Friday, September 09, 2022

Gold digger

I have a little story I've been meaning to tell for years and years now. But I could never bring myself to share it because whenever I tried before, it left a bad taste in my mouth. But I guess enough time has passed that this time, I have the humor and grace to tell you all about it.

But first, two things: 

(1) People get surprised when I say I studied in public schools. They always assumed I grew up rich. I'm pretty sure it's not my face or my clothes that make me look wealthy. Maybe it's my vocabulary. Read enough and you get smart enough to make people believe you could afford the best education, I guess. 

(2) I've never said or pretended I was rich. In fact, I tell people all the time I was poor, so much so that my husband reminds me now and then not to romanticize it. So I'll keep that in mind while I write this blog post.




So now for my story. Or stories. I have four.

#1

When Vince and I started dating, almost everyone in his world welcomed me. I was so relieved because he was, well, he doesn't like the word "rich" and prefers the term "comfortable." So let's just say Vince was very comfortable. He went to private schools, lived in a gated community of mansions, drove his own car, and flew off to destinations to ski and dive and shop and whatever it is comfortable people do. 

I was nervous to meet his family because I didn't think I was good enough for him, but on our first date, Vince brought me to his house to meet his parents. His family treated me well from the very start. At that time, I thought it was evidence of their kindness. But looking back, I also think it was because Vince made it crystal clear that he was besotted with me. 

As for his friends... Well, they were lovely, too, until this one time when they were drinking. Vince had excused himself to go to the loo and one of them told me, "Hey, Vince always pays for your dates, which is strange because aren't you a feminist?" Before I could explain that I have no money for Vince's expensive taste in everything so we agreed he pays if he insists on chi-chi restaurants over Jollibee, his other friend laughed, "She's not a feminist, she's a gold digger." 

I usually have a comeback for everything but at that moment, I was so surprised that I couldn't think. And then Vince came back and everyone literally pretended nothing happened. I never mentioned it again but it was a little worm that fucked me up.

#2

Sometime later, a colleague who went to college with Vince stopped me in the corridor of our office. She said, "You know, I've always wondered: What do you and Vince talk about?" 

"What do you mean?" 

She tilted her head to one side and looked at my second-hand clothes I bought from eBay, "Well, you're obviously not part of our crowd."

A few months later, I accompanied my friend, Che, to a bridal fair at Shangri-la Hotel. While Che was chatting with suppliers, I wandered off to another booth where I bumped into my colleague. She looked at me, amused. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm with my friend. She's getting married."

"Oh! I thought you were thinking of getting married," she laughed.

I didn't like her laugh so I said, "Well, Vince and I have been together for a few years so I might as well look around."

And she smiled at me indulgently and sighed. "Oh, dear, do his parents know? I don't think they'll like...  Do you really think Vince will marry...?" and then she looked at me from head to toe with her infuriating gentle smile. And I knew her unspoken words were ...someone like you?

"Is she bothering you?" Che spat out.

"No, I was just chatting with Frances. Bye!" And colleague left.

Che looked at me in disgust. "How could you allow her to talk to you like that?"

I allowed it because I believed it. Why indeed would he be with someone like me?

Spoiler alert: He married me anyway!

#3 

Many years later, I was definitely in a much better place. I was successful in my career, I was somebody now, and best of all, I knew Vince loved me. 

But after our gorgeous wedding was splashed in the society pages of Inquirer and Wedding Essentials magazine, one of my father's friends said I did very well for myself. And then she got mad at Papa because she wasn't invited to my wedding and she told him, "Your daughter marries up and she's suddenly a snob." I wasn't a snob actually. I asked my parents for their guest list and she wasn't included in their list so it wasn't my fault.  

But while I wasn't insecure about this shit anymore, a deep resentment surfaced. I did not marry up. I did not do well for myself by landing a comfortable man. We married as equals and I resented that people will never see me as his equal.  

#4

I dragged Vince to the Esquire Ball as my date. At that time, Vince had been unemployed for a couple of years. I was making a lot of money so we decided that he can be the stay-at-home parent to our baby boys. At the party, he caught up with a few people. One of them asked, "So what are you doing now?"

Vince replied with no shame, just nonchalant confidence, "I'm a stay-at-home dad. I married a rich woman."

And all the guys at the table gaped at him in awe. 

I will confess: his masculinity not being threatened at all and him just owning being a kept man like a boss made me drool. 

What a man! 

Blurry photos from the Esquire Ball with editor-in-chief Erwin Romulo

I guess I wanted to tell these stories because I realize that some people will always think I'm a gold digger (to their credit and mine, his friends changed their minds about me). And maybe some people even admire me because I caught a catch.

Pfft. It should surprise them no end that in this marriage, it's my husband who thinks he's punching above his weight. He's always said he's the one who got lucky and that he's the one who married up. 

Thanks, babe.

What people refuse to see is it's possible that someone like me who's lived with so little for so long has learned to do without the trappings of life and actually enjoy it. I don't like poverty, okay, but I love the simple life. It doesn't take much to make me happy, and that is what people don't understand. No one will ever have enough to offer someone who doesn't need material possessions.

Am I defensive? No. I'm just happy. Okay, maybe I'm defending my happiness? Maybe. I'm so happy. I literally have Php 7000 in my personal bank account and I'm happy. I'll tell you why and I will concede that Vince gave me this. 

