Monday, December 31, 2007

I hug you!

I saw this video on YouTube today.



It's about the Free Hugs Campaign by Juan Mann. He turned something so simple - hugging - into a most marvelous magical thing.

I read somewhere before that hugging is good for the heart. Literally. Hugs slow down the heart rate and decrease blood pressure. So it's the best free heart and blood pressure medicine there is! Plus, it's such a joy to give and receive.

Go hug somebody today. It's my New Year's resolution, to hug at least one person every single day. Oh, and one fat rabbit, too!

Happy New Year everybody! I wish you love, joy, peace and all of God's wonderful blessings! Hugs to you!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What was under the Christmas tree

This holiday was a good holiday for selfish little me. Under the tree, I found...

... yummy delights:
Nigella Lawson's special fruit cake, food for the gods, chocolates from the Manila Peninsula's chocolate shop, a fruit cake made by my ninang sa kasal's favorite nun, a box of Pepsi Deluxe drinks, homemade cheese pimiento (and yes, Sis D, it truly is the best pimiento spread I've ever had!), brownies, food baskets, a gigantic box of oranges

... kikay stuff:
a silver bag filled with L'Oreal goodies, Body Shop's Rich Plum bath and lotion set, a cute makeup bag stuffed with Maybelline makeup, a Lancome Miracle Forever perfume gift set, Revlon Professional hair products, my favorite Kerastase products, Belo whitening range (which smells like Eternity perfume), Revlon nail polish in Christmas red, Burt's Bees lip gloss set, an Urban Spa massage gift certificate

... things for the house:
fragrant Fruits & Passion hand soaps, fluffy Bayo towels (which my bunny Alice all claimed for herself with even one small towel going with her to her grave *sniff*), room and linen sprays, a fluffy bathrobe, DVDs and CDs, DVD of first season of HBO's Rome, a huge striped coffee mug, a beautiful lacquered Japanese box from Tokyo, a mini stone fountain, huge wine goblets

... odds and ends:
hardbound journal, 2008 date books, a Rolodex, a super duper nice hardbound travel journal, a leather bill holder, desk stationery, various USB sticks, umbrellas, tickets to Barney the Purple Dinosaur show, a pink bunny stuffed toy

... closet fillers:
a funky Bayo bag, a Proudly Pinay shirt, cute red Crocs in style Alice *sniff*, a Guess pique shirt, a lovely silk scarf, Guess shades, a black Zara top, a pretty peasant blouse, an extremely well-designed many-pocketed bag organizer, a pa-cute pair of black-and-white ballet flats, and...

THE FINO LEATHER SATCHEL
I'VE BEEN DYING TO HAVE FOR MONTHS!

This last - and my most favorite gift this year - is from Vince, of course. I didn't expect it at all. I knew he was going to get me a new wallet (my current one is tattered at the seams) but he told me that the yellow Samsonite wallet I wanted was sold out so he got me the Fino bag instead. Hahaha, I was never so happy to find out something I wanted was gone forever because I got something way better instead!

My Christmas gift to myself was my black Nine West pumps. They look frikkin' good. They're also just as painful. Argh. If I must suffer for vanity, I don't need to pay for the suffering, right? Next time I'll buy something just as painful but at a lesser price.

Oh, and baby bunny Alice was also my Christmas gift to me, Vince and Galady. Alas, she died before Christmas. Sad. So we've been extra loving to Galady, our dear old bunny. She's almost six years old, and that's quite old in bunny years. We'll get her a companion bunny again in a few weeks.

This was truly a good Christmas. Because people were so generous, Vince and I were in a giving mood, too. Well, in the beginning it was just Vince who was feeling generous. I was feeling very Scrooge (because Alice had died and I didn't feel the Christmas spirit) but as the presents came in and the people around us were so loving and sweet, I finally got into the whole spirit of the season and had to panic-shop! Good thing I'm a very good panic-shopper - everybody LOVED our gifts!

To all my generous family and friends, THANK YOU for the lovely gifts! More than your darling presents, I am grateful I have you in my life. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

So long, sweet Alice

Last Monday, I got a new rabbit. In the bunch, she was the one most full of life. Then I touched her and she curled herself around my hand and licked my finger. I fell in love.

Meet Alice.



Vince isn't very fond of animals but when Alice came home, he also fell for her. First, she had the most startling blue-gray eyes. When she looked at you, she looked like she could understand you. She was charming and bold and happy and smart. In a second, she figured out how to escape her huge cage by jumping up on her gold play box and sprinting out truimphantly.

Galadriel, an old rabbit, is used to being alone now. Usually, too, rabbits don't get along very well if they didn't grow up together. But when the new stranger scampered about her, neither Galady could resist Alice's infectious joy.

So for four glorious days, laughter and delight filled our home. Affectionate, gentle, perky, friendly, and very clever - that's Alice and more. She warmed our hearts with just a look from her bright blue eyes, a cuddle with her soft white furry body, and a little binky of joy.

