Thursday, July 28, 2005

I am a Sage

This is me killing time. If you want to take this test, you'll have to go The Roleplaying Destiny Test.


The Sage
You scored 34 Leadership, 47 Charm, 55 Nobility, and 59 Competence!
Talented and noble, you are an example to other players. You help any in need, but probably avoid large social gatherings such as cantinas and bars, prefering to be alone to hone your respective skills. Because of your aloof manner, people respect you but are likely a bit intimidated and unsure. But you probably like that.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 99% on Leadership

You scored higher than 99% on Charm

You scored higher than 99% on Nobility

You scored higher than 99% on Competence


Me, aloof??? *raised eyebrow*

Some parts of this test result, I agree with some parts I don't.

Vacations and other things...

We left it too late, I suppose. But we've never had to go anywhere during peak season. Until this year, we've gone on vacation during the low season when most parks are empty and all the other children are at school. This is the reason why most parents reserve at least six months ahead of time and why people here are so obsessed with scheduling their vacation days.

My telephone conversations with various campings and parks in France are beginning to take on the same monotonous tint where the owners tell me in a super-sympathetic voice that they are already fully booked and they can only wish me success in looking for another place. This, after so much resistance to going camping...when I've finally agreed to go sleep in a tent for at least a couple of days.

Anyway, I'm off to surf the net again. Surely I should be able to find a house, a room, a camping place somewhere that isn't fully booked. Wish me luck.


On another note, my interview with Sara Russell of Poetry Life and Times is now up at The Sword Review.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Writing projects...

I'm stuck. 25,000 words into my revised manuscript and stuck again. I looked at the draft this morning and my brain went blink. So, I ended up surfing the net, checking and answering mail, dropping by oww to catch up on reviews, and finally going upstairs to just do the laundry, because nothing worked and I could not get enthusiastic about this section where I am now.

Anyway, this evening, I found myself sitting down at the computer and typing out
3,500 words to a short story that's been simmering in the back burner for sometime. A fictionalized version of two very memorable characters from my childhood, I'm quite pleased with this one and hope that I can find a good home for it sometime in the future...errr...once it's as perfectionized as possible.

I'm now setting the story aside to look at it again another time when the iron is a bit cooler. I've reposted The Wordeaters on OWW, after it's gone through several ending revisions. I hope this ending is much better, and that I can now go on to start hunting for a home for this story which I think is among my best written work so far.

Auntie Ev says to write literary. Would Amado and Cabigat be literary enough? I wonder.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Contests and Readings...

The Sword Review is launching a fundraising contest. It's not yet officially announced, but it will be soon. So that promises to be an interesting one. An official announcement should be made on the zine soon, with the theme and all other details for interested parties. One thing that I find interesting about The Sword Review is the variety it offers in reading material. These days, I don't have much time to browse the contents of the zine, although I do my best to keep abreast of the columns which are quite interesting. It's quite a discovery ... other writers are just like me ... I struggle, they struggle too, and we all have a story to tell.

Melinda S. Reynolds .
produces fantastic illustrations for a lot of the stories, as well as the front page of this site. When I saw this cover, I, that is one awesome angel. He's also looks tribal...reminds me of Balugan in a way.

Earlier this month, my interview with Valerie Mason-John was published. In a recent mail, I recieved a list of her scheduled readings in the US, which I'm posting down here.

I'm looking forward to meeting Valerie again when she comes back to Amsterdam to give another reading in November.

American Tour

‘Mason-John pens the British Color Purple’ New Nation (British Media)

Valerie is a playwright with several box office successes, an actor who has performed rep at the renowned Young Vic Theater, the author of several books (two documented African/Asian lesbian culture.) She is a performance poet, on-air TV personality, artistic director of London’s Mardi Gras Arts Festival, and organized/hosted the first Lesbian Alternative Beauty Contest (making it a national event!). It’s no wonder she was named as Britain’s “Black Gay Icon” and one of the country’s most adventurous performers!

Imagine if you chose the wrong parents to bring you into the world? Well Pauline the protagonist did exactly this, and is faced with some of the painful memories of African slavery, hundreds of years ago. Past lives, spirits, imaginary friends are all woven into this feisty account.

Mason-John blends magic realism with fictional memoir. Borrowed Body is written in voice of a young black girl growing up in white foster homes and orphanages. She is later reclaimed by her African born mother, who wants to reinvent her into a dutiful African child. Valerie Mason-John lived with a white foster mother until she was four. She was then placed in Bernardo’s Orphanage, which is featured in the novel, and was raised by a Polish house-father and an English house-mother. At fourteen, Valerie began living on the streets. Her book is frightfully realistic about growing up “in care” and being a “colored” child in the system. Borrowed Body is a “can’t-put-it-down” kind of book, a mesmerizing read. The issues it touches on will speak to anyone who remembers their own childhood and the pains of growing up. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to meet an astonishing performer and author!

