Archive for  August 2009

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My schedule in the recent days has been quite hectic.  The trimester is about to end so I’ve been rushing some academic work for De La Salle University, Manila and De La Salle- College of Saint Benilde.   Complicating things would be the traffic along the SLEX due to the Skyway extension construction.  As in my previous experiences, God has taught me another valuable lesson during my ordeal. This time its  the value of commuting.

I have rediscovered that commuting  is a much more efficient way of traversing high traffic thoroughfares for the following reasons : 1.) Bus drivers are more familiar with short cuts ; 2.) they  take the skyway at minimal  cost to the commuter and 3.) you can always get off a bus when you’re in a rush.   You also don’t have to worry about parking and gas.

In the light of Climate Change, commuting is a simple but effective way to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  A liter of unleaded gas (without bioethanol) would yield about 2.3 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions.    By taking a bus you make the existing usage of fuel more efficient in a per capita basis.  You also get the chance of putting on your Ugg shoes and do some zero emission mobility (i.e. walking) whenever you can.

I was watching the Oprah show earlier today. She had as guests, Dr. Oz and David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine and author of  “Eat This, Not That!” series. Their topic was about obesity in kids and the discussion revolved around the how’s and why’s kids end being so overweight. David shared a lot of information about the food choices that are out there in the supermarkets and how to choose wisely.

As parents, we all want to raise normal, healthy kids and sometimes our food decisions aren’t always the best ones simply because we lack information. We have evolved into a “fast-food” generation where everything is quick and easy but not necessarily healthy. Hence, the rise of liposuction, diet pills and all sorts of weight-loss products. Although, these books are geared more towards the American consumer, still, there is much to be gleaned from them because a lot of these products are now available locally in major supermarkets. If you want to know if ‘regular bacon’ is healthier than ‘turkey bacon’, you gotta read the book. You’ll be surprised. So before you reach out for that bag of chips and that box of “multi-grain’ something, read the back label or better yet get yourself a copy of these books.

Check out these books. They are available at Amazon.com and you can read more reviews by those who have bought them. You might even qualify for their Free Super Saver Shipping. (Click on the links to get there)

Eat This, Not That! Thousands of Simple Food Swaps that Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds–or More!

Eat This Not That! for Kids!: Be the Leanest, Fittest Family on the Block!

I’m so excited! Lookie lookie —> Check out the front page of the latest issue of The Daily Scrapper – Issue 14 – woot woot! It’s ds on the front cover of my article. 🙂 (caution: there are a few typos unedited so please bear with us a little bit)

TDS Issue 14 is filled with school and back to school stuff. What’s more I just have to have this issue’s freebie download – a HUGE Noah’s Ark Kit from the Faith Sisters exclusive for TDS Readers. DD and DS just finished their Noah’s Ark ballet recital this summer and this is just perfect for my pictures. Yey! I’m a happy camper! (better than an  affordable health insurance deal? of course! ) what was I thinking? LOL

LO SHARE: Here’s one of the layouts I made for this issue featuring Crafty Madness by Cinnamon Designs available at After Five Designs.

(my dd and some of her artwork I scanned)

So grab a cuppa joe or whatever cup you want and read up on the latest TDS issue. Don’t forget to click the TDS Studio as well to check out the featured designers and the Scrapper’s World Expo for great bargains and deals all over the digiscrapping community.

Have a wonderful day, folks!

One of the main struggles we have as a family is keeping our children healthy. Our kids have been prone to coughs and colds and almost every other month or so they get sick. Even if only one child is sick, because they play with each other constantly, sooner or later the other one catches the same sickness as well (except for tummy aches or gastro-related illnesses). Right now, the kids are recovering from another bout of coughs and colds but it seems that they are holding up pretty well this time. We’ve been vigilant in beefing up their diet supplements, lots of rest and lots of fluids and I think because they’ve had their flu shots for the year a few weeks back, turn around time is much better this time. The flu shots were a bit expensive especially because it cost us double but anyway, the relief of not having to deal with the sickness longer than its normal course is worth it. Whew!

