Monthly Archives: May 2005

Chikang Pinoy

The blogpost title literally refers to a slang way of saying “Filipino Talk”. 

I opened my blog today to find two additional comments — one from Demi, my dear friend who is like a sister to me, and another from a fellow Pinoy (Filipino) who has a blog here on blog.com as well.  (Please see his blog listed in the Blogs I read portion of my sidebar.)

It is always refreshing to read about a Kababayan (countryman) leaving a comment here in my blog.  There have been a few, (like Daryll who shares the same interests in Paris as myself) and just random visitors who don’t even know how they landed here, and I find that it touches me in a different way because reading from Kababayans actually makes me feel as if I am talking to people back home.  It doesn’t matter that I have never met them — I make the connection simply because they are, like I am, Filipino.

So today I saw this post from Danny:

Reading a blog from a fellow Filipino in this community, makes me feel at home. I’ll come back to read more. Hope you’ll enjoy unraveling the creative side of you.

My response:  Nakakatuwa naman na makita kong merong mga kababayan tayong nagagawi dito.  It is reassuring to know that there are people who actually come from where I cam from and who will probably be able to relate to the Pinoy side of my posts.  I visited Danny’s blog and I was amazed at the display of talent there.. from photography, works of art, writings, poetry — it was just pure talent.  Wala akong masabi.  And not only did I discover a fellow Filipino who is an artist, but I found someone who had a sentimental heart like I did. 

(Daryll, you should start a blog so we can start an online conversation, too.)  It is really very interesting how people with a common thread like ethnic origin can come together even in something as random as a blog. 

It’s like an open discussion online, and anyone can just chirp in and give his or her two cents worth. 

 

 

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Feedback on my Craft Report

From one of my bestfriends, Demi:

make me a scarf, make me a scarf!!!! =D

My response:  Don’t worry, girl, you’re on my list of possible scarf gift recipients.  Just getting into the swing of knitting after I finally learned how to purl and knit correctly!  There is hope for a decent project after all!  I heard scarves/shawls are all the rage there in Manila, and I saw that in some new movies we’ve been watching.  What gives, though?  Di ba napakainit naman yata diyan para gumamit sila ng scarf or shawl?  Except for the Imeldific Imelda Marcos, nobody really paid attention to scarves or shawls through the years.  Reminds me of the patadyong, but then, that went out with the ternos as well.

Here in New York, though, scarves are always in, even in the heat of summer — it’s the material and the weave that matters.  In the summer and spring our scarves are very light and airy, and in the winter, thick and warm.  I’ve come to discover that one can make two different textures depending on the size of the knitting needle used.  For example, the scarf/shawl I’m working on right now can be a tight knit if I used smaller needles, but the way I’m doing it now, it can be a not so hot stole in the spring and summer months, but it can be bundled up as a warm scarf in the fall and in winter.

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Me, the Yaya

I have a head cold and I’m trying to go through the day, counting the hours to when the boss exits the office (looks like it’ll be at 2:30, hooray!) and when I can leave (probably at around 5PM). It’s a relatively easy day because I think half of New York took the week off, and it’s just peons like me slaving off here. (Oh I forgot, the boss is also slaving it off despite an eye allergy.) At least it’s a sunny day — reminds me of cooler days in Manila. It was rather warm last night — I had to adjust the ionic fan in the room. (Add a “B” and that’s a bionic fan.. HA!)

I saw two comments posted and I have a third one left from last week. Just haven’t had the chance to post and reply. As always, the weekend saw me attending to the apple of my eye (or as a Filipino joke says, the “buko” of my “pie”.) He is growing in leaps and bounds and I just wish I could hold his hand all the way. He is starting to take a few steps at a time, but I notice he still lacks the confidence to go leaping to and from place to place. It’s so amazing how this little boy I carried for 9 months inside me is now thinking and developing a personality all his own. I see bits and pieces of me in the way his eyes would light up or how he would mischievously smile when playing, or the pensive look he takes whenever he tries to do something and I catch him with a simple “saway” — and he would look at me and then his dad as if to confirm if what he is doing or was about to do is indeed a no-no.

Last night, in the midst of cleaning up in the kitchen after I prepared his lunch and dinner for today, cleaned his formula bottles for sterilizing, put away the leftover food from diiner — all this after both Alan and Offie, my sister, had helped with the dishes, I couldn’t help but mull about what an opportunity I would’ve missed if I had started a family in Manila where we would definitely had had a “yaya” (nannyor babysitter) to attend to Angel. Now don’t get me wrong if you’re a Mom from Manila reading this post — I am not saying I am having a better time struggling with caring for a baby and trying to work at the same time .. see previous posts under “Motherhood” and you will see what I mean — but there are rewards to being able to take care of this precious life I brough out into this world.

