Saturday, July 31, 2010

2 Blogs A Day

I set a goal near the beginning of this month to write 1 blog a day. I thought that it would be difficult to do, but it actually was quite easy and I think that I would like to increase that goal to... 2 blogs a day. On some days I have already been blogging twice or three times. Blogging has not allowed me a medium to release my thoughts, many as they are, but has given me the practice I needed in my writing skills. I do not know if this will take me anywhere... writing I mean. But it is one of my passions, so I will continue though I may not have anything of importance to say or at least importance only to me. I do hope to narrow my subject matters, but I'll worry about that later.

Where Is My Passion?

Last day of the month... oh, yes time does fly. I sometimes turn on the computer thinking that I don't have anything to write about. Then, my fingers have a mind of their own and are at the mercy of my brain. Dangerous thing, don't you think? Having the ability to write your thoughts as they come, unfiltered, uncensored but without pretention - just raw thoughts if you can call it that. But I guess that's why I like to write, it's just an exercise in releasing my thoughts, hidden and jumbled as they are.

Right now I'm thinking of "Project Runway", which we saw the final episode of yesterday. Thanks to an additional digital cable box which we had installed last Wednesday, we now have cable downstairs too. Of course, I was the only one interested in watching the show, but thankfully no one objected and the rest of the family watched even if impartially. Joselyn seemed to like the dresses that just came out the backstage onto the runway. She'd laugh at some of the outlandish ones. I'd ask if she liked it and wanted one and she'd say "no", it was way too big. Or she'd exclaim "Wow!" at the beautiful designs.

I like watching "Project Runway" and its local equivalent "Project Runway Philippines" (not sure if they're having another season). I took up a dressmaking class about two years ago. It was free and was being sponsored by the Catholic Women's League of Lourdes Church. So, I signed up and finished the course. I blogged on this several times before (search for "dressmaking") Well, back then I thought I would be interested in becoming a fashion designer, but that never pushed through, although I still enjoy watching fashion shows such as this.

In one part of the judging segment of the show, one judge commented on how "passionate" one contestant was. Another judge replied saying "You have to be passionate to survive in this business." That got me to thinking. No, I'm not passionate about fashion designing. This is so true for all types of businesses and careers. I'm not even sure what I'm passionate about.

Sure, I'm passionate about my kids. I think I'm passionate about my writing, especially blogging. Was I passionate about "computer science" and the computer field that I graduated from and thought would follow as my career path? I don't think so. I like solving problems, like mathematical problems that made me think logically. I also like writing and expressing my thoughts. I enjoyed making the invitation cards for the kid's baptism and birthdays. I thought about that as a career or side business too. But where is my passion? My core passion as I read from one of Bo Sanchez' articles? I still do not know.

Friday, July 30, 2010

There Were No Mirrors...

My blog yesterday titled "True Beauty", reminded me of two songs, the first I'm still trying to figure out the title and lyrics, the other a short song I heard on NickJr when the kids were watching, was it about two years ago?

I found the NickJr song and it's called:

"There Were No Mirrors In My Nana's House"

There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).

The world outside was a magical place.
I only knew love.
I never knew hate,
and the beauty in everything
was in her eyes (like the rising of the sun).
…was in her eyes.

If we only had more Nana's in this world. Here is the video adaptation from NickJr on Youtube. I will continue searching for that other song in my mind.

Raising Children Not To Fear

Happy Friday! Benjo is home again, another day of rest to really get over whatever he's contaminated with. I think it is mainly cough and cold, too much phlegm that maybe went to his lungs. But he's all better and is enjoying a morning in front of the TV instead of the chalkboard. Joselyn, at first, also wanted to take the day off saying that her stomach ached. But I reminded her it was PE day and the stomach ache miraculously vanished and she said she wanted to go to school. Lol!

(above photo taken from yahoo images)

This morning while we adults were having breakfast, the kids took out their bubbles (bought last Tuesday at the QC Circle) and started blowing in the living room area. Jojo told them to stop 'cause it might blow on the food. Mom joined the chorus and said that bubbles weren't good anyway, that the chemicals in it may be poisonous. I didn't say anything, not wanting to contradict either and not wanting to add to the nagging.

But my real stance - let the kids be! Isn't it fun to play with bubbles, blow them and wait until they popped on their own in mid-air or hit another object? I joined them in doing just that yesterday, and it felt refreshing, almost revealing just looking at the different colors reflected in the bubbles. You almost wish that they wouldn't pop.

I'm continuing on my reading of Katharine Hepburn's "Me". What a childhood she had! And what wonderful parents too. They let them do almost anything, almost the opposite of the environment that I grew up in and that which my kids are growing up in. Her parents were, as she write, "forward-thinkers" of their time, being the forerunners in defending women, children, and the less fortunate and defending women suffrage. They let them do what they want, be as noisy as they want, encouraging athleticism by making ropes to swing on over their house and even attaching the sled in winter to their car while their dad swung them crazily around the neighborhood. Such stunts would make the average, well, even the above average of parents, go wild! To them, it was okay to try anything, even if you do get hurt in the process. It's hard not to compare it to our own upbringing and that of our children's.

I am the more liberal in the household, but I do try not to contradict Jojo or mom when they tell the children not to do something. Joselyn is a very acrobatic youngster, wanting to sit on top of the couch instead of on it, which has caused many shouts of "masasaktan ka!", "mahuhulog ka!" ("you will get hurt!", "you will fall!"). We are so scared of being hurt or seeing our loved ones hurt. But there should be a line between real danger and perceived (or almost paranoid) danger.

When the kids were younger, I would allow them to do somersaults, trying to teach them the right technique, which I learned back when I was in elementary in Duffy Primary School (Canberra, Australia). I try it myself and they get a laugh out of that. When they do it successfully, they feel so proud of themselves. It's been awhile since we've played that way and I think we will try it again before the fear that we've sowed in them from all the nagging gets too rooted.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

True Beauty

Went to the doctor's earlier today for Benjo's checkup. While waiting I saw a round-faced little girl, probably around 8 years old. Cute and pretty. She reminded me of Charice Pempengco, who is so much in the news today and whom I just read about in Conrado de Quirros' article: "Is this it?" I'd like to comment on this issue too. I'm not sure if Charice's facial enhancement has already been done, but it has caused quite an uproar nationally and internationally.

