Sunday, December 05, 2010

A mother's oatmeal

Seems I spoke too soon.

Just a few days after I wrote my previous blog post on how to survive Christmas, I find myself violating one of them: get plenty of rest.

So here I am with a giant ball of some sort stuck in my throat, it seems, and swallowing food or drink has been difficult for the 3rd day in a row ('di ba halata sa NCAD party? hahaha).

And because symptoms come in groups (they don't like solo flights), I also had fever last night, body aches up to now, and sticky phlegm. Sorry for the TMI.

But this post isn't really about that. It's to say how loved I feel whenever I am sick.

My mom checked on me throughout the night, and this morning made me some oatmeal.

Yup, at my age, I still yearn for some motherly care, and I feel so blessed to have my 79-year-old mom still strong enough to cook some oatmeal for me.

My son, aged 15, on the other hand, brought me a glass of water, which he doesn't usually do.

I am in bed right now, nursing whatever thing this is (my niece, a doctor, texted to say it must be upper respiratory infection), and hoping it would last a little bit more so I can have a taste of my mom's home-cooked oatmeal again tomorrow.

KSP? Yeah, guilty.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I've had the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges for quite some time now, and I've gone through most of the chapters with my Bible study group. We may be so conscious of avoiding the big sins (murder, adultery, etc.) that we may have become so short-sighted as to not have the same vigilance over "small" or "respectable" sins such as pride, envy, ungodliness, and so forth. Worth reading.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Surviving Christmas

Is it really true? Did that Countdown to Christmas counter I see whenever I go to the food court 5 times a week at the office turn 24 today? Wasn't that just 80 or 79 when they first put it up?

That means there are just 24 days left until Christmas.

And that means there are just 3 weeks left to do all the shopping and partying and the working in between before that happy day.

That means I better be on survival mode already.

I remember past Christmas seasons when things were just a tad too hectic.

I got sick one time with colds for 3 weeks and my ears were so clogged I couldn't hear in one ear. I finally went to see a doctor on the morning of December 24, finally convinced I needed some serious help.

Then there was a Christmas season full of deadlines that I was interviewing someone on the morning of December 26. My desperate tone convinced my interviewee to meet me the day after Christmas.

There was just no time to shop one holiday season that I ended up at the mall--and braving the crowd--on the morning of December 24 to finish shopping for my loved ones.

And then I remember a time I felt like Elastigirl being pulled this way and that to drive, pick up, deliver, fetch someone or something, and watch a program and attend a party in between.

Well. Never again.

I've since wisened up, I'd like to believe.

And so here are some strategies I have employed since then to help me survive the Christmas season sans stress and sickness:

1. Calendar everything, be it deadline, press con, interview, meeting, program, party, lunch date, Bible study meeting, family affair, and so on.

Putting everything down in a month-in-a-glance calendar will help you see if you're committing yourself to too many things.

So far, my December calendar is pretty much OK, with just one party a week scheduled.

2. Don't say yes to every invitation. Yes it's nice and fun to attend every party you're invited to, but with city traffic at its worst at this time of the year, it makes sense to be more choosy. Don't worry. You can meet other friends next year.

Just this morning, for instance, my friend Meg said that with her schedule, it looks like we won't be able to see each other until next year. But she assured me that I won't miss her as she will be sending me some food when I go to work on Christmas Day (yes, I think I have work at the newsroom then).

3. Shop a little at a time as often as you can. Some years back, I did all my Christmas shopping in 1-2 days at the mall. While that would be ideal so one can save on transpo cost, it may not be practical if you don't have much time.

So last year I started shopping early (as early as September) a little at a time. Every time I was at the mall for something, I picked up one or 2 gifts for the holidays. It was also more relaxing as I had the luxury of choosing something that would suit the recipient more.

With that strategy, I was done with shopping by the 2nd week of December.

4. Try shopping online. I like checking out online stores since you're more likely to find unique items you can't find in big stores at the malls. I also like to support budding entrepreneurs (there are many of them on Multiply) so I buy online. Payment is via bank deposit, G-cash, or meet up and they deliver the goods to your house via courier if you aren't meeting up.

