fireworksAfter having an early dinner, Butch dragged all of us to the SM Mall of Asia. Knowing there are [tag]fireworks display[/tag] at 7:00 PM every fridays and saturdays, the idea of sipping coffee and watching the outdoors fireworks display sounded like a swell idea. Just as we sat down on our chairs in the UCC Vienna Cafe, the crowd of mall shoppers started to swell. Fumbling with my camera’s navigation buttons, I failed to see the video option. Fireworks’ images don’t say much of the dazzling display . It’s the video that captures the splash of colors and the sounds of the crowd’s gasp of oooooh and ahhhs. Too bad I didn’t get to take a video of the 5 minute fireworks’ display. It’s my first time to see a huge fireworks display amidst a wide area of black space of Manila Bay. It’s really pretty.

Just as we went back to the coffee shop, Steven Tan, the general manager of SM Mall of Asia called out my husband’s name. What a delight to see Steven! He invited us to their New Year Eve’s [tag]fireworks[/tag] display at 12 midnight. According to Steven, the pyrotechnics cost 1.8 million pesos. What a hefty sum to blow off for just a few minutes. Perhaps the fireworks play a purpose to drive away the evil spirits and bring in good luck and harmony for the new year. I don’t know if we are going to watch the fireworks display. It’s always been our New Year’s Eve tradition to create loud noises ,toot the horns, light up a few sparklers and fireworks and then eat our noche buena. Safety is an important consideration . I get paranoid of stray bullets and careless people who just throw off fireworks to passing cars. We’ll see if a change of scenery might be worth it.

These are a few Photos of the Fireworks display that I took tonight.

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salamat docThe overwhelming response to the episode, “Positibo ang Pinoy” in ABS CBN “Salamat Dok” shows the wide coverage of the show not only in the Philippines but in the USA , Australia, Saudi Arabia or wherever the Filipino Channel is . Right after my 15 minute segment, I checked my phone and to my surprise saw 31 text messages and 21 missed calls. For the next two days, my phone received a barrage of “missed calls” and text messages. I lost count. It probably reached to over 100 messages and 50 missed calls. Basking in the cool morning breeze , the show was shot live in an outdoor scene. See, I never thought anyone would be watching a 6:00 AM show so I gave away my cellphone number freely . I have often done that in other TV shows and newspaper interviews. My cellphone number and The Compassionate Friends website flashed on the screen for bereaved parents who might want to join our support group. Though I got around 20 legitimate queries from bereaved family members, the rest of the inquiries probably misunderstood “The Compassionate Friends” purpose. Maybe they thought I was their compassionate friend. I can do only so much , really. Much as I want to help the world, I have a family to attend to and I need to focus on my mission to help bereaved families towards a positive resolution of grief.

Receiving a barrage of text messages and missed calls made me realize the value of the text messaging among cellphone users. Without revealing the content of the text messages, these are some of my observations.

1. [tag]Cellphone[/tag] text messaging is used as “talk-therapy” . Cellphone users unload their problems to someone who had been there. Knowing someone out there is listening comforts them. Even to acknowledge a simple “I understand” evokes a “Thank you so much” reply.

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One of the [tag]Christmas presents[/tag] I gave the two girls is a BLESSING BOX, an idea I got from Darcie Sims’ The Blessing Box tip. And no, I don’t think it’s Oprah’s original idea.

blessing box

Inside this little box, are tiny messages and reminders of the joys and blessings of my life. Instead of keeping a litany of hurt and failure in my head, now I commit these “gifts of love” to paper and place them in my box, where I can read them, touch them, hold them any time I need to. This little box represents the best things in my life and I never again have to fear forgetting the love and the light in my life. They are all here, in my Blessing Box, waiting for me to cherish them again and again and again…

Make a [tag]Blessing Box[/tag] for yourself this season. And watch it change your life. Never again will you count what you have lost or forgotten. Now you will always be reminded of the treasures in your life. No matter how sparkly or rusted, these memories and blessings are yours, to treasure, to cherish, to keep, to hold, to share.

