Archive for August, 2006
A few weeks ago, we were invited to a friend’s wedding. The bride (a family friend) and her fiance used to live here in Winnipeg but they both moved to Hawaii last year and were coming back here to get married.
The bride’s sister and the cousin, who are both my childhood friends and my kumares now, helped her plan the wedding through phone calls. It was the sister and the cousin who made all the arrangements, from the church venue, restaurant, invitations, cake, flowers and all the little details for the wedding. Because the bride and groom were arriving just one week before the date set for the wedding. I think that was so nice of her sister and her cousin. But that’s what family is for, right?
A wedding invitation here goes like this…
(The parents of both groom and bride)
request the honor of your presence to share in the joyous celebration of love of their children
(Name of groom and bride)
as they exchange marriage vows on Saturday, (date)
at one o’clock in the afternoon
(Church’s name and address)
Reception will follow
At six o’clock
(______ ballroom of a certain hotel and the address)
Note the difference in time. There was a gap of five hours between the ceremony and the reception. Okay, considering that the ceremony lasted an hour, there was still a gap of four hours. I wanted to go to the church to watch the ceremony because the bride’s family is also close family friends with us. The bride’s mother is my sister’s godmother. The bride’s sister is my middle son’s godmother. Both my sister and I are godmothers of the cousin’s daughter. So you see, we are like one big family. At first, my husband didn’t want to go to the church to watch the ceremony. He just wanted to go to the reception. He thought it was such a hassle to go to the church and then come home again and then go out again to go the reception at night. But I convinced him in the end.
We went to the church. My mother, my sister and her family were also there. But there were only a few other people, I would guess, only close family members of the bride and groom.
My three-year old godchild (the cousin’s daughter) was one of two flower girls. She looked so cute and adorable in her white frilly dress. But she wouldn’t walk down the aisle when the march started playing. So her father carried her in his arms while he walked down the red carpet.
The rest of the bridal entourage was composed mainly of the couple’s sisters, brothers and their girlfriends. It was only family. I like that. Aside from the best man and maid of honor, there were only three other pairs of secondary sponsors (for the candle, cord and veil). It was just a small group. I also like that.
The ring bearer was the bride’s five-year old nephew. He also looked handsome in his black suit. But he started to get bored during the ceremony and disappeared from his seat at the front. I saw him later beside the bride’s cousin nursing from his bottle. And when it was time for the rings, it was his mother, who was the maid of honor and the bride’s sister, who handed the rings to the couple.
Inspite of the two boo boos, the wedding ceremony was lovely. It’s just a pity that there were only a few people who witnessed it. Of course, it was recorded on video tape. But still, how many people really gets to watch that tape.
The bride’s brother-in-law was the photographer of the event. He is the husband of the maid of honor. He takes wedding pictures professionally, not as a full time job, but on the sideline. How lucky is a bride to have a professional photographer in the family. But I noticed that he was constantly taking pictures. Every move that the bride makes. He was there at every angle. And he was sometimes literally on her face. I got really distracted. Okay, a few close-ups maybe is all right. But just how many shots do you need? I don’t want this to sound as a rant because I love this family. I’m just relating my observations here.
I know why there was a four-hour gap between the ceremony and the reception. The bridal entourage would go to some scenic spots in the city and do more photo shootings. So I don’t really get why he had to take that many close up shots at church. Even when we were at the reception, which was by the way attended by around 200 guests, I was trying to watch the couple dance and he was there again on her face clicking away at his camera. Come on. Had he not taken enough close-ups already? I don’t know. I haven’t gone to a wedding in six years. The last one I attended was the wedding of the bride’s sister, who is my kumare and I was one of the bridesmaids then. But I don’t remember the photo shootings to be quite like this. Is this how they do it now?
The reception hall was set up elegantly. White covers on the chairs and table. Lilac-coloured flowers and candles decorated the tables to match the bridesmaids’ gowns. The masters of ceremony were both bubbly and they made some of the guests do the hula hoop if they wanted the bride and groom to kiss instead of the usual clinking of spoons on the glasses. It was fun.
Although most of the guests were Filipinos, the food served was more of “Canadian dishes.” Cream of mushroom soup, boiled potatoes, carrots and stuffed chicken. The kids were given a different menu – chicken strips and chips (French Fries). The food was also good except my kids wished they had crab and corn soup instead. And my teenager wished I had ordered him the kids’ menu. He didn’t like the chicken stuffed with something that tasted like crabmeat. But I liked it.