A word of caution though: Buy only from established online sellers or those with good feedback.

5. Get plenty of rest. If you do number 2 above, you'll have enough time for rest. Sleep on time, get enough sleep, and make room for some "me" time to recharge.

6. Take your vitamins and eat and drink healthy. Boost your immune system by treating your body well. And while we're at it, make sure you exercise regularly, even if it's just for 30 minutes.

7. Remember what it's all about. We have Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday. And how can one attend a birthday celebration without greeting the celebrant? So make time to pray.

Besides, taking the time to pray can help you put everything in the proper perspective, letting you see what really matters in life.

So there you have it, my 7 survival tactics for the hectic holiday season. Merry Christmas!

BOOK OF THE WEEK: It's not at all Christmas-y, but the book I've been lugging around lately is Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples by V.S. Naipul. What made me pick up the book at a secondhand book store recently is Naipul's name and the "Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature" text on the front cover. In this book, Naipul revisits the places he has visited before for his book Among the Believers: Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Through his profiles of real people, readers get to see what life is like for Muslims in those areas.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: ...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Monday, October 25, 2010

On poverty and the Filipino

A couple of days ago, I got to talk with someone running for kagawad in a barangay in Quezon City. I asked him how the campaign was going.

"There's this place I went to where the alley was just as wide as your body. On your left and right are squatters' houses. At the end of the long alley, you meet a dead end, then you turn left. Then it's more of the same thing," he said.

"It was depressing. There are still too many people who are so poor," he added.

I asked him if the people talked to him about their concerns and whether he gave anything to help -- money perhaps?

He said there was no time to do so. But he knew that if he stayed 10 more minutes there, it would take a while before he can get out and he would have to shell out money.

"It was morning, and men were already gathered together, drinking. If I lingered some more, they'd offer me a drink ("tagay") and it would be impolite to leave," he said.

Though I didn't see the place he talked about, I just nodded. Haven't I seen such a scene in some Lino Brocka movie back in the 80s? Or passing by Agham Road or Araneta Avenue just the other day? Twenty years have passed, and there are people who are still poor, maybe even poorer than before.

After Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao won one of his fights before, I figured that if he would just use his earnings from the pay-per-view deal with HBO to give money to the poor in the country, many would probably be living better lives now.

But then again, there would still be people who would just use the money to drink ("happy-happy" as my mom would say) -- those with the "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" mindset.

I guess it's not enough that the poor are given livelihood opportunities. They also have to have in them that determination to get out of their situation, to strive to do their best, to be the best they can be. They also need to realize that God has a plan for them, and life is more than just living for the moment.

A change of mindset and a change of heart. That could be the answer.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I just finished Fight for the Filipino by Tito Guingona. It's not exactly a book I would pick up at the bookstore, but since it was lying around at home, I read it. And I'm glad I did. It was interesting to know what life was like for the author when he was young with a world war going on, and how politics was like back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. As he talked about his political career from the 80s onward, the author gave readers a view of Philippine politics from a different angle. I'm glad he took time off to write this book.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cheering with Chile

Like many people around the world, I couldn't take my eyes off the TV as CNN showed live footage of the rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean miners yesterday.

And today, I have been glued to CNN for almost 2 hours now since waking up, waiting with the rest of the world for miner number 30 to come up from the bowels of the earth.

What a great story of faith, perseverance, unity, selflessness! Anyone trapped for more than 60 days in a dark place would have gone nuts but these men have shown courage and unwavering faith in God that He will provide a way out.

"I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit." Psalm 30:1-3

Monday, July 12, 2010

Seeing stars and the wanna-bes

It seemed straight out of a weird dream.

There I was walking along the corridor by the studios. Suddenly comedienne Pokwang, looking so glam in a black-and-white couture outfit and a pillbox hat with a half veil covering one eye, came running toward me. "Fun run tayo!" she egged on the two alalays following her as she made the dash to her dressing room. We made eye contact for a sec then I continued walking.

Nope, it wasn't a dream. This happened sometime last week or two weeks ago near the "Wowowee" studio at ABS-CBN.

