Change is the operative word as the year has been full of it.
The new job I took in March became the catalyst of all these life-altering transformations. One of which was becoming a real mom. Sure, I gave birth to Miguel 4.5yrs ago but I never really got the chance to be a 'real' mom to him due to pressure from work. Unfortunately, it seems it was easier to say 'yes' to the demands of work than to the needs of my family.
But by early this year, I resolved that this could not go on anymore. I was missing a lot on my child's growing up years and it was frustrating me. I was raised by a stay-at-home nanay and I know the joy of having my nanay take care of me and my sisters hands on. No yayas. With today's economics, however, I could not possibly do what she did so I tried to look for the next best thing - a job that pays enough but does not entail too much pressure. So far, so good. I am less stressed, hence, less irritated and more accommodating of Miguel's naughty antics.
I get to go home early so I am able to do some mommy duties in the evening like feeding Miguel and prepping him for bed. We even have a regular story-telling session every night before he sleeps.
Now that I don't have to work on weekends, it also gave me time to put on my apron (ok, I don't really have an apron) to whip up a recipe or two. We even bought a new oven/rotisserie to allow us more cooking options. I love the fact that weekend cooking has become a family affair. It is almost always a team effort of me and Caloy while Miguel looks on as he stands in his pedestal chair.
At mid-year, Miguel had developed an aversion to school that we had to pull him out and find a new school with a curriculum more appropriate for him. This new school has also altered our way of living particularly when it comes to watching TV. They highly discourage exposing kids to television, as they believe that it hampers their imagination. I have been a couch potato for as long as I can remember and so banning TV at home required so much effort. But I am happy to announce that we are able to do it, at least 90% of the time.
At my younger sisters' prodding, I have also started a blogsite to channel my passion for writing. I don't claim to be a good writer but I think I can still get the message across.... at least to the few readers who frequents my blogsite.
So I can say it has been a good 2010. More smiles and fewer tears. A complete turn-around from what I expected at the beginning of the year.
It's the Advent season once again marking the beginning of a new liturgical year and a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. For the past 13 years, this means going to Tagaytay for a weekend retreat with friends and former colleagues. It is a time for spiritual renewal and reconciliation.
Canossa House of Spirituality
Km 57 Gen. E. Aguinaldo Highway
Tagaytay City 4120
As an opening salvo for our newly bought La Germania oven and rotisserie, we had a yummy-licious roasted chicken and veggies for a family Sunday lunch.
Prior to roasting, the chicken was marinated in Barrio Fiesta's Lechon Manok mix for two hours. While the veggies (baby potatoes, tomatoes, green & red bell peppers and asparagus) were drizzled with olive oil and spices (marjoram, thyme & oregano). For additional flavor, the veggies were laid in a baking pan and placed below the roasting chicken to catch its drippings.
For our soup, we had a steaming Knorr cream of asparagus soup with real asparagus stalks.
Having been a loyal Nokia user for the past decade or so, the recent loss of my last Nokia unit triggered me to reminisce my past phones and prompted me to write this piece. For some unfathomable reason, it would seem that I have a knack for "giving away" my mobile phones every time something major major happens in my life. I do not know how to explain it, it just happened.
My first phone was a Nokia 3210, a by-product of holiday bonuses. I had it for about a year then it got stolen right out of my jean's front pocket. It was a rush hour weekend and I was on my way home from the mall. I had to work my way up a bus teeming with passengers and settle with standing at the bus aisle. When we reached the next bus stop, people started going down. The next thing I know, my phone was gone. I guess one of those peeps who left decided to keep my phone as a souvenir from me - without asking, of course.
My milestone: Caloy and I were just starting to go out at that time.
I replaced my stolen 3210 with another 3210 because it was a cheaper fix. It was after all an unbudgeted expense so I cannot afford a newer model. It took another 2 years before I finally grew tired of it and decided to buy a new one. This time a Nokia 6510. It was cute and small but nonetheless, satisfied my simple needs - mobile phone, radio, calendar and alarm clock. Then one sunny afternoon while walking in Cubao with Caloy, some klepto took it out of my bag and ran away with it.
