Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year!

As I say goodbye to 2006, I'm filled with a sense of sadness as well as excitement. The end of a year always brings some wistfulness as I close chapters, but I'm also overwhelmed with eagerness for what the new year will bring. I try to live life without regrets, and to think of all choices and challenges as learning experiences. But there will always be moments I would like back again, not so much to do things differently, but cherish that moment just a bit more.

As I look back, so much of this year has passed in a blur, even though I remember some days & weeks dragging by slowly as I waited for some major event. At first glance, it doesn't seem much has changed since January 1, but actually, I'm living in a whole new world, full of pluses and minuses. In chronological order, I added to my life a chihuahua named Mahal, a sister-in-law named Laura, lost my grandfather, Juanito, and added my new nephew, Jonah. I subracted a job I didn't like in hopes of adding one that I do like. I added college to my schedule and subtracted a hobby business in exchange and willingly added personal challenges for the chance of what could be and subtracted the simple acceptance of what is.

This year has also been an eye-opener of personal revelations, things not necessarily revealed to anyone else but me. I'm not a religious person, I haven't seen the inside of a church in many moons, yet my faith grows stronger every year. I truly believe that God never gives you more than you can handle. I feel like I'm carrying a truckload of burdens, but yet, I'm not worried. I have to thank my husband for that. It's because of him that I'm eager for the future. I've learned that marriage is a balancing act, spinning multiple plates, many of which Gareth and I have broken, a few spun too softly in contentment, a few spun too hard in anger, and a few not spun at all in ambivalence. There will always be plenty of plates to spin, but as years go by, I believe my husband and I will only get better at keeping them spinning.

I don't like making resolutions because they have this inherent quality of being unattainable. Maybe it's just semantics, but instead, I challenge myself to form new habits. New habits that will help me dedicate more time to writing, be more organized and follow through on goals I've set, even if I set them 2 or 3 years ago. My mom forwarded me an email, one I've read before but as things tend to do around this time of year, its meaning resonated with me more this time around:

Dream what you want to dream;
Go where you want to go;
Be what you want to be,
Because you have only one life
And one chance to do all the things
You want to do.

I may have to remind her of this email when I do something beyond the norm next year. Because if there's anything I can guarantee, it's that 2007 will not be anything like 2006. So, 2007. Here I come.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Made Santa's "Very Nice" List

Santa was very nice to me this year. Actually he's always been kind to me, but this Christmas I feel like I must've been on his "very nice" list. Right now I've got Justin Timberlake crooning in my ear, after spending all day today loading up my new Zune. Santa Gareth was pretty slick, telling me for weeks that Zunes were no where to be found. Not that I had asked for one. I actually listed an iPod on my wishlist. I hadn't even given Zunes a thought, except to ask Gareth what the difference was between a Zune and an iPod. Let me tell you...I LOVE my Zune. So far, I've only loaded it with J.T., Ciara and Christine Aguilera, the 3 CDs Gareth gave me this Christmas (Ciara was my St. Niklaus gift ~ it's been his family's tradition to get gifts on Dec. 7. We got clogs from my mother-in-law to set outside our bedroom door, and on the morning of the 7th we each had a gift in the clog. That's really all I know about the tradition, but hey, any excuse to get a gift is a good excuse to me.)

I also was generously gifted with calligraphy sets from both Gareth and Trista & her boyfriend Jeff. Now I have no excuse to master the art of calligraphy. I'm really excited about that. T&J also fed my other addiction with a Sudoku book. Mom gave us a flannel sheet set, my favorite of her many, many gifts which included earrings, gloves, socks and votive holders to name but a few. She really goes overboard with the gift giving for Christmas, and the kids have picked up on this tradition. Phedre & Josh gave us an awesome Family Guy Monopoly game with a $100 target gift card. I claimed the gift card and gave Gareth the game but of course we had to split the card 50/50. I forgot what Gareth got with his half, I think it was something for his Xbox360 or his PS3, but I requested new king size pillows for the new sheet set. Now we're drowning in pillows, I could build a fort with them, which Gareth claims I have, barricading him one side of the bed. Rhyana gave me some wonderful Bath & Body lotions and also gave us a $100 gift card to Best Buy. That certainly made Gareth's eyes dance. We're putting it towards the Nintendo Wii fund so once they're back in stock, we'll be playing Wii Sports again in no time.

Oh! Santa Gareth also gave me a laptop for Christmas. I'm still shaking my head over that one. He managed to surprise me twice on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents at my mother-in-law's house, first with the Zune and then with a Dell laptop. Now I have no excuse to not write. So, here I am. On Christmas Day, my parents gave me a black Coach tote & wallet set as well as new pajamas which I always love getting. They gave Gareth two Tommy Bahama sweaters which he loved. My nephews showered me & Gareth with our favorite socks. They're the ones that keep our feet dry and fit so comfortably. My cousin Joseph gifted us with a 300 ct Egyptian cotton sheet set, a great dress shirt for me and a wireless PS3 control for Gareth, things we jokingly told him we wanted but didn't think he'd really get us. My aunt gave us a bed-in-a-bag comforter set for our Cal-King. Family's always been generous with us, but this Christmas they seemed to pull out all the stops. I know my aunt was just showing her appreciation for our help with my grandmother's 92nd birthday party. I know I have my husband to thank for a lot of her gratitude, so kisses to my husband. :)

Somewhat veering on a tangent here, but I've been repeating this song on my Zune a few times now. It's struck a chord with me. It's Justin's "All Over Again." I don't know if it's the lyrics or the soulful & heartfelt way Justin sings it. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for songs about second chances. Maybe the lyrics will strike a chord for someone who reads my ramblings.

All Over Again

You've been alone
You've been afraid
I've been a fool
In so many ways
But I would change my life
If you thought you might try love me

So please give me another chance
To write you another song
Take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again

I'm not a saint
I'm just a man
Who had heaven and earth in the palm of his hand
But I threw it away
So now I stand here today asking forgiveness
And if you could just

Please give me another chance
To write you another song

Take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again

Little girl, you're all I've got
Don't you leave me standing here once again
Cause I'll give you my life (yes I would)
If you would let me try to love you

So please give me another chance
To write you another song
And take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again
Again oh
No no
oh oh

You know I love you (yeah)
Give me one more chance
No No
No No No No

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I'll write something original soon....

