June 30, 2008

Fun Day

Oh, to be much, much younger!

My thought, exactly, as I huffed and puffed all the way down to the beach. Time was when I could easily climb mountains, play badminton and clamber in and out from the windows of those ingenious Puerto Princesa jeepneys. But the years seem to have caught up with my limbs, and I am not quite as limber.

Earlier, I had mixed feelings about going. On the one hand, I didn't quite like the feeling that I had no choice but to go. The activity, after all, was covered by a memo that had a "for compliance" ring to it. On the other hand, the idea of Monday on the beach seemed too inviting. "Beachy" as I am, the beach won over the bureaucratic jargon.

The view from the top was incredible, as I am sure the view from below would be. There's the seemingly endless sea set against blue mountains. But between up and down, there is a steep, rocky incline. With each downward step, I could hear groans around--and eventually from--me. "This was supposed to be the City Fun Day (Fan Day, a streamer proudly proclaimed)", somebody panted, "but I don't see any fun in sliding." "Me, too," another retorted. "But I am sure that those down below are already having a good laugh at us."

After what seemed like a lifetime of picking our way through boulders we finally reached the beach. The sand was powdery, much like that of Boracay except that it's black. The sun was just right. All thoughts of popping painkillers were immediately banished as the day wore on. There were "compliance" activities: building sandcastles, doing the Hawaiian and the requisite karaoke. But the compliance took on a fun turn when sandcastles didn't quite measure up, when the literal heavyweights did the Hawaiian, and when somebody proudly belted "Carless Whespers."

It was a fun day, alright. Ahh, but the climb back up is another straining story.

June 22, 2008

Work of Art

Among my few absolutes, this I know to be true: I can never be an artist. I can't, for the life of me, draw. While I love to doodle, I can't go beyond stick figures, stylized suns and flowers. And my "drawings" do not go beyond the logbook where minutes of (seemingly endless) meetings are jotted down.

Years ago, while sifting through papers that my mom religiously kept, I realized that I didn't have a single drawing. Ma said it was probably because I never drew; I wrote. To her eternal dismay, I wrote on walls, on chairs and tabletops, on books.

What about my art projects?, I asked. She rolled her eyes, and then I remembered: technically they were not really my projects. In short, I was not, I am not and I will never be an artist.

I resolved that this will not be the case with my daughter. As soon as she learned that they weren't food, I gave her crayons and all those artsy stuff. She seems to have taken well to scribbling and doodling. It's quite too early to tell, but this much I know: she'll make her own art projects.

June 21, 2008


Storm signal number 3 is up over Sorsogon as I write this. School’s out, meetings have been called off and the work day (yehey!) has been cut short. I am not sure if the electricity will be out as well, and for how long. With the shadow of Milenyo still hanging over the city, we are doing the best we could to cushion perceived blows.

I am no stranger to storms. I have, in fact, learned to live with them, as I am sure the rest of Sorsogon has. At the first signs, we shift to autopilot mode: roofs are checked for leaks, leaks are plugged, windows are boarded up. Pets, possessions and papers are secured. In backyards and in front yards, the precious sili is propped up on sticks and carefully sheathed in plastic.

We continuously look at the skies for signs and turn to the weather report for affirmation. We stock up on the staples: candles, canned goods, water. And when the storm lands, we sit it out, praying, hoping that it won’t be that bad.

The day after is for sizing up the damage and for picking up the pieces. The day after is usually clear, and as the sun shines on and through the spoils, we dry out, keep what can be kept and discard those that must be discarded.

Storms, as I'm sure the wizened and the weather-worn among us have found out, are indeed the perfect metaphors for life.

Note: I was just about ready to click on the publish post button last night when the lights came out. Power was restored just now, and typhoon Frank is headed somewhere else. The siling labuyo survived.

June 19, 2008

A Day in the Life

Last night, when I checked my receipts from the supermarket, I realized that the cashier must have scanned the wrong code. Either that, or one of the items I bought might have been on sale without me knowing it.

It wasn't really a major purchase, but I wanted to make sure just the same. When I went to the same cashier today, she gave me this look, shook her head and started entering and re-entering numbers. After a lifetime of punching, re-punching and coming up with the same numbers, she mumbled something about an error. Finally, she reached for the phone.

Because the hubby is waiting, and because I knew the one thing he has no patience for is, well, waiting, I asked if it was going to take long. Yes, she said, because the supervisor is still in some other station.

Can't I just pay the balance and get it over with? I asked. It was, after all, the logical thing to do. Again, the look and a snooty reply:
"Sana kasi maam hindi nyo na lang binalik, tutal hindi naman kayo ang lugi."

What???? I was almost tempted to deliver a performance worthy of a best-actress nomination. Or launch into a monologue about character and virtue and stuff that usually creep into sermons and preachings and political speeches. The thing is, why bother? And why waste (precious) energy?