That wasn't the end of it. A few paces later, I made way for Mariel Rodriguez who was calmly walking toward her dressing room telling someone, "Di ako puwede eh. May uber ako." I wonder what "uber" meant.

Since I started working for a TV network's news website a couple of months ago, star sightings have become a normal event of the day.

As I was making my way to the basement parking at ELJ Building last Wednesday, I did a double take when I saw Boy Abunda taping a show at the Loop studio. What made me stop and look through the glass windows was the realization that, hey, I just wrote about him. As in, just a couple of hours ago when Tourism Secretary Ace Durano gave a gracious answer when media pressed him for comment on the possibility of having Boy Abunda as Tourism Secretary if P. Noy could have his way.

Sometime this week, as part of my daily habit, I headed toward the cafeteria for a P10-cup of Nescafe with cream and sugar at the vendo machine. At the door, I overheard a director (he sounded like one as he mentioned something about "taping ko") talking to a smiling young man in slim jeans. Hey wasn't that... It was after I got my coffee that I realized it was Jovit Baldivino, the guy who just won the "Pilipinas Got Talent" grand finals.

But stars aren't all I see around. I got a jolt one time when I was walking toward the corner, and I saw red half-naked men headed toward me. They must have been done with their "Showtime" stint.

Then another time, I saw green. As in green half-naked men walking toward the cafeteria while I cradled my hot dog sandwich to go back to the newsroom. It did seem surreal seeing half-naked green men in line at the cafeteria, trays in hand.

I guess that's one of the perks of working at a TV network. I get celebrity sightings and glimpses of wanna-be stars at all hours of the day.

The biggest frustration I have, though, is missing Robin Padilla. Twice. Jing wrote about him before, in a blog entry entitled "Hotness!" On the two occasions I missed him, Robin went to the newsroom. The first time, there was a commotion somewhere in the newsroom, and deadma-to-the-world me couldn't care less as I was typing something away. Reyma came back with news that she squeezed herself beside Robin for a photo. And shucks, what do I find on Facebook the day after but a photo of my editor with Robin!

The second time he came around was on my day off, a Monday. After guesting on "Headstart with Karen Davila," Robin found himself cornered by Reyma into an interview right in our neck of the woods. As in, if I wanted, and I was there, I could have thrown a paper plane over and it would have landed right smack on Robin's lap. So there, I missed a photo op with one of the hottest guys in town.

Reyma consoled me with a photo op with another newsmaker. He may not be some hot and young guy from showbiz, but oh well, at least he's famous.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm almost halfway through  Sarena's Story, a tale about a life spent in the service of a royal family in Mindanao. Author Criselda Yabes weaves the story well that I wished my lunch breaks were longer so I can read more every day.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the LORD God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lovin' my Mondays

While my son is watching a motorcycle race on Star Sports, here I am typing away on the little Eee PC on a hot summer afternoon. Earlier this day, after dropping him off at the gym, I went window shopping at clothes and shoe stores, did a 30-minute grocery run, then sat down to read the day's paper.

After lunch of chicken teriyaki and shrimp katsu at Yoshinoya, we had coffee at Nero, and while he surfed the Net, I browsed the glossy mags. So many new magazines in the market now -- would they last?

Back at home by 2 p.m., we checked our Facebook and e-mail, and after I fired off 2 work-related e-mails, I stopped myself and logged out fast. It's Monday. And that just means one thing: it's my day off!

It takes some getting used to, but I know I should begin to equate Monday with relaxation. It's a time to chill, have coffee leisurely, watch the cats balance themselves on the neighbor's fence, curl up with a book, practice the art of doing nothing, and just hang out with my son.

Mondays. I'm lovin' my Mondays.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm halfway through Jeffrey Steingarten's It Must've Been Something I Ate, a gift from my foodie friend Erli. The author is Vogue's food critic and sits as judge on Iron Chef America. This is one guy who would go to great lengths to find the best bluefin tuna, the best Parisian baguette, the best pizza bianca in Italy, while figuring out the difference between salt in America and salt in France, and so on. This collection of published essays is worth reading and if you're up to it, you can even follow the recipes and cook to impress family and friends.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bringing up teenagers

Just when you thought you have it down pat, your child's teen years arrive and suddenly, everything changes. What worked before won't work now as your child tries to assert his independence.

