Archive for December, 2006

Ten things I would never do

Ryland on new year’s eve 2000 

I’m not into making New Year’s Resolutions but Toe of kurokuroatbp tagged me to name the ten things I would never do.  I like her very much, so I gave in.  These are not exactly resolutions anyway, so here it goes: 

1.       Wear a bikini or bathing suit.  My mother used to dress me and my sister in bathing suits when we were kids.  But somehow as I grew older, and my body developed, I heard people point out my big behind, my flat chest, my short chubby legs and I also developed a low self-esteem and this body consciousness that I can’t let people see me in a bikini or bathing suit.

2.       Have a perm.  I have thick straight hair and I used to have perms all the time when I was younger that people thought I had naturally curly hair.  But then I had a disastrous perm just before I got married.  I felt aversion from my groom and I actually had second thoughts of going through with the wedding.  That was the last time I ever had a perm.

3.       Wear bangs.  (Yes, women have this thing with their hair.) The first time I had a boyfriend, I asked my aunt to cut my hair and give me bangs.  I wanted to hide the scar on my forehead and I thought I’d look cute with bangs.  It turned out that the boyfriend preferred long hair.  That relationship didn’t last long but I kept the bangs for about 20 years.  Three years ago, I let it grow and it was such a pain waiting for it to grow to the same length as the rest of my hair.

4.       Eat canned sardines.  I used to love Mackerel canned sardines.  But when I was pregnant with my oldest child, I had morning sickness and threw up a lot.  One morning I ate rice with sardines for breakfast and when I got to work, I threw it all up in the ladies room.  It wasn’t a pretty sight and I still remember the smell.

5.       Wear a size small.  I used to wear a size small and sometimes even XS (extra small).  But after three kids, I don’t think that’s gonna happen anymore.

6.       Smoke.  Bad for the health.  My father was a chain smoker.  And I think that contributed to his early death.

7.       Drink alcohol.  My father was an alcoholic and I have bad childhood memories because of it.  I once tried to taste beer just for the heck of it.  I didn’t like it.

8.       Complete a course.  I once took a tax preparation course with H&R Block.  This was when I was still working at a garment factory and I wanted to work part time with H&R Block to amend our income and also to practice my accounting background here.  But I was then pregnant with my second child and I just couldn’t keep up, so I quit.  Then I also enrolled for a correspondence course in Sewing.  I wanted to learn how to sew my own dress.  I didn’t finish it either.  Just three years ago, I registered yet for another correspondence course, Breaking into Print.  I wanted to get published in magazines and publications.  And perhaps, I thought, write a book.  Yeah, I got ambitious.  I was only three assignments away from completing the one-year course.  But the demands of motherhood and work made it tough for me to finish the assignments.  So I once again dropped it.

9.       Let Arlene clean my teeth.  She is the dental hygienist at my dentist’s clinic.  She just has these heavy hands and my teeth would hurt after my cleaning.  Once, she used newly sterilized instruments – as in just out of boiling water – to clean my teeth.  She didn’t realize how hot they were because she was wearing gloves and the instrument almost burned my mouth. Ouch!  It was just during my last cleaning appointment when I had the courage to tell the receptionist, “I don’t want to get anybody in trouble but will you please give me another hygienist other than Arlene.”  The receptionist politely accepted my request with no questions asked and she marked my file so that I won’t ever get Arlene again.

10.   Say never again.  But this is just for fun.  So if you ever catch me doing any of these things, please don’t hold it against me.

I’m tagging JO, Pining, Kathy, Karen, and Ann.

Happy New Year everybody!


December 31, 2006 at 12:02 am 18 comments

Ryan’s works

“I hate sewing!”  That was my middle son’s famous line during the first term of this school year. 

