Saturday, December 16, 2006

toy story

i've always liked toys. i have very fond memories of playing with them. growing up, i didn't play with barbie dolls, though i had one. too pink, maybe. what i DO remember playing with was mr. potato head. i liked its versatility... create and recreate, by dismembering, no less! barbie certainly couldn't do that.

i still have a mr. potato head. got the missus, too. when they weren't available in the philippines, i had a friend buy them for me stateside, under the guise that they were gifts for a godchild. well, they never got wrapped. but they did get out of their boxes... and into my greedy hands. i know, i know. shame, shame. so sue me; i'm a kid-at-heart! going through that extent, you can imagine my glee when i discovered it's now locally available!

i still love playing with mr. (and mrs.) potato head. it certainly gets me out of a rut. case in point... two weeks ago, i went to the bank to pick-up my new atm card (which was 2 weeks overdue itself). nada. still not there. so what do i do to vent my frustration? go to the toy store upstairs and buy alien spud parts! hahaha! the coolest thing about alien spud? you get new sets of limbs (in yellow) and 2 sets of eyes! miguel has a mr. potato head too, so between us, we have 8 arms, 3 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of eyes, 3 noses, an alien snout, 3 pairs of eye glasses... you get the picture.

i'm such a kid, i'm so easy to please. simple joys. last month, my neighbor co-teacher gave me a belated birthday gift... santa spud accessories! how timely! then last week, mama aly also bought me a belated birthday gift... mermaid spud accessories! bet you'd like to see how that looks! if i only had a camera, i'd start a blog to showcase the different creations miguel and i've come up with. sigh.

and here's what i've got my eye on:

spud trooper and darth tater


c'mon, admit it. they're adorable! i like! i like! hahaha! i'm sure any star wars fan of any age would like to get one of these (or both!). they've actually been given out as gifts to men. not boys, men!

what i'd give to be naive and believe in santa again.

Monday, December 04, 2006

more balls!

what do you do on a impromptu-declared-no-class-holiday?

add more Christmas balls to the Christmas tree! (discovered more of them in a storage box - properly labeled, of course. some were stored in (surprise!) green plastic bags!)

mama aly would be happy to know that the papier mache balls made it to the tree... but she'll have to "hunt" for santa. had miguel hide it amongst the baubles :) happy hunting, mama aly!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

pasko na, sinta ko

Christmas is officially in the house!

popped in mr. c's One Christmas cd last night and with the strains of "pa-dum-pa-dum" (it's a tradition, yet again) put up the Christmas tree in record-breaking time - 2 hours! that's fast, considering that it's a 10-ft. tree. and that's just decor; the driver put in the lights earlier in the day. took him a couple of hours to do it, too!

not so frilly this year. no glass beads, no poinsettias, no ribbons. just lights, icicles, and balls. lots of balls!

the tree is so busog with balls, i love it! i asked gueli to make sure that each bough had a decor so that it wouldn't be "lonely." he found a lonely branch earlier tonight. needless to say, we fixed the situation.

i'm so tempted to get more Christmas balls. somebody stop me!

must... have... balls!

Monday, November 27, 2006

my date with a turkey

i hardly know any filipino family that celebrates thanksgiving. you know, the one with the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and eggnog? well, my family does. for a patriotic family, it's very american. ironic.

thanksgiving in my family is no laughing matter. it has survived four generations so far (and counting). it is THE occasion to be present at, lest you want to be disowned by the stickler of family tradition and patriarch, my (one and only) uncle benny. even being out of the country was not an excuse! you made your presence felt via overseas phonecall... and be sure to call early enough to let everyone know that you called.

i remember struggling with the thanksgiving schedule when i was an executive producer. i kinda received flak for arriving one time with everyone gone. thank God, aly waited up for me. of course, uncle benny (who is also my godfather) waited up too. like a marine, he was not to rest until the last of his "men" came in. there are no excuses to be absent. tardy, maybe; absent, never.

despite the self-imposed pressure, i like thanksgiving. it makes me feel that my family's special. it's also a good excuse to eat and feast! all diets go out the window on thanksgiving. how often do you get to have turkey (and lola's bread stuffing), anyway?

truthfully, i celebrate thanksgiving every morning, when i wake. each day i'm given a chance to be of service or make a difference; to be able to teach, perhaps a child or a colleague... or perhaps be taught by a child, or a colleague, or by God.

this thanksgiving was no different except perhaps for the bigger audience. this year, we celebrated the gift of life like never before. for my uncle benny, for pulling out of a troublesome aspiration. to be given another chance, perhaps because he has more to teach. for the doctors who kept him alive... because he is my one-and-only. for my brother and sister-in-law, for the gift of life in my sister-in-law's womb. to be given a chance to have a family, perhaps be a changed person.

yup, this was one thanksgiving dinner i was not going to miss. not for fear of being disowned but because i truly have a lot to be thankful for. for family and the traditions that keep family ALIVE, we give thanks and celebrate!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

creatures, churches and landforms

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my photos, jali's camera, two days well spent.

true love

title caught your attention, didn't it? :) so sorry to disappoint.

this is what made my day on my last birthday. no one told him to make one and he spelled everything all by himself! it's what i always tell him (it's a weird way to affirm him, i know, but it works!) but he beat me to getting it on paper.

