Archive for August, 2007


Lola Menang

Lola Menang is my maternal grandmother’s sister-in-law (her brother’s wife), but I always forget this detail since I’ve always felt that she is a blood relative. Right now she’s like the family matriarch, being the oldest living member of the clan. Lola Menang is very much adored because of her happy disposition and the way she relates with everyone. She has such a great memory for a lady in her 90s. She knows the name of almost every single grandchild, even great-grandchildren – yes, even second degree grandchildren. Our side of the clan is always amazed by this since she rarely sees us (sometimes a couple of years or so would pass before we get to see her).

Recently, I witnessed again how well-loved Lola Menang is. Her daughter passed away (she has outlived 2 or 3 children already) recently, and when my dad and I went to the wake, we were surprised at just how many people were present. It was like a politician or VIP’s wake. Since we couldn’t see the banner, we even had doubts at first as to whether we came to right wake.

We stayed with Lola Menang for most of the evening, and we realized that all those people came for her. There was a steady stream of people approaching her throughout the evening. However, I enjoyed our chat in-between. I once again confirmed what a very kind heart she has. When my dad commented about the number of people present, how she’s friends with all of them, she said, “Alam mo, walang masamang tinapay sa akin (There’s no bad seed to me).” She said that she just takes people as they are because she discovered that when reaching out to people, they respond more when you accept them without judgment. That’s exactly how she lives her life and it shows in her physical appearance (she could pass for a 70 or 80-year-old) and her demeanor.  I could see that she moves through life with a certain lightness.

I also had a lesson in generosity. She was telling stories about my lolo and lola, and she told me how they and their children moved in with her family in their Antipolo farm during World War II (so that was why she is very close to our side of the clan). Since it was a farm and food was scarce during that time, there were people who came asking for food. She said that she never turned down any of them. She would give them kamote, or anything else that the farm produced. She said, “Bakit ko naman ipagdadamot yun? (Why should I be selfish with it?)” It was a remarkable deed because that farm was not an hacienda by any means, just a modest spread, and she had many other relatives to feed (those who evacuated to the place).

That evening, I felt so proud of my Lola Menang every time a person a would approach us and greet her so affectionately. I thought to myself that this is one old lady who is truly well-loved and respected not because of her age, but because she earned and truly deserves it.

Camino 1.5.1

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And the browser wars continue…at least on my machine.  I’ve been trying out Camino these past two days, and I’m very satisfied.  It’s blazing fast – makes Firefox appear sluggish.  The only compatibility issue so far is with the Yahoo Mail beta, but I can live with that since it’s not my main email.  I guess the only time I’ll be opening Firefox is when I need some of Yahoo Mail beta’s features.  I’m also waiting for Safari 3 to get out of beta to see if some compatibility issues are resolved.  Right now, Safari can’t handle the rich text editor and template features of Blogger beta – which Camino can.

Camino is Mozilla’s Mac-specific browser, evidenced by its tagline, “Mozilla Power, Mac Style”.  It’s like Firefox lite – does almost everything that Firefox does, minus the myriad of themes and extensions.  With Camino, you’ll need 3rd party apps like Caminicon and UnifyCamino to customize the interface.  But these are just cosmetic add-ons.  This Camino release works great as is.  I also like the feature that allows you to bookmark all current tabs as a group.  When you click its folder after bookmarking, all the tabs in the group will open.  Cool.

Bottom-line:  Safari for die-hard Apple users who don’t mind missing out on some features of blog and e-mail sites; Firefox for those who can’t live without its themes and extensions, and Camino for those who simply want fast, secure, no-frills browsing.

A Friend-ly Month

There are still 11 days left before the end of August, yet I feel like I should declare this as my personal ‘Friendship Month’.  In these past 20 days, I’ve had more than usual contact with different friends from every circle.  Suddenly I’m hearing from friends who I haven’t seen or talked to in a long time.  Almost everyday, someone would text, email, or pop up in chat.  Not just the usual ‘hello, how are you’ type of contact, but we actually got caught up on each other’s lives.  Friends  seem to come out of the woods, and I’m not even the one to initiate contact most of the time.

In Friendster, I added new friends and received a comment from a dear ex-officemate whom I haven’t heard from in a long time.  It actually started when she suddenly texted me asking for advice about her sick dog.

I also heard from or ran into old friends from grade school, high school, college, and previous jobs.  These are aside from the friends in these circles who I regularly see or talk to.  Then again, there’s also increased activity in that front even though we have different schedules and we’re in different locations.  Ah, the wonders of technology.  These days, it seems like I’m always on the cellphone, landline, or instant messaging.  New friendships are also thriving this month.

So cheers to you my friends, old and new!  Here’s to the reassurance that friendships survive in spite of time, distance, and circumstance – and that new ones can come out of nothing and nowhere. 🙂

Headache, be gone!

