Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I love my Cebuana nieces and am so happy to see them for the holidays :) I love both Anica and Justine, but little three-year-old Nessie has somehow become the star of the three sisters. That girl talks with music in her voice, a tilt to her head and a twinkle in her eyes!

My pantry is now full of danggit, dilis, pusit and mangga c/o the Sarmientos. Feel only a tinge of guilt that I did not partake of the freshly-roasted lechon they brought, but I was honestly STILL FULL from all the food from yesterday's Pampanga day trip -- sisig barbecue, manggang hilaw, dirty ice cream, halo-halo and the upak dinner at Binondo.

If I plan to start the new year with a positive feeling, I should go on a 2-day starvation diet and lose the bulging tummy. I felt fit enough when I ran today (and played tug-of-war in the garden!), but hate the look of my bulging tummy... So not hawt.

I need to look better to feel better about myself, then maybe I will have the confidence to know my worth, make changes and stick with my resolutions.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Blame It On The Candied Carrots

I should be proud of myself, of how I pulled off Christmas.

Between mommy and their grandmothers and aunts and uncles, the kids pretty much got everything they wanted. Santa also managed to make a very decent showing this year, with lots of candy to spare and share.

We had noche buena with my (orphan) friends and their dogs, and guess what, we probably had more fun than most. We heard Xmas Mass in the am, visited the crypt briefly, spent the afternoon and evening at Dasma. Micheal made a showing, with a beer in his hand. Too funny. The girls always have fun together anyway, so it was a nice night with good food (steak, lechon, turkey!).

I thought I had it all together, but it was the candied carrots that did me in. As I got myself a serving, Raquel quietly said "menos na ang mga kalaban dyan"... and I instantly knew exactly what she meant. How startling to be reminded by Raquel.

I smiled while my heart sank, remembering how he used to "fight" over the candied carrots with John, then asking me to make some for him at home, for him alone. I didn't realize until that moment how tired I was of 'keeping it together' and, as soon as dinner was over and I could disappear without mom noticing, I went upstairs to lay down and rest my aching chest.

The sadness lingered all through the night and I couldn't wait to get home to douse that pain with a shot of mandarin absolut. I am sufficiently doused now, and not proud to admit that I'm glad Xmas is over.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Enzo at 10

Enzo, my crazy, sensitive, funny little boy has turned 10. I continued his Dad's family tradition and spanked him 10 times, plus a hard 11th to make him grow. Yes, my petite Enzo may not be growing as fast as his brothers are, but he sure is "growing up" more than most kids his age!

Because of all of his questions, I end up talking about so many adult things, but I need to remember that I do not want to encourage my kids to think/worry about adult concerns like money and business. Not quite yet.

Yet, you cannot deny that this boy is money-minded. He has 11,000 already saved up in the bank, and he has started insisting that I move his money to a time deposit so he can get more interest. Can you believe that... And now that he received some birthday cash, and an advanced xmas gift from Mamita, he will definitely surpass his end-of-the-school-year goal of 13,000.

Mamita said today, "You're just like your Dad! How he liked to save his money!" and his face just beamed. I like how kilig the boys get when they are compared to their Dad in any small way... These are the ways they will continue to identify with Cyril even if he is no longer around.

Happy birthday, Enzo, love you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Letter To Max, as published 12/08, Smart Parenting

Letter to Max, to be read before he proposes to the woman he loves.

I can’t believe my baby is all grown-up! And in love too!

Today as I write this, you are only seven years old. You are a joyful and naughty boy, and you like to draw and paint. It isn’t difficult to take care of you because you take a bath, dress yourself and eat a proper meal without being forced to. You love to laugh, and how you like to sleep…This you got from your Lolo Vic, your Old Man and teasing partner.

You are tall for your age and skinny like me, but so handsome like your Dad. Everyone predicts that you will be the heartbreaker because you have such a charming smile. You are naturally affectionate and love to get a hug and kiss from Mommy.

I can’t help but think that if he were here, your Dad would be so proud to see you talking so maturely about loving someone enough to marry her and commit yourself for life. He would be so proud to see his little boy understand the real responsibilities of marriage. He would so proud to know that you, Max, have grown up well.

I worry that through the years, I have not be able to be both father and mother to you, and that you would grow up at a disadvantage. It is my wish that good people have come into your life to fill the void that you Dad left behind.

I hope that I have been a confidant to you. I wish very much that when you started seeing Her, then getting serious about Her, I was someone you turned to for advice about love and how to know when it was the real thing.

And when you finally exchange vows with Her, in front of God, family, friends and peers, I want to be secure in the knowledge that you HAVE found your true love and place in life.

You worshiped your Dad, you know. From the time you could walk, you followed him around, sat with him, tried to get his attention always. When you were older, you kept him company while your brothers were in big school, sitting on his lap while he played Flight Simulator on the computer.

When your Dad got sick, I don’t think you knew what was happening, but with your child’s intuition, you always knew when to be quiet so he could rest. Your tiny hands even learned how to massage him when he was in pain or just wanted company.

I remember when he was very sick, you were the first of your brothers to come forward to lay your hand on your Dad’s arm to let him know you were there. And when he passed away, you came and stayed with him in the room without fear, touching his body as if to memorize as much as you could for the future. You were so fearless in your innocence.

I am writing this letter seven months to the date since your Dad died and it has been a difficult one to write because imagining my baby leaving to get married feels like a loss too. I realize that I feel this way because the wounds are still fresh, but when the times comes, I hope with all my heart that I will love Her like the daughter I never had.