I'm glad there are resources out there for parents of teenagers today. One of them is the book Parenting Teens written by Evelyn Ramos Pajaron with her husband Teody (published by Church Strengthening Ministry, 2009, 267 pp.).

In it, Evelyn and Teody of Campus Crusade for Christ go personal and talk about how they raised their kids Charissa and Hesedel during the tumultuous teenage years. Both of them write from the heart as they share lessons learned in communicating with their teens, handling boyfriend/girlfriend issues, talking about sex, dealing with teens' need for gadgets (they're the I.T. generation after all), setting boundaries, disciplining, having debut parties and celebrating their teen's passage into manhood (turning 21) and the clincher--letting go. What I like about the book is that the authors don't "preach down" to their readers. They just tell it like it is, the way you would talk with your close friend over coffee. Another plus: it's written by Filipinos and they wrote it with the Filipino culture in mind.

Some gems from the book:

* "Mothers cannot and were never meant to do parenting all by themselves. And this is especially more important during the challenging teen years. Fathers play such an underrated but extremely crucial role in the home."

* "He (God) is our partner in rearing and dealing with our teenagers... He loves them with a passion more than we do, and the love that we feel for our children is nothing compared to His love and His wanting the best for them."

* "If we don't take the lead in teaching our children the right view of sex as God's gift to be enjoyed within the bounds of marriage, they will acquire our hang-ups and adopt the world's view of sex."

* "If we want our homes to be a place where our teens hang around, then we need to loosen up, relax, and see humor in our everyday lives."

* "[Make] them feel they are loved regardless of how they behave... Try to get into their world once in a while. Listen more and talk less."

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Proverbs 7:2

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cough remedies

It's been two weeks of flu season at home, and at last (hopefully), the coughing sounds will fade out in a day or two. My son and I have been taking turns coughing by the minute before, as Solmux (a mucolytic) worked overtime to help us expel sticky phlegm. "What such phlegmatic personalities we have," I thought in jest.

You'd think by this time I knew what to do. Well in a way, yes (rest, drink lots of liquids, consult a doctor, take lozenges). But there are some other things I didn't know I could do, as my friends and family shared some interesting cough remedies you may want to consider the next time you have some serious lung-busting cough:

1. Bayabas gargle. Boil guava leaves and gargle the juice. (from Veron)
2. Garlic juice with honey. Pound garlic, pour water on it and some honey. (from Excel)
3. Oregano juice. Squeeze oregano leaves to get a teaspoon or two of liquid and drink it. (from Aileen)
4. Hot water. Just drink a cup of hot water to soothe sore throat. (from Weng)
5. Hot calamansi juice. (from our household helper who banned Coke at this time)
6. Bactidol gargle. (forgot who)
7. Hot apple cider vinegar (from my parents' book The Home Remedies Handbook)
8. Pei Pa Koa candies. (from my sister)
9. Ginger tea (salabat) (from my other sister)

Ginger tea or salabat

10. Lemongrass tea (from Leah)
11. And the clincher: Tequila. "Isang shot lang, tanggal lahat yan," said Paul.

We only tried numbers 4 and 5 due to supply problems (our guava tree was uprooted many years ago; no oregano, apple cider, Pei Pa Koa, Bactidol, tequila sighted at home, et cetera). I was supposed to meet up with Excel for a taste test of the garlic juice with honey, but didn't get around to doing it. It was mostly just Solmux and Tuseran for us, and when those didn't work, Robitussin DM and Amoxicillin. And lots of prayers and good wishes from wonderful friends.

But our cough's almost gone, our voices kinda back, and we're up and about. :-) At last. Thank God for His blessing.