Today, at 5 AM, Alice left our world. She had stopped eating on Thursday. Yesterday, she hardly drank. We worried about her but she skipped and jumped and played with us. She seemed okay. At 2:30 AM, as I was writing an article, Alice kept me company, delightful as always. She seemed not to want us to worry. But finally, at 4 AM, her little heart gave all she could give and she lay still, hardly breathing. We rushed her to a vet but in less than 5 minutes of IV injections and even after massaging her beautiful little heart, Alice passed on.

We wrapped her up in her soft baby towel and nudged her gently into her favorite gold box. Later, we will bury her in my mother's lovely garden where she will rest, surrounded by bright flowers and green grass.

Hey, sweet Alice, did you ever see the sun or play under the stars? Ah, no matter, you blazed and sparkled more brightly than they ever could.

Good bye, sweet Alice. We miss you so.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I got everything I need

I grew up listening to country songs. Though I never really liked country music, my life seemed to have been made for country music. Today I heard a country song that made me think of how complete my life is and made me think of the two people in my life who I wish were still here to share my happiness.

I grew up with my grandparents and I love love love them so much. Lolo Manong, a policeman, was the first man I went to for love advice and Lola Auring, a housewife, was the first woman I went to for... well, everything. They encouraged me to pursue my passions, they cooked and cleaned for me so that I'd have all the time to do my homework and write my stories, they loved my friends and advised me on the "friends" I should get rid of. They also carefully guided me on matters of the heart and, though the guys I dated never met their expectations (Lola: "He's all right, but you can do better."), they loved them anyway.

So when they died nine years ago, my world just never felt the same. Not long after they were buried, I met Vince. I wish they'd met Vince--the realization of everything they wanted for me.

Lolo and Lola, I know you're looking down from heaven and I know you're very happy for me, and I know you love Vince the way you always always loved me. I also know you're proud that I've fulfilled all my dreams and more! But most of all, I know you're proud that above all these, I've learned to treasure what you always taught me to treasure: four walls, three words, two hearts, one love.


FOUR WALLS
by Randy Travis

My Grandpa farmed for a livin',
Content to live the simpler kind of life.
My Grandma worked in the kitchen,
Awfully proud to be that farmer's wife.
They used to say that they'd got everything that they need,
Each mornin' they wake up:
Four walls, three words, two hearts, one love.

Here I am, ring on my finger:
Grandpa's little grandson, all grown up.
I found my rock and I plan to keep her.
I wish they were here to see the two of us.
They'd be proud to know we've got everything that we need,
Each mornin' we wake up:
Four walls, three words, two hearts, one love.

With the highway twice as wide,
And the farmland sub-divided.
It's good to know that some things never change.
I'm still lovin' an I'm still livin',
By those simple words of wisdom:
Life an' love come down to just four things.

My Grandpa, Lord knows, I miss him,
An' the way that he and Grandma looked at life.
And each day, I count my blessings,
To have that kind of love here by my side.
No matter what, we know we've got everything that we need,
Each mornin' we wake up:
Four walls, three words, two hearts, one love.

Yeah, we've got everything that we need,
Between the two of us:
Four walls, three words, two hearts, one love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Birthday girl

I turned 31 a couple of weeks ago. Vince gave me little presents the entire week. Threw a party for my family the following Saturday. Then all became quiet. I've always made a lot of noise when I turn a year older, but this year I felt melancholy. No, the age doesn't bother me, it's the aging of my body that does. This year, I got the flu, got rushed to the hospital for severe asthma, felt the return of the acute and chronic migraines, got hyperacidity, constipation and a host of other gastrointestinal disorders, and cellulite finally appeared all over my body.

I am getting old. The other day, at the doctor's clinic for yet another check-up, I got all teary-eyed. Why is my body betraying me? I was angry, I felt I was too young to be a regular at doctors' offices. And yet I did realize quickly enough that with all the abuse I heap on my body--late nights, high stress, fatty food, all-meat diet--it's amazing my body is still this strong. I mean, I've never looked this good and felt this good in my life. When I was a kid, I always thought I would die pretty soon (asthma). Now, despite all my sickly concerns stated above, this is ironically the healthiest I've been. It's just that some parts of me had begun to break down, with age.

So my prayers now include my health, Vince's health, my family and friends' health. All health. And their safety. Ha, now that's being old!

* * * * * * *

For remembering my birthday, many thanks to my family, Aida B., Audrey Z., Flores family, Weng G., Reza S., AJ D.L., Kris G., Mommy D, Lana C., Kristine B., Celeste B., Danio C., Lizelle I., J S., Daddy Mon, Gemma M., Chris M., Ruby G., Pia R., Joanna F., Joanna T., Nichole R., Fartattu C., Katrina T., Dennis V., Maiza M., Ampy C., Kate T., Mariel C., Rafela S., Happy D., Xeng Z., Carla C., Luis E., Lou A., Bea V., Zerline C., Myra G., Ingrid V., Marcie L., Coni T., Leslie L., Mia N. ... God bless you all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Self-reflection

As some of you may know, I was raised by strict Roman Catholic grandparents and zealous Baptist parents (more like mother actually). So I like praying a lot and I do enjoy reading my Bible except when I come across verses that shatter my marrow and pierce my heart. Like this one:

"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

Oh, that sounds like a description of me. Well, not all of it (I'm a very grateful person, and loving and generous, a believer of the good in man, and extremely loyal and faithful), but there's enough there to make me bristle.