I want Her to be fun, and funny. She doesn’t have to be gorgeous, but she must be beautiful inside. And above all, She must love you for who you are from the very beginning. A little change can be expected as you adjust to being married, but otherwise, She will love YOU and your flaws as much as She loves you and your best qualities.

On the other hand, I want to see you worship Her like your Dad worshipped me. Your Dad was one man who showed me that I could still be loved despite my faults. It hurts me to remember the times I did not appreciate this, and this is my one regret in life.

Max, please hold your love dear, appreciate it everyday. Make it grow with daily doses of “I love you”, a simple “thank you” after a nice meal, an enthusiastic “wow” when She makes the effort to dress up well, and a sincere “how was your day” when it looks like She’s had a bad one.

If that fails, be affectionate the way you are now and let Her feel your care through your touch. A lingering hug goes a long way.

Now, go get the ring and practice those lines we probably wrote together. Practice them like we used to practice your poems for recital in school. Now, say it again slowly… “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life loving only you… Will you marry me?”

Good job, Max. Call me after she says yes.

I love you!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Missing Three Cs

Life has conspired (again) to remind me of all that I have lost this year. An aunt made me cry over the phone by telling me, "You lost so much, you must feel so sad, you probably cry everyday..." and "My heart aches for you and I pray everyday that God sends you someone so you aren't so lonely...".

Other people in my life and on the outskirts of my existence came together this week to play with my heart, not by setting out to make me cry, but just by being reminders themselves of what I do not have anymore.

And so I end this week having cried more than recently usual, bowed by such a sense of loss. My days in themselves are normal, productive enough. But the sadness this week was like a mantle, a heavy one that made it seem more difficult to navigate my emotions.

I miss the presence of these three Cs in my life, and my world is smaller and so so so much emptier without them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fake Busy and Xmas

Yeah, it always seem like I have all sorts of stuff to DO, but why do I feel like I'm not actually getting anything DONE?

I explained the feeling recently to a friend, it's like I'm going through the motions, but without really being involved.

And of all the things I could worry about, the one thing that's been making me feel bad is Christmas gifts... Those who know me know I like giving gifts, but I enjoy receiving them too. This year, I won't be receiving one from a Loved One. I know my family and parents will give like they always do, but it isn't like those one or two special gifts/splurges from a spouse that was thought over, decided on, just for me. The kind of gift you exchange between only the two of you. I realize there are many people who don't have this either, but in 16 years, it is what I have gotten used to. It's hard to let go of that tradition and feeling.

I may have to go and buy something for myself, something I've been wanting, but how meaningful is that? It's not ever about the gift itself, is it? It's the knowledge that someone took the time to think about you and what you would like to receive, and went out of their way to find it, wrap it, and create that gift-giving moment that is important to you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time to purge?

Today was another one of Those Days.

I just noticed that I'm doing That Thing again, that jaw-clenching thing I do without realizing it. And I was so cranky this weekend. So many things I hate about my self/my life now.

Been having the urge to "redecorate" the apartment, to scrub the walls, floors and drawers clean, to purge my little home of all the things that irritate me. For example, I hate my kitchen floor. It's old and it always looks so dirty. I want to throw away my black couch, which is too small anyway, because reupholstering it to fix the hole the kids ripped into it will probably cost too much anyway. So let's all just sit on the floor. I want to get rid of my living room curtains. It reminds me of trying to save money and ending up with curtains that are too short and not very well made. I hate my lighting fixture over the dining room table, with its chip on the third glass and yucky black electrical cord. I want return to mom the red fire painting that still peels even after it was restored. The old Persian carpet with its tattered ends goes too. I want to repaint the dreary walls; the color is no longer neutral, it's just plain sad. And I don't know what to do with that big wooden desk. Sure, it is still used for "work", but it is such a reminder of how things used to be.

I'm not even going to start with the cramped kitchen, the more-cramped maids room and the kids room and the mess there...

So if I throw everything out, will I be less cranky with an empty but clean home? I'd rather have nothing than things that need to be fixed or repaired in some way. They are all daily reminders that I just don't have the time and money to redo the place. Might as well purge and start from scratch, right?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just Sitting

I survived Nov.1. It could have been a bad day, but it wasn't. I was too busy being sick to be sad, I think.

Halloween at Alabang on Friday was a lot of fun with the boys and their cousins, plus a few of Andrew's and Angela's friends. For the first time ever, I did not dress up or go trick-or-treating. I stayed in. Mia heard me complaining about my back aching because of my seismic coughing and ordered a massage for me. Sarap.

Yesterday, we all lazed around until 5pm, then went to Mass at San Antonio with Mom, Dad, Marie and MIL, then visited at the crypt, and then had some Thai at Serendra. After dinner, MIL went home, I took the sleeping dead-weight of Maxi home, and the rest watched the last full show of High School Musical 3.

The only time I allowed myself to be melancholic was when I was finally home and it was quiet. I didn't pray, or talk out loud, or meditate... I just sat. And in the grand scheme of things, "just sitting" was as good as it gets.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love the beach, Hate being sick.

It was so nice to take a few days at the beach again. The boys really enjoy being with their cousins, and I enjoyed hanging with my sisters. We all swam during the hot mornings, and swam again when it downpoured every afternoon. Ate simple but abundant meals, and watched a House marathon on dvd. Read two books.

Only problem is I'm sick again. My brain rattles everytime I hack, and my ribs are hurting from all the effort. It's an infection for sure, but it's also asthmatic. I don't want to take anitbiotics again because I've already taken 3 courses in the last 6 months. Dammit but my doc says my immunity will be low for a while to come because I'm so stressed/anxious/nervous/worried. So how the hell am I supposed to get well? ARG.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Not yet.

