A sea full of memories worth preserving

Growing up, I always had a connection to the sea in many different ways.

We lived in Mindanao for many years because my Dad was assigned there. During summers, my parents would take us to Manila and back — not by plane but by boat. At that time, boats were unlike the speedy ones that get you from Mindanao to Luzon in just a little over a day. Back then, it took days. So much so that before every trip, Mom would buy stacks of comics, puzzles and books and stash them away somewhere. And she’d take these out a little at a time over the duration of the boat trip so we wouldn’t get bored.

But we did not spend a lot of time on those. Instead, I remember that we enjoyed hanging out on the sides of the ship, watching island after island pass by. We’d call out in delight when we’d see swordfishes jump out of the water like flying spears. At certain ports in Mindanao, we’d look in awe as children with their parents would approach our ship in their tiny bancas, motioning to the ship passengers to drop coins off the sides so they could dive for them. I remember being amazed to see a mother with a tiny toddler on her back cling tightly to her neck as mother and child dove into the sea for a coin that hit the water near her.

Living in Davao City then, we always had the chance to go to beaches. And our own home (at least the last of many homes there because we transferred quite a number of times within the city) was beside the sea.

I think it’s no wonder then that I love traveling by boat and as my own kids were growing up and we’d travel to my inlaws’ province in the Visayas, many times I’d choose to travel by boat. We had traveled by sea so many times that I knew the layout of most of the Super Ferry and Negros Navigation ships plying the route, knew the best cabins in each ship, and what children’s entertainment centers could be found in each.

Very early on, one of my girls had dreams of becoming a marine biologist. When she finally entered college, that dream had changed and she ended up taking a graphic design course. But her love for sea creatures has remained. She specifically loves dolphins and is attracted to many things from the sea. And she’s not the only one.

My whole family loves the sea. I want my children and their children and the children of their children to experience the wonders not only above the waters but below them for years to come. While I have never gone diving, I have heard the stories from blogger friends who have and who say that the world below is beautiful beyond description. One friend said that the fishes he saw on his dives were exactly like the entire cast of Finding Nemo. If you’ve seen that animation movie, you can understand how beautiful it must be underwater.

The recent shocking discoveries of shipping containers full of contraband corals, shells, turtles and other marine life upset me so much. I cannot believe how we have allowed foreigners to destroy our coral reefs and continue the pillaging of our marine life. This has been going on for decades in exchange for some money (because that, sadly, was the motivation) and it is unimaginable how these all went on allegedly without the knowledge of local government units or national environmental agencies. It just boggles the mind that we have people supposedly tasked with jobs to oversee, monitor and protect our natural resources but now say they never knew these were going on.

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It’s Time to ACT and Curb HIV/AIDS Spread

Who would ever have thought that I would get involved in an HIV/AIDS advocacy?

I supported advocacies, yes. But I never thought of supporting something that I felt then I had no connection to. In my mind, I was saying that those who should be concerned are those who are sexually active with multiple partners, the gay community and others. Nope, not me. I will just focus on advocacies up my alley — maybe breast or cervical cancer or children illnesses. You know, women and motherly concerns.

But last year, when Project Headshot Clinic invited bloggers, along with some celebrities, to spread the word about HIV/AIDS awareness and the importance of action, I took a second look at the disease.

Here are some highlights that everyone should know about HIV/AIDS –

* HIV is not = AIDS. AIDS is the full-blown manifestation of HIV but if well-managed, HIV-positive people may not necessarily end up with AIDS.

* HIV attacks the immune system, our defense against all kinds of sickness

* You cannot die from HIV but because it weakens your immune system, you are susceptible to more serious infections and diseases

* Anyone can get HIV. It can hit anyone of any age, gender, sexual preference, race, religion, family background, profession, social status, life accomplishments, height or weight. ANYONE!

