Archive for May, 2007

The Flute

flute 

It was the Saturday of spring break (two months ago) when my 17-year-old son, Reggie, asked if we could go to Long & McQuade, a musical instrument store down on Pembina Highway.  He said he wanted to try out flutes.  I thought he was just bored and wanted to visit the store.

We have been to this store about six months before and he tried out a few flutes.  He wanted to buy a new one. I’m talking about a professional flute here and not like the beginner’s flute that he owns right now.  But it was way beyond our means.  We also went to St. John’s Music Store on Portage Avenue to look for a less expensive one.  But he didn’t find one that he liked.

We all went down to Pembina that Saturday.  I also dragged his two younger brothers as we were also going to the mall afterwards to buy them new shoes and shirts.  I tell you, these kids shoot up like bamboos.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they do outgrow their clothes fast.

When we got to Long & McQuade, Reggie went straight to the farther end of the store.  He already knew where the flutes were.  He asked the salesclerk for what I thought was the same flute that he tried back in August.  The clerk unlocked the glass case where the flutes were displayed.  He then ushered Reggie to a small room farther back where he could play it.

Meanwhile, the boys and I checked out the other instruments that were on display.  There were different kinds of saxophones, trombones, trumphets, etc.  There was a big xylophone and although I told the boys not to touch it, they still did.

About ten minutes have passed and the boys were starting to get bored.  We went closer to the room where we could hear Reggie playing the flute.  There were racks of music books outside the room and we browsed through some of them.  There was a piano by the wall.  Ryland and I tried tapping the keys although no sound came out of it.  Ryan sat on the stool just outside the door of the small room.

Another ten minutes passed.  “Isn’t he done yet?”  “When are we going home?”  The two boys asked.  “Let’s go inside and watch him play,” I told them.  We went inside the little room and Reggie was still playing the flute.  It was just a tiny room and too cramped so we went out again.

After about ten more minutes, Reggie came out with the flute in his hand.  “I want to ask him if I can bring this home,” he said.  “What bring home are you talking about?”  I asked him.  “I don’t think they’ll let you bring it home.”  That’s when it struck me that he wanted to buy it.

So I asked the clerk how much it cost, although I already had an idea and I had no intention of buying it.  As I’ve already mentioned, the flutes were kept in a locked case.  That’s because they are dear, as in high-priced.  $5100 my dear readers. This was even more expensive than the $3,000 flute he tried last time. “Reggie, you know we can’t afford to buy this now,“ I explained to him.  I knew that he was aware of that.  But I also knew that he had really wanted to replace his flute, which he has had for over five years now.

I asked the clerk if they had any financial arrangements that they could offer us.  “We can’t afford this kind of money right now,” I told the clerk.  “He’s going to New York in May and I have to shell out $2000 for that.  Then he’s going to university in the Fall and I have to pay thousands of dollars for that too.”  I explained all these to the clerk while Reggie stood there and all these explanations were actually intended for him and not the poor clerk who had no idea of our financial situations.  The clerk gave me a few options of how we could pay for it, but still, he wanted the instrument to be paid up within a year and even the monthly payments on that would still be beyond our budget.  I told him that we would think about it and we left the store.

sankyo silver sonic O-B

This is the Sankyo Silver Sonic O-B, the $5100 flute that Reggie wanted to buy.

When we were on our way to the car, I asked Reggie if he wanted to use a new flute when he goes to university, was there something wrong with his flute, why did he want so badly to buy a new one?  “Well, it’s a piece of junk,” he said.  “Ouch,” I said to myself.  I was glad the flute wasn’t there with us to hear that line, or I would have covered its ears.  But then again, a flute is a thing and it doesn’t have ears or emotions.  I just felt bad to hear him say that this thing that he caresses every day, this thin silver instrument that he plays every single day, this thing that earns him applause every time he performs at a concert, is a piece of junk.

I understand his need to upgrade his instrument.  After all, he’s moving on to a higher education and more advanced music courses.  Also, he’s been playing this flute everyday for almost six years now.  It has been used many a times and has probably outlived its life expectancy.  And I also realize that he knew we don’t have that kind of money.  He has mentioned before about taking a summer job.  So I suggested that to him.  But then again, I don’t think he could save up enough money to buy that flute in only two months.  But at least it would help.  Let’s say, he saves $2000 at the most, he would still need $3000.  We still can’t afford that.  Here I am, already working extra hours every week. But it seems that the extra money I earn is still not enough.

