February 24, 2007

On the Verge of Sainthood

Finally a date for canonization, for Mother Marie Eugenie: June 3, 2007, Vatican City!

Read the Vatican announcement HERE.

For the story of the road to Canonization (the exciting events of the last few weeks!), read HERE.

Watch this space for updates on information for the canonization itself. All roads lead to the Vatican! Andiamo!

November 15, 2006

Sister Rose Peter

Please pray for Sister Rose Peter (China's Sr. Jujitsu) who is currently undergoing a spinal operation. Please pray also for her surgeons, and nurses.

October 19, 2006


Work in progress, but plenty of pictures already. Click on TOP link, in LINKS box to the right.

September 28, 2006


I was trying to spread the posts so it would reach velada time, and here we are almost there, and I almost forgot to do a senior year post!

I remember the following teachers: Miss Barrera was English for half the year, Miss Marie Lim for the other half. We all got our share of a half year with Miss Barrera, the most terrifying yet thrilling English class ever. She somehow had the same tone and volume of voice, when one gave an excellent answer, or when one had none…or had the guts to actually utter a stupid one. Miss Barrera also taught us World History for a few months. The most important thing she taught me that year was to ask "WHY?" She gave us a quiz, once a week, I think. The quiz was on facts: dates, what, when, where. But that was just to prepare you to ask the big WHY question. Analysis, analysis, analysis. That class was simply brilliant.

Mrs. Mapa was religion, Mrs. Yorro for Pilipino, Mrs. Viloria for Trigonometry, Miss Paulate for Physics, Prof. Estrada for Philosophy, Mrs. Carlos for History, until she got pregnant and had to go on leave early, at which point we got Tina Zulueta, who was young and hip and just a few years ahead of us. P.E. was Mrs. Zafra! And Home Ec was Mrs. Pedrosa, just don’t remember what class it was anymore!

Pope John Paul II came to Manila sometime in January 1981. A bunch of us went to see him at U.S.T. Don’t remember who they were, just that I was not one of them, since there was no guaranteed seating, and I faint at such occasions. I went with my family to Luneta, where I got a seat. Saw the Pope again as he passed by my lola’s house on Shaw Blvd. He was riding a large tourist bus, and he was simply standing on the steps of the open bus door, as the bus moved slowly along, allowing him to be “close” to the crowd as he waved. No popemobile yet. The attempted assassination was yet to come, some 4 months later in Rome.

CMT or Citizens Military Training (or so I think?): Sorry to my many friends who were officers, or model platoon, but I HATED THIS! I was never so glad to be a "fainting" kind of person, such that after a few episodes, I got shuffled to the INDIA platoon, "I" for Invalid! Happy to be "invalid" for the rest of the year with wackly platoon leader Cindy "Travolta" Dominguez! I started out in Foxtrot, with Annette Lim as my platoon leader. One thing I learned: the alpha as in Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. Very handy now when I give the airline clerk my flight confirmation numbers! Hahaha!

GRADUATION PICTURES: We took them sometime in August. We had to go to the studios of Chat Peypoch, on a weekend. I remember being sick for my assigned day, yet I insisted on going. My mom said I would take a horrible picture and I should wait. I ended up liking my picture, it is still one of my favorite pictures of me in my youth! I still have my collection of grad pics that we traded with each other, complete with written notes at the back. I love to read through those notes, over and over again!

PROM: See post on prom. No sense in my typing up the trauma all over again.

GRADUATION: Okay, another confession coming. At one of our VP luncheon meetings (I think we met once a week?), Manila Cathedral came up, as the venue of our graduation. It started as a joke, like that was too ambitious to even dream up, but someone asked and found out it was possible. But there was a trade-off: Prom could not now be at a fancy hotel, if graduation was to be at Manila Cathedral. I thought it was a good deal: Manila Polo Club/Manila Cathedral vs. fancy hotel/Mother Rose Hall. No idea we would start a tradition. Many batches after us (up to today?) had their graduation at the Manila Cathedral. And it was a beautiful graduation, wasn't it?

PHYSICS AND TRIGONOMETRY: Will not bore you with my geekness to tell you how much I loved those subjects. But hey, I was in good company, Karina Galang, and Mia Unson loved them too. Miss Paulate, at the end of the year, made it a condition of our being exempted from Physics finals, that certain girls who were having trouble, had to pass, or else. I thought it unfair, but was too innocent to fight, and actually believed her (who knows, she might have been serious!) so we tutored those girls. Whoever you are: thank you, thank you, thank you. You passed and we got our exemptions!

BAGUIO RETREAT: Right of passage. Something we all looked forward to, from the time we were freshmen. Not sure if it was because this was the most significant and serious retreat by reputation, or because the venue was Baguio and Baguio = FUN. See Section 7 website, and see who some of us ran into at Wright Park. I wonder how many packs of Marlboro blue seals, and contraband food baon, among other contrabands, got consumed those few days and nights in Baguio?

At the retreat, the most awaited (or dreaded) part: Sex ed via Jesuit priest. Need I say more? We had no more explicit sex instructions, (actually DON’Ts, rather than DO’s) than from Fr. Reuter. Anyone here who actually got told by their mom or dad, or other teacher, explicitly, that one must not do this or that because it was a MORTAL SIN? I’m not complaining. I love Fr. Reuter.

Okay, now our “guy” lurkers, (yes, we know you are there, are you blushing yet?) will finally understand why you did not get what you asked for back in high school. Or maybe I should say, now you will realize how lucky you are that you got what you asked for back in high school! We got the book thrown at us, and promised the fires of hell, and eternal damnation if we did certain things. Certainly, not all of us complied. Enough said. Enough material there for another blog of another sort (insert naughty smile here) and I'm not the one writing it.

COLLEGE EXAMS: We all had to troop to Don Bosco, probably on a weekend, to take the NCEE. I think it was a whole day affair. And if you got a score less than 99, well, you were....err...having way to much fun in high school! For Ateneo exams, we had to go to Ateneo, also on a weekend. We had to use the high school classrooms. I remember some girls trying to figure out whose desk they were sitting on. For La Salle exams, well, we were special. La Salle came to us, and exams were administered right in our classroom. Why the special treatment? I believe that the Dean of Admissions of La Salle at that time was an Assumption girl herself. UP: We had to trek to U.P., on one of two or three “national” testing days, sometime in December. Those are all the tests I took, don’t know what other universities required, and sheepishly, don’t know what Assumption College required either!

The year went by quickly. We were busy, we had more difficult subjects, and serious life decisions to make: what college to apply to, what course to take. That’s on top of what party to attend this weekend, what to wear to the prom, who to take to the prom. It was fun, and it was sad. I knew that a major part of my life would be over, and I was to turn a new chapter the next year. I knew some of you I would not see again for a long long time, but of course, it had not hit yet during that year. I excitedly looked forward to college, nervous, apprehensive, not knowing where I would go really. All I knew is that for the first time in my life, I would go to a school that was not exclusively for girls. I could not wait to break out of Assumption, yet I was sad about leaving something that was my life for 12 years.

The day after graduation, we still had to go to school, to pick up our report cards and say goodbye to each other. I remember walking around San Lo that day, looking at everything. It was not as poignant as my goodbye to Herran 7 years before. I had not come to love San Lo the way I did Herran. I do remember running into Christine Carlos at the yard in front of our building. She gave me a hug, congratulated me, and I her. We did see each other again at college, but not everyday anymore, unlike the last 12 years. Now that I think about it, Christine was with me when I did a final "walk through" of Herran at the end of Grade 4.

Many of you, I never saw again after graduation. Shirley Robles and Regina Yulo, never will again, not in this life anyway. Adieu, old classmates.

Maybe I will see the rest of you again in San Lo, in the next two weeks. I hope so. If you are still sitting on the fence, c'mon, show up at Assumption on October 15, 2006, 10:00 a.m.

BE THERE. It's our time to COME HOME.

August 25, 2006


School starts in New York City in a little over a week. As my daughters and I went through the frenzy of buying school supplies and checking lists, a wave of nostalgia suddenly washed over me. It’s almost velada time, so my sensibilities are pointed toward my Assumption years, 1969-1981.

See how many of these school supplies your remember yourself:

Our rulers were likely the skinny transparent ones called ORION, that came in a light blue plastic sheath. There was the short kind, maybe 6 inches, and the foot-long kind. We also had those multi colored ones, that were harder plastic, but also broke more easily. Wooden ones were available, but I was afraid of the edge that was metal and could cut. In college, my friends taught me to glue or tape centavo coins to the back of the Orion which would elevate the ruler, so that when you used it to draw a line (mostly with pencil in math class), the pencil stain on the edge of the ruler would not mark up your paper!

