To Be And Not (Just) To Be Chinese

Botanical garden, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Mi...

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BACK HOME in the Philippines a few years ago, whenever my kids and I encountered figurines of the Three Gods of Prosperity, a smiling Buddha with all his children, or a ceramic Confucius bust, my children would tease me by saying the figurines were relatives of mine, in reference to my Chinese ancestry.  Good naturedly I would play along, uttering a Chinese phrase or making kung fu style gestures, but I have never denied or played down my Chineseness.


My recent and current experience as a migrant in the First World seems to recall my personal belief : Looking at the various small takeaways oriented towards Chinese and people of Chinese ancestry (but likewise enjoyed by the locals) here in Wellington, the “Chinese pride” exhibited during Lunar New Year parade, Mooncake Festival and other events held by the Chinese community, and many families’ insistence on the young generation learning motherland dialects, one would think that migrants from China have never left home.  But the so-called mainland is not the only origin of various aspects of Chinese culture and all things Chinese.


Let me explain. The Vietnamese cafe that shows off its muffins, cream pies, eclairs and fruit tarts are, based on common sense, run by skillful bakers from Saigon, but when you listen to their chatter and exchange pleasantries, you realize that their Vietnamese is peppered with “ah-ya” and familiar sounding expressions.  Yes, they are as much Chinese as they are Vietnamese, and the accent, banners of Chinese calligraphy displayed and the fact that you make yourself understood with a few rudimentary Cantonese phrases are proof enough.


The Malaysian / Singaporean family of accountants whose modest house I help clean on Fridays stores in their kitchen sesame oil, oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce and other unmistakeable elements of Chinese cuisine, and use in their medicine cabinets white flower ointment, traditional “peipakwa” cough syrup that I couldn’t avoid smiling after seeing.  When I happened to ask while making small talk with them, I had to ask you’re not Chinese are you?  They proudly explain that the peculiarities of their culture allow them to distinctly retain both the Malaysian and Chinese aspects of their identity, and true enough, I was impressed see English and Chinese sections of their mini-libraries, complete with children’s versions of the Analects, the Eight Immortals and the Monkey King, all thousand-year old relics as old as the Great Wall but still read by schoolchildren today.


Further down Main Avenue, the Thai eatery run by a former exchange student and his young wife fold their hands, smile “sawasdee kra” and proudly serve spicy Thai noodles and spring rolls (which look suspiciously like Chinese noodles and Shanghai rolls) but the magazines to read while waiting for your takeaway order and the piped-in music all come from Taiwan, which as you know is that part of China that embraced democracy half a century earlier than Big Brother PROC. Shouldn’t you have Thai mags and CDs instead, I joke?


The proprietress pointed out to me that although they are Thais by birth and allegiance, their ethnicity, tastes and affinities are slanted towards the Chinese community in Bangkok, which has retained a strong Chinese flavor despite being loyal Thai subjects for countless generations.  One can be both Thai and Chinese at the same time, odd as it seems and contradictory as it may sound.


Not at all I said, telling her about Chinoys back home, the Malaysians and Singaporeans I met, and many other multicultural families I have encountered in my short but eventful stay in Auckland and Wellington.  More than that, it’s almost like the initial experience of living with more than one culture in Southeast Asia prepares one for speedy adjustment to another culture in a country like New Zealand.  Oftentimes there are built-in advantages.  Multicultural schools are by nature very competitive and stress academic excellence; bilingualism or triligualism is encouraged; English is the preferred medium of instruction, and children are brought up learning that a better life in other countries awaits.


For sure there are other cultures proud of their identities and nationalism will always be desirable to migrants and non-migrants alike, but a strong thread runs in many Asian migrant families to  the First World, and to varying degrees it is never losing sight of being part of the great yellow race that gave us the compass, silk and gunpowder.

Seven Incredible Favors Mom Did 4 Me

A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...

