Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A non-Thai relaxing massage in Thailand

They say you haven't been to Thailand if you haven't seen the reclining Buddha (Wat Po), got on a boat on the Chao Praya River, bargained in the night markets, rode the tuktuk, and had a Thai massage.

Well, in the 3 visits to Thailand I have made over the years, I've done them all, except for the Thai massage.

This year, I got the closest thing to it, though--a non-Thai massage. It was an hour-long aromatherapy massage which was so relaxing and memorable, I would have had it again the next day, and the day after that, or every day even, if it were possible.

Our hosts, the amiable people of Goodyear who were launching new tires then, billeted us members of the press at the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa, a beachside place by the Gulf of Thailand, some 3 hours away from Bangkok.

It was a wonderful resort hotel, with the cool waters of the swimming pool winding around the villas leading down to the infinity pool a few meters away from the beach. The casitas with their red cushions strategically placed around the pools looked so inviting for those who want to lounge around, curl up with a book, and sip a refreshing drink in between dips to the pool.

 Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa. Photo by Karen Galarpe

Our hosts asked the 4 of us from the Philippine press if, after the event at the racetrack that day, we wanted to have a massage at the resort hotel's Aspadeva Spa or go to the night market. We chose the massage.

So on our 2nd night, we were booked for massage service at 9 p.m. The spa receptionist had a message for us: eat light for dinner. So I just had caesar salad and fish fillet from the buffet table at the resort hotel's Black Restaurant.

It was there that a Goodyear executive, about to have his dinner, warned us not to get the Thai massage as it turned out to be more uncomfortable and a bit painful than relaxing for him. And so when we trooped to Aspadeva Spa from Black Restaurant, we said we're having the Aroma Fusion Massage (2,100 baht), not the Thai massage, for 60 minutes.

The gracious lady at the reception area gave us a choice of massage oil, letting us get a whiff of three kinds of massage oil. One was lavender, which was calming, another was lemon, I think, and then orange. We all chose orange.

My massage therapist, Wen, led me to a private massage suite which had its own changing room with a dresser. A couple of red silk robes, disposable underwear, and slippers were ready.

Wen then got a basin with warm water, and bathed my feet in it while I sipped cold lemongrass tea. She asked me where I was from, and when I said Philippines, she said people from the Philippines are friendly. Then I got on the massage table face down, and found myself looking at a bowl of floating flowers placed strategically in my line of sight.

I told Wen what I like: hard strokes on the upper back, light massage on the legs, hard strokes on the soles of my feet. She would ask often if the pressure was okay.

I felt the hard knots on my upper back being loosened, the tension being addressed. Ah, This is what massage is all about, I thought. It's healing those aches and pains. It was so good I didn't want it to end.

But it had to, after 60 minutes. Back at the reception area, we were given hot ginger tea and a warm face towel. And as we sipped our tea, we all had smiles on our faces. We may not have been yanked and twisted away here and there via a traditional Thai massage right in the heart of Thailand, but it was such a great way to end the night. Can't wait to have such an experience again.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Four years ago, my friend Richelle gave me the slim book Handle With Prayer by Charles Stanley. It took a long while before I got to read it finally recently, but I felt it was the right time. It tackles topics such as why our prayers are not answered, how to pray in the will of God, fasting, and praying for others. A book certainly worth reading.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wish list on a stormy day

The timing of Pedring's wrath was noted by many Filipinos today. As typhoon Pedring felled trees, made bodies of water swell, brought down power lines, and flooded Roxas Boulevard, people noted that, just two years ago, it was Ondoy causing destruction.

The images shown on TV today were familiar: cars in Manila were submerged in water, evacuation centers were crowded, free hot soup handed out to adultd and children at evacuation centers, men cutting down trees blocking roads, and old and young people wading in floodwaters.

