Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Mobile Bar

It was past midnight and we were good to go to sleep when Robby texted me that he was outside our gate. Haha. We chatted till past 3 AM, over Cheetos and Minute Maid, and he ended up sleeping over.

I love love love love love Robby. He started the whole ‘mom’ business about me. He was the first to call me ‘mom’, and pretty soon even Robert and Eycee and their battalion of friends were calling me ‘mom’. He asks for my help in unusual situations (like to get him a Bohol flight for the following morning). He calls me and we talk a long time about work and relationships and life. He gives me his Tita’s yummy chocolate cake (it was featured in Foodie as one of the best in the city), on Mothers’ Day or for no occasion at all. He sends the boys the special buko pie with cheese. He let us watch the pyrolympics show from the rooftop of his condo even when he wasn’t there. He listens to me rant for hours and hours. He never fails to text me that he misses me. (And he says he doesn’t even do that to his biological mom. Oww. He’s so sweet.)

He’s such a character, too. He dressed up as Superman with the red briefs in Bootsie’s Superheroes party, and as the sexy Pole Vaulting Zombie in Yoshi’s PVZ party. He once totally ruined his pants while doing the split in the office. He used to take our Tumbling Towers games so seriously. He would sweat it out and concentrate for minutes on end and then do this crazy jiggle when he succeeds. He told us hilarious stories about the Army, and the lola, and the neighbors. He sleeps anywhere and anytime.

People always said he looked like Clark Kent with his prominent cheekbones and thick-rimmed glasses. And then came Robert Fischer in Inception. That’s him – Robby himself up on the big screen.

I walk away from our talks always with something new and substantial to ponder. He told me about the woman who became too heavy a burden to carry. This particular night, he told me about how some people are so desperate that it’s like having a gaping hole within them, and they just accept whoever shows them any love at all, no matter how imperfect or abusive. It’s so true and profound and heartbreaking.

He also told me that he’s not supposed to drink anymore. And I was like, omg, does this mean no more Ricky and his mobile bar?

His cousin has this mobile bar business where they bring drinks to your party, set up a bar complete with lights and sounds, and Ricky the glorious bartender serves you all the yummy shooters you can take (or more). Robby had this at his birthday party, and we all got piss drunk (or at least I did), and I woke up with this fantastic hang-over that lasted till night. (And we had dinner out too with my in-laws that night, complete with cousins and aunts and everyone, as Ryan was visiting from Singapore. Groan. But I think you need to have a hang-over like that at least once in your life, just to know how it feels to be truly wasted and devoid of any use in the world.) That was hands down The Best Party of The Year.

I tell Robby, I’m all for good influence and changing for the better, but if you mean no more Ricky or mobile bar, then that’s it. That’s officially the end of our friendship. (Hahaha.)

KL Lah












So there I was on my way to KL … alone … again. Rosa was excited for me, but somehow I couldn’t get into it, bcoz (1) Bootsie had tonsilitis and mysterious rashes and literally clung on to me when I left for the airport, (2) Yoshi was having his quarterly exams, and (3) Ate was coming home the day after I left. I’m grateful to the office tho for sending me abroad on this training, something they offered to me barely two months after I joined.

1. The Most Turbulent Flight Ever. I‘ve had my share of turbulent flights, but this one takes the cake. It was the one time where everyone in the plane was deathly quiet, and you can almost hear people praying. This was the height of Typhoon Megi, and the darkness outside the window was frequently illuminated by lightning. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

2. Nazi. The immigration lines took forever. The woman behind the counter was some Nazi type who lengthily scrutinized everyone’s passport and head to foot with this grand smirk on her face like no one could ever pass her oh so high entry standards. I was tempted to snap at her, if you don’t want me in your country, fine, I’ll live, it’s not the end of my world. Duh. That woman singlehandedly botched all those ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ tourism efforts.

3. The rape. Part of why I couldn’t get out of the airport fast enough (in addition to the fact that it was already past 1 AM) was that my transfer voucher stated that my driver was going to wait for me only for 1 ½ hours from touchdown. (It took Nazi girl almost that long to let me in. Grrr.) I stressed over missing my ride bcoz it was the dead of night (dawn, really), and I knew that the travel to Marriott was long and dark and scary and, not to mention, I already paid almost P3k for that ride. (Thina initially forgot to arrange it for me, and I told her it would be on her conscience if I get raped from the airport. What she didn’t forget was to get me the hotel breakfast buffets. She so knows my priorities. Haha.)

