Wednesday, October 31, 2001

It started with the missing pumpkin basket. We have about negative 10 minutes to leave. Why oh why would that pumpkin basket be gone when it stared me on the face last Saturday? My body warmed up my face turned red looking for the basket. "What? You couldn't, it wouldn't match your outfit, so where is the basket?" Anyway, we left the house without the missing basket, stopped by the store to buy another. Like a tease, Donald even decided to use a route that ultimately got us stuck. Give me that steering wheel. Give me that steering wheel! I almost pulled Donald's hair. After about 30 minutes on that alternate, turtle-paced road, we got to the mall. And the first store, the first store where Penny went, gave him one candy. One measly candy! I almost kicked the ass of the guy who handed my precious boy one piece of candy. One piece of candy! What was that about? And yes I was not my best self. But then again, considering I was on a PMS-mode my reaction was quite normal. At least I didn't end up pulling Donald's hair, nor punching that guy from the first store. For all its worth, Pen had a great time trick or treating tonight. He had great loot. Although I realized, as this is Pen's first trick or treat in the mall, the mall is no good in terms of yield. The neighborhood is a far lucrative route to go. Haha! But true. Anyway, my PMS subsided at about 15 minutes past trick or treating time. What with the happiness on the boy’s face! Low-yield, high-yield, mall, neighborhood; just the same as long as he's having fun.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2001

Do you know Flat Stanley? Last year, Penny had this project in his kindergarten class, and I thought no big deal of it. In fact, Flat Stanley pretty much stayed home and didn't travel till the last minute. (He went to Nashville, Tennessee with us.) Now, I have this project request again, this time from Pen's gifted class, and I'm already planning which place to send Stanley. Maybe in Ireland. What do you think My? Will you adopt Stanley and show him around Dublin sometime? I didn't know how hyped Flat Stanley was until I found out about his other travels. In fact, he went to visit Bill Clinton and was once spotted on a space shuttle! Amazing. In Pen's class last year, Flat Stanley was in a White House Press Conference. Someone in Pen's class even sponsored Stanley in the Bahamas, and the picture they took of him was so awesome. It seemed to me as if an entire town in the Bahamas graced the picture!

I just remember all about these because tonight, as I check on Pen's works, there's one compilation on Flat Stanley from his gifted class. The title was “If I were like Flat Stanley...” different thoughts and point-of-view by young minds of what they'd do were they flat. There was one who'd slide down the door and paint his brother's toe nails!!! (Obviously this one is a girl.) There was a violent one who would go in the middle of the road to get run by a car (well, that makes sense cause he's already flat.) There was one who would take advantage of his flatness in a baseball game, another on a football game. There was one who would cry because he thought as flat, he'd loose all his advantage from his brother. (He could easily be hurled.) There was one who would parachute, and another who would attach himself to a kite and fly. Aren't kids imaginative? Some of them would spook people, (mostly their mothers because they are bad bad children :) And then, there was this one boy if flat, would slip down a sewer and get dirty! (He's kind of gross, isn't he? Smart and gross, um?) Little Pen on the other hand said, "Play hide and seek. I can slide under and run from my pet. I would sneak into my parents’ room and my parents would catch me." Did I say that Pen love to sneak? But it's cool. Kids are cool, so is Flat Stanley.

Sunday, October 21, 2001

BOLS ala Nyquil


School fair, trick or treating, a date with Scooby , all these lined up in the coming days for the little boy. I just don’t know how he will fare because he is coughing badly for days on end now.

Coughing shouldn’t really be a problem. Our body can heal itself with just a little care and rest. It just concerns me how the boy can help himself, I mean what do you mean rest when he can not even sit straight while watching t.v.!

Sometimes coughing is brought by irritation in the throat, during change in temperature, or because of too much talking and screaming. The doctor told me his lungs are clear, but damn the sound of his cough is nasty. To help his throat, I told him to refrain from screaming, even if just for a while.

When we are out late at night, I instruct him not to talk until we’re inside the building. I tell him, “zip your mouth, or I will pinch you. No, because the cold air will just irritate your throat sweetie.” Of course, I always end up pinching him.