While Vince lived a much more comfortable life, it wasn't material wealth that made him so irresistible to me. I loved how intelligent he was and how he respected my brain. I loved how he was crazy about me because that is honestly such a huge confidence booster. I loved how he admired my sass but was quick to call out my bullshit. I loved how he urged me to have dreams and to go after them, pushing me all the time to dream bigger and do better. I loved how he made me believe I was worthy of all the world had to offer, and that he was not going to give them to me like some dashing prince rescuing the scullery maid. 

And this no one ever really understands because it's not the stuff of fairy tales: Vince never offered me the moon and the stars because he believed in me enough to know I could get them all on my own. And his vision for me and my future was so bright, it dazzled even me. 

Money is earned, money runs out, money can be stolen, but what I got from this relationship I will never lose. Vince may not have promised me material wealth, but he gave me something more precious: He gave me belief in myself. 

So let's go back to that term. It amuses me now because this is corny but true: All the gold was inside me and Vince just helped me dig it out of me so I can be the shining star I am now. 

Gold digger. Yeah. I'm redefining it and owning it. 

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Life update: school, sex, blood, and books

So I haven't been blogging. Nothing in June, two posts in July, one in August. Ya, I know. What's up, right? Lots and lots, that's what! Here's the gist:

1. Work

It got really busy for a while, to the point that I was up till 3am every night. Then everything died down last month, which was welcome because of...

2. School

I was so stressed out wrapping up the last school year. My three kids were homeschooled so I drowned in giving grades and making portfolios. Then when that was done, I got busy with enrolling the boys for this school year. Then it was the start of a new school for my eldest boy and all the stuff that goes with face-to-face classes again on top of homeschooling my two younger boys. 

3. Sex

I went on a pill break because I've been on the pill since I was 22. I have endometriosis and the pill is an effective treatment for me. I've only taken pill breaks when I was busy making babies in my 30s.

Anyway, I took a pill break a few months ago because my periods have been erratic (perimenopause!) and let me tell you, I was overcome by a resurrected sex drive. My husband is very happy. Me, too! It feels like we're on a honeymoon frenzy. I can't keep my hands off him! You get a little peek at how I've been feeling in this post: 7 kinds of kisses

So it's been wonderful but here's the thing that's put our sex life on hold...

4. Blood

(If you're squeamish, skip this part.) 

So much blood! Today is officially the 13th day of my period. And every day is soaked in blood. When you have endometriosis, periods are extremely bloody. That's one of the reasons the pill is amazing - it reduces bleeding. When I went off the pill, I was surprised that I didn't have my periods for 4 months. So we figured I'm really menopausal. 

However, this month, all those missed periods came back with a vengeance. So I've been dealing with menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) and that means many changes of blood-soaked napkins, taking care of bloodstains on clothes and sheets, and feeling a bit weak and lightheaded from the blood loss. I'm honestly feeling under the weather as I'm typing this. 

Anyway, I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to have this checked. I'm getting worried. Googling "menorrhagia" and the many conditions that may cause it is making me anxious. Hopefully, it's nothing and going back on the pill will solve it.

5. Books

Okay, back to happy news! I started writing a book! It's a teen romance that's also a werewolf romance. Yes, that's my new obsession! Werewolf romances! I discovered this strange genre last June and let me tell you, it's insane! Apparently, it's huge with women because it's truly romantic. I am so dazzled by it. I've pretty much read 30 novels in the last 2 months (that's a book every 2-3 days!).

All those novels pushed me to write my own! I love that my husband is a willing partner in the creation of my novel. I'm the one writing it, okay, but I ask him about certain plot points and when I need to check if a sex position works, he's only too happy to help try it out hahaha.

Anyway, I've been telling my followers about my little book project on my Insta and I'm really moved by the support and excitement you've been showing. I hope to finish the book in 6 months. Watch for it on Wattpad!!!



Of course, writing a book means I run out of words for the blog. That's why I haven't been blogging. I'm so sorry! I miss you all so much! Please wait for me. I'll try to update this blog every Sunday. Till then, please pray for me (because I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow) and wish me well on my writing adventure!

Have a great week, everyone! Love you all! 


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

That time Taylor Swift inspired me to write an essay on cottagecore full of her songs

Exactly two years ago, we were in the grip of a deadly global pandemic, quarantined, and afraid. What got me through that was Taylor Swift and her album Folklore. Her surprise album made news because she used her time trapped indoors to be productive. That really inspired me to write my very first book, Not Invisible, because if Taylor can create something at a time when we were all threatened by destruction, then I can create, too. I felt my mortality acutely so I wanted to leave something behind and that's how I became an author (thanks, Taylor!)

I was also writing for the beauty website, Project Vanity, and being a Swiftie grateful for the creative inspiration, I wanted to write an article about Taylor's new album and new aesthetic and then do a totally Taylor thing - insert Easter eggs into my writing. She said she loved doing this because her writing is the most important thing to her and putting secret clues in her songs makes her fans pay more attention to her writing. So I wrote an article for PV and asked the PV community to look for Taylor's song titles. And they were so happy to find them all!