I'm helping mother-in-law sell hers and father-in-law's stuff as she moves to the condo slowly, and I'm also using the opportunity to get rid of mine and the kids' old things. I've always enjoyed a good rummage sale, but I just can't sell any of Cyril's belongings. Can't do it.

I admit to moving aside some of his clothes to make some room for mine, and giving away a few t-shirts to people who have asked for something of his, and maybe lending his cold-weather clothes to John. Maybe I can give up old pants, yucky work shoes that weren't really him.... But not anything that he really USED, his climbing shoes and beloved crocs, his graphic and ukay tees, his flight pants and bag. His drawer at his desk and his sidetable all remain untouched. I haven't even been able to erase his number (already cancelled at Smart) on my cellphone, or his YM address on my computer. His red cellphone and brand-new iTouch are sitting on my desk gathering dust.

It's like I want to keep everything as is, more for the kids than for me I think. Because they are so young, I'm afraid they won't remember enough about their Dad as they grow up.

MIL was able to detach herself so quickly, starting to get rid of FIL's things within a week of his death. It's been seven months for me, and I know someone who took ten years to donate her husband's things. Maybe I need to take it verrry slowly. Or give to charity.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Money, Money, Money.

If I'm feeling profound and optimistic about things, I think Iike this:
"If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy." - proverb.

But if I'm really honest with myself, this is how I usually think:
"Money, if it does not make you happy, will at least help you be miserable in comfort." - Helen Gurley Brown.

It's kinda embarassing that the woman who created the ultimate Cosmo girl resonates more with me than age-old wisdom. I don't consider myself to be a FFF (fun, fearless, female), but maybe that's who I have to become to feel like I have more control over my finances/life.

Suze Ormon resonates with me too, but isn't she just like Helen Gurley Brown? Instead of empowerment through sexual freedom and knowledge though, Suze wants every woman to be aware of and have control over her money and financial future. I like her.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dengue and Our Depleted Blood Banks

B, get well soon! Dengue is a tough sickness and I hope it hasn't hit you too hard. I wish I could give blood but no one ever wants mine because...

... I have a tattoo (though in extreme cases and if enough time has passed, it is possible)
... I am too light (my weight is right at the minimum)
... I am taking prescription medication
... and AB blood isn't in high demand (I'm AB+, B is A+)

Whenever we needed blood for tranfusions at St. Luke's, we got it through the text brigade, and I've always thought it was a sad sign that blood banks aren't full enough that families have to scrounge around for blood when it's needed badly. An empty blood bank is also the reason why so many treatments cannot be attempted here, treatments that need to have extensive blood support.

I know there are many people like me who would give blood if they could, and if there was an easier way. Whatever happened to having an honest-to-goodness blood drive? In the US there are mobile blood banks that go around the country collecting in different communities. Doesn't Red Cross do this here in the Philippines?

I think the blood supplies are especially low now because it is dengue season, so to anyone who is willing to donate blood, whatever type, try going to or calling your nearest hospital. Go through the motions and just maybe you can lessen a family's stress by one, life-giving pint.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bikram, anyone?

I surprised myself by being able to complete my first bikram yoga class without looking like a moron. The solid atmosphere of heat, the river of sweat pouring off my head and the intensity of holding the poses was truly something else, but I did well with balance and flexibility. Guess my pilates stretching here at home has some real benefit...

Our instrtuctor Christine said I did very well for a first-timer, but when I mentioned that the last 30 minutes suddenly became very difficult, she said it's because we had begun to do a group of difficult poses that opened up your throat and chest, the two centers of your emotions. She said it isn't uncommon that doing these poses would "unlock" the things you've been keeping inside, and that you would have physical symptoms like light-headedness and dizzyness. I didn't tell her how difficult the past year had been, but I will try to pay attention to my moods and feelings as I do bikram more often. Dra. Ignacio will be happy to hear I've tried yoga; she's been suggesting it for years. If there is an improvement in my mental state, maybe I can justify the cost of the classes!

One thing is for sure though: my post-nasal drip has been activated and I've had a dull headache for hours since the class. Is this part of the toxins-release that's supposed to be a desired side effect of bikram? I'll tomorrow when Ken, Vivian and I go back for more torture.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


It's hard to explain how I really feel, but I am "tired of being tired". I'm tired of sadness. I'm tired of worry and anxiety about my future. I'm tired of having to make such an effort just too feel a bit happy. I'm tired of fighting my demons. I'm tired of being cranky with the kids because I'm stressed. I'm tired of loneliness and eating when I'm lonely. I'm tired of forcing myself to count my blessings. I'm tired of not sleeping. I'm tired of this goddam year. I'm tired of wanting what I can't have. I'm tired of feeling needy. I'm tired of crying, but that didn't stop me from crying myself to sleep last night. Again.

I had the mother of all headaches, so bad that I couldn't open my eyes and felt like throwing up, and self-pity made me cry for the third time that day. So as I was crying with my eyes shut while waiting for the advil to stop the thumping inside my head, I whispered out loud something I used to ask on a few occasions, "Ril, help me sleep." And I slept, thank you so much.

Some silly person told me yesterday, "God won't give you more than you can handle. He knows you are strong"... And while I pasted a polite smile on my face, my thought bubble screamed, "WTF". With that logic, if I became a whimpering mass of depression, then could I assume God will "spare" me of further troubles? Or did He send them my way because He knew I had too much pride and wanted to see how much I could stand before I broke down?

