Search My Hamper

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fire On Wet Woods

Jumping like Jack, my 4-year-old nephew slipped and hit his mouth on the center table yesterday. That hurt, bloody hurt. After the blood had stopped gushing, his lips swelled the size twice his original. But he couldn't stop crying.

The crying didn't last for all eternity, though. As soon as the pain subsided, the crying turned to whimper and the whimper turned to silence.

Finally, the adults turned to the other boy, the 2-year-old saying: "Kuka, wawa, Kuka!" The younger boy hugged and kissed the injured. "Mamerman CD, Kuka? CD Kuka, Mamerman?"

Peter Parker came to life. For the nth time. And the jumping and howling resumed. Oh, KIDS!!!

I came home to see the still ugly swell on the lips of the 4-year-old who carried on like the fish pout wasn't there. He gobbled up Jollibee Ube Ice Craze with a vengeance.

After dinner, Nanay and I got to share that dishwashing moment talk. She was complaining about the boys' hyperactivity attacks. Oh how different we were as kids!

And I go, "'Nay, times have changed. We've moved to a house in a subdivision so divided squarely there isn't room to grow."

I reminded her of the old house located at the end of the earth where our playground was as far and wide as the eyes could see. That regardless of the season, we, kids, had paradise for playground. At pre-planting time there were trees we could climb and skin our knees and elbows with. There were mango trees that gave unrestricted radius of shade under which we could spread mats on to sleep in the sfternoon. At planting time, we had watersheds and patubig along rice fields to bathe and fish in. At harvest time, we had wide beds of haystack we could jump up and down, roll on and on, and build playhouses with.

There were endless things to do outside we were dead to the world when we came home. Those times, children slept through TV shows.

The boys have too much energy in them, there is not enough space to fling them to.

Today, in lieu of real space, kids are sent to virtual worlds, without leaving the house, butt stuck on the seat infront of a Mac. On weekends, they go to malls with artificial playground with artificial animals and artificial trees. The tiled playground won't skin their knees; the rubbered floors won't break the shells. But you pay too much for the simplest things that are supposed to be free. The children are kept captive when they are supposed to be outside, are covered when they are supposed to be outdoors.

Thus, the kids meet accidents at home. Too much fire on a too wet wood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KL's Pics

Two years ago, this baby was nowhere in sight. Not a warning, not a sign. No expectations, no grand dreams.

And he came and the world turned upside down. His parents named him Kristian Lloyd. I called him Chuva. I'm such a mean, mean Tita!

His haircut isn't a punishment as much as it is a joke. His mother tinkered with the scissors and gave him that look. Cute, despite. My nephew, regardless.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende Sounding Like Ignazio Silone

That's what I get reading Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True.

And bits of Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath, too.

Magic realism and stream of consciousness. You get that two together you have a fat book only people with sleeping problems can digest.

I'm on the 759th page of the total 894.

I remember my literature professor saying, "Be happy when you get out of college. You have all the time in the world to read without your teacher telling you what to read and asking you questions about it." I love that teacher. He has led me to the truth about literature: "It is a power to be possessed and not a body of objects to be studied."

I have in my possession a power to make insignificant nights without time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Filipinos Are So Much Better Than That

"P-Noy’s responsibility is first and last to his people. P-Noy’s concern is first and last his people. P-Noy’s priority is first and last his people." That is according to Conrado De Quiros in his PDI column yesterday which had me thinking while taking a bath this morning. Can you imagine that? Me having this much interest in Philippine politics? Hey, I'm the girl who dies for shoes!

De Quiros is among those plenty who are irked by P-Noy's move to give the Chinese government and its people the first crack at the IIRC report. He further wonders, "Truly you have to wonder what kind of people P-Noy has surrounded himself with." Exactly my sentiment.

But I digress from this one.

Everyone who criticized P-Noy about his decision to send to the Chinese government the IIRC report first had forgotten this: P-Noy is Filipino first before he is President.

What is a Filipino? What sets us apart from the rest of the world? Before laws and rights, we have traits and culture first. These two, the bases of our Constitution, the reasons for our madness.