Firstly, I put blame on those around Charice who even considered this procedure to "narrow her naturally round face" as Vicky Belo has said. Her mother, her manager and anyone close to her should not have encouraged this. Now we hear her mother saying that the comments should stop because it might ruin Charice's career. Hello! Is it just her career you care about? The career that has given you wealth beyond your imagination.

I believe one reason that the public, especially the American public, took such a liking to this young Filipino girl was that she sung not only with a voice that sent chills up your spine, but sung with self-confidence. This here is the keyword - "self-confidence". But this artificial treatment that will make her face unnaturally narrow, now gives us the impression of an insecure little girl who is as de Quirros mentions was pressured to undergo a treatment that will give her more confidence to advance in her singing and acting career.

We must be proud of how we look, no matter how we look. We may not look like the images that the modern media portray. Our noses may be too fat, our skins dark, our hairs kinky (or at least mine is), but this is what we were given, a gift from God. And for all this we should be thankful. Please, please, for anyone out there who is considering to change their appearances through surgery, reconsider - look in the mirror, or better yet, let God look at you and see the image that He sees in you. You are beautiful.

Different Morning Routine

During this hour I would usually be busy preparing Benjo for school. Today he's too sick to go to school, with a slight temperature and a terrible cough. It's his first absent day and I hope his last. (oops, forgot about that Monday when we went to Cuyapo, so it's his 2nd absent day) Last school year he was only absent for one day, we think due to dengue. But he was able to get over his illness without being hospitalized. We'll be off to the doctor's later to have him checked up.

I've kept my "online promise" of not playing any computer games. I think having written it to an audience (imaginary or not) keeps me more conscious of not playing. 1 day at a time. My main reasoning for playing was that it was my time to relax in between chores. I looked for a book to read on our bookshelf and found an autobiography by Katharine Hepburn, "Me", which I started reading yesterday. I'll try to blog on this book another time.

Time for breakfast... pandesal and coffee (yes, I've started drinking coffee). Not to wake me up although it may have that effect, but to fill my stomach with something hot in the morning. I'm usually a juice drinker, my favorite being Minute Maid's orange juice. Halika, kain na! (Come, let's eat!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Addicted Once Again To Games

Here I sit ready to write, but my mind is still asleep and the words are not coming. Can I make a confession? A better place would be at the confessional box in front of a priest, but this is less scarier, though without the grace of forgiveness.

I am (again) addicted to computer games. I've blogged on this before when I gave up playing computer games for Lent and vowed never again. Well here I am... again! I know part of the reason I feel half awake is that I slept late last night because of that silly game (this time it's Patty Panic - Spongebob's little game that reminds me of Donkey Kong). I start at first watching the kids play and then I think oh, I can do better than that, then try it myself. Next thing I know, when I have time to spare, like when they're out at school or when everyone else is asleep, I play on my own and when it's "Game Over", it's so hard not to click on the "Play Again" button, thinking that I can do better or feeling frustrated at having being "killed" by Plankton.

I know it's wrong and it is such a temptation, but I succumb to it oh so often. I know many who have an addiction to games and still think it's harmless. But I see it as the new, subtle evil, the Devil's new instrument, that slowly kills not only our time, precious as it is, but also our minds and even our souls. For those who are not aware of this and think that it's just an innocent game that doesn't harm anyone, think how it's harming you. I know this and still I play it again and again. Oh, is not heaven and its promises enough to sway me from this evil? Starting today... I will not play.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Playing Like Kids

Oh, to play like kids again! That's what we did, well in part, the other part stuffing ourselves with the potluck lunch of lechon, patatim, pancit, fried chicken, embutido, etc.

There was no occassion, no birthday to celebrate. But who needs a reason to go out and have a "field trip"? No reason except that we wanted to. This is what we did today after picking up our kids from school. We went to QC Memorial Circle.

We adults may miss playing like children, but that's what it felt like when we swung on the swings. As silly as we looked, it felt good to swing high as if flying. That was until the park's guard approached us and shouted that the playground was for those 12 and under. Back to reality! It was fun while it lasted.

Let me not forget, the kids had fun too! Though they were sweating from the heat and I'm sure, too tired after a busy day at school, they didn't want to go home. "Tomorrow, gusto ko balik dito!" ("Tomorrow, I want to come back here"), Joselyn pleads. Tomorrow won't come too soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday, Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! Grrrr!... some may say. Sure it's back to work and school for most or like me, back to the daily grind of household chores. I do take a day off - Sunday, rest day, the day the Lord rested, looked at his creations and was satisfied. So I should be refreshed and renewed, ready for another work week. But why do I already feel tired at 8am ?

I woke up before 5am, so I'm already on the 4th hour of my "shift". But it is not an 8 hour shift, as I work many hours of overtime. I do rest when I can in between, like now while I blog. Oh, the joys of motherhood and being a homemaker. I hope at the end of this day, I can sit down, look around and be pleased with what I have accomplished.

(photo taken from flickr page)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life in Saimsim

Sunday morning... we attended Mass at 7am and had our breakfast, this time at Jona's, a slight change from our usual Jollibee or Chowking breakfast after Church. Now a little time to write before I attend to other matters.

I think about my last blog and how it is mainly pictures of the pictureque lake and mountain. When I first arrived in 2002 and got a chance to stay the night at my aunt's house in Saimsim, Batangas, I was awakened by that beautiful sight. To me it was so new, so refreshing. But to those who lived there, it was an old sight, one they've seen too many times. We only go back to my dad's hometown around 2-3 times a year, too few I know and too soon as we only stay a short while.