: Do you dread going back to work on Mondays? Then maybe it's time you pick up the book Thank God It's Monday by Kim Hackney (Lighthouse Books, 2003). Geared for women, the book tackles your purpose at work, and how you can celebrate it. Many times, we are full of complaints ("If only they paid me more," "If only I had that position," et cetera) that we miss out on God's blessing of success. A chapter at the end gives tips on how to look for the right job and evaluate job offers.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

Friday, April 02, 2010

6 life lessons from a woman with a planet named after her

If you had a planet named after you, and a stage on which you can stand on and share what you want new high school graduates (and their parents, guests, and ok, the whole wide planet Earth) to know, what would you say?

Dr. Josette Biyo, outstanding educator and first Asian recipient of the Intel Excellence in Teaching Award given at the 2002 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Kentucky, USA, took such an opportunity last Wednesday, March 31, 2010 when she addressed the pioneer graduates of Malayan High School of Science at their commencement ceremony at RCBC Plaza in Makati City. Dr. Biyo is now director of the Philippine High School of Science, Western Visayas campus.

Here are Dr. Biyo's advice and life lessons, things which she herself follows.

1. There is no shortcut to success. Don't cram. Submit your requirements on time.
2. Love what you're doing. When you love to learn, studying is easy.
3. Don't be afraid to commit mistakes. Committing mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.
4. Follow the golden rule.
5. Have a dream. "I dreamt of stars. I was given a planet," said Dr. Biyo. To honor her achievements, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named a minor planet (12341) as Planet Biyo. She said, "I invite you all to visit the planet. No visa required."
6. Always pray. Pray when you can't understand your lessons, when you're confused, and to thank God for His blessings.

Dr. Biyo revealed that she lives by these truths too. She remembers teaching in a small rural school at one time and found herself handling not just science subjects, her forte (she was a BS Biology graduate of the University of the Philippines), but also physical education, and even Citizens Army Training (CAT). These instilled in her the values of service and compassion as she negotiated the long road to success.

Wise words, aren't they? Applicable to people of all ages, graduates or not.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I've had the little book Train Up a Child by Harold Sala for several years now, and it's good to keep rereading it as one's child grows. As he wrote, "Realize that the training of a child begins at birth and never stops." The book talks about the importance of communicating with our children, disciplining them, how to convey values, among others.

: You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My top 10 places in the metro for some quiet time

I'm one of those people who can go out without lipstick, but not without a book in hand. It's for those times when I'm in between appointments, or when I just want to chillax in the middle of the day.

And since I go around a lot for my job, I have discovered some pretty quiet cozy places where I can just sit in a quiet corner and read while sipping a hot cup of coffee or tea. Check them out if you'd like to work alone or catch up on your reading in peace.

1. Soul Shop. It's a small cafe inside Crossroad 77, at the corner of Mother Ignacia Avenue and Scout Reyes in Quezon City. They have pasta, sandwiches, rice meals, and coffee and tea too (try chai!). One time I had to wait for the car coding scheme to be lifted at 7 pm and thoroughly enjoyed my three hours' waiting time here reading my books, organizing my schedule, and checking out their magazine rack. You can bring your laptop and use their electrical outlet for P20.

2. Wheatberry. Sometimes you can have the whole second floor to yourself on a quiet afternoon. Service is prompt and polite. Since Wheatberry is a bakeshop, their desserts are always worth tasting. You can't miss it: it's right beside Max's Scout Tuazon (the original Max's) near Roces Avenue in Quezon City.

3. Starbucks at Metrowalk, Meralco Ave. near cor. Ortigas Avenue, Pasig. What I like about this Starbucks are the big glass windows which let the sunlight in on an early morning or early afternoon. I can get lost in a book for two hours here in some quiet corner while having my mint tea with honey.

4. Coffee Bean on Tomas Morato, Quezon City. But only in the morning. The second floor is still quiet then. You can enjoy your eggs benedict in peace while going over the day's paper. Free wifi for those with Swirl cards.

5. Bo's Coffee at 4/f Atrium in Megamall. But never on a weekend. I've done some copyediting/proofreading here on weekdays while having a strong americano, all the time eyeing that blueberry cheesecake (maybe I'll finally try it next time). :-) I think wifi is free too.

