the last weekend of winter with Ganda & Bunso

not only did Ganda, Mahal and Bunso have fun, they also managed to look awesome and cool ūüôā

I’M NOT¬†one to indulge in psychobabble or armchair psychology, but I can’t resist self-diagnosing : if you’re anywhere being a half-decent Pinoy (or otherwise) parent (notice I didn’t say good parent, that’s presumptuous), you can relate to my saying that your kids are the only persons on this planet before whom you never need to put on appearances; by nature and/or whether you like it or not, you are simply yourself, nothing more and nothing less.¬† Among the many reasons for this : It is good for their mental health and yours; they already know (or are on the verge of knowing) you very well from head to foot; you can’t deny your true self to the people of whom you are a part and will always be a part of you, long after you have left this life.

Having said that, I once again had a chance to affirm the above law of the universe after spending a tiring but fulfilling weekend with Ganda and Bunso still intoxicated with the afterglow of permanent resident status ; a window of sunlight, showerless rest days, and snow on Mt Ruapehu certainly a confluence of pleasant events to greet recent happy events in our family.

The unintended sidelight of all these was that despite all my attempts to sound sage and ready to dispense with wisdom of the ages, my daughter and younger son saw me for what I am : an excited father just as thrilled to see his kids enjoy life, irrepressible youth, and the rare milestones of successful migration.

their first-ever sightings of snow as young adults, the sled rides and ski lifts over snowed over hillsides were all highlights symbolic of their new lives as NZ permanent residents : in just a few weeks their daily routine of waiting and idleness had turned into frantic paperwork and countless details that needed to be furnished, added and confirmed.  The wintry respite was a much needed break not only for the budding New Zealanders, but also for their parents, who had not shared a day off together in over two weeks.

In between, the much needed interaction surfaced not just between generations but also between would-be travellers in different stages of the migrant journey.  Ironically, Ganda and Bunso were far ahead of me, a guest worker, in our common quest to become NZ citizens, though I would unconditionally be happy for them in every goal they attained.

And on the ride home from the winter wonderland,  if ever I thought that I remained the ageless dad from whom they would owe their looks, Bunso hit me with the joke-of-the-day : natatakot ako tumanda Papa, kasi nakikita ko sa yo magiging hitsura ko.  The punch line was brutal, but at least the smile was disarming.

Whether or not his joke penetrated any vital organs, such frankness from Bunso would serve him well as NZ resident for years to come.

Thanks for reading !

The Day It Snowed Forever

esposa hermosa y yo como nyebe en hardin dela casa poquito...and that's not dandruff on my shoulders ūüôā

[ Note from Noel : Hoping I don’t sound boastful and alienate anyone with the once-in-a-lifetime weather blog (never having experienced this before), happy August birthdays to ¬†Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland commissioner Engr Norman Latosa, basketball / drum&bugle buddy¬†Mr Philip Uy, Collegian immortal Noel Pangilinan, Malcolm Hall schoolmates Attys¬†Koko Purisima – Punsalang and Rhona Modesto – San Pedro, 90-C kabatch Atty¬†Anj Agcaoili – Roman, SJCS 82 batch Dr Gina Yu – Tecson, forever Alphan Lord Chancellor Atty¬†Dennis Acorda, and forever Sydney siobe Marlene Venes – Morrison !¬†¬†]

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

The pic above is deceptive. ¬†We look bright and cheery but it’s because of the snow, the sense of rebirth amidst the dreary and dying wintry season. ¬†Winter has a way of doing that.

In the Philippines, rains that assault us year-round, when combined with the intensity of the monsoon season, often produce the hardship of extreme floods.  In New Zealand, storms that visit during winter months produce hailstorms but once in a rare while the two bad guys converge to produce something beautiful : a nationwide blanket of snow.

