Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hard Habit To Break

Are you a fanatic like me, or do you want to be one? Visit this site, now!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Made In Korea

For more pictures, click here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More Than Material

Luis loves "reading" books before going to bed. By that I mean looking at the pictures while I give a shortened version of the story based on those pictures. Last night -- not intentionally because Christmas is coming fast -- we read the story of Jesus' birth. Luis was wide-eyed, what with the Baby lying on a stack of hay instead of a crib, surrounded by real animals instead of stuffed toys. Luis correctly pointed at the daddy and mommy. I supplemented with the three kings presenting their gifts. Afterwhich I asked Luis what present he will bring if he is to visit baby Jesus. It's taking him a while to answer so I thought maybe he really doesn't understand yet what I was talking about. I asked him once more, citing examples of possible presents this time. Toys? Food? Books? After a few seconds of silence when he seemed to be pondering my question seriously, my 3 1/2 years old son said, "I'll give Him a great big hug, Mom".

I was stunned. Too lost for words. Evidently hugs mean more to my son than I'd realized.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's Your Choice?

I should not have been surprised, given that eversince Luis will have preferences far different from mine and his dad. We went to Ikea a few weeks ago and just like our previous visits, Luis had a blast. He loves running around the maze, inspecting items on display. When we reached the Children's Ikea section, he rummaged through the stacks of different stuffed animals. He first twisted the giraffe's neck before throwing the animal up in the air (ooops, apologies to crusades against cruelty to animal societies. it was just a stuffed toy, and i'm already in the process of educating him on how to treat animals). He fiddled with the octopus' tentacles shortly thereafter. But when he finally made his choice of what animal to make his pet, he chose this -->

Now I have nothing against mice in general, but this one is huge. It's a rat! And my son cuddles and scratches it's nose as if it's the cutest thing in the world. I shiver at the thought of what other bizarre preferences he will have growing up.

Proof of my son's bizarre choice? We were in line waiting for our turn to be seated at a restaurant when the lady in front of us suddenly squeaked -- eeeeeeeeeee! Her ashen face was turned to Scabbers, my son's stuffed rat. She was visibly scandalized by it's tail that looks so real :) I hope the sight of Scabbers didn't ruin her dinner.

Bangkok & Ayutthaya

Well, P&O is attacking again and even after two weeks I still haven't shared here anything about our Bangkok & Ayutthaya trip. Until I am able to shake this laziness off, please enjoy photo accounts of our trip here.

That Suvarnabhumi Airport is purely impressive is an exaggeration. Yes it is impressively huge...but it is also disappointingly drab. And the chaotic arrival exit gates will make you wonder where all the space has gone.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Lost...and Found! My son's videos

Took these videos with pride, almost a year ago. Lost them for a while, then voila!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Week In Review

Monday: Had to bring Luis to his pedia for colds and early morning coughing that's been on & off for almost 3 weeks. Almost lost my cool when, after making an appointment Saturday prior, we still ended up the 15th patient in line! That despite coming on time. When I asked why, the doctor's secretary-cum-receptionist-cum-pharmacist-cum-cashier flatly said that's just how it is. You make an appointment for a specific time but if walk-in patients come, they will be entertained as if no appointments were made for a specific hour. Had I known, I would have shown up at the exact clinic opening hour.

Tuesday: Stayed at home. Decided not to bring Luis to school so he can have enough rest. Spent time at KFC calling travel agencies to finalize our travel plans for next week (more on this later).

Wednesday: So excited! Luis' school is celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival the coming Friday and everyone's "encouraged" to wear Chinese traditional costume. The stage mother in me rushed to the store to find my son one. Actually, he already has a costume but he doesn't like chinese-collar so I had to find an alternative (excuses for shopping, really!). To be honest, I was so excited because I thought Luis has a part in the programme (however small). He's been singing this chinese song complete with action at home so when the school administrator sent a generic e-mail saying the practices are going on smoothly, I deduced every kid is in it. Well, I thought wrong. I wouldn't dwell on it or my current sullen mood might get worse.

