Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye to the Angry Years

I am taking a break from the preps for tonight's media noche. I remember I had no time to post the whole month of December as it was the busiest month I've had this year. But as a year ender, I'd like to say goodbye to the last last four years.

2008 was a very trying year for me and my family. That year was the start of the "angry mode" I was automatically shifted to by some strange forces I had little control of. I was angry at certain individuals, some of whom were even very significant to me; I was angry at institutions, for their lack of mechanisms that could have made my plight easier to handle. I was so angry and the anger stretched into years. I floundered helplessly as the objects of my anger came to fore and I was destroyed beyond recognition. Until one day, I came face to face with what I have become and I was astounded and frightened that I am fast becoming someone I am not meant to be. I remembered the one person -my father- who was such a great model of kindness and amiability and asked God to save me from the elements of evil that have turned my person upside down.

I knew I had to exert more efforts towards the changes that I long for myself. With a lot of help from my trusted friends and with my family as my inspiration, I slowly got back on the right track. The antagonism that occupied the space between me and some persons have slowly faded and civility followed. Except for this one lost soul who chose to perpetuate the evil she was used to in her formative years, I can say 2011 will end with a happy note. I am now deliberately checking on myself whenever I am piqued so that whatever she does to annoy me, I just turn my head the other way, where I can see better people who can take me to better places- where things shape up in more positive ways.

Goodbye, angry years. From now on, I will strive to connect with my inner self more so that I can achieve the change that I seek.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Losing Nina

I wanted to write about her since the week she died, but I didn't get to. There was that hole-like something inside me since that moment that I read this message on the night of November 8, 2011 from our classmate Vicky Pagsibigan in our group site:

Re: [fabfourone70] Carolina B. Cruz


The next day, I opened her account at Facebook and posted this on her wall- wishing that somehow, she would know that I mourn her death-

How do we say goodbye to a dear, dear friend who did not want to bother us with all her worries and pains and instead kept them all to herself? It's pretty difficult. I will miss you, Nina. I will forever treasure our days together at Marcelo; our days at T-170B, UP Diliman; the semester we spent together in your aunt's apartment in Cataluna St., in Sampaloc, wading into the floodwaters of Espana as we go to Diliman for our classes; your assistance to my son at BSU; the little secrets we shared; your gentle ways. You've been an angel here on earth. No doubt the Lord has a special place for you in heaven.
Like ·  · See Friendship · November 9 at 6:49am ·

I last spoke to her on the phone sometime in July this year- when Yollie Torres, another classmate, came for a short visit. That call was for her to attend a dinner with Yollie, hosted by our class valedictorian, Vic Mariano, who has just been appointed DOST Regional Director for Reg. 3 then. She begged off saying she is still recuperating from an illness. It showed in her voice so I did not insist. Her last outing with our classmates was in 2005, when Angie San Pedro went home for a quick visit and a little later, when Frank Santiago came home to bury his mother in Hagonoy.

When we went to UP together, along with a number of our classmates, Nina took up Business Administration. She was persuading me to shift to BA, but it was her who ended up shifting to BSE, major in Math. There were times during our college years when my Tatay and I would come over to their house in Sto. Rosario, Malolos. I distinctly remember one time when we were served nilagang gabi with niyog and asukal by her parents. It was so good I took note of it and made it a regular merienda fare at home, until now.

She has been sick for while, owing to the fact that her heart is not functioning so well. She even asked me once to go with her to see my son's heart doctor. But it never happened. For some reason, she changed her mind about seeking another opinion. According to her eldest sister, there was a need to replace a valve in her heart, a procedure she did not undergo. It must have been so painful and heartbreaking for her mother, sister, brother, nephews and nieces to lose her within a month of her younger sister Choly's death. She and Choly had the exact, same heart condition. She was buried alongside the graves of her father Andres and her sister Choly. The family lost two daughters with the same medical condition in less than a month's time. Life is really strange.

Goodbye for now, dear Nina. Your time has come while we, the ones you left behind, have no way of knowing when ours will come. But your death is a reminder to us that we have to live each day to the fullest, after all, it's the only life we've got.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Finding Rachel

She wasn’t really lost. I just lost track of her.

Rachel Recomono was my boardmate at 103 Valenzuela St., Area 2, UP Diliman, Quezon City. It was one of those row houses inside the UP campus, then occupied by Mrs. Nenita Ocampo, a math professor, and her family. There were six boarders occupying three double deck beds in one of the two rooms in that house. I recall that I was there ahead of Rachel. Although we both entered the university in 1970, we did not have a chance to be classmates even in a single general education subject. I was taking up BSE, she was pursuing AB Mass. Comm.

Rachel and I had different circles of friends, owing to our respective courses, but it became easy for us to befriend each other. In fact, as our stay in that boarding house progressed, we became a threesome with a much younger student, Joy Versoza.  The three of us shared an experience which has now become a memory, one which a wise man said is like wild violets, better oft left untouched.

After graduation in 1975, I stayed one more year in that house, which I loved so much, since I was accepted at the high school department of Maryknoll College. Joy was still with me then. Rachel went on carving her own future, but we had no cue as to what she was into at the time. When I decided to get married in 1976, I wanted very much to have both her and Joy in the entourage. Since I did not know where she was then, I ended up having only Joy as my bridesmaid. She should have been the other one.

Sometime after my marriage, I was surprised when she came to my hometown and asked around about my whereabouts. We hugged each other so tightly when she was guided by a neighbor into my in laws’ house where my husband and I were staying. We spent the afternoon just chatting on the second floor of the house.  Then she was gone again.

In the early 80’s, she again surprised me by coming over, this time to a house where I, my husband and three children were staying. I was overjoyed upon seeing her again and learning that she was then with UNESCO in Paris, France. She, in fact, brought me a bottle of red wine then. Early on, she has sent me some pictures of her taken with the Eiffel Tower as the background.  My daughter Timmy was still a little girl then, and up till now, she remembers that in that visit, her Tita Rachel gave her a lavender bag, which I know is just somewhere in our closets, since neither Tim nor I don’t just throw away things given to us.

Many years passed and we lost track of each other. When I learned how to work on the internet, I tried looking for her in as many ways as I knew how. On Facebook, I tried dropping some messages to people surnamed Recomono but I did not get positive results. In fact, I wrote a certain Rach Recomono, whose name I thought may have come from my friend’s name, but I did not get a reply. I was disappointed, but I very well understood her since I was a total stranger. One time I searched and found there a Rachel Recomono from France  without an email address. Since the name was part of a group, I tried emailing one with an address. The lady replied that the Rachel Recomono she knows was a 22 year old student and might not be the one I was looking for based on my given description.

Life went on.

Until Thursday, November 25, 2011. I was about to shut off the computer when I remembered checking my email for messages coming from my husband’s clients in Saudi Arabia and in Canada. I no longer email my friends since all of us are in Facebook, anyway. As I opened my inbox, my attention was caught by one from a Rachel Apertiti with the subject Rachel Recomono. It turned out it was my friend Rachel’s daughter and she was giving me the address where I can communicate with her mom. Somewhere in my inbox was another email, this time from Rachel Jakubowicz, the Rachel I knew, telling me she discovered my blog through her daughter. After an exchange of short emails, we are linked once again. Now we are reconnected. And it was such a blessing my heart overflows with so much happiness.

