Archive for May, 2005

Good performances

It had been a very busy month – with the boys’ basketball practice two nights a week and games every Saturday. And then there was Reggie’s music stuff as well – band audition, Spring concert, recital and Flute Festival. Most of the time, the kids’ have conflicting schedules. R and I took turns in accompanying them to their activities. There were times when each of the boys wanted me instead of their dad. If I could only be at two places at once, I’d try to be there at all of their activities. (Ooops, be careful what you wish for nga pala.)

Sometimes I just felt so tired and worn out by the end of the week. But when I remember what Ryland’s Mother’s Day card said, “Thank you Mommy for coming to my basketball games,” that was enough to re-invigorate me.

I was a proud momma on Saturday. Each of my three kids did great…

On Game 8, Ryan shone in the court again. During the second half, he made a basket from a spot outside the free-throw line. We all cheered him. His teammate, Jordan, who was a lot bigger than him, was so happy that he (Jordan) picked up and carried Ryan. But the points didn’t count. Ryan shot the ball after the bell rang for the substitutes. That was too bad. But it didn’t matter. We won’t forget Ryan’s shining moment.

Ryland is getting more confident in playing basketball. At two times during Game 8, he got hold of the ball and I shouted from the bench, “Shoot it, Ryland.” He tried, but missed the basket on both times. That was a big improvement, though.

Reggie’s flute instructor, Lori, wrapped up her classes with a recital. Reggie played a Jazz piece that he improvised, titled, “A Night in Tunisia.” Lori was all praises for him. After the recital, the dad of one of the students came up to Reggie and said the he was impressed with Reggie’s performance, and more so when he learned that Reggie improvised his piece. He is really talented.


May 31, 2005 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

Memories of May

May brings back many memories of my childhood and Noveleta, the town in Cavite where I grew up.

One of my fondest memories of Noveleta is the fiesta, which was held every May 3. I loved going to the perya with my best pal, Olive. We rode on the ferris wheel, ate snow cones, and watched the lighting of the fireworks. And how can I forget the karakol. People carried the saints’ statues, the band played lively tunes and people danced in the streets. The throng would go around town, dancing under the hot summer sun, each and everyone wearing wide-brimmed sombreros. We would be dancing and walking in the dusty streets and by the time the karakol ended, my feet would be muddy from sweat and dust. I’ve always had sweaty palms and feet. When I got home, I’d wash my feet right away and the elders would scold me, “mapapasma ka.”

Also held in May is the Santacruzan, a depiction of the finding of Christ’s Cross by Queen Helena and Constantine. Pretty girls and ladies participated in the procession as sagalas. I was never asked to join the Santacruzan when I was in Noveleta. I wasn’t one of those pretty girls. But when I was around 8 or 9, I willingly traveled to Papa’s hometown, the very far Atimonan, Quezon, when I was asked to be the Dama de las Flores. Ate Cherry, my cousin, was also one of the sagalas. I don’t recall why my parents weren’t able to come with me. I went with my auntie and Ate Cherry.

It was memorable for me, not because it was my first time to be a sagala, but rather because of a fateful event that happened on the day we were to go back home. I went to the bathroom in the morning to take a shower. The bathroom was outside the house, sort of an outhouse. When I went in, I slipped on the wet floor and banged my head on the large cooking oil tin, which was used as a timba. I got a cut on my forehead and I bled profusely. I heard my aunt say, “Mabuti na lang at si Irene ang naaksidente at hindi ang anak ko.” I took it badly at that time. But I knew that she only meant that she would feel worse if it was her child who got hurt. It was so embarrassing that I had to wear a Band-aid on my forehead on the long trip back to Manila, and then to Cavite. I have worn bangs for 21 years to cover up that scar.

May is one of the summer vacation months in the Philippines. Sometimes, my cousins from Quezon Province would come to live with us in Noveleta for a few weeks. Other times, my cousins from Manila would also come. Since my birthday is in May, we usually went swimming at Lido Beach. Oh, those were carefree, happy times!

Even as I grew older, even after my parents separated and I moved away from Cavite, I was always surrounded either by family or friends on my birthdays. When Mama migrated to Canada, she would always send us a parcel around the time of my birthday and she always sent us special sotanghon (bean thread) to cook for my special day.

I don’t know why, but somehow, I stopped celebrating my birthdays when I left the Philippines, which was also around the time I started to have a family. I guess the tight schedules of work and family made it hard for me to find time to plan anything for myself. I never fail to plan parties for each of my kids’ birthdays, though. (Bakit ganoon, ano?) Oh sure, I’d cook pancit or spaghetti, or even buy a cake on my birthday. But that was it.

