December 21, 2011

Back to Grade One

I had my first Grade One party in a looong, loooong time. Since Grade One actually, which was decades ago. It was hard squeezing into a pint-sized armchair, and with 40 or so fellow stage mothers around it was one crowded affair.

But it was quite a happy way to start the party season. And since it was held in the room where I spent my original Grade One party, it was like teleporting back to the days when teachers can rap your hands with a ruler and still get a nod of approval from your mother.

Between then and now, a lot has certainly changed. Christmas trees and decor used to be communal efforts, and we had to bring ilo de bila(???) that we would tack to the sides of a big bilao to make a hanging Christmas tree. The Christmas balls served as art projects: we would string beads and sequins on pins and poke them into plastic balls. Today, the tree is made of tinsel--made in China, I presume. The balls, too, have the generic, shiny, from-the-factory look.

We had to rely on ourselves for entertainment then, but now there's Jollibee shaking his booty. I don't know why--or how--an oversized insect reached demigod status and but the kids really had a blast! Between Santa Claus and Jollibee, I'm sure they would settle for the bee.

There were no I-got-a-towel tears during the "exchange gift." Gone were the Curly Tops, the boxes of pretzels and the face towels folded into soap dishes of my Christmas parties. The instructions were specific: boys should bring toys for boys and girls should bring toys for girls. And so it was mayhem as the kids tore open their gifts, got a toy car or a stuffed toy or a doll and forgot everything else, including the party clothes that we forced them to wear.

The joy on the kids' faces was enough to ring in Christmas cheer. I had put off sprucing up the house for the holidays because the tree would end up bare anyway and it would take as much effort to take down as to prop up. Suddenly, though, it was Christmas all over, and I felt the excitement as well.

The kids were still playing and the clean-up duty was left to some of us. As I retrieved a broom that had obviously seen better days, I espied the Noisy Standing Pupils list in a corner. Being on the NSP was every grader's nightmare then. And if you ask my not-quite-naughty daughter, it still is now. I guess despite the time lapse some things never really change. And it felt really good to be back.

PS: A day later, it was our office Christmas party. Point of comparison: the kids were certainly more mature than some of the adults :p

November 10, 2011

My Desktop, Bow!

Today, I decided to put some semblance of order into my desktop. Make that desktop of the not-so-techie kind. I have been running out of horizontal space, and retrieving things are approaching production-number proportions. Heck, for all I know, I can probably make it to an episode of Hoarders.
Some of the stuff--useless and useful and in-between--that I found:

A letter holder from Cebu, which holds anything BUT letters
Paintbrush, with bristles falling off. The brush is not for painting, of course.
Notes from HR
A hastily-scribbled note to self. I don’t know what led me to write 28 minutes of patience. I guess my memory is not that patient, huh?
Staple wire, staple wire and more staple wire. Oh and stapler and staple wire remover.
Post Its, a memo pad, two steno notes and four logbooks
Highlighters -- there's one in hot pink, one in subtle yellow and another in blinding orange
Ballpen cap
Bent paperclips
A paper fastener that’s missing its better half
A jar of paperclips and tacks
1 x 1 pictures that got unglued from the boxful of resumes stashed somewhere
A packet of ORS, ranitidine ampules, ambroxol tabs
Delivery receipts
Coffee mugs and coasters. The big mug is for my regular dose. The bigger mug is for when I am in semi-murderous mode :p

And that’s only skimming the surface. Wait till I get started on the stuff that I have managed to kick under the table.

October 18, 2011

The Night is Gay

The ate worked on the daughter, and the daughter worked on me. Of course, I had heard semi-horrific stories about Miss Gays, but because it was a Friday, and the "pageant" was just a few blocks away, off we went to watch Miss Gay Sorsogon Earth 2011 (!!!) for what I hoped to be a brief, after-dinner walk.

By the time we got to the makeshift venue, people were still milling about. Nothing ever seems to start on time in these parts, after all.  The organizers were still up and about, waving imaginary fairy wands to turn everything decidedly gay.  The one or two early contestants were balancing on dangerously high heels, practicing their killer walks. 

And then--ta dah--they started coming in.  Four to a tricycle.  It was hilarious to see them alighting from their modern-day carruajes all exaggeratedly dolled up.  It was even more hilarious to imagine what a drive it must have been for Mr. Tricycle Man!