So I gave her an imitation Bella Flores arching of the eyebrows, irritated her some more by drumming my fingers on the counter, clucking my tongue and tapping my foot; and recited "thou shalt not kill" over and over until the supervisor arrived.

June 17, 2008

Love, According to a Three-Year-Old

Here's Gianna rattling off her many "loves":

1. I love chocolate
2. I love pink
3. I love "swimming" water
4. I love clouds
5. I love Gabriella [What can I say, the kid loves High School Musical]
6. I love Noddy
7. I love Sordoc [Hospital, where she wants to "study" so she can be a "people" doctor]
8. I love Father Jasper
9. I love the Playroom
10. I love Sandy (Her dog)
11. I love Elmo
12. I love the Capitol
13. I love I Spy

And, best of all:

14. I love you, Mama.

Sweetness and light, huh?


I am holding on to this weekend conversation because it has been one bad news after another at the office. Dog bites (and no available vaccine), a fatal accident, an abused five-year-old ... and with a bad case of PMS, I need a strong dose of, you got it, sweetness and light. And coffee, too. With rum.

June 16, 2008

The Fool in Me

Something to kick-start this lazy Monday morning:

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility and dignity but for my fool." Theodore L. Rubin, MD (lifted from Oprah)

P.S. Busy, busy, busy, but will be back to semi-regular blogging and blog-hopping (hopefully) soon.

June 7, 2008

Skipping Christmas

I've been trying to put off John Grisham's Skipping Christmas for when it's a lot "colder," in keeping with my quirk of conjuring the perfect atmosphere for my readings. The sweltering heat--the kind that turns my face into a giant oil field--made me want to have that Christmas feeling in June, though. And so...

With their daughter flying off to a Peace Corps stint in Peru, the Kranks are facing an empty Christmas. When Luther, a tax accountant, does a Scrooge and cranks out numbers from the Christmas just past, he is appalled to find that they spent $6,100 on, among others, an ugly ostrich skin wallet, unwanted presents and calendars and Christmas cards and Christmas cookies "that no one ate."

And on such materialistic premise, Luther convinces his wife to skip the holidays altogether. Which means no giant snowman on the roof and no fruitcake that gets passed around and ends up in the trash anyway. Instead they will go on a ten-day cruise starting on Christmas Day.

But the (obviously snooty) neighbors get wind of the plan, and skipping Christmas soon becomes a contrived plot that involves anonymous "Free Frosty" cards, the whole neighborhood singing Christmas carols and the press clicking away at the only undecorated house on Hemlock Street. The Kranks are also reduced to talking in whispers in their own home, which is downright crazy.

In feel-good fashion, the Christmas spirit eventually creeps in. Although to compare it with Dickens' A Christmas Carol is, well, humbug. After all, there is something off-putting about the way Christmas is sort of forced into the Kranks. And who crunches numbers when it comes to Christmas, anyway?

In all, it's a pleasant enough read, one you would normally read in transit or in terminals. Or to pass off the time on hot, humid days. Not really classic material, though, and in the long run, its claim to fame is the fact that it was written by John Grisham.

June 3, 2008

Doing the Dance

I am yaya-less. Yet again. The latest—the fourth in a span of three years—left as most youngish ones do this time of year: to “exercise” those twinkle toes on some dusty basketball court. I can picture her now: all spiffed up for the hunt. Feet tapping to the beat of—God forbid!—Brother Louie, eyes surveying the scene for the “perfect” catch. Ah, our delusions when we are eighteen!

And so I find myself in a refrain that is now becoming all-too familiar. It’s as if I’m living a page from The Nanny Diaries. Minus the Manhattan skyline, the designer cardigans, and everything chi-chi, of course. I am scouting. Which is actually something short of "pirating," as I am keenly eyeing the yaya next door.

When I was young and single (and right, restless, too), I thought mothers who obsessed about yayas were too much. OA, in fact. But now I know better. My sanity now rests on the eight hours that the nanny puts in when I'm away at work. I have joined the ranks of the helpless and the hapless. I have turned into someone's "ate."

I guess I'm lucky, because home is a place where I can afford to have maids. Where I don't have to work myself to the bone so I can pay for the sitter. Sisters and friends who have moved elsewhere all tell me that this is what they miss most about home: the comfort of knowing that help is just around the corner. Or in the next town. Or from those who have made a career out of "scouting."

But not on days like this, when there are fiestas left and right. Not when progesterones and testosterones are on level highs. Not when there are "dances" lasting until the wee hours.

And so, while Yaya #4 is getting her dancing feet all dusty, I am doing my own dance. Interviewing, searching, hoping that Yaya #5 won't be as twinkle-toed as the rest of them. Wishful thinking, really.