A series of unfortunate events (literally!)

Ever had the feeling that all the negative forces in the world are conspiring against you? I am near to believing that, what with all the things I have gone through and still am going through for the past three weeks to the present.

I had a hard time contacting the person I was supposed to interview for an article. I had to go through several people just to reach her. I already wished that hands could fit in telephone lines so I could have strangled an uncooperative secretary at the other end who made me call back five times in one day without connecting me to her boss. I had to wait for so many days for any of my long distance calls/emails/fax just to get answers. I used up two phone cards just to make all those calls. I spent money on a trip to Manila two weeks ago to meet with my resource person only to receive a text message while I was already on the way that she caught the flu and wanted to reschedule. I finally was able to interview her last week. She was a very nice person to talk to and for that respite, I am so grateful. The power point presentation she showed me on her laptop wasn’t saved to my flash disk due to unknown errors. I wasn’t able to write everything down because she breezed through the explanations with the assurance that she’ll be sending me the file thru email. I waited for two days to no avail. My editor agreed to move my deadline three times already. I called my resource person on her mobile phone yesterday and she said her laptop’s hard disk crashed. She assured me that she’d still email me the important points I needed. I’m still in limbo as of this writing.

Of all things to happen, I just wonder why in the world did everything seem to go wrong (they almost sound sarcastically funny) with this particular assignment? What does God want me to learn from all these? I hope I don’t disappoint Him and that I come out of this with my self-confidence intact. Frankly, I feel like a stalker already aside from the feeling that I failed. I hate to sound like making excuses but the circumstances were all beyond my control. What was I supposed to do? What CAN I still do? What should I have done differently? I am already cringing in embarrassment every time I had to ask my editor for another extension because I don’t work that way. I have always prided myself on my principles of being a professional -- a writer who submits stories on time, who’s able to acquire all the information needed for an article without sacrificing deadlines and who accomplishes everything to her satisfaction knowing that she gave her all in doing the work asked of her.

*Sigh* Just shows that we can’t win every time. I’ve had bad work days, and this is one of the worst. My only hope is that my interviewee finally remembers to open her emails tonight so she can send me what I need and that I be able to finally submit my write-up to the editor by tomorrow. I wish …


Make Some Poor Children Happy This Christmas

As we prepare for the yuletide holiday’s rush of parties and gift-giving, let’s pause for a while and think of those who wouldn’t be celebrating the season with enough food and material necessities.

Give a life-changing Christmas Lifeline gift to poor Filipino children by calling World Vision’s Noche Buena Hotline today at 372-7777 or email wv_phil@wvi.org and ask how you can help.

For those who are already sponsoring a child through WV, please do consider sending P1000 as your Noche Buena gift for your sponsored child’s family (aside from your regular donations) so they could at least have a delicious meal on Christmas eve. Contact the number above for more details.

As WV’s executive director Elnora B. Avarientos writes “I like to believe that the meaning of Christmas will be never be complete if somehow … somewhere … you and I know that there is a child out there who needs to be loved and needs to experience the joy of receiving Christmas.”

Let’s all make a concerted effort to make this happen. We have been given so many blessings by the Lord. Let’s use some of these to bless others. Thanks so much! :)


Rant

I just want to get this off my chest ... I have had a very frustrating day, argh!

How do you deal with pesky and feeling important (or simply lazy?) secretaries of prospect interviewees? I had a very very frustrating day with one and I am sooo pissed!

I've been assigned to write an article on a new learning theory and was tasked to find the Filipino counterparts of the original US proponent. After several dead ends (the url given to me cannot be found and the only telephone number to contact was always busy) three weeks ago and having learned the hard way these past years to exhaust all means, I emailed the US proponent directly and asked for his contact persons in the Philippines (he presented a lecture here recently). Somebody from the website responded immediately with unfortunately only a name and an email address. So I emailed the person (Ms. X). And she didn't respond.

I was left again to keep trying the only number given to me. On Tuesday last week, I finally got through and was able to talk to someone (Ms. Y) who said she'll call me back immediately after she's contacted Ms. X. I waited the whole day and got no call. So I called again the next day and was told Ms. Y didn't go to work that day and didn't leave any messages for me. I was also informed by the secretary I talked to that the persons I'm looking for are only sharing the office with them (another company) and that they (my prospects) don't always come in everyday.

When I tried researching the company name in the net, I finally found out that the .org should have been .com and that there are only five people whom I can try to interview. Unfortunately, only one of them (Ms. Z) has a landline number included in her profile and she was always out of her clinic (she's a pyschologist) when I try to call. On Thursday, I called the company again and was told the same thing. By Friday, the secretary I talked to said Ms. Y has a family crisis and won't be reporting for work in the next few days. I knew then I had to call my editor and ask for a deadline extension.

Early this morning, I thought my luck has turned when I got to talk to Ms. Z's secretary. Boy, was I wrong ... big time! I explained that I'd like to set an appointment if Ms. Z could grant me an interview. I was told to call again after lunch as the doctor has several patients to see. She said she'll ask the doctor first then let me know the answer. I asked, "About what time?" since 'after lunch' is a vague entity. She said to call at 2 pm. I promptly called at the appointed time and she had to ask again who I was and what I wanted. Again, she told me to call back around 4 pm since there are still patients lined-up. I was about to request if she could please send me an SMS when I can already talk to the doctor directly so I won't be wasting precious phone charges, but she hung up on me while I was still in midsentence.

I am based in Laguna and have been making all these long distance calls for the past three weeks and haven't got anything to show for it yet! Argh!

So at 15 minutes past 4 pm, I called again. And was told to call again by 7pm. I managed to slip in my SMS request. She said to wait for her text message. It never came. When I called the clinic again at 7:30pm, I got an answering machine. I politely worded my request for interview directly to the doctor. I just hope she gets my message tomorrow.

I am soooo frustrated. How can I reach the person I'm supposed to set an appointment with when the secretary bars all calls?! Is it too much to ask that she pass on the message, get the doctor's approval or rejection and let me know the next time I call? How should I deal with her tomorrow when I have to call again? I am honestly at my wits' end where to find an alternative interviewee :(


Missing OTH

I seldom watch TV and only tune in when I get hooked on particular series. In Star World, One Tree Hill’s first season ended and they haven’t gotten around to showing season 2 yet. Tomorrow night, Tru Calling will be airing the final episode of their first season. All that is left for me to look forward to each week is Desperate Housewives. Argh, so sad …

I wonder when they’ll bring Charmed’s season 8 to Asian channels? Or OTH’s season 2? Before, I liked Amazing Race and Survivor so much, I try hard not to miss any episodes. But I think I already outgrew the reality show phase.

At least there are still the reruns of Friends and Oprah so I get by … A friend gave me some advice, “Add more series to your regular viewing.” Well then, I just might. After all, we all need time to unwind every now and then.


Forwards Galore

I've been receiving quite a lot of forwarded emails that either make me think, smile, laugh out loud or cry. Most have given me lots of insights about life in general and how best each one of us should handle things that come out way.

A few months ago, my hard disk crashed and I suspected that one factor was the tons of forwarded mails I can't get myself to delete from my Outlook Express. Recently, I realized that I have to find a way to store these forwarded mails such that 1) I don't waste a lot of printer ink and paper and 2) They won't take much computer space. Bingo! The web is the best place to put them, as I did with my kids' computer drawings.

