Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Thanksgiving Prayer

I came across a blogger's poem that really touched my heart (naks! parang totoo). RohMih encapsulated in a few words and lines what I want to express as a thanksgiving to our Creator and how I conceived Him to be.

In this holiday season, amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and celebrations, let us sit back and reflect on the things that feeds our spiritual body with this little prayer. To you Roh Mih thank you for sharing ...

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I thank and praise you, God
for creating and sustaining the universe
with your infinite love and wisdom.
You are an all-powerful and awesome God
yet patient and humble
and eternally giving.
You are the giver of life:
you cause every living thing to breath,
grow, move and multiply.
You manifest yourself to us in many ways:
you are all around us,
and you are within us.
I thank and praise you
for your continuing sustenance.

(A prayer composed in summer of 2003.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

So Goodbye Yellow Brick ... Mobile

Husband’s ancient Nokia 6210 phone finally broke. The screen cracked and although it’s still fully functional, you can’t see anything on the screen. So we finally decided to get a new one. He researched all the myriad tariffs, offers, and freebies in the internet and in the high street shops. We were about to sign up with a naranja coloured carrier when he spied upon a tempting offer in the internet. It says free handset, free bluetooth headset, plus free X-box console! Wow that did us in. I really intend to buy a longed for Xbox for our son so this is a huge savings for us what with the regular retail price of one going for £99. So we readily signed up for it not wanting to lose opportunity ‘coz they might pull out the offer anytime (they do this without warning). Weekend passed and husband is now waiting for the delivery of his hand and headset. Yesterday we were doing a little shopping in Bluewater when he went in a mobile phone retailer. There he saw the actual size of the handset he’s going to receive and all us went in fits of giggling and laughter. It was a brick! Much bigger than any of our old mobile phones! Hahaha! All the time he was imagining having a nice, small, sleek and sassy phone and he didn’t know that he ended up with a right ‘ol brick! ::ROFL:: Now we know why it’s got all those freebies – they’re trying to get rid of the model to make way for new ones. To be fair it’s got video messaging and we got lots of discounts and cashbacks plus the call tariffs are one of the lowest around. Oh well, hubby says he’ll just keep it in his trouser pocket all the time – who needs ‘enhancements’? ;-) I said – “keep close to me so women will get the message that you’re glad to see me and not them!” Hehehe!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas? What Christmas?

I’m feeling kinda weird lately. This time of the year I would be very excited with all the preparations and shopping for Christmas presents. I should be in a panic mode since I have not sent any Christmas card nor done anything yet. I just don’t feel it and I don’t know why. No twinge of excitement, no frantic shopping, no prep for the Christmas feast. I’m not sad or depressed … it’s probably because I’m not caught up anymore with the material side of it. All the gift giving for the sake of giving because it’s “required” for Christmas doesn't interest me anymore. I just want to be with my husband and kids, relatives, and close friends. Hold them close on that special day, be thankful for all the blessings we received and about to receive, and celebrate! So friends in case you haven’t received my card yet don’t worry I still love and care for all of you, I just couldn’t be bothered to buy one. ;-)

In a way it is liberating especially with shopping. I used to be so OC (obsessive-compulsive) with choosing gifts. I keep on changing my mind and always thinking that it might not be good enough for the recipient. Now, the first one I see that I think is appropriate I buy it with nary a second thought. Haha! I think I can do all my shopping in one go. My husband would think that as a Christmas miracle straight from heaven !

Friday, December 03, 2004

Winter Is Here !

Last night was the first time this season for Southern England's temperature to plunge below 0 degree C. We woke up to mist and fog this morning. Ahhh, that's more like England. Thank goodness there aren't any ice on the road or we would have mammoth traffic jams again. You know how it is around here, trains get delayed because of leaves on the railtracks, massive traffic jams when snow starts to fall, more train cancellations because signal light switches froze. You would have thought they'd licked these problems since they face this every year. Oh well, I guess a little excitement in winter once in a while won't hurt you.

My task right now is to wrap up well from the cold. I take the trains and buses everyday and it can be an ordeal waiting in the bus stop during winter. These buses, I tell you, you stand there waiting in the freezing weather and nothing comes in 20 minutes (where there shd have been 2 already). Then they all come in twos or threes! Grrrr!

I'll be coming home early today to prepare for a trip up north to Manchester area. It's our nephew's birthday tomorrow and we'll be there to help out (and eat) and celebrate with them. Travel time is around 4 hours but if you have to stop every time the kids go hungry or want the loo, then it takes about 5-6 hours. Besides the motorways around there are always jammed like a long car park. Why am I ranting about traffic jams and buses here? Sad life isn't it? ;)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Trip To Valencia

My team at work occassionally go for a night out about once every two months. It used to be once a month but it's become slower now what with the ax we're facing. Normally it's dinner with drinks (of course) that's before or after a theatre show, salsa dancing lessons, comedy show, go-kart racing, concerts, etc. - you get my drift. Very very occasionally we go on a very short trip abroads in something like once a year. Last time they went to Amsterdam. 'They' because I wasn't able to go - I think I was recovering from my operation back then. This time, one was organised for a weekend trip to Valencia. Why Valencia? Because it's got the best deal at the time we were booking which was at least more than 1 month ahead. The main criterias being - cost 1st and warm weather 2nd. My travels are recorded here while the culinary side of the trip is in my food blog. Click on the pictures for a bigger view.
The city of Valencia lies in the eastern coast of Spain an area called the Costa Blanca (white coast) in the Region of Valencia. As the third largest city in Spain, it has been inhabited by Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, the Moors (who introduced Spain to olives, oranges, cumin, saffron, among other things), and the Aragonese. It is where the paella (rice dish) was invented. The city is not very touristic which is a pleasant surprise and the temperature when we arrived (late November) is a balmy 18C/65F. It is almost always sunny which makes a nice setting in exploring this lovely place.

We arrived in around 4:30PM with nary a glitch in our flight (BA) and sailed through immigration and baggage control. By 7:30PM we were on our way to the old part of town to have our first night out in Valencia!

I then encountered the reason for the bruises on my knee and legs - the Torres de Quart. It was so ginormous (about 10 stories high) and looking like chess pieces that I was in awe while walking towards it. I didn't realise the ground I was walking on dropped 5 inches lower suddenly. So my legs decided for me to kiss the ground. Hehehe! But I'm okay now just a few scraches here and there. As you can see on the right, it is pock marked by cannon balls from the many wars it witnessed mainly in the 18th and late 19th century.

We hit the pubs and bars but was quite puzzled why there were few people around. It was already 8:30PM, restaurants and bars were open but all are virtually empty. We walked in bars and staffs give us strange and puzzled looks as if saying "What are you doing here?" They did serve us but with much prodding. It was only later when we were at a restaurant that people start coming for dinner at 10PM and bars start getting lively at 12 midnight. Oh so ... this is Spanish time! So we went bar hopping and ate dinner where we had great pans of paella. Half of our group (of 8) decided to call it a night at around 12:30 while the other half carried on bar hopping 'til I think 4AM.

Next day we walked to explore the old city again this time in broad daylight. Above left is an old building beside the central market while the one on the right is a street scene. We visited the Mercat Central (central market) see below left.