You see, the grade seven’s in his school are required to take all the five Tech. Ed. courses this year: Sewing, Wood, Metal, Cooking and Computer Graphics.  Next year in eighth grade, they can pick whatever they want.  The first course his class was assigned this year was Sewing.  Every time he’d come home saying that line, I would tell him that sewing is not that bad and that he’d learn a lot from it.  I would tell him how I learned to mend holes in socks when I was in sixth grade.  But he’d still come home saying how he hated it. 

So I was surprised when he brought home his first sewing project.  A zippered pencil case.  Sure, I learned how to sew buttons and make buttonholes when I was still in elementary school, but I never sewed my first zipper until I was already married with kids.  And just look at this piece of work.  Very neatly done.  Perfect!   

pencil case 

That’s why I was ready to complain to the teacher when he got a low mark in his report card for Tech. Ed.  It turned out that he didn’t complete his second project in time.  But look at this Tote bag.  It’s very neat and clean.

tote bag  

For the second term, they had Wood.  One afternoon, he came home with a cut on his finger.  He accidentally cut it while making his project.  I guess he wasn’t paying attention. “Did you cry?”“No.” 

“Were you the only one who hurt himself so far?” 

“No, a boy’s finger got stuck with a needle when we had Sewing.” 

“Ouch!  Well, be careful next time.”  

This was his first project in Wood.  A puzzle snowman.  I think it’s cute.


On the last day of school before Christmas vacation, he brought home this reindeer.  When I saw him through the window carrying this, I met him at the door and the first thing he said was, “I don’t like it.”  I said, “Well, I happen to like it.  I think it’s very nice.”  Then he said, “There should be paper glued to it but it won’t stick so I took it out.”  It’s supposed to be a reindeer singing a Christmas carol.  I told him, “It doesn’t matter. I still like it.” reindeer

December 28, 2006 at 11:00 pm 15 comments

Dolores Claiborne

Dolores ClaiborneLast summer, I bought this DVD of Dolores Claiborne at Zellers.  It was on sale for $3.67.  I liked Kathy Bates in Misery so I thought I’d also give this a try.  The DVD had been sitting on my shelf – untouched – since then, together with the other movies I bought on sale, like Ghost, Out of Africa, Bridges of Madison County, The Crying Game, The Big Chill, all of which except for Dolores Claiborne, I have already seen either on TV or in the movies before but I want to watch again. 

When Señor Enrique mentioned it in his post A Good Night, I knew I wanted to watch Dolores once I get a chance.  And so after watching The Da Vinci Code, which I rented for one day this past weekend, Dolores was the next one on my list. 

Once the opening credits came on and I read Stephen King’s name on it, I wondered if I should continue watching it that night.  I get pretty scared when I watch any of King’s movies.  But I needed not worry for there is nothing supernatural about Dolores Claiborne.

Read the rest of this entry.

December 28, 2006 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci CodeIt’s only when the kids are on vacation that I get to catch up on my movies.  You wouldn’t believe how many movies I have rented (and I also bought a few) this past summer vacation.  Maybe I will post a list here later.  So once the kids started their Christmas break this past weekend, I went right away to Rogers Video to rent two movies, The Da Vinci Code and The Door in the Floor. 

I have wanted to watch The Da Vinci Code since it came out in May this year, but I wasn’t able to see it in the theatres.  Actually, I checked with my sister first if she already has this movie so that I could just borrow it from her.  But no, she didn’t and she didn’t seem to be interested in watching it at all.  I just find it interesting because there she is, this very religious person and she wouldn’t watch The Da Vinci Code.  I on the other hand, who is not as religious as she is, wouldn’t watch The Passion of the Christ.  I don’t think I can stand the violent scenes.  I’ve seen Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and I had my eyes closed during the battle scenes.  Whereas, my sister saw The Passion in the theatres when it came out.  And she hasn’t seen any movies in the theatres here in Canada.  I think it is the first and only one that she did. 

The Da Vinci Code is a two-disc DVD.  And it said on the back of the cover – 246 minutes long.  I thought the movie itself is over four hours long, but it is only about two and a half hours.  The extra remaining minutes is all the added special features on Disc Two. 

