Archive for June, 2011

A long time ago my Dad had a nanny. She stayed with him until he and his siblings were all grown up, then she put up her own sewing business. She had her own house next to ours, and she would often drop by to baby sit or bring us food. When I was growing up she also made me countless party dresses with the kind of embroidery you would have to pay a fortune for now. Everyone said I was her favorite.

Sadly, she passed away many years ago. But one of the things I would never forget about her was her extreme conservatism. When I was twelve years old, I was walking on the street wearing regular shorts (which were waaaaaaay longer than the shorts we see nowadays). She was so scandalized, she accosted me, saying, “Don’t wear shorts! All the men will be looking at your legs!”

Haha. It seems funny now, but for a hormonal twelve year-old that was an unforgettable “What the h***?!?” moment.

Now fast forward to twelve years after her death. My daughter is an old soul who has taken it upon herself to monitor the length of my skirts. One day I tell this nine year-old that I would take her to buy shorts, because it was getting too hot and it would be better for her to wear shorts to school.

She replies, with all the passion of righteous indignation, “No, Mama! The boys will see my legs and they will all stare at me!”

Yeah? Someone please enlighten me.


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French Lessons

Restaurant Story

The Shnufflebubby and I were playing a restaurant game online when she said: “I’m going to make a croissant,” pronouncing the word with a perfect Parisian accent.

So I go, “What did you say?”

Shnufflebubby: “I said, I’m going to make a kwohhh-sohnghhhh….”

Me: “And where did you learn to say that???”

Shnufflebubby: “From Nana! (a friend) Her teacher is from Paris! It’s pronounced kwohhh-sohnghhhh….. Say it, Say it!”

Me: “Kwa-songghhhh…..”

Shnufflebubby: “More Frenchy, Mama! Kwohhh-sohnghhhhh…...”

Me: “Kwo-songh.”

Shnufflebubby: “Mama, stop making fun of the dish! Kwooohhhh-soooonghhh.….”

(Good lawrd, this kid is kulit! I raised the French grammar police!)

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I’ve never been one to chase after fads. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, and just because the whole herd has jumped off the cliff doesn’t mean I would be happier jumping off after them. (Yes, I know, I am mataray and masungit.)

Everyone’s been jumping on the Apple bandwagon. Well, most of the people I know have bought Apple gadgets, so even though R insists it’s just a niche market, it seems like everyone to me.

When the iPhone and the iPad first came out, I thought to myself that they seemed like pretty cool gadgets, but not practical since we had more computers and mobile phones than people in our house. Literally. Even when my two sisters bought iPads last year and I tried them out, the need for it wasn’t really there.

This year, however, a lot factors made me reconsider. First was work: I noticed that I was carrying too many papers, pens and notebooks. It was ruining my bag (ha! vanity!), and since I don’t buy bags until the last one is on its last breath, it was a major concern.

Second, still on work, there have been many occasions when I needed to take notes, check facts on the Internet, and message a colleague some distance from me without drawing attention.

Third, chatting with my sisters at night became an almost daily habit. At first I lugged the laptop to bed with me, but it was unwieldy and the heat was frying my eggs. Then I switched to my phone, but the screen was so small and the IM application so cumbersome, I would end up with blurry vision and a headache most times.

The iPad would have been ideal for all these reasons, but I held out for so long because I thought the expense was simply unjustifiable. Then a few months ago we received a notice that we could get the iPad 2 at no interest, for twelve payments. It was one of those rare moments when I actually welcomed advertising, but I still held out. It was R, who was so sick and tired of being the sounding board on my iPad thoughts, who said For the love of G*d put yourself out of your misery and get the frigging iPad.

So what’s the verdict?



=D  Nuninuninuni….

Seriously speaking, the iPad is for entertainment (games, videos), communication (email, IM, social networking), and fill-in-the-gaps work while you’re on the road or can’t get to a real computer (ha! “real computer.” Take that, Steve Jobs!).

Do your back a favor. It is not going to be fun hunched over the tablet and typing out your thesis or even just a one-page essay.

I’ve tried to blog on it, just as an experiment, and using either the WordPress app or Safari is like trying to find your way around a cardboard box. It looks good, but some things just don’t work (such as up/down/left/right arrows! How the f* am I supposed to scroll down this tiny box?!?).

As I said, the iPad only works well for entertainment and communication. For real work, it’s still my laptop or desktop for me. But I suppose the iPad would also do if you want some kind of psychological barrier between you and a certain person you don’t want to entertain. Kunwari busy. =D

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I like to think that I have pretty good taste in food. Not always cheap, but as a true Negrense, I know my food.

I wish I could prove that more often, but as it turns out, I always end up remembering to document my food only when most of it is already in my stomach. Yeah, it’s that good.

So when R, BBB and I went out with some friends last week, it came as no surprise that I had eaten 3/4 of my vegetable quiche when I remembered I needed to take pictures (yes, I would not survive as a news reporter).