In the meantime...

1.) When was the last time you went to the bathroom outside?
- in Texas, I think, when I was 8 or 9. Fishing trip with my best friend (at the time) and her family. I was desperate but still didn't want to, but they were FOB and told me it was no big deal. I remember it was like a group squat with her two other sisters. LoL...

2) Which family member do you most resemble?
- I think I take after my dad, but people say I look like my mom, too.

3) Do you own your own Bible?
- We have three in the house, but don't ask me how we got them. I think one is my Kuya's.

4) Do you clean up nice?
- I believe so.

5) When was the last time you tripped and fell?
- I trip all the time but the last time I fell was in 1994 when I was still in college. I was walking between cars in a parking lot and didn't see the cement stopper in front of my car and oops! Went down hard. Only reason I remember is it made my mom laugh, she was waiting in the car for me and she said it was like a magic act. Now you see me, now you don't!

6) Where was the last place you slept besides your home?
- My lola's apartment.

7) Have you ever started an uncontrollable fire?
- Does heating up a frying pan of oil and forgetting about it count? Then, yes.

8) Ever run out of gas on the road?
- Yes. I always push it and I shouldn't. I always think there's a reserve below the E on the gauge. Luckily the one & only time I did, it was just as I pulled into my driveway so I coasted in. But then my dad had to bring me some gas.

9) Would you rather cut the grass or rake the leaves?
- Cut grass, because I'm usually the one who rakes the leaves.

10) Your middle name spelled backward?

11) What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
- Pictures from my Lola's 92nd birthday.

12) Last time you swam in a pool?
- Wow..hmmm...been a while, i can't remember. My honeymoon?

13) Have you ever been in a school play?
- Does a 3rd grade music program count? No? Then, I guess not.

14) How many kids do you want?
- However many my husband and I are blessed with, although 3 would be a good number.

15) Type of music you dislike most?
- I don't dislike any particular music but I rarely listen to country.

16) You registered to vote?
- Yes. In the wrong county, but yes.

17) Ever been arrested?
- Nope.

18) Ever prank called anybody?
- Not since caller ID was invented.

19) Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
- I would like to say sure, but I know myself too well. Only if I was paid copious amounts of money.

20) Do you have a garden?
- Not really. Only visions of one right now.

21) Bath or Shower, morning or night?
- Shower, morning.

22) Best pizza topping?
- Hawaiian with toasted almonds. Chuck E. Cheese style. LoL.

23) Peanuts or popcorn?
- Popcorn. Especially movie theater popcorn.

24) Orange Juice or apple?
- Orange Juice. Tang if you please.

25) When was the last time you voted at the polls?
- This past November, because I'm registered in the wrong county still. Had to get a provisional ballot.

26) When was the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
- This summer. Love them little grape tomatoes.

27) Are you good?
- Depends on what you're referring to. I'm good at quite a few things. You can ask my husband.

28) Ever order anything from an infomercial?
- That rotating storage container set. Never got it, though. Had to buy it at the store eventually.

29) Sprite or 7-Up?
- 7-Up just to be old school.

30) Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work/school?:
- Not since I worked for Wild Waves (Six Flags) in college.

31) Ever thrown up in public?
- Nope. Although when I first arrived from the Philippines, my dad decided I'd enjoy a ride up and down the hills of San Francisco. I was 3, sitting on my uncle's lap, getting nauseous, but I knew enough that if I slid off his lap and didn't look out the window, I'd be okay. But he kept pulling me back on his lap and pointing out the scenery going up and down, so I threw up on him.

32) Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?
- Hmmm.... what if your true love becomes a millionaire?

33) Do you believe in love at first sight?
- Not on first sight. Maybe first kiss.

34) Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
- Whoever had a baby last. I think it was my sister-in-law Yvonne, but that was for a false alarm.

35) Did you have a lot of hair as a baby?
- It's a De Guzman thing. We all seem to come out with pompadours.

36) What do you think about most:
- What the new year will bring.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pursuit of Happyness

A review I wrote for Gareth's website Skewed & Reviewed.

There are a few different messages one could contemplate after watching "Pursuit of Happyness" (misspelling intentional, and explained in the movie). It could be taken as an ode to the me-generation extremes of the 80s, a nod to the idea that money just might buy happiness or a salute to the dogged determination of a single father. The contradictory messages are present in this movie, inspired by a true story, but at the heart of the film is the dedication of a father for his son.

Will Smith, in his first dramatic turn since "Ali", plays Chris Gardner, a single father, down-on-his-luck in San Francisco, circa 1981. He doesn't start out single. He lives with his girlfriend, Linda, played by Thandie Newton, who is becoming more and more disenchanted with their life and Gardner's inability to make a solid living selling medical equipment, a failing business venture in which Gardner had invested their life's savings. She's working two jobs and they are still three months behind on the rent and the IRS is breathing down their necks. Gardner's feeling the pressure and it's apparent Linda is at her wit's end. Their 4 year old son, Christopher, is caught in the middle.

As he does tirelessly every day, Gardner is hauling around a bulky bone density scanner, on his way to another doctor who'll more than likely say, "Thanks, but no thanks," when he sees a man parking a bright red Ferrari and stops to ask him two questions. "What do you do and how do you get to do it?" The man tells Gardner he's a stockbroker and that he just had to be good with numbers. Gardner decides he wants to be stockbroker, too, and is soon pursuing an internship at the investment firm, Dean Witter, much to Linda's disbelief and dismay.

Persistent in his quest for an internship, Gardner convinces a Dean Witter human resource executive to grant him an interview, just as his home life falls apart. His girlfriend bails on him and their son and the landlord is ready to evict. In the middle of painting his apartment in exchange for being allowed to stay another week, he's arrested for unpaid parking tickets. He's released the day of his interview, forcing him to show up in paint-splattered pants and a white undershirt. With desperate wit, he survives the interview only to belatedly learn that the internship is unpaid. With sales prospects waning for his limited supply of medical equipment, Gardner has to decide whether or not to risk his & Christopher's already questionable future on the slim odds that he'll be hired for the one opening at Dean Witter when the internship ends.