The Da Vinci Code is not a movie that I would be normally interested.  But as I have mentioned in my May post, My Love Affair with Books, I was intrigued by all the hoopla it was generating and so I read the book, was fascinated, got hooked and couldn’t put the book down.  And I just had to watch the movie. 

I like Tom Hanks anyway and the lead actress, Audrey Tautou, is very pretty and reminded me a lot of the Philippine actress Aiko Melendez, as I remember her from 17 years ago.  I don’t know what she looks like now. 

This is a mystery novel/movie that will keep you thinking of who really the bad guy is.  And the ideas presented regarding the Holy Grail and the Last Supper are very thought-provoking. 

The Da Vinci Code is about Robert Langdon, a symbology professor, and Agent Sophie Neveau, the granddaughter of the curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Langdon is being suspected of killing the curator and Sophie came to warn him and help him escape. 

I think one of the highlights of the movie is when Leigh Teabing, Langdon’s historian friend, explained to Sophie what the Holy Grail means.  It is not the chalice from where Jesus and his disciples drank the wine at the Last Supper but it is a female, namely, Mary Magdalene.  Teabing showed Sophie where Mary Magdalene is in Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper.  And he explained to her that Mary was actually the companion, the spouse of Jesus and she was pregnant at the time of the Crucifixion and was carrying Jesus’ bloodline.  The secret of the Holy Grail is Mary Magdalene’s descendant, a daughter named Sarah.   

I won’t go into any more details.  I think there are a lot of you who have either read the book or seen the movie.  But if you haven’t, you can read more at this link.   

I do understand how the devout and pious could find this movie scandalous.  And why my sister isn’t interested in seeing this movie.  As some of you already know, she had wanted to be a nun and entered the convent many years ago.  She left the convent and is married now with seven children but she is still very religious. She is a Roman Catholic and so am I.  But when she has people from the Couples for Christ over at her house, she’d joke to them that we are of different religions.   She’s active with the Block Rosary and I don’t pray the rosary.  I do pray every night in my own words.  We have different views on birth control and she doesn’t approve of the method I have chosen.  I don’t go to church every First Fridays but I do hear the Sunday mass.  We used to go to the same church, but since the parish priest would give her the Holy Host on her hand instead of directly in her mouth, they moved to a different church.    And both she and my brother-in-law are always ready to debate or defend their beliefs to anyone who would challenge them.  

We are so different but we respect each other because we are family after all.  And we all love each other despite our differences.

December 27, 2006 at 10:46 pm 10 comments

Boxing Day in Canada

Best Buy 

December 26 is Boxing Day here in Canada.  It is a statutory holiday.  So that means no work, except for those in the retail business.  Just like Christmas, if December 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following business day will be a holiday. 

Boxing Day doesn’t have anything to do with the sport that made Muhammad Ali famous.  When I first came here in Canada, the explanation my mother gave me was that it is called Boxing Day because this is when people usually open their presents.  Opening the boxes. 

But if you go to, you’ll find different origins of this holiday.  Here are just a few examples:

1.       It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who have worked for them throughout the year, such as the postmen or paperboys.

2.       In the feudal times, the lord of the estate would give each family of their serfs a boxful of goods after Christmas.

3.       In churches, it was traditional to open the donation box on Christmas Day and the money was distributed to the poor and needy on the next day. 

Here in Winnipeg, there is a shopping frenzy on Boxing Day.  There is a sale on almost all the stores. It’s only usually on Christmas decorations, cards, gift wrappers, everything Christmas – for 50% off.  But a lot of stores also have clearance sales on some of their items.  Stores usually have their flyers (printed advertisements) before Christmas Day and of course their ads also run on the commercials on TV and the radio.  People sometimes would line up outside the stores starting midnight.   Today, stores opened as early as 6:00 a.m.  We planned to go out this morning at 9:00 a.m. even though my brother-in-law warned us that there wouldn’t be much left at the stores if we go that late.  But hey, I’m still beat and I couldn’t get up as early as 6:00 a.m. 