So don’t forget, an ounce of prevention is always better (and much cheaper) than a pound of cure. Stay healthy, folks!

Speaking of L.A., I remember years ago when the husband and I drove from Arizona all the way to L.A. I remember the first time we did that… I was pregnant with our son and I don’t know what we were thinking back then but all we had for a map was an itty bitty map at the back of a slim pocket planner. OMG, talk about crazy. We didn’t really plan well – no cellphones, no emergency numbers, no first aid kit… NADA! It was just us and our rented Chevy Malibu with cruise control (although an rv would have been much better, I think) with a pack of grapes, some sandwiches, our Aquafino water bottles  and our trusty rest-area coupon clippings hahaha. And all along I thought the husband knew what he was doing!

Of course, we got lost, missed a few exits, arrived at around midnight after more than 8 hours of driving. Oh, we did stop by a gas station to get ourselves a real map but that was only afte we reached L.A. Prior to that we relied on the maps that were in the rest area coupon booklets.  Que horror! For me, driving through L.A. is like a horror movie especially if you are used to the grid-like streets of AZ – the L.A. freeway is a nightmare! But in the end, it makes for good memories. I hope someday we can do it again… but this time I know now what I need to bring. 🙂

I was just browsing around for Vaganova Ballet Schools in California specifically in the SFO Bay area or Los Angeles and I found one this one in L.A.  – > Masterpiece Dance Theatre. Check out their ballet mistress!

Nadezhda (Nadya) Koscuik has been teaching the “Vaganova”  syllabus for over 30 years and she is the only recipient from  both the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Vaganova Ballet  School, St Petersburg, Russia to be officially endorsed to not  only teach the authentic and complete Vaganova curriculum  but also to teach all nine levels. Her extensive international  training, performance experience, and professional contacts  and relationships make her an authority in the world of  Classical Ballet.

Nadya received official permission from the Russian Ministry  of Culture to write her book titled “The Vaganova Legacy”. In  addition to her extensive training, receipt of the entire and  complete Vaganova Curriculum from her friend and mentor  Ninel Kurgapkina (former pupil of Vaganova) further  establishes Nadya as an international authority on the  Vaganova system of teaching. Nadya is now in the process of  editing the first complete draft of the textbook named “The  Vaganova Legacy” which will also serve as a reference manual  on the subject.

Isn’t that impressive! Of course, if ever the kids decide to pursue ballet professionally I wonder what it would cost to uproot ourselves from here and get the service of moving companies Los Angeles Hollywood style? hmmm… that’s still a half a decade away so for now, I’ll settle for Vaganova on youtube. LOL

I was totally swamped today with chores, chores, chores. Aaaargh! I tried to finish all the laundry today but the on and off rain showers was a bit of a hassle. I finished airing and cleaning the kids’ room, folded the clean laundry, did the dishes, cleaned and scrubbed the ceramic tile counter, fed the kids and gave them their meds, and now I can finally catch up on my online stuff. Whew! But first, I need a sugar break. 🙂 I’ll be back later for more, y’all.

On the heels of the revival of patriotism and love for country spurred by the passing of President Cory, the country faces another battle over the will of one and the will of the many. It is sad to note that the ongoing controversy between Malacañang and the members of the Arts community over the latest ‘National Artists’ recipients is tainted with politics and payback. I am not one of the experts who can claim to have the expertise in choosing who should or should not be proclaimed National Artist but as a parent raising children who might someday (who knows?) be qualified for that honor I would rather that it be bestowed upon them by those who are in the best position to give it to them. I would consider it an insult if it were granted to them on a silver platter without them truly deserving it.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul instead?

As I watched the final funeral rites being given to President Cory yesterday I could not help but wonder at the outpouring of love and honor by people from all walks of life. Thousands upon thousands waited, stood in the rain to pay their last respects to her. It was spontaneous in the sense that this was not a “hakot” crowd. They were not programmed like “custom software” to behave a certain way, say the right words at the right time, to lift their hands and flash the L sign. They were not ordered to bring yellow posters, banners, balloons. Anonymous donors gave out bottled water and boiled eggs to those who wanted to get a last glimpse of her not because they wanted recognition but out of the generosity of their hearts and out of respect for the leader they loved.

