Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ang Unang Pagkikita

I wrote the piece below almost 10 years ago. I found it while digging through my old files. Thought I'd post it here. And yes, it's the story of how I met my husband. :)

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ANG UNANG PAGKIKITA

“Excuse me, miss. Is this seat taken?”

I look up from the registration form that I was painstakingly trying to figure out and saw this guy standing right in front of me. He wasn't someone who would take your breath away. In fact, he was your typical average Joe. You know. One of those guys you would pass by and won't warrant a second look. Heck, even a glance would not suffice. But there I was, staring at him with probably a confused look at my face. I guess he would be around my age, although he looked older due to his balding hairline, spectacles and a heavy build. Not to mention he was wearing an outfit that was screaming “Yuppie!”

I shook my head, smiled and continued on with my writing. Heck, who ever thought that going back to school would be this difficult! This was my second form since they made me fill up a new one for my first one was full of erasures. When did my name and address become so difficult to spell?

I’m 27 years old and I decided to go back to school to take up masterals in business. I never even thought that I’ll be going back to hit the books. I barely survived college and I’m going back to the classroom! But my friends were taking it up and since I did not have anything better to do, I decided to give it a try. I found myself visiting the campus in Makati and next thing I knew, I was paying for the entrance examination fee.

I did not know what made me apply and take the exam. Going back to school was never part of my plans and there I was, forking out P300 bucks for an application form. Business school was for people who are intent on climbing the corporate ladder. I was satisfied to be at the bottom rung. I did not want to run the rat race because I’m definitely not a rat. I’m more of a pig (literally), or a mouse (figuratively). I’m content to wallow in the pool of mediocrity and not strive to become someone great. Greatness is for people with “greatness” written in their destinies. “Mediocre” was written somewhere in my birth certificate.

“Hi, I’m Jericho.”

My seatmate’s statement jerked me out of my reverie making me blink at him. Gosh, he must be thinking that I’m an idiot who is not capable of stringing together a few sentences. I’ve been unconsciously blinking at him for the past few minutes! He must think I’m making a pass at him. Oh save me from lonely fools!

“Oh, hi…I’m Sam,” smiling sheepishly as I shook his offered hand. I went back to tackling the registration form hoping he’ll get the hint that I’m busy.

Apparently, subtlety is wasted on the guy. “Where are you working?”

I put down my pen feeling that it’ll be awhile before I can finish the form, “Oh this bank,” and named the bank, hoping against hope that he won’t recognize it.

Of course, being not my day, he instantly recalled the name. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Isn’t there some sort of inquiry happening right now regarding your company?” This guy apparently knows his news. I’ll give him that.

I answered his question with an official press release statement which earned a laugh from him. We chatted more about our respective companies and work in general. He also mentioned a girlfriend somewhere in our conversation. When my name was called, I said goodbye with a “hope to see you soon.” That was sincere! I mean hey, even if the guy was a nerd, I need all the friends I need.

I left the registration room and tried to look for the ID room. Wonder of wonders, I got myself lost in the halls of my alma mater. Heck, I studied in this school for almost five years and I’m lost. How pathetic can you get?

My savior came in the form of Jericho. My new-found friend is earning his keep already. “Sam! Punta kang ID room? Sabay tayo!” I breathed a sigh of relief and nodded my acquiescence. My stupidity won’t be making a grand entrance after all. “Sure!”

I let him lead and chatted with him as we walked down the corridor. We talked more about work and about the subjects that we’re taking that first term. We found out that we were classmates and were excited on the fact that we won’t be in a room of strangers on the first day of school.

While my new found friend was having his picture taken, I went back to my thoughts and why I was there in the first place.

People have their reasons of going back to school. Some for career reasons, some for love reasons, some for social reasons, while others just to have something to do. I fall in the last category. Though my officemates saw it as a career move, I saw it as something that would occupy my mind. Something that would distract me from the fact that I was the only single person left among my siblings.  All of them are attached or married and I was alone. I was already accepting the fact that I’ll be living a life of singlehood and will be taking care of my parents. School will help me distract myself from those depressing thoughts and maybe I’ll pick up something helpful in the process.

My thoughts were again interrupted by the screech of an intercom speaker. “The following please form a line outside the ID room.” A list of names was rattled off and I stood up when I heard my name being called. I quickly joined the growing line and patiently stood there while I tried to gather my thoughts.