I wish and pray things won't be the same anymore. I wish that:

1. there will be no more floods in Metro Manila and the provinces

2. the Department of Education would suspend classes early enough, such as the night before

3. there will be no more power outages during a storm

4. mobile phone services will not be disrupted

5. Meralco would restore power in less than an hour

6. evacuation centers won't be so crowded

7. people would stop complaining about everything

8. LRT and MRT services will continue their services rain or shine

It's a tough wish list, but one the Philippines can aim for. While we can't do much if we're not in government, we could all certainly do number 7.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Over coffee today, I started reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, a book about writing "and life." The author tackles the topics discussed in her writing classes, from how to start writing to dealing with writer's block, and more. I like what Lamott wrote in the introduction: "One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore." But she's not one to romanticize writing fully. In succeeding chapters, she tells readers how difficult writing really is, but you have to just do it, and do it "bird by bird", as her father advised her brother who was agonizing about doing a paper about birds due the next day.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11

Friday, September 09, 2011

Facing dengue eye-to-eye

Almost every day since last month, there has been a report of someone, most likely a child, dying because of the complications of dengue. According to the Department of Health, as of September 3, 2011, some 63,741 patients have had dengue since the start of the year, and 373 of them have died.

While the figures are better than those of the same period last year (87,409 cases, 586 deaths), it is still alarming that female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are still at it, biting unsuspecting people and putting lives in peril.

And they'll still be around for as long as there are containers and areas with stagnant water around us. Have you looked around your house, yard, and neighborhood? I think vigilance is key in combating dengue.

I'm passionate about calling attention to the need to take measures to prevent the incidence and outbreak of dengue in communities because I know what it's like to have a family member get dengue. In January, this year, I faced dengue eye-to-eye as it threatened to harm my son. And a few years ago, my 8-year-old nephew, the son of my first cousin, died of dengue shock syndrome 5 days after he started not to feel well.

My son's case started with malaise on a Wednesday and so he skipped school. Later that day he had fever, which would go down after taking Biogesic, and go up again within the next 4 hours. The next day, a Thursday, I got a call at the office saying our helper brought my son to the emergency room at the government hospital nearby as he still had fever and was vomiting. I rushed to the ER and found my son looking kinda OK, with just colds, cough, and pain in the joints that drove him to use my mom's walking stick.

The doctors and nurses at the ER thought it was just flu as his complete blood count (CBC) test showed that his platelets were at the normal range. I would have thought it was the flu too. He could have been discharged earlier but the staff had to wait for instructions from his pediatrician, who was a consultant at the hospital. As the hours went on, I saw my son becoming pale and more tired, that I told the staff I'd bring him home right then and just come back for the prescription later that night.

I drove back to the hospital that night to get the prescription for antibiotics and made sure my son rested well the next day, a Friday. We were instructed to bring him to his pediatrician for checkup on Saturday.

And so we did. Little rashes began to appear on his body, and the pediatrician thought it could be allergy to antibiotics and so she gave me a new prescription. But she was puzzled as to why he didn't seem to improve in spite of powerful antibiotics, and gave me another prescription – a request for CBC test – with the instruction to get him that test later that day if he still had fever. I brought him home and went to work at the office.

Coming home from work that night, I saw that he still had fever, and still had pains. I brought him to St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City past 8 p.m. for a CBC. My son had a hard time walking even with my mom's walking stick to aid him, that I felt this was no ordinary flu.

The hospital said it would e-mail me the results, and I was up all night waiting for it. When I got it at past 2 a.m. on Sunday, I saw that his platelet count – still within the normal range – had gone down.

I reported this around breakfast time to his pedia, and she said to make sure he is hydrated, took his meds and got lots of rest. Technically, his platelet count, you see, was still normal.

But my son's face and ears have turned red, and I just didn't know what to do anymore. My dad told me to bring him to the hospital right away and have him confined to be sure.

I drove him to St. Luke's Medical Center – this time at Global City as they had a promo that time (50% off room rates, my niece, a doctor who works there reported). They immediately worked on him as soon as he was wheeled in the ER from the driveway – got his blood pressure, et cetera. And they performed a CBC and a dengue antigen test (NS1 test), the results of which were to be available in 2 hours.

Within 2 hours, the ER doctor said my son's CBC even went down from its level the previous night and confirmed that my son was positive for dengue, and that we had a choice whether to bring him home or have him admitted. Of course, I chose the latter option for my peace of mind.

A pediatrician consultant was called in and he looked at my son. He assured me not to worry, as even if my son's platelets would still go down, the hospital had enough fluids on standby. He also said he didn't think it would go to that stage.

I texted close friends to ask for prayers for my son as I knew dengue is deadly. I also posted a status message on Facebook calling for prayers and support, and wishes for his recovery poured in. It was also Prayer and Fasting Week at Christ's Commission Fellowship where we go to regularly, and I even texted our pastors to please include my son in their prayers.