* HIV is transmitted in 4 ways: 1) unprotected sex, 2) sharing of infected needles, 3) as a fetus or infant during birth or through breastfeeding, and 4) by blood transfusion.

That is what caught my eye – item #4 (blood transfusion). How many of us have contracted dengue, for example, and needed blood transfusions? Even children get blood transfusions when platelet count is down.

Just today, I found this online news article from the Inquirer where some 124 blood units were found tainted with HIV. How safe is blood screening of donors in the Philippines – really? Scary thought…

That’s not all. Here are some alarming numbers. And mind you, this is just for the Philippines.

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Do Dogs Grieve Too?

Our family loves dogs.

Even when the kids were babies (and were suffering from asthma), we maintained dogs at home. Of course, we were careful not to let the dogs into the house and kept mostly dachschunds. But we’ve had other breeds at one time or another in the past: beagle, Labrador, Shih Tzu.

In 2002, we were blessed with 2 dachschund puppies: Yugi (male) and Yumi (female). My kids were into Japanese anime then so all our dogs were baptized with Japanese-sounding names.

Being hounds, Yugi and Yumi learned by instinct to chase (and kill) rats. They were our homegrown pest control weapons. But the champion rat eliminator was Yumi. She could smell them a mile away. I lose count of the number of rats (and even stray cats) that she has killed. She goes after them relentlessly, even if she has to sit beside a canal, hole or opening the whole night waiting for the (what must be an already petrified) rat to come out of hiding.

And yet with humans, Yumi was also a lady and the gentlest of dogs. She loved us so much and longed to be loved as well. When the kids approach her, she immediately rolls on her back, waiting to be touched and stroked. Yumi and Yugi, while blood siblings, became constant companions as they shared the sun portions of the garden every day and their sleep corner in the patio every night.

But last Sunday, we had an emergency. Yumi, perfectly healthy and normal one day, suddenly began defecating blood. And to top it all, my husband was out of town and our driver was on his weekend furlough. Thankfully, my brother lived just 10 minutes away by car. He willingly brought Yumi to the vet in Quezon City where she had to be confined. We thought all would go well from thereon.

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Life Comes Full Circle: A Serendipitous Lunch

Many summers ago, I spent 10 years of my childhood in Davao City.

We were moved from Iloilo City, where I was born, to Davao as my Dad was made General Manager of a stevedoring company. As the transfer was midway through a school year, my Mom had no option but to homeschool me till the next school year came round. I was 5 years old then so the school (Stella Maris Academy) gave me the Nursery entrance exams. I passed with flying colors. Maybe it was fate but they decided to let me take the Grade One entrance test. I passed it too. At the age of 5, I was enrolled in the first grade — the youngest of the batch.

There is something about being the youngest in your batch forever and ever. You have this insecurity about not being old enough to “know” things that your classmates know, or not being in on secrets because you were still “too young”. When a school year came to an end, I’d secretly hope that when I enter the next school year, I’d find somebody younger than me.  But every time I moved up one grade level, I’d find myself still being the youngest. The only thing that held up for me, who was then quite shy as a child, was my being nerdy and brainy. I found myself being elected to key officer positions in class and holding leadership positions even if I was, at times, reluctant to be the head when everyone else was older than me and, in height, towered over me.

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College Entrance Tests: How To Prepare Your Kid for Possible Setbacks

It has began. The results of college entrance tests for schoolyear 2010-11 are being published beginning this month. De La Salle University’s (DLSU) college entrance test results started everything off by being the first to release their results last January 2. Over the next few months, high school seniors in different schools around the country will experience extreme highs and/or lows as each university publishes its admission results.

As a parent of two older children (in college now), I have rejoiced and likewise, been saddened as well as they got their exam results. I am just grateful that in the end, they did get into the school of their choice. Now, it’s the turn of our third child to go through the stress of waiting it out. Again, I sit it out with him, knowing he is sometimes stressed at the thought of whether he will make it or not. Once again, I ask myself: How can I support my child if the results do not turn out favorable for him?

