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We have just grown up

I am thinking back on the soundtrack of my childhood and perhaps I can sum up so many of my happy memories in four little words: The Sound of Music. There is something very gratifying and peaceful about how the first bars of any of the songs can immediately make me go back in time. In a flash, I smile as I remember the times I played under sun and rain, what I collected (stickers and stationery), who my playmates were (most of the time the children of our favorite driver Manoy Delfin: Dayday, Boyboy, Jerry, Jessie, Yani), the games we played (waring-waring, marbles, rubber bands, Monopoly, Chinese garter). When I was little, I knew what I liked and did not like, for sure. The former included, among many other things: red hotdog, meringue, pastillas de leche, party spaghetti eaten with bread, dresses with full skirts, Barbie dolls, hula hoops, Reader’s Digest and Nancy Drew books. What I did not like: burgers, vegetables, French fries, fighting, horror movies, chicken drumstick, ketchup. As I grew up, there were more things I did not like: the color red (except when it was a lipstick), animal prints, perfume, yellow gold, sad endings in any movie, Danielle Steele (I would have loved her except for the fact that she always liked killing off characters in her stories — too tragic for me, way too much sadness in an already often-sad real world).

Now I do not know what shifted, or how and when it did, but I woke up one day last year wanting so much to eat a burger. Nothing strange about this, except for the fact that I spent the better part of my life not even eating anything that involved ground meat — nothing against it, it just never appealed to me. A burger would be the last thing I would order anywhere, ever. The only trigger I can think of was that I had watched a cooking show on one of the food channels, unremarkable for the most part except for how the cook revered his burger, as if he were preparing some food for a god. He waxed poetic about it, and it was a love affair between man and burger. Perhaps I got sucked into the story, so much that the next day I was willing to give a burger a chance. I remember thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was missing out on something. (more…)

Finding peace in the strangest things

The day begins a little off here and there. The beginnings of the faintest of headaches, a looming deadline for a project I have yet to start, a phone that will not stop making that sound when notices for this and that come in, the sound of workers chipping on the walls of the laundry area as they prep it for the tiles that need to be placed (too noisy!) — all these while I am still in that very soft, hazy state of sleepiness. But the morning has its rewards, too: strong arms I can snuggle in, crisp white sheets embroidered with blue roses, my favorite pillow, a cold room covered in misty gray because the blinds are down and whatever ray of sunshine has crept in comes as nothing more than a little crack of light. I take a deep breath. And ask the universe for five, 10, 15 more minutes before my day has to begin.

January was beautiful but a bit tough, or maybe I should choose to say it the other way around — a bit tough but beautiful. February promised to be gentler; I hope it continues that way as we go along. I have been quite good at counting my blessings, and latching on to happy thoughts, both of which are very good at making challenging/boring/frustrating situations easier to chew. (more…)

Smooth sailing for Lucy’s boat project

ALBUERA, Leyte, Philippines – Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez’s fishing boat project received another boost with donations from Japanese shipping company Kawazaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line), through the Rayomar Foundation and the San Miguel Brewery (SMB).

Dubbed 6,200: Mission Possible, the project aims to provide fishing boats to each of the 6,200 fishermen in her congressional district whose livelihood was affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Gomez led the distribution of 102 boats in this coastal town in simple ceremonies held at its baywalk on Feb. 6.

Rayomar Foundation representatives led by its president Maria Ana Zubiri and vice president for project development Jacqueline Fedalizo attended the turnover ceremony. K-Line donated 60 boats.

National business affairs and communications manager Emily Dumalag, who headed the SMB delegation, said they distributed the remaining 28 of the 100 boats that they donated. (more…)

What I learned in 2014

It’s that time of year when my heart is full, I am at least five pounds heavier than when December started, and the tree is still up. Running around in my head are many thoughts and little stories, but there is not a particular one that rises to the surface. So here I am, in good faith, fingers on the keypad of my laptop, the setting on my mind still on vacation mode, my dad enjoying his lunch beside me.