There are beautiful houses on the lake front. "Katas ng Italy" (literally, "sap from Italy" but figuratively, the product of all the relatives who have worked hard in Italy and other countries abroad). Many of the houses though are empty. Some cousins have built houses for themselves and their families, but only live in it when they vacation. Most of the time it's just cleaned by a caretaker. Hardly any of my cousins are left. I think it's sad but for many it was a necessity. What other income could they generate in this small town? Those left behind are mostly the elderly. One aunt's children and some grandchildren are all working and living abroad - Italy, Spain and Canada. Another aunt has one child who will soon be leaving too. She cries and says no one will be left to take care of her. Someone else is hired to care for their mother, too old and too sickly to travel. So they stay in the barrio where they grew up with their family, the barrio that comes to life only when visitors or balikbayans arrive.

We feast on fresh tilapia and tawilis (if it is available, but is becoming rare nowadays) that is cooked over the fire. Soy sauce with onion, tomato and kalamansi goes well with the fish. It's best to eat with your hands! We usually bring with us pork and chicken adobo, good on long travels as it doesn't go bad mainly because of the vinegar. The "locals" like our adobo, while we prefer their servings of fresh fish. We brought home tilapia to be cooked on our stoves here at home. I meant to take a picture of the food, but forgot - my hunger pangs got the better of me. Here's one picture with Jojo helping to set the fire for the fish.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saimsim, Batangas

Oh, it would've been so much easier to lay down my head and sleep. I am so tired. We went to Batangas today. Got up at around 4am and we started our trip at around 5:15am and then got back at around 4:30pm. I was already in bed and started to think of the many things that I didn't get to do today, one of which is this blog. The others can wait, but maybe I can rest more soundly if I at least write this blog.
I got to take some pictures of Dad's hometown, Barangay Saimsim, Batangas. I have more thoughts I'd like to share especially of our relatives there, but I'll leave that for when my mind is more awake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On Blogging...

Another quiet time... oh, I can get used to this. Thank you Lord! The laundry is done (well, it is never done, but one load is!), the hand-washing is done and part of the house is clean (again, it will take a long time for me to clean the whole house). And now to relax and blog...

I do find this relaxing, though for some it may add to their stress. I have reflected many times on the reason for me to blog, even if no one reads it. I do find fulfillment in seeing my thoughts in a written format, instead of being hidden and jumbled up in the forrest that is my mind. "I exist, therefore, I blog!", is a quote I read just this past week. If no one reads your blog, is it worth writing? I've thought about this too. And like I've mentioned, one of my objectives for this blog is to release my thoughts, selfish though as it sounds. It helps me release any tension or any thoughts that I would not have the courage to verbalize. I am a quiet person, and I think it's because I like to keep my thoughts to myself rather than spit them out and make a mistake. Selfish again. But here in my blog, the words and my thoughts just spill out. Maybe it's because I don't think anyone is reading it. You know, I have to be honest, after writing I close this window in case anyone in my household reads what I'm writing. Half of me does not want others to know my deeper thoughts, but here it is out on the web for the whole world to read, if anyone would be interested.

Quiet, at last

I just turned off the TV - too many bad news, too gory details for such a wonderful morning such as today. Quiet fills the air. Only the swirling noise of the electric fan and the pounding of my fingers on the keyboard (I have to get another keyboard). The jeep parked in front just left, leaving behind more quiet after its noisy engine and its lung-filling smoke.

I prefer this quiet. But here comes mom and she'll probably turn the TV back on. Don't know why we are not used to having quiet. If it's not the TV, we'd turn on the radio, just to escape the quiet. But in the quiet, there is peace. Our minds need not be filled with the involuntary information that comes through media.

Ahh, quiet - even for a short time. Makes me think better. Makes me more at peace.

A mosquito lands on the computer screen, disturbing my thoughts. Anxious about those mosquitoes that may carry its diseases. My sense of peace has been lost, now anxious to get back to my chores. Laundry, hand washing of kid's uniforms, more house cleaning. I am too anxious about many things. Maybe later I will just sit still and rest and enjoy the quiet. Later, but there is now...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Water Crisis

Back to the water crisis... although our faucets continue to provide our much-needed water supply, yesterday the water that was coming out was a light brown color! I thought at first it was from the dirty pail and washed it both inside and out and then after several rinses, I realized that it was the water itself. It's still that way this morning but not as brown. Because of this I didn't want to take my bath yesterday. But the heat and my stickiness from sweating got the better of me and I used the water to bathe.

This happened at another time a few years back. I think it's related to the water crisis that we're experiencing. Though we are not under Maynilad (the water company that is directly affected), Manila Water is cooperating with Maynilad to help them out of this crisis. So whatever process these companies are taking, is affecting our quality of water. People who have no water would say that we have no reason to complain, at least we have water. I do feel for those without water right now. I see the long lines of people with their pails and other containers. This only adds to our hardship. This is our desert. When will the manna come?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reading Newspapers

"Why don't you read the newspapers?", my mom nagged me when I was in my late teens to early twenties. I had no interest back then. Yeah, I would scan the pictures and read the headlines and maybe some captions. But to actually read the articles. Not that I didn't like reading, I read pocketbooks back then. But to read on local, national and international news? Well, there was television for that, I would argue.

Fast-forward to now... I read the papers almost everyday or at least when I get the chance to. And it's not just the headlines or looking at the pictures any more. I actually read the articles and sometimes find myself reading all the articles in the Editorial/Opinion section of the Inquirer, our choice of paper. I don't know what got me started. Maybe politics here in the Philippines is much more interesting (to say the least) than that in the US. Or that there is a mixture of gossip and opinions that I can relate to.

But it's not just the politics, I also read the Leisure and Entertainment sections. Some of the writers that I regularly read are Conrado de Quirros (for his wit, blatant honesty and artistic write-ups), Patricia Evangelista, Michael Tan, and many others. In the showbiz section, I like reading Lucy Torres (Star newspaper) and sometimes Lea Salonga. I like the household tips, fashion and travel articles too.

I did miss a lot when I was younger. Maybe it was my immaturity or maybe something clicked and I suddenly found my hunger for current news. Whatever it is, I can now say that news and information is much more than what they show us on TV.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Water, Agua, Tubig!

