Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oprah, this is how 30-something women live in Manila

This morning, I caught a rerun of Oprah at 9 a.m. on Star World. Featured were 30-something women in different parts of the globe: Kuwait, Iraq, Rwanda, Mexico, France, London, Malaysia, etc.

Did you know that in Kuwait, everybody is rich? With no taxes, free education up to college, and even a wedding cash gift from the government, women can shop all they want--well almost. :) In Iraq, although Saddam Hussein's regime is no more, women are not that free. In fact, they spend most of their time indoors to protect themselves from crime on the streets. In Mexico, women dress nicely and in high heels since they don't have to work that hard. They still have siesta on top of their two-hour lunches, like the Kuwaitis. The French may not eat that much calorie-rich food, but they do drink wine every day.

Anyway, that got me wondering why Filipinas weren't mentioned. Well Oprah, if you want to know how 30-something women live in this part of the globe, let me introduce you to some of my friends.

There's J, a single mom with four kids who commutes daily from Las Pinas to Ortigas to make sure the mag she edits gets to readers on the first of every month. She can work until the wee hours of the morning and still bond with her kids over popcorn and movies.

N is married with four kids, who has given up a promising production career in a TV network to be part of the academe (and spend more time with her kids). After years of having yayas and helpers leave after a short time, she and her husband have decided to go maidless and raise the kids on their own while pursuing their careers. When you see her, you won't even think she's worrying about the labada; she's so put together.

R is the big boss of her company. Almost every week, she travels to the provinces or abroad for meetings and client calls. In spite of her busy schedule, she makes time to bring her daughter to school, attend PTA meetings, go to church, and have coffee with me (sometimes). :)

C is happily single, also the boss of her own company. She squeezes in spa appointments in the middle of a busy week chasing printing deadlines.

E is also happily single, and is my foodie partner. We'd meet for lunch or coffee often and just talk about life when we're not talking about teaching writing to college students and checking papers.

M is a dear friend since my grad school days. She's married, with two kids and manages to bake wonderfully great breads while meeting insurance sales quotas, reviewing the kids for their exams, and praying for me. :)

In a nutshell, 30-something women in Manila do a great job balancing work, family, friends, and other stuff, and have fun in the process. Superwomen! :)

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture by Doreen Fernandez is a wonderful read. Through her writing, you can almost taste every morsel of a dish she describes, whether it's adobo, kinilaw or balut. Like food? Read this.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Four dogs and a mynah

Every morning, the minute my mom stands by her bedroom window, four dogs run as fast as they can to the patch of grass right below the window. There’s Jaya, formerly known as Jada (my mom kept calling her Jaya, and the name stuck), Pretty, her three-legged daughter, and Brownie, Jaya’s months-old son. Jaya, Pretty and Brownie are brown mini-pinschers. The fourth dog jostling for space is Joker, a six-month-old yellow Labrador retriever. All four of them wait expectantly for whatever my mom would throw out the window at them: morsels of bread, chips, popcorn, doughnuts, peanuts. My mom once said, “These dogs eat anything. Even stale popcorn.”

It’s not like they’re not being fed well. Just this morning, my dad asked me for P200 (he didn’t have smaller change) for the dogs’ supply of dog food. Aside from their dog food, they also are given leftovers from the dinner table: chicken, beef, whatever. Joker even has an egg included in his daily diet. Good for the hair, my dad said.

Last week, my dad got so mad at the helpers for putting the bird food on a low shelf where Joker could get them. And yes, he finished a whole bag. That’s P300+ worth of bird food for Garci, our mynah, finished off in a day. Told you our dogs eat anything. Well, Joker’s still alive and is still his usual happy perky self, so I guess bird food is good for dogs too.

Let’s talk about Garci. My dad got him at the height of the Gloriagate Senate investigation last year. He’s been hoping Garci (the mynah) would one day say, “Hello, Garci!” while my son has been trying to talk Garci (the mynah) into saying, “So will I still win by one million?” But so far, all Garci wants to say are: Jaya, Joker, Rose, Roy, Alec, hahaha, buzzer sounds, and the sound of the car horn. But his favorite word is Jaya. Garci can say it in many ways: “Ja-ya…” in a soft singsong like way, “Jaya?” in an inquiring tone,” and “JAYA!” in an angry manner.

Jaya’s “husband” is Oakwood, who was born during the Oakwood mutiny. My dad bought him for P7,000 from someone in Taguig. Oakwood is a black mini-pinscher, and bullied everyone he can. He got Jaya pregnant twice, with five puppies born the first time, and two puppies born the second time. Since there are just a few of us living in this home, the dogs outnumbered us, and it didn’t make sense. Soon the dogs were sold one by one, save for Jaya, Pretty and Brownie now. Joker was a gift to my dad.

Sometimes when my son is bored, he would go play fetch with Joker. Once in a while I try to pet Jaya. But when Joker sees it, he gets so jealous, he’d come bounding wanting to be cuddled too. So I would run back to the house and just watch him through the window. I don’t know, I just can’t cuddle a dog heavier than me.

But the dogs are nice to have around. Whenever anyone of us comes home and gets down from the car, all the dogs are right outside the car door, forming a welcoming committee. They wag their tails, and sniff and sniff, as if saying, “Welcome home.” Then as we enter the house, Garci would let out a shrill voice. Wonder when he’ll get to say, “Hello!”

BOOK OF THE WEEK: At Books for Less, I saw Love, Desire, Children, Etc.: Reflections of a young wife by Rica Bolipata-Santos. I know Rica. She wrote for Smart Parenting magazine a few years ago and I bumped into her once in my son’s school. This book she wrote is a collection of personal essays delving on motherhood, marriage, childhood crushes, sexuality, and more. Her writing is honest and engaging. Read it on a quiet afternoon while sipping a hot cup of coffee.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4