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Two Less Plastic Cards

10 Sep

After carrying around two store rewards cards, one expired for 5 years and one expired for a year, I finally cut them up earlier. Our shopping habits have changed and these were no longer worth it. I kept thinking, maybe I’ll renew them, maybe there are points left to use. I finally got around to asking the store earlier about these cards. Any points left would have been forfeited by now.

Now my wallet is lighter… maybe not noticeably, but the space these took can be used by cards I use more often. Or I can retain the white space. I definitely haven more mental space. And this is the kind of decluttering, editing, that I want to continue doing to simplify my life until what’s left are just the items that are essential and bring me joy.

Happy International Women’s Day – Now Keep that Beautiful Chin Up!

7 Mar

As many of my women colleagues celebrate International Women’s Day at a company-sponsored event, I find myself facing two ultrasounds as I attend to my own, uhm, women’s health matters.

I used the waiting time to finish Lean In on my iPhone. It’s a book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that encourages women to lean into their careers, instead of holding back because of conscious and subconscious biases on their part and society’s.

IWD-y enough, I must say! It’s a good read for those who have doubts about balancing work and careers. It doesn’t say you should have a career, but that you have a choice and you should go for it if you want to!


I find that a lot of inspirational advice for women also apply to men, not really gender-specific. The Philippines has been called matriarchal and our company’s office here have female executives outnumbering males a wee bit. In this context you wouldn’t think that women needed extra career encouragement. What this book made me realize is that, even despite of our achievements, we have a distortedly low view of ourselves. We constantly doubt our capabilities and fear that we will be exposed as someone who doesn’t know squat.

This is not just true in the corporate world. Moms feel guilty about their parenting even when their kids think the world of them. I got a few kind adjectives from my 6yo last week as his assignment asked for a description of his mother. In Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches ad, women described themselves in far less flattering ways than other people did.

And so yes, even when things are outwardly fine, giving a woman an honest, sincere affirmation of her competency/beauty/whatever or being there for her when she is feeling insecure about it, can help bring her view of herself closer to reality, reducing the mental and emotional pain she needlessly goes through.

Happy IWD to all women, whether you are in the corporate, business, or homemaking world, married or single. May we all lean into whatever pursuits fire us and do so with our beautiful chins up!

Juggling Family and Volunteer Activities

18 Nov

Between errands, my husband’s and kids’ events, and the URGENT, URGENT need to help Typhoon Yolanda’s victims, what’s a soccer mom to do?

Here’s how last weekend played out –

Saturday Morning. Early. Canon Photomarathon at BGC.

Accompanied hubby for the first time. We had the kids in tow. B1 was registered. B2 and I just tagged along.

Waited at a coffee shop for the opening program. Ordered a breakfast dish to feel worthy of seats. As B1 was playing with the iPad he said, egg. I automatically fed him some. I then made sure he realized he was so lucky. All he had to do was say egg and egg went to his mouth, while Typhoon Yolanda’s victims had gone hungry for days and still have to do with rationed relief goods. Don’t worry, this is not how it happens everyday. I made sure I lectured them about how lucky they were to be having another meal even before lunch.

We only stayed through the first challenge, which ended at 1 pm.

Saturday. Mid-afternoon. Memorial Park.

Visited the dear baby we lost to congenital heart disease.

Saturday. Late. Colleague’s celebratory BBQ.

At least late for moms like me who get sleepy when it’s the kids’ bedtime! The kids had a lot of energy and were running all over the place though.

Sunday. Morning. Cram homework.

Sunday. Noon-ish. Oplan Hatid prep.

This included dumping our kids at a classmate’s house so they could still attend their late afternoon soccer clinic.

Quick lunch with my side of the family. We gathered at our place where my brothers could dump their kids so we could all go to Oplan Hatid. Except for my youngest brother, who had been up with his web developer friends putting together a site to match volunteer options with needs. He got the enabler part of babysitter and command center manager, in case any of us got lost, etc.

