Monthly Archives: June 2009

Five things to be happy about

1. Summer’s here!

2. Warm hugs and kisses from Alan and Angelo

3. Finding a long lost book I hadn’t quite finished yet.. (So I’ve started reading again which is definitely something that makes me happy!)

4. Durian candy leftover from the trip to Manila

5. Recycling paper that would have otherwise been shredded and thrown away
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A letter of thanks

The minute I had a moment to sit down and take a breather from my household chores, I grabbed the blank cards I had set aside to write the thank you letters for Angelo’s Pre-K Teacher and Paraprofessional.  As both cards are similar, I am printing the letter for his teacher, Mrs. C, just so I have something to show him when he’s a little older.. Tomorrow is his last day in Pre-K.. in a few weeks, my little boy is moving on to Kindergarten..

Dear Mrs. C –

I cannot even begin to tell you how truly grateful we are for all that you have done for Angelo.  You have iginited in him an interest in learning which we hope we will be able to nurture and sustain in the coming years.  Our first year with PS 213 has affirmed our belief in the school zone.  My husband and I had grown up in the Philippines and had gone to private schools, but we chose to stay in this area because of its reputation as a good school district.

I am most thankful for the interest and concern you’ve shown with regards his need for therapy to develop his fine motor skills.  Ms. D had gotten in touch with me before I left for that trip to the Philippines and she had advised me to seek evaluation from the school social worker, although she also volunteered to assist if that didn’t go anywhere.  I promise to keep you posted.  I will also seek my pediatrician’s assistance in getting him treated during this summer.

Angelo never ceases to amaze us — and we know that the progress we’ve seen is because of your hard work and dedication.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Warmest regards.

Dinna and Alan

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I haven’t been too good at this of late.  I haven’t been as prolific as I usually am with the writing.  But Feedback is one category in this blog that helps to inspire me to write more, and I thought I’d take the time to address the most recent comments.

John had left this comment in response to Be not afraid to pursue your dream to be a legal eagle someday” (originally posted in January 2007):

I am inspired. I am a freshman in the Ateneo College of Law this coming june. And by this article, you motivated me more to pursue and conquer! :)

Thank you and Mabuhay Legal Eagles! :)

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:  John, hang on to your dreams.. you will need all the inspiration you can grab a hold of in the coming months and years.  I hope that four years from now you will write me to say you’re taking the Philippine Bar Exams..Thanks for stopping by..

And my good friend, Lou, wrote a comment about the post Capturing the King of the Road on Cam  saying:

Taking pictures is a good diversion and distraction. Am glad that you were able to capture some great street scenes. But it’s great to hear that your Dad is feeling much better!

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:  Thanks, Lou.  It is good therapy for me.  More street scenes in my Flickr account here, as well as more Jeepneys here.  And more coming..

And just today, I got this note from     who stumbled upon my post on Starbucks Additions who wrote:

Hi! Just found your blog while searching for Starbucks City Mugs. I am starting my architecture series collection and so far, I have NY, DC, Vegas, Atlanta and Boston. I hope you can post more of yours. And btw, I’m also a Pinay in NY! :)

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:  It is always nice to find fellow Starbucks Mug collectors — and it sort of reminds me that I need to update my pictures (on Flickr) so badly.  I have at least 6 mugs to add which I have not had the chance to photograph.  Soon.  And a fellow new yorker at that!  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll give you the heads up when the collection is updated.  Good luck with yours, too!
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An afternoon in the park

It was one of those afternoons when I was iffy about heading home early but I had to.  My mother-in-law was still confined in the hospital and the second assistant was still off.  So I hopped on the Express bus and waited for Angelo to get home from school.  To make things work, I proposed an idea to my little boy and asked him if he wanted to take a trip to the city and have dinner at McDonald’s and he lit up and quickly said yes.

I didn’t even work an hour — I just wrapped things up and we decided to go down to the park.  Angelo was enthralled by the wide open space and the gravelled walk which he referred to as “the track.”  I had to be firm with him to keep within my sight.  He would’ve run on and on as far as he could go — and although Bryant Park is relatively small, I have never been complacent when it came to Angelo so I had to keep reminding him to stay near.  He was all over the place with so much energy.  It was a little chilly and although I wanted to go to McDonald’s already, he was begging me to stay a little while longer. 

