Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Lourdes

Sunday, October 14, 2012
My family and I were leaving Lourdes today. It was a pleasure for us to be able to attend the Sunday mass at Sts. Cosmos and Damian Chapel at 9 AM before our departure. This morning, there was a big group of Sri Lankans pilgrims at the church. The incognito Cardinal Rosales was still there, con-celebrating the Sunday mass with other priests. After the mass, I shook hands with the cardinal and told him that we were leaving Lourdes. I could have chatted with him some more but as usual, he was aloof to me. The Sri Lankas on the other hand surrounded a colored priest who may also be a celebrity at home and they were all so happy talking to him. I was kind of slighted by the cardinal aloofness in contrast with the other group. This time I left the incognito cardinal alone in peace.

After the mass, we had to hurry back to the hotel to finish packing up for our trip back to Paris. Our mini van driver would be picking us up at noon. I had a feeling of pang in my heart leaving Lourdes. After all I had known her for 3 days. It was a blessing for me to have done this pilgrimage with my family. They all helped me fulfilled my obligations. I hoped and prayed that Our Lady had done healing miracles for each one of them too.

Our mini van driver was a gregarious fellow who chatted with us along the way.
"Across that tree over there is Spain already." He pointed at one time.
"How do you like it here?" He asked.
"Lourdes is beautiful." I said. "Our Lady really knew how to choose a beautiful place." Something to that effect.
"Yes, I know." He replied.
"This place is like paradise." I added.
"That, I do not know." Came his witty reply. We all laughed.
On the way, my heart was in pain leaving Lourdes. I had loved it here.

Our flight to Paris was scheduled at four o'clock PM. We arrived the airport too early at noon. The airport although opened was almost deserted.  But we had not taken our lunch yet, intending to eat at the airport. The driver told us that the restaurant inside was good and indeed it was. The place was chic and spacious. The food was delicious and well plated. It was not costly too. We felt like eating our meal at a 5 star hotel with our food prepared by a well known chef. We all enjoyed our lunch eating like the French, bidding our time to consume and savor the delicious food. This was another well spent dining experience at Lourdes. (You should eat at the airport if ever you are there.)

Leaving Lourdes was such a sweet parting sorrow. Thank you Lord and my blessed mother for this my pilgrimage. It was a rare and meaningful journey for all of us. Thank you! I love you so!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pilgrimage To Lourdes III

Saturday, October 13, 2012 - Third day in Lourdes.
This morning, Roy and Emil came with us to the 9 o'clock English mass at Sts. Cosmos and Damain Chapel. After the mass, I got to talk to a Filipina nurse who  was rendering volunteer work in Lourdes. It was her seventh time to date, she said. She also informed me that Cardinal Rosales was there. He con-celebrated the mass this morning, but that he was travelling incognito and didn't like to be recognized. I actually did not know Cardinal Rosales from John or Joe. I was not really apt to knowing the Philippine Catholic Hierarchy. The only Cardinal I ever knew and seen was Cardinal Sin. But I was extremely curious. Imagine to be at the same time and same place, in this small chapel with his eminence! 
"Where? Where? Where is he?" I inquired.
"The one with the white hair." I did not even know that he was a Filipino because of the white hair. That's how poor I was with facial association or recognition.
"Can I talk to him?" I asked.
"Of course you can. But he doesn't like to be recognized, so just call him father." The lady quipped. She kind of persuaded me somehow to approach him. "Just call him father."
So I went near the cardinal but he was talking to two young Filipinos. I waited for them to finish. I waited for awhile because the cardinal was aloof to my approach. ( But if you really know me, I can be persistent sometimes. ). Given the slightest chance, I butted in. I said. "Good morning Father, we are from Cotabato City." and I indicated my family with me.
He then warmed up and said. "Are you going to Rome after this?" To which I gave a blank questionable stare. "To the canonization of Blessed Calungsod." He added.
"No Father, Lourdes lang kami."
"I am retiring and I am doing volunteer work here." He said.
" I see." Then I requested if we could have a picture with him.
"Actually they also requested the same thing." The Cardinal smiled and pointed towards the two guys.
Taking it as a yes, I quickly asked Lucas or Roy to take our picture. The two Filipino guys also took pictures with him. To be honest, I mostly shy away from taking pictures with celebrity. I did not know why I was suddenly brazen enough to ask the incognito cardinal for a photo shot. He could have turned down my request, you know, but everything was a miracle in Lourdes!

That morning, my children were set on exploring the Lourdes Tower - an old castle or fortress which was also one of its famous landmarks. We went to another side of the town, paid our entrance fee to see the ruins, climbed the stairs, went in through the draw bridge, up to the recesses and viewed the beautiful panoramic scenery. There were also show rooms in display on how the owners of the tower lived before. Inside the old tower, you could find a well kept beautiful garden with miniatures castles, fortresses and/or dioramas. Along the path were several herbal plants such as thyme, rosemary etc. It was a beautiful bright and sunny day and the air was wonderfully cool. The castle keeper however kept on with us because the tower would be closing at one pm and to be re-opened again in the afternoon - a siesta tradition perhaps for Lourdes was actually very near Spain.

We got off from the tower and had lunch in an interesting outdoor cafe near the town square - so very French - a different kind of local dining experience. Everybody loved it. Roy and Lucas got to draw and sketch. The food was good. Wallah!, I had the best cheeseburger of my life.

Around three o'clock in the afternoon, we decided to go back to the basilica and explore more places. This time we went up the hill, following the long path of "the way of the cross". We did not prepare to do the way, instead we recited the rosary as we ascended the hill. There were a number of people in groups doing the way of the cross in their own languages. (If you have ever done the way of the cross, you'll know that doing it with groups is usually long). So we quietly skipped and overtook them, well finishing our rosary on the third station. Yet we continued to climb and observe each station as we passed by. The path was long but the hill was easy to climb. Sometimes Lucas and I would be out of breath but we would rest along the way. As we neared the top most of the mountain, Marion pointed out that we had climbed even higher than the Tower of Lourdes. Yes, we could very well see the Tower at a distance. Indeed we had climbed higher. Nobody could ever imagine that Lucas and I climbed the two peaks in one day.

In the evening, surprisingly it was Roy who wanted us to finish our supper early to be able to follow the whole procession and recite the rosary from the very start. We arrived the assembly early with our 3 day old spent candles. When I saw some religious figures clad in capes with their flag and attendants going through the crowd, I quickly told my children that we should follow them. We inched through the crowd and arrived not far from where the carried statue of Mary was to begin the procession.The crowd this evening was more dense. I was scared of getting lost, so I held unto Emil's arm tightly, and told Martha and Marion together with Roy and Lucas to go two by two and held on to each other arms too. I pulled on Emil's arm and tried to catch up the lead of the procession, by then I began to lose my other companions. Emil and I got separated from the rest of my group. But our mission that night, to fully follow the Marian procession and the rosary in different languages was a mission accomplished. When the rosary was done, I happily greeted everybody near me a good evening. When I turned around, Lucas and the rest were not far behind us after all. The rest of the small stud of our candles, we offered them at the center statue of our blessed mother with the crown.

For three days, we had been going back and forth to the well, to drink and/or get some water to bring to the hotel for cleansing and washing. We bought small containers only and filled them up just for our own use. I told my children that we would use the well water everyday as long as we were there. We did not think of bringing it back home because our luggage were heavy enough. However I bought a few small souvenir bottles to bring some home to maybe a few sick friends. I was afraid the water will spill all over my clothes. That night in Lourdes, the well area was surrounded by people filling up gallons and gallons of containers. Without the lady at my back who begged for us to fill our small bottles first, we would have waited forever. Thanks, I got an extra drinking bottle to use for the night.