Yesterday I blogged on our electricity bill (which is in front of me as I write, will pay it later today before its due date). Today I write about another utility, more important I believe than electricity, that is - water. We are very lucky to not be part of the many here in Manila and the surrounding areas experiencing a water shortage. We passed by a place along Del Monte that had a big plastic bin of water, where people were lining up with all different sorts of containers to fill. One of the father's of Benjo's classmates has been without water since Bagyo Basyang one week ago.

Angat Dam is below critical level, the reason for the shortage of water in many parts of Metro Manila. Such a waste of water when they released the dam waters back in September when Bagyo Ondoy released mammoth proportions of rainwater. That caused flooding and damage to many homes. Now, are we seeing the effects of this waste? And in the papers this morning, they are saying that this water shortage will get worse.

I mentioned that we're lucky, but I wonder for how long. We have 3 plastic bins outside filled with water. I was complaining how much slower the water flows these days. Before when water was being used downstairs, water would still flow at a fast enough rate upstairs. Now, it is much slower, sometimes to a trickle when the toilet is flushed downstairs. But I can't complain now, with people just a few miles from us are not getting even a drop.

Electricity we can do without, we can live without (difficult, though it may be). But water is such a necessity - not only for drinking and cooking, but for bathing and cleaning our clothes and homes. Rains, please come, we need you to fill our dams.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Conserving Electricity

"Be still and know that I am God." This message still rings in my ears as I try to keep still, slow down the beating of my heart and try to gather my thoughts to blog. I do write better when I don't rush and I seem to be rushing so much lately.

The kids are off to school, one load of darks is in the machine and another one of whites is waiting. Then there are the kids' PE uniforms.... but I shall be still and stay put in front of the computer...

I read in the papers yesterday about how one family managed to keep their electric bill to around P1000+. And they said that this actually went up because of the power rate hike. The article mentioned several tips that they used in order to conserve electricity. Our own bill averages around P4-5k. The highest it's been was back in 2006 I think it was where it reached P10k. To have a bill of P1000, what wonders that would be.

Firstly, how we brought our bill to about half of its highest. We no longer use the electric water pump. This was a necessity before but when Maynilad fixed the pipes around 3 years ago the water flow became strong enough for us to go without the pump. Secondly, we don't use the air-conditioning as much as before. When the kids were home in the mornings, they would spend time in our bedroom upstairs which would become too warm and the electric fans would not suffice. They used to take their afternoon naps upstairs too, but in the past year or so, we have been bringing the mattress downstairs where it's cooler, so we only use the electric fans and again, no air-conditioning. Thirdly, we use the lpg or gas stove for most of our heating and cooking. Other big electric consumers in our household which seems we cannot do without are our television and computer.

There are still so much home improvements that we have to do in order to conserve electricity, not only so our bill goes down, but to lessen our contribution to the greenhouse effect. Some of these will cost us money but I know in the long run, it will be worth it. A couple on my list is to put ceiling insulation (something we should have done when we had the roof and ceilings fixed back in 2002) and another is to put a skylight in the kitchen. We used to have one, but when they house was fixed, they replaced it with regular "yero". Because of this, it's dark in the kitchen and dining area, thus needing electric lighting everytime we use these rooms, which is often.

What I can do now to conserve... to turn off and unplug any unused appliance. Open the windows so the air will circulate. Plant more trees and plants around our home. These are only small steps. Our current bill is P5,600. We'll find out if this goes down next month.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Be Still, Stop and Listen

We must integrate both the active and the contemplative characteristics of Martha and Mary. This was the message given at the homily this morning. I thought of myself as the Martha, always busy with housework, washing clothes, cleaning the house, etc. But for whom and for what? I say it's for myself and my family. But then how much time do I give them? How much time do I just sit still, stop and just listen and be there for the people I love? Mary chose the "better portion", to sit intently listening to the Lord. I wish I could do the same.

Even in my prayer time, my mind wonders all too often. Wonders on the less important aspects of life, when God has a bigger message He wants to give me. I need more guidance. I need the help of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else should matter - not the full laundry basket, the dusty furniture, the toys scattered everywhere - when I have my mind fixed on God. "Be still and know that I am God."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's Our Turn For A Parade

Whose parents are these? Hahaha! "Not mine!", our kids would probably say. It was a costume parade/project for the kids and we parents had our own "parade" after they were done, chatting and waiting outside the gates of Angelicum while waiting for our kids to be dismissed.

Here are some of the devoted parents that we have met at Angelicum. And there are many others. We have gotten to know them over the past year and one month, chatting after dropping our kids off and chatting, comparing notes, asking about tests and assignments or just telling stories and talking about life, while waiting for our kids outside the gates. Last year, all our kids were in the same class. This year, the kids were divided and some of them are no longer classmates. But we parents have stuck together. And I believe our children will also remain friends.
This picture reminds me of another time, when another batch of my friends (our barkada) back in Seattle got together for a halloween party. We all dressed up and then exchanged costumes and took pictures. I have to go back and find those pictures which I'll try to post here.
It does seem like wherever we go, we attract or get attracted to the wacky people! Wacky, fun and good-hearted people! I miss my old friends and the times we shared together. But there are new friends, like our Angelican parents, who share these times of laughter and wackiness!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Microwaves, etc.

I thought I wouldn't be able to fit in blogging for this morning... it's been a madness morning. Waking up late did not help any. I forgot to turn on my cellphone alarm. Woke up 40 minutes later than I should have. Good thing that leftover roast chicken and rice was Benjo's choice for his baon. Got that out of the ref and popped it into the microwave.

Thank God for microwaves! Though I know it's not common here, at least for the lower classes. It brings to mind a scene when we went to Batangas to visit Dad (he was laid to rest in Taal). We were hungry and stopped at this carinderia (small eatery) by the roadside. The food that was served was cold. Mom asked if they could heat the plate in their microwave. We just got a blank stare from the lady behind the table. Jojo, Ate Luds and I laughed. This wasn't a restaurant and even if it was, not all restaurants have microwaves.