Now, when I need to find a particular poem, article or quote to cheer or encourage somebody up, I'll know where to look for it. Visit the site at Everything Forward. Be inspired, have a laugh or be moved to tears. We all need a break from routines and mundane things once in a while after all.


Unexpected

The other day, I bought a DVD of the musical Cats, which I’ve wanted to see for such a long time. I can’t afford a ticket to Broadway much less airfare to the UK so it remained a dream, until now. Besides, I think it’s no longer running there right?

Anyway, I finally was able to play the DVD last night amidst the protests of my rowdy kids who said they wanted to watch their favorite movies and not the “boring” ones I often choose. But mom’s word is rule (I don’t watch very often but when I do, I want to have the TV to myself hehehe) and they had to relent (or else! :p).

When the first song got underway (Jellicle Cats with the cool and hip melody), imagine my surprise when one by one they crept inside our room and sat on the bed with me. After a short while, Daniel said “I think they’re true cats! Look at the fur, it’s stuck on their heads and bodies!” He was that amazed with the makeup and costumes. To which Joshua retorted, “Those are just costumes!” And Daniel asked, “Mommy where do they buy that? I want to have one! Is it expensive?”

Hmmm, boring huh? So where did all those endless questions about the story and the characters came from? I barely had time to enjoy the movie (guess I have to re-watch it when they’re sleeping) coz I was answering all their whys and whats. After a while, they were already arguing who’s character is what. “I’m Rum Tum Tugger!” claimed Leland. Daniel was fascinated with the magical cat so he said he’s Mr. Mistoffolees while they teased Joshua on being Macavity since he’s the quarrelsome one.

This afternoon, as I was working on my articles on the computer, I heard the kids arguing what to watch next. Then Daniel came to me and asked “Can we watch Cats again?” And they did. So much hullabaloo on one so-called boring movie, tsk!

I can hear Daniel humming and singing several of the songs every now and then. He even copies the jigs and pirouettes. Honestly, I didn’t expect them to like the musical but I guess they really do!


Missing the posts

I do miss writing in this blog. It’s just kind of hard to find time lately to sit down and think about what to write. With all the things happening to me and around me, still I can’t seem to write down my stories and anecdotes. I guess I’m in a dry phase right now, well, personal-writing-wise anyhow.

Here I am with so many deadlines to beat and a part of me wants to stop working for a while and let my thoughts wander on their own. I just find it hard to write them down! Argh, so frustrating!


Writers and Writing

I have this article I got from the net which I had printed and posted near my computer. Mary Schmich gave great advice! The following write-up contains a lot of things I personally practice when I’m doing my articles. It also has some things that made me think and wonder if such are applicable to me. To you fellow writers, let me share with you this article and some of my thoughts and experiences on each suggestion given. And maybe you too could learn a thing or two from them, as I did.

Writers need to know how not to write
By Mary Schmich
The Chicago Tribune



Before the folks at the Off-Campus Writers' Workshop in Winnetka invited me to come talk about writing, I would have advised them, or anybody else, "Don't give your work a title before you've written."

Writing the title before the text is like building a box before you know what's going in it. Do you really want the box to determine the size and shape of the contents?

But they demanded a title. So I gave them a title: "How Not to Write." What did that mean? I didn't know -- until I started to cobble together what follows, a short list of notions that help me write. Whether you write for a class, simply for your own pleasure or in the hopes of getting published, maybe they can help you too.

1. Do not try to write like Ernest Hemingway. Or Nick Hornsby. Or Molly Ivins. And absolutely never try to write like Dave Barry. What works for them is apt to make you look foolish. On the other hand, feel free to do what one famous writer did early in her career, which is to type out pages of her favorite writer's writing to feel how he structured sentences. Or keep good writing handy -- I particularly like poems for this purpose -- and when your brain is locked, read for a while. Feeling other writers' words and rhythms can loosen up your own.

- I can’t recall if I ever tried to copy another writer’s style. I have my own and I would like to think that I only owe other writers for the wonderful glimpse of smoothly structured sentences that inspired me to find my own voice. Also, I have always wondered, are all writers, poets too? I write poems. In fact, I think I started with poems even before I discovered how to write essays well. Or did girlish diaries count?

2. Do not wait for inspiration. You don't need inspiration to write. You need a deadline. If you write only when you're inspired, you'll have dust-free floors, a gleaming toilet, mounds of clean underwear -- and a blank computer screen.

- That is so true! Especially when you have a deadline to beat. Although I find myself more “inspired” to write when I’m feeling the pressures of the looming due date. What I sometimes hate about myself is that, I am such a crammer (vestiges from my college days). But that works for me, believe it or not. And I have to confess, I can live with a dusty floor but not with a heap of dirty clothes. Good thing we have a maid to do the laundry. But I clean my workspace myself, that is, whenever I’m inspired to pick up the broom and dust pan, which is not often. Hey, we all have our quirks right?

3. Do not wait for "perfect" writing conditions. By the time you've perfected your writing environment, it'll be happy hour. On the other hand, if you need a short voodoo dance before you write -- making another cup of coffee, mating your socks, clipping your toenails -- indulge in your warm-up jig. Getting ready to write is part of writing. But remember, as some famous writer once said, that the secret of writing is staying in the chair.

- When I instinctively feel that I need to write something “right now” for my assignment, I sit in front of the computer and wouldn’t get up until I finished a rough draft. But amusingly, I also have those “rituals” that I’d do to get me in the mood. Sometimes I’d watch a movie on DVD first to relax me or I’d make myself a midnight snack (during the early morning hours are my best writing moments). After which, I’m ready to tackle the muses.

4. Topics to avoid: Antics of your adorable children. Your revelations about life while on a luxury vacation. Your dead dog. They've been done, and only rarely well.

- I disagree. I have had articles published in national magazines about my kids, and even accounts of two summer vacations. So does that mean I qualify in the rarely well category? :P

5. More topics to avoid: Your love affairs and your mood disorders, unless you can be painfully honest or really funny.

- I have written painfully honest thoughts on my wonderful relationship with my husband and guess what, it’s on a women’s website somewhere here in the net.

6. One more topic to avoid: Anything that makes you think, "Hey, this is cute." Cute is for kids.

- Ok, I have to say yea to this. But when it comes to blogging, why not? I believe posting cute anecdotes about kids (mine in particular) is permissible. It’s my blog anyway and it’s a way of updating the children’s aunts and uncles, godfathers and godmothers on the newest ‘tricks’ of their nephews/godsons.

7. Avoid cliches like the plague.

- Yup, time is gold you know hehehe. Kidding!

8. Sugar. It's a lousy muse. That Snickers bar won't give you more than three good sentences.

- Who says? I can eat several bars of chocolates and continue tapping on the keyboard.

9. Coffee. Ditto. Two good sentences, and that's only for the first cup. More than one just makes you even more nervous about your worth as a writer.

- I don’t drink coffee much but are we talking about caffeine here? Because if yes, then that’s baloney! Iced tea has caffeine and I usually drink several glasses of it while in front of the computer. The only downside I can think of is the bother of getting up every several minutes to go to the bathroom and pee.