Thursday: I woke up to the sound of siren. Literally. Awakened by a loud, piercing sound at 5AM. Had to shake my head several times, trying to register what might the sound be and where it's coming from. Suddenly I realized it could only mean an emergency and my initial thought was to grab my sleeping son and rush out the door. Then I remembered the logical thing to do is to wake up my husband so we can check what's happening out together. When we opened the bedroom door the smell of smoke immediately registered. It was coming from our backdoor. I was about to open the door when Do grabbed my arm. He said if there's fire and I opened the door, the fire might rush inside the house, hurting me/us and providing easy access for the fire to get into our unit. Good thinking. I woke up my MIL and maid instead, so they're both ready for any eventuality. Do, on the other hand, went out the other door to get some info. He had to go out as the intercom to the guards isn't working. Turned out an aircon in one of the units at the 2nd floor, directly below ours, exploded. There was no fire, just thick smoke. The guards and maintenance people were there and the situation was immediately contained. On hindsight, two things bother me: one, why were we the only ones who responded to the fire alarm? every other unit in our floor remained close and silent. everybody seemed to have slept through it all; two, why didn't we just rush out when we realized there could be fire? what if we really didn't have the time to check out first before moving out? we could have ended trapped, right?

Friday: The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations in school was a success. Luis cried for 30 minutes (which felt like eternity to me!) once we reached school, repeatedly declaring "I don't want to go to school!", but once the programme started he forgot all about his protests and was even comfortable up on the stage eventhough he wasn't supposed to be there. He was amazed at the sight of the "lady dancing in the moon". I should say the school had a pretty creative way of depicting that particular scene, with the lady dancing amidst a backdrop of a huge paper moon and an even bigger spotlight -- while crossing an overpass which happens to be almost in front of the school. Luis was even delighted when he realized the "lady" was actually his Chinese language teacher.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I must be a masochist. How would you explain otherwise why I still continue reading INQ7 and Philstar everyday, when I have all the excuses in the world not to. Last week I was more angry (at all our bickering, grandstanding, politicians) than sad (for the victims, that is) over the news of billboards crumbling all over Metro Manila because of Milenyo. And today is no different. INQ7's headline:
No one liable in voided poll automation deal.
Isn't that just incredible?

Friday, September 29, 2006

What's P&O Got To Do With It

I had a good cry this afternoon. It wouldn't have been a shame if I didn't do it in public, but I was at McDonald's and it was only 2 o'clock! Lots of middle school students and some yuppies still having their lunch. Argh. There were three ladies across the table who were looking...gawking...obviously wondering if I was a loony! I tried my once proven, foolproof tactic, of not blinking my eyes to prevent the tears from falling down. But it was no use. I guess the well is just too full to contain at the time.

I've been in this uphill-downhill mood for much of my pregnancy. Something that surprises and makes me uncomfortable. I wasn't like this at all when I was pregnant with Luis. Then, it was pure bliss. Now, there are just too many insecurities. Too many worries. I worry about how I will handle taking care of a preschooler and a newborn without help from extended family; I worry about entrusting Luis to the schoolbus driver and assistant going to and from school*; I am doubting the wisdom of putting Luis in a full montessori school and wondering if it's really what's best for him (to think that Luis has been in school for only 1 month!); I worry about getting old without a personal retirement fund and plan in place; I worry about being able to find a constant playmate for Luis, that he might be growing up "antisocial" because there is simply no one to bond with that's his age; I even worry about where I'll get the next set of menu for the coming week!

I am sure the fluctuating levels of P & O (progesterone and oestrogen) in my body is largely to blame. But I also can't dismiss the fact that most of my worries are logical, and are based on our current circumstances. I also know I am partly to blame because I really don't spill it out. When I do touch on my worries I see to it that I still sound and appear coherent, to the point of probably deemphasizing how much they affect me. I couldn't just blurt them out, like I want to. You know how sometimes just expressing how you feel, no matter how, can make you feel half better already? But I am too proud to do that. So I suffer. I saw this article in Mother & Baby magazine about what pregnant women are capable of doing as a result of their mood swings. One woman yelled at her husband for breathing too loud, would you believe? Another burst into hysterical tears, yelling "that's it, we'll have to give the baby away. this is no world to bring a child into", after learning of the news that an elderly neighbor was mugged. So far I haven't done any of that, or anything remotely close to that. Mostly I just keep my silence, and I know that's what's slowly killing me. Burying me deep into my depression.

