Thursday, October 6, 2011

Utang... Kalimutan!

One advice that my husband's cousin gave us a few days before we left the US to begin our life in the Philippines was to be wary of 5/6.  I gave them a blank stare as Jojo and his cousin continued with the conversation.  I nodded pretending that I knew what they were talking about.  Later when Jojo and I were together alone he explained to me what 5/6 was about.  For those reading this and are still staring blankly let me try to expound.  I just did a quick search on Yahoo on "5/6 philipines" to see what it came up with, one link is on "pautang 5 6 philippines" on sulit.com.ph which actually comes up with 20 results.  5/6 (not sure if my use of a slash is right) is a common loaning system here in the Philippines.  Not sure what the history is but as far as I know, it is made popular by the Indian nationals who loan people money on the basis that if they loan you for example P500, you will have to pay them back P600.  Thereby the 5/6 system.  If we do our calculation, that is a 20% interest.  It's an informal loaning system and for those who have no other options, they are easy bait to this type of loan.  So if you're in the Philippines and you wonder why some people, mostly low-income vendors, hide from the Indian national on his motorcycle? Well, it's because he/she cannot pay back their loan.  But the persistent Indians come back or wait for their "customers" and somehow get their money back with interest.

Why am I bringing this up?  It's not that I've tried borrowing money from the Indians (more commonly referred to as "Bombays"), but of a nagging feeling (to put it lightly) of those who borrow money and do not pay back.  And there is more than one person that I know who owe us (either myself, my husband or my mother) and who are now "in hiding".  "Utang, kalimutan", is another term that comes to mind.  Just recently, an ex-neighbor, who lives a few streets from us, someone whom I trusted and held in high regard, came one quiet afternoon.  It was unusual for her to come and I had thought that she was just in the neighborhood and maybe wanted to take a rest before she went to wherever she was going.  But she started telling me how she tried to pawn off these silver (or what she thougth were silver) cutleries but was not successful.  Then she told me of how she needed money to pay off her water bill which reached P2000.  I asked how their water bill could be so high and she explained that they hadn't paid it for several months.  To cut the story short, she came to me asking to borrow money with the promise that she will pay it back in two months.  Two months seemed a long time, but I agreed and it was timely that I had money in my wallet (which was supposed to be used to pay our own utility bills).  Anyway, the two months came and went last July.  No word and now we're being ignored as if nothing happened.  Is this another case of "utang, kalimutan"?

This isn't the only time we have been ignored like this.  It has happened before, mostly my Mom was the one who loaned her money and trusted that it would be paid back in due time.  But time has a way of hardening one's heart or their brain into forgetfulness.

Unlike the Bombays, we are not the type to go up to the persons who borrowed money and remind them that they owe us.  We know that they know.  They hide or look away when we go by them in the streets.  They live with it, ashamed.  And we are supposed to forget (?)  But we don't and so the relationship, even if it was just a friendly nod to acknowledge their presence, is now strained.  I wonder at the consciense of these people.  The "utang" must gnaw at them. Persistently, I hope, like the Bombays.

No matter how many times others have let us down, why oh why, do we fall into loaning money after hearing another sob story?  I, for one, am a sucker for stuff like this.  I believe them.  I believe the story is true and the people telling them are honest.  And I believe that they'll return the money.  Until the promise is broken.

Then a couple of weeks ago I was listening to a commentary on TV and the topic was on one's perspective of loaning money.  He said that if we had money for someone to borrow, that money (at that time) was excess money.  If it wasn't paid back, then it should be alright, since it was from our surplus.  If it was to be paid back, then we should consider it to be a bonus for us.  This isn't the exact phrase, but I hope I captured the gist.  This brought new light to that nagging thought and feeling.  Maybe I should start a clean slate.  But I still wonder at those people who still owe us.  Can we start a clean slate if they still do not even acknowledge us or their utangs?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emergency Preparedness - Lessons from past typhoons

I'm in emergency preparedness mode.  By this I mean trying to get all my household chores done before another storm or typhoon hits our area again and cause another power outage and possible flooding - in and outside our home.  This after Typhoon Pedring came with winds that blew our glass windows that I thought they would either break or fall on us.  This after not having any electrical power for more than 12 hours and going without TV cable for over 24 hours.  I do sound like a whimp after seeing what others have gone through.  Others, especially in low-lying areas, has it far worse.  Their homes were flooded and many had to evacuate to higher grounds.  The death toll from Pedring is currently at 21 with 33 missing, many of them children, some of them hit by flying or falling objects.