Here is the unedited article, with 25 song titles! The published version was edited for length and I took out sentences that felt forced so only 16 titles survived the edit. Since it's been 2 years, I decided to share with you the original article and tell me how many you find!

(CLICK "Read more" for the answers with the songs linked to their YouTube vids). 

* * * * * * *

Freckles, focaccia, and Taylor Swift’s Folklore: Have you jumped on the cottagecore aesthetic trend?

Taylor Swift very recently surprised everyone the world over with an indie album made while she was in quarantine. Not only was Folklore completely unannounced until 24 hours before it dropped, but Taylor also debuted a different sound and look. Gone was the dip-dyed blue hair of 2019. Even "that classic red lip thing that I like" - kaput. Instead, we have a bare-faced Taylor, with a mop of unruly blonde curls, clad in an old nightgown, a gingham shift, or a bulky cardigan.

Was Taylor introducing a new style and beauty trend? No. Her Folklore look is nothing new. She just brought it front and center. This aesthetic is called cottagecore and in the age of a global pandemic when everything has changed, it is everything we want.

What is cottagecore? Cottagecore is an online aesthetic that romanticizes the simple life. It’s all about escaping the urban jungle for a cottage in the woods. It’s being lit up by the warm light of a fireplace instead of the cold light of a laptop. It’s being free from the trappings of capitalism and living simply in a state of grace. It’s also been around for a few years, with a cult following on Tumblr and Instagram, but it erupted this year on TikTok when TikTokers stuck at home shared calming videos of baking bread, arranging flowers, and knitting sweaters.

It’s understandable why people are enchanted by cottagecore. Trapped indoors because of the pandemic, a peek at an uncomplicated life where your biggest concern is what herbs from your windowsill garden will go on the focaccia you’re about to put in your oven invokes feelings of being safe and sound. Since we know all too well that the world right now is confusing and terrifying, the cottagecore dream is having a moment.

If you’re unaware of this trend, check your Facebook feed again with eyes open. I see it everywhere on my social media platforms. The plantitas fussing over their plants. The work-from-home guys now baking sourdough bread. The women knitting ear-savers for the frontliners. The style influencers who used to travel the world now posting OOTDs from their gardens.

The cottagecore beauty trend

Of course, cottagecore has a beauty aspect, too. It’s not just Taylor giving off that natural vibe. For her “Daisies” music video, pop star Katy Perry is barefoot and pregnant in a white lace dress, with her black roots showing through her blonde locks. Singer, feminist, and activist Halsey is happy at home, posting selfies of her freckle-filled cheeks and wild curls. Star of Stranger Things and Enola Holmes Millie Bobby Brown basks in the daylight with her dogs, her hair loose or in braids, her flawless skin without a stitch of makeup.

What this means for us regular folk is a focus on skincare and haircare! A big reason why celebrities and influencers can get away with the cottagecore look is their skin and hair are gorgeous. They use the best pampering products because their career means they can never be invisible.

We don’t have to buy the same expensive stuff to stay beautiful, however. A regular skincare regimen of cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and protecting is forever and always the simplest and best beauty secret. Because we have a lot of time now, go a little extra in loving your skin and hair.  For example, weekends are dedicated to me! That's when I put sheet masks for dewy skin, I deep condition my hair, and do my own mani and pedi. Since quarantine started, I don’t remember the last time I used my blowdryer so my hair’s really been feeling soft and amazing.

While cottagecore is all about showing off bare skin, a makeup lover doesn’t have to despair. Tinted lip gloss is a big deal, so are natural brows and delicate lashes. If I must wear makeup for Zoom meetings, I like wearing CC cream with a glossy lippie and cream blush in dusky rose hues. I use brown eyeliner, brown mascara, and brown brow pencil because cottagecore colors are browns, beiges, and warm pinks. My freckles have faded (thanks, anti-aging creams!) and at my age, freckles mean sun damage but I can easily fake freckles by using brown liquid eyeliner.

Of course, we can all just jump on the cottagecore bandwagon as an escape from what has been a truly cruel summer (and beyond) of living with the novel coronavirus. But this trend has given me an epiphany. I hope cottagecore makes us all aspire for a way of life that is built on self-sufficiency and sustainability. We don’t literally have to live in a cottage in or out pf the woods. Growing our own food in our urban backyards, baking our own bread, even repurposing and making our own clothes - these are signs that we can begin again, but this time in a truly mindful and meaningful way.

* * * * * * *

How many did you find? 

CLICK "Read more" FOR THE TITLES!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Can I afford a new car?

Did you know our car is as old as my eldest son? He's 12 this year and so we've had our Zoom-Zoom (that's what we named our little Mazda 2) for a dozen years! Since we live within 5 kilometers of everything we need, our mileage is pretty low. Even before the pandemic, my husband and I have been working from home and we only used the car on weekends, when the family needed to go out. And then the last 3 years happened when the whole world stayed home.  

So Zoom-Zoom runs perfectly well, is still shiny, and has new tires. It's still practically perfect!


And yet my husband says it's time to buy a new car. In this economy? With the skyrocketing gas prices? In a pandemic when we're all working and studying from home anyway? Yes. Because our boys will be teenagers soon and (1) they won't fit in our little car and (2) they're going to need a car for all the busy activities of teenage life.

