Monday, December 27, 2004

A Mother's Wrath

Indonesia, Sri Lanka and parts of Malaysia and Singapore recently felt Mother Nature's anger at full throttle. No one was spared, not even the innocent nor the most environment conscious citizen of these nations. Death was the toll you pay for thousands of years spent in wreckless abuse of the planet's natural resources - our only planet.

A few days back, 13th and 14th December nature displayed a joyous spray of meteor showers. Beautiful from afar, awesome and undoubtedly lethal had it been quite near. From a distance, the bulging tidal waves would look like a dolphin's playful fin rising from the waves. Have you seen how the eye of the storm looks blissfully white and harmless from a satellite projection? Yet we know better.

And still we seem not to...know anything or learned anything at all. We continue to plunder our natural resources despite constant and often painful reminders from Mother Nature herself. Despite our differences in race, faith or social stature; indeed despite the famous battles of the sexes or even political affiliation; we all belong to one human race - living, struggling, surviving in this singular planet that is livable, for now. If we continue with our ways and not heed our Earth Mother...there is one definite destination and that is six feet under!

I should really start by truly recycling things at home rather than the easy way out which is to bin it. I must start now, this instant! For my daughter's sake and her children's children. After all, Earth is their home too...their only home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Pinoy Style

As it is the season to be jolly, I'd like to share that Filipinos probably have the longest Christmas celebrations in all cultures...and one occassion that takes precedence over all others. As early as November, you already have shops decorating their windows and showcases in Christmas themes and usually Christmassy music can be heard over radios and malls.

Christmas in the Philippines begins on the 16th of December where people attend dawn mass for 9 days until the 24th. Young people are encouraged by their parents to wake up and attend mass to prepare themselves for the birthday of Jesus. Aside from the chance of sleeping in church and upsetting your local parish priest, you get to see most people still in pajamas some of whom haven't even brushed their hair, teeth, much less washed their faces of have taken a bath!

It is a joy to see people as sleepy as you in the pews of a still cold church. You exchange smiles of solidarity - perhaps you both have not brushed your teeth! There are giggles as some elder members jolt up in the middle of the homily (priest preaching) from an obvious sleep of snores start getting louder from an inconspicious dozzer!

After mass, people eat rice cakes and native sweets outside the church with hot chocolate or coffee to keep them warm (and awake!). You feel a different air of the Yule season. The weather is cooler, the air is crisp and you are - for that single instant - thankful for God's blessings.

On Christmas Eve, Filipinos attend midnight mass (talk about all these unGodly service hours!) and after that feast to a media noche of ham, lechon (roast pork) and other fancy party fare. Even the poorest of familes would at least have chicken or pancit (noodles) on the table to celebrate the coming of Jesus and no matter how poor, a Christmas tree or a decorated parol (lantern) would hang on a Filipino home to signify the occassion.

On Christmas Day we visit relatives and friends, give presents and eat, again! Children sing Christmas carols and visit houses where they receive either sweets or money for their efforts. This is a good time of the year to look up godparents who must (by tradition) give you presents in cash or kind.

A few days rest from all the partying and it's the New Year so the feasting continues. Schools and businesses are usually closed from the 24th of December till the 1st of January to allow people to go home to the provinces and be with their families.

Christmas officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings where people give presents. Three Kings used to be on the 6th of January but in recent years the chruch decreed it to be the first Sunday of January.

having spent Christmas for the past 10 years now here in the middle of the desert, I miss the Christmas that I grew up with in the Philippines. The people I love spending Christmas with are scattered all over the world. I hope that with them, they bring and share the spirit of Pinoy Christmas we all miss so much.

Happy, happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The King is Dead

Fernando Poe, Jr. has a special place in the hearts of many of my family members, including me. We have watched together as a family, many an FPJ movies, with the Panday series being our favorite.

Growing up with two older brothers - my cinematic exposure in my pre-teens were mostly Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and locally, FPJ movies.

Secondly, he is married to Susan Roces, an Ilongga and student of UNO-R, where my mom and aunts too, went to school.

Thirdly he endorsed San Miguel Beer and embodied the 'iba ang may pinagsamahan' line to a tee.

In an indirect way, his father is the model of The Oblation, my alma mater's famous statue espousing freedom of thought and education.

So his death, just at the end of an unsuccessful political career, has brought me sadness and a bit of nostalgia.

To The King of Filipino movies, ikaw pa rin ang tunay na panday!

God rest your soul and give you eternal peace.

Monday, December 13, 2004

A tree-less world

Philippine trees have gone. The very few that remains are all struggling to survive what with illegal loggers and the small "kaingin" farmers to contend with. The once green landscape is marred with huge patches of brown, empty, earth.

The country has recently been hit by two huge typhoons, Winnie and Yoyong and flooded a huge part of the lands. People died, homes were destroyed and millions of pesos worth of crops and the hope of an economic recovery drowned with the mud and animal carcasses.

Despite the poverty and economic hardships, many offered what little they have to share with the unfortunate many who were directly hit by the storms. In this season of giving, Filipinos still stand true to the very tenets of being a true Pinoy and that is "bayanihan" - the act of helping a neighbor, a fellowman.

Indeed it takes the gravest of tragedies to see what is most important. In the rush of the capitalist driven Christmas season, it so touches my heart to see many, many ordinary men and women so involved in re-building the nation, offering a helping hand or at least sharing what they have with those who have none.

If only we could apply these good values and traits with the rudiments of daily life, we could help improve our country much more quickly. And perhaps, we can begin the task of repopulating the planet with trees and not leave our children and their children's children such a tree-less world.

A Green Desert

My thoughts lately is back to my homeland, especially the current state my country is in. With two huge typhoons devastating the nation, it is sad and tragic that our once green archipelago is now virtually barren and desolate.

In strong contrast, here I am working overseas in the midst of the greenest desert I have seen. Arriving here in Febraury 1994, I gazed down from the plane's window to see, for the first time, the boundless Arabian desert. Gazillion masses of minute sands with colours ranging from dark to light brown and light to dark red, depending on the city (also called emirate) you are in. I had this vision of a huge tent where I will be working in, with camels parked around its perimeter and sand touching everything, everywhere.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a thriving metropolis with luscious greenery and a very clean environment. Without thinking, you can imagine yourself to be in any other thriving metropolitan city - without a desert. You have to drive off to the desert if you want to be in the desert. Inland - it is concrete but with much planning because the concrete is laid out with a lot of green.