By Monday, my son's platelet count still went down as his pediatrician said it would. The doctors and nurses would check on him often, and ask if he felt any stomach pain. His liquid intake was monitored, as well as his urine output to make sure he was not getting dehydrated. The good thing was my son's appetite was still normal. He would also just have slight fever, not a high grade one.

The next day, Tuesday, his platelet count went up a bit, and he still had no pain in the stomach (a sign of internal hemorrhage). His energy was also up. My son's pediatrician gave the go signal for us to go home. Praise God!

During the next few days, my son would continue to rest at home. On the second day, he got red again in the face, so I brought him back to the ER at St. Luke's Medical Center in Global City to be sure, and after CBC, his platelet count was at the same level as it was that Tuesday. It was to be expected, his pediatrician said, but he was on the way to recovery.

It took about another week for my son to completely recover and be strong enough to go to school. We are grateful for the many people who prayed for him, and for the attentive service given to him by his doctors and nurses. We believe God answered our prayers for his healing.

Where could my son have encountered that dengue-carrying mosquito? We traced it to a shallow pit near our garage which would get filled with rainwater. The pit has since been cleaned and repaired.

Dengue is now not just in season during the wet months of June to August. It's affecting people all year round. Take the time to check your surroundings – from plant pots and flower vases to gutters and pits – to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay. Dengue is not something to be taken lightly, as life is a precious gift.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Both teachers and non-teachers alike will learn much from the little book Letters to a Young Teacher: The Art of Being Interesting by Joseph V. Landy, S.J. In a conversational style, the author talks to the reader and asks questions such as why do you want to teach? He then goes on to advise those whose main goal is to earn money to try something that can earn more money: "trading or farming or even hair-styling." Teaching is a noble, but "relatively low-paying profession", he says, yet is so rewarding to those looking for fulfillment. He shares many tips for teachers, which parents and trainers may heed: Have the "knack of making the seemingly dreariest subject interesting."

VERSE OF THE WEEK: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” ~ Psalm 143:10

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Zip lining at 80

Can't resist posting this photo here. That's my mom on the left, at 80 years old, on a zip line last month at the Picnic Grove in Tagaytay. Beside her is her friend.

Imagine that! What do you think you'll be doing at 80? Would we still be alive when we reach 80? :D

So whatever's on your bucket list, go for it! Enjoy life, but stay safe!

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I finished reading yesterday Just As I Am, the autobiography of world renowned preacher Billy Graham. The thick hardbound book cost me only P75 after my friend Tinna decided to let go of some of her books. :-) From milking cows daily, Graham has gone on to inspire millions of people all over the world to make peace with God. His message still holds true today: that God loves us and has great plans for us, but sin got in the way. We can't atone for our sins because of our sinful nature. God therefore sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to take our place on the cross and wipe our sins away. But though He did it for mankind, we have to take that gift individually and open our hearts to Christ. It is interesting to read Graham's stories of the people he has met over the years and how God has guided him.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." ~ Proverbs 2:6

Friday, August 12, 2011

The sweetness of pasalubong

On a media trip to Thailand last week, my fellow journalists and I made a beeline for the duty-free shops at the airport with less than an hour left before boarding time. Our agenda: buy homecoming gifts or pasalubong. We bought chocolates, tamarind candies, mango in sticky rice, and Thai curry in a box and headed to the gate with our loot.

Looking around, I see that rare is the Filipino who doesn't buy pasalubong for folks back home. It's more of an unwritten rule and a custom to bring home a souvenir for those who weren't with us on the trip, in effect saying, “Wish you were with me” or “Thinking of you” or “Here's a little gift to show you I care.”

It's not really the grandness of the gift that matters, rather the thought that counts, and so little pasalubong items from chocolates to little trinkets are welcomed. This is an expression of the love language of gifts. In “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers”, author Gary Chapman writes, “Gifts are visible, tangible evidence of emotional love.”