Naturally, the car that we're buying next will be an electric car. I'd like to say we're woke (yes, let's save the planet) but the real reason is cost. The electricity used to charge an electric car is cheaper than the cost for gasoline. And, yes, let's save the planet!

Even Bloomberg says that 2022 is the year to buy an electric car. While an EV is still not the most popular kind of vehicle that drives down our roads, with the rising gas prices and climate change, if we must buy a car, the car to buy should be electric because that's the future. Plus, Bloomberg points out that "The average length of time drivers hold onto new vehicles is 6 years [it's not 12???]. So if you're buying a new vehicle in 2022, you should be thinking about the market for used cars in 2028 or later."



So my husband and I were looking at According to Tatler, these electric vehicles (EVs) are available here:

Nissan Leaf - Php 2.8 million
BYD E6 - Php 4.2 million
Porsche Taycan - Php 4.3 million
Lexus RX 450h - Php 5.4 million
Jaguar I-Pace - Php 7.6 million

Whew! 

Let me just say that when we bought Zoom-Zoom in 2010, we did not even breach the 1 million mark and were able to pay in cash. But with those prices mentioned above, how we can afford a new EV on top of all our current living expenses? The kids' tuition alone is daunting. And here we are thinking of adding a car loan to our expenditures!

Luckily I found an online tool that gives me an idea of how we can pay for a new car: https://www.carpaymentcalculator.net

The calculator works with just about any scenario, whether it's a new or used car, whether you trade in or not, etc. I like the site because the calculator makes everything instant. I can quickly see the amount I need to pay for monthly installments. For example, if I choose to get the Nissan Leaf, it will look like this:


Actually, I'm not sure about all those figures yet. I need to check with the bank on what the correct rates are. But let's just say those are the numbers and I can confidently say that I can't afford a new car this year hahahahaha

Good heavens. So thank you, Car Payment Calculator, for letting me know this sobering fact right now. 

Still, if ever we do buy a new car, it will definitely be electric!


*Photo by Eren Goldman on Unsplash

Saturday, July 02, 2022

7 kinds of kisses

I love when he hugs me from the back, with his arms around my waist, and he twists my head to kiss him. So hot.

Photo by Dainis Graveris

I love when he sniff-kisses my neck like a grandma and murmurs, "Mmm. You smell good." So sexy.

Photo by Kadarius Seegars

I love when his hands are in my hair. He rarely does this. He's a body hugger, not a head-grabber. But the few times he's done this, I was thrilled no end.
Photo by Dainis Graveris

I love hugs, too. I'm a huge hugger! The bigger, the tighter, the better. I like being swallowed up in his arms. I feel safe and loved. And I like to feel his heartbeat on my cheek and his kiss in my hair. It feels like home.
Photo by Becca Tapert

I love ambush kisses while we're working, cooking, doing chores. He doesn't because he doesn't like getting distracted when he's focused. So I always attack him with hugs and kisses while our kids look at us, mortified and laughing at their yucky parents. So funny!
Photo by Toa Heftiba

I love licks. He thinks we're about to kiss and then I quickly lick him and he yelps. He always protests. I like it when he protests and he says, "You're so kulit!" But I can see that no matter how kulit I get, he'll never get mad at me. It's my superpower. He never gets mad at me.
Photo by Mia Harvey

I love when we laugh while kissing. Even though teeth get involved. It's so fun. Laughing while kissing the one I love. Can anything be better?

I love kisses! 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Embrace! Comfy & Stylish Pregnant Mama Staples from Love, Bonito

First, a disclaimer - I'm not pregnant! But I was pregnant three times, and those years were just the start of maternity fashion here in the Philippines. For my first pregnancy, I either had to buy larger sizes, buy from abroad, or carefully choose dresses and tops that I could pull down or unbutton quickly for breastfeeding. 

Thankfully, many maternity style brands have been born since then and Love, Bonito is one of the brands that I'm sure many preggy mommies would love! Yes, I have a #momfind post again! 


Love, Bonito is committed to creating thoughtful designs that address the needs of a woman’s life, whatever stage she may be in. Its newest Embrace collection is just perfect. They look comfortable, durable, stylish, and fuss-free. Whether a mama is going to the clinic for her prenatal checkups then shopping at the mall for baby's needs to caring for her newborn at home and out with family and friends, she can be sure to look blooming and feel fabulous. That's because Love, Bonito designed Embrace with ultra-soft and breathable fabrics like soft Tencel, lightweight muslin, breathable linen and high-stretch knit. Plus, with maternity-specific details to accommodate the growing belly and breasts as well as nursing-friendly styles for breastfeeding moms, any new mama will embrace everything in the Embrace lineup!


I have many likes but the Zaynie Maternity Nursing Tencel Button Dress in Navy Blue is a top favorite. Why? You can wear it pregnant, nursing, and waaaaay after! That makes it so versatile and flexible. Definitely a sulit buy! I actually want to buy this even though I'm not pregnant, mostly because I never quite lost my preggy belly haha


Another favorite is the Fariya Maternity Nursing Linen Elastic Dress. Not only do I adore the linen fabric, it also has zippers on both sides making your boobies easily accessible for baby! This comes in navy, too, but I love the laid-back beachy feel of the white.
 