I was so excited (nataranta ako) in the market seeing all the great variety of fresh produce and they were all so cheap compared to London prices. I left with several kilos of jamon serranos, morcillas, chorizos, saffron, etc. If I can lug it around I would have even bought jugs of olive oil. We then walked towards an area with lots of shops and that's where I encountered these 2 buskers (above right) playing classical guitar music. Wow it was heavenly! They were very very good musicians and the acoustics of the place added to the experience. I was actually reluctant to leave.

After the market it was a long trek to the beach promenade of Valencia. We tried getting taxis but we made the mistake of travelling midday which is the Spanish siesta time. There were no taxis in sight so we decided to take the train and tram. When we got to the area it was deserted. "Where is everybody?" It's a good thing we asked a guy fixing his car and he pointed us to the direction of the restaurants. It was 3PM and some of us haven't even had breakfast and were absolutely starving. We walked some more for about 'media kilometros' (half kilometer) according to the guy and found the cluster of restaurants we were looking for. It was like an oasis in a desert. An area where there was nobody around no shops open and suddenly you come to a spot teeming with people. What a relief !

After lunch we decided to go back to the hotel and have a siesta ourselves and then regroup at 8:30PM. On the way back we passed by the old Turia riverbed. The Turia River used to run right in the middle of the city but because of disastrous floods in the 1950s, it was diverted away from the centre with the old riverbed transformed into parks, childrens playgrounds, and sports playing fields. They are welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

It's a shame I wasn't able to take pictures of our second night out and you'll know why my male companions refused to budge from the bar of a club. All because the bartenders there are really seriously gorgeous girls in obligatory tight plunging neckline clothes. Just because of that! :) We seem to be "buena mano" lucky early customers because wherever we go to, the place seem a little thin on people but after awhile the hordes come rushing in. We went back to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning although the night scene we left was just starting to go full swing.

The morning saw us walking again (we did a LOT of walking) to complete our final day's tour of Valencia. On the way to the tourist spots we passed by green lush parks and dancing fountains with no music. Can you see the rainbow on the pix above right?

Then we came to the Torres del Serranos. I believe this together with the Torres de Quart are the only surviving remnants of the defensive wall around old Valencia. The stairs and steps to this tower were rather steep. I didn't go to the highest part because I was feeling height sick mainly because the railings were quite low. One wrong lean over it and you'll be free falling.

Above left is the former palace of the king of Valencia (yes they used to have their own king) now used as the seat of government of Valencia. The road leads to the Plaza de la Virgen where we were lucky to watch a cultural show of traditional dances and music (above right). The costumes reminds me a lot of the Filipino "baro't saya" dress which is heavily influenced by our Spanish colonisers. The dancers were using castanets and their movements are very similar to our traditional dances, too.

The one on the left is the Real Basilica of Our Lady of Holy Innocent Martyrs and the Abandoned - did I translate it right? 'Nuestra Senora de los Santos Inocentes Martires Y Desamparados'. It has a circular central hall inside from which small side chapels radiates from. Although it looks relatively stark outside it is completely the opposite inside with its over the top baroque designs and decorations. Unfortunately I was only able to photograph (above right) the fabulous ceiling because there was a mass at the time.

The cathedral (above left) is right beside the basilica. I wasn't able to go inside but my colleagues said it was fab as well. Above right is one of the celebrated symbols of Valencia - an orange tree. Remember the ads - 'made from Valencia oranges'. They grow everywhere in the area.

We had paella lunch (again) at a restaurant right behind the cathedral. As you can see above left paella pans can be as big as 2-3 feet across. After having paella overload almost everyday my colleagues said they don't want to see a bloody paella at least for a while. We carried on walking to a nearby market due to the fact that it's siesta time and we can't find a taxi again. On the right above is an unusual fountain in the centre of a circular market. The water looks so clear and cool.

We were walking rather aimlessly outside that market when Steve managed to nab 2 taxis. Yehey! And we zoomed to the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) to gaze at the marvelous modern futuristic architecture of this cluster of museums, cinemas, aquariums, etc. Above left is actually the top of the car park - (sosi ano?) posh isn't it? There are still parts of it that are under construction like the above right where it positively looks like the head of a Japanese robot character.

One of the buildings looked like a bug with wings (garapata?). Above right is another view of the ensemble of structures in this centre. Beautiful isn't it?

Overall impression: I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty of this city with its numerous leafy squares and parks. Things I like: the absence of hordes of tourists; the fab balmy temperature and mostly sunny weather; delicious food - seafood especially; lower prices on almost everything; very friendly and helpful locals even if we were mangling their language. Mind you I can survive here (and so can most Pinoys) because I can read the signs. Numbers and money counting is a piece of cake (dos cuarenta'y cinco). If they talk moderately slow enough I can understand them (hurray to 4 semesters of Spanish classes!). The problem is when they talk rapid fire or when I try to talk - I cannot express what I really want to say. So I would really recommend Valencia although if I come back I would definitely brush up on my pidgin Spanish. Vamos amigos !

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Things We Do For Our Kids

I made the mistake of gifting my youngest with a Care Bear movie DVD. Now she wants to watch it over and over again which is not a problem except everytime she wants at least one of us to sit with her and watch this saccharinely cutesy movie. Uggghhh!! Oh whenever I watch it, it really makes me want to puke. My husband has since hidden the offending DVD – all of us feigning innocence when J3 asks where it is. Out of sight out of mind.

Years earlier when her two older siblings were toddlers, they used to torture me with those Barney videos. ‘I love you, You love me, We’re a happy family’ … oh give me a break! Get a life Barney !! Did you know there was a Usenet group called Barney.Kill.Barney.Die.Die.Die.Die.Die (or something like that)? I wonder what they discuss there, maybe different ways to exterminate Barney?

What about the Teletubbies? I find them cute actually although it would really turn your brain to mush in no time at all. I can’t see the reason why babies – that’s right babies – love those bubble shaped alien-like tubbies. The first time my youngest saw it on TV she was only 6 months old and she was sitting rapt in attention and not even blinking while watching. There must be some truth in what they’re saying that the electromagnetic waves TV is emitting can be hypnotic. The kids certainly seem like in a trance when they watch their favourite TV programs.

During the height of the Pokemon craze, my kids requested to watch the movie version in the cinema. It was a pointing game between me and my husband on who would take them. Unfortunately I lost (he got a better excuse) so there I was sitting for 2 hours feeling positively suicidal controlling myself from running out screaming like a banshee. God I miss Sesame Street! Hey there are adult friendly kids show out there other than Sesame Street, there’s the all-time classic Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes. Pixar and Disney movies are always enjoyable, my favourites are Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Actually they’re too good to waste on kids – hahaha! That’s why I’m hogging the DVDs of these. ;-)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Adwares, Malwares, Spywares, Tupperwares

Which is the odd one out above??
I blogged the other day about the Internet Tourbus. I decided to feature them mainly because of the predicament that our PCs were in, in the past few days. We got infected by these adware viruses that changed the toolbars of our IE browser, having lots of annoying porn pop-ups, and really creating havoc in the system. It even resetted (turned off and on) the PC! The Internet Tourbus has a good explanation on what these new pesky viruses are and what it does to your computer - read here.