It is a fact that the UAE government spends millions of dirhams a year to constantly water and care for their plants. Every street is lined with trees and shrubs on both sides plus shrubs and flowering plants in the islands between the lanes. Here in Al Ain, the city is full of roundabouts of varied sizes, that are unique flower gardens in themselves - plus a piece of art or two in the middle.

If a country struggling with water resource especially during the hot summer months can keep their land this green, how much more can a country that has rains half the year and a land that will nurture anything that's sown in it?

We've been doing the easy and the quick for far too long. Perhaps it is high time we start doing what is difficult but right.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Simplicity in Death

There is no other event in a man's life more unknown to him than his own death. I mean, whatever happens after our last breath we do not really care much about do we? It is strange in the Filipino culture when we give more deference and pomp to the departed when they should have been given that whilst still alive anyway.

This thought I've been pondering on since the Eraserheads dished out that song "Oh honey when I die, dress me up in a coat and tie..." so funny how most Pinoys go puruntong in their everyday life and go off with a tux. At times, much to the financial difficulties of those left behind.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi (including his hometown, Al Ain) passed away last December 2nd. He was a great ruler and a man who could buy anything he wants. And yet, when he died, his body was wrapped in white cloth, his coffin a simple wooden receptacle of his mortal body witht he UAE's flag as cover. He could easily have had the black mahogany with gold gilded casing and cushioned satin linings that Pinoys often see in funeral homes usually costing a fortune, being a country's ruler yet he embodied simplitcity even in death.

His death echoes in many places and the sadness is more than enough testimony to a life well lived and a nation well founded. More than the trimmings and trappings that go with the passing away of a great man - the parade, the TV specials, the songs and peoms in his honour - I think the simplicity of having a void in one's heart, be they Caucasians, Arabs, Asians like the many Filipinos in this part of the world, is a more satisfactory tribute to the man who shaped this country from tribal and warring emir states. Sheikh Zayed is terribly and sorely missed.

Aw SH _ T!

The first time I heard it, it was pronounced "Aceed!" like /acid/ with a long /i/ and so it didn't twig. This is my two-year-old spilling ice cream on her shirt in the mall.

Then I heard it again, this time she spilled water by accident on herself while at home drinking. And my mouth stayed open for a few seconds longer than it ought to (giving me a slight jaw ache afterwards) and my eyes turned larger and a bit watery towards the end...of the realisation that my daughter is cussing. Not only that, she was cussing like me. Thoughtless git that I am, I'm a creature of habit and "Aw shit" has been a long time favorite expression of mine be it said in anger, joy, panic, frustration, sorrow, excitement - the works. You name it I have an "Aw shit" for any conceivable situation in the world.

This made me stop and think about cleaning my act a bit, for my daughter's sake. I've now modified it to "Aw shucks" a very lame version of the original which does not really embody the correct semantics of its predecessor. But shucks, I've got to try, right?

So Amber now says "Aw shucks!" like me when she accidentally does something that she shouldn't have. But impishly whispers the previous expletive and laughs like she's had one up on me. And that's coming from a two-year-old girl (she only turned two yesterday)! Shucks!

I knew some way or the other, I'm going to screw up this creature entrusted to me by the workings of biology...Aw shit!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Terrible Two's

My daughter, Amber, is turning two on December 4th. They say that two-year-olds are often terrible, bad-tempered, hard to control, reactionary and impatient little critters. I'm starting to see that!

From an active, happy, easy-to-manage toddler my little girl has become scared, with tantrums and can get into fits of jumping or screaming or both. She has mastered the art of stealth and invisibility that you can look in the bathroom one minute to see it is all clean and tidy and with just a blink of an eye, you discover this pint-sized person splashing water all over and drenching herself in the process!

So I do not really look forward to these years. But then, she can now express herself more. She shows preference for food, clothing and can even crack up a joke or two. It is amazing how quickly they grow. The silver lining in this particular cloud is that...she'll only be two for a year! That isn't that long now is it? We'll just have to bear it as millions of parents have.

Perhaps it is time to teach her some "bad" words? She had indeed learned "Aw shucks!" from me! I really need to check what I say to make sure she does not pick up more!

Aw shucks!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

So Many Deaths

November 2. Rumour spread quickly like wildfire that HE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, at 82, had passed away. He had been ill and had been at close calls a couple of times before but this time, it seemed that death had finally claimed him.

Everyone was sad and the entire country spent eight days of mourning. It seemed appropritate that he passed on during Ramadan, when Muslims fasted and prayed, because it seemed proper to mourn him in this fashion - fasting, self denial and meditation - for his life was one of incredible leaps and bounds that benefitted not only his people but a lot of those who have chosen to find greener pastures on distant shores.

Not long after that, Yasser Arafat too passed on. Whilst CNN and even BBC was busy talking about the results of the US election, HE Sheikh Zayed got a customary "running" byline on the TV screens reporting his demise. A week after, Arafat got more coverage for his life and death and news on him ran longer.

It seemed a bit odd. Sheikh Zayed, who lived a life of peace, made his people prosper, gave back to the country the wealth and developed the UAE to an outstanding metropolis got nothing more than a running byline or an end or closing report from one of the Arabic stations broadcasting via E-vision. While Arafat, who had spent his life, ok promoting and supporting the Palestinian cause - but had been, according to CNN reports greatly involved in terrorist actions got more air time. Surely he was more prominent as a personality. Indeed he was more popular. But compared to the achievements of one man against the other...?

Makes us realise what our priorities are, even when how we deal with what's notable and what's not. Acts of violence and division will definitely get more air time. Just take a look at the Gulf War. Meanwhile, stories to inspire us, real human beings to take on as role models for our youth go running by at the bottom of the TV screen, more often unread, unknown, unshared.

Sadly, I'd rather watch 'The Apprentice' than the frigging news anyway. "Money, money, money, money..."