Of all the faults, the one that stabs me most is the "truce breakers". I made a vow once to God--I wouldn't have a boyfriend for two years--which I broke eight months in. I know it sounds so silly and it does seem like a stupid promise made by an empty-headed girl; but I was young and heartbroken and in my distress, I dropped down on my knees and offered the next two years of my life in God's exclusive service. I was okay in the beginning but love--my one weakness--found me once more and I succumbed.

My broken vow still plagues me to this day because of these verses:

"When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you." Deuteronomy 23:21

"It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay." Ecclesiastes 5:5


I'm a good promise-keeper but that one I couldn't keep, and I ask God to forgive me. All the time. I know God forgives but sometimes I wonder if in His forgiveness, He spares you from the consequences. I don't really think so.

That's one of the reasons I delayed marriage actually. Marriage is one huge promise made with your spouse, before society and government, and to God Himself. Because in my mind I hadn't kept a simple vow a few years ago, I was afraid that I may not be able to keep my marriage vows, and I was tormented by this fear. I wonder if that was God's punishment for me. I hope it was because Vince and I suffered enough over my indecision. But if that wasn't God's requirement, then I shudder in my skin fearing what it is.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I really ought to be at work

Instead I am here at home, having just had lunch, and musing about my life.

My husband has gone to work of course, at the usual hour of 8:30 AM. Because Vince is used to waking up at 10, going to work these days is utter hell for him. I usually go to work with him, too, but today, after making him brewed coffee and buttered bread topped with mango-vanilla jam then kissing him at the door, I decided to stay in bed. So I had the whole house to myself, had lunch all by myself. And I loved it.

When you're married and when you're in the media, alone time is very very rare. It is so unusual that when it suddenly springs upon you, you are taken aback and drown for a few moments in the silence. If you like yourself, you welcome that quiet. If you don't like your own company, you immediately pick up the phone. Thankfully, I love myself very much.

Peace comes with loving yourself.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dying...

Pilates is hard. Nanginginig ang laman ko after each session.

But I will finish this. I will get fit. I will get rid of my bulging tummy. I will be disciplined. I will be strong.

Oh, when will it be "I am"?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here's to Malu Fernandez never writing again!

I am all for freedom of speech and for freedom of the press but when someone as bigoted as Malu Fernandez takes up the pen (or keyboard) and writes atrocities in the name of free expression, well, then freedom is just fucked up.

I had not wanted to blog about this as I didn't want to even dignify this woman's bigotry but she's attacking a huge part of the population. A noble part of the population, people who have left the comfort of family and friends to work in a strange land just to be able to provide financially for their families back here. So when I heard she had resigned because of the mass protest, I was elated and couldn't help but rejoice about it here! Where there is political will, miracles can happen!

Anyway, the back story...

A couple of weeks ago, Manila Standard Today and People Asia columnist Malu Fernandez wrote about her experience on an Emirates plane where she had to share economy class with Filipino overseas contract workers (OFWs). Here are links to scans of the article:
First obnoxious page
Second obnoxious page

Some memorable excerpts:
  • "The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them."
  • "[I] dozed off to the sounds of gum chewing and endless yelling of ... 'Hey there! Where are you from? Are you a domestic helper as well?' I thought I had died and God had sent me to my very own private hell."
  • "On my way back [to the Philippines], I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling like AXE and Charlie while my Jo Malone evaporated into thin air."
My friend, Ria, who works as a journalist in Dubai, was the one who alerted me to this issue. And what an uproar it caused. In fact, after a firestorm of protest in innumerable blogs, how did the bigoted woman respond? "Let them eat cake!"

In her actual damning words written in the (just-as-irresponsible) Manila Standard Today:
  • "[My article] was humorous and quite tongue-in-cheek, or at least I thought so, until the magazine got a few emails from people who didn't understand my acerbic wit."
  • "Most people don't get the fact that they need bitches like me to shake up their world."
  • "Although it may sound elitist to you, the fact is this country is built on the foundation of haves, have-nots, and wannabes. One group will never get the culture of the other."
  • "Frankly, I don't want to be someone to bridge the gap between socioeconomic classes. I leave that to the politicians in my family who believe they can actually help."
She should've just shut up. Her defense made the issue worse. People called for her head! The issue finally made it on TV. Here's a clip:


So finally, Malu Fernandez resigned. And we rejoice!

What really makes this worse is that she's a Filipina. How can she be against her own countrymen? I can't stand people like this. Especially people who keep saying, "Oh, how can you live there in Manila when there's nothing like (insert city or country here)?" When Filipinos, especially those who were born and bred here, give me this kind of shit talk about our country, I feel disgusted with them.

I live here because this is my home. Because my country is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are warm and gorgeous, the food is unbelievably delicious, and there is no place on earth that will touch my soul the way the Philippines can. I don't know what happened to Filipinos who love other countries more than the Philippines. Yes, other countries can be prettier or wealthier but that's like saying you prefer another mother than your own.

It's like when I went to London last year, I was so happy. It's always been a dream destination. But after a few days and though I loved it there and thought the Brits were wonderful, I pined away for my country and my people. The warm weather, the hearty laughter, the brilliant sun, the beautiful brown skin, the pungent smells, the food, the food, the food!