Another storm is in the Philippine area again - this time storm Quiel.  It hasn't affected us... yet.  So we prepare and clean up after the mess than Pedring left.  For us this means wiping the portions of our house where the leaks left puddles.  It all depends on which direction the wind was blowing and this time it was blowing directly in front of the house.  Therefore the leaks came in the living room section behind the entertainment center, computer and on top of our altar.  Today, a sunny, hot and storm-free day, I put the Santos (our figurines of Jesus, Mary and some Saints) back on the altar, cleaned up the wet spots, wiped down some mildew (it's more of dust that stuck to the wall because of the moist), took out the damp rugs to soak in soap and washed the clothes (3 loads) to take advantage of the sun.  And still there are the leaks that will leave their mark and will take more than a little dust cloth to clean.  But we do what we can.

We make sure that our cell phone is charged, there is battery in the transistor radio and the flashlights.  We have candles aplenty, thanks to the ones that Mom sent in one of the balikbayan boxes, I think she said they were just 25cents.  Food, well, we still have canned foods in the cabinet and there is always Aling Aning, Jojo's local meat/fish/fruit suki a couple of streets from here or the palengke.  With electricity going down, it's not a good idea to keep stock of fresh meats or fish.

I used to have an emergency bag handy with a set of clothes, towel, small flashlight, etc, but I got to use some of their clothes or else use the bag for some occasion.  I should get these ready again.

I try to keep the bucket upstairs where we take our bath full.  I still remember Ondoy after the power came back, we were out of water for several days.  It is worse to not have water than to not have electricity.  We have 3 big containers outside the house in case of such emergencies.

What else?  There are many people out there who have lost their belongings and need food, medicine, water and clothes.  I have several plastic bags of unwanted clothes, small pillows that the kids have outgrown and some blankets.  Several organizations are collecting donations for those who were affected by typhoon Pedring.  This is a good time as any to give away our surplus, or better yet, to give even if it hurts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Health is Wealth

When I came back from the US back in 2002, one of my fears was not being covered by health insurance.  Actually it is still one of my fears but I do feel more reassured with the Philhealth coverage that the government has provided to those who are not employed by corporations that provide their employees with private health insurance.  It is better than nothing.  Actually back when I gave birth to Joselyn we were able to avail of Philhealth's benefits, I think we were reimbursed P2000 on the hospital bill (though a small percentage of the total P80k+ that accumulated).  We didn't continue with the membership payments and when Joselyn was hospitalized back in 2009 for dengue, her pediatrician asked us if we had Philhealth, which we unfortunately answered in the negative.  We could've saved on our hospital bills back then too.

This is definitely one thing that we should not procrastinate about.  Even the poorest of families should try to avail of the government's offer of P100 per month payment to be fully covered by Philhealth.  Only one person in your household, the father usually, needs to apply and the insurance covers his spouse and children.

Our church, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (we always refer to Lourdes for short), last month was inviting parishioners to have their medical laboratory for a package of P250 per person, which included blood, urine, stool and ECG tests.  Jojo and I have not had our medical exam for years.  Our check-ups with the doctors are only on an as-need basis and we have never had an annual check-up.  I'm particularly bad about this.  Even in the US when I was fully covered by my employer, I never went on annual check-ups.  But we're no longer young and though the fear of discovering some illness is there, it's better to discover and cure it than to let the illness or disease spread until there is no cure.

My sister-in-law has been one to insist that we have an annual check-up especially since she knows that their family has a history of different diseases including diabetes and heart problems.  She even offered to pay for our laboratories.  An angel indeed.

So last month, which was actually Health Awareness Month, we went to the Lourdes Parish Center to have our blood drawn, to submit our urine and stool samples and have our ECG monitored.  We only received the results about 3 weeks ago and the blood, urine and stool tests turned out normal.  We couldn't figure out the ECG results because of the person's handwriting and we are scheduled to meet with a cardiologist tomorrow for him to read the ECG for us.  My ECG comment starts with "Incomplete... block..." the rest unreadable.  Jojo's starts with "Poor...".  Those words do give us something to worry about, but we're hoping that the cardiologist can decipher the other doctor's handwriting and shed light to our heart's condition.