I want to provide my kids with the things they need and want.  It was a lot easier when he was younger when he’d ask for a new toy, or game, or CD.  Sure there were times when they had to wait when he and his brothers asked for the Playstation or each of their Gameboys, but I somehow managed to give them those, too.  Now that he’s older, his wants are getting bigger and more expensive.

I know parents who would buy their children their own car and then they would take a second or even a third job.  With all these overwhelming expenses in raising these three growing children, I have also considered looking for a second job.  It’s really good that we are always busy at work and overtime has always been open.  And with all these extra hours that I work, it’s really like I have a second (part-time) job.

Sometimes I feel bad that I am not able to provide them with the things that they want.  But yet again, even if I were able to, I wouldn’t want to give in to everything that they ask.  I didn’t have a lot when I was growing up.  And I have learned that I can’t always have what I want. That’s also what I want my children to learn.  And that sometimes, if you want something big or expensive, you have to work hard for it.

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May 30, 2007 at 11:37 pm 26 comments

Let’s do The Twist

Every spring, our school division holds a Children’s Folk Dance Festival for all the Grade 1, 2 and 3 classes.  This is an outdoor activity and the venue is usually at a nearby park.

The Twist 

The Festival was scheduled last Friday, with an alternate rain date of Tuesday next week.  We’ve had a rainy and cold week, and fortunately it didn’t rain on Friday.  I took an hour break from work and went to watch a little bit of the Dance Festival.  It was cold at only 10 C and wind of around 30 NW.  Most of the students and teachers were wearing their warm jackets and some even wore their hats and gloves.  But the cold weather didn’t dampen their spirits.  They danced all the dances that they have been learning and practicing the entire week.  I only got to see Ryland do five dances:  the Virginia Reel, the Macarena, Hands Up, Chicken Dance and The Twist, which I also danced.  Click on the pictures to watch short video clips.  And let’s see if you can spot me dancing The Twist.

Virginia Reel

Blast from the past

When I was in elementary school in the Philippines, we celebrated the Foundation Day of our school by performing different dances.  This one is the Hawaiian Dance to the tune of Pearly Shells when I was in kindergarten.

Hawaiian Dance

May 26, 2007 at 11:59 pm 32 comments

Goodnight Irene

When I was growing up in Noveleta, Cavite, back home in the Philippines, we had this turntable that played vinyl records.  My father would listen to records of The Platters, The Temptations, The Commodores, etc.  We also had this record of a Tagalog birthday song with a narration at the beginning that goes something like this:  “Ito lang ang tanging maiaalay ko sa iyo.  Maligayang bati sa iyong kaarawan.”  I can’t remember now how exactly it goes and so does the song that follows.  It was such a long time ago.  My father would play that song if we had a birthday in the family.  And that song would wake me up on the morning of my birthday.

Another song I remember is Goodnight Irene.  It brought a smile to my face everytime I heard that song.  That is my name after all.  I also can’t recall now which version of the song my father owned.  When I saw Three Men and A Baby many years ago, I immediately recognized the lullaby that the three men sang to baby Mary.  Hey, that is my song, I thought.  I can’t remember either if they changed the name Irene to Mary.

I found these lyrics a few years ago and only then did I realize that the words are quite grim.  These are probably the same lyrics my father sang when he and my mother separated.  Sad it might be, but the chorus makes for a good lullaby.

 

Goodnight Irene
by Huddie Ledbetter a.k.a. Leadbelly

Irene good night, Irene good night,
Good night Irene, good night Irene,
I’ll see you in my dreams.

Last Saturday I got married,
Me and my wife settled down,
Now me and my wife we are parted,
I think I’ll go out on the town.

Sometimes I live in the country,
Sometimes I live in town,
Sometimes I take a great notion
To jump in the river and drown.

I love Irene, God knows I do,
I’ll love her ’til the seas run dry,
But if Irene should turn me down,
I’d take morphine and die.

Stop rambling, stop your gambling,
Stop staying out late at night,
Go home to your wife and your family,
Stay there by your fireside bright.

May 24, 2007 at 11:00 pm 11 comments

Lilacs in bloom

I watched Martha last week and she talked about lilacs.  I didn’t know that’s what these plants are called.  I thought that lilacs are just “flowers.”  They also come in shrubs and trees.  Lilacs are blooming now here in Winnipeg.  And it’s only now that I notice that there are quite a few of these plants in our neighbourhood.  I also learned that they only bloom in the spring.  These fragrant pretty purple and pink flowers will be gone by summer.  So stop, smell and admire these flowers while they’re here.

