Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not your usual hats

My colleagues and I had fun dressing up a simple abaca hat, as 'required' during our Christmas Party. I was amazed by the creativity displayed by everyone who joined.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Resorts World

Last Saturday, we brought my brother-in-law, his wife and his wife’s sister, who were visiting from the US, to Resorts World Manila, a casino in Newport City.

It was an experience for my husband and I, who are not casino-goers. When we went to Las Vegas two years ago, we enjoyed the architecture, interiors and the shops in the various hotels, the ‘energy’ of those playing, the sights, the dancing fountain at Bellagio --- everything but the gambling.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shaking hands with GMA

When my boss saw this picture, she said "Tupperware to the max!"

She's right. 'Plastic' ako since I am not an admirer of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But you wouldn't know that, judging from the way I am smiling and eagerly holding out my hand.

What can I say? It's hard to ignore the President walking by. I got starstruck.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A show of gratitude

When one of our utility at the office was hit by typhoon 'Ondoy', we rallied to help him and his family. We passed the hat around and forgot it soon afterwards...until we all received this email:

Dear my family:

Ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat dahil sa tulong at suportang binigay po ninyo sa akin. Dapat po pala noon ko pa po ito ginawa. Akala ko po kasi sapat na ang magpasalamat ng personal. Yun pala hindi kasi po iba rin yung gumagawa ka ng isang liham para maipadama ko po sa inyo kung papaano po ninyo natutulungan at napasaya ang katulad ko.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Treating at Halloween

My daughter did not don any costume this Halloween. I did not influence her in any way, even if I do not believe in the whole Halloween thing. In fact, I took her to two malls to find her a new costume, since the first one did not have her size.

I was a bit surprised when I learned that she still did not feel like she had to do the whole costume thing, even if they had trick or treat in school. "Teacher says we can come in costume but not to buy anything new," she tells me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Way over

A friend once drummed up a list of things to do by the time she turned 30. I don’t think she crossed out all the items on that list by the time she celebrated her birthday. But I do remember that turning 30 was a big deal.

I celebrated my birthday just recently, and I’m way over 30. I’ve never done any lists – the only one I ever considered (and not seriously) was that outlined in a saying on achieving immortality: Plant a tree, write a book and sire a child.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What not to do at wakes

I was at a wake recently.

It wasn’t my first, but it did bring back all of these superstitious beliefs that Filipinos observe.

Bawal maghatid.
Relatives of the deceased should not show you the door or walk with you to your car. It has something to do with bad luck or ill fortune.

Next, no take-home or take-outs. Should you choose to eat what’s offered, eat up. Don’t bring any of it home. Actually, don’t bring anything from a wake to your house.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I have been watching the news almost the entire day, and I am horrified at what I see. Water rising to second-floor levels, submerging houses and cars, forcing people to flee to their rooftops, where they wait for hours without food -- their fears that the water will rise further, increasing as the sun goes down.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When a win becomes embarrassing

I saw a sports item in Yahoo about this Florida HS football team that had to defend its 83-0 win. As the story goes, it appears that they (the coach especially) are being taken to task for winning by such a wide margin. Like it was solely their fault and that their opponents had nothing to do with it. Or, that there should have been a point when they should have stopped scoring so as not to embarrass their opponents.

Anyone who plays seriously in any kind of sport knows that this is simply not possible. A game is a game. It is not an event to score brownie points with your opponent, or to be voted the nicest person on earth. It is not a PR event. It is a competition.

Monday, September 7, 2009

'Could've beens'

I ran into an old friend recently. It was a surprise running into him on a busy street in Makati City. I knew him way back in college, when I was still in Cebu City.

To say that I knew him well isn’t very true. There were encounters and some calls. Let’s just say that he was a guy who could have been interesting had I been interested and had he been interested enough to make the pursuit. Let’s just say that he was one of the ‘could’ve beens’. Ask any girl. There are almost always one or two in our lives.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When she was five

My daughter turned six just this month. I am amazed by her development, this little being who seems to be me and not me and more herself every year. So, before she gets any older, I would like to keep these memories intact by writing them down.

When she was five…
  • she’d move her chair from the head of the table to the side, where I sat, just so she could be close to me when we ate breakfast.

