Monday, October 28, 2013

I Will

At church yesterday, I was humming in my mind the song “I Will” by the Beatles, which I got to appreciate after watching a tender scene from the movie “Love Affair,” where children sang it beautifully with Annette Bening. I don’t know why, but you know that moment when, out of the blue, you just realize you’re singing, whether aloud or in your mind, songs that you can’t even recall the title of. I had to look it up last night. Haha, clueless how to do the search since the lyrics slipped me totally (yikes), I typed on Safari “song sang by children in Love Affair.” And my key words did not disappoint.

It’s a song with very simple, yet very moving lyrics, and which goes with a melody so endearing especially when sang by little voices. Oh, it just tugs at the heart. I was teary-eyed just singing it (in my mind) at church. Maybe the choir and the sermon kind of set the “emote” mood.

I think the lyrics are the soul of a song. It’s the poignancy of the words, of the chorus that makes me like songs. I admire good lyricists. Sadly, music is now more focused on technical details, on the sound. It’s a relief that music from the past never leaves us, like this one:

I Will
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney)

Who knows how long I've loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to I will

For if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will, I will

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why I Am Not (Ever) Quitting Facebook

Surely you have seen bad things written about Facebook (fb). As the fb “app” evolves and becomes more intelligent and privy to its subscribers’ lives, the more questions have been raised and discussions about it have ensued in the cyber world. More and more people are said to be experiencing “Facebook fatigue” and are ditching this phenomenal social networking site.

One study reports that a third of its respondents have deactivated their account and 1 in 10 never returns. The topmost reason for quitting fb is related to privacy and security concerns over too much information being publicly made available, with some information unknowingly accessed from photos posted. That fb sucks time – time that could be profitably spent elsewhere – is also one of the top reasons people have taken extended breaks from or have totally quit the site.

Some of those who have left take pride in the status symbol of having done so, in that they find satisfaction in distinguishing themselves from mainstream and associating instead with the elite of superior taste, according to one assistant professor in New York University. Hmmm, pride and prejudice?

So why have I ventured into writing about this discourse on Facebook? Have I anything to add to it? Not really. I think I am trying to justify a growing addiction, an insatiable desire to share status updates, photos, web and blog links; to like whatever I see as likeable among my friends’ posts; and to intermittently check if friends have liked my own posts, or have sent comments. Is there anything wrong with that? I ask myself many times.

I do pause a few seconds, mulling if a photo or update is worth sharing before I click on the “Post” or “Share” button. And seldom do I contradict the first impulse that has gotten into me of wanting to share a cute photo, or an album of photos from a recent event, and to recall an interesting incident, make a short story about it and share as a status update. Why? Because I want to be seen and heard. I want people to know my thoughts and maybe relate to them. I want to come across as a sensible person, able to communicate well. I want to affect the friends in my fb circle one way or another.

In the end, it’s all about me feeling good that I am able to share a photo, a status, and that some friends, even just a handful of them, expressly and unabashedly hit the “Like” button. There, that always completes the cycle for me. Oh, yes, like most of you, or every one of you, I like receiving many “likes” to affirm the decisions I have made about sharing stuff. But then I realize that the more active I am, the more I share, the less likes I get. Well, understandably, even my family gets tired of seeing photos of my children, or the random photos I take and share on Instagram which interfaces with fb.

To counter the negatives that have been hurled at Facebook, I would like to count the reasons why I am staying on it and actively using it.
  1. It connects family and strengthens the ties to third-degreee relatives (even up to fourth-degree relatives or a whole clan even). It defies distance, the weather, zonal times.
  2. It takes me places, lets me into personal spaces of family and close friends.
  3. It has unearthed friends and classmates long unseen, but not forgotten.
  4. It provides an avenue for interactive exchanges through its built-in chatting, messaging, and commenting platforms.
  5. It is a go-to repository of best photos posted through the years. No need to sift through thousands of pictures in your iPhoto library or your MyPictures folder. If I need to quickly find photos, I just go to fb. Facebook's timeline feature saves me time locating the photos I need. My photo library is too expansive because of repetitive shots and duplicate files owing to the click-happy photographer. Bygone are the days of printing photos and filing them in big photo albums.
  6. Unintentionally, I think it somehow promotes literacy, and educates users on correct grammar. Although it helps give birth to new slangs, jejemon lingo, urban-coined words, and the likes, it behooves users to be more conscious of the words/phrases/sentences they post because, in the end, one’s posts tell much of the person behind it. Thanks to fb, it has “edit” and “delete” functions.
  7. I can think of many more specific uses of and positive things about fb, like the elderly overcoming their fear of the computer (laptops, desktops and tablets) and smart phones to take to fb and connect with family, to see grandchildren living miles away. And so on…
  8. Let’s not forget that Facebook, along with other social media sharing services, can be used as a tool to organize people for a cause, to enjoin people to help, and cause a stir powerful enough to review, affect and even change political systems.
Now, let me shift gears to focus on the downside of Facebook. Related to “Facebook fatigue” is what they call “Facebook envy.” Studies have suggested that some users get depressed and feel discontented with their lives seeing friends’ photos of happy vacations, of hearing happy news of weddings, childbirth, job promotions, etc. They say Facebook is a polished version of a person’s real world and circumstances. It is an idealized, edited version designed to make a good impression on others. They say a Facebook profile is a half-truth. It is what you imagine yourself as being, as having, it is not the real you. Crap!