I was looking for Rachel, but she found me, instead!

Now I remember again the Rachel I knew. She -with that very voluptuous body (she loves figure hugging shirts which she carried with aplomb), with hair so fine and so long. She who reads and reads very thick paper bound novels  in between her  school activities. She who goes to the beach alone to unwind. She who loved "Harry" or Cliff Richard with all her heart. She who said I was a good letter writer which made me think I can write, even if the topics are limited to my own experiences. It was Rachel who brought me all the way to her aunt’s house in Olongapo City one week end without my father’s knowledge.  If it wasn’t her, my very smart and audacious friend, who talked me into going there, I would not have gone. Rachel was so gutsy and fearless I knew I was safe in her company. As I write this, I recall bits and pieces of the many times we would go to her place in Pasig, near the kapitolyo, especially that one time when her mother cooked chicken adobado for us- a Bicolano fare. Both I and Rachel have Bicolano roots- maybe it was one of the reasons why despite the years of being apart, our hearts remained connected.

I know I won’t lose Rachel again. I just have to remember-

"We all lose friends...we lose them in death, to distance and over time.
But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in
your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right
where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave
the light on." - Amy Marie Walz

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear Ate Saling

Just as I was trying to finish the book Kapeng Arabo by Manny A. Garcia, I received a private message on my Facebook account from a dear friend and classmate in graduate school back in 1999. She was then a new teacher, single and was very idealistic about the teaching profession. In her message, she was asking for some advice on her present predicament. Her letter reads-

Dear Ate Saling,

Musta na po kau. Sencia ka na po, Ikaw ang naisip kong hingan ng advice. Kasi mukhang ang happy ng family mo based sa pictures na naka-post dito sa fb. Ate, nasa ____ pa rin ako at in charge sa third year. Konti lang students namin kaya hindi ako masyadong hirap. Saka pag non-sectarian hindi masyadong mahigpit ang admin. Kaso, super kunat sila sa sweldo. Di ba nasabi ko na po syo yung problema ko sa Tatay ko. Talagang pilit nya akong pinag-aabroad kasi daw walang mangyayari dito. Ako din kasi ang inaasahan nila. Saka yung mister ko po kasi naglalabas lang ng jeep na hindi sa amin. Meron na po akong kausap na tutulong sa akin makaalis para maging DH sa HK. Sabi po ni Tatay sila na ni Nanay ang bahala sa 5 years old kong daughter. Nahihirapan po ako magdecide. Yung mister ko po ako daw bahala. E kasi po hindi rin sila magkasundo ni tatay kasi driver lang daw po ang pinili ko. Ate, alam ko wala kang pakialam sa buhay ng iba pero kahit konting insights lang sana mabigyan mo ako. Thanks po sa abala.

Minda ( not her real name)

The letter made me smile. Since when have I become an Ate Charo or an Ate Helen or a Kuya Eddie? Haha! But I need to answer her asap. Instead of answering her through the message box of FB, I thought maybe I should blog about this. So here's my reply to your letter, Minda.

Dear Minda,

Your letter was so short and yet I have so many points to answer.

First, yes, I have a very happy family, BUT, we also have our own share of sorrows. Hindi mawawala yan sa kahit kaninong pamilya.

I am glad that you are still teaching. I told you then that you were good and good teachers are what our schools need right now. Math ka pa naman. Ang maganda sa profession natin, we can achieve excellence even on our own, independent of other people, but of course, with some help from institutions, like a graduate school, na mas makakaganda. If you will quit teaching with a low salary and become a DH with a higher compensation, do you think it is a sort of a promotion? The answer can be found in your heart. Nowhere else.

Whatever we do, whether we decide for ourselves or follow the dictates of others, is reflective of the hierarchy of values that we have. If your father's wishes are more important to you than the family you are building now, why did you get married, in the first place? And why are you still with your parents? Is there no way you could live independently? Masarap bumuo ng decision ang isang couple pag silang dalawa lang ang tumitingin sa buong picture. Hindi pwedeng isa lang sa inyo. Have you thought of how your father would look down upon your husband more if you go abroad and he stays here? What about your daughter? Kaya mo ba matulog sa gabi not knowing where she is and who she's with? Kung kaya mo yan, girl, you are made of steel. Let me tell you a brief anecdote. When my daughter and her boyfriend ( now her hubby, they kissed and made up after a few years) broke up after years of being together, my daughter was inconsolable. She slept in our room, in our bed, between me and my husband, for many nights. The tears dried in her eyes as she tried to catch some sleep. Believe me, my husband and  I were so devastated. But at the same time, I was glad I was still alive then and was with her at her most trying times. Had I been an absentee mother at the time, I would perhaps have gone mad. Being a mother is a purely personal act. No substitutes, ever. If you've never watched Anak, buy a copy now and watch it seven times.

I have nothing against migrant workers, personally, but I have certain issues with mothers leaving their small children behind. Many lives have changed for the better because of the OFW phenomenon, but more were destroyed because of the same. I know of a mother who has had an affair in Dubai while her husband also kept a mistress around here. I know of another mother whose daughter died of malnutrition because no one took care of her and her siblings while the mother was abroad. I know of still another mother who thought her children were in school only to learn later that they were out-of-school, hanging out with their friends and use their allowances for vices. There are many other horror stories about the families of migrant working mothers but now I am not sure if you have heard of them. One thing I am sure of though is that statistics show there were more sad stories than the good ones. Along this line, be reminded that no amount of success in one's job ( financial success) can compensate for the failure in the family.

I heard someone said that the OFW phenomenon is the curse of our children's times. I tend to agree. For those older than my generation, war was their curse. Wars caused families to be broken, and societies to disintegrate. That's what migrant work does to most families now. As the book I am reading now states, our government, instead of providing more productive jobs here, encourage Filipinos to go out of the country. At para me consuelo de bobo, they labeled them heroes. Perhaps, if you were single, I would not have told you all these. Because then, you would have discovered what direction to take without any mental baggages left behind. But you have a family and more importantly, you have a child. A five-year old can't do things on her own without the guidance of a mother.

As I've said in the early part of this letter, your decision will reflect your values. Your Tatay or your husband? Toys for your daughter or good times with her? Your students or the children of your would-be amo? iPhone or unlitxt with your good old mobile phone? You are in a forced-choice situation now. Arm yourself so you can arrive at an informed decision.

All the best!

Ate Saling

PS. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country last year, she told Pres. Aquino to find ways by which Filipinos would not need to go out of the country to work. This was at the same time that she acknowledged how good the Pinoy OFW is. I love Hillary!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Random Things Bajekjek Should Know About Wowo and Wowa

Wowo is the third of eight children.
Wowa is the eldest of three children. Wowa's sister Connie died in 1967 at the age of 10. She has three more siblings from her father's remarriage.

Wowo and Wowa went to the same elementary and high schools. They were both in the honor roll while in elementary school.

Wowo finished college in 1974. He went to law school in 1984 till 1986. He went back in 1988 till 1992. He passed the bar in 1995.
Wowa finished college in 1975. She went to graduate school in 1997 till 1999 but didn't pursue thesis writing.

Wowo and Wowa got married in 1976, a year after meeting each other again after 4 years in college.

Wowo is a pure silverswan. Wowa is more diluted.