Gardner takes his chances on being the smartest and the most successful of the 20 candidates, moving to a motel and continuing to try to sell the unpopular medical equipment on weekends just so he and Christopher could pay for rent and food for the week. He succeeds in selling some of the equipment, but it's not enough to keep them housed, especially with the IRS ready to swoop in for their share of Gardner's meager earnings. One night the Gardners find their belongings outside of their motel room. They'd been evicted. Forced to sleep in a transit station restroom, Gardner turns to a women's shelter the next day, but is turned away because, well, it's a women's shelter. He's directed to the Glide Church, and while the other interns stay late to make more sales calls, Gardner rushes through his day to get Christopher out of day care and in line at the church shelter by 5 in hopes of getting a bed to sleep in. Most days they're lucky, and it becomes their temporary home. Still they have to pack their belongings every morning, and Gardner lies to his coworkers about having to leave for a trip after work when they see him lugging his suits and bags around.

The movie was nicely paced and well-acted by both Smiths, although there were times you couldn't help but ask, "Geez, what else could go wrong? Enough already." But even more compelling than the story at times is Gardner's 4 year old son, Christopher, played by Jaden, who offers a surprisingly good performace, delivered with a natural charm and a beguiling face. Will Smith is unwavering in his portrayal of a man desperate to succeed. Whether or not it be for his own pride, Gardner leaves no doubt that there is always his son to think about. Gardner grew up without a father and he was determined that Christopher would never be without his. Smith conveys that dedication with an understated performance whenever he shares the screen with Jaden. Although it's easy to point out that Jaden is his natural son, the chemistry between the two is still poignant and unforced.

At times difficult to watch as father & son's situation gets more desperate, the movie's predictability still draws the viewer in with the tenuous hope that maybe, just maybe, the rewards will be sweet after the bitter work is done. Be ready with tissues and enjoy the performances.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two Things

Two Things
Current mood: sick

Two Things...

Two Names You Go By:
1. Gen
2. Em(bib)

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. my favorite jeans
2. my husband's blue long sleeve t-shirt

Two Things You Would Want in a Relationship:
1. friendship
2. passion

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:
1. Reading
2. Writing

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:
1. My mom's arroz caldo (it's chicken soup for the Filipino soul)
2. My husband home to take care of me. :::cough cough::: sniffle sniffle:::

Two pets you had/have:
1. Mahal my chihuahua (have)
2. Dutch, family dog, a beautiful American Eskimo (had)

Two people who will fill this out:
1. Johanna.
2. Christine.

Two things you did last night:
1. Hung out with family
2. Went shopping for gifts for Gareth's coworkers

Two People that live in your house:
1. Me.
2. Gareth.

Last two things you ate:
1. Left over carnitas de res from Azteca.
2. An apple fritter for breakfast. Bad, I know. Tsk! Tsk!

Two people you Last Talked To:
1. My husband
2. Joe from Big O Tires ~ need 2 new tires on the Hyundai.

Two Things You're doing tomorrow:
1. Run errands
2. Watch advance screening of "The Good Shepherd."

Two longest car rides:
1. From Federal Way, WA to Las Vegas, NV.
2. From Federal Way, WA to Burnaby, Canada.

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Christmas
2. Thanksgiving

Two favorite beverages:
1. Coffee
2. Coke & Water

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The First Step

I finally took it! I submitted an essay to a magazine a month ago, just on impulse. Of course, it was nervous impulse, but I did it anyway. It's not a major magazine, it's just a small one that caters to sharing the stories of women in their 50's & 60's, called Releasing Times. They had posted a request on one of the writing group boards I visit, for women in their 30s & 40s to submit an essay about their mothers' journeys. So I submitted the essay I wrote about Mama when I was still in college. I updated it a bit, since back then none of us kids were married, and Mama was still grandchild-free.

Anyway...the magazine wants to print it for their next issue! Yay! LoL...

I was testing the waters when I submitted my essay ~ just to see how my writing would be accepted. What a great feeling to be asked for my permission to publish it. It's a baby step, but I hope I can take more steps that set me running in the next year towards a dream I've put off for too long.

Ready...set...go! Whee!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just When I Thought All Hope Was Lost

Reasons were there to walk away.
Others would not have understood
Still love grew. Strongly. Silently.
Ever present, even in absence.

Did you hear my heart call you to me?

Just when I thought all hope was lost?
Somehow you knew I needed you.
And so you came, to make my world right.

Rich again, with joy and promise
Am I dreaming? Is this real?
Just when I thought all hope was lost
All I needed was to hear you ask, Do you love me?
Could you not see my heart in my eyes?
Kiss the tears away so you can.
Just when I thought all hope was lost
All you needed was to hear me say, Yes. I do.
Chase my fears away, no longer will we doubt.
Knowing I am. As I have always been. Yours.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Favorite Things

As Julie Andrew's voice lilts through my subconscious...Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..... here are a few of my favorite things:

  • rainstorms, a good book & a cozy bed
  • looking out at the Puget Sound
  • long drives to nowhere in particular
  • time to think
  • drowning in pillows
  • held gazes, slow smiles & silent conversations
  • fingers brushing my hair, whispers in my ear, warm strength against my back
  • hearing "I adore you." from the man I love
  • kisses from my nieces & nephews
  • spending quality time with people who bring meaning to my life
  • reading & writing of life, love and everything in between
  • listening to music that reminds me of where I've been, where I am and where I can be

So much more to add, but this is in essence, me with simple needs, simple wants.

It may sound trite, but when life is a little frustrating and you feel like you're missing something. Or someone. This is what I do. I enumerate my favorite things. Count your blessings if you will. Then my world is right again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gareth: On Sisters, Star Wars & Speaking

So, I'm in Vancouver again. The other Vancouver. South Van, in WA. We're staying at the Shilo Inn, just 'cross the border from Portland, OR. G has another one of his speaking engagements, this time for Orycon. I'm glad he's found such success with what he does best. Talk about movies. But you'd think all this talking he does professionally tempers his need to talk when he doesn't have a large audience. Like when his audience is primarily me. But nope. But you'd think so, huh?