4. Marriott. I thought this was the hotel I stayed in before, but that turned out to be Renaissance. I liked Renaissance bcoz of all the salmon in the buffet, and it was walking distance from the Petronas towers (so I could go see it every night), and they had The Plushest Pillows Ever. Marriott, on the other hand, had Zeini the bellhop, who looked small enough to be a hobbit, and called me Jewel and chatted with me till my last night. (I hate it when they say “Ma’am” or “Madam” and go all subservient on you. Hello. Last time I checked, the feudal age is so over). Marriott had bath salts and crispy seaweed stuff that came with the water bottles and free Internet and orchids all over. They let me stay in the spa with the sauna and jacuzzi and sleeping lounge while waiting for my late night airport transfer. It was near the monorail, too, which I used to get around.

5. The training. Was by far one of the most useful I’ve had. Mainly bcoz I listened this time. (Haha. This new office is such a good influence on me, I swear.) There were only six of us (including the general counsel of Proton – how cool is that?) and I was the only non-Malaysian in the group, so they were all extra nice to me and sort of adopted me and helped me find my way around. (I’ve always found Malaysians very warm, anyway. Not like in HK or China where people seem too harried to care.) Our trainer was an Indian of Iranian descent who lawyers in Singapore. He was brilliant and organized and warm and funny, too. He dissed lawyers at every opportunity (all seven of us in the room were lawyers haha), how we use phony words like ‘inure’ and have this penchant for dropping Latin stuff like ‘mutatis mutandis’ or ‘motu propio’ that nobody else understands. He admitted to hoarding the brownies from the snack bar tho (grrr) and liked to call on me for My Insights from a Philippine Law Perspective. Groan. (I told Anji it was good there was no other lawyer there from the Philippines, so at least nobody could contest the legal stuff I was mostly making up. Haha.)

6. A thing of beauty and a joy forever. The Petronas Towers is the first building I’ve ever loved. It’s breathtaking enough in broad daylight, but at night, all lit up against the moon and the dark sky – it leaves me speechless and just makes me wanna cry. It’s too beautiful. (I think the first time I was in KL I described it as a shimmering spaceship all ready to take off.) While I was taking pictures of it, these oh so serious black suit types came out of a coaster, caught sight of the building, whipped out their celphones, and clicked away. I took pictures of them taking pictures, and this lady came up to me and said, ‘Nice shot!’ Haha.

7. Patrick The Red Dog. Shopping-wise, KL is not as exciting as HK or Bangkok. I went to Central Market, Suria, Pavilion (right across Marriott), and Berjaya. Marriott was also connected to Starhill, which my classmates urged me to see as it was one of the premiere malls in KL. I went in one floor, and got crazy acrophobic just looking at the glass elevator and steep escalators, so I went back to my room and chatted with Yoshi instead.

It was my first time to go to Berjaya. It was crazy. It was ten floors with about 60 million shops of a mix of the usual foreign brands as well as quaint Malaysian ones. It was here that I found Hello Kitty stuff for me and Ate and Babette. (I also got me a Kitty bag from Suria ) For the boys I bought a Divo book and Upin and Patrick pillows. Divo and Upin and Ipin are the boys’ favorites from Playhouse Disney. So who’s Patrick? Beats me. I thought he was Clifford the Red Dog. The boys have Clifford books and a Clifford tent/doghouse from sina Tita Dendee last Christmas. So they know Clifford. But not Patrick. Groan.

8. Yummies. Of course, a blog by me would not be complete without a discourse on the food. The breakfast buffets were extensive and lived up to expectations. I stuffed myself with the cheese in the various lasagnas, the salmon canap├ęs, the miso soup where I could put all the tofu and black seaweed I wanted. I also loved the pink and green guava shakes. (We have guavas all over the Philippines. Why don’t we ever think of these things?) For the group lunches, we had Chinese on the first day, and Thai on the second. Both good. My favorites were the dimsum platter and the crispy garrupa. They also fed us heavy morning and afternoon snacks. Yummies.

9. Flings. From the monorail I couldn’t find the train station that would take me to Central Market. I asked two construction worker types (they were the only ones on the road) but apparently they didn’t speak English. And then this Indian guy zooms in from out of nowhere in a motorcycle and offers to drive me to Central Market. Uh, no thanks. He goes, ‘Why not? You’re in jeans. You’re from Manila? You’re very pretty’. Ugh. Another Indian points me to the ticket station at the monorail, and just like that, he thinks this gives him the license to follow me around and be my friend. I tell Ches these and he says, ‘Maganda ka pala sa ibang culture e’. Haha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Closer Look at the Top





(Jon and I were talking the other day and I greeted him in advance coz I was going to be in KL on his birthday and wanted to save on roaming charges. Haha. And then I got a better idea: this. The bosses asked me to write this for the QT newsletter right after he topped the Bar in May 2001. Since it was going to be read by all the lawyers and everyone in the firm, it is quite the sanitized version of the real Jon. Hahaha.