  • she loved hiding the remote control from her Dad; it was a game between them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family Day

Last August 15, we attended the annual Family Day at our kid's school. We were there at 7:30 a.m. and the first order of the day was the general assembly for the parents. It started at 9:30 a.m. or thereabouts. It took less than the waiting time and the subsequent games, even less.

It's probably unfair to compare but the only experience I can cite is that in my kid's former school. This was a smaller school, definitely, and maybe that's why it was better organized (but I still think this isn't an excuse).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The food we don't eat

Last August 7, I attended an assembly in a hotel where we were served snacks. It was impressive. We had a choice of about five food varieties on our plate - a combination of bread and pastries.

I managed to finish what was on my plate because lunch had been a sandwich, finished hastily to get to the assembly on time. But the many others who had a full lunch had a lot of leftovers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drowning out airplanes

I still get a high from seeing airplanes fly so low over cars just before they go over the fence and touch down on the runway on the other side.

This, despite the fact that I live near the airport and see this with regularity – not every time, but a lot of times on our way to and from home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Her last trip

Working in an office along Ayala Ave. has its perks. It's not only cool to be working in the midst of Makati's commercial and business district, it's also convenient -- there are many modes of public transportation readily available, from taxies, to PUJs, to FX rides to buses.

Given the prominence of the businesses lining Ayala Ave., it is also host to many cause-oriented rallies and activities - a fact I appreciated for the first time last Monday when it became part of the route for the transfer of the late President Cory Aquino's flag-draped coffin from La Salle Greenhills in Quezon City to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday

This is a tribute to my sister, who celebrates her birthday today.

She doesn't know it but she was the first one who broke my heart. She did it when she left our home to work as a flight stewardess abroad. I remember wondering how to fill the gap she left and how lonely I felt. This was not the age of mobile connectivity and Internet access. It was a long time before I was able to fill in that gap.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


When I go on a trip, I will occasionally bring a pasalubong (souvenir) or two home but I usually don't go out of my way to do this.

Most of the time, it's because it's convenient or the host offers to buy it and have it ready by the time the meeting or the business is done. Hence, my officemates know better than to ask me to buy stuff for them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Guardian

He is dark and lean. Muscled, with no sign of flab, he moves fast.

Manong is no ordinary guard. His guardhouse floats nearby and he moves around in a paddle boat. His face creased and lined by the sun and sea, he must be all of 60 years old.
Yet all boat operators and tour guides respect him. Very few try to slip past him and those who do are 'baguhan' (new at the job) and do not know any better, says our boat operator.

Manong guards the Siete Pecados Marine Park in Coron, Palawan. He makes sure that no fishing is done at the marine sanctuary, which is one of Coron's tourist attractions. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

There's good left in this world

Our first day in Coron town in Palawan ended almost disastrously. We'd taken the afternoon flight and had decided to immediately start our vacation by squeezing in Maquinit Hot Spring before dark.

We take a tricycle to the only known saltwater hot spring in the Philippines, located some five kilometers from the town proper. My daughter balks initially at the water temperature, which locals claim range from 38 to 40 degress celsius, but soon adapts to the heat. A few visitors sit around the edge of the pool, soaking their legs in the water, which is said to be good for relieving arthritis and rheuma. We soak ourselves by the mini falls before we decide to head back to town for dinner.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

If only we could

We were on our way to Tagaytay last Saturday. It was one of those instant decisions (according to my husband). His boss had suddenly asked him to play golf (of course, it was an instant decision).

At any rate, I agreed that he NEEDED to go. Of course. But since he had made it a condition that we tag along, I decided to be kind and lessen any guilt feelings he might have had and come along.

And so Saturday morning found us suddenly up in a jiffy, getting ready to go out at a moment's notice because tee-off was at 10:30 a.m. and Tagaytay was a long way away.

But with construction ongoing at the South Luzon Expressway, we found ourselves crawling through traffic. And then we saw this sign.

Had we gone any slower, we'd still be on our way to Tagaytay.

When I got married

I was 34. More than old enough by the standards even of my time. In 2002, women were not marrying young. It was the sign of the times. It wasn’t just about being a career woman or being independent. It was also because it was hard enough to take care of oneself, much more a family. Women AND men were thinking twice about getting married.

