November 2006

Finding the Compassionate Friends

compassionte friendsA primetime show in Channel 7 invited me and my husband to appear for their Christmas episode. The production staff were so visibily touched by Luijoe’s story that they practically read the whole website. This TV show will portray how a bereaved couple celebrated Christmas without their loved one. I’ve noticed how grief is not a taboo subject in our local TV or magazines. Just a few years ago, the only grief article you will read in our local papers are by Cathy Babao-Guballa. I turned down the invitation because there are other touching stories from a lot of bereaved parents. I referred the production staff to a newly bereaved couple. This parent whose adult son died a year ago on a December month will be featured for that Christmas epsidoe (I will announce the schedule of the show later on). I can talk all I want about The Compassionate Friends, our local grief support group and how it helps bereaved families but it won’t have an impact unless a parent actually shares on how the group has helped them with their grief journey.

The parent didn’t believe in sharing her grief. Grief is a private matter, they thought. She didn’t even want her deceased son’s visitors to cry during the funeral. They were fine for a month or so until they could not handle their pain anymore. One day they read our article in the Sunday Inquirer . They cut the article and pinned it to their bulletin board. Looking at the pinned article everyday for two weeks, they finally found the courage to contact us. The rest is history.

compassionate friendsToday marks the first year anniversary of The Compassionate Friends Philippines. Co-founded by Cathy, Alma , myself and our spouses, we continue to bring monthly meetings to newly bereaved or seasoned grievers.

A year ago, when I first told my eldest daughter about The Compassionate Friends, she seemed worried ” So what will you be doing? Talking about your dead babies?”

My other daughter asked “Won’t you get depressed hearing sad stories?”

I stopped and thought for a minute… it is incredibly sad to hear the stories of loss and pain, but it does not depress me. I ache for those families whose loss is more recent, where the pain is a heart savagely torn into raw pieces and where the pain seems relentless and like it will last forever. But I am further along in my grief journey and I have gone through so much pain that I have learned my lessons well. I don’t know how I made it this far . I don’t know how I kept my sanity, through the past years when there were no grief support around. I know for certain that my grief journey, as hard as it has been, was made easier, and my burden lighter, through the grace of God. He was the one who enlightened me to start this support group.

Making sense out of my son’s death was the only way to understand the “why’s”.

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Crazy Momma at Krispy Kreme Launch

krispy kreme
The two girls arrived home last night due to the upcoming storm Reming but they were craving DOUGHNUTS. “Uh not now dears. It’s late! ” I promised to buy them [tag]Krispy Kreme Doughnuts[/tag] by waking up early for their Opening Day. Well, today is the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Opening Day at the City Center, Global City. Bringing my mug of coffee to perk me up , I drove over to the City Center at 6:30 AM. There were like hundreds of people crazier than I am who dared to wake up early just to order the first batches of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

krispy kremeKrispy Kreme staff were gracious enough to hand out retro caps, raffle coupons and a brochure to lift our sagging spirits and knees. Music and a dance number entertained the tired and hungry. The police, police dogs, security guards , ambulance and the fire men were on their toes,hovering among the crowd of eager customers. Would someone be crazy enough to create a stampede? They promised to open the door by 8:30 am. US Ambassador Kristie Kelly and Congressman Alan Cayetano cut the ribbon which officially launched Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in the Philippines. I didn’t catch the name of the lucky first customer who won a free supply of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. It was my secret wish to win one of the raffle prizes but alas, it was not meant to be.

krispy KremeFinally, at 10:00 AM, I entered the Krispy Kreme Doughnut store. Since I already tasted the “Melt in your Mouth” original glazed doughnuts, I ordered two dozen Assorted Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (335 pesos for a dozen). I have no intention of going back in the next few weeks so might as well order all the doughnut varieties. With the hundreds of people in the city center, Krispy Kreme did a pretty good job of organizing the smooth flow of customers in and out of the shop. There were hundreds and hundreds of doughnuts to be sold. Even Go Nuts Donuts could not cope with the influx of orders when they first launched a few years ago.

