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