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[ NOte from NOel : Still using the no-internet service provider excuse, but since the end (of Mother‘s Month ) is at hand, these senti thoughts will expire very very soon.  I am thus putting them to electronic paper, thanks loads for remembering our special day SycipLaw memorable Atty Franco Noel Manaig, Sec. A classmate Daisy Chua – Davis, red rooster kabatch JeffLu, Mostly Sunny Gemma Malong, resto entrepreneur Maribeth Wong, Kulemate & entrepeneur TJ Jose, our Danish kabatch Cathy Vi – Clausen, Lord Chancellor Brod Thor Causing, Kulemate and tugang Bembem dela Torre, brod Atty Andrei Bon Tagum, Atty Al Kahayon, Canada-based cousin Victoria Rosin, cousin James Bautista, classmate Atty Imelda de Castro Santore, officemate Dina Aviles, siobe Evelyne Sy Yu, sis Joy Yuson, officemate Mao Lim Agbuya, brod Atty Ricky Espina, nephew Alfonso Bautista, kabatch Joey Sy Evangelista, classmate and tugang Judessa Botor – Jaranilla, Bunso’s classmate Sadeen Macuha, officemate Malou Moyco, Auckland mate Leng Latosa, officemate and friend forever Arlene Latosa Ahorro, and neighbor and balikbayan Attys Dale and Ethel Villaflor ! If I’ve forgotten to thank you, I will surely remember next time ! ]

Dear kabatch, schoolmates, brods, kabayan, officemates, Huttmates, and friends :

I SHOULD have said “Incredible and Then-Underappreciated Things Mom Did…” but it would be inaccurate because I have since appreciated these things Mom did a whole lot more now, despite any unfortunate shortsightedness then.  As regards their kids, their incredible body of motherly knowledge, supplemented by uncanny maternal instinct and intuition equips moms admirably against the risks, dangers and worldly catastrophes awaiting their children.

Pardon my pessimism, but I’m just basing these cynical thoughts on personal experience.  Despite the best possible set of parents and relatives, healthy genes ( I can’t say I suffered from natural gifts, except maybe too-big teeth, the lack of the dancing chromosome, and below-average height ), a wholesome family life and better-than-average education each level up the ladder, I effed up most of these blessings and would have done worse if not for extreme good fortune.  Which is why these favors my mother did for me count for a huge lot, as it happened not just because she was being herself, a concerned Mom, but because she cared enough to stand by and make sure I didn’t totally waste what was given me.

As usual, I have a couple of disclaimers and qualifiers for this list : She did the same things for my brothers and so I am not claiming by any means that i was her favorite, most probably I just needed the extra assist the most.  Second qualifier is that Dad was always there supporting her, but when you think about it, while Dads do their best to be motherly, relatives always fill in and pinch-hit, everyone takes a back seat when it comes to taking care of their young to Moms, don’t you think :

First Favor : Select the best possible Yaya in the world for me.  Mom was the supplementer, entrepreneurial and second-income type of matriarch, so instead of raising us from home, she did the next best thing.  The yaya she selected was very good in what she did, not least because she had already taken care of my two elder brothers before me and had plenty of practice.  In fact she was so good that like most of us who had great yayas, I learned to love her as my second mother, no fault of Mom whose only shortcoming was to choose too well.  My yaya showered me with love, admonished me when I did wrong, knew her place and did not confuse me when it came to loving her back (“I love you, but dapat your Mom is No. 1“) and was hugely responsible for my healthy EQ, my respect for all women and a more-or-less happy childhood.  Knowing you and me, that’s quite an achievement for anyone is this world.  Thanks Yaya, and Thanks Mom, for Yaya !

Second Favor : Not spoil me in anything except books.  Admittedly, this wasn’t hard for Mom to do, because by the early Seventies I had four other brothers competing for scarce resources and parental attention, and hand-me-downs ( including underwear ) from Kuyas too eager to throw them down to me.  To be fair, I do remember two great toys I got for Christmas: a battery operated policecar with bright blinking red lights, unheard of in 1971, and a sleek red Easy Rider that I unwrapped a week before despite a strict embargo against such before Christmas.  Otherwise, the only extravagance Mom allowed was quarterly trips to National Book Store, where the bros and I were allowed to choose favorite books like Ladybirds, Enid Blytons, and of course our beloved Hardy Boys.  I was never certain why Mom permitted this, other than maybe she loved to read herself and the primary reason for the bookshop sprees was her own excursion to buy Mills & Boons, the latest Agatha Christie and occasional foray into Stephen King, which when you think about it, was pretty cool for her, as the latter has only risen to now become the most popular novelist of our generation, thanks to readers like her.  Most of us who grew up in medium to large-sized families know that having siblings prepares us for learning to share and be socially adaptable, and so for this experience I’m grateful, Mom and Dad.

