Wednesday, March 31, 2010


*Sometimes I will be posting individual photos that capture something I am thankful for, shots that don't need much explanation. This is the first.How can you not be grateful for a view like this one? No, this is not from our window. I took a day trip today and snapped this along the path to a hidden, miraculous spot.

Monday, March 29, 2010


From left: The whip; crown of thorns; S carries the cross.
This is the second time we walk through this amazing, interactive, Lenten experience set up by Church Simplified. The Walkway installations had the Stations of the Cross brought to relevance in our 20th century lives.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


New friends, good food, the setting an oasis hidden in the middle of the city. Great way to start the summer!


Most of the world is scrambling to belatedly address earth issues. But the cliche holds: better late than never. This is the second year we've taken part. And we are very conscious about teaching the kids about the beautiful world and generous Mother Nature that they are going to inherit, together with all the problems previous generations have caused.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Sunshine's nursery class was surprisingly tight-knit. The kids were sad about having to move up, and making new friends and having new teachers. One of the moms had the great idea of a post-Moving Up Day activity. She rented a huge inflatable "castle". The kids bounced around for hours! Sunshine and Sunbeam had a blast!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Sunbeam went without a nappy all day. I am looking forward to more days like this! Nighttime is another story, for both Sunbeam and Sunshine. But going without nappies during the day is a breakthrough in growing up and in my grocery budget!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I am not from this part of the city. I grew up in the south, many miles and nearly 2 hours drive away in regular traffic. So when I was tasked with house hunting, S told me which areas were worth taking a look at. I viewed some dumps, and some passable places. And then I saw this one. I entered the driveway in the afternoon. The front entrance and lobby were homey and well-kept. It was breezy and I could hear voices of children playing.
Do you ever get a warm, tingling feeling telling you that something is going to be good? Well, I got that when I walked into this place.
We're right in the middle of this smog-filled, noisy city, but you wouldn't know that by looking out the window. Check out our view:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Before I slurp my vegetable miso ramen, I lift my eyes and thank God for this hearty, soul-satisfying bowl of goodness. It's a rich, spicy broth with chewy noodles, vegetables, large cloves of burnt garlic, topped with a smidgen of bright red chili paste, all cooked by an incredibly cranky chef/owner. He sometimes run out of soup and has to close early- it's that good.
S and I crave this soup every two weeks or so. All other bowls pale in comparison. So we had our fix today over a quick lunch, and I scarfed down my bowl, despite a rather heavy mid-morning snack!

We had some unexpected good news later in the day, and treated ourselves to dinner at an old Japanese favorite. Prices had gone up (!) but the food was as good as ever. It's always nice to come back to a place where they greet you and they know how you like your extra condiments!

Monday, March 22, 2010


It was a good year. It started out with much trepidation, brave attempts to stave off tears, and hesitant forays into the unknown.
Today it culminated with friendship, voices in song, and more tears, this time from the teachers!
Sunshine's Moving Up Day was a simple event which showed off his confidence, sense of humor, and the bonds of friendship he has formed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Cousins intrigued us with their description of this total dump. But they were right. This place does serve the best chicken inasal! The chicken was juicy and flavorful, without being too vinegary or leathery, and cooked from raw over a charcoal grill! The rice was not too oily and had the right amount of the prerequisite garlic bits. Complete condiments to mix your own dipping sauce: vinegar, soy sauce, calamansi, sili. But the chicken itself was so good, I almost didn't need the sauce. Almost, but not quite, because what is inasal without that sauce?

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Someone took over my weekly Saturday commitment just for this week, so I was hoping for a longer lie-in. But Sunshine awoke at the crack of dawn, and foreseeing a morning of excess energy, S announced that we would go for dumplings in Chinatown.
From left: Sunbeam dressed to the hilt for her Chinatown jaunt; in shoes way too large and way too gaudy (she insisted on them!); stacks of dimsum steamers waiting to be ordered.
An easy drive, since it's a Saturday, and half an hour later we were choosing from a selection of dimsum carts: shrimp, seafood, siopao, veggie, and others I don't know the name of. Sunshine walloped the siopao and Sunbeam ate all the shrimp, handing me the empty dumpling wrappers.