I was so depressed the past few days I almost signed-off from blogging. Not that it would make much difference to anyone. But blogging is the only hobby I have left now and I know I will really, really, hate myself if I give it up completely. This P&O surge is robbing me of the passion to do things I used to love doing! My camera, for instance, has been sitting in my desk for days now, drained of battery power. Something I never thought can happen, ever. I don't have a clue as to how long this P&O will have its power over me. Happy, sad, angry, glad -- all within minutes. Crazy.

* Last Tuesday our school bus (actually it was a hi-ace van) almost had a head-on collision with a car, going home from school. The following day I pulled out Luis from the school bus service, one-way. Now it's a constant battle going home because he wants to join the "bus bunch", but I know I need to make a statement both to the school and bus company. And until something is done, I have no choice but to sacrifice my son's preferred routine. I hope it doesn't have any lasting negative emotional impact on him.

September 23

Lesson learned. If you want your day to be extraordinary, you have to plan and direct it yourself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Monsters In My Mind

I am seriously considering giving up news reading. I've noted the increasing number of crimes against and by children. Those kinds that will scare moms out of their sanity. Imagine these: a 10 yr. old girl killed her classmate by stabbing him with a scissor on the neck over an argument related to a project; 4 boys aged between 8-11 pushed their classmate to his death from a 3rd floor classroom; teenagers 11-13 open-fired on unsuspecting students at a school in America, killing about 5 before committing suicides themselves. Two days ago a mom from my son's school was telling me how there are all sorts of bullies in local primary schools here (of course it could also be true everywhere else), so the only way for our kids to survive is to master karate or taekwondo. The other month a nanny took off with her 1 year old charge. Police found the child later abandoned in a cafe on the opposite side of the island. What's scary is that the nanny got away with only deportation for punishment, apparently due to plea of insanity!

I realize I am probably only saying this out of panic. For what good will it do me, and my kid(s), if I'll keep us in the dark? The feeling and sense that the world is still safe will then be superficial. But what do you do when you're confronted with these events everyday, when all you really want is the safety, happiness, health and well-being of your loved-ones, particularly your children? The world has gone mad and there are all sorts of things to worry about -- bird flu, SARS, hand-foot-mouth disease, school/juvenile violence, child abuse, water pollution, food poisoning, terrorists bombings, kidnapping. The list could go on and on. Increasingly I am finding myself reminiscing about my own childhood, back when kids can safely play on the streets and on the farm. When indoor games and toys are only resorted to when there's a heavy downpour and we've already spent a good hour playing in the rain.

I wouldn't be surprised if moms in particular are already at this stage wishing kids are stuff they can put in and out of the drawer. Out when it's safe, in when it's not.

My son, Luis, is now 3 1/2. He just started preschool and in his school bus there already exists 5 year old bullies! A few days ago a boy started the horde of them chanting "I don't like Luis" just because my son wouldn't join in their screaming bout. This kid I am talking about spews nothing but the word "stupid" out of his young mouth (e.g. stupid car, stupid animal, stupid uncle).

In 3 more months Lorenzo, our 2nd son, will be due. Then my fears will be doubled. I am praying I'll have the faith -- that God will keep them protected and safe.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Antisocial or Simple WAGS Evasion?

Has it finally happened? Am I now officially an antisocial? A loner?! All my life my mom complained about me having too many social groups -- at the church, in our community, in school, and then at work. Now all I want to do is find a quiet place, my favorite spot in my favorite Starbucks branch if available, and read.

This afternoon I chanced upon the WAGS (see 9/05 entry). Or maybe I should say the WAGS chanced upon me, since I got to Starbucks first. I was paying for my usual mocha frap decaf when one of them came over with a hearty hello and introduced me to the others. After a minute or 2 of the usual "hi, how are you" and "when are you due" I excused myself and deliberately settled in a spot where they can't follow. I got a small table beside noisy students who are probably doing a group work. I had the notion the WAGS wouldn't want to compete with that kind of noise, so I am probably safe. After a while I saw them took a table some 2 or 3 yards away from me. Alright, I did not completely hide okay? I just don't want to engage in small talks, nor bear the boredom of having to listen to their discussions which will probably be totally alien to me anyway. I also figured they might not want the inconvenience of having to include me in their discussion. And besides, this daily routine is too precious for me. It's my daily private, quiet, time.