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[tag]Christmas Day[/tag] has just begun. The season flows. Magic is in the air. The girls are giddy after gift opening. The hubby is mushy and romantic. It’s a wonderful start of the day. For others, the holidays can be lonely and difficult. You are not the exception if you find yourselves facing a less-than-ideal holiday. How easy, but untrue to tell ourselves the rest of world is experiencing the perfect holiday and we’re alone in conflict. We can do something about it. Create our own holiday agenda. Buy yourself a gift. Find someone to whom you can give. Unleash your loving , nurturing self and give in to the holiday spirit. Go with the flow.

If I could give each of you a gift I would want to give you the gift of peace, as much peace as you can possibly find. If you find your situation is less than ideal, I hope you take what’s good and let go of the rest.

Enjoy and cherish this holiday.


I am going to let the photos speak for itself. Click Christmas Eve/Day 2006 photos

last christmas
(Luijoe’s last Christmas in 1999, Baguio City)

Christmas is a special time of year. Although shiny decorations and twinkling lights are the window dressing for this exciting festivity, it is the warmth and love of family and friends that make the holiday season so memorable. However, it can be a painful time for those experiencing the recent loss of a loved one. It must be hard for the newly bereaved family members who lost Anne Sherina only last Monday, December 18, 2006. Anne Sherina died of “pulmonary affliction due to Dengue Shock Syndrome”. Grief in Christmas is doubly daunting for this family.

So when ABS-CBN “Salamat Doc” called me up to guest live for tomorrow’s Christmas Eve 6:00 AM episode, I didn’t hesitate. Though my busy schedule was full, I made room for this show. I know there are a lot of newly bereaved and seasoned grievers who are still coping with the difficulties of the holidays. My heart sometimes still echoes with emptiness as I roll out the gingerbread dough or hang the Christmas Angel cookies near Luijoe’s Memorial shrine. I think that hurt will always be with me, but now I know it only as a momentary ache – not like the first year when grief drowned over me in huge waves, each new wave hurling me deeper and deeper into despair.

My husband and I have walked that difficult road every Christmas.

The staff took a VTR of how I coped with Christmas through the years. I showed Luijoe’s memorial table, his memory box, toys, books and all the angel decors of our family den. I thought that my husband would buckle down in tears because he has never opened Luijoe’s photo album in years. The staff told us to sift through Luijoe’s photos. This VTR is indeed therapy for my husband. Knowing we are helping others gives us the courage to share our story, on how we coped and survived. We want to show that love isn’t something that ends with death.

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laurenIt’s December 22, 1996. My 10 year old Lauren sick with asthma comforted herself by writing her first journal entry at personal website at the project. Inspired by an online friend, Hayley , she started “Lauren’s Journal”. It continues to be shown at the because the domain owners believe it is a lifetime project. I mention “journal”. In the Web 1.0 era, blogging was unheard of. Instead, we saw personal home pages, the personal diary and daily opinion column. One of the most highly touted features of the Web 2.0 era is the rise of blogging. At its most basic, a blog is just a personal home page in diary format. For clarity sake, I now refer to it as a “blog” . They say Lauren is the First Pinoy Blogger.

I can’t help reading her archives and smiling at her childlike qualities. In all her 10 year old innocence, she still believed in Santa Claus…

Finally….the moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s already 8:00 and my mom and dad will soon pick my grandparents up. Then we will go to Midnight Mass and eat our Christmas dinner. And we get to open one present. Oh yeah, might as well sleep in the couch tonight so I can catch that Santa guy!