Wowo is more reflective. Wowa is the talker.

Wowo loves numbers. Wowa loves letters.

Wowo shuns fine dining. He loves to eat with his hands. Wowa eats anywhere.

Wowo is an early riser. Wowa stays in bed as long as she needs to.

Wowo and Wowa both sing very well. They both like 70's songs, The Beatles, Elton John, James Taylor and Carole King.

Wowo likes fish and veggies. He can also eat frogs, snakes, eels, birds. Wowa eats anything traditional and cooked!

Wowo is very claustrophobic, agoraphobic and glossophobic. Wowa is afraid of heights, long hours on a plane or a ship and anything that crawls.

Wowo stays in the bedroom till kingdom come. Wowa goes out as soon as she wakes up and stays in the kitchen all day long.

Wowo and Wowa love Bajekjek beyond the stars!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Marian Connection

I named my first born daughter, Fatima, after a former student at Maryknoll College high school where I taught for one year- right after graduation from college in 1975. I am ashamed to admit now that, yes, I did not know Mama Mary that well then, even if Maryknoll (now Miriam College) was a famed exclusive, Marian, Catholic school.It was actually in St. Mary's Academy (now SMCB) in Baliuag, Bulacan that I had a deeper, more personal knowledge of Mother Mary, owing mainly to the many retreats, recollections and seminars that I had to attend to as a faculty member. But more importantly, the personal crises ( yes, that many!) I had to endure during the years I was employed at St. Mary's led me to the foot of Mama Mary's statue in the school chapel. Oh, I can't forget the many times I cried alone, first in the upper floor chapel of the old Holy Family building and later at the ground floor chapel of the newly constructed elementary school building.

I consider it a blessing to have known some RVM sisters who lived true to their vows as daughters of Mary. (There were others who didn't, sorry!) Likewise, it was a blessing to have known Marian priests such as Fr. Monic Cadiz, who was instrumental in instilling Marian values not only among student retreatants but to the teachers as well.

I was accepted for a teaching position at SMA in 1986, just after the EDSA revolution. That first year was a very memorable and eventful year for me. That year, Alex Villangca was kidnapped for ransom during one lunch break. As soon as it was reported to me by Irene Yabut, who saw the kidnapping near the church, we tried to find ways to contact the family. The Villangca siblings came at once, and because I was the one who called them using the phone of the RVM sisters, I was subjected to so many interrogations and investigations. A policeman even went to my house in Plaridel, Bulacan, which caused me so much anxiety I had to absent myself from school later. It turned out Alex was kidnapped by a public school principal who was heavily indebted. Hence, the ransom demand.

It was also in 1986 when a female third year student from my advisory class (Alex's section)was supposed to have been "sinapian" by evil spirits during class. S. Naty came and asked the class to recite the rosary. The girl was trembling and shouting and was very, very strong, with a different voice which somehow led me to believe that these things really happen. Scary, really scary.

In the elementary level, a child was kidnapped and was killed by his kidnappers when the family refused to pay ransom. He was found inside a sack thrown in a ditch somewhere in Baliuag.

Coming from Plaridel, I had mixed emotions about living in Baliuag, the new community I was to serve for the next thirteen years.

Maybe it was a sort of a baptism of fire. Maybe. But during those early years, I was still a "hilaw na Marian". The turning point for me were the early 90's when I had to ask God for many, many blessings and changes in my life. My husband then has just finished law school and was about to take the bar. During the many times that I prayed, I came to realize that one of the best ways I can ask the Son of God for blessings is through His Mother. I was not disappointed. Despite the many difficult trials my family had to face on ALL fronts, there was Mama Mary, a listener and a doer. Through her intercession, the good Lord has answered my prayers through different persons and things. Like S. Cely and S. Paula, who were both sensitive to their teachers' needs and woes. S. Luz Dela Cruz, despite her formidable character, gave me a lot of review materials for my husband. When we decided to relocate to Baliuag, since all my three kids were enrolled at SMA, God led me to a house with a very good neighbor- the Sauco family. Their matriarch, Tita Elsa has been a very accomodating and caring neighbor. The circumstances we were in during those five years we lived in Baliuag were the best years in my married life. I attributed the many miracles and faith experiences that enriched me to Mama Mary who, to this day, remains as my number one "kasangga" against all odds.

Whenever I am in an awkward situation, I immediately pray the Memorare, whether I'm stuck in traffic or I am dealing with a very corrupt government employee as an assistant of my husband. I do not leave the house without a Rosary in my bag. I know I still have a long way to go insofar as my Marian devotion is concerned, but as it is, I can say that I always try my very best to be as faithful as Mother Mary.

I do not think I could have this kind of veneration for Mama Mary had I not become an SMA employee. My St. Mary's experience exposed me to so many people, in and out of the school, who lived the values of Mary- values such as loyalty, dedication and constancy. Among my peers, Mrs. Myrna Bondad stands out as one of those with these virtues. Her loyalty to SMA and everything that it represents is awesome and remarkable. She is the one constant in the life of the school, next to the retired Ms. Herminia Demetrio. If she wishes, she could be more financially productive in another turf, owing to her superior academic achievements, but she chose to stay where she can be productively happy. The many faculty members who still sweat it out at SMA, despite and inspite of, can be said to have been inspired by the Holy Mother.

Leaving St. Mary's in 1999 was a personal choice. It was a multi-factorial decision. I felt some kind of "burnt-out" in school (I looked at lesson plans and other paper works as necessary evils then). On the home front, there was a more urgent, pressing demand for me to quit teaching. I made the decision to leave a year before I tendered my resignation. But it was a very difficult decision. Looking back, I believe that what made it easy for me to turn my back on the job I so love was the inspiration from Mama Mary's fiat- "Let it be done with me according to your word". I had this fear of the "unknown" at the time since it was unclear to me how I can be productive as a mere assistant to my husband. But then, through constant prayers, I came to realize that all beginnings start with a yes, and so from then on, Mother Mary's ultimate yes has become a very powerful inspiration and guide in my journey. I can't imagine how a 14-15 year old woman, with her openness to God's plan, can say yes at once and change the course of history. Come to think of it, was there a woman in our times who was confronted with a dilemma more difficult than those that Mary faced in her lifetime? I guess none.

My yes, my fiat, like Mary's, changed the course of my personal history. There were bumps every few miles along the way, but I am assured that I have a never-ending lifeline to my MOTHER MARY.

*Image from*- Many thanks.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wonderful World of Eat Bulaga

My love affair with daytime television started in early 1979. In February of that year, my second child- a son, was born. As most nursing mothers, I had to stay home full time. Busy with a one-year old daughter and a newborn son, coupled with all the household chores I had to do by myself, the television became my best friend.

I first got hooked on watching Student Canteen- its third run, actually, then hosted by Eddie Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, Coney Reyes and Helen Vela on GMA Ch.7. When a new noontime show was launched on RPN9, I became curious. What does the title Rat Bulaga mean? Where in the world did they get it? Stupid me- I read Eat as Rat. The lettering used (known today as font in computer language) confused me. Overjoyed with my own stupidity, I waited for the new show to be launched. I was disappointed. Tito Sotto, Joey De Leon and Vic Sotto had nothing new, interesting and extraordinary to offer then. But fate had intervened to make Eat (Rat) Bulaga the best and the longest-running noontime variety show to date. A rigodon of hosts, mostly females, made it the most talked about show in town. When Coney Reyes joined the show, after her stint with Student Canteen, everyone tuned in. How can I forget her first day when she sang It's My Turn? That was not the first time her singing was much awaited by the show's captive audience. I was so "kilig" when she and Vic Sotto sang Ocean Deep many years later.