After all that hassle and waking up early to be one of the first 500 customers, was it worth it? Not really. As consolation, I ended up with:

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Starbucks Planner and their Christmas Tradition

You should also check out the 12 Cups with the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Give in to Giving which offers a chance for you to donate to 12 charities and to receive a Giving Journal designed by renowed artists.

Updated– Click here for the Limited Edition Starbucks Coffee 2009 Planner.

2009 starbucks planner

View more photos of the Limited Edition Starbucks Coffee 2009 Planner.

View the 2008 Starbucks Planner

starbucks plannerI kept getting these text messages from my daughter, M the past two weeks now “Don’t forget to order starbucks coffee”. Yesterday another text message came “I need 13 more stickers and I get the starbucks planner. whee” I showed the text message to a friend. My friend smirked “My two daughters are also crazy over their planners. I am looking for the supplier so I will just get from them”. Curious over these planners, my friend and I transferred over to the Starbucks Coffee just to take a look at the sample planner. Flipping through the pages, it’s no wonder my daughter is crazy enough to drink starbucks coffee to avail of it. Inside the pages are really cutesy keepsake envelopes. The planner seems like a mini scrapbook of sorts to hold in precious mementos. I can’t possibly drink 13 cups of coffee! Even if I could afford to drink Starbucks coffee every single day, it’s boring. Drinking in coffee shops is something I do once a week or whenever I meet a client. With this rate, it will take 3 months to complete the 13 stickers.

I don’t want my daughter to starve and use her allowance to buy coffee.

Starbucks really knows how to increase their sales this Christmas season. Obviously they are targetting the young crowd. I told my daughter that I couldn’t possibly drink all that coffee but I ‘d increase her allowance for the next few weeks . I considered the costs involved.

The planner needs 21 stickers (9 are for Starbucks featured Christmas beverages while 12 for Starbucks beverages of your choice). The cheapest price for regular drink is 80 pesos (I think) so that’s 960 pesos while Christmas drinks at 125 pesos minimum 1125 pesos for a total of 2085 pesos ($42) to complete the 21 stickers. How expensive. Looking at the bright side, Starbucks Christmas tradition is not just about increasing sales. They are in partnership with UNICEF’s SparkHope project . Acutally the thought that one is helping a cause makes the expense a little bit worthwhile. Let’s see how this works.

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Grant a Christmas Gift Wish

christmas giftWhat a coincidence to bump in to two of my fellow Ateneo parents from ASPAC (Ateneo School Parents Council) at our favorite desktop publishing shop in the UP shopping center! All of us were there for desktop publishing request. Somehow, we all were involved with Christmas projects. Mine was a tarpulin job order request for the Compassionate Friends’ 10th Worldwide Candle Light Project this coming December 10. My other friend had a feeding program. Rose showed me a wad of brochures for her latest project from Rotary Club, “Grant a Christmas Gift Wish” project. “Maybe you want to grant a wish of a less fortunate child?” I told her “you know I support projects like this.”

“Just choose and sponsor a child for 200 pesos and the child’s Christmas Gift wish will be granted”

There were so many children to choose. During my brief shadow grief moments ,when I miss my Luijoe, I tend to search for a 6 year old or 13 year old boy (Luijoe would have been 13 years old this year) . I feel that Luijoe lives in little boys too, protecting or guiding them. Maybe I imagine things or overreact to a situation. One time I was at the grocery with my husband. A bouncy 6 year old boy wearing white sando was all over the place. “Hmm gosh, he acts just like Luijoe”. The cute boy who was running from the other end, suddenly stopped in front of me and gave me an impish smile. Looking at the adorable boy, I smiled at him but off he went romping around the next aisle. “sigh” I thought…maybe my angel lives in him. I shrugged it off.

My husband caught up with me a few minutes later. “A little boy just tugged at my shirt and handed me the car keys I dropped. I wasn’t even aware that my keys fell off my pockets”. I asked “was it a hyperactive boy with the white sando ?” My husband looked surprised “How did you know?” Holding my husband’s hand, I told him the same boy stopped me on my tracks. Signs like these are very uplifting.