Respect cannot be coerced. True honor when given is not mere lip service that can be cloaked by plaques, trophies or medals. It springs from the heart and is freely given much like the woman who broke the alabaster jar and poured it over the Master whom she so loved. The trophies, the medals, the public honor are just tangible representations of the inner reverence and recognition we accord to those who truly deserve it. Even a simple person can sense true honor versus mere flattery. Honor if forced, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and is tainted with resentment.

I think one of the great legacies that President Cory has left us is her humility. It is to her credit that she leads and inspires so many without the fanfare and the propaganda. She lived not for the applause of men but for the applause of heaven… for an audience of One.

I heard someone say during one of the many speeches said at her wake that “there are many leaders who lead, but great leaders inspire“. In light of this current challenge re the ‘National Artist’ imbroglio, I watch on the sidelines to see if there are any great leaders among them. If there are any who live not just for the temporary honor that may be remembered by men but more so by heaven. I hope some if not all will rise to the call for greatness. Meanwhile, it is time to bow the head and bend the knees.

Let your voice be heard. I missed going to the streets during EDSA 1. I missed going to the streets yesterday again. The many gifts of EDSA and the restoration of democracy was the freedom to speak freely without fear of being arrested.  I will use this gift to speak here on my blog for the sake of my children and the generations after us. How about you? Share your thoughts and let your voice be heard.

The past few days my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride. I have been quiet on this blog. The death of President Cory stirred up so many emotions I have tried to manage for the past two years. August 4 marks the second death anniversary of my father and I couldn’t help but go back to those moments while I was watching the necrological service of Tita Cory at the Manila Cathedral late this afternoon. The circumstances have been so similar it just brought me to tears. I am reminded of these two verses that somehow give me a glimpse of what still needs to be worked on in my own heart.

Genesis 32:28 (NIV 1984)

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

2Corinthians 12:7 (NASB 1995)

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!

A broken spirit and a contrite heart, I know God will not despise and that is what He so desires. It is the best heart jewelry one can wear and worth more than all the jewels in the whole wide world. It is what pleases God. The question is, is pain necessary to achieve closeness to God? Is the path of sorrow and suffering the only way to be near God?  In my opinion, my answer would be yes. It is necessary.

We do not need Faith if we have the ability to do things on our own. It is the impossible that requires the divine to be employed. Faith is what moves the mountains of pain and suffering aside and parts the sea of sorrow so that we can take one more step closer to the promised land. Faith enables us to struggle and wrestle inspite of the thorns of imperfection and the flaws of our character. It is the adrenalin that pushes us forward to overcome all odds and step into victory. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Unfortunately, this does not happen overnight. This is where patience comes in. Through plodding and perseverance. Mountain after mountain, valley after valley, struggle after struggle… day after day. Through faith and patience we will overcome. It has already been two years since I have started on this road of coping with the grief and pain because of my father’s death. I am reminded more so today because of President Cory’s death.

My father was working for the Marcos government during that time when the People Power Revolution happened. He was the Chief Engineer in charge of setting up the government transmitters all over the Philippines. How he got into government is a whole other story but I knew he was a man of integrity and uncorrupted by what was around him. He knew what was going on when the transmitters in Malolos were taken over by the military sympathetic to Cory. He told me how crucial communications and media were that’s why these were one of the first things that were taken over aside from power and transportation. He often told me inside stories about media and propaganda and the psy-war tactics that were being employed by both sides. Aside from being an employee of the government, he was also a son of Tacloban and a kababayan of Imelda Marcos. A lot of what I know about government and country I have learned through him. His love for country and integrity in fulfilling his duties have been imparted to me and have made me come to love this country as well.  This is his legacy to me. Every province where I see a government transmitter, I am reminded of him. It is a struggle to hold back my tears…to wish for him to still be here. It is a journey that anyone who has lost a loved one deals with everyday. And I guess a “thorn in the flesh” to ground us and remind us of our need for God each day.

