Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Warning: long read

We lost our dog, Bailey, yesterday.

She was of mixed breed (Shi Tzu and Chihuahua), bought from a stall in the old market in Batangas City at a price haggled from PhP4,000 to PhP2,500 with two kilos of dog food and inoculation thrown into the bargain.

It became a joke that my husband would repeat about Bailey. That and the fact that once exasperated at how she would pick at her food, I told her “huwag kang aarte-arte dyan at pinulot ka lang sa mercado (don’t you put on airs with me; it’s not like we didn’t get you at the wet market).”

I did not want her or any dog, but conceded to my husband and my daughter’s wish for one on the condition that the dog we would get would be small and manageable and that they would take care of the pet.

These two outvoted me on getting a dog.
So my daughter ignored the squiggly and noisy brown and white pup sharing the cage and picked up the more docile black and white one whom she named Bailey.

Dog in the house

We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, which became very apparent once we reached the house. We had to look for an old plastic container to serve as her dog dish and fashion an old carton with a rug for her sleeping quarters. I frowned because I knew I’d have to get the dish and maybe a dog bed since my husband was working the next day.

I frowned even more as the days went by. Bailey had learned to get out of the box and urinated everywhere.  It took some training and a lot of wiping up with the house smelling of urine and cleanser before the puppy learned to go to the front door to be taken out.

I also didn't want her in the bedrooms, which were located on the upper level of the split-level house that we occupied in Batangas City. It took a while but she eventually learned to stop short at the step leading to the rooms.

Another baby

I got cranky when it became apparent to me that weekly visits to the vet were a must during her puppy years. The man who sold her to us in May 2015 told us she was around three months old at the time so we just assumed she’d been born February 2015. When the vet handed me a booklet which suspiciously looked like the one that I had to carry every time I visited my daughter’s pediatrician years back, I knew we’d gotten ourselves another baby.

She loved to snuggle in their shoes.
All I’d feared had come true. All the training, feeding, washing, cleaning up and going to the vet was left to me and the help.

My husband and daughter? They enjoyed Bailey. They cuddled the cute little beast who would snuggle in their shoes. 

Bailey would go into
her lap every time she sat on
the stair landing to put on her socks.

My daughter would sit on the stair landing and the pest would automatically go into her lap, a ritual they continued even when we moved back to Manila.

Bailey wanted in on the noontime nap.

As for hubby, he’d come home for lunch and after eating, would prop his head with throw pillows and take a nap on the three-seater in our living room with her on his chest while she was a pup and later, beside him when she got bigger.

She learned to lie quietly on the sofa beside my daughter when she was studying, sometimes climbing on to my daughter’s lap which made me wonder if any studying was getting done.

If Bailey had a list of “people I love,” I’d come in last after the help. After all, I was the one who yelled at her and slapped the floor with a slipper, sending her scurrying for cover whenever she did something wrong. I was the one who took her to the vet which she soon associated with pain. I was the one who adopted the stern warning tone when she refused to eat her food.

But she loved me nonetheless. No matter how angry I’d get, she’d greet me with so much joy when I’d come out of the bedroom in the morning. She’d follow me around the house and settle at my feet when I’d work on the computer. She’d lick me every chance she got which was not often.

And I loved her back even if I grumbled at the amount of time, money and effort I was spending on her. I bought the leash and tried to train her because I was afraid she would get run over if left to run by herself. I bought her toys, even treats – saying that my daughter wanted them for Bailey. I looked for the soap that would heal her itchy skin and bought her a soft rug so she could lie on it under my daughter’s bed. And though I hated it, I brought her to the vet as often as I needed to. I was gruff about it but I loved her. I love her still.

The vet says it was an infection that got her. It had crept up on us and by the time we noticed it and sought help, it was too late. We, well I especially, mistook her loss of appetite for her being a picky eater.

She was being fed intravenously when I left her at the vet yesterday morning. I was supposed to call back at 2:30 p.m. for her blood test results. The phone rang before 2 p.m. The vet said it happened so fast. Bailey was only about three years old.

Hubby got home as soon as he could. I was out when he arrived so I did not see him break down upon seeing Bailey.

A daily thing no more.
My daughter cried all the way home from school and whimpered when she saw the blanket-covered body of her dog. I shielded her from the sight and walked with her till she collapsed by the stairs sobbing. It hit me. There was to be no more snuggling on the stair landing. Bailey was gone and my heart twisted in a way I never thought possible. I didn’t know who I was crying for – the dog we loved and lost or my daughter who was dealing with so much pain.

I will never know the contents of the letter that my daughter wrote and which we buried with Bailey in our yard. I would like to believe that in writing her goodbye to Bailey, she was able to process her feelings.

All I know was that when we woke up this morning, I didn’t want to open the door. I knew there would be no Bailey wagging her tail, beside herself with joy at seeing me.