Now as I am writing this, the little boy is in his room, supposedly sleeping… but you know what, he is not. In fact, he’s rather making some noise, I don't know playing with what. If only I can punch him so he’ll fall right to sleep. The truth is he needs rest very badly. I can’t even give him any medicine such as Nyquil to knock him down. (He's allergic to cough medicine.) I just trust that his body will heal itself. But with the noise I am hearing from his room this moment, my trust turns into desperation.

“What do we do now?”

“What about smoking him with jutes so he’ll sedate.”

Haha.

“What about alcohol? We can get him drunk, then he’ll fall right to sleep.”

“Ah, but he will not like the taste.”

Then the idea came. One time, not finding the cherry brandy I want, (I love cherry brandies) I pick up from a store blackberry-flavored brandy instead . Let me put it this way, blackberry brandy can taste exactly like a cough syrup, grape flavor. Oh yeah. So the idea came to me that maybe, just maybe, I can fill the boy’s medicine cup with this brandy, and let him take it ala Nyquil. Then he will, let's just say, cozy up and fall deeply into slumber :)

Thursday, October 18, 2001

No-brainer

“The instant the terrorists you support took over our planes, you sentenced yourselves to death.” My eyes pan to the title while listening to what the anchor says, then my eyes return to scan the script: “Seek justice for our dead, shut down Osama bin Laden's ring of terrorism...” My little mind took a moment to catch what’s going on. After all, one doesn’t often hear America speak this way. And to the Talime-bananas, ha hum.

I can’t help it. I just crack up, reading the text of the American propaganda in Afghan air.

"Attention Taliban! You are condemned. Did you know that?” Maybe they don’t, yeah, okay, tell them that.

"Our forces are armed with state of the art military equipment. What are you using, obsolete and ineffective weaponry?”
Duh.

“Our helicopters will rain fire down upon your camps before you detect them on your radar. Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them right through your windows. Our infantry is trained for any climate and terrain on earth. United States soldiers fire with superior marksmanship and are armed with superior weapons.”

"You have only one choice ... Surrender.”

But wait! It comes with complete instructions.

“When you decide to surrender, approach United States forces with your hands in the air. Sling your weapon across your back muzzle towards the ground. Remove your magazine and expel any rounds. Doing this is your only chance of survival."

I don’t even have to say this is very insulting to the brain. Unbelievable how in some quarters this kind of communication is the way to go. The writers either had a ball, or find penning difficult. After all, you need the talents of a SpongeBob SquarePants writer for something as effectual.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Yoga

Always, I have been interested in yoga. God knows I tried to explore the physical fitness aspect of it. Just unfortunate that my first try was hateful (I got dizzy) I lost my interest all together.

Recently, my interest in yoga resurfaced after meeting a practitioner. She was so encouraging, ah, you should see her shape. The truth is, yoga classes are offered in the gym I go to (comes with the membership.) Maybe I have just been so used with the routine of cardio, weight training, and intervals that I say pass to yoga. But every time I meet with this woman, I know I have to give yoga a good try.

Last week, I bought a videotape for yoga flexibility. I tried the video and as usual I got dizzy from all the twists and bends. But I'm determined so the next day I tried the tape again. Surprisingly, the practice turned out enjoyable. While I was doing vinyasa for back bends, I felt exhilarated. Somehow, I got this feeling that yoga was a discovery I waited too long to happen.

Early this morning, I was standing in front of the mirror dressing-up when I started to sing. I was so surprised that my voice came out clear and strong even if it was early in the morning. It was, and I feel, as if my chest opened-up because of a week of yoga. I enjoyed hearing my voice, even so to realize I was singing from my chest, not my throat. I sang louder and louder. Ang ingay ko. Haha! By the time I was done, I would have sang enough number of songs to complete a set. To think I have just started yoga.

Maybe it is true what Madonna says about yoga. And, that Sting controversial 8 hours! Ah huh. We'll see, we’ll see.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Attachments


I do meditate, I think it is in my nature to be mindful and meditative. Although I have recently discovered Zazen, I have been practicing meditation in the Vipassana tradition since I can remember. Sometimes I do this exploration out loud in Donald’s company, just because I have high regard for his thoughts.

