Saturday, December 24, 2005

And, Away to the Barrio We Go

I just read a friend's blog which talked about her day at their local beach in the province.

While most of our provinces are not barrios anymore with Universities, SM Malls, McDonalds, Starbucks and the usual 20th century establishments now found there, it is still entirely different from Manila. That bustling metropolis that I have known and loved since birth.

I have visited a rural province back when I was about 5 or 6. It was a barrio, really, complete with nipa huts, the batalan, the trees at the backyard and a few steps walk to the beach. It was beautiful really and it was nice for a few days.

Then came college fieldwork where we were made to stay in a barrio in Antique. That was for a month and a half and it was there I realized that rural living is definitely not for me.

There was electricity and running water (thank God!) because we stayed in a school dorm. The electricity was fine and which we're grateful for mainly because of the fluorescent light and the electric fan that struggled vainly to give us air in the intense heat of the place (it was the el nino season then. Talk about timing, right?) but the running water was the here today, gone tomorrow type that forced us to pump water via the poso. That was fine really, until we found out that the cloth that acts as a filter to the pump was, gasp!, a man's briefs whose origins and history were quite unknown to us. And we took such enjoyment from the cool, refreshing drink from the cafeteria that came from it...

The place was really beautiful, though. The towering mountains and trees on one side and the great blue waters on the other. Stars were a nighttime affair with us and we must have spent a million hours just staring up at them. We really couldn't believe that the sky could hold that much stars.

The people, too, were nice. They were all helpful and welcoming. We even had someone takes us in to their beachside nipa house when a sudden rainstorm left us stranded for an hour on the beach. They didn't know us from Adam and they let us into their home and even gave us some fruit. That is, of course, an impossibility here in Manila. No one would dare let a complete stranger into their home with the fear that said stranger will walk off, at the very least, with the furniture.

There were no TV, no radio station hosted by a fairly comprehensible deejay (he spoke in the local dialect and played the same music), no phone nor cell site (we had to travel to the provincial capitol just to let our families know that yes, we're living fine among the cows and the gecko, or tuko, that littered the place), no mall (the department store consisted of a two-story building that offered meats and eggs right beside the pail, dipper and other plastic furniture), and no convenience store (we had to make do with a very small sari-sari store that has a cooler for a fridge and where if you're lucky enough, you can get a snack of Chippy that hasn't lost its crispness. It was tended by a very nice old lady, though), and lastly, no decent transportation to speak of! (we mostly rode the tricycle whose every bump and jar and rattle we felt in the most uncomfortable parts of our body).

So, you may well understand my wariness since I remember most vividly how, after just a few weeks of rural isolation, we almost turned into some sort of half maniacs whenever we came in sight of a TV or a phone or an aircon. That's how much we missed those 20th century conveniences we, city people, take very much for granted.

Inspite of the fresh wind, the beauty of the place, the really nice people, and the total casualness they regard time schedules (the hectic pace of the metropolis and the frantic working hours are totally lost there), I felt constricted and so hastened to come back to Manila.

There's a different energy here in the city. It entices me, that energy that eats you up and spews you out but which you can never get enough of. Along with the traffic, the pollution, the beautiful yet at times, corrupted people, I welcome with as much open arms as the pleasure that I get from living in the city. It is here where I feel I can, at least, conquer my part of the world.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Travails of Travelling

My eyes scanned the horizon. In the cold, early hours of the morning, there were only a few people out on the road.

So far so good. I wait for that twentieth century four-wheeled beast that was to take me to work, the jeepney. And, believe me, beast is describing it kindly. In the tradition of the wartime vehicle from whence it originally came, one screeched to a halt in front of me in all its silver, hulking body. Well, it might have been silver in color but with all the dust, grime and touch repainting it's undergone, one cannot honestly tell.

I grabbed hold of the handrails to hoist myself up, which to my not quite 5 feet, is a bit high. Really, the inventor of this vehicle should have been more considerate of the natives. Filipinos are generally medium in height, right? So why make it in the original design of American soldiers about to leap off for war? The modifications should have been more Filipino height friendly by now.

Anyway, I sat on the right part of the bench running the jeepney. It's good if it's not full then you can sit to your heart's content. Space and comfort would be of no account here and you can even enjoy the soft breeze ruffling your hair (laden though it is with carbon monoxide) and relax during the ride.

Now, there are different types of seatmates in commuter transport and you can only hope to get the best. One is the forever leaning, I-haven't-had-a-wink-of-sleep-last-night, type. He sees you as a soft pillow and your only defense are the sharp bones in your shoulder to jut him with should he get much too comfortable and heaven forbid, salivate on you!

The second one would be the ramrod-straight, don't-you-dare-get-into-my-personal-space, type. He sees the enforced physical contact as burdensome and is actually counting the minutes as to the time he'll get off. Personally, I prefer this type since we only have to endure each other as far as our destination is.

There is also the eternally curious, let-me-look-at-your-face-and-hair-and-dress-and-body, type. The subtle ones will throw occasional glances at you while the bold ones will really stare at you. You can, of course, meet their eyes and hope that they get the hint (that you really do not enoy being made to feel like a bacteria under a microscope).

Of course, we can't forget the incessant talker, I-just-have-to-chat-or-make-this-call, type. If they have a companion, you'll be sure that their voices will rise above the noise of the motor while people around them try to pretend that they're not hearing that Mr so and so is having a torrid affair with a Ms such and such. Same thing if the person is talking on and on and on while brandishing a cellphone.

Lastly, (and this is limited to female co-passengers), is the shampoo model feel-alike with her long dark hair streaming behind her. Only problem is, it plasters the face of the person right behind her. Now, we don't know for sure if she washed her hair (we could try to smell it of course but we're already irritated at this point, remember?), or if she has dandruff or even (yikes!) lice? We, of course, would not want to be showered with any nasty stuff.

Every commuter trip is an adventure. It might be good or bad so you'd do well to start it off with a prayer.

Please, let my passenger seatmate be ok at least...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Love, Seriously

It may be a hangover from being educated in an all-girl Catholic school but I tend to think of love and marriage the old fashioned, till-death-do-us-part, way. Now, before I get rained on with barbed, feminist defense about liberal women having equal rights, let me just say that my firm belief for love and loyalty applies to both parties. And that, it is my ideal which means that I don't discount the fact that there are wrong marriages and abusive partners and other gray areas which might lead to a dissolution of a union.

It's just that I get sad whenever I hear of married couple's separating for reasons that are mostly just an excuse for their own inability to hold true to their vows. Especially if it has to do with third parties and there are children who gets hurt in the process. The choice, when a person marries, has been made. It is there for you to take the utmost care. And, when there are children, it is definitely not just about you and your partner anymore. Someone's security and happiness depends on you both. That is both a privilege and a great responsibility.

Sure, married people are human and they don't walk around with their eyes closed to the beautiful, attractive, or exciting people that they might meet, but that does not mean they should act on it to the detriment of their marriage. Temptations are dangerously sweet and its best to just avoid them. If one cannot, then a married person should close their minds entirely to even the slightest possibility of an affair. Flirtations are a no no. One can't have too much willpower and self-restraint in the face of an exciting fire play so don't even trust yourself about it. Like the plague, or AIDS, or SARS, its best to put oneself as far away from it as possible.

I'm thankful that we don't have divorce here since I see it just as a quick, conveniently legal way for people to change partners at a drop of a hat. It gives them reason not to give their all in marriage. Just look at Hollywood's couples, or rather, uncouples, and you'd know that divorce is actually the rule and not the exception for countries that have it.

Filipinos are generally old-fashioned when it comes to love and marriage. We tend to believe that marriage is a gift and must be hold dear. Children are raised to believe in its sanctity and the wholeness of a family. Separations and annulment are still frowned upon by society.