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tell me, how could you NOT love this child? :)

Monday, November 06, 2006


i forget which sunday it was, but that's not what's important.

it was a ho-hum afternoon, perfect for napping. i was lounging on mom's bed, minding my own business, when in comes mother and son (sis and miguel) who decide to have a tickle fest on the very bed on which i lay. maybe it was envy (me almost dozing off) or maybe it was fatigue (tickle fests CAN get tiring), but my sis comes up with a brilliant idea. "let's include ninang!" she shouts (or something to that effect. i forgot that one as well. again, not important.).

then miguel says, "okay, me and ninang against mommy!" at which point, i leave la-la-land and pin the mastermind under my hands and knees. she is helpless; she is at her son's mercy.

"go for the belly button!" i cry. and the obedient soldier charged on, happily conquering his foe.

aghast and beaten, she exclaims, "you sold me! you sold me!" to which the wise reply came, "well, it was a choice between where i came from or who would win. i chose 'who would win.'"

and win i did. important. mwahahahaha!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

surviving milenyo

not since the 4-hour scheduled brownouts of the 90s have i been in the dark for so long. the last typhoon to cross manila's path, milenyo, not only knocked down trees and power lines; it literally knocked us back into the "dark ages" for 3 days! and with a 6-year old in the house (who that morning said he loved tv more than he did his ninang, me! i ranked no. 3 after his mom and the boob tube), entertainment becomes quite a challenge - both for the entertainer (me again) and the entertained (him).

it bogs my mind how our "forefathers" did it back then. we'd eat dinner before it got dark (although we had emergency lights, my brother refused to use them... in case there was an emergency. duh!) and be in bed by 6:30 p.m.!

some notes on what darkness brings:

  1. conversation, good or otherwise. with the tv dead, we actually spoke to one another again. call it my sweet revenge for placing me in number 3! ha! we were back to making silly stories and composing senseless songs too!

  2. piano lessons from a 6-year old. short of giving a concert, migueli practically played all the piano pieces he's learned... and then some. the kid's pretty good and i admire his industriousness for practicing his pieces. such a far cry from what mama aly and i went through at the same age... but that's another blog altogether.

  3. singing the piano. miguel would sing / hum the right hand notes; i, the left hand. then switch. it's hilarious to hear!

  4. flashlight tag. an old class favorite when i used to have pajama parties in my preschool classes. for variety purposes, you can also do flashlight marksmanship. similar to pin-the-tail except you use flashlights and furniture.

  5. arts and crafts in the daylight... from stenciling to create your own pokemon.

  6. naps galore! it's been a while since the kid's taken a 2-hour nap. perfect scapegoat while i run to school to juice up the cellphone. i even got to have pizza with mama aly and the kids in the process too!

  7. dress up. i have new-found respect for the versatility of a thin sheet blanket. sandygirl has pictures.

  8. count your blessings. surviving the storm, i could not get over how blessed i was / am to be surrounded by family, to be where i was, to have a roof over my head and food on the table, to have ice in my water, to be safe, and much, much more.

God's light surely dispels all darkness!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"do THIS is memory of me"

as a religion teacher to first communicants, i teach my kids that the mass is an invitation to receive Christ and a "re-enactment" of the last supper. fr. mark gave me a new insight on the above.

in the last supper, Christ offered himself, body and blood, for the love of man. quite literally, He gave it HIS ALL. and THAT is what He wants us to do in memory of Him... to give our all.

all for Christ. how simple, yet very difficult to do.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

cheap thrill

la pacita toast with vanilla ice cream. promise!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

and diko makes four

i probably owe my "career" as a "ninang ng bayan" to mama aly. her brood alone is a bayan in itself!

mama aly and freddie have four children: two of each species. of the four, i am officially godmother to 3: to mara and selene since baptism; to dino since his confirmation only 3 years ago. that leaves diko gian... but not for long.

the other night, while online, he asked me to "officially" become his ninang. of course, i said "yes." truth is, i've been waiting for the invite since his baptism, just like dino. and like dino, i never treated gian any less. the boys were always like godsons to me. they got the whole treatment, including the personalized birthday shopping trips.

that he asked me to be his ninang made my day (i hope as much as i made his). gian was always special because he wanted this as young as 5 or 6... and the kid really knows how to make me feel it, too! part of our ym chat went like this...
"even if you're not officially my ninang, i love you as one in my heart"
awwww... how could you not melt?! i am only too happy to make it "official" in his heart.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

i used to be a fish

i'm a twice certified open water scuba diver... since 1990. twice because my first c-card got lost when i was pickpocketed in shang; had to be re-certified by padi years after since ssi couldn't reissue me a replacement. (come to think of it, my padi c-card was in the wallet that was stolen in camp! oh no!)
i was diving long before it came into fashion. it was such a small diving community back then. we'd have a divers' party twice a month (always on a tuesday) and everybody knew everybody, literally! i remember my lessons costing php 3,750, a big amount back then. oops! i'm beginning to show my age! yes, everything was dirt cheap then.
i loved diving. it's a totally different world down there and one cannot help but marvel and be in awe. truly, only God could have made such a beautiful, colorful playground for the denizens of the deep.

i was addicted to diving. the first 3 months after my certification, i was underwater EVERY WEEKEND. i would come home from trips abroad, rest one day to let the nitrogen in my blood settle, then go off diving with my buddies. tessa and i would go diving on a whim... our "one-day-wonders," we used to call them.

