Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Rush

Gift wrapping courtesy of SM Department Store.

Are you done with your Christmas shopping? I am, proudly so because I started early before the Halloween. I'm just down to the last few trips to the grocery. Yup, still a few trips as I round up the menu for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch. 

I am at this sweet spot again trying to compose an entry just so to update this blog. Well, it never fails me. These coffee and brownie always get my brain working a bit and my thumbs typing away on my phone. Thanks, Brownies Unlimited. 

It's a Tuesday, just eight days to go before Christmas, and this "supermall" is packed. Shoppers are bustling around me as I write this. The clothes at the kids department are in disarray, as are the cute notebooks/diaries at the stationery section. Such pictures of disarray are duplicated in most sections of the department store. The ambient noise is maybe thrice as loud as when I was last here, two months back. 

I am happily sipping my coffee and biting into my little red velvet in between typing these no-brainer what-nots. Pardon me. Oblige me. It's the season to be kind and tolerant, remember? 

I love that SM has free gift-wrapping services. For many years, I've been a patron especially during this time of the year. While the last batch of gifts I bought is being wrapped, I get to write a bit. Over the years, SM has been putting out more beautiful, classy wrappers that could rival Rustans' except for the latter's matching rich, satin bows. I am admittedly an SM shopper, lucky you, Henry Sy! I helped put you in the lists of the richest people.

Today, I have proven the hypothesis that Christmas makes us less of thinkers, more impulsive with our purchases. I am guilty of spending more than what is needed. I again could not resist buying clothes for my little fashionista daughter. There was this cute floral cotton skirt marked at 50% off, from the classy-but-not-pricey Peppermint brand. I couldn't resist buying the skirt as seeing it had me thinking past Christmas and onto summer!! And what a great find it was for only Php250! So I quickly processed in my mind that it was the last unplanned purchase I would make, and convinced myself that it was okay to splurge a bit because it's Christmas. And Christmas only comes upon us once a year. So there, what the heck, I had to buy a shirt that would match the skirt! I found the perfect shirt to match and bought it at a regular price. 
I read that socialites Mrs Enrile and Mrs Binay take to the grocery as therapy to drown out the political noise hounding their husbands. While I am not a socialite nor a politician's wife, nor have any problem even remotely related as regards my husband, I agree that doing the grocery is an important household chore, and spending is therapy. Now, I'm off to do the grocery. :-) 
Happy last-minute shopping. Enjoy the Christmas rush because you're sharing your blessings, and celebrating in thanksgiving. :-) 

My sweet spot at SM Supermall.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Save on Pricey Car Fuel

I have just dropped off Garrett at school. I parked the car to write this short post before I forget the fuel efficiency tips that my 11-yr-old, wide reader son was telling me as we were driving up to Antipolo with the car A/C off.

I thought his tips were very timely with the looming rounds of fuel price hikes, owing to increased world demand particularly by snow-laden countries. The tips he shared are very practical, in fact, it takes pure common sense that they need not be said. But I was enlightened because I am one of those drivers who just know how to drive, and sadly, practically nothing else about engines and car mechanics. I'm sure you'd find these tips useful as well:
  1. Make sure the air in your tires is just right. Soft tires require more work for the engine to get them rolling.
  2. Unload items that are not needed to lighten the car weight.
  3. You really don't need to warm the car before taking off. You can just go slowly upon starting the engine to rev it up.
  4. Not using your aircon does not always help with fuel efficiency. Sometimes it's better to have your A/C on rather than your windows open because the air outside can drag the car.
  5. Avoid stepping hard on the brakes.
  6. Manual cars are more fuel-efficient.
I wish it was Garrett himself who shared the tips above as he explained them to me in simpler and clearer terms. He speaks English better than me. :-)

Incidentally, I took a passenger jeepney yesterday as a last resort on the way home from a quick trip to a hospital. I took a couple of photos to mark the moment, as I rarely take the jeepney now, unlike way back in the 80s and 90s when I was still a student. FX is now the choice of many public commuters like me because fares are just a few pesos more than jeepney fares. It was good to re-experience hunching low to get on and off the jeep, tolerate the mid-afternoon heat and the smoke, and observe co-passengers whose ages span at least six decades. Yesterday's ride serves me well as I have a photo to go with this post. :-)

Only in the Philippines: passenger jeepney

For more saving tips, you might like to check out the blog link: http://agarrettlubag.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/ways-to-save-electricity-and-energy/. You will find practical, witty, funny and, sometimes, crazy tips on saving energy and the environment.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why are you happy?