They say that each person is entitled to be happy. And, that if a person is not happy in marriage anymore, that it's well within their right to get out of it. But, the choice to marry in the first place was made by you. The decision to take on another person as a partner in life has been made by you in full knowledge that it will not always be in happy and perfect times. And that once you bring a child into this world in marriage, it is your sacred duty to safeguard his or her happiness. After all, as you yourself would say, we all are entitled to it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Helpers That Be

I just finished reading The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin. It was funny and touching. I wanted to write about it because the ending made me cry. And not because any of the characters died or something, but, because it made me realize yet again how precious and complex a parent-child relationship is. Not to mention the extra help (nannnies, maids, yaya's, drivers) and the ensuing relationships we have to engage in just so we can juggle our life, work and career.

The novel is about the life of a young, graduating student who worked as a nanny to a rich family. The child's parents were never around and it starkly portrayed the lonely young child cared for by someone who is of no relation to him and is actually paid to do so. At the end, the nanny was fired by the bitchy mother without even letting the nanny say goodbye to the child she cared for.

I have a five year old daughter and I've been lucky in that my mother is always around to take care of her whenever my husband and I are at work. I have always been apprehensive of acquiring the services of a yaya because no matter how kind and good she may be, she won't take care of my child the way a loving, personal relation would. I feel it just won't be the same.

But some do get lucky in having kind, loyal helpers. They really are a treasure, even if they are being paid, the way they endear themselves to the family through the great service they do is invaluable.

Just imagine having to do the laundry and the washing and the cooking and the cleaning...Whoa, it will really make you appreciate the quiet, sometimes funny helpers that we have at home.

These days, though, people are more careful in letting people into their homes. There are horrifying yet very true stories of robbers and criminals posing as helpers.

So to each his own. It can't be denied that these people are needed for the smooth functioning of households and the care of young children especially for working parents. But there are also risks which we should always weigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sighting

Now, this is not a third sexes wonderful recount of an enjoyable male-scouting experience nor a Scientologist's corroboration on an alien encounter. It is merely a look back on one particular time when I actually, yes actually, wished to see a ghost. Not just any ghost, mind you, but one schoolbook-famous ghost, that of our national hero, Gat Jose Rizal.

I'm not a scaredy-cat, but neither am I the adventurous, devil-may care type to wish myself a fright by wanting to lay eyes on a departed person. Thing is, when we were in grade school and we went to Rizal's home in Calamba, I was so enthralled by the place and it's history that I, for one crazy moment, wished that said famous figure would appear. Then, I could see for myself how he looked in his heyday (I wouldn't want to see him in his other-worldly appearance, of course!) and ask him a bunch of questions. Like how it felt to live in those times, all those people in the barong tagalogs and baro't saya, those grand old houses, fine furniture, the guardia sibil and all the other information our kindly history teacher feed us but which we don't really think much about. But, being there and seeing evidence of how people used to live, actually touching things and furniture used by people who lived long ago, made me realize that there is so much more out there. That history is not just a line, a paragraph, or a page in books but rather an actual event, a past made by real people.

The realization was breathtaking. There, under the hot sun and near the wishing well of Rizal's home in Calamba, I made a fervent wish that I see him even for just one second. Preferably, sitting at his study table and looking deep in thought, like maybe in the beginnings of his great literary work, the Noli Me Tangere.

But, alas, it was not to be. I, of course, was thankful. It's one thing to wish to see a ghost in a crowd full of giggling schoolgirls, but to actually see one is a different thing entirely. I may have fainted then and there and that would have caused a definite stir. Something that might not have gone well with our prim and proper nun teachers.

Thus, I went home from an educational field trip in Calamba, Laguna without a ghostly sighting of Rizal. I didn't come home empty-handed, though. I realized three important things: 1) wishing wells are mere money-getting schemes (imagine all those millions of coins out there) and are definitely not real; and 2) history is actually interesting and can be quite fun, too; and, 3) third eye for seeing famous ghosts can't be commanded at will even if was wished with passionate ferocity and under the crazy influence of a hot midday's sun.

Methinks the educational trip has served its purpose after all.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Question... (Next to 'Who am I?', 'Why Am I Here?' and some such stuff)

How do people end up together?

That's a universal question, methinks. No guaranteed answer and certainly no proven formula by which people can get their partners in life and stay with them.
But, never say never. Why don't we try to sift through the facts and see if we can come up with answers. Sherlock Holmes may have been useful here but I just remembered that he died a bachelor so no go there. Same with Agatha Christie who was divorced by her husband for a much younger woman.

Hmm, we may have found one clue here already. An investigative and much too-inquiring mind is not successful in a relationship? I won't state that as fact, but, if you've ever experienced being grilled by your partner as to where you've been, what you've been doing and exactly how you've been doing it when you two were not together? Well, I must say there's a grain, or rather, a rock of truth to this.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's get back to the 'hooking up' part, or the 'attraction thing'. We really don't want to be clinical here (we're talking about love, remember?) so let's skip the biology lessons with the dreary stuff of how women, during their fertile period, gives off signals in the form of scent, bodily heat, etc., that men responds to. Or, how taller men statistically have better chances of being paired off than vertically challenged ones (I am just quoting this from a study so no offense meant, you guys). Anyhow, how do we respond romantically to someone? How do we say someone is attractive, cute, or as the gay lingo for charming man goes, papable?

People say that we live in a superficial world where only looks and stature matter. That only the blessed few who have one or, preferably, all of the following; face, body and money; get to pick and choose from the mating pool. And, of course, this is true.

Opps, sorry. What I meant was, while there's some truth to the above premise, that is not always the case. There are beautiful people, rich people, average people, and, well, people. But, almost all of them, at one time or the other, get to experience romantic love. It may have been a simple crush, a momentary attraction, a fling, or a full-blown love affair. It may also have been unrequited, reciprocated, or hidden. Either way, all of us get to experience Cupid's arrow. We have all felt the 'zing', that wonderful experience of being enraptured by someone so totally we almost forget ourselves or we feel so self-conscious; we somehow end up making ourselves look giddily foolish.

Point is, getting together and staying with someone is no easy feat. The rich and the beautiful are certainly no exception to this, not if celebrity reports of old bachelors, single women, separation and divorces are anything to go by. They may even have a harder time on this being on the spotlight (of course you've heard of the travails of my long-suffering friends Jennifer A. and Paris H).

So we have established that getting together with someone successfully is not based on a) looks; b) money; c) stature. Although, it certainly helps if you have them, they're not a guarantee that you’ll indeed be lucky in the hearts department.

What could it be, then? If we're to be religious about it, we could just say that God has different plans for us all and that maybe, others are meant to be happy in partnerships while others are not. But, that's cold comfort especially when you're in front of a loving couple, holding hands and all but shouting to the world their devotion to one other. Or when you've heard that this and that have married and are very much happy together and all of your family members and some nosy acquaintance can't keep asking you why you have not taken the same blissful path...?

Scrap that then. What about astrology which includes, but is not limited to, palm readings, tarot cards, crystal glass divination, horoscope, and even feng shui readings on soul mates and compatible partners? With the underlying belief that in this entire universe, two people are destined to be with each other and love one another forever and ever and ever?

A bit hard to swallow that one since there are billions of people in this world and chances that two individuals will come face to face and fall desperately in love within moments of laying eyes upon each other is about zero to nil (is it patently obvious I'm no great believer of love at first sight?). And, that no matter how much love-attracting amulets and bangles you put on your body and incantations you recite, no partner, perfect or not, will come knocking on your door that easily.

Or why not be bitchy, once and for all, and say that the world we now live in has fostered the belief that only the rich, beautiful and the successful have the edge in the romance department and have robbed us mere hopefuls of our chance? That no one appreciates the meaning of true love anymore? And that by year 2010, with the growing number of homosexuals, single heterosexuals would all be shouting to high heavens to please have mercy on them all?