Dada died.

Her name is Brenda Mapa. She was taking up Library Science in UP Diliman and was an active member and later officer of the Center for Nationalist Studies, CNS - an activist organisation in UP Diliman.

Dada as we fondly called her could effortlessly blend in the background of a small square room when she chose to. Her face was very kind and approachable...someone whom you won't be intimidated to ask a question or, the time.

Despite her soft-spoken, almost-a-whisper voice, she could be forceful when needed. I remember one such situation when everyone was arguing and heated comments have been tossed around. She spoke, her voice like a thin spray of cooling ice to put everyone back in perspective. A subtle yet powerful voice of reason.

When a friend emailed me that she had died, I remembered her and suddenly missed her. How sad for someone so young to have your life and energy snuffed out of you. But perhaps, her time has come and she is meant for bigger and better things, not of this world.

They say that 'only the good die young'. Dada was indeed one of the few good ones. I only wish I had the chance to properly say goodbye instead of this lousy blog.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Talata Talatin!

That's (the title of this blog) thirty-three in Arabic. Tatlumpu't tatlo, trenta y tres, trent trois, san ju san...33. Whew! It seems like a hundred years to today, this age, when I was 16 but now I am actually in this feels good to be 33. I have my family, my health, my sanity (and lack thereof), my job, my friends. They say that double numbers are lucky - like in mahjong you get double-pay, double numbered years also get twice the blessings (and the abd luck!). I have an entire year to actually prove this right (or wrong).

It's the end of the world as we know it....!

I've just watched "The Day After Tomorrow" and always when I watch films with these theme (Armageddon, Deep Impact, Independence Day, etc.) where man is pitted against a foe so powerful there is not other choice but death or survival of a very (to a point unlucky) few, I'm reminded of human frailty and the future generation.

Truly, I would not wish any natural calamity of such magnitude to ever scare, beset, upset or be experienced by, my daughter. Naturally, I would not wish it on any of my loved ones in our life time. But what if....?

I tossed and turned in my sleep last night just grappling at the idea that such things, though remote and highly unlikely still have a percentage of possibility. Catastrophes like this truly will check if we are made of sterner stuff...and brings us into perspective - the things that really matter and that is life and the lives and well-being of our loved ones.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Good Manners

It is such a pity if you come from a poor country and would have to find employment abroad as a waitress or a domestic helper. Here in our college cafeteria, most waitresses come from either the Philippines, India or Sri Lanka.

A lot of our Emirati students would order food and shout words like, "More!" or "Cola!" without the magic word, 'please'. Oftentimes, their house help would come from the same countries as these waitresses.

Some argue that perhaps it is the language or lack thereof that makes them speak like cavemen did; mono-syllabic grunts of the basest communication point conveyed i.e. "more" and "cola".

I believe that despite one's lack of English skills, you can still be full of good manners. A smile, a gentle voice, a friendly manner makes all the difference. Filipinos have never been language experts but what we lack for in vocabulary, or even grammatical fluency...we more than make up for our good manners.

In the grand scheme of things, it is good manners that makes you likable and a good person to others and what each individual should strive for.

Creating Her Own Monsters

My almost two-year-old daughter, Amber had started to get scared. She nows says, "Mommy, Amber afraid" in her small voice that can melt even the hardest of hearts. It is amazing how we create our own monsters sometimes that they begin to overwhelm us even before we could truly comprehend what's scary.

When she was younger, she can walk in a darkened room and not be afraid. Now she insists on turning on the light. What used to be fascinating creatures - dogs, cats, fishes in an aquarium - are now gruesome images too horrible to get near to or touch! We went to eat in a restaurant we've frequented in the past and she's now afraid of the small waterfall/fountain in it while it used to be a favorite object of interest and inspection.

And so, as her fears grow, my own anxiety as a mother doubles. Am I doing the right thing? Should I go seek professional advice? Is there anything I can do to curb her fears? Having researched the Internet and parenting magazines available in our collage's library, I found that there is no other cure for this stage but a lot of love and attention and assurances that everything is ok.

In the end, children outgrow their fears and would soon develop individual ways to deal with them.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Making Friends

It is true that the closest friends we've got are those that have we've been with for a long time that it's impossible to be enemies with them for long because of all the history we share together.

It is also true that our worst enemies are those people who've known us for a long time.

Being transients in a certain place, you get wary about keeping friends. I used to be close to people I work with but having been in a situation where I have to say goodbye (getting transfered, contracts finished, resigned, relocated) it is a bit comforting not being close to anyone. They can just go and you can shrug your shoulders and say, "We weren't really very close" and just forget about it.

However, it is a lonely place to be without any friends that you can trust and be really close with. Even if you avoid being in a situation where you have no choice but be close to certain people, you eventually wake up and realise that a certain colleague or neighbour had become a really good friend and so the anxiety of having to eventually say goodbye, creeps in our subconscious and we try ever so hard not to think it or pray that we never get to cross it.

There are only three other Filipinos at work that it is difficult not being close. We go to lunch together because that's the only time we get to talking about ourselves and get to know one another better. In spite of my efforts not to get to close or the lack of any effort whatsoever to get close, they are now close friends.

We've shared stories, embarrasing situations, problems together that it is impossible not to relate with their lives and the things each one goes through each day. Being Pinoys, one can't help but feel affinity for fellow Pinoys and look out for one another's welfare. Sure there have been scrapes and awkward moments as well as disagreements but these things eventually led to greater understanding and appreciation of one another.

So now we are the jolly, fantastic four. My fear is one had to go away...and then there is three.

Far apart

I had my good cry last night. Suddenly, I missed my husband who is currently vacationing in Manila. It is times like this that I know for myself that I really care for someone....if I can cry for them or about them.

Somehow it is not as easy as when he was here. We only saw each other about twice a week at most with him working in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which is a two-hour drive from Al Ain...but the knowledge that he is not available - at least not within two hours - really makes me sad.

So I did the next best thing. Burned the lines to talk to him. Fortunately, Manila is 4 hours ahead of the UAE so when I called him at 3am, it was already 7 o'clock in the morning and he was reading the newspaper and drinking coffee as his parents and siblings were getting ready to go to work/school.