I was the last to get married in my family. Five sisters -- me the middle child. Sister 2 got married first, followed by sister 1 then sister 4 then sister 5. Hmmm…if I got that wrong, one of them will correct me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our version of a totem pole

If you come from the west service road and go into what is commonly known as C5, you cannot miss this obelisk cum bust of somebody who must be turning over in his grave.

The first time I saw it, I had to exclaim at the ugliness of it. I do not know why but what comes to mind is a decapitated head stuck on a raised bayonet. Since construction had just started, I figured that there was still so much to the whole structure.

Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Last July 12 found us attending mass at the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus at the Newport City near Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.

In celebration of her 40th birthday, a friend was offering mass at the shrine at 12 noon. I had to look it up on the Internet since I didn't know where it was and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was the orange (and to me) Moroccan-inspired church we'd pass to and from NAIA Terminal 3.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Favorite Food

We just came from yet another Chinese eating place.

My daughter loves wanton noodle soup. Her favorite eating places are North Park and Luk Yuen, although she will settle for Chowking if need be. At home, we try not to give her the instant noodles, but occasionally give in with the Knorr Chicken Noodle soup, which has to be cooked, rather than submerged in hot water.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The things we remember

It's strange, the things we remember.

I sometimes cannot recall what I did a day ago or worse, what I set out to do a few minutes ago. But I can remember with clarity my Lola's house.

I remember the clay-red tiles on the ground floor balcony, the books in Spanish at the 'library', the kalachuchi flowers that bordered the driveaway as well as the roses. I even remember Patsy, her dog, who we buried in the garden near the gate.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Avian freeloaders

My husband and I were tickled pink when we visited the Ark Avilon Zoo recently.

On the deck of the 'ark', there is a section where 2 african spurred tortoises are exposed to the sun, wind, rain and yes -- birds.

We saw that while the tortoises were munching away at their food, the birds were just as busy feasting on food that belonged to their reptilian brothers, since it was placed within the enclosure.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day

Father's Day started early for me, the mother. I went to the market early to get first dibs at the special boneless bangus. After having breakfast cooked, I had everything set up in the covered space in the front yard just to make things different and special.

By this time, the day's celebrant is up and appropriately appreciative. Halfway into the meal, the daughter remembers our "secret" and gives him her gift (which I bought) but which bears a card she made herself (at my prodding).

Daddy is feeling good about himself by this time and wants to take us out. He plans lunch around my daughter (of course, of course) so we set out for Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City to be near the Ark Avilon Zoo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Short of begging

We go to work using the same route everyday. So once I get tired of badgering my husband who does the driving, I look around.

I see legs peeking out from the jeep in front of us, a man on a bike beside us holding his helmet instead of using it, roadside cleaners all wearing navy blue shirts titled 'Pulis Oyster' - the definition of which still escapes me, and so many other things which I take for granted. I see them everyday.

Friday, June 5, 2009

No more bottle

Last June 3, my daughter announced that she would no longer drink milk from the bottle. It came as a surprise since we were still a few months shy from her 6th birthday (my target date) and more than a year away from her 7th (her negotiated target).

She'd lost her first tooth that morning and had apparently tried to figure out why. She decided that it was the 'dede' (our term for the bottle). And since she didn't want to lose all her teeth, she was going to stop.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

At work in La Mesa

Last Thursday, we were on a location shoot at the La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City for the company's AVP on its CSR program. It wasn't my first, but it still didn't fail to amaze me how seconds of footage can take so long to take.

It was also my first at the ecopark - 33 hectares located right outside the La Mesa watershed, which serves the water requirements of Metro Manila residents. I was thrilled by the natural greenery and all of the outdoor activities that could be had for a fee: picnics, swimming at the Salt Water Swimming Pool, paddle boat rides, fishing, biking, walking (there's a fitness trail with 17 exercise stations that also connects to a forested 1.2 km mountain bike trail).

It comes down to feet

Shoes die by themselves. I've found this out time and again when I'd wear a pair that had languished for the longest time inside the shoe cabinet. I'd be reminded of this only at the office when I'd cross my legs, only to see the shoe all cracked up and disintegrating . Once, the gel-like substance from a long-forgotten rubber shoe followed me all over the place before a colleague gently pointed it out.