Like most other things that we struggle through or give so much effort to attain, caring for something as priceless as your own flesh and blood is a bittersweet experience. While I would want to be able to take off my coat or my jacket after emerging from the stairwell, freshen up and change to my home clothes before he starts squealing for me — I wouldn’t give up the look of delight in his face and those puppy dog eyes when he starts stretching out his arms so I could grab him from the play area and just hold him when I arrive. I have been remiss in singing him “Sampung Mga Daliri” (Ten Fingers) or counting to him in Tagalog, but I never forget to whisper to him over and over again “Mahal kita, Anak.”

I cook his meals and prepare them in serving portions for each day. In the morning, I carry him out of the bedroom and give him his customary morning hug, change him if his diaper is heavy, lug him with me to the kitchen and prepare his breakfast of rice cereal, milk and cheerios and then we sit in his play area and eat. I attend to his laundry with his Dad doing the wash. I playfully wipe his drool off his face and then inspect his little “nooks and crannies” for “dirty Ah-ah” as his Dad and I playfully refer to grime. Not that he has much — the boy barely goes out.

I know every inch of his skin so well that if there were a fresh scratch or bruise, I’d know immediately.  It’s a blessing that my Mom and now my sister have so generously helped me with his  care while I work — but once I’m within sight, he won’t have anyone else take care of him, save for his Dad.  As my Mom said, I should be happy he is close to me the way he is. 

I prepare his diaper bag each time we set out although I am still trying to get the hang of putting everything I want in the bag without the bag being bulky.  I have mastered giving him a bath on top of the kitchen counter without getting the whole place wet.  Despite his lack of a vocabulary, I can hold a long conversation with him and see him react to the things I say.  So I end and begin my day with my arms around my boy — and I wouldn’t give that up for anything, even if not having a Yaya to help me here has driven me nuts from time to time.  It’s a bonding experience I would relive over and over again without a thought.

 

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Back to Work.. (grunt)

After a 3-day weekend, I can’t help but wish I could take the whole week off, but it’s back to work for me.  The only consolation I have is I intend to have another long weekend next week when Aland and I take Monday off. 

We left Angel crying for us to grab him as we left the house, but it’s back to reality for him, too.  He actually stops crying the moment he realizes we have actually left and am not coming back.  The kid knows how to push the right buttons.

Meanwhile, it’s a nice day in New York but my head cold is not helping any.  (I already gulped down 2 DayQuils and I’m waiting for it to kick in.)  In the meantime, I’m going through the motions of getting my work done here.  Can’t wait til 5.. Amen.

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Craft Report: Moving on with my first real knitted piece

I don’t really have a defined length or size for this project because I will go as far as my yarn will get me.  I had bought three balls (or was it six?  I have to check my boxes up in the attic) of this yarn which was on sale.  It looks like an old blue and white dyed rough yarn, and the big and loose stitching actually works well with the texture.  I know I might’ve bought 6 of this particular shade but I have only 3.  I have a third ball waiting and if that’s it, I intend to “lengthen” the piece by knitting white on the two ends and doing the fringe in white as well. 

I managed to grab the needles this afternoon to do some rows, and I managed to consume all of the yarn I had unthreaded from the previous project.  Tomorrow I will connect the project to the third ball which has yet to be unspooled. 

I think it’s time to plan my next project.  I have come to realize that doing the clapotis at this point is much too ambitious for a novice knitter like me.  Maybe a loose sweater next?  I’m thinking of unravelling one of Alan’s nicer sweaters he wanted to give away but which I wanted to make into something for either Angel or myself..  perhaps..

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How things have changed

We would normally have spent a long weekend like this going on a trip, but as I posted yesterday, plans changed because we had to consider how we would fare if Angel were with us.  Even doing errands can be impacted by a meltdown, like what happened this afternoon.  Preferences for spending an afternoon or a weekend night have also changed.  Whereas Alan and I would probably have chosen to get a drink in the city tonight or go out to dinner, we spent the evening home.  Angel is asleep now, but Alan and I are both awake past midnight.

Tomorrow we will try and sleep late but get things done nonetheless.  We have yet to do the grocery and we’re hoping for more sun.  Tuesday means going back to work.  No choice — but we still have the rest of Monday.