My milestone: We were in the middle of the wedding preps.
My Nokia 6230 was barely 3 months old when I lost it in Glorietta during a midnight sale. Little did I know that while I was rummaging thru stacks of clothes on sale, somebody was likewise doing the same in my bag. An officemate I came across in one of stores was the one who told me that my bags' zip was open. I knew my brand new phone was gone even before I checked it.
My milestone: I resigned from my 8yr job and was transferring to a new workplace.
With a heavy heart, I bought myself a Nokia 3230. I eventually gave it to Caloy because his Samsung phone was failing him already and I was itching for a better unit.
My N70 Music Edition lasted the longest with me, more than 3yrs. Heck, it was so long I even thought my "phone curse" was gone. Then BOOM! I was riding a jeepney on the way to the office, on a Monday morning at that, when it got fished out of my bag. It was really disappointing. That phone was the silent witness to the emotional rollercoaster that I went thru in last couple of years. It was my lifeline to my family when I went to the netherworld. In short, we've been through a lot together so it was really a bummer to lose it in that manner.
My milestone: I started with a new company this year.
I am now using a Nokia E63. I am dearly hoping that this one will stay with me for a long time. And that it will not leave me the traditional way.... my tradition of losing it to strangers, that is, the next time I have a major event in my life.
Got shrimps? Here is a simple recipe I got from Yummyfood mag. I tried it last weekend and my attempt was not exactly a success because I unintentionally over-seasoned the shrimps with salt. Otherwise, I am sure it would have been so yummy-licious.
250 grams shrimps, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
4 pieces finger chili (siling pansigang), sliced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Season the shrimps with some salt.
In a skillet, saute garlic and chili in olive oil. When garlic is golden brown, add the shrimps. Cook until shrimp change color. Serve sizzling hot.
I was craving for a pizza on a lazy Saturday afternoon and I knew I could have just bought those ready-to-eat pizzas but I figured a DIY pizza would be a nice bonding activity with Miguel. Since we always make pretend pizza with his Play Doh clay, making a real one that we can actually eat would be a treat for him. So despite the magnetic-like pull of the bed on my back and big butt, I stood up and rushed to the nearest grocery store to buy the things I need.
Sure enough Miguel got all excited when he saw me preparing the pizza. He immediately pulled out his official chair from the dining table placed it beside me while he stood on it as he watch me work. I took out the ready-made pizza crust, spread the sauce and topped it with sweet ham, italian sausage, pepperonni, mushroom, bell peppers and lotsa cheese. I then put in the oven to bake.
Miguel and his friend Johan (our unexpected visitor) enjoying their mini DIY pizza
Miguel was feverish since last night due to sore throat and extreme cough but it was not anything that his yaya can't handle so I didn't really think I had to skip work today. But my heart just melted when he looked at me with those pitiful eyes of his with tears running down his face as if saying, "Mommy, please stay." So I stayed home and played mom, yaya and nurse the whole day.
He is not able to eat much because of his sore throat so I cooked his favorite sopas. It's actually a complete meal in itself because it has carbo (macaroni), protein (chicken) and vegetables (potato, carrots and bell pepper). The original recipe had spinach in it but I couldn't find spinach in the market today so I skipped it. Anyhow, Miguel still liked it so much that he had 3 bowls of it.
Anyone who knows me know how much I loooooove siomai. And so I thought of trying to do it on my own. Here is my first attempt........
1 kg ground pork (suggested proportion of fat to lean meat is 1:3)
1/3 cup chopped water chestnuts or turnips (singkamas)
1/3 cup chopped carrots
2 medium or 1 large minced onion(s)
bunch of spring onions or leeks
5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
50 pcs. large or 100 pcs. small wanton or siomai wrapper
Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into each wrapper. Fold and seal.
Meanwhile, boil water and brush steamer with oil.
When the water gets to a rolling boil, arrange the siomai in the steamer and let stand for 15-20 minutes, longer for larger pieces.