But I've also used up shoes before their time. My work has taken me places and through situations I'd never imagined and my shoes along with it. I'd covered a mangrove planting activity in Cordova, Mactan with my rubber shoes on. And an ecotour in Banacon Island in Bohol. Both times, we'd reached the sites later than planned and the tide had come in to claim not only my rubber shoes but also my maong pants.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Day with Tony Blair

It isn’t everyday that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair comes to town. So the preparations were pretty impressive – from the virtual isolation of the Henry Lee Irwin Theater at the Ateneo de Manila University where he spoke in the morning, to the pre-registration done also at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza where the second Leadership Conference series was held in the afternoon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

An ending (written Nov. 20, 2006)

The minute my younger sister got into the car, she started sobbing.

I felt rotten. It was awkward driving and trying to console her while wondering why I was not as grief-stricken as she was.

Our father had died. She’d flown in from the US to pay her last respects and I was driving her to the funeral home where she would see his remains.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First celebrity fatality of swine flu

I am always amazed by the Filipino's ability to laugh in the face of extreme hardship or to make fun of the most serious of developments, including the possibility of a pandemic.

This picture of a 'dead' Kermit the Frog recently made the round of inboxes at the office. Most of us who grew up with Sesame St. and The Muppet Show immediately got the joke - he obviously got the swine flu from Miss Piggy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another world

I met a six-year-old girl at the Marcela Marcelo Elementary School in Pasay City last Saturday.

She caught my attention because she was half the size of my five-year-old daughter and she couldn't read. My daughter has been reading since...I don't remember anymore.

I was at the public school to write about what our employees were doing -- which was conducting a summer reading program for kids who couldn't read or had difficulty reading.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The magic of Cinderella

I came home to find my five-year-old daughter wearing high-heeled silver sandals that my US-based sister had worn to attend a wedding in Manila and had left behind.

It seemed she'd been wearing it the whole day INSIDE the house instead of slippers. Glass slippers, she called them, much like those of Cinderella's.

"Will you give them to me when I grow up, Mommy?" she asked me. "If it survives," I answer her. Not entirely understanding what I'd just said, she frowns.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Connected in Coron

(Philippine Star, Telecoms section, May 02, 2009)

MANILA, Philippines – More Filipinos are discovering Coron, a small town belonging to the Calamianes group of islands located in the northernmost part of Palawan.

The first-quarter report of the Department of Tourism (DOT) shows that domestic tourist arrivals to Coron and the capital city of Puerto Princesa, grew by a record-breaking 392 percent. The DOT attributes this to the increase in flights from Manila, Cebu, and Caticlan. Coron is an hour away from Manila by plane.

For Al and Mae Linsangan of Calamian Expeditions Travel & Tours, however, getting there and back is just one aspect of the experience. Equally important is communications, says Mae.

Coron enjoys mobile connectivity, dominantly from Smart Communications Inc., which has installed 12 3G/High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and GSM base stations to serve the Calamianes group of islands, with five dedicated to the town proper. Hence, the signal is strong not only in Coron but in the waters and islands surrounding the municipality.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who conquered who?

I didn't think I would do it. Climb Mt. Tapyas in Coron town, Palawan. Michelle jokingly asked me to leave it for the last part of the trip and I was serious when I told her it wasn't part of the itinerary.

But with some time left after an interview, I decided that a shot of Coron town from the top would be good for my article. I also imagined how a shot of our cell site set against the town would look.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Older, heavier but the same

It seemed like nothing and everything had changed. The last time that Michelle and I had taken a trip together was fresh off college when Boracay was still virgin-white, there were more coconut trees than buildings and the coastline was freer to breath.

Then, as it was in our recent trip to Coron, we had solo pictures since there was just the two of us. There were more pictures this time though since we were now each armed with a digital camera. But the poses were the same. In fact, a few shots into our cameras and we knew that we probably wouldn't have any decent shot to take home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More a Park than a Mall

I wonder if those that have set up shop at the Bonifacio Hi-Street at the Fort Bonifacio Complex are making money.