A wide array of both male and female hosts came and went through the years. Tv audiences nationwide were treated to a variety of personalities, including those sweet girls with whom host Vic Sotto reportedly had a romantic relationship.But that did not alter Eat Bulaga's stature as an institution on Philippine tv. The show had its share of many downhill battles but always, it managed to triumph over the adversities it had to face. Something or someone, comes in to pull it up higher and higher, like that time when Aiza Seguerra became a mainstay. Every mother had to finish all the chores before noon; every vendor had to be home at 12:00 to have lunch and watch EB; every student had to go eat lunch somewhere where there is a tv set. Everyone went gaga over Aiza and EB. Even when EB was asked to get out by ABSCBN and moved to a more hospitable ground- GMA7, people still followed the show. It was like sugar to ants. There was no stopping Eat Bulaga. Why, I lost count of the number of noontime shows it had destroyed, especially those produced by ABSCBN which wrongly threw it out unceremoniously in 1995. GMA7 welcomed the show with an ad that said "9-2=7". Since then, a mutually rewarding relationship between the network and the EB producers subsisted, which in the long run benefited tv audiences. The likes of the Sexbomb dancers, particularly Rochelle Panganiban, debuted on EB and henceforth became household names. Today, a former all-around boy of the show-Ariel Manalo, aka Jose, brings in the crowds and the sponsors, too, with the assistance of Wally Bayola and Paolo Ballesteros.

There are three things I love about EB. First, the hosts and the staff are very creative, ingenuous and imaginative. Sure there were hits and misses along the way, but the creative juices of its staff kept on flowing. Even during the times when people from the lowest stratum of society held their hopes in noontime shows, a folly created by a rival show which led to many deaths, EB held its ground. It did not base its offerings on what is "uso"- like the endless "pilahan" that competitors erroneously believed translated to ratings. Instead of imitating the many "pakulo" of its strongest competitor (none at present), EB leveled up, so to speak, by bringing itself and its audience to greater heights. As proof of leveling up, EB meticulously chose 30 scholars from all over the country during their 30th anniversary in 2009. Instead of spending for costumes and production numbers, EB chose to spend money, time and effort for the betterment of 30 young lives and their families. What can be nobler than that? In addition, EB has taken as another mission the building of classrooms and donating chairs in the poorest schools in far-flung communities to help ease the conditions of both the teachers and the students in those areas. These are done with the help of the audience who donate whatever they can for the purpose.

Second, EB's main hosts and co-hosts, past or present, are all very talented. Tito Sotto, an actor-politician has played his roles on and off screen to his very best; Vic Sotto, amidst all the romances that blossomed in the show, has always exhibited his gentle ways; Joey de Leon, often misunderstood because of his multi-colored jokes, is good not only on tv but in other fields of art as well, like painting (how I wish I could hang a Joey De Leon on my wall). Aside from that, I hold him in high esteem because, from what I've read, he is one hell of a good husband and father. Even those who tried to hide their talents had their chance to bring them out in the open. They excel not only in one field, but in so many others as well. Take Julia Clarete, for example. She can do drama and comedy; she can dance and sing different musical genres as well. Allan K can do a show all by himself but he is at his best when he works with the EB team. Pauleen Luna is a revelation ( even if she doesn't reply to my tweets). Michael V, oh my God!, is oozing with talent. He must have been reared by saints to be so gifted as he is. Ruby Rodriguez is also a wonder. Who can imagine that she, a horizontally gifted lady, can do a sexy dance which could have been assigned only to an Isa Calzado before? Toni Rose Gayda is a natural comedienne. Pia Guanio is a top caliber host, with a very good command of the English language. Kempee De Leon is his father's son, and that says a lot. The addition of Ryan Agoncillo who is one of the very few with "clean" images in showbiz added much credibility to the already very credible show. Likewise, Anjo Yllana and Jimmy Santos both lend a hand to their co-hosts whenever necessary. The younger triumvirate- Jose, Wally and Paolo- makes people wake up each morning hoping to have a grand time as the trio visits a barangay each day- bringing goodies, fun and laughter to all the households in the country today. Along this line, however, I mourn for the loss of a real genius in the person of Francis Magalona.

Third and last, I love EB because it teaches the value of LOYALTY, not in words but in action. EB's producer, Mr. Antonio Tuviera, Malou-Choa-Fagar and the trio of TVJ have all been together for so long, maybe even before the concept of the show was hatched. Most of its co-hosts have been with the show for many years. In all of its 32 years in existence, I have only heard of one, Toni Gonzaga, who left the show for the so-called greener pasture. Good for her, because doors opened since she left EB, but for others, like Dennis Padilla who boasted that he was offered 15 years by the competitor, they quickly faded into oblivion. The TVJ/Tuviera/Fagar team is one that I idolize. I have never heard a single bad or sad news about how they get along. Their vacations outside the country with all the staff and hosts prove that they are one, happy family. It's no wonder why all other families watching them are always happy.

I have just become a LoLa twelve days ago. When my grandson Jacob is able to watch tv in a few years, I will be there to guide him. Of course tv will not be a priority for a growing up kid, but for him to experience the fun I have been enjoying the past 32 years, I will surely include Eat Bulaga in the list of must-watch shows.
Eat Bulaga. Sweet days ahead!

Photo credit- many thanks...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

LoLa Pretty

Perie Jacob Inocencio Tejada was born via C-section on Monday, July 18, 2011, 7:56am at the Manila Doctors' Hospital.

I am now officially a grandparent. After deliberating with myself, I settled for LoLa as a formal address to be used by, first, my dear Jacob and later by Nad and Ann's first child whom we will welcome in February next year. The next additions to our growing family will likewise use Lolo and Lola when they address us. However, I won't be exhibiting any violent reaction if they decide to call me Lola Pretty instead!

I am amazed at myself for giving up the dreams I so badly prepared for when I was still younger. I believe I deserve a medal for being a very hands on mother to my three children up till now, when two of them has gotten married, and one still looking for the "right" one. Parenting doesn't really end, even in the afterlife. I know that, because to this day, I still ask my father's guidance when i'm at a crossroad. And I promise, I will still look after my children and grandchildren, even when I'm gone. I know I will. I'm sure I will.

But being a grandparent seems a bit scary. The transition from being my children's steward to being a grand steward to my grandchild is quite daunting. This is big time! Now I ask, do I have all the necessary wisdom and experiences to make my grandson's life better than my own, or that of his mother's? Am I at that point where I can make a successful transition from being a parent to being a grandparent? Will the constructive use of ignorance that I utilized when I became a first time parent in 1978 still be valuable and effective now? Will my senses and capabilities still allow me to respond to the unknown relative to being a LoLa?

I wish to become a silent, but attentive LoLa. One who does not interfere with my grandson's parents. Just on the sidelines- giving answers when asked and being receptive to what may happen. I want to be able to draw the line between love and intrusiveness. Most of all, I want to find the appropriate degree of involvement in raising my grandson. And when I do, I will play my role to the fullest.

