Friday, November 25, 2005

Ready or not?

Four days to go, and we're flying home. But until now, I haven't done any preparations at all. Laundry is still piled up, have a class tomorrow, have to buy some pasalubongs, and in between these must-do-urgently things, need to start rambling our things back in the maleta. What things? That I still have to iron out in my mind.

So many things to do with so little time. I know I don't have the luxury of time, that's why I try to squeeze in a few minutes blogging, as this is equally important as finishing the laundry. :)

Anyway, just dropping by today for some checking.

To my dear Pinas, welcome us back with your warm embrace! (no bad news please)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Newfound friends

I am just glad that things are slowly lighting up on us -- I mean, in terms of gaining friends around the vicinity. Remember my post about how nurses care for young children? Well, one time, Seki-san (the first nurse who came to our house) took us to the Nishi-Kameari Jidoukan (Children's Center), along with some new friends. The center itself poses a warm welcome for kids and there are lots of toys to play with. We arrived there just a few minutes before the exercises-cum-dancing-and-singing began. My son, though he is still very young to join the toddlers, enjoyed it as well. Just seeing other kids play and laugh makes my son smile, and enjoy every laughing moment with them. Just too bad that I am not "girlscout" enough to bring my camera.

Now, I'd like to talk about my newfound friends who live just a few blocks away from our apartment. Aside from Seki-san, who is a mother of 2, I met Noby (mom of 2, Pinay married to a Jap), and Yuki-san and her only daughter Erika-san.

Noby is somehow just like me when I first arrived here. She's hesitant to go out, partly because she knows only a little of Nihonggo, and partly also because it's difficult for her to tend 2 children outside of home -- always abonai (dangerous).

Yuki-san, I am surprised, knows a little Tagalog. From whom or where did she learn Tag? That, I have yet to find out. The mom and daughter are both friendly and easy to get along with. Erika-san had fun moving Luke's stroller while on our way to the children's center. Just this evening, Yuki-san came by to give me her contact numbers, just in case I need some help. And, I needed help, so I asked her to interpret a kind of mail for me. She did not only interpret it, she wrote the answers herself and volunteered to mail that piece of paper to the post office on her way home.

On the train this evening, on our way home, I also met a new friend. She offered me her seat coz she saw me standing carrying a heaveyweight baby in front and a backpack (at the back of course). She happens to live in Ayase, just one station away, and I'm just glad to know that. She gave me her contact number and she wants me to give her a call one time.

Another friend, though we haven't seen each other yet in person, was introduced to us by another friend (hubby's labmate). She lives a little far from here -- just like our other friends -- but she's willing to meet up with us sometime. She also offered help especially when it concerns our babies (she also has a son).

Hmmm... the number is increasing. Life now is not as hard and confusing as before. Having friends counts a lot in making things easier for us. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pinoy culture

Philippines is rather known as a worse place to live in. So much have been written, read or talked about the unending corruption and serious-about-politics-only government and the ever worsening economy, with oil price hiking every week. Many Juans and Juanas have gone out to seek for green (not greener, coz there is nothing green in Pinas anymore) pasture.

But for now, let's pause for a while. My head is aching on hearing nothing but bad-and-sad news. For life's sake, let's try to look at the brighter side. To start, here is a write up about what is truly and uniquely Pinoy -- from the eye of a foreign journalist who has immersed himself deeply into this where-else-but-in-Pinas culture. So, read on, and let's hope that this brightens up your day.

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" -- (Proverbs 22:1)

WHEN I arrived in the Philippines from the UK six years ago, one of the first cultural differences to strike me was names. The subject has provided a continuing source of amazement and amusement ever since.

The first unusual thing, from an English perspective, is that everyone here has a nickname. In the staid and boring United Kingdom, we have nicknames in kindergarten, but when we move into adulthood we tend, I am glad to say, to lose them.

The second thing that struck me is that Philippine names for both girls and boys tend to be what we in the UK would regard as overbearingly cutesy for anyone over about five. Fifty-five-year-olds colleague put it. Where I come from, a boy with a nickname like Boy Blue or Honey Boy would be beaten to death at school by pre-adolescent bullies, and never make it to adulthood. So, probably, would girls with names like Babes, Lovely, Precious, Peachy or Apples. Yuk, ech ech. Here, however, no one bats an eyelid. Then I noticed how many people have what I have come to call "door-bell names". These are nicknames that sound like -well, doorbells. There are millions of them. Bing, Bong, Ding, and Dong are some of the more common. They can be, and frequently are, used in even more door-bell-like combinations such as Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong, Ting-Ting, and so on. Even our newly appointed chief of police has a doorbell name Ping. None of these doorbell names exist where I come from, and hence sound unusually amusing to my untutored foreign ear. Someone once told me that one of the Bings, when asked why he was called Bing, replied, "because my brother is called Bong". Faultless logic. Dong, of course, is a particularly funny one for me, as where I come from "dong" is a slang word for well; perhaps "talong" is the best Tagalog equivalent.