To fight it, they suggested to use
SpyBot and Ad-Aware softwares which are downloadable free! We ran both of it in our PC and it did the trick. Took out all of the hidden viruses and restored sanity in our ancient computer. They had an "immunize" feature which basically prevents all the known viruses from infecting your system ever again. I say "known" because it only shields you from the viruses it knows (at the moment). That's why it's important to download periodic updates for these anti-viruses and for that matter you also need regular Microsoft updates to plug all the numerous security leaks in Windows and Internet Explorer.

Mind you, our PC was infected while I was logged as an administrator and trying out the changes I made to the Norton anti-virus/firewall by surfing to some select website like this blog. Apparently this is a security hole in Norton. So if you've got this brand of anti-virus don't surf the web as an administrator more so in Internet Explorer. Use or create another login ID for your usual computing activities.

Our friends' laptop that my husband has been trying to fix for several days now, was also crawling with viruses of the same kinds. He ran SpyBot and Ad-Aware, cleaned most of it but was still showing signs of infections. So here I am again to rescue (naks! ala Incredibles) to give him the URL for Hijack This. A nifty downloadable freeware that zaps the remaining viruses infecting you registry files. Finally it did the trick - laptop now virus free. Moral of this long sorry story is: use all 3 mentioned spyware removers for slaying viruses, update regularly your Windows patches (if you're using), use an anti-virus software, and as much as possible use web browsers other than Internet Explorer like Firefox (download it free!).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Internet Tourbus

Every week I get an email from a duo tandem in America calling their team the Internet Tourbus. That’s Patrick Crispen and Bob Rankin for you. They send a newsletter/tutorial where you get a lot of tips on how tos, the whys, the wheres in cyberspace and in computing all written in a straight forward, sensible, lucid, mostly non techie jargon prose. They’re quite funny too. They used to have this Southern word for the day and tracked the adventures of the power-line addicted squirrels of the University of Alabama. Every week there is a different topic where they explain details of new things in computing – from hardware issues to viruses to the latest Internet browser. They’re one of my choice sources of information especially if the techie sites are not making any sense to me and I just want a basic explanation of whatever I am interested in. They always put in links to other sites with more in-depth details.

You can subscribe to their newsletter through their website:
Internet Tourbus. There you can also peruse their FAQs and archives of articles going all the way back to 1995 when they first started.

So if you want to read something technically informative but non brow furrowing, go and subscribe or visit their site.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Disney Florida Had Pinoy Animators

I read an article in Philstar from a link in CaT’s blog about a talented Filipina animator in Pixar (the creator of Finding Nemo and Incredibles). It is indeed good to laud her achievements and more so being a woman and a Filipino in a premier Hollywood movie outfit. This made me remember probably equally talented Filipino animators in Disney Florida whom I was privileged to meet when me and my family went there a few years ago. You see my younger sister is married to one.

Mikey Ilagan, my brother-in-law, and a few Filipinos were ably showing their talents in the animation hallways of Disney. Unfortunately Michael Eisner’s faction decided to hack off the whole of the traditional (as opposed to digital) animation department based in Disneyworld in Florida just this last March. And when I mean the whole dept. I mean the whole lot – from admin people to the head honchos including all the furnitures! What a shame.

The Filipino group there was headed by Ruben Aquino who was a Senior Supervising Animator. He was the key person who did characters like Shang in Mulan, Nani in Lilo and Stitch, etc. As far as I know he was born in Manila and moved to the US at a very young age. Others like Mikey was an Key Asst. Animator, Armand was a Layout Artist, and Gerry an Animator. All very talented Pinoys. They were involved in the creation of Disney movies like Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, John Henry, etc. They are also very good artists in their own right, creating artworks in a number of mediums including illustrations for comics and children’s books, sculpting, painting in watercolor, oil, charcoal, or mixed media, photography, even digital/computer graphics.

Here's one of Mikey's artworks:

That one above is a children’s book illustrated and written by him. Click on the link - Baba and Friends to see more info on this.

Below is another sample of his artwork in the comics genre:

You can see his portfolio at Animatrix Studio.
I wish I could put Armand's, Gerry's, and Ruben's work here so you could see that we have a lot of unsung talented Pinoys in the animation world.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Birthday Jazz and MG Blues

It was my youngest's (J3) 4th birthday last Sunday (7th November) and we had a small dinner party at home. We invited only 2 Pinoy families (neighbors actually) to help us celebrate. J3 was in her elements, she was chatting away on the phone and telling everybody who cared to listen that she's 4 that day. She even sang "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "Without You" while accompanied by her Dad on the piano. (OT: the last song was popularised by Harry Nilsson and later by Mariah Carey). I'm glad that she was happy about our modest celebrations. Happy Birthday my little one! You have always brought joy in our lives!

In the food prep front, I was not happy at all with everything I cooked. (Maybe I should blog about this in my food blog.) I completely underestimated the effect of my Myasthenia (MG). I did not realise or completely forgot that I get tired easily nowadays and it has a great effect on my stamina. Not just plain tired but really incredibly tired as in I cannot lift my arms or my lower rib cage ached. I cooked from morning 'til afternoon. Before I had MG, this was a piece of cake, no problem at all. This time I did not expect to get tired so early. By lunchtime I was just pacing myself so I could cook everything needed otherwise it would be a disaster. I hid my exhaustion because I did not want to alarm my husband though I was ready to collapse. Fortunately I was able to hang on enough to finish all of it but I did not like my cooking results at all. The brownies were overbaked, there was too much liver in the caldereta, some of the lumpia was burned, the pinakbet were overcooked, too little sauce in the sweet & sour fish, etc. I couldn't even chat well with our guests because I felt so fatigued. By bedtime I was so dog-tired I couldn't sleep right away. I had to have a back rub from hubby.

At least now I know and acknowledge that I cannot do it all as I used to. I told myself, from now on I will only cook 2 dishes or prepare everything way ahead and just buy or have the rest of the food catered (or harass my friends to cook for me). It is humbling knowing my limitations. I am not a supermum anymore. Hikbi! (Sob!) I am mortal, vulnerable, weak, bound by physical constraints, finite. What a sobering realisation of my frailties. Either I deny and try to fight it or accept, learn to live with it and adapt. I chose the latter. As they say the only constant in this world is change, so I change to suit my needs.

When I am stressed out like this I try to relax by listening to music and one of the things that often comes to mind are the first few lines of this song:

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
(Simon & Garfunkel)

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Hello lamppost, What cha knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo, Feelin' groovy.

Got no deeds to do, No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.

I especially like the line there "Life, I love you". Y'all be groovy, people ...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Promdi Tales 3

More and more funny experiences in being new to a place ...

German Shopping Habits [from Ting-Aling]

A Pinay nurse and her friend came to Germany to work. It was their first time and they cannot speak nor read in German. It was also their first winter there. She and her friend decided that they have to buy some coats. So they entered a shop and pointed to the rows and rows of coats and jackets hanging. The shop owners didn’t want to sell them anything. The girls were puzzled, they’ve got the money, the shop has got the goods - why they won't let them buy? It turned out they went into a dry cleaners !!


Soup ala Tide [from BongK]

During our study in ROC (Taiwan), we were invited to an exclusive dinner by the big bosses (officials of the host country). On the dining table there were a number of bowls already prepared that had lots of different things in it. My Pinoy friend (there were 2 of us) saw one bowl containing what looked like creamy soup. Naturally he thought the first course of the meal was soup, so he spoon-scooped and tasted it. “Wheeew, lasang sabon” (“It tastes like soap”), he said. Then the waiter came to us and said “Sir you need not taste it, it’s for washing your hand !”