10. Alcohol. One good sentence. And even that won't look very good when you wake up from your nap. Take a walk instead.

- Darn right. All the alcohol that comes near me are the rubbing kind which I use to cleanse my fingers when the dust from the computer table turns them gray :D (see my comment on # 2 for reference)

11. Don't think you have to know what you're going to write before you write. Writing is an investigation. Writing teaches you how to think and what you think. What you think may surprise you.

- I love this advice because it’s very, very true. If we only write about what we know, how can we acquire new knowledge then? I have accepted assignments to write about things, some of which I’ve only heard of for the first time, and made it with flying colors. The key is to never stop looking for answers. And in the process, you’ll be learning more. Being a writer helped me grow intellectually and understand more about the people around me. I have had the privilege to write about kids afflicted with different medical conditions such as diabetes and Kawasaki syndrome. I featured twins and triplets, child laborers etc. in articles. And I came out of those experiences with deeper appreciation, perception and more compassion for those who are less fortunate than I am. And hey, when I got the assignments on writing about earthquakes, water conservation and other seemingly mundane topics, I learned tons of information! Even my husband is impressed when I rattle off new facts I’ve discovered.

12. Don't write as a way to make people love you. Some people may love your writing, but that's not the same as loving you. And remember that someone will always hate your writing.

- Definitely agree. I write because I love to and not to please anybody else. But it’s a different story when you have editors to submit to. What’s important is that the editors love how you write because that would simply mean more assignments to come.

13. Don't be afraid of offending people with what you write. But be aware that if your writing is in public view, you'll eventually offend somebody. Is it worth losing a friend just to tell that funny little story or make that flip remark?

- Sometimes, I can’t help but write about how irritated I am at a politician in my country, or how I got so upset with what somebody I knew did. When I post it in my blogs, I try to defuse the offense factor a little, or I omit the name of the person I’m referring to. But I don’t believe in using a friend’s embarrassing story just so one would have something to write about. Better to keep that to oneself.

14. Do not think your first draft is good enough. But don't hide from criticism with interminable "polishing." If you wait for it to be perfect, it will never be done. As we say in the news biz, "Push the send key."

- True, true. I make it a point to at least write an article one week before its deadline. Then reread it everyday to make corrections and get the general feel of the tone. By the time the due date comes around, I am satisfied with what I’ll be submitting. There are moments though that I had to close my eyes and utter a prayer as I hit the send key.

15. Don't quit your job to write just because your friends who receive your holiday newsletters have said, "You should be a writer." But if you burn to write, then write. And write. And write, then write. Until you get published or can't stand the heat of rejection anymore.

- Lucky for me my very first job after graduation included writing articles for magazines, albeit agricultural ones (I can still remember my quick lessons on brining vegetables and planting alternate crops). I found my true calling when I submitted an article in a baby magazine about my son who has cerebral palsy. They called and published the story. I was already a housewife that time. Two years later, I started to be a regular contributor to a national magazine. And now, I’m still enjoying writing from home and having time to spend with my kids as well.

16. Don't invent your title first just because you're desperate to see words on the page. But when you don't have a clue what to write about, try it. Sometimes it's fun to build the contents to fit the box.

- I like this tip. I also usually write the whole article first before putting in the title. Doing that makes room for a lot of things.


Boo Hoo!

Last night, I got to catch the end part of Uptown Girls on Star Movies. The sucker that I am, I stayed until the end. And I cried again :p That song really gets to me!

Argh, I am such a crybaby!


So true

"A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." - Mark Twain



I have this poster of quotes about books that I got from the recent Book Fair at the WTC in Manila. I posted it here on my computer room wall because I really like the words written there.

As I finished reading another good book called Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith the other day, I was again struck by the thought "What if there are no books in the world?" Whoa, that would be a great loss.

Anyway, I'm glad to be surrounded by all these great literary works I have stacked in my bookshelves. And I'm just in a reflective mood, thus this weird post :)


Touching

I watched Uptown Girls on Star Movies for the first time the other night. I like Brittany Murphy because she has no qualms acting goofy and looking silly in lots of scenes (like in …. what was that other movie of hers with Ashton Kutcher?) and Dakota Fanning as always is a marvel to behold. That tiny lady sure knows how to act!

The story takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride of emotions; there are funny moments and touching ones. The scenes that really made me cry were towards the end, when Molly found Rae in Coney Island and when Rae danced for Molly during her recital plus the business about the guitars. What aggravated the flood of tears were the lyrics of the accompaniment song. Such beautiful melody and heartfelt words. You should watch the movie, even if just the ending part to appreciate what I mean. Alright, alright, I am such a softie!

Below are the lyrics. Now, I’ve found a rival for the tearjerker Butterfly Kisses. And I think it could have been worse if I have a daughter of my own. In my total fascination, I got to download an mp3 of it from Limewire and found out that a lot of people already have this on their files. Definitely, a winner!

Molly Smiles
Artist: Jesse Spencer

Daddy's little girl paints the world with her magic wand
Daddy's little child breathes new life to the morning time for me
Though we're apart, her thoughts follow me
When I come home, Molly smiles with the dawn
Molly smiles, and she radiates the glow around her halo
When she plays, Molly smiles
On a summer day, Molly smiles
A new day, Molly smiles

Daddy's little girl ties a ribbon around my heart
Daddy's little child waves goodbye to the ocean tide that sweeps me
Though we're apart, she's a part of me

Molly smiles with the dawn
Molly smiles and she radiates the glow around her halo
When she plays, Molly smiles
On a summer day, Molly smiles
A new day, Molly smiles

When I come home, Molly smiles with the dawn
Molly smiles and she radiates the glow around her halo
When she plays, Molly smiles
On a summer day, Molly smiles
A new day, Molly smiles

When the days have gone grey,
Nothing's wrong when Molly smiles


It's no coincidence that I tuned in to Oprah Primetime at Star World Asia last night. Last week, the show was a replay of when Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and J-Lo had been promoting their movie Shall We Dance

Having vaguely heard Oprah say that it was supposed to come out sometime in early November (I think), my first thought was "Robert was a guest on the November 23 show!" (I knew about that thanks to my co-egroup members in Last Party, a Robert Downey Jr. fans mailing list). Yep, I'm talking about last year. We still get reruns and replays of a lot of US shows here in Asia and I'm thankful that I get to see what I missed the first time they were shown.


I call it woman's intuition. When I gauged it time for Oprah to start, I switched channels and waited for the opening footages. Lo and behold, my guess was right! RDJ was present in last night's rerun! Finally, I got to see the whole show from start to finish (saw it twice before but only halfway) and it made me so glad to see him well and happy. Such a talented actor. He has found the love of his life and I wish him and Susan Levin a lot of happiness. They're getting married at the end of the month and I sure wish I could be there. Hah! Here's to keep on dreaming!

To Robert Downey Jr., may your personal life stay wonderful and may your career soar higher. Here's looking forward to more great movies with your inspired characters this year and beyond …




Is this the world we created
We made it on our own
Is this the world we devastated
Right to the bone
If there's a God in the sky looking down
What can He think of what we've done
To the world that He created

Those words came from a song I first heard sung by The Corrs although I just found out that it’s not one of their original compositions :p

Anyway, what I want to say is, it’s so depressing how some people treat the earth shabbily. Just this afternoon, as I was on my way home from buying groceries, I had this fellow passenger in the jeepney who was eating a hamburger and drinking something from a plastic cup.

photo borrowed from cnn.com
I was deep in reverie, thinking of my upcoming interview for an article I am writing, when there was this awful clatter that had me snapping my head towards the sound. It turned out that the woman who was eating a while ago threw her food wrappings outside the jeep’s open door and the loud sound came from the plastic cup falling on the middle of the street.