Why do we save the best blankets and pillow cases and take them out because a guest happens to be in the area and asks if he can stay for the night? Why do we not touch the only fish on the table when we have visitors for dinner? Why do we open the blue-sealed canned goods that we proudly put on display in our "estante" and serve to Tatay's officemates one weekend they decide to show up?

When the children of my sister's friends come to visit, they get to play my nephews' newest and "bestest" toys while our nephews look on wondering perhaps, "Spiderman ko 'yun, ah. Bakit binigay ni Tita sa bata?" "Umba, beebee! Beebee, umba!"

When I was a kid, I asked my mother why my cousins get to sleep in our room and we at the living room. She answered: "Eh kase, mga bisita sila." My inquiry didn't end there. But the bottomline is visitors come first.

Those Chinese tourists were our visitors. We gave them hospitality not because they deserved it. They were given it because we are Filipinos. And as Filipinos, we have this crazy trait of hardcore fresh-linen-and-best-pillows hospitality. Whether you like it or not.

Filipino first and we have the blood of these Chinese tourists in our hands? Instead of the best reception, we gave them multiple murder. Instead of the best and choicest fish, we had them eat bullets.

Filipino first? That is so un-Filipino, if you ask me. Do you know what is being Filipino? It is bowing our heads when we pass when people are talking. It is the mother eating only what is left by her children in their plates. It is the mother taking only the smallest part of the fish. It is the first-born taking care of her siblings and sending them to school. It is the neighbor passing a bowl of calderata over to the fence of the other neighbor, "Mare, pasensya na. Nagluto ng konting caldereta. Eto, tikman nyo."

Filipino are never known to have the "Me first" mentality.

Don't, just don't confuse our people with others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Anatomy of a Single Mom

At age 38, my friend gave birth to her first baby. A girl. Her boyfriend whom she met only in December is back in Italy. She gave birth with only her father and a house help by her side from 10 PM until 6 AM the next day. Her OB assured her of a normal delivery, but on the eleventh hour, her doctor called for a CS.

I came to see her and the baby at the hospital the same day. She was OK, with two cellphones in her hands, calling and texting home for instructions - stuff to be sent to the hospital, hospital bills to be paid, etc. And she lying in bed with inches of sewn vertical wound on her stomach. Hell, it was painful. I could see how she'd stop to draw some deep breaths to ease the pain. Some tube stuck on her somewhere so she could pee without leaving the bed. One would see the shade of her liquid wastes.

Damn it! And she was alone with this sleepy girl barely out of her teens acting as her aid. But what does a girl know?

She could have NOT gotten herself pregnant, but she wanted a baby, a child she could call her own. And for what? For this? This loneliness at the time when a woman should be celebrating her womanhood?

No, I would not give credit to the father of her child for calling and calling and calling while she was near-death giving birth. The least he could have done was fly back to this OFW-infested country and be by her side to hold her hand those long hours of birth pains and birth hells. OFW-infested. That is the only time when something is infested and the pest is not on or in the host.

There are no excuses for any man not to be with the woman he has impregnated the time the woman gives birth. Any male human who does that can never claim to be better than male non-human animals.

She said he would be back in December for their wedding and the child's baptism. Big deal. He could have gone home now and get married. Ano siya naghihintay ng Pasko?

Stupid, stupid male. Why is she even marrying him?

My guess, that is what friends are for. To be with their friends when they have no one else. And deliberately fade in the background when things pick up. And back again when things screw up.

I cannot tell her not to marry him. I'm not her mother. I'm just her friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kawawang Gobyerno

Too fast for HK lawmaker. The Incident Investigation and Review Committee report that is.

There really is nothing we can and will do that will satisfy them, is there?

"Why China first? Solons ask Palace."

The National Union of Jounalists of the Philippines (NUJP) "warns government about haling media to court over hostage crisis coverage."

There really is nothing this government can and will do that will merit a tiny bit of positive outlook, is there?

For My Lover

Tracy Chapman

Two weeks in a Virginia jail
For my lover, for my lover
Twenty thousand dollar bail
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

Everyday I'm psychoanalyzed
For my lover, for my lover
They dope me up and I tell them lies
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

I follow my heart
And leave my head to ponder
Deep in this love
No man can shake
I follow my heart
And leave my mind to wonder
Is this love worth
The sacrifices I make?

