Friday, October 9, 2009


When it rains it f|oods:

Now that I'm getting pro|ific in my b|ogging to whi|e my b|ues away; I'm beset with another cha||enge -- my keyboard is starting to give me a prob|em as we||: its |etter | is no |onger working and so do the period and the comma!

Hay buhay! (Oh; |ife!)

We||; I have devised a way to go around it by substituting other characters for the wayward keys: Or; if I need a more forma| writeup; to copy+paste the |etter |; period and comma:

When it rains something good wi|| grow:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All I Want For Christmas 2009

All my life I dreamed of a solid family. That's my number one item on my christmas wish list. Unfortunately, my husband had other plans and now he ran away without a trace. He's probably off racing towards his Great American Dream.

So I'm done with wishing for things money can't buy. For now I can't buy anything except the basics due to the sudden flight of my husband and the financial blows hurting my pocket aside from my heart.

Out with my futile romantic musings, I'm getting practical these days. All I want for christmas 2009 and the christmases to come are material things I can no longer buy. And I need them for my blogging (and, as of December 2009):

1. A really good camera (got me a Nokia Expressmusic, not really a good camera, but not that bad either);

2. An i-Pphone for mobile blogging (Nokia Expressmusic per daughter's insistence, i-Phone has no zoom-in/zoom-out capabilities);

3. A more powerful computer for digital photo and video editing (almost, almost);

4. A macbook so that me and my daughter would not be fighting over this notebook (very far out);

5. A dog to watch over us at night and his food supply (there's Troy, but I'd like to have another one);

6. A secondhand car I can call my own (my husband had the guts to drive us in an unregistered car which is now left under my risk) preferably a pickup or delivery van or truck for transporting my paintings and other stuff (not so clear yet);

7. Water supply restored (my husband left me in an embarrassing situation that made me and my family waterless) (done!);

8. A pedicab (bicycle with sidecar) as service vehicle for transporting water from my dad's house to my house and to service my three adopted former street children to the local public school they're currently attending (cancelled, because of granted wish #7);

9. Painting materials (for my other passion) (granted!);

10. Scholarship sponsorship for my daughter and three adopted former street children (not yet);

11. A well-deserved vacation and shopping spree for me and all my children (still hoping);

12. A big-time pampering at the spa for my tired mind and body (trying to find time for it);

13. A new career and a new life anywhere but in this place I used to call Paradise (I still wish);

14. A magicsing videoke microphone because I just loooove to sing my blues away (maybe, just maybe!);

15. A watch (I forgot I had this wish, what about jewelry instead?).

As they say, keep on thinking positive thoughts and the Law of Attraction will conspire to make my wish list come true.

So be it!

Flood Fears

Ondoy. Pepeng. Flood. Flood in several cities!

God is cleaning house. So says a good friend of mine. To some extent, I agree with him, but I also believed in His promise never to destroy the earth again by water.

I am thankful that my personal calamities are bearable, only as much as I could carry. But I have had my own flood experience one fair, sunny afternoon in June 1, 2007 when it rained a gentle rain still with an afternoon sun. My daughter and her yaya decided to go out in the rain and were frolicking when suddenly a freak flood erupted from the clogged rain gutter of our house, filling up our ceiling in a matter of seconds and then the waters above started dropping through holes like mini waterfalls everywhere.

Then I thought: water conducts electricity. The computer was still on! I had to turn off everything and rushed to the main switch box. It seemed like an eternity trying to climb through a television set, stereo components until I got my hands on the levers, pulling them down as I heaved a great sigh of relief.

Since then I realized that electric outlets should not be as low as the standard two feet above the ground. It should be way way up to avoid electrical shock in times of flash floods and overall power is still on.

But then, as time passed, I forgot about the flood. I began to have more electrical appliances than electrical sockets so I began to have more and more extension cords. These extension outlets usually lie on the floor where I would plug in electric fans and night lights for overnight use. Some extensions have nothing plugged on them but they are carelessly stuck to the two-foot outlet and left overnight.

Then I began to realize the horror. A couple of nights ago, I couldn't sleep because of the steady rain outside. More and more cities have been flooded, ours might be next. I would rather sleep on the floor than on the bed so that if flood waters come in during our sleep, at least I could feel it while it's as low as a few inches deep. So the extension cords we are using must be raised higher to allow us more time to head for the main switch. Unused extensions must be pulled out at all times. Overnight electric fans must be placed on a higher elevation and not on the floor.