I don't mind. But there are times when my mind is so overwhelmed by his voice, I can't even hear myself think. My inner voice actually whimpers. That's when I say to him, "Shhhh. Please. Just for a few minutes, okay?" I also have to tell him sometimes, "Babe. You're talking just to hear yourself talk now. Rest."

I hope that doesn't sound too harsh. Most of the time, I enjoy my conversations with Gareth, especially when it's about his family or about him growing up. Like today, as we drove to Portland, I learned a lot about his grandfather and how he views his sisters. He has a great amount of love for them. His grandfather and his sisters. But I knew that about his grandfather. With his sisters, I've often wondered, because more often than not, he's making fun of them or talking about how much they annoy him. But when I asked him how it felt to grow up with 3 half-sisters, he said, "I've never looked at them as my half-sisters. They're my sisters. Period. We may have different fathers, but I only know them as my sisters." I liked that. My respect for him grew when he said that, because that's how my grandmothers viewed their older siblings. They were both the children of a 2nd marriage, but their older half-siblings were just as much their siblings as their whole ones. My respect grew for my mother-in-law as well, because I know she had to instill this knowledge & acceptance within Gareth.

We had a great time at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) where they have an exhibit called "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination." It's the first exhibition of its kind with great displays of Star Wars costumes, models and props from all six episodes. It runs through January 1 for those who are interested. It's a must for Star Wars fans, and for those who live in WA, it's a simple drive down to Portland and it's very easy to find with plenty of helpful signs to OMSI. I'm nowhere as big a Star Wars fan as Gareth, but even I was impressed and excited by all of the displays. The museum itself is a lot of fun to roam, and I can see how it would be a fun day for families with kids.

I didn't go with Gareth to his speaking engagement to Orycon. I wanted to stay in the room and do some homework. I've gone before and it never failed to amaze me how he keeps his audiences' rapt attention by just simply talking about what he knows about upcoming movies. He doesn't have fancy Powerpoint presentations or trailers to watch. He keeps things casual & just talks and fields questions. The conventions always allot him 2 hours and even after 2 hours he's followed out by members of the audience still asking questions.

I remember attending a Creations convention with Gareth, a convention that caters to Star Trek fans, where he followed Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek the Next Generation)on the schedule. I felt bad that he had to follow such a popular figure and as the laughs and applause grew louder for Brent, my concern grew about Gareth's presentation. But I needn't have worried. He drew just as large a crowd and had just as many laughs. And again, most of the audience followed him out after his 2 hours and spent more time asking him questions outside of the auditorium.

He's due back in the hotel room in an hour or so. You'd think he'd be tired of talking after 2 hours or so of doing just that. Nope. So, this is my quiet time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cancer is the sign of the home and family life. A Cancer values his or her family and friends more than anything, and will go to any lengths to nurture and protect them. The Cancer person is the caregiver in any relationship. Cautious and sensitive, a Cancer can be highly moody, and once hurt or betrayed, it can take a long time for the Cancer to crawl back out of its proverbial shell. Known as the money sign, Cancer's also easily attain wealth.
Cancer in a Nutshell

Born: June 21 - July 22
Element: Water - emotional and intuitive
Quality: Cardinal, the quality that signifies change and movement
Symbol: The Crab
Lucky Day: Monday
Lucky Numbers: 3 and 7
Special Color: Pale blue and silver, the colors of the water and the moon
Cancer Traits: Shrewd, sensitive, moody, clingy, loyal, cautious

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Know This Lady

I know this lady. A lady in every sense of the word, and quite a woman to boot. She's not wordly or refined, but she's certainly a lady. She's not overly feminine nor does she exude endless charm, but she's a woman.

She's a bit of a social butterfly. In fact she's in her element when she's entertaining and she's at her most beautiful when she's laughing and joking with friends and family. I've known her all my life, yet she remains a mystery to me. I catch myself staring at her a lot. Sometimes in wonder, most times in amusement and a lot of times in frustration, because just as easily as she can make me laugh with her impish smile, and her sometimes nonsensical thinking, she can make me cry with her harrassed frown and biting anger. Her name is Teresita. Her parents and sibling call her Tessie. Her friends and co-workers call her Terry. I call her Mama.

When I was still single and lived at home, around this time of the year I used to set out to produce a small family newsletter to send out with the Christmas cards. The easiest person to write about was my dad who basically lived in Alaska, working there almost 8 to 10 months of the year. Then there were my three brothers, one was in the Navy having adventure after adventure traveling here and there. The other two were in junior high and high school and it was easy to write about their activities and progress in school. I had my job and school to write about.

My mom was another story though. I knew she deserved more than two lines in the newsletter, but what couild I say in a newsletter? She worked at Western State Hospital as a mental health technician, dealing with the mentally ill eight hours a day, 5 days a week then came home to face the truly demented, her kids.

That's basically what my mom did, and still does, year in and year out. This time, subtract me and my younger brothers from the house, but add two grade-school-aged grandsons and one toddler granddaughter who are dropped off after she gets home from work. On her two days off, she spends the night with her 92 year old mother. It's the truth, but it's not everything.

I believe it would take dozens of newsletters just to put a dent in what my mom does and puts herself through in the name of love, family and pride.

If I still made this newsletter, I would love to write what I see in my mom instead of what she did this year. I'd write that I see a tremendous amount of courage and determination and I'd write that I see an equal amount of fatigue. But I'd add that I only see that fatigue when she's just too tired to hide it.

With my father first in the military and then working in Alaska, my mother virtually reared my brothers and I singlehandedly. I get tired just thinking about what my brothers and I put her through and still continue to put her through, this time via grandchildren. But you know what? She wouldn't have it any other way.

Of me and my brothers, my mother has always been the most honest with me, since I am the one who challenged her ideas and rules. I think my mom and I are as close as we are only because I dared to argue with her and that's something we're both good at. She doesn't hesitate in times of anger and regret to be brutally honest, even to the point of letting me know that taking care of my father and me and my brothers had stood in the way of her getting a college education.