I talked to a man at the market yesterday too, someone who buys flowers from me regularly, and found out that his wife just died of leukemia three weeks ago after a short ten month fight. His 10 yo son was with him, and my heart broke all over again for this child I had never met before. People like to compare grief, saying it is harder for a child to lose a mother than a father, but I think it is so much harder for a woman to lose her husband.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Dad, you fought a good fight, I'm glad you are finally resting. You waited for a Friday, didn't you? Almost six months to the date? I hope you did get the welcoming committee you said you dreamt about, how nice to think that your mother and son have been visiting your dreams to let you know that home is waiting for you.

I envy your peace.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

For the record...

I want this on record: If I'm ever suffering from a terminal illness and lose my ability to make decisions about my care, make sure I am under the care of a proper pain management doctor/team. Sedatives sedate, they don't manage pain. So just because I am unconscious or sedated doesn't mean I can't be experiencing pain.

I saw how the doctors at Indiana took Cyril's pain management so seriously, then I see how father in law's pain is being (mis)managed here, and it makes me want to cry. I do what I can as a mere in-law who is trying to keep her own life from imploding, but I owe it to Dad, for all he did for his son and the father of my kids, at the expense of his own health...

Again, I'd rather be overmedicated than undermedicated, just don't kill me prematurely with a fentanyl overdose if it's not really my time to go!!! Isa, you have my permission to overrule my family if you think they're being stupid.

Whew, glad I got that off my chest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Today I realized that I have become a sterotype, that I have become that woman I never wanted to be. So together with C, I outlined a plan full of small, doable steps that should help me become the person of worth I really want to be.

I should:
Be firm. Be my own cheerleader. Be hopeful that today's hurts are merely cutting a path to something better tomorrow.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

fiery sunset and fireflies

After the fabulous party on Saturday, the beach with me and the kids, plus Caden, Ces, Dennis and Boy, was a nice rest. I had no menu, just basic ingredients for easy food. I packed my clothes in 30 minutes, and it was still more than I needed. The kids needed no toys since Caden was around. Mia kindly lent me her Xtrail so we had lots of space. The roads were clear enough for fast driving, and when we arrived, Wilma was waiting for us with sticky-hot biko and freshly caught samaral to grill.

We woke up on Tuesday the 19th to a bright sunny day with cool winds. Anton, Lorenzo, Max and I climbed Mt. Matuod late afternoon (the little troopers did it in 30 minutes!) and at the top, we were treated to a truly spectacular red and orange sunset. I told the kids, 'This sunset is from your Dad'. We sat, talked and watched the sun until it sank below the horizon, then headed down. Turns out, we weren't descending fast enough and got caught in darkness among the trees on the lower slopes. People with flashlights had to be sent up to guide us down, but the wonder of it all was that by being caught in the darkness, the children and I were treated to another spectacular sight -- fireflies by the thousands surrounding the trees, and lingering in the air around us.

Again I said 'This is from your Dad'. Because in my entire life, I have never seen more than a stray firefly in Matuod, much less a startlingly breathtaking profusion like this one. It was almost as beautiful as Balesin Island's 'infested' trees. We waited in the darkness, chasing fireflies, and when the flashlights found us, we chose to trek the last few minutes home in darkness, with the only light coming from the rising moon and the fireflies around us.

That night, as our small group toasted the eve of my real birthday with vodka leftover from the party, I blew out the lone candle on my surprise neopolitan-flavor Goldilocks cake that Lando bought all the way from Nasugbu and I thanked Cyril for his gifts of light -- an expansive fiery sunset, a multitude of fireflies and my twinkling birthday candle.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Father Jem

Today, I watched my close friend, debating partner, first driving instructor, former crush, junior prom date, dasma neighbor, high school confidante and fellow Wood Tiger Jerome P. Geuvara become a priest.

It was a moving occasion for many of us who attended because we all know where he came from, and how challenging his journey has been. When he decided to become a priest about 12 years ago, I was just about to begin a new chapter in my life -- as a mom and wife, living abroad. Our paths forked dramatically at that point, but Jem and I had been friends for eight years and lots happened in those eight years to permanently cement our friendship.

From our first Ateneo soiree at his house in freshmen year to the day of my wedding to Cyril, Jem always looked out for me. He warned me about the evils of "boys" when I barely knew any guys outside of our tight-knit Makati barkada. He even warned me about Cyril (they were cycling buddies) when he first heard we were dating in college... "M, that guy is no good, careful. Don't give him too much of yourself." We often talked about unusual stuff (for high school kids!), and many times the topic drifted to religion, philosphy and the more profound.

Same way I should've known then that D was gay (after he taught me the dance moves of Vogue, lol), I should've seen Jem's vocation coming. Just the way he argued, persuaded, discussed and debated the many aspects of life and its meaning, of God and our place in this world... God was calling him even then, in the midst of teenage angst.

I am so proud of you, my friend, and envious of the true love you have found.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thank Yahweh for Adam Sandler

"Let's Disco!"

There aren't words to describe how ridiculous You Don't Mess With The Zohan is.... so I won't even try. But I laughed. And laughed. And laughed even more. That's all that matters.

Just for that, I want to mail Adam Sandler the money I should've paid Greenbelt for watching his movie legitimately instead of buying a fake DVD so I could control (at home, with a remote) how much of the movie my kids actually saw. This is the type of movie you should watch a second time around with a drink in one hand and a happy brownie in the other.

I still can't get over Scrappy Coco (scrapi koh ko).