We’ve had another busy weekend. We’ve been invited to two birthday parties last Saturday.
The first one was for the one-year old daughter of a kumare, my middle son’s godmother. Reception was at a restaurant in downtown Chinatown. The invitation was for 12:00 noon and we arrived there at exactly 12:00 noon. Usually I would be hounding my husband to hurry up, but since I know that Filipinos usually come to these parties at least an hour late (we call this Filipino time), I just let him take his time. But the thing is, the parking lot was already full and we couldn’t get a free parking spot on the street either. We ended up paying $3.00 for parking. Well, it wasn’t that bad. And I was right. When we went inside the restaurant, only about half the guests had arrived.
So we said our hi’s and hello’s. Oh is this my inaanak (godson)? Ang dami ko nang utang sa iyo. (I already owe you a lot). Here, you can sit here with Mang George and his family. Mang George and my husband used to work at the same company.
The kids knew that food won’t be served until 1:00 p.m. and what would they do in the meantime? They just sat there in their best behaviour and listened to me and their dad talk to the people in our table. Ryland kept asking,”What time is it?” every five minutes of so.
“Mommy, let’s play rock, paper and scissors.”
So we did.
After a few turns he said, “Let’s do the opposite.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you do rock and I do paper, you win.”
We were both giggling as we played and actually, I think it entertained our tablemates. After we each had downed about three glasses of coke, the food started coming at just a little after 1:00 p.m. First served was the crab and corn soup, which we all loved. Next was the fried rice and dry breaded pork. Then came the tempura shrimp, chowmein, pork with broccoli and lemon chicken. The food was all right, except for the tempura shrimp, which was too much soaked in oil.
When we were done eating, the waitresses started handing out Styrofoam containers so we could bring home left-overs. We then gave our envelope, which contained our present ($$$) to my kumare.
This is the tradition here among Filipinos for a first, seventh, 18th (debut for girls), 50th and 65th birthday. Sometimes it’s just a lunch reception, but there are others who throw dinner and dance parties for these special celebrations. Whenever we get an invitation for these kinds of parties, we would sigh, “Hay, gastos na naman.” (Sigh, here’s another expense.) But it could be fun too, because we get together with friends whom we seldom see.
Our next birthday party invitation was for 4:00 p.m. that same day. This was for the 12-year-old daughter of a kumpare, my oldest son’s godfather. They just moved to the outskirts of the city and they invited quite a few people I guess to also show off their newly acquired property. Nice crib, by the way, and very spacious yard.
There was a lot more food here. As if we weren’t stuffed already. There was pork barbecue, rice, different meat dishes, which I can’t name but they were all delicious. Nanay Ayo, my kumpare’s mother-in-law prepared all the food. There’s nothing better than home-cooked meals. The other guests that arrived also brought food. There was buchi, spaghetti and my favourite, the pancit malabon.
My mother, my sister and her family were also there. We are all close family friends, you see.
My 18-year-old niece prepared the party games. The three-legged relay race was won by my 16-year old son and my 13-year old nephew. We also played musical chairs. The smaller kids were too shy to participate, so I volunteered myself. So did my kumare, the mother of the birthday celebrant. That’s me on the left in the picture. The short chubby one. I was trying to dance to La Vida Loca at the same time. That was the only game I participated in as I got tired of going in circles around the chairs. I should really get in shape. (This reminds me of Bing’s post, “I’m in shape. Round is a shape” wherein I commented, “I don’t think I’m round.” Now, looking at this picture, I want to take that back. I guess I was just in denial. He he he.) The other games they played were: water balloon tossing, blow the flour, blow the biggest balloon and they also had the piñata.
We gave our presents to the young celebrant. I bought her something, which I think she’d like and it didn’t even cost $20.00.
At around 7:30, I noticed the sun setting and what a beautiful sight it was. Living in the city, we don’t really get to see the sun set at night. But in the open space like that, they get to watch it every night. It was just wonderful.
We said our goodbyes at 8:00 p.m. Nanay Ayo said that she was staying for the night to help them clean up after the party. My kumare is lucky. When I throw parties for my children, I get to clean up by myself. Of course with a few help from the husband and the kids.