It's the same feeling with my parents. There is this sadness in between the oceans and miles that separates us. I've been considering going home but where am I to pick up the peices of when I left my homeland? I left when I was 22 and now, I'm turning 33 this year. Somehow the fear of being out-of-work with a small daughter to raise is daunting, like a huge tidal wave that could engulf and possibly kill you.

So I am in quite a depressed mood today. Looking at the is exactly a week before my monthly "visitor". Perhaps it is just PMS kicking in. Better go get me a bar of chocolate then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Driving Test Take 4

The bridge test is proving to be my nemesis indeed as I went, this time with my husband, back for my third attempt at the blasted bridge. We came at about 7:15 having learned that being early does not necessarily entail being called first. At around 10:00 I got called for my bridge test and this time, althought the hand brake was also hard, I was able to lift it and put it down and so I passed my bridge after 3 attempts.

Now my slip is after two months, and this is for the actual road test. Meaning, that my story has no ending yet and so I shall keep posting about it until I finally get a license. Which could turn out to be a problem as by then, I'd have to think about owning a car. That means loans and extra expenses and now I'm thinking if I really do need all that. Phew!

Driving Test Take 3

So I took some lessons for the bridge-hanging and how to work out the clutch and the hand break and the petrol, etc.

I was quite confident when I went for my test as I passed the two previous ones. However, when it was my turn, I got a really old car that has a hand brake as hard as concrete. I couldn't move the blasted thing!

I successfully managed the front end down and reversed back to level position but with my back end down, I didn't manage to be quick enough to put enough petrol and release the clutch so I could go back up. I slid past the yellow line that marks test-takers as failures...and I had to get another slip with the date of my next bridge test.

Driving Test Take 2

Now I took learning it to heart and practised so that I get the correct "measurements" of the reverse parking. Stringent may be the process of getting a license but the gutters in the test area are riddled with markers as to where you are supposed to stop and align either your rear tire or your side mirror to "fit" just right into the gutter as you reverse or parallel park.

So again, at the crack of dawn I was up and off to Muroor. I thought that if you gave your paper first, you get called first...makes sense that way right? Early bird cathing the early call? NO! This time I got called at half past ten! But I was determined to get this and so I passed not only the reverse parking but also the parallel parking test! Hooray!

My dilemna is that I concentrated so hard in passing the first test that I forgot to even bother and practice for the bridge test. But you have no chance to explain, you get pointed at and the place where you should be gets pointed...body language taking more precedence as some aren't English speakers.

So I had to take the bridge test and fail it because I never have done it in my life.

Driving Test Take 1

There I was at 6:30 am, trying hard to stay awake as I hailed a taxi to take me to Muroor...the traffic department, where I was to take my driving test.

There are three tests. First you do a left or right reverse parking. If you pass this, you continue to do a parallel parking (right or left) and finally, the bridge hanging (front and back).

There were about a hundred women, some expats but mostly local ladies who, for the life of me, I could never understand why you'd go to your driving test dressed like a ninja?! The black dress is difficult enough to maneuver in but the covered face...? Not to mention inappropriately high heeled sandals.

Forgive me, I digress. So after about 50 names, my name was finally called and this was around 10:15 am after waiting from 6:45 in the morning. So all sweaty and totally nervous (having witnessed the success or failure of previous test-takers) I went into my assigned car. It was a left reverse parking and I did the reverse beautifully! Now the problem is you must get the car back to it's original position and I don't know what I did but my back tires hit the gutter and so - in so many words...I failed my first attempt.

Like many before me, I went into the office and was given another slip stating the date of my next test. It is after schedule after a month from current date.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Test Drive Part 2

So I'm back with the rules for those interested in procuring a driving license in these parts of the desert.

First, you have to get permission from your company via a letter that says you are gainfully employed and an upstanding member of the community and that you earn this much salary and could therefore, afford a vehicle.

Then you go to the local traffic police depot to open your student driver's file. This takes about the entire morning of a working week. For one, the queue of people wanting a license is impressive. You may have to elbow your way once or twice to save your place in the queue. When you finally reach the person/police at the desk, he or she wil start pointing at some road signs to which you must give the correct name. This goes on for about 10 road signs and then you are given your student's ID that allows you to study driving in the UAE.

There are no written tests and the "name-that-road-sign" is the closest you will get to a test. How this is ever checked though, remains a puzzle.

Then you get a slip of paper that tells you to come back after a month to do three tests in an actual car. That part I will share in my next post so hold on.

Test Drive

Yipee!!! I've finally passed the bridge part of my driving test. It was proving so much to be my nemesis that in several moments of fear and self doubt, I was really close to just giving it all up and bear not having a driving license in the UAE. But three's a charm and I've fianlly got it my third try.

Now I'm off to the fourth and final part of the UAE driving challenge which is the actual road test.

To the foreign visitor of this bog, unexposed to Emirati culture and ways, there are many ways of going about getting a driving license in the United Arab Emirates.

If you come from a first world country, often in huge business/economic relations with UAE, your passport and driving license from your country is enough to get you a UAE equivalent. These are the Brits, Americans, Canadians, European Union member countries, Australians and New Zealanders. From Asia, it is only the Japanese who get the privilege.

If you come from GCC countries - Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman - you also get the license equivalent from your country.

If you come from the rest of the must go through a series of driving tests to prove you are indeed worthy of such a license.

And that is where the fun starts but I shall post it next blog as my boss just called me for something....

Tennis anyone?

I've finally decided that to shed off these extra pounds, I need a sports where I am able to run around and not look like some kind of crazy woman on drugs. So I've chosen tennis to lead me to the long but hopefully rewarding state of physical fitness - and some mean backhands!

Timely that Alfa Sports should go on sale and so I was able to purchase the basic gear - racket, shoes, balls and bag at 30% discount. I feel like the universe was indeed consipiring so that I would be able to play tennis and lose weight in no time.

Then everything went on a standstill. For one, I don't have anyone to play tennis with me. Unlike eating - where one could fashionable dine needs a partner! Been imploring work colleagues to help me (read that: teach me!) play tennis but since I've bought 'my gear' a couple of weeks ago, the best I've done with it was move it from the bedroom to the living room!