It does provide convenience especially when you're in a rush. After coming back from the US, we only had an electric stove. That was the only kind of stove that we were used to. Jojo insisted on buying a small portable gas stove (gasul) and it has become handy especially when we have brownouts like we had the other day. It has taken me awhile to overcome my fear of lighting the gas stove. I'm afraid that it would fire up on my hands or worse, on my face. But my trick is to get a long piece of cardboard paper (cut from a container box like an ice cream carton) and light that first, so that I get some distance from my hand and the fire and gas. An advantage of using gas is that it heats up faster. We use that to heat water in the mornings for our baths and Jojo uses it for his cooking. Mom still prefers the electric stove (which we've changed 3 times because of damage). I would use the electric stove too but it heats up slower, though when you turn the electric stove off, it still leaves some heat for simmering (unlike the gas stove). So a good tip is to turn off the electric stove before whatever your cooking is actually cooked. It will cook with the remaining heat. Haha, take it from the (wanna be) kitchen expert.

Gonna try to fit in a load of darks in the washing machine before we head off to school. Benjo has this Science event going on ("Farmville Project") and we hope that we get to go inside the campus to see them dressed in their animal/plant/flower costumes and masks. Such simple thrills for us doting parents.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Then There Was No Light

We made it through another storm. Bagyong "Basyang" brought gusty winds that woke me up at around 12:30am yesterday. The winds were so strong that I thought that our glass windows would fall down. I went downstairs to see if the bedroom was already flooded. But I was thankful that it was not (YET). We had a pail, mop and 2 towels already in place. I went upstairs to see if the room above it was flooded and I could see that the wooden floors were already damp and the 2 containers half full. Then the lights began to fade and then totally went out. We were in the dark.

We went without electricity for nearly 24 hours. The kids fell asleep from tiredness and the heat, with a little help from me fanning them. I lay down around 9:30pm with a small flashlight under my pillow and the fan next to me. I would pick up the fan, half consciously, it felt, every 15 minutes of so. People were still out on the streets, children playing and shouting, someone strumming a guitar and even a fight with shouts from the drunken men a couple of houses away. I'm not sure what time it was (Jojo says it was around 10:30pm) that the lights finally came back on. I heard the jubilant shouts from men outside. And thankfully we could turn on the fan and the aircondition.

The night or to be more exact the previous early morning after the lights went out, the rains came and we were busy ringing out the soaked towels every 5 minutes it seemed. We filled maybe 5 pails full of rain water, that went through our walls and down the downstairs wall onto the floor. This kept us up. I stayed awake from 12:30 to around 3am, when Jojo woke up and he did his "shift" 'til around 5am when the rains subsided. I woke up at around 8am the next morning to clear weather.

The kids didn't have school because it was signal #2, though the weather had cleared. We didn't have electricity for the whole day. The most difficult part was trying to beat the heat, with the kids complaining and sweating all the time. They were used to having TV and the computer for their entertainment, but I, for one, was glad that we had time to do other things, like bonding time, time to talk, tell stories, watch the children dance, time to play games (they learned how to play monkey-monkey) and in the evening when they would usually have their TV time, they played shadow games using their small flashlights on the wall. (I'll post this too on our pinoyhomeschool blog).

Well, I missed a day of blogging yesterday, but I had a good excuse - no electricity, no internet connection.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nanay Sabel

(I had written a tribute to Nanay Rosing, our neighbor, last week. I felt guilty that I hadn't blogged or paid my own tribute to Nanay Sabel, my aunt and mom's eldest sister, who passed away last May 27. But I did start to write something on paper after the funeral and only got to finish it today... Nanay I hope you can read this as it was written from my heart...)

I couldn't help it, tears started forming in my eyes. We started the funeral processional walk from the house in Cuyapo to the Church, walking side-by-side with relatives, friends and neighbors.

Many thoughts were with me. Those thoughts accompanied with the sentimental music coming from the funeral van brought more tears. At first a little embarrassed, but then realizing that if there was a right time and occasion for tears, this would be it.

My thoughts, if I can share them... Partly of guilt. I wasn't the best of nieces to Nanay Sabel, who through circumstances or fate, did not bear any children of her own. But she did have many nephews and nieces, some of us having lived with her and having been raised up by her when our own mothers were away.

There were countless times when we, my cousins and I, would talk about Nanay Sabel. Not in the nicest sense, but that which magnified her faults. The biggest being her attitude with money and her scringiness. She wasn't perfect. But who is? We saw her imperfections and not her good traits. I believe she loved being around people and told us stories, mostly of yesteryears. But many of the stories were bittersweet and I could hear the pain in her voice when she told them to us. She had a good laugh, a sweet smile, a dimpled smile. You can tell even at her old age that she must've been very beautiful when she was young. Mom even admits that among her siblings, she was the most beautiful.

My own guilt. Not giving Nanay Sabel the time nor attention she asked for, especially in her old age. I saw her a mere burden, someone to take care of when I had my own family to take care for. And so she was, as if, put aside and left in the province where other relatives, in exchange for a salary, would care for her.

"Iingatan ka, aalagaan ka...", the new tune from the memorial van rang through the mid-morning air. Hindi kita iningatan, hindi kita inalagaan. We visited you rarely and only for a short time, ignoring your pleas: "Sama na ako sa inyo." Clutching your bag and ready to go. But no place to go for we didn't take you. We just said we'd be back. We did come back, but you could no longer plea with us, silent and lying in the hospital, dependent on the manual oxygen pump that your nieces and nephews took turns to pump. Until your body could take no more.

I had a dream of you, you know. After the funeral a week after. I don't remember exactly what it was but I know you were there. As if on queue (or did she dream of you too), Joselyn asked me the next morning: "Mom, anong dream mo?" And I remembered and I told her I dreamt of Nanay Sabel. And so she visited me. Where she could not go, or where we would not take her, she is now free to go. Her spirit is now free to move and go where she pleases. Her spirit is alive.

Nanay, I know you can hear me. Please forgive me for all the times I hurt you, not only for the unkind words and actions, but for what I failed to do, for ignoring your pleas and not loving you as I should have. Nanay, you are free now to move. You are free indeed. May you find the joy, love and mercy that you did not find here on earth. Dear God, dear Jesus, dear Holy Spirit, Mama Mary, all the angels and Saints, open the gates of heaven and welcome her in. For only with You can Nanay be finally be at peace. Amen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday - The Start of My Work Week

Just got off facebook chatting with one of Jojo's cousins. It's one of those pleasant distractions. We both love facebook and how it has so many features, sure does beat Friendster. Haven't tried the others like Twitter. Too much to handle. For now, we're happy with Facebook.