My apologies to Donald if sometimes (or is that often?) I wake him up late at night for meditative explorations – yeah, and that too. I just did last night, and the thought was attachment. While making sure that Donald’s eyes were open, I got to pinpoint several of my possible attachments. Of course, his turn came. I asked him what his attachments might be. (I guess it’s hard to be married to me.) He replied, “Files, are we talking of files?” Hehe. Until he decided to be serious and tell me “My attachment is you.”

Anyway, this exchange happened last night and I’m reminded of it again as I hit the button to release the update to Alembong.org. I’m so happy, wohoo!!! That I finally got down to the revisions of this site. However, as my thoughts run attachments, can it be that Alembong.org is an attachment for me as well? It is understood in the Buddhist philosophy that our human attachment is the root of our human sufferings. Given the context, this site better not be, an attachment to me.

As per myself being an attachment to Donald, hmm…let me reiterate the paradox to life: things that cause us to be happy, are the exact same things that cause us misery. If it's any consolation to Donald, I being his attachment, let me say this. That In spite of the misery I may cause him, it is not far out to assume, that I may be the exact same cause to his happiness as well. Ha ha!

Much a thought my dears, much a thought to welcome this site.

Friday, October 12, 2001

American Sentiment


I saw Pres. Bush's address to the nation last night. Ironic how too much too soon, the Pres. is pressed with this tremendous task.

I don't know what's going on. Am I getting older? Or is it, that I'm getting more mature? Because now I care, I really do about what's happening. To think, I'm not even an American.

Last week was just too draining. The days drag on, and I slept exceptionally late to watch the event as it unfolded. I watched in the verge of tears, many times. The experience was just harsh.

Whereas in the past I would listen to music, last week I savored the commentaries in local radio stations as I drive.

I spent a day of quiet. I fasted.

I lit candles.

As the stock market falls, I bought some shares.

I even hesitated about the party I hosted last Saturday. But we pushed through and went dancing anyway. I just try not to wear anything fancy. In fact, I'm not wearing a lot of red, and orange these days.

Now, it feels as though everything is back to normal in Atlanta. A big thank you is in order to the federal and local government, for making a cushion big enough that we may go about our lives as we used to. Thank you.

Isn't it a give away, how much my American sentiment grows? Very well. I might as well wear a pin, or hang a flag somewhere.

I Felt New York


This was Pen, my son, in 1999. He's all covered up in this picture because of the New York freeze. It was then January 2. The temperature dipped way below zero, yet we are out and about exploring downtown New York, taking pictures.

See the backdrop? How beautiful the skyline was? Who could imagine that 2 years hence this same skyline would forever be altered?

The little boy is so smart. Last night, he tells me point blank what just happened. That there were two airplanes that crashed the World Trade Center. As much as I was being careful to explain to him these matters, what he knew didn't affect him at all. Seeing this picture however, he pointed at the twin towers and said, "these two buildings are not here anymore."

---

I could just imagine how terrifying this experience might be to those in the airplanes that crashed, and in the buildings that were targeted. I myself am terrified with the images that caught my eyes. A plane crashing through World Trade Center. Seeing the building one after another collapse - vanishing through thick air.

The first person I called hearing the news was my father. I think the gesture even touched me. Why would I call my father? It was as if I was reaching for comfort and reassurance. It was perhaps the daughter-instinct I have acting out.

I'm confused, distracted, and sad about all that happened. I'm just thankful that I have my father's wisdom, and Donald's insights to sort my mind. Their strength and clear thoughts make me grasps things faster than I would on my own. I feel lucky.

---

My first reaction was to call it to Jihad, and to World War III. Then, I realized that this is not about war of countries, but a war of freedom versus terrorism.

I also thought of Nostradamus' prediction. I think the world has been frantic for a long time because of the new millenium. The upheaval predicted to happen. It's crazy how we fancy World War III, Armageddon, the Second Coming, and such. Little did we know that the bloodshed would be spurred by a terrorist attack.

Sure enough, it happened at the start of the new millenium. 2001 is indeed the start of the new millenium. So much on the focus to the catastrophe, what I understand and focus on is that preceding the prophecy of upheaval is the prophecy of great peace reigning in this world.