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May 20, 2007 at 11:35 pm 28 comments

My favourite reality show contestants

apolo and julianneMy favourite reality shows are coming to an end this season.  One of the shows I watch is Dancing with the Stars.  Boy, is this the best season yet so far?  All three celebrity contestants left are good dancers, Joey, Laila and Apolo.  I’m rooting for Apolo.  He’s so flexible and dances like a pro.  I don’t care if Len deducted a point for their “raunchy” tango.  I loved it!

So last night when I was tucking my nine-year old, Ryland, into bed, I told him that his favourites, Ian and Cheryl got voted out.  Next thing I knew, he was crying.  I didn’t understand at first why he was crying.  I thought that I must have hugged him too tight or kicked him accidentally.  I later on found out that it was because his favourites were voted off.  Isn’t that sweet?  

melinda, blake, jordinI was quite happy when it was Melinda, Blake and Jordin that made it to the final three in Season 6 of American Idol.  They could all sing.  But I really thought that Melinda would win, or at least be in the final two.  So I was really surprised when she was voted off tonight.  I agree with the judges that she has been the most consistent singer throughout the whole season.  I’m not a singer but I think she was the best singer this season. She has been my favourite and I admire her humility and I have been rooting for her ever since.  But why didn’t she win?  Of course, it was America’s choice.  So was America voting based on looks, age, or perhaps personality?  Yes, Melinda lacked the self-confidence at the start, but she gained it towards the end.

Yau-ManAnother favourite contestant that didn’t make it to the finals was Yau-Man.  This guy surprised me when he did well at the darts and arrow challenge and when he made one of the most conversial deal in Survivor history.  When he won a truck in one of the reward challenges, he made a deal with Dreamz.  He knew that Dreamz doesn’t have a car and he wanted one badly. He offered him the truck, in exchange, should he and Dreamz make it to the final four and Dreamz won immunity, that Dreamz would give it up to Yau.  Dreamz accepted.  But Dreamz backstabbed him and voted Yau-Man off.  It’s true that although Dreamz didn’t win, he has ouwitted, outplayed and outlasted Yau-Man but I still think that Yau-Man played the best game.  At the reunion show, Yau-Man said that he has no hard feelings against Dreamz.  And how can you not love this guy.  He said, “I only have one mantra in life: Love many, trust few and do wrong to none.” 

May 16, 2007 at 11:52 pm 26 comments

Watching Spiderman 3 on Mother’s Day

Spiderman 3Don’t worry.  There are no spoilers here.

I wanted to wait til next week (long week-end) to see Spiderman 3, but my 12-year old son, Ryan, wanted to watch it now.  Most of his friends at school have already seen it and I guess he couldn’t wait to tell them what he thinks about it.  My nine-year old, Ryland, was also excited to see it and so was I.  I was so intrigued by this Venom character and the black Spiderman suit.  I wasn’t sure if my 17-year old, Reggie, wanted to come with us, but he did.

So we agreed to watch it today.  And since it’s Mother’s Day, I thought that it’s a nice way to spend the day out with the kids.  I did ask their dad if he wanted to come, “Naku, wala akong hilig manuod ng sine,” was his reply as usual.  He didn’t want to go.

I looked at the entertainment section of the paper last night to check the show times at the Famous Players at Kildonan Place.  11:40 am, 12:00 noon, 3:00 pm, etc.  Why not go at the earlier showing? I thought.  This way, we’d also be done early and we could still do some of our Sunday chores and relax a bit after. 

Ryan’s initial reaction was he didn’t want to go at 12:00.  “What time will we eat lunch then?”  He asked.  “We’ll have a heavy breakfast,” I said.  “We’ll eat rice and I’ll cook eggs and hotdogs. It will be a combination of breakfast and lunch.  It’s called brunch.”  It took a couple of hours before I finally convinced him.  “Then we’ll have brunch,” I said.  “What about lupper?  For lunch and supper.” Now he was being funny.

