Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blessings

It's 2015 in a few hours. Let me do a last blog post to close 2014 and welcome the new year properly. It's been quite a while now since I last posted an update. I was busy settling into a new job since September. My mind, body and, I guess, all my energy had to zone in into the new job, new bosses, new colleagues, and adjustments in my household and arrangements for the daily care of Garrett and Gabee. 

It's a good time to reflect on the blessings and challenges of the year that was. What a great year it was for me and my family, we capped it off with a vacation up north in Sagada. We had an amazing time up in the mountains, enjoying all-day long cool temperature, and exploring what we could in the three days we were there. There were just so many little anecdotes and beautiful moments that, I think that trip deserves a separate post complete or replete with gorgeous photos of that place (my family in them to vouch for its authenticity, hehe!). For now, let me just run through special events to remember 2014 by. 

Garrett and Gabee each had their moments on stage when they received their school diplomas and moved up, Garrett to high school while Gab to elementary. 

Summer was memorable as it was the first I got to spend the whole time with the two kids. It was the best three months of my one-year extended leave from work. I was completely at their service, packing for trips, taking them swimming, to bookstores, and fast food chains (KFC, McDonald's, and Jollibee, in the order of which one we visited more frequently). When I had their dad's blessing, we ate at our favorite  Cafe Mary Grace. I was just always hesitant splurging my husband's hard-earned money. Heehee! Their dad to his credit treated them to more fancy restaurants like Chelsea, Crystal Jade, Lugang Cafe, Abe, if only to show them how to eat properly in a more refined dining setting. It's difficult to teach table etiquette when we really don't practice fine dining, with all the works, at home.

We had staycations in the metro, where the two kids had a blast getting their fill of reading books and buying pens and stationery from Fully Booked, Power Books and National Bookstore, strolls at nearby malls, and swims in the late morning or afternoon. The first official summer outing was with my side of the family. We spent one weekend at Thunderbird Resorts Rizal. It was the first time for all of us at that resort. We enjoyed the pool with a great view of Rizal's greenery, and dinner at the resort's restaurant. 

We then went solo as a family to Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas, to celebrate my 13th wedding anniversary with my super loving, super provider hubbs. It was also a great first time in that cove for all of us, and we would want to come back and take with us our extended family. I wrote about that trip on this blog. We loved the infinity pool and swam until night fell. 

For Mother's Day, we checked into Holiday Inn with my 90-year-old Lola, my mother, siblings and nieces. We grabbed Holiday Inn's promo selling rooms at 4,000 pesos a night for Mother Day's weekend. Garrett, Gab and their cousin Bash who loved staying in hotels enjoyed the most. Us adults enjoyed the buffet breakfast. 😉

Summer was extended as the school opening was moved to late July following DEPEd's move to allow schools to align their calendars to the international norm with most schools opening in August globally. It was a very opportune change as we welcomed back to the Philippines Kuya Butch and his family, balikbayans from California, who arrived June first. From the airport, we travelled the next day to Laiya, San Juan, Batangas to celebrate Tatay Ike's birthday at La Luz Resort, the same resort we visited at least six times for the last eight years. I wouldn't be able to describe to you how happy and excited everyone was. My husband's side of the family was complete, full house, with three of their cousins also in our group. I always enjoyed snorkeling in  Laiya, I would bet, every one did, too. We took great family portrait photos in the same spot of the resort. It would be interesting to do a timeline and see how the kids have grown, and how the adults have remained young-looking, hehe, despite the obvious weight gain. 

The rains came early but we had our final hirit during the school break in late June. We drove up north to Baguio and spent three chilly nights and four foggy mornings there. One of the highlights was our tour of BenCab museum and breakfast at Sabel's Cafe. I posted photos of our Baguio trip on this blog. 

Then came school opening and Gab's entry into big school. Gabee didn't take any time at all to settle in as she was already familiar with the school, some teachers, and Kuya's classmates. Her friendly ways helped to blend her in in no time. 

Garrett skipped fifth grade because of the K to 12 program. High school came a year earlier than expected. And with it came more complex projects and requirements and multiple field trips. This school year, I'm happy that he has found a couple of best friends, and he now mingles constantly with certain classmates. He had some come over the house for his 12th birthday. 

We took advantage of a long weekend in August and defied the rainy weather with a quick trip to Subic. We stayed at Kamana Sanctuary where monkeys freely roamed in the mountains at the back of the hotel and the beach in front gave us a great view of sunrise and sunset. 