That kind of knowledge can hurt a child and at times it still bothers me, but I learned to admire my mom's honesty in letting me know how she felt. I am sure I would have surprised a lot of my relatives if I put this in the newsletter because what they see of my mom, or better yet, what my mom lets them see is that she's a simple woman, satisfied with what she has.

Maybe she is, in a way, but that's not all that I see. Behind those bright eyes I see intelligence constantly clicking away, a savvy, not simple, mind working to understand and struggling to evercome clumsy pronunciation and semantics of a language not her own.

Satisfied? Maybe, but I see roughened and calloused hands that she constantly compares to mine saying, "My hands used to look like yours, with fingers smooth and white, like candlesticks." I used to look at her hands and see the redness and the chapping and not see the hard work and tireless drive behind them. I see them now. And I think I know why they are that way. For as much as she claims to be happy and satisfied, there remains a relentless drive in her to be better, to have better, for herself and for her family, even as each year passes and the drive takes more out of her than she receives.

I read this plaque once about mean mothers. It said mean mothers teach their children responsibility by making them do chores. Mean mothers teach their children honesty by making them tell the truth. A mean mother teaches her children discipline by making them follow rules. A mean mother makes her children let her know where they'll be at what time, teaching them that she cares. My mother was wonderfully mean, sacrificing to teach my brothers and I about love. She remains wonderfully mean as she shares that love and those lessons with her grandchildren. That's the mother I know and love.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

After a While

by: Veronica A. Schoffstall

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans.
And futures have a way of falling down in midflight.
After a while, you learn
That even the sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure....
That you are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn....
With every goodbye you learn.

Shared by my cousin, Grace 11/16/1999.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm a Writer

I was talking to a good friend the other day about career choices and joking about going back to school to become a massage therapist. My reasoning was, "I'm good with my hands." No innuendo or suggestion meant. I was just throwing it out there. "Or, I could continue taking accounting classes and maybe become an accountant. I'm good with numbers." He, in his ever-supportive way just listened to me ramble. I even verbally contemplated being a professional organizer. "You ever watch HGTV's 'Organize It' and wonder what that professional organizer's house looks like? I bet it's a mess." He just chuckled and said, "You're probably right." After a comfortable silence, during which I imagined organizing my study and suddenly felt exhausted, he said, "But you're a writer. You've always been a writer. Why don't you write?"

Why don't I write? That's something I've always wondered. It's not like I don't have material or personal experience to write about. I think I've lived enough for a couple of good novels, or maybe even three. Heck, if I'm desperate for ideas, I just need to look at my family tree. We're a regular soap opera.

I don't know what I'm afraid of exactly. I guess there's always that ever-present fear of rejection or of failure. But how do I know unless I try? Insert additional cliches here. What if what I write sucks? What if I'm boring and pointless? What if the story never comes together? He replied with, "What if you're great? What if in two years, there's a book out there with your name as the author?"

Of course, I thought, That would be awesome. Just as he said, "Wouldn't that be awesome?"

Sometimes we ignore a calling because it's the easier thing to do. I've been ignoring mine for as long as I can remember. Don't ask me why, because I don't really know. But there's no ignoring it now. When time after time, friends and loved ones, people who know you, point out the obvious, it's time to stop ignoring it. No excuses exist except my own, and even I can't stand to listen to myself.

It's not like I haven't researched the subject either. I just haven't made the time to do it. The most common piece of advice from accomplished authors is, "Just write." So here I am, just writing.

"I feel like I should slip on some Nikes, " I tell my friend.

"If it'll help," he replies. Expectant pause. "Just do it."


So this is it.

I'm a writer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm a Grown Woman


GIRLS need this to identify themselves.
GROWN WOMEN already knew this!

Girls leave their schedule wide-open and wait for a guy to call and make plans.
Grown women make their own plans and nicely tell the guy to get in where he fits in.

Girls want to control the man in their life.
Grown women know that if he's truly hers, he doesn't need controlling.

Girls check you for not calling them.
Grown women are too busy to realize you hadn't.

Girls try to put a man 'on lock' by using sex.
Grown women know that it's the sex of the mental kind that makes a man want to 'lock' you down.

Girls fake-moan, lay there and take the stabbing.
Grown women say, "Just stop", get up, get dressed and walk it out.

Girls are afraid to be alone.
Grown women revel in it-- using it as a time for personal growth.

Girls ignore the good guys.
Grown women ignore the bad guys.

Girls worry about not being pretty and/or good enough for their man.
Grown women know that they are pretty and/or good enough for any man.

Girls try to monopolize all their man's time (i.e, don't want him hanging with his friends).
Grown women realize that a lil' bit of space makes the 'together time' even more special -- and goes to kick it with her own friends!

Girls think a guy crying is weak.
Grown women offer their shoulder and a tissue.

Girls want to be spoiled and 'tell' their man so.
Grown women 'show' him and make him comfortable enough to reciprocate w/o fear of losing his 'manhood'.

Girls get hurt by one man and make all men pay for it.
Grown women know that that was just one man.

Girls fall in love, chase aimlessly after the object of their affection, ignoring all 'signs'.
Grown women know that sometimes the one you love, don't always love you back -- and move on, without bitterness.

Girls will read this and get an attitude.

Grown women will read this and know which one I am!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It Does Not Interest Me

It does not interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It does not interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It does not interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow...if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear or further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own . . . if you can dance with wildness and let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It does not interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "yes!"

It does not interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It does not interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It does not interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

--Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Friday, October 20, 2006

This is to have Succeeded

Myspace Layouts

I write this at a crossroads with my job. I've written before that while I love my coworkers and my commute, I don't like what I do. Yet I haven't really done much to change my circumstances. I took some steps, got myself on several registers, went back to school. But when opportunities arose, I didn't jump on them. I alway found an excuse. Either the commute was too far or the schedule wasn't flexible enough for my needs. While I am a bit of a procrastinator, dragging my feet like this was uncharacteristic. It's like my body knew what I should do, but my mind hadn't reconciled with the idea yet. But an idea finally came to me that got me jazzed more than any other opportunity.