My desire to be Martina is slowly dwindling and I need someone to save me from this predicament. Tennis anyone? Running after balls is more likely but I guess one should indeed start somewhere.

Now where did I put that playstation joystick....?

The Origins of Bat-man

Been gone for too long and haven't done any blog so here's one today:

Watched Stuart Little 2 with Amber on DVD and my husband commented whist Stuart and Margalo were in a romantic scene together (the one where they were in Stu's car watching TV/movie) that THAT was how the bat came to be.

If a rat had wings, surely it wouldn't look so much unlike a bat right? So that's his theory of bathood and how it came into being...a bird and a rat got married and bats were their siblings. Come to think of it... the word Bird + rAT does form the word BAT. Hmmmmm....

On some days, my husband does seem to have a point but who's listening eh?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Summer Long

Most people I know who are expats in the Emirates go home or hie off to cooler climes during the months of July and August, the hottest months in these parts of the desert. But we stayed on. First it was due to lack of funds. No use flying off to Manila then having no dosh to spread around - family and friends. Second, as an effect of reason number 1, I had to take on a part-time job which nessecitated me to stay on the entire summer. Finally, my husband was not allowed to go off on his summer vacation this summer. His boss told him to go and take his summer vacation in the winter(!), imagine that. So we stayed. And steamed. I wasn't bad when you just stay indoors and avoid the sun. But then, electric bills skyrocketed due to all the air conditioners being kept on to maintain a pleasant "weather" at home. I guess in the long run, electric bills are somewhat cheaper than airline bills.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Family Ties

My father is sick. Somehow our distance from each other makes it worse. I'd love to be near him and help out in caring for him, especially that my mom is also getting along in years and she has her mother to worry about as well. My mom cares for both my grandmother and her husband. She is also the sole breadwinner of her slowly decreasing family members as we children have decided to leave the country for greener pastures abroad. I'd like to help out, even - at least - financially but times are hard for me at the moment as well. I'm not afraid about losing loved ones. A long time ago, in my early childhood, I have already understood that people we love will come and go in our lives. My fear is more in having loved ones leave before I can properly say goodbye. I wish death were like a Pinoy movie's last full show where you have the national anthem played at the beginning of the final show. Then people will pay more attention to the movie because they can no longer review it. I'll have to make a new blog for Pinoy well as our independence day anniversary which happens to be today. Later or maybe tomorrow. Inshallah.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Extra Large

It's always fun to upsize your meals into really large fries and Coke. However, the fun ends there because it is not as fun as when you fit clothes in the shops and ask for it it in XL size becasue the L doesn't fit you anymore. I've been trying to diet on and off. I've been going to the gym, on and off. I must find the strength to persevere. If there was a huge Combo Meal upsized at the end of this endeavour, I'd probably stick to my resolutions with grim determination. Oh well, some exercise and some eat...different strokes for different folks.

Extra Large

It's always fun to upsize your meals into really large fries and Coke. However, the fun ends there because it is not as fun as when you fit clothes in the shops and ask for it it in XL size becasue the L doesn't fit you anymore. I've been trying to diet on and off. I've been going to the gym, on and off. I must find the strength to persevere. If there was a huge Combo Meal upsized at the end of this endeavour, I'd probably stick to my resolutions with grim determination. Oh well, some exercise and some eat...different strokes for different folks.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


I wished I had a portacabin all to myself. It would be my own little world where I can hide from the world when it gets to quesy for my takes...which sometimes happens, especially during difficult times when problems arise be it a home or at work.

I will create my own atmosphere, keeping it cool 24/7 and paint the interior with clouds and apples on a sky blue background. I will put cushions and rugs to give it a cozy feel. A small fridge with cool drinks and some snacks to keep me from hunger, and a surround speaker where relaxing music flows.

If I had a portacabin, I'll buy a huge 4-wheel truck where I would attach my rectangular block and take it anywhere - even to the mall. It would be easier doing groceries as it would save me the trouble of having to haul my horde to a car then at home. I'd bring my groceries into the portacabin direct!

*burst* Oh wait a minute, I will also need a porta-let to do my business in. Or any old newspaper that I could bunch up and throw at overspeeding cars...and cannister loads of aerosol spray to freshen the smell. Or I could mount a hundred little, green pine trees all over the place...maybe match it next to the apples on the walls.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Being Asian has its perks. For one, you can speak another language aside from English. That makes you multi-lingual! You also enjoy the best of both worlds in terms of food. Take for example having kare-kare and bagoong for lunch and a quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and coke for dinner. In movies, you also get to enjoy the latest flick by Sharon Cuneta as well as this summer's Hollywood fare. Music, Literature, even gossip! It would be boring talking about David and Victoria Beckham all the time! So despite the poverty-stricken, highly polluted and waaaay over-populated country that I belong to that's almost in the dumpster what from the recent politicking...there are certainly some positive aspects to being an Asian and a Filipino at that. Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Long Time, No Blog!

I've been swamped with work! I haven't had time to blog. I'm still alive so it is then a fallacy that no blogging is equitable to a sure, slow death. However, I have been dying a little each time I miss to express my mediocre thoughts in this e-diary or sorts. What bothers me really is the fact that I have somewhat become addicted to this site that like my usual cup of coffee in the morning, posting a blog is a part of my daily routine. And therefore, not having to do it means a disruption of that routine. It's like missing to take a bath or not brushing your teeth or being unable to do your daily "business". The question now is whether this habit is good or bad. Whether it is healthy or beneficial to me as a being. For that, I will have to keep on blogging to investigate long-term effects!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Mother's Day

The UK and most of Pan-Asian/Arabian peninsula celebrate it in March. North America and it's peripheries, including the 1,707 islands of the Philippine archipelago celebrate it in May.

Motherhood has indeed changed me into a more caring individual. I celebrate it everyday as I experience my daughter's growth and changes. Each mother has her own personal experience in being a mom. But as sisters we share a bond not only in the scars of pregnancy and giving birth, more in the dream of great things for our offspring.

