Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Funny Internet Observation

Stumbled upon this while surfing mybloglog, and chuckled a bit. There's some truth to it, you know.

Online Dating with MySpace and Facebook

I know somebody who's a total Mac fan who stopped dating a PC advocate because they just kept arguing about processors and programs. And as for people who keep inviting me to Facebook, sorry, it just won't work out. Facebook is banned at my office.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Musings on Rugby

Watched the Tri-Nations Rugby Final yesterday between the All Blacks vs the Wallabies. A friend asked who I was rooting for and I didn't answer. They were sort of expecting that since they support the Kiwis, I should as well. Hmmm. This reminds me of La Salle vs Ateneo rivalries where I had to cheer for La Salle because of "affinities".

In the first place, I'm not even a Rugby fanatic. I followed the Football (soccer) World Cup last year and stayed up until dawn. And even then I had no allegiance to any team. Rugby is a sport I just started to understand and now appreciate more than Football. Maybe because I find Football players faking injuries quite wimpy. Whereas Rugby players would have blood gushing about and would still keep on playing. Anyway...

In a semi-detached fashion, i just watched and considered the whole atmosphere of the game. The weather was a nasty downpour of rain that made the ball and the players skid more than usual. The All Blacks were playing on home soil, and the extensive amount of cheering must have fed their adrenalin. And in desperation, the players would usually commit errors and be confused when they have the ball. They usually couldn't decide whether to kick it, pass it on (sometimes they just throw it to no one in particular) or just run with the ball and get painfully tackled. The referee was also consistently fair, though he threw more penalty kicks in the All-Blacks favor. And these were factors why the Wallabies lost.

Both teams were pretty good, though I would think the Aussies had more solid defense. I also was admiring the consistent performance of the Wallabies' Gregan and the leadership of Mortlock rather than the All Blacks' McCaw. The All Blacks were good but they were also lucky. So in an existential sort of way, I'd say the stars just aligned for the All-Blacks.

Life is like that... You can always try to be the best you can be, but sometimes life won't pull enough aces for you. But you get up, ignore the pain, and ready yourself for another tackle.

More Tri-Nations Photos and news at PLANET RUGBY

Friday, July 20, 2007

Woes of a Clinically-Depressed Pinay

This piece of news has been disturbing me a bit. Here's an excerpt:

By: Pia Lee-Brago, Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star: 7/18/2007

A mentally unstable Filipina is now under the custody of the Italian police for allegedly killing her husband and son and seriously injuring her daughter, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday.

The DFA received the report about the arrest of Teresita Aguila Lleva after she reportedly slit the throats of her husband Wilson and 10-year-old son Brian on Friday while they were sleeping, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos said. Lleva also tried to slash the throat of her eight-year-old daughter Bea, but the child fought back, sustaining wounds on her throat and hands.

The daughter was rushed to hospital for treatment and is still in the intensive care unit, although Conejos said reports reaching the DFA showed that the girl is out of danger.

Information gathered from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) revealed Lleva had a history of emotional and mental problems since last year when she attempted twice to commit suicide by slashing her wrist then taking an overdose of undetermined drugs.

Lleva underwent a series of psychiatric examinations in Milan last year, and in October went back to her hometown in Batangas where she continued her medication.

In February, Lleva returned to Milan. Two months after, she started acting strangely, refusing to live in the town of Melegnano where her husband worked as a warehouse caretaker. Lleva reportedly urged her husband to move out of their place, but he refused because doing so would be costly for them.

Her unfulfilled desire to transfer residence reportedly triggered her depression.

I know how it feels to be miserable and not knowing how to snap out of it. Short of like having J.K. Rowling's Dementors suck out all the happy thoughts from you, it takes a lot of struggling. The misery seems so great, and the issues go into a loop again and again and again. In the same light Teresita must have felt trapped in her situation that she simply lost it. Nalokah in every sense of the word.