Yet inspite the pain, the thought of knowing that the memories and the legacies of our loved ones will live on through us they have left behind, is an assurance that their lives are not in vain. Thank you Tita Cory for reminding me about my father once again. My father is not a well-known figure. He lived a simple quiet life. A life of faith. A life of patience. A life of forgiveness and generosity. A life that overcame self and became selfless for others. A life that mattered to me. A life I will remember always and will be grateful for forever.

Thank you, Jan.

In loving memory of former President Corazon C. Aquino, I am encouraging the blogosphere to light a candle for her. Grab the image below, add your prayer for Mrs. Aquino and link up.

1. Bits & Pieces – Thank you Lord for giving President Aquino
the gift of life. It was a well-lived life as she
touched nations all over the world.
It must have been difficult for her
especially the last months of her life.
But everything is well now as she joins you.
May her family find comfort knowing that
she is now safe in your kingdom.


2. A Matter of tEys.T
Dear God, we share the grief and we identify
with their pain. No words can describe the loss and the
void one feels when you lose someone you love
and only You, O Lord can reach into the depths
of our hearts where no one can.
Comfort them, be with them, let the silence
speak gently of your peace. Wrap your arms around them, God.

Let them know that though the world may be a little dimmer this day,

the heavens are much brighter than yesterday. Shalom.

3. your blog here

I condole with the Aquino family at this time. Our family lost our dad on Aug. 4, 2007. Though it has been almost two years already, the pain is still there… I followed President Cory’s story in the news and saw and heard what was not said. I knew what went on behind the scenes even if  it was not reported. My father spent almost the same number of days at the hospital. My siblings and I had our share of hospital vigils. The stress, pain and fear of the unevitable loomed over us each day. The anguish when the expected finally came goes beyond words. The finality of the struggle became evident once we saw him in his coffin. I clung to the grace of God in the days that followed. I still do to this day. My selfishness wanted him alive. There were many what-ifs that followed but in the end I know God’s ways are higher. I see those reasons each day and I have to admit to myself, truly, God knows what is best.

Shalom!

Remember this?

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into Springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.

(from the Musical – The Sound of Music)

I have a few of my favorite things that make me feel happy on the inside and no, it doesn’t include the latest tech gadgets today. I was thinking more of the “rustic, make you feel warm and cozy” type of stuff much like patintero, kite flying and playing on swing sets make you feel.

So what are some of my favorite “comfort” things:

  1. Chocnut – who needs See’s or Godiva when you’ve got chocnut! The fat one of course.
  2. Lugaw Tokwa – I miss the authentic probinsya lugaw-tokwa with lots of browned garlic on top.
  3. Rain – not the typhoon kind or the ones that cause flash floods but I remember growing up listening to the raindrops pitter-pattering on our roof. Music to my ears.
  4. Fresh bedsheets – especially when they’re cool because of the rain in #3. 🙂
  5. Fishballs in UP – I’m not a UP grad but I remember going to UP with my roomate and just pigging out on fishballs and sago. I loooove it when my little fishball swells up with vinegar and the sweet and sour sauce. yum!
  6. Chinese garter, tumbang preso, patintero, sipa and piko – nope. no Counterstrike for me.
  7. Ice drop with munggo, keso, beans or buko – they used to make it with those metal molds.
  8. Chikam – a word coined by my little girl. It’s actually, pork adobo fat cut up into little pieces and fried till crunchy before adding rice from the night before – something I learned from my dad. Singangag to the max.
  9. DZFE FM – there’s something soothing about classical music. I love listening to the classics especially on a rainy day.
  10. My dad’s keys with his dogtags – I miss hearing the sound of the clicking of those keys with his dogtags. Once I hear those keys, I immediately know my dad’s finally home. I miss you, daddy!

So these are some of my favorite things. How about you? Care to share what your favorite things are? Just leave a comment if you do.