December 31, 2007

Holiday Wishes

For a long, long time now, text messaging has (sadly) replaced Christmas cards. Along with firecrackers, carols and laughter, the beeping (or the hollering of whatever whimsical message alert tone) of the cellphone has come to punctuate Christmas and New Year's Eves.

Some messages are original, others are forwards of originals. Some are funny, others are on the sentimental side. All are, of course, appreciated and merit shelf lives far longer than the holidays.

Alas, as there is this "message memory almost full" warning that flashes with every new message, I have to let go of the greetings. I am transferring some, here, though, for far longer storage.

Happy New Year!

(Originally 12 but the memory can only accommodate 9) wishes from my high school buddy Roel:

1. Happiness. Deep down inside.
2. Serenity at every sunrise.
3. Success. In every facet of your life.
4. Family beside you.
5. Caring friends around you.
6. A love that never ends.
7. Good health within you.
8. Beautiful memories of yesteryears.
9. A bright today with so much to be thankful for.

A dozen Christmas wishes from my colleague Tonette:

1. Sunrise after the darkest of nights.
2. Friends who bring out the best in you.
3. A love that makes you smile.
4. Belief that anything is possible.
5. Courage to finally do what you've been putting off.
6. Time for yourself.
7. Promises that are not broken.
8. An answered prayer.
9. A heart that forgives.
10. A Christmas feeling all year round.
11. A soul that heals.
12. A good life and a healthy body.

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It is 22 hours into Christmas Day. The cellphone is now free of Christmas well wishes, the last of the presents have been opened, the table has been cleared. There is just the twinkling of the Christmas lights.

I am savoring my quiet hour. All through the day, I had been on my toes. As they always do, the maids spent Christmas with their families. Up until today, I never really minded. There were always extra hands, after all.

Not this year, though. With half of the family not home for the holidays, and with the rest of us rendered almost immobile by two Terrible Twos, a spoiled Dachshund and a stiff neck, the better part of December 25 was one hectic day.

I thought I'd breeze through Christmas preparations for the family. I did, actually. But I was not prepared for the "others." As early as six, there were people banging on the gate, each one doing his/her take on the classic "Tia, Tio Merry Christmas!" There was a constant procession of old women with young women with children and babies in tow, braving the rains, weighed down by plastic bagfuls of Christmas loot, asking for more.

By the time the godchildren started streaming in, I was literally pooped. I had to shelve plans of baking the Christmas Day Carrot Cake. And I had to restrain myself from committing murder when someone I hadn't seen in six years dropped by, asked for a pa-Christmas, sized me up and told me that I looked "different." "Different" as in "fat."

Still and all, this year's Christmas Day is one for the books. Gianna and her cousin gushed--and eventually fought--over everything: from the stuff in their stockings to their Christmas stash; from the humongous High School Musical 2 poster to the HSM2 DVDs. At some point, they argued over who's cuter: Chad or Troy and Gabriella or Sharpay. And all through Christmas Day, they had to be reminded to be "nice" because Santa (and Chad and Troy and Gabriella and Sharpay) said so.

Gianna weaved in and out of her Terrible Twos tantrums. But she did allow Sam to ride her bike. And five minutes ago, she held my hand and whispered, ever so sweetly "I love you, Mama," as she drifted off to sleep.

Aaaawww! Give it to kids to really make Christmas feel like, well, Christmas!

December 22, 2007

It's a ..... Cone!

Here's one from my sister's arsenal of true-to-life (political) sidelights:

Lawmaker A received an unusual Christmas gift from Lawmaker B: a package full of apa. Yes, ice cream cones. The wafery kind.

Thinking that the apa won't be missed, the staff consigned it to its natural fate: in their digestive systems, along with a gallon of Double Dutch Excellence.

Two days later, Lawmaker A came looking for the apa and, upon learning that it has since been digested, spent the entire day clucking his tongue in consternation.

The apa, it turned out, was far more expensive than five gallons of premium ice cream. After all, it came--not from Lawmaker B's turf, as the staff thought it did--but from a tiny, postcard-pretty village in France.

December 21, 2007

Stories of Christmases Past

Story 1:

It is the (mid) 1970s. I am grumpy because I did not get the (usual) box of curly tops during our school exchange gift. In fact, I did not get anything at all because I left the (usual) soapdish at home, and the (usual) exchange gift went on without me.

Because I am (probably) getting on Ma's nerves, she decides to have an impromptu exchange gift, with all of us combing the house for "gifts." I spy a bagful of red kiamoy and I wrap it up in elementary-school fashion. Our boy comes in carrying a big, beautifully wrapped present. The brat that I am, I decide to have that gift no matter what.

We draw lots, and I see that I'm about to get a "thing" wrapped in brown paper bag. My younger sister is about to get the gift. I bully my sister into trading lots with me.

The sister opens the brown paper bag and gives out a delighted yelp: there are sweets aplenty--Kendi-Mint, Bravo, White Rabbit, N-Nut, Big Boy Bubble Gum. I open the gift and I roar.

Inside the beautifully wrapped package is a bunch of freshly harvested kamoteng kahoy!

Story 2

It is 1989. My sister and I are at the bus terminal, trying to wheedle tickets for the trip that would take us home to Sorsogon for Christmas. All seats for the air-conditioned coaches are taken, the booking agent tells us. There is an extra trip, though, she continues.

And so we clamber aboard the rickety, ordinary bus, picking our way past cans of biscuits and baggage. The bus is packed. And smells of sweat and who knows what else. But there is an undercurrent of happiness, of excitement over going home for the holidays.

Four hours into what is projected as a twelve-hour ride, the engine coughs, then dies. We spend four hours in the middle of nowhere as mechanics try to resuscitate the otherwise dying bus. When it is clear that it won't go any farther, the conductor flags the next Bicol-bound bus, and asks if it would take us in. Or if we would take it.

We take the equally packed bus, and we are crammed--along with two others--into a three-seater. We are among the lucky ones. Others are standing along the aisles, separated from their travelling companions. The bus is so crowded that when someone is left behind at a pitstop his companion doesn't find out until four hours later, at the next pitstop.

For the entire trip, the tale of the lost companion becomes a running joke.

The bus breaks down twice, and we are--again--stranded. Somebody passes around a tin of biscuits, and soon, there is a mini roadside party of sorts. We watch as locals out to attend the dawn masses file past.

We transfer to yet another bus, and we spend the rest of the journey home standing. The twelve-hour ride stretches into a full 24 hours.

It is the longest bus ride of our lives. But it is worth it. After all, what is Christmas if it is not spent in the comforts of home?

Note: this is a Christmas meme I picked up from An Apple A Day.

What to do: Just share a warm, fuzzy Pinoy Christmas story or anecdote or photo or whatever it is you love about Christmas (as a Filipino). Link to this blog post for details.

December 17, 2007

The Kid's Got Taste

The Terrible Two and her equally glib cousin are as opinionated as they get. A strand of hair stuck on the mirror merits a "Yuck! Gross!" or an "Icky, icky, gooey, yucky, yucky pooey." For Gianna, frilly dresses are "wow, ka-nice," while Sam thinks they're "ayaw, ugly."

Sam, whose voice reaches booming proportions when she's excited (which is almost always) has taken to bellowing a lot recently. At the park, she'd excitedly point at the Rizal monument and yell "Hoysie Yizal!!!!" At the toy store, she'd shout "Wow, ballsh" or "baycode!!!!" or whatever piques her curiosity. She'd also categorize stuff into "nice" or "gross"

So when we went for the usual pre-bedtime ride to the park and saw this humongous bird/chick or whatever it was hanging from an electric post in the main street's center island, we knew that Sam just had to have her say.

For all the bird/chick's message of hope and happiness and unity, the kid cheekily dismissed it as "Jologsssshhhhhh!!!"

December 14, 2007


Before my bookmark-crazy sister took them, I had two bookmarks that screamed "psychedelic!" As in, 1970s! One had Andy Gibb on it; the other, Peter Frampton. I distinctly remember having Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett bookmarks, too, but they seem to have disappeared into "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Surfin' USA" oblivion.

The '80s heralded new "themes": Shirt Tales, those feel-good, if sappy Hallmark stuff, quotations that spurred me to either read, reach for the stars, love or be the best I can be. I had one made of cloth from Nepal--a souvenir from a jamboree.

My '90s bookmarks had a sense of coming of age, of coming back to the comforts of home. I have a gold-plated nipa hut bookmark and a collection of stuff that hinted of Faith Popcorn, Martha Stewart and Oprah.

More than just marking pages on books, I now realize that my bookmarks are by themselves memory markers as well. I know that a couple of years from now, I would look at this, my latest, and remember the heady, caffeine-loaded days of Anna's Tasa:

December 12, 2007

A is for Attitude

A colleague told me that one of the bosses thinks I have an attitude problem. And what is The (Minor) Boss's legal basis? I asked. After all, my Mom still has this medal stashed somewhere: a medal that proudly proclaims that I was--ahem--third in conduct in the CM Kindergarten Class of '73.