Notebooks: In the early years, we had “Assumption” notebooks, with the Assumption logo in front. I especially remember our writing notebook, where each writing segment had three lines, the bottom two nearer each other, so that we had HUGE capital letters, and small lower case letters. And of course, who can forget our penmanship models, the ones we copied from diligently during our penmanship classes? Someone (I assumed it was one of the nuns) would write a sentence down on a writing paper, paste or staple that to cardboard, and individually wrap those sheets in plastic. We would then pick out a segment each to work on in class. The sentences went something like “Anna ate apples all afternoon” or “Beautiful birds bounced on branches above the babbling brook” so we got to practice each letter several times in a sentence. I've made "writing sheets" for my girls using the computer, and have started to teach them Assumption writing (American cursive is just ugh!) Sad to say, I hear that they no longer teach penmanship at Assumption today? We also had an assignment notebook. It had grids inside, where you wrote down the subject, the date, the homework instructions itself. There was also a box for your parent to initial, to make sure you did your homework! Those notebooks disappeared after our early years, especially after II (Individualized Instruction) got instituted.

In high school, my favorite notebooks were CORONA brand, which were spiral, and had shiny royal blue covers. I would cover the “crown” logo on each notebook with a cute Snoopy sticker. This sticker thing became quite a trademark for me that my U.P. classmates could identify my notebooks from afar because of it. Another popular brand was CATTLEYA. There was a time where it was “uso” to twist away the spiral, then sew the holes up, so now you no longer had a spiral notebook but a flat hand-bound notebook!

Paper: There was such a thing as Grade 1 paper, Grade 2 paper, Grade 3 paper and so on. It was marked in the back of the pad what grade paper it was. How curious that was, now that I think about it! I'm not sure but was it starting in Grade 4, when we now needed several kinds: Intermediate pad paper, ½ lengthwise, ½ crosswise, and ¼ sized pads? And we lugged all 4 kinds to school everyday. We also had a special kind of "lengthwise" pad for spelling, and another special one for "talasalitaan" in Pilipino class.

Pencil box: We could probably write a book about pencil boxes, can’t we? I remember the Japanese kinds, that closed with a magnetic kind of latch. There were those with just one layer, and the fancier ones with several layers, and even secret compartments! My aunt used to get me fancy German ones in Europe, where one side was for pencils, erasers, ruler, and the other side had a complete set of color pencils! When I see those today, I still have the compulsion to buy – all these many years later. At some point, it was Sanrio of some kind, at another point, it was a plain, clear plastic envelope type, that we just decorated with stickers. I also remember the hard plastic boxes, that looked like elongated soap cases. It came semi-opaque in different colors, and again we decorated and personalized each with stickers and dymo-tape labels.

Pencil: Was there any other than Mongol for our first few years of school? Only later did the Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, and Hello Kitty pencils come. We also had the non-sharpening kind, where you just pulled out the used nib, and tucked it away at the bottom to reveal the fresh nib up top. Those were called BENSIA pencils. What grade were we when it became “uso’ to shave away all the yellow paint from the pencil so now you were left with something that looked like a brown twig? (And how did we shave them, with a razor blade?) Most classrooms had a sharpener screwed on to some ledge with a garbage can underneath it. Or we had our own little portable ones tucked away in your pencil case. My favorite sharpener was a silver metal one, that came in a case with spare blades. The cute ones usually did not last long or did not sharpen well.

BALLPENS: When were we first allowed to use ballpens? The very first kinds were BIC. Remember when the barrel only came two ways: solid yellow orange, or transparent white. My brother loved to take our BIC pens, cause he would convert the barrel into a blow gun using wet toilet paper as pellets, (ouch!) After the BICs came MONGOL, and I believe the barrel of that brand was ribbed, and if you were not careful, you got awful kalyos on your writing fingers from those. There was a time when we played with those ballpens and "melted" the barrels over candle flames and twisted them to make our ballpens fancier. If you were not careful and melted or twisted it too much, then the pen would not write anymore! Vivian Honorio and cousins also had this blown glass pen barrel that we all bought from them (or made pabili!) You just took the ink tube from any regular ballpen and put it inside this glass barrel. You now had a fancy pen, that is until you whacked it too hard and the entire thing broke into many pieces! My favorite simple ball pen, even to this day, is PAPERMATE. I like the one that comes in the blue-green colored barrel. For me, my handwriting looks best when written with this simple Papermate. (Who does handwriting anymore, anyway??) Later on, this new felt pen called FLAIR came out. I still love those! In late grade school, the Japanese (of course!) came out with these pens of rainbow colors, with matching smell! My favorite “exotic” color was turquoise. They also came out with pens with erasers at the end, thus erasable ink was born (how soon after did the crooks figure out they could now erase amounts on checks and change them in their favor?) Did you have that pen with the huge barrel, maybe 1 inch in diameter, that had a gazillion colors in it? The barrel was transparent, and you could pick which color you wanted to use. The idea was novel and interesting, but impossible to write all day with that pen! And did we not check each other's work with a red ballpen? And so did the teachers, they even used FLAIR so your mistakes would be marked even more glaringly!

ERASERs: Again, could occupy a chapter in the pencil box novel! Let’s start with the “ugly” kind, if you made the mistake of buying it. There was the half white-half gray kind, can’t remember the brand. If you were left with nothing else to use but this, and you rubbed too hard, there would be a hole in your paper. My favorite erasers, once again, were made by the Japanese. Whoever managed to invent erasers with smell, and those erasers that looked like nougat, with stars or flowers embedded in the eraser body (you know what I’m talking about!) was genius. I actually saved allowance money to buy new erasers. Today, my 8 year old is as obsessed with erasers as I was (must be a genetic trait.) But the choices today are even more mind boggling than our time (I used to think of my eraser obsession as a “simple joy” of childhood.) My daughter has erasers that look like real food (think fake food displays in a Japanese sushi bar) and erasers that smell like the food they depict. While I actually used the erasers I collected, my daughter won’t let anybody near hers! I just warn her about excessive eraser sniffing (recounting the Tita Vina story where my sister sniffed too hard and required a session of tweezer extrication from her nose.)

SCHOOL BAG: In our early grades, there was an Assumption school bag. It was blue vinyl, and open on top, with transparent handles, and no wheels. The only ones with an Assumption bag on wheels were Gigi and Babita Anido who had theirs custom-wheeled! The more common school bag of our childhood was a squarish one, which had a flat sealed top. Working in a law firm some years ago, I recognized what is known as a “court bag” in legal circles, as our school bag of decades ago! Our bags came in different sizes, and different colors from black to red to green to a bright kind of blue. Because the tops were flat, many of use chose to use the bag as a seat while waiting for our rides home. Therefore, sometime towards the middle of the school year, it was not uncommon to see super lopsided bags that had seen many hours of use as chair! I can’t remember what school bags I used in high school, but it was certainly not the back pack that is now the uniform of school kids all over the world, it seems. When we were about Grade 5 or Grade 6, on top of the regular school bag, some of us brought an “Ace” bag to school. What we put in there, I can’t remember! But some of us actually stuffed notebooks in there. How? I don’t know, cause some of those Ace bags were tiny!

Our markers were called PENTEL, our water colors were called GUITAR or PRANG, the glue was good old Elmers or DUCO cement. We even played with Duco cement by spreading a thin layer on our palms, letting that dry and peeling it off, and this dried glue now looked like skin, complete with the lines of your palm. Our paste came in color plastic tubes, or a round container with a well in the middle that housed the brush. And if massive pasting was needed, then the cook just made up a big batch of gawgaw (cornstarch) that made the best paste for paper mache projects! And the best crayons then as now are CRAYOLA. We also used pastels called CRAYPAS. Bond paper: did any of you call bond paper “KOKOMBOND” like my yaya? I still don’t know how to spell it. But I’ve read somewhere that the term KOKOMBOND was actually a Tagalog contraction of the term “coupon bond.” I loved the shiny ART paper, where one side was glossy and colored, and the other side was white. There was also CONSTRUCTION paper, which was the same dull, matte color both sides, and heavier than ART paper. And for our projects, we had CARTOLINA, which was stiff but soft enough to roll. And to remove the “roll” once you were in school, you just simple rolled it the other way in, and it straightened itself out! Stiffer still was ILLUSTRATION board, which was black on one side and white on the other.

Can you forget carbon paper? I loved to play with carbon paper, even if we did not actually use in school (okay, we did, in sewing class, to make blouse patterns with, using that little wheel with teeth.) I am sure my kids will say “Huh?” if I gave them a piece of carbon paper today!

I loved going on school supply shopping trips. Everything was going to be crisp and clean and new, even if of course it meant that summer was almost over, and school days were at hand. We went to many places for supplies over the years: Unimart, Alemars, National Bookstore, Philippine Education (PECO). Many years later, my aunt discovered a store along Ongpin in Chinatown, where we would buy in bulk for me and my siblings and cousins who were now of school age too. I cannot remember the name of this store (maybe Corona, like the notebook?) but what fascinated me most was this system they had of sending money to the cashier to make change. They had rigged this pulley system throughout the store. A salesperson would ring you up from any counter (painstakingly writing down everything you bought on a receipt book), take your money and the receipt, put these inside some kind of canister, seal the canister, then send it shooting through the pulleys to the “cajera” somewhere in the middle of the store, who would now ring up the sale on the cash register, put your change and receipt back in the canister, and shoot this back to you. By the time this was done, your purchases were wrapped up nicely, and off you went. I loved those buying trips. In the States, if you go to one of the warehouse clubs like BJ’s or COSTCO, see if you find that kind of pulley system rigged up. I’ve seen it in a few stores, but they use a vacuum and air to shoot the canisters from the cash registers to the cash office!