Now I'm thinking of emergency floaters. Since I can't afford even a surfboard and will have no use nor room for it in the meantime, I'm thinking of a wider version of a swimmer's kickboard. Why not a styropor board and stash it in the meantime under our mattresses as additional back support?

For a more ambitious project, since some Filipino modern homes feature a bahay kubo as a refreshing retreat from their concrete main house, why not build a native bamboo house that's not anchored to the ground but rather make its floor a bamboo raft at the same time so that when flood waters rise, you have an instant floating house?

Crazy invention mothered by necessity. My good friend is even thinking of joining two catamarans in his drawing board. Who's got a better idea?

Filipino Single Mothers: The Pillar and Light of the Filipino Home

The Filipino family allegory sees the father as the pillar of the home while the mother is the light. The children bring joy to the family.

However, thanks to the western influence of divorce, the foundation of the Filipino concept of family has also crumbled.

Kathy an unwed mother has gone through a lot of tough times trying to raise her son all by herself. She did all sorts of odd jobs until she got work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong and later in Bahrain. Torn by the need to earn money for her son's needs she realized that her growing son also needs her personal touch more than ever. She was blessed to have been accepted to a teaching job decent enough for her to send her son to the same private school and for her to earn the respect of her peers.

The father of her son? He was her first and only love being neighbors of the same community. But he never acknowledged his son who looks much more like his father than his mother. The father may never have thought that his life would soon be over by cardiac arrest while waiting for their police patrol to arrive.

Sad to say, the son never got the much needed financial and moral support from his father and Kathy continues to struggle all the more economically to support her son singlehandedly as she always had.

Kathy's story is becoming more and more common as the number of single mothers continue to rise.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that single-parent statistics show that 84% are mothers and 16% are fathers. These figures alone make me wonder, where did all the male counterpart of these 84% mothers go? Where did the 16% counterpart of these 16% fathers go? Why are there a great number of men contributing to their partners' being single mothers?

The same study concludes that almost half of these single mothers are either divorced or separated (44%), and the rest are single (33%), remarried (22%), or widowed (1%). Which brings me to the thought that a large number of men causing women to be single mothers are alive and out there, leaving the moms to take care of their children alone. On the other hand, widowers are only 1% of the number of single dads.

Which means, the single mother has to have a career or some sort of employment to support her child. In fact, 79% of these women are working mothers.

While most single moms are young, 37.7% of these are 40 years old or older, and usually have only one child unless she has remarried and had children by another union, and all her children usually live with her.

In the Philippines, many single mothers are not yet aware or have not yet realized the full benefit afforded them of RA8972 or the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000.

Sad but true, if the same U.S. statistics more or less represents the same picture of the modern-day Filipino family, it only means that the role of the Filipino father, held as the pillar of the Filipino home, is now also singlehandedly carried by the mother. The Filipino single mom is now both the pillar and the light.

Thus Filipino single mothers, having become the Pillar and the Light of the Filipino Home by force of circumstance, and because of her characteristic Pinoy resilience in the face of challenges such as single parenthood, she has evolved into a new symbol -- the lamp post. Both a pillar and light to her children, her family.

How's My Driving? (Philippine Driving)

How's my driving? This sign is often seen at the back of all public utility vehicles in the Philippines as a mandatory requirement. Which makes Philippine driving all the more obvious: that there is always something to complain about Philippine driving.

One American friend described Philippine traffic as "controlled chaos". It made me think about our Philippine driving, as more often we tend to disregard things that we're so used all our lives.

Driving on a Philippine national highway from home to work and back, I can't help getting annoyed by Filipino drivers with the need for speed. They all seem to want to drive on the fast lane, even if their vehicles are pedicabs, tricycles, motorcycles, delivery vans, cargo trucks, dilapidated vehicles and other slow-moving modes of transportation.

So that you will find all slow moving vehicles rolling along on the fast lane, while the faster vehicles overtake on the slow lane. It all makes an upside down sense: slow vehicle, fast lane; fast vehicle, slow lane.