i did some of my best thinking underwater. everything was so calm and tranquil in the deep blue that clarity of mind hit you just as soon as you hit the water.

and the best beer i had came after a dive. i don't know why but i do know that other divers will agree with me on this.

used to. those are the operative words in the title.

you see, i have all this dive gear... and they're all dry. they have been for yeeeaaars now. that they're still in pretty good shape is suprising, actually. i remember spending a fortune on the stuff. dad paid for my reg and asked me to make sure that i got the best (back then) since that was my second heart underwater (spoken like a true cardiologist).

i got an invitation to dive during the last holiday. i passed. after years of remaining on dry land, i probably need a refresher course. i probably wouldn't fit into my wet suit either. i lent my gear to some friends though, so at least they (the gear) saw some action... at least they were able to say hi to the fish again.

maybe i'll get wet again.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"are you okay?"

"are you okay? my name is leslie. I AM A CERTIFIED FIRST AIDER."

finally, i can say that and mean it!

my camp staff, the pinoy JCs, and some eager volunteers sacrificed 3 weekends (one of which was a sunday!) before camp to take a CPR and first aid course. the board felt compelled we ought to be prepared. fine. at least i was taking the course for free.

throughout camp, we staffies would joke around about "the script" (above) not really knowing if we were certified or not... and maybe, just maybe, half-praying that we didn't actually have to say it for real. 

well, we are! just got my certificates and IDs yesterday! and though the news comes belatedly, it's good to know that our sacrificed weekends of wrapping each other in cravats faster than a new york minute, cracking your knees with lifts, huffing and puffing into non-breathing manequins, and sludging through fake blood have been rewarded.

don't get too close to me; i might just bandage you for fun.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

popcorn at last!

i haven't been in a movie theater for about 8 months. now, before you get all weepy for poor, pathetic me, let me explain. there's actually a very good reason for it.

i started preparing for the comprehensive exams for my master's degree towards the end of last year. truth is, i only SERIOUSLY prepared for it about a month before. i know that i had no excuse for not studying but i easily made one up (hehe). somehow, though, i would feel guilty exchanging time in a movie house for time with my books. so hit the books i did.

after february, i borrowed dvds of the movies i missed, guiltlessly staying up til 4 a.m. watching them. after that, well, there wasn't much to be seen in the movies. every time i'd gear up to watch a flick, someone would say that it wouldn't be worth the money to see it. so i'd go somewhere else, or stay home, or be in one of my endless meetings *sigh*.

the dry spell was broken last week, two days after camp ended. not only did it, the dry spell, end, but i ended it in style! a cisv mom invited the jcs and whoever else was free to brave the rains to see superman... in the mall of asia... in the i-max theater... for free! plus popcorn... plus a late lunch after... and i didn't have to drive! later for dinner, the italian jc cooked pasta and the brazilian jc prepared a cocoa dessert (i got the recipe!). how could i complain? then again... ok, there is no accounting for style when it comes to those 3D glasses. thank God they're worn in the dark! and the popcorn at moa isn't great.

which only means that i have to redeem myself! quick! what do we see next?! :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

CD notes

relief. that's the first word that comes to my mind at the end of the 21-day international village. to have managed to run the village on a non-existent budget not only takes skill and cunning; it also takes a lot of patience and a lot of coffee.

the kids have boarded their planes (and buses) and are safe in their homes, in their respective countries. no more 8 a.m. wake up calls via whistles, gongs and what-have-yous. no more "can i talk with you?" tete-a-tetes with leaders too. i'm so relieved that other than bites, rashes, constipation, lice (yes, lice... but they were imported!), and the occasional leader throwing-up here and there, we did not have any major medical emergencies. growing up in a family of doctors paid off in camp. i think that dad would have been proud of me with my calmness and diagnoses :)

to my think, 21-days is too short for an international camp. although sometimes, having an all-girls leaders' pool made me think that 21 days was too long! hahaha! estrogen level was way too high!

on the good side... camp always makes me feel proud of my being filipino. the staff and i put on a great staff day dancing the tinikling, serving fishballs, kikiam, squid balls, ice candy, fresh buko (fresh coconut), eating lunch on banana leaves with our hands, and giving out free tricycle rides. we also made the kids play simple street games (the one where you put a Php 1 coin on your forehead and contort your facial muscles til it gets to your chin) and had the kids cover their faces in flour and water. for what reason? absolutely nothing! fun without a PS2... priceless!

snaps too for philippine hospitality! we had a great kitchen staff, an "abuseable" resort staff, and generous homestay hosts. like i said in open day, "to run a village, it takes a village."

i love, i love, i love my chapter board! they trusted me to make the decisions in camp and backed them up all the way. i applaud their dedication, working "behind the behind the scenes," always available for consultation, shopping for us, driving for us... and these are moms! they deserve much, much more than a camp shirt!

i loved the delegation the baguio chapter sent over... and so did everyone else! they were REAL people - 3 of the 4 kids were "scholars" (a child of a taxi driver, a child of an OCW - overseas contract worker, a child of a machine operator). now THAT is for whom i truly would like CISV to be. i know that for them, 21 days was way too short. i know that it'll make such an impact on their lives and hopefully give them a boost of confidence and aspire them to be and do better.