I sat on one of the tables and I watched him running around.  Moments like this make me sit back and watch in awe as I see the person he’s evolving into.  I try not to be too protective of him but sometimes I can’t help it.  I’m afraid he would trip and fall — yet I want him to be able to enjoy the wide open space.

He’s such a bundle of energy with such an active imagination.  I want to continue to encourage his mind to think and develop.  But for the most part, I just enjoyed the time spent together on our little “date”.  Precious, indeed.

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Weekend ending

It’s half past ten on a Sunday night and I’m down to my last three copies of Angelo’s PreK DVD.  I had made two film clips for their ceremony last Friday and compiled their photos into four albums.  I promised copies to all the other parents and had missed out on Friday but will have them ready by tomorrow.  I’m sure that they will have as much fun as I do watching our little tykes go about their day-to-day business in their PreK Class.

Meanwhile, I’m looking at the week ahead and do so with a sense of relief.  My Dad is doing fine in Manila, my mother-in-law is back home from her own hospital confinement here, Angelo’s doing great, and I have a long weekend in 2 weeks with the Fourth of July festivities here.  I have a cousin visiting the area who I look forward to meeting up with after having missed out on catching Mabeth, a college friend, on her stop here in New York in the midst of Mom’s health crisis and Alan’s business trip.  It’s going to be a busy day at work this coming week, but I am looking at a relatively simple week.  With all that has happened in the last month, anything close to normal is most welcome.  

We had a simple yet meaningful Father’s Day.  It was such a delight watching Angelo fussing over his Dad and excitedly giving his handmade card and present which we had kept hidden all week.  We finally managed to watch Angels & Demons with Angelo napping through it all.  I cooked some rib eyes and a couple of side dishes for dinner and made some banana chocolate crepes for dessert.  (Found this ready-to-use crepe at the grocery today!  Heaven-sent indeed!)

I always used to say that Father’s Day was more about father and child.  But watching my boys interacting like they do, I’ve come to give new meaning to it despite being the “Mom” in this family, seeing how they truly cherish each other.
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Another school year ends here, and begins in Manila

I’m counting the days to Angelo’s “Moving Up” ceremony and the end of his first year in the “real school” as he concludes Pre-K. Yes, another year has passed. Just 2 weeks ago in Manila, I witnessed the frenzy of getting ready for school again as I accompanied my niece to get a schoolbag as she got ready to go into Grade II at the very same school I went to for my own elementary education.

Only those who have grown up in Manila will understand what I say when I reminisce about the “magic of being in National Bookstore“. It was, to me, the equivalent of being let loose in a toy or candy store. Even as I grew older, it was always such a treat to browse the shelves of books, dig into the bargain bins, choose the right ballpen brand and color, pick the unruffled or uncrumpled sheet of cartolina.. To dig into a bin of candy-scented erasers, choose your notebook based on the character printed on the cover, or as was my personal preference, those plain blue but smooth and bright papers in the much coveted Corona notebooks. (They were so expensive even back then!)

We would go to the nearest branch with the list of school supplies in hand, and we’d buy yards and yards of plastic cover. Covering the notebooks and books became another ritual for me which I attacked with much gusto and a sense of artistry. The plastic had to be cut right, the corners when folded should not be sharp, and the folding within the covers had to be done in a way that the flaps were done uniformly.

So each time I go home, I stop by a National Bookstore branch to pick up some magazines and postcards. Although this trip saw me sending home some vintage postcards (with yellowing backs and all) from part of my collection which I didn’t realize was still in the house in San Juan, I still picked up a handful as part of the posctards I sent to Angelo. I was hoping to get one book only but the salesladies at the Shangri-la Plaza branch couldn’t find it. If there was one book I was hoping to pick up during this trip, it was Pilar Pilapil’s “Woman without a Face”. 

The card racks are not as many as it used to be, and there are less of the licensed cards from Hallmark, but you can now pick up greeting cards in the vernacular. Scrapbooking seems to have caught on as well which merited it its own display stand where you’ll find paper, scrapbooks and embellishments (some of them even handmade) all with a Philippine flavor. Handmade paper can likewise be found in their gift wrapping section, and I couldn’t help but be amazed at how a full sheet of brightly dyed handmade paper good enough to wrap a sizeable gift box can cost only P39.35. I remember when a similar size of handmade paper bought straight from the supplier cost twice that much 10 years ago. My sister, Ofie, gently reminded me that the industry has grown and there are more suppliers in the market, driving the price down.