---

I listened to my father when he reassured me, "something good will come out of it." This attack to United States may be a sacrifice, a catalyst that may break down terrorism. That's the best outcome to hope for. Maybe this horrible tragedy ought to happen. Maybe a trigger big enough is necessary to waken up United States. That is, so that it will pull the plug to rally the countries against terrorism. As this story unfolds, let us not lose the fact that our leaders have a big task ahead of them.

Let us pray for the strength and solidarity of this great nation, United States of America, to lead the world in defending peace. Let us pray for the leaders to successfully execute their mission. Let us pray for the souls of those that were sacrificed. Let us pray for the recovery of those hurt. Let us pray for the families whose lost and grief is beyond compare. Let us pray for our own family, and loved ones whose sense of calm is threatened by this horrific attack. Most of all, let us pray for the triumph of the good in everyone's hearts and intentions.

---

In this great catastrophe, I witness the greatness of a country.

In shaky waters, the nation pulls through. The patriotism is ever pronounced; flags hanging in driveways, flags cruising through cars, with more people enlisting in the military. My admiration ever grows, seeing the country's great foundation, the attitude of its people, its great confidence, awesome love of country and outstanding system beyond compare. This country indeed, is truly great.

As I sit this morning, I come across this passage so apt I want to share with you. I know our hearts cry as this story unfold. The world commiserates as a nation grieves. In this darkest hour, let us be comforted, that this too, "shall come to pass."

September Eleven


I appreciate all comments and thoughts on the events that are unfolding right before us. I say us, as a people, who breathe the same air, who live in the same world. This is a very important point: we all excrete the same smelly shit.

Yes, these events will affect each and every one of us. Terrorism is, in fact, a global sickness, something along the lines of drug addiction, or the AIDS epidemic. World War III you say? No, we cannot call this and the events to follow as war. War has always been a clash between two adversaries. This is not war; this is downright barbarism.

I remember my high school days when the sentiment was "Down with the World Bank-IMF", or "the Imperialist USA". There were some of us who attended protest rallies at the public square. I don't know about the others, but the only reason I did so was because they cut our classes short. I remember I was totally amused by the hardcore activists denouncing the "evil American Empire" clad in brand new Nike and Sperry shoes.

I have spent a year and a half strolling around the Middle East. The thing that struck me was that in this part of the world, the disparity between rich and poor is more pronounced. If you are rich, or part of a rich family, you are really rich; if you are poor, you are scum of the earth.

Now this is not my opinion, it's from someone I met in Jeddah. The poor have the most need, and they are being filled with hatred instead of love; violence instead of peace. Unfortunately, the majority of the so called "freedom fighters" in the region are rich, educated people who are after their own interests, and who use the poor under the guise of religious faith. Sounds familiar? It is. It is all around us, although they come in different forms and degrees. Fundamentalists, fanatics, etc. He once told us that he has fled after learning that their leader, who appears as a simple commoner to them during rallies, was actually a rich businessman who owned a huge construction company, and who drives around in a Rolls Royce.

I don't even want to dwell on the angle of the Israeli-Arab conflict. I think these are highly political issues, and are better left to, well, politicians. I just wish that these egotistical maniacs leave the poor common people alone, instead of brainwashing them to think that Abdullah right down the street is the devil. Or that Joe from thousands of miles away is the cause of all life's misery. Anybody with an IQ of at least 45 should be civilized enough to respect each other's right to their own beliefs, or at least the right to leave in peace. But then again, IQ doesn't count much in a lot of corners in this world.

I don't believe that religions are founded on the basis of violence and crime against fellowmen. I don't know much about Islam, nor do I know much about Christianity. All I know is I don't even need religion to guide me to respect the other human beings around me. I think it is the greed of man that has turned religion into a bunch of paper used as an excuse to take advantage of those who are weak. Jihad or the Crusades, all the same crap. Heck, the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ must be rolling in their graves...

I don't believe in violence. But the fact is, there has been a great crime committed. I think it is time for the world to come out in one voice, and say no to this form of harassment. We should not be turned into a society of fearful, doubting, and violent people. The perpetrators of these inhuman acts, and those who support it, must be found and isolated, and punished to the severest level, in such a way that it would discourage others to follow. At the same time, we should help the victims of their false proclamations, by giving comfort and education. They should be taught that they live in a society that promotes peace and prosperity, and that they are part of this beautiful blue earth that we all share.