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness: Part I

As I was enduring a particularly horrible week, these words reminded me that I'm no different from anyone else, that my 'suffering' is not unique. I take some comfort in the thought that I am not the only one whose pursuit of happiness is rocky, confusing and painful... "As Aristotle discovered long ago, everyone loves, seeks, pursues and desires everything that they love, seek, pursue and desire for one and the same reason: because they hope it will make them happy. Happiness is the end everyone does in fact seek all the time. "This is evident in any example. No one takes bitter medicine, or undergoes a painful operation, unless they think it will heal them, and they will be happier healed than sick. "No one works hard to make profit, or a boat, or achieve victory, unless they think it will make them happy. Even working for others' happiness is what makes the altruist happy. Even the suicidal person is motivated by the desire to escape unhappiness. Happy people do not commit suicide. "Not only do we seek all that we seek for the sake of happiness; we also never seek happiness for the sake of another end. We play ball because is makes us happy, but we do not seek happiness in order to play ball. People often say, "What good is money, It can't buy you happiness." But no one says, "What good is happiness? It can't buy you money." "So, our greatest good is happiness. However, that does not settle much, for a second question arises: what constitutes happiness?."-- Peter Kreeft, Finding Black and White in a World of Grays.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


It alway hits me like a ton of bricks and I'm suddenly I'm off-balance. "He is gone", I realize, "And I am alone."

I wish someone would invent a warning device because everytime it happens, it's always a breath-stopping shock to the heart. I am never prepared for that big THUDUP, and the following milliseconds in which my mind relives the last two painful years.

Fight or flight? Anger or escape? Acceptance seems so far on the horizon.

Facebook and The Dinner Club

Yes, I am on Facebook... and I haven't left since I opened my account three days ago.

I was told that the initial excitement and obssesion will fade after a week, so Im hoping that I won't be tied to my computer over the coming weekend. There are some people who I can't believe I'm now in contact with... wow.

To offset this another-reason-to-sit-my-ass-in-front-of-the-computer-all-night, I have agreed to join a Dinner Club. The core is a group of gym rats who all know eachoher from working out at Makati Shangri-La (I didn't dare ask abouot the gay-man-in-the-showers ambush stories I've heard about that place... yet!) and our first dinner was at La Vigne beside Santi's on Yakal st.

The food I had was actually pretty bad, and I wouldn't go back there to eat. My "French Onion Soup" was watery and bland, and topped with makunat bread melted with.... drumroll.... QUICKMELT. Que horror. And the Mango Jubilee was nowhere near as good as what I make at home (where are the flames??). I won't even get into how small the serving was. I looked at everyone else's food and wasn't tempted to have a taste. The wine? I didn't pay attention. My bad.

To save the night, the company was actually quite good. But I realized soon enough that instead of being entertained, I was the one entertaining -- with stories I never realized I had so many of! I have never considered myself well-traveled, but I guess I have done a bit more than what's typical. I have Cyril to thank for that.

The bright light ahead is that this group of yuppies (early 40's?) seems to have itchy feet. I was invited to join their trip up North later this month, but I think I'd like to get to know the group a little more before I commit to several days with them. If they all pass my personality tests and minimum humor requirements, maybe I will let them in on a few of my own travel secrets :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Joy and Sorrow

Sent to me by a friend who hasn't known me long, but knows me well. He gets 10 points for thinking of me when he read this, and 10 more points for taking the time to encode it and email it.

On Joy and Sorrow

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."

And he answered:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rick Astley!!!

Yes, I was there. LOLOL. Heartfelt thanks to Ces for dragging my sorry ass to this concert and making me laugh SO HARD.... at myself for knowing all the lyrics pala, at the side-splitting Rick and Dick finale, and at all the other people in the venue who completely forgot who they were and reduced themselves to a screaming mass of fanatics. What a trip :D

Rick and Dick:

How It All Came To Be:

I have my own short videos of the concert, will find a way to post them soonest. Unless of course, Ces was true to her word and posted it on You Tube. Let me check under "myra astley", haha

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's Alright To Be Angry

I'm angry about a lot of stuff, but I'm too tired to do anything about it. Maybe I'm not angry enough? The feeling of defeat is a stronger emotion these days.

Interesting read:
The Anger Advantage: The Surprising Benefits of Anger and How It Can Change a Woman's Life
by Deborah Cox, Karin H. Bruckner, Sally Stabb

What is the advantage of expressing your anger? Conventional wisdom dictates that angry reactions are natural but not especially healthy. But in fact, expressing anger has many health and lifestyle benefits for women, as psychologists Deborah Cox and Sally Stabb, along with psychotherapist Karin Bruckner discovered over their seven years of research. Learning how to recognize your anger and reap all of the benfits it can bring make The Anger Advantage an essential guide for women everywhere who face challenges at work, at home, as a friend, wife and mother.

From a counseling website:
"Anger has value. Have you ever noticed that, when you're angry, you can accomplish a lot? You can become like a tornado, cleaning the entire house from top to bottom without feeling much exertion. You can tap into an 'I'll show them!' attitude, completing a goal or project with relative ease.

"Anger is energy, nothing more and nothing less. That anger likes to convince you that it needs a target - someone to blame for its existence. That's not true. When you own your angry energy, you withdraw accusation and blame toward another. Thus anger becomes a dynamic force for good in your life.

"How do you own your anger? Start by accepting it instead of resisting it. Don't judge it. Allow yourself to feel it and be with it. Embrace the discomfort of its energy. From this perspective of acceptance, your anger burns hot and fast, transforming into a creative power within you. It sparks change and new ideas; it opens up a path for forward movement in your life. It puts you in touch with your passion.

"From the place of acceptance, you let go of fear. You then have no agenda attached to the anger, and it can no longer destroy and consume you. Like the sun, the transformative power of anger emits energy that revitalizes you, changes you, and connects you to your life purpose, your true power. Let it be!"