Leaving On a Jet Plane [from Ting-Aling]

My friend was flying in first time to the US on board Japan Airlines. When he was served food, the very first thing he wanted was the icing in the box. He was actually a bit peeved that the Japanese served icings in so little quantity. In short, he spooned all of the wasabi in his mouth all in one go !! (Water ! Water ! Gimme water!)

The First Time Gardener [from Ting-Aling]

Here is my life story, I first came in the US at the tail end of winter and start of spring – March 31. Trying to be a good guest to my hosts, I donned my boots and gloves and went out to the garden and swept all the dried leaves and pulled out all the dead weeds. My host wept when she saw that I pulled out all her favourite seasonal plants. They were meant to lose their leaves in winter and grow again in spring ! She even said she had been cultivating them for several years. Waaaah! I made sure of course to replace all her beloved plants.

Baby You Can Drive My Car

My father-in-law (FIL) was quite new in California. He was driving along the I-5 and came at the tail end of a group of cars. You know how it is in those situations, you tend to drive with the flow not realizing that you’re speeding. Long story short, a patrol car came up and nabbed him. He was explaining and complaining at the same time on why he was speeding and why he was the only one stopped. The police office said (metaphorically), “Well if you’re fishing do you catch all the fish?” feeling smug and went back to scribbling. My FIL retorted, “Well yes – if you’re good !” It’s a good thing the officer just looked at him and didn’t answer. Nahuli na nang insulto pa! (He already got caught but he still insulted the police officer!)

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

A barrio-mate of mine boarded a plane to London to be reunited with his nurse wife. It was his first time to fly and his first time to be out of the Phils. He actually felt very nervous because he did not know what to do or how to behave in the plane. He eyed up his British seatmate and thought that he looked like a seasoned traveler. So he decided to follow whatever his seatmate does. And when he said “whatever he does” it means everything. When the guy ordered chicken for the meal, he ordered chicken, when the guy opened the lid of his food, he opened the lid of his food, when the guy asked for water he asked for water, when the guy pierced and cut his food, he pierced and cut his food even mimicking the number of times the knife was slid back and forth! He even didn’t finish his dessert though he likes it because the seatmate didn’t finish his. (I think I’ve seen this in a Dolphy movie). And this is all true! Hehehe!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese I Really Think So

I got this from my email inbox:


Manok - Sekken
Mamaya - Sakana
Joke - Biru
Stereo - Akai
Cook - Giza-giza
Ghost - Momo
Ayos - Furo oke
Fingernail - Koko
Laughed - Anata-wa
Flirt - Kire
This - Itto
Small piece of cloth - Retasu
Cornfield - Mais-san
Madali - Ishi Hindi
Masyado - Natsu
Cigarette - Yoshi
Ipagpaumanhin - Kamisori
Gay - Shyokki
Is this your property? - Arimoto?
Yes, this is my property - Arikoto
Is this yours? - Sayobato?
This is mine - Sakinitu
Can I have it? - Akinato?
You can have it - Sayonato
Can we have it? - Saminato?
You can have it - Sanyonato
You haven't washed your face - Mimutamatamo
You've grown so thin! - Kitanabutomo!
We saw each other - Kitakami
We had a big get-together - Kitakitakami
Have a drink before you go - Tomakamuna
That was my assumption - Inakarako
Let's go quickly! - Bachi-na-yota!
We will boycott the election - Kaminoboto
Underarm odor - Kirikiripawa
Are you a victim of discrimination? - Minamatakaba?
I give up - Sukonako
Ouch! - Haraiku!
What a sad life it is - Hainaku
Is this your car? - Otomoto?
Is this my car? - Otokoto?
Is this your noodles? - Mikimoto?
I'll take this - Kukuninkoto
This is my desk. - Itodesko
Speechless? - Wasabe?
I have a lot of things to do - Hironako
An ampalaya (bittermelon) - Kurukurubot
What are your thoughts? - Kuru-kuromo?
I am thinking - Munimuniko
Are you playing the guitar? - Gigitaraka?
Is this your underwear? - Jakeemoto?
Are you annoyed already? - Iniskanabane?
You're crazy!!! - Sirauromo!!!
You're drooling!!! - Turorawayka!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Going Out Of My Head Over You ... Day & Night, Night & Day & Night

Nyemet. Ano ba ito, dalawang araw na pero umiinog pa rin sa utak ko. May dala si Deng na CD mula Pinas, pinakinggan namin sa van, tawa kami ng tawa. Pero hanggang ngayon nadidinig ko pa rin sa utak ko yung kanta ...

Si-ge na (a-hay)
... At kung seksi 'kat maganda baka libre pa. (ayyy)

Ano bang title niyan? Canton? Lekat na yan, dahil asar ako sa kanta eh malakas ang recall sa akin. Kung bakit naman yan pang novelty song na napang-asar ni Joey de Leon at Sexbomb gels ang natipuhan. Kaya nakikinig ako ngayon ng ibang oldies baka sakaling ma over-write para matantanan ang peace of mind ko. Paano kaya kung parang CD-R yung utak ko, puedeng write pero wala ng bura? Ngek!

Eto ang isang peborit oldie ko na matagal ko ng hindi napakinggan:

Tell Mama
(Savoy Brown)

Quit my job, aint got no money
Seems I have to leave this town
Packed my bags, run to the station
Board the train thats eastward bound

Tell Mama
And all the folks back home
Sometimes a man just feels
He's got to make it alone
Tell Mama
Why I'm leaving so soon
Because this life I live
Has got me sick through and through

Nothing to do, thats why I had to go
Seemed no use in hanging round
I can't stop now, the tickets in my hand
Board the train thats eastward bound

Quit my job, aint got no money
Seems I have to leave this town

Hindi ko alam na dito pala nagsimula sa UK ang Savoy Brown. Pero sa original line-up ay si Kim Simmonds na lang ang natira. All the rest are Americans and they are now based in the US.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Promdi Tales 2

More funny stories from inexperience in a new place ...

Ding Dong, Who's There? [from Carrisse]

I remember my first few days here in Seattle. A UPS guy rang my doorbell and left. So when I opened the door there was nobody there. I got scared and thought that someone was trying to trick me so they could get inside. I called 911. Sus kakahiya nung dumating si (It was so embarrassing when he arrived-) Mr. Police Officer and saw the UPS package in front of our house! Di kasi tumingin sa ibaba no?! (Why didn't I look down?!)

Shampoo Do

When my sister was newly migrated in the US we had this phone conversation:

Me: O kamusta na kayo dyan? (How are you all doing?)
T: Ah okay lang (we're fine) blah blah blah ... I just don't like the shampoos here it will make my hair dry.
Me: What do you mean?
T: Well you can clearly see it on the label, it says from "Normal to Dry". (She was not joking)
Me: Jaja !! (Silly girl!)

Oh It's Drying Time Again ...