I did try to have another doctor read the ECG at the Parish Center where they have free medical and dental check-ups every Monday and Friday (from 1-4pm).  But after a few hours of waiting I was told that this certain doctor does not read ECGs and we were referred to a cardiologist.  The waiting was not wasted though, I told the doctor of my consistent coughing and was prescribed with a *free* cough medicine.

I write this for others to be aware or if they already are, to take advantage of the many cheap or free services that are offered.  I find that it is the middle class that falls through the cracks - either too proud to fall or wait in line at the barangay or other institutions that offers free checkups, or would just rather go to a regular doctor even if they have to pay or worse still, not go with the necessary checkups.  I know of people whose children are not immunized and the kids have caught measles and chicken pox.  They say that the immunization is too expensive, but I see them carrying expensive gadgets like cellphones.  We have to put more priority in our health and most especially in our children's health.

When I was waiting for the doctor at the Lourdes parish center, I had a chance to observe the people who were waiting with me.  You couldn't tell what their economic status was and neither did the staff ask when we listed our names.  They were mostly mothers with 1 or 2 young children in tow.  There was one adult who said that she was listed first on the Adult list, but ended up to be one of the last to be seen since the doctor checked on the kids first and then their parents who were also listed.  The lady, whom I'm guessing was younger than me, said that she was a barangay sweeper who got wet during one of our recent storms and caught a cough.  It's best to get there early even if you have to wait.  One older man who wanted to see the doctor was denied because they said that their list was full had come around 3:30pm.  The lady doctor arrived around 3pm.  Since I don't live far, I decided to go home after waiting the first 30 minutes, and then came back around 3pm.  I was seen around 5pm.  It's not much different with physicians from other hospitals and clinics, who usually arrive late - at least an hour after their scheduled clinic hours.

If you do live around the area, please look into the social services that Lourdes offers.  Or check with your local parish, if they provide similar services.  And yes, go to your nearest Philhealth office to apply for insurance coverage.  Your health is more valuable than any cellphone or cellphone load.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Immigrating to Canada - Hopes & Frustrations

I had mentioned in my last blog that we have a Canadian immigration application on file.  We filed it back in March of 2005, after finding out on the internet that I was eligible in the skilled-worker class using my previous work experience.  We didn't go through an agency and I did all the research over the internet.  I know of people who have gone through agencies, but I believe that if you are resourceful enough and find the time to search and read what's available on the official Canadian immigration websites, you don't have to pay the extra fees for someone else to do what you can easily do yourself.

That said, I know I'm not in a position to say that my applicaiton has passed, but at least it got filed successfully, meaning my documents were complete and the file is "In Process".  During which time there is nothing that can be done but to wait and hope that the laws don't change in the process.

A good starting point for Filipino citizens who wish to immigrate to Canada or just plan on travelling to the country is the Canadian Embassy website.  You will find here all the required links and other resources specific to the Philippines and Filipinos.  When you click on the Immigrating to Canada link, you will be directed to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, which will give you information on the qualificaiton and application process.

The Canadian immigration system goes by a point system and points are accumulated by adding the points in the different categories, such as age group, work experience, educational attainment, language proficiency, etc.  Aside from this you must show that you have enough assets to settle successfully in Canada.  This is assuming that you may not find employment as soon as you land in Canada and may need to rely on your own savings.  The Canadian government will not provide monetary support to new immigrants.

There are many other websites on the internet that provide assistance for those interested in immigrating to Canada, but they are mostly agencies and lawyers/consultants that requires a fee for additional help.  You may email some of these sites and get help online, but most of them will just give you vague responses and then ask you to call or visit them for additional assistance, for a fee, of course.  If you find that you really need help or cannot find the time to go through the resources on the internet yourself, then by all means you can try these agencies.  But be wary of them and the fees that can accumulate with each visit.

