Saturday, July 30, 2011

#19 i am woman, here me raawrrr !!

i see you are singing out the title of this post. you're nodding your head, too and tapping your foot while singing the rest of the song.  let me guess. you must be above thirty years old. more like forty. or fifty. only this age groups would remember the bob-haired helen reddy sing her way to #1 with this song.  many consider this line as their own personal mantra. nowadays, raawrr  is lightheartedly used to emphasize ardor rather than the more meek-sounding roar. how meek can a roar be?

so what defines a woman? they say being a (biological) mother defines a woman. i am not stirring up any argumentative exercise here. i am keeping this blog entry uncomplicated.  the reality remains that many a mother-to-be's life is threatened due to inadequate, if not, unavailable women's health care. for others, there just is not enough money. deprived of such basic support,  the possibility of loss of life is real.  

no one knows women's health better than the men and women of the philippine obstetrical and gynecological society (POGS).  what better way to make their plea to 'save a mother from hemorrhage' be heard than to lure road warriors to the starting line. POGS-cebu chapter has mobilized the running community to spread the word in support of their cause.  tomorrow, july 31, hardcore and recreational runners will heed the call to run for women's health.

there are nice running shirts and there are nicer running shirts. this one, without a doubt, falls under the latter. it is a shirt that one would wear again, unlike other shirts/singlets that are closet-bound, never to be used again. tete is not doing this race but has claimed ownership of my shirt. you're welcome, tete. 

tomorrow, when i cross the finish line, i know i have helped give someone a new lease in life.  i will cross the line several minutes after the others. i may most likely be at the back of the pack but  my  finish will be as momentous as if i did a podium-finish because  i can say i have done something good today.

i run because it makes me feel good.  i run for a good cause because it makes me feel great. raawrr!!! isn't that awesome?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

# 18 filipino pacing !!

the invitation says five o'clock in the afternoon;  a filipino guest arrives at six. the ticket says the concert starts at eight o'clock in the evening; you guessed it right, it is nine o'clock and the concert has yet to start.  the meeting is set at eight o'clock in the morning;  no one is in the office at eight except for an assistant who is busy setting up the room.   that is filipino pacing.  it can be described as a deliberate disregard of time.  it is the filipino way of life.  do not even attempt to debate its merits and demerits. 

the only time filipino pacing is not observed is in the matter of the balikbayan box.  balik means return, bayan is country.  when a filipino goes to foreign shores, the very first thing she asks is where she can buy an empty balikbayan box.  she then combs the malls for sale items so she can fill this box up with an assortment of goodies for everyone back home.  there is no weight limit. one can just imagine canned goods, toiletries, toys and gadgets, bed linens, clothes, towels and shoes all crammed into the box.  she wants to send the box at the soonest time. within four months of her arrival, she has shipped out the box by sea travel through a cargo forwarder. it would take 45 -60 days for the much-awaited box to be at the recipient's doorsteps.

one cannot get on a philippine-bound plane without seeing piles of balikbayan boxes waiting to be checked-in.  that is trademark filipino. a returning overseas filipino cannot go home without one. a filipino who can't go home is expected to send one.

tatti is the kids' aunt, their mommy's sister.  she left to work in the US in 2005 and has not been back for a vacation ever since. tete, yangi and, especially, gugud remember tatti quite clearly. wawa, who was just two years old back then, have fuzzy memories of her. skype keeps them connected.  when tatti gets on the webcam, the kids all chorus 'hi tatti !!'  she checks her appearance first on the video screen, makes a series of left and right angle checks, runs her fingers through her hair to fix it before she says hi to the kids. tatti sent her first balikbayan box in the early part of 2010. you do the math.  it took her five years !! if that is not filipino pacing, i do not know what it is. when tatti started filling up the box, hannah montana was new, young and sweet. the kids were still agog over her and asked tatti for hannah montana stuff. by the time she sent the box, hannah montana was old news and the kids were embarrassed to be seen with anything hannah montana.  the box took that long !  

tatti's favorite picture is one that shows her (several years and pounds ago) romping with mamam on the white sands of a beach resort in bohol , truly a poignant hallmark moment preserved forever.

on special occasions, she issues checks as presents. the checks are hits and misses. it may or may not be illustrative of filipino pacing.  just keep your  fingers (toes and eyes, included) crossed that she wakes up on the right side of the bed and remembers to issue a check for your birthday on your birthday and not weeks after. 

you know it is going to be a good day when tatti gets on skype and pledges an early birthday check.  no filipino pacing this time -  isn't that awesome?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

# 17 by virtue of the powers vested in me ......

as President of the Republic of the Philippines, do hereby declare August 30, 2011, tuesday, as a non-working holiday in observance of Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.  

