Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas 2005

World Wide Web(cam)

i spent Christmas day with my family and relatives at my lola's (grandma's) house. we were able to
chat with our folks in Canada and Maryland, thanks to one of the most wonderful inventions known to mankind (especially people overseas), the webcam.

it was a day filled with laughter, reminiscing, and surprises.

i haven't seen my aunt and uncle in Maryland for over 8 years, while our relatives in Canada have been immigrants since 2000 (oh, and they're all Canadian citizens, now).

when all three webcam windows popped up, it was total chaos!

we really miss our cousins and seeing them "live" was a perfect opportunity to poke fun at each and every one of them - which is what we normally do during reunions. haha!

unfortunately, the microphone in our webcam didn't work. darn it! we could hear both parties perfectly while they couldn't hear us. well, it was funnier at our end because we could actually listen in to their reactions and conversations.

ahh, Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday...


after opening the gifts (and more picture-taking), my family headed for San Fernando, Pampanga to sleep over at tonet's house. she works in San Miguel Corporation (Beer Division) in that area and, the lucky girl, has her own house and car to boot.

this is the second time my whole family slept over.

we had dinner at Gigster, a fancy restaurant/bar where they have an area for live bands/performers. we dined al fresco in the second floor, overlooking... the parking lot. the food was excellent! crispy pata, sinigang, garlic rice, chopsuey. *burp!*

when we got home, we instantly morphed into couch potatoes and watched cable tv.

the next day, i woke up earlier than the others, except for my mama (who's usually the first one who gets up). we had a simple breakfast and i spent a few minutes taking silly pictures of tonet's
knick knacks (she has a lot!).

while waiting for everybody to freshen up and pack up before we go, we watched Friends reruns (thank God for VCD!!). we only got to season 1. we just cannot leave without watching the episode where Ross and Rachel first got together. ^_^

before we left, i was playing around with my camera. my papa saw this as an opportunity to take family photos on tonet's bed. what was just an innocent photo turned into a full
pictorial session. tsk, tsk, tsk...

i think my papa misses photography terribly. it's been years since he last held his beloved SLRs (which are gathering dust in his cabinet).

finally, we were off to have lunch at my sister's favorite resto in Pampanga, A La Creme. it was 2:30 pm and i was famished!! i was able to take a few
photos while waiting to pass the time. thankfully, there were only a few people because of the holiday so our orders arrived quickly. they absolutely did NOT disappoint. the food was EXCELLENT! my beef salpicao disappeared in a matter of minutes (even my sisters were surprised). hey, i'm hungry. do i even have to explain myself???

diet?? never on Christmas! :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

tis the season to be jolly

2 more days till Christmas!

i can't wait to open my gifts! for as long as i can remember, it has always been a family tradition to open all our gifts on Christmas eve. so even if i got most of my gifts really early (thanks to my students and an early Christmas break), i had to rely on my EQ to keep my gifts safely tucked under our tree.

anyways, i've been thinking of the things i want to get on my favorite holiday (second to my bday, that is. hahaha!). much as i want to be selfless this year, i realized that honesty is still the best way to go. so, here goes...

my Christmas wish list:

1. track pants
- at least a couple of them. the ones i use are torn and have definitely reached their prime

2. cell phone
- my
phone is in dire need of a replacement. really. i think it's about 4 years old already! if there's a generous soul out there, please hear my plea...

3. Canon dSLR (yeah, i love Canon)
- preferably the 350D (paging star... :p)

4. a round-trip ticket around the world
- i love to dream big ^_^

5. a Bayo GC
- *sigh* i miss shopping. i miss shopping with my SVI gals more! (hi star and flor!) have you seen the clothes at
Bayo??? waaaah! @_@

6. shoes
- especially trainers. the one (yes, i only have a pair now) i'm using are wailing for a replacement

7. an underwater digicam
- yep, summer's coming...Boracay, here i come! (i wish)

8. ticket to HK Disneyland
- i'm definitely a kid at heart. actually, any Disneyland is fine with me. HK is just the nearest
branch. :D

9. scuba diving lessons (and gear!)
- another *sigh* now WHY didn't i grab this chance while i was in SVI and can actually PAY for lessons...oh yeah. I DIDN'T HAVE THE TIME!

10. a safari expedition
- then i can do like a National Geographic special where i'd be talking about the different animals i saw and...aby, stop daydreaming already!