I went back to work in September to a new post, in a new department. It was a good move and I feel very blessed being reabsorbed permanently, resuming all my benefits and, of course, having regular money in my ATM card. :) 

Garrett completed the Kumon reading program in June and was recognized as an Advanced Kumon student at the Kumon Advanced Students Forum held in Sofitel Hotel last November. That was a big moment for him. We will be back in next year's forum where he will receive the completer's award. 

Christmas came quickly. The week before Christmas, the wonderful news that he qualified to study at the Philippine Science High School, Central Luzon (Clark, Pampanga) campus came out. Wow, we all said, almost in disbelief seeing his name among the 5 percent or 1,000 plus of 23,000 plus takers. He didn't land a spot among the top 240 who qualified to enroll at the main campus. But OMG, it was just a try, with only self-study using MSA and PSHS reviewers, which I bought a few months before the exam. Hats off to my voracious reader! 

And to end the year, as I have mentioned, we pulled far away from the city and communed with nature, closer to God, in the ancestral mountains of Sagada. 

It has been a year to remember, filled with God's grace and overflowing with blessings. I pray the year ahead will see even better days. May all the good even get better. I pray for all that's best for you and your loved ones. I pray the country's elected officials step up and direct the flow of economic gains toward those still living at and below poverty levels. May we all help do our share to help for the good of all. May God keep us in His favor. 

Happy New Year!! Blessings in 2015 and beyond. Thank you for being a part of my little world. 








Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Road Affair

It's Wednesday, my public commute day. I left the house at 5:50 am, now it's 6:14 and the fx I'm riding is crawling, covering just a couple of kilometers since stopping to pick me. This is Ortigas Extension. Traffic while common everywhere in Manila is heavier on this short stretch, a major road linking Rizal to one of Manila's commercial business districts. If today was another day of the week and I were driving, I would have taken a long detour going inside Cainta from Taytay to skip traffic along several subdivisions to Cainta Junction, and save 10-15 minutes, crucial minutes that would determine my road affair for the day, which would usually spare me from getting squeezed on all fronts and sides, and the silent fight against bikers and speeding (despite the traffic) PUVs. 

It's now 6:33, and this fx has finally inched its way for its turn to cross the junction. Haha, I've gotten rusty writing a blah-blah post. It's been almost three months since my last blog musings. Work has taken over and filed my hours. Traffic is a major time filler, too, sadly. 

I've gotten used to waking so freaking early at around 4am, eyes still closed but fully awake. Mornings start quiet save for the AM news and the witty and funny rejoinders of Chico, Delamar and Gino on FM radio. I spend between 40 and 60 minutes in the car going to work. This is one of the things I did differently this time. Before, I opted to take the public commute because I thought it was a better choice, saved me gas money and effort. Now, I realized driving despite the traffic and spending on gas made for a slightly better quality of life. I am no longer rushing to get off work to avoid the long queue at the fx terminal. That I realized was a major source of my stress before, never mind the blaring radio in the fx or the loud conversation of the driver with his co-drivers on transmitter radio, or being squeezed by other passengers, or being forced to listen in to small talk of passengers or a passenger's side of conversation on his/her mobile phone. Some drivers are funny and I would silently laugh over radio exchanges, and kind of decoded some of their radio signals. 

We're making progress now having passed the hazards/accidents that caused the heavier than usual traffic. I'm cutting this short now. Happy mid week!' :) 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lord, I hope this day is good



This song would play on my iPod during my morning walks, but I only listened closely and appreciated its beautiful lyrics and melody the past three weeks. If you're one of the few wasting time on this blog (hehe), you'd remember I mentioned in one recent post that I am not into music and just listen to whatever songs are on the iPod watch, which I only use when taking walks. The songs are grouped under several playlists, and before I would take off every morning, I'd choose a playlist which had more than enough songs to run the course of a 30-minute brisk walk. I was anxious the past weeks waiting for the day when I would go back to work after more than a year of being on extended leave. As I walked, I would look up and pray for the job I wanted to take up when I return to the same organization. This song was right on. I prayed that I would hear good news on that day, and every day. It summed up how I felt, "Lord, I hope this day is good."

I thought I'd share it here, and inspire even just a couple of you out there. I have successfully attached a video so you could hear it. It's the same version (Lee Ann Womack) as the one saved on my iPod watch. Anne Murray also has her own rendition, but it was originally performed by country singer Don Williams (whoever he is).



Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty like You knew I would
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good

Lord, have You forgotten me?
I've been praying to You faithfully
I'm not saying I've done all I can
But Lord, I know You'll understand

I don't need fortune and I don't need fame
Send down the thunder, Lord, send down the rain
But when You're planning just how it will be
Plan a good day for me

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty like You knew I would
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good

You've been the King since the dawn of time
All that I'm askin is a little less crying
It might be hard for the devil to do
But it would be easy for You

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty like You knew I would
I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should
But Lord, I hope this day is good
Lord, I hope this day is good




Saturday, August 16, 2014

My UPCAT Experience

It's UPCAT today and tomorrow. My fb newsfeed this morning tells me that several of my fb friends and their friends' children are taking the college admission test of the University of the Philippines, or what is more known as UPCAT. I happened to be at UP Diliman last Thursday to inquire about registration for my hubby's re-entry into UP as a graduate student and at the Diliman campus this time around. He's successfully gotten into the MBA program. Yay! :)

Last Thursday, guide signs as to building names, parking areas, drop-off points have already been put up. Exam takers, one sign says, are to be dropped off within 10 seconds. Now, that says a lot about the exam takers. Many will be bringing private cars. I know it's saying the obvious, but let me just say that those from the lower middle, middle, and upper middle classes have a better chance at passing, and that profile of UP students would reveal this. 

Some twenty years ago, I was among the thousands that flocked to UP Diliman. I took the UPCAT at the daunting UP College of Law building, in a large, air-conditioned lecture hall. The testing room I was assigned put me to the very edge, my hands clammy and my insides churning. I was nervous lining up, well, the whole time I guess. At the end of the exam, I had to nurse a one-of-a-kind headache, the worst I had gotten I think. I put so much pressure on myself. I had to pass because it would be embarrassing if I didn't as both my two older sisters passed it and already got their UP diplomas. Add to them my father who is also an alumnus, and imagine how much I wanted desperately to also make it. Plus, I was born in Los Banos, in a small well-knit community right outside the UPLB campus. So growing up, UP was always in my radar, and I felt I had to study there, too. 

Thank God, I did make it. During my time, there were no established review centers yet, or none that I knew of. There was just the stock knowledge to rely upon and a bit of self study before the exam. I didn't pass with flying colors though. I didn't make it to the course of my choice which was nursing, but I did make the cut for UP Manila, only that I had to find a college that would accept me because I did not have any course of 2nd choice to take there. 

I decided instead to get into UPLB (my second campus of choice) for practical reasons as I had grandparents there who were more than glad to feed me and support me through college, with the help of my sisters who were already working and my generous stepfather.  I applied for scholarship but the application for STFAP was so complicated I just gave up my bracket 4 or 5 (can't remember now).   You had to indicate how many electric fans and TV sets you have and your siblings' incomes as well! I was lucky I did not have to worry about board and lodging, thanks to Lolo and Lola. There was enough money for my weekly roundtrip fares to Manila and my daily expenses for photocopying and snacks. Tuition was only P225 per unit, and one semester only cost less than P6,000. But the "Seventeen" shirts I liked buying from Cinderella store I got mostly from extra money I earned from being a student assistant.

My freshman year was difficult, I had to catch up especially with Math, even communication arts. Majority of my block mates were from the upper middle class, I could tell from their clothes, confidence and the way they talked to each other. It was a good thing there were two others who were not as "sosyal" and who talked in Tagalog just like me. Hehe, we got along and were kind of the outcasts in Block 37. :)) My blockmates' social profiles were not however representative of who were in UPLB that time; it was skewed to the upper class maybe because most of my block mates came from families who were hacienderos in light of our course -- agribusiness. Now, why did I take that course which was worlds away from nursing? Simply because it was my sister's course. I wanted to follow her footsteps so to speak. 

Was UPCAT difficult? English was not, Math yes, and Science was really difficult for me. Those studying in science and exclusive schools or very good private schools have an edge. The lucky passers who come from public schools and private schools that are not in the category of the really good (synonymous to expensive) ones are mostly the top,  at the least, 20% students of the graduating batch. I scored poorly in Science, it was a good thing that my scores in English and Reading were high enough to pull up my average to make the UP Manila minimum university predicted grade or UPG. I was not smart, just diligent and had a thing for the written word. And that was it. 

A UP education paved the way for my first employment that came even in advance of the April graduation. And thanks to UP, I found the man who was to be my husband. We took the same course. And he is doing well in his career, as with all our common friends from college. 

If you're diligent and motivated and from humble roots, UP is almost a sure ticket to success. So it's really worth taking that one chance, the UPCAT. 