Serve with soy sauce, calamansi and sesame oil. Chilli paste is optional.
My family's feedback:
Hubby - it tastes like Almondigas
Nanay & Sister Kath - Good
Sister Mai - good but needs a little more singkamas
I think the overall taste is okay but the wrapping definitely needs a lot of improvement. Just look at the pics above, do they look like siomai to you? Anyhow, I guess I'll just have to do it again until I get it right. =)
I was getting tired of the usual chicken recipes that our househelp cooks day in and day out. So I did a little googling and stumbled upon this food blog whose recipes seems to be truly "lutong bahay". Simple recipes with simple instructions.
Sometimes the world looks perfect,
Nothing to rearrange.
Sometimes you get a feeling
Like you need some kind of change.
No matter what the odds are this time,
Nothing's going to stand in my way.
This flame in my heart,
And a long lost friend
Gives every dark street a light at the end.
Standing tall, on the wings of my dream.
Rise and fall, on the wings of my dream.
The rain and thunder
The wind and haze
I'm bound for better days.
It's my life and my dream,
Nothing's going to stop me now.
Sometimes life has a way of turning things around or working itself out. You meet new people and form alliances in the most unexpected places. Your most dreaded assignments turns out to be the most memorable ones and you remember with more fondness.
I had the opportunity to go to Africa last year. At that time, I thought it was more of a curse than a blessing to be sent there by the NGO I was working for back then. I had sleepless nights prior to the trip as scenes from the movies "Blood Diamond" and "Black Hawk Down" kept popping in my mind. Blame it on the media for painting such a terrorizing image of Africa. But the adventurer in me accepted the challenge and embraced it with a brave heart. I took comfort in the thought that my bosses would not send me there had they thought it would be dangerous for me. And so I hopped on a plane and after a 24hr travel covering thousands of miles of land and sea, my traveler's feet stepped on African soil for the very first time.
It was there that I met two of the nicest guys on earth.
If my memory serves me right, I first heard about him in late 2007 when he joined our organization as Program Manager of one of our field offices in the African region. Based on the sound of his name, I figured he must be some bossy unapproachable type of guy. Since I was not handling the accounts of his program that time, I never really had a chance to validate that idea. After about a year, the program ended and he left.
The first Skype chat I had with him was during my first mission trip in Juba in June 2009. A few nights before going home, in the loneliness of my container, he suddenly appeared in Skype and started bombing me with questions about the capital city of South Sudan – living conditions, entertainment, etc. I asked if he was planning a return and he said it was a big possibility but for a different organization. So imagine my surprise when before that night ended, my bosses informed me that he just accepted the soon to be vacated PM post of our Juba office! Man, was that fast!
The months that ensued were a challenge for both of us as we tried to put heads or tails on the highly complex program we were tasked to handle while on the opposites sides of the earth. Not to mention the never-ending series of unfortunate events that seems to plague that particular program. Corresponding mainly thru e-mail and Skype was not as effective as we hope it could be considering the terrible internet connection they have in the field. By the 3rd quarter of the year, the problem with the accounts had escalated to alarming levels that the big bosses requested me to go back there to assist.
So after 3mos of remote assistance, I finally met him in the flesh under the scorching hot Juba sun. He welcomed me with a big smile and a warm hug. His tall, lanky frame towered me that I looked like a hobbit beside him.
For 1.5mos we worked together to keep the project afloat. One can only make so much in such short time and we might still have missed a lot of things but hell, I can honestly say we tried our best. In that period, I came to know more of him and I realized that he was not the bossy, unapproachable person that I initially thought he was. He was actually a sweet and friendly guy.
He was my boss but he made me feel like we were (almost) equals. He does not even like being called “boss”. One time I jokingly called him that and he raised his eyebrows on me. On several occasions our thoughts are almost in synch that, as he said, we were on the same frequency. There are still things we disagreed on but he still listened to what I had to say. We shared the same sentiments on work and family. He understood and fully supported a decision I had to take even if it means “abandoning” what we had started with the program. He knows how to appreciate the little things and how not to sweat the small stuff. He has great sense of humor and knows when to crack a joke to lighten up the mood. Somebody told me before that he was a charmer and he was, he really was.