It doesn't talk about Jon The Blooper Guy, who forgets his shoes or belt or barong at home 2 out of 5 days in a week. Or about The Jon Z. Rhythm Method Extended Version (hence, May is now 14. Haha.). Or about Jon The Resident Hottie Wherever He Goes (and early on it was my job to tell all the girls to get their hands off him). Or Jon the lucky husband of Malen, who is one of the coolest wives/girlfriends I know. [She does stuff like text me from out of the blue that she has found an old pix of me and Jon, and defend Jon when I'm dissing him behind his back, and invite me to a surprise party for him even if I'm abroad.] Or Jon The Jetsetter, who vacations abroad every month with his family [and my unsolicited legal advice to him was that he is so estopped from suing Cebu Pac ever haha]. Or, for that matter, Jon who stole Labor practice group from me right under my nose. Hahaha. (That last bit is purely for Rhoel's enjoyment.)

It also doesn't talk about Best Friend Jon, and everything we've been thru from Pol Sci to UP Law to CVC to QT to Puerto Galera to Bora (and Ho Chi Minh next year, I hope). Jon cut short his Bora office junket to be the veil sponsor at my wedding. He arranged for the carillon to play my and Ches' favorite love songs as we stepped out of the UP Chapel on our wedding day. He picked me up from home and drove me (and Donemark) all the way to Taal Vista for an office planning. He is never too busy when I need to talk to him.

Suffice it to say that I don't push thru with a house renovation or a career move or do any other major thing in my life unless I get Jon's go-signal. This is how immensely I respect him. And Malen, too, for all these reasons maybe Jon himself does not realize. Happy birthday, Jon! We love you and Malen and the kids.)


As I write this, I realize I’ve known Jon for almost a decade. He was my blockmate in Pol. Sci. Like any typical UP Pol Sci major, he would often be late for class (if he bothered to show up at all). He has always been so unassuming and so quiet that we girls had to nag him for hours before we even found out the first thing about his love life. Back then, he was better known for his good looks than for his sharp intellect. Not a few hearts broke when he got hitched in fourth year.

Can you believe this bar topnotcher almost did not make it to law school? He passed the LAE and all that, but I remember around April before we graduated from Pol Sci he was telling me he still hasn’t written one word for his thesis and he still hasn’t completed his ROTC units. It was a surprise he made it to our first day in law school, where we were blockmates again.

I think people started looking up to Jon as some sort of intellectual giant in Prof. Muyot’s Crim II class. There would be mornings when half the block would already be standing and still nobody could come up with any sensible recitation, unit Prof. Muyot calls on Mr. Zuniga to give the right answers. Through our years in law school, many more of our teachers will single Jon out for the sheer brilliance behind those infamous sleepy eyes. There were Profs. Balane, Concepcion, Catindig, Gatmaytan, Carlota.

We his classmates were even more in awe of him because we knew how, unlike the rest of us who could spend our time any way we chose, he had a wife and daughter to take care of. I personally knew how he had a hard time looking for a place near UP where he could stay with his family because most of the dorms were for singles only, and how he would sometimes shuttle back and forth to Bulacan even on weekdays just to be with them. I remember once he borrowed my Negotiable Instruments book because his daughter May played with his book and somehow the flap was loosened and the pages were ripped. And then there were the endlesss teasings he got for making his wife Malen write his case digests for our digest pool.

We apprenticed in Carpio Villaraza and Cruz together. We joined Quisumbing Torres together. And through all these years that Jon has been my friend, I’ve known him to be not only very smart but also a hands-down good guy. He’s ever so helpful to friends who can’t grasp the law as easily as he does. He’s such a sweet husband and father. He told me how once he hurried home because there was a full moon and he wanted to be with Malen. (Such a romantic!) And then there was the time our block went to Tagaytay and we had to search the market for turrones de casuy because it’s what May wanted for pasalubong. He is also quite involved with social and political issues. In fact, he was always the first to goad us into leaving the office early so we could all join EDSA II.

That Wednesday when we found out the bar results will come out within the day, all of us batchmates were together as usual in Mailyn’s and Rhoel’s room, driving each other crazy with doom scenarios and our own neurotic ways of coping. Rhoel and I waited for Jon to finish his work before heading off to the chapel in Greenbelt.

Before 9 that night, Rhoel called me to say we passed and Jon topped, as in No. 1. I called Jon right away but he wouldn’t believe me. I called him again when I was in front of the list in the Supreme Court. I think he believed me then. When I got home he was on phone patch with Mel Tiangco. It was surreal.