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A quiet long weekend

Alan and I had made plans to spend the weekend upstate, leaving Angel with my sister.  The baby has been rather clingy of late, and I just didn’t feel right about leaving him on a long weekend.  We thought of bringing him with us, but Alan was booking for a wine tasting weekend complete with a sit-down dinner, and lugging a one year old baby was out of the question, so we thought we’d just do it another time.

It was just as well that we cancelled.  My asthma was triggered by allergens and the climate changes we’ve been experiencing in New York, and I am not exactly in tiptop shape to enjoy a quiet getaway. 

Instead we’ve stayed home, just relaxing and making up for lost sleep.  Angel has been okay except for a minor meltdown this afternoon after lunch.  Otherwise, we’ve had a quiet long weekend and the sun actually obliged us with a sunny day.  I hope it will be the same tomorrow.

Alan and I are just trying to enjoy Angel.  Yesterday he lulled the baby to sleep in his arms and he fell asleep himself.  Father and son are quite a sight when they are asleep side by side, because you can clearly see they are the mini and big me of each other. 

 

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Feedback on the Parenthood Challenge

Here is a rather lengthy comment from Amanda, posted May 27, 2005:

So true… so true. My sister and I are 5 1/2 years apart. We were raised by basically the same person, my mother. She was five when my parents split… and I was 6 months old. We are/were very different people. We’ve each made our own choices.

Her life has been filled with drama and constant chaos. Mine has been on the straight and narrow path that I laid out for myself. Both of us have come to the point where we didn’t think we would be where we are today. She thought she wouldn’t live to see 30… and I thought I’d be a happy stat-at-home Mommy. Neither of us are content… even though we’ve exceeded our goals.

I’ve seen so many friends, family, and people that, as teenagers, strived to push the buttons of their parents… to do as they saw fit, not realize that the parents only wanted the best for them. There is no one answer for anyone. The only thing I can comfort you with, in regards to the 15 year old, is that all of the people that I have known that have gone through this… have come out better and understanding that they needed to clean up their act and that they were stupid at the time… Each of them had a different reason for finally cleaning up their lives.

My sister it was having her second child… and not having my Mom to catch her. She wasn’t able to support her and invite her into the house to help her out, again… because she herself was going through a second divorce and was trying to regain herself. For the first time my sister was forced to care for two children… and learn that she was the one they depended on. For another one of my male friends, it was finally being on his own… living how he thought he wanted to live… partying and drinking all the time and then realizing that he needed money… and that he had to show up on time, etc. That no one else bent over backwards for him, like his parents did.

This is longer than I intended. The only thing I really wanted to say is this… it sounds like you don’t like the 15 year old. Even though you add that you haven’t given up on him. Did you ever think that the 15 year old need your love as well? He sees you with his father… with your perfect son… his father’s starting anew… he may feel that he’s not worth the time since his father has this perfect family waiting in the wing. Maybe being more involved in the 15 year old’s life would be helpful. Not as a disciplinarian, but as a friend? Seems to me he needs to know that he’s as much a part of your family as your son is… he needs to know it.

Just my two cents. Hope I didn’t overstep.

My response: Thanks for taking the time to write, Amanda — I appreciate your having given me your two cents’ worth. 

My stepson and I have a love-hate relationship, even if sometimes I think the love is one way — from me to him.  Of course that is a reflection of my frustration over the situation.  We have been aware of the unsettling effect of his father’s having another family from the time I arrived, because our problems started back then.  It has been a puzzle to us, though, because his own mother had a second family years ahead of his Dad.

I have always been great with children, but I was sorely disappointed in how I failed to connect to him when  he was still a 10-year-old.  Children have a different way of expressing jealousy or disapproval, and sometimes they can be mean even when they do not intend to.  Alan and I have had our challenges between us — but we have weathered them well and have come to an agreement about approaching things.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say we have tried and continue to try to impress upon him how we want to do things together as a family.  We have tried to reiterate this message even before we had a son of our own.  And we have been honest enough to tell him that he gives us the sense that he is not willing to be a part of our family, but would rather just have it as him and his Dad.  We hope having a brother by me will change that, but it is really too early to tell.  His mother has had a difficult time in this regard as well which has forced her and her second family to do things without the 15 year old.

When his mother threw him out midterm of the first half of the schoolyear, we had him move in with us and my husband moved heaven and earth to transfer him to the high school in our zone.  I had my misgivings because I knew he wasn’t too happy having me around, but the son comes with the father, so as my husband would always tell him and tell me, this is a situation we must all learn to live with — he (the father) wants us all to get along.