Malacanang, the office of the President, is set to make this announcement.  hold the cheers and the high-fives, just hold it for a minute. there is more good news! our National Heroes Day is celebrated every last sunday of august; hence, the monday after is a non-working holiday.  it could have been easier to declare the last monday of august as national heroes day instead, don't you think? 

ours is a predominantly Catholic nation; however, there is a large Filipino-Muslim community in the country.  a day held sacred by their religion is proclaimed a holiday for all, in the name of peace and solidarity.

we, hard-working and dedicated members of the labor force, are holiday-starved. we live for an announcement such as this.  the multitude of us, men and women of action - eight to fivers or nine to sixers, breadwinners, white, pink or blue-collared job holders, single, married or the 'it's complicated' bunch, paycheck-to-paycheck survivors, tightwads and spendthrifts alike - relish a four-day weekend. an early announcement to that effect gives us enough time to lay down our game plan.

go ahead, fellow members of the force, call your favorite resort and ask if they have an overnight promo rate for that weekend.  regular rates do not apply to us;  it is far beyond our means. or check if the malls have any big sale coming up on those dates.  or maybe plan a long run.  or ask your teen masterchef to have a bake-athon. or schedule an extreme make-over home edition without the fancy cosmetic renovation, just some general cleaning.  or maybe just be lazy. 

a four-day weekend on the horizon ---- now, isn't that awesome?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

# 16 such a burst of joy !!

turn the heat up, baby, we're on fire..... so come on, come on !!!

the first strain of the themesong of your favorite show starts to play and you get up from where you've been sitting. you start to dance to the music, bouncing with so much gusto like you haven't heard the song in a long while. the truth is, your favorite show is a cooking reality show that goes on air everyday with next-day replays that you  would tirelessly watch.  at the 31:02-second mark of the opening credits, your favorite contestant graces the tv screen and your dance goes up a notch. when was the last time you did this? or did you ever get to dance this way at all? 

every night, we are treated to such a display of bubbly disposition. yangi, our resident entertainer shows us why being a kid is so much better than being an adult. with a mop of curly hair swish-swaying away, she dances with so much energy, you would think her limbs would detach anytime.  she is shy and reserved in the company of others but she is a comic at heart.  today our comic turns a year older. she is now at the ripe old age of twelve. 

this note from yangi  taped on the wall holds a promise of a 30-minute massage. it is enough incentive for the massage-hounds that we are to shamelessly look up the correct song.   it is a fruitless effort as the song is nowhere to be found online.

one to leave random notes, it is not a surprise to find yet another note from yangi. on  a hot summer afternoon, she expresses her innermost thought.  this one is a no nonsense statement that needs a quick solution. how do you solve a problem such as this?

always playfully (they both claim it is for real) at odds with each other, tete shows yangi that she has a soft spot for her.  she stays up till one in the morning to bake a very special chocolate cake for the celebrant. yangi is touched and gives tete a big hug.  the cake is a big hit !!

her jokes are signature yangi jokes. only she can deliver the punchlines with precise timing and deadpan style.  she can put spongebob to shame!  she can be serious, too, and compassionate and diligent.

happy birthday, my yangi girl !! i love you.  such a burst of joy, you truly are!! that time when a kid is at the springtide of life -- far from being a baby but not quite a teen - isn't that awesome?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#15 her name is lola...

and yes, barry, she does the chacha but not at the copa.  her name isn't exactly lola but lola is grandmother in this part of the world.  she is 84 today....84 and still swaying to the beat of the chacha and the tango.

eight-four years calls for a celebration.  when a baby turns one, the circus comes to town. turning seven, a kid becomes a disney princess.  at thirteen, the celebrant and the guests whoop it up with a song and dance routine.  a debut celebrates the coming of age while the golden is the halfway point, the now-is-the-time-i-make-my-mark-it's-now-or-never birthday. from there on, one either grows better with years just like fine wine or goes flat and off-flavor just like stale beer.  

an adorable cupcake tower and rose-colored cake took centerstage during last year's birthday celebration.  beautiful arrangements of flowers and fruits made the picture as vibrant as the celebrant. the water dispenser refused to budge and wanted to be in the frame, too.  

at eighty-four, storms have been weathered and rough waves conquered.  at this age, no phrase is more apt than 'been there, done that' to anything and everything. now is the time to relax and bask in the love and affection of family. there is a secret to a long and fruitful life but she's not telling. her lips are sealed. that is why it is called a secret, she says.

another pink creation for the celebrant, another celebration in thanksgiving for countless blessings.

happy birthday, lola ding !! may the good Lord shower you with more blessings and surround you with even more love than you already have. eighty-four years and still dancing!!!  isn't that awesome?