Since this was to be our last night in Lourdes, we did not readily get back to the hotel. We took some snacks at a cafe and went around even late at night. Many of the stores had closed but the atmosphere was still gay and peaceful. Liked us there were people still walking about............. My third day in Lourdes.
(to be continued)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pilgrimage To Lourdes II

Friday, October 12, 2012 - the second day.
Lucas, Martha, Marion and I went to Sts. Cosmos and Damian Chapel for the 9 AM English mass. The mass was con-celebrated by several priests. Attendees came from English speaking countries like USA or Canada perhaps. There were several Asians (Malaysians, Vietnamese, Filipinos) too. During the mass, I learned from the priest that yesterday Oct 11, 2012 (the day we arrived) was the start of the "Year of Faith".  Wow! It couldn't have been be more timely and appropriate that we came to Lourdes at the on-set of the pontifical year of faith.

Roy and Emil arrived just before the mass ended. They waited for us outside of the chapel. After the mass, we proceeded to the bath house. Surprise of all surprises, there was no queue at all! The men went straight to their cubicles and so did we girls to our own pools. Randomly, I was separated from Martha and Marion. Somehow I was glad the girls were not with me because I wanted to be emotional. I  wanted to be cleansed from my pains and troubles and illnesses, so I cried. I wanted God to have mercy and pity me. The attendants at the bath were sympathetic. They were very helpful and efficient. I clutched two rosaries in my right hand: one was the rosary of Roy's art teacher who requested him that I dip her beads in the pool. Another one was my own short red travelling rosary. It was given to me by my sister-in-law Jean after coming home from a vacation in Boracay. I asked the attendants if I could bring the 'rosary' with me to the pool and they all assented, but I didn't realize that I would be submerged only up to my neck with my arms being held. When I was thus submerged and told to rise, I soon realized my rosaries were not dipped in the water.
"Wait" I halted my steps.
"No, no, no!" they all cried out.
"You are wet already" One of the girls said.
But I struggled and tried to show my right hand. "My rosary" I said.
They released their grip on me shortly and I was able to quickly dip the two rosaries into the water. The attendants were really nice people. They brought me back to the dressing area and contrary to what many people said that one dries up instantaneously after the cold dip; I was wet but not cold. The attendants helped me dressed up although I told them I could do it myself. One girl specially fussed over me and said it was her job to help. As I was still sniffing from my tears, I let her helped. I guessed she was a dedicated volunteer. These volunteers were really nice people.

When I came out from the bath, my family was all outside waiting for me. Everybody was smiling, happy to be able to do the bathe (specially without queuing). We all had different experiences.
"It was actually very refreshing." Roy said.

After the pool, we went straight back to the grotto again. This time there was a throng of people. We stood and mingled in lines and patiently waited for our turn. This time I did not forget to bring the letter entrusted to me by my daughter-in-law Angel and managed to drop it correctly into the petition box. Yet, however, I still missed to see the in-cased place where St. Bernadette dug the spring because my mind was somewhat wondering. Before reaching the apparition site, there was an Asian woman standing near the cave with a drinking bottle held in her hand. She was patiently filling her bottle with drops of water coming from the stone cave. The people in line just let her be. It was an act of faith maybe. Just as before, the grotto's passage seemed too short. But I did see a single rose in bloom near the statue of our Virgin Mother. That was significant.

After the grotto, we went back to the well again to drink and get some water. Some of the taps were still quite accessible for all of us to partake. Happily, this was a morning meaningfully well spent - our acts of faith.

As you know, we were quite an adventurous lot hence we proceeded to further explore the Lourdes area. My eager children were well prepared with their directions. We easily got to the underground basilica, a holding for bigger congregation of people for big events. We got in, prayed and got out into the other side of the town. This side not surprisingly was also lined with souvenir stores. We ate at a local restaurant and walked the shops.

Of course we did some shopping. Infact my favorite store was the one next to my hotel. I bought medallions for my daughters, myself, habilins, pasalubongs etc. The very friendly sales lady gave me 15% discount for all my purchases. She even gave me 2 ballpens for free and a rose smelling rosary too.

In the evening, we followed the Marian procession again. This time, a Tagalog version of Hail Mary was recited. The crowd was getting bigger, yet I wasn't scared about it anymore. I felt fairly contented because I had mostly done what I intended to do in Lourdes.............. my second day. ( to be continued )

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pilgrimage To Lourdes

I went to England and France from the Philippines with my husband Lucas and two children Emil and Martha. We met up with Marion and Roy at Heathrow Airport, London. Marion just finished her one year MS study in Warwick while Roy enplaned to London from Seattle, USA to be with us. It was a family get together abroad, except for Tom who stayed behind in Manila with his wife Angel and two very young sons. For three weeks, we toured the two countries: first England and then France.

For this particular trip, one of my foremost intentions was to go to Lourdes. If ever I do a life time pilgrimage, it was to be Lourdes. I wanted to visit the holy shrine of our blessed mother. I have so much empathy with it.

And so after a 4 day tour of Paris, We began our pilgrimage to Lourdes. Despite a slight delay due to bad weather; the plane landed us safely in Lourdes. I was nervous. I missed several pilgrimage trips before, because my teaching schedules came in conflict with the journeys. This trip however was planned a year ahead prior to our departure. Few months before we left, I was having a long running throat ailment. Lucas also got a bad tendonitis few weeks before our leaving Cotabato City. I was so afraid that something will prevent us from going, so I prayed nightly to Our Lady, that everything will go smoothy, that we will be able to reach our destinations and safely arrive home without a hitch. I am truly grateful for this wonderment.

We arrived Lourdes at noon. We had a most ideal hotel location that was very near the sanctuary, entering the shrine from the Saint Joseph gate. Infact, all our rooms had a very nice window view of the street. First, we took our lunch nearby and then proceeded to the grotto.

First duty on hand, was to light two big candles: One was for myself and my family members. The second candle - was for my sister Helen. Before I left Manila, she gave me some money to light a big candle for her in thanksgiving and also in petition to ask help from our mother to solve her business labor problem in Manila.

After the candles were lighted, the second action was to go near the grotto. There was a short line and I was so excited. People I heard always talked about long queues. I didn't realize it was going to be easy to come near the grotto. I was in a faze. I was coming close to the holy shrine. I was also becoming teary eyed. I didn't even look carefully that I put my donation in the petition box. I was mostly looking upward than down that I really missed seeing the in-cased glass where St. Bernadette dug the spring. Coming close to the place of apparition, everybody was touching the cave walls. I used both hands to caress it. I saw streaks of water running down the wall. My hands passed through and touched the streaks of water flowing down. It was just after the rain, hence the flow of water but I felt so blessed to be there, so timely. The flow of water that day meant something miraculous it seemed to me. But right after passing the cave and the statue above, I felt so disappointed that it was all I could do. Kind of, I was hoping to be able to kneel or touch or do something significant. Anyway I had to behave myself. I guessed my children thought that I was frantically in a frenzy. 

The third thing to do, was go to the water site where several faucets where installed for accessibility of the pilgrims. Anybody can drink or take away the well waters. Surprisingly there were again few people. I had all but a small plastic container to fill, yet I did wash my parched mouth and dry hands right from the tap. I told my children to wash their hands too or whatever they wished to do.

We went to the bath area but there was a long long queue of people, most specially disabled persons in wheel chairs with attendants pulling the carts. My children and I decided that Lucas and I should come back in the morning instead. I was however worried that the water in the morning would be too cold for us, but "Where is my faith? It was supposed to be a miraculous bathe". I told myself.

That same afternoon, we went up to the Immaculate Conception Basilica, got in, prayed, walked about, took pictures etc. After going around the vicinity, the next thing we did was go back to the grotto for the 5 o'clock rosary. I found only one vacant seat where I took it for Lucas to sit. The recitation was in Spanish but I tried to follow it through and reply silently in English. My kids and I stood all the while for the afternoon rosary. Surprisingly, I was not even tired at all.