directing a camp can be stressful - i got the white hair (6!) to prove it - and rewarding. as camp director, it sucked that i wasn't around all the time. no wonder they call it "running" a camp. i miss being with kids. being a leader is way easier. so, what do you get from being camp director? gifts, a lot more paper and paperwork than i left with, new friendships - i now have friends in luxembourg and guatemala! how cool is that?! - laundry, a sense of relief, and yes, fulfillment.

will i staff again? hmmm... what country are we talkling about? :)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ready-or-not, a-camping, here i go!

strangely enough, i found myself at home by 8 p.m. for the first time in a looooooong time. camp's been keeping me out of the house and out of the bed lately. i haven't been sleeping much; running on adrenalin. i met the jc from brazil last night, the first of the 40+ foreign delegates coming in for the barangay. i took one look at her and then it hit me. "you're really here. this is really happening."
there are loose ends to tie and they're beginning to unravel. if i look all composed, don't let the look fool you; i'm screaming inside! pray. gotta pray. hard. harder.

crisis management training from my days as an executive producer are kicking in. gotta learn to let go. delegate. ask for help (what, me?!). and when they DO help, do not expect perfection! sigh... so be it.

it'll all be worth it. think of the program. think of the children. it'll be fun. gotta remember to have fun. no more coffee. this will happen. it's got to!

sharing the joy (fm)

one of the things i love most about getting hooked to a dsl connection is that i get to listen to live broadcasts. that's how i found JOY FM, listener-supported contemporary Christian music broadcasting form st. louis. i highly recommend you give it an ear and "get hooked" of another kind.

Friday, June 16, 2006

i get by with a little help from my friends

i've been scarce, i know. blame it on work. school has started and it was for me, a photo finish.

for those of you who do not know me, i am not one to ask for help. not that i claim to be able to do everything; far from it. school opening never used to frazzle me; it was almost routine. not so this year, though.

i could handle the added responsibility of being part of the administration and the task to create an entirely new curricula for religion frome grades 2 to 6. i was all geared to hack my crazy schedule of teaching reigion 4 times a week per grade level for 3 weeks just to be able to staff for an international camp. i could even face the challenge of being the homeroom adviser of a "notoriously rambunctious" group of kids. as if this wasn't enough, i agreed to take on a co-teaching assignment at the preschool (because it WAS preschool!).

what i couldn't take was the incompetence of a person who shall not be named. hahaha! i was soooo frustrated. i actually got nervous for school opening.

of course, shy (yes, shy) me wouldn't ask for help. but when help came, i did not say "no." i was so relieved and thankful that people pitched in. the teacher aides put their tasks on hold and converged in one classroom to get the things that needed to be done, done in 2 days! and i could not ever forget the preschool teachers who came up to me one by one to ask if there was ANYTHING they could do to help. i was soooo touched! they took on such menial tasks as coloring my learning center signs and cutting little black felt circles to pad my classroom furniture. truth be told, i suspect that they actually enjoyed what they did for me :)

school's on its second week so needless to say, i survived the first day of school... i got by with a little help from my friends. and so, for friends who extend helping hands even when i don't ask, I AM THANKFUL.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

on work and vocation

one of the beauties of our local language is how descriptive and deep it can be. take the tagalog translation for "work" for instance.

"work" can be translated into "trabaho" which connotes its being menial and burdensome.

then there is "hanapbuhay" (ha-nap-boo-high) which could literally be translated as "looking (hanap) for life (buhay)." in this translation, "work" is more sustaining... it gives you life, not the means to live, but LIFE. otherwise, it should have been termed as "hanap-pera" (looking for money).

and there lies all the difference in why people work. some do it as a means to put food on the table, pay the bills and sustain a lifestyle. then there are those who answer God's call to work as He as mapped it out in the Book of Life that He Himself authored. these people who work with the passion to serve not only get the food on the table and pay the bills, they gain the peace in knowing that they are doing what the Lord put them on this earth to do. the pay may not be great (it may not even exist - ask the homemakers), but these are the people who both LIVE life and GIVE life.

so, nagta-trabaho ka lang ba o naghahanapbuhay? (which work do you do?)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

because it's there

pinoys on top of the world, literally!

i'm so proud.

ninang: "look, miguel! that's the philippine flag on mt. everest, the tallest mountain in the world!"

miguel: "yey! the philippines owns mt. everest!"
well, for a few moments, yes. :)

Monday, May 15, 2006


it's official. summer's over... for me, at least.

i went back to work last may 4 straight from precamp in cavite. it took me about 3 days to get used to the 7 am wake-up routine, and an additional 2 more to make sense of why i was back in school in may. the school is very, well... blue. they've repainted the walls a lighter shade of baby blue, and what seems to be every door, a darker shade. at least it isn't pink!
i know summer's over because now i can't attend 4 pm meetings in makati anymore, or even 2 pm meetings for that matter.

i know summer's over because i couldn't make the roadtrip last wednesday or do a "far-away-quick" to baguio with ree last weekend.

i know summer's over because my flip-flops are making less and less of an appearance in my wardrobe

sad thing is, i still don't have my UP clearance, i haven't read a book, i haven't cooked (period), didn't get to play with mama aly or mae, and i only swam twice this whole summer. but i did get spend summer with kids and i'm quite fulfilled with the camps, plus the rain's here... and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

i need more spontaneity!

should I worry? oh no! i'm scaring myself! hahaha!