Wednesday, August 24th at 7:30pm
BARBARA'S BOOKS, 121 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL

Tuesday, August 30th at 7:00PM
CHANGE MAKERS, 6536 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

Wed. Sept 7th at 8pm
VOX POP: Books, Coffee, Democracy, 1022 Cortelyou Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Monday, Sept. 12 at 8pm
THE LITERARY LOUNGE, Telephone Bar & Grill, 149 Second Avenue at 9th Street, NYC

Shopping with Joel...

I couldn't resist the urge to go shopping. It's sale season over here and last Tuesday, I bought a couple of shirts for Jan at discount price. When I came home, I discovered that they were a size too I went back to the store yesterday and got a bigger size....and you guessed it...did more shopping. Yikes! The thing is, everything was already priced down and when I entered the shop somebody announced that aside from the discount on the tag, we would also get a fifty percent additional discount on the item.

So, I find myself imitating Eileen Tabios, and her shopping blog.

1 coat for Jan (which he's repeatedly stated that he needs but refuses to buy)
1 spring/fall coat for me
2 shirts for Jan
underwear for me
4 shirts for Joel Jan
spiderman undies for Joel Jan(these weren't on sale)
spiderman socks for Joel Jan (these weren't on sale)
4 books for Joel Jan (that boy is getting to be a book addict )
1 activity book for Joel Jan
1 book for me (Dan Brown's, Angels and Demons, because the title sounded interesting)
1 small spiderman car for Joel Jan (he's also a collector )

Reading the list, I'm tempted to say that the purchases weren't as much as I'd imagined. But when you see the prices over here, you'll know why the shops are full on sale time and only moderately full during regular times.

Looking at this list, I realize that I really do a lot of buying for Joel. I'm glad that I'm able to do it in moderation nowadays. When he was much smaller, I remember going out on extreme shopping sprees. We'd find ourselves way in the red by the end of the month because of the all the needless things that I was buying. Looking back, I have to laugh at myself. That child was totally confused by the mountain of toys facing him that he didn't want to play with them anymore.

Later on, I realized that I had a shopping problem. After watching a great deal of Ophrah and Dr. Phil, I was able to pinpoint the root of my problem. The truth is, I did a lot of compensatory shopping. You know, the kind of shop till you drop because you feel that you're missing out on something. In my case, I thought that my son was missing out because he couldn't have my family around him. I slowed down and looked at my son and realized that no matter how much I shopped, I'd never be able to buy my family being here. How much this shopping thing has to do with missing home...well...I really don't know.

One of the filipina girls I knew did a lot of compensatory shopping. She had an unhappy marriage, but because of her determination not to be a divorcee, she put up with all the verbal abuse that her husband was heaping on her and her daughter. Going shopping with her, I discovered that she'd spend a great deal of time telling the shop ladies details of her life. Dallying over lingerie and perfume, she spilled out her guts to them, telling of her woes and building up an imaginary life that was not in any way like the life that she was living.

That was a revelation.

I found myself wondering how many women, living in abusive or non-nurturing relationships, find solace in something like this.

Looking at myself and at my own relationship, I started to ask what drove me to shop.

My shopping excesses opened the road to honest communications about feelings and what was really bothering me. I finally was able to tell my husband about the changes that I wanted to see in our relationship, about my longing for home, my sense of being disconnected from the world around me, and my frustration at not being able to pursue the writing career that I had envisaged when I was in the Philippines.

In a sense, my shopping was my way of stating my presence. When I bought this thing that I could hold in my hands I felt as if I were saying, "I'm here. I'm holding something in my hands that confirms me as being."

It took a long time before I was able to kick-off the habit of shopping. I'm no longer the shopaholic that I used to be. I've learned to be frugal with my pennies, to think twice before I purchase something, to live within my means and to not feel guilty when I buy something.

I suppose my shopping says a lot about me, and the sort of things that I buy reflect where I am at the moment.

I still can't resist books, they are my biggest luxury. I will be a scrooge on anything, groceries ( I can live with buying the cheapest brand of toilet paper ), clothes ( I will buy the sale on a sale items, I don't mind wearing last year's fashion), but I can't be a scrooge when it comes to books. Whenever I buy another book for Joel, I tell my husband that it's my investment in my son's mind. When I buy a book for me, it's my investment in my craft.

So maybe someday, I'll finish a book and hopefully it will be published too. I hope that it will be a super-fantastic book worth investing "centjes" in.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter and other things...