Third Favor : Enrol me in a terrific high school. It wasn’t Ateneo, La Salle or one of those exclusive schools, but just the same the combination of academics and discipline made me more well-rounded than anything else, and the only drawback I can tack against it, looking back, was the slight de-emphasis on athletics and sports, don’t know if this was intentional or not, but if you want to be fit and sporty, mass media and human nature will more than make up for any lack in your curriculum.  I guess everyone I went to school with, not just in my batch, will agree with this.

Fourth Favor. Allowed me to enrol in UP.  This was really uncharted territory for my folks, because their tendency was to go with Catholic institutions their relatives were familiar with.  Going against her initial instincts, she allowed me to become the first in the brood to enrol in State U, and as a result, I received a slightly more liberal education, made friends from different parts of the country, and learned a little more about social realities than I would have had elsewhere.  All because my folks, bucking the trend, went with the public school system.

Fifth Favor : Allowed me to go out on my own.  This was a short Language Course, tuition and transpo care of a very generous aunt, for two months in Beijing, which was then just starting to recover from the Cultural Revolution and open up to the rest of the world. The two months on my own made me realize what a big world was out there, how dependent I was on family and friends, and how naive it was to maintain a worldview based on what I saw at home.

Sixth Favor : Left me on my own after I got married.  Mostly out of disappointment, but also because she probably wanted me to stand on my own, I didn’t see my mother for more than I year after I got married.  During the time, I endured quite a few hardships and made sacrifices I never thought I would make, but on the whole it strengthened my character and made me realize how thankful I was for the life I had before.  By the time Mom saw Panganay when he was around one year old, I was quite grateful for the learning experience.

Seventh Favor :  Took my kids in when I worked overseas.  But parents will always be parents, and when I became an absentee dad myself after starting to work overseas, who would be there for birthdays, graduations and enrolments but Mom, who on her own initiative took a personal interest in the academics and physical well-being of Panganay, Ganda and Bunso, who had no choice but to love her even more for that.  I know that grandparents frequently dote on their grandkids, but to go the extra mile and insist on knowing about everything going on with their apo’s when they had various projects, ailments and schedules to occupy them, was simply too much to ask from Mom, but she did it without fanfare and without even telling me.  I can never thank her enough for that.

Naked and unashamed stand here the Seven Favors.  I’m sure your own Moms have done selfless things for you, just thought I would share these memories.  If you have time, please  set aside aside some thanks for that person who will never hesitate to do anything for you, and in your own special ways thank her again and again.  Believe you me, she will never tire hearing it.

Belated Happy Mothers Day to all !


Post – Birthday Apologies / Pls Humor Me

 The most beautiful thing in life

is the ability to love.

-Brunello Cucinelli ad (I don’t know what the brand sells yet),

Esquire magazine

[ NOte from NOel : Still no regular access road to the information highway 😦 ]

IF ONLY it were possible / socially acceptable to impose a regime of balloons, thematic costumes, ubiquitous clowns and ice cream cake on one’s birthday, I would be a perennial and diligent exponent of such a hypothetical tradition. I am such a senti birthday person both for myself and others, and that’s why it was so odd / strange / weird (Kiwis reserve “weird” for only the highest level of hiwaga, while we Pinoys use it at the drop of the proverbial hat) last Saturday : we were in the midst of a deadline – conscious house moving, I was trying to prepare for guild exams, while recovering from a semi-serious episode of gout.

If you can believe it, in between stealing glances at Mr Facebook and Miss Yahoo! on Panganay’s laptop ( the rusty desktop had been bundled up 24 hours earlier ), I nearly forgot it was my birthday, and I don’t think that had EVER happened the last 45 years. But no matter. The point I’m trying to make is that I consider it the height of bad ( online ) manners to not express humble gratitude or even simple thanks to the rest of the world for remembering me on my special day.

By now you might have been wondering why I could not perform the simple courtesy of acknowledging such a kindness especially considering the fact that birthdays are usually auspicious to me. 🙂 Well, I won’t allow the lack of internet access (already considered a basic necessity in our interconnected existence) to further delay thanking you. Since they make up the biggest number of the virtual family, friends from high school (and primary school) are denoted by an asterisk. Unless otherwise specified, most of the greeters are based in Manila, and I arranged the names alphabetically, and often by the nickname rather than the given name. Please forgive me if I devote only one line-plus to thanking you, and I will surely make up for it when my beloved internet access returns. Cheers !