Incidentally, I had time to kill this morning while I was waiting on my son who was attending a career orientation, organized by his school. They invited all the high school students from grade seven up. Representatives from schools like Mapua, University of Asia and the Pacific, University of Santo Tomas, Saint Scholastica, Saint Paul and Arellano University gave presentations. The students warmed to UA&P's fantastic speaker and slides. 

Garrett now is thinking of enrolling with UA&P. And I found myself convincing him of making getting accepted into UP his priority. I have five more years to convince him. But in the end, I will have to step back and let him make the decision on which university to go to and what profession to pursue. He knows I'd like for him to consider medicine. But he has other thoughts like video games programming, oh no! :) 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Acing Math

Somebody was beaming when I fetched him yesterday. He spilled the reason the instance that he was close enough to me, shy that he might be sounding like bragging if overheard, or maybe shy he couldn't contain his joy. Being a mom entitles me to some bragging rights. Hee-hee, just overjoyed myself I want to share some good vibes. With feet on the ground but with spirits high, allow me to shout out that Kuya got a perfect score in his Math midterm exam. Wow! This is a milestone for it is after all a seventh grade Math (Algebra) exam. And I am amazed because I never could ace Algebra, or any Math for that matter. I think Kumon Math is a big help for Kuya because he's used to everyday drills and his Kumon level is advanced than his current grade school level. During sixth grade, he was consistently exempted from taking final trimester exams in Math and that meant more review time for other subjects like Sibika. :-) 

To Neverland (Robin Williams)



Robin Williams as Peter Pan in the movie Hook (1991).
Source: Grabbed from www.corbisimages.com

Jumping out of my newsfeed this morning was the sad circumstance of Robin Williams' death. His death like those of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, celebrities who were at the top of their league, makes me realize that riches, fame and power can ironically bring emptiness and loneliness. Robin Williams was a genius, gifted at his craft. I will always remember him as Peter Pan. May he rest in peace in the other world, in the Neverland. And may his death inspire people to look at their lives and find pockets of happiness filled with "happy thoughts" to sustain them until the appointed time. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Oh, crap! (Music and Me)

Warning: This is not for those who don't have spare time to read blah-blahs. At the outset, I'm saying that what follows is crap. But I'm writing crap just because. You've been forewarned, read on at your free will. Thank you. 

I pick up from where I was last in my thoughts, see previous post if you haven't, or if you care to. It's just me, ok. I don't want to think I'm imposing myself shamelessly upon you. Yes, I've my doubts about this blog. But I keep posting to it because that's just how I feel. Whatever, right? To each his own. 

I wrote about being goofy, letting loose as I walk and swing my hips during my morning walks. Depending on the music playing on my iPod watch (not sure how it's called and feeling lazy about looking it up now, crap!), I either walk dancing or walk singing, belting out songs in the likes of I Miss You Like Crazy. Of course, you know that song. If you've reached this far reading, you must be an 80s teenybopper. Or if you used to watch Ate Luds in Eye to Eye, you'd also know that that was the song playing while Alma Moreno was being interviewed when Dolphy suddenly left her for Zsa Zsa. And I think it became Alma's song from then on. 

So yes not only do I walk like no one is watching, I also sing my heart out because I know for sure no one is listening. It feels so good to just be the way you feel like being. My repertoire spans many decades and genres, whatever's been saved on the iPod by the hubby who is the one into music. I am not. I've figured that the only time I really enjoy listening to music is when I'm walking. I don't usually like driving with music playing. I can't sleep with the music on. I also don't like cleaning the house or doing anything with music in the background because I find it hard to focus on the task at hand. I enjoy music purposively or when what I want to do is just listen to it, nothing else, except when I take morning walks or hit the treadmill. 

In a related post, I said that I've never moved on from the 80's and 90's music. But more than me, the hubby's music interest dates further down to 60's-70's to include Shirley Bassey and her contemporaries. So what I mostly listen to are songs from these decades. To name a few of my new 'old' favorites, I like Carly Simon's Nobody Does it Better and You're So Vain; Carole King's So Far Away; and James Taylor's Shower the People.

But, the mushy, crazy me just likes to sing my heart out, as if I had more than 1 other boyfriend aside from the  one that became my better half. The melody and lyrics of this song are unforgettable. Everybody, now:

I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy, 
ever since you went away, every hour of every day.
I miss you like crazy, I miss you, baby.
Love like ours will never end, just touch me and we're there again. 



Walk like no one is watching



The story of my morning is in this photo. These shoes finally got dirty. These were a gift from the hubby, bought during our 10th wedding anniversary date. That was  three years ago. They've been washed once and they look like they need another rinse soon. These shoes have covered the trails I've walked the past year. They've skipped and hopped when I did a little dance on the road.