Really people, don't be picky please, guys shouldn't have cars and gals shouldn't have the boobs (excuse me) and the ass (excuse me, again) for them to be loveable.

Well, I hate to do a Pontius Pilate thing and wash my hands of the matter but it can't be helped. It would take someone far greater than me to be able to decipher that great mystery called romance. But, know what? Embarking on it is but half the fun.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

One with God and Nature

tagaytay tagaytay

We've always looked forward to our yearly Holy Retreat in High School. The ones in Tagaytay were even more so because we found the place perfect for its quiet and solitude.

Over the years, Tagaytay, also known as the Volcano Island, has become popular as a vacation area because of its proximity to Manila. Unlike Baguio which is farther and quite expensive especially during peak seasons. Tagaytay, on the other hand, is only about an hour drive from the Philippine capital. There, one can enjoy the cool climate and spectacular views of the Taal Lake. There is also the public park, Picnic Grove, with its quaint nipa hut cottages overlooking Taal (a great picnic spot!), great bargains for the local produce and horseback riding.

picnic grove

Going there for a retreat was also great. It has not earned the title of "Center of Spiritual Retreat" for nothing.

Our school, which was administered by the Augustinian Recollects, accordingly built a retreat house there. It was a spacious, low-lying building in a grassy hill. For Retreats, we stayed in a dormitory since there were at least 50 of us students with our Adviser and CLF teacher who was also an AR nun.

There were activities and sessions where we were made to commune with God and ourselves. There were a lot of moments of self-examination and quiet reflections. Of course, the requisite therapy of release in the form of crying was also very much present.

With prayers and reflection and the ever-present fun always in a group (of girls, too), we always found it to be a great time for healing and rejuvenation. No spa, expensive or otherwise, can ever compare to it. To be sure, it was one of the things I missed most in a Catholic school when I went to UP in college.

Our good teachers also made sure that we get to pass by the local market whenever we were there. That way, we get to spend all those allowance and bring home pasalubongs.

So, for locals and tourists alike, be sure not to miss this great haven. Tagaytay is truly nature at its best.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Nice Spot by the Bay

baywalk baywalk at nite

Manila Bay has always been famous for its spectacular sunsets. Many a photo has been taken of its darkening sky streaked with the last rays of the fading sun. The beauty of it used to stop there because no one dared to stay long on that darkened boulevard with the shady characters it might attract. That is, until the good mayor of Manila had the wisdom to fix the place up. Brightly colored lights were put up, the road fixed, several establishments set up and voila! The place becomes an instant tourist attraction. Crowded by people not only during the day but on nights as well.

It has actually become an "in" place where the youngsters and the young at heart go out for a night of fun by the sea with additional attractions thrown in such as good food, cool drinks, live bands, stand-up comedians, mimes, karaoke and a lot more. And, it's all pretty much affordable considering the availability and the variety. You can even go at it free just by strolling along the Baywalk. But, that is, of course, for the fierce of heart with all those tempting amusements all laid out.

It is truly heartwarming to see the place looking so lively and teeming with people. And, judging by the additional establishments and attractions that have sprung up, it must be pulling in a lot of money, which is really good for our working Filipino and our flailing economy.

So, if you're free and want to have fun at a pocket-friendly price, round up your family and friends and head on over to Baywalk. It promises to be truly a nice spot by the bay.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lost Grandeur

the met

The Metropolitan Theatre, or the Met, was truly beautiful when I first saw it with my classmates back in 1991.

Going there to watch the play "Ibong Adarna," we simply walked there from our school, Colegio de Santa Rosa, in Intramuros. The Met was a small but stately building nestled in a busy intersection between Quiapo Bridge and the Manila City Hall.

Standing there, we gazed at the Met. It was said to have been built in 1935 by Filipino architect Juan Arellano and was made famous by its beautiful art deco designs. The facade alone was very interesting with the stained glass and female bronze figures at the top's entrance. The interiors were even more eye-catching with murals and paintings and gilded walls.

Set in such ambiance, we found the play wonderful. "Ibong Adarna" instantly became more than the drab and dreary textbook to us with the characters come to life. My classmates, who were no more theatre afficianados than I, suddenly became one. Then and there, plans to see the play again were made. I do believe that the young male actors also had something to do with it.

It was a wonderful theatre experience. The next three years that we came back to watch Florante at Laura, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, were the same. We couldn't get enough of the Met. There we first realized that we can be more than the mall-frequenting, book-wary and culture-shy youngsters that we were.

But, now. The Met that we knew and loved was no more. It has gone to ruins. Almost deserted, the walls crumbling and the interiors dark and frightening, it's hard to imagine that it was once the grand theatre of the Philippines. Thronged by people and patronized not only by the Philippines social elite but by students and common people as well.

It is hard to pass by the Met without feeling sad about its state of disrepair. It's almost like seeing our very own Parthenon crumbling into ruins.

It was said that there are plans by the Manila City Government to rehabilitate the Met, but that was announced on billboards about 3 or 4 years ago and it still has not happened. I have not even seen the beginnings of said reconstruction. I do hope they'd hurry and put their proposed plans into action. Rehabilitating the Met would be a coup and everybody would be glad to see it running again. For not only is the Metropolitan Theater an architectural beauty but a historical landmark as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

At a Cost

A young man poised for life, a father of four young children, a simple lumberjack, they and a lot more (toll at 2,000 according to CCN count), dead in the war in Iraq.

It seems impossible to imagine that in our world now, full of technological breakthroughs and amazing discoveries, the act of war, that of sacrificing human lives for a cause, still exists.

Of course, conflicts abound. With a great number of people in this world and developing different cultures and perceptions, it is bound to arise. But, people have become more intelligent and diplomatic that we tend to go for the lawful way of resolving conflicts. That is why the concept of war has become almost an atrocity.

Terorism and violence brings the same feeling of revulsion. To combat these are the reasons cited by the US President for going into the Iraq war.

For us Filipinos, US and their war would seem much too far to bother ourselves with. But seeing articles about their mounting casualties, the families left by their dead soldiers, brought home the fact that, these too, are people. Much like us. I can only hope and pray that we don't go to war, ever.

I can only imagine what the women in America whose husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers go through in fear of their men's safety. More so with those who have lost their men in the war. My heart goes out to them.

I am no expert in international relations but surely the pain and suffering brought by war to a country's citizens should be enough to tell their President that it's not such a good idea. And, that maybe, just maybe, there's a far more nobler cause to fight for: To be able to simply live with the people one loves most.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My Lola


I cried last night.

I was watching the evening news when they featured a story on grandmothers doing a pageant thing. It brought such sharp memories of my Lola that I teared up. She died of pneumonia last August at age 73.

My Lola loved to dress up and was an active participant of many a parish festivity. She even became a proud Ginang ng Parokya at one time. Of course, that was for the benefit of the indigent parishioners.

My Lola was an avid taker of social and political issues that it was a long standing joke between us that she should have been the UP student and not I, her erstwhile politically disinclined granddaughter.

But, she was much, much more than the rally organizer, striding activist, and barangay official. She was, above all else, our beloved Lola. Our staunch supporter, our NO. 1 fan, and our family's champion.

I don't know how else I can describe her, except that, none of her family members, from her children, sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren would not have been well and good today if not for her.

I am able to walk unaided today because of her. She paid for my leg operation. I finished college with a great deal of help from her. My brother is alive today because of her. She paid for his huge hospital bill when he was attacked by unknown assailants when he was in his teens. My father did not go blind because of her. She helped pay for his eye operation and supported us when he was unable to work because of it. All of her relatives and her friends have in one way or another been helped by her.