We went to a quaint bohemian cafe near the heart of the Jaffa flea market called Cafe Puaa. On weekends it is absolutely swamped with people, but it was a weekday so things were quieter. It was the night BBB introduced his girlfriend to us, and the relaxed ambiance was perfect for the occasion.

What makes Cafe Puaa unique, aside from its fantastic food and great value for money, is that everything in the restaurant are flea market finds. Interested customers can purchase the cutlery, glasses, plates, even the tables and chairs. That night I ended up buying the blue flower-shaped plate my quiche came on.

It was a nice, warm evening after a stressful day, capped by dessert and coffee that kept us all awake until the wee hours of the morning (yeah I know, bad idea). And the only thing I managed to take a picture of was the decadent kadayif, with layers of mascarpone and berries.


Kadayif at Cafe Puaa

When I told the Shnufflebubby about this unforgettable dessert, she gave me a worried look and said: “It’s not made of real ponies, is it????”


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I mean, snails.

This one tried to sneak in and almost made it after a week. Then R picked it up and threw it over the garden wall.

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Lola Saling

I have a great admiration for the national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, but whenever his holidays come up, my great-grandmother always steals the show.

Born Rizalina Regalado-Yasay a few years after the Revolution, she was a simple lady  and a kind soul who loved her great-grandchildren (especially me, I’d like to think) unconditionally. My earliest memories of her are of tobacco and cigars, the chico tree in her backyard and all those dogs she kept at home.

Her tough constitution was my earliest indicator that the women in mother’s side of the family were hardy and long-lived. Much like the rare and endangered trees in my country. It was comforting to know that I would turn out as healthy as they were. And hopefully as kind. (The women, not the trees!)

Hers is an old Negrense name, but I don’t really know much about her side of the family. Now I wonder if, out of the anal Negrense preoccupation with family pedigree, anyone ever gives much thought beyond three generations. It sure would be nice to know about her life before me.

Six months before she passed away she told me she did not have much time left, and that she already wanted to join our great-grandfather. And I knew at that moment that life would never be the same without her.

It has been eleven years. The country continues to celebrate Rizal Day, as it rightfully should. But on this day, Lola, I will always celebrate you.

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We Filipinos love our yayas (nannies). They are a godsend for both working and stay-at-home moms.

If we are lucky, our yayas become more than just caregivers; they become part of our families. But sometimes we are not so lucky, and we end up having to deal with persons who, at best, don’t exactly meet our needs or, at worst, invade our lives and disrupt our well-being.

Most of us have grown up with a yaya at one point or another. The first yaya I remember is Bibing, who took care of me and my brothers for about 8 years before she left to get married. We loved Bibing dearly and her departure left a huge void in our lives.

It was hit and miss after Bibing. We had a yaya who said she could hear voices (she only lasted a few days). Another one stole our clothes (this one lasted a few weeks until we realized we were slowly running out of clothes). Some showed up for work at their pleasure, while some didn’t want to work at all, like the Shnufflebubby’s first yaya who slept more than I did, watched TV all day and kept asking me when we were moving in with R’s parents where life was better (duh?!?).

We also had a few good yayas. One, whom I considered a second mother, left for Bahrain, though. Another one married our grandparents’ driver. Another one didn’t want to take care of kids past a certain age.

So early on I realized that no matter how good (or bad) a yaya was, they didn’t last. Chalk it up to human nature, I guess. We all have to move on. And I decided it was better to learn to do things on my own, so that my fate was not tied to the availability of someone who would do things for me.

It’s easy enough when you’re single, but once you have kids, the entire paradigm shifts. You NEED an extra pair of hands to take care of the household while you earn a living. And since day care isn’t a big thing back home, we need the ever dependable yaya.

Bringing in another person to become a part of your lives is a major step and requires careful thought and consideration. You would need someone who is capable and trustworthy, gentle and kind, firm enough to keep the kids in line, but not too firm to overrule your decisions.

You would need someone who knows how to cook, is tidy and keeps the house clean, loves kids, and remembers to feed the pets. You would need someone who is mature enough not to covet your or your daughters’ things, but young enough to be able to work. If you are lucky, you won’t have to deal with the whole drama of borrowed money, sick family members in the province, or lecherous boyfriends.

In other words, a super yaya.

But since human beings aren’t perfect, we learn to come to terms with what we are willing to put up with (i.e. a cranky disposition once a month, cooking bacon when you asked for eggs, a compulsive need to go to church everyday) and what we are not (stealing, lying, bringing strange men into the house).

I admit, I didn’t learn how to manage household staff until very recently. The managing of household staff and the Shnufflebubby’s caregivers for the first few years I credit all to my MIL and her wealth of experience. When I started managing my own household I had my own set of misadventures, but that deserves another post all on its own.

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