Two weeks in a Virginia jail
For my lover, for my lover
Twenty thousand dollar bail
For my lover, for my lover

Everyday I'm psychoanalyzed
For my lover, for my lover
They dope me up and I tell them lies
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Know This Much Is True

is the title of the novel I'm reading now.

What happens if someone literally follows the teaching of the Bible that says, "if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee"? What if someone really cuts off his right hand?

It would be so easy to call the guy "mental." Because that's probably what he is.

If you were the mother, would you have your child cut in two? Would a sane man suggest such a thing to prove a point? Would the Prince of Wales do that? What about Noynoy? What about Obama?

The Bible is a highly metaphorical book of stories and teachings, it should not be left among men and women of lesser mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual faculties. Seriously.

No one book in the history of mankind has been so open and vulnerable to misinterpretation than the Bible. I will not touch on the other books from which other religions have risen.

But God has given us this one legacy. Like any other piece of great literature, it is a power to be possessed, and not a body of objects to be studied.

Friday, September 17, 2010

English for the Boys

My nephews are learning English! Yey!

Our home is a "No English, Please" zone. We don't speak English because there are two impressionable boys in the house: one is two years old, the other is four.

I want them to master Filipino before they are corrupted by side street, Eat Bulaga English.

At first, the parent of the younger boy would throw English phrases to the wind like, "Don't eat that. Dirty." And I would follow up saying, "O, huwag mo daw kainin kase madumi." At times, the mother would say, "Baby, don't cry." And I'd go: "Tumahan ka, wala kang Jollibee."

Finally, the parents of the kids got the message. If the aunt, who has a degree in the English language and a master's degree in English literature, would not speak to the kids in English, why would we?

But unknown to us a troop of English teachers find themselves into the living room: HBO, Spiderman, Spongebob and Patrick, and Lightning McQueen.

Now, the kids say "shark," "no," "listen to me now!," and two pages worth of words more. The kids don't have yayas, only enslaved uncles and aunts. And the slaves won't badge to speak English.

One time, the older boy asked my brother what the conversation was about between two soldiers in the Combat series. My brother said: "Manood ka lang at makinig. Maiintindihan mo rin yan." Even translation isn't allowed. Get the message through context clues, that's our approach.

Language acquisition is really more effective than language learning. Say what? The first one allows the non-native speakers to immerse themselves in the language through day to day interaction with the native speakers of the second language. The latter teaches the non-native speakers the rules by translation and textbooks. Language acquisition is used for survival, meaning without any help anchored by one's native tongue. Here, the basis is mostly "utile." In language learning, it is academics.

When kids are made to learn things for purely academics gain, the result, which is knowledge, may not be so positive and long lasting compared with having the kids acquire the skills, which are purpose-driven.

The boys are learning English! Next step is for them to read Moby Dick.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More on Save More

My sister and our 2-year-old nephew (the one who ate the good chocolate bar) went to Save More yesterday to return the wormy one. We thought it best not to take the poor, hapless victim.

No one was manning the Customer Service Counter when we got there. It was close to 11 AM. It being a Sunday, they opened at 9 AM. Then a female with the INFORMATION sash came.

I told her about my complaint. I was only halfway through my speech when she cut me short and asked me to wait. She wasn't smiling. She wasn't accommodating. Oh, I forgot, she was only Ms. Information. I wanted to strangle her neck for being so rude! You just don't do that to someone who comes to you to complain. You don't do that to a customer. Period!

Then a more pleasant employee came.

She asked me to write on a complaint form: details of it and some suggestions, recommendations for Save More and my complete contact details.

She then gave me a tape "MR Deduction" worth P17.50 I could use to buy something else.

Then, I forgot about the insolent Ms. Information. I am that cheap and easy to please.

Because, I don't hold grudges (I just blog), I did another round of grocerying and ended up buying close to a thousand peso worth of goods so I could use the P17.50 tape. My sister who was with me got a kick out of it.