Somewhere among the usual commotion of having all of us in one house, my mom cornered me by the pantry to admonish me about my weight and my hair.

Mom: You’re too thin. Don’t try to get any thinner.

Me: I’m not trying to get thinner. I’m trying to be more fit. *pointing to some flab* I need to tone up.

Mom: Whatever you’re doing or not doing, stop getting thinner. You need to go to the parlor.

Me: Yeah, I’m due for a haircut.

Sunday. Mid-afternoon – early evening. Oplan Hatid.

Went to Villamor Airbase – my parents, 2 brothers, 2 sisters-in-law, my hubby, and I. How many were going to St. Ives? We decided to buddy up by couple so that each car had a navigator.

Waited hours as evacuees got processed and matched to the drivers who were there ahead of us. Finally got Lola Berting’s family, whose story I still have not gotten to. But see, it’s way past my kids’ bedtime and I am too sleepy to write more. Drove her family to Muntinlupa.

Sunday. Late.

Again, late for me. Don’t I sound like fun?

Claimed our kids. Went home. Everyone from St. Ives was already there. Shared stories about our passengers.

It was a hectic, fulfilling weekend. Especially Sunday. Who cares that we didn’t have time to do our groceries and so tomorrow we have to squeeze it in after work?

Before leaving, my mom walks up to me again and says, make time. She still means my hair, of course.

Haiyan Oplan Hatid – a Driving Drive

17 Nov

Relief good drives are relatively common in the Philippines, what with the 20 or so typhoons that hit us every year. Last week, we got hit by the strongest storm on record that made landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda. The devastation is so extensive that shipping relief goods out to the affected areas does not quite cut it. Troves need to be evacuated to Cebu and Manila as whole cities and towns, now erased from satellite images, will take time to rebuild.

This resulted in a new kind of drive – Oplan Hatid. Volunteers go to Villamor Air Base, where hundreds of evacuees arrive at a time via C130 planes. The volunteers then hatid (escort) the evacuees wherever they need to go. Hence, it is a driving drive. A kind of People Power, the call for drivers popularized through Facebook.


How does it work?

When the evacuees arrive they are settled at the grandstand for a kind of decompression period. Ushers guide them to designated areas where food is distributed. They are given a chance to eat and then volunteer counselors chat with them. Volunteers find clothes that match their sizes. They are registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and then volunteer dispatchers take them through Oplan Hatid.

Each volunteer driver is given a number upon registration. A coordinator with a megaphone then announces the details of the next group who needs to be transported.”Group of 2 to going to Cavite.” The drivers interested in taking passengers to the announced area raise their numbers. The driver with the lowest number wins. The coordinator jovially calls this out, e.g. “#43, the lady with the white shirt and glasses, wins!”

My family got the privilege to drive Lola Berting’s family of 5 to Arandia, Muntinlupa. I’ll share their story in another post.

If you want to volunteer for Oplan Hatid, just show up at Villamor Airbase and tell the guard why you’re there. You’ll be given instructions on where to park and register.

You can also check out Rappler’s compilation of ways to help Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda’s victims.

Stop, Step, Crunch

10 Jul

I’m pretty much holed up in the office from the time I get in to the time I head home. I bring my snacks and lunch so there’s no need to venture out in the tropical heat in search of grub. In my cubicle I sit, oblivious to whether it’s a sunny, cloudy, or even stormy day.

We had a team building lunch recently that forced me out of hermitage. As we were walking back from the restaurant, I noticed these brown things scattered on the sidewalk. They reminded me of a simple high school joy – stepping on these crunchy things (not quite leaves… pods?) that fall from I-don’t-kn0w-what-kind-of-tree. There’s a satisfaction in feeling the right measure of resistance and giving in under your feet as you hear the c-r-u-n-c-h.


Some people stop and smell the flowers. I now make it a point to stop, step, and crunch as I walk to and from the parking area. 🙂

Around the World in 40 Eggs

12 Jun

Italian scrambled eggs for breakfast? Check!