National Bookstore and the memories it brings… I can go on and on.. And on. It’s one of those everyday things back home everyone takes forgranted, but which one can’t help but feel nostalgic about when you find yourself far from home. (So who says it’s just the food you’ll miss?). Staples, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Borders.. They just don’t quite do it for me. Iba pa rin ang laking National Bookstore…
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Up at the crack of dawn

I was so exhausted last night that I lay down beside Angelo just a few minutes after nine and I woke up at 3:45 this morning. I’m not sure if it was the asthma, jetlag, or just plain exhaustion. I had to get up, freshen up and prepare the coffeemaker to brew in around 2 hours, and I found myself “awake”. So I painted my toenails. (Still fresh from an honest-to-goodness pedicure from Anna back home.). That sort of got me stuck to my seat.. So I grabbed the blackberry and found myself here.

I checked my pink Razr which has been ressurected from dormancy and which now houses my Globe OFW sim. Three text messages! Two from bestfriend Fe who is literally going on a joyride to Hong Kong (she is probably my only friend who equates a simple plane ride with a spa treatment.) — and some person who says I won second prize in some draw and she even had that all-important DTI number to “prove” authenticity. (I’m not going to waste my precious load on that!).

The birds are chirping outside. A cursory look outside my bathroom window showed a wet pavement but it looks like the rain has stopped. (So my friends in Manila, you don’t have a monopoly of all the aggravation coming with the rainy season. Kami din!). I’m trying to think about the remaining three days of the week. It’s Wednesday. (Which means my yahoo reminders about my novena will pop up 4 times today.). I’m in the middle of two projects, one of which is on schedule and another which I think I will regrettably have to put on hold. (I can push it but scrapping can never be rushed…).

I have letters to write. As I declared to Ate Lian when I saw her last week over bibingka with Quezo de Bola at Via Mare (thanks for the treat, Ate!), I am trying to revive the art of letter writing. There are “thank you”s that need to be said more than just electronically. I want to start a journal to a newfound “inaanak” (which I will call my “Eeya book”) so I can introduce myself to this young woman who was entrusted to me as a godchild 19 years ago, but whom I last saw at her first birthday party until 2 weeks ago when I finally gave her a hug in person. (And I make a mental note of bugging my friend Andy about my other long-lost “inaanak”, Peter.). Unlike some, I take my godparenthood rather seriously, even if I have to do it long distance. (Now I remember Ronald, a nephew, who remains a long distance inaanak literally and figuratuvely.)

I have to be in Grand Central this morning. Maybe I’ll take my favorite perch by the “windows” and snap away. Or maybe I’ll skip it this time. I have a prayer to copy and a story to write later. (Again.). I’m thinking of Dad. I heard he’s trying to walk again now although his ankles are still swollen. His doctor remains optimistic although it’s a long road to recovery.

Toenails are dry. Time for the topcoat.

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Capturing the “King of the Road” on cam

I have gone home to Manila four times now since I left in 2000 to make my life here in New York with Alan.  The first was in December 2002, May 2006, May 2008 and just a few weeks ago.  (May 2009).  It was an unplanned visit, true, and one heavy with emotion.  While we found cause to celebrate Nikky’s birthday (again), it was low key and very simple.  I had very few opportunities to meet up with friends, since I spent most of my free time by Dad’s bedside in the hospital.  I personally took care of him, relieving the evening caregiver, and going home to try and get some rest — day in and day out.

Rest was mostly trying to catch up with work here in New York.  As I told my boss when I hopped on the plane taking me home, work actually helped me to keep my inner balance through this very difficult time.

I had my trusty camera with me as always.  Everywhere I went.  I snapped up some pictures of Dad as he lay in bed in the hospital and finally sitting up in bed in his home on my last day there.  I didn’t take quite as many pictures of the family, though, but I did train my lens on something I have been long wanting to do from my second homecoming onwards — to take action shots of the so-called “King of the Road”: the Philippine Jeepney.

There was the problem of lugging a camera like mine around Manila’s streets, but somehow I  managed. In a sense, the SLR-like features made it natural bait for the snatchers, but its smaller than your usual SLR size made it easy for me to wrap it’s strap around one arm and cradle the body snugly in another hand. Many of my shots were taken inside vehicles with muddy windows — but I discovered that proper lighting or the proper focus and minimal manipulation to alter the contrast a little provided a good fix.  I even used my Blackberry camera to take a few shots that turned out rather well.  On my first of two Fridays there, my brother Abril and I went to the Shrine of Jesus the Nazarene in Quiapo and I found myself snapping away right where the jeepneys loaded and unloaded their passengers in front of the church.