And even more comments online:
"Anger, a complex emotion fueled by complex causes, need not be devastating. Like a volatile chemical, it can be used safely and effectively to our own advantage. First, however, we must admit to having angry feelings and understand what sparks them.

"Many of us have been taught that unless we have something nice to say, we shouldn't say anything at all. We have been intimidated into believing that displays of anger are unprofessional. That is true for uncontrolled displays.

" The advantages of anger is that it serves as a warning light that something is wrong. We may then proceed negatively or positively. Taking the negative route through revenge or intimidation is self-destructive.

" Blaming others for your anger is easy but counterproductive. Doing so denies you the power to control your own emotions and the opportunity to use them to your advantage. Acknowledge your anger and take responsibility for it! Consider appropriate options and committing yourself to courses of action that will lead to positive results."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

SOS = SO Sad

Someone save me from my life, please. Margie, you need to call me sometime soon, this is a sounding board alert... LBP, nice to hear about Cat but not nice to hear about your arm. What's the latest? Let's meet up on Skype, I don't have the energy to trek to the Vonage.

Marie, desperately need something to look forward to. Our birthdays are around the corner and I cannot be quiet on those days. My last two birthdays have been traumatic, so I really really really need to plan this out. 8/19 will be two years to the date of the diagnosis, that's a tuesday. You are sunday, Im wednesday. Let me know if you have any plans or want to do something together. If not, I may have to ask my friends to get me out of Manila...

Guys, this will be my first birthday alone and Im not looking forward to it. It's a daily fight to keep my chin up, but I already know that my birthday and thereabouts will be an especially difficult time to handle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'm Working Nine to Five....

... Thats the way to make a living!

It's Week Two at KKC, Inc. and so far, Mother has neither fired me, not have I quit. In fact, Miguel has also hired me to be Dad's assistant, so it looks like I'm really immersed once again.

I am also helping Sarge Lacuesta with the publication of Lolo Gil's coffee table book, his biography. I'm reading the first draft now and the chapter on Lolo Gonzalo is fascinating. I will be helping Sarge stay on track with the publication timetable of Anvil because the launch will be on September 1, 2008 at The Manila Polo Club. At one point, I will also help Sarge collect text, stories and quotes from family for sidebars....

I can see how being involved in this book and its launch will give me some insight on the Puyat family that I never got to know. Just listening to Sarge and Dad and Miguel talk about the lives of our Lolos and other relatives, sharing touching and funny family "legends" and anecdotes.... it makes me realize that I have been completely deprived of one whole chunk of my family history.

It has always been a source of embarassment that I don't know many of my cousins and relatives, and when asked, I just explain it away with a vague reference to the Family War. Now perhaps is my chance to reconnect?

If getting to know this side of my family is a side effect of going back to work full-time with Dad and Miguel, then I will consider it part of my job to learn as much about the family as I can. Looks like it could be interesting actually... We'll see.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Okay, no one is allowed to make fun of my mug shots, I'm not the one responsible! Just thought I'd post a few of my Yummy pages that are uploaded on Flickr anyway. I was hoping they would upload this month's Myra's Picadillo Soup which I wrote and submitted in memory of Cyril, but the Art Director didn't pick my page. Or, it may be too early to post since it is a current issue available in stores.

Anyway, will scan all my pages one day and archive them here. If you see all my pages together, you'll notice that they repeated old photos when they ran out while I was away in the US. Really, I think the Art Director doesnt like me.

May 2008 Cover
The middle photo at the bottom is mine!
Spinach and Kesong Puti Parcels

Mango Jubilee

Superior Congee - Oo na, I know my pose is weird, so please be quiet.

Hong Kong Article

Spicy Tuna Marinara - Got good feeback from readers with this recipe :)

Btw, how do I create links to the pages? Like on email, I thought that once you type it, it will be recognized and become an active link. Please help this ignorant newbie blogger.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This Merry Widow Went To Market

The Salcedo weekend market is celebrating it's 4th year anniversary next Saturday on June 28, 2008.

I did some calculations and, based on mine and my driver's memories, the market itself began way before June. Our guesstimate is a few months earlier because when I began in July/August of 2004, my fellow vendors had been struggling for a few months already.

This means that this July, I will be celebrating four years of selling flowers! Four years of late friday nights, prepping flowers into the wee hours, hauling the bouquets and bundles early Saturday mornings, and learning how to sell with a smile.

Four years of seeing the market grow from one row, to double rows, then double-double rows, then extend into the park area, then further extend into the eating areas in the center aisle. Today, the market seems like an extension of my home. There, my face is familiar to all. I am known as the 'flower lady'. Many of the other vendors have become close friends, first of all is Marissa (coconut oil and other natural products) who has been on my left side for most of four years. She and her husband Roderick are also counselors and have given me a fair amount of free advice since 2004.

And there is Rene the fruit guy who, at the end of market hours, shuffles over with bruised avocados, or slightly dinged dragon fruit, or whatever is leftover that day. And in return, I give him flowers to give away to whoever he wants to give them to. He usually picks white, which makes me believe that, contrary to what words comes out of his mouth, the flowers are for his mother's grave not some hot chick.

There is also Gary, the banigs, etc. guy, who has the market equivalent of a corner office since he occupies the corner stall at the end of the center aisle. He comes to our area when he is heavily perspiring, has low blood sugar/high blood sugar or wants to gossip about other people.

I've dealt with all kinds of customers too over the past years: One cheapo Korean lady actually attempted to abscond with my flowers, putting money in my hand, grabbing the flowers she wanted and starting to walk away. Well, when I realized the money was WAY too little, I grabbed the flowers right out of her arms. A brief tug-of-war ensued, but I won.