11. a full spa treatment
- this includes a full-body massage, facial, hot oil, dip in a Jacuzzi, body mask, and bottomless fruit shake (whoo!)

12. ticket to Oprah's Favorite Things
- now who in her right mind WOULDN'T want to guest in a Favorite Things episode???? why, that's like hitting a dozen birds with one stone already! (i'm pretty sure i'll have at least three items from my wish list for free in this episode)

13. a lifetime supply of GC @ National Bookstore or Powerbooks
- do i really need to say more??

14. to work in a luxury liner daycare center
- i think i can do this on my own. but it's still nice to wish... :) i'm actually envious of percy, ricababes' brother. he works in a liner and gets to travel to different places (for free!) and meet people from various walks of life

15. my own business
- hm. this is hard. i don't even know what kind of business to put up. but i would love to be my own boss.

and lastly...

16. to meet my favorite people
- i met Bo Sanchez already. the only ones left are:
Oprah Winfrey
Nate Berkus
Chip Foose
Tyler Florence
Mario Batali
the cast of Friends
and, of course, the Fab Five!! :)

how bout you? what's on your wish list?

happy Christmas everybody!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

i like to move it, move it!

last night, our community, Servants of the Lord's Vineyard (SOLV), celebrated its 21st year anniversary with a dinner dance.

Road Kill

i was one of the offerers for the 5 pm mass so i knew i had to be early. i left the house before 4 pm to give myself allowance. i even texted some of the sisters to ask if there was available parking space in the hotel so i'll know if i have to park in Shangri-La instead.

so there i was, calmly driving the streets of Ortigas and Shaw, gloating to myself that i was such a genius for planning ahead. pshft. i should have known it wouldn't last long.

by sheer idiocy, i missed Richville hotel and drove past it. it was supposed to be near Shaw Blvd...but there were too many buses blocking my view. when i saw the next MRT stop, my gnawing dread finally hit me on the face.

i actually missed the hotel.

i was in EDSA.

there are no U-turns.

i have to go back.



i felt my conscience sprout horns and a tail. Sooooo, care to gloat again?? Think you're so smart, huh?

yeah, yeah. full speed ahead.

i made a right turn in Guadalupe. now, i've only passed that way a few times, all of which i couldn't even recall unless i was hypnotized or had a gun pointed at my head. so i had to trust my driver's instincts (if i actually had one) and pray for the best.

miracle of miracles, i found myself back in EDSA, south-bound. yipee!!

i was fighting the urge to gloat that my brilliance has saved me yet again.

but do i ever learn?? do i??? DO I???

i thought to myself, if i stayed on the left side of the road, it'll be easier for me to spot the hotel on the other side. yes, that's my plan. that's a good plan.

i was rushing towards Shaw, praying that i wasn't late for the mass. my eyes were constantly glancing at my left to check if i passed the hotel already. when i looked forward, i realized that i was nearing the fork. you know, that harmless division where the left road will take you through the tunnel and the right will lead you to the intersection. and to that really important U-turn that i had to take.

but then, my spider senses told me that i was on the left side of the road.


checking my right side mirror for any maniacal drivers heading my way and glancing for any MMDA guys watching nearby, i realized it was safe to make a sharp right and head for the intersection.

tsk, tsk, tsk.

reckless driving + stupidity + an overdose of pride = traffic violations that can make your head spin

i was staring blankly at the MMDA officer, who was trying to explain what i did wrong.

can things get any worse??

when i gave him my license, i thought i still had a chance to negotiate. after all, it was Christmas, i was wearing my favorite gimmick blouse, and i had gotten away with things like this before (oops, did i just say that???).

"Aba, Miss, expired na pala lisensya nyo e!" ("Hey, Miss, you're license is expired already!")


yeah, *baka, things CAN get worse.

even if i felt i might get away with swerving, there was no chance in hell that they'll let me off the hook with THAT offense.

i was in trouble. serious trouble.

how can i have forgotten to renew my license?? now i know i'm really getting old.

ok, my mind was working in overdrive.

gotta think. gotta think. gotta think...i am SO dead.

i smiled at the officers. (yes, somehow that fiasco of mine grabbed the attention of two more MMDA guys.)

the first guy was explaining the damages:

- 500 for reckless driving on the first offense. what he didn't know was that this is my second. so it's really 750. but i wisely kept my mouth shut.