I rarely cook, but it’s a holiday, so I took the opportunity.

In The 4-Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss lists 44 flavor combinations that will help you arrive at the different flavors of the world. An easy way to try these out while making even novice cooks build their kitchen confidence is to just apply the different combos to scrambled eggs! So simple and yet it makes the kids think I know what I’m doing!

I’m doing this in the name of making healthy eating fun (yes, eggs are supposed to be healthy now) while exposing the kids to different flavors.

Let the journey begin!

And oh, our helper is eager to try out these combinations too. She will be crucial to keeping the momentum on this journey.

Blueberry Bliss

29 Dec

About a month back, K2 and I went to a cafe for some blueberry muffin. It was not available so we got their blueberry bagel instead. K2 did not like it as much – he could not taste the fruit. So I described to him what a blueberry cheesecake was. A few days later, he had his first taste and was in heaven!

Earlier today, K2 spotted fresh blueberries at the grocery. We got some. I wondered how we would eat it and whether he would really like it. Even I had not eaten blueberries fresh. Then I had a flash of mommy brilliance! I grabbed some graham crackers and condensed milk.

K2 and his 6-yo cousin happily ate these quick-and-easy blueberry hors d’oeuvres. They thought I knew what I was doing too!


K2’s Life Plan

21 Nov

Here is K2’s view of how you progress in life – after high school, you go to college, then you work, then you work and work and work, until you just play sports.

This out-of-the-blue declaration was no doubt inspired by his tennis-playing grandparents. Not a bad life plan, ey?

Dawel River Cruise

29 Sep


I was in Dagupan, Pangasinan last weekend and was pleasantly surprised that there is now a Dawel River Cruise. Pleasant surprise #2: it’s free! Good job, city of Dagupan!

My dad hails from Pangasinan and so childhood vacations in Pangasinan often included a trip to the famous Dawel restaurant. What set it apart from other restaurants that served local dishes was the fact that it was on stilts and you had a river under you. It has since became outshadowed by Silverio’s restaurant, built right beside it, until it was no more.

Across the river from Silverio’s is San Marino Place, supposedly the Ayala Heights (read: posh village) of Dagupan. On the river bank right before San Marino’s gate is the dock from which you board the Dawel River Cruise.

It was a nice, relaxing 45-minute cruise with serene fish ponds left and right. Some folk songs and a few commentaries are played on the raft’s Bose sound system. The cruise could be spiced up with a snack bar in the middle. The scenery doesn’t change much during the cruise so it’s best enjoyed with good company.

Bale Capampangan

3 Jan

On our way to a Pangasinan-Baguio family vacation I decided to explore the provinces we usually just plow through. My husband was supportive. We typically just have lunch at one of the stop-over restaurants, Luisita, or Isdaan in Tarlac.

I found Bale Capampangan through Google. It’s a buffet restaurant with a nice, warm ambiance and really reasonable prices – P195 for kids and P295 for adults. They had standard Filipino fare along with Pampanga delicacies.

I’m not an adventurous eater – I did not try the snail dish. Of the dishes I sampled, I liked the spicy seafood one best. I had yummy halo-halo for dessert. It was simpler than what is usually available, with just sweetened bananas, sago, cereal and buko strips as ingredients. No leche flan and ube ice cream, this one!

I ordered fresh coconut juice. Be warned, you get what you ask for! It was just plain that – a half-opened coconut with a straw. I would have preferred it cooled and sweetened the way other restaurants adulterate their buko juice. I did not ask for ice or sweetener though, deciding it would be good for me to drink this pure thing.

I was happy we took our little detour to Bale Capampangan. It made me feel like we were enjoying life more, as opposed to rushing to our destination.

To get to Bale Capampangan, take the San Fernando exit from NLEX. From x road, turn right under the flyover to McArthur aka MNR. Soon after you pass the Subaru dealer the restaurant will come up on the left side of the street. If you see Jun-Jun’s, another popular restaurant, turn back coz you’ve missed it.

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