One other lady bought flowers in the morning, put them in the car while she shopped and ate lunch. She came back screaming about dead flowers and demanded a refund. I guess she didn't care to admit she was stupid enough to leave fresh flowers in a hot, parked car. Lucky for her, I wasnt around. Angie refunded her money (my policy for any complaints), but the she-devil complained to the organizers and Mrs. Lichauco came around to ask what happened. Of course it wasnt our fault, so she asked us to be patient with the lady, who had already left the market.

I also remember a bunch of drunken Japanese men coming to our area once, but I paid them no attention when they started looking at my flowers. Too bad for Mrs. Gardan though, my stall neighbor to the right, that they focused on her expensive wooden bowls. They were loud and they rattled her, and made off with one of her containers at almost half the tagged price (they performed the same trick as the Korean lady, but Mrs. Garden is not as quick as me)!

But mostly, I've had no problems. Salcedo market-goers are polite when they haggle and they enjoy chatting with the vendors about their products. They are regulars, with the market now as much a part of their routine as grocery shopping. They spend hours looking, buying, eating at the tables and hanging out -- many of the first customers being call center people ready to eat their dinner at 7am. On a cool, sunny day, barkadas take over tables and stay until past closing. Whole families wander around with Rustan's carts.

Apart from my loyal, regular customers, my favorites are those who buy flowers for themelves or a loved one. It's so nice to prepare a small bouquet or arrangement and know it's a surprise gift or someone's treat to themselves. These buyers aren't big spenders, but they are the people who remind me why I started this whole thing in the first place.

All of you who know me know that I have always loved flowers. Doing this keeps me handling the flowers I love so much, making other people happy too in the process. I love it when I make an arrangement and, after a generous spray of water, hand it to a customer who exclaims "How beautiful!". It makes my day. Actually, it makes the four years worthwhile.

Here's to another four years of beautiful flowers and making other people happy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To Dad...

Happy Father's Day to the person who:

Taught me how to eat differently from other kids and to love the strangest food (homemade lassi, turkish delights, mueslix and wheat germ, chapati, raw nuts and dried fruit, kimchi, pate... It gets weirder).

Spent time with me poring over The World Atlas and National Geographic while making a commentary based on his own travels, planting the seeds of curiousity about other cultures and the world in general.

Encouraged me to paint and make me believe, even for a while, that I had enough talent to become a real artist when I grew up.

Provided the soundtrack of the first half of my life by always playing music around the house, car, wherever and singing spontaneously at any given moment if the music was catchy. I am the same way today.

Had an insane love for reading that bordered on obsessive.... but also liked to discuss what he learned in books and read in newspapers and magazines with whoever cared to listen. Debates welcome, just don't get into women priests and homosexuals without expecting blood vessels to start popping.

Always liked to observe random non-human things -- passing scenery, cloud shapes, plants and insects, photographs, colors, mirages after the rain. It taught me how me how to pass time creatively and allow my mind to wander.

Didn't care about "stuff", unless it was odd gadgets and anything to do with music and photography. You guys still remember the Bamix??

Never talked too much, but in many ways, shaped my personality more than anyone else.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Say What You Need To Say

Take all of your wasted honor,
Every little past frustration,
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put them in quotations...

Say what you need to say.

Walking like a one man army,
Fighting with the shadows in your head.
Living out the same old moment,
Knowing you'd be better off instead
If you could only...

Say what you need to say.

Have no fear
For giving in,
Have no fear
For giving over.
You better know that in the end
It's better to say too much,
Then never to say what you need to say again.

Even if your hands are shaking,
And your faith is broken.

Even as the eyes are closing,
Do it with a heart wide open...

Say what you need to say.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cut It Short

I finally had my hair cut short again yesterday, and it felt great.

I've always had short hair, worn a hundred different ways. Growing up, my mom used to cut my hair in the same chin-length china-doll bob. When she started sending me to Virgie's, Virgie cut my hair the same way, except for an occasional style twist like the shorter back/longer front bob, or the slightly fringed baby bangs. I consider the one time my hair was tightly permed to be a total lapse of judgement -- blame it on the Flores de Mayo festival in Sta. Rosa and Virgie's misguided attempt to make me look feminine enough for my frilly parade dress.

By high school, I had Demi Moore's siete-cut months before Ghost came out (I have dated Kodak prints to prove this) and this morphed into a classic one-length bob by senior year. I entered college with another one of my shorter boys cut, still managing to beat all the other girls with their long, perfumey unreal hair to the cutest boy in school. Ha!

When I started working, I stuck to short bobs. And this is where I took a break... When I got engaged, I automatically stopped cutting my hair. By the day of the wedding and for the first time in my life, my hair was past my shoulders. It was long enough to cover the fake hair piece ala pusod that Jing Monis attached to my nape to make me look older than my tender age of 22.

I was married with long hair, moved to the US with long hair, gave birth to my first son with long hair, and got pregnant again with long hair. Three years after the growing began (with tentative trims in between), I was over it. My husband and I returned home to the Philippines. I went back to Jing and, true to form, had my hair chopped off. At his salon Propaganda, I tried everything from 80's undercuts, to frosted tips, to assymetrical bobs. Later, with Jasmine at Hairworks, I experimented with the full bangs, and the modern china doll cut.

Then my husband got sick, and before I knew it my hair was growing out. When we started to spend months on end abroad for medical treatments, I was unwilling to pay $80 for a decent haircut. I let it grow. And grow it did all these months while I was taking care of my husband. When things started to get difficult, it began to feel like for every inch my hair was able to grow, it was bonus time realized. For the longer my hair was, the more it seemed like he was hanging on, staying with me.