So I talked to Gareth about my going back to my old office and taking a voluntary demotion. He wasn't happy with the pay cut, but he knew it would be less stressful for me so he told me to go for it. My current job isn't difficult. We joke at my office that a trained monkey could do our work. But when you don't like what you do, there's little motivation in doing your best. I wanted a change, but not so much that the element of new would add more stress. So I'm going back to what I know, what I was good at, and somewhere I know I'd feel instantly welcome.

Hopefully, the new manager is swayed by my old coworker's recommendations and takes me on without much ceremony. It's not a sure thing, and I'm trying not to have my heart too set on it. But once I decided to do this, a sense of calm & peace came over me. So I know I'm making the right decision. It's like making a U-turn or backing up to take the other fork in the road.

It may be an awkward road, and I'm not thrilled about the pay cut, but the pay off will be being in a better place personally if not professionally. And I know it's only temporary. I have other plans in the works, but my first stop is back to my old job.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dancing in Canada

So here I am, back in Vancouver, British Columbia. Richmond to be more exact. But then again, our hotel location is Vancouver-Airport. But it's in Richmond. Whatever.

Nice suite. Has a mini kitchen, a separate bedroom and living room. Don't know how the husband does it, but he lines up some nice hotels whenever we travel. Free, too, which makes it nicer. Been online all morning working on my homework and half listening to the TV. I've half-listened to Mickey Blue Eyes & now half listening to American President. Hadn't watched Mickey Blue Eyes before, it was quite funny. American President I've always enjoyed watching every time I catch it on TV. That press corp speech Michael Douglas gives after Sidney (Annette Bening) leaves him kicks ass.

So, hey. I'm a college student again, and can I tell you? I LOVE online classes. As long as I keep the due dates straight, I can work on as much or as little as I want. I am a little behind because I enrolled late to do the state employee tuition waiver, which requires you wait until 4 days after quarter starts to register on space available basis. I could've done the tuition reimbursement but $80 is easier to swallow than a $451 hit out of pocket, even if it comes back eventually. Can't believe how much textbooks costs. How do they justify $170 for books I'll use for 3 months? Books I might be able to sell back for $30? This is for 1 class. Can you imagine if I went for two classes, which I'm considering next quarter? I'd love to go full time, but with a full time job during the day and a part-time "job" 3 nights a week, it's just not practical.

So I started taking Metformin & Prometrium last week. Made me sick to my stomach. Literally. Couldn't keep anything down. I think I lost 5 lbs this week because of it. I'd keep taking 'em just for that benefit, but I feel awful. I actually became scared to eat. Yesterday, I decided not to take them and I felt wonderful. So, yeah. Need to talk to the doctor about alternatives or a better schedule because I whether I took them before I ate something or after I ate something, it didn't matter. One of them also gave me one of those nagging headaches. One of those that don't actually pound or throb. Just gave you the sense of an impending migraine but it never would turn into one. A tease of a headache. So, yeah. These pills aren't doing it for me.

I'm dancing around Oct. 8. A day that will live in infamy. For me anyway. Maybe for Gareth, too. It's hard to gauge how he feels about things sometimes. As for me. Honestly, I ache. I hurt. One year ago tomorrow I lost someone I never got to meet but loved with all my heart. I'm sure Gareth hurts, too. But when you physically carry the fleeting possibility inside you, then lose it suddenly & without explanation, it hurts through to the core of your being. You feel like the one who failed. You feel like the one who did something wrong. I know I shouldn't feel that way. I've been told countless times that this was Nature's way of saying it wasn't the right time, that there was something wrong with the fetus, not me. But I feel it anyway, as my ovaries throb uselessly. As my uterus thuds empty.

My counselor told me earlier this year it may help to write a letter to say goodbye. I never got around to doing so, so maybe that's why I still dance around this experience and my voice cracks and my eyes water as I try to smile and pretend I'm okay. Maybe I'll do so tomorrow. Maybe one year later, I can really let go.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hunger for Something

I'm in one of my introspective moods. Then again, when am I not? I get contemplative when my soul hungers for something. Sometimes its for knowledge. Sometimes it's for beauty. Sometimes it's for both. Oftentimes we get too busy to allow ourselves to be moved by the simple beauty of words, the emotions they evoke, the images they inspire.

This has always been one of my favorite poems because it's the love I believe in. The love that brings two people together, but strengthens them as individuals.

Love One Another
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (1883-1931)

Love one another, but make not a bond of love
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping;
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together;
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

One of My Favorite Poems. Ever.

~ Pablo Neruda

I have scarcely left you
when you go in me, crystalline,
or trembling,
or uneasy, wounded by me
or overwhelmed with love, as when your eyes
close upon the gift of life
that without cease I give you.

My love,
we have found each other
thirsty and we have
drunk up all the water and the blood,
we found each other
and we bit each other
as fire bites,
leaving wounds in us.

But wait for me,
keep for me your sweetness.
I will give you too
a rose.

Each of Us Has a Personal Call to Greatness

"Each of us has a personal call to greatness -- and because yours is as unique to you as your fingerprints, no one can tell you what it is. Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death. Your life is speaking to you every day, all the time--and your job is to listen up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, stimulated--what gives you're your juice. Do what you love, create a life of service that fulfills your reason for being here. When you do, you will do more than succeed. . .you will triumph."

When one of our HR consultants retired she sent us this excerpt as part of her goodbye email. It's a powerful message that I think needs to be shared with everyone. She retired to care for abandoned babies in Romania. She said she was answering a calling.

A lot of my frustrations career-wise have been because I'm not doing what I'm passionate about. I mean, c'mon. Who can be passionate about collecting taxes? What I do is repetitive, monotonous and just downright unmotivating. Luckily, I have some great coworkers who make every day fun and sometimes I'm inspired to find my own amusement in the stupid excuses taxpayers come up with.