Atty Adrian Lecaros, classmate from way back : good health and happiness classmate, thanks loads !

*Alfredo Dee, classmate forever : Thanks for dropping a few lines every now and then Alfredo 🙂

Allan Refuerzo, UP classmate and Facebook friend : thanks for the greeting Allan, we should collaborate soon!

Alvin John B Cenido, pamangkin and awesome skywalker : thanks for remembering Alvin !

Anne Chang, HS teacher : nanwang nin de hao jiaoxun, duo xie Zhang Lao Shi (hope that was correct Mam) !

*Arlene Ayuste, another ultranice member of the Gorgeous Ones : If people teach best by example, then you are certainly a good teacher of life’s lessons 🙂 To sya classmate !

Atty Babes Noriega, a body-beautiful lawyer from UP : Thanks for the greeting Babes, more power to the uplifting workouts !

Benedict B Montenegro, cousin and future co-migrant : thanks for remembering Dick !

Boyette San Diego, stalwart of campus journalism and FB friend : All those years of presswork in the 1980s and I only get to know you now, thanks for the memories !

Atty Butch Saulog, an unbelievable jazz pianist and creator : Thanks for remembering Butch !

*Carmi Sio, a sorely-missed classmate : Your praise and kind words are precious to me. Thanks for wishing kind wishes on my day, Carmi !

*Carol Ng Sy : Thanks for being a great classmate from way way back all the way to high school Carol !

*Catherine Gruba, one of the sexiest businesswomen we know : Thanks for remembering Cathy !

Cherry Thelmo Fernandez, champion of the Visayan community in NZ and UP schoolmate : thanks for remembering Cherry, maayong buntag!

Chichi Abadingo, Auckland-based Filipiniana organizer and Marian devotee : you are a constant source of encouragement and inspiration Chichi ! Daghan Salamat po !

Cora V Rosales, SycipLaw contemporary and SF Giant fan : Thanks for remembering and your thoughtful FB posts, regards always !

Atty Cristina Godinez -Pangilinan, Collegian immortal and FB picture post-er : daghan salamat for the greet and the wonderful pics from yesteryear!

Dely Imperial, a wonderful aunt who’s never forgotten us : Maray na aldao and thanks always for your wonderful words of encouragement Tita D ! Love you always !

Dennis Arroyo, Collegian Kulemate and all-around nice guy : Love your jokes and puns in FB, they make my day! Thanks for remembering !

*Dennis Sy, an IT professional in New York : Our high school memories will last a lifetime. Please continue enriching lives with your talent, brother. Thanks for everything!

Desu Enriquez, Auckland-based kabayan : Thanks for always reading our crazy blogs Desu, stay pretty always !

Usec Diane Reyes, a wonderful classmate from UP : Your kind words of praise are truly humbling Diane ! Thanks for the greet !

Atty Dicky Salazar, an awesome lawyer from UP : Thanks for remembering and for the kudos Dicky !

Didith Tayawa Figuracion of the Ministry of Maori Affairs and a tireless worker for the advancement of the Pinoy community in NZ : Thanks for thinking so highly of us Didith, regards to Clark and Match !

Direk FilNZTV, co-migrant and Facebook friend : Thanks for remembering and the kind words Direk, regards always !

Dr Donald Bautista, a world-class brother : Thanks for always being there for us Doc, love you always!

Easter Bocobo, superpretty classmate from UP days : Your thoughtfulness is appreciated classmate 🙂

Atty Edwin Maquinto, Alphan fanatic and FB friend : Thanks for remembering brod !

Atty Eileen Adaza, UP classmate and Facebook friend : Thanks for remembering Eileen, regards to your bros and of course your esteemed dad 🙂

*Elena Sy – Goddard, youthful beauty from the American West Coast : your memories are truly flattering, and came at the best possible time. Thanks for taking the trouble to put them to (electronic) paper classmate !

Elijah Brent Emmanuel Bautista, brand new Atenean and now taller than his dad : thanks for the greeting anak, love you always !

Erlinda Bautista, supermom and World’s No. 1 Nana : Your text and prayers were extra special Mom, as were you, I love you always !

*Eunice Cobankiat Pascual, surely one of the sweetest and babe-est batchmates around : the prayers always help, and your kind kudos is treasured. Thanks Gorgeous !

Dr Evelyn Venes Catuira, CAL-based dental surgeon and a batch babe : Thanks for remembering classmate, our Paco memories are irreplaceable !