She was a fighter and I have always looked up to her. When she became seriously ill last January, it was really hard for me to accept it. When she miraculously came out of it and went home, I could not bring myself to see her suffering. I seldom went to visit her and I deeply regret that now.

But I love her and I know she knew that. Though we wanted for her not to suffer anymore, the sadness, the pain of her loss is still there.

Don't worry, Lola. All that you've taught me by example I have taken to heart. I will always put my family first before anything. I will work hard and value my career. And, always I will put my heart to anything I've set myself to do. Just like you did.

We know we'll be okay because you'll be looking after us from up there. Like you always do. Thank you, Lola.



Saturday, September 17, 2005

Those 80's Shows

For women, TV and movie watching can actually be prescribed as an all-time cure and a relatively inexpensive form of therapy for all feminine maladies (next to window-shopping, of course). If TV monitors can speak, I'd bet there'll be a lot of exposes to end all exposes (Hello Garci, including) about their long-suffering female buddies. They are the silent witnesses to the confessions, ranting and tears of those who have turned into their offer of great, cinematic escape.

But, not all of those moments were in time of need. We do enjoy just plunking in front of the tube to watch our fave movies, series and stars.

To this day, I feel sad that all this great series have bade goodbye to the screens (sorry, if you don't recognize some of them, but of course, there's always Google to enlighten you and make you realize you've missed half of your life for not seeing them): Murphy Brown (smart, funny series about a frenetic career woman); From Rags to Riches (teen series that had a lot of fun song and dance numbers); Friday the 13th the Series (scary but believable stories); Quantum Leap (time travel forays); Beverly Hills 90210 (the great teen American series); Now and Again (sci-fi regeneration theory); Relic Hunter (great action and history series); Sabrina (pre-Harry Potter but no less magical days) and of course, Friends (need I say more about this?).

I wish they'd offer them again. I would still be an avid fan. I really enjoyed said series, those times when I'd laugh to my heart's content for the smart, sassy remarks of Murphy Brown, and the fast, furiously funny repartees of the Friend's cast. I miss seeing those teen series (even though I'm not one, anymore) because they made me see that although the kids in the US seem more glamorous and fun, they're still kids, after all and they're funny, too. I actually enjoyed being scared by all those missing, eerie antiques being tracked by cousins Ryan and Micki in Friday the 13th series. And (gasp!), I found relics and history interesting because of Sydney Fox in Relic Hunter.

Of course I have new favorites now: CSI, Will and Grace, 7 Days, What I Like About You, and our very own, Encantadia (great storyline and costumes!). And, the long-past Meteor Garden and Full House (telenovelas, sure, so sue me). All of these new shows can't compare with the ones before, though. They come and go.

No competition there. I don't know if it's an effect of capitalism. Shows constantly replaced by new ones when they're not piling up on the rates without thought that the shows that grow on people lasts the most. Those that they were able to identify with and have grown accustomed to. These are the shows that people take to their hearts and home. The ones that lasts, long after the TV curtains have come down.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Travesty

The impeachment case has been junked. I don't know how most people feel about this, but, I am thoroughly disgusted.

Those anti-impeachment members of the Congress should be held accountable for this. They truly do not deserve to have the trust placed in them by their constituents. They have shown quite flagrantly, who they obey and bow to, and it's not their people, the ones who voted for them and who have put them in those position, but GMA.

It is more than sad. It's infuriating. To have that position of responsibility, to be the voice of your people and be deliberately deaf and blind to it. They have become like their master. May their servitude bring them the goods they're hoping for because they'd only get to enjoy it here on earth and suffer thereafter. I doubt it would put them well in God's graces.

As for the distrust and discontent of the Filipino people, the coming days and months will really determine what GMA's judgment is. There won't be theatrics, haggling and debates anymore but a simple show of force by the people. There won't be lying mediators, such as the the administration congressmen, to block the people's intention to seek the truth.

As the saying goes, it ain't over till the fat man sings. Or, in this case, it's not over till the Filipino people says it so.

I am waiting to see what the real outcome of the people's judgment on GMA's case will be.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

St. Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.

Tag Attack

There's simply no way out of this. I have been tagged by two friends: Arnold and Ia. So, here goes...

* What are the things you enjoy doing even when there's no one around you?
- read a good book
- jot or write down my thoughts
- listen to some of my favorite songs
- indulge in happy reminiscing
- eat my all-time favorite, ice cream!

* What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level?
- playing with my daughter or doing her homework with her
- relaxing with my family by going out or watching DVD
- reading a good book
- blogging or writing

* Tag five friends and ask them to post it in theirs.
Vanessa
Luisa
Pao
Candy
Aisah

Thus, the tag goes...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Next Best Thing

I just finished the latest Harry Potter installment, the Half-Blood Prince. It was great, as expected. Now, this won't be a critique of the book. This post is just to extol the virtues of that wonderful writer, J.K. Rowling. She really is amazing. I'm almost tempted to believe that throwaway comment of my co-worker about her possibly being a witch herself. How she can talk about those things? And, in such a fashion?

She really has created a fantasy world out of Hogwarts and Potter. The characters have taken a life of their own that people seemed to think of them as next-door neighbors. I just know that we'll all be saddened once the series comes to an end. It has gone beyond the I-like-this-book-it's-great to I-love-this-book-it's-an-absolute-favorite.

While the most recent book has a sad ending with one of the major characters dying, it just left the readers desperate for the next, and it was said, last installment. While it would be great to have that, it would mean a doleful goodbye to something that has become an immensely enjoyable pastime in our lives.

Sure, we can go back to reading it again and again. But, it would be different. In our minds, Harry, Ron and Hermione will go on living but it won't be with us.

Harry Potter is not just enjoyable reading, it has become our playground where we are again, a child, wide-eyed and able to believe in the wonders both known and unknown to us. It' s a very nice feeling. And, one that would be most difficult to part with.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

People

I read this somewhere: the desperate need to compete stems from a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy.

Healthy competition is good if all it does is to motivate you to do your best and keep you on your toes. But if it goes beyond that, when you let it dictate to you and make you look, well, desperate, it's saying much about your self-esteem. Or rather the lack of it.

At a certain age, self-knowledge should be a given. You should know what you can and cannot do. What you're good at and where you're not so good at. Let's face it, there will always be something that others can do better than you. That's the way of life. Each is born with different talents and skills. We take what we have and we make the best of it. We can only build on what we have and we can only work on something up to a certain point. It's futile to want something that is never yours to begin with.

Sometimes one is 'lucky' enough to meet this kind of people. People who are not happy unless they have what they deem to be the approval, the admiration, and worse, the envy of others. They don't feel complete when they don't feel they are not the 'best,' whatever that is in their limited concept. They want to acquire friends. And it's not quality they're after, it's the number and the 'status' it confers. Empty flatteries, liberal sprinkling of gossips, depracating chats that meant to exclude others and make it seem that this needy person is at the center of a very popular clique of friends. Pathetic, attention-getting, and really immature.

I may not have a thousand friends, but, each of them counts in very special ways. Most of all, I'm thankful of what He has given me, a loving husband, a lovely daughter, family, friends, work, and health. I have never felt the need to prove myself to others. For those who matter to me have always believed in me. I know what I can do. I know my skills and the quality of work I am capable of. I am not defined by other's perception of me thus I am not limited by it. If they like me, fine, if they don't, well, one cannot please everybody.

It's pointless to engage in constant competition with others for it will only bring endless frustration and unhappiness. To measure oneself through other's standards is hardly sensible.

It's a cliche that life is not about winning or losing, its about loving and being happy. There's a whole lot of truth to it, though, and one which I most definitely agree.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Lazy

Feel so lazy these days. It's a real struggle to get up early mornings to go to work. How I wish I have the luxury to choose the days I'd want to go to work. That if I don't feel like it, I'll just snuggle up in bed with my loved one and take the day leisurely. Get up when I want to. Eat comfortably and watch DVD's all day long.

