Monthly Archives: November 2004

In the Spirit of Giving..

I came from a household where as children, my parents strove to give us everything we ever wanted within moderation.  My parents were also constantly doing charitable works such as holding children’s parties or gift-giving sessions in orphanages, joining organizations which distributed relief goods to victims of calamities in the Philippines. 

We were never really rich — just well off.  But at a young age, my parents always made us realize through these acts how fortunate we were.  To this day, my mom has a special gift giving session in her hometown in Barangay San Vicente, Bulan, Sorsogon which ranges from distributing hand me downs or new clothes, candies, small toys or a half kilo of pork or chicken per family and a kilo of rice.  It depends on how good our business has done, and how much we, her children, can give as our share.

This year my sister started it off by sending a balikbayan box full of chocolates to Manila, half of which are intended for the kids in my mom’s barrio.  I have carefully weeded through our clothes and have a box full for Mom to give, and I have pledged some monetary support as well.  My mom is ecstatic about her goods, and now the only problem is sending them home to Manila.

I have had my own share of spurts of generosity.  Often, people wonder why I even bother, given that I have my own financial responsibilities, and now I have my hands full with Angelo.  Still, I find time.  When they ask, all I say is that I hope that should I be in their position someday — being the one in need instead of the one giving — I hope that someone will step up like I am doing today.  Or if it should be one of my siblings, that someone will help them out if I cannot.

Today I signed up for MY SOLDIER, a program I read about in this week’s Newsweek.  (“THE PEN-PAL PLATOON,” by Lisa Halem, Newsweek, Dec. 6, 2004.)  Click on the link below to find out more about it — the webpage will open in another window.  It basically involves corresponding with an assigned member of our troops stationed overseas.. and why am I doing this?  It’s not just because I love to write and still believe in snail mail.  I just want to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small a difference it might make.

Wish me luck.. and I wish our soldiers out there the best of luck as well.  It’s not just because it’s Christmas.. anytime should be a time of giving from the heart.

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Beating the Holiday Rush

We always try but rarely succeed.. I promised myself last year that I won’t be caught rushing through the holiday shopping season this year, more so when I started plucking out odds and ends from the post-holiday sales of gift tags and gift wrappers.  At least that’s what I thought.

I thought I’d get the chance to shop for little presents I can put in a big basket for special friends, but then I was in the middle of a pregnancy at the start of the year and I became a mother in May.  So that’s that.

In October I started planning to write my christmas cards — and even if I didn’t get to buy them until November, I thought I had a good headstart.  With 4 christmas card boxes ready — I have no christmas card list as of yet, and of course, not one card has been written on.  So instead of griping, I’m planning for next year’s holiday season.

Maybe I will get to buy 1 white or red candle each month to decorate the house with.  And maybe I will get to buy the bears I want to decorate with felt scarves and hats.. to put on the christmas tree. (I actually spied some in the dollar store nearby.. so it might not be too late..)  In June, I will try and get the holiday curtains done.. (Anything red and green and gold would be nice..)   And maybe by August, I can start writing my Christmas cards. 

We want to start decorating early this year but our attic ladder is still out of commission.  (Alan is planning to do something about that this weekend so there IS hope..)  Still he says that we can easily bring down the Christmas decor with Mikey going up stepping on his shoulder and jumping down ala-Spiderman.

So caught between making this christmas happen and planning for the next, I’m going to start by making a christmas list online and tracking my progress throughout the year.  I did it once during college, buying christmas presents as early as June.  By December, everything had been taken cared of.   Maybe next year?

 

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Of Chain Letters and Faith

I don’t know if you have received chain letters or have heard of one.  I used to receive them via snail mail and depending on how threatening the letter is, I would often end up sending copies of the letter to my unsuspecting friends who in all likelihood get trapped in the same cycle I got pulled into.

For the uninitiated, a chain letter usually starts with an admonition that it is not one.  Then it goes on to relate how this letter started in some far flung place or foreign land decades ago, and how the chain must NOT be broken.  It invokes the name of a saint, Our Lady, or even Jesus Christ and says that if you ignore the chain letter, some misfortune or other will befall you or your family.

When I was younger, I used to believe that it was better to err on the side of caution, so even if I doubted the veracity of the narration in the chain letter, I would find myself photocopying the chain letter verbatim and forking out the postage.  But now that I am older (and hopefully wiser), I have this little voice inside of me goaded on by my faith telling me Our Lady will never be vengeful about anybody failing to forward this message.  Our Lady would rather we continue to live her teachings and that we pray the Rosary and never forget her son. 

