December 29, 2010

Happy New Year!

They called me "Fountain." No, make that "Pawn-teyn." It was New Year's Eve, and the neighborhood brats heard me asking for the darn fireworks. The nickname stuck, and for the better part of my awkward teen years, I was known as Pawn-teyn on the street where I grew up.

I didn't complain, of course.  Why would I, when I had it a lot better than Bibi Ilay, Toto Maloto and Ella Botelya?  Despite the frequent name-calling and the occasional cat fights over turfs and visiting cousins, we grew up as friends.  Friends who shouted "siato" during siestas, played "iloy-iloyan" under the full moon and trooped together to Mrs. Amador for the komiks.

As I spend yet another year away from Molave Street, I remember the neighborhood boys and girls, some of whom I still meet.  I remember friends as well: friends far, near and in-between who remain friends nonetheless.  Who knows, I might just light a fountain for you guys!

And a happy 2011 to you, too!

December 20, 2010

Candy Candy

This is yet another blast-from-the-past post :p

The change-your-profile-pic-into-a-cartoon-character campaign over at Facebook has certainly brought back happy memories of growing up in what I thought to be a big, big world.

It was the late '70s, and so that we could wise up to the ways of the world, our parents would pack us off to Manila every school break. There were aircon PNR coaches then, and the 12-hour night trip past rice fields and coconut plantations shimmering in the moonlight was a cinch. The Paco Station--our final destination--would be teeming with people, an indication that we have arrived in the big city.

Of course, Manila wasn't as sweltering then. Depending on arrangements, we would be shunted from Makati to San Juan to Quezon City, getting our fill of pop culture. We'd take afternoon strolls to Cash N' Carry, Unimart, or COD, see a movie at the Coronet and ride the Ferris Wheel at the Fiesta Carnival. Most days, though, we would just bond with a coterie of cousins in front of the TV screen.

And so it was that I learned to wash the dishes courtesy of Kulit Bulilit and Imee Marcos (!), sat through endless screenings of LVN black-and-whites and gushed over the younger and slimmer Sharon Cuneta. But what I really looked forward to--other than Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Ronron the Flower Angel--was Candy Candy.

Candy Candy defined my big city summers. The midday walks to Dairy Queen or UniMart would be made to the tune of the Candy Candy Theme. And my first cartoon heartbreak was over Anthony!

Over time, I outgrew TV and realized I liked summers in Sorsogon more. I could have outgrown Candy Candy, too. Except the theme song is sticking to me like the amorseko of those carefree summers.

December 5, 2010

Blast From the Past

To me, nothing spells childhood summers more than this ice shaver. It was my going-on-sixth-grade summer when this thingamajig became the rage in our kitchen. You see, except for my dad, all of us weren't Bobby Flay clones. In short, we thrived on instants.

Blue Teddy made our protracted summers super easy. We only had to raid Ma's mini grocery for a can of fruit cocktail and Frisian Girl, grab ice cubes from the fridge, crank the handle and presto: halo-halo! And then, it would be off to the corner sari-sari store for a peek at the (contraband) komiks-for-rent or to the streets for a game of "football" or siato.

Thirty or so years later, Blue Teddy still works. The blades are as sharp as ever, and the eyes still roll, much like Tita T's, when she is about to spew some hush-hush family chismis. The daughter has somehow staked her claim on the shaver and has since resurrected it from the kitchen cupboard.

A blast from the past, the thingamajig may be. But it looks like it'll still be around for very, very long.

November 10, 2010

Internet Cafe-ing

My Wednesday-afternoon-at-the-internet-cafe ritual started innocently enough.  Between chatting up a storm with parents-turned-yayas and spending quiet me-time at the museum, I took the road frequently traveled by Counter Strikers and took up a corner at the internet cafe.  Considering my addictions (coffee, Farmville and eavesdropping), I was naturally hooked: life does have a way of happening at the internet cafe.

Today, my wandering ears zeroed in on this girl who was giving her (I presume) husband a running and tiresome documentary of their financial whatnots.  The husband couldn't probably get a word in, because for the better part of an hour, it was just her talking about budgets and expenses and the high cost of living.  And how his remittance would be most welcome. blah blah blah.