Peace, love, and harmony to all.

Of Curlers & Make-up


There are some things that never change. When he sees that there are curlers inside the bag, all that he does is smile and tell me, “Wow curlers!” I know it can be too much, in fact, I’m also embarrassed about this as I slid quietly the curlers inside the bag. But what can I do? It’s just tricky, you know, when you’re dating the one you're already married to. That is, that we dress up using the same dressing room. That he knows ahead what I’m going to wear, and that he knows my secret. Yeah, the curlers inside the bag!

If I rewind few years back, that’s exactly how he reacts to, not the curlers, but the big make-up bag that I bring with me. He said, “sweet, I think you brought more make up than clothes.” Only for him to retract, “you wouldn’t need much of it anyway,” he referring to the clothes. That seems like yesterday, celebrating our first year anniversary in New Cathay Hotel in the street of Causeway Bay. I can still remember what I wear then for dinner. A see through black chiffon blouse with long sleeves, paired with a black brassiere underneath. Uh! Sexy, elegant number. I wore casual jeans for contrast and a matching black shoes. With my long curly hair hanging down... you know.

Can I help the curlers and the make-up bag? Maybe not. But wait! There’s more if you happen to see my change of clothes, and my change of shoes. But what do I do? Shoes, clothes, and colors should match. It’s just my own drama, much like the candle light dinner, the scented room, the tete-a-tete, the champagne, and the sweet nothings. Everything goes together.

If you think about everything going together, it’s understandable that I want things how I want it. In years, he more than learns how to live with me and my good intentions of getting the better room, the better table, the better view, otherwise known to other people as being bitchy but to Donald, it’s just being me. No, he’s not moved one bit when I say. “Maybe love there's a better lake view, go and tell the front desk, we’re switching rooms.”

In years too, I learn to live with him taking forever to decide where to eat. That night, yes that same night I almost starve, nudging him to decide already where to eat. A good 40 minutes we spend lounging around Hong Kong deciding which restaurants. Only to decide again after dinner which bar to go to. I have to tell him this time. The hotel room will be a perfect place to drink, picking liquor along the way.

I will not forget how that night I sit in the dresser across from him. I ask him between sips what is that I can do that will make him stop loving me the way he does. He said, “I can’t think of any.” Of course you know that we’re being dramatic, but for posterity sake it’s just that everything goes together. So let me continue telling you how he respond to the different scenarios I throw.

If... I neglect the boy.
His answer no.

If... I squander money.
No.

If... I... I get into an affair.
No.

I in all honesty get frustrated, how come? At some point between these questions he clarify whether the whole exercise is a test, of course my answer to that is also... No. He sitting on the bed, with his face illuminated by the light relating to the supposed affair replied to my disbelief:

In that case, I shall be the one to ask you if you still want me. You’re the one who changed not I.

Wow! With that I shut up. Good answer, good answer. To think he always amazes me with his great answers. Ever since! (Kaya nga nabola ako). I cannot help but close the distance between me in the dresser and him sitted across after. I will never forget that night, our first anniversary.

Fast forward and it’s now our 7th, celebrating here in Renaissance, in Lake Lanier. Just the same, I still bring all my gears. The make-up, the change of clothes, the change of shoes (I brought 3), and quietly this time the curlers. Only to realize later that my dinner dress goes better with my hair tied, agh. But Donald, well it does not take him long deciding where to eat this time. After all, with the years gone by, he realizes that there is wisdom in the word reservation.

It’s a wonder how 7 years can go, not skip a beat, yet feel the same. I know change is always in the equation. However, that’s what I wager for, the simple premise that some things never change.

A Girl from Andersen


Then he answered, "yes!"

I put down the fork in my hand. "Who?" As I stared at him, his profile, his nose, his eyes beckon to my eyes. "Some consultant, a girl from Andersen."

Whoa! This is going to be exciting. My eyes are intent on him as he forks some lettuce.

"Is she pretty?"