So when I received another chain letter via e-mail (this is, after all, the 21st century now), I promptly hit the REPLY instead of the FORWARD button and chose the option to reply to all.. I wrote:

I am a devotee of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and know that in Her divine grace, She will never be vengeful about one who does not forward this chain letter.  I know, in my heart, that Our God is NOT a vengeful God.  What punishment we receive is just, and not occasioned by letting a chain letter be broken.  I pray that you, too, will seek Our Mother’s guidance and constant companionship, but I don’t think she will like to see you frantically sending this out to 24 people without taking her teachings and admonitions to heart.  Instead, I urge you to pray to her and to pray the rosary.  Do that and I am sure that even if you don’t get a raise like Alvin Patrimonio, you will not suffer the sudden death that was Jay Ilagan’s destiny.
 
Then again, this is just my opinion.  In replying to all, I did the same thing the chain letter requested — but I hope, and I pray as well, that I did one better by letting you know Our Lady will not mind if you don’t forward it.
 
God Bless!
In the end it is our Faith that saves us and not the letters we send out.  So next time you get one, be it in the mail or via e-mail, sit still for a moment, go and think about the faith you hold in your heart and you will hear a voice telling you to simply believe and know HE will take care of you.. chain letter or no chain letter.  Amen.
 

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I Give Thanks..

I am writing this post not knowing what to use as a title.  I just feel the urge to write because I’ve constantly been starting new entries in my head as I go through my day.  If only I had something to record it on, I would have more than one entry a day in this weblog.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  While half of the US is travelling to see family for this big holiday rush, the other half is getting ready to receive visitors and see loved ones again.  I’m not as sentimental as I was the previous years this time around because my mother is with me.  I know she wishes she were back home with my other siblings — but I would want to keep her here for the longest time possible.

For the first time since I made America my home, I can say I don’t feel “disconnected” from the family, linked to my husband’s by reason of affinity — because I have Mom here next to me, and my sister is just 3,000 miles away in California.  It’s her first Thanksgiving here in the US — something I know she really looks forward to even if she is constantly beseiged by worries about the goings on back home.

So tomorrow we’ll have the turkey, the stuffing, and all the usual Filipino fare.  Yes, we will give thanks.  I will give thanks

  • for the family I have built and the one I have always had which has shaped how I will keep t his family going.  For Alan and Angelo.. for Mom and Dad and my siblings..
  • for good health and a comfortable life.. though not overflowing with riches, my life has been truly blessed with a lot of love and triumphs.  Little miracles that are miracles nonetheless.
  • for the friends who have kept me grounded through all these years, constantly reminding me of who I am and encouraging me to become the best that I can be — always believing in me.

There are probably a million other things I have to be thankful for, and I pray that I be reminded of those blessings I failed to see or continue to fail to see through each passing day..  I give thanks.

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Parenthood

I became a parent in the real and literal sense of the word for the first time this May.  Despite my husband’s view that not having a child of my own didn’t allow me to be a parent before this, I knew I had settled into the role of parent for my younger brother, Nikolia who is now 19 years old.  I knew how it was to be delighted in his mischief and milestones.  I almost cried during his elementary school graduation as he sang their graduation song.  Leaving Manila was difficult largely because it meant leaving him, too.

Now that I have Angel, though, parenthood takes on a deeper and better meaning.  Sometimes I gaze into Angel’s eyes and I cannot help but wonder at the miracle that made me the instrument of bringing this boy to life.  I watch him sleeping and touch him arm gently feeling his soft and smooth skin and I whisper I love you — and I behold his perfection.  10 toes and 10 fingers that are so gentle to hold.  Those eyes that sparkle with a ready smile practically every waking moment he has. 

Every morning I say “Good Morning, Anak..” (Good Morning, my child) and I scoop him up and give him a morning hug.  As I get ready for work the most difficult thing is saying goodbye to him as he sits there watching Elmo on Sesame Street and bringing myself to walk down the stairs and out the door. 

I think of the doomsday scenarios of the world now not with nonchallance but with a genuine concern and  bit of paranoia.  I keep reminding myself we should have a stock of distilled water for his formula.  I should have enough baby food to last him two weeks at a time.  I wonder how I would get home if something happened to New York City again and the transportation froze like it did in 9/11. 

I think about his future and have started planning his first birthday which is still six months away. I see him at age 5, 10 and even 20.. I see him growing up to be a man.. 

He has effused such magic into my life that I no longer mind not having a full night’s sleep if it meant he was waking up next to me.  I continue to strive to keep up my milk supply so I can breastfeed him to his first birthday at least.  The magic of parenthood was always there but never this real, real as his wet kiss on my cheek, drool, spit and all.