I’d say that there is truth in all that crap. But, then, as adults can we not put things in perspective? Can we not put our hang-ups about life in check? Why be envious? Yup, I feel envious, too. But that feeling of being envious is overcome by a feeling of thankfulness for what I have. I am reminded to count my blessings and be happy for others and always wish them well. Think along the famous lines of Desiderata, and keep in mind that each individual is fighting his or her own battles at some point. You wouldn't want to burden your friends with your problems, would you? So it's better to keep to a minimum shout-outs filled with bad news and rants. Or rant if you must, but redeem yourself in the end by sharing lessons and useful information.

Do I keep up appearances? To some point, you might say that I do. I do not, in general, share unhappy events and photos that are not pleasant to look at. There is already so much pain and negative energy out there. Why add to it? Why encourage and ride on the negative vibes? Let’s learn from babies who smile at beautiful things and cry when presented with the opposite. Well, just my thoughts... I'm entitled to my own, right? Tee-hee! 

What you share on the social network site is entirely your own decision. I would respect it. The times call for respect, tolerance, and sensitivity. The way we conduct ourselves in this cyber world should of course be informed and guided by unwritten rules and standards of what is good and bad, what is moral and not. Let's think about that, and hold back when our conscience dictates so, and share and post away if our hearts tell us so.

Facebook to me is a work of a genius. To a layman like me, what it does is nothing short of magic! I am staying for the long haul, and would not quit unless there is a “very” serious threat to my privacy and security.

Suggested links on the topic:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ahh! A Massage Was Just What I Needed

I have skipped my morning walks for three days, and now my thighs feel sore. I was meaning to use the treadmill in the house each day, but the thought of me sweating and running on a machine, facing a wall, has become unpalatable after having experienced walking on hilly asphalted trails lined by lush greens, in the early morning sun. Such negative ‘conjurings’ of a really great, no-brainer exercise equipment got me into this sore state.

Since I have quite a low pain tolerance, I had to do something to relieve the aches in my lower body. Yup, I’m your “Biogesic” girl who pops pills the minute I feel I am about to get a migraine attack. But I go easy on Ibuprofens and the likes to relieve aches since I have heard they can damage the kidneys. In lieu of painkillers other than Paracetamol, I have a good supply of liniments and balms, and the all-time reliable Salonpas.

Still, body aches are best treated by a massage (I thought). So off I went to my go-to massage parlor – Nuat Thai. It’s affordable so I didn’t really have to think twice about going. I would always go during the off-peak hours to avail of the discount, 250 pesos per hour from 11am-6pm. Regular rate is 350 pesos. But their rates vary among their branches/franchisees. In Cebu, it only cost 150 pesos two years ago, so easily my husband treated me to a 2-hour massage.

Massage is an indulgence that you can get at affordable prices not only in Manila but in other cities in Asia, at least I can say for Bangkok and Saigon where I did get a chance to have one. It is expensive as could be expected in Singapore, but that didn’t deter me to try what I could afford in that upscale city, a mere 10-minute back massage that cost SGD10 at Kenko Reflexology and Spa in Funan Mall. It was so worth it though; I have come back thrice on different trips. They use knuckles and hard pressure using the lower arms to knead the muscles and loosen the stiffness.

In Bangkok, I got to try the room-service massage at the Landmark Hotel which was superb – the best massage experience I’ve had so far. And it only cost me, back in 2010, only around the equivalent of 1,200 pesos. It was different. The masseuse practically went over and under me, reaching all the pressure points. I had the massage after three hectic days of workshop, and I had at the time a bad headache and was feeling sick. Thanks to that masseuse, that flu was kept at bay, and I went back to Manila just fine.  

In Saigon, our gracious German host (my husband and I booked our accommodation via airbnb) pointed us to a very decent massage salon that offered massage services complete with hot stones. It only cost around 250-300 in pesos.