- 750 for driving without a license.

- 6,000 for releasing my car in the impounding station.

that last amount was giving me such a headache that i didn't absorb the last two words fast enough.

when he said, "So, pano yan, taxi nalang kayo?" ("So, how's that? You'll take a taxi instead?") i did a double take.

which part did i miss??


oh crap.

i will not, absolutely WILL NOT, give them my car.

one of the guys had a pleading look already. i knew he was worried that he'd lose his job if i didn't comply. but i remained seated and safely tucked in my car.

i know i did something wrong but please, PLEASE, don't take my car away. i kept praying that in my head.

after a few minutes of begging and negotiating, i had to face my last resort - asking for help.

admitting i needed help is such a big deal for me. really. particularly if it involves:

1. my driving,
2. being a female driver, and
3. my papa

but i was desparate and had no other (better and wiser) choice.

swallowing that stubborn lump of pride, i called my papa and explained what happened.

he calmly told me he had to speak to the MMDA officer. i wordlessly gave him the phone. i didn't need to explain who i was talking to. he heard the whole thing.

ah, so much for trying to prove women drivers are smart and competent on the road.

i felt like such a baby and wished that my car seat would swallow me whole.

when he gave me my phone back, i asked my papa what they talked about.

"Kunin mo na lisensya mo. Pwede ka na umalis." ("Get your license. You're free to go.")


to say i was stunned was an understatement.

i was FREE TO GO???

i talked to the officers. one of them was actually nicer to me after speaking to my dad.

"O, sa Monday, i-parenew nyo na lisensya nyo ha." ("O, on Monday, have your license renewed ha.")

as he was giving me advice on which LTO station i should go to just to avoid fixers and the like, i was still in a daze.

my papa is a member and officer of REACT Philippines. i knew it was a big organization but i realized i had underestimated their power. after i heard one of the officers tell his companion, "Taga-REACT yung tatay e,"("Her dad's from REACT.") it dawned on me that the fact that he was a member of that organization was enough reason to let me go, expired license be damned.

wow. God is good.

Shall We Dance?

the next miracle was that i was in time for the offertory. (although i missed the gospel. but i didn't keep my hopes up anyway.)

after the mass, we had a break to prepare for the worship, talk, then dinner. i recounted my (horrifying) story to my friends. they couldn't believe my rotten luck. hahaha!

after an inspiring worship and talk, it was finally time to chow! i was so hungry, my hands were shaking as i placed food on my plate. ah, i just love buffets.

dinner was followed by a slideshow of SOLV during the good ol' days and the more recent photos. after a few announcements, it was time to dance!

they kicked off the dance portion with a bit of ballroom dancing. our elder, Ate Malou, showed off her dance prowess as she did the swing with one of our brothers and "resident DI," Ramil. soon, everybody was swinging, cha-cha-ing, and boogie-ing their bodies.

it was a great night, full of dancing, laughter, and more dancing...
"Just got lucky... " (there's nothing like good ol' 80's music. hehe.)

by the time we were done, my feet were hurting already.

i left the party past 11. i still had to stop by Cost U Less to redeem our freebies from the gift certificates we receieved for Christmas. i just love going to 24-hour groceries, particularly late at night, when there are less people and the airconditioning is cooler. too bad i was only able to get our fiesta ham. they ran out of Tender Juice hotdogs and stocks of queso de bola.

past midnight and i was home at last, safe and sound. and more importantly, i still had my car. :)

*baka - a Japanese term for idiot ^_^

Sunday, December 11, 2005

worth waiting for

finally, after months of waiting...

and waiting...

and waiting...

the day of the Kerygma-Anawim GK build finally arrived!!!

a few months ago, Emily and i signed up as volunteers of the
Light of Jesus' (LOJ) recent project with Gawad Kalinga. unlike my first GK experience where we only painted four homes, this project is much bigger. i had so much fun on my first GK painting job - and we were only a few volunteers then! so imagine how excited i am just thinking about this next venture, which involves not only the whole LOJ community but people from other communities and walks of life as well. i couldn't wait!

we were praying for good weather because it's been raining for a few days now. but then, i realized, wild horses (and rain showers) could not keep me away!

and rain it did!

thankfully, it wasn't that bad. when Emily, Leah (who i invited a few weeks ago), and i got there, it was already drizzling. but everyone was in such high spirits that we didn't really care.