We went back to the hotel to rest before supper. After being rested, we took a hearty meal inside the hotel restaurant at passed seven PM. It was a happy meal for us. We were kind of well rested and ready to do more activities. The children got maps and information regarding the grotto's schedules, so that night we planned well ahead for the next day activities. That night, we ate like the French. It took us long enough to talk and finish our meal, that it was well passed nine o'clock in the evening when we finished our supper.

After supper, we walked towards the grotto again and the nightly procession had already started. We bought candles to follow. The rosary was recited in several languages. One Hail Mary was even recited in the Visayan language. The Marian procession finished around 10PM, yet the night atmosphere was still happy and gay in Lourdes. We went to the well again and took some more water. We stayed up well up to 11 PM where stores began to close for the day. As there was nothing else to do, we went back to the hotel for the night............... My very first day in Lourdes.  ( to be continued )

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8, 2012

This morning I got up early at 5:30 AM to attend mass. It was the birthday feast of our Blessed Virgin Mary. I wanted to show my gratefulness and love for her. She has always been a wonderful loving mother to me. I offered the mass in thanksgiving for the whole family:

Last night (Philippine time), Marion my daughter passed her oral examination with distinction at the University of Warwick, UK! I was so happy and proud and thankful.

Also my husband Lucas, who while suffering severe pain from an inflamed tendon last Wednesday night, was eased of his excruciating pain by a pill that I randomly thought to give him (when prescribed medications were not easing him) after a desperate prayer of plea for help. When he took the pill, his pain lessen and he was able to go to sleep. He is right now under the same doctor's medication and physical rehabilitation therapy. He is fast getting better.

And thankfully I am also presently recovering from a long persistent cough and throat dryness.

Truly, whenever I have problems or concerns that are unbearable beyond me. I ask the blessed mother to help. I recite an extra rosary to connect. You have to believe me that assistance do come quickly in many forms! Indeed, how can we humans ever be helped and saved without our blessed Lady being mother to our Savior and Lord.
I love you O my Divine Mother! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Lady of Lourdes

Before Multiply cuts me off in December, I would like to write a few more things. 

I have not been to France or Europe. If I go, I intend to visit the holy shrine of our Lady in Lourdes in thanksgiving for the petitions that I wrote her ( sent through post ) which were heard and answered. And to petition for more because she has been such a good and loving mother.

My story happened many years ago when I was still active with my own school in Cotabato, and while my daughters were in high school in Manila.

It was the summer and Martha and Marion came home to Cotabato for vacation. Being an observant mother, upon their arrival, I quickly saw some unsightly rashes on Martha's face. They were mostly around her mouth. Next day, I brought her to see a doctor and she was prescribed a tube of cream which she religiously applied according to prescription.
After spending few weeks in Cotabato, my husband and I together with the girls proceeded to Bacolod and Iloilo for some wedding and sightseeing. In Iloilo, I observed that the rashes were again surfacing on Martha's face. I asked if she was still applying her cream and she told me that the small tube of cream was already consumed ( or did she leave it in cotabato? ), so we went to a pharmacy and bought another one.

After Bacolod and Iloilo, we went back to Manila. During a get-together, an old family friend gave us a free pass to Fontana, Clark, Pampanga. But while in Fontana, I saw Martha's rashes becoming more reddish and prominent. I began to worry.

Coming home to Manila, I brought her to a lady dermatologist in Cardinal Santos Hospital. She said Martha applied the wrong face cream because it contained steroid. That medication only worsened her facial condition which she called 'skin asthma'. She prescribed another tube of ointment, but after using it for a week, it did not help the skin any better.

In a verge of desperation, because Martha's rashes were really getting thick and coarse, I brought her to another doctor for a second opinion. This doctor gave a heart breaking pronouncement that her skin condition called 'skin asthma' will never be cured. She said it will come and go but it will always be there. It really broke my heart.

I was so distraught. "Why does it have to be on her face?" I said to myself.
My heart broke to a hundred pieces more when Martha came to my room that late afternoon and asked me. "Ma, will my face not get better anymore?"

I tried to be brave for my daughter's sake. " Tet," I said. "We will try our best to get you better. You see Mama is trying everything. We will try to see more doctors to help you."

When I was alone, I cried in agony for help from above. It was the Friday and my thoughts were frantically searching for cures and help. Somehow during that time of anguish, an inner thought seemed to be teaching me what to do.

First, I remembered reading a Saturday column of Father Reuter from the Philippine Star. I was an avid follower of Father Reuter's. He more than once wrote about miraculous helps from our Lady of Lourdes through petitions from writing letters. He included an address which I did not pay much attention to. Now that I needed help, I was thinking of writing to him to ask for that address in France. I would look into his Saturday column tomorrow morning.

Secondly, I also thought of asking for another person's help. I called up Liezle (wife of Apollo) if she knew of any good dermatologist. She recommended a pedia-derma in UDMC, Quezon City. Yes, I intended to bring Martha to see the physician. I had no other person to go to.

And  mostly that night, I prayed and prayed for cure and help for my daughter. Martha was a shy girl. The facial rashes would have an adverse affect on her personality. She would develop inferiority complex....... Oh Blessed mother, please help me. O God, have mercy!

The next morning......Surprisingly when I opened the Saturday paper to look into the column of Father Reuter.  There... "Wallah"... as though he read my mind the night before, Father Reuter gave me the address of Our Lady of Lourdes in France!!!

That morning, I also proceeded to UDMC with Emil driving us to Data Street, Quezon City.  Martha and I, together went up to the doctor's office. I talked the lengthy reason for our visit. The lady physician must have sensed both our desperation specially regarding the uncure-able part of the ailment. She was so kind. She listened and looked carefully on Tet's rashes. She said...she personally did not think it was skin asthma. Since Martha was in her teens, it was unlikely because it was at this age when the skin would become oily. She did not prescribed any medicine. She did not treat Martha instead she referred us to another doctor in Cubao. She wrote a recommendation letter and reassured us that she was not abandoning us, rather she would study the case together with her recommended doctor. They had neighboring offices at the medical center in Cubao.

I went home full of hope that Saturday. I felt and knew help was coming. When I reached home I told Martha that I was going to write a letter of petition to Our Lady of Lourdes. That she must write a letter too herself for the same reason. Both of us wrote our petitions. We sealed it in one envelope and sent it through post.

The next available clinic day, Martha and I went to see the recommended physician in Cubao. From her many certificates on the office wall, I was somehow comforted that she came from the University of the Philippines and therefore must be bright and good. When I personally met her though, I was not that impressed. But I put my trust in the Lord. He was guiding us. I felt the loving compassion of his mother. I put my trust in her as my little girl put her trust and faith in me too.

Dra. Nenita Alberto suspected that the rashes might be caused by clogged pores and she wanted Martha to come see her every week. But since I was going home to Cotabato for the opening of classes at St. Martha's School, I left the responsibility to my son Emil to bring his sister to the doctor regularly for treatment. I followed the progress through long distance calls......

.........in three weeks time, Martha's skin condition's got better. In three months time, her skin was completely cleared. O, thank you God!

Yes indeed......from how this story developed and from how quickly the response came in answer to my prayers; this is one healing I fully attribute to the intervention of Our Lady of Lourdes, and truly to the greatness and goodness and mercy of our Lord. Thank You so very much


Friday, July 20, 2012

Modus Operandi !!!