Looking at some of the supplies my daughters use, it seems like some of them have been around forever, but I am sure we did not have them while we were in school, (maybe they were not even invented yet?) like Post-its and highlighters. I seem to remember Liquid Paper, but even before that, do you remember those white sheets that you inserted into the typewriter, so it would type in white to cover your mistake? And of course, most of our typewriters were manual or simple electric, that you could carry around with you. Once in an antique store, I saw an old fashioned typewriter, so I excitedly called my jaded children to show it to them. And back then, most of the paperwork we got in school were "mimeographed" and were not "Xerox copies."

Now my daughters have “marble composition notebook” on their supply lists. They used to come in just black and white, but now they come in various colors. Of course, I am bored with how they look, so I’ve taught the twins about cute stickers and stuff, and so the habit has been passed on to the next generation. :)

August 16, 2006

Assumption Girl at the State University

When my mom first told Miss Barrera that I was applying to U.P., Miss Barrera’s first reaction was “Baka ma-culture shock siya.” Well, I ended up in U.P. And culture shock indeed it was.

First of all, registration. Our batch had the grace to experience what the legendary U.P. registration was all about. I had a cousin, a U.P. student, who accompanied me to my first one. We had to be in line by 3 a.m. It was an adventure, you and hundreds, maybe thousands of other students lining up, hoping to get into the prime classes (read that as good professors, and decent schedules.) My cousin was so helpful and eager to be with me, but I think she really just wanted to see if her hoity toity Assumption cousin could stand up to this initiation rite of all U.P. students. I did. If I was going to be a U.P. student, then I had to behave just like all the other thousands of regular U.P. students.

Now back to broad daylight, the first days of school. My first impression: Madumi! Que horror! For years at Assumption, I took for granted clean, dust free classrooms, pristinely erased blackboards, and well-lit rooms. At U.P., I made up my own alcohol pads. Everytime I sat at a new desk, I would take out the alcohol, and clean it. Of course, my other ex-Assumption friends, now at U.P., would laugh at me. After awhile, they were borrowing my little jar. This lasted, maybe a few months. By then, almost every seat in every classroom would have been sat on by someone already, in essence, wiping the dust on their clothes. No more need for my alcohol.

The bathrooms: left much, much to be desired. How to cope? I wanted to bring a can of Lysol in my bag. BUT, my ex-Assumption friends managed to prevail upon me. Some of us were trying hard as it was, to not look too conspicuous. Cricket Concepcion’s next solution was to walk about 10 minutes away to her tita’s office, where we could use her bathroom. But of course, it wasn’t always possible to do that. So, for the next semester, all my classes were in the morning only. By noon, I was on my way home. If I could hold off going to the bathroom until I got home, then I would. And I did. It’s a minor miracle I did not get some kidney disease or something, that first year in college. Also, nowhere until U.P. did I find a "convenience store" in one corner of the banyo: a woman selling juicy fruit, halls, ballpens, blue books (U.P. exam booklets), kleenex, Kotex, at marami pang iba!

Speaking of food: There were no Assumption-like cafeterias, which we were now pining for. Instead, they had little shacks a la roadside turo-turos and carinderias. (They only got nicer years later.) So that’s where we ate, or if we were lucky, and we ran into a friend with a car, then we drove and got to eat elsewhere.

The professors: My first glimpse of this man, well, he looked like Juan de la Cruz to me, dressed in maong and t-shirt, and for heaven’s sake, chinelas! It turns out that he was one of the most brilliant calculus professors I have ever had! You see in U.P., you never know. The most ma-porma guy in class, could be really bobo, but the batang kalye dude who kinda looked greasy was brilliant. Lesson to be learned: do not judge a dude by his cowboy boots, or the state of his toenails, truly.

Class: I was a math major, so we all had the same required subjects, pre-requisites, etc. I looked around for familiar faces, knowing full well that among my circle of friends, no one was crazy as me to apply for math. Lucky for me, Gena Concepcion was just as crazy. So right away, I had a friend. We were the only two Assumption girls in our course. Ahead of us a few years was Nina Huab, Mrs. Huab’s daughter (so no surprise there.) Here’s what I did the first few days of class: When the teacher walked in the room. I stood up. Why? Because I was ready to say “Good morning, Mr. Reyes.” Pahiya ako, no? No one else stood up. No one greets teachers apparently, outside of Assumption. Another time, not only did I stand up, by sheer force of habit, I made the sign of the cross too and only when I was halfway through did I realize I was alone! Of course, no one prayed before class started in a non-sectarian school! It felt very strange the first few weeks.

So what one item did I need to purchase, which I never owned before? An umbrella! Life before UP: you got dropped off where there was an awning, and your school was covered in covered walks, that you never needed a payong. Now it was a must. Plus we learned how to take public. Cricket and I eased our way into public transportation. At first, we would only take the aircon Love Buses. After a while, not wanting to wait for them anymore, we would take non-aircon ones, but the nicer kinds. After a while, not wanting to wait even for those, we learned how to take the….dyipney! Especially since now there was a Sharon Cuneta movie every few months. We would sneak down to Ali Mall between classes, watch the movie then get back to school. So we became experts on the U.P.-Cubao dyip routes. Also, the only way to get around the HUGE Diliman campus, if you did not drive, was to take the free ikot jeeps that went around as shuttles.

In the beginning of college, we would dress nicely, fix our hair, put on a little make-up. Susan Benitez and I had this game, where we would try to make our closets go as long as possible without repeating an outfit exactly. In later years, as long as you left your house with no muta, and no bad breath, you were fine! Slowly, we were scrubbing off some of our Assumption skin.

As the years went by and we all went deep into our own majors, I saw less and less of my Assumption friends, and made more new friends. I went on to make friends with wonderful, salt of the earth, brilliant people at U.P. It was truly a different universe from the one I grew up in, but this new world also opened my eyes to what really goes on in life. I went from being a kinda big fish in a small pond, to a truly tiny fish in an ocean. If I used to think "I know a lot", well now it was "Oh my God, what else do I not know?" In many ways humbling, in many ways a great relief.

If we were such sheltered children in Assumption, U.P. laid it all bare (including the annual Christmas streakers running through the halls!) If Assumption was safe, U.P. was always teeming with cops. If Assumption was predictable, at U.P., you never knew what would happen next (bakbakan? walk-out? demonstration? rally?) If Assumption had chaste uniforms, well U.P. had... The Oblation, in all its glory! If Assumption was prayerful, U.P. was usually irreverent. My world suddenly had balance and new perspective. It was enlightening to see life from another point of view.

Soon after U.P. ended, my world would become Chicago, Illinois, then St. Louis, Missouri, then New York City: far, far away from my life at Assumption. The ocean just got larger and larger and larger.

But did Assumption prepare me for this bigger, wider, wilder world out there?

Actually, YES. Assumption taught me grace, and dignity, and generosity, and duty, and responsibility. And most of all, Assumption taught me courage and faith, enough of it to deal with whatever the big world out there would toss at me. 25 years later, gratefully, this little fish is still swimming strongly.

August 15, 2006


Happy Assumption Day, Assumption Girls!

August 14, 2006


Will post details soon. It seems she found her way to Lucena, Quezon, to the home of a former co-teacher at Assumption Antipolo.

She is safe, and seemingly well.

Text message of former Mother Martha, n.k.a. Remia Evaristo to Popsie:

"God is wonderful. Talaga Happy Assumption Day! Marina Marquez found in house of an Antipolo teacher in Lucena, Quezon. Our prayers have been heard!"


August 12, 2006

Miss Marquez Missing Poster


Marina “Baby” Lanuza Marquez

§ Age: 71 years old

§ Height: 5 feet (approximate)

§ Weight: 110 pounds (approximate)

§ Last seen wearing an old, double-collared, colored pink-fuchsia, Manila City Hall uniform.

§ She suffers from Alzheimer’s disease/memory lapse.

Please contact us

Mr. Rene Marquez • Ms. Elgin Manlangit

Home Address

3427 Guernica Street,

Barangay Palanan, Makati


758-3268 • 728-1338

Cell Phones

0917 251 5351 • 0917 244 7302

0922 806 5522 • 0917 527 4329

August 11, 2006


VELADA -- I have used this word countless times in my life, and yet don’t really know exactly what it means. Finally, looking it up online in the Spanish-English dictionary, I came up with some terms:

velada: veiled; evening reunion; soiree

From that, one can surmise that the velada was probably originally a “secret”, such that the show was to be a surprise to the audience on Old Girls Day. Maybe it was even held later in the day, like late afternoon or early evening. And indeed, most shows are kept well under wraps by Jubilarians, in order to present a delightful surprise show for the rest of the alumnae. My mother, and her mother before her have been annual attendees of Old Girls Day for decades. I suspect my lola took me along as a child but I have no memory of it, other than this picture. So I have attended just one Old Girls Day that I remember: my mother’s own Silver Jubilee in 1982, when most of us were in 2nd Year College.