Monday, April 19, 2004


What's so special about past boyfriends or MUs that keep us wondering the what if's and the could have beens? I'm sure we've all had (a)special someone(s) in our past that didn't quite work or hadn't been given the chance to work and both sides or at least one side (you!) is/are wondering whether there was something worth pursuing there...?

Sometimes I scour the Internet in search of names that I should have long forgotten but they echo fond memories in my heart that my fingers unwittingly searches for them in the hope that perhaps, finding them, I'd also get at glimpse of that glimmer of a feeling that once was...

But then again, I could just be hungry and idle and should just get on with my work to be productive and therefore not notice the time until it's lunch!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Unleashing the Beast

I hate it when I get angry. I try very hard not to get upset and when I do, I try even harder not to explode. I vividly remember the times when I've exploded to scary proportions that I want to avoid unleashing that side of me if possible. It is ugly and I hate the aftermath. Now that I'm a mom with a daughter approaching the 'terrible twos', I've noticed that my fuse seems to be shorter and I tend to nag a lot. Nagging is in the first stages of exploding. The initiator of my anger that knows no one including my little girl. I hate for that time and I hope I never get there, when my daughter will see my monster. I guess I need a break - it seems the beast is packing for a humongous vacation.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Taking Risks

I've been to this support staff seminars our school gives annually and one of the speakers gave us a copy of a write up about taking risks. I don't know who wrote it and I can no longer remember the write-up word for word but it goes something like this:

"To laugh is to risk appearing the fool." So what? No matter what you do, some people may think of you as a nut case anyway so laugh. I'm having the time of my life while the sane person is dying of boredom.

"To cry is to risk appearing sentimental." That's okay. I'm not afraid to cry. I cry all the time. I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I even cry when I see other people crying or loving each other. It's good for me, it cleans my eyeballs.

"To reach out is to risk getting involved." What else is there in life than not being involved? I don't want to be an island and I don't think anyone can even be alone.

"To show your feelings is to risk exposing you humanity." Well, I'm glad to expose my humanity. There would be a lot worse things to expose than my humanity.

"To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss." That' all right. You can't win them all. And you can't be loved by everyone. There's always going to be someone who'd say, "He's a jerk."

You could be the most delicious peach in the world but some people would be allergic to peaches and would want you to be a banana. So you try to be a second rate banana and despair. But if you just be the beautiful peach that you are, someone will come along who is a peach lover and appreciate you for who you are.

"To love is to risk being loved in return." That's all right. You love because you want to, not because you want to get something in return. That's not love -- that's just manipulation.

"To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure." Nut risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. This way, you gain nothing, have nothing and in fact is a prisoner of your own fear. You avoid pain and suffering but also avoid joy, change, growth, life and love. Chained by your certitudes you are it's slave. One the person who risks is free.

I like taking risks and the above just adds more flame into my daily 'exploits'.

House Haunting

I'm thinking about moving to a bigger flat. Doesn't necessarily have to be new or really posh but I'd like 3 bedrooms as I have frequent in-laws from Abu Dhabi often visit me. They usually camp in the living room where the space is huge but it would be nice if they have a room for some privacy.

And so I'm haunted by my desire to move and to find the best option possible. I'm starting to get confused, the more flats I see and the more real estate people I talk to. I'm just waiting for a sign that will affirm one option as 'The One'.

Oh the joys of packing and unpacking, I better print this blog a thousand times to be able to have enough paper to wrap glasses and plates...Or I could just stay in my current flat and pretend I'm in Venice. hmmm

Banana Split

I've been off the blog this week. Just bz doing ozer things, I guess. I went to Dubai last weekend to visit a friend and since the weather in the Emirates had indeed been getting warmer, I had a sudden craving for a banana split whilst on the bus. Then a realisation dawned on me, circumcision is just like banana split! only you sort of split the tip of the iceberg rather than the entire banana. Aww, I realise I do have a 16 month old toddler and should refrain from thinking such thoughts. If I had been a nurse, this would have been a fun joke whilst assiting the doctor in the snip operations.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Camera shy

My preccocious little toddler has picked up the bad habit of dropping things into the garbage bin. The concept of trash is still alien to her. I think she just finds it a lot of fun to drop things in with the nice flip-flapping plastic lid of our huge trash bin. And so a week came by without me noticing that our digital camera, an Olympus worth about Dhs. 1,000/- (approximately US$272.00) has gone missing. I spent the weekend turning the house upside-down and inside-out in the hope of finding the camera as I had bought the blasted thing to record my daughter's precious early years in the first place....but to no avail. My search was a failure and am now a thousand dirhams poorer sans digital camera. I'm now back to the film-reliant version. The thing is, I have to get them developed and scanning them and downsizing their file sizes are such hassles. I've written my daughter a note sealed in an enveloped to be opened when her first pay check comes. Inside is a note that says: "You owe me a camera!"

Monday, March 08, 2004


My dad may be coming down with Alzheimer's disease. It was a sad weekend for me, worrying about my father and moreso, of my mom who is the only one left to care for everyone else. Sometimes I wish I could be nearer my folks so I could help them. The need to find greener pastures has blown my sails into these parts of the desert and yet my anchor is left in the shores of the Philippines.

A year earlier, dad discovered a cyst in his right temple. After a series of lab tests and MRI scans, doctors decided to leave it be lest they puncture or damage more than they ought to cure. This had caused my dad some epileptic-like seizures on several occasions but has held on firmly to the fact that alternative and herbal medication may find him a cure. He's been quite strong and positive about the whole thing...the fact that cancer in his family is rampant. And now, he may have the same disease that former US president Reagan has which his own aunt (my dad's) had.

Despite the care we give our bodies, something just seems to creep up on us as we grow older. I may not be feeling anyhting wrong with me now in my early 30s but I dread the things that I will suffer from by the time I hit 40. This brings me to ponder upon the fact that I was never really good at taking care of my physical being. My husband is bound to suffer the same fate as I granting we have the same lifestyle, diet, habits...

I wouldn't dream of passing our ailing bodies as a burden to our child. This dilemna is like an annoying singular fly in an all white square room with me in the typewriter. I know I have to do something about it but for the moment I'm preoccupied.