Reading Selena's Blog, I had to respond to her post about Harry Potter. Personally, I'm not an HP fan. I've read only one book, just to find out what the hype was all about.

Thinking about HP reminded me of something that Butch, my best college best friend's brother said about RPG. He said that a person who wasn't rooted in reality and who was easily influenced should not do RPG. I think that HP should have a reccomendation like that on it's cover. Meant only for readers who are able to discern reality from fantasy. My five year old son has a classmate who loves HP. While I am open-minded about a lot of things, I still thought that it was inappropriate of her to let these two boys watch an HP film. My son had nightmares for a whole month after that and he couldn't stop talking about HP as if HP would protect him from the nightmare creatures under his bed.

I'm happy to say that he now remembers that God is the strongest and the mightiest and God is the one who shoos away the monsters under his bed. Phew!
On other things:

My writing project is coming along pretty well. After discarding about half of the first draft, I'm now working on a second draft which I hope I'll have done by the end of the month.

I have written a short story based on life in Ifugao, with two familiar characters from my childhood. I don't know if my sister will remember Cabigat and Amado. Amado was the local madman and Cabigat was the local drunk. Anyway, I let Jan read the rough draft for this story and I'm quite pleased because he didn't fall asleep over this one. Ha! That's a good sign. I've had some drafts where he snoozed off halfway. The ones where he sits up and pays attention are the ones that I'm really hopeful about. With this one, he actually sat up, took off his shirt at one point and hunched forward over the manuscript. So, I'm off to revision land. I'll stop writing now - this blog is turning into one major distraction from work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Joel pushing Ruby on the swing...

Joel likes Ruby a lot, it amazes me to see how well they get along. But he's always liked her, even when she was a baby. I wonder if they'll still play together this way when they grow up.

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Ruby on the swing... Posted by Picasa

Tigers at the circus...

I had to smile about this one, because Joel Jan said that he expected the tigers to jump over the cage, but they didn't.

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cool blog...

Found this blog while waiting for Hello to go online.
How I am Becoming an Astronaut - quite interesting and has some cool pix too. No, I don't know who she is, just found her blog by browsing. I like the pictures and will show them to my son who is at the stage where he wants to be some sort of rocketship scientist.

Among Other Things...

Joel came home with a fever. I called him up on Saturday Morning wanting to know if all had gone well and how late we should pick him up. The house was so empty without him, and when I went to town, I felt as if I had misplaced some part of me. He had so many plans for Saturday, he would go swimming with his Tante Margie, they would go to the park, he would see his waterskiing hero...

"Pick me up at 6 p.m.," he said.

After an hour, Margie called me up.

"I think you have to come and pick him up" she said.

In the space of an hour, he had decided that he didn't want to go out and that he was just tired and wanted to go to bed.

We rushed over and found him lying in bed with a slight fever.

"I was homesick," he said.

So, we took him home with us, coddled him, and put him to bed. On Sunday, he was right as rain and raring to go to the circus. A good thing too because the tickets had been bought and it isn't like the circus comes to town every week.

Sunday was a lovely day. Jan and Joel went with Ruby and Rob to the circus while I spent the afternoon with Judith and her baby, Jonas. I just realized that I made lots of photos of Ruby and didn't make any of Jonas. I should do that next time. He is quite a lovely little boy with a sweet temperament.

"He's so easy," Judith says.

What wonder comes from seeing our children together. Joel Jan gets along so well with Ruby. We had a lovely afternoon and the circus was fun. So maybe we'll go to the big Christmas circus this coming December. They always have one in one of those big theaters in Scheveningen. Yes, say it again, Scheveningen. One sign of being properly "ingeburgered" (citizenized) is the ability to say the name of the place the way the Dutch do. With a guttural sch sound that isn't sk but something in between. You have to hear it to get it.


Last night, we had a visit from this brash Dutch lady.

"I suppose you don't miss the Philippines anymore," she says.

When I get comments like these, I wonder what planet the people who say them come from. Don't they understand that no matter where we go, we always carry within us some place that longs for home? It's taken me seven years to finally decide that I have to start putting down roots here. Inspite of that decision, I still dream of going home, I still long for the warmth of family, the immediacy of being there and of moving within the circle of security that comes from knowing that you can just be.

So, how does one put down roots in a new place? I find myself struggling to be just who I am. I sometimes find myself excusing the habits that are so taken for granted back home. It means adjusting, changing and changing again, and all the while struggling to hold on to what defines the real me.

Yes, I still get homesick. On some days, I wish I could just lie down in bed, draw the curtains close and dream myself across the ocean more than 10,000 miles away to the warmth of home and sunshine and the sound of my mother's voice. I sometimes wish I could but I can't.