It may not sound like it from the pieces I have written (because I write mostly about my frustrations as a stepmother), but I believe I’ve gone above and beyond what I thought I could possibly take as the recipient of his hostility.  At times when father and son are ready to come to blows, I had intervened.  When everyone played deaf and blind to his failings in school, I challenged them to come to terms with his possible ADD and adjust their expectations of the child.

During one of our more emotional exchanges as a family, I pulled him close and hugged him despite his struggling against it.  He pushed away as he continues to push away now — but I pulled him close.  If, with everything his father and I continue to do, he doesn’t see how we want to make this work, then I am at a loss for words or other alternatives to get the message across.

As for being a friend, I am trying.  Whereas before I would join in in their discussions in a disciplinary sense, these days I whisper calmly to him and try to tell him to try to be more reasonable.  As the posts reflect, I’ve stepped back and tried to hold it together instead of getting emotional about it.  One thing I’ve realized is he would rather have me “in the wings”, than dead center in his life.

And just as you and your sister made a turnaround, and just like my husband and I did in our youth, we continue to hope that he will do the same, not too late in his life.

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Feedback: On Values

Daryll, who wrote this post had e-mailed me privately previously — here’s a direct take on what I wrote yesterday (below) on Values:

I know this is not what you need to here (sic). But a 15 year old for the most part is going to be irresponsible, ungrateful and generally a pain in the ass. This attitude crosses all ethnic boundaries. Kids in America are spoiled. I know I was a pain in the ass to my parents and didn’t appreciate my luxuries. But in time I grew out of it and slowly became a model “pinoy american”. Respectful of his parents but still independent enough to stand up for myself. Its easier said than done, but you need to pick your battles. The cereal thing is minor. Tatoos are next, that is minor as well despite the pinoy distaste for such things. Getting a girl pregnant and drugs are the major things. Anyway, I enjoy your blog which I discovered a couple of days ago. You’re an intelligent strong pinay who seems to have a good head on her shoulders. You’re probably a lot brighter than the people you work for but that is America for minorities. By the way I’m francophile as well. I’m headed to Rome and Paris this fall. Good Luck and I admire your writing skills and the way you can easily put your thoughts into words.

My response: Don’t worry about me, Daryll.. Not that I don’t want to hear it — a therapist made me realize that 2 years ago, when I found myself at my wits’ end and I sought an objective point of view.  To summarize, his brain is 15 years old only, and that doesn’t speak for much.  So most of the time I try to think like a 15 year old so I can better tolerate what he is doing.

I just hope that he becomes like you and he “grows out of it”.  Isn’t that what all parents hope for?  It just tears my heart to see him treating his Dad with such disrespect.  Of course I have my biases.. he is, after all, the second half of the be-all and end-all of the reason I’m here in New York.  (The other being Angel.)  We have gone through the motions of body mutilation, and we even helped him get his ear pierced despite his mother’s protestations two summers ago.  Tattoos?  He has been told he can do whatever he wants after 18 — so all he has to do is wait three years more.  Besides, his pain threshhold is VERY low, so we are not worried about that just yet.

Drugs and getting a girl pregnant are now a staple of every other conversation.  We have even been giving him condoms admonishing him to make sure he is careful.  Our policy about that is it’s okay to have fun if you do it responsibly.  He came into this world because of such a mishap, and his Dad has been firm in telling him while he had a choice to bring him into this world or not, he chose to bring his son and try to raise him.  However, the circumstances of his marraige contributed to its failure because he and the boy’s mother were not prepared for marraige.

My husband is very eloquent like me and like you, was spoiled rotten as a teen.  He was raised in a household of high academic standards but he had his failings.  One constant in his growing up years, though, was a profound respect for his parents.  This is one thing that is lacking in this young boy. 

I know the cereal’s petty — I wrote about it to make a point.  To me, it’s a closed issue.  The solution is just not to have any unopened boxes lying around until the last one is consumed.  You probabl heard your parents telling you how kids on the other side of the world don’t have the luxuries you were basking in — and as someone who’s seen those kids, it breaks my heart to see such waste and ungratefulness.  Then again, let me reiterate, I agree with you and you are right in saying that a 15 year old will always be a pain in the ass. 

The thing now is, do we let him be that way and just keep our fingers crossed that like you, he sees the light of day and turns around?  If he were my son, that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.  As he is the son of the man I love, I have no recourse but to step back butI  think I have a responsibility in helping him by trying to show him the way even he abhors hearing it from me.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to write again, Daryll.  I am not even sure if I’ve written you back already but rest assured I meant to!  It is always nice to touch base with others who “converse” with me as they read the thoughts I write down here. 