Going back to Manila, when the pilot announced that we were entering the Philippine area of responsibility, my heart leaped into my throat. And I was surprised at my reaction! As my plane (yes, filled with noisy OFWs with their noses pressed flat against the windows) neared Manila, the passengers erupted into cheers, and I--Miss Snob who likes to keep to herself and her books--cheered along with them. I have only been gone a week but my eyes filled up. I was home.

If Malu Fernandez doesn't feel that at all, then she should be banned from this country, not just from writing. We hope this woman will never write again! NEVER! NEVER AGAIN!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My favorite rabbit videos

Oh, what a laugh I had with these adorable bunnies!


Kitten and kitten (yes, a baby rabbit is also called a kitten) at play. Watch how the little bunny dominates the kitty in 00:45. It looks obscene but it's not--it's just how a rabbit establishes dominance.


Rabbit and dogs at play. You have to watch it especially at 01:14! That's a very trusting rabbit when it lies down readily like that.


Now these are specially trained rabbits, but notice how the third rabbit has her own way of doing things at 02:11. Kinda reminds me of me!

Ah, this is why I have rabbits for pets! If I only had the patience to actually follow my bunnies with a videocam!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The cutest kid in the world!

Just look at Suri Cruise. What an adorable kid. And she's so happy! Paparazzi (here on a Berlin street) always snap her laughing and smiling. What a happy kid. I guess Tom and Katie are fabulous parents then. You find out a lot about parents through their kids.

For example, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. For all their save-the-world shit, their kids always always look miserable. Maddox, Pax, Zahara and Shiloh have either one of these three expressions: scowling, angry or vacant. Now what does that say about Brad and Angelina?

Same with Britney's kids. Sean and Jayden are always upset. Now what does that say about Britney?

Not a lot of good, sweeties.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And so it ends

I got my free Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last Saturday. (Thanks Powerbooks!)

I love this cover of Entertainment Weekly!

Unlike the past years when the books were launched, this time I went shopping with Vince first (for a washing machine), then researched for and wrote my article for Seventeen magazine, then I dashed off to the grocers for some fresh food and then prepared dinner for my darling husband (who quietly did all the chores--mine included--without asking for my help because he knew it was Harry Potter weekend, God bless Vince!). I guess I put off reading because I didn't really want my days with Harry to end. But end they must.

Finally at 10 PM, I settled into bed and opened the very last book of Harry Potter's adventures. I did not put it down till I finished it at 6:15 AM.

Okay, I won't put any spoilers here but since I don't know anybody who's finished the book and wants to talk about it, I am going to vent my frustration at not being able to discuss it with anybody here.

I liked Deathly Hallows even though it certainly isn't the best book in the series. It lacks the rich and almost obsessive details of the other books, and the range of emotions, too. It feels very rushed towards the end (you can almost hear J.K. Rowling's brain go, "Oh dear, must meet the deadline..."). I accept how Rowling ended the story even though there are still a lot of loose ends hanging about annoyingly. But the whole series is a feat, amazing and spectacular in its scope. I am reading the first book again (yes, I am a nerd) and I am struck time and again about how she truly planned everything from the very beginning. With your knowledge of the ending, tiny telling important details now jump out at you practically in every chapter. Which makes me more excited to read the whole series again.

Ah, but I have so many books on my shelf. In the last two months, I've read The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown, Diana: The Last Word by Simone Simmons, America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Sarah Bradford, Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir, Carrie by Stephen King, and Beowulf: A Retelling by Robert Nye. Then there's Deathly Hallows of course. I am still in the middle of Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey, Lisey's Story by Stephen King, and Once Upon A Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier by J.R. Taraborrelli. Oh, and I am also still going through Sorcerer's Stone again.

As you can see, I love biographies, history, royalty, fantasy, and horror! Gee, that's 11 books in eight weeks. But that's not enough. Stephen King said in his memoir On Writing that writing is a full-time job so spend four hours of each day reading and four hours writing. King, I adore you but I have a magazine to make, a husband to please, a home to keep, a family to attend, and a blog to update!

But I try. I really really try...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hello from Topaz Horizon!

Well, this is a surprise! Most of my readers are from the U.S. of A.! Hi y'all! How's it like in the land of milk and honey? Greetings from the pearl of the orient!

I guess I should start using just English in this blog, and not insert Tagalog expressions here and there.

Well, thanks for stopping by, international readers! Drop me a note!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hey there, Delilah! Give this a listen.


Awwww...

Long distance relationship na, unrequited love pa!

It's such a sweet, sad and hopeful song nevertheless. And I love the story behind it. Delilah DiCrescenzo is a real girl (the kilig story in next week's People magazine) who inspired Plain White T's Tom Higgenson to write this song. They met and he was so smitten, he blurted out that he'd write her a song. Thing is, he's never done anything like that. So every time they'd chat online (they didn't go out since she was already with someone else), she'd tease him about the so-called song. So finally, Tom just sat down and wrote the damn thing. Now, the song is #3 in Billboard's Hot 100 and #1 on iTunes. Not bad, not bad at all!