People ask me if Jon has changed since topping in the Bar. I tell them not yet, but maybe when he becomes a Supreme Court justice...

But I really don’t think he will. Not even then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happiness



Rosa is our new lawyer in the office. She was referred to me by Gigay, with whom she worked in the Court of Appeals, and I readily endorsed her to my boss bcoz she was a magna cum laude from UP and a member of this Catholic community where most of the people in the office also belong to.

I thought she was going to be one of those goodie-goodie types and that would've been perfectly fine. But then it turns out she is so much more than just that, and that's even better.

She blogs - about mushy stuff (and I told her, no wonder you and Gay got along. hahaha), her love for Henry Sy and all things SM, her travels, her favorite foods, grammar tips,etc. (Which are the stuff my blog is made of, too, except for the loving SM part. Haha.) She's one of those girls who are just brimming with life and with brilliant and crazy ideas, the kind you can talk to all day bcoz they never run out of interesting things to say and you learn so many new things from them. I'm lucky that I have all these girls in my life who fall in this category – my high school friends, Gay, Paula, Babette, Eycee, my friends in SM, the mommies in my QT gang. This is my favorite kind of all. (And conversely, my most hated are those trophy girlfriend/wife types, whose flawless faces can never quite make up for their dull, unimaginative small talk – that is, if they even talk. I know a lot of girls like this, and I tell my guy friends to ditch the face value and go for someone they would enjoy chatting with for the rest of their lives. I do realize that who they go out with is none of my business. Haha.)

(Which is not to say that Rosa is not a trophy. She's actually very pretty. And glamorous everyday. I'd be banging on her door if I were a single guy. Hahaha.)

She wants a boyfriend na kumukutitap. She emails me pix of the yummy lawyers we work with, with subjects like 'for inspiration' and 'mukha pa lang ulam na'. She's also crushing on MIB. (It's fine; I'm not selfish. We can share.) I tell her all the things about him that make me fall in love with him everyday, and we swoon together. (Hahaha. Hello, Ches! Hello, Robert! [who has permanently branded me to be a ‘pathological flirt’])

She loves John Lloyd and Bea and has lent me her One More Chance CD. Like me, she also gets sad when the cover of a book is replaced with a pix of the movie it was made into. And she’s feisty, too, true to her UP upbringing. (Woohoo! UP girls rule!) She doesn’t look a day out of college, even more when she does this jiggle/dance thing that she’s always doing with her shoulders. Hahaha.

She works so fast that I don't even bother to give her deadlines – she completes everything I need from her within the day. She sends me oh-so-formal work-related emails, for me to review her draft or something, and then she ends it all up with 'Yoshi's and Bootsie's biggest fan, Rosa'. (She fell in love with them at first sight.)

Last week, I praised her for a job well done and she gushed that I was 'such a perfect boss' and that she has 'never been so affirmed'. That made my week.

That, plus her advanced birthday gift to me. It's a pair of shoes with a red buckle and black and white zebra prints. She ordered it from the US but it was a little bit small for her. She thought it was going to fit me (since I had just given Anji a pair of about the same size) and I was going to like it in light of my Imelda reputation in the office. Anji and Thina saw it before I did and they just knew I was going to love it.

How could I not? It's perfect in every way. It's funky and high and sexy and the earliest birthday gift I got this year. And Bootsie's favorite animal is the zebra.

Happiness =)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stage Mommy





Yoshi’s UN program was scheduled on a Friday this year. I asked him why when it has always been held on a Saturday in the three years he’s been in school, and also demanded to know how the school expects working parents to be able to watch. He explained that it was the last day of sina Teacher Bianca. And I was like, who is Teacher Bianca and why is she more important than me? And he says, hello, she’s been my student teacher since June. And I say, hello, I’ve been your mommy since your day one in my tummy. Seven years and 11 months, to be exact. Duh.

Ches is outrightly excused bcoz he works all the way in Pasay. I am expected to go bcoz my office is only a few minutes away. I break it to him gently that I probably won’t be able to go bcoz it’s my last full day in the office before I leave for a week-long trip in KL. It’s been another toxic week in the office too with back-to-back meetings and 60 million contracts and my boss leaving for a long vacation.

Yoshi takes it in stride but I know he’s disappointed. Ches and I have perfect attendance on his school activities. We even went to this Foundation Day event that Ondoy Saturday. He’s also excited this time to play Diego and has been memorizing his lines in the Dora play as well as the steps to their Macarena and Choopeta (?) dance numbers. (Uh, connection of Dora the Explorer and two silly dances to the United Nations=beyond my powers to comprehend.)