Makati:
Smoke belching emission test! What a scam!!! They target certain type of vehicular car.
Yesterday a group of bullies and burly looking men in blue t-shirts stopped our car particularly in the middle of the road in Makati. My son showed him a test emission certification. The scalawag said it was expired na. The certification was issued last April. But it was only good for three months, according to that scumbag force...even if the car had no emission, the certification had to be updated every three months. My son was so angry. He was accosted three times already, twice at the same location. He asked that bullying fellow a lot of questions. He asked him where to get a certification that's good for one year. I was very angry too. I said "Bakit sa dami ng mga sasakyang diyan, bakit kami ang parating ninyo hinuhuli!" When the scumbag saw that my son and I were so angry, he let us off, but he reminded us to get hold of a new test emission certification. What a scam!!!!!
Please read PhilStar today dated July 20, 2012, CTALK by Cito Beltran second to the last and last paragraph to know that this is a rampant practice in Makati!!!

Kids in EDSA
There are a bunch of well trained kids specially boys that hide themselves among the post or island walls of EDSA or other thoroughfares. They target mostly taxi cabs but their sharp eyes can spot private cars as well. One kid would try to knock or distract their victim by prying open the passenger back door, while another kid would swiftly opened the front or the other unlatched door and snatched anything from the car. They would run swiftly counter traffic flow to escape. Be sure there are no police around when they do their open daylight robberies.
I have heard several tales from several eyewitnesses before, yet I personally saw this happened yesterday. The operation was so fast, just a few seconds or minutes away. The kid pulled a pouch from the taxi driver's side when he was distracted by the knock at the back. Too late he realized his money bag was stolen. The driver was so stunned. He stopped the car and wanted to chase them in the middle of the road but the kids ran like trained athletes in counter traffic flow. This was in EDSA. We were all stupefied by the scene.
From these, I wanted so much to cry in despair:
1. I so pity the driver who lost his hard earned money.
2. I am fearful these kids would turn out to become harden criminals. And there are plentiful of them these days. Watch out for them everywhere, be it in malls, at transit stations, on streets and highways and others.
3. I worry about what our country is going and coming through: all talks and pride but wallowing in criminalities from kids to the cops to the top echelons.
4. I don't think it is more fun in the Philippines!
Please also read Sketches, column by Ana Marie Pamintuan - Unsafe Streets, Philippine Star, July 20, 2012.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Domestic Helper Woes

There is always domestic helper woe in the family. I have had my share and more, since I took over domestic responsibility after the death of my mom in 1971, at the age of 19. I encountered more frantic problems when I got married and had my own kids. There were unending needs for baby sitters, cooks and helpers. I changed and hired new maids more often than I have bought new shoes. Somehow though, help came when I needed them most. I have ever become so dependent on them.
In my own capacity, I can do some household chores pretty good. I can cook, wash clothes, iron, wash dishes and clean my own room. I am not good at taking care of babies though and cleaning the toilet and dusting and sweeping floors too. I live in a relatively spacious abode and when house-helps are abundant, I like to entertain and have parties occasionally.
But sadly, the family still continues to have house-help problems, specially regarding nannies for my two grandchildren. I am not much of a big help to my daughter-in-law with regards to baby sitting. I pray that she gets good nanny that will stay with her for long. Soonest possible I hope.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Of Old.....

Last June, Lucas and I attended the wake and burial of Mr. Tomas Atienza in Manila. We condoled with the bereaved wife Rosa (Bibi) and her children. The wake was well attended by the Atienza's clan, blood relatives, extended families, business partners and friends. The Atienzas were big, prominent  families in Cotabato City. They were civic minded people and good community leaders. Because of kidnappings and safety threats, it's a pity, they have now left the infamous place to its deterioration.
During the wake, I met several people, specially those who were close and contemporaries of the deceased. My husband Lucas was also a contemporary friend, peer, masonic brother and neighbor of Tomas Atienza. Not to mention that his brother Lucio is married to Conchita Atienza, the deceased elder sister.
I like to mention a few people I met. There were Enrique and Tina Cheng, Robin and Christine Go, Oscar and Deborrah Tan Abing, (Mus and Bai Sandra Sema), Ikiat and Manuelita Jao, Lourdes Mastura, Faustino and Anita Yu, Lily Tan, Deana Du and her brother Jimmy Yap, Ledesma siblings: Imelda, William, Helen and Ollie, Homer and Jane Go, Luna and Tina Tan, Sensio and Lena Tan, Joe Co and his wife, Johnny Co, Nonie and Tess Chio, Yu Seng and Judy Chua etc.........Everybody I met there looked older from what I remembered them from yester-years. I was sure Lucas and I looked older too. Although it was good meeting old friends and reminiscing the good old times and catching up with what's new: but it just made me realized that time has flown so very fast, separated us from our beloved place and made us all grow older.
Only the good memories remain............................

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer's Bounty




Bountiful fruits this summer. They are all free, either from my lot's backyard or given by friends and relatives. We also have young coconuts and we also raise our own backyard chicken. Is there no wonder why we like living in Cotabato? How much do all of these cost in Manila?
(And I was not able to capture the plentiful golden ripe mangoes given to me by Atty. Ruel and Margie Plando. The mangoes were oh so sweet! I enjoyed eating them so much that I simply forgot to take their pictures)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Piano Playing

Consider that I started my piano lessons late in third year high school. And I spent only a duration of two years of it until I went to Manila for my college education.
Considering too that I never had a piano of my own, not until the late nineties. I used to practice my pieces at my neighbor's (Bebot) house. My children too, they used to have their lessons with their cousins at Luna and Tina's place. We did not have a piano at home until I bought one for I wanted my twin girls to be able to play good.
For I was never good. I had no ear for music. I was slow in reading notes and my fingers and touches were too strong. The only thing that worked for me was my persistentcy. And my husband Lucas was the only person patient enough to listen to my repetitive hard rending piano pieces. Hahaha!
Anyway, Lately I bought a new book - Book I of The Bigger Beginners' Supplementary Book by Priscilla Halili Enriquez. They are very simple but I am extremely happy to be able to play familiar tunes like Moon River, For He's a Jolly Good Fellow, As Time Goes By, If Ever I Would Leave You, The Nearness of You, etc and two Filipino songs..'Minamahal' and 'Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak'. I don't play perfectly well but hehehe.....There is no substitute for self satisfaction. Hahaha!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dengue Fever

I went to Manila on May 21, 2012 because my son Emil was sick and admitted to the hospital. Emil had the dengue and he suffered from chills every three hours round the clock, an hour before his paracetamol medication. I was hysterically worried in Cotabato hence I flew to Manila as soon as I could. He was feeling very sick when I arrived. I requested further blood examination for malaria and typhoid fever (they came out negative). I was so concerned because Emil had the dengue before when he was younger, but this time, his condition seemed worse despite his age and built.

Accordingly, there were many possible cures for dengue from the many stories I had heard. They were such things like eating durian or 5 pugo eggs or drinking weed water called tawa-tawa.

I did the tawa-tawa concoction by boiling plentiful of tawa-tawa weeds. I let Emil drink the weed-water from the time he was admitted to the hospital and I provided more weeds from Cotabato. I think the tawa-tawa water helped him a lot. His platelets did not drop further after he took the water. He slowly recovered and after 4 days of confinement, he was released from the hospital.

When Emil was feeling better, I was on the other hand experiencing queasy stomach. I went to the toilet in the morning for three succeeding times. I was afraid of getting sick myself and I quickly drank a glass of tawa-tawa water to self medicate. Surprisingly I felt better immediately. My stomach stopped feeling queasy and I was whole again.