Since I moved to the States 21 years ago, my mom comes to visit every year, arriving around the third week of November. This means that Old Girls Day at the end of October is still fresh in her mind. I usually get a review of the velada, especially if it was particularly spectacular or special, or if one of my various aunts was a jubilarian. Most of all, every November, I get a velada souvenir, whatever it was that was being given away or for sale at the last Old Girls Day, plus the souvenir program if it was particularly interesting or significant. Good ol’ mom, never fails to bring me something. One year, she even brought me a box of still fresh Assumption tarts plus guava jelly in a really cute Assumption lunchbox! Here are a few of the souvenirs I have gotten through the years. I wonder what our velada souvenir will be?

August 07, 2006

1000 Hits

Okay, we've sorta reached a milestone today. Or more appropriate really, a kilometer stone. Our blog's readership made 1000 hits sometime today. Not bad for a blog created just about 6 months ago, and considering we are a class of just under 300. Yes, yes, if you read multiple times, it counts it again and again, not to speak of the times I end up reading and re-reading what I wrote myself. Nevertheless, I am impressed that there are many of you out there who read this.

But, if there are that many of you out there who read this, send in a comment naman, now and then! If you think the post was awful, or galing, or whatever. I have thick skin (and it's moisturized, remember?) Better yet, send in a post yourself.

We are coming to the homestretch of velada prep. My original goal was to keep this blog going at least until October 15. That is why I "stretched" the posts over the months. I was not sure I would have enough to say to the end. I do hope to have lots of posts from the trip back home to Manila, and lots of velada pictures to publish. So hopefully, we can keep this going even after October 15, when it may become not just a Batch 1981 blog, but an Assumption blog.

There's gotta be a readership out there of non-Batch 1981 people -- I am sure of it. Go ahead and comment too! Afterall, ours is a shared Assumption experience.

So keep on reading, say something too. My hit counter says that not all of you are sleeping! (smile!)

August 02, 2006

Assumption Uniform

If there was one other thing that immediately distinguished us as Assumption girls other than our handwriting, it was our uniform. For a long time in Manila, we were the only school girls in plaid, and what a distinctive plaid it is. In my mother's day, the plaid was made of wool and was imported. During our time, it was mercifully made of cotton.

Decades before us, the Assumption girl uniform was blue with white piping, and long sleeves, sailor suit style. I can't tell you what kind of blue, because the memory in my head is a black and white photo. I believe that this is why our blouse and necktie are nautical in design too, a remnant of that earlier uniform. In my youth, you could still see the occasional Old Girl wearing her blue sailor uniform, like Mrs. Enriqueta Ver and Mrs. Casas.

There even was a white uniform, which was just like the red plaid one, but all white, including the skirt and necktie. It had to be worn to school on certain days. Its required use ended with the batch a year or two ahead of us, so we never got to use one. For graduation, we got to use the pretty gala uniform, with lace collar. Too bad we only got to use that once. In my aunt's time in the 60s, they got to use theirs throughout the school year on special occasions. Sometimes families even handed down the gala collar. I remember having to bleach our family’s, so I could have it pristine white on our graduation day. My mom just sent me the collar, it is now yellow with age and history. I will leave it like that and have it framed as is.

How did we use our uniform, let me count the ways: there were some who rolled up their sleeves, astig style. There were some who rolled up the waistband of their skirts, creating an instant mini, and there were those who wore them almost to the floor, or midi. Accessories? Lots. How about a cute Sanrio ID card holder (covered in stickers, to cover your ID picture), pinned to the regular or bubwit sized necktie. Or various cute pins like Snoopy, or a monchichi monkey hanging on for dear life on the tie, a cute wallet in one blouse pocket, and the all-important Denman brush sticking out of your skirt pocket (in grade school it was a Pro brush.) My other blouse pocket contained a hanky or Kleenex. Socks had to be white, but there was an art to folding it. There was the regular sock fold, twice or thrice over; not too high as to be nerdy, not too low to look like a "kanto girl" as my mom would put it. And there was the inverted fold, rolled in to end just under the ankles so it looked like we were wearing rolled down knee highs (mom hated that kind of sock look!) At one point, one had to have the Spanish calcetines from El Corte Ingles that looked like they were crocheted. Shoes were black, with styles ranging from Greg, to kung fu, to leather Mary Janes, and when we could get away with it (fake sugat), clogs with no socks! Buying school shoes from Greg was an adventure, but nothing like going to Shoemart and just watching that show played out by the salepeople and the person calling the shoes down from the storeroom. Do you remember that? I don't think I've seen anything like that in any shoe store in the world other than SM. Do they still do that?

We had a recompense, which we only got in our senior year. Did that go on the left lapel of the blouse, or the right? Why do I think that years before, anyone could get a recompense any time?

Our P.E. uniform was a white t-shirt with the Assumption logo in blue in front, plus blue shorts made out of some poly material, definitely not cotton. Sneakers were blue Bantex, with white socks. I thought I hated our P.E. uniform, until I got to U.P., then blue changed to maroon, yuck!

So now you have to don your uniform again on October 15. Did you have yours made yet? Did you follow Popsie’s very specific measuring instructions? Or are you so lucky you still fit into your old one? Lala de los Reyes can, but her mom said the tela is faded, so she has to have a new one made. What to wear with it? Black flats? Pumps? Manolos? Socks or stockings or sup-hose?? Do you still have your recompense? Put that on. How about your class ring? Did you give it away to someone? Hope he or she was worth it. Does it still fit? If not, wear it around your neck as a pendant. ID card holder? Maybe I can borrow my daughter’s, and put my NY State ID in it, just for old times sake, otherwise my necktie will feel bare.

How ever you wear it on Old Girls Day, wear your uniform proudly, and stand tall. You are an Assumption girl after all.

June 30, 2006

STABAT: Mary Stood at the Foot of the Cross

"The mother was standing"

Popsie sent me an email this morning, that I had to write a piece on STABAT, our class motto. I realized immediately that this would be no easy task, and I could not whip out this piece quickly. On the other hand, this is a perfect example of “karma”, as STABAT has come back to haunt me, yet again.

You see, some 26 years ago, I campaigned heavily, that our class choose as its motto, “STABAT”. I cannot tell you what the other choices were, I don’t remember. I cannot tell you exactly why I wanted this, other than it was more profound, and it seemed to me then, more applicable to us, and it was something that we could aspire to in life. All I remember is we had a few choices (don't know who came up with the choices), 3 or 4 mottos, and we vice presidents were tasked to take them back to the classrooms and put it to a vote, and so we did. Section 7 voted for STABAT, and it turns out, so did most of you.

Through the years, when my life would take a turn for difficult, to say the least, I would look upon this choice, made long ago in my youth. A few times, I regretted it, in the midst of my own agony of the moment, thinking that my life had just imitated motto. Why couldn’t I have chosen something easier, less profound, maybe I would not have to be standing up to my own sorrows? I even dreaded reminding anyone that I was somewhat instrumental in this motto choice all those years ago, lest you blame me for making you live up to something so demanding.

Yet many times, the motto has served as inspiration: If Mary did it, watching her son die on the cross, then my cross to bear is so much less, so stand up myself, I must.

Where else to turn, to “research” STABAT, but the internet, something not available to us, 25 long years ago. All I can say is that I have not had a yahoo search turn up to be so deep, and so moving.

Did you know that:

  • STABAT MATER is the title of a 13th century hymn, originally in Latin, consisting of 20 couplets which describe the sorrow of the Blessed Mother as she stood at the foot of the cross.
  • There are more than 60 English translations alone, not to speak of the translations in Spanish, German, French, Italian, and even Kapampangan, among others.
  • The text has inspired hundreds of musical compositions, dating from medieval to the present time. Some of the music was traditionally sung or performed on Good Friday.
  • At some point in history, the STABAT was banned by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), among others, because the singing of the sequens (a sequens is where every melody was sung only twice, so that every pair of stanzas got a new melody) was putting great burden upon the liturgy itself. Subsequently, STABAT was reintroduced into liturgy as initiated by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727. It was the 5th sequens in the missal, sung on September 15, the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

Here are some of the more interesting websites I found. I invite you to surf, and be astounded yourself:




And when you are ready for more, read on...

I was not at all prepared to be floored, by doing research on my love-hate motto. For 25 years, all STABAT meant to me was “Mary Stood at the Foot of the Cross.” I likened it to one of the things my Lola Ninang always said to me: When you are suffering, offer it up. As I took a big bite of life, and it of me, STABAT in plain English simply meant “endure the agony.” It gets even more blunt in Tagalog, “Tiisin mo.”