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The news had been warning it for days. ¬†A week before, snow had visited the hilly parts of Wellington region for the first time in recent memory, unfortunately I wasn’t one of the fortunate souls to have witnessed it owing to erratic sleep and shift schedules; I had to content myself with what passed for snow on the blades of windshield wipers; dregs of snowfall on the trunks and hoods of workmates’ cars from Johnsonville and Upper Hutt; and local newsclips on TV, which incidentally were picked up by international wires elsewhere in the world (¬†Wellington‘s first snow since 1960s, full story at 10:30!¬†). ¬†In summary, while I was in the deepest recesses of the mill, or trying to catch up on sleep, or otherwise dead to the world, snow was falling. ¬†Deep sigh.

I won’t overdramatize it and say I’ve never seen snow, after all I’ve been in NZ, less than 3000 km from the South Pole, for nearly four years now. ¬†Twice I’ve joined other Pinoys to a short trip to a ski resort known as Mt Ruapehu, but stopped short of an impromptu ski / snowboarding lesson as it would involve rentals and tutorials that my mini-budget didn’t allow.

But to have the white stuff pour down right in front of your doorstep was a treat we hadn’t expected, although the portentous snowcapped hills were already encircling our line of sight. ¬†From a lifetime of shielding our eyes from the tropical sun, it would now be a challenge to see how many snowflakes touch our eyeballs, squish our shoe / boot heels with snow, and hum sleigh bells ring… in an authentic, honest-to-goodness Winter Wonderland.

It wouldn’t be a breeze though. ¬†Although I’ve been on shift work since 2008, burning the midnight oil to earn our bread has never gotten along with our sleep pattern, and the on-again, off-again nature of the much-anticipated snow did nothing to help us get our shut-eye.

And because the sub-zero weather kept me from both biking to work and jogging around the block, the bottom line was I was confusing my body with both a lack of regular sleep and excess energy.

one of the false alarms before actual snowfall, afternoon of Tuesday. the 16th. But if you notice, frost begins to build on trees.

And as expected, a pair of false alarms aggravated the limbo between alertness, fatigue and blahness that I was experiencing.  When the precipitation against the window panes graduated from splat-splat-splat to pick-pack-pick, our neck hairs started rising and naively esposa hermosa, Panganay and yours truly rushed outside.  Sure enough, little pinpricks of white were falling, but hardly enough to call it snow.  Panganay had started his cartwheels and handstands on the lawn but E.H. stood her ground on the door step.

Kapag puti na ang driveway lalabas ako, di pa pwedeng tawaging snow yan she observed.

Too much for me to wait much more, I complained to Mr Frost and donned my nightcap, thermal underwear and facial cream. ¬†Off to dreamland for this sleepy little Asian worker bee (zzzz…)

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Papa, Tita H, tutoo na ‘to ngayon, magpakuha na kayo ng pics! ¬†Bilis!

Groggy from just the second of three 90-minute slices of precious sleep, and not fully comprehending what it meant, I ignored it and let EH respond to Panganay’s urgent rousing of our afternoon slumber.
A screech and a squeal later, I brought myself back to the real world and realized something more important that freezing rain was going on.
I rushed down and a blanket of snow had enveloped 360 degrees everywhere I looked. ¬†Trees were groaning and looked Christmasy in the middle of August, children of neighbours who hardly ventured beyond the doors were gallivanting like street kids of Quezon Ave. ¬†And snowmen were growing before our very eyes, if they weren’t prematurely being bowled over by improvised sleds and snowboards of ecstatic young ones and young once. ¬†It was Christmas in the middle of the year.
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Like many events where human interest and natural phenomenon converge, people focus on such event via the obsession of statistics (inches of snowfall, lowest temperature reached, number of winter days, etc.)  Such statistics, in the midst of all that snow, hardly mattered to me, although there were three stats that struck this wide-eyed Pinoy :
1970’s – The decade when snow was last reported in either Wellington City or Auckland City;
35,000 – The number of Pinoys more or less who experienced the rarer-than-rare snowfall, in NZ; and
46 – The number of years this accidental migrant reached before witnessing snow on his backyard.
Thanks for reading !
PS. Lastly, it hasn’t happened where we live, but this should really make for a memorable winter if ever it happens… ¬†Happy viewing !