Sooner or later, my grandson may ask me questions like " Why isn't God married?" or "Why do dogs always chase cats?" and all the many other "whys" in his young mind. When that time comes, I hope I am more than ready, because one thing I promise to do as a LoLa is to never disappoint my apo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boracay Without The Sun

If money were no object, I would perhaps be having regular trips around the country with the hubby. Maybe once every three months or even more. I've been thinking a lot lately about my failure to release the adventurous genes in me which may have come from my father's bloodline. Sometimes, I feel like it's rather too late now for me and my husband to put on our rubber shoes and go just anywhere and have a good time, feast on the beautiful spots the country has to offer and be professional local tourists. But despite my age and the limitations attendant to aging, my inner being is still raring to go.

To celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this year, the hubby and I flew to Boracay for a four-day breather- from June 18-21, 2011. It was a fitting celebration since the 35th year is the coral anniversary, according to tradition. And where else do corals come from but the sea? The trip was booked by our very loving and generous daughter Timmy as early as February and though we were all set to go, the rains that came in mid-June diminished the excitement. We were thinking, how will Boracay look without the sun? It turned out we didn't have to ask the question- we will find out ourselves- because constant monitoring of the weather situation told us that it will be quite rainy but the low pressure area somewhere in Eastern Visayas (Boracay is in Western Visayas) won't be turning into a storm -yet. So on we hopped on a plane to Caticlan.

We checked into a very modest lodging house, Veli's Inn, mid- afternoon of June 18. It is situated between the main road that cuts Boracay island in two (east and west) and the well known, long, white beach. The rains started coming and so we chose to take a power nap first and planned to explore the island later. By 5pm, the rains stopped so we hit the path to the beach. We were welcomed by the big, dark clouds that spelled heavy rains. Despite the darkness, I felt some kind of excitement. So this is Boracay, I thought. Lovely, even without the sun. We went back to the inn soaking wet, drenched by the rains and not the sea water.

June 19 was a Sunday as well as Father's Day. All our children called to greet their Tatay a happy father's day. Think about blessings that come abundantly. You are having an r&r in paradise and your children call. What more can we ask for? I'm a late riser at home, but whenever I'm away, I find it hard to sleep. So early Sunday morning, we went to the Holy Rosary parish church to hear mass. The fathers were blessed by the priest towards the end of the mass. Afterwards, I went up to the priest, Fr. Placer, as he was preparing to go down from the altar and requested him to bless us for our 35th anniversary the next day. After a little introduction, he gladly blessed me and my husband. He also wished us long years of togetherness, which made me smile, because at the back of my mind, considering every difficulty and adversity that we faced head on, it seemed like 70 years have passed.

Because of the strong winds and the rains, the shores of Boracay was filled with dirt. I understood why there were no cleaning done on the first and second days when the wind was so strong, but when the sun came up on our third and fourth days, we began to wonder. Nevertheless, the dirt, mostly dried seaweeds, did not avert our resolve to swim, nay, dip, into the waters. The best thing about it was that we can freely roam around dripping wet, even in D'Mall.

One good thing about seeing Boracay during the days without the sun is that there are very few people around- much unlike the scenes during the peak months when one can hardly walk without bumping into someone. During those four days, there were many Korean visitors (since there are daily Kalibo-Seoul flights) but only a few of them dared to go into the waters. Bottomline, you have the beach all to yourself. (Incidentally, I learned days later that there is a local campaign in the island for the use of the full name Boracay, instead of Bora, since there is an island in French Polynesia with the same name.)

Going back home, we took a ride to Kalibo Int'l Airport, instead of our way in- Caticlan. We figured that since we're at it, we better try and see some other places in Panay island. Kalibo impressed me as a rather sleepy town, but like Bohol, it is clean all around. We still had a few hours left to explore the city, but upon learning that an earlier flight back to Manila still has a few seats available, we decided to cut our exploration short.

We arrived home around 2:00pm, June 21. After an hour of kuwentuhan with my daughter, I hit the covers at 3pm. I woke up 6am the following day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Class of 39

No, we weren't graduates of the pre-war years. We graduated from the Marcelo H. Del Pilar High School in Malolos, Bulacan in 1970- just when the First Quarter Storm was brewing in the country, just when the world was expressing its disgust over the Vietnam War- the war the US never won.

39 refers to us- the 39 students brought together into one section- IV-1. First, let me make a roll call of the class based on the picture above (with all due respect to the class monitor-Vicky Almazar)- Bulaong, Ibanez, Galang, San Pedro, Santiago, Santos, Mariano, Victorio, Quetua, Cruz, Aldaba, Torres, Paguiligan, Almazar, Adviento, de Guzman, Pascual, Constantino, Capule, Ferrer, San Diego, Tenorio, Toribio, De Guzman, Dela Rama, Enriquez, Clavio, Laquindanum, Clemente, Roque, Gatchalian, Santos, Aguilar, Calalang, Reyes, Mendoza, Martin, Galvez and another Santiago, who is not in the picture.

I figured it would be doubly fun to blog about this class and mention their surnames instead of their first or nicknames. After all, the teachers of yesteryears always did their power trips by calling us with our surnames. I don't know why they did, but what I am sure of is that when I was still in college preparing to become a teacher, I promised myself never to call a student by his/her surname without a Mr. or a Ms. In fact, I am remembered by most of my students as the teacher who calls them with their nicknames. It worked for me.

Our class size is very ideal. Maybe it was the reason why we all did well. The four years we spent together (except for Reby, Cristy and Ester who were with us only from the 2nd to the 4th year) were fun-filled. The anecdotes aren't that clear to me anymore, but what I remember most were the joyful days we had. I sometimes attended school without a preparation for a homework, especially in math and the sciences, but it made me feel secure that the top ten were always ready to open their notes to us (i was not the only lazy bone) just before we entered our classroom. I remember those days when we would wait outside the building for our classes to begin. There was never-ending talk- about teachers, classmates who made boo-boos, about our crushes, about anything we fancied. IV-1 was a very happy class- that much I can say now.

Reunions were organized by the time we reached our 20th graduation anniversary in 1990. A few made it then and in the succeeding class reunions or get-togethers of our section, we tried to make at least a mental list of those whom we haven't heard about. Today, we still don't know the whereabouts of Rolando Aguilar and Cristina Galang. Each time a number of us meet, we would always wish for that one special day when we, all 39 of us, would meet again and reminisce on the things we did from 1966 to 1970.

As different as we were back then, so we still are now. Twelve among us are now based in the US- Angie, Riza, Joji, Louie, Boy, Rene, Frank, Pearlie, Yollie, Nemy, Deyot and Bert. Almost all of them, except for Louie, has gone back home for short visits- an awaited moment for those of us based in the country- for such were the times when we would gather in one space to talk about things we've talked about many times before. New alliances were forged by our circumstances. Reby, Vicky and Vida emerged as the new "triumvirate" since more often than not, they were always on the forefront of each gathering. Emong and Virgie are both working for the same government agency. Virgie and Celia oftentimes attend gatherings together (and leave together) since they both live in Meycauayan. So with Dolly and Norma whose ties with Matimbo are still tightly bound. Ding and Ver, both in business and the practice of their respective professions, plus Emong and Vic, are always present in our soirees. Judge Luis still provides us with merriment and exuberance whenever he dishes out his stories- whether about the past or the present. Ruth, now a lawyer, has been gracing our parties for two years now. So does Paula. Romy V once visited me at home and has gone to a couple of reunions before. Vic is the link between Romy V and the group so that as long as Vic knows where to find him, chances are, he will be another constant in our parties.