And then at the appointed hour I can’t do it. I can’t bear not to go. I figured I could just stay up late or work over the weekend to tie up loose ends at work. I always remember what Mon used to say: the work will always be there; your family won’t. It’s not like my work is a matter of life and death, anyway (hence, I don’t litigate). Yoshi’s Grade 1 UN program, on the other hand, will happen only once. Whaddahell, I gave up Beijing for Bootsie; I could definitely give up a few lousy office hours for Yoshi.

The look on his face alone was worth it. He’s always been a very gracious, grateful child, to begin with - effusively thanking me or Ches for every little thing we do or give him. When he saw me his whole face lit up and he got teary-eyed and gave me a tight hug. (I know I made his little day, and I hope he brings this good feeling with him for a long time yet. That’s my ultimate motherhood goal – to keep planting seeds of love and joy in their little hearts, to build up enough of a reserve that they can withdraw from when they’re older and they get sad and I’m not around to mommy them.)

His classmates were all over me. I took pictures and then someone asked if he could try my camera too and then all the rest begged and nagged until I had no choice but to let each of them have his turn shooting away. I had a mental image of Thom shaking his head and reminding me how much I had to cough up for my Lumix (not to mention how he had to go all the way to Hidalgo to get me a pink one). But I’ve always loved kids and I was also vying for The Most Popular Mommy of the Day, so I just let them have their fun. (Don't worry, Thom. They didn't drop it or anything =)

It turns out I didn’t have to try so hard bcoz I was The Only Mommy in Grade 1. Only a few parents turned up – about 5 or so – and all the rest seemed to have kids in the upper levels bcoz they were hardly interested in the Grade 1 presentation. Yoshi was great with his lines and dance steps. It was rightlyTrinity (who played Dora) tho who was the star of the show. (How cool is ‘Trinity’, anyway? If I had a name like that, I’d go and introduce myself to every single person I meet on the street, I swear.)

The whole number was a laugh out loud riot the way only a Grade 1 production can be. Ches asks when we watch the video I took: That’s it? That’s the number? Parang rehearsal lang, ha. Hahaha. That’s how magulo it was.

But never mind. I was present and Yoshi was happy. That’s what matters.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Best in Smile




(For Pam, who always has something nice to say; Thom and Regina, my constant competitors for this award; and Babette and Rosa, who have two of the best smiles I've seen)

Pam’s twin sister got married recently. Pam was telling me how her sister was adjusting to married life, how she has her hands full with household chores that she never had to think of before when she was still single and living with her family, and how she can’t imagine how much more toxic it will be once they have kids. And Pam marvels at how I’ve managed to be a full-time mom, wife, and lawyer all in one.

It can get quite daunting, overwhelming and all a little bit too much, to be honest. In the morning, I get ready for work, and I try to recall my meetings for the day and my pending work, and at the same time I have to make sure before I leave the house that all of Yoshi’s books and stuff are in his bag, and he has something for baon, and Bootsie still has milk and food, and there’s enough food in the ref and pantry for their lunch and our dinner, and there are no electricity/water/phone/ cable/credit card bills lying around unpaid and overdue, and my helpers are ok and still happy with us, and our contingency fund for mineral water and LPG and whatever else is sufficient, and no part of the house is in danger of falling apart and no appliance is about to explode or something.

All these and it’s not even 8 AM.

Everyday I have to deal with three separate to-do lists: one for the office, one for home, and one for myself. Sometimes I manage to multi-task and am able to, say, schedule a dental appointment for the boys while taking a break from work, or go see my derma on my lunch break. Or, while waiting for Ches to pick me up from the office, I could download something for Yoshi’s homework, or grab some me time and start a blog or window shop online.

And that’s just on normal days when I don’t have an on-going mommy project. Like Yoshi’s PvZ party. Or my never-ending project with Randy for the curtains and couch covers and tablecloths for the house. Or our upcoming full production number Halloween trip to Singapore. In which case, my to-do lists start to look virtually insurmountable that sometimes I just crumple them up and sit back with my Maltesers. To hell with all these other needy people. (Haha.)

I think it’s important to know your priorities. Work does not hold the top spot in my list, so I don’t care if my inbox has ballooned to unimaginable proportions with work-related email – I am out of the office by 7 at the latest (finished or not finished is my work motto). And while I enjoy fixing the boys’ pictures or organizing all our closets or cleaning up every nook of our house with my own bare hands, these can always be pushed back coz it’s a lot more urgent to tutor Yosh or dance with Bootsie or cuddle with Ches or spend some time with a friend who’s going thru a bad day/week/month/year.