I never connected STABAT MATER to MATER DOLOROSA, that is, until now. I think that if I did in my youth, I would not have chosen it. My great grandmother had a life-size statue of Mater Dolorosa, and this was her traditional contribution to the Holy Week procession in her home town of Naga. When I was ten years old, curious and disobedient, I explored every room in my grand uncle Guito’s home in Naga, after being told not to. Did I get the scare of my life when I had the misfortune of opening the room where the religious icons were stored. I shall not forget the weeping face of the black hooded statue, towering over me as I opened the forbidden door.

Yet now, I see that Mary, as she stood at the foot of the cross, was the Sorrowful Mother. Of course. How I never saw that before, I do not know.

Growing up, I never liked doing the Stations of the Cross. If I was made to accompany my mom and aunts to do it during Holy Week, I saw it as infringing upon my vacation time. It was an hour or so to endure, before I could go out and have fun again. I did not learn to appreciate it, until I was an adult attending mass at my parish, St. Francis Xavier in New York. This past Holy Week, I gained an even greater appreciation as our Family Faith group (Sunday school for the entire family, not just the kids) reflected on the Stations, in a manner that would be easy for children to understand.

We also traditionally think of the Stations from the perspective of Jesus, as in “Jesus receives the cross, Jesus falls, Jesus is stripped of his garments.” We do not really think of the Stations of the Cross from the perspective of Mary, his mother, who is witnessing all this.

Yet, that entire journey of Jesus, was also her journey. As he fell, as he was stripped, as he was in agony, so was she. It is called the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross. But it is also called the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrow, Mary’s sorrow.

Here’s my 1st profound revelation for the day:

This entire journey of Mary, culminates in STABAT...She stood at the foot of the cross.

So in order to go through that same journey ourselves, and to finally come to a greater understanding of STABAT, one must do Stations. Here we go…

I found this most inspiring website, with the beautiful bronzes of the Blessed Mother during her journey: http://www.materdolorosa.co.nz/

Juxtaposing the sculptures here, with the Stations, we see that Mary went through the following:

1 SORROW (Jesus is condemned to death)
2 PAIN (Jesus received the cross)
3 GRIEF (Jesus falls for the first time)
4 SUFFERING (Jesus meets his mother)
5 GRATITUDE (Simon helps Jesus carry the cross)
6 COMPASSION (Veronica wipes the face of Jesus)
7 DISBELIEF (Jesus falls a second time)
8 ANGUISH (Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem)
9 TORMENT (Jesus falls the third time)
10 MERCY (Jesus is stripped of his garments)
11 SURRENDER (Jesus is nailed to the cross)
12 ACCEPTANCE (Jesus Dies on the cross)
13 GRACE (Jesus is taken down from the cross)
14 RENEWAL (Jesus is laid in the tomb)

Upon reflection of the above, one shall see, that to be able to stand at the foot of the cross, one must go though all of that: Sorrow, Pain, Grief, Suffering, Gratitude, Compassion, Disbelief, Anguish, Torment, Mercy, until one comes to a space where Surrender and Acceptance are possible, at which point one allows Grace to come in, and finally, Renewal.

To stand up implies some kind of strength, some kind of courage, so the knees don’t buckle, allowing one not to fall, quite literally. So to finally stand up, one must move from the place of pain and sorrow and agony, to a place of surrender and acceptance. Only then can one stand up in strength and courage, and receive the grace of renewal.

STABAT MATER, therefore, is not simply that Mary stood at the foot of the cross. Instead, STABAT MATER is the spiritual journey one takes, in order to be able to stand at the foot of the cross, and move on beyond it. It does not mean we do not or cannot fall, for we do, and we will keep falling. It means that after we fall, we pick ourselves up again, we stand up, and we keep walking, and continue with our quest. It means acceptance, it means surrendering to a higher power. This here is the deeper meaning of Lola Ninang’s “Offer it up.”

My problem all these years, I now realize, is that I fixated on a picture, that of Mary at the foot of the cross, a moment standing still, static in time through the ages.

And the problem with a one word motto such as STABAT is that it froze me in that one moment, keeping me stuck in the mud of sorrow and agony, not looking back before it, as to how one came to stand at the foot of the cross, or beyond the crucifixion itself.

So here is the part I was missing all these years:

STABAT is not simply standing at the foot of the cross, not just that one moment in time.
STABAT is a journey one must take in order to be able to stand up again.
And standing up again is exactly the RESURRECTION.

Lest you think the insight ends here, in my research, I discovered that there are two parts to STABAT: STABAT MATER DOLOROSA, which is Mary’s sorrows at the crucifixion of her son, the part we have been accustomed to, and the part we adopted as our motto 25 years ago, and there is also STABAT MATER SPECIOSA, one of the most tender Latin hymns of all time, based upon the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ. SPECIOSA is about the rapture and exultation of Mary at the birth of her son, the Son of God.

Click here to see entire text of SPECIOSA: http://www.stabatmater.dds.nl/speciosa.html

Could it be, that we have spent the last 25 years thinking of our motto as STABAT MATER DOLOROSA, and we were not seeing the other side of it? Did we actually miss the other boat, the carnival cruise ship, and instead only bought tickets for the funeral barge? But now that we have come half-circle in life, is it now time to think of our motto in terms of both STABAT MATER DOLOROSA and STABAT MATER SPECIOSA?

I can’t help but point out that almost 300 years ago, under a Pope named Benedict (XIII), STABAT MATER found new life in the liturgy. Today, under yet another Pope Benedict (XVI), might WE now find new life in all aspects of STABAT MATER, our motto?

Wow. Thank you Popsie, for ambushing me into writing about STABAT. Even you did not know until now that I originally had a hand in it.

Maybe I am the only one who was blind and not seeing, and did not quite make all the connections these past 25 years. I do hope this post brings you all anyway, to a greater understanding of the motto we chose, and brings you even further in your life’s journey. Maybe then I won’t feel guilty anymore.

So now I propose, that instead of thinking of STABAT as the six letter word found inside our class ring, think of STABAT as a six letter phrase:


So did we make the right choice all those many years ago? From where I stand now, I think so.

Love and peace, everyone.

June 22, 2006

Third Year High School

Third year high school. Academically, it got harder. Suddenly, we had Chemistry with Mrs. Malanyaon, Geometry with Mrs. Gonzaga (?) These subjects were just not like any other math or science subject you’ve had before, so life got a little complicated. When Rina Macasaet told me her older sister Rona got exempted from Geometry finals, then my Algebra exemption meant nothing. Geometry exemption was going to be the goal this year.

From the first scene where the three witches come in, I was hooked. Banquo, Macduff, Thane of Cawdor. Mix in Chrisostomo Ibarra, Maria Clara, Padre Damaso, Capitan Tiago. Wow! What a reading year this was!

We had Miss Reynoso for English. Our literature studies went from colonizer to colony: Shakespeare to Rama and Sita. I think we all looked forward to having Miss Reynoso because we heard from the older girls how she was different from all the other teachers we ever had. Different she was alright. She was more interesting, more bold, really ahead of her time. I think this is just a memory of what was told to us by the older girls: she conducted one class while dressed in a caftan, in a dark room lit by candles and incense! I am convinced that by the time it was our turn, she had already been told not to do this again! Too bad, the higher ups always killed the innovators!

I cannot remember the name of our Oriental History teacher, but we broke out in giggles every time she prayed at the beginning of class. She said something like “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy SPIWIT” at which point most of us lost it. Yes, we were young, and irreverent, and irrepressible. I did love this class though: at one point in time I actually knew each ancient Indian and Chinese dynasty by heart, and in the right order. Since then, I’ve never lost my fascination for the history and culture of India and China. Decades later, it is not even politically correct to say “Oriental” anymore. I wonder if that subject is still called that at Assumption.

For work education, we had Miss Luz Marcelo, who taught us Interior Decoration. That class was so much fun, for many of us anyway. We had to make plates of all the rooms of the house. I still remember my bedroom plate: it was for boys with a nautical motif, with a whale painted on the wall as a mural. Too bad I don’t have boys, or I would have replicated it! Parts of my home today though, oddly enough, are in the same color scheme as my 3rd year high school plate: blue with brown and orange accents! You just never know how long something will stay with you and affect the rest of your life!

For Religion, we had Mrs. Villafania, and this year, we studied the gospels in depth, except John. We were told it was too complicated, and it was not part of the “synoptic gospels.” Later on, I found out that John’s gospel is more esoteric and mystical. So, they did not want our 3rd year selves to get into it? Wait ‘til they find out I have read the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and soon I will read the gospel of Judas!

Our retreat this year was at Mary Ridge in Tagaytay, the school for the naughty girls. I don’t remember too much about it. I never really got into any of our retreats in school, until the senior one. I used to wonder at girls who spent the entire retreat just crying their eyes out, while I was usually tear- free. Little did I realize then, I should have considered myself lucky, and not the odd one out.