*Feli Tan – Co, one of the truly special members of Batch 82 : That you took the time to wish me a happy birthday was quite humbling Feli. Thanks and stay pretty always!

Franz Diosana, cousin forever : Thanks for encouraging us with your emotional words of praise !

Dr Gan Montenegro, cousin forever : Thanks for remembering Dr Gan, more power to your cable / radio show!

George Bautista, awesome playing-coach : thanks for helping us get into NZ, love you always bro!

*Dr Gerald So, a Dallas neurologist : I am truly humbled by your pro-activeness and your uncanny memory, brother ! Our friendship truly spans the miles and years! Duoxie lao pengyou!

Girlie Acosta Sanchez, UP Manila memorable : your comments and hellos never fail to pick up my day, thanks for remembering Girlie !

Grace Lim, former SycipLaw officemate and outstanding legal secretary : thanks for remembering Grace !

*Harvey Tan, a co-migrant also in Toronto : Your one-liners make my day classmate, 6-E forever!

*Hedy Ong – Soliman, based in CAL & unofficial queen of Batch 82 : You’ve always been there the last few years Achie, I can never thank you enough for that! Maraming salamat to you and Jack!

*Irene Chua, your smile and warmth never fail to make my day, thanks for remembering Irene !

*Jaime Chan, a Vancouver travel industry expert : many thanks for remembering Jaime, our DBMC days live on forever !

*Jenn Chan, a wonderful kabatch from Toronto : Your constant encouragements and responses to life’s challenges inspire me Jenn, thanks for the memories!

*Jocelyn Chan another Facebook source of cheer and inspiration : Thanks for the effusive praise, your students, years from now, will still remember your first-class tutoring !

Joey Flora, a former Marxist – Leninist theoretician and now budding entrepreneur in SF : I’m touched that you remembered bro, yes that icy cold brewski will be waiting !

Atty Joel Butuyan, classmate, townmate of The Answer and FB friend : thanks for remembering Joel, regards always !

Joy Cabrera, SycipLaw officemate and photogenic FB friend : thanks for remembering Joy, regards to our former officemates there!

*Joy Rosenbaum, a showbiz producer shuttling between West and East Coasts, USA : Your e-mails are a constant joy, Joy! Muchas gracias! 

Jude Bautista, photojournalist bro : Thanks for all the years of being a great bro and uncle to the kids, and thanks for celebrating my birthday in Manila. Love you always!

*Kathryn Que, townmate of Black-Ops mastermind POTUS Obama and friend of D-Rose : just as the batch remembers my birthday, so does it cherish yours !

Atty Kiko Rivera, A-1 litigation lawyer : Many thanks for the kind birthday wishes Brod !

*Kirby Hartigan – Go, a world-class IT professional and awesome batch officer : Thanks for always being there for the batch Kirby !

*Klemson See, a Taiwan – based memorable : Our basketball days will always be treasured Klemson ! thanks and long live 6-E !

Lanie Ancheta, former SycipLaw officemate and phenomenal stenographer : thanks for remembering Lanie !

Lei Arago, former SycipLaw officemate and accounting whiz : thanks for remembering Lei 🙂

Loida P Mayo, UP classmate and friend forever : Our memories will always be treasured Loids, thanks again !

Lilia Nicole Bautista, may or may not be the loveliest in her circle of friends, but hopefully the smartest : I love you always Ganda, thanks for remembering, will update you soonest when internet returns!

Atty Lilibeth Cueva, NY attorney and dog enthusiast : your wonderful words of praise fuel me always, thanks loads and pls stay pretty as you are !

Lorraine and Del Valdes, Cainta neighbors and best-looking couple I know : My days in Cainta were the best, thanks in part to you! Thanks for the greeting !

*Dr Marcia Bautista, the loveliest pediatrician I know : salamat sa pagbati cousin, you are fondly remembered !

Maricon Windsor – Viaje, a veteran of the pharma industry and cousin forever : thanks for remembering insan, thanks for the memories as well 🙂

*Marilyn Chingbingyong, a lovely from Vancouver Canada. We will always be linked by our May birthdays classmate. That, and our love for laughter. thanks for remembering and happy birthday tambien!

Marjorie Piano – Gonzalgo, former SycipLaw officemate : thanks for remembering Marj!

Mary Ann Reyes Mandap, Collegian Kulemate and FB friend : stay pretty as ever Me-Ann, thanks heaps !