If you were asked the question above, what’s the first thing you would say?

My son was not one to pass up a chance to write on a message board located at the lobby of The Medical City, with the iconic yellow smiley on top together with the phrase: “I am happy because…” It invites passersby to share and write why they are happy.

I think the message board (not sure what to call it) creates a positive energy in a hospital setting. The initiative is led by the hospital’s Psychiatry Department as I have so intelligently guessed from the logo. Haha! I will not venture into the background or the details, I just wanted to share some of the answers that some hospital staff, doctors/interns, patients and visitors gave, starting with my own son’s heartwarming answer:

I am happy because:

Topmost answer: ...my mom  really loves me.

  1. someone loves me for who I am.
  2. I finally met my special someone after 27 years.
  3. I saw him.
  4. I’m in love.
  5. I’m free.
  6. I got chocolates from Bry.
  1. God gave me my baby.
  2. I’m alive.
  3. I’m blessed.
  4. God is always taking care of me.
  5. I have God.
  6. everyday Jesus loves me.
  7. I am saved and loved by God.
  1. of coffee.
  2. it’s lunch time.
  3. I am busog. Hehe!
  4. today is a good day.
  5. I just had a massage yesterday.
  1. I had twins.
  2. I have a strong dad.
  3. I’m with my family.
  4. I get to spend Christmas and New Year’s with my family this year.
  5. it’s Christmas time.
  6. I’ll be home for Christmas.
  7. the year is almost done and I have so many blessings to be thankful for.
  1. I am being me.
  2. I am where I want to be.
  3. I am healthy.
  4. I am a Filipino.
  5. tapos na sa residency.
  6. I am done with OB.
  7. of a fruitful internship year.
Super Typhoon Yolanda: ...many are helping the Yolanda victims.


Positive questions promote positive thoughts. I loved the idea of this "I am happy because..." thingy. It's at once thought-provocating and a subtle "jerker" to remind that, hey, there are far many reasons we ought to be feeling happy instead of gloomy.  

If asked why I am happy, my ready answer could all be found in this picture:

How about you? Please make me happier by sharing in comments why you are happy at this very moment. I'd love to hear from you. This is my first attempt to engage my handful of readers in a conversation. Hope you would be kind and happy to oblige. I only ask from you two words at the least to complete "I am happy because ___________."  :-)

Friday, November 29, 2013

My Pride and Joy

If you’re a mom like me, I’d bet you, too, are a stage mom. You’re not? Really? Well, you must have your reasons. I am admittedly sucked into that role, and can’t help share photos, videos, art and literary works, and awards of my own children. “Share” is a nice way of putting it. “Show off” might be the naked truth, but that’s instinctive. Aren’t we all show-offs? Some in loud ways, others in quiet, discrete ways. Well, let's be kind to moms. It’s hard to carry a child for nine months, harder to give birth, and hardest to raise a child. The hardships are rewarded by the adoration and love we get from our children, and are made more worthwhile by their little and big achievements. We find great delight when our children excel in school. But achievements are not only measured by merits from the school, but through many ways where they show their interests, abilities, confidence, and positive behaviors, in and out of a structured school setting.

Isn’t it 'instinct' that we become our children’s number one fan (and critique)? With social media on our side (plus the luxury of time in my case), we itch to share new photos of our children, their works/creations, stories about how they are growing up, their school activities, trips to this and that place. They grow up too fast, and soon I know I would not have much of a presence in my children's lives, and would be restricted to viewing their own Facebook accounts, blogs, etc. 