Embrace also has tops and shorts, and I love the happy orange of the Teryn Maternity Nursing Muslin Elastic Top. It just brings out a mama's glow! The muslin, the breezy style, and the wide straps all spell comfort, plus the ruching at the back will accommodate your growing body.

There you go! My mom find for May - a lovely Mother's Day find, too. If you're pregnant now, I am so excited for you, mama. You have the best kind of adventure ahead of you, one that will be extremely exhausting because it will demand your all, but the love that you'll find is incomparable. Why not go through the journey in style and comfort? Enjoy these years!

Love, Bonito’s Embrace collection is available online at https://www.lovebonito.com/intl.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

16 sweet years


Oh hey, I just realized today, May 24, is the 16th anniversary of Topaz Horizon. Here's a photo from that year. That's me with our bunny wabbits, Galadriel and Gandalf.

I was bored in 2006, so I started a nonsense blog where I dumped all my silly thoughts about being a managing editor of a magazine, shopping for second-hand everything on eBay, taking care of rabbits, and being in love. Remember when blogs were just brain dumps with dark, grainy photos like that above? The olden days.

My blog's changed a lot since. I got engaged, got married, moved into a new home, got a plum career, lost it later, the bunnies died, my mother died, I had babies, I became part of this slick new world of influencers then I tired of its vanity quickly, then I had writing/editing/PR jobs here and there, lost myself, found myself, my father died, I wrote a book, I'm now writing a new one, my kids are growing up, my marriage is still doing great (even better!)... Wow, crammed the last 16 years in one sentence. 

Last week, I was going through this blog and let me tell you that I cringed at my early posts. I was young, I was shallow, I was selfish. Of course, middle-aged me would cringe. But I would never tell the younger me to change. Because even in my youth and selfishness, I also had nuggets of wisdom there. But I was so honest, I was cruel. The years have taught me to be compassionate and kind, especially when I'm right.

And maybe that's why I haven't been blogging so much anymore. I like to keep stuff to myself. So much of our lives are shared online now. I always shared my thoughts but carefully chose what parts of my life to share. Even 16 years ago, in the infancy of social media, I instinctively knew I had to keep huge parts of myself to myself. And though I believe everyone should say what they want to say, I also now know that we shouldn't.

The world has changed so much since 2006. Everyone has a platform and to my dismay, everyone uses their platform for hate or self-love. I don't know if this is the world I want to move in. Retreat, retreat.

But I still want to blog. I love it too much. And I will miss you so. You have been such good friends, growing up with me. Thank you always for your kindness, understanding, advice, and correction. I wouldn't know where I'd be without my Dear Loyal Readers. If you've stayed all these 16 years, my goodness, God bless you! I know some of you have left (especially when I decided not to be a mommy blogger anymore) and that's okay. I have never wanted people to stay when they think it's time to move on. I don't like dragging out relationships. But for the times you were here, I delighted in it. Thank you! Some of you are new and so you know the mommy me or the kind me or the wise me. I hope you don't read the early posts of this blog then haha. 

Anyway, 16 years is a long time. I never thought I'd be blogging this long. And maybe I won't for a while. I have three not-so-little boys whose needs may not be so urgent anymore but they need me just the same. I have a marriage that I savor so much, it's so much better now than ever and I just want to spend more time with my husband (we're so busy with work and school and home that we have to snatch our moments together!). And I want to write more books! My Not Invisible book gave me so much joy. I want to feel that always. Thank you to everyone who bought my book! I love you all!

I'm getting sentimental. I'm 45. We met when I was turning 30. Imagine that! Thank you. You are the friends I always wanted. Such a gift to me who always had a hard time making friends. I will count each of you a blessing and may the love you gave me and my family come back to you a hundred times forever.  

Friday, May 20, 2022

Don't be afraid. Don't be apathetic. A brave and bright future still awaits!

I don't remember being this heartbroken, ever. Any heartbreak I've felt before is mine alone. This devastation I feel is for the Philippines. If grief means love, then this is good news. I must really love my country. But I'm sure everyone who went out of their way to vote last May 9 - to suffer long lines, intense heat, crowds in the time of a global pandemic, hunger, and hours and hours of waiting - also loved our country. We just showed different ways to love it. 

My love was formed by a bloody past, which I hoped never to see in my children's future. But things didn't turn out the way I hoped and I am in such a dark place of fear. No funny TikTok reel or nostalgic YouTube video from the team that ran away with the elections can comfort me because they are empty entertainment. 

Thankfully, I read this letter by Emmanuel S de Dios, Professor at the UP School of Economics, to his class. And my heart is comforted. And I can love my countrymen again, yes, even the ones who voted differently, because we are all in one boat and we need to work together if we're ever going to get anywhere. I'm copying it here, for me to read again in case I ever lose that love again.


Dear Class,

I realise how some of you must feel disoriented, disappointed, defeated, and depressed after witnessing the results of the elections just past. In many ways what you have just witnessed is a turning point in our country’s history as a nation, although probably not the one that many of us had hoped for. This will be evident especially for you who are taking this course dealing with the history of martial law and the economy. After all, the point of this course and your being enrolled in it was to learn from history so that we would not repeat it.

We thought we could dream bigger and better; that we could escape and fly farther. But the dead hand of the past has pulled us back into the shadows—for now.