Well, another Monday. Another "work" week. Why do I put work in quotations? Maybe because it's housewife/mother type of work and not the usual out-of-the-house work or get-paid work. In any sense, it's work that builds my body, mind and other senses.

The kids are in school, one load of darks is in the washing machine. Another one of whites is still waiting for me to pre-wash. I had wanted to do the pre-washing earlier, but it's almost mid-morning and it's already getting warm. 8:30am and already a lot has been done. I've been awake since before 5am, before my cellphone alarm sounded. It's an early start for some, but I think it's average for most of the people I know around here.

This I figured out a long time back... we have to wake up early here in the tropics to beat the midday sun. Doing the chores early means less perspiration, less tiredness and more work done. And this is why we also have to take afternoon naps as well. It's the time during the day that is really hot and the time that our bodies needs to replenish.

Okay, got to go... work is calling me. Got to beat that mid-morning sun!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Turning Down VIP Treatment

An article in today's paper brings me to shame. It is of 2 of the Aquino sisters, Ballsy and Pinky, not wanting to have VIP treatment at the Immigration area at the airport. When Jojo and I arrived back here in 2002, our surnames were called on the overhead speaker, along with another passenger whom we did not know. I didn't hear the actual message, but Jojo did and I first thought that we were in some sort of trouble. I was a little jittery since I had overstayed in the US and I thought that it may be connected to that. But after being escorted by an airport personnel to a certain room, we were introduced to a man that said that he knew Jojo's cousin, who used to work with him and had asked to assist us. We were then asked if we wanted our passports stamped, which we said 'no' (not sure if that was a good idea). Then we were escorted all the way to the beginning of the long line where others were waiting for the usual immigration procedures. I remember feeling a little embarrassed, saying goodbye to my friends from Seattle who were on the same plane as us and who dutifully lined up.

Lines are a part of our Filipino culture. You can expect it to be with the population of our land especially in the metropolis. And we hate it when people cut in line. Our times are valuable and lines take up our time. But we also have to be respectful of other people, whose time is as valuable as ours. I salute the Aquinos and their graceful example of how to turn down VIP treatment and to be treated as equal to other less influential people.

A Try At a Holistic Approach To My Eczema Woes

I shifted my eczema treatment from my trial all-natural VCO ointment back to a combination of Burow's solution and a Clobetasol Propionate cream that my recent doctor recommended and worked for me last time. The reason for this is the itchiness that wouldn't go away and the oozing in some areas of my feet. Very nasty to say the least. I've put on VCO to relieve some of the dryness. I've read up some more on eczemas and I realize that I may be in this for the long haul. I am going to try for a more holistic approach and try to work with my diet and find out what foods I should eat and which I should try to avoid. It will be very difficult, since I don't do a lot of cooking, except for "instants" and fried foods - the quick and easy stuff. And the foods that Jojo cooks, although tasty, are mostly fatty and does not provide all the nutrition that we need. But I have to change my eating habits, for my well-being and that of my family

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trip to Divisoria

Went to Divisoria earlier today. It was the first time in a long time that I've been on a Saturday. Not a good idea! Firstly, it took mom and I twice as long to commute there. The trip usually takes 20-30 minutes from our house, but I think it almost took us 45 minutes with the traffic especially in the Blumentritt area. We also left the house near 11am, later than I would like to have left. So at the height of the midday heat, we walked through crowded Divisoria. We zig-zagged along CM Recto and it wasn't long 'til mom felt hungry and asked we cross the street to have lunch at Chowking's. I wasn't hungry and since I didn't have any of the items on my checklist bought, I wanted to continue with the shopping. But we went to Chowking's and ordered mom's goto while I ordered halo-halo.

Good thing that Chowking's had a connecting door to what I thought was Tutuban mall and I had a chance to go look for sandals for myself while we waited for our food. I found a pair that was comfortable and looked durable. I needed to buy a pair that weren't thongs, because I have an eczema sore on my 2nd toe which gets irritated when wearing thongs. This part of Divisoria was new to me and when I asked if it was part of Tutuban, a salesperson answered 'yes'. It may have been but we found out that it was a totally different building from the one that we usually shop at, called the Cluster Building. It had a lot of blouses and other items, but I felt lost in it and quite disoriented. So we went out of the building and entered the "real" Tutuban Mall for the rest of our shopping.

I got Benjo his maong pants which he'll be using for his Scouting (check). I got the kids their toys, which I promised them before I left. Well, I got Benjo these imitation transformers and Joselyn a small basket and small dustpan and duster (by her request). Not a toy for us adults, but a toy for little girls. I tried looking for some rubber shoes for Joselyn but the kid's shoes for girls they had did not have any large sizes. This little girl with growing feet has outgrown her PE shoes. I'll have to look elsewhere or at least have her come with me to make sure the shoe fits. There were other things I wanted to look for, but mom who insisted on coming, was already tired from all the walking. I know mom loves to go on these trips to Divisoria with me, but I know it's difficult for her and I'm one of those people who likes to shop on her own. But it was good bonding time for us and I did appreciate the company. I do wish that there is a map of the Divisoria stores. It may be difficult with owners shifting locations, but one would be of a great help for us buyers. Maybe this is a project that someone out there wants to begin. I would love to be a part of it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Too Big a House

My morning schedule of preparing the kids for school is a hectic one. But this school year, the kids' schedules are different (Benjo's is from 6:30-12nn while Joselyn's is from 8-11am). So it's Jojo that goes to and from school to drop them off and then pick them up, separately. I've been able to squeeze in both my morning bible reading, prayer and reflection time and my blogging time. Once Benjo leaves for school at around 6:10am, I get to have my morning devotional time (readings and reflections from the Companion, Kerygma publications). It is only about 15-20 minutes and I would love to have more time for prayer and meditation, but for now I'm thankful that I have this time on a regular basis.