As it turned out, The Boss was irritated because I "snubbed" him. He was calling me, he told the colleague, and I obviously heard him but I walked on. I do remember being in the corridor and hearing someone shouting "hoy" behind me. And since I thought "Hoy" couldn't possibly be me, I went about my business without bothering to look where--or from whom--that demanding "hoy" was coming from.

Now it can be told: I have an attitude problem because I have a name. And it's not "Hoy."

December 11, 2007

And Now for the News...

Bizarre things have been happening lately from where I blog. Last week, a teenager was found hanging from a pili tree. He was depressed, his family said, after his "textmate" didn't show up for the much-awaited "eyeball."

A day after, yet another teenager was electrocuted--at 2 a.m.--while trying to cart off a rooster. The rooster was equally fried to a crisp...

And then, on Saturday, the jail warden prnounced on local TV that they were closely guarding a prisoner. No, he wasn't a terrorist. Or a mass murderer. Or a druggie. But he had--the warden claims--a "bertud": an amulet. And so they were keeping an eye on the guy so he wouldn't "escape."

For all the "smalltown-ness" of it all, I like it here. It makes the news a lot more real, more personal. Weird though they may be.

December 9, 2007


I am not a prude. But I am also a very private person. So when an acquaintance started lecturing me on the various positions that are "guaranteed" to get my reproductive hormones going, I was incredulous. The acquaintance couldn't have chosen a more appropriate place: the cold-cuts section of the supermarket.

So there I was, smiling a seemingly interested smile, nodding in agreement every now and then, all the while wishing she'd find a better audience. I was after all, in the grocery for cold cuts: not for cold, hard facts about reproduction.

Funny, but while she blabbed on, I felt like an audience in those you-gotta-try-these demos in supermarket kiosks. Like super-fast peelers or no-mess mops or stay-sharp knives. Only, the lecture was about hormones and positions and timing. And there was no way I could get a demonstration. Or a free sample.

Funny, too, how she referred to the act as "gamit." As in: "gumamit kayo blank number of days after your period." As if the whole reproductive thing bois down to use and utility...

December 8, 2007


First it was me. And then it was my PC. As I wheezed and sneezed, the monitor sparked, fizzled and just plain conked out. We were hit by a virus--my PC and I.

While I was left "postless" for more than a month, the world went on its usual dizzying whirl. The terrible two discovered "High Thchool Muthical" and has been driving me crazy with her imaginary conversations with Gabriella. The uncle was laid to rest with the entire city watching: the funeral, believe it or not, coincided with the "Pantomina sa Tinampo," a slow, super slow streetdance that dragged on for hours. Needless to say, the funeral music was drowned out by the pantomina that blared from speakers positioned all over the main streets. The display windows have shed off their halloween adornments and have since been taken over by the cheery greens, reds and golds of the season. The Manila Pen siege--or whatever it was--is a thing of the past.

Through all these, I realized that it is more frustrating not to be able to go blog-hopping than to be unable to blog. And that it is equally frustrating to know that SNHS Batch 84 chatted well into the wee hours while suddenly-unconnected me was, well, left hanging. Twice. When I opened my inbox and saw that there were 258 legit mail to be read, I knew that there would be a lot of catching up to do.

Thankfully, I am halfway there. Although I have to say that this virus thing is really a bummer. Now, if I can only have my old files back...

December 4, 2007

Me? A Cappuccino?

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.

However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.

You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.

You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

October 21, 2007

All in the Family

"I think the family is the place where the most ridiculous and the least respectable things in the world go on." Ugo Betti

When you come from a large family, with extensions to the left, right and center, things have a tendency to turn surreal. Just when you thought you have cemented cracks with an industrial-strength dose of high drama while singing "If We Hold On Together," for example, a daughter-in-law packs her bags and suddenly war the magnitude of tribal proportions breaks out.

Although my nuclear family has steered clear of the war, it amuses us no end how something as trivial as a Christmas star can trigger catfights, scathing text messages, another daughter-in-law flying the coop and yes, a divorce. We look back at the many "episodes" in the past: the day uncles and aunts from the "third family" carted off everything [yes, even the kitchen knife] from Grandpa's house; the day uncles and aunts from the first and second families fenced out Third Wife's grave from the family mausoleum; the day Youngest Tita pulled off a performance worthy of an Oscar because, well, because her birthday was coming up and no one has greeted her ... yet.

In a few days, the family will again gather for the wake for an uncle. Everyone's on edge. Will the warring tribes clash yet again? Or will there be hugs and kisses and fireworks over starry skies? Who gets front-row seats and who minds the protocol? Will there be, perhaps, another "community" singing of "If We Hold on Together?"

On his deathbed, the uncle--and he was the family comedian, too--said that he'd bring the family together. And when his kids opened the radio after he died, guess what was playing? Surreal, but it was that song.

October 17, 2007

Things I Learned from the Parlor

I'm not really that fond of beauty parlors. I have long resigned myself to the fact that I have a bad hair life,. And since I fell asleep while having a [zigzag] perm and woke up with an ugly burn on my forehead, I've been making sure that under no circumstances should I ever, ever, ever allow myself to be lulled to sleep by:

a] the steady drone of the hair dryer
b] the sound of scissors nipping and clipping away
c] the hushed--and sometimes not-so-hushed--voices providing a running commentary on showbiz, on politics, on fashion, on Manny Pacquaio and Ara Mina, on Kokey and on the latest batch of PBB housemates.

[Of course, I have also learned to stay away from parlors with "Shoppe" "Hauz" or "Beauticare" attached to their names.] In any case, my hair was again flying off in different directions. More than the usual, anyway, and so, armed with a volumeful of sudoku, I dropped by the parlor for the usual trim. As it turned out, there were four or five people waiting for Norma's ministrations. So I waited, waited, waited and eavesdropped.

Here's what I learned so far:

That a simple comment [Wow, nice chinelas] can lead to Australia and who knows where. [Haveanas to, P1,200. Imagine tsinelas lang P1,200 na. I use this when I'm off to conferences... My husband was in a conference in Australia, and when he asked me what I wanted as pasalubong ... yada, yada,yada...]

That the slim young-looking manicurista is actually a mother of ten and that she has no intention of going on the pill.

That if you look disinterested, they won't ask peddle you beauty products, or logganisa, or a house and lot.

That the tiny, portable idiot box commands much more attention that anything--and that the parloristas can really get carried away by all the drama on Pinoy Big Brother.

And that, yes, the network wars is very, very real. Tired of all the gushing over PBB [that is a reality show???], I was going to let on that I'm really Kapuso [sort of]. Good thing I didn't.

After all, I couldn't risk another bad haircut.

October 15, 2007

Earth Prayers

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

In the '90s, I came across this wonderful book of poems and prose about Mother Earth. Compiled into Earth Prayers, the book eventually spawned a collection of music, aptly titled Earth Songs. If anything, the book led me on a merry, inspiring search for Native American wisdom and writings. I'm sharing some with you guys in observance of Blog Action Day...

Oh Great Spirit [Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota Tribe]

Oh Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother
but to fight my greatest enemy--myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.

So when lilfe fades, as the fading sunset
my spirit may come to you
without shame.

Earth Prayer [Black Elk, Oglala Sioux]

Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold
me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.
You lived first, and you are older than all
need, older than all prayer. All things belong
to you--the two-legged, the four-legged, the
wings of the air, and all green things that live.

You have set the powers of the four quarters
of the earth to cross each other. You have
made me cross the good road and the road of
difficulties, and where they cross, the place is
holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are
the life of things.

Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed.

Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.

It may be that some little root of the sacred
tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And bloom
And fill with singing birds!

Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.

October 14, 2007

Memory Gap?

You know how it is: you misplace your phone and you pester someone to ring you up so you would know. Or you turn the house inside out for that elusive pair of glasses only to realize that it's been sitting on your head all along.

Similar things have happened to me countless times before, and when I do, those around me invariably point to my "getting on in years" as the culprit. As if forty is old.

But since 40 is the new thirties, and since I can't attribute my forgetfulness to a. depression; b. dementia; and c. side effects of strokes, injury and alcoholism, I have found ready answer in d. side effects of drugs.

Not that I am--or was--a junkie. I had my fair share of anaesthesia when they were prepping me for C-Section, and those who'd taken the route before me swore how surgery affected their memory. In any case, if I make a fool of myself and do the following:

1. Forget to rinse off the conditioner [and go to the office wondering why my hair is particularly slippery-smooth];

2. Hand over my fare to the driver by saying "Mama, hello";

3. Jog my memory for the name of a person only to realize that the person is actually the hubby;

4. Chat up a storm with someone, all the while mistaking that person for someone else;

5. Wear a skirt with the slit up front [when it should be at the back] and when someone notices, say that it is supposed to be that way;

it's not memory gap. Blame it on that little stitch in my tummy :p

October 12, 2007

11th to 20th Commandments

Today is my De-cluttering Day, and while I was leafing through mountains of paper, I found this gem. This one's for you, A, and for others out there who could use some picker-upper.

The 11th to 20th Commandments

11. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.

12. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

13. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.

14. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time, anyway.

15. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.

16. Though shall not borrow other peoples' problems. They can better care for them than you can.

17. Though shall not try to relive yesterday for good or ill, it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now.

18. Though shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It is hard to learn something new when you are talking, and some people do know more than you do.

19. Though shall not become bogged down by frustration for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action.

20. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to big ones.

October 10, 2007


Gianna had another terrible-two moment last night. She was in her pyjamas, and we went out for a stroll in the neighborhood prior to having dinner. When I saw that there were people in the chapel, I asked her if she wanted to say hi to Mama Mary.

She said yes, she wanted to, but she has to go home first to change. I said it was okay, because other kids were in their pambahay, too, and there was no Mass anyway. She started whimpering, and the moment we entered the chapel, she made it clear that I wasn't going to have my way.

First, she tried to take off her clothes. When that didn't work, she started biting her pyjama top's strap, all the while whining "bihis, bihis, bihis." No amount of assurance can convince her that what she was wearing was okay.

When we got home [we had to make an early exit because her whining and her whimpering were already reaching annoying levels], she made for her closet, picked out a dressy shirt, asked her yaya to put it on and declared "I'm going out now, Mama."

"Out," this time, was at the neighbor's, which was just two houses away.

October 7, 2007

Awww, An Award

If I were any sprightlier, I would have done triple somersaults on a balance beam. Or a victory dance, complete with costumes and all. You see, Rowena had this chicklet waiting for me on her site, and it really, really thrills me no end.

I feel so much like Manny Pacquiao really, except I'm not all beat up and bruised. When I started blogging in April, I thought that I would just be keeping an online journal of sorts. It never occured to me that I would be read, or that I would be part of a friendly, if opinionated, community. It never even occured to me that I would spend the better part of my online time hopping from one blog to the next, and enjoying kindred bloggers' stories.

So thank you, thank you, Sweet Rowena, for this my first award. And to spread the cheer, I am passing on the chicklet to these lovely ladies whose blogs I really, truly love:

Em Dy

Hop over to their blogs and you'll see why!

October 2, 2007

Smells Like ...

A colleague, fresh from a seminar in Davao, brought fresh durian to the office today. The moment he opened his Tupperware, there was a chorus of "yucks." Somebody opened the door to air out the room, and it took awhile before we decided that the smell was, well, bearable.

It wasn't as bearable, though, for the others who dropped by our relatively small space. One whiff of the durian-scented air, and somebody who wanted to have her blood pressure taken retreated. She didn't want to risk a heart attack, she said. A client, who was waiting for a relative's death certificate to be reviewed, wrinkled her nose, wondering perhaps if she was smelling death. Another thought she smelled antibiotics.

E, goading us to try the durian, repeated the oft-quoted durian lover's line: that it smells like hell but tastes like heaven. Maybe it really takes some getting used to, but I just didn't like the gooey, mushy texture. I just don't like my food all gooey and mushy at all. It may take some more tries before I can say that durian tastes like heaven. for now, let's say that it's ... interesting. And yes, it's more bearable with an icy glass of Coke.

October 1, 2007

Me, Myself and I

There's this one character who is so into herself she thinks the whole world revolves around her. To say that she is self-centered is an understatement. She loves hearing herself talk, and in most cases it's always about me, myself and I. As in "I" alone did this. Oh, "I" have this wonderful, wonderful idea. "Yours truly" thought up the whole thing.

Once, Ms. MMI was asked to comment on/edit/correct a manuscript. The manuscript came back virtually untouched, except for the part where the members of the team were listed. Across her name, alongside her official designation, Ms. MMI added a "few" more titles: chief of this and that, chair of this and that, head of this and that...Obviously, the other members of the team were just, well, members. Ms. MMI had to be a member and a star.

Ms. MMI just can't resist hogging the "limelight." In one training sponsored by her well-staffed office, she put on a one-woman-show of sorts. She emceed, she led the opening prayer, she conducted the national anthem, she introduced the guest speaker (mercifully,it wasn't her), she did the closing remarks and she acted as the facilitator and lecturer. Ironically, the training was about empowering and motivating the staff.

Recently, Ms. MMI raised hell because some little usherette forgot to pin a corsage on her. She shed (crocodile)tears and went up to the usherette's boss, moaning about how insulted she was and how, given her stature, she should have been given that darn corsage. To her credit, Ms. MMI can really do a Vilma Santos if she wanted to. To cut an unbelievable story short, memos were issued, program designs were written and a whole bunch of "experts" were flown in to lecture on workplace ethics. And all because of one frigging, cheap corsage!

For all her self-centeredness, Ms. MMI might as well borrow this monologue thought up by a colleague from a long time ago:

"Okay, enough about me. Let's talk about you. So, what do you think of me?"

September 29, 2007

365 Days Later

It's been a year since Milenyo. A year since I woke up to the glare of the after-the-storm sun and saw these:

But the day after was not just about destruction and loss. It wasn't just about the prospect of dark, "powerless" nights and--as a visiting friend put it--shoulders weighed down by hopelessness. The day after was for drying out, for picking up the pieces and sponging out the mess. It was about surveying the scene and deciding that the loss is not that insurmountable.

Before Milenyo, storms in these parts were measured against Sisang, a particularly strong typhoon that hit ground 20 years ago. I wasn't around then, but I was told that the destruction was just terrible. Now, whenever there's talk of yet another storm, we pray that it won't be another Milenyo. And we prepare for the worst.

I don’t know, but where I come from, storms do have a way of drawing people together. Maybe it’s the cloud of uncertainty; of not knowing what the next day would be like after the destruction. Or maybe it is a matter of perspective: at the end of it all, it is not what was lost that is important: it is what remains.

A year later, we are back to normal. The leaves are back on the trees, houses have been repaired and we are all the wiser with memories of yet another of life's storms.

September 23, 2007

Bless Me Father and Other Quirks

This is a tag from a long, long time ago. I'm supposed to list down seven weird things about me. The first time I tried to do the tag, I just couldn't come up with the requisite seven, and so this has languished in draft.

Could it be that I'm too normal? Or could it be that I'm not conscious of my quirks? In any case, here's my second stab at this "weirdness" tag...

1. Maybe, it's the offshoot of all those years of having to go to monthly confession, but I always have to stop myself from greeting priests with "Bless me, father, for I have sinned." Once I picked up the phone, and it was the parish priest asking for Ma. Without thinking twice, I blurted: "Oh, bless me father."

2. I always confuse my left and my right. When somebody asks for directions, I have to motion with my hands so that I would know which is my right and which is my left. Needless to say, this makes for a lot of confusion,especially when I'm playing the part of backseat driver.

3. Call me gross, but I like scratching dandruff. I especially like it when the flakes practically fly. So that he can keep those dandruff-itchy fingers happy, the husband actually makes sure there's something to scratch.

4. I leaf through magazines from the back cover and make my way to the front. In short, magazine covers are really wasted on me.

5. In the not-so-distant past, when I lived the life of an urban commuter, I played a game by forming words out of car plates. My little game kept me sane through the horrendous EDSA traffic.

6. I always have to have a handful of pens. I can go without lipstick, but I can't for the life of me go without at least three pens. And four sachets of Maxwell House 3-in-1.

7. Twenty-seven years or so later, I still know the lyrics to the Candy Candy theme. (She's a girl, pretty girl, with ribbons on her hair. She's a girl with lots and lots and lots of fun and friends to share...)

September 22, 2007

Flower Girl

For nine days this month, Gianna was a flower girl. No, not the wedding sort of flower girl, but it was a "churchy" thing just the same. You see, it was our village fiesta, and there was this novena at the chapel in honor of the Virgin of Penafrancia.

After the communion, when the choir was singing the hymn to the Penafrancia, the Mother Butlers sought little girls to offer flowers. Now, Gianna is not really the outgoing type, but she has this thing for churches and altars and priests and mothers. And so there she marched, the littlest girl in the procession, inching her way toward the altar.

The first day experience must have been fun, and so she had me going to church for nine days so she can offer flowers. She did try to convince her cousin Sam to be a "flower girl," but when it was time, Sam didn't want to part with her by-then mangled flowers.

September 19, 2007

Tuning Out...

I am not cut out for meetings. I have a very, very short attention span, and when plans for a very real three-hour weekend activity branch into immeasurables such as social transformation, values formation and spirit of volunteerism, I find ways to amuse myself. Like doodling. Or dreaming up imaginary conversations. Or imagining thought bubbles coming out of the speakers.

I tend to tune out when meetings turn verbose, when two-minute monologues can be summarized in three words. I have this urge to echo something that came out of my years in corporate slavery: that Romans didn't build an empire by having meetings: they did so by killing all those who opposed them.

I have no wish to build an empire, and I'd like to believe that I have no homicidal tendencies. But I don't like pointless, just plain shooting-breeze meetings. I'd much rather doodle. Or listen to what's not being said. In most cases,it's what's not being said that matters anyway.