So what do you do when the longing is sometimes too much to bear? I sit in front of the computer and type my longing to the world. I write my frustration at waiting and waiting for mail from home that never comes, I write me feeling like a ghost because in some way I am there and yet not there, here and yet not here.

Do we ever get over that longing for home? Do we ever lose that intense missing home feeling? There are days when the feeling is not as present as other days. But it's there, it's definitely there.

Monday, July 18, 2005


These past weeks have brought with them exciting news of romances.

One of our friends has fallen in love with a Filipina. This romance tickles me pink and makes me laugh because last year, when Joel Jan turned five, we invited him over to get a taste of filipina fellowship. He is a sweet fellow, open with a hint of shyness, funny and quite good company.

"Do let's try to match him to some nice Filipina," I said to Jan.

Jan laughed and said that as far as he was concerned, it wasn't our business to meddle.

So, when we got his email a couple of weeks ago, telling us that he had met a girl who gave him a funny feeling, I had to laugh when I found out that it was a Filipina and he had met her of all places, in Thailand.

Funny how romances will create bridges. I found myself welcoming him in a different way, looking at him with different eyes when he arrived at Jan's birthday. In some mysterious way, he became more than just Jan's friend. It was like welcoming an addition to our extended family.

Am I a romantic at heart? I suppose I am. I loved it that his face glowed when he talked about this girl, and that he was already determined to start learning Filipino. A monumental task, but I'm sure he'll manage it.

Along with the thrill that this new romance brings, I find myself a bit apprehensive. I hope that this is truly the right girl for him, and that she sees all the wonderful, shining qualities that make him a truly special person deserving of a faithful and honest love. In turn, I hope that he will value this woman whom God has brought to him in such an amazing way.

Watching romance bloom is very much like watching a seed unfold into beauty. I watch it from a distance, remembering my own romance, cherishing mine because it is unique just as all romances are unique.

No stories are ever the same, similar perhaps in some ways, but they all have their own thumbprints, their own special hallmarks. As I look back, I realize I am seven years down the road in my romance. I look forward to the coming years and hope that my friends will also know the joy of a love that deepens and matures with the passing of time...


Some photos from our files...

Especially for family and are some photos from our picture files.

A field of hyacinths... Posted by Picasa

Garden Picnic... Posted by Picasa

Train tracks in the garden... Posted by Picasa

Joel's recorder recital... Posted by Picasa

Jan's birthday cake... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Congratulations to Veronica Montes

“Bernie Aragon Jr. Looks for Love,” a lighthearted and
poignant short story by Veronica Montes, captured
First Prize in The Ivy Terasaka Short Story
Competition sponsored by Our Own Voice, a literary
ezine. The story will appear online at
Our Own Voice in September.

Congratulations to Veronica. I've enjoyed reading the tales that come from this writer's pen and look forward to reading "Bernie Aragon Jr. Looks for Love".

Friday, July 15, 2005

Interview with Valerie Mason-John

"Valerie Mason-John writes British Color Purple - New Nation". That's what they forgot to put on the header of my column at The Sword Review. Oh well, one can't have everything. So, my interview with Valerie Mason-John, writer of Borrowed Body, has been published. You can view it by clicking on the link. I'll be posting more details regarding book readings that Valerie will be doing in the US come August and September.


Logeren, that's the dutch word for sleeping over. Joel Jan is sleeping over at his Tante Margie's house. Which leaves me one full day to write as much as I please. So, why am I on this blog when I should be writing? It's called the luxury of having time to spend and yes's the big P...procrastination.

Leaving Joel Jan last night was a bit difficult. Not for him, but for me. I actually almost burst into tears. I miss the little fellow. He was already fast asleep by the time we left. Off into dreamland, not needing his cold pillows (which I'd forgotten). Margie called up this morning to tell me that he was doing fine and that he had slept quite well. By the time she got up he had already dressed himself up. Ah, who wouldn't be proud. He's such a big boy.

Well, I am proud of my boy. He is a fantastic trooper. Yesterday, we went shopping and he walked all the way in that heat! Marvelous kid. I'd promised him that after we did a round of the shops we'd go to the toy shop, funny thing was that once we got there, he didn't know what he wanted anymore. There were toooooo many toys and he had only 3 euros. He, he.

Another dialogue:

Joel Jan: Mama, does this cost three euros? (pointing to Nintendo Game cube)

Me: No, honey. That costs more than three euros. Count the numbers, how many numbers do you see?

Joel Jan: five. Oh, that must cost one hundred thousand million euros.

Me: Well, not really. More like one hundred thirty nine euros.

Joel Jan: And do we have one hundred thirty nine euros?

Me: Not for this toy.