 I saw Jericho leave the ID room and our eyes met that instant. We exchanged smiles and somehow, I felt a niggling thought that going back to school will inevitably change my life.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Proud Mommy

The small medal is for his Academic Award  (top
honors) and the big medals are for Kumon (reading
and writing)
I had a pleasant surprise yesterday when I attended the Moving Up Day of my son.

A couple of days ago, my son's teacher sent me text messages asking me if I got our invite and confirming our attendance. And then last night, she sent another text message saying that my son got a Gold Medal for Kumon. I shrugged it off, thinking that there are other gold medal awardees.

I always thought that my son was an average child. I mean, I know he is special and extraordinary but whenever I would see his quarterly exams and grades, it's seldom that he would get a perfect score. So I thought he was just like any other student. We don't push him as he's just a pre-schooler and I want him to enjoy his childhood. Although we set aside daily time for him to do his Kumon assignments, we let him play as much as he want.

When we arrived in school, the teachers who recognized me offered their congratulations. I just smiled as I was thinking it was because of his teacher's text that my son is an awardee. It was when I saw the programme that I realized how big of an award he will truly get. And I could not help but shed tears.

For one, he was given an academic award for being one of the top students of their class. There were 5 students recognized out of their class of 15 and he ranks second.

Next, he was given a Gold Medal for his Kumon studies. Two Gold medals actually, one for Reading and one for Mathematics. What made me more proud was he was the only one given such an award for Kumon. I had to research what it meant and apparently, he's doing work that's 3 levels higher than his current grade.

What Milk Did He Drink?

One of the common questions that I hear about Basti is asking what milk we gave him when he was an infant. My son was not purely breastfed. I was mix feeding for 3 months and when I returned to work, he was on pure formula (Enfalac A+). Don't get me wrong. I am still an advocate of pure breastfeeding as the benefits are definitely favorable for the child's development. If ever we will be blessed with a second child, I will breastfeed him/her up to the best of my abilities.

When he turned one, we switched to NAN and kept at that until he turned 36 months. When he turned 3, we had to switch milk but for some reason, he refused to drink all the kinds of milk that we gave him until we just finally gave up. His pedia assured us that he'll be fine as long as he gets other sources of calcium (yogurt, ice cream, Chuckie, cheese).

We do not have a lot of restrictions in our house probably because we do not have enough energy to enforce them. I salute moms who are able to raise kids in a no-TV and no-tablet household. My son was the opposite. We let him watch TV but for some reason, he would only watch for a few minutes and then would go back to playing. Nowadays, he seldom watches TV and would only do so if we're watching.

We let him play with the laptop so now, he can navigate Windows like a pro. He's always on Youtube as he loves watching music videos of his favorite songs. Although we only let him do this when an adult is with him. Who knows what he might stumble on while he's searching.

Kindermusik and Playschool

Probably one of the best decisions that we did was enroll Basti in Kindermusik. He was only 18 months when he started with Teacher Ana Castro at Alabang Country Club (although I think she holds classes now at BF. You can call her at 502-8241; 0917-5322437). I heard that music helps with cognitive development and with the prodding of a-friend, we enrolled him in his first Kindermusik class.

Basti was so hyper before. He would seldom sit down and he started off running around the place but he eventually learned how to sit down and I would want to think, he learned how to love music because of this class. We enrolled him for 3 more semesters until he started his pre-school in Toolbox with Teacher Gittel.

Toolbox Learning Center is all the way in BF which is a good 15 minutes from our house (barring any traffic). From a weekly class in Kindermusik, Basti now goes to class everyday for 2 hours. It was here where he learned different life skills and developed his social skills. Whenever we would have our parent-teacher conference with Teacher Gittel (238-3542; 0922-8015915), she always has good things to say about Basti. One thing that she remarked on was his incredible memory (quite my opposite). I don't know if his memory can be considered photographic but he has this uncanny ability to remember everything that we tell him. That's why we're very careful whenever we promise him something because he will remember.

He spent 2 years with Teacher Gittel and her wonderful crew. When we had his recognition day there, they were made to read a book in front of everyone. My Basti memorized the whole book and barely needed the help of the teacher assisting them.

Pre-School

We tried having Basti admitted in Pre-Kinder with De La Salle Zobel but for some reason, they did not accept him. Their non-acceptance somehow made me reevaluate my perception of my son. I still think he's extraordinary but I changed it to thinking that there were more extraordinary kids than him. I just shrugged it off (although my husband was very upset as he's an alumni and wanted our son to follow his footsteps) and we enrolled him in The Learning Child which is also found inside the same village as DLSZ.