*Mel Asiddao, entrepreneur from SF : Your thoughtful praise and words of encouragement will never be forgotten, 6-E forever!

Menggy Caguicla, Auckland-based co-Maroon : Thanks always for the rave reviews Menggy, stay pretty always !

*Mevelyn Tang, a limitless source of quotes and perspective from the East Coast : you seem to know exactly what to say and when to say it, and you are precious Mev ! To tse nei 😉

*Michael Tan, a thoughtful batchmate who never forgets : I appreciate it always MacTan when you show your appreciation, regards!

Millie Ocampo, UST prof and NZ transplant : Thanks for remembering Mille, your words of encouragement are always appreciated !

*Engr Nelson Tan, an newlywed engr based somewhere in CAL USA : your warmth and pithy humor is always appreciated bro Sonny. Thanks again !

Nigel Paulo Emmanuel Bautista, based in Wellington but always thinking of the Philippines : salamat sa pagbati anak, love you always!

NJ Lising, former co-worker and champion hiphop dancer in Auckland, thanks for remembering NJ !

Noel Pepa, aspiring baker from Lower Hutt City and Cavite : Maraming salamat sa pagbati and pagtulong sa pagkumpuni ng bike, tokayo ! Regards to Cecil !

*Noemi Bolanos, an Arizona – based nurse : you’re one of the best classmates we never had, and you know that’s quite a compliment nhoymssb! Muchas gracias !

Norman Latosa, Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland commissioner and awesome community leader : Thanks for our happy happy days in Auckland Norman !

Atty Pablo John Garcia, another Collegian immortal and brod always : Thanks for remembering and happy birthday to you too!

Peps Inovejas, a UP Manila memorable : Thanks for the memories, and for remembering Peps !

*Pilar Ang – Si, #1 cheer-upper and quipper on Facebook : when people are low and need a jolt of inspiration, you are there for them Pilar. Thanks for that, and the birthday cheer!

Raul Zamuco, news editor & Sydney IT professional : I will never forgot our presswork days together bro, thanks for the memories !

Atty Rosalie Factor, former Syciplaw officemate : thanks for remembering Atty RFF, regards to you always !

Ricky and Maya Montenegro, cousins from Wellington : thanks for all the wonderful memories pinsan !

Rollie Fabi, brod forever and future national leader : Thanks for remembering Brod and I wish you good health always !

Rorie de Guzman, a friend from our UP Manila days : your encouragement and FB posts always make my day Rorie ! Maraming salamat po !

Samboy Concepcion, GOCC lawyer and Alphan fanatic : thanks for the memories Brod, you always look great!

Sherona Sulit, SycipLaw officemate : Thanks for remembering my pretty friend !

Sweetie Montenegro, wonderful aunt based in the East Coast : thanks for remembering Tita Sweetie !

*Teresita Sy Chingkaw, a stewardess kabatch who looks the part : thanks for remembering our special day Tess 🙂

Teddi Jutsen, motivational specialist based in Sydney : thanks for remembering Teddi, and thanks for the memories !

Tom and Ineng Agustin, lovey-dovey cousins in Johnsonville : your kindness in helping us moving into Wellington will not be forgotten. Thanks cuz !

Tim Bautista, first class COO and idea man : Thanks for being a great Kuya, and love you always!

*Stefanie Victorino, do-everything organizer of the Gorgeous Ones : Thanks for always being so thoughtful Stef, you’re always a dear !

Val Asiddao, HS unforgettable and FB friend : Your posts, poems and videos and truly inspiring, thanks for being our schoolmate, DBMC mate and friend 🙂

Veronica Uy , Phil Daily Inquirer online editor and Collegian Kule-mate : I love your Facebook posts and I’m humbled that you remembered Onic, to sya di !

Atty Vicky Suarez, UP classmate and Collegian Kule-mate : Thanks for remembering Vicky, regards always !

Prof Vincent Ty, an unforgettable UP Manila personality : thanks for enriching my life with your friendship Prof Vince !

Well, that’s it. There will surely be people I forgot to thank, but I will not forget again next time. Thanks again, and I hope I can return the favor come your birthday.

Thanks for the memories !