I bought a Sanyang TV holder which I intend to use as a bedside table worth P679. The sales clerk who assisted me was polite and there was nothing to complain about. The clerk told us to pay the goods at the counter and that he would deliver the item to the customer service counter where I could claim it upon payment.

When I did, Ms. Information was at the customer service counter. She better behave, I silently prayed. Ms. Information was still not smiling. Did she have a really bad night?

The item I bought hadn't been deposited to the counter to be claimed so she used the announcement mic to call the attention of the Sanyang clerk. A minute later and the guy with my TV holder came.

Then a one-sided cold war took place. Ms. Information dressed down the clerk about some procedures. In front of me and my sister. The reprimand was not about the item, as far as I could see. It was about Ms. Information not in that shift, etc. etc. The clerk said, "Mam, wala po kase yung in-charge sa Sanyang kaya ako yung nag-assist." Hello! Do we have to see this, this "culture of excellence"? We were stunned. But Ms. Information rattled on, unmindful of us serving as their audience. The clerk endured it all, even looking apologetic at us. I was close to defending the guy, but since I had no business with their business, I shut up.

Ms. Information is young, in her mid-20s perhaps, presentable. But her rough behavior puts witches to shame. Tsk!

Two days in a row. SM has shown me that indeed SM has got it all for me. Lousy service, damaged goods, uncaring employees - even to their own.

We arrived home and Mother gave me the doctor's bill from the clinic across the street - Php 250 including doctor's fee, CBC and stool tests. The doctor asked us to buy some meds, too. Overall, we spent less than P500. My nephew is OK now. Do I go back to Save More Alabang to reimburse and be subjected to another poor customer service? Tell you what, I'm not really a huge fan of masochism.

To this date and hour, September 13, 2010; 12:30 PM, I have yet to hear from them. No phone calls, no nothing. Just the P17.50 deduction they issued last Sunday.

Some years ago, I bought a Dunkin Donut with a staple wire in it. I called their customer service to complain. I bought the donut in Makati where I used to work. When I got home to Laguna from the office that evening, my mother told me two employees from Dunkin came and delivered a box of donuts and a letter. My brothers ate all the donuts, but I got to read the letter of apology from Dunkin's Vice President.

Now, SM with all its malls and mini-malls and banks and we've-got-it-all-for-you businesses, is just a kariton-pushing business entity compared to Dunkin. What a shame!

SM, Shape Up!

September 11. SM Save More sold to me a bar of chocolate reeking with worms, live, kick-ass worms.

I went to that SM-operated Save More Supermarket at Festival Mall in Alabang for some groceries. Because of my two nephews, I had to pick up some pasalubong, too. I decided to get two chocolate bars - 35 grams, brown packaging, rice crispies with Bon Bon in the label.

Fastforward to home. I handed the bars to my nephews - a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old.

I went up to my room to change when suddenly my brother, the father of the 4-year-old shouted at the stairs' landing. "Ate, yung tsokolate, may MGA uuod!"

Hurriedly, I went down. My brother handed me the chocolate bar. There in my hand, a bar of chocolate with squirmy, squiggly, wriggling worms, jumping, almost flying out of the bar. I haven't seen so many active worms coming from one source. My hair stood on end.

My 4-year-old nephew had just put that abominable thing in his mouth and ate and swallowed a bite of it! Whoever caused that to happen should go to hell!

I should have video-d it. But I decided against it. Why expose others to the experience of something so gross? All because a multi-billion-peso business is downright careless and inefficient?

I called Save More Customer Service to report the incident. The usual stuff. They're sorry for the inconvenience but I can return the item and they will replace it with the same or another with the same price: P17.50. I know I'm a Scrooge, but I know my money's and my family's worth. Fine!

That's it? I was poisoned by a quarter of a bowl of stir-fried noodles from this resto chain a few months ago and there was not a trace of worm in it. What more with this chocolate bar with an over-population of worms in and out of it?

That I observe my nephew within 24 hours and if something happens...What the hell is that suggestion?

I told the customer service rep that I was not willing to just observe. That I would have my nephew sent to the doctor for check-up before any cause for alarm shows up.

Then Save More has to pay for that check-up.