A 12 year old cute girl (das me nyehehe!) who spent her primary school days in the provinces was newly enrolled in a city high school. One day, her class visited the CCP Little Theater to watch a play. Intermission came and most of them went out to the loos (CRs). She was washing her hands in one of the sinks when the square contraptions attached to the walls caught her curiosity. After she's done, she went over and inspected them. There was a big button in front so she pressed it. The machine went - Whiiinnggggggg!! In a very very noisy way spewing out hot air! She tried to turn it off by pressing the button again and again but it won't stop. Finally heart pounding, eyes wide in terror she fled inside one of the cubicles. Only when it stopped (she was still shaking a little bit) did she come out again. And that's when she saw one of the ladies walk over press the button and rubbed her hands underneath. Huh! It was a hand drier afterall ! When her other classmates came in, feeling smug and smart she haughtily instructed them on how to use it. Hehehe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Indian Meal

Me and the rest of our project team were treated to an Indian meal yesterday. If I remembered to bring my camera this would have been in my food blog. It was very nice mostly because it was free. Hehehe! The restaurant was called Tamasha. The ambiance and decor was great with a lush and rich feel of the Raj era - palm plants, deep red carpet, window shutters, overhead propeller type fans, burgundy and cream walls and ceilings, and lots of authentic Indian artifacts including sitars and tablas. Food was equally great but I must say I enjoyed the starters more than the main courses. Everything was hunky-dory until I decided to go to the loo (CR). And there a got a little shock. On the walls of each of the cubicle were pictures (in the old Indian style of illustration) of Kama Sutra poses. My gulay !! They were in various ... ah ... permutations of ... ah ... oh never mind you know what I mean. They were all explicit and shows things very clearly much like a manual ! (I want this blog to remain PG so I'll stop at that- hehe!) And so that was what confronted me while doing my business. No wonder one of my more mahinhin (shy, reserved) lady colleagues came out of there blushing so much. Hahaha! I just wonder if they have patrons with kids, what will they say - "Mum, what's that? Why are they like that?" Ulkkk!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Promdi Tales 1

I wanted to post personal and friends and relatives' actual hilarious experiences in being new to a place. I don't want to forget them or lose them in the nether regions of my gray matter so what better way than to write them down here.

Winter Clothes

A group of Pinoys came to London to work in the early 70s. It was their first time abroad and certainly first time to experience winter in a temperate country. So they made sure that they brought thick clothes and accessories to keep them warm. Also they took note of other local people's clothing when they went out. Making sure that they buy the ones they thought they need once the cold weather sets in.

The first cold spell came and they were to go out at night. They thought - "Heh, we're ready for the cold!". Up they boarded a double decker bus to their destination. There they were sitting in the front row all fully decked in their winter clothes, wooly hats, boots, scarves, and all their hands on their laps wearing Marigold gloves (yellow kitchen rubber gloves) !!!

Picture Us

Pinoy couple came to London to work. It was their first time here and certainly the first time to ride a double decker hop-on hop-off bus. A conductor came and asked for their fare. "Ning, kailangang magbayad tayo." So they gave their money. As the conductor was giving them change, they thought that the square black box contraption hanging by a strap on the conductor's neck is a camera when it is actually the ticket machine. When the conductor wound up the handle of the box to give them the ticket you could almost see his confusion/amusement when his 2 passengers leaned together their heads and smiled ... at the box! "Ling, ang higpit naman dito kailangan pa ng picture pag nag bayad sa bus."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fawlty Towers

It’s been a long time since I did a long belly laugh. It’s so nice to sit back with your kids and have uncontrollable fits of laughter. We watched a rented DVD of the first series of Fawlty Towers and it just reduced us to almost non stop laughter. This old 1975 British sitcom really is one of my all-time favourites. Despite having only 2 series with 6 episodes each, this comedy has won many awards and is often being replayed in the BBC and all around the world.

Besides the great writing team of John Cleese and Connie Booth, the ensemble acting is superb starting with rude, arrogant, hypocritical, social climbing, incompetent, loony Basil Fawlty marvelously played by John Cleese. Sybil Fawlty, the irascible wife of Basil is performed by Prunella Scales. Polly the maid and all around assistant was played by Coonie Booth and poor Manuel (from Barcelona) the Spanish waiter who’s the frequent subject of Basil’s physical abuse is ably played by Andrew Sachs.

I really love it when Basil’s hysteria rises to a crescendo and either he collapses or does something really funnily stupid like thrashing his Morris Minor car, or screaming down the phone. In a way I think I see myself in Basil, there are times before when I can be seen reprimanding a pet cat/dog or really scolding a faulty appliance. Sometimes I talk to my electric fan or hair dryer – hahaha!! That is true. One thing I also like about not only this one but most British comedy is that they are so politically incorrect.

This series is apparently inspired by a real ‘Basil’ in the form of Mr. Sinclair of the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, Cornwall. Mr. Sinclair’s idea was that hotels and hotel management is good and wonderful except for the guests. It seems the cast and crew of the Monty Python show was shooting on location and so most of them were billeted at Gleneagles. All of them took exception to Mr. Sinclair’s rudeness that they moved to other hotels except for Cleese and Booth who was fascinated by the former’s “wonderful rudeness”. And so a series was born.

I can’t wait to see the second series I rented which I’m expecting through the post. We’ll have another belly laugh night by then.

Some of Fawlty Tower’s funny quotes:

Basil: “Yes my little piranha?” - answering Sybil’s call.
Basil: “Manuel, there’s too much butter on those trays.”
Manuel: “No no no, senor.” (slowly) “Uno, dos, tres.”
Nurse tucks in Basil, gets close to him.
Basil: “My god, you are ugly.”
Nurse: (taken aback) “I will call the doctor.”
Basil: “You don’t need a doctor, you need a plastic surgeon.”
On realising the new guests speaking to him in German:
Basil: “Oh German! I thought there was something wrong with you.”

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jasmine Trias - from my hometown?

Well not exactly her, but her grandfather is personally known by my mother. When I saw headlines in online newspapers saying that Jasmine’s family is from Tanza, Cavite. I did not take much notice because I thought they were from the bayan (main town). I even initially thought they were from Malabon since there are a lot of Triases there as evidenced from the renaming of the town to Gen. Trias. It was only when I phoned Nanay (mother) last weekend that I realized that indeed her paternal lineage is from Amaya, Tanza, Cavite. My sister in Florida who has the TFS channel even told me that Kuya Emong was being interviewed. He’s Jamine’s granduncle and is probably the closest relative they have in Amaya right now.

This made me think of who else from this coastal barrio might have claims to fame. These immediately came to mind: former Senator Justiniano Montano was born there. He was a great orator and law maker in the Philippine Senate during the 50s and 60s. Esteban de Ocampo is also from Amaya. He was a writer (‘was’ because I don’t know it he’s still alive), historian, and former chairman of the National Historical Institute. Mars Ravelo, writer and cartoonist of delightful komiks characters like Darna and Kaptain Barbell, married somebody from Amaya and still has a house there. During his heyday movie stars come to stay in his place to savor the rural air and the beach. I think I wasn’t born yet at that time so I couldn’t remember. There were stories that he modeled his Bondying and Facifica Falayfay characters from local barrio folks in Amaya. How true?