Joel Jan: Is that expensive?

Me: You can say that again.

Joel Jan: (pointing to a flimsy whirly thing) This has only three numbers, Mam.

Me: It's one euro and fifty cents.

Joel Jan: And is that expensive? Is that more than three euros?

What I want to say sometimes: I wish I could buy you all the things your heart desires. You can only begin to guess how tempted I am to say yes, dearest child. But when I look at you and think of what kind of a man I want you to become, then I have to say no and tell you that you must learn to stick within your budget. It's not easy being a parent. You'll discover that for yourself someday.

Love, dear child, is not always equated in things that I buy for you or the things that I can give you. Sometimes, the sweetest moments that we share come out of pulling out the most enjoyment from spending the least. Just like our picnic days at the pool, our walks in the wood, the funny talks we share and sitting together behind the computer and trying to figure out how to build a super-duper fun park. That you can't buy, dear heart.

It's not easy raising a child in a materialistic world. I hope that when my boy grows up, he'll see that there is much more in this world than the ownership of things, that your value as a human being does not depend on the size of car your drive, or the amount of money in your bank account.

This is what I want to communicate to him. I want him to never lose that childlike heart, that faith in things invisible, that holding on to what really matters, that sure knowledge that what is just is because it is that way.

Well, nobody said parenting was easy.

From the Flips list...

Recieved this announcement from Eileen Tabios

I am so so pleased and proud and even all a-weepy to share the news below! It's a historical event too long of a time in the coming: the publication of Bino A. Realuyo's FIRST poetry book. And it's all happening because his manuscript just won in a major national poetry competition in the United States. It is a prize named after the poet Agha Shahid Ali and, isn't it synchronistic that "shahid" means "witness" in Arabic!!!!! With much pride in this Filipino, this poet, and this Filipino poet, I announce:


Bino A. Realuyo's first poetry collection, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door wins the 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry and will be released February 2006.

Honoring the memory of a celebrated poet and a beloved teacher, the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry is awarded annually and is sponsored by the University of Utah Press and the University of Utah Department of English. The competition is open to poets who have previously published book-length poetry collections, as well as unpublished poets.

From The Gods We Worship Live Next Door, a sample poem:


The silence. The silence.
The silence covers everything.

Teresa de Jesus

In this town, everybody bends all morning,
to bury an acre of fear each hour, to feed
the ground with all the words they will not say.

Another man was found last week: caned
powdered, tied with grass.
She was there: crawling on mud, hiding

behind a rock and spires of grass,
and days later, hiding from the memory
of faces and voices: the foundered glint of a man

in the sun, the broken words, wound upon wound,
the thin blur of those around him, their laughter,
the whippings, their tight grasp of their whips-

Is to speak of this to finally forget?
To speak of it is to know that so much here
remain hidden-the silence, the air,

all inhaled, kept inside, food for fear.
At twilight, dogs begin to bark. Broken twigs,
bullets and shadows flee between trees.

Not again. She cups her mouth, hoping
that there is no spill of blood, parts of limbs
scratching soil. She firmly holds herself,

latches the door with wood, tight as teeth.
Night seeps through bullet holes on the walls,
sits with her while she listens, wilting, on the chair.

Cotabato, Philippines


Congratulations, Bino! Great work.

Still another writer to congratulate:

Luisa Igloria for winning the Richard Lemon Poetry Fellowship. She gets to attend the Napa Valley Writers Conference, where she'll be studying with New England Review editor C. Dale Young.


That's really cool isn't it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A surprise for Judith, here's Ruby :) Posted by Picasa


Eileen Tabios has a new chapbook out. Songs of the Colon released by Ahadada books is now available for download at their website. It's now surpassed 200 downloads, so Yay for Eileen and congratulations on this new work of art. I've downloaded the chapbook and am looking forward to delving into her poetry.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor wrote an interesting review on Songs of the Colon which you can read by clicking on the link.
Summer vacation. I'm off biking with my son.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My mom with my grandmother, 39 years ago.  Posted by Picasa

July --- moments to celebrate

July seems to be a month packed with moments to celebrate. Yesterday, my husband celebrated his birthday. Today, my parents celebrate their wedding anniversary. One good deal about having celebrations one after the other, is that you can't remember one without remembering the other. *he, he* Good for someone like me who has the memory of a sieve.

What is it about Filipinos and celebrations? Is it a culture thing or is it a gene thing? I remember that my grandmother wouldn't let birthday's or special days go by without celebrations. I remember going to Surigao one summer and celebrating my birthday with my grandparents. My grandmother ordered a roasted pig (lechon), she bought me a magnificent party dress and I was utterly spoiled.