It's a job, plain & simple, and I've already come to terms with the fact that it's not the right job for me. I just don't know anymore what my calling is. So I read this excerpt at least once a day and try to figure out what I'm passionate about. I remember as a young girl I wanted to become a teacher. Then as I got older, I wanted to become a journalist. Then I discovered a knack for computers. But nothing's clicked for me as far as something I want to dedicate my life doing.

How I came to be a revenue agent still bothers me. I just got on a stable track and stayed there, whether I liked what I did or not. My old coworkers who've gone on to field offices, agents I've trained, always ask me what I'm still doing at the same office, because there's no avenue of promotion within my office. I tell them honestly, I have no desire whatsoever to be field agent who'll only delve deeper into the unrewarding life of a tax hound.

Besides, my current office is 10 minutes from home & the work isn't unduly stressful as long as I keep your nose clean & fly under the radar. Unfortunately, since I've been dealing with my depression & am uninspired to do more than the bare minimum required, I've had missile lock on me, so it's gotten stressful. I'm very reluctant to give up the commute, but I think it's time for me to move on.

"Each of us has a personal call to greatness -- and because yours is as unique to you as your fingerprints, no one can tell you what it is. Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death. Your life is speaking to you every day, all the time--and your job is to listen up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, stimulated--what gives you're your juice. Do what you love, create a life of service that fulfills your reason for being here. When you do, you will do more than succeed. . .you will triumph."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You Belong in Fall

Intelligent, introspective, and quite expressive at times...

You appreciate the changes in color, climate, and mood that fall brings

Whether you're carving wacky pumpkins or taking long drives, autumn is a favorite time of year for you

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Conversations after Midnight

Out of the quiet, comforting darkness, I heard his voice softly whisper. "I love you."

"I love you, too." I whispered back, leaning back to snuggle closer to him. I felt his hand flex on my waist, pulling my body closer to his.

"Oh, baby, did I wake you?"


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Your Life Path Number is 8

Your purpose in life is to help others succeed

You are both a natural leader and a natural success. You are also a great judge of character.

You have a head for business and finance. You know how to make money.

A great visionary, you can see gold where other people see nothing.

In love, you are very generous - with gifts, time, and guidance.

You love to inspire people, but it can be frustrating when they don't understand your vision.

Great success comes easily for you. But so does great failure, as you are very reckless.

You are confident, and sometimes this confidence borders on arrogance.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Your Aura is Blue

Your Personality: Your natural warmth and intuition nurtures those around you. You are accepting and always follow your heart.

You in Love: Relationships are your top priority, and this includes love. You are most happy when you are serious with someone.

Your Career: You need to help others in your job to feel satistifed. You would be a great nurse, psychologist, or counselor.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Birth Month is June

Your Birth Month is June

Peaceful and harmonious, you seek the gentle side of life.

Your warmth and consideration touches many.

Your soul reflects: Friendship, love, and beauty

Your gemstone: Pearl

Your flower: Rose

Your colors: Light blue, white, and cream

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Our First Anniversary

So here I am, back in Victoria B.C. It's our first anniversary. The DH is fast asleep. No, not because of me, though I probably shouldn't admit it. It was most likely the one & 1/2 strawberry margaritas he downed at dinner at Los Taquitos. I had the other 1/2. As always, that's more than enough for this lightweight. Then again, I'm not the one snoring away in the bedroom.

Hard to belive it's been 1 year since we said our "I do's." What's happened since then? Quite a bit. Gareth and I have had all in all a very good first year of marriage. Mostly good, with one major bad. Within a few weeks of our wedding we found out we were pregnant. A wonderful surprise since I honestly didn't think I could get pregnant. Unfortunately, within two months of finding out, we suffered a miscarriage, one we're no longer reeling from, but still dancing around. We've been trying to get pregnant again, but to no success so far. I guess it may help if I followed doctor's orders.

My sister-in-law believes I'm next in line to carry on the family tradition of bringing life into the world, when one of our own passes on. My grandfather passed away 2 weeks ago, and in the past, the family always seemed to welcome a new baby shortly after there's been a death in the family. My cousin Grace had Nikka when Lola Mamang passed. My Aunt Nora & Uncle Noel had Aris Macx when Lolo Baning passed away. My sister-in-law, Yvonne, herself got pregnant after 5 years of trying shortly after her great-grandmother passed away.

I should be so blessed. Mentally, I believe I'm ready. I get the maternal pangs every time I hold my niece or see a baby, in a picture or on the street. Financially, I have my normal concerns since we exist on two incomes, and when we have a baby I want to take some time off, but everyone tells me that takes care of itself in time. Physically, I'm my worst enemy. I have poly-cystic ovarian disease, and I'm supposed to be taking Metformin. Supposed to be. Meaning, I'm not. Meaning, maybe I'm not ready. My biggest fear is the possibility of going through that ordeal of losing a baby again.

It was the worst experience I'd had to endure. I was in a foreign country, far from family. My husband was with me, but we were here in Burnaby Canada because he had a speaking engagement. He couldn't get a hold of anyone to cancel, so he had to drop me off at the ER believing he could come right back. By the time he did, I was done. I had the procedure to "remove the evidence of spontaneous abortion." I still cringe when ever I hear loud sounds of suction, even though I've only heard it in the dentist office since.

What's ironic is my 2nd worst experience was here in Canada as well. Here in beautiful Victoria B.C. I was in a scooter accident, where a tourist shuttle bus clipped me and gave me a 6 inch gash in my left calf that required 32 stitches. Slow healing & infection later required a skin graft. I have a 5x4 crater in my calf, and a matching scar on my thigh to remind me to stay off scooters. The scar and my montly cramps should remind me Canada hasn't been such a lucky place for me.

Yet here I am in Victoria B.C. Home of the best & worst times of my life. We came here for our pre-honeymoon honeymoon weekend, a week after our wedding. We stayed at the Executive Towers in a room with a beautiful view of the parliament. This time, we're at the Royal Scot, where we had stayed when I had my scooter accident. Excorcising bad memories, I guess. We'll be excorcising more in October, another anniversary when we return to Burnaby for another speaking engagement. Maybe once we've replaced bad memories with good, I'll be ready to start taking Metformin.

Maybe one year from today, we'll be back at the Royal Scot with baby in tow.