When Rose handed me the list, I took it as a sign from heaven, a sign from my son. As I looked over the photos and names of the children, I finally chose a 6 year old boy . His Christmas gift wish was a pair of rubber shoes. I told my friend that the boy might need a new set of clothes aside from the rubber shoes.

Rose added “I know this boy . Poor boy, he sleeps inside the cemetery. He’s part of my feeding program.”

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Philippine Idol Bloggers Create Buzz

bloggers
(ME,Jove, Bridget, Jher, Patty and Pamy who took the photo)

A meeting of Philippine Idol bloggers just before we went inside the theater. Jove Francisco (to my right), a popular Philippine Idol Blogger and ABC reporter told me that Philippine Idol bloggers built up Philippine Idol’s popularity. Maybe it’s true that bloggers contributed to the popularity of Philippine Idol. I remember when I first blogged about Philippine Idol. There were not many readers reading my Philippine Idol entries compared to recent entries. I notice that commercial breaks are getting longer indicating that there are more advertisers. The presence of celebrity guest in tonight’s show compared to the past show a vote of confidence for the Philippine Idol shows.

Tonight’s Big Band Night was such a refreshing change. Philippine Idol felt so alive and exciting. The top 4 [tag]Philippine Idol[/tag] finalists sang songs from the Big Band Era. The elegance of the production design and the songs made me want to dance with my husband. I am such a sucker for old standard music. It might seem boring to the younger crowd but it’s soothing and relaxing. Big bands makes all music sound great.

Gian measured up to the international standards of Big Band music. He was meant to sing this kind of music. I am not too confident if Mau can warm up to western audiences during the competition of a “World Idol”.

Who will be Philippine Idol’s Top 3? My prediction is:

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Christmas Shopping at 168 Shopping Mall , Divisoria

168 mallShopping with my daughters is always an opportunity to bond with them. Stress and worry from schoolwork sometimes makes it difficult for them to really talk to us. When I ask how they are , a usual reply is “okay lang”. I sometimes wonder if that means they are ok or they don’t feel like talking about it yet. When I notice a little downtime, I treat them to shopping or a rejuvenating spa. I suggest “Do you want to go shopping or need a massage?” More often than not, the sparkle in their eyes show that they appreciate this gesture. So this is what I told L . “Since you have no classes on Thursdays, maybe we can shop in Divisoria” .

shoppingOne unusual trait with L is her frugal nature. As a daughter, she is very generous giving everything she earns to us. But with clothes..no! She refuses to buy “branded” clothes. Her favorite shopping places are Divisoria or the “ukay-ukay” (thrift stores). I even gave her money to buy Levi’s jeans but she won’t hear of it. I often tell her that she should own at least a pair of Levi’s jeans or splurge once a year on a branded dress. One day, she finally got a Levi’s jeans only because she got it at a discounted price from a fund raising project of their Katipunan Magazine. L only buys if it is a bargain. Haayy. Her logic is clothes are so trendy that the next month, they just go out of fashion. She doesn’t want to spend unecessarily on clothes, shoes or bags. Maybe she will change when she is working.

168 mallIsn’t it silly that a mother is practically telling her daughter to splurge a little more on clothes?

Today, we went to Divisoria to buy materials for her crotchet gift project she planned to give her friends. We dropped by 168 Shopping Mall to see if there was anything new with this mall. Right now, 168 mall has more stalls and more interesting shopping finds compared to our June shopping adventure. The problem was the deluge of christmas shoppers.

168 mallThe crowd at 9:00 AM was hampering our movements especially in the first floor. I bought two handbags and I could barely walk down the crowded aisles. Moving around was difficult. L bought a dress worth 250 pesos , a pair of shoes worth 200 pesos and a few belts and accessories. After buying my gym outfits, I discovered I could not continue shopping . (TIP: bring an assistant to help you carry the load) . We carried shopping bags that we could barely hold on to.