Repeating names was another novelty to me, having never before encountered people with names like Len-Len, Let-Let, Mai-Mai, or Ning-Ning. The secretary I inherited on my arrival had an unusual one: Leck-Leck. Such names are then frequently further refined by using the "squared" symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2. This had me very confused for a while.

Then there is the trend for parents to stick to a theme when naming their children. This can be as simple as making them all begin with the same letter, as in Jun, Jimmy, Janice, and Joy. More imaginative parents shoot for more sophisticated forms of assonance or rhyme, as in Biboy, Boboy, Buboy, Baboy (notice the names get worse the more kids there are-best to be born early or you could end up being a Baboy). Even better, parents can create whole families of, say, desserts (Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Honey Pie) or flowers (Rose, Daffodil, Tulip). The main advantage of such combinations is that they look great painted across your trunk if you're a cab driver. That's another thing I'd never seen before coming to Manila -- taxis with the driver's kids' names on the trunk.

Another whole eye-opening field for the foreign visitor is the phenomenon of the "composite" name. This includes names like Jejomar (for Jesus, Joseph and Mary), and the remarkable Luzviminda (for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, believe it or not). That's a bit like me being called something like "Engscowani" (for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Between you and me, I'm glad I'm not. And how could I forget to mention the fabulous concept of the randomly inserted letter 'h'. Quite what this device is supposed to achieve, I have not yet figured out, but I think it is designed to give a touch of class to an otherwise only averagely weird name. It results in creations like Jhun, Lhenn, Ghemma, and Jhimmy. Or how about Jhun-Jhun (Jhun2)?

How boring to come from a country like the UK full of people with names like John Smith. How wonderful to come from a country where imagination and exoticism
rule the world of names. Even the towns here have weird names; my favorite is the unbelievably named town of Sexmoan (ironically close to Olongapo and Angeles). Where else in the world could that really be true? Where else in the world could the head of the Church really be called Cardinal Sin? Where else but the Philippines! Note: Philippines has a senator named Joker, and it is his legal name.

This is very true, isn't it? This explains partly why I nicknamed my firstborn "coy-coy." :)

P.S. The article was passed on to me via chain email from a friend, so the source is undetermined, at least on my part. I hope I am not violating any copyright or publishing laws here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


So, what about today? Nothing special, really. Just a bunch of this and that -- things that don't even probably matter to most of you.

Early this morning, this part of the world had another shake, which is very usual. As to what intensity and where the epicenter was, I don't know. I didn't have time to know. Or, maybe, I just get used to this shake so I didn't bother knowing it. Besides, it was just weak and short (I think) compared to what is about to come -- a prediction that anytime, the major one will occur in Kanto area where Tokyo is located.

Today is a momentous event in the life of Japan's Princess Sayako as she laid off her royal veil, and follows her heart and vowed to a lifelong commitment to a 'commoner' (an esteemed businessman). Seldom we see a case like this, I think only in fables. To our dear princess, Gambatte!

I also heard that US President Bush arrived in Kyoto today, although there's not much news about this. It's either that there's not much interesting to report about this visit or there's what they call news block (or black out?). Oh, never mind. I am not that interested anyway.

How about in my home country? Ahh, another never-mind attitude. I bet nothing is new. Ooopps, wait. Today is BONUS day -- at least for those patiently and painstakingly serving the government. I also bet most karaoke bars are jampacked to this time.

This morning (almost 12nn already) was also one of those frequent visits to Luke's pedia. The consultation itself was quick, but we had to hurdle the very cold air. I had to wrap my son with layers of fleece blanket to his comfort. My hands were getting numb, so I had no choice but to buy gloves. If not for the meds, I would not have decided to go out of the house. I do hope the weather will get better in the next few days.

We arrived home just before dark. I fed my son, put him to sleep, and started chatting with a few friends. Hubby came a few hours later, had dinner, fixed the table and kitchen mess. I did some of the laundry (will do the rest tomorrow, hopefully). Milk time for my son at around past ten, and a few minutes after he burped, I danced him to sleep. Now, he is lying on my lap while I endure typing this post with only one hand. Only then I realized that the TODAY I am talking about here is already YESTERDAY. Coz it's already 5 minutes past 1AM here.

Yes, today may not matter to most of you, but it does to me a lot. Nothing special has happened. But the fact that I am still alive, still breathing and fighting the autumn chill, this day means a lot to me. And I owe it to my Maker. And I do hope to see another tomorrow.

Here's to more todays and tomorrows.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Murphy's Law

I've earlier (last week) drafted a post about this, but since I wasn't able to finish it (please don't ask me why) and it seems history to me already, I've decided to trash it out. But then, I guess it's meant to be posted here coz Murphy's Law was at work with (or against??) me again just this afternoon in my English class.

Murphy's Law is one thing I've learned from my management course which proves to be so true in many ways and in any situation. It says, "if anything can go wrong, it will."