When I first heard about the movie, The Squid and the Whale, I was hooked right away just with the title. Then I learned that it is about a divorcing couple and there are two sons involved. Now that’s a movie I want to see. I was a product of a broken home and there was also a time when I thought of separating from my partner but just the thought of all the hassle of splitting our properties and the days we have to spend with our children caused me undue stress. But at the end of the day it was really the kids I was concerned about because I didn’t want them to go through what I did when my parents separated. And just that drove me to work on my marriage harder.
The Squid and the Whale is a very interesting film. The story begins as the husband (Jeff Daniels) and wife (Laura Linney) are on the verge of separating. It is told from the point of view of the children. They see the classic signs — their parents always fighting and the dad sleeping on the couch. And then one night they have a family meeting. The parents explain to them that they are separating and having a joint custody and how they are going to split the days of the week between the two sons. It’s funny how they thought that they have arranged how to split everything until the youngest son asks, “What about the cat?” Oh yeah, they forgot about the cat.
13 Dead End Drive
We have a new favourite on Family Game Nights. It’s called 13 Dead End Drive. You’re either gonna be lucky or unlucky by the end of this game.
Here’s the story. Aunt Agatha just passed away. She has no surviving relatives. So her fortune is up for grabs. Her 12 friends and employees are anxiously waiting for the reading of her will. But it says only one will inherit her fabulous wealth – the one whose portrait is hanging on the wall.
The gameboard is the mansion and it is full of traps. There’s a toppling statue, a shaky chandelier, a bookcase ladder that could fall. There are also secret passages. You have to watch out as you move your pawns because these traps could literally fall on them.
The 12 suspects are: the butler, the chef, the maid, the chauffeur, the gardener, the doctor, the tennis coach, the best friend, the boyfriend, the hair stylist, the fortune-teller, and yeah, the cat.
You win in three ways:
1. If your pawn gets out of the mansion when it’s portrait is shown hanging on the wall.
2. If your pawn is the last one alive.
3. If the detective arrives at the front door and your pawn’s portrait is shown hanging on the wall.
This is such a fun game to play.
Another game we have been playing lately is the mancala. When Ryland saw the sungka at the Folklorama Philippine Pavilion last weekend, he said, “It’s like the mancala.” I smiled because when I first saw a mancala, I thought, it’s like the sungka.
The mancala gameboard is a tray with six small bowls on each side and two large bowls on each end called the mancalas. Instead of (tamarind) seeds or tiny shells, as we use in sungka, mancala uses these tiny colourful plastic African animals.
Before starting the game, four seeds are placed in each bowl, except the two mancalas. A player owns the six small bowls closest to him and the mancala on his right. The first player scoops the seeds from one of his bowls and drops one seed at a time in each bowl, going counterclockwise. A player never drops seeds in his opponent’s mancala. He skips it and continues dropping seeds until he has no more in his hands. The two players take turns. If a seed lands in an empty bowl on his side, he takes the seeds in the opponent’s bowl directly across from it and also the seed that he dropped in the empty bowl and puts them in his own mancala.
The game ends when a player has no more seeds left in his bowls. The other player places his remaining seeds in his own mancala. The player with the most number of seeds in his mancala wins.
What do the three things in the title have in common? I’ve watched all three this past weekend.
Cool Jazz Performances
My teenage son, Reggie, attended the University of Manitoba Jazz Camp last week. This camp doesn’t have tents or makeshift shelters, as my mother thought before. Camps, especially summer camps here in Winnipeg, can also mean an organized recreation or instruction for vacationing children, as this Jazz Camp was. Junior/senior high school and college students signed up for this week-long camp and they learned how to improve their jazz and music skills from jazz musicians and vocalists, music educators and other musicians with an interest in jazz.
The event ended last Saturday with a concert where the students performed at different sites in the University. The students were separated in groups and each group performed about three to four pieces. I’ve watched several concerts of Reggie and what I found interesting in this one is that the students were taught how to play by ear instead of reading the music. Because the emcee explained, Jazz music is about spontaneity and improvisation, or something like that. All the kids played their instruments very well and the audience really enjoyed every piece.
Reggie intends to pursue a career in Jazz Music at U of M when he graduates from high school next year. And he was really excited, and always is, to meet jazz artists. He proudly told me that he met Stefon Harris, who he said is connected with Bruno Records and he even got his signature. I guess he is well renowned in the Jazz scene.