Only in the Philippines. The contact numbers that are printed along with the "How's my driving" sign? Some of the cell phone numbers are already inactive and it's really no use arguing with some low life who should not be on the road in the first place, annoy other motorists with their driving, and then ask, "How's my driving?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Whirlwind Romance: Why I Would Not Advise Rushing Into Marriage

Like mother like daughter? I realized only too late that moms don't always know best.

Nineteen ninety six. I was 25. My mom had been pressuring me to get married already because I was getting old. She went as far as frankly asking my boyfriend at the time as to his plans for me. Not pleased with the vague response, she was nagging me until I told her that whoever comes along offering me marriage, him I will marry.

April 1996. I was talked by my officemates to join our regional inter-office beauty pageant. I won, qualifying myself for the nationals in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, which sounded exotic to me at the time. There I met a guy I never thought would be my future husband (I never corrected him mispronouncing my name Jo-an instead of Joan because I was thinking I would never see him ever again anyway. Later all my in-laws call me Jo-an while my side of the family and friends knowingly call me Joan. This annoyance I converted into a barometer as to how well people know me by the way they pronounce my name).

May 1996. I got for myself a nightly long distance caller form Pangasinan. He came over to Bacolod for the first time in June 1996, the start of our whirlwind romance.

July 1996, my boyfriend got involved in a carnapping case in Dagupan City and was choking the words through tears over my analogue remote-control-like cellphone. He didn't really say anything about the carnapping but he was sying things like he was ruined, there was no future for him, and that it would be better off for him to die. I was thinking suicide. So I rushed to see him in Dagupan. He was no longer suicidal but I was told about the hot car his social worker aunt purchased in his name. He was too happy to see me that he offered marriage. That was my cue!

August 1996. We quickly got married before a judge in Dagupan City, witnessed and financed only by his relatives. My mom was promised a church wedding for her only daughter, but it never happened until now.

September 1996. Bar Exams. I was already conceiving.

October to December 1996. I was detailed for three months in Dagupan City Trial Court. My detail order to end at the close of the year, I had to go back to Bacolod or lose my job. And Bacolod is a bigger city than Dagupan, and I would be needing my side of the family when I give birth.

May 1997. Our first daughter was born. My husband was jokingly saying that she will be our one and only child. That there won't be any other. Up to this day, Bea is my one and only.

September 1997. Thank goodness the carnapping case did not get into his NBI files, my husband was accepted into the Philippine National Police.

He started out as a good policeman with high and noble ideals. He served faithfully and enjoyed his job so much. With my influence in the local courts, he became popular and unlike other policeman, he instantly became well-known and grew in confidence with the clerks of courts up to the judges and later to mayors and congressmen.

2006. He became more and more scarce, always at work, his once noisy cell phone became too quiet and suspiciously empty. My woman's intuition felt that there was something wrong, like an itch you cannot scratch.

2009. The pieces of the puzzle started falling in place. He had a lot of explaining to do. But instead, he ran. He had no relatives in Bacolod or Negros. Many people tried to intervene to help hold the once admirable marriage together. A pastor, my office chief, a judge, a general, but my husband always had excuses to wriggle himself out of the conference. He just won't talk.

My mother? She refused to help. She said it was my life, and "life is what we make it", she could not solve my problems. And she was scared to death my policeman husband might shoot her. Same with my father. They're both afraid of guns. I'm afraid of guns, too, the reason why I used to tell myself, "I would never marry a policeman or a soldier." Or a nurse, or a seaman, or anyone whose job requires him to be away a lot from his family like my father used to.

Now it's turning out that mother is not like daughter after all. We had long unsettled issues (that will be tackled in a separate blog). The short of it is that she has unresolved issues with her late mother and now she's bringing everything down on me. I don't want that animosity handed down to my daughter.

When my daughter turned 12 on May 2009, she celebrated her birthday by opening her first solo exhibit. A milestone one might say. But her father never showed up. He never called, nor texted, nor sent a gift. Days and weeks and months passed, he became scarcer and scarcer. Even his friends and office chief didn't know how to contact him anymore.

His new direct superior called my attention about a Camp Crame Tracer looking for unaccounted short and long arms in the name of my husband, who allegedly kept promising his chief to report to work regarding this matter. He never did.