We should be so blessed.

Friday, September 01, 2006

About Me

I am the epitome of contradiction. I'm shy and quiet, but bursting with things to say. I'm an introvert but I love attention and being around people. I'm more of an observer than a participant, but trust me to take the lead when a leader's needed. I may sound and appear conservative but I've been told that I could easily be a bleeding heart liberal. And I wasn't insulted. My spirit seeks adventure, but my soul revels in security and stability. I love learning new things, but I take comfort in what has always been.

I'm married to a film & game critic, whose 4 cats, Fable, Andy, Mulder & Eeyore, adopted me. We bought a house in Federal Way, and christened it "House of F.A.M.E." for the cats. Since we moved in, we lost Mulder, adopted Fox, added 2 'foster' cats Nemo & Tess (whom we'd keep forever if it were our choice) and were gifted one chihuahua, Mahal, which is Tagalog for love (& expensive). Of course, the additions threw off the House of FAME, althought I suggested we could re-christen the house "House of F.A.T.M.E.N." but Gareth nixed it. No kids in the picture yet. Our cats & chihuahua are enough for now.

| View Show | Create Your Own

During the day, I work for the state. Three nights a week I'm a caregiver for my 92-year old grandmother. I'm also a part-time student trying to earn some accounting credits.

My heart lies in writing, though, and I've had my share of prodding & poking from friends & family to pursue what's in my heart. I'm not quite sure what's holding me back. I do know that I'm a natural procrastinator with a sometimes unhealthy supply of faith in the ideal that everything will take care of itself in its time. My fellow Filipinos will recognize this as our "Bahala na" gene.

I was born in the Philippines, the 2nd eldest of four & the only girl. Spoiled? Yes, in some ways. But as the only girl & the 2nd eldest, I think I had more than my share of responsibilities. I came to the states at 3 yrs of age, so you could also say I'm Americanized and I'd agree, in some ways. However, I still understand my native tongue & speak it when absolutely necessary. I honor my family's tradition of respecting & caring for its elders. I am devoted to family almost to a fault, but without them I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Life That Mattered

Heck of a way to start a blog, but I wanted to share this with the family I connect to on myspace. I lost a dear, dear man on August 18. He & my grandmother now rest in peace in the Philippines. It was my honor to write my grandfather's eulogy, which I wrote from my father's point of view, as he was the one to deliver it.

When I think of Tatay, I think of his sense of humor, his generosity & his tough but abiding love. Now those happier times are acting as a protective barrier of memories around my heart, because after 90 years of life, the world has lost a man whose life mattered greatly to so many people.

I'm not sure from whom Tatay inherited it, but Tatay had a great sense of humor. It's one of many things I know he instilled in his children, grandchildren & even his great-grandchildren. It came in the form of funny stories or jokes he could tell & re-tell and it would still be as funny as the first time he told it. It came in the form of tricks he played on the younger generations. His eldest great-grandson, Michael, who'll be 18 soon, will still shake his head in wonder when he remembers how Tatay used to pull quarters from his ear when he was a toddler. My nephew Elvin, an accomplished artist, will tell you Tatay was his first art teacher, the one who taught him how to use his imagination & be more creative with his thinking. He remembers asking Tatay to draw him an elephant. Tatay instead drew a picture of a mountain & some trees. When Elvin asked Tatay, "But Tatay, where's the elephant?" Tatay replied, "It's there! Behind the trees!"

My parents were known to teach us & their grandchildren lessons using parables and quotes. My daughter, Genevieve can tell you that my mother was fond of meaningful quotes, her favorite quote being, "I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

Ask her what her grandfather's favorite quote was & she'll say:
"If you see a monkey in a tree, pull its tail & remember me."

I'm glad that if nothing else, my children and Tatay's other grandchildren will remember Tatay for his sense of humor. He was not an easy man to get to know. He carried himself with the trademark DeGuzman stoicism, with a stern, handsome face and a seldom-seen smile. But when he smiled, it was a brilliant smile, sly & full of mischief. I believe it was his smile that won my mother over. That and his singing voice, a remarkable tenor, which he used to serenade Nanay when he courted her. Tatay's voice was well-known in this area and in the United Methodist Churches where Nanay & Tatay were members from Paniqui, to San Francisco, California, to Lakewood, Washington. I believe it was Tatay's sense of humor that kept Nanay in love with him for over 60 years. That and perhaps the fact that as a retired schoolteacher, Nanay had the patience to put up with Tatay's antics.

I can tell you about his career as a land surveyor with the Philippines Bureau of Lands, where he used his job to teach his two older sons about integrity, compassion & character, never allowing the struggling farmer to pay more than his fair share of property taxes. For Tatay, what mattered wasn't what he learned, but what he taught. Cesar & I were too young to accompany him on his expeditions, so our lessons of Tatay's dedication & generosity came later when Tatay & Nanay retired from good paying secure jobs to move to the States, where Tatay took a menial job as a maintenance worker at a hospital so he could send money home to the Philippines, giving me, my brother & my older sister the hope of of coming to the US one day.

Time after time, Tatay & Nanay came to our aid, even after we started our own families. When they should've been enjoying their retirement, they were instead babysitting our children, chaperoning field trips, chauffeuring them to school, making sure they were well-fed and well-dressed, playing foster parents when need be. But more than this, they helped us teach our children the importance of family, the importance of lending a helping hand and the importance of keeping faith in God a central part of our lives.

For Tatay, I believe it was never about his success, but about his significance in the lives of his children & grandchilren. He was never more proud than when he witnessed us succeed, and he was never more hurt than when we failed to acknowlede his hand in our successes. I hope Tatay knows that we know we couldn't have made it to where we are now in this world without him and all that he taught us.

Because of Tatay, I know what matters in life, because Tatay lived a life that mattered. In his unique way, whether he intended to or not, Tatay lived to make others laugh, he lived to make others care, he lived to make others feel loved, he lived to help those in need and he lived to be remembered long after he's gone.

We love you, Tatay. We will never forget all you & Nanay taught us through your acts of love & kindness. May you both rest in long-deserved peace together again in God's hands.