Our muses- Angie, Yollie and Beth have not aged despite the years. I surmise that they still are the "crushes ng bayan" till today. Many among us who are still here in Bulacan seldom attend reunions. Nina, a college prof today, and Sonia, who is said to be based in UP, are a no-show in recent years. Vicky Tenorio, we heard, is not in the pink of health. We have not seen Cata and Alice for the longest time. For some time, Quirino and Romy Martin were visible, but have slowly faded away, too. One good news, however, is Fely Roque's presence in our recent assemblies, despite the fact that she, the 40th member of our class, dropped out after 2nd year high school.

As i've stated before, the details of all the things that happened during our four high school years are now hazy and unclear. But I distinctly remember that on the night of our graduation day, after I have shed off my graduation dress, I cried and cried in my room. It was such a lonely and forlorn moment for me knowing that after the two months summer vacation, I won't be donning my high school uniform again and that I will be dealing with another phase of my student life without the 38 classmates with whom I spent the sweetest, most remarkable and fascinating four years of my life.

Looking back on that night, I reckon that my tears fell simply because my journey, together with my 38 classmates in all of those four years, was one hell of a ride.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

St. Anthony of Padua

Today is the start of the 9-day novena for St. Anthony of Padua whose feast day is on June 13.

St. Anthony is invoked for the recovery of things lost.

Days before, I have had this feeling that I must join the novena. It will be a daily afternoon task to end on June 13, 2011. I hope to do this from start to finish.

I need to find something.

I lost it years ago and now i am desperate to recover it.

St. Anthony of Padua, please pray for me.

* Image taken from commons.wikimedia. org* thanks...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Providence, Coincidence or Serendipity

This is an inanity. Bear with me.

My new "balae", Mareng Lita's first name is Perlita, and she was born on the 20th of June, which is also my and my hubby's wedding anniversary. One of my best high school buddies is Pearlie, who's first name is also Perlita.

Pearlie has a daughter, Let, who was born on November 15, 1980. Nad, my bunsoy was also born exactly on the same date.

Ann, Nad's wife and my new daughter-in-law, was baptized Ann Rachelle. She's called Rachelle at home by her family and by her immediate relatives. My best buddy in college is Rachelle Recomono, who I believe is still in France where she migrated after college.

Ann was born on February 6, 1980. My niece, Tyla, share the same birthday. Poy, my second child, was born February 5, 1979. Beverly, another niece, was born February 4. Now, there are four February celebrants in my family. (Note: On February 12, 2012, Rajan Adam, Nad and Ann's son was born.)

Pearlie, my high school buddy was born March 15. Nora Alvaro, a kababata and still a close friend and kumare, was also born March 15. Nina Cruz, another very close high school friend was born May 23. Another kababata who still belongs to my circle of friends today, Susan Angeles, share the same birthday. Back in the late 60's, I hang around Pearlie and Nina most of the time when i'm in school. When I go home, I naturally gravitated towards Nora, Susan and another friend, Nene.

My bff and constant companion and confidante, Mareng Nene was born April 1. Ate Dory Villegas, my best buddy and confidante at St. Mary's was born April 1, too.

I was born exactly one month before my husband. Therefore, I am older than him and that I suppose, is a valid reason for me to be more ummmm, understanding and tolerant.

While I'm at it, Charice is on Glee and her role is that of an exchange student at William Mckinley High School. Wasn't William Mckinley the one who dreamt about the US being the big white brother to the small brown brother known as the Philippines? And wasn't that dream the core of Uncle Sam's theory of manifest destiny? Well, look who conquered who today!

Wala lang.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Wedding

I love weddings. I remember when I was still with St. Mary's in Baliuag, I used to pass by the church twice a day, morning and afternoon, and as soon as I see that there is a wedding ceremony going on, I would enter inconspicuously and peek at the bride and groom. My order of interest would be the bride's gown, the entourage's attires and the ceremony itself. I like it when couples take personal interest and participation in almost all aspects of the wedding ceremony. I can be critical, especially when the wedding sponsors are heavily dressed up while the bride and groom are dressed down. I always believed the wedding day is for the couple to be wed and not for anyone else.

In the evening of February 14, 2011, while there was an on going wedding reception in my home for my cousin Emer and his bride Ine, my youngest son Nad came to my room as I was resting and told me he and Ann are serious about settling down this year. He said they wish to get married when his elder brother Poy is around and when it dawned on me that Poy is having a two-week vacation in April, I stifled a laugh and sighed. My son is dead serious. The first thing I asked was " Do you have savings?" to which he answered " Konti." The more I smiled.

And so began a two-month prep for The Wedding- my bunsoy's wedding to his beloved Ann. On February 23, 2011, off we went to Alido Subd. in Malolos City for the pamanhikan. It did not surprise me when i learned that they have decided on a civil wedding- Ann, being a Christian and Nad, a Catholic. However, I am resolute in my own plan to give Nad (and Ann, too) a wedding they both can look back to with fondness and with a smile on their lips. It didn't have to be in a warm sala of a judge or in an airconditioned, albeit cramped room, of a municipal or city mayor. There's got to be some way a decent, intimate ceremony can be held somewhere where the entourage and the guests will have a grand time.

Since both of them are working, I had to resort to phone calls, texts, email and FB messages so I can help them put it all together. I asked their preferred color motiff, their favorite songs, and their preferred venue. Since Poy is a lot owner at Waterwood Park in Baliuag, we were able to book it on their chosen date, April 16, 2011, at a 50% discount. It was there, while on an ocular visit, that I again met my former student at St. Mary's, Arlene Martin Tadeo, who's running a catering and an events coordination company, aside from being an alajera. We have been communicating a lot before since I always refer her to people I know who wants to invest in real property. At the time, I have been talking with a caterer from Plaridel, but seeing that Arlene's so at home in Waterwood where she is a top lot seller, I considered asking her offerings. It did not take long for me to decide on a switch. While the other caterer is good, Arlene's familiarity with Waterwood and the people who work there is a big plus. I was right. She gave me so much for so little. When i arrived at the venue on the wedding day, I thought, everyone would think this is a big one. Arlene gave me every peso's worth of the things we discussed and more. That night, I was delighted with Arlene's assistance.

For their unconditional love for their brother, Tim & Tj and Poy unselfishly shared their resources to unburden Nad and Ann with some of the necessities for their wedding. In my message, I reminded Nad to always remember the love so abundantly showered upon him by his siblings. I saw tears in Nad's eyes while they sat listening to me and i knew I mothered him the right way.

Like in Timmy's wedding in 2005, we opted to have a very small number of guests. However this time, it was a little bigger- 150 of the two families' closest relatives and friends. Being typically Pinoy, the guests' number ballooned, but again, Arlene's people were able to make adjustments and while there was really nothing left on the buffet table, no one made a fuss. After all, the last people who queued were Nad's cousins and titas( sorry people, when i get the moolah, I'll treat you all one day!).