You Are 30% Weird

Not enough to scare other people...
But sometimes you scare yourself.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

cisv curio

ever try using a colombian's laptop? well, i did this summer (i also used a japanese and indonesian's).

it took a while to get used to the shortcut keys. in colombia, bold is NEGRITA and italics is CURSIVA, thus CTRL N and CTRL K, respectively. it couldn't be CTRL C because that was for COPIAR (copy).

mangoes in japan are $3 a piece. goodness gracious! needless to say, they were in mango heaven for the duration of their stay here.

an indonesian (actually, she's a filiipina who married an indonesian) also brought a pack of coffee candy, with milk in the middle. it's name was "copi susu." hahaha! while we're at it, i also found out that the word "sulit" in inodonesian means "difficult." hmmm... i can easily live up to my name in indonesia!

bgy. kapatid

our precamp photo.
nine delegations to nine different villages around the world
(ten if you include our own camp in Manila).
have a GREAT village, everyone! carry the Pinoy pride!
mabuhay ang barangay!

thanks to tita tessa for the great photo!

Friday, May 05, 2006


i consider joining cisv as one of the better decisions i've made. because of cisv, i now have friends all over the world and there is hope for world peace. yes, we're striving to make "world peace" more than a beauty pageant answer.

so, when the opportunity to staff the local village came, i jumped right on it! i was so set on staffing that i even declined a much-coveted offer to lead an outgoing delegation to brazil. being offered the position of assistant camp director was a nice touch, too! aaaah! but there was a catch...

on the day we in the advanced party drove to the campsite, the camp director tells me that her company won the bid they've been working so hard for... which meant that she had to report to work asap... which meant that she could not take a leave for the next six months... which meant that i was the new camp director... not just for the precamp but for the international village in july as well?!?! NOOOOOOOO! is it too late to be the leader for brazil?

fine! leave me with newbie leaders that needed training... leave me with a handicapped staff (one was down with a measles-like virus)... leave me with a bus-load of kids for 4 days, why don't you? and she did. *sigh*

well, precamp's all done and i survived the 5 days (one day was just for leaders). i can't say i'm unscathed though... neither were the kids (one kid burned her skirt in the open day presentation, but she's okay). some leaders thanked me for giving them a slice of village life and for teaching them so much. the kids said that they learned a lot and had lots of fun; a couple even cried at the thought that it was all over. awwww... so i guess i did a pretty good job... for now. i guess i'm back to weekly planning meetings for july's village. but i'll start that all next week. right now, i'm just glad to see my bed and not live out of a duffle bag finally.

to tita cel, you were heaven-sent! thanks for the 3 am post-shower conversations! in a weird way, i'm going to miss them.

Friday, April 28, 2006

in memoriam

this'll be a quickie since i'm cramming for precamp (leaving tomorrow).

found a scan of my UP ID while rummaging through the computer for something else. it's all that i have left... a scan (*sigh*).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Joy

stayed up last night for no particular reason and saw morning break.

i view Easter as a new morning, Christ's resurrection as the light that dispels the darkness; death conquered, sins forgiven and our dignity restored. rejoice in the new morning for Emmanuel is with us!

whoever you are and wherever you may be, i pray that you have a good, NEW MORNING!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

habulan at taguan*

*tag and hide-and-seek

what's worse than the summer heat? trying to collect signatures for your clearance so you can graduate IN the summer heat!

it was like playing tag WITH hide-and-seek! 12 signatures, 5 buildings, 2 days... and i'm still not done! "they" were either at meetings, out of the building, in another office, or "get this signature first". add to that their new 4-day work day scheme and my scheduled training at camp rock and tagaytay... i don't think i'll ever get my diploma -- which won't be available until december 2006 anyway!

UP... hanggang sa huli... AAAAARGH!

the *SKWEZ* is back!

*skwez - a very tight hug; initiated by the Phil. delegation to CISV JASPARC/APRW 2004 in Thailand; inspired by a billboard ad

after 2 years, i got a skwez from 3 of my former kids (although they're 17 and 18 years old already) to thailand... AND IT FELT GREAT! gosh! i didn't realize that i missed them that much too! my visit was short and sweet; well worth the time i stole to be late for the village staff meeting (hehehe).

i love my kids! i love skwezes! looking forward to getting more of those next week in jasparc ONE in tagaytay!

p.s. david still smells nice. he still uses the same brand of deodorant ΓΌ

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

jya camp lessons

it's amazing what spending a long weekend with 93 kids could teach 1 adult, me. the adage "never stop learning" was certainly true-to-form.
God all around me
i've always told my students, "lose a game but never lose the lesson." the lesson applies not only to games and contests, but with material things as well. my wallet and cellphone got stolen the night before the kids arrived. i was calm about the whole thing (what's lost is lost, after all) and actually only felt bad about the small things i couldn't have again.
come thursday night prayers, the prayer leader asked the kids to think about God's presence in the day's activities. leave it to foolish me to ask, "where were you, God?" and He replied. "my child, I was in the blanket that kept you warm last night; I was in the people who stayed up with you and worried with you; I was in the shade of the tree that kept you cool this afternoon. you need not look far. I am everywhere. I surround you." cue the tears (i seem to do this every jya camp!). of course, i never doubted that He was there; it was just so strong to hear it come from Him Himself.
only God is perfect.