25 random facts about me (via Lilianicole’s)

With her kind permission, we are reposting Ganda’s blog, wala lang, and it reveals quite a lot about her. 🙂

I just want to post something here in my wordpress account :> So i see this tag almost everywhere in the internet. So i’ma do my own. 1. I’m literally in love with animals. Honestly I like them more than people. Especially the domesticated ones. I pretty much owned a dog almost all my life. My mom just ordered us to stop petting after my 13-year old dog died, she said it was too expensive to pet a dog now a days, w/ the vaccine and the monthly … Read More

via Lilianicole’s

Notes On A Birthday

Dear batchmates, schoolmates, brods, officemates, fellow accidental (and intentional) migrants, kabayan and friends :

WE only have a few minutes between continuing the rituals of moving house, nursing a rayuma-stricken hand (the suspects are kimchi and more than a single glass of cheap red wine), and reviewing for a millers’ exam, but we need to express sincerest gratitude for all the Facebook and Yahoo!group greetings, felicitations, SMS texts and assorted well wishes on our 46th. 😉

We will not attempt anymore to wax poetic, draw philosophical or even derive newfound perspective on a natal day, just that quite recently we have had cause to realize that we have reached an inevitable and undeniable milestone of advanced middle age.

First, we need to say that we unintentionally observed such experience not from the birthday itself (although it was quite close to the date), primarily because people tend to mellow, get misty-eyed and avoid giving you snappy, sarcastic comments near your birthday, for sentimental, it’s-his-birthday-give-him-a-break reasons. (Then it’s right back to the barbed sarcasm the next day.)

The first concerned Bunso, who is starting his freshman year in Ateneo next month. Despite the strong and ill-disguised endorsements of his DLSU-dominated gaggle of uncles to sign up with the Green Archers, he was resolute in his desire to become a Blue Eagle, and in so many words gave his gung-ho dad a heads-up : Papa, gusto ko talaga mag-Ateneo. Sana galangin mo decision ko, pero alam ko suportado mo naman mga decision ko eh. Hihingi lang sana ako ng budget para sa mga requirements ko, and syempre kailangan ko ng onting dagdag sa baon starting June. Love you !

As usual, the flood of emotions threatened to overwhelm and and engulf us, but we managed to stay composed and almost simultaneously realized the following : almost the last 12 months running, Bunso, a 15-year old, had managed to organize and sort out his pre-graduation and graduation activities, take his college entrance exams, map out his choices regarding course and school, given of course, the preferred schools had accepted him, and lastly keep his finances in order (according to the sister, he was very much in the black), all on his own. Not only a tall order for someone his age, but something we would definitely not be able to do when we were his age. Second, his decision making was such that had he passed (as he did), he was clear-headed enough and had enough conviction to go with what he wanted, which was to go with Ateneo. No hemming and hawing for him. It was about then that we realized that the last year had truly been a milestone for Bunso.

** ** ** ** **

For Ganda, it was two weeks before our birthday, on her own birthday, when we had our teachable moment with her. We couldn’t give her anything more than a little angpao (gift money), but on a whim asked her what she wanted for her big day. Without missing a beat, she told us, again in so many words : Papa, ang gusto ko lang sa birthday ko healthy ka lagi, di ka lagi puyat sa night shift, di malamigan mga joints mo, kumain ka lagi nang maayos, and syempre makauwe kayo ng Christmas para masaya. Yun lang po.

Ows? We wanted to tell her, but the moment was too pure for some snide comment. Instead we brushed aside our tears and told her she deserved more than that, and made a mental note to send her as much as we could; she may or may not have meant that birthday wish (which she turned into an advanced birthday wish for us), but it shook us to our core just the same.

** ** ** ** **

The last pre-birthday anecdote concerns Panganay, who due to a bit of domestic issues had been spending more than a little time with us. Last night, out of boredom or his itch to find a challenge, he embraced the daunting challenge of troubleshooting a virus-addled laptop that everyone in our circle of friends had given up on. He confidently said that all it would take to fix the device was to restore the factory settings, reformat all the data inside, and the computer be almost as good as new. Famous last words.

 As most best-laid plans go, the reality was something slightly different. Only 90 minutes later, he was still transfixed in front of the computer, using another computer (his own) for reference and tutorials, and seemingly lost in what he originally thought would be a routine job. Eyebrows were being raised, and Mahal mumbled, at least we were still able to use it before. We tapped Panganay on the shoulder and told him, take a break anak, before that darned thing stresses you out. You’ll be too burned out for anything else…

Even before we finished our sentence, Panganay absentmindedly but firmly waved us away, telling us, not now Papa. Kaya ko ‘to. I just need a little more time. He just looked at us for little more than a half-second but his message was clear. Let me do this, my pride is at stake now. ( He is an IT grad, by the way.)