Completing our triumvirate was a young guy from the chocolate kingdom who handled the operation side of the spectrum. He was a complete stranger when we first met, a mere 3-letter name mentioned casually in my pre-departure conversations with the PM and the bosses in HQ.
It was only on my 2nd week of stay when we started talking to each other. He was the one who broke the ice when he invited me to join him and his friends to go out on a Friday night. Maybe it was just my low self-esteem but the fact that he came out of his way to invite me was such a big deal. Needless to say, we started talking and hanging out more after that night. When he does not have to go anywhere, he stayed in the Finance Office with his 80’s playlist humming in the background. He was our alarm clock that never failed to remind us when it was time to eat. With his blinding fair skin, he was like a walking sunshine as he bellows a “good morning” greeting to everybody at the breakfast table. Amidst the problem of lacking personnel, he became a part-time Admin, Accountant, Logistician, Driver and Mechanic (and even tour guide) on top of his regular duties as EOD. He was a jack-of-all-trades and rarely complained.
Leaving Juba at the end of my mission was both a joyous and a painful occasion. I was happy that finally I am going home to my family as I have missed them so much. But at the same time, tears were falling for friends that I’ll be leaving behind. Friends that, in most probability, I might never see again.
As we now go on with our separate lives (away from Juba), I hope that the struggles we went through together in that short time bonded us in such a way that this friendship we started will be able to transcend distance and time. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross again soon….Inshallah*.
Ok, I admit I am in love with Leo, has been since he was but a mere teen star that nobody knew. I saw his pic in a US teen mag that a classmate brought to school one day and I got hooked. Somehow I was able to get that pic for myself (I don't recall how) and it's hidden somewhere in my pool of Leo memorabilias (which most people would say junk). He was the one teenage infatuation that I never really gotten over with. LOL! And everytime he releases a movie, my emotions get all stirred up and I get Leo fever for the next week or so.
I saw Inception tonight with hubby and we both enjoyed it. We read good reviews prior to seeing it and it didn't disappoint. It had an interesting plot and the visual effects were really amazing. And of course, my dear Leo delivered a superb performance. =)
The current schoolyear opened up nicely with Miguel happily attending the 1st day of school last June 15. I accompanied him to school and even fetched him afterwards. He seemed ok that day.
Then on the 3rd day, he just suddenly refused to attend class. I dismissed it as just some kind of tantrum so I let it go.
My alarm bells started ringing when he still would not go to school on the 4th day and on succeeding days. Did somebody bully him? Did the teacher scolded him? Or maybe he doesn't know anybody from his class and he feels lonely. I contacted the school directress and asked if we could try to transfer him to the afternoon session in the same class where his BFF is. I figured he might feel encouraged attend go back to school if he has a good friend in class. His BFF, with his lola even dropped by our house to fetch him but he was adamant to stay home.
No amount of bribing and cajoling could make him go back. I tried going with him to the nearest Mini-Stop so we can buy baon of his choice but it didn't work. He just ate it at home. I also bought him Toy Story water jug and told him that he can bring it to school and show it to his classmates. It likewise, failed. He kept saying "yoko school, hirap school".
By this time, I was getting really worried and so I called up the school directress and Miguel's class teacher to inquire. They told me that Miguel might have been overwhelmed with the amount of activities that their Kinder class entailed. They said that his age might be a factor as he only turned 4 last April while his classmates were either turning 5 this year or are 5yo already. They offered to let him go back to Nursery instead (to which wer were agreeable) but by then our problem was more than what class he would attend but how to get him out of the house to go to school.
After almost 2 weeks of being in limbo on what to do next, hubby and I decided to pull Miguel out of his current school and re-enroll him in a progressive school whose Kinder curriculum is more play than academics. Caloy and I both think that this kind of set-up is more appropriate for Miguel.
It has been a week since classes started and Miguel seems to be doing well. It looks like he's enjoying his classes and that's enough for now. His academics, reading and writing, can still wait a while.