Additional advise:
- Make sure all your documents are complete before submission.  Review documents before submitting.
- Make a photocopy of all the documents you submit for your own personal copy. 
- Gathering the required documents is the bulk of the work.  Organize your files in separate folders (labelled or colored to easily distinguish the documents), example IDs, passports, police certificates, employment references, bank account certificates.  Our application is for the whole family - husband and two kids, so it was helpful to file the documents in separate folders.
- When you do receive your file number from the embassy, make a photocopy and keep it in a safe place along with the photocopies of your submitted application.
- Regularly check for updates on your application online.  Make sure to update the embassy in case you change address.
- Never give up hope.  The process is long (more than 6 years for us) and we're still waiting.  But do not rely on immigrating to Canada as your only hope.  The Philippines is still a wonderful place to live in and opportunities abound (trying to think positive here).  We just have to step out of our comfort zone and learn to take risks.  (This is me giving myself a pep talk).

One of our frustrations is the waiting.  I had put in a lot of hope in this new opportunity when we first received the answer back from the Canadian embassy about a month after we submitted our applicaition.  It said on that first correspondence that we should be hearing from them within the next 36 months (that's 3 years).  Which seemed so long then but then time went by so fast.  The 3 years came and went and I read that the application process would take longer, as long as 5 years and all previous dates (like the 36 months promised) was no longer valid.  Then I keep looking at the processing times for Manila and currently it is at 76 months (that's 6 years and 4 months!).  Then there are the changes in their jobs in demand list, which took out the IT field where my application falls under.  Though I realize this pertains to new applicants, I still wonder how this would affect how my current application is viewed by the embassy staff.

So here I am still waiting.  But I will not wait in vain.  Whatever the result (and I hope it does come out soon), I will not let it stop my dreams from being fulfilled - here and now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Babbling With Purpose

I sure have not done a lot of blogging this year.  Writing is something that I do miss and I wish I found it higher in my list of priorities.  But as I sit here in front of the computer I find myself staring and grappling with my thoughts.  Maybe there are just too many or, a scarier thought, too few.

I made a Word document which I titled Career-Business Assessment.  I made a list of my current talents, gifts, capabilities, assets and another of my interests and looked at where those two meet.  In another column I wrote a list of concrete goals before the year ends for each "category".  At the age of 41, it seems that I should have been doing this a long time ago.  But it's never too late to start.

With our Canadian Immigration file being in the "In Process" status for over 6 years, I look back and wish that we didn't put too much hope in actually immigrating to Canada.  I've held back in investing my money and time on something more worthwhile - like the here and now.  Not investing the money that I have in savings because I knew that I needed to show the Embassy that we had enough money to settle once we were in Canada (one of the requirements for a successful immigration, in case we do not find employment right away).

Last year in December we met with an Immigration "lawyer", one of the hosts of a TV show about immigrating to countries like the US and Canada.  My husband had always wanted to consult with him, but I kept telling him that it would be a waste of our money, because they could not hasten the process.  And I was right, we spent P2500 in consultation fee after waiting for over an hour and only talking with the guy for about 30 minutes.  The biggest disappointment was that he was actually on the internet (the same websites that I've used to gather info), and he told me you can just look at these sites and I should know since I'm a "techie".  I put lawyer in quotations because after watching one of his shows on TV, I wondered why the other attorney hosts, referred to him as "Kabisa", instead of "Attorney" as the other lawyers were referred to.  So it's our assumption that he isn't a registered attorney and just has enough experience and personality for others to believe that he is a real lawyer. 

Well, we did get something out of our meeting, (not sure if it was worth P2500 though).  He told me of other options, like the provincial nomination program in Manitoba, where I have a couple of cousins who are residents.  And as if one of my cousins had telepathy crossing over the Pacific Ocean, he called us about a day or two after our visit to the lawyer's office and offered his assistance.  He kindly said that he had helped two other families from his wife's side and was now ready to help someone else.  What a generous spirit!  My cousin, Kuya Fuling, whom I've only met a handful of times since Manitoba has been his home for over 20 years.  What a great guy and I do appreciate his offer.

Oh, didn't I say that I couldn't find where to start with my writing and here I am... blabbing away.  Well, this is a good jump-start.  Kind of dragging and long I realize but at least my fingers and mind got their exercise.  Let me end it here and hopefully I find the time to continue with these stories another day... No, let me put it in writing (this worked the last time).  I blogged 1-2 times a day before, not caring if it was read.  Let me do the same now, but this time about 3 times a week, with some significant topic that has direction and purpose, for others and for me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season.  "Lent", from an Old English word "lencten" meaning "spring", as was part of Father Raymundo's homily at last night's Mass.  Spring.  This was a new definition, a word that I had not connected with this season of penance, fasting and sacrifice.  But as Father continued, he defined the Spring that is Lent as the flourishing, or coming alive of plants and flowers, "even in the desert".  Wow, what a sight this created in my mind.  A desert filled with beautiful, flowering plants. And not just the cactus plant variety.