I was so enraged at the blatant disregard for the environment that I almost shouted “You’re such a pig!” to the woman. Not wanting to appear crazy, I had to be content with eyeing her malevolently for a few seconds.

My husband and I are advocates of recycling and waste segregation, which we really apply at home. Our kids are trained to hold on to wrappers when inside a public utility vehicle or anywhere outside the house if they can’t find a trash can immediately. They know enough to directly throw their scratch papers at the sack we designated for paper products or their fruit peelings at the compost bin.

photo borrowed from blauearth.com
Once when I fetched the kids at school, I saw Joshua walking around with a candy wrapper in his hand. I broke off my conversation with some moms to ask him why he seems to be walking aimlessly around the playground. He answered me with “Cause I’m looking for a trash can Mommy.” And I saw amazement in the other parent’s faces. That moment sure made me proud.

So imagine my disgust at seeing a grown woman acting more immaturely than my kids. Sometimes I despair of not ever seeing clean streets in my country. Oh, but I loved Davao City when I went there before (circa 1992) because that is one clean place, with citizens disciplined enough to throw their trash in the proper places. I hope it’s still that way there now and I just wish there are more Filipinos who care for the environment.

While driving on the highway, we often see windows of fancy cars like luxury sedans or SUVs opening and a hand would pop out to throw away something. *sigh* Even rich people just don’t care enough.

photo borrowed from sodahead.com
And that is such a sad thing. I wonder how else I can educate these people aside from ranting about them in my blog and writing magazine articles on the subject? Hmmm, any ideas?




Sharing Music

For so long, I’ve been bemoaning the fact that prices of audio CDs are exorbitant. Thus, it is impossible for a person like me (a mom who has to prioritize her family’s needs to her own) to purchase music I really love listening to. So I just ask friends to send me mp3s or wav files they have of our favorite songs.

Recently though, I’ve discovered Limewire which a friend helped me install in my computer. It’s a kind of program that, when connected to the net, enables you to download audio (and even video) files that others have on their computer. They call it peer-to-peer sharing. And since Limewire only accesses folders you want to share, I find it pretty secure.

I’ve already found several hard-to-find songs that I’ve been looking for, for a long time now. Granted that my dial-up network is so much slower than DSL, I’m still able to download music albeit patiently because some do take a few days (depends if your host shuts down his/her computer prematurely and you have to wait for another chance of being simultaneously online again to finish your download).

Anyway, you music lovers out there might want to try it out too.


A Complaint Letter

I just hope the LTFRB people would really read my letter and take some actions. If not, well I'm posting it here so a lot of you would know that there are still citizens like me who simply don't take things as they come and forget about them. Otherwise, there really would be no changes for the better for this beloved country of ours.

LTFRB Chairman
Ma. Elena Bautista

Dear Ma’am,

Last Saturday, July 30, I rode an airconditioned RRCG bus with plate # TWR 314 from SM North Edsa to Alabang around 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

I would like to inform you of what happened because I feel that my fellow passengers and I have been unjustly obliged to pay fares that shouldn’t have been collected. I’m sure your agency is the right one to report this to.

I was traveling with my six-year old son who just had his music lessons in UP Diliman. When we boarded the bus, the conductress came near and I told her I’ll be getting off at Alabang. She asked me “Ilan?” [How many?] and I answered “Isa” [One] because I plan to have my little son sit on my lap if ever the bus gets crowded. She gave me tickets for P72.00. Not knowing how much really are the fares from that area since it’s been quite a while that I traveled from there to Alabang, I paid the amount. But I had a niggling feeling that something is not right because I usually pay P35.00 from Alabang to Philcoa which is not really that far from SM North.

When the conductress passed me by, I asked her, “Ale, magkano ho ang bayad galing [Ma'am, how much is the fare from] SM North pa-Alabang?” She told me “P36.00 isa [each].” So I inquired “Eh bakit ho dalawa ang siningil nyo sa akin?" [Then why did you collect fares for two people?] Without any warning, she shouted at me “Aba, may bayad na yan! Alam ko dahil inspector din ako!" [That kid should already be charged! I know because I'm also an inspector!]” I was taken aback by her defensive tone of voice. “Eh di sana ho ang kinuha n’yong bayad pang-estudyante man lang,” [Then you should have charged him for student fare.] I replied. Again she shouted at me “Walang pasok ngayon! Nagtitiket lang ako ng pang-estudyante pag may pasok!” [There are no classes today! I only give student discounts when there are classes!] And she walked away in a huff. Would she have listened if I told her that my son came from a class? I doubt.

I opted not to continue the discussion. I didn’t want to stretch the argument with a person who apparently does not see reason. On my part, if she had only stated outright when she collected my fares that she’s also charging my son because that is their policy, then I wouldn’t have argued even if I had felt taken advantage of. In the first place, she shouldn’t have asked me “Ilan” [How much?] if she has already decided to charge my preschooler’s fare.

May I ask, why in the world did you guys in LTFRB mandated that student fares are not applicable during weekends??? Does the status of kids change during Saturdays and Sundays? How come nobody even thought about make-up classes or extra-curricular school activities like Scouting or CAT, and in my son’s case his music lessons, that are sometimes held on weekends?

Also, what are your rules about fares for children? Isn’t it understood that preschoolers can be carried on parents’ laps and should not be charged for fares? Last Saturday was the very first time I experienced paying for my youngest son’s right to ride a public vehicle. We have traveled every weekend since summer from Laguna to Manila and some of the provincial bus conductors even ask politely "Mam, ibabayad ho ba yung bata o kakalungin?" [Ma'am, are you paying for the child's fare or would you be carrying him?] At least they inform people that they have a choice. But most of the time, conductors take little kids for granted and ask only the adults to pay fares.

Before I got off the bus, another mom who has two little kids with her (around ages 5 and 6) sat down behind me. I couldn’t help but ask if she was also forced to pay for her kids’ fares. She confirmed my suspicions adding that she had argued too with the conductress to no avail.

I know P36.00 is just a small amount and I can simply let it go with the fatalism that most Pinoys [Filipinos] nowadays believe “Ipasa-Diyos na lang.” [Let God handle it.] But I can’t help thinking of other commuters who can barely afford to ride busses and those people who will be future victims of the unscrupulous conductress and others like her thus this complaint.

I repeat, it was an RRCG bus with plate number TWR 314. On the driver’s sun shield, there’s a red sticker of the name “Alex”. The conductress con inspector has short hair, may be in her late 40’s or 50’s and has moles on the top and bottom part of her lips on the right side of her face. She was wearing a military beret, has a brown Seiko watch and wore “Sketchers” shoes.