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Thanksgiving around the corner

During my first Autumn here in 2000, I collected leaves in various shapes, sizes and colors to keep a souvenir of my first fall. I pressed them flat and let them dry between the pages of a tome-thick cookbook and the telephone directory. I glued some of the leaves onto cardboard frames which I taped to my kitchen wall. Since we were renting, I couldn’t nail regular frames to the wall and found this a good alternative because they were light enough to be held fast by plain scotch tape.

I have started collecting leaves again to put in Angel’s autumn picture albums. I haven’t even started his photo album yet and I must have over 500 photos of him already. Alan’s been nagging me to start my scrapbook but like everthing else about Angel, I want it to be a special compilation of his first days here with us.

His face seems to be constantly changing.. there are days when he seems heavier than others — there are times when he looks so tiny and fragile, and others when he is the huge boy we know he has become and still he looks fragile. I want to capture as much of it as I could, not only in pictures, but in little mementos of everything around him.. like the autumn leaves.

With his first autumn here, I want him to see years from now how it was that he made the oranges burn brighter in my eyes simply because he became a part of my life. How the yellows and reds gave off a stronger blaze as the autumn winds blew reminding us all a new year was coming. But the truth is, it’s as much for Angel as it is for me and Alan — because try as we might to hang on to the NOW, we know that we cannot hold back time and sooner than soon, Angel will grow up.

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I Keep Remembering..

It seems to me my days are punctuated with trips down memory lane — more like vignettes tucked away in the back of my mind which come to the fore at the most unexpected times.  Sometimes on the way to the bus stop as I pray the rosary in my head, I suddenly remember a feeling, an aire, and at times, even the scent of something or some place I was a part of or had been to back home.

It isn’t even as much about remembering people but rather remembering the things I had done with them or the places I frequented with them.  I would think of the various nooks and crannies of Makati where I spent countless hours working, passing time, etc.  Walking around its streets as far back as those days when I was still a law student at the Ateneo School of Law back in the old building on H.V. De La Costa. 

It is not even pining for home but more like “remembering” home — remembering Sundays with Nikky and coming home on usual days bringing something for him or for him and mom and everyone else.  There were days when we hardly saw each other anymore that we resorted to writing notes we’d leave for each other — mostly things that needed to be bought for school or fees to be paid .. but all with sweet notes between the lines.  Some of these I managed to save and have brought with me, but most are kept as treasured memories in the form of feelings.  There were days when our conversations were through the phone as he would call me before I left work because he would be asleep by the time I got home.  Now we are reduced to texting and phonecalls.. yet I know and feel him right beside me. 

Its these little snapshots of what are now part of “a previous life” that keep me grounded in my “now”.  It has also helped me appreciate the life I live with Alan and Angelo, in the same way that what I have now helps me to appreciate all that I went through in the years before, because I know all of that made me into the person that I am now.

So when those flashbacks come to me, whether they be snapshots or whole scenes being replayed in my mind, I let myself just enjoy the moment.  It serves as a reminder of where I came from and how far I’ve come.

 

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Angelo’s First Autumn

During my first Autumn here in 2000, I collected leaves in various shapes, sizes and colors to keep a souvenir of my first fall.  I pressed them flat and let them dry between the pages of a tome-thick cookbook and the telephone directory.  I glued some of the leaves onto cardboard frames which I taped to my kitchen wall.  Since we were renting, I couldn’t nail regular frames to the wall and found this a good alternative because they were light enough to be held fast by plain scotch tape.

I have started collecting leaves again to put in Angel’s autumn picture albums.  I haven’t even started his photo album yet and I must have over 500 photos of him already.  Alan’s been nagging me to start my scrapbook but like everthing else about Angel, I want it to be a special compilation of his first days here with us.

His face seems to be constantly changing.. there are days when he seems heavier than others — there are times when he looks so tiny and fragile, and others when he is the huge boy we know he has become and still he looks fragile.  I want to capture as much of it as I could, not only in pictures, but in little mementos of everything around him.. like the autumn leaves.

With his first autumn here, I want him to see years from now how it was that he made the oranges burn brighter in my eyes simply because he became a part of my life.  How the yellows and reds gave off a stronger blaze as the autumn winds blew reminding us all a new year was coming.  But the truth is, it’s as much for Angel as it is for me and Alan — because try as we might to hang on to the NOW, we know that we cannot hold back time and sooner than soon, Angel will grow up.

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