I had a throbbing headache this afternoon, which brewed coffee instantly cured. This inspired me to share my favorite quick fixes to a headache (taking medicine is a last resort):

Menthol candy – This is my first aid. Try inhaling deeply while the candy is in your mouth to get more of the menthol. This usually does the trick unless the headache is really bad. I am never without menthol candy in my bag (since I’m also prone to motion sickness). The only problem with this is that relief is sometimes short-lived.

Brewed coffee or peppermint tea – Only a recent discovery since I’m not much of a coffee or hot tea drinker, I’ve found these two brews to be very effective. Try inhaling the vapor of the peppermint tea while it’s still very hot. My headache is usually gone within minutes of drinking. There are conflicting opinions about the effect of coffee on headache, but in my case, coffee cures it.

Head massage – Especially in the areas surrounding (but not directly) where the ache is concentrated

Sleep – If time permits; sometimes even a 15-minute nap is enough

Medicine – If all else fails or none of the above is possible or available; I take paracetamol instead of aspirin, mefenamic acid or ibuprofen

If still nothing works, and if you get headaches way too often, it’s still best to consult with a doctor.

Paris, Je T’aime

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(poster from Wikipedia)

This is one of the gems of the 2007 Cinemanila Film Festival. I first came across this film at apple.com/trailers. Obviously, it was the setting that caught my attention. What held it and made me really want to watch the film was its concept – 18 short stories, 1 for every district (arrondissement) of Paris. Paris actually has 20 districts, but two of the stories fell through so only 18 were shot. It has an ensemble cast combining Hollywood and foreign actors, and writers and directors that include Gus van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, Wes Craven, Gerard Depardieu and Gena Rowlands (who also star in the episode that they directed and wrote, respectively).

I won’t give away the stories, but here are my favorite episodes: Tuileries – for a bit of slapstick comedy that is actually funny; Bastille – mature romantic drama; Tour Eiffel – funny story about mimes; Quartier de la Madeleine – one of the best (and most applauded during the screening) episodes and Elijah Wood was great without saying a single word (actually, the entire episode has no dialogue); Père-Lachaise – miscommunication comedy involving two guys, one of which is gay; Fauborg Saint-Denis – heartwarming romance without the cheesiness (and guys will love Natalie Portman who’s really gorgeous here 😉 ); and Quartier Latin – great scriptwriting by Gena Rowlands.

I have mixed feelings about the last episode, 14e arrondissement. I liked it until shortly towards the end, where it appeared to lose steam; and the ending was just cheesy and quite forced. And they could have done without the last scenes of the film, where they showed the connection between some of the characters of the different episodes in an attempt to tie the whole thing together. Shades of Love Actually there, but at least it was one whole, connected movie.

I liked the movie as a whole, minor disappointments aside. I recommend this film, and I will definitely get the DVD.

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(photo originally posted by vicicasas at philmug.ph

This motorcycle driver doesn’t deserve to have a dog – and to use a motorcycle.  Poor dog, poor fellow motorists in case of accident.

Motorcycles and their drivers are quickly replacing jeepneys as the menace of Metro Manila roads.  Now they’re putting even their animals in danger.

Grandparents

I’ll be writing about my Lola Menang (my maternal grandmother’s sister-in-law) in a future post, but first a background on my grandparents. I’m one of those unfortunate people who never got to spend much time with grandparents due circumstances beyond my control.

My maternal grandfather died a couple of years before my parents got married. According to my dad, I would probably get along with him best among all my grandparents. I am the grandchild who shares his love for books, languages, crossword puzzles, and anything else to do with words. He made my mom and her siblings read newspapers in Spanish. Some of them hated it but my mom liked it, and I would too had my lolo lived longer. But I would also probably be the one he would scold the most. He was very strict, a disciplinarian – and I am the second brattiest among his grandchildren (another cousin takes the prize for this). Physically, I inherited his height and slight frame. Lolo was studying to become a doctor when he met my lola. He married her, raised their family, and never finished medical school. He became a shoemaker, specializing in children’s shoes. We still have some of the shoe molds and the sewing machine to this day. He owned a rifle and loved shooting in the hills of Antipolo. He was a tall, handsome man who was quite popular with the ladies (even had an illegitimate child). During World War II, he and lola, together with their brood of then 6 children (which later on grew to 9), evacuated to Antipolo. Later on, he had a hand in how my parents met. He was also a smoker, which eventually led to his death due to lung cancer.