Especially when it's raining wet and cold outside, I'd want to burrow under the pillows and just forget about the outside world. Or while lounging in bed with a good novel, I'd get myself a hot milk and a platter full of warm chocolate chip cookies. Conveniently beside me also will be a stack of favorite DVD movies should the lure of books fail to hold.

Wow, that would be the life. But, hey, reality calls and all its practical demands such as money. So, off to work I go. I know I'm dragging my a** today, but this should pass. Like when payday comes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Political Hullabaloo

I am not into discussions of politics. Even while I was in U.P., where students take pride in being nationalistic and avid takers of political issues, I was one of the few exceptions. I am quite passive when something is of no direct concern to me. But, from what's happening in our country now, with all the political turmoil and ensuing economic downside, it seems impossible not to be involved. So, I will voice my opinion. Of course, I take full responsibility for it, but, I will not be criticized because it is my own.

In regard to PGMA, I believe in the Rule of Law. As such, all the complaints against her should be brought before the proper court. I believe in the process of impeachment. Take the case to the court and if she's found guilty then have her successor, vice-president de Castro, take her place.

But while I believe in due process, I would admit that I personally don't believe in her anymore. She has shown herself to be dishonest. She has said a lot of things that she did not mean. From her televised declaration that she won't be running for president anymore, to her supposed promises, and finally, to her public apology about her 'lapse in judgement'. All these showed a President that has no moral authority and personal integrity. And, for that, she has lost the people's trust, mine including.

While I won't join street protests, I understand these people's sentiments. Some of them are bought to join in, sure, but for the others who're truly doing something for what they believe in, the monetary compensation is just something extra. They want PGMA to resign. If the organizers of these anti-Arroyo protests are guilty of distributing money to the strikers, then so is PGMA's henchmen who did the same for the 'support rally' held at Luneta recently.

I also feel that PGMA has squandered enough of the people's money. We have incurred a lot of debts, more so than the previous administrations, through her. And, this, largely because of her desire to hold on to power. There were a lot of political indebtedness made from her re-election to her persistent clutch to the presidency today.

I see a lot of politicking already in life. There's no difference when you do it to one person and when you do it to a lot of people. The end result is the same, someone gets hurt. Being President and saying sorry should not excuse you from facing up to your wrongdoing. The people has taken a lot of beatings already, we shouldn't be made to take more. I don't want to say that the only reason GMA is still president is because we have no one better to replace her with. Is that the state of the country already? With the multitude of people serving us in the political arena, I don't want to believe for one minute that there isn't someone out there who is truly deserving to be President.

I opt for the lawful and peaceful way to resolve PGMA's case. For like many others, I don't want any violence or rough disruptions to our already troubled country. In my heart, though, I totally understand why there are a lot of people taking to the streets calling for GMA to resign.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Sense of Normalcy

The sun is shining, people are awake and moving, and I'm one of them! Thank God my office hours are back to normal. That really means a lot since I'm still in the call center industry where GY is the norm.

I've been in the morning shift since last week. I just didn't post something about it because I've been busy doing chores at home. My daughter is elated about the change in my schedule, too. I've been focusing on getting her up-to-date in her schoolwork which I previously was not able to do.

It's really different when you work during the day. There's a certain raw energy in it. I eat and sleep well, too, unlike when I was in the night shift.

The times spent at home are also great. I'm not too tired when I get home and I get to spend bonding moments with my husband and daughter.

There will be a cut in pay, though. No more night differentials for me. But, that's a price I'm very much willing to pay. It's just money, after all.

I just have to maintain good schedule adherence so that come next shift bid, I can still choose an AM shift. I mean, I can be a vampire at work, but I'd really prefer not to be. It's great to be one of the normal, 9am-5pm working people. Here's to the AM shift!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Level Up

Politics is a given in any workplace. That is something that an employee has to deal with. Unfortunately, knowing about it does not make it easier to accept. It's galling how people use certain issues to forward themselves and their own interests.

I work hard and I always try to do my best at it. I say that without conceit. I do my best because I see how much I benefit from it. As an individual and as a productive citizen. I would want to get promoted but I would want that on the basis of my performance and capabilities.

Although, I don't always see that fair process in regard to promotions, like how I know firsthand how some people get promoted on the basis of their connections and "pagiging sipsip," I still believe that in the end, one's capabilities and skills will be the deciding factor in one's growth in career. That might seem a naive belief sometimes but I would much rather hold on to that than lose heart at my job.

If an unworthy person gets promoted, sooner or later his or her inadequacies will surface. For not even his or her connections and "sipsip tactics" such as empty flattery, gossipy chats and "pabibo moves" to the higher-ups will make him do well at his job. And, if he or she gets really lucky and gets away with it, there is that higher authority to consider. I greatly believe in karma, that is, you get what you give in life.

In the end, those doubtful achievements will hardly make anyone feel great. Not if you know you didn't deserve them.

I wish everyone can be fair and just. We are already blessed with so much, life and the opportunity to work with others. If one is privileged enough to have a very good position, especially one that plays in the promotion of others, I can only hope and pray that they'll use it in the manner that befits them.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My Grandfather

It would have been my Lolo's 76th birthday yesterday. He died October of last year due to heart failure. My grandmother asked her children to prepare a special dinner and asked us to offer prayers for my grandfather in honor of the occasion.

I wasn't close to my Lolo. Even though, as the first grandchild, the much-loved 'apo', I was his favorite. At least until my brother arrived on the scene and then he became the favorite. Oh, well.

My grandfather was a difficult man. He was poor and didn't finish school but made something of himself through sheer hard work. He was a seaman until he retired at age 68. Even though he came from humble beginnings, he was able to earn much; he even became sea captain, and traveled the world through his work as an international seafarer. He expected the same of his seven children. To him, none of them came to par and he was greatly disappointed about it. In his later years, he became very bitter and did not hesitate to voice his angry disapproval of all his children and their respective spouses. It came to a point that most of them, along with their families, find ways to avoid him. I admit that I, too, was guilty of that in some respect. I didn't know what to say to my Lolo when he ranted about my father and mother and I found it easier not to get into a discussion with him.

My grandmother, who understandably loves her children and did not demand things from them, became angry with my Lolo for his treatment of their children. It caused an irreconcilable rift between them that in their old age, made them live under the same house with a nary a word to each other.

That was how it was when he died. I loved my grandfather, he was great with all of his grandchildren, but I felt sad that he alienated almost all of his family members. We couldn't do anything to pacify his bitter feelings over his children and then, it was already too late.

He wasn't perfect, but he was my Lolo. And, for that, I love him. I will always remember his caring ways when I was little. The way he'd bring me special toys from his trips abroad and his gentle reminders. I never doubted he loved me nor any of his grandchildren. He loved my Lola very much and so with their children. I guess he didn't know how to show it. He maybe thought that the only way for him to teach his children, even when it became obvious that it was already too late in their age, was to be hard and unrelenting.

I wouldn't really understand. His memories, though, will always be with me, his first granddaughter. Those I will forever hold dear.

I pray you are at peace wherever you are, Lolo. Belated Happy Birthday!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Meet the Parents

This is not about the highly popular movie that starred Ben Stiller. Rather, this is my musings about my own parents. My father, in particular since just this past Father's Day, I finally admitted to myself how much I don't want to be like him in terms of parenting.

Now, I don't mean to sound rude. And, I'm certainly not saying I'm a better parent than him. It's just that, until now, and I'm already 29 years old, I'm still hoping and praying for him to be better in terms of sense of responsibility, maturity, wisdom, and most especially financial independence. At the last count, he rates zero on all four. That's sad for someone of his age.