The rep talked to another at the background. It was OK to proceed with the check up. If results from the test show that the cause of my nephew's illness (granted he got sick after that incident) is the chocolate bar, they will have their "nurse" verify the results. Double WTF!

One thing was clear, they would only pay for the doctor's fee if my nephew could prove that he got sick because of the chocolate bar with worms he's eaten.

What I mean is, I will have to send him to the doctor when there isn't supposed to be any need to, but because he ate your wormy chocolate bar...

I was getting impatient getting my message across.

After a decade, they got the message and told me I can send the bills to them and they will reimburse! Hallelujah!

Unbelievable! SM is one of the most successful businesses in this part of the world and they have this kind of standard operating procedures when they mess up!

SM runs its business like a sari-sari store. With all due respect to the Aling Nene's, 2 Sisters' and Basta Sari-Sari stores out there.

Yes, I agree, all companies mess up at one time or another. All businesses have bad days sometimes. The company I work for isn't an exception. But SM is so up there, so rich up there, so successful up there, and yet. And yet they couldn't come up with decent replies to customer complaints. Food rots. Food gets stale over time. They should have perfected handling and storage, more than anything else. That's the pillar of their business. But even in an almost perfect environment, food does spoil. And SM needs only to prepare a sound how-to-deal-with-customer-complaints procedures and a good script of apology when shit happens. I guess, SM will not be bothered with that anymore. They have reached beyond-god status. So they think.

The next day, I returned to Save More only to be exposed to another unbelievable experience yet again.

That on the next blog.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nothing Gold Can Stay By Robert Frost

(Dondee, thanks for this. Another friend led me to The Outsiders where this poem is highlighted.)

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The Outsiders

C. Thomas Howell ... Ponyboy Curtis
Matt Dillon ... Dallas Winston
Ralph Macchio ... Johnny Cade
Patrick Swayze ... Darrel Curtis
Rob Lowe ... Sodapop Curtis
Emilio Estevez ... Two-Bit Matthews
Tom Cruise ... Steve Randle
Leif Garrett ... Bob Sheldon
Diane Lane ... Cherry Valance

Johnny's Letter to Ponyboy:


I asked the nurse to give you this book so you could finish it. The doctor came in a while ago but I knew anyway. I keep getting tireder and tireder. Listen, I don't mind dying now. It's worth it. It's worth saving those kids. Their lives are worth more than mine, they have more to live for. Some of their parents came by to thank me and I know it was worth it. Tell Dally it's worth it. I'm just going to miss you, guys. I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he means you're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep it that way, it's a good way to be. I want you to tell Dally to look at one. He'll probably think you're crazy, but ask for me. I don't think he's ever really seen a sunset. And don't be so bugged over being a greaser. You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There's still lots of good in the world. Tell Dally. I don't think he knows.

Your buddy,


They don't make movies like this anymore. Our generation has been pampered. Today's youth, well...they have Bella and Edward and that wolf character. They also have the internet and facebook and i-pod and i-pad and cellphones and the list goes on and on.

But WE had gold.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nothing Twice

By Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrived here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with exactly the same kisses.

One day, perhaps, some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a rose or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air From A Singaporean

A Singaporean friend has sent a message to another friend over FB: "Hi! How are you? When are you visiting Singapore? I miss the Philippines!"

This while "Hong Kong is furious." (PDI)

MZ visited the Philippines for a business trip last year. Being her counterparts, we gave her and her colleagues a city tour -- Alabang, Greenbelt, Megamall and Eastwood. Her first trip to the Philippines and she was amazed and couldn't believe that it was the Philippines she heard about and saw from the news! She calls the Philippines an unforgettable country with warm people and great food. And we haven't even taken her outside Metro Manila!

She loved, loved Goldilocks polvoron and ensaymada and brought home boxes and boxes of them we wondered how she got away with them at the airport - ours and theirs.

She was impressed at the "way we prepare our food" (Goldilocks??? ) and the "care that's always put into it." She loved the experience so much that when we visited her in Singapore she had to warn us that we should not expect food in Singapore to be as good as those in the Philippines.

When the whole Chinese world is against us, this one Singaporean-Chinese sends a message and says she misses the Philippines!

There really is still hope in the world.