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Kylee, the Sleek and Sassy Siamese

depressed kylee“What’s wrong Kylee?”, I knelt down and asked L’s [tag]Siamese cat[/tag]. I was about to step into my car the other day when I caught a furry ball on the rear tire. Kylee’s blue eyes shot me a look of despair. See, Kylee sits beside me in another chair at my office . That morning, my husband raised his voice over a family matter. Terrified of my husband’s raised voice, Kylee scrambled out of my office.

I comforted the adorable furry ball with soothing “cat talk” but Kylee refused to budge. Rubbing his neck, I muttered that it was safe to enter the home now because the master of the house has calmed down. “It’s okay, Kylee. Don’t be worried” I continued to caress his fur until he got annoyed and left in a huff.

Lady, M’s pet cat and Kylee, L’s Siamese cat are very much a part of our family that my husband could not bring himself to purchase a condominium. With high rise living, the cats would have no place to frolic around. That’s how much we value our pets.

It’s funny how I am now the cat-sitter of my daughter’s two felines while the kids are in their dorm during weekdays. They seek human company and usually end up hovering near me because they probably noticed that their master is nowhere in the house. Kylee stays by my side at the office while Lady sits by the couch in the den a few meters away. During the day, I am usually alone in the house with only these 2 pet cats to talk to. Between the two cats, I am closer to Kylee, L’s almost 8 years old Siamese cat. One time my husband overheard me talking to Kylee. Just allow me to share a snippet on Siamese cat’s personality before you think I have gone nuts. The great thing with Siamese Cats are that they are charming conversationalists.

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Screaming for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

krispy kreme[tag]Krispy Kreme Doughnuts[/tag] arrive in Manila. Sort of. A dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts were delivered at my doorstep today. What will I do with all these golden glazed doughnuts? I called up my daughters at the dorm if they wanted Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. “Of course, send it over”, my daughters yelled. “We will microwave it here”

krispy kremeI haven’t tried their favorite method of eating doughnuts aka microwave style. Maybe it’s the warmth and soft texture that adds to the pleasurable eating experience. Doughnuts are their number 1 comfort food. The 12 golden glazed doughnuts look perfectly glazed. Glazed doughnuts of Dunkin Doughnuts or Go Nuts look sloppily glazed to me. Hehe, there goes my compulsive-obsessive nature.

It has been years since I last tasted a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Sipping my aromatic Kenya Coffee brew, I took my first bite. The first thing that I notice is the very tender texture of the doughnut. The taste is practically the same if one compares Go Nuts and Cello’s. I can feel my blood sugar rising because Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are just too sweet. One doughnut is all you need to eat to get over the doughnut cravings. Later on, I will have to bike for 30 minutes to burn this excess sugar. Krispy Kreme better come up with a sugar free version.

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Pow Chavez eliminated from Philippine Idol

Pow Chavez gets the boot but this is not the end of her journey.

powchavez.jpgpowchavez1.jpg
What touched me was her good-bye speech that made me tear and everyone else in the audience: (thanks Jove for the transcript)

Pow Chavez: (before the announcement)
““Gusto ko lang magpasalamat sa lahat ng taong tumanggap sa akin, ah, iyun pong dalhin nyo ako sa stage na ito malaki na pong karangalan sa akin!”

Pow Chavez: (teary goodbye)
““Baka hindi na ako makakanta (pause) di ako umiiyak (pause) ah gusto ko lang pong magpasalamat sa (pause MR C hands her a hanky) mula po sa puso ko (pause) nagpapasalamat po ako tinanggap ninyo ako at nakarating ako ganito kalayo (pause) di po ako sumasali sa mga singing contest kasi natatakot ako na baka hindi nyo ko tanggapin, isang taong kagaya ko, pero kaya po ako narito kasi po gusto ko kumanta….