Monday, July 18, 2011

#14 feeding frenzy !!

this one is without the deadly predators of the well-known computer game.  not a hint of violence here, just a sight that fills one with awe - refreshing and relaxing awe.

koi (plural: koi) is the japanese term for carp, domesticated species of fish. they are known for its vivid colors - crimson red, fiery orange, golden yellow, sapphire blue, dark burgundy - and of course the more traditional black and white.  their metallic scales and distinct markings give them added sparkle and make them perfect for decorative purposes. koi can grow to as big as three feet.  imagine a big colored koi, gracefully swimming by its lonesome. that in itself is a pleasing sight! imagine close to a hundred koi at your feet in a play of colors, all jumping around. put in a generous spray of sunshine to spotlight their watery stage and you've got a spectacle right in front of you.  no wonder koi are referred to as living jewels.  

 to the koi's delight, dudud and wawa think they deserve more food than necessary.

wawa is mesmerized and won't take her eyes off.   tete thinks one more handful won't hurt.

dudud says its time to slow down but the koi say otherwise.

 yangi  favors a particular koi and names it big bob.

 the koi refused to leave and the kids couldn't say no to them.

no computer game needed for this feeding frenzy. just a fun day at the beach and a koi feeding experience for the kids  --  isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#13 when the band comes marchin' in!

subtitle:  definitely not for the squeamish !

a favorite snack during the good ole' high school days was the fresh chinese lumpia. a 'lumpia' is the filipino version of the spring roll. the chinese lumpia, however, is the healthier variation of the traditional roll as it is mostly vegetable-filled and is not fried.  a food stall at a big grocery just a block away from the old high school sold this sought-after snack.  through the years, the stall has withstood the grocery's temporary closure and subsequent change of owners.  it hasn't moved an inch; it still occupies the same space. the female attendant who served the orders a hundred years ago (okay, much less than a hundred) is still manning the counter but now with a crown of white hair quite clear from a distance.

the fresh chinese lumpia is made of shredded carrots, cabbage, green beans, bean curd and ubod (heart of palm) with a sprinkling of ground pork and peanuts  and spices for flavor.  this is topped with a choice of either hot or regular sauce and wrapped in thin egg roll crepe.

fast forward several years and the chinese lumpia is still served for snacks, this time, to be shared by everyone in the office.  each one takes one roll each.  there are only two rolls left on the plate and an officemate reaches out for one and you take the remaining one.

everyone is relishing the goodness of the snack and mighty proud of the choice of healthy food.  the officemate who preceded you in taking the roll chomps on hers and stops midway....bites again and stops again. the roll refuses to give. 

  enough said for healthy food, the band of the rubber kind comes marchin' in !!!  in her haste (and age), the food attendant apparently included a stray rubber band in the mix. 

two rolls left on the plate and your officemate beats you to the spoiled one.  you miss the band by a hairline. isn't that awesome?

Monday, July 11, 2011

# 12 saving for rainy days !

they come in different forms. some are tin candy cans, others are wooden boxes. some are store-bought, others are make-shift.  some are eye-catching, others are dull. most are nowhere near the original pig shape.  they serve only one purpose and that is to store the most ignored item of value - coins. piggy bank, coin bank, money box - we all have it. as kids, we would keep our eyes open for coins left on table tops. as adults, we would absent-mindedly toss loose change from our pockets into that box in the corner.  it is a permanent fixture in our lives, a habit that refuses to go over the years. oftentimes, it would take a couple of years before it gets filled up and then it is time to open it up. this momentous occasion is usually witnessed by a bunch of excited kids. 

the stash isn't exactly enough to prepare a feast but the joy of counting it coin by coin is more than its worth in gold (or silver.......or whatever metal alloy was used).

yangi's words:  spongebob taught me the value of the penny. he also taught me the value of the dime and the cent but i just forgot it.

breaking a coin bank, pouring out the coins and letting kids count them. isn't that awesome?