A group of college kids came in and drowned out the girl's protracted soliloquy.  They're talking Counter Strike, terrorism and weapons of  mass destruction here.  Before I could morph into the Goddess of Strife, however, they run out of internet-cafe cash and leave, plotting, perhaps, their next terror attack.

I am now left to eavesdrop on the guy who is chatting away in hopes of coming up with the perfect Super Lotto combination.  He has 30 minutes, he says, before he has to stand in line at the lotto outlet.

Alas, I had to leave before he could spew out the "perfect" numbers.  

November 9, 2010

Major, Major Mode

While I was away...

... Baby James has morphed into Bimby

... PNoy has gone from Shalani to Liz

And the world turned ... and turned.

Meanwhile, I was--and am--left to deal with raging issues.  Issues like: why, oh why am I suddenly in a beauty-pageant mode? And why do I have to sit through three-hour meetings every other day to get Miss Sosogon off the ground?

Me, who had my major, major heyday in the forgotten '80s and whose only "titles" were Miss Thailand in my school's United Nations week celebrations and the Reyna Elena '86 (which I won because, as my sisters would always remind me, it was a money contest)!

As I am in the habit of debating with myself, I had two ready answers:  The office order that is now tucked in my 201 File and karma.  I won't get into the workings of the bureaucracy so let us leave the office order alone.  As for the karma part, I think this is what I get for taking to the streets GABRIELA fashion in the '90s in jeans, sneakers, batik and tubao.  And for causing monstrous traffic jams in the periphery of the Quezon City circle.

Karma is, of course, inescapable. And so excuse me while I powder my nose and hie off to the conference room.

September 29, 2010

Just Stuff

A couple of months ago the house where my parents keep tons and tons of stuff was broken into. Bakal-bote boys must have been eyeing the house for the longest time. It was, after all, unpeopled and most often unattended.

Why my parents need a whole house for things that have long outlived their purpose has always been the subject of debate. All this hoarding could very well be a projection of their war mentality: they don't like the idea of throwing anything away. And so the stuff kept piling up: furniture from five houses ago, wedding presents (oh yes, those dreaded punchbowls) that none of us wanted, clothes that have gone out of--and back in and out again of--fashion, books, long-playing albums, videotapes and things that I forgot we had.

Oh well, most of the stuff are gone now. I don't exactly mourn for the lost things, but I cringe at the thought of other people invading and breaking into our turf. I haven't checked in on the house since the burglary, knowing that I would feel a degree of violation. The thought of strangers rifling through things that are supposed to be private can be very unsettling, although by now I should be used to people poking their noses into other peoples' lives.

The stuff are just stuff. They have been forgotten for so long, and the universe has found a way of getting them out of our lives. I just wish, though, that the loss didn't come with this sense of invasion. 

September 20, 2010

The Official Name Game

This I have to say: the e-census service of the National Statistics Office is really efficient. Three days after completing my online transaction, I got a copy of my official birth certificate. I didn't have to do the requisite table hopping that is the norm in most government offices, I didn't have to wait in line and I certainly didn't have to wait out the lunch break in the virtual company of Tito, Vic and Joey.

Having said that, I still believe that we put too much faith in the hands of mere mortals who are supposed to safeguard the records of our lives. My birth certificate--the data on which are hand-written (which in effect pegs my era as pre-Olympia and pre-Microsoft)--had the generic "Baby" before what I thought to be my real first name. And to think I used to laugh at my two aunts--the two "Babys"--who are now senior citizens!

It will take a court hearing and subsequent publications--and the corresponding fees, of course--to get rid of the offending "Baby." Clerical error, they call it, which doesn't exactly say much about our clerks.

So now I join the ranks of those with horrific stories about their vital records. A friend who is obviously female had to go through a sex change on paper: she was registered as a "he." Another friend married a girl who was born in Taiwan. On the marriage certificate, he became the "Taiwanese."

And then there's Sister Number Four, whose baptismal records showed that our Dad is not her father. This, of course, did not sit well with my Mom, who was this short of hieing off to a nunnery in her younger years. When she checked the church logs, it turned out that the record keeper skipped an entry, and all the children on that page had the "wrong" fathers. :p

September 13, 2010

The Great Tights Chase

I am a certified last-minute shopper. Stores--especially the part where the clothes are--sting my eyes and I end up all red-eyed and puffy. So I usually wait, and wait, and wait, for that now-or-never moment to venture into a clothing store.