My Francophilia is in the back of my head right now but it keeps me excited about another trip my husband and I are planning to the City of Lights to celebrate our 5th year anniversary in August.  I must start trying to learn French again.  Tacked on my cubicle wall is an  8×10 picture of Alan taken with the barren trees of Champs De Mars in the background.  I look forward to taking another picture in the same angle but with the trees all green when we return.  We might even venture a trip to Lyon, or maybe I’ll save that for next time when we can plan a trip to Lourdes.  I just want to go back to Paris!

 

 

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Values

I have always taken the literal meaning of values to be just that — that which we value.  What may be valuable to one person may be trash to another.  These are the foundation of our personal beliefs.. be it God, Family, or the more wordly values such as money, possessions, etc. 

To some people, career may take precedence over family, hence you see successful men and women without a partner in life, or even if they are blessed with a significant other, without children.  I do not judge them as misguided — they have simply set their priorities right depending on what they value as more important in life.

We have heard all too often about people not knowing what they have until they lose it.  Sometimes, when people provide for us as our parents did when we were children, we fail to realize how expensive it can be to sustain a certain lifestyle once we start paying our way.

I am not a stingy person.  In fact I have been told I am generous to a fault.  I spend lavishly when I have the money on the things and people that matter to me.  Yet as a working professional, I have been careful to spend wisely.  You will not see me walking dressed in a $500 ensemble — but I do have my little treasures and precious finds.  I wouldn’t mind purchasing a $200 pair of boots, but I will buy it when it goes on sale for a quarter of that price. 

As the one in charge of the pantry back home, I do not scrimp on quality nor quantity with the food I serve in my house.  The only budgetting I do is on calories, hence all the diet food and healthy food as against the “real” but calorie-laden goodies.  My personal motto is I don’t really care how much a person eats, just as long as one does not waste food.

As a child, I, too, hated eating the crust of sliced bread — and until now, it isn’t my favorite portion of a sandwich.  So what I have learned to do is eat the crust first, then save the good portion, the center, for last — this came much later in life, though.  When I was younger, to minimize waste, I cut the crust with a knife like some restaurants did back then.  So when the 15 year old started ripping the crust off his bread, I understood why he didn’t like the crust.  What I couldn’t understand was why he was throwing away practically half the slice, tearing the crust so far into the slice.  I tried to give him a solution, there’s hotdog bread (potato bread at that!) which doesn’t have a crust — that one would be easier for him to attack.

One practice my mother ingrained in me was to finish whatever it is I ate.  I didn’t have to lick the plate clean, but waste was a no-no in the house I grew up in.  She also told us to finish any open food before opening another treat — be it candy, chocolate, ice cream, milk or simply soda.  It makes good sense.  It prevents waste. 

I always have a box of cereals at home.  The 15 year old can go through a large box in as fast as 3 days, because he eats it for breakfast and sometimes lunch.  (As I am not his mother, I have long ago accepted the fact that trying to correct his diet is not my prerogative.)  He is, after all, a growing boy.  I do not buy cereal at random, mind you, we always get what he wants.  The last time we asked, he asked for Cocoa Puffs which I got in a huge box.  Knowing that he was about to run out, I got a huge box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch last weekend, knowing that was his all time favorite. 

We have time and again told him to finish whatever is open first before opening the next.  Last night I realized he had opened the new one and the last one still had a full bowl’s serving.  So I casually reminded him he has to finish the last one first.  I was shocked to hear him say he was throwing it away because he didn’t want it anymore.  I took a deep breath feeling something creeping inside my head, getting ready to come out as a scream… I succeeded in keeping it in.  I took one of the cocoa puffs to see if it might’ve gone stale and might no longer be crunchy, but it was still good.  I asked him what was wrong — and again he said he didn’t want it anymore. 

I dread to think what would’ve happened to half the box if halfway through, he decided he didn’t want it anymore.  He would’ve thrown the box away.  All I could short of storming into my bedroom was to tell my husband mockingly that I guess it’s okay, after all, he’s a rich guy.

More than upset, I am just perplexed at the boy’s sense of the value of money.  He would often rip apart or break things he no longer needed even when others could enjoy them even if they had seen better days when he still found them worth toying with. 

Maybe we are trying to undo too much too soon.  I can only say my sense of worry stems from the fact that I know the 15 year old will be a presence in Angel’s life.  Molding a child’s personality is such a fragile task — you try but can only do so much, but you want to filter out the bad before it can corrupt his innocence.

One thing I know, Angel’s not going to throw away any good cereal.

 

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