He usually caved in under her
hypnotic stare and gave her food.
The house feels empty. There's no small dog following us around. I go up and down the stairs half expecting to hear the patter of Bailey's feet as she sought to keep up. We sit down for meals and I can’t help but look down by my husband’s chair where she would sit up ramrod straight, willing hubby to look at her and give her food, which he always did.

Around this time yesterday, I had kept my hand on Bailey’s neck while she was being examined by the vet. I had no idea it would be the last time she would feel my touch. Had I known, I would have willed all our love into that touch so that she would feel it. I pray to God that she knew just how much she was loved. Because she was. She is.

Friday, September 29, 2017

No Entry

Just last weekend, the road in front of our house was closed because
our water service provider was doing pipeline interconnection works at the intersection up ahead. A “NO ENTRY” sign was put well before the digging to prevent any inconvenience to a motorist.

Yet they came - cars, school buses, tricycles... The traffic was greatest early in the morning perhaps because the drivers thought that at that hour, work would not have started so the road would still be passable. I could sense their frustration as they lost precious minutes backing up or making the tight u-turn on the narrow road.

Two days later, I saw that an additional sign had been set up on the road. This one read, “ROAD CLOSED AHEAD”. Yet still, they came. Intermittently through the day, a vehicle would cruise past the gate, only to turn back once the driver confirmed that indeed, the road ahead was closed.

Sigh. Why can’t we just obey something as simple as a “NO ENTRY” sign?

I have seen it happen time and again. Most of us Filipinos do not think that rules are absolute. There’s always that sense of “baka puwede”, that maybe, an exception can be made and wouldn’t it be great if that exception was us?

So we push because sometimes, we CAN get away with it. We are, after all, also easily persuaded. Sometimes, all it takes is a pretty smile. Other times, well…

Maybe it’s the lack of and/or inconsistency of implementation. After all, if our neighbor can get away with violating the rule, why should he or she be so favored? Sometimes, it may be that the rules also do not make sense.

The reasons vary from case to case. What is clear though is that there is a decision behind the violation, whether it is entering a one-way street or parking along a fire lane or going through a red light early in the morning when no traffic enforcers are in sight.

That decision comes from us. Just us. No one is twisting our arms to violate rules. We make that decision ourselves so we just have to suffer the consequences.

So go ahead. Enter at will but don’t rant when you hit a dead end or vent your frustration at workers when you're forced to turn back. You only have yourself to blame.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My First Ride

The first motor vehicle I drove was a scooter bike.
Image borrowed from

Details on how it came into the family are vague. I think my father bought it. Certainly, I was on it most of the time, although my younger sister Tina also brought it out a few times.

This was in the early 90’s before the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 was passed, so we didn’t wear helmets.

This was unfortunate since I took a few spills that would have been more bearable had my face been masked by one. 

But I liked the freedom, convenience, and even attention that the scooter afforded me. Cebu traffic then was quite laid back and it never seemed too dusty or polluted to go on the road without a helmet. There were not that many women drivers then, more so those on motorbikes so I would get a lot of looks.

At the office, I would get ribbed about my driving. One time, our general manager told me his car had been behind me a few kilometers before reaching the office and he was aghast at how recklessly I was weaving in and out of traffic. “Babae ka ba o lalaki (are you female or male)?” he joked.

My older sister, who rode on the back at times, often startled me when she’d yelp or curse under her breath at how close her knees were to cars or other obstacles when I would go into tight spaces or corners.

It was fun, though, and I was actually getting to love the scooter when I got into an accident. Early one Saturday morning, a telegram came for our eldest sister about a job prospect she had been praying for. Excited, I hopped on the bike and rushed to where she lived, except that it started to rain. Hard. Big, heavy drops that you could not ignore especially since they seemed to amass at an alarming rate on the street, submerging low-lying portions.

Squinting against the rain, I traveled as fast as I could since I was wet anyway. I splashed over puddles until the front wheel got caught in a hole I failed to notice until I landed hard a few feet away. I heard the collective gasp and turned to find it came from commuters stranded under a waiting shed. My face burning, I waved to assure them I was OK. The scooter, however, was not. It would not start.

I walked it over to the nearest house, knocked on the door and explained to the owner I just had an accident and could I please leave the bike in her driveway until I could come back for it with a mechanic?

Horrified, she looked me over and invited me in, but since I was still intent on getting the telegram to my sister, I declined and boarded a passenger jeepney. I was wet so I was careful to sit as far away as possible from the other passengers. Thankfully, it was a Saturday and still rather early, so there were not that many on the jeep. But I remember the look they gave me. One man told me I was bleeding.

Only then did I notice my knees. What I thought was rain was blood trickling down one knee. The palms of my hands were bright red. I had instinctively held them out to cushion my fall and both were grazed from the road gravel.  So was my elbow. 

Of course my sister freaked out when she answered the door. She cleaned me up as best as she could, only paying attention to the telegram when she’d assured herself that the cuts were not deep and that I didn’t need stitches. I carried good news, though. She’d been asked to come in for an interview.