It turned out it was a blessing in disguise. It was in this school that Basti learned how to play with other kids and his social skills really bloomed. I noticed beforehand that Basti does not like to play with other children. We thought that since he's an only child, he'd rather be with himself. But in Learning Child, he found his bestfriend who he positively adores to pieces. His teachers tell me that they are inseparable.

I really love their arts-based curriculum. Basti is now fascinated with art materials. Whenever we would go to the mall, he would literally drag us to National Bookstore so we can get him new crayons or markers. On his birthday, I asked if he wanted Lego or any other toy, instead, he asked for art materials. So we splurged on that. Fortunately, we have a lot of scratch papers at home courtesy from our MBA days. I knew there was a reason why I did not throw away our old papers.

My son would draw random things or even write down the names of his classmates (full names, mind you). The funniest thing he did was write down the whole playlist of a Beatles album that he's listening to. Complete with running time per song and track number.

Next school year, Basti will no longer be returning to Learning Child as DLSZ finally accepted him as a Kindergarten student. However, he will still be returning to TLC as he will continue his Kumon there. It has been very beneficial for him and hopefully, keep him from getting bored. Also, it'll be the chance to see his bestfriend who is staying behind for one more year. Hopefully, we can arrange more playdates with his mom.

Expectations

People have been saying that he should be accelerated or whatsoever. Personally, I do not want that to happen. I want him to stay with his age group so his social skills will grow the same rate. I want him to have a happy childhood and not burden him with people's assumptions.


Even with his extraordinary skills, I still do not want to expect more from my son. In fact, he continues to surprise me everyday. Whatever he achieves, I know that we will be proud. In fact, whatever he has done now is beyond my expectations already so I am doubly proud.

I've been asked what I would want my son to be when he grows up. Honestly, I have no idea and if have, I will not tell my child. I want him to chart his own course and make his own path. As parents, we will provide him the best education and teach him the right values so he will have basis for the career he will eventually choose.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

I've Been Pwned!

I received a very sharp lesson in humility last night and it was my sister that handed my ass over to me. I realized that the past few years, I have grown apathetic and selfish. That I became too encapsulated in my own worries and that I've forgotten that others have graver problems than I do. It's not an excuse and it's something that I have to change.

I am now more conscious in my words and in my deeds. At least I was able to acknowledge that I was wrong and am now thinking who I should seek to give my apologies. It looks like I have to make up to a lot of people--my family foremost.

It's only fitting that I get to learn all this during Lent--a time of reflection and sacrifice. At least now I know that I can still feel again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here We Go Again

Seven years ago, I posted something in my blog  about work-related stuff that I was struggling with. It came to the point that I couldn't sleep because it was bothering me so much. I'm sad to say that the feeling is back, although I can still sleep at night. Nevertheless, the feeling of being unsettled is there.

The circumstances are different 7 years ago compared to now but I still can't help but feel apprehensive. Back then, my health was taking such a beating that I had difficulty breathing and I had to take a long leave just to get myself back together. Hopefully, I'm more equipped now to handle the stress.

If worse comes to worse, I can just quit.I don't deserve the stress.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Travelling with a Toddler

Two months from now, we'll be going on a long-haul flight with my 5-year old. I'm really dreading it as my son gets bored easily. This was evident during our wait at the US Embassy for his visa interview. We waited for almost two hours for his number to be called and he was horribly bored by the time we were in line with the consul. Since electronic devices were not allowed inside the US Embassy, we had to contend with a sticker book and chatting with seatmates.

I'm already planning my strategy for our flight. It will be a three-hour wait at the NAIA 1 airport as we intend to be there by 8AM for our 11AM flight. And then 2 hours on the plane to Hongkong. Another 4 hour wait at HKIA before our flight leaves at 540PM. And then there's the 16-hour flight to Newark where we'll arrive at 940PM. That is more than 24 hours of travelling!

I'm thinking of adjusting his body clock even before we leave. That means that I'll be disrupting his sleeping schedule. I'll have him sleep sometime after midnight the night before we leave. So by the time we leave for the first leg of our flight, he'll be very sleepy at the airport. When we get to Hongkong, hopefully, he'll sleep it off while waiting for our flight. However, that means he is awake most of the 16 hour flight to Newark. I guess I just have to entertain him with books, crayons, IPad and hopefully, the movies of Cathay are entertaining enough for him. Or my husband and I can take turns taking catnaps while somebody watches over him. I truly hope he won't annoy the other passengers as he can get really loud and chatty. I guess we have to brief him on flight etiquette first.