Being the eldest, and good thing there's just the two of us; I've always been the one to take up the slack on my parent's part. Which is, more often than not, always. That would not have been too much of a problem if I were still single. As it is, with a family of my own and with a four-year-old daughter, I don't have much room to maneuver.

It just gets tiring sometimes. Yet, I don't have the heart to turn my back on my mother and brother when they're left in the lurch due to my father's unwise decisions, if they may even be called that.

See, my father can't help himself. Or doesn't want to. He's afflicted with an addiction to gambling. Ever since I can remember, I know him to be a player to all sorts of betting games. Name it, he's tried it and gone back to it again and again at the expense of everything.

He used to have a very good job as a seaman overseas. With his salary in dollars, he was able to finance his gambling. We were okay then, too, since my mother's mandatory remittance was something he could not touch when he was working abroad. So, all's well and I was even able to finish grade and high schools in an exclusive school.

But, then, he got sick with a cataract. I believe his all-night gambling sprees are to be blamed for that, too. When he can get away from work, and he'd really make sure of that, he'd gamble to his heart's content. He'd go for days without eating and sleeping right when he's on the betting tables. When he's on vacation here, there isn't much difference when he's away at sea because I don't get to see him anyway. He loves gambling, he absolutely revels in it. And, for the love of me, I couldn't understand it. I can't see why he'd work hard and then spend it all on a risk. A gamble that when lost, only brings him anger and frustration. (He used to break things when he's really angry about losing in bets.)

He underwent an eye operation and became well. He wasn't able to work abroad, anymore though. And, that's when we really felt the problem. To say we became hard up was putting it mildly. I didn't get to enjoy college as much as I would due to the ever-present financial concerns.

My grandmothers, on both sides, were very helpful, though. But, it wasn't the same since I felt embarrassed to approach them about those things. It wasn't their responsibility and it took a lot for me to come to them for help. In a way, I blamed my father for putting my mother and I in that position.

I really was in a hurry to work after college. Now, it helps a lot that I am able to earn. I provide for our family. I'm still not seeing any improvement in my father's behavior, though. In fact, he's getting worse. Now, he even asks me for money. Of course, I don't give him any except for the occasional jitney fares.

I shudder to think what he'll do when he's really old and no longer able to work and wanting to gamble still. I really pray he'll realize what he's doing before it comes to that.

Sometimes, when you really meet your parents, when you realize that they're not perfect as you thought they were when you were little, when they were giving you all those life lessons, it's sad. But, I guess in that, they're teaching you something, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Pre-Schooler

chantelle in her CSR uniform in her first day of school


My daughter, Chantelle, started her first day at Kindergarten on 6 June 2005 at Colegio de Santa Rosa, Manila. My mother accompanied her and was allowed to stay all through the period, which was from 7 to 11:30 in the morning.

It went fairly well. In fact, she was very excited and was up early. When they got there and after the morning school ceremony was over, she went quietly with the teacher to the classroom. She didn't cry or anything about the new surroundings or the great number of kids and students she saw.

My mother told me though, that Chantelle kept standing up during the class and looking out the window to check if she was there. It would seem that everything's okay with her as long as she knows her grandmother was there.

Thus, her first day at school went.

After the initial excitement, I was afraid that she'd get tired of school. Thankfully, though, that did not happen. Sometimes, it's hard to get her up in the mornings, but, once she's taken her bath, she doesn't need any prodding to dress and hurry in time for her school service to pick her up.

The second week, when the parents or guardians are no longer allowed beyond the school gate, we just sent her off on her school bus. I thought she'd make a fuss but she didn't. She really seems to like school which is great.

One day, though, after coming home from school, she told me nonchalantly that she didn't get a star (its their top grade) from her teacher. I asked why, and she told me that she refused to write when her teacher asked her to. I know that she has a little trouble writing now and I understand. So, I just told her to at least try and that if she doesn't know how to do something, then she should ask help from her teacher. She thought about that and then nodded yes to me. I thought that that was it. But the next day, she did the same thing, refused to write in school. I scolded her then, telling her to work hard in school. I know she's still young but I feel she needs to realize the importance of education at an early age. I then sat with her to let her try to do some writing. She was able to do it after some prodding. I would have to guide her closely on that, I guess.

But, beyond that, I feel really happy that my daughter is in school now. She's met a lot of friends already and are learning a lot of things everyday. She tells me about her school activities and it's gratifying to hear her enjoying school (even if the tuition's really high!). But, that's not something I would want her to worry about. My husband and I will make sure of that.

So, school begins for my daughter Chantelle. Still a lot of years ahead for her in the academe. And, I pray she'll really like every minute and learn and enjoy from it.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Odd Hours

Just when I conditioned myself to work in the morning shift, it was announced that the 24x7 hours of our account's operation has again been put on hold. Life really is unpredictable. But, since I don't have a choice, I'll look at it in a different view: money-wise. The pay's really good when one is working on a night shift. You get all that night differentials that somehow makes up for the shockingly large tax the government imposes on its working people.

So, I'll have to do with my schedule for now. After all, working on the graveyard shift has never been a problem for me. I'm one of those night people (dracula's next-of-kin, hahaha) who's wide-awake at night and asleep during the day. If my body clock works that way, might as well get paid for it, right?

My concern's with my child. She's in kindergarten now and needs to be attended to before and after school mornings. I can't do that, though. Usually, when I get home, I'm already tired and just about ready to hit the sack. It's my mother who attends to her and I feel sad that it has to be that way. I'd want to do that for my child.

Also, in the afternoons, when she has to do her homework, I'm still asleep. The other day, she already complained that I'm always sleeping. Of course that's because she's asleep when I'm at work and awake when I'm home and resting. Talk about a crazy schedule.

My husband is on the same boat. We have almost the same schedule. I can only hope and pray that our child doesn't develop some kind of problem over that. We do try hard to give her our undivided time and attention during our days off.

I don't want to look for another job, though. I like my work now and it pays really well. So, my best option really is the morning shift. I'd be working while she's at school and there for her in the late afternoons and evenings.

Well, I'm praying now that the 24x7 hours of operation goes through and as soon as possible. That would really be great news for me.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

That Old Feeling

It took only one glance in your picture for that old wonderful feeling to come back. I missed you. I am not supposed to nor do I particularly want to but, there it was. No denying it.

I want to tell you how much that particular summer spent with you meant to me but I can't. I want to tell you, as I wanted to tell you then, how much I like you. I don't know why you have that power over me. You're quiet and not at all great-looking. Your fashion sense was unheard of and you'd much rather stay in the background always.

So why this? And, until now? Maybe it's your intelligence, your quiet and gentle ways, your thoughtfulness... Anyway, I can think from here to eternity but still not come up with a suitable answer. But, I guess that's the way it's always been with matters of the heart.

We lost touch after college, but I tried to wait for you. Even though you did not give me any concrete indication that you'd want me to. It was presumptous, I know, but I didn't care. There was this silly hope that one day we could be together. Crazy, huh?

But, Life went on a different course for me. I could never be sorry about it. I love the people in my life. Deeply so. And, I would never dream of hurting them in any way.

I guess with you, my heart takes on a life of it's own. As if I were free and priviledged to do so, I think about you and me, together. Just like we were that summer. It was so perfect that, even now, I could remember every nuance, every thought, every moment.

When I found out that you already have someone special, I was angry at you. I still am. I felt betrayed, somehow. As if you were confirming that that summer meant nothing at all to you. I shouldn't be and I know I don't have the right. Now, I am grateful that I didn't tell you of my feelings then. I would have just looked foolish. At least, I still have my pride.

As hard as it was to accept, silly heart notwithstanding, it wasn't meant to be. I firmly believe that if two people really love each other, even if everything goes against them, they will be together. And, as what happened between you and me, or rather, what NOT happened, is a testimony of the very craziness of the idea.