6. That coffee shop at UP Jorge B. Vargas Museum, UP Diliman. It used to be called Cordillera Coffee, but someone told me they changed their name already. Coffee's really good, and when you're in between chapters, it's relaxing to look at the trees lining the UP Oval. It's outdoors, though, not air-conditioned, but it's breezy outside anyway.

7. Gloria Jean's, 2/f Megamall Bldg A. Most of the kids are at Starbucks, so expect some quiet in here.

8. Figaro on Banawe Street, Quezon City. Upstairs, it's quiet in the mornings.

9. Paseo Center on a weekend afternoon. Most of the restaurants are closed, and you can park yourself in front of Country Style with a cup of coffee the whole afternoon in peace. But you'd wish the air con's in full blast. Paseo Center is on Paseo de Roxas, Makati City.

10. Dome at Podium. It's one of the places open very early at Podium (7 a.m.). Take a corner seat and read or work until the mall comes to life at 11 a.m.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I started reading Parenting Teens by Evelyn Ramos Pajaron, published by Church Strengthening Ministry and I'm lovin' it! More on this book in another post.

: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going gray

I have a photo shoot on Saturday and as always, I will make a beeline for the salon the day before or 2 days before the event. My gray hair needs to be covered yet again or else the image of me with salt-and-pepper hair at the (ahem) young age of 43 will be the one preserved for posterity.

Being a not so vain person, I have always entertained the idea of going gray totally. No more trips to the salon for a 2-hour hair dye job every 6 weeks, no more damaged hair. I love the idea so much I want to embrace it and just celebrate my going into middle age. But everyone in my family, from my father, mother, brother and sisters, wouldn't hear of it. My dad would go as far as to scold me for not having my hair colored. My brother and sister, whenever they would be in town from abroad, would bring me to a salon to let me have a hair coloring session—their treat. Only my son, who likes Taylor Hicks, wants me to go totally gray.

Even my friends have become concerned. Patsy, when she learned I was guesting on a TV show sometime ago, said to herself, “I hope Karen dyes her hair.” (I did.) Gaby, when I met her for breakfast last month with other friends, greeted us with, “So, did you girls have your hair colored already?”

Let me see. I think I was in 2nd year high school when I first noticed I had a strand or two of white hair. One of my nephews had his first white hair at grade 7. A niece in her late 20s has a lot of them too, but she has more black than white hair and she looks like a college student, so you wouldn't notice them. It's something we inherited from both of my parents, I guess. My son, meanwhile, is hoping he will have gray hair soon.

I think the gray hair started becoming more noticeable though, some 7 to 10 years ago. Sometimes it's relaxing to spend 2 hours at the salon for a hair coloring job, but at other times it's an added item on my to-do list on a busy week that it has become a chore. I tried a do-it-yourself hair color kit at home twice on the advice of my friends Jenny and Tina, but I get back pains after a session, what with all the bending I have to do to color, rinse, shampoo, rinse, condition, and final-rinse my hair.

“How come in the US, it's not a big deal to go gray?” I asked my sister one time. Just look at this photo below. She said it's because Caucasians' fairer skin doesn't make gray hair look that stark on a person.

gray hair

Recently, I was in the restroom at church when a lady attendant said, “Miss, bata ka pa di ba? (Miss, you're still young, right?)” I smiled and said yes, thinking it was a compliment. Then she said, “Sabi na nga ba eh. Ang dami mo kasing puting buhok. (I knew it. But you have a lot of white hair.)”

Before another attendant engages me in a talk like that again, I've decided to go to the salon today. As in, now na. Before it's crunch time for deadlines, before I get hungry for lunch, before I want to crawl back to bed for a nap, before I watch the replay of last night's American Idol and Glee, before I change my mind. So let's go, sago.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: "Many of us don't know it is possible to go from romanticizing about rest to actually resting in today's world." This was what was written on the back cover of Rest Assured: Devotions for Souls in a Restless World by Nancy McGuirk (published locally by OMF Literature). Just a few minutes a day reading the Bible verses quoted in each chapter and the short write-up that follows can remind us that peace can be gained as we draw nearer to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Patrick Henry Hughes - Inspirational Story

Just how far can a father’s love go?