Then I get Joselyn ready for school and start what I can of the house cleaning. After Joselyn leaves for school at around 7:30am, I would usually start the laundry or other household chores, but I've chosen (yes, chosen, because I am not a servant of anyone but my Lord) to write my thoughts here on my blog. Housework can wait. Though it surrounds me and is now starting to enter my thoughts.

This may sound a little ridiculous, especially for those living in cramp quarters like most of our kababayans. I was thinking the other day and I concluded that our house is too big for us. Yes, especially for a servantless (" 'Servantless'. Is that a word?" quoted from Julia Childs from the movie "Julie and Julia") Filipina homemaker. Julia used the word to refer to "servantless Americans", as compared to Europeans in her days. It goes well with Americans where the great majority do not have servants or household help. But here in the Philippines, being a "servantless Filipina" is a rarity, especially for middle and upper classes.

Back to my thought of having too big a house. We have 4 bedrooms, 3 upstairs and 1 downstairs. We, Jojo, the kids and I, use the master bedroom upstairs. Mom doesn't use any bedroom at all, but prefers to sleep on the sofa in the living room. The room downstairs contains cabinets where mostly mom has her clothes (the 2 other rooms upstairs also have cabinets with mostly mom's clothes). There is a bed downstairs, but that is mostly again, covered with clothes. We have a lot of THINGS, the majority of which we don't use and could probably get rid off. I would give it away if it was mine, but most of them are not. So, we mainly use just our upstairs bedroom, the living room, kitchen, dining and of course, the bathrooms. Then there is our outside area where the cars are parked and when Jojo brings out one car, the kids use the area to play or ride their bike.

So my thought of having too big a house is mainly based on the idea that I do not get to clean most parts of the house on a regular basis and that they're used as mainly storage areas for THINGS that we don't use. Honestly, I wouldn't miss this house if we were to move. It has become more of a burden than a blessing. Oh no, I didn't say that, did I?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Songs and Stories that Made Me Cry

I have been such a cry-baby as of late. Like I mentioned in a previous blog, it might be a "midlife" crisis kind of down. I was watching KC Concepcion's morning talk show where she had her stepfather, Kiko Pangilinan, as guest. Senator Kiko's kids did a video dedication for him which was very cute and touching, then KC also said her 3 sorrys and 3 thank yous to her dad, which made the tears roll down. Yesterday I also bawled after listening to some of my favorite Christian songs that I haven't heard in awhile. The lyrics and music just went straight to my heart and I literally cried like a baby. So glad that I was all by myself in the room so that I could just let it all out. I found "If I Stand" by Rich Mullins, on Youtube. This song really sent tears falling down. Here are the lyrics copied from

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
More that shines in the night
Than just the moon
There's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room
There's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiment
A music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
If I sing let me sing for the joy
That has bornin me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

There's more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There's a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gently than a mother's
When her baby's at her side
Repeat Chorus

VCO and Getting My Priorities Straight

The VCO (or Virgin Coconut Oil) seems to be working, though it's too early to tell. I found some relief from the itching. But I was a little scared that after applying it before going to bed, that ants or other insects may find their way to this sweet smelling delicacy and add to my predicaments. Fortunately, they didn't - they must not be attracted to VCO.

As I quickly tried to turn the PC and get ready for this blog, mom wanted my attention by telling me a story of a fight that was going on in the palengke (market), where she just came from. I was a little irate thinking that she was taking up my time with a story that I wasn't interested in. And then I remembered a part of Sunday's homily where the priest quoted how the new technologies, like the internet and all these networking sites, insists (not sure if this is the right translation) on bringing closer those who are apart and on bringing further all those who are close (it was said in tagalog: "pilit na pinapalapit ang mga malalayo at pinapalayo ang mga malalapit"). Yes, it does seem that we spend so much time chatting, texting, talking to those who are far away from us. Like what I'm doing here blogging to an anonymous audience (if there is one), while ignoring or wishing to ignore the live conversations of those who are just right next to me. This was not my goal in trying to write a blog a day. I will put my priorities straight and realize what is more important in my life - my real life and not the snippets of my life that I choose to write here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Blog... On Skin Care and Lists...

Wow, another blog! I'm on a roll. It's not that I don't have any other things to do. My goal this week of seeing an empty laundry basket will mostly stay on my list for next week. But my skin allergies/eczemas or whatever it is tells me to take a day off housework. Well, at least in part. I don't think I will ever take a complete day off housework unless we hire a household help. Since that's not happening soon, we have to manage with the laundry being full to the brim and the house half in shambles, while my fingers type away...

I'm thankful at least that I am able to type. Ouch! I spoke to soon, I was about to say without pain in my fingers until my right thumb which has a blister-like sore hit the key on the wrong spot.

I just came back from a trip to National Bookstore and Mercury Drugstore. Got most of the items on the list except for Benjo's maong pants, which of course, you won't find at either of the above stores and which I will look for in Divisoria or Blumentritt. Got a notebook for Benjo's Scouting. Also an ID plastic jacket and string to replace the old one he's using. The maong pants are also for his Scouting which will begin July 20, so I still have about a couple of week to buy this item. At Mercury, the items I bought included VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil). I want to try to heal my skin allergies the natural way, without all the medications that I went through before (only to have them reoccur). I read that this is a natural antiseptic, antibacterial treatment for the skin. So I will smother my sores with them later and try them on my face (it's used as a moisturizer too).

Jojo will be home soon with my special package... Joselyn :) She gets out of school at 11am and kuya gets out an hour later. So it's 2 trips for the kids now. I know it's only an hour, but there is no decent waiting area at the school. Something that we, parents/guardians, have to start demanding from this school. Well, here she is - my precious one.

Nanay Rosing

We went to the wake of Nanay Rosing last night. Rosita Jader, 92, died last July 4 after suffering a stroke and going through 2 head surgeries. She was a fixture here on our street, where we would usually see her sitting in front of her house - the "pink house", as most people would call it. Part of it is still pink, they repainted the first floor white.