I’m sure this thought has also crossed your mind if you are in the same situation I am in.

There is a philosophy that I have always tried to remember and adopt in disappointing situations:

When things do not go the way we want it to, it is not a sign of failure.

It is just God’s way of closing the door so that our eyes, which had been focused solely on that door, will veer away and see that He has opened a window.

We cannot shield our children from everything bad. We can’t stop them from bruising themselves. We can’t prevent mishaps. We cannot prevent their hearts from breaking due to rejection from friends or from a broken heart. And we surely cannot prevent them from a possible rejection by the school they most wished to go to.

So what can we do if our kids are not accepted by the school of their choice? Here are some things we can do:

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2010: New Decade, New Self


To whoever designed this 2010 wallpaper: I owe a debt of gratitude to you. This is going to be my 2010 wallpaper and avatar in most of my social network sites.

A little flashback…

Those who know me from about 2 decades back know that I came from a different mold altogether.

Dad was an accountant. He had no chance to take the CPA exams so that dream must have been something I absorbed in my growing up years so much so that I followed his footsteps, albeit blindly. Along the way, I did have a chance to discover my creative side. Mom made sure I took piano, ballet and jazz lessons. Yes, I even did Tahitian dancing at one point.

I was not a nerd in school but studying hard was a habit that paid off as I graduated at the top of my class both in high school and college. Getting a job with the premier accounting firm then was not so difficult with grades like mine and I must say that staying with that firm for the next 16 years taught me even more about discipline, hard work, teamwork and many others. My determination to make it big in the corporate world got me a firm scholarship to an Ivy League school in Pennsylvania. Even when I left the firm to join a universal bank as head of its Corporate Planning Division, I carried those very same work ethics. Because of the intensity with which I worked, I almost lost my youngest son in a really bloody incident in Baclaran during a meeting. At one time, I spent Christmas Eve in the bank till past 6pm – practically the only one left on my floor.

So it was a great surprise to everyone who knew the workaholic ME when I submitted my resignation letter. Which company are you joining? How much more will they pay you? We will match whatever they offer you. You can be Chairwoman of this affiliate company, said the Chairman of the bank. To all these questions, I simply answered that I wanted to just become a homemaker for once and serve my family.

Friends made side bets i would not last 2 years. I should have made a hefty bet because I beat them by a decade.

Fast forward to the present…

3 years ago, I discovered blogging. I sort of dawdled the first 2 years, simply writing for its pure joy and creative outlet. But now, I am exploring that long inert, creative side of my self. I want to reinvent myself into a right-brained woman.

Let me ask you something: Have you ever wondered if your past life was a mistake or has hit a no-growth stage? Are you nursing a deep desire to change course, paddle elsewhere, find out if you still have it in you to do something different? Have you ever wanted to put more meaning into your life?

I have wondered. And I have nurtured a deep yearning to put more meaning into my life.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

I’m taking life as it comes now and I am amazed at the different opportunities that lie out there for people willing to give it a try. Just in 2009, I got myself into the following;

And more opportunities appear to be opening up in 2010 that will put to bear more writing assignments, among others. In the works also are plans to get more training in internet marketing/SEO and a not-to-be-missed creative workshop with Jim Paredes.

Pursuing it at this stage of life is easier, I guess, now that my kids are teens and adults. They are growing independent of me after years I spent with them, being active in their school activities. But I believe that pursuing the deepest passions in you have no right or wrong age. The time to start is always NOW.

Who knows where else this journey is taking me? I still can’t see the big picture.

But that picture above of the fluttering butterflies and flowers growing delightfully under a bright sun say it all. That’s how I want to reinvent my life –

New, exciting, sunshine-y, positive, growing, free-spirited, love-filled, and God-centered.

Are you also in the process of altering the direction of your life? In what way? I’d love to hear from you as well.

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