Our class president was Toni Feliciano. One of our classmates was Rosette Monteverde, daughter of Mother Lily. Not many of you know, but Mother Lily’s sister is actually an Assumption nun, Sister ????. Rosette’s family opened a restaurant on Pasay Road called “Mother China.” You can imagine that Rosette’s group at cooking class always had the best décor, garnished with carrot roses and all that, fresh from a couple of blocks away!

We had an underground prom this year, together with some other sections, I can’t remember exactly which ones, but for sure Sections 3 & 4. We had it at the Century Plaza Hotel. Section 4 has a lot of pictures in their yahoo group from this prom. The Section 7 website also has a few.

Karina Galang left for the States, to spend junior year there. Our class was maybe a little more quiet since she was gone? Maybe not. I still remember that it was noisy, but we didn’t bother too many people since we were the last room at the end of the hallway, and only poor Section 6 had to suffer our antics.

With Macbeth for English, and Noli Me Tangere for Pilipino, we had a lot of plays during the school year. Those were fun, the dressing up part, and bringing props and all that, no matter that we probably butchered Shakespeare and Rizal that they’re probably still spinning in their graves. Between Sisa and Lady Macbeth, we had many insane women acting out in class. I decided not to cheat and read Noli in Tagalog in its entirety. Hey, it was like watching Sine Siete in my mind, why not?

I remember spending a lot of breaks and vacations with Gigi Anido and family. Once, while up in Baguio, we girls deemed ourselves way more grown up than our brothers and cousins who followed us around. Someone coined the derogatory term “boylets” just to minimize them even more, and that is what we called them. I remember us running around Hyatt Baguio, trying to dodge the boylets and hoping to lose them. To this day, any immature boy, or man, is called a “boylet” by me. And alas, Hyatt Baguio is no more.

Is this the year we had yoga with Mrs. Tenna? I can’t remember if it was this year, or senior year. Anyway, I loved yoga since then, and have practiced it now and then through the years.

I did get exempted from Geometry finals, hooray. Next goal: get exempted from Physics and Trig.

June 20, 2006

Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Marie Eugénie

Lord Jesus Christ,You gave Marie Eugénie
the grace of belonging entirely to You.
You filled her with an ardent desire to know You
and make you known,
to love You and make You loved.
May the Church,which she so greatly loved and served,
recognize her way to holiness and proclaim her a saint
among the Saints in Heaven.
Grant us all the grace to live as she did,
in holiness and love,
faithful to our particular vocations
for Your glory
and the salvation of the world.
*Taken from the website of the Assumption sisters -- find link in the sidebar.

May 25, 2006

From Sine Siete to Kuya Germs: Staying in Touch with you Inner Baduy

Don’t ask me to pick out from a line up people named Assunta, Ara, Juday, John Lloyd, Rufa Mae, Alessandra, Piolo, and Jenny Lynne. I have no idea how they look like, I just see their names in the online edition of Philippine Daily Inquirer, and it doesn’t always have pictures. Not that I would be able to keep track anyway. There are just so many new names, an extraordinary amount of which seemed to have been picked out of a Makati phone book!

Ask me any day about Amalia, Susan, Rosemarie, Juancho, Vilma, Nora, Amy, Hilda, Sharon, Pugo, Bentot, Chichay, Nida, Bella, Matutina, Dely, Babalu, Etang, and I’ll give you a smile. Okay, it’s many years past, and those of you who want to remain in the Tagalog movie closet, stay in there. Just smile secretly to yourself as you read this, and admit that YOU DID watch Sine Siete, and that YOU DID enjoy it!

I remember wanting to go home eagerly in the afternoons, so we could watch Sine Siete. My partner in crime was my sister, and it turns out, a great number of Assumption classmates! I have great memories of watching Dance O’Rama and Ang Senyorito at ang Atsay over and over and over again. Today, when we have pan de sal at home, I can’t help but say in my mind “At nasaan ang jamon?” And can anyone say “Dance O’Rama” and you not reply “Marlene, Marlene, you are the Dance O'Rama Queeng of My Heart.” Once my husband had all these errands for me to do, and I actually curtsied and said “Opo, senyorito.” My God, all these years, and I’m still messed up!

There were all those Pugo, Bentot, Patsy, and Cachupoy ones where it seemed they were always getting into trouble, and the funniest scenes were set in cemeteries. Remember the one where there was a character named “Dr. Kagaw” and the haunted house one where Rosemarie was a young girl in twin braids, that would rise whenever she got scared? There was another scary movie I remember called Gumising Ka Maruja and I think it was starring Susan Roces. And a whole bunch of Charo Santos and Hilda Koronel scary period movies, the titles escape me. Then there were those Luis Gonzalez, Gloria Romero, Amalia Fuentes, Nida Blanca, Bert Leroy, Nestor De Villa movies, where they wore native probinsiyano costumes, that clashed with their pretty and handsome city faces! Then there were those World War II movies, some with famous American actors in them, but where the mean Japanese captain would always be Vic Diaz! I learned all about Corregidor and Bataan and the death march from Sine Siete, before I learned about them in school.

Why is it that in the movies, someone’s mom was always dying, leaving the poor children “ulila” to be raised by a nasty aunt, or step-mother? Seemed to me like Charito Solis, Caridad Sanchez, and even Hilda Koronel were such abused, kawawa women. Such drama, such stereotypes, such fun!

And Dolphy always had some effeminate role, like Fefita Fofonggay vda. De Falayfay or something like that, and another wacky one called Buhay Marino. I know it’s not cinema but television, but are there videos of the John and Marsha series? I would love to see those all over again. Anytime I see my brother in ugly, old looking shorts (he’s notorious for hanging on to old clothes) I call him John Puruntong! And at Target, a few years ago, they sold those food covers that keep the flies out, made out of wire, the kind that John put over his face as he slept on the bangko! I had to buy it, even if we have no flies in the city, just to show my kids. Of course, they just rolled their eyes up at me. I also can't forget Dolphy's tv show called Buhay Artista where he or his sidekick Panchito would sing a song, and the other would translates it into either English or Tagalog, with such hilarious results!

I remember watching the original Darna, and all the impaktos that came with the movie. Like me, did you learn all about aswangs, vampiras, manananggals, tianaks, capres, and the like from Tagalog movies? What a wealth of cultural trivia they were back then. Then there was the Vilma Santos remake of Darna. Speaking of Vilma, you also need to speak of Nora. I remember my sister and I were closet Vilmanians. The household staff, including our yayas, were Noranians, to our dismay. I remember someone actually saying that we like Vilma cause we were maputi like her, and the yayas like Nora, who was maitim, like them. That was kinda offensive, even back then, I just could not explain why, but then again, when you think about it, one tends to identify with someone who is like oneself, so maybe it had anthropological truth to it? Then we would go into great debates about who was the better singer, and who was the better actor. In light of what they are today (Mayor of Lipa, and suspected drug smuggler), it all seems silly and irrelevant. (But you did watch Superstar, on Sundays right, with Ate Guy and Kuya Germs? Actually, you never missed Germspecial, or Inday Badiday on “The Truth and Nothing But the Truth” did you? Or were you the Flor de Luna or Anna Lisa type?)

Ah, that’s getting too deep into analyzing Filipino entertainment, but why not? A good part of my childhood was spent enjoying it. There was one of Chichay, I think it was called “Shootout sa Baboy Corral”, where they were cowboys but had pigs and not cows, a pancit luglug western, if there ever was one. Chichay would caress the pigs to sleep by massaging their tummies and chanting “Yatatata, yatatata” something like it. Just to show you how messed up I am, that is how I put my daughters to sleep. They laughed when I first did it, totally did not get my explanation about the movie, until I told them they were the little pigs I needed to put to sleep. They still request it. Look at that, passing it on to the next generation, indoctrination of Filipino movie culture.

My aunt remembers taking my sister and I to a Nora movie because we kept nagging her: Lollipops and Roses, which was set in California, with Cocoy Laurel in the lead. I used to think Cocoy was so cute, and followed him around their Matabunkay compound, where my parents always played in the Holy Week pelota tournaments. My tita still tells people that she had to buy us giant lollipops to eat while watching, and that we sang along loudly with the movie, to her ultimate shame. She'll never let us live that down. There also was Nora Aunor and Manny de Leon in “Tell Nora I Love Her”, and yes, I can even sing that song. Scary, no? What’s even scarier is that one night, on my way home on a bus with my husband Gerry, and his friend Ner Martinez (brother of Leo Martinez) I started to confess my Sine Siete obsession and it turns out, the Martinez family has one too, no surprise there of course. It got really sick and I thought my husband would throw up, when Ner and I started singing Tell Nora I Love Her right there on the bus. But it helped to know I wasn’t the only one in the closet, or just outside of it.

Now if you remember this, you have to admit it, just for my sake. Do you remember the Vilma Santos movie called “The Sensations” where they had all these love teams, etc. etc.? I can still remember the song especially the refrain, and that the fashion of the day was hotpants! I remember my sister and I went to Magallanes Theater to watch it, and as a treat to go with the movie, spaghetti at Pancake House with the yayas in tow!