Cultural Performances at Folklorama
(Please click the links for pictures)
After Reggie’s performance at U of M, we headed to the Folklorama Pearl of the Orient Seas – Philippine Pavilion. Folklorama is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Manitoba in the Summer. Folklorama is a celebration of the cultural diversity of Canada. This two-week event happens every August and different cultural groups set up pavilions in schools, community centers or church basements and they showcase cultural displays, their native food, music and dances. There are several pavilions which include Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Portuguese and of course the Philippine pavilion just to name a few. We’ve been going to the Philippine pavilion every year since I rediscovered Folklorama three years ago. My kids always enjoy watching the Philippine dances.
On Saturday, we saw the Abaniko or the Asian Fan Dance, the Wedding Dance, where a typical Philippine wedding was depicted, the Pandango sa Ilaw where performers danced with lighted candles inside glass cups on their heads and hands, the Tinikling, where dancers even as young as five or six, wove in and out of bamboo poles on the floor. Dancers have to be agile in this last dance so that their feet won’t get caught between the bamboo poles.
After the performance, we went to the canteen. We ate pancit, lumpia, empanada, ukoy, puto and kutsinta and we had the tapioca drink called sago. Then we headed to the cultural displays where we again saw replicas of the bahay-kubo (hut) and jeepney and a real bunot and sungka. There was a big map of the Philippines on the floor and I showed my kids what province I came from (Cavite), and also where their dad came from (Pasig). And oh boy! Does Ryan have a sharp eye or what? He pointed to me our name on the map. I didn’t know about that. Now my kids must think that we are something in the Philippines as our last name is also a famous brand there.
Baseball Game – Goldeyes vs. T-Bones
On Sunday, Ryan and I went to the CanWest Global Park to watch the Winnipeg Goldeyes play against the Kansas City T-Bones. The two free front row tickets were courtesy of my mother, who knows that Ryan is such a sports fan. This was the second time I have stepped into a baseball field. The first time was last year. Read about that here, as there is nothing compared to the thrill of that first experience.
I learned my lesson last year, so I came to the game equipped this time. I brought my wide brimmed straw hat and I applied lots of sunblock. I didn’t want to get sunburned again. I brought the umbrella but Ryan didn’t want me to open it while we were in our seats. People here in Canada use the umbrella only as a protection against the rain, unlike in the Philippines where we also use it as protection against the sun. I didn’t want to embarrass Ryan anymore, as I already did once that day.
Well, you see, I know the proper etiquette when anybody’s national anthem is being played or sung. You stand up, keep quiet, or sing along, and take off your hat if you’re wearing one. When we stepped on that baseball field and went to our seats, I put my hat on right away as it was so hot, 31 C. The wide brim of my hat gave me that much needed shade and I totally forgot that I was wearing it when they started playing the Star-Spangled Banner (T-Bones is a U.S. team). We were already halfway through the song when Ryan told me that I should take off my hat. Ooops. Sorry. I forgot. So I immediately took it off. Oh, I didn’t intend to be rude. It just slipped my mind.
Well anyway, the game lasted until the ninth inning. The Goldeyes won. 9 to 6. Yey, Goldeyes! And Ryan took home a souvenir. A stray baseball, or is it called a foul ball (?), which one of the players threw his way.
That was my busy weekend. I was so exhausted and staying under the sun for three hours gave me a headache. So I lay down right away when we got home after the game. And yeah, I’ve got tanned arms, as if I really needed that. And Ryan’s face is all red because he wouldn’t wear his hat.
Every year, I take advantage of our slack schedule in the summer during school break to teach my children something new. No, I don’t teach them Science, Math, or Social Studies lessons. I teach them life lessons – how to do chores and how to become more independent.
Like for instance, I think it was during a summer break when I toilet trained each one of them. This summer, I taught Ryland, my eight-year old son, how to give himself a bath. I know. It’s kinda late for him to be learning that just now. But he’s the youngest. He’s my baby. Now, if I could only make him wipe himself after he uses the toilet. I’ve already shown him how to do it and I know he would if I don’t come to the rescue, but he still calls me to do that yucky chore.