I woke up at 9:00 a.m. and it was already 11:00 a.m. when we left the house.  We first went to Superstore because I wanted to buy new Christmas lights and Christmas decors.  But there wasn’t much good stuff left. Ryland bought a game for his new Nintendo DS and Ryan bought another controller for his Game Cube so he could play a two-player game with his cousins.  I got myself a DVD of Jennifer Aniston’s Good Girl, which was on sale.   

We then went to Regent and our first stop there was Best Buy, an electronics store where they were having a big Boxing Day sale.  And oh boy was the parking lot full.  We were lucky to find a parking spot when a car pulled out not too far from the store.  All the people we met who were walking back to their cars were holding either a big box of an electronic appliance or a yellow plastic bag with the Best Buy logo.  The boys checked out the games, DVDs and of course Reggie looked at the CDs.  We didn’t find anything that we wanted.   


Next we went to Wal-Mart, which was also packed with people.  I checked out the boxed Christmas cards but I didn’t find anything that I like.  We checked out the DVDs – no they were not on sale here.  I bought a present for my 8-year old niece.  It’s her birthday today.  Happy birthday Amica! 

It was already noon and the two young ones were already hungry.  We stopped by McDonalds.  Only the two boys ordered.  Reggie said that he’d eat at home.  Both the husband and I were not hungry either.


Then off we went to Kildonan Place, the shopping mall across the street.  Same situation with the parking – full.  The husband dropped us off at the entrance while he went looking for a place to park.  The boys and I went to Sears.  Reggie wanted to buy a new polo shirt.  By this time, Ryland was already tired.  “My feet hurts, mommy,” he said.  “Go ahead and sit there on the carpet while we wait for Kuya to try his shirt on,” I told him.  “Oh this is a waste of my time,” Ryan complained.  Yeah, that’s my Ryan.  He already got what he wanted and he thought that every place that we went to after that was a waste of his time. He didn’t want to go with us in the first place.  We could have left him home since he’s already 12.  But since we were all going shopping, he decided to come too.   


After I paid for Reggie’s shirt, we headed to HMV, a CDs and DVDs store.  We were bumping into people on the way there.  HMV was also packed.  They have DVDs on sale for up to only $4.99.  But nothing appealed to us.  I had my eye on Leonardo di Caprio’s The Basketball Diaries.  It’s on sale at $9.99.  But no, thank you. 

It was now 1:40 p.m. and I was tired and hungry.  We went in front of Zellers where they have benches there to wait for the husband as we have agreed before he took off to Canadian Tire to buy a garage door remote controlled opener.  He came at around 5 past 2:00 p.m. and off we went home.  We dropped by my sister’s place and we had some Pancit Malabon, which my mother cooked.  All their visitors for my niece’s birthday party were all gone by then.   

We went home and I took a nice long nap.  And I will watch one of my DVDs tonight.  It’s only when the kids are on vacation that I could catch up on my movies.  They don’t go back to school until the 8th of January.  How many movies do you think I will watch?

December 26, 2006 at 8:12 pm 15 comments

Our Christmas 2006

Christmas family picture

(This is all of my family here in Winnipeg)

Unlike the previous years when we’d all stay up until midnight, this Christmas Eve, the boys went to bed at 10:30 p.m.  We were going to Mass at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas morning so I asked them to go to bed early.  I didn’t feel like staying up late anyway as I was up on my feet since 4:00 p.m. in the kitchen preparing food for the next day.  I also retired upstairs when they went to bed and watched Dolores Claiborne before I went to bed myself.