August 17, 2009. The police inspector was constrained to issue a memorandum for my husband to show cause why he should not be declared on AWOL. To no avail.

September 15, 2009. A second memorandum was issued declaring him absent without leave and dropped from the rolls of the PNP.

The day after I sent a message to a cousin-in-law on Facebook, the enraged aunt called from Dagupan City. She cursed and cursed and blamed Bacolod for everything and threatened to kill her nephew for having caused this embarrassment. Irate and irrational, she was shouting over the phone over her nephew's ruined future all because of Bacolod, thus she couldn't care less about ruining her own future as she was already old and that she could kill her nephew anytime if she sees him. The messages in my Facebook inbox were just as passionate and fiery.

But like my husband, she, they, did not show up. As if I have awakened from a nightmare, that they were just like bubbles that disappeared, but I still have a child as living proof that half of their blood forever runs in her veins.

In all this dark valley, my mother is never on my side. My father would like to help me in whatever little way that he can, but he is afraid of my mother's equally volanic anger.

But that's another story.

Like mother like daughter? Following her whirlwind romance turned out to be not a good idea. I was just not my mother's daughter. While she is still stuck in a marriage wherein to make her happy, she must always be the sole controlling figure, I am happily liberated in a marriage that is otherwise unhappy.

Nowadays, there are so many successful and contented single women in their thirties. My only consolation that I was once told by my mother that I was already too old to be single at 25, is that I have the best daughter in the world.

To her, I would not advise rushing into marriage. It is still best to know your man, to be friends with him, so that if love flies out of the window, you can still be friends forever.

Why I Did Not Pass The Bar, I Think...

Everything has a purpose.

I flunked the bar three times. And I believe each flunk has a purpose because I believe I'm not stupid.

Flunk No. 1: I was stupid. I graduated sometime in March 1996 with my two bestfriends. Grace wanted to take the Bar right after graduation but was afraid to go to Manila on her own so she was begging me to take the exams with her. Christy has decided to defer taking the Bar for another year to prepare herself fully. I was undecided. But I decided to go for it, relying on my batting average that I had never failed in any exam in the past, in fact, I passed my IQ Tests, Aptitude Tests, NCEE, Civil Service Exams, etc. with flying colors. Then in the homestretch of the review, I got married.

Flunk No. 2: I was like stoned when I heard the radio news anchor skipping my name as he read the passers. I knew I was prepared this time, after 9 years, but why? I did not cry. I did not blame God. What was the purpose of this, I simply asked? My officemates rallied for me to give it a consecutive try, this time, with study leave starting June 1. In the afternoon of that day, while I was reviewing my lessons on the computer, a freak flood suddenly erupted from the clogged rain gutter of our house while my daughter and her yaya were frolicking in the rain outside. Realizing the danger of electricity running through the fast rising water, I quickly pulled out all the electric cords and pantingly rushed to the main switch box which seemed like a steep climb. What if it was only Bea and her yaya all wet from the rain rushing into a flooded house with electricity charged waters? I had to be in that house, and the Bar review was the perfect excuse for me to be there.

Flunk No. 3: Finally I was humbled. I was called to serve my church in legal matters. Had I been a full-fledged lawyer, I may not have the time to be called to such a noble service.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Why I Don't Like Having Too Many Bags

Unlike my mother, I am not a bag or a shoe freak. I just like having one reliable bag for its entire lifetime, and so with an all-occasion footwear (make that one flat and one heeled for the shoe).

First, I don't like transferring all my everyday stuff from one bag to another just because this bag is the right match for my outfit. For me, it's just a tote for my daily essentials and not part of my getup.

Second, I would rather have one fairly expensive bag than having too many fakes. But since I could not afford such a luxury, I would rather have an unbranded or handmade but stylish tote.

Third, because I'm fond of stuffing all my important belongings in one bag, just one trusty carry-all is easy to grab in case of emergencies -- cellphone, money, ID's, makeup, hairbrush, keys, bank and credit cards, all there.

And lastly, because they don't look expensive enough, anyone thinking of a quick robbery would not pick my bag first!

There's only one hitch, tough... if my bag gets lost, there goes everything, too...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tolentine Star Layouting Tips

I was an Art Director and later the Associate Editor of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos Tolentine Star college school publication sometime in 1992-94.