The tawa-tawa weed, I tell you, is really good!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Yesterday's Funfares

Yesterday was mother's day. "It is a secular celebration but let us spiritualized our intention......." from the homily of Father Joel Baes DCC. I was the commentator during the mass. At the service, I coordinated well with the celebrator, co- lectors, choir and participants. I felt proud to have done the job well. I was very happy to be that close to the altar and doing my small service to the church.
Yesterday was a day well spent because of the many warm-hearted text messages and greetings from friends and family. My children who were either in Quezon City, Zambales, Seattle and Coventry tried to reach me as early as possible. I got Martha's beautiful email Saturday night. She was going to Zambales for an excursion and she sent me a beautiful picture and letter the night before. She also texted me a greeting while in Zambales. Marion in UK, could not be outdone. She sent me a heart warming email, as well as a text message from her roaming phone, even though it was not mother's day in England. Roy in USA contacted me through chat and I was happy to talk to him. I knew Tom and Angel greeted me first thing when they woke up in the morning. And maybe Emil, the first thing he did when he remembered the occasion :) Anyway, even without this promotional day of celebrating. I knew they all love me!!!
In the morning, I had light snacks with Lucas and friends Siolan and James Yap. There were also lots of people with their families celebrating.
Late in the afternoon, after my nap and taichi, my sister Jeannette surprised me by coming over. Friend and neighbor KianHua came too. We had supper together. Aside from the usual Sunday's fare, I served ngo hiong and sweet corn for our meal. After supper, my sister-in-law Tina came over to chat with us. I further served Pinoy sorbetes ice cream for dessert. A really nice day for celebrating.
Most importantly for this occasion, let us not forget the greatest mom of all - the Mother of our Savior and of all humankind too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Prayers for the Sick

It all began last year when one of our employees had a freak accident. He was sucked up and got electrocuted from a misplaced high tension wire. Boyet, our warehouseman survived the horrible accident but he would need months maybe years of medical care and hospitalization. He may even become incapacitated for life.
Aside from the accident, another sad news followed. Abelardo, our top parts man, was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on the upper nape of his head. He must go to Davao City for radio active and chemotherapy treatments. (Abe is still at the prime of his life and his children are all young and needing him.) He asked for leave to be treated in Davao City.
After Abe's sickness, a third unfortunate thing happened. Our family driver Alvin was suddenly stricken with a mild stroke. We got to know later that Alvin lived a very unhealthy after-work life style of drinking, smoking and eating too much salty food.
Although LCT the establishment and my husband and other family members extended financial help and other personal supports, yet with all these unfortunate events occurring and coming too soon one after the other, it made us all feel helpless and sad. Our sympathy and aid may come in handy but I knew I had to do something else. I began to offer prayers. Everyday I offered a decade of rosary for those who were sick. I specially mentioned their names for healing. 
Then there were more:
- Norma Ngo, the sister-in-law of Jean (one of our trusted secretaries) was rushed to Davao for fear of gangrene. Her open wound on the foot was not healing for months despite treatment of antibiotics. Doctors here in Cotabato were dropping hints of amputation.
- Our retired parish priest Father Gerry Tiagga, DDC who had Parkinson disease was becoming very weak.
- The mother of my close friend Anita Go in Manila was bedridden due to a fall.
- My former classmate and volunteer fireman Mike Sy fell from a roof top during a fire duty in Cotabato. His fall caused partial paralysis and he was rushed to Davao and was later airlifted to Manila.
- My former classmate Ernesto T. Lim had reoccurring pains after being discharged from the hospital. He had just undergone a liver operation at St. Luke Hospital, QC.

The list of names included in my prayers were becoming longer and longer..................but I was seeing a good progress from the people I was praying for:

1. Norma Ngo was discharged from Davao Hospital and her wound started to heal.
2. Boyet was transfered to the care of Dr. Leopoldo Lugtu. He was discharged after several months in the hospital. Although his burns were not completely healed yet but his physical condition was now stable. He could continue his medication as an out-patient. He came to the store to visit a month ago in crutches. His worst burns were on the scalp and feet. He was still in pain but he was able to move around.
3. Abelardo finished his treatments in Davao City. He came back with a good fighting spirit and continued to work at the store.
4. Alvin took medication and went through physical therapy and rehabilitation. He came back to the store after 3 months. He was given light duty inside the store. He seemed to have recovered quickly though. He could not wait to be driving again.
5. The ladies of the church visited Father Tiagga at his residence hall in Queen of Peace Church. He was cheerful, lucid and looking good. Everybody commended him for a good physical appearance and aura. I was the first one who jokingly said. "Father nagpogi ka yata ah!"
6. I got to visit the mother of Anita Go while I was in Manila. And according to my friend, her mother was feeling much better after she was fitted with a lighter body and hip brace jacket which they bought at Divisoria Market. At her age (90 plus) she was mentally keen, talkative and in high spirit that day when Imelda, Arthuro and I visited her.
7. Mike Sy, after the fall went into medication and physical rehabilitation program. Although not quite fully recovered but he was up and about. He walked with a limp but or else he could get up and walked. He even attended school functions as a member of the school board.
8. We did not get to hear any more bad new from our classmate Ernesto Lim. He must be recovering I hope.

My prayers are not however over yet. I have to add many more names. I have now included Elena Yu Ekey, Johnny W. Tan, Suan Aie Siao Rosete, Chua Yu Beng and many others.
I may not have done any great things in my life but maybe I can help my neighbors and friends with prayers. (Faintly just like St. Therese of the Child Jesus.) I hope they get relief from their pains, and may they all get well soon.
God, please bless my family and my love ones too. Keep us safe and healthy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Month of May

The month of May spells "Flores de Mayo" This is my story:

When Roy was about 5 years old, my husband and I agreed to sign in our first born child for the summer catechism class called "Flores de Mayo". But during his first day of attendance at Queen of Peace Church, I was peering down at him from the windows of the City Health Building where my youngest son Emil was confined due to amoebiasis. From the window I saw my husband brought and fetched Roy and his cousin Jocelyn from classes. I was so down and depressed because Emil was sick. I turned to prayers and offered them to the blessed mother. Thankfully, my 6-month-old baby got well. Roy continued his catechism, and my husband and I became attached and supportive of the program ever since. At the end of the month, we proudly attended the culminating activity and fiesta mass where Roy was chosen by the Oblates Sisters as Prince Constantino to Clarissa Barrios who was the Reyna Elena.

When it was time for Tom to participate, I was asked by the MMLC (ladies organization) to enter Tom in the fiesta pageant. I sold tickets to win him a third place in the pageantry. Unluckily Tom had a mishap and sprained his ankle. Emil the younger brother happily took his place. During the coronation, despite Emil being the youngest and smallest  participant; his brave stride and winsome smile captured everybody's heart and attention. I remember Susan Sy fondly calling him "The little prince charming"
 
Few summers later, Tom finally took his place in another pageantry. I sold tickets to land him in another third place in our church fund raising activity. It was a bigger event. The coronation was done inside the CCI gym instead of the church compound. My Tomas was good looking. I was proud of him. He was the most helpful and gentlemanly escort of the group.

Not all summers were spent in Cotabato though. We would be in many other places but every time when May arrived, I would be comforted at the thought that the blessed Mother was with us. Most specially I had entrusted my children to her care.