Monday, March 01, 2004

A bit of Spanish

I can no longer speak as fluently as when I was eating, breathing, living with Spanish in my head all the time in university. Years of non-practice has grown molds and rust into my Spanish speaking abilities. To attempt a casual conversation with a native speaker would be like an adult speaking with a child still on the early stages of language acquisition. It is sad to note that all those language subjects I've taken in college have all gone to waste.

Yo soy no creado como cualquier persona que he visto; Creo que yo soy no creado como cualquier persona en existencia. Si no soy mejor, por lo menos soy diferente.

Getting Older

My husband is a year older today. I wish him to be a year wiser as well, if he can manage it. Boys seem to mature slower than girls do. I mean, I reckon my husband is somewhere between 12 or 13 last year and I really hope he'd shoot up to post adolescent 'age' this year...18-ish would be great!

I got him an Ericsson Z200 mobile phone, putting my finances into another turn for the worse (more like, the hopeless!) but he's happy with his new toy and that's all that matters. At least until we can no longer afford to eat and he'll have to sell his new cell fone to a fence who'll buy it a 30 percent the original price allowing us a few grains of rice with free sand thrown in for good digestion.

He has a laptop but he's not a businessman, not even a student. He uses the laptop to store his music, which he's got original CDs of; plays computer games, his current favorite being "Diablo" a Valentine's Day gift from me; and totes - read that: hauls - it from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain so he looks like a computer savvy guy! Does he use Word or perhaps create Excel spreadsheets? NO! Does he even try to better his typing speed of 25 wpm? NO! His laptop is not anything but a toy...a Dirhams six thousand worth of pure entertainment.

I'm glad that he's over his components, audio and speakers phase because that set us back by the thousands money-wise. He bought speakers upon speakers that our small home looked like an audio shop. He bought amplifiers, CD players, tape deck and power amps and the cables...oh my God the cables...I couldn't believe they'd cost a fortune! He'd drill holes on walls to mount his speakers or double-sided tape them to a stand that you are not allowed to touch much less get near to! You can trip or accidentally hang your neck (can you really do that?!) from all the cables that snaked the floor. I was just pure nightmare!

We are transients here, not really citizens and would never live here forever. But the amount of stuff we've accumulated over the years could easily fill some serious shipping space...what with speakers and amps and players...sensitive stuff that I don't know where to put in Manila as we still do not have our own home.

So today, on his birthday, I really wih my husband would seriously start thinking about our future. How we'll ever get out of this place and save up enough for our golden years as well as for our growing daughter.

The road ahead is looking rather bleak. Although despair is far from my mind, as I look at the positive side of cannot help but fear the bad times.

Cold Summer

It should have been the start of summer in these parts of the world, hinting at warmer weather ahead but on the contrary, nature decided to have a fog today and thereby freezing us desert folks to a bunch of chattering idiots who, because we have declared it to be summer, wore our summery outfits to work!

There I was stepping out of the house, bright and breezy, waiting for my car pool mates in near zero visibility. We were only able to locate each other from the sound of our chattering teeth! This must be mother nature's revenge on man's continued disregard for the environment or, she just decided to play a joke on us desert dwellers for being too presumptuous.

”I am not made like anyone I have seen;
I dare believe I am not made like anyone in existence.
If I am not better, at least I am different.”

Monday, February 23, 2004

I came, I saw, I cried a river...

My husband and I watched "The Last Samurai" a couple of weeks back. A friend in Manila had warned me to bring tissue paper as, knowing me, he said, I'd be having them in buckets! And so I did.

I think, any other actor could have played Lt. Algren. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Keifer Sutherland, to name a few...and the story would still be as moving, as beautiful and as memorable. It was the Japanese-ness of it all that was amazing. The life of the Samurai and the discipline and pride that they have. The futility of fighting against change...even if it means losing the culture and the way of life you and your ancestors have been practising for thousands of years.

So there I was, in the cinema, snuffling and my head, I felt, was growing larger and larger as more tears fell. My eyelids getting swollen so my vision was getting smaller. My husband was getting more embarrassed as my sniffs got louder. I was thinking, he should be used to me being like this by now! but I guess not.

My highschool Yahoogroups have been discussing the movie a while back, talking about katana blades and samurais. One guy posted, "The Samurai Shogun shouldn't have died on his back. It is a great dishonour for samurais to die lying on their backs." to which another poster replied, "Yeah but Algren is American, he doesn't know about such things as dying on your back and honour for the samurais."

I now think, and want to post but just stopped myself because the discussion has gone on to new matters like our coming reunion...yeah, quite true that Algren didn't know such things but having lived with them, in their vilalge for an ample amount of time, he should have at least learned about it and thus gave the general a better 'death pose'.

So I'm posting is here for no one and everyone to read because I'm too chicken to open up that issue in my yahoogroups. Oh well.

Work to Eat, Eat to Live, Live to Ride, Ride to Work!
My husband's birthday is coming. I wanted to give him a new cell phone but my budget couldn't make the cut. I've solicited for extra dosh from my brother AND sister in law(s) but they've already bought him a gift and so now I must come up with enough money to get him that blasted phone. We have this agreement that other occasions just merit simple tokens (read that: cheap!) but birthdays will get you the works. I've been financially challenged lately and although it is always embarrassing to talk about money, I guess people must start somewhere. I need to come up with an instant money-making scheme that would turn in big bucks. So here are a few quickie options:

- shabu vending (illegal and harmful to customers)
- pyramid scam (a scam's a scam so no go)
- rob a bank (high risk, too much involved)
- sell my daughter (I'd have to make another one)