My sister remembers hugging and carrying this big white stuffed bear on the plane back home to give to her kids. A friend of mine brought home in his hand luggage two heavy little sculptures from Bangkok to give to friends. And I remember checking out maybe about three stores in Akihabara in Tokyo looking for a specific anime action figure for my son.
There’s satisfaction in buying something for a loved one, or people you care about, and handing this over personally upon arrival from a trip. The smile on the recipients’ faces is worth it.
Traveling soon? Make room then for some strawberry jam and peanut brittle from Baguio, otap and danggitfrom Cebu, green tea from Japan, coffee from Seattle, wine from California, chocolates from Switzerland, tea from China, and yes, why not—some crocodile jerky from Australia. If it fits in the bag, it’s great pasalubong. Have a safe trip!

Click here to read this article on the Smart Super Women blog.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Walking from East to West is the autobiography of preacher Ravi Zacharias (written with R. S. B. Sawyer). It's interesting to "walk" with the well-known teacher as he recounts his life growing up in India, where he thought he was born to be mediocre. He reached the depths of despair and even tried ending his life. But Zacharias found new life in Christ, and since then, his life turned around completely. From India, he lived in Canada, and now he is a popular preacher based in Atlanta. Sad that I missed listening to him when he was in Manila for a speaking engagement a few years ago. Anyway, got the book from the bargain bin of OMF Lit shop at Il Terrazo on Tomas Morato Avenue Extension in Quezon City for a huge discount (from P250, it was down to P75) during the last sale! Worth it.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away" ~ Psalm 37:1-2

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pursue your passion

Over lunch a month ago, one of my officemates confessed to me that he had just tendered his resignation as section editor of our online publication. I was dumbfounded. I didn't see that coming, so I asked, “But why?????”

He said he wants to rest and pursue higher studies, and look for a job more allied to his college degree in the sciences. Four years in media was fun but stressful, and he wants to do something else now. I nodded in reply. I know the feeling.

Rewind to 22 years ago. I was a certified public accountant who finally realized writing was what I really wanted to do. Life is short, I thought, why be miserable?

Yesterday, my mom and I went to her friend’s house to check out a cute female shih tzu puppy for sale. On our way out, my mom’s friend told me that her son, who has been breeding shih tzus and chihuahuas, is really a nurse who even passed the Board exams. “But he likes taking care of dogs. That’s his business,” she said.
I believe we have all been gifted by God with passion for something for a purpose. When I hear Lea Salonga sing, for instance, I see the passion burning in her heart, and I feel moved by her singing. Similarly, when I see Lisa Macuja Elizalde dancing ballet with such emotion, I feel moved as well, and awed by such a gift which could have only come from God. When I heard former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US Vice President Al Gore give talks in Manila, I immediately saw their passion for good governance and environment protection, respectively, and I was encouraged.
“The greatest things in life are not things. Meaning is far more important than money,” wrote Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life.
What’s your passion? Pursue it and have a meaningful life.

Click here to read this article on the Smart Super Women blog.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gym day

So there I was at midday today, doing brisk walking on the treadmill. Before I knew it, the 15 minutes warm-up walk was done and it was time to lift some weights. No, not the heavy kind, but more like 5-pound dumbbells for arm curls and 15 pounds on the lat machine. After that, 2 sets at the total abdominal machine to hopefully tone those abs. Then some time on the leg press, and maybe 10 minutes at the stationary bike.

It's Monday, and it's gym day, and again I am paying for the privilege of sweating in an air-conditioned gym. I marvel at how time flies—it's been more than a year now? Wow!

I've been a gym dropout for a couple of times over the past 16 years (or since my son was born). I'd go for a few months, then drop out, thinking I can do it on my own and exercise at the UP Diliman Oval, but always, always, there's something more urgent to do. So I've had a pretty much sedentary life for most of the time.

More than a year ago, I went to Baguio with my good friend Jing Lejano, and walking uphill on the street got me panting in like, 5 minutes. She said, “Kung ‘di ako fit, mas hindi ka fit.” [“If I’m not fit, then you’re so not fit!”] Don’t I know it!
When my son got interested in enrolling in a gym last year, I enrolled myself too. On the first day of my training, my trainer put me on the treadmill. The 15-minute time limit seemed like forever that he brought it down to 10. He also moved back my speed from 5.0 km/hr to 3.0 km/hr. I was exhausted. He said, “Buti na lang naisipan niyong mag-gym. Ang hina niyo pala.” [“It’s a good thing you decided to go to the gym. You’re weak already.”] OK, I know, I know.
Fast-forward to a year after, and today, I do 5.3 km/hr on the treadmill for 15 minutes if I don’t feel like pushing myself. I can lift light weights and walk faster than I used to. I also feel stronger, and walk with a spring in my step, I believe. The muscles? Hmm, getting firmer, although the abs may take another year to be flat (haha!).
I read somewhere that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can do wonders to one’s health. Thirty minutes! Surely you can spare 30 minutes a day, right? Or, OK, 30 minutes every other day at the minimum. Go flex those muscles, girl, and do it for a healthier you.