Last week had me weaving in and out of places that I haven't been to in a long, long time. The daughter needed tights for a school program, and I guess I gave the department stores hereabouts way too much credit. I figured I'd have a pair in 15 minutes--with enough time to spare.

Alas, things were not meant to be. As the minutes wore on, and as the stores I went to became more and more of the stores of my childhood (think Sampaguita, Hollywood, D'Best and Goodwill Bazaar!), I began invoking the saints and the muses of dance. To no avail, of course.

An hour later, I gave up and begged Teacher to allow my daughter to dance in leggings. Of course I could have made the hour-long trip to Legaspi but the husband doesn't like spur-of-the-moment drives and the two of us are not exactly Amazing Race material. :p

On the day of the performance, more than half of the girls were IN leggings.

What do you know? I am not the only last-minute shopper in Sorsogon!

September 11, 2010

Yeto's Beef Caldereta

In memory of Sir Yeto--he who lived, loved and laughed well. And left us with memories of high school, a dreamy kitchen and growing up in a small town.

Sir Yeto generously shared this in a feature in Food: The Magazine of Good Cooking.

2 kilos stewing beef, cut into pieces
10-12 cups water
1 kilo pork liver
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
salt to taste
2 cups sliced pimientos morones or fresh baguio pepper
2 cups pitted green olives
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup sliced onion
1 small can or two long pieces chorizo de Bilbao, cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
salt and pepper to taste

Put beef in a large casserole and pour enough water to cover. Cover casserole and bring water to a boil then lower heat immediately to simmer. Let simmer about one hour.

Meanwhile, broil pork liver until medium rare. Grind or chop liver finely.

Combine liver with cheese, tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, pimientos morones and green olives. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic, onions and chorizo de Bilbao. Stir in liver mixture and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until mixture turns lighter in color.

Pour liver mixture into the beef in the casserole and simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and beef is completely tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

September 5, 2010

Dully Right

Still giddy, perhaps, from the Miss U high, the talent scouts in my neck of the woods are all agog about the "Search for the Little Kasanggayahan Princess." The event is trying to market itself as a beauty-and-brains-and-talent thingy, but I am not keeping my hopes up.

Not after my nowhere near perfect vision zoomed in on the poster, which requires the little misses to "be able to understand, converse and right in English."

And to submit a "dully filled-up application form."

August 24, 2010

Curiosity Overkill

I am naturally curious. Make that naturally Uzi. Just a hint of "breaking news" and my ears stand at attention, my eyes turn semi-bionic and my feet take me close to where the action is.

Make that close, but not quite. As in out of harm's way, and definitely not within sniping distance. And when "the event" occurs in the middle of the night, I snoop with the curtains drawn, the lights turned down

Last night's overkill of a hostage drama put us Uzis in a bad light. I cringed as national TV flashed scenes of civilians caught in the crossfire, of hangers-on actually elbowing out the authorities for a stab of the action. Call it bedlam, or mayhem, but the bloodshed could have been helped.

Maybe, just maybe, there should be a code of conduct for usiseros.

July 26, 2010

Plus 1

I turned 43 21 minutes ago.

If I were the me of a thousand denials ago, I would have wanted the sentence to be "I turned 21 43 minutes ago." It doesn't matter now, of course. I am older than my Mom was when I was in high school. Older, in fact, than most of my teachers were back then. And I thought they were ancient!

But I have come to accept the fact that age is nothing but a number. That it is just a string of manageable additions. And 43 is yet another chance to do things--crazy, irreverent, happy things--before the bones start creaking and before botox beckons. :p

July 2, 2010


This week, I came face to face with my inner claustrophobic. En route to my sister's place, with four of us squeezed in the backseat, I felt a shortness of breath followed by something close to panic. It was like being sucked into a black hole, like the time I came this close to drowning. It took me a couple of minutes to get past the panicky stage.

Come to think of it, I am the type who needs to have space--physically and otherwise. I gave up big-city living because I needed breathing space. Because I realized that Sorsogon Street was merely a stand in for the real thing. I wanted to be where there are still big, sheltering trees, where the beach isn't just an ad on a travel magazine but a 15-minute drive.

Four days in Manila is more than I can manage. Time enough, I guess, for a party, or a trip to the bookstore. For gelato and affogato and catching up with the family. Time enough for things urban, including stewing in traffic and not feeling guilty for a cup of coffee that costs more than the average worker's daily wage.

I could have stayed for a few more days, but restlessness was setting in, and I couldn't risk another anxiety attack. The concrete jungle is no match to highways framed by rice fields.

I am officially a probinsyana.

June 23, 2010

Past Midlife

Two months ago we talked about high school the way we were and the way we are. We compared notes about life, about children, and where our separate roads took us. There were about 40 of us then, and we laughed well into the night.

Today, a fourth of that group sat in stony silence as Msgr Pax echoed our collective--if unspoken--goodbyes. We had come to pay our last respects to one of our own, in a reunion that had us weaving past and present and the myopic future.

Reunions--planned or unplanned--have a way of making us stop for a moment, look back and take stock of our lives thus far. If 75 is a lifespan, we are way past midlife. We have in fact the license to take it slow.

And so it is that we have come to this: jumping from weddings to funerals, seeing the wisdom in buying surreal estate, giving up jobs, honoring tradition. We are neither too young--nor too old--for superstition and so we let it be. We go with the flow. We circle and cycle.

And, we make plans to meet again.

June 1, 2010

Go Figure!

My head is swimming in figures right now. With budget season almost up, I am literally drowning in forms, payrolls and numbers, numbers and more numbers. To think I barely squeaked past Math 101!

And so pardon me for thinking in numbers. Unless you want to put up with (boring) bureaucratic jargon, I can only think in terms of the tangibles.

My life thus far:

1. As of 4:19 pm, I am 22,557,618 minutes old.

2. 9 is supposed to be my lucky number. But then again it takes six numbers from 1 to 49 (or is it 55 already?) to win the lottery.

3. I am Employee No. 218 in an office with 355 permanent employees.

4. Today, I clocked in at 7:42 a.m., logged out at 12:01, clocked back in at 12:25 and will probably clock out at past 5. But of course the biometric thingamajig doesn't know how to compute beyond the regular 8 hours.

5. My "winning" stats in the 2010 elections: 4 out of 12 in the Senate (and no, they're not Tito Sotto, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid); 1 of 5 in the Provincial Board and 2 of 12 in the City Council.

6. Next week, I'll be "principal sponsor" at a wedding. Yay! Second time, and just as uncomfortable.

7. I love, love, love Pablo Neruda's Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair

8. I've had 14 bosses, lived in five cities and moved house 14 times.

9. At one point, we had 18 dogs. We're now down to 7. And the daughter wants more.

10. As of last count, I have 446,655 XP and 6,417,608 Farmville Coins. Which is the main reason I haven't been blogging as frequently :p

May 28, 2010


So okay, I have a beef with self-indulgent, self-absorbed, egocentric people. People who think it's all about them. That they have the right to spread their dourness like a virus and expect the rest of us to be in a bad mood just because they are miserable.

Unfortunately, my universe seems to be peopled by these types. "Hardened" me-myself-and-I types who think the world owes them a favor. Brats who are increasingly becoming generic in their wanting to be "different." Loudmouths who mistake their tiresome prattle for viable opinions.

But then again, if there is one powerful non-Webster word that I absolutely like, it's "deadma." Supposedly a shortened version of "dead malice" or the literal "patay-malisya," it runs the range of keeping a straight, unreadable face, of displaying not even a hint of reaction and of completely ignoring things and people.

"Deadma" makes the whiners think that their whining is lost on me, the ranters look for others apparently interested in their rantings. It makes the baiters and the fishers cast their hooks elsewhere.

And I am left to blog in peace. Happiness!

May 12, 2010

Election Highs and Lows

At 8 a.m. on election day, I wheeled my dad to the voting precinct. It was not easy maneuvering the wheelchair to the farthest corner of the school, but I was touched by the collective display of kindness. Long queues parted to let us through, and we were hustled right inside precinct 57A. Within minutes, we were done.

The day before, when campaigning was no longer legally allowed, our quiet end of the street was anything but quiet. As it turned out, it was my lot to live near some "leader's" house, and there was an endless stream of people trooping over for the requisite election moolah. This year I think the going rate was P300, which in effect translates to a measly P100 per year of service (or dis-, depending on how you look at it, hehehe).