We had brunch this morning.  And while we were taking turns in the shower, I asked Ryland to wash the dishes.  This is our schedule for washing dishes on Sundays:

Morning: Ryland
Noon: Ryan
Evening: Reggie

I don’t know if Ryan pointed it out to him, but Ryland came to me and said that he didn’t want to do the dishes because his Kuya Ryan won’t be doing his turn since we wouldn’t be home at lunch.  He thought that it’s not fair. 

So you see all the hassle we have to go through when we want to go out and see a movie?  Before I could get back to Ryland, I heard his dad doing the dishes in the kitchen.  That saved me from facing this “mini-dilemma.”

Their dad drove us to Kildonan Place.  We bought our tickets and the overpriced popcorn and drinks.  This is the damage:

Four tickets at $8.50 each = $34.00
Two large popcorns (we had to share) plus 4 drinks: Orange Kool-aid slushie, Sprite, Nestea, bottled water = $28.39

Total = $62.39.  This is Canadian dollars (or US $55.00).

This is the reason why we seldom go to the movies.  It’s so pricey.  We go to the movies only once or twice a year.  Unlike in the Philippines where people can go see Spiderman 3 up to three or more times.  If we want to see it again, we’d just have to wait for the DVD release.

When we got out of the theatre, I asked the boys if they liked the movie.

“Yes,” Ryland said happily.

“It was just okay,” was Ryan’s reply.

Which part of the movie did they like the best?

They both like the part where Jameson had to take his pills and also when he bought the camera from the girl for $100.  You know, the funny parts.

Ryland also likes the scene at the church tower when Peter was trying to separate the black substance from himself.  But he was sad at the end when you know who died.

Ryan likes that there are more fighting scenes.  He likes the scene when Peter caged Venom with the steel bars and he made that sound imitating the ringing bell from the church tower.

I asked Reggie if they went to that jazz club in New York, the one that was in the movie.  He said no.  And I wonder if it is an actual jazz club or if they just made that up.

I like the plotline that transforms Peter into his dark side and vengeful personality.  Because don’t we all have that?  Well, not the vengeful part.  But don’t we all have a dark side?

I’ve read quite a few bad reviews about the movie.  But I enjoyed it, the movie, I mean.  I was already hooked on the opening credits alone.  I like how they showed scenes from the two previous movies on pieces of broken glass.  I thought that was cool.  I enjoyed watching the main characters mature.  They were just in high school in the first Spiderman movie.  And now they are adults trying to fit in into the real world.  It was also fun watching the lovable Topher Grace (most popularly known as Eric Foreman from That 70’s Show).  And I just love the very cool spectacular effects.  But then again, mababaw lang ang kaligayahan ko.  I’m very easy to please.

My favourite quotes from Spiderman 3:

Aunt May to Peter: Uncle Ben wouldn’t want us living with revenge in our hearts, it’s like a poison. It can take you over and turn us into something ugly.

Aunt May to Peter: Before you can begin fixing anything, you must first start by doing the hardest thing… forgiving yourself.

MJ to Peter: That was our kiss!

Man in Times Square to Peter: You know, I guess one person really can make a difference… (then he pats Peter on the shoulder) ‘Nuff said!

Aunt May to Peter: You must be ready to put her before yourself. Are you ready to do that Peter?

Peter: I don’t need your help.
MJ: Everybody needs help. Even Spider-Man.

Peter: No matter what comes our way. No matter what battle we have raging inside of us, we always have a choice. My friend Harry taught me that. He chose to be the best of himself. Our choices are what make us who we are. And we always have the choice to do what’s right.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Movies

May 13, 2007 at 11:54 pm 36 comments

Of May flowers and mothers

After seeing a few childhood photos (for their Photo Hunt) in some of the blogs that I visited recently, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.  And so I am re-posting this entry that I have written two years ago.

1977

May is one of my favourite months. It is the month when flowers start to bloom. And yes, it is 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 my parents were not rich.  It took Papa three days to come up with the required hospital 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.

1980s

–    end     of      post   –    

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to ALL THE MOMS out there.  Special mention to:

– Mama and my sister, Lina

– the moms at Pinoy Moms Network

–  my sis-in-law Khelai, who is a first time mom to my new nephew, Miguel

– my beloved cousin Meann, who’s had a health scare and a tough time this past year, but is sounding very healthy now.

Related links:

In 2005, I’ve written about the birth of each of my three babies.  These posts are all special to me:

“A Special Surprise” – A Labour of Love

Our Small Miracle

The Birth of Our Baby

May 11, 2007 at 10:55 pm 24 comments

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