Speaking for myself, all one needs is to be out of the situation, find a change of scenery and think of the issues from a different perspective. Sure, I snapped out of it by over-swiping my credit cards, but at least I didn't do any bodily harm to myself or anyone. Anyway, if you feel emotionally burdened, here are a few (personal) pointers on how to deal with it:

- It's easier to deal with issues if you have a grip on them. Be systematic. Know why you're sad, and devise of ways to deal with your issues.

- talk about what ails you. Take up kickboxing or any sport that releases aggression. Travel somewhere and displace yourself, if that's not possible, just go to the next room. Take a walk. Write a blog (hmm, that's familiar)

- stop thinking about what other people might say or think, and focus on yourself. There's no point in putting up a front when your emotions feel like they just came from an Osterizer.

- Alcoholics, drug dependents and serial credit card swipers are never truly out of their misery. In fact, they get even more deeply entrenched into already miserable lives.

- If talking to a psychologist is too clinical for you, try seeking a life coach or a counselor.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


DOWNSIDE: I look like a nerd in glasses. I look like a librarian or a school marm that time forgot. But I have to wear them for my astigmatism and for UV protection.

UPSIDE: Nobody does those annoying wolf whistles anymore. The construction workers have ignored me. Ha ha! Plus, nobody sees my eyebags.

Beauty and the Bully

Last night I asked her, "how was your day?" She looked at me, shrugged and said it was ok, just an ordinary day. We then did the mommy-daughter bonding thing, took her scooter around Salcedo park and I bought Hi-protein bread at Delifrance. We laughed at the cute Korean kids who raced their neon scooters around, then we headed back to the flat. Had dinner and then I gave her a bath. While scrubbing her back, I told her how much I love her and how precious she is to me.

She then had this pensive look. And then she said "I want to tell you something. But please don't be mad".

As every mother would know, a line like that braces you for something. But I put my protective gear down and put on a friendlier face. She then proceeded to tell me that she saw an old bus mate at school, one that used to bully her and she thought she'd never see much of again.

Last year, she must have wanted not to add to the domestic problems (the separation) and decided to keep the bullying all to herself. This Bully would put trash on her bus seat and that would force to her to stand up the whole ride from school to the house. When she told me this last year, I fumed and cried. She was only a 1st grader, 6 years old, and the bully was on the 5th grade, She's technically still a baby compared to him. I ranted about how rude this kid was and how inconsiderate and I would talk to his parents, etc etc. But Sandra just said "It's ok Mommy. I'm on a different school bus now. I won't see him again. Besides, I don't even know his name."

"Anyway, so what happened today?" I asked.
"I saw him again, he was with his friends" she then reminded me "Mommy, don't be mad, ha?"
I gave a non-committal shrug hoping for all the patience in the world to be bestowed upon me.
And then she said the Bully saw her and yelled "Hey, let's go kick her bag!" So they kicked her pink stroller around like some football in the school corridor. Her stuff got sprawled on the floor, and they laughed as she picked everything up.
"So what did you do when they did that?" I asked, my voice trembling.
"I said something bad." and then tears fell from her beautiful eyes "I said, YOU'RE A JERK! GO TO HELL" and then she sobbed in my arms. "please mommy, I didn't mean to say something bad, I'm sorry..."

The first thought in my mind was how much of a good person Sandra is. That she actually feels guilt for cursing someone who wronged her. The second thought was motherly rage. No one has the right to do this, especially to a much younger child. But it wasn't the proper time to be mad. I first have to be my child's rock. So while holding her close I just said "Honey, we have to be smart about this. So no tears. Don't get emotional. When he does it again, let him kick your bag as long as he wants to. Make sure other kids witness him do this, But meanwhile, find a way to get his name -- on his name tag, on his school stuff, just get his name. Then Mommy will take care of the rest."