It also helps to know when to delegate. Like everyone else, I harbor the delusion that I'm superwoman, that I can be a loving wife/stage mommy/loyal friend/model employee/cool little lady all rolled into one, all at the same time (and in high heels, to boot). So one night, before an early morning all-important meeting with the big bosses in the office, I stayed up till the wee hours covering all of Yoshi's 60 million schoolbooks. By the time I realized I could've asked the Ates to do this instead, that Yoshi wasn't likely to grow up to be a psycho killer or something just bcoz I wasn't a hands-on enough mom to cover his books, it was too late – the Ates had long gone to sleep. Groan.

Anyways, if setting priorities and delegating and all else fail – there's always Best in Smile.

The Best in Smile Awards came to being when Thom and Regina joined this group of corporate governance officers who met monthly to discuss all the latest CG issues. Regina felt shy to speak up in the company of senior citizen/compliance officer types with their dizzying titles and lofty ideas. And I would tell him he can always compete with Thom for the Most Quiet Participant Award. Or Best in Smile.

After a while I saw the beauty of Best in Smile and have embraced it as a way of life. Like when I'm in a meeting with the CEO and the presidents of the various subs and they're talking hardcore pharma stuff like oncology and enantiomer and racemic mixture, all Greek words I just don't have the friggin time to Google up, and all I can contribute is a properly timed nod here and there, plus my best smile. So when Ches asks how my meeting went, I tell him, well, I was Best in Smile.

Or when I stay up way past midnight color-coding my clothes in the closet or taking pictures of my shoes or some other equally meaningful project like that, something really worth losing sleep over, and as a result I'm almost late the following day for an office activity that I'm supposed to be one of those in charge of. There's another Best in Smile moment.

Or when we go to Tarlac for a grand family reunion with my in-laws and we realize at NLEX that we forgot Bootsie's Crocs or any decent pair of footwear for him and all he has is his hand-me-down-from-kuya, SM-cheap Power Rangers slippers, and I feel everyone somehow blames me bcoz I'm the mommy and supposed to be in charge of these things. So then I just try to light up the whole car with my Best in Smile.

Or when Babette and I meet at Cibo and she pays bcoz it turns out it was her (nth) 25th birthday a few days before, and this totally escapes my mind even if we text each other like everyday and she even calls me a day after her big day. So I don't have a gift for her or even a valid excuse for forgetting – all I can offer her are my stupid Noli de Castro jokes and a glimpse of my Hello Kitty jewelries. And the whole time I feel guilty bcoz I'm a horrible friend but it's too late and all I can be is be Best in Smile.

It's the perfect solution to my toxic woes. It's ever ready when I need it and does not cost a thing. So on those days when I have 60 million things to remember and I end up forgetting my superwoman crown, cape and scepter at home, then I just give up fighting for The Best and The Brightest, or even Little Miss Organized. I just vie for Best in Smile.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

All For Melona



(For Thom and Joy, who introduced me and the boys to the joys of Melona)

So there I was, chatting with Rosa in the canteen at lunch time. Ron comes back to the table with an ice cream stick, and Rosa and I both get envious and get some for ourselves from the freezer in the corner. She gets a Pinipig Crunch. And me I find a box of Melonas (it's a bestselling ice cream from Korea). I think to myself, ok, now Pascual is officially perfect. They even have Melonas in the canteen.

So I get to my Melona right away, lick it and bite it on my way to the cashier to pay for it. I ask Ate Tina how much it is and she stares at me long and hard. And then all the rest of the canteen crew stop whatever it is they were doing and grow eerily quiet. I knew then that I've done something wrong. Again.

Ate Tina recovers and tells me she doesn't know how much it costs bcoz it wasn't for sale. It was their boss's – she bought it for her kids and just put it in the canteen freezer before she goes home. So she has to ask her boss first how much I have to pay.

Anji says the boss is masungit and strict with the staff. Which explains why everyone got this scared little puppy look in their faces when they saw me eating the Melona away. Ches teases me, lagot ka, sisante na lahat yun, bukas iba na staff sa canteen. And I tell him it's not my fault that snooty boss left her Melona box lying around in the freezer with all the other Selecta stuff for sale. Ches asks, was the box open? Well, no, but there was no sign or anything that it was private property and not for sale. And Ches says, the box was closed, you should've asked. (I hate it when he gets all sensible with me like that. Grrr.)

I go back to Ate Tina the following day (relieved that she was still around) and ask her how much I have to pay for the friggin Melona (in my utter guilt I almost offer to pay her my entire salary for the month). She smiles tentatively and says: Libre na lang daw po sabi ni Boss. Sinabihan lang po kame na next time siguraduhin i-seal namin ng mabuti yung mga Melona para hindi na kainin ng iba.