I don’t mind sharing with you that I too feel this is one of the saddest days I have experienced since I was a student and martial law was declared. The reason is not just simply that the better candidate lost—a rare individual whom I personally know to be untainted by corruption and who acts only on the purest motive of selflessly serving our people. More painful for me is the realisation that a great majority of our people are vulnerable and have fallen prey to myths, half-truths, and outright lies. For this last ultimately means partly my own failure.

The blame is partly on me and my generation that we have not chopped off that monstrous hand of the past; that we failed to fully exorcise those ghosts that now haunt the minds of the majority. We tried but failed; or perhaps we did not try hard enough and long enough, especially in the face of an enemy that was smarter at using new weapons. The mere late existence and necessity of this course you are enrolled in is emblematic of that failure, which now forces us to watch as our children weep in the gloom of their dashed hopes. For this, I must ask your forgiveness on behalf of my generation.

But what can or should we do when faced with the impending rule of a resurrection of the Marcos family? I can process this the only way I know how: through reason and social science, guided by ethics and empathy. There are two things we should not do: be afraid or be apathetic.

We should not be afraid or be cowed because even now we remain a free people. Neither social conditions, nor our institutions, nor the character of the younger Marcos are such that we have been brought back to 1972. We can thank the achievements of all the post-Marcos administrations that have slowly rebuilt the foundations of an economy with sound macroeconomic fundamentals than the ruined one Marcos left behind; we can thank the 1987 constitution, its bill of rights, and our long tradition of civil engagement for the safeguards and checks to the emergence of would-be dictators. And finally, we can even, I suppose, be grateful for the lack of character and vision of Junior Marcos, who lacks the sinister genius of his father that allowed the latter to deviously manipulate our country onto the path of dictatorship and debt. All of these are factors that favor a future beyond the present gloom.

Make no mistake: there will be attempts to curtail our freedoms and liberties. There will be no shortage of sycophants, clowns, and stooges who will try to outdo themselves in seeking to silence legitimate voices of freedom and criticism through “red-tagging”; to prevent diversity of thought through attempts to rewrite history in the textbooks and through an intensification of social media campaigns that amplify the lies glorifying the Marcos family and their rule.

There will be impending abuses of public power for private gain: attempts of the Marcos family to claim large swathes of the economy for themselves and to reward old and new cronies, who are now free to come out of the woodwork and feel entitled to a share of the spoils of a Marcos victory; there will be concessions of our patrimony to foreign powers that have bet heavily on an administration that supinely compromises national interest.

At every moment we should not be afraid to call out and resist these—because we remain free and it is within our rights to be so and to act accordingly. Remember this is not 1972. You cannot remain afraid or be apathetic because there is both the need and the opportunity to combat the past wrongs that have plagued our society as well as the new ones that are about to overlay them. Your knowledge and creativity can slowly reverse the poison that has taken hold of the minds of the many. Your effort and enthusiasm can turn back attempts to return to the days of grand corruption, cronyism, and injustice.

Before you can do any of this, however, remember first of all to be kind to yourself. Mend your spirit, recharge your brains, strengthen your hearts. Spend time on the things over which you have control and which give you simple pleasures; seek the company of family members or friends who will be a source of comfort. Devote time to improving your personal health, your mental and physical skills, your cultural perspective. Only when you feel good enough about yourself can you even begin to think about helping other people— and beyond that, the country.

Objectively, our true loss and that of the country is not having the luxury of being able to take our freedoms for granted and of being allowed to devote ourselves fully to lives that are perhaps more leisurely, less inconvenienced, or more directly productive. The common soil of truth we planted with young seed is in danger of being dug up. The imperfect house of institutions we were building painstakingly is at risk of being wrenched apart. What we thought we had for sure is now threatened. This is why we must act.

But think of it this way: the burden and sacrifice required of us is still nowhere as great as that of earlier generations. Take heart that we are, after all, not being called upon to risk our lives to gain freedom, as in 1896, or the Second World War, or the years of dictatorship. How you contribute will be as varied as your personalities, skills, and circumstances will allow: from joining various organisations and volunteer organisations to help the poor neglected by government; to speaking out and correcting lies on social media; to standing your ground against anomalies if you happen to be in government; to practising your profession honestly amid material challenges to your morals; down to simply discussing with friends and family in the hope they might find their way to the truth. Means will differ but goals will coincide.

We are called upon not to fight for freedoms which are being denied us, or which do not yet exist. We are asked only to defend the freedoms we already have by using them to the full. It is by not using them that we risk losing them.

With sincere hopes for your brave and bright future,

E.S.D.
13 May 2022


Hay, Pilipinas kong mahal. I needed to be reminded that our constitution exists, na kahit na halos binabalewala na siya, andyan pa rin siya, guarding our freedoms and guiding our way forward. And there is a way forward. Naniniwala pa rin ako sa sinulat ni Jose Rizal sa El Filibusterismo more than 130 years ago:

"Ah, you don’t know what we can do in a few years," replied [Isagani]. "You don’t realize the energy and enthusiasm that are awakening in the country after the sleep of centuries. Spain heeds us; our young men in Madrid are working day and night, dedicating to the fatherland all their intelligence, all their time, all their strength. Generous voices there are mingled with ours, statesmen who realize that there is no better bond than community of thought and interest. Justice will be meted out to us, and everything points to a brilliant future for all. 