For during all these random times of May while the children were growing up and I was struggling with my own personal formation, I did not forget to give what I had. For aside from the fund raising affairs, I brought my children (including the twins) to know about their God. They attended catechism classes with mostly many other children from the poorer section of society. Three of them received their first communion at the Queen of Peace Church. And they were also confirmed at different times during the fiesta. As parents, we religiously followed and supported all these church activities, as I quietly offered my children to God as flowers to our blessed Mother. My "Flores de Mayo."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Day's Activity

A lot of people ask me what do I do these days. Well, I am preoccupied everyday :) Here's my schedule of activities for today:
1. Wake up at 7 AM
2. Breakfast at 7:30 .... two pieces skinless pork longaniza, one egg, two slices of local baguette and two cups of green tea.
3. Check my email at 8:00 o'clock. Nothing much.
4. Prepare ingredients for pinsik (fried dumplings) at 8:15 AM. Find out I need some more wanton wrappers.
5. Call up my bank after 9:00 o'clock and get a call from Siolan.
6. Walk to South Sea's Mall to get wanton wrappers and other grocery needs at 9:30 AM. The walk is good exercise but sun is so hot. I use an umbrella though.
7. Get back home at 10:20 AM to finish preparing my pinsik. The family cook fry my preparation.
8. Use the internet. By the time I am done, it is already 11:00 AM
9. Play the piano to while the time
10. Lunch  with Lucas at 11:45
11. Noon break from 12 to 2PM
12. Do a 15 minute exercise and open the computer.
13. Go to the store office at 3 PM to read the papers and get acquainted with the tsismis (gossips) of the day.
14. Get back to the kitchen to talk to the cook before 4 PM and help prepare one vian (saute diced preserved radish with ground pork and eggs) Divide the food into three sections for distribution: for Lucio & Conchita, for Luna & Tina and for Lucas & Heddy.
15. Do crossword puzzle for the day until the store starts to close at 5 PM
16. Play the piano again while Lucas watches local TV news after 5 PM
17. Supper at 6 o'clock
18. Say my rosary and other prayers after supper
19. Do personal chores
20. Watch American Idol at 8:00 and other tv shows.
21. Write my blog at ten
22. Watch more tv shows, read papers and comic books before going to bed.
That's all folks :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Siquijornons and Their Stories (Honesty)




First I have to tell you about the people of Siquijor. The Siquijornons used to be the local working migrants in Cotabato City. I literally grew up with them and their stories about ghosts and anting anting. As a child, I remembered them going back to their hometowns once a year to attend fiesta, then returning back with tortas and siniguelas fruits as pasalubong.
Before in Cotabato, when I and my children got sick specially from upper respiratory ailments and fever, I would call for a local Siquijornon hilot (midwife) and/or healer to massage us back to recovery. Unfortunately from their stories, their place seemed a sinister lot with tales abounding with barangs (black witches) and curses and deaths.
One popular story in the seventies was when then first lady Imelda Marcos went personally to Siquijor to meet the supreme barang for cure of her legs that grew scales!!!
Despite their dark tales, to this day, I continue to favor employing Siquijornons most specially because of their honesty but sadly their working class are becoming less and lesser.

So as I have posted in my previous blogs, I went to Siquijor for the first time last March with some Cotabato friends. It was the last leg of my many local travels and I was kind of becoming out of sync from getting up so early in the morning.
First, I forgot to put back my local beaded necklace after a spa treatment in the evening but when I asked around in the morning, I was able to retrieve back my necklace from the front desk. Apparently the masseurs returned the lost item.
Lastly, I forgot to wear back my light sweater which I hung on the chair before I took my breakfast near the beach front. I had already checked out from the hotel and was on tour when I remembered I left the sweater. I casually asked the driver of the van to call back the front desk to locate my sweater but communication signals were poor. I left Siquijor that noon without my sweater with me. All the while I thought somebody might take a liking to it.
Because it had become my favorite sweater of late, I did not lose hope looking for it. Upon arriving Manila, I emailed Coco Grove Hotel. I got a reply telling me to call the hotel directly. And so I did and when I phoned them, I was so much delighted to know that my coat was retrieved. I requested Salcedo Oric, our store retired employee who now operates a store in Siquijor to get my sweater back. He went to the hotel with my instructions but was not able to get it back because the custodian was out. However with great sincerity, the next day the hotel sent my coat to his house through one of it's staff.

Thankfully, last Saturday April 14, I finally got my sweater back. Saldedo Oric sent it back to me through our cashier Neneng who was there with her family on vacation. I am so happy and thankful for the honesty and good will of the Siquijornons!
May your tribe increase!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Week

I am spending a quiet laid back holy week, observing most of the Catholic religious rites of my parish such as:
1. Attending mass on Holy Thursday
2. Participating a half hour vigil on the repository of the blessed sacrament after the mass
3. Doing the way of the cross around the designated stations in town on Good Friday
4. Attending the communion service on the same day in the afternoon

Other activities I am unable to do:
1. The recollection at our parish hall in the morning of Holy Thursday
2. And the "Seven Last Words" done by the Knights of Columbus inside the church.

This holy week isn't even over yet, when here come text messages again from some sources telling us that evil persons from Kabuntalan/ Tamontaka are on the prowl again in the city. And this morning we heard news that South Sea's residential gate in College was bombed last night.

O Lord protect us from all these evil plotters and doers. I continue to pray that the city will be rid of these evil masterminds and become peaceful again. For all our sufferings and prayers and faith in you dear Jesus, please do hear us O Lord. Thank you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Summer

Summer in the Philippines is:
When school year ends
And graduation is on the air
When fasting and abstinence are borne
Of the Lenten season, here we observe and pray
Some parents and children pack their multicolor bags
Off to Boracay, Bohol or Puerto Princesa's land
To Hong Kong, Japan, China, maybe USA they say
Any better places their money sure can pay.

Many summers I did all these in shorts and jeans
Hauled my young children on buses and planes
With plastic bags, water and crackers inside my pack
We stayed in crude inns or some semi luxurious bins
No matter where, I must spend my two month's break
Off to the beach, the sun and the shore
To the mountain, to the sea for asthmas cure
Not only to read and write yet climb and swim
Thank God for your summer's surviving skills

Motion sickness, fever, there were more to bear
As Emil threw up from trail to trail
How Roy messed up my brother's car
And sleepless nights we fought
With coughs and whizzing gasps
But on we throve in nature's lure
To find some cure and hopes endured
We roughed it out and survived despite the odds
For God's Spirit was there to accompany us.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recovering From All My Local Trips

I came to Manila last February 16 with my husband Lucas. Together we did a lot of things here, such as I accompanied him to his routinary check up at Cardinal Santos Hospital and went to the DFA office to renew our passports etc. His doctor gave him a clean bill of health and renewing our passports went on smoothly without any problem.

Then on February 23, together with  22 of my high school classmates, I embarked for an early morning flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan for a reunion trip. It was a blast. We had lots of fun for 4 days and three nights. We went on a city tour, sightseeing, shopping, eating and tasting exotic food, swimming, snorkeling etc. We talked and teased and enjoyed each others company like old high school days. I slept late, woke up early and laughed so much that I lost my voice on the 2nd day of the trip. It was fun though and now everybody is looking forward to another reunion trip in the future.