Sorry I can’t tell you about first-class spa services provided by hotels since “unregrettably” I haven’t been lucky enough to try that yet. But, as they say, you can’t possibly miss what you haven’t experienced yet. And I am afraid that if I get to try first-grade massage/spa services, that might take away the pleasure I get from my go-to Nuat Thai where I have “suki” masseuses that do not mind a few extra minutes getting me fixed and pliant.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Back to Teenage Clothes at My Age!

The first thing I did when I stopped working was to declutter my half of the closet (I share with my husband who complains that my stuff spills over the partition). I took out the clothes I could only wear to work – slacks and skirts, long-sleeved polo shirts (think preppy-conservative), non-cotton blouses, etc. I only kept some “semi-casual” (interchangeably called “semi-formal” here) pieces that I could wear to church, and tops that could be worn with jeans and shorts.

As for bags, since I don’t have many, I have kept them all, but seldom get to use all. The five decent pieces I have are in black, cream, and red, so it ‘s not like I pair my bags with the colors of my outfits. It’s a hassle to pour out contents of a bag and organize them again into another. The one that serves me best is a red Longchamp Le Piliage tote bag.

It’s a different story with my shoes. I had to bring home at least 10 pairs of old and fairly new shoes which I kept in the office. I used to keep them in the bottom layer of a lateral cabinet at the workstation I was posted. The leather ones stayed best there because of the controlled office temperature. Now, my problem is that there is no way I can integrate high heels into my current routine. I also don’t have occasions I can wear them to. So it’s quite a pity that they’re slowly disintegrating in the shoe cabinet.
So what’s my daily get-up like? It’s easy to just get too comfy in ratty shirts and shorts as I go about the routine of a stay-at-home mom. Well, I am not literally in the house all day, I go out everyday at least four times to bring my two kids to school, and fetch them. Aside from my kids’ schools – where I get seen by other parents, teachers, and my kids’ classmates – I also go to the bank, grocery, SSS, and PhilHealth. So there’s still some reason to dress well because I am not in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (Humanities 1 reading back in college :-)). I can’t just get out looking unkempt and, pardon the word, “losyang.”

True, it is so easy to put on weight when food and coffee are just a few feet away all the time. Cooking as a chore does not burn calories. You cook delicious meals, lay them out on the table, eat your portion, and then eat some more when your kids have leftovers. Cooking adds to the weight check burden. Rants, rants… I know I have absolutely no right to complain. So I’m gonna take that back and say that cooking is the chore I like doing best. I’m lucky I don’t have to clean up after. Simple joys of having a “kasambahay” must be taken to heart. I could not imagine doing everything by myself, I’d be sick!

Let me go back to my question: what’s a typical wear for me these days? Below is my kind of get-up. Tee-hee!

My husband does not approve of such a combination of apparels for a 38-year-old wife and mother. But in the same way that I defy his order to dress my age, not wear colors like pink, as I have shared in a previous post, “Age Check,” I am unfazed by his criticisms. I am happy wearing shorts with bling-bling, a belt, a shirt, and flats in the same color as the belt. Stubborn wife! He loves me just the same anyway because he simply has no choice, or does he? J

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Birthday Wish

Today, Garrett turned 11. Lucky it was a holiday yesterday as we got to celebrate his birthday with family and a few of his classmates in advance. He never really asks for gifts ever since. This year, he only wished that he could invite over a few classmates and watch movies with them, and that I cook lunch. Wish granted. They watched the horror film Conjuring, covering their eyes and ears most of the time. It would have been scarier had they seen it at night.

Around five years ago, when he was six, Garrett started showing ‘great’ dislike every time he was given shirts or any clothing. He did not appreciate them and would cry, disappointed. All he wanted was books. And so, since then, his aunts, other relatives, and friends would gift him with books, and rarely anything else. 

Garrett is a simple child, he doesn’t ask a lot of material things. He wants to wear the same pieces of simple shirts and shorts over and over. I know he likes shoes, but he doesn’t demand that we buy him what he wants. He has been checking out Skechers and Sanuk, I know he likes to have his own. When he has shopping money, he ends up looking around and not buying.

It is so easy to make Garrett happy. Think books. 

This one is a no-miss kind of gift.

He also loves Origami, so Origami paper (a perfect square), which is not readily available in local bookstores, would be a wonderful gift for this little man.

He made Origami figures to give to his guests, but forgot to hand away these two.

It his birthday today. We haven’t given him anything yet. His dad feels a little guilty, and is planning to buy him what else, but books! J