simple human error can turn what i thought was a well-planned activity into utter chaos. thankfully, calm, common sense, cooperation, and responsibility were a-plenty, and THAT is the perfection God had in mind, no matter how many colors of paper i used.

kids DO grow up

i hardly heard from the COJ kids this year compared to last year; they've successfully blended in with the rest and have made friends beyond school colors. my own niece and nephew hardly looked for me too, except when there was a frog near their bag or a bug in their tent. i guess i needed them more than they did me. it's a happy kind of sad.

family makes for a strong presence

there's nothing like the sight of family members to make you feel so loved. i somehow know that aly and freddie did not only come for their kids, but for me as well. dinner under the tent that night was nothing different from the family gatherings we share... and we were surrounded with friends we considered "family" as well. then there were the COJ parents and classmates from JOD, and my boss (not to mention her daughter, who now lovingly calls me "ninang", that stuck by me all saturday night). ligaya has become my family.

i signed-up to serve the jya camp and got served instead. there really is no losing when you serve the Lord. i truly am BELOVED.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


as of today, school is officially OVER! WOOHOO! i may not have my clearance yet (ergo, no final pay yet), but i don't care! it's DONE! (why we always end so late, i may never know.)

here's my summer to do list:
  • catch up on my sleep (only had 40 mins. on thursday)
  • stay up late voluntarily to catch up on movies i've missed
  • get a well-deserved massage!
  • get ready for camps (plural!)... unless i decide to take on the invite to the brazil village (decisions, decsions!)
  • hopefully, i get to "play" with mama aly and teacher mae this summer
  • spend many hours in the pool with my nieces and nephews
  • read a new book
  • try a new recipe (hmmm...)
  • have cabinet made so i can move out of miguel's soon-to-be-room
  • get away from the city (training in tagaytay for cisv does not count!)
  • drink more yakult! hahaha!

i just want to be brain dead for a month before i have to report back to work in may.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

a girl could dream

it was a fantasy come true! me, sleeping in a room... with 12 boys all to myself!

thing is, they were from grade 1 to grade 6. hahaha! so much for cradle camp :)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

good news

got a phonecall from one of my UP professors in the middle of a ligaya meeting this morning...


what a relief!! i'm so glad that i don't have to redo any portion!

thank you! thank you! thank you to all of you who prayed for me and prayed over me and to those who had more faith in me than i did in myself.

you can all just call me MASTER from now on. hahaha!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

my first

lactobacili shirota strain. yakult. i had my first bottle today (thanks to a pre-schooler's loot bag) and guess what... i actually like it!

who would've thunk it?! :)

now i understand why my nieces drink so much of it. gosh, i have so much catching up to do! hahaha!

here's my disclaimer: just because i tried my first yakult does not mean, in any way, that i will EVER eat ampalaya (bitter gourd) or dinuguan (what my dad would explain to our foreigner guests as "chocolate meat." hehehe).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

time well spent

i have always been a believer in sharing. after all, all we have belongs to God and we are merely stewards of what He "lent" us.

in the wake of the leyte landslide tragedy, several calls for donations came out and are still coming out. i never realized the extent of the destruction until i saw the pictures. when things like that happen, you pray... and you stir. i have to do something!

it was very apt that at around the same time, the first reading from the bible was about sharing with the less fortunate. i was convicted. i had neither money nor old clothes to give. then i realized that what i DID have was time... time to forward emails for a drive collecting relief goods, and today, time to volunteer in the relief center.

i worked for 2 hours, but it sure was 2 hours well-spent. together with 6 other "young" volunteers, we sorted sacks and sacks of clothes into male, female, children, and rejects. the activity made me see a whole genre of clothes, not to mention material (gabardine, spandex, wool...). it was hard work. it was tiring. but it was also a lot of fun and fulfilling.

there's a lot more that needs to be done. there are mountains of clothes waiting to be sorted. inside the building (we were outside), more packing was being done. i'd be more than glad to do it again. :)

so, if you're free and able, why not pitch in?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

looking for intelligence

a little anecdote for your entertainment

on free days, i help coordinate weddings for coordinator-friends of mine. last sunday, i did such a thing.

one of the tasks assigned to me and another friend was to look for "intelligent men" to handle the confetti cannons (they came with detailed instructions) towards the end of the mass.

i spotted a couple just outside the church doors. i had seen them inside the church earlier. the man looked intelligent enough in his suit so i decided to go and ask if he could be one of my cannon bearers. my friend followed suit and approached another man outside, wearing a barong tagalog (i.e., traditional Philippine formal wear for men).

when asked if he could be of help to her, this was his apologetic reply: "ah, kasi, may hinihintay din ako eh. ako kasi yung sunod na kakasalin." (i'm just waiting for someone. you see, i'm the groom of the next wedding.)


Monday, February 27, 2006

yet again

when history repeats itself, it loses its novelty.

take people power, for example. the first one was thrilling; the second had steam, but no umph. the third time was not a charm, nor were the ones that followed. coup d'etats and their attempts are the same thing.

after a while, these things become bothersome, not to mention disruptive to the economy and personal schedules.

maybe they happen too much too often because we fail to learn the lesson or take the lessons seriously. and in the end, we, as country, are not taken seriously.

it's sad. it's pitiful. it's sickening.