I pace my walking to the beat of the music plugged to my ears. I sway my hips a bit, sing along, snap my fingers, or tap my hands rhythmically, alternately on my thighs as I walk my kind of walk when I'm sure the road is deserted and no one is watching. It makes for a nice, upbeat start to the day. These shoes have been my sole witness (methinks). :-)

Hope we all have a good week ahead. May the good weather continue and traffic be more tolerable. Happy thoughts, happy vibes. 


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Patch of Green


This is gonna be a short post because I'm just typing on my phone screen. I've been whiling away time, seated in a rocking chair on the porch, gazing at the grass in my garden. This vantage point envelopes me with gratefulness amidst some pangs of depression while waiting every day for news that doesn't come.

The rains have given our newly planted grass and ornamentals some good headway. It's been just a week since we had frog grass installed, and it's all looking green and thriving. Fingers crossed that not another typhoon as strong as Glenda would unfurl, this patch of land is looking good. 




I wonder why I waited so long to take up gardening. It was difficult having three dogs before but when we recently lost one, a Rottweiler, gardening kind of made up for losing Weiler (our dog's name). Also, maybe at the back of my mind, if I wanted the garden done, I would have to get a landscaper. And that's expensive. And so years passed and I just kind of resigned myself to how it was like before, with the mango and guyabano trees, palms, and some plants we've inherited from the first owner of the house. 

A week before typhoon Glenda hit many parts of Luzon including our place, I had just started shopping for plants and pots. I had already some planted out on the front yard and some inside. I like buying them small, not only because they're cheaper but more because I want to see them grow right before my eyes. This was a good decision I realized later as they survived the typhoon's strong winds and heavy rains. 

I didn't know that plants can be so expensive. Not to discourage those who are planning to start or spruce up their gardens, the cheapest I bought from Taytay (Rizal) market were three small plants for a hundred pesos. So if you have a big area, you'd need to invest a bit to start a garden. If you want to have an idea, here's a tally of the expenses I incurred: 

Soil - P3,500 - one elf truck
Garden soil - P50/sack
Frog grass - P80/square meter (sourced from Malolos, Bulacan)
Plants - P10 to P300 (very variable)
Clay or terracota pots - small: P50; medium: P125-200; big: P350-400
Labor - P500 per person per day

In Bulacan, you can get some small plants for only 10 pesos. At the popular gardens in White Plains, Quezon City, the cheapest you can get is 50 pesos. The hanging plants I bought from Taytay market were only priced at 3 for 100, in White Plains, it was sold at P80 per piece. Frog grass there is a whopping 300 pesos per square meter. Better to travel to Bulacan if you're buying in bulk. 

So far, my expenses haven't reached 20,000, but that excludes the expenses going to Bulacan because I'm lucky my in-laws are from there. :) 

Had I hired landscapers, it would have easily cost me 50k, maybe more.


















Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Happy First Grader


Gab turned six last June, one day after school opened and welcomed her as a first grader. She has joined her brother in a progressive school located in Antipolo. Their classes started later than in most other schools, and they are now only on their fifth week, excluding the week when classes were suspended for four days due to Typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasun). Gab was quick to settle into her new school, as we had expected. I have always admired how she easily adapts to any person and environment. She’s not one to fret or become anxious about being left at school on the first day, as she’s the chameleon type, blends well in just about any place and crowd.

Except for the usual battle we have over waking up and getting ready in the morning, every single day has been a happy one, peppered with lots of anecdotes. Her stories have become more detailed, pertaining to this and that classmate. She now knows all the names of her classmates, teachers, and even the manong that she refers to as Kuya Bok. Kuya Bok is apparently the one who brings her and her classmates snacks from the canteen. Yesterday, she told me that Kuya Bok is the “maintains.” “Ah, maintenance,” I corrected her, recalling seeing school staff wearing pink shirts with the word “maintenance” printed on the back.

It was on the second week, I think, when, at the dinner table, she engaged her brother in a pagalingan banter, and asked, in a she-knows-you-don’t tone, “Do you know what a “paradise” is?” Kuya was quite taken aback by the question, wondering perhaps what prompted Gab to ask. Earlier that day, Gab was telling me, on the way home from school, what protozoans are, and how they can make the tummy ache. Knowing where she was coming from, I laughed and jumped in, explaining to Kuya that Gab meant to ask what a parasite was, not paradise. Kuya gamely shared what became a joke between us (to be shared with their dad later), and laughed with me. And Gab went on to explain about good and bad germs she saw under a microscope—another new and exciting word for her.