If it was me from a long time ago they got to know, they'd probably find themselves a new, if occasional, member, at the very least. Back then I know how to get other people to want to invite and be with me. Now I just don't want that kind of involvement, or obligation. I'll be happy to indulge in 5-minute chitchats in school while waiting for class dismissal, and that's it. Or maybe they're just not the crowd I am looking for? Too early to really tell. I haven't really made friends with anyone or any group in particular here. Luis is invited to a birthday party two sundays from now -- by a Filipino family. I am assuming there'll be lots of other Filipino families there. Then we'll see how I'd react and feel about socializing and establishing friendships again.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

WOW Philippines (as in where-oh-where?)

I was surprised. Amazed. Saddened. Depressed. Frustrated! Where's our dear WOW Philippines?

I've been scouring the classified pages of The Straits Times for several days now, checking out holiday options that will give us the best deal - in time for Luis' one week school break in October. This break is especially important to me because October is my last opportunity to travel, given that I'm due to deliver in December. You know I need to unwind (as if that's not what I've been doing every afternoon since Luis started school, he he he). Anyway, considering our circumstances -- mainly my being pregnant plus having a preschooler along -- plus factor-in my security concerns (both physical and physiological - bird flu is as frightening as acts of terrorism to me), we are down to 3 options: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Cambodia. Kuala Lumpur we can do by driving on our own at a leisurely pace, probably stopping by along the way if we see anything interesting. I'm giving it top priority because I am thinking I can do shopping for my 2nd baby's essentials there. The night market in Bangkok is equally enticing, but I doubt we can make the most out of it with Luis' traveling with us. Cambodia was not spared of the bird flu epidemic, but Angkor Wat and Siem Reap beckons.

Now you might say there's nothing frustrating at all about what I am saying. Let me get to that. It's the fact that several issues and days after I started my little 'research' and I still haven't found a single ad/promo/invitation/feature that will lure tourists to Manila, or Boracay, or Cebu, or Davao, or Palawan, or Ilocos, or anywhere in the Philippines! There's Incredible India, Bountiful Hawaii, Discover Korea, Experience America, Free & Easy China, Bali/Phuket/Maldives Getaway. Name them. But no WOW Philippines anywhere. Not even a single travel agency offering low fares to Manila.

Does this mean Singaporeans are not our market? Might not be the majority, but should we be totally absent here? In South Korea travel agencies actively promote all sorts of travel packages to the Philippines -- weekend golf, casino, beach, shopping. I can't believe we're ZERO here in Singapore. And to think that we Filipinos always include Singapore in our travel choices in Asia, especially with the introduction of budget airlines. Shouldn't we at least make our presence felt? Hey, Singaporeans, you have another option you know. We have great beaches, too. Beaches are not the monopoly of Bali or Maldives. There are interesting things to see in the Philippines as well. Heck, we can even promote our country as an educational trip option -- for students of well-off countries to see first hand what and how it looks like to be 3rd world. Okay you might not agree with that one, but I'm serious.

My point is if these Singaporeans are ready to travel to China to see the Great Wall, surely we can come up with something as interesting if not as grand. I'm sure they'll be as thrilled with our caves and other unexploited natural wonders. We just need to make sure we come up with a really good, interesting, travel itinerary for them.

P.S. Have you tried visiting our tourism site? I mean the WOW Philippines site? Really, that's where improvements are badly needed first and foremost. You know how pictures can make a difference, and our tourism site just sorely lacks interesting pictures that can lure visitors. Click on highlighted words (e.g. caves, beaches) and you'll be disappointed not to have enough views to see.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Solitary Nights

Do left for the US & Canada and will be gone the whole week. Imagine, a whole week! I never really thought about it - about missing his company and being "by myself" for one whole week - until this morning when I started packing his suitcase. Suddenly I realized I didn't want him away, at least not for that long (a week without my husband is like a year to me). Of course I knew from the time he got appointed to a regional post that there will be lots of traveling involved. But I had the impression those travels will be overnighters, two nights away at a time, at the most. Some might think I am overreacting. But I so value our time together chatting about our day's events when he comes home at night I know I will sorely miss him every second he is away. Complicate my personal feelings with Luis' reaction upon realizing his daddy will be riding the airplane. Soon as he saw his daddy's suitcase, he marched into our bedroom demanding to be bathed so he can "go to the airport and ride the airplane". You guessed it right. He kicked and screamed and "turned his playroom upside down" when we explained to him Daddy needs to attend a meeting, and will just get him a present upon his return. I thought he was appeased after enumerating his wishes (a Lightning McQueen car, and another small red race car), but his tantrums just won't be quelled that easily. He fell asleep crying, and asked for his Daddy the minute he woke up and opened his eyes. I didn't have the heart to get mad at him for kicking and throwing things at me, after realizing how much he is missing his Daddy already. And that he's just expressing his feelings the only possible way he knows. This is gonna be a very long week for both of us, indeed.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Within 5 Years