It seems to me that the summer in Surigao was one gigantic feast. Each day, vibrated with life and wonder and there was always the scent and sound of the sea and that feeling of timelessness that comes with summer vacations.

So maybe that explains in part my desire to celebrate. Yesterday, we discussed the subject of genes and how I inherited quite a good number of my grandmother's genes.
I find myself wondering if the gene to celebrate is inherent. Does it run in the blood?

Time will tell if my son has this gene too. I'm watching him very closely :)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ash Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My brother...

Yesterday, my youngest brother celebrated his birthday. He's still in the throes of his board review and I hope he makes it this October. If he does, he's promised to come and visit us soon.

When my brother was born, I wasn't exactly ecstatic. My sister and I, were enlisted to be babysitters when my mother was busy with household things. I was a horrid older sister and I must have said some nasty things to him when he was still a baby.

My mother had the hardest time when she was pregnant with my youngest brother. For the entire nine months, she lay in bed with the curtains drawn across the windows, surrounded by the smell of puke. My mother says that towards the end, when she was very ill and could not bear to eat, my father asked her if he should take the baby away.

My mother never tires of telling this, of how one of my aunts told her that this child would be the one who would help her the most. So, my mother told my father not to touch the baby, unless it was a matter of life and death. Which is how I came to have my youngest brother.

They called him Joash, after the young king in the Bible, and Pio, after my grandfather. When he was still very young, he displayed a remarkable strength of will. It's the same will that I see in my own son, and I hope that God will give me the same wisdom that he gave my mom when she was bringing us up.

In my brother, his will to become a doctor manifested itself at a very early age. I don't remember him ever saying that he wanted to be anything else but a doctor. All throughout his elementary and his highschool years, it was as if he was already living his life in preparation for the years that he would be spending in Medical school.

Here's an anecdote:

When he was still an elementary student, he and my other brother went to visit our neighbour's son. This neighbour had a dog who had just given birth. I remember this very clearly because none of our parents were home at the time. I was seated at the piano when I heard the sound of sobbing and loud voices.

I stood up and saw the carpenter, Manong Celo, carrying my youngest brother in his arms, blood was streaming down his leg and Manong Celo was crying out for my father.
Behind him, JJ, my other brother was white faced and almost in tears.

It so happened that during their visit to the neighbour, they had passed close by the dog's litter and in fury, the dog jumped up and attacked them. JJ and the neighbour's son were able to leap up into the water tower, but my youngest brother was too late and the dog caught him and took a huge bite out of his upper thigh.

There we were, me a medical ignoramus, my brother a panicky highschooler and lucky for us, my aunt who was an experienced nurse.

To our surprise, after the first panic had passed, it was JJ who broke down into tears, while my younger brother puffed out his breath and said between puffs,

"Don't worry, bro, it doesn't even hurt."

Even if he claimed that it didn't hurt, we still had to bring him to the hospital, where we discovered that he needed stitches and injections.

I think that I was more terrified than he was, because when the doctor came back, he commented on the courage of my brother.

"He didn't even need anesthesia," the doctor said.

So, there you are. If that isn't proof enough of what kind of a doctor he'll make, I don't know what is.

There are many other incidents like this one, but if Joash reads this, I think he'll laugh and if JJ reads this, he also has his tales and if my sister reads this, well... we all have our stories to tell and one day, we will gather them all together and tell them to our children and our children's children.

I can see myself now, I'll probably be like my mom...saying to Joel Jan...

"You know, when your uncle Joash was in elementary school..."

Anyway, Joash, happy birthday.

I think that you'll enjoy reading Barbara Jane Reyes's poetry too. Take a look. I've linked one of my favorites down here.


Her love poem i, which I found on the internet reminds me of something that I wrote for Joel Jan sometime ago, it's also something I'd like to share with all my Filipino friends and family who are proud to be Kayumanggi. Barbara's poem resonates inside my mind and tugs at my heart reminding me of the ties that bind me to the Philippines, and to my brownskinned brethren who are scattered to the four corners of this earth.


Yes, I am
and rooted...

and I'll say the words that we don't say often enough...

I love you, bro :) Take care.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Someday, I would like to...

Someday, I would like to be able to ask all the passionate poets, the gifted writers, all those wonderful creative artists who draw inspiration out of thin air, what it is that drives them, what it is that pushes them to create, to give birth to life in words, in pictures, in sculpture, in music, in all those majestic, magical, enchanting, puzzling, works that my brain strives to comprehend.

All these things move me with their mystic beauty. How is it possible that one note so rightly played can bring tears to the back of my eyelids, how is it that one word written or said at just that moment is capable of capturing my loyalty forever, and things like photographs and works of art, all these spontaneous expressions of the soul, they move me so much...