Friday, February 24, 2006

lessons from UP

when i was (much, much) younger, i remember planning out my life. i'd go to UP for college, work in a bank, buy my own car before i turned 30... stuff like that.

i pretty much stuck to the plan. i DID work for a bank... for an entire month. i "bought" my own car... from my dad, for a hard-earned buck. the studying in UP part i skipped for my undergrad. back then, UP was too radical with their "makibaka, huwag matakot" posters in red; not conducive to studying at all (for the record, i passed the UPCAT and got into ECO, a quota course... ahem!)

so i earned my undergrad, without regrets, from the Ateneo. AAAH! the pampered life! i would learn to appreciate the pampering in years to come.

it took me around about 15 years to re-apply to UP, this time for my masteral. it seemed that "the plan" had a way of working itself out on its own.

what's the big deal about going to UP anyway? why do thousands of HS seniors kill to see their names in the acceptance lists each year? what's so great about getting your degree at the state university?

i will not argue about the great minds that were scholared there. my parents went there, met there, and married there. (dad would later go to harvard; mom won a fullbright scholarship.) so did marcos (and like him or not, he was brilliant!) and ninoy (there's another one for ya!) and many others who would become true leaders in their respective and respected fields.

i do not admit to being an expert in the school's system (or lack of it). i always considered myself "divorced" from the school, going there only if i had a class to attend. at most, i would stay after to grab a bite with my classmates - be it fishballs, monay, taho, or mang jim's.

my boss couldn't understand how it took me a week to enroll into 2 subjects (it would only take half a day in Ateneo); it would even take longer to file for an LOA. i couldn't comprehend why somebody couldn't just come up with a flowchart or a list for pre-enrollment processes. it would save a person a day's commute to find out beforehand that they needed clearance from health services first and to be told that they needed an x-ray to get that clearance. not when they're already there! i couldn't understand how an entire drawer in a library's card catalogue could go missing and the librarian just shrug her shoulders at my dilemma. i couldn't imagine how a girl can go to the college of EDUC's first floor comfort room and not fear for her life!*

after going through these (and much more), that was when i understood what made going to UP so great. it wasn't the school's utilities and facilities, and (sadly) neither was it because of its teachers (but when they were good, they were REALLY good!); it was the process of getting the education. it was learning to be creative and making things work when the system didn't (i did all my research at Ateneo's Rizal library. like i said, no regrets.) it was learning to be patient when you were in one of those long lines that was synonymous to the school's name. UP stood for University of Pila - "pila" means queue for non-tagalog readers. it's commuting back and forth to buildings to obtain a signature; stalking a professor's office for hours to get into what you know would be a good class. it's in exchanging and throwing ideas back and forth with peers to make sense of what a teacher was trying to explain inside the classroom. it's in meeting and dealing with people whose personalities are as varied as there are colors in a pantone guide. it's survival. in short, UP builds character.

now i understand why the school gets only the top students the country has to offer: you have to be good to begin with so you can come out better, if not GREAT. i have my parents as proof for the last note.

*i am happy to report that the bathroom has since been renovated.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

it's here!

it's download heaven
i can search like hell
we now have DSL!

thanks to my bro dennis for making the connection :)

utak sabaw

utak sabaw. brain soup.

that's how my brain feels like right now after 2 days of MA comprehensive exams. five years of UP night classes summarized in 2 days in 11 questions in 9 blue books in 16 hours.

at least it's all over. i hope i don't have to do that again.

my hand really hurts :(

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

in search of scratch

in my mom's world of order, everything has it own place. it's very evident with how things are kept.

take paper, for example. in the supplies drawer is paper... in all sizes and uses. the top drawer is reserved for pristine clean paper, still in its packaging with a portion of the top neatly cut for uncrumpled retrieval. that's for paper that comes in large quantities. there is also paper in resealable plastic and paper in green semi-transparent plastic bags. each of these green plastic bags come with an appropriate label with exact measurements. i kid you not! that is how i know that long is actually 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 and not 8 1/2 by 12.

the second drawer is for reusable paper. in this drawer, paper is classified by size, each in (voila!) a green semi-transparent plastic bag with a strip of masking tape on top properly labeling the contents: scratch paper - A4, scratch paper - short. you'll never get lost. heck, she even labeled MY scratch paper! scratch paper (leslie) - short and scratch paper (leslie) - A4. i'm confused if i should be touched by the gesture or embarrassed that i have so much!

so. if all goes well, a piece of paper in our house should travel from top drawer, to second drawer, to final place of destination... which will not surprise me if it should be one of her many filing boxes, all in red, of course... but that's totally another blog.

you should see her closet.

this blog is brought to you by gransazer

today, i taught miguel how to draw a star without lifting the pen off the paper. he had a different, more complicated version.

that was this afternoon. before dinner, i asked him to draw me one again, which he did. like the good teacher that i hope i am, i asked him to label his work with the word "star." instead, he wrote all this:
not bad, considering that he did it all by himself! it should actually read: "life goes on a shining star." wah? it didn't make sense to me either until he sang it to me. then came hard laughter.

for those not in the know, it's actually the lyrics (well, not exactly) of a japanese robo-drama called "gransazer." you know, the type with exaggerated acting, a euphemism for "bad acting" although i'm sure that miguel will argue otherwise. but i digress.

the song isn't actually in english... it's mostly japanese, interspersed with english here and there. thanks to a prompt at the bottom of the screen, we know that it goes somemething like "life goes on onichuwo. madara ichiwaishur. nonodo ogaiwata darita my soul! wadisha o shining star!" and hence, the words to the drawing. bow. lest we forget, please note the star drawing.

but i have to admit: there's a childlike wisdom to what he quoted. life CAN go on a shining star. i truly believe that miguel's on one. he just has to hold on for the ride.

gransazer is seen on cartoon network (ch. 43) every weekday at 7:30 p.m. you can catch just the opening song if you want. watching the entire thing is your call. you have been warned.