Click here to read this article on the Smart Super Women blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book sale! Time to do some early Christmas shopping

While others get super excited about mall sales and brand-name sales, I get thrilled at the thought of a book sale.

The experience is like that of a child entering a huge candy store and all the candies are on sale.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a nerd, and really, it's cool to be one. I love reading, and learning, and going places through the books I read.

On vacation in the US four years ago, we went a couple of times to the library sale, and the challenge was really how to limit my purchases to meet my baggage limit for the trip back home. I came back to Manila then with gems such as "Footprints of a Pilgrim" by Ruth Bell Graham and a biography of Billy Graham, among others, for a little over a dollar or two each.

In a little corner of a bookstore in Dagupan 2 years ago, I found "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew for an unforgettable price: P15!

In bookstores in Manila, I always check out the bargain bins and once found "Becoming a Vessel God Can Use" by Donna Partow, "Prayer Changes Teens" by Janet Holm McHenry, and "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis at slashed prices.

Then on a first visit to OMF Lit Bookshop at Il Terrazzo along Tomas Morato Avenue in QC, I found "Walking from East to West" by Ravi Zacharias in the bargain bin. Of course I  bought it right away.

Well I heard that OMF Lit is holding a book sale now until May 31 called "R.O.B. Us (Raid Our Bookshop: Ultimate Sale)" and discounts of 40% off over 200 titles, and 30% off other OMF Lit titles can be had. It does seem too good to be true, but it turns out to be really true-- see this link.

I plan to buy the book I've been itching to buy for sometime--"The Twelfth Imam" by Joel Rosenberg as I've read all his previous books ("The Last Jihad", The Last Days", "Dead Heat", "The Copper Scroll", "The Ezekiel Option" and "Epicenter") except one, "Inside the Revolution" which I should get too at this sale.

Last Christmas, I bought a lot of books as gifts. And I'm planning to do the same this year, and do some early Christmas shopping at the OMF Lit sale.

These books would make great gifts: "Refreshing Words for Busy Women" by Darlene Sala, for career women friends; "Ang Pera na Di Bitin" by Ardy Roberto, useful to anyone who would like to handle finances better; and Grace Chong's books about personal stories of blessings. Luis Gatmaitan's "Tito Dok" books for kids are also perfect gifts for kids.

My little Bible is also falling apart now, so I plan to buy one for me and my son as well.

A book that encourages and uplifts can make a difference in someone's life and in your own life as well. Let's check out the sale then, shall we?

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:64

Monday, April 25, 2011

Doctors like 'Show and Tell'

At the risk of sounding gross and morbid, I'll tell you what I did today.
I brought my mom to her foot doctor since her left big toenail became ingrown, and her toe became swollen.

Looking at my mom's toe, the doctor said there was pus, and he needed to do minor surgery and cut part of the nail.

He said it was just going to take 10-15 minutes, and since we were there already, my mom agreed to have it done right there in his little clinic.

I backed away, but my mom called me and asked me to hold her hand. I saw the doctor preparing to administer anesthesia by injection, and when he put it in--can't tell if through the nail or the skin--my mom yelped in pain and squeezed my hand tightly.

Then the doctor proceeded to operate. He told me, "Look, there's the pus. Do you see it?"

I looked at the toe from where I was as I held my mom's hand and for once I am thankful I am nearsighted as I cannot see what got him excited.

"There, do you see it?" he asked again.

I looked at the toe again and can only see a blurred bloody mess, and told the doctor, "Eww. That's why I am not a doctor. I can't stand the sight of blood." He smiled.

The operation over, we sat on chairs while he wrote the name of an antibiotic on a prescription pad. "Oh, I forgot to show you the nail!" he told me.

"Please, doc, don't bother," I said, and he grinned.

