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


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.