I came back to Manila once more but briefly and on March 1, I took an airplane flight to be in Dumaguete City for the national convention of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Catholic Women's Organization. The hosting chapter led by the abled hands of their priests was very well organized and hospitable. I had only good praises for all their programs and arrangements.
Cotabato City was one among the biggest contingents that was represented during the convention. We were composed of 34 delegates. However the internal divisiveness and personal aggrandizement of  many of our chapter members made our own group so topsy turvy. Our accommodation placement was a mess. We had to share different roommates on some occasions and transferred to other rooms and hotels on succeeding days. I tried to make the most out of the situation but complains were running high and there were burst of temperaments from some quarters. I was lucky enough to share my first night with Rosalinda Masot. We got a small room but with separate beds. Others got bigger rooms but with 4 or 3 persons sharing and some people did not like sharing beds too.
The next morning prior to the convention proper, we had time to tour the city on our own. Because I was her roommate, Rose Masot invited me to join her on a sightseeing trip courtesy of her niece and nephew-in-law. Together with Gloria Lu, her own relative, I had the good fortune to see Dumaguete City and it's surrounding towns from a good touring perspective.
During the convention, I enjoyed all the meals and meriendas prepared for the delegates. I loved celebrating daily eucharistic mass. The first evening of the convention, we rendered our Filipiniana dance and people lauded me for my dance performance. I did not think I danced to perfection though. Hehe. During the healing session of Father Faller, I was emotionally touched by the passing of the Blessed Sacrament. For a moment I thought Father Faller was coming towards me because he swirled to my direction and he came so close, almost right in front of me. I silently cried to God and asked for mercy for me and my family. I asked to be loved and healed. The next day however though, I intentionally escaped and cut the afternoon talk of Jean Goulbourn to take a long needed nap in my hotel. Haha. ( I took a tricycle by myself to get to my hotel in pretense that I was not able to bring and take my medicine which was really true. I was dead tired when I reached my room. Because of the noontime heat, I was but all yearning to go to sleep. Everything  happened so easy and fast. I just went to sleep. Hahaha). Anyway to make the narration short, I survived the convention by taking care of myself and enjoying and learning to the fullest. The last night of the convention was a concert performed by the New Priests on the Block. I had a blast swinging and dancing! Near the end of the sessions, the priests came distributing red roses. I got two: one from Bishop Jausian and the other from Father Eking. I believed my prayers were answered by the significance of the roses. (By the way, I also got a long stem rose from Robert Tan during the last night of our reunion program in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Thank you Robert for acknowledging all the girls present.)
After the convention was over, the Cotabato chapter members took a side trip to Siquijor. We were around 30 persons. All the while I think the organization of the trip was poor and inefficient. The tourist bus cost us 6 thousand pesos when we could have saved more by hiring 3 vans that cost P400.00 each. Upon reaching our hotel, there were more flare up of temperaments. But we mostly took care of ourselves upon arrival at Coco Groove. The first thing everybody did was to get a good shut eye. Siquijor was a lovely place. We got to enjoy the beach and the pool before sunset. We also got to see the Cambugahay falls and went to the top of the mountain for the nice breeze and wonderful sky view. All in all it was a worthwhile trip.

I came back to Manila on Monday evening, all so exhausted from all the recent trips. Home for three days, I seemed to be so hungry and sleepy all the time. I slept from 9 in the evening to 9 in the morning. I am still recovering until now, but I am getting back to my normal activities little by little. I thank God for these travel opportunities and also for keeping me fit and strong and happy and wholesome all the while. I thank the Lord for keeping my family safe while I was away. I am so grateful for indeed a lot of my prayers and concerns were heard by my Lord. Thank you O my God. I love you so.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Siquijor




The Cotabato delegates after the convention in Dumaguete went on a side trip to Siquijor. We took the 1 hour supercat boat ride to the exotic island.
Siquijor if you must know is known for its infamous barangs (black witchcraft) and albularyos or magagamot. The people in the island mostly observed or practiced some kind of local alternative healing and/ or vodoo practices. Many has claimed a high level of effectiveness though. Contradictory to such beliefs, the local folks are also very religious. These days, the place has found a good claim on it's white beaches, resorts and exotic-ness. Many foreigners have set foot on the shore, married local girls and invested on its potentials.
I took a few pictures...but I was not able to take the breathtaking sky view from the mountain top for my phone battery was running low. I like to go back to Dumaguete and Siquijor again if given another opportunity.........next year maybe?.....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Convention in Dumaguete




I captured a few pictures from my phone camera during my first national convention for Chinese Catholic Women's Organization at Dumaguete on March 1 to 5, 2012. The pictures were mostly from sight seeing trips. I was not a good photographer. My reflexes were simply too slow for photography.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Puerto Princesa Reunion Trip



CCI (formerly CCHS) Class '68 went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan for it's 44th year reunion trip. We were Bert Atienza, Bert Co, John Co, Tony Dy, William Lee, Albert Lim, Jose Lim, Ricky Lim, Ignacio Lu, Pablo Lu, Minton Quan, Benjie Tan, Gerry Tan, Robert Tan, Alfredo Uy, Robert Yap, Ramon Yee Fon, Imelda Bugayong, Remy Fornillos, Anita Go, Wee Eng Ong, Heddy Tan and Hermie Chew. 17 boys and 6 girls, a total of 23 high school classmates. It was one of the most successful reunions we ever had. We were excited liked little kids, and more noisy and rowdy than teenagers. The excursion lasted for 4 days and 3 nights. I hardly slept the first day but surprisingly my stamina was quite high. My bosom buddy Imelda was worse. I didn't realize she could be awake and ready to go at 3:30 in the morning. Hahaha! That's excitement for you!!! Anyway, I took a few shots from my phone camera. Enjoy the pictures.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

CCI Class '68 Reunion Party




It's again the leap year and so time for another reunion. This time, we celebrated our 44th year class reunion party at the Quezon City Sports Center. Below are highlights of the affair.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday. It ushers the 40 days observance of Lent. Lucas and I attended mass at 7 o'clock this morning and received the mark of ashes on our forehead. Today Catholics are supposed to fast and abstain from eating meat. Because of my age, I am also supposedly excused from fasting already. Yet I think I am still able and capable enough of practicing self discipline, so I shall continue to do so. It is really not as hard as how the muslims do it. We Catholics are allowed two light snacks and one full meal. This morning, I ate half a pandesal with sardines filling and drank a cup of honey beverage. For lunch I had banana soup and two servings of tilapia and water. It's not so bad. I am not feeling hungry, except for that particular time when I went to Gateway Mall. The many food display there made me salivate. Haha! I shall have my full meal tonight.
Today makes me also think about last year's Lent. If I recall right, the first Friday of Lent last year, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Although it really happened in the month of March. I heard the horrifying news from my sister-in-law Jean on my way to Mount Carmel Church. For the culmination of Lent 2011 however, I was in Seattle together with my husband Lucas, my sister Helen and my children Roy and Marion. I went to church in Seattle and spent my Easter Sunday in Skagit  tulip farms. How time flies.............

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dancing

I find myself these days in a dance frenzy. Hahaha. My high school classmates and I are practicing two dances at the same time in preparation for our reunion party  and trip : a costume dance and a retro number.  I am confident with the muslim dance but I tend to still get confused with my retro moves and sometimes I get out of sync.  The reunion is oh so fast approaching that I am beginning to feel the jitters.

After the reunion, I have my participation with my church group for the Federation of Chinese Catholic Women's convention in Dumaguete. Since my friends in the church are still in Cotabato, they have been continuously practicing the Filipiniana dance medley to perfection. All I have now is a medley copy which I have to practice the dance moves all by myself through memory. But I don't want to worry about it now. Let me take care of it after the high school hulabaloo is over.But I must practice by myself when I get back from our reunion trip in Palawan. I don't want to disappoint the audience. My friends, they do think I am good and I have to be. I hope and pray that everything goes well with all of my activities. Will talk to you again soon

Friday, February 10, 2012

Work-out

This week, I began a dance work-out with friends in preparation for our trip to Dumaguete. I was feeling oh so hungry and drowsy when it all started, because the exercise has to be conducted during the noon time.
Luckily, I have adjusted to the schedule now. Here's how I do it: Before the practice, I eat some carbo snacks. (I even sneaked to Chowking once to eat a bowlful of mami. Hehe). Then I take a late lunch after the practice and off to my afternoon nap. Yes, that I can do it now because I don't have any good paying work or obligation to attend to anymore. If I were still teaching at school or working in the store, I could not have joined this group to Dumaguete. This is actually my first convention and presentation after saying so many no's to a lot of invites. I am looking forward to enjoying this camaraderie. I am actually having a lot of fun now and feeling lighter with my body. Hurrah to myself! Hehehe............