In those days, there were less than 20,000 internet users in the Philippines. Basically, it was new and alien. I think people do get especially worked up for some reason over the Internet. Internt transformed a fear driven society close to absolute paranoia where it was unhealthy to expose oneself online. “Loser”, “Loner”, “Geek” are words often used to describe the internet users. Lauren and I received so much criticism due to our internet presence. Here is one painful encounter from her English teacher culled from one of her entries…

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christmas-giftsAs a young child, my wonderful dad aka Santa Claus often asked me and my siblings to list down the things we wanted for Christmas. Beside the “must-have” item in my [tag]wish list[/tag] is a star which means, “You have to buy this dad”. My wish list comprised of at least 10 items in it . Dad bought 3 items from that list. There is something about opening many little gifts that brings sparkle to a child’s innocent eyes. It’s magical. Years later as a mom, I did the same thing to my precocious children and asked for their “[tag]Christmas Wish List[/tag]”. I said my budget is nothing more than 5,000 pesos in total. In the course of the year, I dish out presents that surpass 5,000 pesos anyway. Christmas is not the only occasion they receive gifts. If a daughter earns good grades, she gets a special gift. If they have birthdays, I also shower them with their desired gift. Christmas is just another excuse to receive gifts and I am not about to spend a lot. Or so I thought. L and M gave me their wish list. It wasn’t a list. Look at what I got:

1. L’s wish list

– Distortion pedal
– Plane ticket out of the Philippines

2. M’s wish list

MOTORAZR V3x in Pumpkin Color: the 2nd of 5 Motorola Kikay Phones
– all of the above.

See, it’s not even a list “list”. I have a limited selection. They are expensive except for L’s distortion pedal which fits the budget range. It’s M’s first time to ask for a new cellphone. Her Nokia 6600 was stolen a year ago and it’s my policy that if you lose something, you don’t get a replacement until a year after. A few days later, L tells me she wants the guitar effects pedal which is over 5000 pesos. And as we all know, a ticket to the USA cost 50,000 pesos. I perused over the list and thought out loud Uh, no ticket this year. Perhaps the guitar effects pedal for L and a new flip top phone for M which doesn’t have to be Motorola. I don’t like the brand Motorola.

Then I ask my husband’s wish list. He goes:

“A new home”

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time [tag]Time Magazine’s Person of the Year[/tag] issue is coming out on Monday, and guess who that person is?

It’s me. Well yeah, it’s me, it’s you, and apparently, everyone else in the internet.Read Time Cover story. Every year Time Magazine recognizes one person, or persons, that, through ability, invention, accomplishment, or otherwise, has significantly influenced the world for that year. ” YOU were named TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year’ Saturday for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as ‘blogs’, video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace… You — YES, YOU — beat out candidates including Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, China’s President Hu Jintao, North Korean leader et. al.”

America loves its solitary geniuses—its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses—but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

Do you deserve the award?

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stressed out christmas shopperI just had to laugh when I saw one of my blog’s referrers “photo of a stressed Christmas Shopper”. Haha. Why would anyone want to check out on the faces of [tag]stressed out Christmas shoppers[/tag]? This [tag]Christmas season[/tag] has been stressful because of the failed attempts to close the purchase of a real estate property. It’s been two months since the Amityville Househunting nightmare and we thought we could finally have a new property this month. Should I be Exasperated? Irritated? Annoyed? or should I just let it go? The most silly things happen when one buys real estate in the open market.

Let me just name a few irritants.

1. Once sellers know there is a buyer for their property, they suddenly change their mind. This seller increased her selling price by half a million. Can you imagine the stupidity?

2. Brokers can destroy a deal. Some of these brokers aren’t even licensed and demand a 5% commission from the seller. Seller complains to buyer that their net proceeds are low. Why is that my problem now? Why are they selling in the first place?

3. A Chinese seller refused to meet with us before payment. “Everything should be done in the bank”, the broker says. Broker says seller is a Chinese and is wary of strangers and fears being kidnapped. Of all the stupid excuses! My imagination starts to get wild. I think the broker is pulling our leg. Maybe she kidnapped the seller.

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