On a related note, my friend had emailed me, not about Lent or anything of a religious matter.  But was in regards to my previous email to her of my plans of migrating to Manitoba, Canada and then another email about a week later saying that we had changed plans (I may blog on this another time).  She wrote that it was an excellent idea (not to go to Manitoba), describing it as "snow country".  She likewise mentioned how she was getting tired of the cold weather and was eagerly awaiting spring.  Spring.  That word again.

Lent is not exactly a time that has been awaited.  Fasting and abstinence yesterday was quite an ordeal and many temptations throughout the day in the forms of meat, sweet desserts and the snacks that lay inside our food cabinet and refrigerator.  And this was just the start of Lent.  With my Benjo turning 8 last March 1 and growing more spiritually with each year, I introduced him to the sacrifices of Lent and told him that during Lent we usually try to give up something and gave him examples, like candies, softdrinks, chocolates, etc.  After thinking about this for awhile, he said he would give up softdrinks, which we do drink regularly.  To boost his initiative, I said I'd join him, so both of us will give up drinking softdrinks for 40 days.  After a few seconds of silence, he asked: " 'Di ba puwede 30 days na lang?"  Hehehe, tumatawad pa!  He wanted to shorten the Lenten season to 30 days :)  This made me laugh and I told him it had to be 40 days, 'cause this is the time that Jesus spent in the desert.  He smiled and agreed.  We'll see how our "fasting" from softdrinks goes.

This is a small sacrifice and I feel I must do more, give up more.  Clearing my system from softdrinks is a start and it will definitely be to our advantage.  It will clean our systems, clean it so that the plants may grow, the flowers may bloom, and Spring may truly come.  Happy Lenten season!  Happy Spring!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Honor of Auditors and People of Integrity

I admit I didn't know what the job of an auditor entailed.  It only became clearer in the later years.  Even when my mom became the Director of Internal Audit of the department she worked for, it was still a blur as to what exactly she did except for signing countless papers that piled on her desk.

As I listened in on the tales that my mom and the other retirees told of their experience while holding the same position, I learned of the responsibilities, the detail-oriented work and most especially of the challenges to integrity and value that an auditor came across.  It's not a job for the weak-hearted.

My mom held the post from the time she returned from her last post abroad in 2002 'til she retired and was asked to extend her retirement for another year.  When asked a second time to extend her post, she declined, joking with others that she didn't want to add to her already long list of enemies.  Yes, you run across many people who want to befriend you only to have you approve and sign a paper that showed a "red flag".  And when that paper is not signed or comes back to the owner with a memo, that person suddenly doesn't want to talk to you.  Oh, the tales they would tell, the corruptness of man, all for the love of money.

I write this in the middle of the corruption scandal the AFP is going through in the Senate and Congressional hearings.  I see the likes of Heidi Mendoza, who like my mother, has taken her stance against a corrupt system.  "It was already corrupt when I entered the system", is what the late Angelo Reyes was said to have stated.  "Nagswapang ba ako?  Naghingi?"  No, he didn't need to.  It was given to him on a silver platter, which he accepted, as he was part of the system.  My mother on one of her birthday celebrations at her office, was given gifts from vendors.  Humingi ba siya?  Hindi.  One vendor, thinking that they would "befriend" her by giving her gifts, gave her a cake, not P50 million, just a cake.  "Huwag mong tanggapin. Ibalik mo.", was my mom's order.  "Pero Ma'm...", her assistant looked in dismay.  Sayang naman at umalis na yung nagdeliver eh.  I don't know what happened to the cake, but I think her assistant didn't follow mom's order.