What do I write about? Maybe I can start with three of the many lessons that 2014 has taught me; the first being the many rewards of spontaneity, the second having to do with always choosing the beautiful way, and the third which is to consent to every moment, regardless of the content, something I have tried to consciously practice since 2003 when I first attended a seminar on Centering Prayer. The past two years especially has been a series of constant, if little, steps towards that. (more…)

Many shades of happy

This must be one of, if not my favorite, Christmas season to date.

For many Christmases past, I cannot honestly say I was ever fully in the moment as it happened. I would be half in it — yes/maybe — but the rest of me would be making and going through lists in my head, rushing through meals and conversations because there was always some place else to go to, a next event, a next stop. And then there would be that stretch of time when I would go sleepless for many nights in a row just so I could dispatch as many wrapped presents as I could, the same rendering me exhausted and unproductive the next day. Plus forever last-minute shopping on top of all that. Simply put, I was huffing and puffing through the days.

This year’s holiday season has been markedly different in that I have given myself permission to be still; to steep and linger in the moment, fully present and aware of what it holds. I took pleasure in sitting in the quiet of the afternoon, in those rare moments when I find myself alone, to enjoy a cup of coffee, delicious fruitcake on a plate right in front of me. Tita Cynthia has thankfully baked Lola Lydia’s traditional Irish Fruitcake this season, and it is as delicious as I remember it to be. My friend Denise, bless her, has sent me 10 boxes of my other favorite fruitcake so that I can enjoy it the whole year through. Tita Nellie has also sent me her own beautiful homemade fruitcake — always delicious, resonant of how things can and will go right. Oh, and she makes the best rum cake, too. I call it the Sexy Rum Cake, decadent but subtle in taste, with just the right level of spike in it. (For orders, text her at 0917-8500124.) I enjoyed my favorite ice cream from Milky Way, in cheese and avocado flavors, unmindful of the fact that it will find its happy way to my hips at some point. It is my favorite season, after all. The most wonderful time of the year. I shall enjoy it in taste, flavor, sound. (more…)

A delicious pause before Christmas

Hello there. I skipped being in this space last week but, well, here I am today. I kind of got sucked into this crazy, beautiful hole called December, with its whirl of activities (on top of regular work schedules). Somewhere along the way my birthday happened, which I spent very quietly at home, in house clothes, eating barbecue and many different kinds of cake with family and whoever happened to walk through our door with them, that day. There were many wishes sent my way, words so beautifully strung together the thoughts warmed my heart. I am still feeling so loved and blessed. Thank you.

I love December. I wish every month had a little of December in it. The past two weeks found me making lists, ordering presents and sending them out, eating lots of fruitcake (which I love and eat the whole year round), sharing meals with small groups of friends over lunch or dinner. I was even able to fine-tune the Christmas tree. This year it is a traditional green one, filled with crystals from 16 years ago, red cherries and red roses, twigs frosted in white. No, I am not even halfway done with Christmas presents yet but I love all that the season brings as much as I do all that it represents: gratefulness, precious time with family and friends, the gift of life, all the good that is Jesus. (more…)

December: My fave month of the year

Hello, December. You’ve always been my favorite month of the year. And after a hard bout with the flu and taking some time off from a very hectic schedule the past two months to recharge I initially thought of coming back to this space with something else — a myriad of wonderful little moments, a lot of which involved burgers, cold chocolate drinks and even colder nights, beautiful skylines and long walks, perfect omelets and crisp sheets.

But this very moment, as I write this in my sister’s house in Ormoc City, a beautiful sunset before me, I am anxious about typhoon Ruby coming our way. It has just been a little over a year since typhoon Yolanda and I can’t wrap my head around the thought of another super typhoon coming to shake us up all over again. Dear God, please, not again.

I’m trying, but I can’t seem to follow a single thread of thought right now, I can’t seem to tie together the jumble they are in as answers to the many what-ifs in my mind go this way and that. And so in an effort to snap out of all this anxiety (what good will it do anyway, really!), I will think a happy thought. Or perhaps a series of them would be better. (more…)