I was hit by the reality that I've lived almost half of my life if I am to base my life expectancy according to DOH's calculation of 72.8 years for the average Filipino woman (as of 2004). Of course there is also the probability that I've lived more than half of it already. The realization made me nostalgic. It made me think of what I have done in and with my life so far...

I visited a friend's blog and learned about Ellen Degeneres' challenge about making our LIFE LIST. Half a lifetime may be too long (and too presumptuous) so I'll set my target to within 5 years. Not in order, here are the things I want to accomplish:

1. Help Luis adjust to his new schedule, new routine, new environment. I'm talking about school, of course, and all the changes that come with it (meeting/socializing with other kids, maturity and responsibility, sleep habits, eating habits).

2. Successfully deliver and take care of my 2nd baby (oh, how different it is when you are surrounded by family). Honestly I am very nervous about this one.

3. Lose weight, lose inches. Ideally I should go back to my pre-pregnancy statistics (and I mean prior to having my first baby!).

4. Start and finish scrapbook backlogs (Luis' 1st year, Korea assignment, 2003-2005 travels).

5. Organize and manage all photo albums (print and digital).

6. Visit Europe once more (IT to include Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Greece, Turkey).

7. Find a job (home-based, part-time; could also be full time once our 2nd baby starts schooling).

8. Do volunteer work, or get involved in projects by Unicef, Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace and the like.

9. Learn to speak Spanish.

10. Write an article and get published!

11. Trace all my elementary, high school, and college friends and get in touch with them (better if reunions can be organized thereafter).

12. Enroll in photography (doesn't matter if I haven't saved enough money to get all the needed equipment).

13. Make our family tree.

14. Finally get a facial, and make having one a routine. I am not getting any younger!

15. Read once again about the world history, and Greek mythology.

If I am lucky to live "the remaining half" of my life, to grow old, what memories will accompany and help me pass the time? Pardon me but let this be the subject of my next entry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Random Musings #1

So near and yet so far. Too many and yet too few. So much time, and yet no time to do what I really want to do. I don't know if there is such a word but I think I am domestically-burnt out.

I complain, I worry, about every little thing I see around the house. Every "failure" in my attempt to be a good mom, a good housewife. Why is it that no matter how much I try to explain to my helper why she needs to hang Luis' shirts instead of putting them in the dryer, the shirts still end up machine dried anyway? And to think that I don't even ask her to "do the machine washing", I do them myself. Only sometimes the wash cycle ends while I am away and she will voluntarily transfer the clothes to the dryer. Her good intentions will then get drowned by her inability to remember my simple instruction on hanging shirts. And why does she insist on hanging clothes for ironing on cabinet doors - make it in all the cabinets' doors - giving you the impression there's a fiesta coming up and banderitas are a must? There are hordes of other little stuff that I should just learn to brush aside, or I'll lose my mind.


Did you watch the recent world cup? If yes, then you are familiar with the WAGS. No, not wags as in people who cracks witty jokes. But WAGS as in wives and girlfriends of the players. These wags are known for their fashion-consciousness, their shopping sprees and loud parties. Well, in my son's school there is this kind of wags. Mommies who look like they came straight out of a vogue magazine's page, wearing butterfly sunglasses, dragging their ultra-sized designer bags on their shoulders. There is no way you won't notice them because they stand out among the rest of us creatures from earth. While we keep our chikahan hushed so as not to disturb the classes, they seem not to mind at all the noise they are making as they chatter about their recent escapades (most of the time it's just about shopping, shopping, shopping!). Well, I shouldn't really be concerning myself about them. They seem friendly, afterall. They greet everyone like they are candidates for the local elections.


I haven't tried my hands on driving here, although I know I must and soon. I can't seem to picture how I'd work out the distances and the turns when I have to sit on the right side of the car, instead of on the left (they drive right hand here). My husband keeps saying it's not really hard when you get used to it. But I don't know. Maybe I really am the "conscious" driver he is accusing me to be.