He hesitated for a while, and then he stared at me and smiled. "Yes. It's weird though she looks a lot like Christine."

Whoa! The ex-girlfriend, my mind momentarily flew back to the image of Christine. The Andersen girl must be pretty then.

"How tall is she? Is she blonde? How old? Is she single?"

"5'7", brunette, 27. Very much single."

Go on...

"I met her in our project."

"She was there, you know bulok. Calling me on the phone to ask for someone's extension. Haha, just to start a conversation. She'd flutter around, go to my desk, check my papers..."

"She actually invited me for dinner. Ah... but I have lunch with her some occasions."

"Yeah, just the two of us." He confirmed.

Donald had lunch with the Andersen girl, just the two of them? Cool, gossip material.

"So whatever happens to her?"

"I don't know, we're done with the project."

"Did you get her phone number?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Why should I?"

I stopped. As if to challenge, "Why shouldn't you?"

He smiled, "It's weird. I guess it's just not on my mind. Normally, I would have asked for her phone number."

And normally, I would freak out. "I just have to keep my eyes on you, what with your washboard abs in the horizon." I continued, "Are you sure you don't want a trainer?"

"Yes."

Our conversation drifted from the Andersen girl to the gym. Well, just like that.

Public vs Private School


Is Public or Private School Better?

Let me see. From where I come from, being in a public school is a social faux pas to the point of embarrassment. You know what I mean, like the more expensive the school the better. Anything public or inexpensive for that matter is hush hush. I have this friend who married into wealth who can barely say the word herself that she graduated from University of the East. Highlighting instead her summa cum laude honors, and just nodding to her friends after their wild guess that she is a La Sallite. Talk about the stigma and social status that school has. To my observation, majority of Filipinos has hang-up on this. I don’t know if you notice, how we immediately inquire, “which school” upon meeting other Filipinos.

Filipinos have this social branding based on school one graduated from. Ever so popularized by the jokes we hear and read left and right. I know its funny, haha Jae it’s funny. But not at all that funny if you think that there’s a rub somewhere there. That there is discrimination somewhere there, that there is malice somewhere there. And that listen to this, there is an ill effect to those at the butt of the joke somewhere there. No wonder, my friend in spite of her wealthy Ortigas condo appointment, polished by a Land Cruiser ride, a weekly hot oil treatment and facial, racks of clothes that requires dry cleaning (rather freeing up the time of her well-oiled maids), still manages to be insecure about her undergraduate school. What the... Search somewhere in the vastness of your mind and you’ll find that there’s no need for any insecurity. And towards your school? But this is what social branding do.

Another example is this self-made man. The founder of one of the biggest computer school in the Philippines whose tone is defensive as he conducts his usual rhetoric of how he’s not from any of the big schools and yet where is he now, and where are the others. Hmm... But this is what social branding do.

So when I reach the U.S., sure I have this private-school-is-better hang-up that I have to do my part to decode what the hoopla is about. Only to come up to the conclusion that it really is a great debate. The public vs. private school because it really depends. There are so-so private schools, and there are excellent public schools. It just depends on how much you can afford. For private schools, because the better ones command top dollars. For public schools, because the better ones are in affluent community. Meaning, you have to live in that community. Think of Beverly Hills 90210. In Georgia, the number one school, it is public, is somewhere in Peachtree Corners where houses run to million(s).

At least here in the U.S., there is an option. The gall... at least they can debate about public vs. private school. Whereas for us in the Philippines, what debate? Go the private school route, the more prestigious the better. That’s it, or suffer the bitter prospect of recurring insecurity and some unfortunate consequences of being the butt of someone else’s joke.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Let me take this opportunity to greet my preggy friends. Is it the time of the year, a lot of them are getting pregnant? To Eve, and Theresa, all the best in motherhood. To Myra, I hope you'll have a boy this time. This is such a happy news! I can imagine how excited all these women are, planning, and looking forward to the new addition to their families. Congratulations to the happy expectant fathers as well. Go on and multiply!

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As you might have noticed, my site is on a limbo. Just like my current state, I guess. Haha! Works is on its way. I don't want to put here under construction, because I believe all of us, and everything around is under construction all the time. Just remember, I'll be back.