Gab seems to have learned a lot about the human body over the course of her first few weeks into grade school, proudly sharing her new learnings and singing to me songs about the skin, eye, ears and brain. Last Wednesday, she was so happy to share that she cooked spaghetti at school, and it was so yummy, she finished her share. She was made to bring tomato sauce, spices and a food container. She came home with just a dirty (with a few spaghetti noodle bits) food container.

I look forward to fetching Gab from school. She’s still full of energy at dismissal and would want to linger and eat lunch with Kuya at the canteen. I just sometimes wish she would still look as immaculate as she is when I drop her off. But, each time also, she’d be in various states of disarray, whether it’s her long hair strands that escaped her braids or  pony tails, or her knee-high black socks pulled down to her ankles, or her stained white polo, or muddy black shoes, or combinations of these. And I just have to accept the child that she is, and that I can’t, no matter how I try, get her to stay put, prim and proper, and get herself the “Most Orderly” award that I got during kindergarten. Gab is nothing like me as a child. And, honestly, I’m happy about that.


Last Monday, Gab did something that amazed me and got me a bit weak in the knees, awed at her braveness. They have a weekly school assembly, like a flag ceremony, where there is a class designated each Monday to give a presentation—a skit, song, or dance, with a theme about values. The value that was presented last Monday was “prudence.” After the presentation, the school principal gave a short message to reiterate the importance of the “value” that had just been demonstrated. When the principal threw the first question, “What is prudence?,” I was watching the program from outside the gate and heard the principal remark, “Yes, Gabee?” I looked closely, and lo and behold, it was my Gabee being called to the front to answer. It took her a few seconds to reach the principal and speak on the microphone. She spoke in a very soft voice, I didn’t catch what she said, but the principal repeated it, saying that Gab said prudence was about loving. Not exactly correct, but in a way connected. That was how Gab understood it based on the skit which had some students dressed as angels with halos. That’s Gab. I hope she stays that way, confident and happy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Checkin' Back In

Hello, it's been quite a while. Hope you missed me. I did miss you that's why I'm breaking my long silence. Lost track of when I last blogged. I had checked and my last “decent” post was over two months ago. I have been silent while my mind has been abuzz. I couldn’t put my thoughts down, as I was afraid of the conclusions I would make if I did. Writing is a way of clearing my mind, going to the core of what’s been bothering me. Writing has to be heartfelt for it to be good; it exposes one’s soul so to speak. It behooves the writer to be true unless that writer is writing fiction or novels. But blogging is different. It’s personal, it’s mostly about one’s life, preferences, passions, advocacies, opinions, wishes, angsts, battles, all reflective of the blogger’s state of mind or, in general, the blogger’s present circumstances which are in large part the source of motivation to write or blog.

The fascination over having someone like you, even if there are just ten of you out there, reading me, empathizing or disagreeing with me, or maybe even bashing me, keeps me coming back. Times when I feel I need a little bit of attention or validation, and some introspection, I take to writing again. The thing with being out of radar for some time is that I start again fumbling, grappling, as I find my way to hitting the subject of this post. Please bear with me.

The last summer was one of the best I've had. I enjoyed it immensely with my children. It was my first summer when I was with them all the time except for a one-week vacation they had with my in-laws and a five-day summer camp that my eldest attended. We went on two outings with my side of the family, three with my in-laws, and one with just me, hubs and our two kids. The last one was with both sides, and I think it’s what the kids would remember the most, the trip to Enchanted Kingdom. But for me, I liked the Baguio trip the most although it was already June and raining when we went, it was like my first time again to experience its fog, veggies, strawberries, flowers, ube, markets. I was pregnant with my eldest, who’s now turning 12, when I visited Baguio before this last trip. Despite all the developments and the negative things said about it, including how its air quality is even poorer than Manila’s, Baguio has retained its charm for me. I look forward to visiting again and exploring it more.

I have amassed photos to keep from the last summer alone. I’m planning to make photo-books of each trip so my family could in a way relive the fun and drum up excitement for future vacations. For many years, a decade now, come to think of it, we’ve stopped printing photos, and just kept them in external drives and the desktop. This, to my little dismay, prevents me from retrieving very old photos and making throwback-Thursday (TBT) and flashback-Friday posts on fb or IG. Seriously! Well, yes, those who have been (tirelessly) following me on fb know that with all the fb albums I have, I can just extract old photos from there. True, true. But, the point is, I believe it’s important to also have photos printed and kept in boxes, or printed straight onto photo-books. Now, I know why I see plastic photo albums always on sale in bookstores. I have an empty one that I bought years ago but never got to use, and may never will.