Friday, July 8, 2011

# 11 advantage, ma'am?

yes, you do have it so you take it out and hand it to the cashier.  a blue plastic card is what it is. countless times, you've been asked for this card and countless times, you've handed it to them. you don't really know when you'll ever get to use the points. or how many points you have. or if you'll ever get to use the points at all before they expire.  you just take it for granted, is all.

almost, if not, all business establishments have their own version of the loyalty card program.  in appreciation of your loyalty, SM gives you this advantage card (that you have to pay for and that expires every two years).  

you buy some baking utensils for your teen masterchef. you fall in line at the cashier's counter, waiting for your turn.  adding up your purchases mentally, you have an idea of how much cash you need to prepare.  the cashier rings up your purchases.  after swiping your advantage card, she looks up and says 'would you like to use your points?'  you are taken aback.  you ask 'use it? now?'  in your many shopping jaunts before, no one has ever offered to do that.  she says you have P257 worth of points that you can use against your purchase.  would you like to use it? right off the bat, you say 'yes, please and thank you.'

an unexpected advantage!!  isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

# 10 making all the greens !

not the greens of a golf course nor the greens of a bowl of caesar's salad. it's the green that goes with the red and yellow and is, literally, hanging over our heads. driving on the streets of cebu city is no mean feat. it takes tons of patience, a bucketful of fortitude, an extra serving of guts, a pinch of fate and a sprinkle of luck.  it is a true test to the limits of one's blood pressure reading.

at certain hours of the day, major city streets are off-limits to vans, buses, trailers and cargo trucks. once the ban is lifted, big and small vehicles, alike, elbow each other for space.

you have scheduled an early evening flight. the airport is sixteen kilometers away from your house. check-in counters close an hour before the flight. you have calculated two hours before flight schedule as enough time to get to the airport. you call for a cab but all are taken. ten minutes go by and still no cab. minutes ticking away, your panic button is pushed. you finally find a cab with an hour and a half to go. you brace yourself for end-of-day rush hour traffic. 

your cab crosses the first intersection, barely making it before the lights turn red. miraculously, everything after that is all green or just skirting the green.

you wonder what good you have done today to deserve all this luck.  you get to the airport with five minutes to spare. isn't that awesome? 

Monday, July 4, 2011

# 9 growing a centimeter overnight !!

a water slide, be it a small and simple one or a  highly-structured elaborate maze, is sure to capture a child's fancy, anytime, anywhere. the imperial palace resort in mactan boasts of  a water park like no other in cebu. the long and winding giant water slides, the park's main attraction, make for great bragging rights. a 15-year old, a couple of 11-year olds and an 8-year old just couldn't get enough.

due to its elevation and the twists and turns along the whole stretch of the slides, a height requirement is imposed. one has to be at least four feet to get on them. 

the easiest and kid-friendliest one among the three is the white open-type slide. the green one, being the tubular kind, is not for the claustrophobic. this is tete's favorite. after some hesitation, yangi soon got the hang of this one, too.  

the red and white one, with the spinning motion in the big bowl before the stomach-heaving drop into a 6-ft deep pool, is definitely only for the daring and the fearless. count dudud in in this category.

on her first try to measure up to the height chart, wawa fell short of a centimeter. the lifeguard refused to let her in. this was a big blow to an eight-year old kid. not wanting to be left out, she tried again the next day. there was a different lifeguard on duty. with moral support from tete, yangi and dudud, she went up to the chart and made it to 4 feet, according to the lifeguard. 

priceless joy and bragging rights!!

a very considerate lifeguard on duty - isn't that awesome?

Friday, July 1, 2011

# 8 we've got it all for you !!

are retail giant SM's catchwords, like they needed any word to catch our attention (or our wallets)! No less than a hundred thousand visitors leisurely walk or hurriedly stride along its many hallways every single day. the numbers are even more staggering on mega sale days.  indeed, they've got it all, except for ample parking space, it seems. 

  cebu is home to the 4th largest shopping mall in the philippines, the 11th in the whole world (in 2009).

finding a vacant parking slot on weekends, weekday peak hours and big sale days, is a major headache. there are definitely more cars than there are slots in SM-cebu's 3-level covered, 1 roof deck and open-air ground parking. bliss to the lucky and woe to the unlucky when that much-coveted 15-square meter space is up for grabs.

the multi-level covered parking is equipped with sensors that turn green when slot is empty and red when occupied.

inching your car up the spiral passageway to the first level covered parking area, you see the 'FULL PARKING, please proceed to the next level' sign at the entrance. you scan the whole area and all you see are rows and rows of red lights. undaunted, you ignore the sign and choose to gamble on a slot that may open up. you start to cruise along on the lookout for a green light. you offer a silent please-let-there-be-a-vacant-slot prayer up above.  He must have been listening because five cars down your lane, you see headlights and a car slowly moves out. in seconds, the sensor turns green. answered prayer !! you step on the gas lest someone beats you to the spot.

peak-hour hassle-free parking, isn't that awesome?