Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Year Without Mader

I wrote this on Feb 12, 2010, a day after Mader, what I used to call my mother-in-law, was called by God to join Him in heaven. In a few hours, we'd be marking a year without her. We have learned to cope but it's still not the same without her.

Mader, we love you and miss you.


She was superwoman to us - she ran the household, took care of my girls, cooked food that would make you erase the word diet from your vocabulary. Even after she had her first heart attack last December, she refused to slow down. She'd sometimes get irritated when I would insist on washing the plates or would play deaf when Bong would tell her to just sit down.

Thursday morning, I was rushing to the car to get to the office, as I do most days. But this morning was different. I stopped at the door, realized I hadn't said goodbye to mader and pader yet. But I ignored the strange feeling and ran out to the gate. I usually don't bid them goodbye in the morning. It was in the evening after I come home from work and kiss my girls when I would ask mader if she had already eaten. Thursday evening, I said goodbye to mader as she lay still on a bed in the emergency room, her skin already cold and yellowish. Doctors tried to revive her for more than an hour but her heart refused to beat again.

I seem to be taking it the hardest, which I think is weird. I texted a few friends that I seem to have cried more tears than Bong. But I really, truly miss her. I love her very much and I regret never ever telling her in words. Maybe she heard me when I tried talking to her last night or early this morning. Maybe she saw me when I opened her cabinet for the first time today and just looked at her clothes. Maybe she felt the mattress on her bed move when I sat there this morning, crying my eyes out and telling her stuff I should have told her before last night. Or maybe she knew, without me having to tell her.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

When God Sent Me a Message Through a Salesman

Often, we agonize over decisions we have to make or find it hard to accept twists and turns in our daily lives. So this time, I let God decide. Both outcomes had pluses and minuses and I truly did not know which one I preferred. Looking back on this day, I think God gave me the answer through a salesman at a specialty store. But since God moves in mysterious ways and we often overlook or don't understand his messages or feel his presence, I think I dismissed that message as another sales pitch. And being the patient God that He is, He spelled out the message for me through another person. Sorry, God, na medyo slow ako kanina. Hehe... I shall heed. Thank You po.
Tags: god

A Decade After

Who would've thought that the political turmoil and violent protests in Egypt would bring people from all over the world together again after 11 years? I received a Facebook message with an article on Egypt attached from a friend I met a decade ago when I was a participant at the CNN International Professional Program. I was the only Filipina in the group that was selected by CNN from dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants from all over the world. I had second thoughts about participating as I was four months pregnant at that time. But I didn't want all my hard work - and the stress of applying - to just go to waste.

Getting there was hard. Physically. Apart from being pregnant, I got snowed in, in Detroit, had no way of informing CNN where I was, got to Atlanta past midnight a day or two after I was supposed to arrive and encountered a woman cab driver who refused to help me with my luggage. But looking back, all these made my CNN experience hard to forget.

But what made it all the more memorable was my batchmates. Sitting in the conference room with participants from Lebanon, Turkey, the Bahamas, Africa, Greece, the US, Brazil, Cuba, Korea and so many other places, I felt like I was part of a mini United Nations. I remember how shocked some of them were when I served green mangoes with tomatoes and onions and shrimp paste at our potluck-lunch. They can't believe we ate raw mangoes. But I was as shocked when the girl from Lebanon shrieked, "Bagoong!" Turned out she lived in the Philippines for 15 years.

So now I'm friends with many of them on FB and I'm hoping that despite the distance and cultural differences, our friendship will remain strong.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I'm Old

I think I'm turning into my mom. Or my eldest daughter is turning into me. Or I'm just, plain and simple, growing old.

Alex loves music. In fact, she cannot sleep without her Ipod, or something playing on her cellphone or my laptop. She listens mostly to rock music - something I loved listening to when I was a teenager, something she'll be in two years.

That thought already makes me feel ancient. But I start to see myself as an historic artifact everytime I find myself turning the laptop's volume down, down, down, down to maybe three bars. Paramore or Queen or My Chemical Romance or Slipknot (yes, my baby listens to Slipknot, a band I just recently learned about through her) or Metallica - they're all the same to me now - noisy. Yes, I'm old. I'm a relic!

But when I was in high school, I'd play Gene Loves Jezebel or U2 or The Cure or whatever band I was into then on maximum volume. I remember my mom irritated, pleading with me to turn the volume down. Sometimes my dad would chime in, "That's not music. That's noise."

And that is exactly what I tell Alex now. "No, it's not. It's music. I love it," she'd say.