Woody Allen once said 90% of success is showing up. Just show up with the song, dammit, and you'll be a roaring success!

But did the song work the way it was supposed to? Nah! Delilah says the song was "the most romantic gesture" but hey, "we'll just remain friends."

Ouch!

This song just makes me cry every time I listen to it. Strange, as I've never been in a long-distance relationship. But it speaks volumes of loneliness and faith, and the cheerful determination not to succumb to the desperation and the sadness of being far away from the one you love--it just really breaks my heart!

Okay, in case you want to sing along, here are the sad and lovely lyrics that are just full of longing and hope:

Hey there, Delilah, what's it like in New York City?
I'm a thousand miles away but, girl, tonight you look so pretty
Yes, you do. Times Square can't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

Hey there, Delilah, don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely, give this song another listen,
Close your eyes, listen to my voice--it's my disguise
I'm by your side

Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
What you do to me

Hey there, Delilah, I know times are getting hard
But just believe me, girl, someday I'll pay the bills with this guitar
We'll have it good, we'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

Hey there, Delilah, I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you would take your breath away
I'd write it all, even more in love with me you'd fall
We'd have it all.

Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way
Our friends will all make fun of us
And we'll just laugh along because
We know that none of them have felt this way
Delilah, I can promise you
That by the time we get through
The world will never ever be the same
And you're to blame

Hey there, Delilah, you be good and don't you miss me
Two more years and you'll be done with school
And I'll be making history like I do
You'll know it's all because of you
We can do whatever we want to
Hey there, Delilah, here's to you
This one's for you

Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
Oh, it's what you do to me
What you do to me


This song is for Mariel and Alvin. Be strong, be strong.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My engagement proposal in Marie Claire!

Lest I forget...

To my Filipino readers, please pick up a copy of the June issue of Marie Claire. The funny story of my proposal to Vince is there in titillating detail! With photos!

Yes, see the cover on the left? That pink blurb by Heart Evangelista's neck is MINE! Oh, and Tessa Valdes', too. We were both featured as the gutsy gals who took matters into their own hands.

So make sure you grab a copy before the newsstands run out of issues... or replenish them with the July ones!

Misunderstood

Just came back from a lovely dinner with my Assumption Antipolo friends, Kristine and Pinky. I love them to death. Though we see each other once or twice a year, we always pick up where we left off. These are two of the very few people in the world who know me (the others would be Vince, Aida, and AJ. That's it!) Strangely, considering how very rarely we see and talk to each other, I am amazed that they have no judgments or misconceptions about who I am.

I am in this mood because Kristine had mentioned that in college, some of her classmates from Manila Science High (my high school) had wondered why she was friends with me. Kristine is a very sweet girl, smart and funny and ambitious and bossy and morally upright and all the good things a person can be. Pinky's the same way, too. And so am I (though I am less bossy than Kristine, and less funny than Pinky!). So I assume her classmates could not understand why someone like her could be friends with someone like me.

In high school, for some reason, I had gained quite a terrible reputation. My friends told me that behind my back, people whispered that I was a cheap slut, I slept around, I was stupid but got good grades through shady ways... and other nasty things like that. I never understood how I got this rep. A few of my friends guessed the rumors probably came from envious girls. But why? Why that degree of evil from fellow children like myself? I was 13 when I started hearing these things. At that age, and straight out of a convent, I didn't even know how babies were made!

Back then and until I left my parents' house six years ago, I had a 6 PM curfew, which I obeyed to the second. I knew better than to go home at 6:01. I may be headstrong but I never broke any of my grandparents' rules. I enjoyed going to church and reading my Bible. I may not have had the highest grades in school but that's because I didn't like studying--yet when college exams rolled around (and I didn't review for those!), I still easily passed, unlike the other snooty kids from the star sections who religiously went to review classes and still failed miserably (there is a God!).

Sure, I had friends, in school and in church. Yet sometimes I know they wonder about me. They spent a lot of time with me to know that I can't possibly be the terrible person I was rumored to be. And yet I knew, and I know till now, they wonder about me. I also know that my family, my own parents and sister and brothers, they wonder about me.

Which brings me back to Kristine who was telling me at dinner, "I knew who you were in grade school so though they asked me how I could be friends with you, I knew you possibly can't be who they say you were. I know you."

I am overwhelmed at that complete trust.

I have always felt that the truth is more important. I know who I am. I am not the girl described by those people who claimed to have known me. I am a good person. That is all I need to know. My God is my only judge, and He is the only one I need answer to. I am strong in my firm belief that my heart, my mind, my conscience, and my body are clean and pure and holy.

Yet when I hear a few kind words thrown my way, I weep, my defensive walls swept away by the force of so much love and faith.

The real me is real to somebody else after all.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bible bitches

Loved this post from the blog of my dearest friend, Faye. She listed the Top 5 Bitches in the Bible. Very good list except that, as I am a Born-Again Christian and read the archaic King James version, Lilith does not exist for me. Her list goes:
  1. Bathsheba - for committing adultery with King David and allowing the king to assassinate her husband Uriah so that she can become Queen.
  2. Delilah - well, we all know her story. It's full of S's--Samson, secret, super strength, sleep, scissors, snip, snip!
  3. Lilith - dunno her but Faye says she's supposedly the first wife of Adam who left the First Man Ever because he wanted to do the missionary position all the time. Hahaha! Lilith, missionary can be fun!
  4. Salome - she danced for King Herod then asked for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter as her reward. May silver platter nga ba? Must read my Bible again...
  5. Sarah - she was Father Abraham's wife. And she was drop-dead gorgeous. And so scaredy-cat Abe asked they pretend to be siblings because he was scared the king of Egypt will execute him to have Sarah (see what David did). Sarah agrees but when Egypt royal asks for her to share his bed, Sarah willingly obliges. Nothing like a king!
I add to Faye's list:
Esther, the queen who seduced her Persian king to command the execution of Haman, his most trusted (and her most reviled) adviser.
And Rahab, the woman who helped the Israelites bring down the mighty walls of Jericho. Oh, what's so bad about helping the people of God? She was from Jericho! She betrayed her own people!
And Jezebel, the Phoenician queen who had prophets killed left and right, even telling her king to kill a man just because they wanted his vineyard.
And Job's wife, who told Job to reject God after all his trials. You have to read that story to understand why everyone thinks God's worst trial to Job was keeping his wife alive!

I'm sure there are more. Let me read up again... =)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Divorce rate higher in Born-Again marriages

For those of us married and unmarried, statistics about marriage will always be interesting. So when I saw this study from the Manolo for the Brides site, I just had to share it with you. It's a very interesting entry but what caught my eye is this fact:

"Divorces reached a peak in the early eighties at a rate of about 40 percent (which was the highest level since the 1950s), and divorce has since entered a 20-year decline. The current rate of divorce is about 30-34% in any given year, and is lower among the college-educated (about 20%), Catholics, Muslims, and atheists. In a comparison of various religious denominations, the group that actually performs the worst are Baptists and Evangelical Christians, so I guess it makes sense that they seem to be most concerned with the idea of a divorce epidemic."

Oh my goodness. I'm an Evangelical Christian. Yikes! Come to think of it, in my former church,which was Baptist, so many people are unhappily married. In fact, in my family alone, my older brother is separated from his wife. But my Catholic relatives seem to be making their marriages work. Now I married a Catholic. And his family is like solid rock.

Then Vince said he read in The Economist that studies have shown that the wealthier the couple is, the less likely they are to get divorced. I dunno why that is but perhaps these couples have more to lose, like their reputations, social standing, and their money, so they work on their marriage harder.

So why is it that Baptists and Evangelical Christians perform the worst in marriages? Well, I noticed in my former church that the wealthier couples, like my parents' friends, are very happily married. And those who aren't doing well financially also don't do well in their marriage. So maybe it isn't about religion or lack thereof (after all the statistic says that atheists are actually in strong marriages). It must be money.

I guess we should be thankful that there is no divorce in the Philippines yet. We're such a poor country! Well, I guess that's why Filipino men are infamous adulterers then. Gee, divorce or adultery? Which is the lesser evil?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Britney baby, one more time!



I'm a pop music fan and for me, after Madonna, Britney Spears rules. I really love Britney Spears. She exploded into the international scene in 1999, just when my love story with Vince was beginning. So her superstar career is as old as my love affair, and whenever I hear a Britney song, I can pinpoint a Vince memory. This makes rock-fan Vince cringe, of course, haha.

Man, I know all the biggest songs from all her albums: "One More Time," "Sometimes," "Oops... I Did It Again," "Lucky," "Stronger," "Girl in the Mirror," "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman," "Toxic," "Everytime," "My Prerogative," and "Do Somethin'." So now that's she's getting back into shape again and going to the recording studio, I really hope Britney's back!

In this video, don't you just miss her? She was so cute and innocent back then. Anyway, this song, "Sometimes," was my song for Vince when we were still dating. Did you know he asked me to marry him a month after we met? The guy scared me witless but in my heart I was singing,

"Hope that you will wait for me
You'll see that you're the only one for me!
I want to believe in everything that you say
'Coz it sounds sooooo good
But if you really wanted me, move slow
There's things about me you just have to know..."

Vince, I'm glad you waited eight long years for me to finally make up my mind. And everything you said not only sounded good, it is all good. And I am with you now day and night. Your silly rabbit has finally stopped running away.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The surprise bridal shower

... really took me by surprise. It was held a week before the wedding and I was very sick with the flu. I wanted to stay in bed so I got quite annoyed that Vince and Kate insisted I had to fit my gown one last time. Vince had to drag me to Kate's atelier and when I got there...
S U R P R I S E !
So pardon my bleary self in these photos. I may have looked like a wreck but I was so so so happy this whole night.

Thanks - Kate, Mariel, Lana, Marcie (who provided these pics), Kat, Alvin, Francis, my surprise guests that I met that night, and of course, Vince!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vince and I did it!


April 18, 2007
Villa San Miguel, Archbishop's Palace
Mandaluyong City

After eight full years of being I and you, he and she, him and her, Vince and I are now we.

I am now Mrs. Sales.

That’s just awesome.