Of course, we accepted her for who she is. It’s just people like old school [tag]Philippine Idol[/tag] judge, Pilita Corales who insist on seeing her wear a dress. Forunately , Lea Salonga is more open minded and advised Pow that a dress doesn’t suit her. But Pow was game, she wore a dress for her movie clip (View Youtube video of her movie)
There may still be homophobics in the Philippines but when they see raw talent, they forget their homophobia like the homophobic parents of this blogger

My mom voted for Pow for all the weeks that she was competing. A huge feat for my mom given that she and my dad are majorly, majorly homophobic. Ang lungkot di ba? My parents are so homophobic but Pow somehow managed to win over my mom while I’ve been trying to get their tiny approval for years. An average of 75 votes kaya siya per week!

Pow has a strong fan base to keep her in the music industry. After every show, a crowd of adoring fans gather around her just to take photos with her. She is humble, charming and likeable to her fans taking time to thank them for their support after every photo ops. You don’t see a lot of fans hover around Miguel and Jan , the weaker performers but these two have powerful voting blocs. Pow wanted to stay in the competition while Miguel was lukewarm about his stay:

Ryan Agoncillo:
““Miguel for the past two weeks you’ve been scratching your head after results night kinakabahan ka lagi especially last night, it struck me when you said -I’m ready to go-. Gusto mo pa ba mag continue sa competition na ito, Miguel?”

Miguel Mendoza:
““Oo, if there are people who will still vote for me, okay lang, okay lang din hindi”

He tears after every results night. Maybe he is sad that the better Idol Finalists leave before him knowing they are so much better.

Haay naku. But that’s life. Life is unfair but it doesn’t have to be unfair forever. It is not the end of the road for Pow. We will be seeing more of Pow in concerts, album launching and tours.

More POWer to your future . You have a lot of fans, Pow.
mepow with Lpow with M

To read more about Pow’s elimination, read fellow blogger and ABC insider, Jove Francisco’s entry. If you missed Pow’s performance, here is the youtube video (below) of her song in the Movie Themes portion where she sang “So Far So Good” and the YouTube video “I’ll Give my Life for you”
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My Canon PowerShot A710 IS

canon powershot a710A month ago, I bought a new digital camera, a Canon Powershot A710 IS (Image Stablizer). You might have recalled I also bought a Canon Powershot A530 last June for a Boracay trip that never materialized. So why buy two cameras in a span of 4 months? Well I gave my old Canon Powershot A530 to L. Deprived of a digital camera for more than one year, L begged to have a new camera because it’s her last year in Ateneo. I thought “L has learned her lesson so maybe it’s time to give her a digital camera”.

At the height of her blogging days, she had quite a collection of digital gadgets to enhance her blog entries. Unfortunately L seems to have a jinx with digital toys. I love L very much. Sadly, L just hasn’t been lucky with anything containing “electronic chips” for the past two years. Let me count the ways:

1. For her 18th birthday, I bought her this nice camera phone. Two months after, the phone drowned as she slipped into the shallow waters of Tali Beach. She wanted to capture the breathtaking sunset. The dumbest thing one can ever do when a cellphone gets wet is to turn it on. Naturally, the battery will cause a short circuit, I told L. “Just remember to remove the battery when this happens and dry the phone”

2. Her Sony Cybershot digi cam together with her Panasonic Digital Camcorder w/ Still Mode/MP3/Voice Recording were stolen as she played a video game in the Power Plant Mall. She had placed the bag on the floor and was too preoccupied blasting away the enemies in the video screen . Little did she know that her bag was already snatched just a few feet away from her.

3. A sympathetic reader donated a part of the cost of a new digital camera, a Canon Ixus 430 in 2004. L used her savings and I pitched in the rest to buy this new camera costing 35,000 pesos in 2004. It was expensive because a 4 megapixel camera was a new thing back then. Barely a year after, she vacationed in San Francisco. As she toured one of San Francisco’s aquariums, she slipped and the contents of her handbag fell into a pond. Her handbag’s zipper was not zipped and the camera fell off head first . What did she do? She picked her camera and turned it on. ugh, read number 1 above. Don’t turn on a wet electronic gadget.

There are a lot more. I cannot even fathom how her CPU’s motherboard ended up in smoke.

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