I wonder because my family goes there not to buy stuff, but to have our daughter play in a semblance of a park , without the fear of getting held up by unsavory characters.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No Kissing

I saw this 'no kissing' sign while surfing the Net and of course, it got my attention. It looked ridiculous and reading the literature further confirmed my opinion.

It seems the sign was put up at the Warrington Bank Quay railway station in England by Virgin Rail, which manages the station. Yeah, a virgin put up the no kissing sign. It follows.

What virgin was trying to do was to reduce train delays. It seems that when saying their goodbyes at the drop-off point, drivers and their passengers blocked access to the station. Well, good luck. I don't know any British national well so I do not know if they really deserve their image of being cold-blooded humans but if they put up any more signs like these, then I suppose there is some truth to the "stiff upper lip".

I do know that if they try it in the Philippines, someone will just take the sign home as a joke. That, or have their picture taken with it. That's how ridiculous it is.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Green Mobile Award

Mobile Communications is one of few industries where the Philippines shines in the global arena. For the others, I can think of fashion (think Michelle Lhuillier) and entertainment (Lea Salonga) and even tourism (Boracay).

So I was particularly happy when I read about how Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART) won the very first GSMA Green Mobile Award for its alternative power for cell sites program. It seems that the company has already installed some 68 eco-friendly cell sites in remote or "off-grid" locations nationwide. I guess it makes sense to use renewable energy in remote locations where gensets and diesel plus hauling can be pretty expensive -- especially since our country is an archipelago. This is a business decision that paid off for the company -- not only in terms of savings but also in terms of reduction of carbon emission.

It may not have been an entirely green decision, but it's still laudable that the company is exploring green alternatives to provide communications in remote areas. Other companies focus on urban and populated areas for quick returns, forgetting entirely that communications is even more vital for hard-to-reach areas.

Congrats to SMART for its Green Mobile Award.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day

Concerned about our daughter's illness, my husband and I really didn't make much of Valentine's Day. In fact, I was ready to ignore the whole thing if not for getting reminded of it every time I opened the paper (and it was practically in all of the sections in one form or another) or the TV or the radio. On our way to my mother-in-law's house, it was also on the billboards on the streets. And it didn't help that my cell phone kept registering text messages on Happy Valentine's Day.

I really don't have anything against Valentine's Day. It's especially thrilling for lovers, and I do appreciate the effort my hubby made. We were supposed to take in dinner on Feb. 13 and then a movie. But when we saw how late the movie would end, we just had dinner because we still wanted to catch our daughter awake. After all -- loving is what Valentine's Day is all about and our daughter is certainly part of all the loving.

On V-Day itself, we had her checked by her former pediatrician, whom we would have wanted to retain if not for the fact that her clinic is all the way in Antipolo City and we now live in the Makati area. She advised that we continue with our daughter's antibiotic and to keep monitoring her. If the fever persists, we go back to her Makati pedia on Monday. Meanwhile, it would already be good to have her subjected to a CBC platelet count.

To draw blood on Valentine's Day? Unless you're a vampire, it makes for depressing. Very depressing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Adenoids what?

Concerned that my five-year-old daughter had sleep apnea (and not knowing better), I had her checked by her pediatrician, who dismissively said "Huh! Large adenoids!"

Sometimes, I wonder if her pediatrician knows she is not talking to a fellow doctor. She issues one-liners like I know what she's talking about, though she is quick to explain when asked.

It takes a while before i understand that adenoids are lumpy clusters of spongy tissue somewhere at the back of our throats. Like tonsils, adenoids help keep your body healthy by trapping harmful bacteria and viruses that you breathe in or swallow. Hence, adenoid tissue sometimes temporarily swells as it tries to fight off an infection. Swollen or enlarged adenoids are common. When this happens, the tonsils get swollen, too.

Yes, yes, she nods when she checks my kid's tonsil. Swollen tonsil too. Probably caused by my kid's UTI. This is the reason why my daughter snores and has trouble getting a good night's sleep. Her whole demeanor suggesting that I am overreacting, the doctor gives me a referral. Have your daughter checked, if you want -- is what she doesn't say although her body language all but shouts it.

I respect my daughter's pediatrician, but there are really times when consultations at her clinic remind me of bouts with my calculus teacher. I barely passed calculus.