The rest, I'd have to slave through long working hours, no pay and no assurances of success. I'm probably going to stay poor all my life. Unless I sell my husband and make money whilst eliminating the need to get him a birthday present! Hmmmmmm......Happy 32nd Birthday, Obey!
Over the weekend, my next-door neighbour died. She was Australian and taught English. Because she lived alone, she was reluctant to call for help when she felt she was having a heart attack. Earlier that day, she had already gone to the hospital and complained about chest pains. The doctor who examined her said she had a clogged artery but nothing serious. She was told to come back after a week for a minor operation. The a 3am, Friday, she had a stroke. She waited until six in the morning to call neighbours and friends to take her to the hospital. She died at 8:30 the same day. Her name was Larraine Stanley. She was only 55. I will always remember her as the active, friendly and sweet neighbour who would show us her recent purchases, at bargain prices!...and chat about school life, her family and stuff about life and living. She always had activity books and toys for little children so that kids love visiting her. Wherever she may be, I know she is in a much better place. I just feel sad about the sudden-ness of it all. Even if we know, at the back of our minds, that death is an inevitable destination of our journey, I still cry when someone I know, especially someone close dies. I guess it was I who wasn't ready to say goodbye. I wonder if I ever will be. I miss her already.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

It will be a long weekend for us here desert folks as the Islamic New Year is this Saturday and we get an extra day off. That means no blogging for three days...will I survive? I'm getting withdrawals symptoms already. Geez...I should have my own internet connection up at home set up. More next week!
Our school cafeteria is funny. Well it's actually not, it's more annoying than funny but I'm just trying to be agreeable. You see, they charge me differently each day. Sometimes a lunch meal would cost 6 dirhams, sometimes 8 or 10...sometimes it's even more! But I seem to be getting the same amount of food and mostly the same kinds. A colleague gets charged 6 dirhams no matter what she orders and students get charged more! I'm sure there's some sort of conspiracy going on and a certain standard used to evaluate how much a plate of rice and fish costs, but I can't seem to get the pattern.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

It will be quite along weekend for us in these parts of the desert as the Islamic Hijra New Year will be on 21st February giving us Thrusday, Friday and Saturday off. Our working week is Saturday through Wednesday and Thursdays and Fridays are weekends. Perhaps I'd take an entire day to be by myself and recharge my spirits. It is difficult to take leave nowadays with a daughter in mind. I always feel guilty leaving her to her child-minder. It appears as if I'm a bad mother, going off somewhere and enjoying myself instead of minding and caring for my own daughter. The tug-of-war between the choice of having a few hours of peace and quite and being there for your child is often confusing and leaves me in a state of depression. Do men have the same feelings? I know my husband hates leaving us behind. He works in a nearby city a couple of hours away, and only gets to see us on his days off. As he is away, he sometimes goes out for drinks with the boys and I wonder if he feels as guilty as I when I'm out alone shopping or with friends without our daughter. Do women really worry more than men do? Why do we do that? Do hormones have anything to do with it? Is it because we both have the 'x' and the 'y' and guys are lacking because they only have the exes? Oh dear, more stuff to ponder on.
Amber, that's my daughter is growing up right before my eyes. She appears to be a joker. Once you laugh at something she does, she's going to keep on doing it - milk it for all the laughs it's worth and do it some more. I may have a future 'actress/celebrity' in front of me...but that's dreaming way too far into the future. I sometimes wonder whether I'm going to screw parenting and ruin my own daughter. Being so paranoid that I'd send her running to a shrink with maternal angsts and complexes. I hope to God that THAT wouldn't be the case.

Monday, February 16, 2004

My daughter is 14 months old. She's a funny little creature. Yesterday we went to church and we usually bring some crackers and juice along with her milk just in case she gets hungry. She can say 'crack-koh' for crackers and any other biscuit. She likes Skyflakes for which I'm thankful as they aren't salty nor sweet. Yesterday, she asked for some crack-koh during mass and of course, there were several other kids in the kid's prayer room that I had to share her crackers to about seven other children. Tips to moms: always bring a spare! lots of 'em. She, unlike other kids who feel shy, isn't scared of strangers and would normally just go up to ask for some other kid's food from their mothers. It is embarassing in our Filipino culture to ever ask for anything from anyone. So I often blush when she does this and compensate by giving away food to other kids.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I'm arguing with batchmates, in a monologue kind of manner - me being the only argumentative type on a combatitve stance - about how we want our high school reunion to be. Oh dear, the agony of meeting up semi-bloated people whom you haven't seen in the last 16 years seems less appealing than perhaps meeting really bloated people whom you haven't seen in the last 17 years!

Reunions are soooo passe. I suggested a beach outing or a casual do. I think we are all prisoners. Why does a reunion have to be in a posh hotel where everyone comes all dressed up pretending to be successful, popular and condescendingly patronise their less fortunate batchmates? Because that's how reunions are?!?! Because it's like the JS Prom and the Homecoming Ball?!?! Well we should all break out of prison - the mental and social constraints that turns us into boring conformist - and do a really nice, memorable, affordable reunion where we go and meet up with old pals, even though everyone looks like they've swalowed some air save for a lucky few who've stayed slim all these years and just have a great time!

Although there IS the fact that not everyone is thrilled to see everyone else and I bet, not everyone would like to attend their high school reunion. For starters, if you are down on your luck with the shirt on your back threatening to unravel from constant use, you'd rather worry about where to get the next meal than whether you'd wear wing-tipped shoes with your blue suit. Who would want to feel like a loser in front of post pubescent schoolmates? Especially when you already are that! You wouldn't want that elusive sliver of success be dangled in your face when you can barely make it through the day. And even if your peers are really nice people who may offer to help, you won't attend just so you could be the charity work of the day. You'd rather disappear from the scene all together and let the rest continue to wonder about what's become of you.

Let me clarify the word 'pantot'. This came from 'isa pang thought' (one more thought). Back in my university days we heavily used this word to butt in on discussions and give "IMHO" on certain topics and issues.

My head is full of pantots. I can no longer hold them together. Besides, getting older makes it harder to remember them. Perhaps they are worth sharing, perhaps I should just cut off my fingers and shut the feck up...

Is that gurgling sound my empty stomach or was that my mind churning? Anyroad, whoever invented these nouns to name sounds. given the correct lilt, "pantot" is even a sound that nearly reminds me of taho and kuchinta.

I better have lunch first.
Thanks to U, Prof U for this blogger site. Now I'm a blogger me-self! I'm still trying to be friendly at and sharing ideas with my fellow alumni in Yahoo Groups and minding my own website in Geocities and yet, the need to blog can only be completely sated by a blog site. Whew.

Entries in this blog could be anything and everything...and maybe even nothing. But read on at your own risk.