Special guests


Aside from my best friend Aida flying in all the way from Europe, we were also grateful that Vince’s best friend, Jukka, also managed to get to Manila (from wherever in the world he happened to be—he’s a documentary producer) a couple of days before the wedding.

Theodore teased that we had celebrities in the house. What with our cousin Iza and the Valdes couple, Dennis and Tessa, in attendance. Well, these people are actually my friends!

P.S. Tessa featured the wedding in her column in last Sunday's society pages. I hope you all got your copy of Philippine Daily Inquirer! If you didn't, read the online version here.


What’s a wedding without speeches?


My dearest best friend Aida flew all the way from Antibes, France, just to be at my wedding. She was lovely. She’s my heart warmer.

Theodore introduces Papa who gave a sweet and funny speech (whew, no tears!).

Vince’s dad was up next. He admonished us all to take better care of our world now because we may not have a world to give to our children.

Vince and I thank our guests. I adore this man I married. Really.


The evening’s entertainment


We totally abused our friendship with Kate. Not only did she create our stunning gowns, she also sang us two songs! That Yamaha keyboard is a gift from one of her many male admirers, by the way.

My cousin, former theater actress Ate Tricia Jimenez, sang us a song, too. She was accompanied by my brother Theodore Amper and his string quartet, The Manila String Machine.


The night’s undisputed star—the cake!


Well, by default, as bride and groom, Vince and I had to endure being the center of attention. We dreaded that but it actually turned out okay. Here we are cutting the cake. That cake is three full layers of quadruple chocolate—no styro! Chocolate sponge cake with chocolate butter cream slathered in chocolate glaze and sprinkled with chocolate shavings. This was the hit of the night. 


Strawberry and chocolate girls


Look at my delightful flower girls and junior bridesmaid! Aren’t their gowns amazing? They’re beautifully beaded satin and lace with full petticoats. Kate Torralba, my designer and bridesmaid, totally outdid herself!


After the wedding, we all have a laugh

Vince and I had a laugh outside the church. In fact, we spent the rest of the afternoon and the whole evening laughing with joy. We did it!

My dear friends from Manila Science High: Aida Palces-Bour and her French husband Vincent, and Allan John de Leon.

My cousin, Iza Calzado and her dad, Tito Lito Calzado, took time away from their busy schedules to be with us.


We’re married!


The Sales and Amper families

Meanwhile, at the church…


Vince says he played the My Fair Lady song “Get Me to the Church on Time” as he and best man Jukka drove to Archbishop’s Palace. He was not just on time; he was there early. The wedding was at 4PM. He was there at 2:30! Excited ba? He looks so cute in his gorgeous pinstripe suit and white silk tie. Yum!

Everyone waited for me. I didn’t want to be late but *argh!* I was. Trouble with the gown. Mama didn’t know how to do the straps at the back! Anyway, I arrived at 3:45 in the sleek red Jaguar that Tita Luz Cotoco lent us. I wanted to enjoy a few minutes more in the car with my bridesmaids, you know, to collect myself but I was late! Thankfully my guests were all in a good mood, even my little adorable page boys, Kevin Sales and Zo Onrubia. They’re Vince’s nephews and godsons. They’re super makulit but for the walk down the aisle, they were remarkably well behaved. Bravo, boys!

And here we go…

Getting ready to stun my groom


Who else will do my makeup for the big day? There was no question that my old high school friend, Jigs Mayuga, chief makeup artist for L’Oreal Paris, will do it. He took Ney Guese, this lovely talented young man to do my hair. While we talked, I found out that Jigs is an Industrial Engineering graduate from U.P. Diliman (same campus I went to but I took Creative Writing so we never actually bumped into each other) and that Ney is a Political Science graduate from the Ateneo. Imagine that!

Look at me! Love the makeup. Love the hair. Love the bouquet. Now I’m ready to meet Vince!

I chattered away throughout the beautifying session (I was all nerves!) but when Ney draped the veil over me, I gasped in utter shock. I nearly frikkin’ screamed my head off. I was a bride!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Curiouser and curiouser

Photo by Benjamin Combs from https://stocksnap.io/

Life these days has been pretty strange. Eventful. Too eventful, in fact. It's a bit sad I haven't had any real time to actually type down my thoughts here as the events happen. At the same time, it's best I also didn't do so. Now that things have settled down a bit, I have a different perspective on certain things. And also things are still unfolding so I don't really want to have an opinion on anything yet. I am in wait-and-see mode.

So what are these "things"? Oh, aside from Gandalf dying so unexpectedly (we're still sad), there's the career front for both Vince and me (it's been very very interesting lately), the expenses for the wedding and the house (oh my God!), my evolving thoughts on motherhood (nope, I still don't want to be a mom and I'm relieved Vince isn't so hot on becoming a dad either yet there's a big change: We are open to the idea that parenthood may be an option), and oh other things. Lots. But it's all good. Life happens.

Anyway, the wedding's full speed ahead! Everything's pretty much okay except that the church flowers and papa's suit haven't been paid for. I still have to buy shoes for my flower girls. We haven't found a necktie for Vince. The misalette has to be approved by Fr. Dacanay and then I'll have to print out a hundred copies of that. Vince has to get a haircut, I have to get my hair colored. Oooh, lots of things still to do! But I'm cool.