Maybe I'll always be just a little in love with you. For, I know that my good memories of you was somehow mixed up over my college euphoria. That's what made the feeling stand out. So, I'll just savor those memories for they do bring a smile to my face. And, then on with my life and my loves.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Blog for a Cause

I'm on my work shift and I feel so sleepy. Used to be able to access a site where free ebooks were provided but it's not working anymore. Maybe the person who put it up has decided, along with every capitalist in the country, that it's a waste to provide something that nice without a fee. Well...

Hate to just stare at my screen doing nothing. As much as I try to fight it, my eyelids keep drooping and I feel like getting comfortable on my seat. Much too comfortable which can very well earn me a warning from the powers-that-be should they see me lounging drowsily on my seat.

Hence, the post. An escape from the deceptively nice comforts of dropping off for a quick nap. Actually, surfing the net and using non-work related websites, such as blogger, have also been forbidden at work. But, seeing as I haven't mastered the art of looking wide awake and alert while my mind is off to dreamland makes me quite sure I'm choosing the path of lesser evil.

It's easier to hide what I'm doing on my computer than pretending not to be asleep at my seat. So, I'll just try to be casual and wave and smile while I close non-work related website whenever the authorities get too close. Really, I don't relish being made to feel like a criminal at work by not sticking to that rule. Surely there are lots of useful sites on the net. I believe that reading and learning from them is much more productive than sitting and doing nothing. But, again, it's not within my sphere of influence. Nor something I can do anything about. So, I'll do my own thing and hope that everything will fall into place. Like, hopefully, circumstances take a good turn at work.

Yeah, I know I can beat Sleep at work. No caffeine or energy boosters needed. Just, one simple blogging.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tita Luz

My maternal grandmother went to the local market one day and came home, not only with the family's food for that day, but a child as well. She was about 8 or nine years old and her name was Luz.

My grandmother relates that she was doing her round on the public market looking for the best produce when she noticed this thin, little girl following her. She thought that she was one of the seller's kid and didn't pay much attention. But, when she was finished and gone out of the marketplace, the girl was still on her heels. She looked around but there doesn't seem to be an adult watching for the child. She beckoned her to come over and though hesitant at first, the little girl opened up to say that she has nowhere else to go because her mother had abandoned her. My grandmother took pity on the girl. She took her home with her.

Nowadays, that decision would not have been very smart. Some would even say stupid because it smells like a set-up. What if it was a con?

But my grandmother obviously did not think it was such. And, she was right. For my Tita Luz, as we came to know her became part of the family. My grandma's two natural children, my mother and my Tita Linda, accepted her readily.

At that time, my grandmother had separated from her husband, my grandfather, and was the sole provider for all her children. That is why, I find it even more admirable that she'd take on that responsibility. For she did not stop with Tita Luz, she adopted another baby from an impoverished relative and named it Wellina.

My grandmother worked hard by doing buy and sell while tending a local sari-sari store and thus provided for them all. When her children where in their teens, she met a man who became her second husband. Things did not work out for them and they separated as friends. But, the gentleman, who have no hopes of fathering a child and who became close to my Tita Luz, asked my grandma to let him raise my Tita.

Tita also became close to him and she willingly agreed. The man promised to take good care of my Tita and he did. She grew up and studied but maintained contact with my grandma and her sisters even when they moved to a different place.

My grandmother went to work at the Far East years ago and is still there but Tita Luz always visited us with her three kids during special occassions. Sadly, though, she married a poor and lazy man and had a difficult life. Her adoptive father and my grandmother still helped her, but she loved her husband and suffered through. She did not even once complained to us.

Three weeks ago, her children came to tell us that she was in the hospital being treated for fatigue. She was hard-working and helped her seasonal working husband by taking on sewing jobs. But, they said she wasn't in any danger and so we just extended a little financial help to them. Then, last Friday, May 6, we got a call from them with the news: their mother, Tita Luz, had died.

Her adoptive father, ailing and old, shouldered most of the expenses. But, due to her long stay at the hospital, his finances had already been stretched. The husband had no money whatsoever and it was sad how it all became a bit of a problem getting her laid to rest.

My grandmother still doesn't know. We're waiting for her to call so we can give her the news. How terribly sad she must feel once she hears that, the little girl she once rescued from abandonment at the local market, the little girl she took home and let into her heart and life as one of her daughters, has gone.

My Tita Luz left three young children. She was buried on May 8, Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Filial Matters

I came to work on a slightly sour note. I was getting ready to leave when my mother told me about my grandmother's request. Money again. I love my grandmother and I'm grateful for all that she's done for us before. She worked hard and gave much to her children and their family. But, there's the rub, she did everything that she inadvertently made almost all of them entirely too dependent on her.

Now, I'm no expert when it comes to effective parenting. I don't believe anyone is, really. One can only guide and do so much for one's child but with the environment, other people, and lesson and values they will develop by themselves in life, there's no foolproof plan for a child to turn out well.

That is, of course, not an excuse for an adult as for all of my Lola's children are. I feel that, at their age and their mother's age, they should take it upon themselves to turn their situations around. There are no hopeless cases in life. They are, after all, able to work. They have been given all the opportunities, education and support, from their mother, my Lola, when she's still able to do so and its their turn to give that back.

My Lola's youngest child fared better in school and work. He's not married and he helps, but is cursed with that dreadful disease called Arrogance. He makes it a point to let everybody know, by telling gossipy neighbors and by shouting at and belittling his unemployed brothers, that he's the sole provider of the family when of course, he's not. My Lola, even at her age and condition, is still earning money from her work at our local barangay and as you can expect, still provides for much. I, the only one employed among my Lola's grandchildren, also helps. Not a lot, though, since I have my own family to take care of.

Although I can understand my youngest uncle's frustration, trying to fill the role of my dead grandfather, his impatience with his younger brothers for not producing money, nothing can be had by being bitter and angry over giving. Since he wants to handle all the money coming in for my grandmother, he should be prepared for the responsibilities of budgeting. He's determined to sell the family home with no thought of where his brothers and their families will live. And, that just seems irresponsible too.

With him handling all the money and the family's affair, there's been tension and ill-feeling at the family home. The much older children, who are not able to give in terms of money, can only offer their care and attention to my Lola. Which is still a lot. No unpaid person will do that much to someone and with love.

I don't believe that helping one's family is something that needs to be broadcasted to the neighbors, especially gossipy neighbors. There's no glory in that at all. If one is blessed with a good-paying job and is able to help his loved ones, that in itself is a blessing and an accomplishment. In this world, we are each given a role to fulfill and a responsibility owed to someone. Sometimes, we get tired but there'll be no one to help you and your loved ones if you don't do it yourself. Self-glorification certainly won't help. There won't be any ribbons pinned to you if you've alienated your own family.

Friday, April 08, 2005

In the Face of Change

Changes and more changes still. I am one of those who prefer to give surprises rather than be on the receiving end. That's why the seemingly endless new policies and updates at work make me want to just hide somewhere and wait till things have calmed down. Like how one huddles at home when there's a raging storm outside.

It's not like I'm opposed to changes. It is after all as the saying goes: change is the only permanent thing in this world. It's inevitable and there's nothing that one can do about it. But, sometimes, it's convenient and comforting to slip into a kind of routine. Where one can expect things to be the same as they were yesterday. No thrills, but definitely no surprises either.

The thing about change is that there's always a bit of pain or sadness involved. Letting go of what you were used to and adjusting to the new. One can always tell oneself that everything's alright. But, deep down there's a kind of struggle to accept that in the tide of life, one cannot always go against the current. That however much we try, we can only be helplessly swept away by whatever course life takes.