I cuddled her to sleep. I prayed for strength. Thanked my lucky stars for having a wonderful daughter. It broke my heart that she has a cruel world to face. But it makes me feel good that even mean people couldn't change her.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Inspiration from Frank Hoefsmit

Several years ago, I took photography classes at The Alcove: Portraiture, Figure Lighting (nudes) and Black and White Film Photography and Developing. I worked with both film and digital, but fell in love with film more. During that time, I was trying to make sense of the loneliness and the invalidation in my life. It seems poetic now, but it was an act of desperation then. I needed to be passionate about something... anything. And I seemed to have discovered it in photography and film developing. But as love affairs go, my love (for photography) was met with foolish notions and a lot of insecurities. I felt inadequate next to the geeks with the fancy digicams and their $3,000 lenses. As I balanced never-ending working weekends, or weekends doing nothing but chores or family obligations, I was envious with the people who actually had the time to pursue their passions. So in time, my love for photography died like a teen summer infatuation. But the desire for validation and soul expansion lived on.

Last thursday, I got a text from Frank. One of those marketing textblasts for an upcoming Photo Exhibit. It was held at the Piedra Bar at the Fort and was a brand-sponsored party by San Miguel along with two other fashion photographers whose names escape me right now. Anyway, though Frank had his fashion stuff being flashed onscreen, he also had his "Silence" collection on the walls of the bar. "Silence" is a series of abstract photography artwork that was part of his early works. When I say early, I mean his 2005 collection. I'm not sure what to make of abstract work, because despite of my being illogical at times, surrealism confuses me. There is one photo I liked though. It was a pink picture of a tree with digitally streaked lines. And I don't even know why I liked it (see, abstract actually requires more thought! ha ha). Okay, maybe I just liked pink.

Anyway, what's the significance of Frank and his work in all of my ramblings? I guess the point is, he was my classmate. We tinkered with cameras at the same time, made the same mistakes, felt our way through photography and fell in love with it along the way. But his love affair went on a different path from mine. He's now got photography exhibits as well as a newfound reputation as a hot fashion photographer. Me? All I got was 3rd place for one photo competition (architecture) and a lot of regrets for never finding the time nor the resources to pursue it. Romance cannot survive without finance, so my romantic inclinations with the camera had to die.

Frank is a Belgian expat who has his own software business here and services a lot of international clients. When I met him that night, in the middle of hugs and pointing out his cute significant other, he told me he plans to sell the company and pursue photography full time. I pondered over the pay cut he must be willing to face considering photographers in Manila (with the exception of advertising photographers) are grossly underpaid. But he looked good. He grinned the whole night, obviously in love --with someone and the life he's leading. He looked happy with the choices he's made to get where he is. And I thought, how inspiring! Life should be like that. To be lived with the pursuit of passion. I feel so happy for him, and I beamed with pride by saying "Frank Hoefsmit? I know the guy. He was my classmate!"

For more of his works, please visit
Frank's website!

Lunch at Verbena in Tagaytay

It's not often that I make my way out of Makati, much more out of town. So I do consider it a blessing that I found the time, energy and wonderful company to make it to Tagaytay this Saturday. Discovery Suites in Tagaytay is a wonderful, country-style inn with a lot of warmth of character. I've heard about Verbena Restaurant which had great reviews as well. And that was the reason I was on this road trip, to actually squeeze this restaurant in the itinerary.

When I look back at my once-married life, I get nostalgic about attending the Cheese Club at Manila Polo Club. My ex loved cheese and I guess he opened my eyes to it as well. But now that's a distant memory, and so is cheese. Sure, I can have the uninspired slices from Landmark supermarket or order fried mozarella at any bistro. But that would be eating cheese for the sake of it. Much as I love cheese by itself, I would sit upright for cheese that's prepared with a little more imagination. And that is why this Organic Mozarella Cheese Pot at Verbena melted my heart. On top, your basic mozarella. But under it hid a delightful Tomato Sugo with just a hint of spice. If I weren't with a companion, I would order three of these and not have an entree at all. It came with focacia that lets you dip in it fondue-style. I only touched a slice of that because I wanted this baby by itself. Yes, the cheese monster in me lives. Oh, I also liked the thoughtfulness of this being kept warm with flammable gel instead of the usual denatured alcohol. The flame was practically smokeless and odorless. So at least i got that played-with-fondue feeling without smelling like i played with kerosene.