"It’s true that we’ve just met with a slight rebuff, we students, but victory is rolling along the whole line, it is in the consciousness of all! The traitorous repulse that we have suffered indicates the last gasp, the final convulsions of the dying. Tomorrow we shall be citizens of the Philippines, whose destiny will be a glorious one, because it will be in loving hands. Ah, yes, the future is ours! I see it rose-tinted, I see the movement that stirs the life of these regions so long dead, lethargic."

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mahal na mahal pa rin kita.

Photo by Anastasiia Malai on Unsplash

Saturday, May 07, 2022

My candidates for #Halalan2022

Elections na sa Lunes! Here's my final list of candidates that I'm voting for on May 9.


I've already written my reasons for choosing these outstanding individuals for the top positions in this blog post: God's will doesn't just happen, we have to choose it.

President
1. Leni Robredo

Vice President
1. Kiko Pangilinan


I chose my senators for their pristine track record of fighting for the environment, social change, and the marginalized. Talagang inaral ko sila kasi nung una, tatlo lang kilala ko sa mga candidates sa listahan ko. But inisa-isa ko ang mga candidates. Yung mga convicted of crimes, yung may corruption cases, yung mga walang ginawa or may mga ginawang masama - delete from the list! Then yung mga natira, I studied each of them at eto na - my final list. It pays to do your research!

Senators
1. Teddy Baguilat
2. Roy Cabonegro 
3. Neri Colmenares
4. Chel Diokno
5. Luke Espiritu
6. Risa Hontiveros 
7. Elmer Labog
8. Alex Lacson
9. Leila de Lima
10. Sonny Matula
11. Monsour del Rosario
12. 
Carmen Zubiaga

Honestly, I'm aghast at the candidates for Mandaluyong's top positions. On one hand, I'm happy with our LGU's performance. On the other hand, should I vote for the families that have been sitting in power for as long as I can remember? I just think it's time to give chance to others. If you're from Mandaluyong, please tell me who you're voting for in the comments!

UPDATE: I've decided not to vote for any position for congressman, mayor and vice mayor. The other candidates have no online presence at all. No website, no Facebook page, walang paglalahad ng plataporma, nothing. That means they're not serious about running or serving the city of Mandaluyong. They're just there to make it look like the Abalos dynasty has competition. They didn't even try.


I checked out all the candidates for councilors and, for me, this candidate is young and eager to make a difference for Mandilenos. I checked his online platforms and I like his energy and the things he wants to do for my home city.

Councilor 2nd District
1. Regie Antiojo


There are 170 partylists and it took me a long while to narrow down my list. I took out the ones that weren't meaningful to my specific experience. So mga OFWs, BPOs, etc. Then there were several parties that were relevant to me and seemed to have noble causes but di ko type yung mga politicians associated with them so tanggal din sila. 

UPDATE: Paula Fernandez wrote a full list of dubious partylists here).

1. Akbayan - for the youth, students, and women. 


 
Final reminders for the elections!

1. There's still a pandemic so please wear your face mask.
2. Don't wear anything that has your candidates' names, faces or numbers. Don't bring campaign materials.
3. Bring your list of candidates. Don't put it sa phone niyo kasi baka hindi i-allow ng COMELEC na gamitin niyo phone niyo while voting.
4. Don't take pictures of your ballot.
5. Fill in the whole oval with the special pen COMELEC will lend you.
6. Ikaw mismo ang magpasok ng balota mo sa machine and check the names sa receipt! Make sure parehas ang lumabas sa resibo sa binoto mo. 

That's it! May time pa mag-research kung sinu-sino ang mga kandidato at kung ano ang mga nagawa nila para sa bayan. Please piliin po natin yung kandidatong marami nang nagawa para sa atin! Yung walang bahid ng corruption, yung walang history ng pagnanakaw at pang-aabuso, yung may malasakit sa Pilipino. 

So exciting!  


Friday, May 06, 2022

Vito's 11th birthday

My blog post last Monday reminded my Loyal Readers that my kids aren't toddlers anymore. "Vito is turning 12?" Yes! "Where did the time go?" I don't know. I still stare at them and wonder the same thing. 

I haven't been sharing the boys' birthdays anymore but let me quickly share Vito's 11th birthday party last year. I want to give you - those who still call him Jelly Bean - a peek at my not-so-little boy's happiness.


So this was in August and we were all stuck at home, but that didn't prevent us from having a great day! We had guests anyway - a retinue of penguins, foxes, and wolves to help celebrate the big day!


Look at how happy my boys are. They've been so good throughout the pandemic. I think they loved being cooped up inside, even if it dragged on for 2 years (and counting!). I could never ask for better boys. And it all started with the eldest one, my Vito.


Vito has always been easy. Easy pregnancy, easy childbirth, easy recovery, easy infancy, easy toddlerhood, easy everything! He's a happy, healthy, smart, and such a good boy. It's so easy to make him laugh. And he asks so little from us. Just video games and lots of food to munch on. That's it. He's happy.