What is it with doctors and their love for "show and tell?" :)

When I had my appendectomy in 1998, the surgeon called for my mom to go the operating room. My mom, very nervous then, thought I had a heart attack while on the operating table or something. It turned out the surgeon just wanted to show her my severed appendix.

Then when my mom had gall bladder surgery a few years ago, the surgeon called for me to go to the operating room. And there, the surgeon, still in scrubs, showed me a pink/purple (can't remember the exact color now) gall bladder in a little kidney-shaped basin, pinching it this way and that, saying, "See? This is what we took out of your mom." I was speechless. And horrified.

My mom was wheeled into her room a few hours after that along with a little "souvenir" from the surgeon: a 'stone' the size of a one peso coin placed in a little bottle -- the gallstone that caused my mom much pain.
It must be their love for science that makes doctors want to show off unhealthy body parts, severed or not.
As for me, the non-scientist, I'll take the doctor's word when he says what needs to be taken out has been taken out. No need for proof, doc.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Since February, our church has been discussing love--what it means to love like Jesus did. The campaign was called 40 Days of Love, and the principles were based on the Bible and the book The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay. Don't let the book title intimidate you; the book is very practical, and a worthy read. It encourages readers to place the highest value on relationships, to communicate from the heart, and to treat others the way you want them to treat you.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -- Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, April 11, 2011

S, the blog for smart women and super women

I just joined a blog network for moms and women called Smart Super Women.

Here are the first 3 entries I have posted there:

Multitasking a Must

For the nth time, I ate at my desk at work today. Some days are hectic, some aren’t, and today is just one of the hectic ones at the newsroom.

In between writing and editing news about OFWs arriving from Libya, Fil-Ams observing Lent in America, and a 5-star chef whipping up gourmet dishes in Baguio City, I would grab a bite of my rice meal picked up from the food court, and think about what to write in this blog.

Sometimes I feel I am doing so many things—multitasking—but I just cannot NOT multitask. I am a mother after all, and a daughter, and a sister, and a working journalist, and a friend too.

And so I try to do what I can on most days, armed with a little prayer to God up there, and with a smile to greet the people around me. Better to brighten up the world, right? There are just so many weird and bad things happening in the world around us.
If you’re a mom, you’d know what I’m talking about—multitasking—and probably can recall having to make a grocery shopping list while waiting for a meeting to start, or dropping by a bookstore on the way home from work to buy a cartolina or some oslo paper your child absolutely needs the next day.
Some days you field a call from the office while stirring that spaghetti sauce in the kitchen at home. At other times, you just drop everything and care for your child who is nursing a high-grade fever.
Motherhood—it’s tough, and more so if you’re a working mom at that. But no other calling is closest to my heart than being a mom to my son, now a teenager.
Along the way, I’ve learned many things about mothers, kids, teaching, learning, bonding, living life, celebrating each moment. I won’t pretend to know it all, but will share here what I know works. After all, we’re all in this—motherhood—together.
So smile, mom, no matter how busy you are.

 [Click this to read this article on the blog.]

Where Were You?

Over lunch today, at the despedida for my uncle set to leave for the US for good, my aunt told me stories about her grandchildren. One is already in college, and will be in his junior year in his IT course this June.

“What? He’s in college already?!” I exclaimed. The last time I saw him, he was maybe in grade 1, having so much fun at a swimming party.

Well, what should I expect? My son was only 4 or 5 when we went to that same swimming party. And he will be 16 next month.

Time flies, you’ve heard that before, but I say time flies faster, it seems, when kids are involved. The little kid you used to bring to prep class may have just attended prom last month, or is excited now to embark on college life in June.

My brother used to tell me to enjoy every bit of my son’s growing up years because kids don’t remain kids long.
A few years ago, when I taught a writing course at a college nearby, I gave my students, mostly college seniors, a finals exam I deemed would be easy for them: Write an essay about the life lesssons you learned using the writing techniques you learned in class. “Write from the heart,” I told them.
Soon, someone was sniffling. Someone was crying. As they poured out their thoughts on paper, it was as if a wealth of emotions bottled up inside got freed.
Most of my students then were children of overseas Filipino workers, and many of them had one question it seems, for their parents: “Where were you… when someone made fun of me in grade school? … when the dentist pulled my tooth? … when I got sick of dengue and needed to be hospitalized? … when I had graduated with honors and needed you to pin a medal on me? … when I first became a teen? … when I had my circumcision? …when I needed a hug?” One asked, “Why didn’t you say goodbye when you left when I was 4? Why have you not come back at all?”
Tough questions.
Kids don’t stay kids long. Love them, enjoy them, hug them, be with them.

