2500.  To make you want the phone all the more, the advertisement emphasized that it was the last day of the sale and limited buyers to 2 cellphones per buyer.  I was ready to get up and go to that store and purchase one.

But my practical senses got the better of me.  I don't have P2500 to spare (well, I do, but I feel that there are other more important purchases), and as with previous temptations, I looked at my cellphone and said to myself, it works fine.  I can text and call with my cellphone.  I even use it to write down short memos, use the calculator and use the alarm to wake me up each morning.  Well, there was the time that the battery went down overnight and luckily I woke up even without the alarm.  Some of the keys are harder to press and the battery will soon need to be replaced.  But it works for the purposes that I need, and for this I should be contented.

We have the TV to watch our shows, our PC to get on the internet and our camera, the new one that Ate Connie gave, to take our pictures and video.  So what more can I ask?  Unless the phone doesn't work, I should not think of getting a new one, just because...  There are already way too much waste around us.  Though small, adding to the "waste" will not help.  I realize too how fickle we humans can be.  If I choose to purchase a newer cellphone, there will always be a newer and fancier one than mine.  It's very human to always want more than what we have.  The realization of this is the first step in stopping the cycle of buying and saying, no, I don't need that, I am happy with what I have.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Blessings

It's only 9 o'clock.  I've been awake for 4 hours now.  The kids are already in school, Benjo going on his 3rd hour.  One load of laundry is in the machine after I prewashed.  Hard work that, especially the whites.  I catch a glimpse of myself on the computer screen just as Windows was loading.  Ahh, haven't even combed my hair!  I look around, still so much to do.  Pick up this, put this away.  Fold the clothes, wipe the dust.  Dishes are done though, at least for the first batch.  Upstairs bathroom cleaned.  Got a chance to snack and read my bible devotional earlier...

Well, this Monday's not half bad.  My cup is half full.  I hope at the end of this day, it may be spilling to the brim.  Counting my blessings, yes, and trying not to complain along the way.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Need A Living Room Makeover

Our living room area is in need of a makeover.  Well, need is not the exact word, more like want.  Green, and a shade of green that reminds one of girl scouts, is the color that we've had to live with since having the sofa covers made back in 2003.  So we have 5 pieces of furniture with this same shade of color, way too much!  I bought a small piece of green and yellow print and sewed a cover for the footstool.  I thought it was a nice touch.  Now, I want to change the others, but am still deciding on what colors and print to choose.

I moved the furnitures around so we have more space plus it added another space where the kids sometimes play or do their homework.  I think watching all those home makeovers on TV has been paying off.  The picture below is of one of our sofas which I put against the wall.  2 things - I want this particular sofa to have a more brigher color/print than the others since it's on a plain wall.  And secondly, I plan on moving that mirror and putting up some sort of artwork on the wall to make it more interesting.

Aside from the sofa covers, we need to change the light/ceiling fan.  We had bought this when we were remodelling the house in 2002, but the problem... both the ceiling fan and light does not serve their purposes.  The ceiling is too high for the fan to give us any type of wind, the light too dark to give us enough light to read at night.  When we were at Wilcon Builders with Ate Elvie, I had a chance to look at the options.  At this point I'm looking for a ceiling light.  The stand-up electric fans that we have right now will suffice.  I found some nice designs on the internet, but have not found them yet in any of the stores.

Here's some of the designs that I found on the internet that I think may look good on our ceiling:

But besides the style, I must think of its purpose, first and foremost - to give sufficient light for our living room area.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writing For The Truth

I pulled out this one spiral notebook that I use every now and then to write on, from the stack of other books and magazines.  I plan on giving some basic computer training to some of our friends, the Angelican parents that we have gotten to know well in the past year.  So I wanted to write down some lists on what computer topics to touch on.  Then I came upon some of my writing from last year.  There were some that was undated, some of the written notes I believe found their way on this blog.  But I think this one didn't and after re-reading it, it gave me renewed inspiration...

Written March 29, 2009:

Well, I'm back to pen and paper... after getting the computer sequestered by a little tyke (ie Joselyn).  Never take a bathroom break when there's little (and big) game addicts lurking around.

This is best though.  I'd like to start by quoting from a reflection I read the other day..."I have become more in God's hands.  I am his pen."  (written by Tess Atienza from Didache March 27, 2009).  I read this and thought to myself, yes, this is what I want to become - "God's pen".  It was later reconfirmed upon reading "Teresa of Avila - The Interior Castle", who wrote many inspiring works, wrote when trying to put her thoughts on paper: "... May He, in whose mercy I trust and who has helped me in other more difficult things so as to favor me, do this work for me." (p. 18).

So many times when I write I do not know where the source of inspiration comes from nor what the purpose of my writing.  I see now, a little clearer than before, the goal to which my words must achieve.  Merely more than for entertainment, more than self-expression, more than stories or complaints or gossip, my writing should have as its ultimate goal - truth and the search thereof.  And this truth cannot be from me, but from our God who uses me to convey His message to others.  My grammar may not be right, my sentence structure awkward - but if the message conveyed will teach another heart, then praise God for using me as His instrument.

I picked up 3 books to read from the bookshelf.  After reading "I Gotta Crow..." I wanted to read some fiction.  One book "Angela's Ashes" looked promising with many rave reviews, plus winning a Pulitzer Prize.  Well, it ought to be good!  The other two books were books I've had on my shelf for awhile and never really got to read.  Since it's Lenten season, I'm striving to read Spiritual books to help me on my Lenten journey.  One book was "Praying With Icons" by Henri Nouwen (I've read 2 of his other books and love the way Fr Henri writes and the message he has to say - simple, easy to read, almost like a conversation with a friend).  The other which I mentioned earlier, "Teresa of Avila - The Interior Castle" - the story of this great Saint and founder of the Carmellite Monasteries.  This last book is a harder read, with many text on one page that it seems to go slowly.  But I realize I don't have to speed through these books.  On the contrary, it's best to read them slowly, trying to understand the messages and reflecting on them.

So I have the 3 books, picking up one and reading, picking up the other, reading a page or two, and on other occasions picking up the next and reading more.  The fiction (Angela's Ashes), though entertaining - retelling in a humorous way the author's beginnings, it hits me as not being spiritual and even being sarcastic inthe author's aversion of the Catholic church.

I have a choice I realize, as we all do.  To continue reading this wildly acclaimed book (the language and message might get better) or to put it down and as is said "to not tread further".  I think I am open-minded and would listen to other people's tales no matter how I may disagree.  But upon opening up the other two books and when praying the rosary last night, a message of seeking the Truth came into my consciencee, and I chose to put the book down and put it back on the shelf.

If seeking the Truth, for what is true in all things and in all people, I need to spend my time, my space, my senses, my energies to the search for Truth and God, and not waste my time and energy on what is not (or what I think or feel is not).  This issue on Truth is a sticky business.  But I pray that God, who is Truth, its soure, its definition, will guide me.