We cousins used to scare each other just by saying this movie title, in our scariest possible deep voice: "Hatinggabi na, Vilma!"And were you afraid of Mary Walter, Etang Discher, and Bella Flores as I was? They looked so scary, mean, and witch-like, especially in the black and white movies they appeared in. How thrilled I was recently, to see a gentle, older, more graceful, still beautiful Bella Flores in Crying Ladies! Frankly, not only was it the high note, it was one of only two things that made me not regret wasting my $12! The other thrill was seeing a fat Edgar Mortiz as the noisy upstairs neighbor!

For much of my childhood, I remember that actually seeing a Tagalog movie in the theater was forbidden, since many of them were ‘bomba”. Then they started to make quality “Lino” movies, but still, I was too young, and would not dare sneak in. So the next era of my Tagalog movie enjoyment came with the Sharon movies, and Regal films. (Do you Section 7 girls remember that Mother Lily’s daughter, Roselle Monteverde, was our classmate in 3rd year high school? She was only there for one year. More about her in the Third Year blog, coming soon.) I actually remember seeing “Katorse” and “Bilibid Boys” in the theater, as well as “Bagets.”

Ah, the Sharon movies. This was to be Cricket Concepcion’s and my secret pleasure. Fun enough, that we would take the jeepney all the way from U.P. to Ali Mall, to be there on opening day. Not only did we watch them all, Cricket knew the dialogue by heart. Ah too late, she can’t kill me now, by the time she sees this, the deed is done. I don’t know if I was more amused by her amazing memory (she would start quoting soon as we left the movie house) or by her funny Tagalog. Actually, I believe Cricket expanded her Tagalog vocabulary, thanks to Sharon!

I think I continued to watch Sharon movies even when I moved to the States, via video of course. I did stop at one point, since I got bored. We grew up, but Sharon didn’t. She seems to think she is still this cute 14-year old ingénue, when she must be 40 years old by now. Pa-cute pa rin siya, nakakainis na. And when she is supposed to be poor in the movie, why in the world does she have marvelous haircuts and highlights, and perfect manicures? Gimme a break.

As an adult, I no longer need to sneak in, so when they showed these films at a festival in NY some years back, off I went to enjoy them: Itim and Karnal. I also saw Marilu Diaz Abaya's Rizal on video, and it was excellent.

In recent years, I’ve seen a few more, and was quite surprised that I enjoyed them: Milan, Mano Po (the first one), Ngayong Nandito Ka – with Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa (Wow! I know who they are!) Actually, for the latter movie, I ended up watching it thanks to my brother and my husband. One weekend, we left them at home while we went shopping. They had the entire house to themselves plus a bunch of videos my sister-in-law borrowed. They put in Ngayong… and by the time we got home, we found them in front of the tv with tears in their eyes!!! Mwahahahaha! Now they will really kill me for typing this! Magnifico was good, but not quite magnifique. I don't know what, but was it too gut wrenching with no redemption, and could there have been another way to depict the tragedy without all that weeping and wailing? Maybe living away has just changed my taste. This iyakan melodrama might just be what attracted me to Pinoy films in my childhood in the first place.

So my eras in Pinoy movies are the 50s and the 60s, then I jump into the 80s and am starting to discover the 21st century films. I feel like I missed out in the golden age of the Brockas and Mike de Leons and Laurice Guillen ones cause I was too young when they first screened and then I left the Philippines. Sometimes I wonder if they ever got shown on Sine Siete or its reincarnations, much like the movies of the 50s were. My only recourse now would be video, if they ever got into video. I stopped going to the Filipino video stores ages ago, when it seemed like the only movies I could rent were from the modern day versions of bomba films.

Recently, I heard that a Filipino restaurant near me holds Monday night screenings of old movies from the 50s, plus all-you-can-eat buffets for less than $10. And to top it all, the feature that I just missed was “Dance O' Rama” Oh my gawd, pan de sal, jamon, Marlene honey, and all the lechon kawali I want. What more could a Sine Siete die hard ask for?

May 10, 2006

Like The Colors of My Mind

What sort of future is coming up from behind I don't really know. But the past, spread out ahead, dominates everything in sight.
--- Robert M. Pirzig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

With such a busy lifestyle being mom to twins, working full time, and living in a fast-paced society, one needs to resort to power shopping. For me that means not just groceries (buy in bulk, buy online) or clothes, it also means books. When I find myself in a bookstore, I just stock up: perusing interesting covers, speed reading synopses, watching out for favorite authors, even if it means I won’t get to actually read the book ‘til weeks, months, even years later.

I do believe that when it is the right time to read a book, your fingers will find it (under the pile of clothes, stacked high on top of the pile of books, as they balance themselves on top of shoeboxes...) Somehow, when it is time for you to know what it is you need to know, the book will find you. Such is what happened to me when I found my copy of “An Alchemy of Mind” by one of my favorite authors, Diane Ackerman (thank you Didi Manahan for introducing me to her) under my bed a few weeks ago.

As the title suggests, the book explores the mind, as Ackerman only can and as best as one could, I suppose, since I believe the mind is as unique to an individual, as are fingerprints. I discovered with delight, the chapter on memory. I quote entirely from her below, I will not even attempt to say it better than she does. Here goes…

From the Chapter entitled “What Is a Memory?”…

Like tiny islands on the horizon, they can vanish in rough seas. Even in calm weather, their coral gradually erodes, pickled by salt and heat. Yet they form the shoals of a life. Some offer safe lagoons and murmuring trees. Others crawl with pirates and reptiles. Together, they connect a self with the mainland and society. Plot their trail and a mercurial past becomes visible.

Memories feel geological in their repose, solid and true, the bedrock of consciousness….Memories inform our actions, keep us company, and give us our noisy, ever-chattering sense of self. Because we are moody giants, every day we subtly revise who we think we are….

Without memories we wouldn’t know who we are, how we once were, who we’d like to be in the memorable future. We are the sum of our memories. They provide a continuous private sense of one’s self. Change your memory and you change your identity….

…Shared memories bind us to loved ones, neighbors, our contemporaries. The sort of memory I am talking about isn’t essential for survival, and yet it pleases us, it enriches everyday life. So couples relive romantic memories, families watch home movies, and friends “catch up” with each other, as if they’ve lagged behind on a trail…

…Picture yourself younger, and what image forms? Most likely it’s a static image, a snapshot someone took. Memories can pile up and become mind clutter; it’s easier to store them in albums. We remember our poses. Each photograph is a magic lamp rubbed by the mind. When we are in the mood, we can savor a photograph while sensations burst free….

From the Chapter entitled “Reflections in a Gazing Ball”…

…One excited person can somehow rally all the others. Stimulate one facet of a memory and the whole world can suddenly pop into mind…

…Add enough pieces to the mosaic and an individual finds shape. We take for granted these dazzling skills, and the most treasured gift of all, being able to time-travel and explore the lost kingdoms of yesterday. We may be the only animals with this rich form of episodic memory, in which we can revive our past, play it back like a film, we stop to look at, enter imaginatively, and revise as we grow older.

From the Chapter entitled “Remember What?”…

Say memory and almost everyone thinks of the past. But most of our memories are really about the future….

We complain about normal forgetfulness, but thank goodness we don’t have better memories….People cursed with comprehensive memories have minds like overstuffed closets – open the door and an avalanche pours out…Forgetting isn’t the absence of remembering, it’s memory’s ally, a device that allows the brain to stay agile and engaged….

So now I do not wonder, that my closets and my rooms look like avalanches, they are just reflections of my comprehensive memory! (Hah! Yet another excuse to give to my husband.) Thank you all for allowing me to be the excited person, to pour out the memories, just so my brain doesn’t overload, and short circuit soon….And yes, I still do not remember everything, so how about YOU start sharing your memories too? One last piece of advice from Ackerman:

Challenge, novelty, and rich environments can rejuvenate memory. So does gentle aerobic activity, and, quite possibly, eating a cup of blueberries each day.

So go out for a run, or play some badminton, have some berries, and remember away.....

May 05, 2006


These dinners we've been having in NY are lot of fun. They also stir up some more memories, as if I needed more, right? I don’t know how we got to the topic, but you all know how it is, one thing leads to another, and then it all comes tumbling out.

My jaded adult self does not know anymore what the idea of “prom” conjured in my teenage self. Maybe it had to do with visions of romance, being asked or asking someone you like to be your date on a special night? Getting to wear a pretty dress and shoes, having your hair and make-up done? Dancing the night away, maybe living happily ever after with your prince for the night? Hmmmm, not quite, in retrospect.