Looking back again to my summer of 2014, I feel so blessed and happy being able to take my two children wherever. They are spaced six years apart, my eldest, as I’ve mentioned, is turning 12 this year, and my youngest just turned 6 recently. We would take off any time, and I only needed to pack their clothes and slippers. We would sit in restaurants and I could enjoy my meal as they enjoyed theirs. It has always been at the back of my mind, an option until now, to have another child. But, at my age, and at this juncture, it’s best for everyone that we remain a foursome family. I am not saying this in definitive terms, of course, as who knows what might tomorrow bring, right?

Ok, what was I afraid of again? I’m not saying. I have skipped it, thankfully. I will spill though when I have become comfortable sharing it. I’m just happy now for putting an end to my hiatus. I hope I get inspired again to share things happening with me and around me. Writing is fun. I derive great pleasure from it. You should try it. To end, let me share that my son bought yet another notebook and has been madly scribbling his thoughts wherever (I hope not during his classes). Happy thoughts and happy vibes to you and yours. J

Sharing some treasured photos:

BAGUIO









THUNDERBIRD RESORTS RIZAL







HOLIDAY INN







LA LUZ RESORT, LAIYA, SAN JUAN, BATANGAS









ENCHANTED KINGDOM













Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Before Summer Ends

Despite the epic heat we've experienced since last month, still, summer is my most favorite season, next to Christmas. Haha as if I experience fall, winter and spring. But, I will, some day, for sure! I heard from CNN that across Asia, temperatures have been hitting record highs, with averages around 35 degrees Celsius. Manila is not spared. The other day, the rains poured late afternoon where I was, and caused floods quickly in low areas, like where I live, in a very short space of time. Although I'm grateful for the onset of rains, I would like for summer to stretch more a bit into June. You don't? Summer is cool, umbrellas, drenched shoes, potholes and floods are so not cool! 


Have you enjoyed your summer yet? The heat has been crazy, and early rains offer a reprieve. I feel the same way. But I don't want for summer to end just yet. There are more things to do in summer for the kids especially. And this might be the first summer I get to spend all of my time with my children for the next maybe 5 or so years. 


So let's get out in the sun as much as we can, while summer is still here. Does EK still sound fun? It won't be with the rains.


To the beach, I say we go!! Happy vibes, happy summer! Happy hats, floral dresses, bermuda and boyfriend shorts, sandals and flip flops. Aaahh, summer!! 


Oh, it's just me again. Walang magawa. 🌞😃

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Horizon

Passing time watching the rain, cars, and planes in the horizon. Why give up this kind of life, eh? I wonder, too. I'm just waiting for the hubby to finish work.

We dropped off Garrett at church at dawn this morning. He's joining a five-day youth summer camp in Siniloan, Laguna. I'm excited for him. This is the first time he's by himself without any family for almost a week. He's the youngest in the group so I'm praying the ate's and kuya's will take care of him.

Left Gab with the yaya so I got to spend the day alone. And what did I do? I slept through most of it, really, from 7 to almost 10am and then again from 2 to 430pm! Aaahh, feels good! Pagod din pala. The body knows and will sleep given the chance to. 

It's almost a guilty pleasure, this. And this is just one of the things I will miss when I allow myself back into the folds of the reality of every worker. Trade-offs. I wouldn't feel as guilty though, but more productive and more the #whipit kind of woman I had imagined myself to be ever since. Ooops, I'd have to deal with a different kind of guilt, but, this time, I should know better. I would have to call on every skill to keep to priorities, and manage time and stress levels. Can I? Why not? It's worth a try, again. So let's do it! Get out  into the jungle again. 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Remains My Greatest Achievement

On my way this morning to the Land Transportation Office in Antipolo, I was tuned in to DZMM. One of DepED's assistant secretaries was on air, talking about tuition fee increase in private schools and teacher-student ratio. Education has always been a social issue close to my heart for I believe that it is still THE way to a better life, a way out of poverty to still a fourth of the country’s population. That statement is loaded, I know. But you see, even if a "labandera" works herself to the bones, her chances at a better life are almost nil unless she changes jobs. But how could she if she did not even get to high school? Luck plays a large part on her success because she has little resources and few opportunities to chart her own destiny however much she wants to.