But, I am also a pragmatist and prefer to think of what can be realistically done in a given situation. I don't like to bemoan things which cannot be changed. So, in the face of what's happening at work, inspite of the many sad changes, and the fact that I again have to go on the night shift, I'll just think of the money I'll be making and the many comforts it will bring to my family. Yes, very capitalistic of me. But, hey, it's better than nothing. And, money is a great motivator to do things not entirely to your liking.

Most of the time, a situation isn't good or bad. It's just something we have to ride out.

So, bring it on.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II

The Pope is dead. The words are stark in their simplicity. Simple and yet searing.

I am a Catholic but I don't go to church regularly. I am one of those who believe that faith goes beyond the religious observance of church rituals and ceremonies. That above all, one's personal relationship with God and everyday thoughts and actions reflect a person's true character and faith.

But, upon hearing the news, I was deeply saddened, almost as if a relative has died. He was miles away and I hadn't even met him but the pain I felt was personal.

I saw that I wasn't the only one who felt that way. Millions felt grief that most of them cried. It was a tribute to him. And served only to emphasize how deeply he had touched our lives.

What's comforting though is, the immediate sense of acceptance after. We feel that it was right and that it was time for him to move on.

We lost a beloved Pope. He who has been our guide to our Heavenly Father has been called home. But, the legacy of faith and peace and goodwill he has left behind are so great that just as he has served God's people in life, so shall he too, in death.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Light Relief

In one of my book review projects in college, a professor once commented that happiness cannot be sustained, that was why he prefer to read political, practical or self-help books. It sparked a debate that lasted all throughout the period. And, I say now as I did then, that I beg to differ.

Life, as it is, can sometimes be difficult. So, people find diversions or ways to escape their problems even for just a moment. These can either be constructive or destructive depending on the person.

Aside from tv, movie-watching tops the list. I admit that I like to watch funny romantic movies that my husband and even my male friends scoff at. They say those movies are pure nonsense and are a waste of one's time. Of course, I vehemently disagree with that.

My all-time favorites of Sound of Music, Pretty Woman, Serendipity, Clueless, A Walk to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle, Sweet Home Alabama, Shrek, Toy Story and such have all provided me with much enjoyment and comic relief. Trying times or no, it's pure pleasure just to plonk in front of the TV, insert the copy of said movie into the player, lie back into the pillows with a handy box of chips and nachos, and lose oneself in the fairy-tale drama where hope, happiness and love always reigns.

It's true that it's not realistic. And, watching and believing in those movies will not solve any problem. But how can it hurt when, after watching such movies, a person feels much braver and hopeful in life? The childlike feeling alone generated, of being safe and warm and loved and of endless adventures in life, is priceless.

Not that I don't appreciate Schindler's List, Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves and other deep, serious, and issue-oriented movies, but in terms of preference, I would most definitely go with the other.

One already sees and reads such terrible news in media so why be depressed more by reading and watching like stories?

Happiness, like all other emotions, cannot be indefinitely sustained. But, it's something we all should work at. And, if ever we need additional help in that department, then watching funny, feel-good movies with loved ones is definitely one answer.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Beyond the Obvious

I just read a blog from a college acquiantance about love, life and sex. But, mostly about sex. She was so open about that aspect in her life it was a bit surprising. See, when I met her in college she was innocently simple, sweet and charming. Of course, a lot of years have passed and people change but I still couldn't quite reconcile the girl, or rather the woman from her blog to what I remembered of her in college. She seemed very much like a woman of the world now. Independent, career-driven and living the really fast life.

Now, before you go and get the wrong idea, she is NOT a sex maniac. She just happens to be very open about her sensuality and her subsequent escapades in that department. Pretty amazing, in fact. Not the number nor the scale of her feats but her very attitude about the whole thing.

I admit that I consider that admirable. For a woman to wear her heart on her sleeve and be so open about her sex life is really amazing. Especially in a culture such as the Philippines who hasn't quite shaken off the old world ideals of a woman pure and untouched until her monogamous and lifelong marriage. And the taboo of being public about certain subjects such as sex.

Her posts reflect an image of a strong woman who is a deep lover of love and life. One who's not afraid to foray into the unknown and take risks simply because she follows what her heart, and not her head, tells her to do.

You may wonder who she is and might even want to read her blog just so you see what I'm talking about, but since I'm not a friend of hers and don't have her permission, I cannot say. You might say that's bull. It's a blog and as such, fit for public consumption, right? Wrong, like most blogs, hers has a tone to them that makes the reader feel that the posts should not simply be read, but felt and understood as well.

Truly, not everything is what they seem. Like, if a person happens to chance upon her blog, reads it, and gets the idea of a wild woman whose morals seem a bit too loose, it would be a natural conclusion. But, again too simplistic and much too hasty a judgment.

I myself thought that the person in question underwent a catastrophic metamorphosis if I not remembered the way she spoke and thought when we were in college. She is not like what her face-value blog portrays. I realize that if that's the case, then others like her, women who find it easy to flirt and go into one-night stand should not be dismissively labelled as "easy" or "loose". They, like most people, are only looking for love and affection. They may not always go about it in a way others would deem right or acceptable, but again, emotions rule them. They are best happy when in love. And, since happiness is a one commodity that people should always have a lot of, who are we to say that it's wrong?

Just as there will always be believers and skeptics, so too are the incurable romantics.

Monday, March 07, 2005

In Cupid's Absence

I used to think that my life's pretty boring. That is, the everyday formula of home-school-home-school with just the occasional night out with friends. My usual company, aside from family and and a few close friends, were books. If ever there was a contest for The Most Uneventful ergo The Most Boring Life, I definitely would have qualified.

I wasn't complaining about it. I mean, it was peaceful and uncomplicated, but at times, I longed for something just so it could be a bit more special.

Now, I can't even imagine my life ever been boring. With a husband and a four-year-old daughter, the hours of the day seem not to be enough to do everything and do it well.

There is always something left to do. Some little thing to be finished. If, before, I used to think of activities to fill my time, now, i can't even plan! I just do what needs to be done right away. Which is a lot when one is working and there's a home and a child to attend to. Upon getting home at the end of a work day, one is faced with dirty clothes, the dishes, and the clutter. The woes of household chores.

I'd think of my single life before when I could just laze around, daydream and mull over things. Wake up and clean my clutter whenever I wanted. Leave and get out when I want to. But, now, I hardly have time for myself. Spouse and child can be most demanding of one's time.

But, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Far from it. Being a wife and mother on top of one's career is a lifetime's work but it is infinitely rewarding. A smile, a small task mastered by my child, a tender hug or a kiss from my husband is enough to make me at peace with the world. They're my own little haven.

So, what's the point of going on about this? I guess its just a reaction to what my single and available friends have been lamenting. Most of them are members of NBSB (No Boyfriend Since Birth) society while some can't find a serious relationship with a guy. They're all saying how life seems to be passing them by, no excitement, no thrills and definitely no Prince Charming sweeping them off their feet.

Unfortunately, not even tarot cards nor Madam Auring's crystal ball can whip up good, enduring and ready-made romances for these friends of mine. But, surely love will come. It's just a matter of time.

All those fairy-tales of princesses living happily ever after with their respective prince would not have endured all these years if people didn't believe in them. If there wasn't a touch of the romantic in each and everyone then these stories would not have passed from generations to generations. Each story beautiful and ideal with which we can pattern our own.

Of course with this playful imp called Life, not everything will always go as planned. So, if it's taking some time for that Romeo to stumble into you, worry not, for sooner or later he will come. For now, savor that sweet, uncomplicated and totally free moments of being single. Just do what you always like to do best and soon, a wonderful guy will see that in you and love you for it.

Cupid's love arrows may not be raining much now but women have been blessed with patience and the arts of gentle persuasion that will always put them in good stead in winning over their men. The world is full and round and we cannot stop meeting people, knowing them, and possibly loving them than we can stop ourselves from breathing.