I found myself immersed in such street scenes throughout my two and a half week stay in Manila.  There was so much more in the ordinary that beckoned to me.  While most of the denizens of Manila view the jeepneys as a source of pollution, I dare you to view the intricate and oftentimes artistic designs adorning these everyday vehicles that rule the roads of the metropolis.   What is ordinary to you is an extraordinary and truly “Pinoy” scene to me that I have been yearning to capture on pictures for quite a while now.  At a time when I couldn’t train my lens on people, I found myself aiming them on moving objects outside my window.

It was a challenge trying to anticipate the movement of my vehicle against the speeding jeepney in the next lane, and timing the delay between my finger hitting the button and the shutter opening to capture the picture.  Again, it was a numbers game.  While I deleted a ton of useless half and non-shots — I smiled at the treasure trove of photos I ended up with.  Very random shots, but precious shots of something truly Filipino to this New Yorker.  My blog header has seen various iterations displaying bits and pieces of my snapshots in 950×216 pixel format.  I have quite a few to work through.  Some I have already uploaded to my Flickr account. 

Perhaps this is the reason I don’t feel too bad that I didn’t even get to step into any coffee shop, restaurant or mall in Makati.  Or that I have yet to visit the elusive Trinoma which I passed briefly on the way home from Manaoag with Mom as our bus headed towards its terminal over at New York St. in Cubao.  Shopping was definitely not on my agenda — so I don’t have any buyer’s remorse or shop-til-you-drop stories to share.  I have my snapshots of the King — and interspersed between them are your everyday street scenes.  I have to go through them and weed out those that are beyond fixing and tuck them into my recycle bin. I am still deep into catching up and it will have to wait another day.

My brother, Abril, asked me what I was taking pictures of as he drove me through Avenida or Carriedo as it is now known.  I told him there is so much color out there that we can capture.  I won’t pretend to claim it’s art.  It’s just the shutterbug in me trying to put my world inside a frame to capture a thought or a feeling passing through my head.  As I often say, sometimes, I just get lucky — I capture a picture that makes me smile.  I needed that so badly that time I was there — and I got it from the King of the Road many times over.
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Just had to share..taken during a rainy evening drive home..

Had to snap up a pic of this.. and yes, it’s a McDonald’s ad along Queens Boulevard not EDSA.

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Back in Incheon

I arrived here in Incheon International Airport at the crack of dawn.  I was too exhausted after the midnight take off from Ninoy Aquino International Airport at half past midnight to do anything much beyond looking for a suitable spot to put my handcarried luggage down and catch some sleep.

I woke up when my back started crying out for a respite from the strain of sleeping on the airport benches.  I was on the laptop (on battery) which had died on me.  The plugs here in Korea are the round ones instead of the flat ones we are used to.  I don’t have a problem that it is 110 volts because all my gadgets “convert”.  My big problem is that my plug doesn’t work.  I had bought an adaptor which is useless because it was supposed to help Korean plugs convert to the usual ones we know (instead of helping our plugs adapt to theirs), and I just don’t want to schlep all the way down to the store where I bought it from, several gates down from the end I’m at right now to return or exchange it.  It was around $7.  My backpack weighs a ton because of the laptop.  My Happy Feet bakya make my feet “look” happy, but doesn’t necessarily translate to happiness (can’t say I can put all the blame on them for my aching feet after walking up and down this wing of the airport).  But with three more hours to go before my flight to New York boards, I’m resisting the urge.

I found a new use for my overloaded backpack which has travelled the world with me.  (4x round trip to Manila, 2x to Paris, once to Chartres, Brussels and Bruge.)  It made for a good pillow to hug and rest against when I could no longer shake off the urge to sleep earlier.  Hugging it, of course, was more out of necessity than anything.  I didn’t want to wake up missing some of its precious contents (like my baon, MegaMelt Ensaymada and Bibingkinitan, or worse, missing the whole bag altogether). 

So I finally gave in.  I grabbed all my things and walked down the hallway again.  Although it was a different clerk at the register, she quickly replaced my plug with the right one. No fuss, no scolding, no irritation displayed on her face.  Now THAT’s service!
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