If you believe in something at the core of your being, anything that you become a part of, or any group, company, organization you join, will not dishonor you or bring you dishonor.  Only you dishonor yourself by making mistakes, by making the wrong decisions, by not doing what is right and true, by accepting something that is not yours or by simply keeping quiet.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese New Year

Kung Hei Fat Choi!  That's a greeting of Happy New Year in Chinese!  It was the Chinese New Year yesterday, February 3, the day of the first new moon of the year.  We were at SM yesterday after picking the kids up from school.  There were many festive Chinese decorations all around the mall to celebrate this day which not only Chinese or Filipino-Chinese celebrate, but which has also become part of the Filipino culture.

Here's a picture of Benjo and Joselyn in front of a "money tree".  On closer look, it seems to be a real tree that was painted gold and on another closer look, those money envelopes were just envelopes with no money in them.  Of course. Or else none of the envelopes would be left on the tree...


What is all the fuss about?


These students, elderly man, along with Jojo and Benjo were all looking at this billboard which showed the Chinese horoscope for this year, the year of the metal rabbit.  Though I respect those who believe in the Chinese horoscope, I myself am not a believer.  But for anyone who is interested, here's one site for Chinese Astrology for 2011


There was also a lot of loud noise in the directions of the 2nd floor, where 2 "lions" and 1 "dragon" were dancing, one lion in gold, another in red, and the dragon in green...


This is the traditional lion dance, where men weave and sway the lion body in and out of the stores - for good luck and good business, in exchange of a donation which the store manager gives.  I noticed that the lions would stop in front of a store, first asking permission, then proceeding with their dance once the manager/supervisor gives them a nod.  There are many stores in the mall and I'm sure the dancing lions were quite prosperous that day.

So as we welcome in the year of the metal rabbit, we do hope, as in all years, that this may bring all of us, no matter what year you were born, good health, prosperity and fortune (merited by good and honest hard work and not gifted as "pabaon" or "pasalubong" :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I Gained From Losing

So I didn't win any prize in the Minute Maid Pulpy competition, that I had thought I had a chance of at least getting something for my design.  But it wasn't a design competition, it was a blog competition with the majority of the score going to the creative writing portion.  I'm not sulking in my loss.  I looked at the winners' entries and yes, they deserved to win, with good commentaries and a story behind the writing, with accompanying pictures.  I guess that's what the judges were looking for, not just plain text with separate, non-related pictures, as I had in my design.  A loss, somewhat, but I did gain some knowledge from entering this competition, which I hope to apply in my own personal blogs and maybe future online contests...

What I learned:
1)  I found other sites that provided free flash banners and other tools to add animation to a site, specifically Flashvortex.com

2)  Though I have about 500 friends on my facebook account (my husband and I share the account and more than half of these people I do not know), they were not interested in helping me out with the comments part of the contest.  I'm not sure if any of them actually commented on my site, though I did get one from an Anonymous.  Disappointing, yes, especially since I emailed some of them personally to ask for their support aside from the post on my FB wall.  I know most of them live abroad, but all I asked for was a comment, even a small feedback on the look and design of the site.  Silence maybe speaks louder than words and maybe they didn't think much of the site or didn't believe in the product, but I'm trying to look on the bright side... to at least boost my self-esteem.  So what did I learn?  To look at the bright side and just smile :)

3)  I was able to look at the different design options on blogger and created what I thought was a real pulpy background.  The background designs provided on blogger does not give us the ability to "tile" the background image, which you can do if you have a customized image.

4)  Yes, my blog post was mostly text, which is hard to read and rather boring as compared to those who won.  They actually had a story, like the one who went from being fat to a little sexier, showing actual images of her "before" and "after".  My blog was impersonal, I realize.  I'm not one to flaunt my picture on the internet.  But this is what blogging is about.  It's about the person, who we are and people want to actually see the person and personality behind the words.

5) I got a renewed spirit of creativity in designing the Minute Maid blog, so I decided to recreate my own personal blog and look into other ways of making it more attractive and useful for the readers.

It was a great experience entering this contest.  Going back, I may have changed things on my blog if I was a little clearer on what the organizers wanted.  It was the first contest I've entered online and even, offline.  In any contest, we take risks and I'm glad that I was able to gain valuable experience - even if I didn't win.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You've Got Mail

I woke up with a headache, sore throat and clogged sinuses.  Can a mother have a day off?  Nope!  It is not in our vocabulary.  So as I go about our morning routine of getting the kids ready for school, my head still throbs and I try to ignore the pain.  Well, it's more of a drowsy pain rather than an ouchy kind of pain.