The long ponytail I wore to his funeral was testament to the long fight he fought. Every day that I've tied up my hair since then was another day I remember waking up in the hospital and grabbing my ponytail holder and fixing my hair before the doctors made their early morning rounds. I remember pinning back my long bangs so I could prepare my husband's TPN without unconsciously brushing my hair back and contaminating my gloves. When we would stroll through the mall, I remember tucking all my hair under my wool cap so I also looked like my husband who had no hair.

But that was yesterday, and this is today. Today my hair is short again, and today I did not cry because I remembered. Today I smiled when I woke up and felt my short hair. Today I did not use a brush, hairspray or gel. I simply woke up and went on with my day, my hair so light on my shoulders. Thank you to Leo Pascual of Razzle Dazzle who listened to me when I said I didn't want crazy layers, but still snuck in an assymetrical length while my face was glued to the pages of this month's Vogue.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Set in Stone

Today I finally ordered the brass letterings of my husband's niche after putting off the task for too long. The typewriting paper with his laser-printed name, birthday and date of death that was hurriedly taped to the marble six weeks ago was already wrinkled and starting to turn yellow. Amongst the other well-tended niches, it looked pathetically neglected. This wasnt right, or appropriate for him. Shame on me.

I went to the parish office to set things right and fill out a small form with his information. The lady in charge started to count how many letters and number I indicated on the form, and I actually found myself considering whether or not to spell out the whole word "february", or shorten it to "feb" and save myself 210 pesos (it's 42 pesos per letter, in case you're too lazy to do the math). Is this how weird it gets? And why did I feel guilty for thinking this? Hey, Fe Panlilio is in the niche above him and her months were stylishly shortened to look austere and simple, so shortening doesn't mean I'm cheap. Or does it??

Later, I walked around to look at other niches and noted the graves that practically sparkled with all the brass lettering. I wondered if their families ordered their letterings without thought of the cost, or precisely with the thought and therefore the excess. Were there other widows like me who first thought of cost, then winced from the guilt?

So this week, I will not have a massage and in two to three weeks, my husband's niche should be appropriately marked with fully spelled words in shiny brass, and I will feel so much better about myself.

Monday, March 31, 2008


February 29, 1972 - March 28, 2008

"It's not about the number of breaths you take, it's about the moments that take your breath away."

Cyril died the way he lived his life -- bravely and full of quiet determination. It was a bright and sunny spring day in Indianapolis, finally, after so many cold winter months. The clouds were high and there were miles of visibility; it was the kind of day he would call "a perfect day to fly". It was a Friday too, his favorite day of the week. And he chose to spend that beautiful day with me, with our favorite music playing on the iBook he bought for me because "My, any writer needs to have a Mac." We passed some time reading a new book his sister Cathy sent me, Jodi Picoult's A Change of Heart. It is a book about miracles, physical ones and those of the heart. I like to think he could still hear me while I read those chapters out loud, if not with his ears but through his soul.

It was 5:45 pm, the room still bright from the sun pouring in from the picture window, when Cyril finally took the rest he deserved and I kissed and hugged my best friend goodbye. My Mom, our Filipina doctor-friend Maddie and I had just finished praying a rosary when it was obvious Cyril was leaving us. They left Cyril and I alone in those last quiet moments, which was the way he wanted it.

After that last time together, I informed his Mom, Dad and the rest of the family who were in the apartment that Cyril had left us. Then it was time to tell the kids. I waited until Anton, Lorenzo and Max came to the hospital and I told them what had happened while they were sleeping off their jetlag. I reminded them of the little miracle on Wednesday, when Cyril opened his eyes, lifted his head, and gave the children this last memory: their Dad smiling at them and motioning them to come nearer. After a few minutes, he slipped back to sleep. The family, doctors and nurses were crowded outside his door in shock because Cyril had no business waking up under all that sedation. You see, Cyril had already been taken off the life support early Tuesday morning, at his own request, and the doctors had only given him several hours. He stayed with us long enough to see the boys, and a few days more. I smile at the thought that, like in so many things he did, Cyril will be remembered for doing something so remarkably unusual.

The kids stayed in the hospital that Wednesday night, and often came to their Dad's bedside. They are their father's sons, so brave for such a young age, and they will be fine. They will grow up hearing stories of their adventurous, handsome, headstrong, accomplished, and determined Dad. He set a fine example for them and they will never hear anyone speak ill of their father because he really was everyone's friend.

Cyril requested to be cremated and we have been having Masses here for him with the help of some truly wonderful friends, including Father Anthony, Cyril's spiritual guide these last months. Special love and thanks goes to my sister Margaret, who generously gave us months of her life and took care of Cyril like he was her own. Then, in a wonderfully appropriate tribute to Cyril's wanderlust, my kids and I, along with my parents, are going to travel and visit friends and family. He wanted the kids to have good memories of this time.

We will have memorial masses in New York and LA, and in Manila when we eventually return home. No schedules yet. My only request to all of you whose lives have been touched by Cyril -- Don't stop talking about him. Let the kids hear all the stories about their crazy, goofy Dad. Their super athlete Dad. Their Dad when he was still a kid like them. They lap up these stories and really enjoy hearing them. It keeps him alive. I will certainly not stop talking about him.

Also, if you have pictures, send them to me. Prints, or digital on CD or via email.... I would love to have them so I can organize a library for the kids. If you are up to it, write me about him and your memories of him, whether by snail mail or email. I will save all those too for the kids so they will know how many people loved their Dad.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers. Mass cards will definitely be appreciated.

All my love,