Weird Sister (check out Immateur Anthropologist) told of this blah teacher in high school who practically bored the whole class to death. So that they would stop short of notching a world record for simultaneously nodding off to sleep, she and her classmates devised ways to keep boredom at bay. For a while they thought reading komiks on the sly (hidden between the pages of the textbook) was the neatest thing. Until they saw this boy at the back of the class making bubbles out of his laway (saliva).

I wonder if I can pull that off during meetings :p

September 17, 2007

My Boys

I had a sort of introduction to motherhood in my early 30s, courtesy of my nephews, Chino and Eon. The boys were really boys, making mischief minute by minute. Bored at having to wait for the wedding procession to start, they marched ahead, sending the entire entourage scurrying to their places. Prior to take-off, Chino stood in front of the stewardess--who was then doing the in-case-of-emergency drill--and shouted: "okay everybody, open your mouth and lunok laway."

The boys introduced me to the world of non-sequiturs and unanswerable questions, to Jollibee Kiddie Meals and pediatricians. From Chino, who's older by two years, came questions and statements that introduced me as well to the the way the then four-year-old's mind works. Here are some of them:

"Eon, bakit kapag natatapunan mo ako ng water at sinasabi ko na lagot ka, sinasabi mo na di ka lagot? Bakit kahit lagot ka, gusto mo pa rin palagi na wala kang lagot?"


"Bakit kapag uminom ng water pakakain at nadala na ng lawayand water sa tiyan, nalalasahan ulit ang pagkain?"


"Nag-away kami ni Eon kanina. Sabi kasi ni Eon,wala daw Perlas ng Silanganan ang Bayang Magiliw. Sabi ko meron."


"Jesus, sana po i-stop nyo ang stretch ng hand ko para hindi ako makakurot."


Chino hardly speaks Tagalog now and he's much more behaved. But he still has those outrageous views. His mama--whom Eon calls "My Mommmm"--usually gives "points" for good deeds or for a job well done. The points can be redeemed for extra minutes on the computer. In one high drama moment, Chino begged: "Don't give me points, Mama. Please don't give me points. I think I'm just doing good so I can get points."

That from the mouth of a kindergartner.

September 16, 2007

My Town

You know what they say about small towns: one blink and it's gone. In a way, that's what Sorsogon is. The commercial center is made up of two main streets branching into little side pockets. When the planners laid out the town 50 or so years ago, they probably had little idea that "Berlinas" and wheels would eventually take control of the road. Or that Sorsogon would eventually be a city. Which explains why traffic can be a little off-putting during rush hours.

But there is much, much, more to Sorsogon than its seeming smallness. Beyond the L-shaped commercial district are open spaces that point to a wide, wide world. Venture just a little farther from Rizal Street and you get a heady view of the the sea and the mountains.

The road leading to my office is flanked by fields of green, with the majestic Bulusan Volcano looming right ahead.

From where I blog, the beach is but 10 minutes away. Going there doesn't take much planning; you just decide to go, and there you are.

When I was younger, I felt hemmed in by what I thought to be a small town. There was something very limiting about the way the rays of the sun slanted at 5 p.m. As if marking the end of yet another blah day.

But now there's some comfort--and a lot of promise--in the same slant. It makes me look forward to going home, and to another beautiful day.

September 13, 2007


I am a window person. Looking out provides elemental thrill, the way the scent of a new book does. I just love windows with great views: they take the boredom out of commuting, or of listening to lessons, or of sitting still.

Come to think of it, I am blessed with great views. Literally. Our classroom windows in grade school framed endless, sweeping views of the ocean and the mountains. In high school, it was a different view, but mostly of people rushing from here to there, from there to who knows where. In college, it was a little of both--the greens of Colayco Park mingling with the traffic along Dapitan.

The windows of my post-college rat race changed as often as I changed bosses: they took me from the humbling views of Intramuros to the not-quite-like-Ayala busyness of Shaw Boulevard. From the still green but doubtlessly citified NGO territories of Quezon City to the "smogness" of Cubao. From the glorious sunsets of Roxas Boulevard to the breathtaking Ortigas skyline.

My pace is now more manageable, my views just as awesome. On a clear day, my kitchen window frames the perpetually blue Bulusan volcano, the same view that takes up most of my office's western windows. When stumped, or bored, or listless, or just hankering for a view, I look out, and things fall into place. Always.

September 11, 2007

Catching Up

Last Saturday, CM Batch 80 had a mini meet-up. I had initial misgivings about going. It's been way too long--27 years to be exact--and I wondered if we'd ever find something to talk about beyond the requisite how are yous.

As it turned out, we did have a lot to talk about. Not just remember whens and stories about former classmates but stories of the here and now. Over lunch--which strecthed for three hours, we did some catching up. Kiko, he who slugged it out with the class bully, is now Padre Kiko. Rudy and Ayi, the big boys, are now much, much bigger. Philip, Larcy and Patrick are the constant contacts, providing updates on the others.

When we were in grade school,we went by our "given" names. Kiko was Francisco, Obet was Roberto, Rudy was Rodolfo, Bong was Aruello. I went by the rather unwieldy name of Anna Carmencita. Maturity has made for shorter names. And for overcoming the Catholic-school imposed boys-with-boys-and-girls-with-girls restrictions. In a sense, it has also made us kinder--especially on ourselves. Having seen much, we are no longer embarrassed by soiled-underwear episodes. Such, are, in fact, now sources of endless amusement.

And so, this business of growing up--and older--isn't so bad at all.

September 7, 2007

Friday Fill-In

I got this from Yes, I am fond of Severus Snape. Sirius Black, too....

1. I admire people who can say sorry--and really mean it!
2. I crave coffee crumble ice cream, dark chocolate and Nielsen's raspberry britte.
3. I dislike crowds, litter and know-it-alls.
4. I enjoy being a girl--and a mom.
5. I wonder if there are parallel universes.
6. I want nothing but the best for my daughter.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to blogging, tomorrow my plans include meeting up with friends and Sunday, I want to take a hike--or take it easy!

September 6, 2007

Radio Days

Before FM and Cable TV, there was AM Radio. Its cackling sound--coming from the neighbor's transistor--used to herald a new day. Along with the crowing of the cocks would come the reporter's running-out-of-breath voice, telling of the terrors of the night.

But it wasn't the news I was interested in. I got my news from Junior Citizen, from Bulletin Today or from the Daily Express. To the ten-year-old me, radio was proof that there was a world out there--a world of serialized melodramas, of variety shows--the Search for Superwheel Singing Stars, ha ha--of requests and dedications, of celebrities endorsing products--and in Bicol, too.

BetaMax and FM put a damper on AM Radio's entertainment value. Suddenly, Mga Kwento ng Lagim seemed less scary. What I pictured to be hairy tikbalangs and green-eyed monsters were, in fact, prosthetics. What I imagined to be beautiful, if long-suffering Esmeralda, turned out to be Matutina. All the hit songs of the day sounded better on FM--or could it be that the cassette player replaced the turntable, the thing that you had to put a fifty-centavo coin on to stop the needle from skipping?

Almost a year ago, though, I was forced to reconnect with AM. It became, again, the only connection to the post-Milenyo world; a companion that told of the devastation of Legazpi and Bicol and the coming of yet another typhoon.

Despite an absence of over 20 years--broken now and then when the taxi I would ride home in tuned in to Kuya Cesar and Tia Dely--I realized that AM was still, well, AM.

It still crackled, it still had a string of panicky reporters. And commercials still ended the way they did: with two people--probably gossiping over the gumamela bush--hastily saying goodbye to rush to the grocery to buy all the pancit canton in the world. Or to the water district to avail of the free reconnection. Or to the appliance store to splurge the Christmas bonus on the latest videoke machine.

Yes, AM still keeps us connected.

September 2, 2007


My sisters often tease me that I have supersonic ears. Either that, or I am simply chismosa. When a topic piques my curiosity, the thing about the walls having ears becomes an understatement. There are times when I find that nothing is more challenging than trying to worm my way between two heads drawn together in a whisper: I just have to know what's brewing.

Other times, my "radar" unintentionally tracks conversations--whether one-sided or two--that are way too weird,wacky or just plain out of whack. Here are some of them:

A: Pare, saan ka ngayon?

B: Wala lang, sa bahay lang.

A: Hindi ka nagta-trabaho?

B: Ba't naman ako magtatrabaho, eh wala naman akong pakakainin. Wala naman akong asawa.


He (placating a distraught she): Okay naman yung movie ni Al Pacino, ah.

She (obviously pissed at having to sit through two hours of Sea of Love): Ano'ng okay? Mas okay pa sana kung si Fernando Poe. Pacino-Pacino, pwe. Niloloko nya ang taong-bayan.


Girl (holding up a picture of their Dad): Kuya, ang pangit talaga ni Papa, no?

Boy: Oo nga, kaya lang wala na tayong magagawa, tatay natin sya eh. Buti na lang, hindi tayo nagmana sa kanya.


He (sizing up the Jurassic Park poster): Totoo kayang "one million years in the making" yan?

She: Sus, maniwala ka dyan. E di patay na sana ang director no.