Once the kids are out of the door, I try to pick up the aftermath, and instead of the usual household chores, I find myself on the sofa and pick up the TV remote control.  "You've Got Mail" is showing, which I've watched before, but it's a feel-good easy to watch movie, exactly what I need.  When was this movie made?  In the 90's, and yet it seems like ages ago.  Well, we are in 2011 and anything in the 20th century is ages ago.  But watching Meg Ryan use dial-up to connect to the internet, I smile.  Oh, I remember the days.  And how frustrating those days were, dial-up, getting busy signals and having s-l-o-w connection.  How time has changed!  The two stars were into what was "in" and new during those times - Email!  Sure we still use email, but with facebook, blogging and other networking sites, email seems to be phasing out.  How time has changed and oh, so fast!

We got 3 Christmas cards this year.  They say that actually mailing, using the post office to buy stamps, is outdated, but it still feels good to open an actual envelope, touch and flip open a card.  Yes, we are in the midst of an internet revolution, but how much of it is good for us?  Does it actually keep family and friends closer together or does it make the distance that much wider?

Another part of the movie which made me smile and reminisce was when Meg Ryan was in Starbucks and ordered "Caramel Macchiato" (not sure if this is the way it's spelled).  That was what I ordered when I bought at Starbucks back in the 90's when Starbucks was just below our office.  I'm not really into coffee, but caramel Macchiato tasted sweet, kind of like melted ice cream, hot instead of cold, of course.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rest

I read today's 1st reading as if reading it for the first time.  It may actually be the first time I read it and got some insight, like a light at the end of the tunnel.  An "aaAahH" moment.  The reading I'm referring to is from the book of Hebrews 4:1-5,11:

1 Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. 2 For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. 3 For we who believed enter into that rest, just as he has said: “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest,’ ” and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. 4 For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works”; 5 and again, in the previously mentioned place, “They shall not enter into my rest.” 11 Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
 
The author relates how God rested on the 7th day, which we usually refer to as Sunday, our day of rest from the long week of work, to our final rest, His promise of rest in eternity.  But this can only be received, by His grace and after our life of working for God's kingdom.  It's the first time that I saw the meaning of "rest" in this way.  Oh, how we long for rest especially after a long, hard day of work - in my case, housework and taking care of my family.  But this rest that we enjoy is only temporary, for we wake up again to other days of work.  How do I long for that rest, when the body, spirit and mind can truly be quiet and at peace.  I know if will only happen at the end of my life and only if I am faithful to His calling.  May we all "strive to enter into that rest".

Monday, January 10, 2011

Minute Maid Pulpy Online Blog Contest

I've joined in Minute Maid Pulpy's online blog contest.  My first ever try at joining in a contest online.  Not sure how well I'll do, but I did do my best in terms of writing the blog (or at least completing the sentences that Minute Maid provided) and designing the layout and graphics.  I spent a lot of time on the latter as can be seen on http://minutemaid-pulpy.blogspot.com/.  As of this writing I haven't received any comments, not a good sign with 10% of the overall score depending on the number of comments.  Well, even I do not win, at least I tried and I'm glad that I put my talents to good use.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Playing On The Streets

The street is their playground, for they know no other.  This sentence formed in my mind as I saw one of our neighbor's child playing ball on the street.  She is one of the many neighborhood children.  The street is where they grew up, their own home too small, too hot to stay in during the late afternoon/early evening hours of the day.  There is a cool wind outside, no need for an electric fan.  The street is spacious, wide enough to run around, play tag, hide 'n seek and even learn to ride a bike.  These kids know how to dodge the cars, tricycles or pedestrians that go by.  Cars, tricycles and pedestrians too have learned how to dodge the kids and the games they play.

In contrast, my own kids are not allowed to play on the streets.  We see it as dangerous.  When we do go to other streets like at my cousin's area a few blocks from us or in Binangonan where they do get a chance to play on not-so-busy streets, the kids have to be told to stop their play and stay on the side of the street when a car, tricycle, vendor or pedestrian passes by.  They're not used to playing on the streets.  We are lucky enough to have a big enough garage and front area where the kids have learned to play games, basketball and learned to ride their bikes.  But I realize that they are missing out too.  Missing out on playing with other kids in the neighborhood and learning some of the traditional Filipino games they play.  It's a choice that we've made, their safety comes first.  A street is a street, mostly for vehicles to travel on and not a playground for kids.  But for some, the street is the only playground they've known.

