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

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.