For many years, I expected my partner to do anything special for me. And when that didn’t happen, year after year, I started to resent it. So for the past couple of years, I would sulk on my birthday. I’d bring my kids along with me to watch a movie, just to get out of the house, get as far as possible from the person who makes me feel hurt. Until I realized that it just made me feel worse. I learned that it could be so depressing to wallow in resentment.

But sometimes Life presents us with surprises. Two weeks before my birthday, my partner came home with a present for me. I was taken aback. I choked back my tears. He has never given me any presents. And I have sometimes complained about it. I have accepted the fact that I may never receive anything from him and then it happened. I wondered if “two angels” have talked him into doing it. But hey, I’ll take it. This may be the one and only present that I’ll ever receive from him. And it’s not really the physical – the tangible – aspect of this present that’s important. It’s the thought that counts.

This year, I turned the big 4-0. I decided that I wouldn’t sulk this time. No way. I wanted to celebrate my birthday the way I celebrated it when I was still in the Philippines – surrounded by family and friends who care about me. And it included my old pal Olive, whom I was reunited with two years ago. We had a simple gathering at home. We ate lots of food, played games, and shared laughter. It has been my happiest birthday so far.

May 27, 2005 at 10:07 pm 6 comments

Fair chance

I am not athletic and I don’t really follow sports. So who would have thought that you’d find me playing basketball in our driveway . Yup, that’s what I was doing one Sunday afternoon – playing basketball with Ryan and Ryland. Ryan laughed at me because he thought that I looked funny dribbling and passing the ball. When I let the two play on their own, Ryland got a little frustrated since Ryan is more experienced than him.

On Ryland’s team, one player, Drageep, stands out from the rest. On one game, I noticed that when Ryland had the ball in his hand, he passed it to Drageep even though he was closer to the basket. When I asked him later why he did that, he said, “Oh, because Drageep is good.” So I told him, “You have to try to shoot the ball if you’re closer to the basket.”

Also, the two coaches in his team have always been reminding the players to pass the ball to everybody. Everybody should have a fair chance at shooting the ball. The kids were passing only to the good players.

After five games, Ryland has improved a lot. He has become better at shooting and guarding the ball. He always tries to keep open, but the coaches still have to remind the kids to “Pass the ball to Ryland.” At one point during Game 6, Ryland was passed the ball and instead of bringing it up, he immediately passed it back to another player. One mom said, “He didn’t want to have that ball, did he?” I shook my head. He still lacks the confidence.

Ryland is in the 7-8 year old coed group. Scores are not kept for this group. But the kids play very competitively. There are times when a player gets pushed and fall. The referee will then come and ask if he/she is hurt. (Parents are not allowed to approach the court unless they are called.) Usually, the player is okay and will stand on his/her own and will then get an applause from the parents. Parents also applaud the players, whether from their own team or the opposing team, whenever they make a basket. After all, it’s not really about competition. These kids are there to have fun. And I think they always do every single week.

May 19, 2005 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

Try your best

Ryan is really into basketball and I was surprised when he showed less enthusiasm than I expected on the night that I signed him up for the Spring League. I thought being placed in a team outside our community was the reason. Another one is practice once every week on a school night. I assured him that if we had to travel really far that we’d take the cab. This is one disadvantage of not having our own car. But hey, taking the cab is still a lot cheaper than buying and maintaining a vehicle.

The games were held at different schools all over the city. I was amazed that Ryan didn’t complain, the whiner that he is, when we had to travel for sometimes over an hour to get to his practice or game. Most of the time we took the bus. We had taken the cab only twice.

Ryan’s enthusiasm picked up when he put on that jersey on the first night of practice. There are nine players in his team. Only two have played in the league before. The rest, including him, are new. Ryan played right wing on the first few games. And on those first few games, they played against experienced teams.

Before their second game, Amanda, the team’s coach, warned them, “Their players are Ryan’s size (Ryan is the smallest in his team), but they are good. So we are playing a defensive game.”

Ryan did a good job at defense. At one point, I heard a mom say, “Look at that little guy, he’s good.” I was gonna say, “That’s my son,” but I was busy shouting, “Shoot Ryan! Nice try! Good shot!”

The team did their best at defense. But the other team was really good. It was funny when the frustrated Amanda shouted, “Don’t let them shoot!” The team lost but the good thing about this is that even though they lost by many points, the parents, including me, still gave each kid a pat on the back. “You were good.” “Nice try.”

Ryan has learned that playing in the league involves some sacrifice. One night, he was starting to panic before we had to leave for his practice because he had a difficult Math homework and he had to study for two tests for the following day. He was quite upset so I told him that it’s okay to miss one night of practice. School is more important. There were also a few times when his basketball game coincided with his catechism class. I helped him decide when to pick one in favour of the other.