I would also like to add that I have ridden RRCG busses before who cut trips. They have Fairview signs when they start off from Metropolis in Alabang, but would tell the passengers to get off in Cubao and transfer to another bus because they’re changing destination to Monumento. Even my aging mother who once accompanied my son to Diliman, and whom I specifically instructed to ask the driver first before boarding the bus if it’s going directly to Philcoa, was asked to get off in the middle of EDSA. It is so inconvenient especially when you have a kid with you!

I am reporting this because I know a lot of these things happen and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. I hope that you would take action and investigate the matter. Please have pity on common citizens whose desire is to be treated fairly in spite of all the shortcomings and bad happenings in our country today.


Few things in life are free

I have been receiving quite a number of emails inviting me to join a certain website called TechGear4Free where you can get electronic gadgets for free simply by referring other people to the site. I’ve wanted an ipod for so long but am very wary of sites purporting to give away items for free without any cash outlay from the customer.

I tried reading their terms and ended up still confused about the whole thing. Why is it that a lot of sites use complicated jargon when explaining to the end user? Hmmm, so we can’t understand what they really are trying to con us into and simply click on the YES button?

So I emailed their tech support to have some answers. I wouldn’t want to impose my referral number if ever to all my email contacts, asking them to sign up too and end up looking like a fool because none of us would be getting any free items after all.

Here’s what I wrote:

Hi! I'd like to ask some things about your site. Some contacts of mine asked me to sign up so they’ll get the gadgets they’ve been wanting for a long time. I've noticed that in the sign up form, there is only space for the state/province and not country. So does this mean, offers are valid in the US only? But why is there a clause in the terms that your website ships worldwide?

Also, do we have to sign up for an offer before getting the free gift? Or is a sufficient number of referrals enough to help us earn credits for the getting the free gift?

Kindly enlighten me on this. Many thanks!


And here’s what they answered me with:

The spaces in the sign up form are just due to an outdated script that is running the site. It is perfectly secure and everything but we will be upgrading the whole site shortly to incorporate that kind of thing.

We do ship worldwide and if the address is from another country, we will simply confirm the address via email.

All users have to complete an offer in order to get credit. For your referrals to actually count as a referral, they must also complete an offer.


So there’s the catch! YOU and YOUR REFERRALS have to sign up for their offers BEFORE you get to have your free item! Being a non-US resident, I don’t have the capacity nor the propensity to spend in dollars. I’d rather have my most-dreamed of ipod the old-fashioned way --- by saving some money and buying when I finally have enough.

And that’s my final word on the matter.


A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Listening to very talented young people who amazingly sound (almost) exactly like The Corrs. I attended a jamming session yesterday and got to finally meet some of my co-egroup members in the Corrs-ph mailing list. Some of them have been playing Corrs songs together for a long time and already formed a band which, I must say, definitely sounds good!

I have to admit it was a little intimidating at first joining a younger generation. After all, I am older than some of them by at most a decade! But take note, I was born the same year as Caroline Corr so I guess I'm justified :) But once there, I found that our collective fascination and love for the Corrs were enough to bridge any gaps.


I wouldn't go as far as referring to my new friends as "kids" though. They have shown such maturity in the way they show passion for their music (Congrats Kei and the Kaze gang! Your newest song, Rain, rocks!) which inspired me to practice with my tin whistles more (so I can really jam with them next time).

To all you cool gals and guys who made my afternoon a really special one, thank you ... for inviting me, for the free cds and the wonderful company. Here's looking forward to more get-togethers in the future!




On PEGs and photos

A lot of my friends, when informed of James' PEG procedure via email, still couldn't imagine how a feeding tube implanted in the stomach looks like. I find it hard to describe too.

I recently joined two tubefeeding egroups in yahoo so I can share my experiences with fellow parents and learn from those who have been at it longer than we are. Somebody posted a site of a little cute girl called Emma where her mom posts how-to pictures about her daughter's g-tubes.

For those who are also curious what a g-tube looks like, visit Emma's site. I really appreciate the mom for sharing Emma's pictures. It helped me realize more that we are not alone in coping with James' condition.


Where are you from?

About two weeks ago, I tried out the NeoCounter after seeing it on a friend's blog site. Now at least I'll know from what countries my blog visitors are coming from and I think it's great thing :)


Oh, Yes!

I’m working right now on an article about organizing. In one of my researches, I came across this from the Idea-Pak email that Maria Gracia’s Get Organized Now website sends:

The Infamous Organizational Myth

Myth: To be organized means to be neat or tidy.

Yes, we will admit you can be neat and organized at
the same time. But, there is also a huge percentage of
neat, but extremely disorganized, men and women.

In fact, and this one's probably going to surprise you--
you can be the total opposite of neat (you can be sloppy)
and still be organized!

So, what does it mean to be organized?

Truth: To be organized means:

1) You get everything done when it's due.

2) You find everything easily when it is needed.

It's really that simple.

Keep these two phrases in mind, and you're well on your way
to optimum organization.


After reading this, all I could think about is: “I’m vindicated!”. Why? Because my workplace isn’t what most people would call neat. In fact, my OC hubby (he hates seeing anything out of place) always chides me “How can you work like that?! Look at the shelf of your computer table, can you still find anything there? Your desk is overflowing and there isn’t any space left for doing anything else on top of the table!” My usual answers : “I can work fine, thank you very much! And yes I can find every teeny-tiny thing I need when I need it. Just don’t mess around with my stuff!”

A long time ago, out of the goodness of his heart (or simply because he can’t stand looking at the mess anymore?), hubby re-arranged my things in the computer room without my permission. Needless to say, I almost went out of my mind and told him off “Don’t you ever touch anything here again! Now I’ll spend thrice the time looking for my files!” My hapless and clueless husband could only say “What did I do wrong? Look how clean the place is!”

Oh don’t get me wrong. I am not such the slob you are probably envisioning already right now. I do arrange my tons of files, scraps of paper and tiny notebooks every now and then, in my own sweet time (read: when I feel like it). That way, I still get to know where I’ve put everything and would still find anything when I go looking.

Nowadays, he would simply stare at my workstation, shake his head, look at me accusingly and then go away. Thank goodness! My workplace is still messy most of the time, but I’m happy, because that’s how I prefer it to be.


Hooked

Ok, I’m now a fan. I borrowed a Jim Brickman concert DVD from my sister and watched it yesterday. I loved his song “The Gift” even before but haven’t really heard his instrumental piano pieces. And yesterday, I fell in love with his compositions. They are soooo romantic!

It’s a wonder how I’m now a big fan of three Jims who play the piano – Jim Chappell, Jim Corr and now Jim Brickman. Hmmm, is there a chance that there are more Jims out there with the same talent?

Jim Brickman also has great rapport with his audience. I like the way he tells jokes and makes the audience more comfortable. That’s a big plus in being a concert artist. A friend told me that when he watched another pianist’s concert before (wouldn’t mention the name anymore but I also like that guy’s pieces), there just wasn’t enough good audience-artist communication. So the experience was not as fun as he expected it to be.

Now I’ll be sure to look for Jim B.’s CDs when I go to the music store … *sigh* when my budget allows …


Thank You!

To everyone who gave their support, encouragement and offered prayers for our son – our deepest and heartfelt gratitude. James underwent the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) procedure last week and is now recuperating well at home. We are very much heartened that his frequent vomiting before has lessened considerably because there’s no more tube tickling his throat. I am very hopeful that pretty soon, he will gain more weight and will be able to practice chewing and finally learn to eat orally.