His Papa once said, "I hope he never changes." And with Vito on the cusp of big change coming - adolescence! teenagehood! middle school! - I agree with his Papa. May this wonderful little boy never ever change. May he always be healthy. May he always be happy. May he always have love and support. That's all I ever want for him, the boy who changed my life. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

God's will doesn't just happen, we have to choose it

Okay, I don't usually mix my politics with religion so when I say I choose Leni as my President, it's because I looked at her credentials, her personal life, how she treats Filipinos, and how exactly did she perform as a public servant. And check-check-check! Siya talaga ang angat sa lahat!

But syempre, Born Again Christian ako so my political beliefs are also shaped by my faith. I need to live by what Matthew 22:36-40 says, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself,'" and also what Philippinas 4:8-9 says, which is "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." And choose and do those things, too! That is God's will and I strive to do it in every aspect of my life, kahit na mahirap.

So anyway, yung mga religious na kakilala ko are saying na by next week God's will is what will happen. I reject that. It's simply not true. Just because we vox populi doesn't necessarily mean it's vox Dei. For example, in the Book of Samuel, God didn't want the Hebrews to have a king, yet they insisted so ayan they got Saul and a whole lotta trouble. God permitted it because the people CHOSE it. In the same way I'm sure God isn't happily saying, "Oh, she got raped, just as I willed it." "That child became an orphan because of drunk drivers, just as I willed it." Why would God will evil??? It's not that God is helpless. It just means He will not impose His will on us. Kung ano gusto natin, kahit mali, He will not stop us from choosing it. Sadly, this is why there is so much evil in the world.

Kaya nga diba Jesus prayed, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Kasi God's will isn't happening on earth because of people's free will. And sorry na lang talaga but people will always choose sin. We will always choose what's wrong.

What God will do is see us through the consequences of our wrong decisions if and ONLY IF we ask for forgiveness for the wrong we've done. He will not spare us the consequences of our decisions.

Also, yung "Vox populi, vox Dei" belief or the "will of the people is the will of God" is just a part of the quote. The full quote is "Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit."

Translation: "And those people should not be listened to, who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness."

So how do we avoid this madness? If you believe in God, then by listening to the voice of God FIRST. And the voice of God says if all the people "will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

So nasa tao pa rin ang gawa. Seek God, find out who He is (He is good, He is LOVE, He is life, He is truth, He is justice, He is mercy), and then choose according to His will.

So sa elections for example, sino ang mga candidates who don't lie, who have lives devoted to public service, who have compassion for all especially the poor, who seek justice, who have no taint of murder or theft in their history, who have no whiff of corruption? Sila ang will ni God. And it's up to us to choose God's will. We don't have to, of course. Free will nga, diba. But if we don't and suffering results from our decisions (just as the last 6 years have been very bad for many Pinoys), then we can't blame God. It was not His will. It was ours.

I have enjoyed the election season immensely. Yes, it was stressful but I also saw how people rejected lies and corruption, how Filipinos from all walks of life (mula mahirap hanggang mayaman, mula street vendor hanggang National Artist, mapa-babae, lalaki at LGBTG+, bata at matanda!) gathered together to let their voice be heard, how we sang and danced and served each other.

Will we be the majority? I don't know. What I do know is mas maraming Pinoy na ang nakakakilala sa tama at mali, who are voting according to their conscience and what the country truly needs - a government free of corruption and will truly serve the Filipino through humility and compassion. I am praying that there's more of us.

May nagising na sa akin. At hindi lang ako. I know we are finally awake and listening, watching, and we are finally breaking the cycles and smashing the beliefs we inherited from generations of people who just chose who was popular and entertaining and matunog ang pangalan. We will build a better future for our country kahit sino pa ang manalo! I am so excited!


I will vote according to what I believe is God's will and choose the candidates that truly love the Philippines and the Filipino people. I hope you do, too! 

P.S. I'm for Leni-Kiko! Ipanalo na na10 ito!

Monday, May 02, 2022

Decor ideas for 3 kids sharing a small room

My sons are now 11, 9 and 7. They've always had 3 beds in their bedroom but they still liked cramming themselves into 2 beds, sleeping piled up on each other like puppies. But a few months ago, the eldest boy started complaining about how they don't fit, how his brothers steal his pillows or blanket, etc etc. I said, "You have 3 beds. No need to share beds." So off he finally went to the top bunk and he's been peacefully sleeping since.

I realize that the boys will be teenagers soon. They'll still have to share one bedroom since we live in a 2-bedroom apartment. So I've been Googling ways to redo their bedroom so that each one has a sense of peace and privacy. Check out my favorite finds for three kids sharing a small room: 

IBZ Store

This is the boys' favorite because each bed is on its own level. The boys' bed is already an IKEA Kura bed, which sadly isn't available in the IKEA store here. I don't know how we can buy another one! Maybe we'll just have it custom-made.

Ubuy

This is my second favorite idea. It has a more grown-up feel (if you see beyond the plushies).

Amazon

I like this because of the drawers under one bed. Always need storage in a small space!


This is great, too, because it has even more storage - a chest of drawers!

Just Bunk Beds

This has a study area. But it's just for one kid. Maybe I'll put bookshelves there instead.

Matrix Kids

Speaking of bookshelves, how about this one - a space for a reading nook. My kids like to read so a reading nook will be a great addition to their room. 

So there! I'll need to save up for a little renovation of their room. My eldest boy is turning 12 this year. Soon, I'll have teenagers! Can you imagine it? Time flies!