But then again, it was hard to imagine that most of those patiently waiting out their turn at the PCOS machine were probably the same people who pocketed the crisp bills. And so it was that I left the polling place in high spirits.

Alas, it was a different story when the results came trickling in. I should have known that my hometown is a tinier model of the rest of the country. And that the elections is nothing more than a glorified version of the popularity--uhm, money--contest. Or an episode plucked right out of Dynasty.

In the end, Smartmatic has not made us any smarter. Despite the relative success of the automation, Sorsogon is still Sorsogon. Except that right now, there are a lot of crisp bills changing hands.

Bills with staple holes, to be exact.

May 8, 2010

My Mother, Myself

Yesterday I scrubbed the bathroom tiles. I never thought I’d grow up to be the Queen of Chlorox. Or that I’d insist on manually drying the dinner plates. But I am. And I do. Forty plus years later, I can categorically say that I have morphed into my mother.

The physical signs are secondary. The hips, knees that tend to knock against each other, forever size 32B cups—I knew I was destined to have these in my early teens, when I realized I was no Regal Baby material. And now, when my elder cousins point out that I look like Ma when she was younger, I take it as the compliment that they intend it to be. I am my mother’s daughter, after all.

I knew for sure that I had a bit of my mother in me when I had what my mom probably considers her sweet revenge: my daughter. The obsession with super sanitized tiles began, as did the compulsion to keep files of almost anything. I have even taken to using that tone when the daughter becomes too much of a handful.

Of course, I have yet to settle into Ma’s choice of wardrobe, or obsess over my handwriting. I have yet to volunteer for church duty, or to volunteer for anything, for that matter. But then again, I have all the time in the world to be completely “mommy-fied.”

A happy day to all mothers of whatever shapes and forms.

May 7, 2010

Campaign-Period Woes

My hometown is all decked out in yellow. A few weeks ago, orange was the dominant color. Before that, it was green. The ribbons, of course, are the campaign runners' way of welcoming "our" next president.

I wonder: when has a certain color become the "sole" property of politicians and political wannabes? I know there is such a thing as political color, but for them to claim a color as their own?

Personally, the "political color coding" has limited my choice of wardrobe, especially in this most volatile of seasons. And especially in these parts, where the welcome marker has gone from green to orange. If by chance the other candidate wins, will the faux bamboo be painted pink? Hmmm...

Come to think of it, the color-coding is but one of the reasons why I hate Romulo Makalintal for wanting to delay the elections. More than anything, I want the campaign period to be over and done with. My other peeves:

1. Jingles. Cliches like "pag-asa ng bayan," "makatao, makaDiyos, makabansa" "tapat sa serbisyo" and "madaling lapitan" make me want to reach for the barf bag. Double that if they are sung to the tune of "Ocho-Ocho" or "Nobody But You."

2. Jinggoy. And the other showbiz types who think politics will be all the more "distinguished" because of them.

3.Lawmakers who have showbiz aspirations. Make that egomaniacal lawmakers who think they are believable enough to be poster boys for other candidates.

4. Rabid, drooling, salivating supporters who assume that everyone can be mechanized into becoming rabid, drooling, salivating supporters.

5. Obviously over-Photoshopped posters. Our honorable wannabes, it seems have discovered that Photoshop is a cheaper alternative to expensive sessions with Vicky Belo.

So much for credibility, huh?

April 22, 2010

Wrong Send

Dearest Auntie--she who is the nightmare of every balikbayan--sent out a text message telling of the arrival of a relative and that that relative has tons and tons of stuff.

Dearest Cousin got the message and was naturally uber excited. After all, it is in her genes to salivate over things "imported." Her mom is the type who would ask a homecoming relative to please, please, please give her whatever tube of lipstick the relative might have. Or to give her the shoes that the bewildered relative is wearing.

Dearest Cousin's excitement was dashed an alert tone later when Dearest Auntie sent an unapologetic message that the earlier "text" was not intended for Dearest Cousin. That it was, in fact, "wrong send."

Dearest Cousin is now inconsolable. She says Dearest Auntie could have said that a flying saucer swooped down and carried the stuff away. Or that the nonexistent family dog suddenly developed a liking for chocolates. Or that the BFAD raided Dearest Auntie's house and confiscated the stash because of high melamine and mercury content.