What moves you? I want to ask. Where do you find your muse? or are you like me, constantly seeking, constantly struggling, always there in the midst of the stride, observing the conflict, soaking it up...

I sometimes wonder if I was born this way, with questions inside my mind that needed to be answered.

My mother says that I was a curious child. Of course, when one grows up, such questions as why are you so tall or why is your nose so long, or why are you white and why am I brown, lose their charm and become merely irritating. I graduated to asking whether people were married and how many children they had. I later found out that some people find such questions an invasion of privacy...and so, I searched for other questions to ask. But inside my head, I'm always asking, why? why is it not possible? How could such things be? Where is the root of joy, sorrow, pain, misery? Is God real, does he still see me? Does he care and if he does care, why don't I feel that he cares? And is this what you really want me to do? Is it? or am I really meant to be here or am I meant to be somewhere else? Is this the real me? Is there all there is to this world? and what's beyond the invisible, what's beyond the curtain of now?

So, maybe I was born with nosiness and an unquenchable curiousity to discover more about the inner nature of things.

I have discovered though, that the person who does not ask, never gets answers. That if I do not have the boldness to say, I don't know and please teach me, no one will teach me. I shed the arrogance of adulthood and show myself as I am.

See, I say, I am vulnerable. You can accept me or reject me. Please tell me what I want to know because I do not know, I am an open book ready to be written upon, I am a sponge, ready to soak up all knowledge.

I've stopped merely surviving. I've made the choice to live life, to discover the world everytime, all over and anew. Perhaps that's why I love the fantastic, the mythic, the scientific, that which strives to break the borders of what is, because it is like seeing a break in the curtain of now...and discovering that we still hold within ourselves reflections of the divine.

Monday, July 04, 2005

breaking down barriers...

Reading Mary E. DeMuth's blog where she speaks of missed opportunities.

I think this is something that a lot of modern day American Missionaries fail to see, and so I applaud her insight into what it is that puts a wall between the missionary and the people she wants to reach.

Growing up as the daughter of a Filipino missionary, I've seen my share of missionaries come and go. Mind you there are lots of missionaries who do make the effort to learn the language.

I'll never stop speaking of that American family who pioneered Bethel Temple in the Philippines. It is a point of admiration when Filipinos say that they speak Filipino like Filipinos and eat the same dishes that local filipinos eat. What higher praise could there be? It's also a point worth noting that unlike other American missionaries who employ several maids and own several airconditioned cars, this family lives very simply, just like us.

In his visit to the Philippines, Jaco, my husband's nephew, made a remark about an American pastor who was invited to speak at our local church. This man, did not even bother to tone down his very southern accent, and proceeded to give a sermon in pure southern English. For those who have grown up listening to English spoken, following such a sermon would not be so difficult, but for the massa, the people who attend this local church, listening to a sermon delivered in pure English and with that southern accent, it would be like listening to someone speaking Greek.

Another comment generated from an American traveller ( a non-christian ): he stated his disbelief at the total arrogance of the American, and his own feelings of shame when on a visit to Spain, a fellow American complained about people in Spain not speaking English.

Needless to say, the love-hate feelings the world has for America are generated mostly by observations of how Americans comport themselves within the context of another culture.

Perhaps if the American learned to approach people with more humility. If he showed more openness and willingness to bridge cultural gaps by shedding his own skin and his too much awareness of "I am an American and I come from a BIG country and I know it better", perhaps there would be less resistence to his presence in a foreign community.

So, I'm applauding Mary's determination to speak French. Vive le France, Mary...en Vive le Mary :)

Finding new places...

On the internet, I find places and people whom I otherwise would not have found.

Found: Bagong Filipina, a website that features excellent articles, poetry, stories, essays by filipinas from all over the world. Found on this website, five poems and an essay: The Naming of My Child, by poet and writer, Eileen Tabios.

Also found: Lolo's Bride, a short story written by Veronica Montes.

Barbara Jane Reyes's Blog. Barbara Jane has a new book out,Gravities of Center, a collection of her poetry which recieved a superb review from Philippine News. Reading that review makes me wish that I was in a land where I don't have to wait three to six weeks for an english book to arrive on my doorstep. Barbara Jane's poem, "Manila Mango", also appears in "Versal Three", a publication of Words In Here.

Words In Here, is the only group of english speaking and writing poets and writers in the Netherlands. I also found them on the Net and that's how I winded up going to my first ever literary event, the first Amsterdam Literary Festival.