Oo nga naman...

September 1, 2007

Remembering Princess Di

Ten years ago, I woke up to a phone call. Berna was in tears, moaning about a recent loss. "Patay na si Diana," she sobbed. I remember wracking my brains for which Diana: a colleague, perhaps? A relative? Or one of Berna's many cats? "Sinong Diana?" I finally asked. "Hello, e di si Lady Di."

And this was how I learned of the news that shocked the world: in my pajamas, the tequila of the night before still clouding my head.

My tequila days are over, and it seems that the world has recovered from the death of a princess. I remember a classmate in college, she who would go to class armed not with notebooks but with scrapbooks chronicling Diana's paparazzi days. I wonder if she still goes about collecting memorabilia. Most likely she has moved on. Like the rest of us and like Berna, whose search for greener pastures has put a period on her life as an activist.

But we remember, of course. We have precious memories of our lives and the events of ten years ago. We remember royal weddings and princesses and losses. And in remembering, we connect.

August 31, 2007

Delayed Reaction

When I read Malu Fernandez' much ballyhooed piece about her flight from Boracay to Greece--precious column inches of which were devoted to OFW bashing--I thought here goes another society matron who seriously thinks she can write.

When I read her anything-but-sincere apology, where the woman claims that she was just being "humorous," I thought uh-oh Ms. Hoity-Toity got some shit going her way.

And when I read her resignation letter from the Standard, I realized that the woman can write naman pala. If there is such a thing as a professional apology scribe, the woman should be it.

August 19, 2007

Linggo ng Wika

Among the more memorable school activities that spiced up my otherwise humdrum academic life was the commemoration of Filipino Week. The nuns at school took it to literal heights. For one week, English and Bicol were forgotten. Lessons (except in Language and Spelling and Reading and Phonics) were conducted in Filipino, and we had to converse in nothing but pure Tagalog. There was a price to pay, too, for every wayward work spoken: five centavos.

And so for one week, we were forced to write on our kuwaderno, we borrowed books from the aklatan and we had our lessons in the silid-aralan. The nuns made like hawks, ever ready to swoop down on pupils who violated the all-Filipino rule. They had as assistants the pupils who "told."

Back then, you had to be a nerd or a cad to go running to Sor Teresa to tell on the violators. Nerds, by their very nature, were easily forgiven: telling, after all, was the closest they could get to having fun. Cads, on the other hand, took some time to forgive, especially since they deprived most of us with our precious Coke-and-Chippy money.

Not that I was on the watchlist. My textbook Tagalog passed, stilted though it was. Besides, there were "bigger" fish out there: The nuns and their minions constantly tailed the couple of FilAms, who eventually resorted to being miserably speechless for one whole "Linggo ng Wika."


Another "disciplinary" tool that the nuns imposed on us in between subjects and on breaks was the NSP Roll: a monitor (okay, a nerd) listed down the noisy, "standing" pupils on a section of the chalkboard. Any pupil caught standing and chattering got a stick. Five sticks meant a fine of--ta dah--five centavos, which went into the pot as "floorwax" money.

Most times, when the monitor went on a power trip, the list would be expanded to include pupils being "absent" (not on one's assigned seat), eating, laughing, and just about any gerund the monitor can think of. Once a bully punched a classmate, so the list included "punching" as well. Before the monitor could add "erasing," though, the bully went up front and erased the entire list. So much for floorwax money, huh?

August 15, 2007


Mang Diego, he who mastered the art of saying "smile," "ready, one, two, three" and "say cheese," passed away yesterday morning. He was the official photographer of Colegio de la Milagrosa, and from the time I was in nursery to the time I left for high school, he captured my then so-called life in albumfuls of black-and-whites.

He was the invisible hand behind birthday and Christmas parties, school programs, field demonstrations and class pictures. He captured--to my eternal embarrassment--my leave-me-alone scowl in my sixth-grade annual. In the same way that he captured the many Kodak moments of every Milagrosinian.

Mang Diego was an institution,a regular fixture in the CM grounds. Even when he was already slowed down by diabetes and by age, he would find an excuse to be near his beloved "school."

Barring the years that he would deliver his precious black-and-whites to our house, I was never really close to Mang Diego. Not having seen him for the longest time, I pictured him still as the sprightly retratista of my youth.

I guess I never really thought that my childhood heroes would die...

August 14, 2007

Weekday Drama

Yesterday I braced myself for the usual teary Monday-morning goodbyes. I knew that this Monday would be particularly difficult. After all, we spent the better part of Saturday at the beach, and Sunday was a 100% Gianna-and-Mama day.

And so I woke up unusually early, bathed unusually early and dressed up unusually early. That would give me enough mommy time, I figured, before I shifted to the workday mode.

I was fully prepared for the "no no no office" pleas. I had my lines down pat, and my escape route perfectly plotted. As I was about to make for the back door, however, the little girl looked at me and--with no hint of the customary high drama--said "Bye-bye, Mama. Take care."

It was the same scene this morning.

Ouch! Now I'm not sure which tugs at my mommy heartstrings more: the tearful, dramatic so longs or the matter-of-fact bye-byes.

With a pang, I realize that my little girl is slowly learning to let go.

And I am not ready.

August 11, 2007

High School: A Tag

This meme--which came from my friend Marj--has been in draft mode for the longest time. I guess I have been too busy re-living high school (thanks to to write about it. In any case, here's the me of 23 years ago, to the tune of the Bagets soundtrack...

1. Who was your best friend? From first to third year, my closest friends were Gina, Annie and Memen. For some strange reason, I ended up in a different section in 4th year. For something like a week--until I found Oti--I felt lost and "friendless," which was, of course, fodder for my high-school angst. :p

2. Did you play any sports? I was never the sporty spice, and intramurals were really wasted on me...

3. What kind of car did you drive? Me? Drive? Heck, I even learned to "bike" at 21.

4. It’s Friday night. Where were you? At home. It was our official hang-out, and the gang usually slept over in preparation for Saturday-morning jogging.

5. Were you a party animal? I was allowed to party, but it wasn't like there were that many parties to attend.

6. Were you considered a flirt? Nope. I'm actually more on the "manang" side.

7. Were you in the band, orchestra or choir? I was a choral group reject. Ha ha ha. The chorale master told me that I would have made the cut, but the PTA decided to have "only one member of the family in the choir" so that the parents won't have to be burdened with expenses for costumes, etc. She should have told me that I just wasn't choir material. I mean, my two other sisters auditioned and they were taken in...

8. Were you a nerd? I was in the top ten, and I was quite "studious."

9. Were you ever suspended or expelled? No. But there was this one teacher who got so mad at the whole class he started cursing all of us.

10. Can you sing the fight song? I can't sing. Period.

11. Who was your favorite teacher? My Pilipino teacher in second year. She was a character, but she made Florante at Laura really worth studying for.

12. What was your school mascot? Didn't have any unless the more memorable teachers counted.

13. Did you go to the Prom? Of course, but only until 9 o'clock. The prom, though, was an improvement on the first dance I went to. The first time, Dad was with me all throughout so I ended up going home before 8.

14. If you could go back, would you? Would I still be wearing Grosby shoes and sporting a siete hairstyle? Why not?

15. What do you remember most about graduation? Me wearing a lacy white dress copied from something that the younger Janice de Belen wore :p

16. Where were you on Senior Skip Day? Don't even know what a Senior Skip Day is.

17. Did you have a job during your senior year? Nada. I mean, studying was already a job in itself.

18. Where did you go most often for lunch? Home.

19. Have you gained weight since then? Eighteen kilos and counting...

20. What did you do after graduation? Left for Manila to take the UST entrance exams.

21. What year did you graduate? Ahem. 1984

22. Are you going/did you go to your 10 year reunion? I did, and it was a lot of fun. Now we're prepping for the 25th...

How about you? How was high school?

August 10, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Dear All,

Please excuse my absence from the blogosphere. The past few days have been really hectic. I came back from a much-needed break to find my desk groaning with paper all labeled "urgent." While I was attacking my in tray, Mount Bulusan--which, on clear days, serves as my natural wallpaper--shot up a thick column of debris. It was a beautiful sight all right, but in the back of our minds, my colleagues and I were in a disaster council mode, mentally ticking off requests for nebules and antihistamines.

Bulusan quieted down soon after. Blogging, however, took a backseat to:

a. Little Miss Cling Wrap
b. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
c. Blog-hopping
d. Meetings, meetings and more meetings
e. Long walks
f. Agonizing over the fact that Angel Locsin has traded Kapuso for Kapamilya
g. Applying for my GSIS e-card

My schedule--and my priorities--are now more manageable. And I am back. For now.

And so, on with Anna's Tasa. And on with visiting your blogs. And while we're at it, thank you, thank you and thank you for dropping by.



August 9, 2007

Ark Lessons from Prof. Noah

I've been in a reading mode the past few days, and this one piece really grabbed me. This, from an old Kerygma issue, is one inspiring read.

All You Really Need to Know You Can Learn from Noah and the Ark.