For the Entree... The problem about rarely going out is that once I do, I hunger for everything. As in, everything on the menu. But since I'd rather keep my waistline as it is (actually, I'd rather have it smaller but that's a diferent issue) we settled for a bit of everything. And this is the phonepic that doesn't do justice for Verbena's Sampler Plate. At Php650, it's quite a good portion plus it has three of Verbena's best sellers: BBQ Lamb baby back ribs with polenta fries (there's two pcs of them there), the Salmon Fillet with Arugula-mushroom salad, and Short Ribs Goulash with Potato puree. Of the three, I liked Salmon the most (growing up in a Seafood loving family, I was trained not to prefer meat so my prefernce may not be fair). The goulash is very tender and the ribs just ok. The revelation here is the arugula mushroom salad tucked under the salmon which had a nice zing. That deserved special mention because I despise arugula, yet managed to eat this one. Yes, there's hope for green vegetables with a weird bitter aftertaste.

All in all, the visit to this restaurant is delightful, and I would suggest it to anyone driving up to Tagaytay. And much as I hate ending this like some stupid press release, I might as well put down the link:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stumbling Upon a Secret

Had a tiring day and arrived home late. My little girl is fast asleep, with her books and notes sprawled on the bed. She must've been studying for her exams (and for a 2nd grader, she seems to be getting a lot). I was fixing her things when I saw this.

It was a homework for her Christian Living subject, that asked to make a letter to somebody. She never showed me the letter. Regardless of its brief thought, I can feel it was all heart as I was reading it.

How wonderful it is to be loved. :-)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Dealing with Ugly

If you can't be rich, be beautiful instead. It's a twisted motto that helps me feel good about myself. Beauty is more precious to me, a sort of consolation that allows a feeling of superiority to the unattractive girls with Vuitton bags. And this is applied not just with myself but with my daughter as well.

But the yaya is a different story.

J is actually not a nanny, since Sandra's a bit too old for one. She's more of a house-sitter, occasional companion to Sandra, cooks a bit, cleans a bit... more like an all-around housekeeper. She's a dark, big-boned character, with facial craters from acne and with mannerisms that match a cro-magnon (she replies with a grunt 95% of the time).

Yesterday, she went a notch further by getting a really awful haircut. A spiky mullet! Que Horror! I would have paid ten times more (in my poverty-stricken state, I still would!) just so that she'd get a better one.

I woke up this morning and the first thing I saw was that haircut. Yikes. I almost threw up the coffee.
Today is a moment of weakness.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

My Toothless Wonder

Alright, she's not completely toothless. She lost just two of the pearly whites. But that didn't even make a dent on her charm.

It's a Sunday and I was in a shoot at Gama studios. And because Sunday should be a sacred day for family, I had Sandra picked up from the condo. She just came from her Dad's house (weekends being his time with her) and I know she would complain if she arrived home with no Mommy in sight.

She arrived, her usual bubbly self minus two teeth. This is the first time for me to see her like this, because she had her teeth extracted with her Dad just yesterday. I felt a sharp pain of regret that I wasn't the one with her during the extraction. As a mom, I felt it was my duty to hug and console her, especially since my own childhood memories of tooth extraction were traumatic ones. But for some reason, Sandra knew she had to lift that emotional burden off me.

"No Mommy, It didn't hurt, not even with the injection" -- her words of bravery

"I look like a baby, don't I?" -- obviously, this child is not too self-conscious about losing teeth

"This is free, we used the (HMO) card." -- at least, she's in touch with my financial situation

"Can Daddy keep one tooth?" -- playing Solomon and splitting herself between me and her Dad

And while other kids would shy away from getting their picture taken, she gamely posed. A proud survivor of the dentist's chair and not afraid to show it. My beautiful daughter... Yes, there is a God.