I will definitely be posting on our experience when we get back.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Norman Reedus

There's something about Norman Reedus that makes me root for him in Walking Dead. Though he started off as a redneck, he has somehow evolved into a very likeable character at Season 4 of this series juggernaut.

I just watched E12S4 of Walking Dead and I am again obsessed over him. I don't know if it's the penetrating glare or the vibes that he give but he's just so oh-some!

I wish I have some artistic talent so I can make some fan-art for him as Daryl so I'll just watch youtube videos of him and continue to watch Walking Dead and hope against hope that he'll be one of the last men standing. What makes him cooler is his crossbow. Whenever I make an RPG character, she always has a bow.

Here are some of my favorite Norman Reedus interviews:





It's odd. It seems that he hasn't guested in Ellen yet. I couldn't find an interview of him in Youtube appearing in her show. I wish she would guest him.

Sunday Musings

I wanted to write a blogpost but I've been staring at the screen for a long five minutes.  I've been struggling what to write about as I just finished checking the comprehensive exams of my Seniors. Unfortunately, there were some who did not make it but then my portion of their exam is only 30% as the other professor is handling the 70%. I truly hope they would pass her part of the exams. I don't know if I should feel guilty for making the exam but it was relatively easy compared to the other prof's. It was just a reprint of their previous quizzes and finals. All they had to do was study that. And I was very generous to them in a sense that I would reproduce their quizzes so that they have a reviewer.

On a happier note, I added a widget on the right side of my page counting down the days before we leave for our vacation. Our primary reason for visiting is to attend the Ordination of my husband's cousin. However, we will spend a week at the "Happiest Place on Earth" (aka Disneyworld Florida). We will be staying in the park itself which makes me extra giddy. I remember when I was first interviewed for my US Visa when I was 11 years old, the consul asked me why I wanted to go to the US. Like any bright-eyed child, I said I wanted to go to Disneyland. However, I was not able to go when I visited back then and also in 2011. This year, I'm getting my wish. (I did visit Hongkong Disneyland in 2010 but somehow, this is very different).

I can't wait for March to be over so I can get my Saturdays back. Though I love teaching, there are days that I just want to stay home during the weekends. I'm also planning to petition our Dean to change my status from part-time faculty to Consultant. When I consolidated my tax from both employers, I just found out that I have a four digit tax discrepancy. Apparently, there's a big difference between the tax that is being deducted to me by my part-time employer versus my full-time employer. This sucks big time. If my request cannot be granted, I'll be forced to resign as my part-time earnings are not even enough for gas and toll. I'm already looking around my area in case there's a school that is willing to accept me as a part-time faculty.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Oscars

I enjoy watching award shows--maybe because I get to see my favourite actors and actresses all in one event. Also, they usually have once-in-a-lifetime musical numbers or highlights.

The Oscars is something that I look forward to every year and when they announced that Ellen DeGeneres will host the 86th Academy Awards, I was pretty excited. I used to watch her a lot when I was on maternity leave as I found her so entertaining. True enough, she literally delivered.

There was this bit wherein she had pizza delivered and offered it to her audience. For a supposedly formal and stuffy event, she made it fun and interacted with her audience a lot.



Of course, who would forget the most talked about selfie that she took with A-list stars (I would definitely want to be in that photo). And it was retweeted more than 3 million times and counting and it broke Twitter as well.



I was ecstatic when Frozen won as the song really resonated across all ages, sex and race. However, I was desolated when Leo lost the Oscar race for Best Actor once again. When he won in the Golden Globes, I really thought he'll have the chance. There's always next year though. Hopefully, he and Martin Scorsese can come up with another Oscar-worthy vehicle for him.

Congratulations to the winners!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

US Embassy (Manila) Experience

My husband and I already got our US visas 5 years ago when we both applied 6 months after our wedding. It was a renewal for him while a new application for me (actually, I already had a multiple entry visa back in 1987 but I never renewed it when the embassy cancelled such visa types before and converted them to 10-year visas). I blogged about our experience then here.

After we got our visa, we were not able to leave as I got pregnant. We were finally able to go in 2011 when we visited my mom just in time for her 60th birthday. However, at that time, we decided to just go by ourselves and leave our son behind.

Fast forward, 3 years later, we plan on visiting again to witness the ordination of my husband’s cousin to his chosen priesthood vocation. This time around, we plan to bring our son with us so we made an appointment again at the embassy to get him a visa.