Groan. So this is how it feels to be a dead hungry (patay-gutom), hit soil (hampas-lupa) thief.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Tiffany


My favorite tita-in-law came home for the passing-the-Board-exams blow-out of Jaja and Portia. She lives in Shanghai with her husband and son, and comes to visit once a year, except that this year they went to Europe instead. Their house is in Singapore, but they’ve lived everywhere from the US to Beijing. She has an MA from UP (Ches and my teachers in Pol Sci were her classmates in MA school) but she just stays home to take care of Jonathan. That is, if they’re not traveling. How cool is that?

She and her husband were two of our wedding godparents. She has been so nice to me since day one. She would talk to me about marriage, motherhood, my job, or whatever, like she really cared. We would regularly email each other (whichever part of the world she’s in and whichever company I’m in – haha). She would even tell me juicy secrets about her clan, as tho she liked me more than them. Haha. This is part of the perks of being married to Ches – he’s the favorite son and apo and nephew and cousin and everything of everybody, and all their love for him automatically rubbed off on me and our kids.

She’s one of those older women that I just know, if she were younger, we would so get along bcoz she has a lot of things to say about everything and is not the type to cower if she has something to say, never mind if it’s not entirely popular. This is the kind of person I consistently strive to be.

She’s always giving us cool stuff, too. She got me a Dior lipstick in this burnt sienna shade that goes so well with the mean girl aura that I am forever trying to exude. She got the boys these super soft pairs of leather shoes in red and blue and white, from this store in Shanghai that specializes in baby shoes. This time, she got Yoshi this wooden toy (a lion in a cage, and you have to figure out how to get the lion out) that Jonathan found in a store in the Czech Republic and that he thought Yoshi might like. And me? Well, she got me only a Tiffany silver pen. (I checked the website and its complete name is 'Tiffany T-Clip retractable ballpoint pen in sterling silver'. Or something like that. Haha. Nosebleeds.) I know it’s my gift for helping her buy her Grass condo from SM last year.

My relatives from the US are always giving me these obscenely priced pens like Cross and stuff. They probably figure a lawyer needs to have no less than a branded pen to sign oh so important legal documents. What they don’t know is that I’m forever happier with Pilot V5, and the funkier the color – like green or purple – the better. Buying pens in the range of $200 upwards, a lot of moolah that you can very well spend on two or so pairs of funky shoes on sale, or an armload of dainty stuff from Kamiseta, pens that you use only to sign boring affidavits or deeds of sale or whatever - the whole point of it eludes me. So the luxury pens I always ended up giving to Ches.

But somehow this Tiffany pen is different.

Maybe it’s the iconic blue wrapper. Maybe it’s Audrey Hepburn. Maybe I just really love this tita. Or maybe all of the above.

Whatever.

This pen is a keeper.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Success List


Another thing my new office is big on is training. In the four months I've been here I can remember attending at least two external trainings, a laughter yoga session, and a five-day intensive workshop on personality and communication and same such stuff.

One activity in the workshop involved listing down all your successes. It didn't have to be anything big – anything at all that made someone else happy, every little thing you did that made you feel like you accomplished something, this can count as a success. The goal was to reach 100, and the point being we should all feel successful in our own ways. One VP asked, so if I cook adobo for my family for lunch, and I cook menudo for dinner, can I count them as two successes? And I was like, not fair, I don't cook.

I didn't get to 100. In the 30 minutes or so that we were given for the exercise, I got as far as 30 plus, I think. But I was happy with my little list. I made it as creative as I could. I did away with boring stuff like passing the Bar or making it to the Order of the Purple Feather and other snootiness, and instead listed down stuff that really made me proud and happy, never mind how shallow or quirky.

My success list:

1. I'm a champion tree climber. Mango, guava, santol, aratiles, caimito, duhat, pomelo, chico, atis – name all the trees in my grandparents' backyard. I've climbed them all. (This was a long time ago, tho, when I was just a little girl who couldn't even spell acrophobia.)

2. I taught myself how to do French braids from playing with my Barbie dolls. It's still one of my favorite things to do to this date. I bribe Vada with food and money so she will sit still and let me braid her hair.

3. I still have my stationery collection from grade school.

4. I still have my Sweet Dreams collection from high school.

5. I was able to take care of my Lolo in his old age. I fixed his food and bath, got him his meds and newspaper, pushed his wheelchair and cut his nails, stayed with him in the hospital, listened to his stories. Not even close to repaying him for being my number one source of love in my childhood.

6. I topped a Biology exam in high school =)

7. I got no lower than 1.5 in my four Espanol classes =)

8. I was Miss APSM 1994! (It was a stupid popularity contest thing in the org where people buy tickets to vote for you and the proceeds go to some worthless org activity like tambay night or something. Really noble. Hahaha.)