These moments don’t come often, but when they do you realize them for what they are, almost instantaneously : Your children have become smarter than you, and you may have missed the exact moment in time, but they have passed from child to adult, and to be honest, it is a moment to behold and savor forever.

** ** ** ** **

Did we tell you that an hour plus later, the computer was running like it was out of the box, complete with restored software? We didn’t even acknowledge the smug smile on Panganay‘s face, we knew it was there.

Thank you very much for all the greetings across the miles, across the years, and across all the emotions. It is quite humbling. I’m sad to say that we won’t have internet access the next two weeks because of the move, but somehow somewhere, I will thank each and everyone of you for your heartfelt greeting! Maraming salamat po, daghang salamat, xiexie nin, to sya, muchas gracias, and thanks mate !

Thanks for reading !


Oklahoma, Memphis, Dallas Crown is better for NBA (via Text and Photos by Jude Bautista)

with his kind permission, we are resposting on this thoughtful blog… Happy Moms’ Day !

Oklahoma, Memphis, Dallas Crown is better for NBA  Written by Jude Bautista Greg Findley, an American river guide visiting us here in Manila, asked me if I knew where the New England area was because his girlfriend was from there. I said, “The bunch of states in the northeast coast, that’s where the Pilgrims landed and first settled.” And t … Read More

via Text and Photos by Jude Bautista

Your Last Year as a Teen

Happy birthday Ganda 🙂

Dear Ganda :

I STARTED the day deciphering chicken scratch reviewers I wrote for my millers’ certification exams months ago, which ominously I can’t even remember organizing. Then I tried running a few Sunday laps around the block, a futile project which I quickly abandoned after the depressing autumn drop in temperature, next to which the fickle sun was a puny rival. Finally I checked my inbox for urgent e-mails, none of which was from you.

Irrational, actually, since I should be the one to greet you, as it’s your birthday today.

Compared to your herky-jerky pre-teens and your whirlwind high school years, you have been nothing but a joy to me every day of our lives. You remind me to text, write and call more often than I do you, you update me about your school, love life and your dad-side relatives far more regularly than I could reciprocate, and because of your weekly updates, it’s almost like I’m home. I can never thank you enough for your solicitousness Ganda.

At the risk of reminding you of my participation in your fate, you have grown up too soon as a result of the fact that your original family is no longer intact, that you have acquired two sets of parents who fortunately cherish you as their only daughter.

Whereas your peers and colleagues have not entirely left their scrapbooks Sanrio collections and virtual pets, you have already looked forward to guiding Bunso through his freshman college season, tweaking your career prospects via counselling and summer internships, and preparing yourself towards the inevitable milestone of young adulthood.

Sometimes I wonder where the years went, couldn’t have been only a few years ago when you loved roaming around the neighborhood looking for your favorite playmates, spending half the day chasing and being chased by the dog, and laughing endlessly at slapstick cartoons on the TV.

You reached that stage when you wanted to show you were almost grown up immediately, insisting that you live in a dorm just across the street from school, that you go on outings unsupervised just a few months out of high school, and that you visit trendy night spots just when you were becoming a young lady. It was only the last that raised my eyebrows, but on the whole I knew that you knew what you were doing.

Incredibly, with everything in your life that you were juggling, and keeping a breathless pace with family, academics, friends and your OFW parents, your GPA was only 0.2 shy of getting on the Dean’s List. Only goes to show that even at half-strength, your gifts are clearly visible.

Overall, you have done quite well as a young lady forced to be more independent than many people your age, and it would be an understatement to say that your elders are proud of you. Don’t think that I appreciate you any less for the remarkable job you have done as granddaughter, sister, student, niece and cousin, just because I’ve acknowledged your initiative and independence.

Nevertheless, I know that you know that being equal to the tasks is its own reward, as it prepares you for greater challenges ahead. If there’s anything I wish for in the year ahead, it’s that you keep our lines of communication as free and candid as they have always been, and that we maintain our confidence and affection for each other.

I thank God always for a daughter for you, and ask Him that he keep you safe and healthy as He has always done.

Happy birthday Ganda, I miss you terribly. Take care always, kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos.