Family and Parenting

Eytyxismena Genethlia, Elmo!

May 7th, 2010

My son recently turns ten. I’ve been sounding cliche every time I ask, “Isn’t it a wonder how time flies so fast?” Indeed. I remember an acquaintance, my husband’s ex from the South, who told me years ago that I should enjoy my time with the little boy because when he reaches ten, I might no longer be able to hug and kiss him as often as I want. True enough. He doesn’t want to be cuddled and tickled whenever there are friends around. Like it’s a disgrace to be caught being playful with your parents.

This early, he also made an announcement that he will officially ‘court’ a girl in grade six. That’s already next year! In other words, I have to prepare myself emotionally and psychologically the soonest time possible.

Yet there are so many things to be thankful of. Despite my limitations as a mother, I am plain glad that Elmo (well, we only call him that at home because he’s so embarrassed to be addressed that way in public, I think he doesn’t want to be associated with the sesame street character) is growing up to be a responsible one although most of his traits, he took after me. I don’t know. He got my sensitive side. My goodness, he’s ten times a cry baby than his little sister.

I thank God that my boy  — nnnyyyy

* is healthy in all aspects
* is a very thoughtful son
* is always setting a good example to younger sister Faith
* is quick to offer help whenever he can
* is good at balancing time ( playing PSP and reading all his books)
* is appreciative of the love we give him

At times, he can be “matampuhin” and “tamad”. Very much like me! I really could not blame the boy, it’s in his genes. Lol. Happy birthday, anak! Be happy always.

(Note: This post’s title “Eytyxismena Genethlia!” is a Greek term for Happy Birthday. The kids are fascinated with the Greek alphabet so I might as well use it here. Faith even copied the characters on her notebook.)

Making Summer Fun and Enjoyable For Children

April 15th, 2010

Well, yes. There is definitely something about summertime that makes it exciting to all young people. Not only are they freed from the bondage of numerous assignments, quizzes, and class recitations — they also find time, plenty of it actually, to play and just be themselves!

Somehow in this fast-paced, money-dominated culture of ours, expectations about the role of children in the family and society also have started to change. Many children have lost touch with what its like to be a kid in exchange for food to feed their hungry mouth. Many are denied the chance  to bathe under the summer heat, to visit relatives, to do picnics so they can help mother and father earn a living. Sadly, poverty had long blurred many young people’s concept of summer.

I am a mother and as such, I want my children to live a normal life. So I let them be. Besides they are responsible kids as far as school work  is concerned. In the same manner, I believe they have to be guided about the things that will make them learn and be happy at the same time. Today for instance, I suggested an activity for them not to get bored. Origami making! Faith and Elmo, judging by the way they spent the whole day, had a great time. Here are a few of their origami art pieces.

Berry wearing an origami samurai hat & shuriken

Berry wearing an origami samurai hat & shuriken

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origami chair

origami piano

origami piano

origami tote bag

origami tote bag

lady bugs

lady bugs

double star

double star

fortune teller

fortune teller

lotus flower

lotus flower

puppy

puppy

polar bear

polar bear

mouse

mouse

elephant

elephant

Faith busy doing her origami art pieces

Faith busy doing her origami art pieces

Farewell, Tatay Gene

April 15th, 2010

g25432William Shakespeare captured life’s essence when he wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

We all say hello and goodbye one time or another. Like a storyline, there’s always a beginning and an end.

While patiently waiting for my bus in Naga to take me to Manila, I see faces that poignantly speaks of hidden stories — mother half-smiling, half crying as she peeks through the bus’ window and wishes her daughter well; lovers locking eyes and arms with the hope of instantly blurring an impending farewell; families smiling from ear to ear as they expectantly awaits a member’s arrival. My habit to “people watch” whenever I travel undeniably allows me to ponder what’s behind those faces. I think it is significant because in the process, it also permits us to revisit our own selves. And I wish to emphasize that part of our selves which we are too scared to confront. Gray areas and personal taboos we don’t want to acknowledge. Those that we can laugh off but never really erase simply because they’re indelible — just like the idea of death.

Hello moments are often happy moments. The birth of a child for instance, or one’s acceptance to a great job, can uplift the soul to a higher level. On the other hand, goodbye moments are often associated with sadness or mourning. What could be more devastating than when one loses a favorite possession, a friend or a loved one?

My father-in-law, Tatay Gene, who had been very good to me and my children, just said goodbye. However, I was in Bicol when he died so I had to be home immediately to pay my last respect. It was sad knowing I didn’t see him breathing if only for the last time.

People come and go. We have been joined by so many yaya’s and relatives but all of them became best friends with him. Maybe some of them left with ill feelings towards me or my husband but never with Tatay Gene. He’s such a good man that he never remarried after his wife (my husband’s mother) died some 28 years ago. Instead, he devoted his entire life to his six children. Proof of it was the fact that all his children finished school. I also met his nephew, Kuya Alex, and I wasn’t surprised he only have kind words to tell.

Tatay Gene, you may not be able to read this, but I thank you with all my heart and I am sorry if I have offended or made you sad somehow. I know I hadn’t been a perfect daughter-in-law. Whereever you are, please know how proud we are to have witnessed a life well-spent! Yours.

Travel well ‘Tay and please guide us as we face our own hellos and goodbyes. We will miss you and your fatherly grin; your kind gestures; your rationing us fresh vegetables; the sweet potato, ginger, bell pepper, string beans you always loved planting at the rooftop, the sacks of rice you give us for free every time you harvest your palays; the coconuts from the trees you planted; every little thing you did to make your grandchildren Elmo and Faith’s childhood memorable; the cigarette butts you left unintentionally at the sofa; the coffee and coffee mate you buy when our cupboard runs empty; the cabinets you made for free; the wall paints you applied (again, for free); your listening to “haranas” and news updates from your old and battered transistor radio; your watching boxing fights especially those of Pacquiao’s; the visits you made at our house/dorm in Cabanatuan, PRRM, and CLSU; the hot pandesals, the wooden kubo upstairs, the pails of waters you fetched when I gave birth to my eldest. My list is long. I have more to write and the space is not enough. Fare well, Tay! You will be missed.

(Note: This was written in March 28, two days before my father in law’s burial but was only published today since my husband asked that he be allowed to break the news to friends. Yet, up until today he didn’t blog about it.)

Women of The World

March 6th, 2010

two_womenMarch is International Women’s Month. And though it lacks the glitter and festivity of  Valentines, Christmas,  or New Year — it significantly heralds in this world a woman’s existence, her resiliency, and her loving heart.

In the spirit of women’s month, I will shut off my mind from that constant illusion of attaining a scorching summer bod which, obviously, reeks of inebriated narcissism. Besides, it’s way too unrealistic to even consider. I’ve been pigging out all day, never minding the fact that our bathroom scale can no longer carry my weight. If it can only speak, God knows what it’ll be yelling at me each time I set my gigantic frame on it!

Why not write about women who made contributions amidst heaps of trials and challenges? Women who have made my imagination aflame with their colorful and dangerous lives? And women of substance I’d love to emulate?

My strongest influences came from the family so I’ll list my mother first. Well, her life story’s a melodrama of sorts: lost her father when she was a few months old,  got her older sister killed due to an accident, gave up school at fifteen to find herself a job, married my father at nineteen and had me at 20.  Yet, young as she was, she raised all six of us the best way she can. Her sacrifices seem so vivid after all these years. She’s the earliest to wake up in the morning and the last one to sleep at night. Day after day, she’d prepare delicious meals knowing how picky eaters we all are. Her patience is beyond compare when it comes to assisting us in our school work and assignments. You bet I’d pale in comparison. My mother know by heart lessons in Science and History that she didn’t need to read our textbooks in order to review us. There were unpleasant memories but mostly because we need to be disciplined. I do not regret it especially now that I am a parent myself. In fact I appreciated it more that I tasted bitter-sweet days in my childhood. Perhaps I’d be a spoiled brat if it weren’t for those.

Fast forward to today, she means several other things. Nanay is graying-hair-dyed-black, squeaky clean floor tiles, fancy flower vases and neat flower gardens, facial moisturizers and reading glasses, fresh fruits from the backyard, baked goodies/meriendas and aromatic coffees. And most of all, my mother is a welcoming hand that misses and asks me to come home all the time!

The others that follow are randomly listed.

Evita Peron. Yes, she’s the inspiration behind the classic pop “Don’t cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you…eva-peron-2all through my wild days, my mad existence, I’ve kept my promise….” Evita is María Eva Duarte de Perón,
first lady to late Argentinian strongman Juan Domingo Peron. While reading her memoir (The Life and Death of Eva Peron by Paul L. Montgomery), I was totally blown by her person. She had this reputation of being one of the most notorious women in the 20th century. But behind all that is a child. I think she never outgrew her sordid past. She might have fed first-rate scandals but she also built the most beautiful orphanage in the world, gave her countrywomen the vote, and fed the poor.

Evita was a country girl who unbelievably used all her means to reach the pedestal. Imagine, she died at the height of her glory with a whopping $20M nestled in Swiss bank accounts.

President Cory Aquino. I blogged about her some months ago. As far as empowering the people is concerned, Tita Cory stands out without a question. Such a selfless woman-leader deserves all the adulation we Filipinos have for her up to this day. One’s greatness is truly known even when a person is no longer present. And in her case, I genuinely felt her superiority over crooks who have and who are continually managing to lure us under the pretense of grand promises. (TBContinued)

Bestfriends For Life

March 1st, 2010

In a matter of weeks, my two younger brothers will be graduating in college and high school respectively. Finally I can now heave a sigh of relief.

Early last year, my parents requested that I take ward of them during this final phase in their academic life believing they need role models to look up to. Nanay and Tatay have always been a staunch believer of education. They ingrained in my young mind to persist no matter what it takes to be educated. (True enough, I took it seriously even if it meant skipping meals and taking odd jobs.) Since my youngest brother dreams of becoming the best cock fighter and “tambay” in our small village in Bikol, they decided to have him spend his fourth year in HS under my tutelage.

But I must say, the process was never easy.

Adjustments had to be made, in terms of disciplining, time, attitude, etc. I have to make plenty of sacrifices especially with my youngest brother who thinks refusal to accept authority is in vogue. In fact, the times I have sought my parents’ advice outnumbers the amount of time I allot in minding my own children. Who wouldn’t be alarmed if your brother goes out late at night apparently for reasons any sane mind will have difficulty comprehending? Or when you go visit his school and find out he’s smoking inside the classroom? Or if the teacher tells you straight-face that your brother had been skipping his classes? Worse, I caught him piercing his lower lip with a needle! There was also one occasion when I spotted a huge mark on his right shoulder, the kind that you see marked on animals? Gross!

When I was his age, I knew my responsibilities well. It never entered my mind to try alcohol or any vice for that matter, cut classes, and all the stuff that will jeopardize my future. I was ever studious and serious. Although that might not be an ideal way to handle personal and school pressures – I’m glad I was successful at finishing school.

People are idiosyncratic. That’s why I respect differences, as long as it does not bother anybody. However, it’s an entirely different case when you are dwelling with other people. You should learn, as much as the other party tries to, adjust. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of that happening with my brother. And this is when I start to scold them. The older one, we call him Nono (my third sibling), was mature enough to handle my nagging moments. Oh you bet, I get angry every time I go upstairs and see what a mess they’ve made of their room! I get ballistic at the sight of unwashed dishes. I transform into a monster when I see they did not even bother sweeping the small garden upstairs. But that’s just how I am. After the nagging, I do all the jobs and messy chores they left. The clothes scattered on the chairs are put inside the laundry basket. Papers, pens, scissors, cutters strewn everywhere are placed in one area. Floors are swept free of litters and dry leaves. And even if I am mad, I still hand him his allowance.

familyAll because I care. I do not want them to live a miserable life in the future. My constant reminder “Please help yourself as much as other people tries to” pisses him no end, telling me to stop because I’m like a broken record. Maybe my siblings see me as the evil sister because I always try to meddle and insist on my share of thoughts. But I take that with a grain of salt. No matter what, they are my sisters and brothers. I get affected by whatever hurts or frustrates them. And being the eldest, I can’t seem to take that they will suffer the same heartaches I encountered along the way.

In the final analysis — we are still a family. When all else turn to shambles, who will accept you with both arms? Who will be there even when you made the biggest of mistakes without judging you? Family members are our best friends, they don’t leave us…they stay behind all the time… Yet, they also do not tolerate evil ways and they’re always ready to praise you when you need one.

Maki and Nono, happy graduation!

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