After that heavy breakfast, we meandered down the relatively empty streets, popping in and out of various establishments. An egg tart and chocolate gold coins were some of the treats along the way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Here is our grocery list. As we put each item into the cart, I point to the corresponding words and Sunshine ticks off the box.
There was a time when groceries were a luxury. We were scrimping and pinching pesos, finding ways to fill the tummy with enough nutrition without emptying the wallet. Sunshine, then about 2 years old, offered daily prayers asking Papá Dios for rice.
This is only a partial list, but whether partial or complete, rice is NEVER on the list. Because S's office gives us 50 kilos of rice a month. Way more than we can handle. Enough to share with another family.
How's that for answered prayers?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Baba had over a hundred Rosaries, and this was after she had given away several. Baba knew how she got each one, and there's a list floating around somewhere...
I picked out a few to keep after she had gone. Aren't these a sublime remembrance of one's grandmother or great grandmother?
From the left: A one decade Rosary chaplet; one with the St. Benedict medal, likely from the Benedictine fathers who called her Mommy; for Sunshine, a handsome one with square wood beads; for Sunbeam, a heavy silver antique looking piece. They should probably be restrung and the silver one needs polishing, but they are all beautiful pieces.
I will turn them over to the kids when they are old enough to appreciate and care for these special gifts.
The priest said during her funeral Mass that Baba had two passions in life: her children and her faith.
Thank you, Baba, for your lasting examples. We miss you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Here is Sunshine in a white shirt and Sunbeam in the red checked dress listening to Teacher Nica read a story. Teacher Bambie is beside Sunbeam.
What is a good teacher?
I think Sunshine has really great teachers. They're firm and patient but so very loving. Sunshine has grown positively under their care. He started his nursery schoolyear as an introvert and is quite the opposite now.
They are also enamored of Sunbeam, and cross their fingers that I enroll her for next schoolyear. They even let her sit in during class, and she is now used to it and doesn't look for me as long as I don't leave the classroom. These teachers are open-minded and adore kids, two important requirements when dealing with small humans!

Monday, March 8, 2010


S and I were at an extraordinary site today. We took a 2-hour car ride to the mountains, squeezed into a trike and bumped over some dirt roads, then walked a few hundred meters of steps carved into the mountain side to an outdoor chapel sheltered by trees.
We heard Mass, listened to an impassioned homily, and received Holy Communion. After the service, we were each given a scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. They were placed on our necks by someone very special to us who laid his hands on us and blessed us.
A beautiful promise is written on one of the panels: Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.
We filled two small containers with holy water from weeping rocks... our friend has witnessed several people instantly healed with this water.
We took an inclined path on the way back up and were treated to a splendid view of a lake, a volcano, rice fields and forests.
How blessed we have been today.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Not too far away from our home is a branch of Pan de Amerikana 1950s Pan de Sal. Wood-fired ovens, wheat flour, brown sugar... the best pan de sal in town. Sunshine often wakes up at the crack of dawn and yells, "Dada! Let's buy pan de sal!"
Then they come home with a yellow plastic bag inside which is a paper bag filled with fresh, hot bread. And that fills us for breakfast and snacks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


"Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come." - Author Unknown/Rabindranath Tagore
My 97-year old Baba died February 15th. She went so peacefully, so quietly, we barely knew she had gone. Despite my wish that she live long enough for my kids to remember her, it is a blessing that she lived long enough for me to know her in my adult years.
I designed this prayer card to go with the thank you card the family is giving out.

And this written by my dad for our family living abroad:

Mommy died at about 3:15a.m. of Monday, February 15, shortly after her 97th birthday.

Mommy died as peacefully as anyone can hope for.

When she got sick about a week ago, we all sensed that this would be her final episode and we all agreed with Francis that she would be happier dying at her home.

She had round-the-clock nurses and a doctor who was God-sent who attended to her as needed. We told the doctor that mommy had earned her peace and rest and the paramount consideration was her comfort. At the end, we just wanted to be sure that her pain was minimal. Almost up to the time she died, mommy was responsive, to the extent that she could, given her age and physical condition.

Mommy died at the home she cherished surrounded by her children and grandchildren in an atmosphere of intense love. She did not go through the throes of death - she just faded away and we did not really know when she had gone.

CBC and IdB cleaned and dressed her; and FdB, PdB and me (sic) lifted her into her coffin. Her body was not touched by anyone other than her family and nurses.

From her home, the hearse brought her to Benedictine church at 6:30 a.m. for the funeral mass. FdB rode with the hearse and she was never left alone. She lay in wake until the 3 p.m. mass. By that time the church, which is fairly large, had filled up (The wonders of text messaging). Ten Benedictine priests - her friends, who all referred to her as Mama Letty - offered the mass for her. We did not ask them, they just came - even the ones who were quite sick. The main celebrant gave a short homily. There was no hyperbole. Just simple anecdotes of how she was as a person. PdB, on his own volition, gave a short talk where he mainly thanked the siblings who attended to mommy's needs. FdB and I were fidgety about this and I kept signaling PdB to keep his composure and not get carried away.

Mommy's passion and career was classical music and CBC had arranged for the Madrigal singers to sing in church and at the burial. They gave a powerful performance and their "Our Father" was moving, perhaps as good as the one I heard about that you sang for mommy.

The services ended at 4:00 p.m. FdB rode the hearse again and we were at Manila Memorial Park by 4:30 p.m. Mommy was laid to rest at 5:00 p.m. (In typical dB fashion, no tears were shed except perhaps by my Ana whose eyes welled-up with tears.) She was placed in the same grave as daddy at the primary area of the family plot. Their burial place is a grassy private enclave that is gated and surrounded by a tall hedge on all 4 sides. Mommy and daddy are buried at the center of the far end of this green open space.

Mommy had a beautiful death. She must be ecstatic about how her body was treated for the burial preparation. And her final rites were solemn and sanctifying.

The death of a last parent is so profound that it is really the passing of an era for the children.