 [Click this to read this article on the blog.]

The Saving Habit

The security guard peeked into my little red checkered tote bag before allowing me entry into the bank early Wednesday morning last week. He must have been amused because he said, “Thank you, ma’m” in a cheerful tone.

Inside my bag, you see, was a Zip Loc plastic bag full of P5 and P10 coins. Total weight: maybe 5 pounds. Total count: over P1,000.

It was my mom’s gift to my son. For quite some time, my mom would drop P5 and P10 in two piggybanks. They became full recently, and so she gave them to my son. It was my son who decided to deposit all of the coins in his account at the bank, which was what he did too when he got some cash as gift last Christmas.

I can’t remember how old he was when I first opened a bank account for him. Definitely it was before he started grade school, though. And so over the years, whenever he would receive cash from godparents and family members, these would go straight to the bank.
When my two friends got married more than a decade ago, I was floored when I learned they bought a house using their own money as downpayment. They were just in their 20s then. It turns out both of them grew up with their parents saving for them in the bank all the money gifts they received since they were small. So in some 20 years, compound interest has made their savings grow so much that these were enough to help them start on their own two feet when they got married.
The habit of saving can be instilled in a child early. Aside from opening a bank account for him, let him see you and the people around you practice saving as well. Start today and keep at it until it becomes second nature to your child.

 [Click this to read this article on the blog.]

The other moms have great stories and lessons to share based on their own personal experiences as well. Check regularly for fresh practical content. :)

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I finally picked up my copy of The Fourth Estate by Jeffrey Archer, which, I realized was sitting in my bookshelf for something like 10 years. This fiction book is about the business of publishing, including the deal-making behind it. I'm still in the early pages, but it does seem interesting.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan on my mind

We all gasped in horror in the newsroom last Friday (March 11) as the first videos were aired on CNN showing huge waves racing toward ricefields, the runways at Sendai airport, and homes. Cars were swept away, and bobbed up and down, the same way they did during Typhoon Ondoy.
I remember my Japanese sister-in-law Tomie saying that almost every building in Japan is earthquake-proof. This is the reason why there was no extensive structural damage in Tokyo and other areas.

But the tsunami was something else. What happened in Sendai just goes to show man is powerless against a tsunami.

Since that Friday over a week ago (March 11), I have been thinking of Japan. It's such a beautiful country with wonderful people.

May God help the people of Japan rise over this tragedy. And may the people of Japan acknowledge that though it may be hard to understand, God is in control and Lord over the whole earth.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: For my birthday last January, my mom gave me a paperback copy of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I missed seeing the movie version of this in cinemas, so I looked forward to reading the book. I still have 100 pages to go to finish the book, though. The concept is good: a young woman embarks on a yearlong project to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Somehow though, Julie & Julia the book hasn't intrigued me enough to the point that I want to finish the book in 3 days. It's been weeks and I'm still reading it, a few pages a day. Verdict so far: The movie (which I caught on HBO recently) is more interesting.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm." ~ Psalm 75:3

Saturday, January 01, 2011


I am grateful to God for all His blessings in 2010...Even if my left side mirror was stolen last night on New Year's eve, nothing else was stolen...Even if my right rear tire got punctured last week, it wasn't deep...Even if I'm stuck home today and can't go out of town, I have my family with me...Even if I can't afford some wants, I have what I need...Even if I wasn't able to see all my close friends over the holidays, they're still there as our friendships run deep...Even if I feel tired, I am happy. Thank you, Lord for the gift of life. I'm looking forward to what You have in store for me this 2011. :)

BOOK OF THE WEEK: When I read my friend Mae's review of "Ang Pera na Hindi Bitin" by Eduardo "Ardy" Roberto, I got intrigued and looked out for it. I found it in PowerBooks and snapped up copies for me and my friends. This little book gives practical wise advice on handling money wisely and stretching it so it goes farther -- Hindi bitin. A great investment!

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12