after the mass and orientation, we went to our respective groups (we were House #28). we were joined by a couple and a brother, all from LOJ, Couples Chapter. they were all so easy to get along with that we had so much fun working with them.

when we started on the house, the brothers proceeded to hammer the wooden flooring inside while we began to paint the facade. as we were working, some of the "foremen" and construction directors would pass by all the houses, chatting with us and making sure everything was going well. at first, we didn't notice the attention our house was getting. after a few moments, more of the LOJ "bigshots" were dropping by. when Bo Sanchez came in with his son in tow, i began to realize that our new friends weren't just "ordinary members" of the community. my hunch was right when another group of brothers and sisters visited us and joked that an LOJ director was actually working. Emily, Leah, and i were pretty surprised when we found out that both of the brothers in our group were THE directors in their respective chapters. ah, that explains it. after hearing that remark, we turned to Bro. Noel and joked, "Ah, kaya pala strict ang Quality Control dito e!" ("Ah, that's why the Quality Control is strict here!") we all had a good laugh. now that i think about it, it was a good thing we bonded first before finding out who they were. if we knew they were head honchos, we would probably be more formal - and respectful (haha!). actually, they were so down to earth that regardless of their status in their community, they made us feel at ease.

now speaking of community leaders, i just have to share this.

Bo Sanchez approached our house, i almost fainted! see, i've been his fan ever since i've read my first issue of Kerygma when i was in 2nd year college. since then, i've been a regular at The Feast, i have most of his books (well, all except one, that is), and i attended their holy week retreat early this year. although i met him during the retreat, it was only for a few seconds (i had to talk to his companion). this morning, we saw him while we were heading towards our house but it was just in passing.

and THEN he decides to drop by. THIS i did NOT expect.

so anyways, when my brain finally registered that he was right beside me, talking to the brothers, i tried to keep my cool and continued painting. after all, he wasn't there to talk to me right?? AND, i didn't want to look like some crazed fan, even if i SO am (hahaha!). so, i chatted with the girls while we were painting and the brothers were conversing inside. i could hear him joking with his son (sigh) and laughing with the others.

i almost jumped when i heard the door open. i began to panic when i saw our visitor bid the brothers goodbye.

tsk, tsk, tsk...


very calmly, i turned to look at them and caught Bene's (his son) eye. i gave him a smile and quietly said, "Bye." Bo seemed to have heard it because he turned around and looked directly at me. his eyes were smiling, as they usually are. i didn't hear what he told me at first because my pathetic brain shut down - again. when i heard him greet the other sisters, "Bye," i realized it must have been that. i managed a smile and tried my darndest not to look all giddy, lest i freak him out. by the time he left with Bene, i exhaled so loudly i thought the others heard me. argh, how pathetic was that! hahaha! anyways, when my feet finally reached the ground, my eyes lost that glazed look, and i could think normally again, i resumed my painting. ^_^

the couple who joined us left early and Bro. Noel was left to assist us and do some Quality Control (hehe). well, my OCness in me just CAN NOT let those nooks and crannies go. i just HAD to paint in the holes that were left gaping and unpainted by the roller brush. i was so engrossed with that activity that i didn't notice that my arm, my face, my hair, and the back of my jeans had paint already. wait, how did that happen??? must have been when i was dazed and confused by our recent visitor. hehe.

when we were finished and all those annoying holes were filled in already, it was still early. it wasn't even lunchtime yet! so we took a break, talked with some of our neighbors, and finally packed away our mess. as we were lugging our stuff to the car, we saw Bro. Noel eating with the other couples in the tent. he asked us to join them and we told him we'll follow.

when we returned bringing our lunch (longganisa meal from McDo), one of the sisters reacted, "O, bumili pa kayo sa McDo!" ("O, you bought food from McDo!")

i grinned sheepishly, "Sabi kasi magdala ng packed lunch e." ("It said to bring packed lunch e.")

"Nako, basta kasama nyo ang Couples, di kayo mauubusan ng pagkain!" ("Well, if you're with the Couples, you'll never run out of food!")

ahh, we were so blessed.

after a sumptuous lunch (rice with adobong sitaw, chicken, salad, siomai, and pichi-pichi), emily, leah, and i all had satisfied smiles on our faces. this is the life.

so, after a few picture-taking here and there,

we were all set to go. we thanked our wonderful friends and said our good-byes.

what a great way to spend the