The couple's planned civil wedding with only their immediate family present became a garden wedding of sorts. The wedding sponsors were the couple's baptism ninongs and ninangs and some are very close friends and relatives of the two families. Ninang Dith is a sister of my hubby, while Ninang Mel is my sister. While civil in character, the ceremony was so touching I always had to control my tears 'cause I just paid a hefty sum for my make up. Haha!

My Kumareng Lita, Ann's mom, cried while giving a message to Ann and Nad. And what mother-of-the-bride doesn't cry on her baby's wedding day? I did too, because when I addressed Ann, I told her that at that point I feel I still owe Nad so much, which I may not be able to give anymore, considering my circumstances (I am unemployed). Really, If I had my way, I would have enrolled Nad in a music school so he could learn to play musical instruments aside from the guitar which he learned to play on his own. I would have sent him to study robotics or cartoon writing and drawing, etc, etc. But I know Nad knows that I gave him so much of my time and attention and a lot of love, to make him whole as a person.

In 1998, I presented a project my group made (i did it alone, actually, since my classmates were only in grad school for the units) for a subject called Project Planning and Analysis. While other groups planned to put up a school, since most of us were teachers, my project was to put up an events company called Milestones. My teacher was impressed, so our group got a flat 1 in the subject. I did not know then that my plans will somehow become more tangible 13 years later while we were planning for my son's wedding. Through this wedding, I realized one didn't have to spend much to look expensive. In fact, other couples seem to spend more only to look cheap later. When love and care accompany the tasks given by those people who matter or even by professional service providers, like Arlene and another former student, Adrian Samson, the sounds provider who gave me another big discount, everything will turn out right.

It was not the traditional wedding with hordes of flower girls being carried by their moms during the processional (OMG, i hate this scene!), nor the "abays" who do not know what they were supposed to do during the ceremony. We decided to dispense with some roles which we felt were not really necessary, given that it was a civil wedding. The traditional candle sponsors were replaced with us, the mothers of the bride and groom, lighting the taper candles symbolizing the separate lives of the couple and followed by Nad and Ann lighting the unity candle symbolizing their willingness to carve a path of their own. This wasn't an original idea but the wedding of Ogie-Regine and the internet gave us so much ideas to start with. The participation of our compadre, Arch. Lito De Dios who beautifully sang The Prayer at the beginning of the ceremony (he even had the Latin part translated in Filipino), Endeth's assistance in coordinating the event, together with Rina who emceed the affair, Ann's brothers who escorted her from the car, Poy's role as the Best Man and Fhei, Ann's best friend who was the Maid of Honor- all added to the jovial mood of the afternoon which stretched into the night. My only regret in connection with this wedding was that I missed taking pictures- with all of my brothers and my sister who were all present on this occasion, with my only surviving Domingo aunt, Nana Subring, with my new balae, Mareng Perlita and with the latest addition to my family, Ann. Oh well, there are more occasions to come- like a baptism, perhaps.

Now that it's over, Nad and Ann are on their way to a journey called marriage. If I had to express another message to them again, it is to always remember that despite the stream of modern technology and lifestyles, marriage is forever. There maybe rough roads along the way, dark tunnels or rainy days, but always, it's God's promise, the sun comes out shining each new day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Prayer for Serenity

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

I have prayed this plea to God countless of times but today, I pray it with much more fervor as i realize I have not healed from my woundedness of the years past.

Today, I ask God, in all humility, to give me the tools I need to forgive those who broke my spirit and destroyed my self worth which led me to believe for years that I am worthless because I am not the person they want me to be. Even if forgiving may not help me forget the bitter past, I would like to go through the process myself so that in the end, I may not do to anyone any of the hurtful things done to me. When the day comes, I would like to be able to say what Rabindranath Tagore wrote-

"When I stand before thee at the day's end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lunch at Antonio's

My group, Batch 66, made up of five boys and six girls, loves to talk, to laugh and to eat. Whichever comes first is immaterial. We are superhumans who can do all those at the same time. I enjoy going out with this group because it is not only therapeutic but more so because it is my and my hubby's social life together. No, i guess that does not do justice to the group. We all love to be together because we all care for one another. This is why I always encourage people to attend reunions- since they could alter lives and bring about welcome changes.

Just recently, we (minus our ever hardworking tycoon, Hermie, our seafaring friend, Geny and Liza, who's currently in KSA) headed south to Tagaytay for lunch. Upon the invitation of our Nanay Abeng, we left Plaridel at 6am of March 16, all very excited so much like elementary school pupils on a field trip. I prepared ham and tuna sandwiches plus coffee to-go, Guy brought egg sandwiches and nilagang saging na saba, LV prepared more than a dozen hard-boiled eggs. We made sure no one's gonna get hungry. With all our "baon" imagine a whole lot of related "kwentos" we shared. Good no one choked on the salt we put into the boiled eggs. Except that our driver had to make extra effort concentrating on his driving while Lito dishes out his multicolored jokes- mostly green.

Long before, I have already read a lot about Antonio's in Tagaytay. That it is frequented by celebs and politicians; that it is an alternative to another place called Sonia's Garden; that it serves the best steak among all fine dining restos around; and that, it is a very pricey restaurant- so pricey I felt a certain amount of guilt eating there even if I did not pay for my lunch. For the bread in squid ink with butter, strawberry balsamic drink, the farm mesclun bleu d'Auvergne crumble, glazed walnuts, dried currants, cranberries w/ raspberry vinaigrette salad, grilled certified angus beef prime rib eye steak, our choice of olive rice or mashed potato and the three flavored sorbet- our gracious host paid Php18,000.00++. I can't help but think, my, it is already a third of our food budget for Nad's wedding. It took me many nights thinking about an 18k lunch for 8. And while i thoroughly enjoyed it, I had to admit I may never return such favor to our gracious host- naaah, not in this lifetime. (It should be noted that her graciousness did not end in Tagaytay, for we still had to enjoy later in ResortsWorld- watching Kaos and a chinese dinner at Tao Yuan. Perhaps the best thing about that day is seeing how completely gracious and benevolent Nanay Abeng was to share with us an experience so common to her, but is totally astonishing for the rest of us.

I will forever remember this rare chance of lunching with the ladies (and gents, too)in such a very cool, green and nice place as Antonio's. Someday, I'd like my children to experience such luxury, not so much because it is a necessity, but because it widens one's horizon and enriches one's character and personality.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bunsoy is Getting Married

What goes on inside a mother's head when her bunsoy tells her he's getting married?

So much! Like, will he be a good husband to his wife and a good father to his future children? Like, will he be able to pass all of life's quizzes and tests as he goes along his new journey? Like, will he still be the bunsoy who calls out to me as soon as he reaches the gate to our house?

So many more thoughts keep spinning in my head. But for now, i am quite excited trying to mount a very intimate, solemn and memorable wedding ceremony for my Nad and his beloved Ann. I am now beginning to teach myself to be just in the shadows because I am aware that as soon as a child gets married, his priorities will change and a mother's previous roles will have to be relegated to her son's future wife. If only for that, I welcome and accept my future daughter-in-law with my whole heart.

Sweet days ahead, Nad & Ann!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cold, Cold Nights ( and Days, Too)

It's been too long since I experienced cold days and nights hereabouts. When we were still small kids, I remember my Inang Tale would prepare jute sacks above our sleeping mats for us to lie on. Back then, (I'm talking of the roaring 60's) we would always be in sweaters between the months of November and February. Aside from the sweaters, we would use very thick blankets, those that were issued to military men like my father.