Any one out there living right now in Amaya or whose family is from Amaya? Please email me or leave a comment. Maiging maka ututang dila ko kayo kahit sa panulat lamang. (It’s good if I can chat with you even just in writing). Who knows you might be my relative, you know how it is in small barrios – almost everybody is related.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Blog Snub

A funny thing happened in the Pinoy blogging community, the Sassy Lawyer alerted us to the new “Talking Points” section of and how apparently the newspaper failed to give credit to the suggestion of a Pinoy blogger they interviewed days before and also snubbing the large group of opinionated, lively, funny Pinoy bloggers.

I normally do not blog about anything political or ‘newsworthy’ things but this for me is another case that smacks of colonial mentality that should be protested in what other way than to blog about it. INQ7 deemed that ideas put forward by American bloggers is a much better source to credit than Pinoys bloggers who has been in this scene for years. I’ve been reading both western and Pinoy political/news bloggers and I can confidently say that the best Pinoy bloggers can comfortably compare with the rest and best of the world’s. They are as educated, intelligent, eloquent, articulate, persuasive, opinionated as any other western bloggers. So why deny credit from them? Why write as if they do not exist at all?

They have conveniently forgot about an article on
Migs Paras where he was suggesting a talk back site in INQ7 where bloggers can post their reactions via a link to their blogs. Also another article a few days back discussed the Pinoy blog scene. And *nothing* about these articles from the same publication has been mentioned at all in the Talking Points section. Hmmm, are they thinking that Pinoys are not worthy enough to give credit to or mention at the very least?

See other Pinoy bloggers having a go at Talking Points: micketymoc, purplegirl, tin tin, yuga, marvin, lorimer, among others.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Queen's New Singer

I'm sitting right now in front of the computer when I heard my 13yo son put on the Queen CD downstairs in the kitchen and played "Don't Stop Me Now". He and my 3yo youngest sang along with gusto. My youngest knows most of the words and can sing in tune. What makes me smile the most is that not only can she sing well but they all appreciate Queen! It's nice if kids learn to like the music of their parents. My eldest has worn out the best of Beatles CD I bought last year. They learned to like Elvis when they saw the Lilo and Stitch movie. They loved it when we play Prez Prado and Glen Miller in the car. They're learning to play the blues in the piano along with their dad. They loved it when we saw a kids' BBC Proms concert (classical). What do you think, should I introduce them to Led Zep next?

It's funny how we do our family 'karaoke'. My husband would be manning the piano, while we would be singing from the recently googled lyrics on the computer monitor behind him.

Don't Stop Me Now

(Words and music by Freddie Mercury)

Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world turning inside out Yeah!
And floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me now don't stop me
'Cause I'm having a good time having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don't stop me now ('cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm havin' a good time)
I don't want to stop at all

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite I'm out of control
I am a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don't stop me don't stop me
Don't stop me hey hey hey!
Don't stop me don't stop me ooh ooh ooh (I like it)
Don't stop me don't stop me
Have a good time good time
Don't stop me don't stop me Ah

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don't stop me now ('cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm havin' a good time)
I don't want to stop at all.
La la la la la ...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Gift With Purchase of 2 Items

I just looove these small travel sized make-ups that you get free in the cosmetics dept. Well not really free, see you have to buy 2 things before they give these to you. Seen above I got 6 tiny gifts from Estee Lauder plus a small black bag. Not bad. Love love love having them and tinkering with them. They're so cute! Don't you think so? My obsession with them got so bad before that there was a time I would go to almost every department store in our area and buy 2 of anything (even if I don't need them) just to get these. I know, I must be loca-loca. Nowadays I always coincide my purchase whenever they offer these gifts. No gift no purchase. I have to make do with the facial cleanser from Boots or Superdrug during those times - ::sigh::

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Don't Know Much About History

British Museum facade

One Saturday morning my youngest told me she wanted to get out of the house and ride the train. My brain quickly went - now where can we go via train that will not cost us much? Hmmm, central London was certainly the obvious choice but where to go there? I don't want to go to the Natural History Museum. It is absolute bedlam there ever since they removed entrance fees. And in my opinion the exhibits has deteriorated because of this. There were just too many people specifically school children who mop their feet on the place. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes where to go - the National Gallery was suggested but I thought the kids will easily get bored with looking at lots of pictures on the wall. So the natural choice is the British Museum. The last time I've been there was 1998 that's more than 6 years ago! I heard that they constructed a big covered courtyard in 2000 so I was eager to see that in person.

So we went to London getting off at Russell Square tube station. By the way, the "tube" is the monicker of the London Underground train system. The London Underground is *not* a subversive organisation. Hehehe! Sorry, lame joke from A Fish Called Wanda.

Picture above is the entrance to the massive museum. It occupies one whole block for goodness sake! We kept walking from Russell Square thinking - oh there's the building we'll be in it in a few minutes. You keep on walking and walking around the block and still you can't find the entrance. Finally after what seems like an eternity and hearing your youngest saying over and over - are we there yet? - you arrive at the Greek temple inspired entrance.

Forgive me, I still have problems aligning and putting spaces in these small pictures - where's my HTML manual?! Click on the images to view a bigger version.

The British Museum has always been free hence the donation boxes at the entrance. I think they got better with the donation thing since these boxes seems to be everywhere. Before they just have one big massive box in the middle of the entrance foyer.

Once inside you just move a few meters ahead and you come to the great covered courtyard that was inagurated by Queen Elizabeth II last Dec 2000. As you can see in the pic above right, it is roofed by this steel and glass lattice that floods the courtyard with natural light. It is magnificent to see especially since you will be coming from the dark gloomy entrance hall to the bright light of the soaring roof and the splendid courtyard graced by the round building in the middle containing the Reading Room. It was superbly designed by Norman Foster, the same man who designed the HongKong Shanghai Bank in HK, the Millenium tower Tokyo, the formerly wobbly Millenium Bridge in London, among others.

There was a great brouhaha regarding the construction of this area. Apparently the construction company who built this was required to use British Portland stone but instead used the cheaper French limestone. Kahit pala dito may nandadaya sa construction (even here builders cheat). I think it was allright the only problem is that the French stone is lighter in colour than the older surrounding Portlands. But despite that I think the outcome as a whole is beautiful.

The round building in the middle is the Reading Room. I think the courtyard itself originally housed the library but they moved all the books now to the British Library. They retained the Reading Room though. It was a good blend of old and new inside. They have these very old leather covered reading tables, some old rickety chairs and lots of books on the shelves. While on the tables are monitors and keyboards and mice that links you to their museum items database.

More view of the window in the Reading Room. The one above right is the dome roof.

We got tired ogling books, we decided to get on with the rest of the museum. And what do you see when you first turn up here? Why see the Egyptian exhibit of course. Above left is the entrance to the Near East gallery which includes Egyptian artifacts. Now the one on the right is I think is Rameses. Sorry I forgot to take note of all the 'who is that statue'. I was so busy breaking up a fight between J1 and J2 squabbling over a mobile phone. One regret was that I also forgot to take a picture of the Rosetta Stone. Ah well maybe on another rainy boring day with nothing to do.

On the left above is a sarcophagus. You can see that part of it has been reconstructed. The one on the right is another Egyptian pharaoh whose name I forgot to take down. I was fascinated by the beauty of the stone and skill of the sculptor. It looked like it was made of polished cast iron but actually was of a very fine evenly coloured black stone - maybe basalt?