Reading poetry written by real poets, I think of how much I still have to learn. I think the beauty of poetry is in the layered words and symbols, meanings hidden within meanings. Are these things that can be learned? I really don't know. I only know that when I read what other poets write, I stand in open mouthed amazement, wondering how they did that.

interview url

Thanks to Rebecca, who took the time to post the correct url to the interview I had with Mary E. DeMuth.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Waking the Dead

I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by the fairy tales, but has since been ratified by mere facts. - G.K. Chesterton

I am reading: John Eldredge's, Waking the Dead. Nannerl gave it to me as a present.

Quoting from his book:
"And the best stories of all, the ones that bring us the Eternal Truths, they always take the form of parable, or sometimes we say, fairy tale. Better still to call them myths."

further on, he defines myth in this way:

"A story that brings you a glimpse of the eternal, or any story that awakens your heart to the deep truths of life." That is the unifying quality of all mythic stories, whether they be Sisyphus or Sleeping Beauty or The Matrix.

He goes on to quote Professor Rolland Hein:

Christian Professor Rolland Hein has described it this way: "Myths are, first of all, stories: stories which confront us with something transcendent and eternal...a means by which the eternal expresses itself in time."


So even when I am in my deepest, darkest moments of doubt, God reminds me that I've been given this gift of story for a purpose. That these words that flow from my hands are not merely words, but they're meant to be a reflection of his glory. I struggle and I doubt, and sometimes I think that maybe I should lay my pen down and give up the dream.

I look at myself with a critical eye and begin to wonder, does my story reflect God's glory? Does it transcend? Is it eternal?

Looking at what I have written, in the light of eternity, will it stand up to the test?

Here again, I find myself reshuffling my priorities, changing my stories, reviewing my plots and recognizing that in my life there is someone bigger in charge of my words...the words don't have their source in me, in the words of the Wordeaters, "it is a gift."

I am a Pilipino-Dutchboy... Posted by Picasa

Lolo's boy... Posted by Picasa

my favorite pasttime...mowing grass for Mama... Posted by Picasa

I planted tulips especially for you... Posted by Picasa

remember Keukenhof in the springtime... Posted by Picasa

Dreaming of Philippines... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Interview column is up...

My interview column with Mary E. DeMuth, author of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, is now up at the The Sword Review .

Joel Jan

His eyes are filled with the promise of a thousand different dreams
at five years old,
the world is still
like outer space
an open place
that invites

One of our favorite pasttimes, is to sit and explore each other's imaginations. I tell him stories while he fills in the blanks and in such conversations I have discovered lands, like underwear land where a little boy sets sail with his underpants on his head and ventures across wild seas to find a place called Thunder and Lightning shore. The people who occupy this place wear lightningbolts on their heads and send our young adventurer off to another island where Dinosaurs still live and dragons breath fire.

At the end of the day, our little hero, comes home...weary from his journey, glad to find that at the end of all stormy seas, home still waits and he can still be like all the other children in underwear land.

You'd think that he would be weary of the telling at the end of this tale, but no...he always wants more...

Joel, ako ay Pilipino... Posted by Picasa

Joel, little knight in shining armor... Posted by Picasa

Joel's rocket launcher... Posted by Picasa

Joel, imitating Papa... Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Fight against Poverty

On the news today, Armoede de Wereld Uit (Poverty the world out) or in other words, it's a day dedicated to remembering the fight against poverty. On the map, they show all the countries in blue, only a third of the earth's nations are rich countries, the rest are poor. Talk about an unequal distribution of wealth.

On the tube, children talk about a poverty that they cannot yet begin to understand. How do you explain poverty to a people who have always had the luxury of running water, to a people who have never had to worry about not being able to go to the doctor or not being able to buy necessary medications? How does one begin to portray a poverty that knows children curling up into sleep in order to deny the rumblings of their empty stomachs?

To allow the youth to recognize that there are people on another continent, in another world who go without shoes all year, and who have to beg for their bread, is surely an action worthy of emulation. Perhaps the key towards the eradication of poverty lies in awakening the consciousness of the young, in touching these young minds and making them aware of the disparity, the social and economic unequality that exists, between the first world nations and the nations of the third world.

I try to imagine, what progress my homecountry would make if instead of letting the poor bear the brunt of economic depression, the rich came forward to help shoulder this burden. The picture is enough to blow my mind.

Perhaps, if we learned to look at things in the light of eternity, perhaps then the value that we place on our possessions and our properties will change.


I do recognize that this cure seems so simplistic. In the end, it will take a lot more than this to overcome poverty. I suppose that it has always been a problem and will continue to remain a problem. In the ideal world, there would be no poor, there would be no children going to bed hungry, there would be no child robbed of education or of his dreams or of his future. In the ideal world, everyone would have the same chances, the same privileges, the same opportunities. The problem is, we don't live in an ideal world. We just have to accept that we live in a flawed world and we have to learn to live in it together.