The night turned really gay when the princesses started strutting their stuff.  "Miss Venezuela" was first.  Gliding smoothly despite the tons of plumage and makeup, s/he unabashedly declared that Miss Sorsogon Gay is "not about fame, fortune or fofularity.  It's about loooovvvveeee." Crowd favorite "Miss Korea," who lived a few houses down the street, is a "tweynty-one year old student taking up with computer programmer."  "Miss Egypt" was reed--er papyrus--thin, making him/her come across as closer to a mummy than to his/her idol Cleopatra. Why Cleopatra?  you ask. The answer was forthright: "She fought not only for her country but for the entire Egypt as well."

For someone who doesn't quite like watching beauty pageants because Q&As are just inches short of being human-rights violations, I truly, truly sat through the Q&A without feeling the slightest hint of embarrassment for the candidate.  Diction and grammar and non sequiturs aside, it was one amusing, literally gay night.  (Literal, too.  When asked to elaborate on why s/he wanted to be a "good server of the people," "Miss Africa" took a deep breath, gracefully gave a Sushmita-Senish bow and pronounced "it has always been my dream to have a restaurant where I can serve good food to the people.")

The "swimsuit" portion was the highlight.  There were ample warnings, of course.  (A pageant of the same nature ages ago had wayward sensitive parts popping out from constriction, and will probably linger forever in the pop history of Sorsogon.)  But when the princesses started coming out from the garage that served as dressing room, the collective thought was "how did they do it?"  Save for one who opted for the conventional one-piece swimsuit that looked terribly outdated in the sea of skimpy swimwear, it was a show of skin, skin and more skin.  There were no popping privates.  There wasn't even a hint that these weren't exactly girls!  Which made me rethink anatomy 101.  

In the end, the brief after-dinner walk stretched into hours and hours of out-of-this-world entertainment.  It's now Kasanggayahan Festival in these parts, and the daughter wishes that the Search for Miss K would be "for gays na lang."  I couldn't agree more.  I am now a convert, hehehe. And I feel vindicated for voting Ang Ladlad!

September 20, 2011

Picture These

Somewhere in the pre-digicam days are ads and signs that are permanently etched in my otherwise selective memory.  I can picture them still: hastily scrawled, without regard for advertising 101 aesthetics. 

These signs, recently spotted from my neck of the woods, deserve a place in my mental collection.  They certainly belong to the ranks of  Uling for Sales,  Hauze for rint,  We accept littering,  Naghahasa ng cerrcular sow.


(From a church bulletin board.)  Yup.  Your baon has to be patented, registered and titled.  And it must come with a tax declaration.

(At a therapy clinic) They put the "W" into "illness"

(A few steps away from the old school. ) The wayward apostrophe strike's again

August 3, 2011

One Fine Day

These feet were made for walking, and walk they did one fine day!  The more or less ten kilometer walk (should have been 20, but I cheated :p ) took me through fields of green, roadsides waking up for the day and mist-cloaked rivers and ponds.

I have always enjoyed walking.  There is something about taking to the open road on foot that clears the head (and the sinuses) of its many clogs and cares. Back in the reckless days when skin cancer wasn't a concern, my officemates and I would brave the midday walk from Emerald to Edsa.  The less than a kilometer walk, of course, was made longer by the endless prattle of post-college kids.

There are other walks as well--walks measured not so much in terms of distance but in terms of building friendships.  Bivouacs, treks, climbs, strolls made even more memorable by a heady mix of chatter and  semi-serious getting-to-know-yous. Comfortable silence among friends, too.

My legs felt like lead by the time I made it past the finish line. The sun, too, was scorching. No matter.  The feet will always find yet more reasons to walk.

July 26, 2011


Today, I am thankful because ...

Despite the sticky keys and the slower-than-slow connection, I am still connected,

Despite the driving rain, I am safe and warm, And the roof is not leaking,

Despite the power outage, I am not in the dark

Despite a memory that needs some serious upgrading, I still remember the things that matter.

Despite the different time zones, we are still friends who revel in the here and now. And the once-upon-a-times.

Despite postponements and cancellations, life goes on.

I am 44 today. The hair is no longer jet black, and the vision nowhere near 20/20.  The statistics are no longer vital. (They never were, anyway!) Still, I welcome yet another year of laughing (at myself, mostly), living, learning and loving.

This business of growing older isn't so bad at all.

June 1, 2011

We Are Family

I wasn't particularly excited about our grand "clan" reunion.  Of course, I have fond black-and-white memories of summer bonding with cousins.  Make that lots and lots of cousins.  But the way two recent reunions ended somehow soured me to the idea.  After civil warlike quarrels broke out over such a petty thing as a Christmas star, I kinda believed that there are reunions that are better on paper.  Or online.  Or anywhere that don't require the "reuniters" to be physically present.