If we are friends on Facebook, you might have gotten sick of my many posts about my kids already. As I’ve indicated in one FB status/shout-out, you can always 'unfriend' me. Haha, no kidding. Like it or not, I am a mother, and my life revolves around my children. You would seldom see my own selfies or group photos with me in them, but you would be swamped by photos and (sometimes) videos such as the one below, which is of  my daughter. She recited the poem The Handwriting on the Wall (author unknown), during a poetry recitation at school. Among the 20 pupils in her preparatory class, she was the first to recite the lengthy poem. I am not sure if she volunteered to take the first slot. She, by the way, is the youngest in her class, having just turned five last June. I would like to think that her teachers trusted that she could set the confidence level. She was confident, and I was so proud of her. Her performance wasn't the best of all, but it was her best. Credits are due to the teachers for honing her confidence through their approval and encouragement, and providing venues where she and her classmates could shine and be applauded for a job well done.

Oh, yes, of course, this is not the first time I am sharing this. I have shared this to my Facebook friends right after the activity, as soon as I got my hands on a computer. Really, half of the thrill is in sharing it with family, relatives and friends who’d take the time to download and play the video, and enjoy watching this girl.

Ooopsie, the video is taking a while to upload. You may view it through the Facebook link in the paragraph just above. Thanks for your time. 

Spreading good vibes into the weekend. Happy Bonifacio Day, folks in the Philippines! :-)  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Act of Giving

Don’t we all just love Christmas? Filipinos that we are, no matter what, no matter how meager our finances might be, whatever our present circumstances, we would always find a way to celebrate Christmas. To us, it’s the season of giving and sharing, our version of Thanksgiving Day.

As a continuation of my last post, last Saturday was a day I would want to imprint in my mind. On that day, I picked up a valuable lesson from my very own son about how it is to truly give.

We went to the newly opened Uni Qlo shop that occupies a vast three-floor space at the end of Building B of SM Megamall. While I was busy checking out discounted items, Garrett asked permission to go around by himself, to “explore,” he said. I allowed him to roam around, well, with some hesitation since I don’t really feel it’s safe for children to go around in a mall, as big and crowded as Megamall is, without a companion. After some time, he came back to me with a striped XL shirt and a pair of socks, saying he wanted to buy them for his dad. I discouraged him, explaining that I have learned my lesson not to buy his dad clothing items. He was insistent though. He said he just wanted to have something to give as a Christmas gift to his dad, and showed me that the socks were on sale, and that the total price was P400. I said, “No.” “Alright, alright,” Garrett conceded, and asked if he could further explore the store.

After around 20 minutes or so, he came back to me again, this time with a Mickey Mouse shirt, worth P400, which he wanted to buy for Gabee. I then asked him how he would be able to buy it when he had no money. I would later find out that Garrett thought he still had P400+ left with me, the balance of a cash gift he got from an aunt of mine who visited us last month. When I handed him a 1,000-peso bill to pay for a book that he bought just before going to Uni Qlo, he thought I was buying the book for him with my money, when in my mind, that was the money he had me keep for him. We misunderstood each other. In his mind, what money he had in my wallet was a few 100-peso bills and some loose change, the very same ones that he handed me before. He didn’t realize that his money got mixed with my own.

Garrett wanted to use up all the money he had left to buy his dad or his sister a Christmas gift. “So, that was why you were frantically going around?” I asked him. He said, “Yes,” in a soft, sad voice, realizing that he actually had no money to buy a gift for his dad or his little sis. Looking at him, disappointed and sad, it dawned on me how selfless he is. I knew there were other stuff (books, pens and notebooks) which he wanted for himself.

I was touched and was embarrassingly in tears as I agreed that I would just pay for the gift he wanted to buy for his sister. I praised his virtuous intention. And then, of course, I suggested that we go around again and look for something, worth P400, which his sister needs and would love to have.

Garrett has taught me a lesson on the act of giving. Give all that you have. Think not of yourself. I was again in tears as I related what happened to his dad and to his sister when we got home.