These ones are from the Greek gallery. I so wanted to go to the Elgin marbles but before I could try to find it my kids start tugging me out of the building. The Elgin marbles as you know are marble frieze from the Parthenon in Athens that was taken by Lord Elgin and brought to Britain in 1801. The current controversy now is that the Greek government wanted the return or at least to borrow these magnificent sculptures in time for the summer Olympics. Alas the British Museum rebuffed the Greeks in their attempt apparently because this will pave the way for other governments to retrieve other artifacts that was looted by the Brits of time long ago. I personally think they should be returned to Athens. It is there where it came from so it is there it should stay.

We only managed to see about less than 1/4 of the entire museum but my kids were bored and hungry wanted to get out. We left the museum to head for Hamley's in Regent Street to eye up some toys. By 6 o'clock we were on a train home. A tiring day but we saw a lot 'culture' and done at minimal cost.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ooh Baby It's A Wild World

All this discussion of old music favourites got me and my husband talking about the best loved folk singers of the 70s. Jim Croce is one, though he died in 1973. Neil Young is another one, and what about Cat Stevens? We remembered he figured in an immigration fracas in the US last month. He even wrote about it in a letter to the Guardian.

He led or rather is leading an interesting life. The guy was born Steven Demetre Giorgiou and grew up in the West End of London. The youngest child of a Greek Cypriot and a Swedish woman. They were running a restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue in London. The first name change happened at around the age of 18 - Cats Stevens - was the result of this. It is the name he carried when he catapulted the fame. He later on converted to Islam and changed again his name to Yusuf Islam. He remains a committed Muslim and leader in the British Muslim community to this day.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Fat Lady Sings the Blues

I've always liked blues music but I've never delved in it much until last week when my husband, an amateur piano/guitar player, decided that he wants to learn the blues. So we borrowed a lot of music sheets and video from the library. He was playing some decent ones and it was always a pleasure hearing them.

Early last week he discovered a recent documentary film in DVD called The Blues. It is a seven part docu directed by 7 different directors and produced by Martin Scorsese. One of it was even directed by Clint Eastwood. I didn't know he was a good piano player and a great blues fan.

As blues man Willie Dixon said, "The blues are the roots; everything else is the fruits." And indeed it is - it is certainly where jazz came from, also gospel, rock n roll and consequently rock.

I'm blogging about this because after watching 3 parts of it, I am just blown away and downright smitten by this genre of music. Sure I hear the familiar riffs every now and again in rock and roll, jazz, and rock. But it was another thing hearing the old blues musicians belting out good 'ol blues music from down South. I also felt a tug in my heart when I saw the old film clips of black farm labourers working away in the heat of the sun with a background music of a wailing blues. Now I understood, the blues was created as an outlet and expression of their grief and sorrow at the state of their humanity, at the countless hardships they encounter. I felt the pain, the misery, the anguish. I feel as if I've been there in that very same situation ... not in this lifetime though.

I just absolutely love that 3 chord 12 bar blues beat. Blues greats featured there are of the likes of BB King, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy (I love his guitar playing), John Lee Hooker, Son House, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Ray Charles and many others. They also had Brits featured there because apparently in the late 50s and 60s these blues greats were persuaded by a German promoter to come here in Europe to tour. They were so suspicious when they got here since at that time in the States (since they were all black) they were second class citizens, segregation was the order of the day and had practically no white audiences. They were playing in some dingy clubs or bars and were barely making a living out of their music. Suddenly as they arrived in Europe the promoters practically laid out the 'red carpet' - you know first class hotels, good food, excellent restaurants, etc. And they had sold out full packed shows playing to an all white audience. Plus these young audience were asking for their autographs. They were really gobsmacked. Out of these performances in the audience were young penniless music upstarts like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, etc. who were so inspired by these revered new idols of them that they invariably incorporated blues to their music. So when the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, etc. became famous in the US and in interviews they say that their early influences were these blues greats, people started taking notice and that's when the blues finally got its deserved recognition in the US. It was a given that the white European bands (mostly Brits) kicked started a revival of the blues to reach to wider audiences in the States. That's where their influence in the blues is wedged.

In the DVD, I just love the great blues rendition in a jam session of a simple song like 'Love Letters'. Tom Jones on vocals, Jon Cleary on piano, Jeff Beck on electric guitar, and Peter King on sax. Even Van Morrison did a wonderful blues tune of which I don't know the title. Lulu had her turn as well with 'Drown In My Own Tears'. I think all these gushing is a signal that I should buy the DVD set, what do you think?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Litany Torture

We went to the cemetery yesterday for the 1 year anniversary of a friend's passing. There were a number of his family and friends gathered round his grave admiring his spanking new tombstone. We then began to say our prayers led by one of our 'senior' Pinay friends. It was allright until we got onto the part when she said - "Let's pray the rosary". I thought - oh no! not the rosary and the litany *here*!! We were all standing half freezing from drizzly cold windy weather and she wants us to say a loooong prayer? Well our late friend's Anglican relatives must not have known what's coming. By the second mystery they must have thought, 'what are these Catholics praying so long for? They can't make him come back from the grave?!' hehehe!

By the third mystery my 3 year old daughter was asking us - 'why does she keep repeating the same thing?' God must be quite irritated with all the repeating chants of prayers we Catholics do. It must be a way of badgering him with whatever we are asking for in the hope that he/she will say - 'Oh allright! You can have it then!'

It brought back a lot of childhood memories of mine when we kids were forced to kneel through a litany of prayers during padasal (prayer party) for someone expired. How I get too twitchy and utterly bored with the drone of "Aba Ginoong Maria nakapupuno ka ng alkansya ..." (Hail Mary). I am often pinupulikat (have pins and needles) from the torturous long time sitting and kneeling. But at least that torture was only once in a while unless there is a bad case of septugenarian expiration club deciding to hold a party in heaven then we would be praying almost every 2-3 weeks. Well the other torture that I dread even more as a child is to have to sit through a Sunday mass. Man, that was really excruciating especially that Father Abueg is known to have a sideline of curing insomnia. I would often slouch on the wooden bench then eventually be down on the ground. Then graduating to sitting on the upholstered luhuran (kneeling plank) after a while I would be lying prone on it looking at the cobwebs underneath the benches and if that doesn't amuse me I would soon be rolling at the back of the feet of the people in the pew in front. By that time my Tita have pinched me already in my singit (what's singit in English?) so I would sit bolt upright on the bench. And I would start the cycle all over again.

But then just when I was about to give in and surrender, I would hear chimes of little bells and a single toll of the big bell and Father Abueg raising that white round thing. Hallelujiah!! I am resurrected from the dead like Lazarus. I am giddly happy for I know that the more interesting songs are coming (which I sing at the top of my voice) and most of all uwian na (time to go home) !! Ahh what a great relief!

I wonder if all this experience is of any use. Perhaps I could apply as a spy for MI5? Best qualification - well experienced in prayer torture, can foil any chants any repetitions at any length of time. Mwe he he he!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Confessions of a Blog Addict

It's official, I'm addicted to blogs - whether reading them or blogging itself - I can't tear myself away from the damn PC ! Take my internet access away !! Is there a Blogaholic Anonymous somewhere to help me? Maybe I could make out like Bruce the Shark: 'Hello my name is Celia. It's been 3 minutes (on my honor) since I blogged ... Let's say the pledge - I am a nice person not a mindless blogging machine. If I am to continue this image I must first change myself. Blogs are info-sites not obsessions.' Oooh, how can I not make myself click on blogs - help please !!