Last month's clan reunion had me bridging the great divide.  It was great to have the cousins around.  We have all grown of course, and it was hilarious to see ourselves now taking on the roles of our parents.  After the remember-whens and the almost endless sream of the little girls and boys that reminded us of who we once were, we had fun picking up where we left off.  In most cases, the transit point was the night of Lolo's funeral, when we took up the entire balcony of the moviehouse to catch the final screening of a Nino Muhlach movie.

With 20 children from three marriages, Lolo certainly was no RH advocate.  (The second wife, in fact, died two days after giving birth to Baby Number Twelve, and can very well be a case in point for the pro RH bloc..) The Dados have then gone forth and multiplied, and the recent reunion was proof of the clan's exponential growth.  Yay! We actually had to wear name tags and come in color-coded shirts to keep up with the parade of great and great-great grandkids

In true clan fashion, the almost weeklong reunion was NOT uneventful.  Youngest Uncle's First Wife showed up, and for a while we thought there would be an action scene between her and Recent Wife.  An "undocumented" cousin also made a guest appearance: he--and the rest of us--knew of his paternal roots only recently, thus his non-inclusion in the directory.

In all, it was a happy affair.  Tita T led the immortal LA Walk, the kids had fun running around and getting to know their cousins, and there was juicy chismis all around.  (If you knew how to mine, of course. :p)  The catfights were left for another day, and the present warriors were kinda civil.  Mini reunions have since been staged and the warring factions are at each other's throats once more.

No matter. Families are families, huh?

April 13, 2011


In December, I was given the Loyalty Award.  Before I hear canned applause, however, let me qualify that loyalty is relative.  In my case, it means that I have been on the job for ten years.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Come to think of it, the fact that I am able to hold the same job for ten years is a personal victory of sorts.  (Applause, applause) A well-meaning boss once said that I thrive on "impermanency."  That routine bores me and that cubicles have a way of weighing me down. 

Oh well.  People and perspectives do change.  The bureaucracy, which I thought to be one long, endless routine of chasing paper and prolonged coffee breaks, has actually tamed my wandering spirit.  Sure, biometrics can be exasperating and office policies can be a drag.  Uniforms could use a little touching up and some people could use some gray matter.  But there is nothing "routine" about the people that come to the office every day.  Or about their stories.  Or about the friendships that have since translated into standing in as godparents many times over.  I have also realized that the bureaucracy is what you make it.  That if you go to the office day in and day out thinking that work sucks, it will.

The ten years have been a breeze.  Having worked in high-rises and in corporate jungles, I now find myself totally grounded.  And totally loving it.

April 9, 2011


I've never been really mindful of numbers.  Mathematics and I--we have a serious relationship gap made worse by horrible grades in college algebra. Two things had me thinking numbers recently, though: my blog archives and car plates.

Of course I know that I've been neglecting Anna's Tasa. I just didn't realize I am down to virtually one post a month until I happened to scan the archives part. How I got from 100 to three (thus far) in five years says a lot about my (lack of) focus.  Most days, I'd much rather read about other people's happenings than sit down. sit still and write about life and its sometimes dizzying turns. So much for 2011 resolutions, huh?

As for car plates, the spanking, from-the-factory vehicles vrooming around in my city have P-edition plates. Come to think of it, most of the "latest" cars when I was in college bore license plates that started with the letter P, too.  N was okay, because the very, very few old N-plated cars that I still see around here are candidates for cameo roles in Pinoy action movies.  But P?  Suddenly, I feel that college was a generation ago.

And it is, actually. But I'm not too keen on taking out the calculator to compute. : p

March 11, 2011

Party Poopers

At our latest family reunion, Tita's eyebrows rose to the 30th floor when Cousin barged in with her obviously-not-on-the-guestlist friends. They made a beeline for the buffet table, stripped the poor lechon of its crispy skin, and after eating and making the requisite we-have-to-go-back-to-heaven-knows-where exit line, proceeded to dump food into their capacious bags. Tita naturally came close to a meltdown, and I think has crossed Cousin off the list of those who will do the LA Walk in the next reunion. 