Monday, January 23, 2006

top hits

before i forget... heard last Christmas as migueli was playing...
migueli: On the first day of Christmas, my TUNA gave to me...

retreat-after high

When God speaks, you listen. I am Samuel all over again.

Be a sojourner
Travel light;
Carry neither lust
nor envy,
nor pride.
For on this earth
I am but passing through
Homeward bound
to my permanent address
with my Father in Heaven.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


after a 3-month absence, I'M BACK! to my fans, i'm so sorry and i missed you too! mwa-ha-ha! having to share 1 computer with a "workoholic-insomniac-retired (?)-working-mom" doesn't make blogging easy... and then there's the work part of the sked to deal with, and our internet connection sucks, too!

well, thanks to a self-imposed leave to study for my comprehensive exams, i finally found a vacancy in mom's pc use... a gem, believe me! i may only have a few for this so let's get on with it!

highlights of the last 3 months, in no particular order...

i told ree i'd write about this. spent the sem break with 7 other adventurers whose only common denominator was my friend, riya. hence, we were known as chopsuey, inc. twelve hours after leaving manila - including breakfast and coffee in baguio - chopsuey, inc. finds themselves in sagada.

sagada is one place i'm glad i visited before i turned 40. our big accomplishment was that we did the cave connections where you enter one cave and come out another one... 5 hours later! considering that my very first blog was on caving in tuguegarao, let me just say that these caves are WAY more challenging, fun, daring, and scary... but i still love anton c. imagine rapelling from a 45-foot cliff with just a rope tied to a rock -- no harness, no helmet, no first aid kit... also, no guts, no glory. and THAT was just one part of what we had to do in the dark. i'm not so sure i'd recommend the activity to my friends thinking that putting their life in danger was MY idea! we later found out that only crazy people like us would do the cave connections.

we trekked down (the easy part) to the big falls the next day... over, around, through and into (i have the scar to prove it) rice terraces. the sight of the falls was AWESOME! it humbled me knowing that only God can make something as beautiful and powerful as the big falls. a swim in the pool and a packed lunch later, we made our way up again ( the hard part). back in manila, i again found out that grappling over boulders to get to the pool was another thing only crazies did (duh).

there's much, much more to be said about the chopsuey adventures (my bad). this much i know... i have to go back there one day, probably through the back route (batad, banawe). wanna?

since october, he has...
- been accepted in the ateneo (halikinu!)
- learned how to tell time (not with a digital clock, mind you)
- learned how to tie a bow (and wrap Christmas gifts... no accounting for neatness)
- started piano lessons (albeit the sked has been very erratic)
- been a ring bearer to my bro's wedding... which brings me to...

a great Sulit affair, if i may say so. we finally fitted our gowns and got all dolled up. the effort was well worth it. i have never seen my brother so happy! come to think of it, i had never seen him dance until that night either!

it was a very nice ceremony... short, personal, and sweet. food was good; drinks were flowing; firewroks were a nice touch, too!

my sis-in-law (SIL), essie, is in the house now, very much a part of the family. i really like her. hey, she got my brother to pray and go to mass again... she's good in my book!

did my Christmas shopping for the kids this year with frankie (she begged for my help - haha!). still, Christmas would not be the same without a shopping day with mama aly. it's been some sort of a tradition, like thanksgiving at her dad's and new year's at our place. i'd chuck a wedding just to shop with her during the holidays - which i did (hehehe). well worth it!

i also hosted my annual ateneo college barkada dinner - a 15-year tradition - for the first time! the pressures of being a hostess! the meal was a year in the making since someone had the bright idea that hostesses HAVE TO have souvenirs. well, the theme and cuisine was chinese. thank God for divisoria chinese take out boxes and tita lanelle fernando's soy pots! it also helped that i know the number of hap chan's dimsum supplier :)

going on it's 21st year tradition was my high school barkada Christmas party - also hosted at home. there's around 10 of us in manila, half of which are married with an average of 3 kids per family. do the math on that and shop for all those, plus the moms. not to forget that 4 or 5 of the kids are godchildren so their gifts are a little more special. then again, what's Christmas without the frazzle, right?
what kid doesn't like fireworks? I LOVE 'EM! i'm sorry, but it gets me jumping and screaming like a little girl. got to see the pyro olympics with jali twice on the week that it was hosted. we were there on the first day, on the wall in front of the barge, when australia (who won!) showed-off their nautical shells. our connections paid off when we went again 2 days later with the mendiolas of SM. so blessed to have them in my circles. oh, thanks, jali, for the photos! aren't they pur-ty?! i'm looking forward to pyro olympics 2006 with you and anyone else who loves fireworks!

there, among many other things, is 3 months in a nutshell. my mini-entries may not do them justice, but hey, i gotta start somewhere, right? and considering that i even put in photos... not bad!