Concerts in the Philippine in 2011

The following is a list in progress of upcoming concerts for the year 2011 in the Philippines, mostly in Metro Manila with a few in the provinces.  Schedules may change, so check the contact person/s for updated information...


Concerts in the Philippines in 2011


Date
Event
CityInfo


MARCH

1Sugarfree Live!  Farewell Concert
Quezon CityEastwood Central Plaza
8:00 PM

http://www.eastwoodcity.com/
2A Starry Starry Night with Don McLean
Quezon CityAraneta Coliseum
8:00 PM

Tickets at TicketNet or call 911-5555
4Sandwich Live!Quezon CityEastwood Central Plaza
8:00 PM

http://www.eastwoodcity.com/
4Opera Belles Live!
Quezon CityEastwood Central Plaza
7:00 PM

http://www.eastwoodcity.com/
9Anberlin

MakatiA-Venue Concert Hall
Makati Ave.; 6PM

Tickets at Ticketworld.com.ph
11Opera Belles Live!
TaguigVenice Piazza, McKinley
8:00 PM

APRIL

7Bruno Mars
(Doo Wops and Hooligans Tour)

CebuWaterfront Hotel
7:00 PM
8Bruno Mars Live in Manila


Quezon CityAraneta Coliseum
7:00 PM

Tickets at Ticketnet or call (02) 911-5555
16The Script Live in Manila 2011


Quezon CityAraneta Coliseum
8:00 PM

Tickets at Ticketnet or call (02) 911-5555




MAY

10
Justin Bieber
with special guest
Pareotics

Pasay
City
SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds
8pm
Tickets at Ticketworld.com.ph

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review of "RPG - Metanoia"

We watched the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry, "RPG Metanoia" at SM San Lazaro last December 27.  I first searched the internet to find reviews about the movie and I found one blog which had some good things to say about the film.  There weren't many other reviews considering that the movie had its first showing, like the rest of the MMFF entries, on Christmas day.



The movie bragged about being the first 3D Animated movie of the Philippines.  Believing in the Filipino talent, I was enthusiastic as we awaited the start of the screening.  It was the first movie that the kids watched in 3D and though the 3D glasses kept slipping off their small (or in Filipino, "pango") noses, they eagerly awaited the start of the movie.

The storyline was good, with parts that made me smile and laugh.  I loved the parts when the kids played traditional street games with the musical score from Apo Hiking Society's song "Bawat Bata" with the lyrics "bawat bata sa ating mundo, may pangalan, may karapatan... hayaan mong maglaro and bata sa araw..."  So nostalgic, so sentimentally Filipino, I loved it!  I also loved the little details that only us Filipinos or other nationals who really know the Philippine culture would really appreciate.  Like the mother wearing a duster and the little boy using a walis and being a standby with his barkada (group of close friends) at a nearby sari-sari store.

What disappointed me though was the 3D effects.  Before the movie started, previews of upcoming 3D shows made in the US were shown.  This, unintentionally, set the excitement for 3D viewers, but our expectations subsided as the main feature started.  I took off my 3D glasses in some parts of RPG and found that it didn't make a difference.  So I concluded that not all parts of the film was made in 3D.  The action parts when they were playing "inside" the computer games were in 3D.  I found some of these too fast and would have liked to have seen more animation that made full use of the 3D features, features that seemed to actually "pop" out of the screen.  The script was somewhat too monotonous in some parts, the little voice of Zaijan predominant in the movie.  I had gone with little sleep for a few days and I admit I wanted to close my eyes and doze off in the middle of the movie.  But it would've been a waste of my P180, which is what we paid for a single ticket to the movie.

I believe in the Filipino talent and really want to see the Filipino movie industry revive and compete in the international scene.  But compared to the international movies, I have to honestly and sadly say, that we still fall short.

Lessons learned in the movie: Beware of the dangers of spending too much time in front of your computer (which I am doing now as I write this :).  There is so much more to see, to learn, to experience...in the real world.

RPG - Metanoia cinema teaser