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keep Watch on Lighted Candle or Boiling Pot




Fire risk!!!! It was 1/4 of a stud of a vigil candle. The wick as slim and small, so I decided to let the fire burn a bit. I did not put off the light immediately and so I forgot..... At night I smelled something burning from that side of the window, but I thought the odor was coming from the neighborhood. This morning, I gasped when I saw the burnt spot. Thank goodness, it did not do any further harm. I thank God for not letting it go wilder. Thank God for keeping us safe. I should report my negligence to you people so you have to watch out too. Another fire risk is an unwatched boiling pot. Be cautious about anything that is lighted and can cause fire. Keep safe.
Why the lighted candle?
The candle was inside a clay pot holder, I used it as base for lighting my incense which I use for praying around 5 PM. (Kind of traditional Chinese). The burned incense is then placed on an urn of pebbles and sand. Whatever you do, keep watch on anything that you have lighted. Don't leave anything before putting the fire off. Watch out!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Remembering Seoul Trip

Not too long ago, my sister Helen TanSuk, friends Remy Wee and Ivy Tan and I went to Seoul, Korea for a vacation. It was kind of a promo package on a lean travelling season during the month of November. Our tour was so specially arranged that it comprised entirely only of the four of us and a chaperon travel guide. Indeed, It was one of the most wonderful vacations I had with friends.
But silly me, in preparation for my travel, I was half expecting, subconsciously for a winter scene. The four of us ladies brought only one luggage each. We lugged our own heavy weights through different hotels each day. My luggage was the biggest of all but thanks to the sturdy rollers and good pavements and efficient help of our tour van driver, it was all a piece of cake. No sweat! 
First day upon arrival, it was evening time. We checked in at a hotel and were brought to a small cozy restaurant for supper. I jotted down what I ate. It was sundubu -spicy hot tofu with vegetable mix, and steam rice cooked in stoneware. There were lots of appetizing side dishes, of which my favorite was the kimchi. I felt so uneasy using stainless chopsticks. I finished my steam rice and side dishes but couldn't get to finish the bowlful of sundubu. After supper, we were brought back to the hotel to rest.

"The night is still young." I said. Still feeling pretty hyper.
I suggested to walk the neighborhood and so we did. After which we walked around different neighborhoods almost every night in different destinations.
The first walk took us by surprise. Although it was night time, the streets of Korea were pretty safe and well lighted. Along the road, we saw line of tall upright trees covered with yellow flowers.
"What kind of tree is that full-blooming with yellow flowers?"
Curiosity led us to go nearer. Upon approached, we were extremely surprised that they were not flowers at all but yellow leaves. Immediately it dawned to me that these were fall leaves. I began to realize that I was witnessing autumn in Korea. What an amazement. My thoughts went immediately to my husband who had so wanted to see autumn in USA but the nearest to autumn we got there was in early August, and it was still pretty green. In Korea, I got to see my first Fall, without really expecting it. I was so naive or rather ignorant or uninformed.:)
The beautiful tree which we would come to see more often, I learned was called the white poplar tree. Since some of its leaves were scattered around the floor, I quickly picked a few good ones lying on the ground to take as souvenir. Then I saw Remy and Ivy bent down to pick more. Haha!  It would be crazy for people to see us four ignoramus ladies picking leaves along the streets. So I straightened up and watched them gathered more leaves as we walked along the road. Yet whenever my friends stopped picking, I would quickly bend down to pick mine again. How hilarious!!!
I was awed struck by the beauty of fall, so cold and different, although it was kind of dry and late already during our visit. Another tree which gave so much color was the small-leafed maple tree. In comparison, it was reddish. I took some samples home too and pressed them in a small book.

We had a good seven wonderful days in Korea:
- We went to Everland,
- Went on Chungju Lake Cruise and danced together with all the ladies inside the boat,
- Had a private Karaoke night after supper in a resort village,
- Went climbing along the high steps of a big beautiful cave. The heights scared me so!
- Almost signed in for a hot spa which we had to all go nude. Luckily I did not pay-up before entering. " See first. See first. " I insisted. The attendant at the lobby allowed us to get in, but we all backed-out after seeing all the nakedness inside :) Haha I didn't even get close. I was only at the door step, couldn't bear to see the nudity. I told the attendant "I can not!". He was so surprised. "You can not?!"
Haha...and many many more funny, exciting and good travel experiences to cherish and remember!!! Thank God for the wonderful chance and opportunity. With God's blessing, I hope to see Autumn again with my husband and children. Thank you very much!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

General Cleaning and Musing for the Big Dragon Year

After the yuletide comes Chinese New Year. For good luck and good vibes, I have to embark on some spring or general cleaning. I wash and dry and return my Christmas decors back to their boxes again, to stash them in the storage for another year's use.
For the coming Chinese New Year, I put up some oriental decors to adorn my home. In the process, I clean up some drawers and throw away broken and useless old things. It's the coming of the year of the dragon. Hopefully it's going to be a big and prosperous and peaceful year for all of us good people :) My husband Lucas is a dragon person. I pray it will be a great year for him as in the year 2000 and 2001, when he was the president of the CCI alumni association for two years. With the help of his officers and friends, he brought the Ling Nam Martial Arts Association to Cotabato to perform for the first time in the streets of the city and during our alumni homecoming party the notable dragon and lion dances. It was a safer year that time. This time around 12 years after, everybody is praying for peace and safety. For the past three years, the city is enveloped in darkness. So much wickedness has been unleashed. I hope this year, the water dragon will drown them all, so that we can live in peace again. Gung si fa chai!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Hopeful Plans and Resolutions

Enthusiastically I have many tentative plans this year. Hoping to fulfill them with God's blessings:
1. Attend high school reunion in Manila.
2. Go on a reunion excursion to Puerto Princesa, Palawan with my classmates.
3. Join the Chinese Catholic Women's Federation convention in Dumaguete. (My first convention so far)
4. Visit Siquejor with our group delegates.
5. Observe a peaceful Holy Week in the Philippines.
6. Be quiet and prayerful.
7. Be helpful and charitable.
8. Visit my daughter Marion in UK.
9. Go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes with my husband and my children. (My first time ever too)
10. Spend Christmas and New Year in Manila.
May I be able to attain all of them with God's graces. Thank you my God!
See you all pretty soon :) I love you all!!!
Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yuletide 2011




The start of the yuletide season was joyous because many family members came home for the holidays. I hosted the Christmas Eve's dinner at home with relatives and friends attending. After Christmas, we became cautious and careful. I stayed at home most of time baking and cooking for my family. To diversify home activities, I got my stashed jigsaw puzzle to do. Happily Emil , Martha and I got busy assembling the pieces aside from doing other activities like playing the piano and watching tv. The jigssaw was kind of difficult but, wallah, we finished the Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel "Creation" before the new year.
On new year's eve, we attended the party hosted by Lucio and Conchita at the LCT bodega. Friends, neighbors and relatives came. Special mention was Yu Beng Chua and his family.
A day before Emil and Tet went back to Manila, I got a smaller jigsaw puzzle for them to do again. Although easier but some missing pieces challenged them. They were however able to do it in one day. Hahaha.
I am glad they are now safely back in Manila.
Thank God for your protection. We continue to be threatened by some evil people. O Lord, please continue to protect us. Please do punish the evil plotters and doers soon my God. They're so brazen, they have no more respect for humans nor for you, my God.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012

Happy New Year!!! Thank God, I give a sigh of relief that my children after spending the holidays with us have now left Cotabato City. While they were here, they stayed at home most of time and bonded with us, sharing our daily routinenary life and our problems regarding peace and safety as well. Because God is good, I will not dwell on the evil side of those threatening my sister-in-law Conchita and us, but rather praises on the family members here who love and care for each other:
1. My brother-in-law Lucio has been brave and sincere in his concern and care for all.
2. My husband Lucas who is loyal, constant and dependable.
3. Eugene and Dominic are brave young men. They are helpful and caring new generation.
4. And all the rest of us, members of the family, we just simply and honestly love and are concern with one another.
This new year God finds us deep in prayers and supplication for his love and protection. He is my refuge and fortress. My God in whom I trust (Psalm 91). He will not let us down. Infact I believe He will give us more blessings and grant us in our helplessness his powerful protection. May we all have a happy and peaceful year ahead. Happy New Year and God bless us all!!!