It's a small triumph that public school teachers now earn more than what private school teachers on average do. Not that it benefits my children because not a few competent teachers in their school have opted to be public servants. This, despite the class size and, I would imagine, more challenges that go with teaching at a public school. They move perhaps because the government pay is a little higher and also because they are assured of tenure plus benefits they would get upon retirement.

I heard that average class size nationwide is now 45 students. Although it reaches 50-60 in Metro Manila like in Batasan, Quezon City. Ironically, however congested one could argue that area is, still, isn't it in the neighborhood of Congress? The country's education problems are right smack in the very place where some of our PDAF-pocketer, now beleaguered, lawmakers hold office. Shame. More shame and wasted taxes could be expected in the coming months as more than half of the senators get questioned for allocating funds to ghost NGOs and getting hefty kickbacks in the process. An erosion of trust in the Senate is in the offing as fresh rounds of investigations start rolling.

Got sidetracked there, now going back to my main discourse, if you will. I experienced for two years how it was like to study in a public school. I spent grades 5 and 6 in an elementary school in Libis. You know Eastwood? Yup, that's near where that school still stands today. I came from a pretty good middle-class school before that, a Catholic school where I faintly recall having a classmate who gifted a teacher with a sofa set for Christmas! And I had a classmate who gave me a bunch of pencils, such a treat for me then. Most of my classmates had gold earrings, nice watches, beautiful lunchboxes, and other pretty stuff I kind of envied. And many were fair-skinned and had shiny, white, well-tended teeth. I only had two sets of uniform which had to be washed every day, and whose hemlines fell awkwardly above my ‘bony’ knees on my second year in that school. I couldn’t remember if sometimes I was given money as baon, but I recall that the canteen was big but I couldn’t buy most of what it sold. Oh, also that school was where ‘white’ priests (not all were Americans) would come to the classroom before the first Friday of the month so we could confess our sins and partake of Communion during the Holy Mass. Girls wore a white version of the powder-blue, belted dress, that was the daily uniform, every First Friday. So I actually had three sets of school uniform, but one was used once a month only. I was thrilled when I would get chosen to say the readings or the Responsorial Psalm. It was my deep voice, I guess, that my teachers liked. My biggest takeaways from my stay in that school were: being prayerful, learning to speak English and write essays both in English and Filipino. I had great teachers there.

After fourth grade, I had to transfer to a nearby public school. It was a 10-minute walk from the apartment my family lived in at the time. I won't forget my first day when the class adviser called me up to the front and made me introduce myself. I hated having to speak in front as I was really shy and nervous. When I was done saying my name, where I lived, etc. (I don’t exactly recall what I said), the teacher burst into an applause, and asked the class to clap for me as well. They clapped because I introduced myself in English. Oh, that was a big boost to my low self-confidence! That first day had so much to do with how I fared in my academics from then on. I surprised myself, I got second honors in grades 5 and 6 when I almost flunked in first grade! Then Congresswoman Nikki Coseteng awarded me the silver medal during the graduation rites.

I was a nobody in the private school I came from. My most significant accomplishment there was being a contestant in a declamation contest, though I didn’t win. But things changed in my fifth grade upon moving to a public school. I took a big leap of faith in myself, studied hard, and became diligent in everything, including cleaning the floors and sinks of the school. I am not exaggerating when I say that I cleaned the floors of my classroom and the adjacent hall with rags washed in a basin filled with water, which I would fetch (several times) from the first floor, and deep cleaned the crevices of the communal sinks at the school grounds near the vegetable garden! Good thing, we were not made to clean the restroom or I would have done it without any thought as well!

My memories of my stay in a public elementary school also include being a “canteener.” A “canteener” is the one assigned to pick up the food tray from the school canteen, containing assorted food items to be sold to the class. Canteeners and cleaners are scheduled and rotated amongst the students by groups. The group leader, if I recall correctly, takes the lead in selling the food (boiled bananas, peanuts, pansit/noodles, rice cakes, bread buns, and the likes) and handing the money to the canteen with a tally of what was sold. Such was life in public school back in the late 1980s. We were lent books that were so old, they really smelled. I did not feel any less in that school, I felt the opposite, in fact. At least I always had baon and all my personal stuff were on par with my classmates'. I had a bag stroller, and that was pretty amazing then. My takeaways from my two years in a public school: grit and a bigger ambition to rise above my circumstances.

I end this abruptly (sorry) with these two great quotations:

Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, 
is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, 
the balance-wheel of the social machinery. - Horace Mann


Image grabbed from the internet. Just the kind of thinking our politicians need. 


And incidentally, the class picture below appears on my Facebook page today with fresh comments from some of my sixth-grade classmates. Can you spot me? :)