Anything, she says, but the darn "wrong send." :p

April 16, 2010

Post It

I haven't been to the post office in a long, long time. With everything going high speed these days, there just isn't room for taking time anymore. For taking it slow.

There is also the matter of location. It used to be that the post office was right in the middle of town, within walking distance from everything. Five--or was it ten?--years ago, PhilPost gave up prime real estate in the name of commerce. What used to be very accessible became relatively remote and--eventually--forgotten.

Today had me going back to once-familiar ground. Despite the five-year lull it looked as though nothing had changed. The old postmistress is there--still as smarmy as ever. The post-office boxes evoked the same mystery, and there was this musty scent that I have always associated with parcels waiting to be claimed.

Before cable, before the net and before cellulars made the world a lot smaller, Mr. Postman was our link to the outside world. He made summers a lot more exciting, and there was practically a world inside his mysterious brown bag. At one time, the bag yielded an autographed picture from the Debby Boone Fan Club!

My business at the post office took some time. It could have taken a lot less if the office workers clocked in on time, or if they did not do everything in slo mo.
Not that I minded, of course. Suddenly, I longed for the romance of snail mail, and for once, it felt good to take a little side step to a world that moved a little slower.

April 9, 2010


So many things--er distractions--have taken my mind off Blogger for the longest time now. It's not that life hasn't been happening. Fact is, life's been zipping so fast I barely have time to process the "happenings." Something always gets lost between planning to write and actually writing, and most of the time I end up planting virtual tomatoes and blueberries instead.

In any case, the blogging malaise must also be due to the oppressive heat. No amount of Freon can seem to recharge my already frying brain. The beach used to be an option. Now it hints of heat stroke and sunburn and oil all over my face.

The heat is so bad that I am compelled to do nothing. It’s just that this space is already looking a little lonely. And I feel that I have to start posting again to get me back on track.

If it doesn’t, I can always blame it on the heat. Or on things that require minimum brain power. :p

March 9, 2010


Strange things happen to me. A set of (obviously false) teeth once fell on my lap, courtesy of a colleague who laughed himself into a state of hysterical toothlessness.

In the (hopefully, bygone) days when women fancied themselves as football legend wannabes, I sat next to one who had a couple of flying saucers standing from her shoulders. Either she was a rare breed who didn't own a full-length mirror, or she was simply lost in space.

There, too, was this one lazy afternoon when I and three girl friends literally stopped traffic along Quezon Avenue. The reason? Because the mah-jongg set that entertained us during those tedious days of Ramos-era brownouts decided to go berserk just as we were "escaping" to our Mah Jongg 101 lessons. And so it was that the four of us scrambled to recover the tiles while all around us, bystanders and drivers were jeering "Pong!" and "Todas."

Well, today isn't my moment either. Just as I was leisurely surveying my laugh lines in the powder room a colleague suddenly popped in, let it rip, mumbled an apology and left me in a cloud of carbon dioxide.

This is so NOT my day :p

February 24, 2010

Reality Check

Most Wednesdays finds us on the road less travelled. We trade recycled air for fresh air, we eat fish and gulay na langka and newly harvested rice. We leave our modulars and unplug ourselves from the net and from the comforts of free-flowing coffee.

Wednesdays, in short, is our reality check.

Sometimes, reality can be as jarring as children who should be in school but aren't. Or as disturbing as a teenager pregnant with her third child. Sometimes it can be as funny as a little boy named "Brownie." Or as grounding as a daycare center making do with "toys" that our children take for granted.

And sometimes, reality can come in the form of a prescription advising the patient to "increase fluid and take."

February 19, 2010

Stage Motherhood

I knew I was in trouble the moment my daughter insisted on signing up for her (pre)school pageant. Having been "stage-mothered" at one point into joining the neighborhood Santacruzan in my awkward teens, I promised myself (and my then future imaginary daughter) that no way would I ever trade places with Anabelle Rama.

Alas, the future imaginary daughter turned out to be a 100% girly girl with a thing for the spotlight. And so it was that in the initial meeting with parents and the "creative" directors, I was lost in the pageantry of it all. While the more stagey of the parents were debating on the merits of the "creative" gown versus the "formal" gown, I was mentally calculating the investments. And wondering why the kids need makeup in the first place.