For the past years, she has been celebrating her birthday with a party inviting neighbors, family and friends. I was fortunate to have attended her 90th and last year her 92nd. She personally sent out invitations to all our neighbors. We were glad we went to her last birthday last October 2009. She and her daughters talked of how their mother would excitedly await the day of her birthday party. She was a young soul indeed. She loved to celebrate. And I think the best part was having her children, some of whom travelled from either Australia or the US, come together for her grand day.

And wow, did she dress well for her big day. She told us herself how she picked out the green dress that she wore from her cabinet. One of her children told us how they had a dress specially sewed for her for the occasion, but she chose an old one instead.

I would love to live up to 92, but in a way that won't be bothersome for anyone. Nanay Rosing said she had perfect 20/20 vision and would thread the needle for her own children, who had less than perfect eyesight. She beaded jewelry, proudly showing us her finished product on her wrist. She stayed mainly on her own, her preference, though one of her sons and his family stays in an adjoining part of the house.

I am one who shies away from celebrating my own birthday party. I don't know, maybe I just don't like all that attention. Or maybe all the work involved in preparing for one. But Nanay Rosing reminds me that we should celebrate and look forward to our natal day and to enjoy the company of those around us. On her 90th birthday, she wore a red, glittering saya. What a sight she was! So beautiful and full of life. I believe that even after her death, she is still - full of life.

1 Blog a Day

I've set a goal of trying (I said trying) to do a blog a day. I know I can write more than 1, but this for now is what my time and means allow me. By "means" I mean my small time slot on our lone home computer. We have a desktop that is here in the living room. It's used by all members of the family, mostly Jojo these days connecting to his old friends on facebook.

I would love to have my own portable so I can write whenever a string of thoughts come to mind. But that might be too dangerous... too many thoughts, most of which should be kept unwritten.

So here's my blog for the day. Or does this count?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Washing Machine

We got a spankin' new washing machine about a month ago. The other one is still in working condition but I did get nervous when it was on spin cycle and tried to get out of its way in case something (either clothes or part of the machine) started to fly out. We had planned to get another, more modern Sharp machine, but these salesmen at SM Appliance Center in SM Cubao "ganged" up on us and convinced us to try their Samsung model. So we did, though I still like the simpler controls of the Sharp washing machines. Washing clothes has become less of a chore, though I still haven't seen our laundry basket empty in ages.

I love the smell of the new washing machine - comparable to the new-car smells. I haven't tried the other cycles and only go with the "Eco" cycle since it is more economical. I have to go back to the manual and find out how to use the "Memory" cycle to record my favorite configurations. It does sound all too confusing for a machine that just wash clothes. But I do spend a lot of my time washing clothes. I still prefer to pre-wash before putting the clothes in the washer. There is still so much grime that I'm sure no machine will clean. This is where Jojo and I contradict each other. He prefers to just plop in the clothes in the machine like what we used to do in the US. Our clothes back then were not as dirty (more of body dirt rather than dirt from dust and pollution we get here from just sitting down in any public area.)

Have to go... my load is about done and I still have to wash the kids' PE uniforms - by hand!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Love Watching Movies

I have watched 3 movies in the past 3 weeks, 2 of them in the past 2 days. That's quite a lot for me who can't remember when the last time I watched a movie from beginning to end. The last movie we as a family watched was "Happy Feet".

These 3 movies were very inspirational, to say the least. The first we watched at the theatre with the kids. "Karate Kid" or the new version of this old classic (was it that long ago? It was one of my favorites), was a modern twist to the old version. (I remember having a crush on Ralph Macchio, and other Italian actors before him like Scott Baio.) Enough of the side comments and the day dreaming... I admit, I had a good cry watching "Karate Kid", especially the part where the poor Dre after the torments of his new school and his unfriendly encounters with bullies shouts that he wants to go back "home". And who wouldn't cry at tired and despaired Jackie Chan as he recounts the terrible tragedy of his family. It was a good Father's Day movie, and I know Jojo appreciated the bonding moments for him and the kids.

The two other movies that I watched were ones we rented from the local Video City store. My main purpose was to look for the original Karate Kid, but with the 4+1 deal promo, we ended up renting 4 others. 3 kids movies - "Up", "Transformers" and "Karate Kid", 1 of my personal choice: "Julie & Julia" and the other an action movie that Jojo is watching right now.

I watched "Up" with the kids. This was one movie that I had wanted to watch in the theatre, but did not have the luxury to. I had a message that I have been reading and hearing all this week, mostly in my daily devotional and through the daily bible readings. That is..."Detachment". Detachment from worldly things, from things that we think are of value, but may actually causing us to treat them as idols or other gods. I loved "Up" and loved the spirit of the elderly couple and the message that we can all have our own adventure as long as we learn to let go of those things that weigh us down.

The last, but certainly not the least, was the "Julie & Julia" movie that I watched on my own, the first part Friday night when the kids were in bed and the 2nd yesterday when the kids were busy playing downstairs. I loved the movie. I still have to read all of Julie's blog, but do hope to do. As for trying out the cooking, I think I'll leave that to that real cooks. I just do a bit of baking every now and then.

I saw similarities in looks and acting in Amy Adams (who played Julie) and Meg Ryan. Both "Julie & Julia" and "Sleepless in Seattle" are produced by Nora Ephron. I love both movies and both actresses.

I was inspired by the movie. I have been in a down state these days - can't call it midlife crisis, a term I ran across in my readings that made me wonder. It can't be, since at 40 I can't be at my "midlife" or can I? For one, it's inspired me to continue this blog. Julie and I may not have the same purpose for blogging, but there is something in me that wants to write my experiences, even if it may be of no interest to anyone. I don't envision my own blog getting discovered and then turned into a book or even a movie, but if it does give someone else a sense of meaning, information or even a small bit of entertainment, then it will not be of waste. But for now, it gives me meaning as I listen to my noisy keyboard click-clicking gives me satisfaction to have my thoughts put somewhere concrete and not just disappear in a void of forgetfullness.

To conclude though for these past movie-watching experiences... I love watching movies and I will try to watch them more often - as often as I can make time for... There are so many that I have already missed.