Other than realizing that skinless lechon can be such a gory sight, I have also come to realize that the world is full of party poopers.  Among these are:

1. The Heapster. Those who border on gluttony and pile food on their plate as if the world is in danger of starvation.  And in kiddie parties, Moms and yayas who heap, heap and heap food on their kid's plates, ignoring the fact that the pint-sized junior cannot possibly digest two burgers, two jumbo hotdogs, two drumsticks, and two servingspoonfuls of spaghetti and rice in one sitting.  The result?  Left-overs that could have fed a starving battalion.

2. The Box-Out Queen. They who elbow out the rest of the populace for first crack at the bouquet, or the doves, or the souvenirs.  They are always on the lookout for the freebie. At the first hint of activity, they make a mad dash toward the souvenir table and grab every souvenir they can lay their hands on, never mind if the trinkets will just gather dust eventually. 
3. The Stripper.  The Box-Out Queen's cousin.  The Stripper scans the venue, waits patiently on the sidelines and when the party's almost over, strips the venue of every thing that can be carried--from utensils to styrofoam cut-outs to the cake stand to the centerpiece. 

4. The Nega Star. My hands-down favorite :p.  The Nega Stars gravitate toward each other, taking up a dark corner and making it even darker with the negative vibes.  They complain about the food and the venue and trade nasty chismis about the host/s and the other guests.

5. The Videoke Vampire. S/he latches on to the mic and there's no tearing her away from the blasted videoke.  Not even a coughing spell or a wayward insect or the threat of a major weather disturbance can stop her "concert."

February 25, 2011


I wasn't at EDSA in 1986.  It was more a matter of close but not quite; of being so near and yet so far.  I was 18, and home was an aunt's house in Little Baguio.  For some reason, Tita N worshipped Marcos and imposed a semi-martial law ban things un-Marcos.  My inkling then of the storm brewing at EDSA were Joe Taruc excitedly announcing to one and all that JPE and FVR have bolted Malacanang, the helicopters circling the periphery and the three boxes of sardines that Tita N, in a fit of panic-buying, stacked on the stairway.

Secretly, Second Sister and I rejoiced with the EDSA crowd.  (Back home in Sorsogon, we had lightning rallies and secret meetings that, to teenagers, proved much too exciting to pass up.  We learned the songs of the generation, swooned over Elmer Mercado, and flashed the L sign.) We stayed glued to the TV screen, savoring FVR's monumental leap, the palpable euphoria as as Cory announced the flight of the Marcoses and the country's first few gulps of post-FM air.

(Of course Tita N's fear of a hungry, deprived Manila came to pass, and for the better part of two months, we had to think up every possible use for the cans upon cans of sardines.)

A lot has changed since 1986.  EDSA is a lot more difficult to navigate--literally and otherwise.  People Power, I believe, has been reduced to trivial proportions, its meaning lost in the face of politics and politicking.  EDSA Dos and EDSA Tres have shown how fickle we are.

I still get high on the memories of 25 years ago, though, as I'm sure many of us who came of age then still do. EDSA was a defining point in our collective once-upon-a-time, a reminder of what we are capable of as a people.  Even if sometimes, remembering EDSA comes with the nasal assault of sardines.

January 25, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

After days and days of relentless rain, the sun finally shone on my little pocket of the universe. For weeks, it's been nothing but dark skies, driving rain and dampness and dourness all around.  It was as if a humongous faucet had been left open, and we were but a few inches more of rainfall away from national disaster proportions.

Now the sun is up, and everywhere I turn, it's drying-up time.  In yards and on streets are things that can be dried or aired out.  There are rice grains and cacao seeds, laundry, cushions and mattresses, stuffed toys.  My neighbor is up on the roof, sunning himself.  The neighborhood brats--er kids--are out, enjoying the new year's first major sunlight.

I welcome the sun as well.  The rainy days have not been good for my resolve to fit into my old jeans.  Almost a month of finding comfort in (comfort) food and I am already way off my target :p

January 1, 2011


It's 3 a.m., and I am enjoying the lull. The last of the fireworks has since fizzled, and I am almost sure the dogs are thanking their gods. In a few hours, I would have to deal with the "Tia, Tio maki-New Year" crowd which will no doubt make the rounds of the village. It's a tradition that can be exasperating, but tradition nonetheless.

In keeping with tradition, I spent the better part of yesterday rushing and cleaning.  I don't know, but there's something about leave-takings that always makes me want to empty out the Zonrox. It actually feels good to disinfect, never mind if it stings.

And so, smelling faintly of disinfectant, I greet 2011 with a cup of coffee, a prayer of gratitude for family and friends, and the wish to streamline and be more organized this year. Bob Dylan and I have one common friend: Chaos.

I really, really hope I can break the connection this year :p