As far as my English lessons and my budding ELT career here in Japan are concerned, this prepare-for-some-kinda-disaster law has attacked me for at least thrice since last week. First, at the interview where I was asked to give a 5-10minute demo lesson. Of course, I was prepared for that, but only to realize later that my pseudo-student is a beginner and the materials that I brought with me were for advanced ones. Calm and composed still, I had to come up with my unplanned Plan B, that is, kill the time by introducing myself and giving some jokingly explanation about my name. Then, I went on with some tongue twisters which the student found them all musukashi (difficult) yet interesting and enjoyable. And because of that, I got in.

Next test of Murphy's Law came in the following day. In my (actual) lesson, I was supposed to have my student listen to a CD -- but there was nothing on the CD, I mean, the file was there but nothing was heard while it was being played. In some kinda luck, the materials that I brought to the interview were still in my handy envelope, and we used that in my lesson instead. Ahh, Murphy's Law almost got me there.

Then, just this afternoon, in my lesson with the same student, Murphy's Law attacked again. I brought a new CD which can be normally played in a CD player. Guess what's the problem this time? The student did not bring his CD player. So what should we do then? Again, in a strike of good luck, some old materials were still in my magic envelope, and got their chance to be used again, unplanned. Hahaha, Murphy must be shaking his head.

Life indeed is full of surprises, and they normally happen at a time you least expect them to come your way. So, don't let Murphy surprise you. Instead, surprise him back, and be on alert always so that in the end, you'll have the last laugh. Ha, ha, ha!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Joseph the Dreamer

I was reading a storybook to my son about Joseph the dreamer yesterday afternoon. And, as always, a few teardrops gently flew down my cheeks when it came to that part where Joseph revealed himself to his brothers saying he had already forgiven them, and embracing each other.

Ahh, I could still picture that very tearful scene when I first saw a stage play about his life back in my college days at UPLB. Another scene that touched me most was when Joseph finally reunited with his father Jacob. I could not recall the exact lines, but the performance was so great and rendered so much heart-melting emotions that struck me even in my deepest veins. I remember watching the play several times (well, I volunteered as an usherette then so I got to watch it several times, for free), and after each time, my hanky became soiled from wiping off the tears from my eyes and cheeks ... and some **** from my nostrils :)

Joseph's life tells us that trusting Him who knows what's best for us, is the only and best way we can do as we go through our struggles in life and see light in a rather dark environment. Joseph had been through a lot of hardships -- being sold by his own brothers, getting seduced by potiphar's wife, and ending up in prison for many years for a crime he did not do. Despite these, he did not lose hope but all the more trusted the Lord for His leading. Soon enough, the Lord led him to the right path where his gift of interpreting dreams could be of utmost use, and eventually became ruler of Egypt.

If only we could live our lives the way Joseph did, then peace and love will abound in this place called Earth.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh, no! my pants won't zip! :)

Eii, let me rephrase that. Oh, no! I can't zip my pants!

I was preparing for my job interview just this afternoon. When I have already decided what to wear, I slowly put on my pants suit. To my amazement, the pants no longer fit me! Oh my! (with matching beaming eyes) So, I put out (again!) my handy baul and tried to find a new pair. And here's another oh my! No pants would fit me na! "What shall I do now?" I asked myself in a panicky voice. I don't want to wear skirt (if ever they'd fit me too) coz it's cold outside, and only a thin stockings would cover my legs. Since time was ticking so fast, I finally decided to wear skirt, revealing my bulging tummy, but fortunately covered with my coat. Hay ...

I never thought that I would grow this big. I mean, to the point that I could no longer wear my precious suits (where, for the record, I invested much much on these). My usual weight (should i say the exact figure?) returned a few months after giving birth. Well, that's what I thought. Not until this PM. Sayang naman ang mga damit ko. :(

Despite this, I am still very much happy kase my hubby still thinks I am as sexy as before. Yah, he just said that this morning! LOL :))

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is a friend?

This question has been bugging and boggling my mind for many days now. Anyone care to give me a reliable true-blue definition of this oftenly misused, overused and/or abused English term? (Why, in the first place, do I have to emphasize that it's an Eigo? ... no reason, actually)

I have read/known many good and heart-melting definitions of a friend, but I wonder if those descriptions were really true. Do the authors/writers of those have actually experienced a kind of friend they defined as such, or just popped out of their imagination? Classic examples are:

A friend in need is a friend in deed (or indeed?)

A friend is someone who shares your ups and downs, always there to lend a helping hand or a listening ear ... and so many more body parts to that effect

A friend loves at all times(Prov. 17:17)

In my entire life, I guess I have proved these definitions to be more or less true in more ways than one, in some way or another. (anung klaseng sentens to?, gets nyo?)

So, what am i getting at here? Nothing much, I just miss my friends :)

Wherst art thou, ye all my dear friends?
Yah, I know, you're just there ... reading my blogs! Leave a note, will ya?