I was on Facebook early this morning as soon as my teenage son left for school, and saw this heartwarming video of Patrick Henry Hughes, a young man born blind who sees his disability as a possibility. Indeed, everything seems possible for Patrick, who can play the piano very well and is even in his university's marching band.

But what struck me most is the man behind him literally pushing him to be the best he can be. It's his dad, who marches with him (or rather pushes his wheelchair) at college games while Patrick plays his trombone.

To do this, dad works the graveyard shift at UPS (his shift starts at 11 p.m.), and joins Patrick in the daytime for his classes and band practice. What a dad!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In a pink state of mind

As I have been staring at my computer for most part of the day today, I finally noticed how blah my e-mail accounts look. My Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail look so blue (and yes they are blue). Now why do I have more than one e-mail account, you may ask. It's my way of compartmentalizing my life. I use my Hotmail to correspond with my high school batch mates, Gmail for work stuff, and 3 Yahoo Mail accounts for my grade school batch, my writer friends, and for family and friends.

Anyway, back to being blue. Blue brings a state of calmness but sometimes we all need a little perking up. And so I checked the settings and found that Gmail and Hotmail have a cherry blossom theme, and Yahoo can let you have your page in bubblegum pink. Now everything on my screen looks pink.

I'm still in a pink mood as I write this and so I'm sharing with you some pink flowers to brighten your day.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I just finished For Richer For Poorer: Why the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer by Chinkee Tan. The poor think of surviving today; the rich think of saving for tomorrow. Maybe it's time we rethink the way we think.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A tea party

"What tea would you like to have? We have oolong, English breakfast, Darjeeling and jasmine," asked the lady serving us at Makati Shangri-La's Lobby Lounge. "English breakfast," I replied, as I was looking forward to having scones as well. It's time for afternoon tea, and time to celebrate my birthday, too. :-)

This was my dad's idea, that instead of the usual birthday dinner, the family will have afternoon tea and listen to live orchestra music. The idea appealed to me, since, after all the eating and merrymaking during the holidays, a "quiet" event would be like a breather.

And so, that afternoon of January 4, pots of tea were placed on our table and trays of scones, too, as well as Filipino snacks like bibingka and ginataan. And while we daintily held our teacups, an all-female orchestra performed lovely melodies from kundiman music to standards and movie themes. And just as I thought no one else in the room aside from those in our two tables knew it was my birthday, the orchestra started playing "Happy birthday" as a chocolate cake was brought in, complete with candle. Perfect!

: I'm rereading The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. It's a good reminder to pray for your child's safety, relationships, career choice, and even future spouse.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26

Photo by my brother-in-law Joel Pastor

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking for Smart Parenting

I can't believe it. I just bidded P150 today on for Smart Parenting magazine's maiden issue (March-April 2003), an issue which I edited way back in 2003. I also just bought a copy of Smart Parenting's March 2004 issue for P55, also on, and am just waiting word from the seller on how I can pay and get my hands on that issue.

After Typhoon Ondoy flooded our house, part of my portfolio of works got damaged. For days, I hardly touched those bookbound copies of Smart Parenting magazines (the complete set!) because just looking at the sorry wet heap depressed me. Producing one issue alone cost so many man-hours. My friend Salve once asked me what it's like to edit a magazine and after I ran through the process (brainstorm, finalize lineup, assign stories, interview, write, shoot, edit, layout, approve layouts, proofread), I think she just said, "wow."

So there, these days I am trying to get my hands on vintage Smart Parenting issues I edited and wrote for. Earlier today, while sifting through moldy SP issues with pages stuck together, I asked myself why bother, then threw another hopeless copy away. Well the truth is, I'd like to pass them on to my son someday.

So if you have a copy somewhere, do PM me please? Thanks!

: For Christmas, my friend Joy gave me Refreshing Words for Busy Women by Darlene Sala. It's a daily devotional and a delightful read, something you'd want to look into daily on slow quiet afternoons.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:5-8