On another completely unrelated thing, I woke up in the middle of the night last night and looked at the digital clock on the bedside table. It said - 3:33 am. Nothing wrong with that except that I woke up at exactly the same time the night before at 3:33! About a week before that I remember waking up at 2:22 am! There are quite a number of times (pun intended) in the last few months when I look at the clock and I would often have these repeating numbers: 11:11, 12:12, 4:44, etc. What's happening? Am I just being paranoid? Or is there something about this repeating patterns? If I wake up again tonight at 3:33 I wonder what I would do? Ni-nu-ni-nu ! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft ...

Friday, September 17, 2004

I’ve got MG – and it’s not a sports car ! (part 2)

Surgery and Relapse:

I was scheduled to have surgery at
St. Anthony’s Hospital on the 19th of August 2003. At this point I have learned to accept my fate. Grief they say goes thru 5 stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I believe this also applies to people confronted with something traumatic. I certainly went thru the first 4 all at the same time. When I realised the operation is something really necessary then I began to relax and accept the fact that it is in my best interest to do this. Now I truly know what Christians say as “leaving it up to God”. I cannot do anything else, I prepared myself physically, mentally, emotionally. I prepared my family for whatever is inevitable. I have complete confidence in my doctors. Everything else is up to God. I have a very strong gut feel at the time that if I chose to I have a chance to “exit” this world during operation. But I love my husband and my children and I don’t want them to grow up not knowing me. So I prayed that whatever God chooses I will abide for I know it is for the best but if He asks me, I choose to live.

I was prepped for the operation at 8:30 AM. No breakfast, just a tiny sip of water. They transferred me from my bed to a bed trolley by pumping an inflatable bed underneath me then sliding me over to the other one (that was fun!). I was wheeled in the operating prep room and given an anesthetic which within less than a minute knocked me out completely. So I have no recollection whatsoever of their cutting and embroidering my chest.

I woke up in the ICU unit with my husband by my side. He said the doctor told him it was successful. Hooray ! Only thing he regretted he said was ‘why didn’t they put silicones on both sides while they were at it’! The cheek! Sira ulo talaga. Don’t worry nabatukan ko na siya (I gave him a good smacking on the head). It was succesful I had no complications and the good news is that the more than 2-inches in diameter tumor they took out was benign. But my goodness, after the operation it was so *bloody painful* !! Konting galaw ko lang – aray! (It was so painful everytime I move). The breathing tubes they put in me caused me to produce sputum (plema) which means I cough no matter how hard I tried not to. Coughing means sudden expansion of your chest. This caused me the most pain. Laughing also does this but I would prefer the latter than the former. I got a foot long scar on my chest and three small ones at the bottom where drains were connected. These drains were so *%^&$@#! painful when they were removed. And they have to do it one at a time so the pain was times 3 ! I sure am glad I’m over that. The field of medicine is really making big strides on this type of operation. Years ago this is a big deal but now it is quite routine and they have very high success rate. Also one nice thing in the hospital is that most of my nurses were Pinays kaya okay na okay. I always have someone to chat with and they’re extra caring to me.

I was quite sensitive to the anesthesia so for several days I was nauseaus and dizzy. I stayed for 1 week in the hospital and in that time I could see a big difference in my eyes and speech. My eyes which were always droopy before were back to normal and I was chatting away in record speed. Despite the pains I had a nice time there. I was well taken cared of by the doctors and staff.

I got back home to recuperate where I was worried because my youngest is only 2 ½ at the time and sometimes she still wants to be carried which I definitely cannot do. It’s a good thing my sister from Florida came to care for me for a month. She was a real big help for me and my family. My MG was not recurring yet big time but I could feel it as my wound was healing it was coming back. My wound was fine except it has keloid. Not a pretty sight. I was half expecting this because it runs in my mother’s family. It can be a problem when I shop for clothes I can’t wear v-necked or plunging necklines anymore (as if I have something to ‘show’).

Then I had major relapse, I accompanied my sister a week before she was due to leave to Harrods and central London to do some shopping. When we got home I felt so incredibly tired and sleepy. By the next day I couldn’t focus my eyes and was so blurred that when I drive I just guess (tinatantiya) on how far I am from the pavement, cars in front, etc. This was very dangerous don’t try that at home folks. I couldn’t do much around the house. I would start something after a few minutes I would be very dizzy or have a headache from the dizziness. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t smile very well. Eating was a problem as I can’t chew well and would choke easily (but in a way it helped me lose weight). I was so depressed because after the surgery I thought I was completely cured. Even before the surgery my MG was not as bad as this. No wonder back then when I was telling my doctor about the wonderful improvements I had after the operation he just smiled and said “We’ll see.” The removal of the thymus gland and the tumor, it turned out, have more of a long term effect so you cannot observe immediate sustained benefits from it. I theorised that other members of my immune system simply took over once they realised that my thymus gland is gone and carried on producing too much antibodies. I was deteriorating rapidly that the
Mestinon tablets I was taking has no effect anymore. I was then put on a course of steroids (Prednisolone) and Azathioprine. Even that did not take effect immediately. It took probably 2 months before I got reasonable benefit out of it.

These were dark times. I tried to start work again in early November 2003 but I couldn’t really hack it. I couldn’t go on meetings I would be very embarassed because of my slurred speech, I couldn’t stare long enough on the computer monitor. I had to take another month off which my manager kindly gave me. I was off work for about 4 months in total and I am very grateful that my company gave me full pay throughout. I did not pay a pence for my operation and treatments because of the private medical insurance my company provided – for that I am very grateful as well. Even the huge number of drugs I take are all free. The NHS issued me a medical exception card. They give this to people whose condition is chronic. I realised that if this happened to me while I was in the Philippines, either I could have died from not being able to afford treatments or could be drowning in debt. God is still looking after me.

The steroids as anticipated made me always thirsty, moon faced, and bloated making me look like the twin sister of the
Michelin Man. But it did make me feel good. I felt like superwoman that I could do anything. I was super sipag (hard-working) around the house. I am currently gradually being weaned off it and I hope to complete it in good time. There are a lot of side effects from it, besides the ones I mentioned it also raised my blood sugar. I have to be careful of what I eat and was even advised to diet which is very very hard to do when you are on steroids. By January 2005 I hope I will be only on 5mg of the corticosteroids and am looking forward to having my MG remain in remission.

My current medications are (as of Sept 2004):
Thyroxine 100mcg, Mestinon 30mg (2x/day), Prednisolone (7.5mg/12.5mg alternate days), Azathioprine 50mg (3x/day), Fosamax 70mg(1x/week). I was advised to continue with my current level of Prednisolone for 3 months then reduce it by 2.5mg and do this for another 3 months.

I am currently on remission and hope to continue being so. I realised I have a lot to be thankful for but mostly for the love and support that my family and friends have given me. There’s no way that surgery will not be successful I’ve got an army of friends and relatives praying for me! I thank God for looking after me and giving me another chance. I thank God that my body decided to get well and I hope I can take good care of it and give me more years of service. Despite everything and all the problems that I had - life is worth living. Thank you everyone and God bless.