9. Gay, Katryn and I won first place in this trivia quiz show on women sponsored by a sorority. I remember contributing answers like Segunda Katigbak and Maureen McGovern. Our winnings were Avon products like cologne, make-up and – this is the grandest prize of all – a girdle. (Hahaha.)

10. I wrote for the college newsletter and my friends said nice things about my columns and stories and I received an honorarium, to boot. (Oh, to be paid for doing something you really like.)

11. I showed up for my LAE interview in jeans, and passed anyway.

12. I lasted 5 years in a cutthroat, high-maintenance law firm, and had great fun and made good friends too while I was at it.

13. Most brides use Canon in D or Air on a G String – but I got away with Forrest Gump's The Feather Theme as the march for our wedding entourage.

14. And while we're at it, we got to play all of Ches' and my favorite songs at our wedding – Here, There and Everywhere, Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka, Love Is All That Matters, Umagang Kay Ganda, Always A Woman To Me. And with violins too. (Thank you, Rommel and Monch!)

15. I married my best friend. (Uh-oh, here goes the mushy part again ...)

16. Obviously, I'm still so in love with my husband, 18 years since I first met him. (He has given me no reason to doubt that he feels the same.)

17. I gave birth via Lamaze twice. That's a grand total of 24 hours of back-breaking, mind-numbing labor pains with no anesthesia, no painkillers – nothing but Ches' hand to hold on to.

18. I breastfed my two boys for a grand total of 3.5 years.

19. My two boys. Res ipsa loquitor.

20. Our little country home. It's nothing grand, nothing spectacular – but it's us. We love it.

21. I travelled to and from Cebu for about 20 times while I was pregnant with Bootsie without once throwing up in the plane (or on myself, for that matter).

22. I was part of the team that won the grand prize in this silly dance contest at one MWC Christmas party. We did MC Hammer and Macarena and hip hop and it was crazy and oh so serious and fun. You need a (stupid, meaningless) win like that after a heartbreaking loss in the Maynilad bid.

23. I'm still friends with my favorite bosses. They hug and kiss me when we come across each other, and when I ask them favors (like to have them as reference in my CV), they reply within a minute.

24. I'm still friends with all my secretaries and assistants – Marj, Kathleen, Ate Ann, Lani.

25. I take pride in being able to keep in touch with all my old friends (from St. Mary's, UP, QT, MWC, SM). My friends are always in my to-do list. I write stuff like, email Kaye or Didoy, call Phoebe or Jon, text Kai or Gay or Randy , meet up with Babette and Regie or Thom and Paula, get something for Beavis or Robby, etc.

26. I take greater pride in being there for my friends when they need me. When someone has marital or family or health dramas or whatever, I’m there.

27. I'm the proud boss of Ate Ann and Ate Rhea, the boys' nannies. Ann has been with us for more than five years, Rhea two. I cried when Ann came back to us from her vacation in Iloilo. She came back! She loves us (or at least, my boys).

28. I'm the proud (shallow, materialistic) owner of five Hello Kitty watches, one for every day of the work week. (So what? There's no law or HR rule against it. Duh.)

29. I know 80% of the lines in Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Evita. (I used to know 100%, but old age fails me.)

30. I can recite e.e. cummings, Neruda, Auden, Whitman, etc. from memory.

31. Yoshi says I’m a good teacher =) (I tutor him in English, Filipino, Science, CL, sometimes Computer. Ches handles the nosebleed subjects like Math, Geometry, and Geography. I love it that Yoshi always ends up with higher scores in our subjects. Hahaha.)

32. I have painstakingly organized all of my kids’ pictures since birth. And I don’t mean just putting them in folders in Ches’ laptop or USB. I print them out and put them in albums and label them with the date or occasion and venue and fix them up with stickers and stuff. I made serious scrapbooks of their first years, as well as our Palawan and Ilocos trips. This is a costly and time-consuming hobby, but I proudly wear it as part of my prestigious albeit invisible motherhood badge.

33. I personally fixed all my closets and cabinets in the house. So when I need a particular bed sheet or towel or plate, I know exactly where to find it.

34. I am surprisingly able to find my away around when I travel alone in foreign places like Bangkok, HK, KL, etc. (Yes, despite my utter ditziness ...)

35. Ches and I survived -8 degrees in Beijing!

36. No matter how busy (or lazy) our weekends are, we seldom miss dinner with my parents on Saturdays, and with my in-laws on Sundays.

37. I’m friends with my in-laws =) (I consider this a success bcoz I know a lot of people who aren’t.)

38. I’ve walked away from two high-paying, high-profile jobs to be closer to home and have more time for my family.

39. I still fit into my college clothes =)