So I give in, just as my parents did before, and wait for Alex to fall asleep before I turn the music off.

Aaahhh... The deafening sound of the aircon's hum. Peace and quiet at last.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Honorable My A**

I live about 15 minutes away from the office (five if you're driving at 3am) but navigating through Timog Avenue anytime of the day (except at 3am) especially where there are bars or restaurants will usually bring out the homicidal tendencies in anyone. I keep my road rage under control by secretly cursing the other drivers or honking my horn like they do in China - loudly and continuously.

Honk my horn was all I could do when I was forced to drive close to the gutter and stop because an SUV with an 8 plate and the many vehicles tailing it swerved onto my lane - MY LANE - from the opposite direction. I turned right on one of the side streets from Timog to avoid the buildup of vehicles past the Shell station. A vehicle was double parked on the opposite side - well, that's another peeve that deserves its own post. I didn't make any attempt to hide my disgust when the SUV swerved onto my side of the road to drive past the nincompoop illegally parked on his lane. I shook my head, honked my horn and frowned at the convoy as it passed by me. There was one police escort on a motorcycle, however, who held a hand up as he smiled and nodded his thanks. A friend said he might have been embarrased by what the Honorable legislator did. Well, I think the police escort deserves to ride the SUV more than the Honorable legislator.

When I was covering the House of Representatives, the district of the legislators were clearly indicated on the plate. I think they should implement that again. Not only would it help curb abuses on the road, it would help us identify which of our representatives deserve a permanent vacation from government.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love Tattooed on a Child's Thigh

I was pleasantly surprised to see this written on Gabby's thigh, tattooed in ballpen ink where she thought I couldn't see it. "Oh, what is this? Can I see it?" But she tried to move away and covered the words with her hand.

Here's another shot:

I am not the perfect mother, no matter how hard I try. But that "tattoo" on Gabby's thigh is all the assurance I will ever need that somehow, I am doing a good job.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Luckiest Mom in the World

There are days when every little task feels like a challenge, every person you encounter, even someone you truly love, a foe. On those days, which we all have, I am able to cope because of my daughters. Alex, whose attitude and disposition in life is more like mine, entertains me with her rants. Only she can come up with something like, "I'm a people person. I just hate people." Or "Gusto kong mag-recycle ng friends. Kasi ang mga plastic, nire-recycle, di ba?"

Gabby, on the other hand, is much more mellow and demonstrative of her love. She's always there to offer a kiss and a hug, to whisper "I love you" in my ear and say I'm her most favorite person in the world. She cries whenever I don't feel well and never fails to remind me that she's very lucky because I am her mom.

"No, baby," I always say, "I'm the lucky one because I have you and ate."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Pain Much, Lose Much

My quest for a fitter and of course thinner body is taking its toll on my toes. I am wallclimbing again after yearssss of overeating and not exercising.

I always thought I was one of the lucky few who never gain weight. Back in college, I almost flunked a PE class because I lost weight. I enrolled in Weight Training and chose weight gain for my program. Finals had the teacher weighing us and comparing our first- and last-day of class weights. I went from thin to skinny and my teacher threatened to fail me right there and then. Good thing she didn't. But oftentimes I wish I still had the 21 3/4-inch waist.

After giving birth to my second daughter, I resolved to lose weight and try to gain my pre-childbirth frame. Wallclimbing was the fad then. I was never athletic and would not have tried it had I not heard from a reporter how effective it was for weight loss. It wasn't easy. There was a time when I couldn't climb the stairs in the Malacanang Press Office because of stiff muscles. But eventually, I found myself working out three times a week. And in just two months, I had to overhaul my wardrobe. My pants were so loose that they fell even after I folded them twice over at the waist.

I wallclimbed for about two years (or was it three?) I stopped because work kept me and my buddies busy. And because wallclimbing is an extreme sport, it was difficult finding new buddies to climb with.

But recently, I was able to convince several friends to try it. And like it, they did. Still, our busy schedules are hard to reconcile. My goal for now is to be able to wallclimb at least once a week.

So why do my toes look like they've been run over by a truck with snow tires? I am a size 6 1/2. Sometimes 7. My rock shoes are size 4. I defied my instructor, who told me to buy a size 3 1/2. Rock shoes are meant to be smaller than your feet. My instructor said that if you can walk in them, then they're too big. Whenever I wear them, I feel like a Chinese girl in metal shoes. Imagine what torture my toes go through when I'm actually on the wall.

But as the cliche goes, no pain, no gain. But in this instance, I'd like it to be, pain much, lose much.