Ryland’s present 

First thing the boys did when they got up this morning was open their presents under the tree.  This is Ryland checking out his new Nintendo DS.

the girls

(The girls in our family)  

This Christmas morning, my sister invited us to go to their church because my nephews and nieces were singing in the choir.  Yes, we do live next to each other but we attend different churches, although we’re both Roman Catholics.  Maybe I’ll explain why in a different post.  We always celebrate Christmas together, including Mama, at my sister’s house.  My middle son was asking when we’re going to celebrate it in our house.  Maybe next time.  It’s just that my sister has more (7) kids than I do (3) and it’s easier for us to bring ourselves and our presents, food, and stuff over to their house.  I know, we’re just going next door but we still have to put on our winter jackets to go outside.  The weather here is beautiful though.  Temperature was minus 16 when we went out this morning and it went up to minus 8.  It looks and feels like spring.  We can see the green grass in front of the apartment across the street.

lola and grandsons 

(Grandma and the grandsons)

For Christmas lunch, I made crab and corn soup, lemon chicken, egg rolls (lumpia), and fruit salad.  My sister made pancit (fried noodles), meatloaf, and pandesal.  Mama made some kuchinta and maja blanco (rice cakes).

opening presents

After lunch, we took some pictures and of course the kids opened some more presents.  

Urgh!  Did you see me in the photos?  I really need to lose a few pounds.

December 25, 2006 at 5:04 pm 18 comments

Christmas carols and Christmas memories

February 24, 2008 update: 

This article was originally published in Pinoyatbp.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey!

The kindergarteners and students from grades one to four in my son’ school sang their hearts out in front of their families at the Christmas concert last week.

When I was growing up in the Philippines, we didn’t have Christmas concerts at school. But we sang Christmas songs in Music class. Also, around this time of year, there would be carolers, usually small children, singing from house to house, sometimes accompanied by their makeshift instruments of softdrink bottle caps that were strung together.

I also had my share of singing carols from house to house.

I was in third year high school. I was the new kid in school trying to fit in. I joined the YMC (Youth Marian Crusade) and we would have prayer meetings every Friday after school. I wasn’t really a very religious person, but joining the club gave me a reason to get out of my auntie’s house where I felt suffocated. My mother was then working abroad and I had to live with relatives. I loved both my aunt and my uncle dearly but they were just too strict. I don’t really blame them because they had three daughters of their own, and then they also had to look after me and my sister. But as a teenager, I had the tendency to rebel when they won’t allow me to date or when they wanted to know my every move.

And so every Friday night, I took refuge with my friends at the YMC.

Miss Leticia Borromeo was the coordinator of the YMC in our school. She was also my Chemistry teacher and she had the reputation of being a terror teacher. But she was a very different person outside the classroom. She was a warm and caring person and the YMCians lovingly called her Tita Letty.

Our meetings were held at a community center near the school. Before we started the prayers, she encouraged students to share their problems. Sometimes, she’d ask us what our fears were and then we would talk about them. She told us that she was doing these prayer meetings to keep us “out of the streets.” I thought that was really a noble thing to do.

In December of that year, we started practicing Christmas carols and towards the middle of the month, letters were sent to sponsors so that we could sing carols for them and in turn, we received money, which we donated to a local orphanage.

It was a Friday night when we YMCians, not all of us, but a group of around 20, walked together and went to our first house of the night, a big one and we could tell that it belonged to a well-to-do family. We placed ourselves in front of the house. The guitar player started strumming the strings and we began singing. We sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night.

I liked the part when Lani Libria, a senior, sang a solo of

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

She sang so beautifully and I was sure it was not the chilly air but the timbre of her voice that made the hairs on my arms stand up when she sang

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine! Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night, divine! Oh night! Oh night divine!

And then we sang some more. We sang cheerily to

Frosty the snowman
Was a jolly happy soul
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.

Conception Mabini and I looked and smiled at each other as we sang

Sleigh bells ring are you listening
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland.

We sang these two songs so merrily that you’d think we’ve really experienced walking on the glistening snow and making a snowman.

The children in my son’s school sang

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Now, these kids knew what they were singing about.

December 19, 2006 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

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