My husband and I went through a lot during the hospital confinement. But I’m still thankful that despite everything that seemed to go wrong, our love for each other was strengthened as we got to spend more time together and just talk … about dreams for the future and plans for our family. Truly, that is another blessing to be grateful for.


A Request

Dear friends and family,

We ask for your prayers as James undergoes the gastrostomy procedure tomorrow morning. Know that we are very thankful for caring souls like you who have always encouraged us throughout our son’s trials in the past. Once more, please extend your kindness in helping us pray for James’ safety during the operation and his swift recovery right after.

God bless!


Bliss

I have wanted to be an archaeologist when I was still in my elementary days. Blame it on the mystery novels that I have always been reading. I think one or two of the Nancy Drew or Dana Girls books I read sparked that kind of interest. Or was it an Agatha Christie novel? Hmmm. Anyway, since then I have been fascinated with anything related to dig sites, artifacts, mummies, ancient civilizations etc. In other words, books, movies (yep, Indiana Jones!) and television shows with themes of “lost treasures” would draw me like metal to a magnet. No wonder Wilbur Smith became one of my favorite authors because his epic sagas were almost always based in Egypt. If you are as enthralled with archaeology as I am, do read his books “River God” and its sequel “The Seventh Scroll”. They are so spellbinding, it would take great effort to put them down once you started reading. The colorful descriptions of a pharaoh’s lost tomb coupled with very intriguing plots left me breathless and replete with a suddenly heightened imagination.

Last Sunday, the National Geographic Channel (Asia) started its Pharaoh’s week shows. I think I was glued to the TV screen for several hours that first night. I tried to absorb all the motley information that mesmerized me beyond words. I am so glad that my eldest son Leland showed a lot of interest as I readily answered all his questions (they were sooo many!).

It was such a revelation learning more about King Tut and all the other famous pharaohs that lived so long ago. Do you know that there was a queen who crowned herself pharaoh? Or that one royal mummy has been displayed in a Canadian museum for over a century before they found out it was King Rameses I? Every story has its own charm and every character’s life has something we could all learn something about from. Real-life drama to the fore -- ancient perhaps, but nonetheless existed.

Nowadays, I have shelved my dream of becoming an archaeologist. To tell the truth, I have come to grips with reality that I won’t probably be able to stand all the dust and heat and might even be craving for a bath every ten minutes if I was there :p Thank goodness modern television brings us vivid images such as those that I crave to see. I’ll be enjoying the rest of the week, eagerly looking forward to NGC’s nightly shows. As for the digging part, I’ll leave that to the experts.


A Pleasant Surprise

We have a VCD of the animated movie “The Magic Sword” and my kids have been watching it often for the past two years. I got to like the song “On My Father’s Wings” the first time I heard it and even searched the net for the lyrics. I have been singing it ever since (reminds me so much of my late dad whom I was very close to).

It was a strange coincidence that the day the movie was shown in Cartoon Network sometime last week, a fellow die-hard Corrs fan (Hi Pao!) emailed me mp3s of several rare Corrs songs. One of them is titled “On My Father’s Wings”. I haven’t opened the file yet when my son Leland suddenly shouted, “Mommy! I saw on the credits that Andrea Corr is the singing voice of Kayley!” To think that we’ve been watching the movie for so long and haven’t been paying attention to the credits!

So I hurriedly played the mp3 and sure enough, it was the same song! Argh, it’s humiliating that me, a Corrs fanatic, didn’t recognize Andrea’s voice immediately! But, at least my ears perked up after hearing it for the first time so many months ago.

Oh well, as far as surprises go, this one gets a perfect ten from me!


A Truly Happy Day!

Belated Happy Moms’ Day to all you mommies out there!

I spent the morning of Sunday snorkeling in Long Beach at Puerto Galera. The whole weekend, my family especially all my kids had a blast cavorting on the great beaches we got to go to. We also loved our accommodations at Valley of Peace resort where we enjoyed soaking in the pool and outdoor Jacuzzi most of the time we were there.

We all turned brown so fast I’m guessing it’ll take me a year again just to regain my true skin color (I still have the tan lines from last year’s PG trips when we left for Puerto! Argh!) But, the respite was invigorating and the bonding moments were aplenty. Too bad I had to wake up and tackle my deadlines once more the moment I set foot inside our house :P

Still, it was one of my best birthdays ever with mothers’ day happening on the same day to boot :)


About three weeks ago, the tinwhistles I asked my cousin to buy for me from the US, finally arrived. According to Andrea Corr (yup, she’s my inspiration why I’ve been wanting to learn to play the tinwhistle and teach my kids how to play too), that’s one of the easiest musical instruments to play. I think she started learning when she was just three years old. Of course, being Irish, tinwhistles were already intrinsic in her country back then.

And so it went that when I (and my kids -- believe me, they also enjoy watching the video concerts I have!) got hooked on The Corrs' music, having a tinwhistle became one of my simple dreams. Good thing my cousin was kind enough to order some for me from The Whistleshop.

Less than 24 hours after claiming each of our own tinwhistles, Daniel, Joshua and I were already playing simple tunes. Leland said he’s not interested, preferring to settle with his drawings and sketches. My husband, the guitar and flute recorder expert, got in the fray and tried impressing us with more complex tunes (I must admit he does have good ears for music).

In less than a week, I was able to happily accompany several Corrs songs already, and then some. James would look on, bright-eyed and full of smiles. After all, he’s my very first convert to the Irish band’s music. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic over this new “toy” of mine. Although I’m not so good at trying to play notes by ear, so every now and then I go over to the piano and try out the tunes there first before attempting them on the tinwhistle. I guess I’ll forever remain the notes-dependent kind of musician. But I get by :)

The music-making didn’t stop there though. Long after Joshua got tired of practicing, Daniel kept on playing his tinwhistle almost every moment of everyday, sometimes threatening to burst all our eardrums with the off-key pieces hahaha. When my brother (who’s a classical guitar teacher in UP Diliman) came home and we were discussing about the university’s summer music workshops, Daniel said he wanted to learn to play the violin too. Day after day, my little one’s decision didn’t falter. His resolve finally convinced us that he’s serious about violin lessons.

So last week, my feet suffered terribly in trying to accompany my brother and Daniel from one music store to another, finding a violin that would fit my son’s size. Three hours, two malls, an MRT ride and a dozen stores later, we found the right one. Whew!

By summer’s end, I’m looking forward to Daniel’s violin recital. It wouldn’t matter if all he would be able to play is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I’m sure, I’ll still be the proudest mom in the audience there.




Bittersweet

My three aunts, one uncle, three cousins, two nephews and a niece will be going back to the US in batches over the next few days. I’ll miss them once again. My aunts are my dad’s only sisters and every time I see them, I feel that strong blood connection we have, bonding us, even though my father has been gone for a long time now.

My sole surviving uncle and his family held a farewell party the other day for our soon-to-depart relatives. It was fun being with the extended family. My mom and I attended with my youngest son in tow. One cousin rented a karaoke machine and everyone had a blast belting different kinds of songs from early afternoon until way into the night. There was much laughter as one of my aunts clowned around, interpreting a love song her youngest sister was singing, thru funny actions. I had fun singing along to old songs that I became familiar with through my dad, with his siblings. The third generation kids were aplenty. My son had a great time getting to know his second cousins more as they ran around the house and ate dinner together.