Check Your Things!

In 2008, everything was not as organized. Though there were lines, it was still confusing where we should stay or go. This time around, appointments are made online and the lines are clear.

Our appointment was at 7:30AM but we were there at 6:30AM. We parked in front of Emerald Garden and crossed the footbridge which took us to the other side of Roxas Blvd. There was already a line outside and you have to line up depending on your appointment schedule. Though we are only applying for our son, both of us were present.

While scrounging through my bag to check my stuff, I found out that I inadvertently left my Ipod in my bag. I hurriedly went back to the car so I can leave my Ipod and earphones but had to walk around until I found our driver who had the keys to the car. By the time I got back in line, my husband and son already entered the covered area outside the embassy. For this line, they will check if you’re in the appointment list and place a sticker on your passport which they will then scan.

Upon entry of the visitor's center, there's an xray machine for scanning your bags. If in case you’re still able to sneak in any food or any form of electronic device, they will catch it here.

Upon entry of the first waiting area, there’s the first pre-screening of documents. It is here where they will give you your number which you will also memorize by heart in the next two to three hours that you’re inside the building. The waiting area is an open air pavilion where you can buy food and drinks and even have your documents photocopied and your picture taken (in case the picture that you took with you is not compliant with their standards). A monitor will call your number so you can eventually go inside the building where the fingerprint scanning and interview will take place.

When we got inside the building, the line going to the fingerprint scanning booths was pretty short. In a span of 10 minutes, our number was up. The girl whose queue we were assigned was quite nice and is a Fil-Am from the looks (and sound) of it. She mentioned that fingerprints are only taken for 14 years old and above.  She just asked a question which she mentioned that my husband should answer: what is the birthday of my son. Much to my chagrin, he missed it by 3 days which made me instantly correct him. The consul assured that it’s ok as it’s the father who usually doesn't get it right.

The Long Wait

We then started the long wait. At that time, it was around 8:30AM. Our number flashed at around 10:15AM. During that almost 2 hour wait, my son got so restless. I brought a sticker book with us which would hopefully make it easier for him to wait but he soon grew tired of that so he drew on it. Later on, he took to running around the place much to my embarrassment but much to the amusement of the other waiting applicants. He was such a chatterbox and would utter phrases, “I want to travel”, or “I want to go to the US”, or “I want to ride a plane”. Fortunately, he’s also cute so strangers would talk to him and address him as “Pogi” (handsome).

When we were able to line up in front of our consul booth, we could hear the conversation going on with the guy in front of us:

Consul: What do you do for a living?
Applicant: I’m an architect and consultant and I own my own business.
Consul: How much do you earn in a month?
Applicant: Around P40-80K/month
Consul: Why the big gap?
Applicant: It depends if there are any projects.

I can’t hear the rest of the discussion but when the applicant left the booth, he had the expression which said that he was declined.

When our turn came, I handed over my son’s passport with his number. As he was still quite short, we lifted him on the counter so the consul can see him. Our conversation then went like this:

Consul (to our son): Hey, big guy. What’s your name?
My son:
Consul: how old are you?
My son: 5
Consul: And who are these two people (pointing to us) with you?
My son: Mommy and Daddy
Consul: Very good.

He then spoke to us:

Consul: What do you do for a living?
Hubby: I’m an IT consultant while my wife is in banking.
Consul: What is the purpose of your visit?
Hubby: We plan to attend the ordination of my cousin. In fact, I have the letter from the…(we have a letter from the Archdiocese of New Jersey which forms part of our supporting papers)
Consult: (interrupts us) No need. His visa has been approved.

We just stood there for a few seconds as we were surprised at how fast the interview was considering he gave the guy in front of us a hard time. But we just said our thanks and hurried off.

Finally!

While walking back to our car, we kept on praising our son for answering the questions perfectly. Though the questions were quite easy, I was still apprehensive as there are times that he would call us by our first names especially when he wants our attention. I don’t know what the consul would think if he would suddenly do that.

Now comes the hard part of finding a plane ticket which would fit in our budget. I’m torn between ANA/United and Cathay Pacific. The former is a tad more expensive but the flight time is not as long (4 hrs to Narita and 13 hrs to Newark). Cathay. on the other hand, is cheaper but with a longer flight time (2 hrs to Hongkong and 16 hours to Newark). Hopefully we can buy are tickets soon as the fare would tend to increase.