That was the transition of the manual copy-paste to the digital copy-paste that we know now. With the advent of modern-day techology that makes things a lot easier (and therefore oftentimes a no-brainer), I still long for the traditional ways of old.

And I will prefer the more challenging way of writing headlines, counting the n's and the m's (I won first place in the Regional COPRE Headline Writing Contest, in 1993 I think).

This is our TS layouting standards back then and I think the principles are still the same despite the techno trappings that sometimes make layout artists a little confused due to the millions of choices in fonts, designs and templates out there.

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. To determine the design of your layout, e.g.: young people, A/B crowd, corporate setting, barangay outreach, etc.

2. MAINTAIN A STABLE IMAGE. To establish your distinct personality to your audience, e.g.: Time Magazine,, ABS-CBN.

3. BALANCE THE GRAY SPACE AND THE WHITE SPACE. At least ¼ to 1/3 white space to relax the eyes.

4. PREFER QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. If the text is too long, rewrite. Edit pictures, too. Less is more.

5. “WED” YOUR LAYOUT. A perfect “marriage” between the Writer, Editor, and Designer. Coordination among them is very important.

6. LAYOUT BY SPREAD. Consider as one page an entire spread for harmony.

7. DETERMINE CENTER OF VISUAL IMPACE (CVI). Enlarge the most interesting picture to usher the eyes into the page/spread.

8. DON’T BLOCK THE DRIVEWAY. Placing a picture on the lower right corner of the spread blocks the reader from going on to the next page.

9. USE ONLY ONE TO TWO TYPEFACES. For variety, change point sizes, use bold, italics, underscore, shadows, screens, reverse, etc.

10. USE SANS SERIFS FOR BIGGER TEXTS. When small, their sharp edges hurt the eyes. Use serifs, not display letters, for body text, which may be used for titles. For variety, use the appropriate voice, eg: light, serious, formal, satirical.

11. AVOID TOMBSTONING. To remedy the graveyard look, create movements in the pictures or with the texts.

12. AVOID FIRING SQUAD SHOTS. Candid shots always bring out the personality. If this is not possible, try the various flashing options in your captions.

13. WRITE GOOD CAPTIONS. Do not write what is already obvious in the pictures.

14. CROP YOUR PICTURES WELL. Don’t cut necks, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, knees, feet, etc. right at the joints. Determine the subject’s line of vision.

15. VIOLATIONS ARE ALLOWED. But always for a good reason.

Don Salvador Benedicto's Rolling Uphill Illusion

Spook or science? Thirty four kilometers up Bacolod City is the famous Don Salvador Benedicto KM34 marker where a strange occurence happens.

Called the "rolling uphill illusion", it is a visual trick that makes things seem to roll upward an inclined plane when actually it is rolling down.

This video demonstrates how our mini van rolls up about two meters without a driver.

Here are two more links to show you how spilled water would drip uphill in the same area.

The locals, though, would like to believe that the area is enchanted, sometimes causing accidents despite the wide concrete highway.

That's how science can still be spooky.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What More?

Psalm 23:1-4 & 5

A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.


4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

This verse speaks to my heart today.

The Good Shepherd is there with me and for me when fear stalks. In fact, He throws a party for me in the face of my enemies. Wow! What more could I ask for?

You Can Never Really Tell

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)

Like a box full of surprises, you can never really tell what tomorrow brings.

Take for example my personal experience of the Flood caused by Typhoon Ondoy. It seemed like any other ordinary rain. It just rained and rained, but it didn't seem life threatening.

We were staying in Makati when it happened. Had a mini reunion with classmates the night before. It was raining but we still had fun. Then I packed up for tomorrow's journey back home to Bacolod.

But then, the waters at Metropolitan Ave was unusually high. And it only meant one thing: If it's ankle high in that high place, it must be waist deep and even deeper in other places, such as the roads going to the airport.

Radio reports became more and more dismal. I couldn't imagine that there was a killer flood going on while we were relatively safe where we were. Our only problem was that we were running out of supplies and fresh clothes for me and my daughter Bea.

So the proverb holds true: you can never really tell what tomorrow brings.

Only God knows.

Only God knows.
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