My maternal grandmother migrated to the United States, along with my three spinster aunts, when I was still a toddler. She came home to visit in 1981, when I was 5 years old, and again in 1983. She was here when Ninoy Aquino died and I remember how tears flowed from her eyes. She was already ill with diabetes and heart disease then, and was even confined for a time at the ICU of the Philippine Heart Center. She went back to the States shortly after, and sadly passed away on January 4, 1984. My lola was a simple country lass from Antipolo, where she met lolo when he went shooting near their place. (Side note: Our house still has the tiny hole that lolo made when he accidentally fired his rifle) She didn’t even reach high school so she couldn’t read and write very well, though she improved in her later years. What she lacked in education, she more than made up for in loving and caring for her family. She was ‘Nanay’ to everyone. In fact, I’m the only grandchild who calls her ‘lola’ since, sadly, I’m the only one who never had the chance to build a relationship with her.

I am the only one among the cousins who never really knew our grandparents. My older (by 10-15 years) cousins grew up with our lolo and lola, and same with my same-age and younger cousins, who all grew up in the States with lola. Now, my grandparents are buried together, and my mom is laid in the plot next to theirs. I’ve always liked my grandparents’ epitaph: “But for peace their hearts were yearning, and now peace laps them round“. I knew that they had a rollercoaster life so I thought that it was very appropriate. I had it memorized even as a child, though I always forgot to ask where it came from. It was actually originally “But for peace HIS heart…” when it was still just my lolo buried there, and it became plural when my lola joined him. Several years ago, while opening boxes of old books stored in our house, I found a poetry book owned by my mom and quickly skimmed through it. As if by fate, I stopped at a certain page and the epitaph just leapt at me. It was a tweaked line from this poem of Matthew Arnold, entitled “Requiescat”:

Strew on her roses, roses,
And never a spray of yew!
In quiet she reposes;
Ah, would that I did too!

 

Her mirth the world required;
She bathed it in smiles of glee.
But her heart was tired, tired,
And now they let her be.

 

Her life was turning, turning,
In mazes of heat and sound.
But for peace her soul was yearning,
And now peace laps her round
.

Her cabin’d, ample spirit,
It flutter’d and fail’d for breath.
To-night it doth inherit
The vasty hall of death.

I felt warm inside when I realized that my grandparents’ epitaph had my mom’s touch.

All that being said, I’m still fortunate that my dad and my relatives have been generous in sharing stories about my grandparents. In some way, I feel that I know them beyond their names and faces. Surely not as much as my cousins do, but it’s better than not knowing anything about them at all.

Shiny and Pretty

The new aluminum and glass iMac:

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The new Apple keyboard:

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Me likey! 😀  Not too sure how I feel about the ergonomics (or lack of) of the keyboard until I get to try it out, but otherwise, I think I know what my next Apple purchase will be. 😉

It’s not just a cosmetic upgrade, however.  See the new specs here.  It wouldn’t be such drudgery to work for hours using this thing of beauty that works just as good as it looks.  And play would be more fun. 🙂

I’m glad that Apple appears to be weaning itself from its signature white product color.  It’s simple and elegant, but hell on cleanliness maintenance.

(photos from apple.com) 

A New Shrine

This morning, our Parish was dedicated as a Diocesan Shrine – with a rather kilometric official name:  Dambana ni Maria, Inang Mapag-Ampon ng Marikina, Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados.  The English name is shorter and easier to remember – Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned.  Come September 8, an Auxiliary Bishop will be installed, paving the way for the church to eventually become a Cathedral and the seat of the future Diocese of Marikina.In preparation for this, the church was spiffed up, but I must say that I didn’t quite like the results.  It is a Baroque church and they painted over the façade in white!  The interiors also went through a number of renovations/remodelings under a succession of Parish Priests.  There are now very few traces of its Baroque origins.  I’ll be posting photos soon.  I didn’t want to join the fray of photographers earlier so I’ll have to take pictures on another, quieter day.  I don’t know what happened to the Heritage Society of Marikina.  They did a good job with Kapitan Moy and the Shoe Museum, which are just across the church.  These two edifices retained their Spanish casa and Fort Santiago-esque look, and a well-preserved Baroque church would have completed the heritage block.  I don’t know whether they approached the Parish officials, or if their influence and efforts just weren’t enough.Temporal gripes aside, the elevation to a shrine – and a future cathedral – is a great blessing not only to our Parish, but to Marikina City in general.  More background about the Parish and its patroness in the coming days.  If you’re going on a pilgrimage, please include the new Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned on J.P. Rizal Street, Sta. Elena, Marikina City.

In a previous post, I wrote that I would like to see another book by J.K. Rowling about Harry’s adventures – only because I felt like there were still some missing details that made me reluctant to let go of his story.  Well, my friend Anna sent me a transcript of a chat in which J.K. Rowling filled in the gaps in the story. (Sorry I can’t place a link here since Anna just copy-pasted the entire thing in an email.  That’s what Google’s for. ;-))  I’m ok now, no longer hoping for that next book.  If she ever will write again about Harry’s world, I think it should be about the original Order of the Phoenix, as I also wrote in that previous post.  Harry’s done, all (or most) of the questions have been answered.