After losing three games in a row, Amanda had to change the team’s game plan. She made Ryan the point guard. He was quite good. He showed them his moves. Although at first, Amanda noticed that he was a bit shy. “We have to give him some aggressiveness,” she told R and me. The assistant coach told Ryan, “You don’t have to feel like you’re carrying the team. The right and left wings will help you.” It is a team effort after all. Amanda told the kids, “It doesn’t matter if you lose. What’s important is that you always try your best. And you shouldn’t be telling yourselves that you are losers. If you work hard, you are going to win. I promise you that.” I found that very encouraging.

The sixth game came. Ryan did a good job at bringing the ball up to the team. He was fast. He was very slick on the court. The scores were very close throughout the game. It was tight. Ryan’s team was leading by one point towards the last five minutes. I held my breath, so did the other parents. And finally it happened. They won that game. And the game after that. Way to go team!

May 17, 2005 at 9:53 pm 3 comments

You like me

I watched the final episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” This show is about a family that bickers with each other a lot. On this episode, Ray needed surgery to remove his adenoid. When the nurse came out from the operating room and told the family that Ray was not coming out of anaesthesia, Debra, Ray’s wife started to fall apart. Robert, Ray’s ever jealous brother, also panicked and eagerly offered to help. “Let me in,” he said to the nurse. “I’m his blood type!” Thirty seconds later, the surgeon came out and said that Ray just woke up and he was all right. Of course, everybody was relieved.

Back at home, Ray found out how Debra reacted at the hospital. He realized how much Debra loved him. “You like me,” he said teasingly. It was hilarious how the couple was too embarrassed to admit that they do love each other so they just used sign language. It was funny and yet very touching.

We bicker with our loved ones but that doesn’t mean that we hate them. Sometimes the thought of losing them makes us realize how much we love them.

May 16, 2005 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

An amazing couple

The kids at the orphanage in South Africa touched Uchenna and Joyce. They have been trying to have their own baby. The first time this couple touched me was during the Fast Forward in India. Joyce did not hesitate to cut her long hair. Uchenna said that she didn’t have to do it but Joyce didn’t want to go back and start all over again. She was determined to win. I watched her cry as her head was shaved. Uchenna was very supportive as he kissed Joyce while she was being shaved and he said that she looked beautiful even though she was bald. I thought so, too.

They were at last place going into the final leg of The Amazing Race 7. As a penalty, they had to surrender all their belongings and hand in all their money. But they didn’t lose hope. They begged for money. They arrived at the final stop in Miami first, but they owed the cab driver. They could have left the driver and ran towards the finish line, but they wanted to make sure that the driver was covered. So they lingered at the gate and begged some more. Rob and Amber could have easily caught up to them. But it was their fate to win the million dollars. I have tears in my eyes when they stepped on The Mat and Phil announced that they won The Amazing Race. I think they deserved it. They have good hearts. What an amazing couple!

May 10, 2005 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

Of May flowers and mothers

May is one of my favourite months. It is the month when flowers start to bloom. And yes, it it getting greener here in Winnipeg. Not only is May the month in which we celebrate Mother’s Day, I celebrate my birthday in May, as well.

A celebrity once said, “A birthday is something between you and your mom, whoever you are in the world.” I couldn’t agree more.

Although my birthday is still a couple of weeks away, let me share with you the circumstances of my birth.

Mama was in labour with me for three days. I was a breach baby and had to be delivered by C-Section. Surgery cost a lot of money and it took Papa three days to come up with the required fee. My poor mother suffered labour pains for three long agonizing days before I was born. When I was a little girl, she would show me the long vertical scar on her stomach and she would tell me how I was born. So, you see, as a young girl, I was already aware of the suffering that my mother went through just to have me. But that doesn’t compare to the challenges that she had to deal with when she decided to leave an abusive relationship and raise sis and me as a single parent.

Seeking for greener pastures, Mama left the Philippines to work here in Canada in 1980. She left sis and me with relatives. It was hard on all of us but sis and I understood why she left. Although, being a mother now, I couldn’t imagine leaving my kids – not being there to help them with homework, going to their school activities, graduation, missing their birthdays, not being there every single day. I now realize the unselfish sacrifice my mother did just so that she could put her beloved daughters through college. I now realize the selfish acts both sis and I did back then and how we must have broken Mama’s heart.

It was in May 1989 – a few weeks before my flower birthday* – when I learned that I was pregnant with my first baby. I was 24, unmarried, and confused. Although I was reluctant to leave my beloved partner, my motherly instincts kicked in right away when I learned that my sponsorship paper had finally been approved. It didn’t take me very long to decide whether to leave or not. Life was just so hard back home and I had to think about my baby’s future. I left my partner behind – of course, hoping to sponsor him later – and I was reunited with my mother after nine long years.

*I have learned that a flower birthday is when you turn the age of your date of birth. If you were born on the 12th of the month, you have your flower birthday on your 12th birthday.

May 7, 2005 at 11:37 pm 1 comment