1. Don't miss the boat.
2. Try to remember that we're all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark, you know.
4. Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.
5. Don't listen to critics, just get on with what has to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
8. Two heads are better than one.
9. Speed isn't always an advantage; after all, the snails were on board with the cheetahs.
10. When you're stressed, try floating a while.
11. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs; it was the Titanic that was built by professionals.
12. Remember that woodpeckers inside are a bigger threat than storms outside.
13. No matter what the difficulty, trust in the Almighty: There will always be a rainbow at the end of the storm.

Amen to that.

July 31, 2007

My Butt, My Aching Butt!

I’ve got real pain in the butt, and, nope, it has nothing to do with “aging.”

The day I turned the big four-o, some little imp got hold of me and jogged me into revisiting that old friend, Wanderlust. Now the idea of a long, long ride proved too tempting, and I just had to say go.

The thing is, packing is not the haphazard thing that it was. A backpack was no longer enough, what with the baby bottles, the sterilizer, the formula and all. Midway, when it was clear that Gianna would not let me pack in peace, I thought of calling the whole thing off. But then again, the little imp whispered “open road, open road,” and the hassles of organized packing were forgotten.

It was around midnight when the discomfort started. To her credit, Gianna is an A-one traveler. She doesn’t whine, doesn’t whimper. She’s a sound sleeper, too. And since she used my lap as her pillow, I was constrained to sit still and not shift position for the better part of 12 hours.

When we reached our destination, my butt was so sore from sitting. For a while, I couldn’t move without grunting, and the idea of sitting yet again was an agony.

It was the same story on the way back. But the three days in between were just so wonderfully different. There were no deadlines to take me away from Little Miss Cling-Wrap, we had all the time to bond, and she had a blast singing “Tomorrow” on rain-drenched streets.

So okay, I have an aching butt. But I have a spring in my step as well, and I am perfectly fine.

July 26, 2007

Forty and Feeling Fine

I am forty years old today.

In the days leading to my birthday, I had been on the lookout for telltale signs. Aching joints, perhaps? Unsightly bulges? White hair? Memory lapses? Strangers calling me ale?

After conditional exes and a couple of hmmms, I have decided that I am nowhere near old. Thirty-nine may seem formidable, but 40? Heck, it’s nothing but a number!

For how can I be “old” when I shift to Dora the Explorer mode at bedtime? My TV viewing fare includes Little Bill and Out of the Box. By the bedside are The Valiant Little Tailor, No Jumping on the Bed, Blue’s Art Day and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

Sure the e-groups I have enrolled in have sections for “old photos.” I am getting too old for Starstruck and the Young VIP Club. I have memory boxes brimming with, well, memories of 19, 23, 27 years ago.

But “old?”

When I turned 29, with marriage and a family nowhere in sight, well-meaning (hah!) relatives nagged me incessantly about hurrying up because “malapit ka na mawala sa kalendaryo.”

Well, 29, 30 and 31 passed, and they weren’t so bad. True, you won’t find my age in the calendar anymore. But it’s still in lotto. And in ten years, it’d still be in Bingo.

July 24, 2007

The Name Game

Over lunch today, two friends who decided to go back to school were talking about assignments and computations. The conversation would have totally escaped me, until one mentioned a classmate named "Beautylynn." I almost choked on my okra. "Beautylynn?"

The name sent me searching my inbox for a forwarded email written by an expat. "A Rhose by Any Other Name," is a humorous take on the many inventive ways we Filipinos deal with the business of naming our kids. Some of the naming styles:

1. Door-bell names such as Ding, Ding-Dong, Ping, Ting-Ting

2. Repeating names such as Let-Let, Len-Len, Jun-Jun, Mai-Mai. The repeating names can be written as Let2, Len2, Jun2, Mai2 and so on...

3. Composite names such as Jejomar (for Jesus, Joseph and Mary) and Luzviminda (for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao). Ha ha on this one! I know someone named Rofebar (for Ronando, Fernando and the fact that Ronando and Fernando passed the Bar exams on the year he was born). Or how about Jemelvic (for Jean, Rommel and Vic, the kid's aunt and uncles)

4. The concept of the randomly-inserted "h." As in Jhun, Jhimmy, Ghemma. I have cousins--unmistakably '70s kids--whose "groovy" parents made sure that their nicknames have the requisite, if useless "h": Yeyoh, Dhing, Rhey, Dhan...well, you know the drill...

5. A creative sense of humor creeping its way purposely into names. Examples are: Edgar Allan Pe, Washington Dy Sy, Magic Chiongson

6. Parents sticking to a theme (names that begin with the same letter, a whole line of fruits, desserts, etc.) Mortifying, but my folks are guilty of this. The names of the two elder daughters—Anna Carmencita (me, me me) and Emma Concepcion—are quite fine, considering that they were named for their patron saints. As for the other four, well, Dad and Ma must have spent many a sleepless night figuring our four-letter first names starting with a vowel and ten-letter middle names starting with the letter C.

Funny, too, how generations gravitate toward almost the same “generic” names. In confirmation rites last year, it struck me how just about grade-five pupil is invariably named Nicole Anne or Katrina Mae or Anna Mae or Princess Mae or Ruffa Mae or Christine Mae. One name is forever etched in my book: Khryztynn Lynn.

And now, Beautylynn.

The name game encompasses family pets as well. Because the dog was considered “part of the family,” the De Leons named their dog “Keempee.” As in Keempee de Leon. Somewhere in the neighborhood is a dog named “Kagata,” which, in Bicol, loosely translates to “go ahead and bite.”

And then there’s the dog formerly known as Berta, which now goes by the name of “Princess Mae.” The new name was given by Krystalla, the help whose original name is not Krystalla. In any case, Princess Mae’s owner was wondering why the dog wouldn’t do so much as lift an ear when she calls. Out of frustration, she yelled “Fren-theth Miii,” the way Krystalla says it.

What do you know, the darn dog did a doggie somersault!

Princess Mae, it turns out, is Frentheth Mi after all.

July 23, 2007

Girly-girl Talk

When I was single, I scoffed at mothers who overdid the ribbons-and-frills stuff. No girly stuff for my future daughter, I swore. No all-pink ensemble, no dressing her up like she was one big meringue.

Call it the universe mocking me, but today, I have one kikay of a daughter. Her wardrobe is mostly pink, with a sprinkling of purple and the occasional powder blue. She is so into Barbie and the Disney Princesses. She raids her cabinet for constant "wardrobe" changes, making her nanny wail at the pile of laundry.

It is my youngest sister who must have absorbed most of the kikay blood in the family. When she found out that she was having a daughter, she painted the nursery walls Tinkerbell green and baby pink. She brought in unmistakably girl layettes, just stopping short of swathing the entire room in gossamer drapes.

Alas, Sam is no 100% girl. Ribbons trigger fits of hysteria, and just the thinnest film of after-bath lotion prompts her to yell "tanggalin, tanggalin." The kid is no fancy dresser. Skirts are okay, but dresses are a no-no. She doesn't like pink, either. Pink is for Ate Gianna: for Sammy Girl, it's yellow.

To mark Sam's 2nd birthday, the mom threw a princess-themed party. She went through the hassle of commuting to Legazpi to buy just the right party attire and spent two days convincing the kid that the dress is wearable.

No success there, though. And so the kid who is no princess showed up at her party in a yellow skirt, a Tweety shirt and, yes, pink rubber shoes.

This just goes to show that we can't force our kids to be just like us. Of the same mold,perhaps. But entirely different.

July 21, 2007

Been There, Done That

Does having a kid make me an expert at the whole parenting thing? Some people seem to think so. Or why else would they seek my "expert" advice at the grocery aisle, in the comfort room, in church, or in the middle of a busy street? One kid, and suddenly I am a member of the "been-there-done-that" sisterhood. Licensed to start sentences with "When I was pregnant..." Forgiven for lugging around pictures, pictures and more pictures of the "pretty, pretty kid." Considered resource person on pregnancy matters (matters of pregnancy?) and things that have to do with mommyhood. :p

A friend, a mom-to-be in six months, sought my--ahem--"expert" take on what it's like to be pregnant. I won't even claim to have stock knowledge on trimesters and pre-natal charts and all. But there really are issues. Burning issues such as:

1. Constipation. Ugghh! Talk about long, long (and most often, futile) hours spent in the can. I did stock up on prunes and prune juice, and once or twice tried the old lactose-intolerance trick. To no avail. If anything, pregnancy is--for me--a moving experience. Literally.

2. Hormones. Have you ever bawled your eyes out while watching a documentary on emperor penguins on National Geographic? Or gone totally teary while Lolit Solis did her trademark "speaking-in-tongues" routine to wrap up Startalk? I did, and it had nothing to do with extinction or the state of local showbiz.

3. Blood sugar. I was in my late '30s, and my doctor wanted to make sure that she had all possible health concerns covered. She sent me to the lab with a request for oral glucose test. I had no idea that she was sending me to hell--and back. Downing a glassful of barely watered-down sugar--and hanging around in the lab for around four hours while they took hourly blood samples--was pure and simple torture. Barf, urine, puke, tears and cold sweat are just some of the things that came out of me in those four hours.