It was also during a school break when I started teaching my oldest son, Reggie, how to read Tagalog (the Philippine language). I asked a cousin in the Philippines to buy and send me this Tagalog alphabet book and I taught Reggie how to read the a-ba-ka-da (abc’s). I was so happy when he started reading sentences in Tagalog. But hold your breath there. He held that book only as long as summer lasted that year and didn’t really apply what he learned. For when he went back to school that Fall, he had to learn French. So the Tagalog lessons took a back seat.
It was summer three years ago when I got a little more serious in teaching not just Reggie, but also my middle son, Ryan, how to speak Tagalog (read here the reason why and how it went) so we had this “Word of the Day” lessons and I tested them at the end of every week. Well, we had more success in that method. Even though they understand me talking to them in Tagalog, they still answer me in English. But I’ll take that. It’s still progress, right? And if you think they completely understand Tagalog, not really. But I’m still on that quest. So whenever I catch myself talking to them mostly in English, I’d revert to Tagalog and if they don’t understand, I’d translate what I just said in English. This is the method I now use with my youngest son.
Here’s an example:
“Ryland pagkatapos mong kumain, walisin mo ang sahig, please, okay?”
“What did you say, Mommy?”
“When you’re done eating, can you please sweep the floor?”
“And then iligpit mo yung kalat mo duon sa sala. Naintindihan mo ako?” *
“Clean my mess. What’s sala again?”
“The living room.”
Since hired house help is basically non-existent in this part of the world, or if there is any around we wouldn’t be able to afford it, I give my children chores. I think it’s important that they help around the house, not just to help me, but also to teach them how to be responsible. (You can read more about my take on Children and Chores here.)
It’s also in the summer when I introduce them to new chores. Ryland learned how to wash the dishes last year. This year I taught him how to dust the furniture. Maybe next year, I’ll teach him how to cook rice.
Reggie, who’s 16, already knows how to fry meat and how to cook adobo. A few weeks ago, I showed him how to and let him stir fry vegetables. So one night, I was swamped with work and I gave him instructions on how to sauté the garlic, onion, tomato and then add the pork and diced potatoes. I thought it all went well. We were already about to eat when I noticed that he didn’t cut up all the tomatoes. He left the seeds in the cutting board. “Reggie, this is what gives taste to that dish.” Oh, well, how can you get mad when he did try to help.
Last week, I asked him to scramble some eggs. “You’ve seen me scramble eggs before, right?” I asked him. “Just put some oil in the pan and cook it.” Nothing could go wrong with that, I thought. When I went downstairs, Ryland said, “Mommy, Kuya** burned the egg.” One look at the yellow-brownish thing on the plate and I knew that he had the pan too hot. “It’s okay,” I told my youngest son. “It’s just the colour. It’s not really burned.” It did taste like it was burned and I forgot to tell him to put a pinch of salt. But hey, we all have burnt something, right? And that’s how we learn, from our mistakes.
* Naintindihan mo ako? = Did you understand me?
** Kuya = what we call an older brother
My youngest son, Ryland, is at that age (eight) when he still asks a lot of questions. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I like answering my children’s questions as honestly as I could. You may think that they are just innocent questions that need simple answers but I sometimes find myself fumbling for the right words to say.
Here is another conversation I had with him a few months ago, around the time when he just had his First Reconciliation (Confession). As usual, I was in the boys’ room helping him get ready for bed.
Him: Mommy, what is the name of the snake in that garden?
Me: You mean the one where Adam and Eve were?
Me: Satan. He’s the devil.
Him: Where is he? Is he in hell?
Me: Yeah. But actually he’s also everywhere. Like God is everywhere.
Him: What does he do?
Me: He makes us do bad things.
Me: Well, he tells our conscience to do bad things.
Him: What does that mean?
Me: He’ll whisper in your ear and makes you do bad things.
Him: Like, Ryland kill your mommy.
(Then he realized what he just said.)
Him: I’m scared.
Me: That’s why you pray at night. What do you always pray at night?
Him: Dear God, please make me a good boy always.
Here’s a continuation of that conversation.
Him: If you kill somebody, will you go to hell?
Me: Maybe not, if you’re really, really sorry about it and confess your sin.
Him: Where is hell? Is it under the ground and has fires?
Me: I don’t really know if that’s true. But I know that we don’t want to be in that place.
Him: What about soldiers? They kill people. Will they go to hell?
Me: See, that’s like a tricky question. They’re defending their country, but they kill people. I think if they are sorry afterwards, they won’t go to hell.
How would you have answered these questions?