Monday, October 20, 2008

A quiet weekend at the beach

This was just what I needed, I thought to myself as I spent most of the day looking at the quiet waves lapping the shores of Natipuan, Nasugbu, Batangas. It was a weekend to celebrate my nephew's 24th birthday, and while he and his friends frolicked in the waters the whole day, I was content to be where I was, in the resthouse's terrace, reading, but mostly taking in the view.

When was the last time I went to the beach to chill and relax? Probably in 2004, to Matabungkay for my dad's birthday. Realizing how refreshing it is to not do anything but look at the waters and feel sand on my feet, I made a mental note to myself to go to the beach once a year at least.

It used to be that I was a beach bum. Back when I was about 8 or 9, my parents bought a parcel of land at San Diego Beach in Lian, Batangas. We would be there often, and I'd spend the whole day out in the sun, swimming with rubber lifesavers and building sandcastles with my nephew Jewel (see photo above; that's us at San Diego Beach!). Those were pre-Coppertone days, and I got so dark that just a year or two ago, my mom's old friend who hasn't seen me for decades could not believe it was me she was seeing. "Maitim ka di ba? (You are dark, right?)" And I answered politely, "Ah baka yun po yung time na lagi kaming nasa beach (Oh that was probably the time we were always at the beach)."

My parents even celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at that beach in 1975, with two busloads of relatives and friends as guests, and we always joked that Boyet de Leon and Nora Aunor just copied them and had a beach wedding too.

Over the years, the trips to San Diego Beach became few and far between since the developer was not able to fully develop the area. The roads became increasingly less smooth, the beach became pebbly, and underneath the waters were more corals and rocky formations that hurt the feet.

But I remember other memorable beach trips after that: to Nasugbu, Batangas for a church youth camp when I was 16, to Balayan, Batangas for the summer workshops for The Varsitarian staff in college, to Montemar for an outing of reporters of BusinessWorld when I was working there, to Subic for a company outing when I was working as internal auditor, to Boracay with the family (where I braved a banana boat ride after being assured by my son's classmate in grade 1 that it was safe), to Santa Monica Beach in California with three college friends, etc.

And each time I would come back to the city refreshed.

Nowadays I don't like to stay out in the sun for long (keeping wrinkles and skin cancer at bay) and prefer to read quietly in a corner with a view of the beach. But I'll still come to the beach. There's nothing like seeing how beautiful God made this corner of the world, where the mountains kiss the sea and the sun rises and sets peacefully over calm waters.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10

Monday, October 13, 2008


I got depressed just looking at the papers today. All over the world, everyone is on edge waiting to see what else will happen with the world economy on the downturn.

We see the signs of tough times: more crowds at the MRT and less people at McDonald's on a Sunday lunch time. I have friends who have cancelled their newspaper subscriptions and just read the news online. That's a P600 savings per month right there.

I am normally a matipid person, but times call for just a little more peso-pinching.

Here are some of my own saving tactics:

1. Look for a beauty salon that charges less. The old salon I used to go to charges P2K++ per coloring. Now I go to another salon nearer to my place, and I pay only about P1,400 for the same service. I know I could save some more if I take up my friend Jenny's suggestion to use the all-natural Healthy Options Tints of Nature and just color my hair on my own. I just might do that soon.

2. Plan trips. If I'm going to Makati, for instance, I do everything I can there: If I'm attending a press conference or having an interview there, I might as well meet a friend, pick up a check, and shop in the area.

3. Eat more at home. Years ago, my friend Meg got horrified at learning I would eat out for breakfast almost every day after I drop off my son in school. It was my alone time, and I enjoyed doing it. However, she was worried about all that transfat getting into my system. Meg need not worry anymore since I eat more often at home.

4. Use up freebies. I try those sample moisturizers that come with the magazine I read, use the ketchup that goes with the take-out, and make a note to myself to use the gift certificates I receive well before their expiry.

5. Try cheaper alternatives.
Sure, Figaro and Starbucks are a lot better than Country Style brewed coffee, but when the caffeine urge gets to me, I settle for Country Style. That's P38 per cup as against about P85 and up for the gourmet coffee.

6. Pay attention to items on sale. At Book Sale Greenhills, I got books that still look like new -- perfect for Christmas gifts! At Landmark, I got a jacket for my son that's P500 off the regular price.

7. Go local. When shopping for clothes, I prefer patronizing Filipino owned companies. Saves you money and lets you do your bit in helping uplift the local economy.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Return to Zion by Bodie Thoene is Book Three of The Zion Chronicles. It is a fiction story set during the founding of Israel as a nation in 1948, when Jews were streaming back to the Promised Land after the Holocaust. Interesting.

: Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I breathe, therefore I shred (Or what I have in common with Anderson Cooper)

I caught a rerun of Ellen recently, and Anderson Cooper, that clean-cut CNN anchor with the bluest blue eyes, was a guest.

Whenever I see him on CNN (my 13-year-old son's favorite channel, by the way), I can't help but really look at him. He seems to smell so good all the time, so yummily delicious even when he's talking about the financial crisis or the war in Iraq.

Anyway, during that four-minute guesting on Ellen, he talked about unwinding by watching trash TV (shows like Hey Paula). He said that the Tivo is one great technological innovation. That, and the shredder.

Well, well, well -- we do have something in common, AC and I. Aside from being journalists, we both love the shredder. He said, "The shredder makes you feel important, like you have secret documents... You don't want important documents to fall into the wrong hands." Hmmm, my kind of guy. Except that there's talk that he's gay. Not sure if that's true though.

I've been shredding documents every month since last year. Since I don't do it every day, I make it a point to do some shredding duty monthly. What do I shred? Bank statements, deposit slips, cancelled checks from more than three years ago; courier receipts with my signature on it--basically anything with my signature that has lost its meaning and purpose in life.

I started shredding early last year, and since I don't do it often, I still have some documents to shred to this day. One time my son helped me out but grew tired and refused to do it again. "You need a shredder," he said.

Last year, when we were in the US and found ourselves in Staples, the office supply store, he saw a shredder and said, "Mom! Look! A shredder for you!" I just smiled. Why spend so much on a shredder when I can shred documents on my own? Besides, it makes me feel productive doing some shredding while watching ER or Ugly Betty.

Anyway, in case you missed that Ellen episode, here's a link:

I breathe, therefore I shred. It's one of those quirky things you probably didn't know about me. :-)

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17: 7-8

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm reading The Family Code of the Philippines. No kidding. Read it and be informed.