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.