I'm amazed (and so is everybody else!) at how relaxed I am about this wedding. That's because weddings are the silliest, most expensive affairs. So I just can't get stressed about something so inane. I just want it over and done with. I'll be happiest when it's all over. I am so looking forward to becoming a wife but I just hate this bride business!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A death in the family


In loving memory
Gandalf Rabbit
April 18, 2002 - February 16, 2007
We will always remember your snorts, your licks,
and your beautiful Spanish eyes.
May you forever hop in peace on the rolling pastures of Heaven.

Mommy, Daddy and Galady miss you.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

The secret to a long and happy life: No left turns

This little story by Michael Gartner really moved me.

Michael Gartner has been editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

Photo by Ilya Mazurkevich from Stocksnap.io.




"My father never drove a car."

Well, that's not quite right.

I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars—the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford—but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the three miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

Our 1950 Chevy

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four- door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps—though they seldom left the city limits—and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

The ritual walk to church

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.) He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning.

If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a two-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a one-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.") If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out—and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?" "I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said. "What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again. "No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support. "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count." I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked. "Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said. "If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom—the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.) He continued to walk daily—he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising—and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

A happy life

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated. "Because you're 102 years old," I said. "Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet."

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: "I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have." A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long. I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life.

Or because he quit taking left turns.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just checking in...

Photo from Pexels.com
Hello, my dear readers! I have been away for a while and that's because I am attending to so many things.

First, the wedding. Second, the magazine. Third, our new home!!!

Funny, of the three we're most excited about the house (then our magazines, then the wedding last). I guess that's because the wedding's just a silly little party while the condo unit is our future home. We are so thrilled! We want to move in ASAP!!!

A WEDDING IS THE EASIEST THING

Not that I don't care about the wedding.

I am so glad I work in a magazine. Fixing a wedding in less than three months is actually quite a breeze! I have no idea why there are stories about bridezillas, and brides and grooms and mothers fighting, or brides needing a year or two to plan a wedding. Really, it's just like one big photo shoot.

Well, it does help that I know a lot of people in the photography, beauty and fashion industries. And my experience as an editor makes it very easy for me to review locations and services, ask the right questions, and book vendors. I did all of that in a week! It also helps I have the most amazing future sisters-in-law, Lizelle, Anj and Reza. My goodness. I do not know what I'd do without them! If I can only make them all my maids of honor, I would. They have helped me A LOT.

So I have the loveliest little garden chapel to get married in (Archbishop's Palace), the most elegant restaurant to hold our reception (Le Soufflé at The Rockwell Club), Manila's darling designer to make the gowns for me and my ladies (Kate Torralba), a talented makeup artist and hairstylist to do my hair and face (Jigs Mayuga and Nhey Guese of L'Oreal), and my own brother to provide the music with his string quartet (Theodore Amper, cellist for The Manila String Machine). Now, all I need are the rings, the cake, the flowers, and... well, I need a lot of other things. But so far, so perfect!

Weddings are a piece of cake.

THE NEW HOME


Now the house is an altogether different story.

What a complicated business buying your own home is! So many papers, so many taxes, so many fees, so much... government! Grabe. The condominium unit we purchased is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom affair with a breathtaking 90-degree view of the city. It is an amazing place. I kid you not. Great way to start a new life together!

And then the government stepped in. The fees and taxes just kept coming and coming and coming. We paid for so much more on top of what the house cost. It is not right.

CORRUPTION TAINTS EVERYTHING

Speaking of that, let me go back to the wedding. When we went to our city hall to apply for a marriage license, Vince and I could not believe what was happening. Every question we asked cost us P10. Unbelievable but true. And I was naive enough to ask for a receipt! I am so stupid. Faced with corruption, I did not know what to do except to ask for the right thing. And when it was refused me, I was lost. Buti na lang marami akong barya! Finally, Vince told me to stop asking questions.

When we were also getting Vince's baptismal and confirmation certificates, we found corruption yet again. At the Dela Strada Parish Church along Katipunan Ave., the parish workers gave us Vince's confirmation certificate without a hitch or money exchanged. In the Parish of the Sacred Heart Church in Sta. Mesa, I observed that this time we had to pay for the baptismal certificate. It was okay since the church looked like it needed it and it was just P45 (I heard the woman behind the window charge the lady ahead of me). But when it was my turn, I got charged P55 for the same thing! Was it because I was dressed well and the lady before me wasn't?

It's not right. Dela Strada did not charge us anything and it was a church in a wealthy neighborhood. Sacred Heart was in the middle of an impoverished place—their parish people shouldn't be shelling out money anymore! Well, it does make sense that Dela Strada won't charge; perhaps their offerings every Sunday are more than enough. Still...

SIGNING OFF

I am learning a lot these past few days. I am learning a lot about how churches work, how the government works. I am learning about how families work, mine, Vince's, and combined. I am meeting so many different kinds of people. I am seeing so many new places. Some bad, most good. If there's anything I'm grateful for because of this wedding (aside from getting me a mighty fine hubby!), it's the experiences.

They are amazing.

Now, I don't know when I'll be back but do drop me a line now and then!