To cut a long story short, I came home from a two-day work
Standing with a friend beside my first
car, a secondhand Mitsubishi colt
trip soon after that to find the scooter fitted with a side car so that it could be used as a delivery vehicle for the family business. My parents quickly silenced any outburst of indignation with an offer to help finance my first car.

Since I was eligible for a car loan from the company where I worked anyway, I soon got a secondhand, maroon Mitsubishi four-door Mirage with manual transmission. 

It was my first car and I loved it for years. But I will always remember that scooter we had. It was my first ride.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dancing with myself

I don’t like gyms.

In my younger years, I’ve “donated” to gyms, paying membership fees that I never maximized. I would go once, maybe twice or thrice then stop. I would be tempted by another fitness package, pay new fees and not finish the package. One time, I even paid a gym’s annual fee to push myself to go back and ACTUALLY work out, but never did.

I’ve always struggled with my weight. I am not blessed with genes that allow me to eat whatever I want without them showing. I actually eat a lot less than most people would think given my size and height.

In my younger years, I managed to keep the weight off because I played tennis and was part of a group that played almost every day. But even at my thinnest, I was never skinny. That was okay though, because I never had to worry about flabby arms, double chins and a muffin top.         

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dr. Asela B. Franco

I had not thought about my grand-aunt Dr. Asela B. Franco in a long time. I must admit that my interest in finding out more about her was sparked only because I became curious about my ancestry after seeing some episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” an American genealogy documentary series that features a celebrity on a quest to trace his or her family tree.

I checked out Ancestry.com but got discouraged by the fees (I’m a work-from-home mom on a budget) so I decided to search using Google and started with the names of relatives on the family plot at the cemetery in Cebu. I came up blank except for one.

Dr. Asela B. Franco is the older, half-sister of Edergisto “Eder” Teafilo Rodriguez, my grandfather on my mother’s side. I do not know her middle name. I do not recall having any interaction with her, but maybe that was because I was too young. I don’t even know when she died.

My mother, Evelyn Rodriguez Luab, says Asela or Lola (grandmother) Ilang was a rural doctor practicing pediatrics in Lapu-Lapu City, although she was more widely known for her interest in and expertise on shells. “She would go to Japan to buy shells,” my mom recalls.

This would explain why I grew up knowing her only as the owner of the shell collection that Socorro Rodriguez or Lola Bebing, my grandfather’s sister, housed in her basement.  I particularly remember the heart-shaped ones (Corculum cardissa or the heart cockle) that Lola Bebing matched and tied with twine and the one I called “angel wings” because they were white and shaped like, yes, angel wings.

My mom says that Lola Ilang and Lola Bebing were very close, which would probably explain why the shell collection was with Lola Bebing

Monday, February 20, 2017

May hugot daw...

The cashier at the checkout counter looks inquiringly at an item I'd decided not to buy at the last minute.

"Kasi habang tumatagal, nare-realize kong di ko pala siya kailangan," I feel compelled to explain. 

What I really mean to say is that in the time it has taken me to reach the checkout counter, it has dawned on me that I really do not need the item. But since the Tagalog pronoun "siya" is not gender-specific, what I said could be taken to mean that "Over time, I have realized that I don't really need him."

She smiles and says, "May hugot ba yan (Is that coming from deep inside), ma'am?" 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

I miss my Sinulog

One of my earliest memories of the Sinulog Festival is of a well-dressed young woman brandishing her umbrella at two young men in an attempt to prevent them from putting grease on her face. It must have been in the early years of what is now branded as the “Mother of all Festivals” in the country. These days, no one wears a white sleeveless blouse tucked into a black pencil skirt and black pumps while walking along Mango Avenue on the day of the Grand Parade.

Everyone now dresses to brave the heat,
crowd and long hours of walking during
the Sinulog Grand Parade.
I was still a high school student when the City of Cebu started holding the Sinulog in 1980. I got to dance in the street when spectators could still join the parade, but never as part of a contingent since St. Theresa’s College was not among the participating schools. My sister, though, was among those in the University of San Carlos contingent and I remember her boyfriend joining the group as a “watcher”, although it was apparent that the only one he was interested in watching was my sister, who he zealously guarded from would-be hecklers. Security was not tight at the time and anyone could come up to anyone and dirty their face with grease, usually taken from cars parked nearby and God knows where else.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What our kids see

We’re trying out Netflix for free, and are enjoying some TV shows that are otherwise not available:  “Orange is the new Black” and “Vikings”, among a few.

Image borrowed from noobie.com's
  "What is my child watching on Netflix?"
by Patric Welch.

Anyone who’s watched these shows know there’s a lot of graphic sex scenes as well as blood and gore that comes with medieval fighting. 

My daughter sometimes watches with us, and who can blame her? The plots draw us in and we can really watch episode after episode after episode. Plus, it’s nice to watch together with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Coke between us.