Finally, my Miguel is a certified moviegoer! He watched his first ever movie, Toy Story 3, in Trinoma yesterday. We didn't see the 3D version though as we were still unsure on how Miguel would react to the big screen, the crowd and the dark theater. But he finished the whole film and enjoyed himself immensely.
He is a big Woody and Buzz fan having seen the first 2 Toy Story movies in cable TV several times already. I am not sure which character he likes best because he gives a different answer every time I ask him.
Anyhow, Toy Story 3 is a must-see film both for kids and adults alike. So go out and see it.
I have always been fond of body scrubs and massages. So I was truly overjoyed when hubby told me that he planned to take us out for a whole body pampering soiree on our 5th wedding anniversary. Weee!
My dear Loyski did all the research and in the end came up with Sanctuario Spa, a real nice spa place nestled in Scout Esguerra St. near ABS-CBN in Quezon City. He signed us up with a package which started off with a steam bath and a jacuzzi dip. Then followed by an aromatic floral bath, body scrub and massage in their couple's room.
It was my first time to experience a steam bath and I am not sure I like it. It was so darn hot! I requested the attendant to cool it off a bit but it was still so hot! I was having a hard time breathing even after putting a damp towel in my face.
The floral bath was nice except that the flower petals keep touching my legs and it felt like bugs were crawling in my skin. So I guess, I could do without the petals.
The highlight of the night was the body scrub and massage. It was pure bliss and relaxation. I simply love it!
Thank you Loyski for such a wonderful evening. Ulet uli tyo ha! =)
*Here are a couple of You Tube vids re Sanctuario Spa.
I took a half-day leave today to accompany Miguel in his first day of kinder school. It was an event I missed last year due to an out-of-the-country assignment. Thanks to hubby who took, what he called a "blow-by-blow" photo account of the momentous event in our little boy's life and sent them to me. It suffice that time because there was nothing I can do about the situation but I told myself I am not missing it this year.
He was ok once in school but his pre-school morning tantrums were a bit of a challenge.
First, he refused to take a bath. I had to force him while he wailed, "Yoko maligo! Gusto ko baho!" the whole time.
Second, he refused to eat his breakfast. It took a lot of cajoling before he finally gave in. However, he only finished half of the breakfast I prepared for him.
Third, he won't drink his choco milk. This one is a recorded failed attempt. I just left it in the refrigerator and told his nanny to try to offer it to him again later in the day.
Fourth, he got all riled up when he saw that his baon was a juice drink and not Milo.
Lastly, he wouldn't wear his shoes but instead insisted on wearing his slippers to school. To prevent another crying bout, I conceded to his request. When we reached the school, I pointed out to him that the other kids were all wearing shoes so he should also wear his. I guess he realized his "uniqueness" so he immediately agreed to let me put on his shoes.
Everything went smoothly from there. When the teacher started requesting the kids to line up, he went to his line and marched into the classrooms without any problem.
Three hours later, he was all smiles when he saw me again in school to pick him up.
I've been keeping journals since I was in grade school. I think I was about 12yrs old when I started. Back then, all I really write about were the shows that I saw on TV - movies and sitcoms, and my infatuations to certain Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox and New Kids on the Block. There were also entries on real life, school and childhood crushes but my real life was quite boring so I stuck to my 'reel' life.
The reason I started writing journals was actually to practice my English writing skills. But as I progressed, I realized that it was also a good way to sort of document my memories. One can only remember so much. The major stuff can easily be recalled but the details are usually forgotten. That's where journals come in handy.
I enjoy re-reading my journals. It's funny how I can get so overly dramatic on some entries. Or how lame I can be on others. Then there are also some events that I was able to describe in so much detail that re-reading them feels like I was being transported back in time.
I don't think I'll ever stop writing. My journals are my life's 'preservatives'.
* Photo taken from www.infed.org/research/keeping_a_journal.htm
I was facebooking one April Friday evening while hubby Caloy was channel surfing when suddenly he came across a promotional TV ad for a Tears for Fears concert here in Manila on May 2. My head snapped up and stared at the TV. For a brief moment I was transfixed on the TV. I couldn’t believe that they were back in the music scene much less going here in Manila to have a concert.