In 2nd year high school, I got asked to LaSalle’s Junior Prom by one of Nana’s friends. (I am going to omit many names here, to protect the innocent and the guilty!) Nana (and as a result, we her friends) hang around with a bunch of La Salle guys who were one year ahead of us. Many of us had “crushes” on them, and vice versa. I think I got asked in January, for the prom in March. Wow, how thrilling, my first prom! Not to speak of what it meant for my ego and reputation at home: my family, especially my sister, always teased me that I was a “manang” and I would be an old maid forever. Getting asked to the prom stopped all that! I just remembered what triggered this memory: Marichu, at dinner, reminded me of this guy, who was so handsome, and took me to his prom in high school. Ah yes, he was guapo, but, by the time the prom came around in March, PROM DATE was now the boyfriend of another girl GIRLFRIEND! But he was nice and did not “disinvite” me, but obviously, prom night was now not going to be romantic prom night! But it was not romance anyway for many of my friends. Just think about this mess: J asked K, but by prom time, J’s girlfriend was T. So R took T, so that she could be at the prom too. Another guy Matt took someone to this prom, but supposedly, by prom time liked someone else. GIRLFRIEND also managed to come to the prom somehow, can’t remember how anymore. So most of us girls got asked to this prom, but good friend Nana who introduced us to most of the guys, and who really really liked R, did not get to the prom at all. Is that ironic or what?

Add to this memory: My mom, of course, was thrilled I was going to my first prom, so she took me to her salon Budjiwara that afternoon for hair and make-up. I went home convinced there was something wrong with my face, but my mom said it was okay. So I went over to Toni’s house, where we would dress up and get picked up together. Soon as I walked in, Toni and her mom gasped and confirmed what I thought: my face was GREEN! Forever thank you to Toni and her mom, for fixing my face and redoing it all over again! And my Malu Veloso dress, pretty as it was, she even designed it in front of me, or so I thought – at the next family gathering, I wore the dress again, and in comes my own cousin, in an identical Malu Veloso dress. She also thought it was designed uniquely for her. Needless to say, it was my last Malu dress ever, and my last make-up session at Budji! Nice footnote: PROM DATE and GIRLFRIEND eventually got married, and as far as I know, still are 20 years later! And Nana and Matt also married each other, and 19 years later, are still together. Bravo to them all! I wonder how many other hook-ups arose from this prom drama at the Mandarin in 1979?

Third Year prom: Some of us sections banded together and organized our own “underground” prom at the Century Plaza Hotel. This time, I wanted to ask N to my prom, but before I got around to do it, he got a girlfriend P who was a friend of mine, so I did not ask him. I ended up going with C, the “crush” of one of my good friends S, with her permission of course. I don’t remember anymore why S did not ask C herself. I don’t remember much about this prom, and again, it was not the romantic Cinderella ball one dreams of as a young girl.

Fourth Year prom: Disaster in the making from the start. I wanted to ask this guy to be my date , BUT, somehow, one of his friends M, started to tell people that I asked HIM to my prom! How that happened, I do not know, and since I was so mabait, and did not want to embarrass anyone, I really did ask M. Forget romantic again, this guy M is really nice, but no sparks, sorry. If you remember, our parents came to this prom too, with strict instructions to my dad NOT to come over to our table at all! But we did get to dance the first dance with our dads, that is so sweet and I love that memory.

I don’t remember who my tablemates were anymore, except one good friend C, who was miserable cause her mom made her come to the prom and forced a date on her. Good old mother arm-twisting tactics. My mom tried that too this year. She said I HAD to take the son of one of her friends, someone that I know they’ve been plotting to set up with me since we were born. You know the drill, I am sure some of you have dictator moms too. But I stood my ground, and she gave up. (Hey mom, aren’t you glad I refused, that boy is now a bum!)

Ah but yes, I got my Cinderella wish, maybe even did better than her, because by midnight, I was home, horrors! My own parents came home much later than me, cause they went out hotel hopping with Tita Sarah and Tito Bert Anido, Tita Guila and Tito Raffy Maramba, and other parents! How shameful is that, I was long in my pajamas by the time they called it a night!

So there you have it, prom memories not quite “Carrie” but not quite Sandy and Danny’s “You’re the One that I Want” song from Grease either. But at least they still make me smile, and make for good and funny story telling at reunions 25 years or so later!

April 20, 2006

Silver Fox or Left-Over Turkey?

Velada, velada, salada, salada” is my latest mantra. I have never eaten as much leaves as I have in the last few months. It doesn’t seem to be working though. I am sure I am not alone, in this non-feeding frenzy to get slimmed down for the velada. Starting to want to be like one of Imelda's Beautification Projects - maganda overnight. One Manila based classmate sent an email to Stateside friends, regarding plans for partying, Boracay or Baguio in October. Included in the suggestions was a line that said something like “those interested in Botox and liposuction, I can also make arrangements for those.” That made my day, I laughed for a long time. I started to wonder what would happen if I mixed Botox, lipo, jet lag, Bora, intense dance practice, and lots of late night partying while in Manila for 10 days in October. I might come back to New York looking like an even more twisted Joan Rivers, que horror! Even my husband had to laugh, and made him wonder what his Manila classmates would offer for their December jubilee – wart removal? penis enlargement? sex change?

One of the last things my mom said when she left last January to go back to Manila was not “Goodbye, see you in October” but “What are you going to do for exercise so you get thin for October?” You gotta love her though. I should be so lucky to look as good as she does at her age. I am already hearing stories about “so and so lost 30 pounds” and “so and so wants to be as thin as Jojo Reyes”. Wish I could say that for myself, I probably already weighed more at birth than Jojo Reyes now. Don't be mad Jojo, it's just inggit talking. Had another great laugh the other day with China’s self-deprecating minutes of the April 10 meeting, and screamed when I got to “white pants” and “silver top.” What about “brown paper bag” so I can cover my face when I manage to squeeze myself into the white pants? And I am positive that a silver top will make me look like a turkey wrapped in Reynolds wrap. Popsie, when is the absolute drop dead date when I must give you measurements for my school uniform? By the way, China, I just had an idea. Can we wear ball pen cartoon drawings on our thighs under our uniform on October 15? I still have nice, perfectly waxed legs, the only "not fat" part of me other than my ears. Might as well show off the good parts.

What is this desire, that we be as thin, and as young-looking, and as fit as we were 25 years ago? Is it to capture lost youth, is it to try and be as gay and carefree as we were back then? Or is it a desire to preserve youth and extend life as long as we can? Are your crows feet a sign of your age, or just prove that you laughed a lot these past years? What about the gray hair? Did you worry a lot, or does it just run in your family? What about the fat and the wide hips? Enjoy your kitchen too much or bear beautiful children or both? I wonder if I will ever learn to see wrinkles as marks of wisdom and not as ravages of time.

They say 40 is the new 30, which makes me 32 again today. Do I really want to be 32 again? At 32 I was childless, and starting to feel frustrated that I would remain childless forever. At 32, I had a tight budget. At 32, I worried about no one but myself. At 32, I was not as wise as I am today. At 32, I did not look ahead and say “I want to live a long life so I can see my grandchildren.” At 32, I did not yet know what I really wanted in life.

So I should be proud to say “42” and shout it from the treetops. Afterall, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars at the Chanel counter and on facials in the last six months, so no one will think I’m 42. What do I take 12 little pills (vitamins, calcium, green tea, fish oil, anti-oxidants, etc. etc etc.) every night for, just so I can deny that I am 42? Huh? When did I get so confused? Must have been right after the epidural.

I decided I just am not going to worry about it anymore. I’m just adding to the furrows in my brow, above my well-tweezed eyebrows. It’s already end of April, and I still have not started the swimming/running/ Pilates regimen I told my mom I would. My life now is Atkins Monday through Friday, and lamon on Saturday and Sunday. I feel like the stupid monkey who climbs up the well two feet during the day, and slips back one foot during the night. I do get to walk/run now and then, but when I start sneezing from the spring pollen, then it’s back to being the couch carbohydrate in front of the tv again.

All I know is I want to see all my old friends, some of whom I have kept in touch with, some of whom I have not seen at all in the last 25 years. Living away for 21 years now, I’ve missed all of the weddings and baptisms, and just lived vicariously through kuwentos, letters, email, photos. Now I want to go home and hug, and scream, and see everyone LIVE, and not via webcam. Who cares how high my cholesterol is, or how much eye cream I shovel at myself. All I know is I loved you when you were the slim, sexy, smooth skinned, noisy, gossipy, naughty, funny, thick and gorgeous haired, scandalous, sweet, sassy, young, wild, innocent, hopeful, friend that you were 25 years or more ago, and no matter what you look like now, I love you still. And I hope you do the same with me, bottle brunette, moisturized, chipped nailed, Bengay-toting-Vicks-sniffing, underwire-bra’d, tabachuy creature that I am now. And I promise to wear whatever costume you decide we should wear. Just remind me to bring my Brooke Shields mask so no one recognizes me.

Having said all that, let me chew on my dry lettuce and sip on my Crystal Light. I still want to be thin in October and back to my high school size or closer to it. Oh God, now I need to do some yoga, I’m starting to feel neurotic again. I saw Tessa A’s pan de sal abs and all it did was make me crave for pan de sal with condensada… Now where is that Pilates ring somewhere in my cluttered, messy house...and if none of it works, how about that Botox and lipo…so pardon me now, Clairol awaits as my roots are showing, I have to finish screaming at the twins for the mess they made in my bedroom, and I have a manicure appointment at 6.