As the evening drew to a close, I was filled with melancholy, wondering when I’ll get to see those wonderful people again. We’re not sure when they’ll be coming back but I’m pretty quite certain that when they did, that inexpressible joy that we all feel when we get together, will be coming around once more.


Wedding Moments

My cousin got married last Sunday. He surprised his bride with red roses’ petals spread all over the altar, covering all the floor space, where they would take their vows. Isn’t that so romantic?! To think that I fondly remember Ryan as the little tot who runs around with my little brother way back when, and now he’s all grown up with the girl of his dreams finally becoming his wife. *sniff* How I love that kid.

I enjoyed the part when the audience were asked to hold triangle-shaped pieces of paper. We were instructed to open them while the bride is marching down the aisle. Pretty soon, about a hundred butterflies were taking flight all over the church! Another nice touch to the already romantic atmosphere.

I just wished my hubby was there with me. It always makes me feel a little nostalgic whenever I attend a wedding without him. But, *sigh* he had to go to work that day and I totally understand why he can’t accompany me. It’s just that I like having him beside me, the two of us holding hands and smiling those knowing smiles while the bride and groom promise each other everlasting love.

Funny how members of our clan only get to reunite during grand occasions such as this (yes, including funerals). Five of my cousins, three aunts and an uncle came home from abroad to witness the event. I have missed them and it was so good being with them again. Seeing my father’s siblings made me wish that he could be there too. But I’m sure he and my grandma were there in spirit rejoicing at seeing us all so happy.


A Matter of Perspective

In my work as a freelance writer, I encounter different kinds of people when I need to interview experts and even laymen for different topics. I have met very nice doctors, professors, housewives, salesmen etc. before but also had my share of the undesirable ones. I particularly hate it when secretaries give me the runaround and have me wait on the line for five minutes or more (when I am calling long distance!) or have me call back (again and again) before they connect me to their bosses.

Two weeks ago, I had one of my worst experiences in dealing with a resource person. I won’t go into details but can say that her actions were spiteful without due merit despite my polite explanation and offer of reparation. Needless to say, that incident brought on some heartaches. I really dislike it when some people become so illogical that they close their minds to reason. I shared the experience with some writer friends and they gave me sound advice (plus much needed consolation) on how to deal with something like that if I encounter it again in the future.

A few days after the bad event, I went to see another resource person to interview for another article. She was one of the nicest persons I got to talk to! With her pretty face, jovial nature and genuine willingness to share her knowledge, this doctor came out tops in my list of good people.

And I came full circle. Because I was again reminded that not all people will act the way we expect or want them to. We just have to take things as they come, good or bad, and have that resilience to move on. And I did.


A Matter of Perspective

In my work as a freelance writer, I encounter different kinds of people when I need to interview experts and even laymen for different topics. I have met very nice doctors, professors, housewives, salesmen etc. before but also had my share of the undesirable ones. I particularly hate it when secretaries give me the runaround and have me wait on the line for five minutes or more (when I am calling long distance!) or have me call back (again and again) before they connect me to their bosses.

Two weeks ago, I had one of my worst experiences in dealing with a resource person. I won’t go into details but can say that her actions were spiteful without due merit despite my polite explanation and offer of reparation. Needless to say, that incident brought on some heartaches. I really dislike it when some people become so illogical that they close their minds to reason. I shared the experience with some writer friends and they gave me sound advice (plus much needed consolation) on how to deal with something like that if I encounter it again in the future.

A few days after the bad event, I went to see another resource person to interview for another article. She was one of the nicest persons I got to talk to! With her pretty face, jovial nature and genuine willingness to share her knowledge, this doctor came out tops in my list of good people.

And I came full circle. Because I was again reminded that not all people will act the way we expect or want them to. We just have to take things as they come, good or bad, and have that resilience to move on. And I did.


Something New

I read in one of Leo Buscaglia’s books that when he was small, his father would always ask him and his siblings “What new thing did you learn today?” every night before they leave the dinner table.

Buscaglia wrote that before dinner starts, he and his sisters would dash to the encyclopedia and flip to something like “The population of Iran is one million.” They would sit down to dinner and by the time their Papa asks, they can recite “The population of Iran is ….” And their father would turn to their mother and say “Rosa, did you know that?” And she would reply an impressed “No.” The kids then thought their parents were crazy.

In his adult years, Buscaglia admits “But I’ll tell you a secret. Even now, going to bed at night, as exhausted as I often am, I still lie back and say to myself ‘Felice, old boy, what did you learn new today?’ And if I can’t think of anything, I’ve got to get a book and flip to something before I can get to sleep.”

Now isn’t that a nice story? After I read about that, I try to emulate Buscaglia’s secret to learning and ask myself what new thing I learned for the day as much as possible. Being the forgetful person that I am, I miss sometimes. But I’m determined to put this into practice even with my kids.

To make it easier, we watch the National Geographic channel at least an hour a day and we have learned so much already! Did you know that the tallest building in the world is no longer the Petronas Towers but Taipei 101? Or that the black mamba snake is called such, not because its scales are black but the inside of its mouth is?

How about you? What did you learn new today?


Calling All Downey Fans!

RDJ will be celebrating the big 40 this coming April. If you want to contribute to the preparations that fans all over the world are working on, drop by The RDJ Birthday Site today. Thanks! :)


Cable Crazy

Last night, Star Movies showed several good movies and I literally became a couch, no make it a bed, potato for the duration of three whole flicks! I got to sleep around 3 am already.

I’m not much of a movie buff, in the sense that I‘m too lazy to go to cinemas. I’d rather watch at home in the comfort of the sofa or the bed with snacks just within my reach. And last night was no exception.

Air Force one will always be one of my favorites. I love Harrison Ford. He has that boyish charm that stays with him even if he’s getting older after every new film release.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard 1 also has that hero kind of X factor that most women find irresistable, me included :D

I haven’t seen One Hour Photo before and I must admit, I was intrigued at how Robin Williams would play a role that won’t show his comedic talents. He was creepy! I was unsettled by the way he portrayed the photo guy. But I like the way he did blend in with the background, just like what one of the production crew said before in an interview. Very subtle subliminal hints that nondescript persons can really go unnoticed by many.

Oh well, there goes my movie repertoire for last night. Hmm, I wonder when I’ll get to chance upon another all-nighter marathon of great films …


End of AR6

I’m such a fan of the Amazing Race. I like “visiting” places with the contestants. Even if I can’t afford to travel much, at least I get to go to various destinations and learn more about the interesting cultures of different countries.

I am just disappointed that Freddy and Kendra won instead of Kris and Jon. I got turned off with Kendra (who’s a gorgeous woman to say the least) when she said how she hated one country (India I think, or was it in Africa?) that’s teeming with poverty and that she’s disgusted (?, I forgot her exact word) with what she saw. I can’t remember the exact details but I do remember clearly the antipathy and revulsion in her voice. I mean, yeah so the country is poor and the people may look filthy, but do you have to be so vocal about it in an international TV show? If I was a resident of that country, I will be offended. Too bad her character isn’t as pretty as her face. Same thing with Freddy. He looked so silly when he threw a tantrum and blamed everybody when he hit his head on the railway pole.