The day of the pictorial was a harbinger of the real thing. As the kids were waiting in line for a dab or two of pictorial foundation, one (obviously stage) mother corralled a portion of the library and surrendered her daughter to the ministrations of her own, exclusive makeup artist. Talk about imeldific!

At last, after two weeks of incessant rehearsals, I had reached the point of no return: I would have to have my day as Annabelle Rama. The day of the "Search for Super Duo Models" turned out to be "Bring Your Own Bading Day," with fairies of all shapes and sizes fawning over the little girls and boys. Bedlam reigned backstage as parents and the coterie of alalays elbowed each other out for precious floor space. Imeldific, she who commandeered the library a few days back, was back with a vengeance. This time, she had the entire dressing room to herself, her alalays and her daughter, who didn't seem too happy with all the fuss. The sister—who also had to be forced to be stage mother for two weeks—did a McGyver and had to pick the lock to the props room so the rest of us mortals would have a semblance of a dressing room.

As the night wore on (do pageants ever start on time on these islands?) and the kids were weighed down by heavy makeup and heavy "creative" gowns, I was transformed into a literal stage mother. I had to "lurk" in the wings because Little Star was getting sleepier and sleepier by the minute.

But in the end, not even the heels, the constricting clothes and the put-on “adulthood” could stop the kids from being kids. While the host droned on and on about Judge Number One being this and that, the kids turned the stage into one huge playground, trading mock flying kicks and playing hide and seek.

Just as I was about to say my so longs to the innate Anabelle, the little girl—giddy perhaps from two trips to the centerstage—surveyed the scene and calmly declared that she won’t be a doctor anymore.

That she will, in fact, be an “artista.”


January 22, 2010


It's three weeks into the new year, and I'm still stuck in the old. I have leftover work from last year, and I have yet to make space for things that should be filed but are now unceremoniously piled in one corner. My planner is groaning with hastily scribbled "plans."

Maybe, there really should be a break between the old and the new. Time enough to sift through the accumulations of the past year, keep what must be kept and discard the rest. Time to take stock, to take a breather before plunging straight into the new.

As it is, the frenzied days of December have quickly blurred into equally frenzied January. I am hopelessly stuck, reeling from the blows of unresolved resolutions and giddy with the prospect of making new ones.

And it is close to February already!

January 17, 2010

Reclaiming Sorsogon

We're back to the familiar: the cars prowling the streets are the same familiar cars. The faces are the same familiar faces. It is back to just us, and Sorsogon is ours once more.

On new year's eve, I made the mistake of going downtown for the usual last-minute rush. It was bedlam, and the really thick crowd made me wish I had body odor in a bottle. Or skunk spray. How wonderful to be some kind of Moses and see and sea of bodies part, I thought as I pushed my way past equally exasperated last-minuters.

The streets are uncrowded now, save for portions claimed by the more headstrong sidewalk vendors. Rush-hour traffic is back to a five-minute pileup. The post new year quiet takes some getting used to, and it sure gets a little lonely sometimes.

But then, knowing how people always seem to seek the road back home, I know that this is just a breather. The unfamiliar cars and the unfamiliar/once-familiar faces will be back in April. Or in June. Or in November.

To reclaim a piece of home.

January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

While waiting for the muse of blogging to settle in for the new year, here's something from the great Maya Angelou:

The bells are a-clamor
chimes have been loosed
there is a banquet of Hosannas in the air.

We have endured endless peaks of pain and valleys of loneliness;
We have lost beloved's we could not live without; yet we have lived.

We have encountered unforgivable cruelty; yet we have forgiven yet we have been forgiven.

We have survived, flourished, and thrived with passion, compassion, humor and style. We have been fortunate and worthy.

Now we stand, heavy laden, before a great gate which leads to the rest of all time. It swings ajar, and we know at this critical moment that not all we carry need enter when we enter.

We can evict hate and scorn from our souls; we can open clenched fists, and let bigotry, malice and enmity fall back down the slope to yesterday.

We can lay down our burden of violence and step lightly over the lintel into a vernal and newly-minted tomorrow.

We, who never saw a new century; we, who never saw a new one thousand years, can join the hallelujah, the hymns, the paeans, the voices all over the world.

We can shout or whisper, scream or mumble:
Happy New Millennium!
Happy New Century!!
Happy New Year!!!