When the initial shock died down (which was only a matter of seconds) I immediately texted my equally fanatic sister while at the same time googling on the details of the concert in the internet.
My sister and I were so ecstatic about the news that we placed our ticket reservations online that same night and paid/claimed it the following day. Upper Box A Section 307 Seats G8 and G9 at a whooping P2640 each. For two average earning people spending P2640 for a concert ticket is a total extravagance. And it just proves how much we love the duo.
A little flashback, I was but a mere elementary student when their biggest hit “Shout” came out. Being in the habit of watching music video shows as young as 7yrs old, Tears for Fears videos were among the first music videos I was exposed to. I loved their music then and still love it now. So when I heard about their Manila concert, it was a done deal – I am going to watch it.
On concert night, my sister and I were already in Araneta as early as 7pm, to think we had reserved seats tickets (di naman excited di ba?). Not to look too anxious, we stayed in the Starbucks located inside the coliseum for about 20minutes before we headed inside and took our seats. To our surprise, the General Admission area was already almost filled up. A newspaper earlier reported that tickets were sold out a week before the concert and that Araneta had to add additional seats in the Patron area and extend the Upper Box A and B area to accommodate more people.
The throng of people started coming in during the lull between the opening acts (Sandwich and Pupil) and the main act. We witnessed how the coliseum transformed from an almost empty state to completely jam-packed.
The much-awaited mega duo made their grand entrance at 9pm. And they were welcomed with ear-splitting screams from the mammoth crowd inside the Big Dome. Curt Smith came out first singing a portion of Mad World while Roland Orzabal followed next strumming his guitar as the two of them continued to serenade the crowd with their first full song of the night, Everybody Wants to Rule the World. People were hypnotized with their music and everybody was singing along with them. It felt like I was traveling back in time as I was having flashes of my childhood and black and white TVs.
The musical extravaganza lasted 2hours consisting of 19 songs. The finale song was, of course, the deafening "Shout”. With a crowd of 10k to 15k "shouting" the song in unison, you could almost feel the Big Dome reverberating. The energy inside was simply overwhelming.
The concert was definitely something I would remember for a very long time. Many think that this concert was delayed by about 20 years. I say it was just the right time because back then I would be too young to see it.
Thank you TFF for coming and rocking Manila. You were worth the wait.
Thank you to the producers who invested to bring them here (I'm sure they made a lot of money in this venture.)
Thank you to my lovable hubby who let me see the concert and allowed me to buy those expensive reserved seats tickets. (He's not much of a TFF fan so he stayed home)
Thank you to my equally fanatic sister who came with me.
And thank you to all the TFF fans who flocked The Big Dome that night and made it an event to remember. Enough for Curt Smith to twit the following day, "Doesn't happen very often but....I'm speechless, Manila, what a night! Thank you so much, we've now officially peaked!".
Roland: Thank you and good evening. It is a thrill and an honor to be here in Manila with you. Thank you ever so much for coming tonight. We've been all around the world quite a few times. Across America, the plains of Siberia, the deserts of Scandinavia, and I don't know why it has taken so long for us to go to Manila. It is a crime. I mean, our reception at the airport was great but this is amazing...
Curt: Thank you. Mabuhay! I believe that means 'life'. What a beautiful turn out I have to say. Hi everyone at the top. Give me some love. There've been many versions done of this song Mad World. Some people have recorded it and we were of two minds of what version we should do. The kind of orchestral thing we do at the beginning was a little... And so we thought we should do the original? Does everyone agree?
Roland: Thank you very much. Good night.
Roland: You're amazing! Thank you so much. That is amazing. What a noise. I'd like to introduce the members of our band. On lead guitar, Charlton Pettus. On drums, the new boy, Jamie Wollam. On keyboards Doug Petty. And this guy... to my right...His name is Michael Wainright and he is about to shock you with what he can do. This is--