I like Kris and Jon because they seem like a very nice couple. They even swam with African kids in one episode and look genuinely fond of children. I can’t recall seeing them step on other people’s toes during the whole game. As for Adam and Rebecca, I must say I admire that girl’s spunk. She’s a very determined young lady who would have deserved to win even if her partner is one sorry wimp. At least Adam showed some guts towards the end of the show.

So AR7 will be starting in March and I’m looking forward to another season. Partly because Survivors Rob and Amber (remember the marriage proposal before the million-dollar winner was announced?) will be there and it will be interesting to see if the deviousness they exhibited in Survivor would make or break them in the Amazing Race. Let’s see. For now, I’m enjoying the new season of Charmed. That show gets better and better!


On Blessings and Angels

I believe that angels do live among us, ordinary people whose kind hearts and beautiful souls may not always be evident to the naked eye. I am so fortunate to have such angels in my life.

My son James is set to have an operation sometime in April or May. He has cerebral palsy and has been tube-fed since 2002. We use the naso-gastric tube to feed him, a long slim hose that goes through his nose directly to his stomach. James can’t eat properly through the mouth. His chewing and swallowing reflexes are so poor he can’t get ample nutrition orally.

Last month, we were advised by the pediatric-gastroenterologist to have James undergo the PEG operation. It’s a surgical procedure wherein the feeding tube will be “installed” directly through a hole in the stomach leaving a kind of plug outside. That will prevent further erosion of the gastro-intestinal tract and lessen vomitting. Before going through the surgery, James needs to gain more weight and develop more fats in his body for faster healing. It was overwhelming to be told that we have to put him on a purely Pediasure diet.

Pediasure is one of the most expensive milk brands in my country, since it is not simply a growing-up milk but has the components of complete food, the most ideal for tube-feeding. My husband and I are not earning enough to fulfill all our special son’s needs so we entrusted our burdens to the Lord. This is where the angels came in.

Friends and family from here and abroad whom we’ve kept in contact with are helping us pray for God’s provisions. A family friend, on her own initiative, wrote a letter to her circle of friends for help. We were surprised and very much heartened to receive offers of assistance from different people, some of whom we haven’t seen in a long time, some we haven’t even met yet! Still another family friend and her sister in the US sent James a dozen cans of Pediasure through their brother who came home to the Philippines the other day. Such is the Lord’s outpouring of blessings. And such is our heartfelt gratitude to these wonderful angels who are unselfishly giving of their time, effort and love.

With all the unsavory things happening in the world today, isn’t it so inspiring that the goodness in peoples’ hearts always comes shining through to brighten and chase away the darkness? To the angels in my life (you know who you are), thank you for being with us in this time of trial. We are comforted by your presence and your immeasurable love. May the Lord richly bless you in return.





Gmail anyone?

Who wants a Gmail account? I have 6 to give away again. It would be a waste to let the invites stagnate without being used right? So just send me your email address and I’ll send you an invite. The first six to respond will get one :)

Google Mail is great, mind you. It has 1GB storage and files all messages in folders according to subject line. Makes organizing mails pretty easy. You need an invite to sign up though, so let me know if you’re interested.



Loving Jazz

All my kids were exposed to all kinds of music since they were still in my tummy, although I listened to jazz more frequently than the others. I didn’t really expect them to “bond” with a particular music genre since kids these days hear and see a lot of the modern stuff (pop, rock etc.) on the radio and on TV. Little did I know that they “inherited” my husband and mine’s love for jazz.

I was passing by their room last night and heard jazz music coming from their radio once more. Two weeks ago, my husband first noticed it when the kids were playing in their room and he excitedly told me “Come, hear what radio station the boys are listening to!” Being jazz enthusiasts ourselves, my husband was overjoyed that our children are not into the rock and roll scene. I told him they must have happened to switch on to the station with the clearest signal, that’s all. I was wrong.

Now I can definitely say (as opposed to just believing what one reads in baby books) that what a child hears when still inside Mommy’s womb can affect his music preferences when he grows up. My kids are living proof. And this Mom is simply happy about that.



Overnight

Maybe it was the caffeine in the several glasses of iced tea that I drank last night for dinner and my midnight snack, that prevented me from sleeping until seven o’clock this morning. Then again, maybe it was the enthralling story of Cry Wolf that did it.

Wilbur Smith hasn’t disappointed me yet. Not by a long shot. I learned to love every one of his books as I get to read them. Last night, the gripping plot and continuous adventures of Cry Wolf got me so transfixed that I couldn’t find the strength to put the book down and succumb to sleep. Tough. I woke up late with a splitting headache. But man, was it worth it!

I first got to “know” WS through Hungry As the Sea, a novel about the adventures of a seaman. Filled with vivid descriptions and great attention to details, the reader would definitely find it easy to imagine what it was like in the story. That was so many years ago. When my mother-in-law lent me River God, I was hooked for life. Recently, I finished River God’s sequel, The Seventh Scroll, which is by far, on the top of my list.

Now I’m looking forward to reading my other WS acquisitions. I have five more Smith books that are waiting in the bookshelf. I just hope my other favorite authors wouldn’t mind if I go on a Wilbur Smith spree for a while. Hahaha, as if they would!


Overnight

Maybe it was the caffeine in the several glasses of iced tea that I drank last night for dinner and my midnight snack, that prevented me from sleeping until seven o’clock this morning. Then again, maybe it was the enthralling story of Cry Wolf that did it.

Wilbur Smith hasn’t disappointed me yet. Not by a long shot. I learned to love every one of his books as I get to read them. Last night, the gripping plot and continuous adventures of Cry Wolf got me so transfixed that I couldn’t find the strength to put the book down and succumb to sleep. Tough. I woke up late with a splitting headache. But man, was it worth it!

I first got to “know” WS through Hungry As the Sea, a novel about the adventures of a seaman. Filled with vivid descriptions and great attention to details, the reader would definitely find it easy to imagine what it was like in the story. That was so many years ago. When my mother-in-law lent me River God, I was hooked for life. Recently, I finished River God’s sequel, The Seventh Scroll, which is by far, on the top of my list.

Now I’m looking forward to reading my other WS acquisitions. I have five more Smith books that are waiting in the bookshelf. I just hope my other favorite authors wouldn’t mind if I go on a Wilbur Smith spree for a while. Hahaha, as if they would!


Looking For A Good Book?

My dear friend Inez Ponce de Leon, a great novelist who weaves well-researched and superbly-written stories, has a new book called Sanctuary. Please do check it out at http:// www.lulu.com/content/98621 and buy a copy. Thanks! :)


After the long hiatus ...

Whew! It’s been ages since I got to sit down in front of the computer to write something for this blogspot. The holidays have been hectic to say the least ... flitting from here to there, with so many things to do, people to meet with and places to go to. But it was the kind of hectic-happy moments that the Christmas season usually brings about. And overall, it was fun though tiring at times. I had to spend the first week of January hurriedly finishing deadlines that kinda sat in the back burner for a while.

So, how are you guys? How did you spend the yuletide season? I hope you all had fun as I did. And now that 2005 has settled in for the long run, here’s wishing a great new year to all of us. May we get to do at least half (just being realistic here :D) of our resolutions and goals for this year!

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