4. "Infanticipating." Now, that's one word I totally dislike. Along with "forlorn" and "nincompoop." For lack of an exact word, though, let me take that to explain my aversion to anything fried, to cologne and to a particular group of people at the office and my craving for this unusual combination of dark chocolate and dinuguan while playing round upon round of Text Twist.

5. The human touch. Weird, but when I was already showing, people I barely know would reach out a hand to pat my tummy. I was assured that this was a "normal" reaction, inexplicable though it may be. Still, I didn't like it one bit. Especially after I had already given birth and there would be this offending hand with an equally offending mouth asking "oh, how far along are you?" Hah!

As for pointers in raising a kid, okay let's call the bluff. Truth is, I'm just as lost. This whole mommy thing is forever a work in progress, a hit-or-miss, trial-and-error affair that is at times pure harassment and most times pure bliss. So there.

July 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 4: Random Music

Thirteen Things about ANNA

Around a month ago, a friend tagged me for a seven-favorite-songs meme. Coming up with seven from a long, long playlist is something of an ordeal, so the meme continues to languish in draft. I decided to do something similar for this Thursday Thirteen. Instead of getting a headache from choosing, though, I put the i-pod on shuffle and listed down 13 songs, starting from song no. 13, progressing to song no. 26 and so on until I got to song no. 169.

My random list:

1. Over and Over (Wilson Phillips)Reminds me of dorm life in the '90s!
2. This Land Is Mine (Dido) Poetry in pop? With lines like "So find your home and settle in/oh, I'm ready to let you in/just as long as we know, this land is mine... this certainly is one of the best-written songs ever!
3. PM's Love Theme from Love, Actually (Craig Armstrong)
4. A Fifth of Beethoven (Walter Murphy, from Saturday Night Fever)Think John Travolta and mirror balls and grooving down the streets of New York!
5. Against All Odds (Phil Collins) Ahh, the '80s! What would it be without Phil Collins and Genesis!
6. Guilty (Blue)Sappy, sappy!
7. I Love You (from Barney & Friends) To my two-year-old, few things can beat the thrill of a singing purple dinosaur. To me, nothing beats the thrill of the kid singing--and acting out--this song!
8. We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Ray Conniff Singers) This one puts me on Christmas mode even on the hottest, hottest day!
9. Baby, You're Mine (Basia) Bouncy, feel-good song!
10. Head Over Feet (Alanis Morisette) "Jagged Little Pill" is my album of choice whenever I feel the need for murder :)
11. Officially Missing You (Tamia)
12. Never Too Much (Luther Vandross) Cool, cool voice!
13. Whenever I Call You Friend (Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks)One of my favorites!

These are, of course, but 13 of the 1,597 songs on the playlist. I wonder, would any of these make your list?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

July 17, 2007

Little Miss Cling-Wrap

I was blog-hopping last night when Gianna sidled up to me and said, ever so sweetly, "Mama, enough work na."

For a moment I was speechless. It didn't matter if I was working or not. To the two-year-old, any amount of time spent doing something else is time spent away from her.

Recently, the kid has been quite clingy. I'd go to the bathroom, and she'd stand outside the door. Sometimes she'd even ask her nanny to go get the keys. Each working day becomes a matter of high drama, so much so that I have taken to sneaking out the side gate. On weekends, she refuses to take a nap. She has, in fact, quite become an expert at fighting off sleepiness.

Times like these, and I really envy the moms who have all the time in the universe to be with their kids. How I wish I wouldn't have to zip through each working day thinking about Gianna when I'm at work and mentally ticking off my to-do list when I'm with Gianna. Times like these, and I wish I didn't have to wear too many hats.

But there's college to think of. And bills. And retirement. And all the (in)conveniences of parenthood in the 21st century. There's also the matter of "genes." I come from a long line of women who wear their "working mom" badge with just the right amount of pride and pressure.

And so, whenever Little Miss Cling-Wrap pulls me away from whatever it is I'm trying to do, I relent. Seasoned moms tell me that the clinginess is a passing thing. In no time, I will be the one doing the whole clingy routine.

July 16, 2007

Santa Gabriella

There are times when I feel like I’m raising a saint.

When she was one, Gianna would cringe at the thought of anyone unfamiliar touching her. Distant grandparents, uncles and aunts would offer their hand for the requisite mano po, but the little girl would turn away, ignoring the extended hand. With priests, though, it’s another matter entirely. At the end of the mass, she’d have to go up front to “bless father.” And then she’d have to go up the altar to touch Mama Mary’s vestments. Once, the nanny forgot to go through the after-mass ritual. It was the biggest mistake ever: the little girl’s yells rang from here to kingdom come.

When she turned two, she refused to have a party. She asked for a big Santo Niño instead.

In “choych,” she’s a little picture of piety. She doesn’t step on the pew, she kneels when all the others kneel, she "nods" the sign of peace and she extends her arms for the “Our Father.”

At home, her pretend plays usually revolve around the mass. And Maria. The other night, to entertain Lolo, she took his cane for a mic and started singing. First, it was “how dya sola caga like Mayia?” [How do you solve a problem like Maria?] Then, for some reason, she kneeled, stood up and wailed: “Espiyitu. Wala na simbahan na katol likô.” It took awhile before we realized that she was doing the Tagalog version of the Apostle’s Creed: the part that professed faith in the Holy Spirit and the holy Catholic church (banal na simbahang Katoliko). There, too, are times, when she goes around the house carrying a book in front of her and singing the Bicol version of "Lord have mercy."

And then there's her fascination for nuns. Call it an extension of her fascination with The Sound of Music: it thrills her no end to see "mothers," in person or otherwise.

Just when I'm convinced that I might be the mother of a saint, bam, Gianna swipes at her cousin Sam. Then throws a mean tantrum. Despite our "no hitting, no pinching, no scratching" policy at home, the kid makes it clear that she is no saint.

So much for Santa Gabriella Onna.

July 10, 2007

Lost Brands

The upside to our office cleaning frenzy is that we made a lot of discoveries. Or, to put it in the proper perspective, re-discoveries. On a long-forgotten hospital cabinet were bottles and flasks that could very well be the stuff of Shabby Chic. One look, and conversation shifted to Choco Vim and Melon Milk and the brands of thirty something years ago.

Remember these?

1. N-Nut coated peanuts
2. Prawn Curls
3. Mini Mallows
4. Manor House chocolate
5. Lem-o-Lime
6. Mountain Dew
7. Big Boy Bubble Gum
8. Veto Deodorant
9. Prell, Pretty Hair, Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific and Halo shampoos
10. Stayfree Feminine Napkins
11. Life Buoy soap
12. Kao Biore facial wash
13. Wakasan Komiks
14. Funny Comics
15. Jingle Extra Hot
16. Kislap
17. Lasting Songs Digest
18. The Daily Express
19. Bic, Kilometrico and Haba-Haba Ballpens
20. Spartan, Bantex, Mighty Kid and Grosby Shoes
21. Made in Heaven fashion
22. Syvel's Department Store
23. My Melody, Tiny Poem, Patty and Jimmy and Kokuryo characters
24. Beautifont

If any of these ring a bell, you and I are nowhere near old. But if they don't, well, you probably won't remember Lala Aunor and Arnold Gamboa and the Apat na Sikat either. :p

July 9, 2007

Talking Trash

Today, we did a lot of cleaning. Eleven offices moved out of our building and into the new city hall. That's about seven kilometers of distance between our offices. Which means that they can no longer be bothered by the cleaning up. As a result, we were left with three truckloads of trash and four cussing utility workers.

Looking at other people's trash, I wonder if we're ever going to really get down to the waste-segregation thing. True, there are trash cans marked "nabubulok" and "hindi nabubulok," but their contents are still a confusion of plastics and paper. Of bottles and left-over baon. Tucked in corners and little-known crevices are folded biscuit wrappers and stuff. It will probably take the same amount of time throwing them into the trash as the time it took to meticulously fold and insert them someplace. But I suppose the latter has much more appeal, huh? Surreptitious, for some, is far more thrilling than doing the obvious.

One other thing about the mountain of trash unceremoniously dumped on our department is that some of the things aren't really trash to begin with. It could be that the "movants" just got tired of the business of packing up and moving that they decided to give up midstream. From among the "legitimate" trash, we found boxfuls of printing paper, thick deposits of substance 20 bookpaper, fasteners, paper clips--our tax-paying money in the guise of office supplies. And to think that we had endless discussions with the Bids and Awards Committee as to the lack of supplies...

July 8, 2007

B- Traveler

My Lakbayan grade is B-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

P.S. The first time I took the test, my score was A+. As it turned out, I interchanged the columns. I guess I have to bone up on my domestic traveling skills, huh?

July 7, 2007

Here We Go Again

July is a crazy time when you're in government. In an election year, it is time for reinventing and "reinventorying". For terminating job orders and issuing new appointments. For revoking old office orders and issuing new ones.