When I was in college, sweaters and jackets were a must for students at the onset of the -ber months. UP had a climate different from the rest of QC where it is nestled. Maybe because of the trees that abound and of course the absence of too much heat from transport modes. Today it must have changed tremendously.

I've always liked wearing sweaters- the kind that fully covers my neck and arms. Because of climate change, I suppose, we are now experiencing cold, cold days and nights. While the weather has become harsh in some parts of the country and elsewhere in the world, I welcome the cool change. It makes me want to stay in bed a little later in the mornings and a little earlier in the evenings- with or without the hubby around.

The cold weather affirmed what I believed in since before- my bed is the best place on earth. Sorry, but no one is allowed there except my one and only hubby.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Am Woman

When things go wrong, as they oftentimes do, I turn to the lives of the most celebrated women in the world to see how they would have acted and reacted when confronted with the dilemma I am in. I have often looked up to strong-willed, passionate women whose formidable characters have made a difference in the lives of other people, men and women alike. The different stages of my life brought forth different experiences that oftentimes posed different challenges. As I dealt with each of such challenges, I sometimes grew, but most of the time, I felt like I was diminished, defeated and beaten. Sometimes, self pity sets in, making me very unproductive, but at the same time making me aspire to do more, given how limited my circumstances are.

On November 26, 2008, at the height of a very disturbing and severe challenge that my family had to face, I found myself in a bookstore browsing at the pages of Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Since I was gifted with a copy of My Life by Bill Clinton a year earlier by my daughter, I thought Mrs. Clinton’s book would be a very fine addition to my yet growing personal library. After all, the Bill-Hillary team shaped the world and made it better during the eight years they were in the White House. I reckoned that Hillary Clinton’s life, as she herself has written, can surely provide me with new insights and perhaps lead me towards a clearer direction in developing a true sense of fulfillment.

At the first chance I got to start reading Living History, I immediately opened the pages where she discussed the events leading to the discovery of the Monica Lewinsky scandal which threatened Bill Clinton’s second term with an impeachment and their family’s break down. Mrs. Clinton’s honest and down to earth account of how she knew of her husband’s indiscretions and how it almost shattered her world is something I believe most women similarly situated should read. (My interest in this episode does not necessarily mean I am in the same boat. Luckily for me, my concerns regarding my husband lie along another line.) Reading her account of how her husband admitted his failure to tell her the whole story about this sorry episode in their life and the painful days, weeks and months she experienced thereafter made me realize that women as prominent and renowned as Hillary Rodham Clinton are as human as I am. I felt the anguish and the pain she lived through as I read her description of how she coped during those trying times. She made me proud of being a woman when she decided to stick by her man despite the agony of those months when her family was the focus of international attention, albeit in a negative way. Knowing her, through her own words and actions expressed in the book, made me realize that there are still feminists out there who can keep a family and feel blissful about it.

Just the sound of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name can be intimidating. After all, she was the United States’ First Lady twice over, from 1992 to 1996 and again from 1996 to 2000. One who has not taken a glimpse of the life she lived may even think it was a fairy tale. But she was as real as any other woman in any part of the world. She was as real as your lady dentist; she was a real as the customer assistant in my favorite mall; she was as real as the Italian chef we always see on the Food Network. She was as real as any real woman can be.

Mrs. Clinton’s book is aptly titled because she really lived history. Her circumstances and the great opportunities given her allowed her to become not just a part of history but to transform and modify it for the greater good. Her advocacies- women’s rights, children, education and health care system, to name some, were not merely lip service. She acted passionately towards the achievement of her dreams and ambitions to help others in many parts of the world. She lived her life under the spotlight but she was conscious of the fact that her life echoed the experiences of millions of women, who like her, were struggling to balance the demands of work and family.

If there was one aspect of Mrs. Clinton’s life that was highlighted in her book, it was perhaps the volitional area of her life. The choices she made even during her younger years were consistently responsible. She owned such choices and acknowledged their consequences at any given time. Coupled with an unwavering faith in God, Mrs. Clinton’s informed choices helped her to deliver the enormous tasks that she had to carry out. Her days in the 70’s as a law student at Yale were not spent merely for studying and memorizing the law. As early as then, she lived history by working as a staff member in a committee that investigated President Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. When she married Bill Clinton but decided to keep and use Rodham as her surname in the practice of her profession and in her daily dealings, she not only asserted herself and her identity but she showed other women that they have a choice. At the time when she needed to help in ensuring victory for her husband’s political plans, she willingly used a hyphenated name, perhaps one of the first women to do so. Thus was born Hillary Rodham-Clinton. Her direct involvement in choosing the best schools for her daughter Chelsea, especially during the White House years, showed how hands-on she was as a mother. Her physical presence at the hospital where her father was taken during the days when she was supposed to be elsewhere fulfilling her official duties was another proof that her commitment to her family comes before anything else. All throughout her life, she made and kept friends who are still with her to this day. Her circle, which was called Hillaryland, was there for her through thick and thin. Indeed, what matters most to us ordinary women were also those that mattered to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Like Mrs. Clinton, I set my sights on many ventures early in life. I believed that I have inherited the adventurous genes from my father’s side of the family such that in my youth, I was raring to go and conquer the world. But unlike Mrs. Clinton, I failed to assert my individuality and made my choices based solely on the needs of my family. I was educated to become a teacher. I had fourteen fruitful years behind me as one before I made the choice to stay home and assist my husband in the practice of his own profession. I admit that there were times when I felt sorry for myself for not living my own professional life. I wanted to be so many things and to be in so many places wearing so many different hats, but always, I had to limit my choices to fit them into my family life- the one that I know I will live till the end. My experienced reality is one in which I have given up myself in order to give light to others- primarily my husband and children. My faith tells me that one’s purpose in life is to glorify God in whatever we do. Raising a family and pushing its members to succeed were the main events in my life. In this regard, I believe I have done what was expected of me and I have produced results beyond my expectations. If the little triumphs that my children bring home to us are a gauge of how I did things in my life, perhaps I am just as successful as Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has been challenged so many times in her life. So have I. She responded very well to those challenges. So did I. She holds high hopes for the future of the world. So do I.

Women all over the world have often asked so many questions about their roles in their respective societies. What can women do? What can’t women do? What could women do? What should women do? Living History provided answers to these questions. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life teaches us that there’s no reason to feel inadequate and worthless. A woman can do as much if she possesses a vision, a passion and a mission. It can be a little overwhelming when we are beset with the demands of family, career and society, but we can respond to them appropriately.

A few years back, as I begin to live my golden years, I asked myself, what lasting impression and legacy shall I leave to my children and all the other people I have been with during the different stages of my life? It was then that it occurred to me to write a blog chronicling the significant people, events and places in my life ( When I am long gone, I want my children and their children to know who I am and what I did in my life. It may pale in comparison with Living History but no matter how small my deeds were compared with that of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, no one can refute the fact that we were both women who tried and succeeded to make a difference in the lives of people we care about. As Helen Reddy’s song says, my wisdom was born of pain, I paid my price, but look how much I’ve gained, if I have to, I can do anything, I am strong, I’m invincible, I am woman.