Election-year July is when you see new faces widowing their way through old office routines. When college graduates are initially given tasks of opening doors, answering telephones, mixing instant coffee. When terminated contractuals join the throng of new hopefuls, wishing for another stab at employment.

In measurable terms, all these translate into around a hundred reams of bond paper. Fifty reams long bond for the inventory forms, for purchase requests, for the personal data sheet to be accomplished in "triplicate." Fifty reams short bond for application letters, office orders, office memoranda, resume, memorandum receipts, etc. etc.

On a non-election year, July is just as "paper consuming." It is when mid-year reports are due, when next year's budget has to be submitted, when outstanding cash advances have to be liquidated, when performance evaluation reports for the first half and performance targets for the next half have to reviewed by the Personnel Evaluation Review Committee.

Never mind if the PERC is non-functional, or if the reports are carefully calculated so that every employee merits a "very satisfactory" rating. Never mind if the computations don't tally. There is, after all, the Productivity Incentive Bonus in exchange for the three copies of four back-to-back pages that takes the better part of two working days to accomplish.

Needless to say, exasperation fills the bureaucratic air every July. This is especially so in the case of Officemate A, who has recently decided that government work is not for her. In the process of "clearing," she found out that she has unliquidated cash advances for travels and seminars. To settle these, she needs tickets, official receipts and certificates of appearances.

Now, Officemate A really attended these seminars. Problem is, all her supporting documents were destroyed along with the old city hall.

"Why don't you just tell them that you lost everything?" someone clueless as to the bureaucratic paper trail asked.

"Because they want you to lie," was the ready answer. Because the rules and regulations say so and not a word more. And because government won't be government without the "here we go again" syndrome that is the theme every July.

I wonder: was Sisyphus--he who was forever condemned to roll a rock uphill--a bureaucrat?

July 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 3: Coffee Quotes

For the 100th edition of Thursday Thirteen (and my third post) I thought of putting together two of my favorites: coffee and quotes. Here are 13 coffee quotes that will (hopefully) fuel warm, heady coffee-clouded thoughts.

1. Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven--Jessi Lane Adams

2. I had some dreams; they were clouds in my coffee--Carly Simon

3. I have measured out my life with coffee spoons--T.S.Eliot

4. Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis - a good hot cup of coffee--Alexander King

5. Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical--Jonathan Swift

6. Without my morning coffee I'm just like a dried-up piece of roast goat--Johann Sebastian Bach

7. Black as the devil, Hot as hell. Pure as an angel, Sweet as love--Perigord

8. No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness--Sheik Abd-al Kadir

9. The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce--Oliver Wendell Holmes

10. I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee--Flash Rosenberg

11. Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised--Star Trek: Voyager

12. He was my cream and I was his coffee--and when you poured us together, it was something--Josephine Baker

13. Given enough coffee, I could rule the world--Anonymous

Have a great brew!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

July 5, 2007

Life Begins at 40...

Patrick, my high-school classmate, is getting married on Saturday. When he made the announcement three months ago, our high-school egroup suddenly came alive. Reactions ranged from "why only now?" to "who finally snagged you?" to "it's about time." Two crossing-Continents chat sessions and countless email threads later, one thing became clear: 40 is just as good an age as any for starting something.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude when he was 40. At 40, Albert Einstein gained scientific renown for his theory of relativity. Somewhere around forty was when Mother Teresa started Missionaries of Charity, Madonna came out with "Ray of Light" and Jane fonda started her workout mania. Nicolas Cage became a first-time father at 40.

For some, though, 40 is "old." It may be because the marrying age around here is "just a little after college," sometimes even in college. Given such, the equations can be astounding. While most of our batchmates, for example, are grappling with the reality of raising teen-agers, Patrick and his Vivian won't be there until 2021, at the earliest. Even as Patrick and Vivian are tying the knot, others are untying theirs. And while Patrick and Vivian are reading up on Dr. Spock, others have enough in them to write their own parenting books.

But "old" isn't something you'd associate with Patrick and Vivian and all the others who have the courage to start new adventures. Even if the adventure is, as the invitation says, "growing old together."

So here's to you, Patrick and Vivian. May the road to "partnerhood" at forty be just as beautiful...

July 3, 2007

New Beginnings

New beginnings. That's the phrase of the day. I must have heard it a hundred--make that a thousand--times today that it's already losing its magic.

Before today, I associated "new beginnings" with Closing Time and PowerBooks. I particularly liked the line from the song that capped many a late '90s night at the mall: "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Today, however, as I sat through opening and closing remarks and the endless messages in between, the phrase has taken on not-so-positive notes. As if the past was so bad it might as well be erased. As if one can go barging into the future without considering the lessons of the past.

I understand that new management means new programs and new thrusts. I know that there's inexplicable thrill in fresh starts, such as when I write on a new notebook, or open the pages of a new book, or open new doors. But to brag about "new beginnings" when you know that it's just a turn of the wheel? That in no time, it will be back to the same old grind? Different times and different players, perhaps. But the same old story all over again.

Ahh, leave it to politics to take the newness out of "new" beginnings...

July 2, 2007


The past week has been a blur. Between rushing and dashing, between beating deadlines and meeting schedules, all my blog ideas just plain disappeared. Early this week, I meant to blog about the view from my backyard and about how this office wrap-up thing is driving me crazy. I mind-sketched ideas for Thursday Thirteen and I so looked forward to Friday's Feast.

Alas, intentions and ideas do not thread words and sentences into a post. To blog, I need to think. Then write. But since thinking requires energy--and I am just so drained at the moment--I'll skip the thinking part and just ramble on.

Here's a slice of life from my little pocket of earth:

Monday, while I was silently berating myself for not sorting my clutter when there was still time, I got a tempting job offer. I looked at the filing cabinets that needed my attention, at the files that needed to be put away and I thought I could walk away from them all. That is, after getting three speeches done. At home: It's back to the '80s as the precious two-year-old discovered Vanilla Ice and "Ice Ice Baby." The kid sure dances funny. I swear, I laughed so hard I got teary.

Tuesday, I crossed out speech numbers one and two off my to-do list. Even as I did, rush-rush tasks cropped up, and I had little time to get to work on my clearances. Much less think about moving. At home: I heard the kid scolding her doll: "Time out ka sa crib. Pasaway ka kasi." Uh oh. A case of "My Mother, Myself"?

Wednesday, I walked an officemate through a panic attack. Her filing system was a lot more disorganized than mine, her lovelife was "complicated, as usual" and her desk was a not-so-happy mess. At home: The kid's fascination with Maria has reached "imaginary friend" proportions. She "texts" Maria, she talks on the phone with Maria and she asks me to leave a space on the bed for Maria...

Thursday, I finally turned in speech number 3. I also (finally) decided to stick it out at the city hall. I just realized that for most of my working life, I have been following an invisible template: when the boss leaves, I leave as well. I'm no longer the footloose and fancy-free me of ages ago, and I figured it's time I settled for some permanence. At home: My decision to stay on has a lot to do with the little girl. True, the paycheck would be an improvement, but then it means I would have to cut down on the bonding time.

Friday was a no-work day in Sorsogon, as it was the feast of Sts. Peter & Paul. Fiestas are still the big things that they were, and for once, traffic was really bad, with people packing the streets. In the afternoon, we took Gianna and Sam to the park. I wanted to buy cotton candy to complete the fiesta picture, but the mommy in me said no. So much for the fiestas of my youth...

Saturday, I woke up really early for the city day mass. Then, it was off to the capitol for the oath-taking, to the clinic for Gianna's checkup (she must have taken something that didn't quite agree with her tummy, and she had runny poo-poos), to a friend's house for lunch and to the office for the final fixing up. Whew!

Today, I thought I could breathe easy. And for a while, I did. Gianna had clean diapers all through the day, and despite our little spats, things went well. At the chapel for the 5pm mass, though, she tripped on something and took a fall. It wasn't serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER but it was serious enough to merit an ice pack, which we got from the convent. Three minutes later, she was running like crazy again, making me one crazy mom. :)

June 24, 2007

Seven Random Facts

This is a tag from PillowTalk. I'm supposed to list seven random facts about me and tag seven others to come up with their own random seven. So here I am, at random and in bullets:

  • I watched Pulp Fiction on the big screen four times. My friend Arni and I wanted to get the sequence right.
  • I wore uniforms all throughout my school-age life. That's 15 years of blue-and-white fashion.
  • I am a word geek. I love crossword puzzles, Word Factory, Scrabble and Text Twist. (Three years ago, in a bout with pregnancy-induced insomnia, I scored my Text Twist high of 500,000 plus points :)
  • I learned to ride a bike at the ripe "old" age of 21--thanks to my seven-year-old brother
  • Ice cream makes me yawn, yawn and yawn
  • I learned conversational Pilipino from reading komiks. (The Pilipino subjects in grade- and high school were so text-bookish they wouldn't stand a chance on the streets of Manila, ha ha.)
  • I consume at least eight cups of coffee a day.

Now for the tagging part. I'm really more of a democrat, so any volunteers?