Monday, December 22, 2008

Kat's solo

Kat has resigned herself to the fact that her mother is gonna put her solo in. And so i taped this one from the computer using my cellphone cam, so it's not perfect but you get the idea. i hope my most excellent, exemplary, perfect wish-you-had-one like her friend in DC enjoys this part:) btw, i panick at the end of the tape and you hear it in my voice, because technical things confuse me and i didn't know how to turn off the cell phone. well, c'est la vie. or do i say, cell la vie?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kat as Kittri

Kat is gonna kill me for this, but my most excellent perfect wonderful too-bad-you-don't-have-one-like-her friend in DC has been wanting to see her dance. So i actually filmed this on the TV using my new cellphone. it's only 5 minutes into her dance, but i didn't have a memory card yet. so next installment is yet to follow:)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Excerpts From the Diary of a Dog

I can't remember where I found this, but it is so adorable, that I am reprinting it here. Whoever wrote this is a genius:)

Excerpts from diary of a dog

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Note: There should be a photo here of a real cat, but I don't have one. My daughter however is named Kat, so I hope for now, this will do.

Excerpts from diary of a cat
Day 983 of my captivity...My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Da Link

Here's the link:

to get the story behind the debate where College of St. Benilde (and my kid) defeated UP Iloilo :)

Or if that won't work try:

then click ANC and you'll see the story of how CSB defeats UP Iloilo and click there.

loveya babe.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The secrets of STU Inc.

That's Ms Weng, on the left. She's the big boss who answers directly to STU's secret owner, Sally Turado. Why secret owner? Because owners should be old and fat and Sally has disguised herself as young and svelte. The next boss after Ms. Weng is Mr. Andrew (not in photo, another secret?) And beside Ms Weng are other STU secrets, the 2 buffs Karl and Troy, and Yvonne. The buffs pucker their lips, and Yvonne smiles sweetly. Secret: They are bosses, too.
Here is the secret secret boss of STU and owner pa, Ms Sally Turado pretending to be a working girl taking pictures of everyone. No one dares mention it to her, but everyone wonders....does she know of the secret man boob? is she trying to find it too?
And now for STU's biggest secret: The secret, legendary man boob. Said to make buffs buffer, the sad happier, the crazy crazier...Are they conspiring? Rigor, Lenard, Uly, Alvin, Kurt,Jem, Rommel try to look innocent, but they know that we know that they know. And we know they know we know. But who knows if anybody knows if anybody else knows? do they? know?

Let's toast to the legendary secret invisible, findable, forsseable man boooooob.....
And Sir Andrew, even before i could ask about the legendary man boob said, "no, you cannot leave work early!"

Susan Gorre stared me straight down. "the man boob is softer than silicone" she said. Rowena said, "i have seen the man boob often at midnight flying around the room...." but Susan, Rowena, Rhoda, Malou, Imelda, Christine and Alvie said, "The man boob is wise like the wisest oracle".
"i don't have to tell you anything i know" luz tolentino said. "i gave you winniechurchill, remember. Even if I had heard that the man boob has the power to bring world peace to the Philippine world and satellite countries."

What the.....
Lane, Len, Lot, Ann and Mau said, "the secret man boob has more fluid than the fountain fronting the Basilica in Italy".
"Man boob? what man boob?" say Christopher, Ian and Luz. "The one that turns invisible, twists faster than a twister and unleashes fluid disguised as water on the city causing flash floods?

Because they were soused, Danica, Judith, and Romina gave some inside info. "The man boob is taller than mount everest," they said.

Aireen says, "Everything about the legendary STU manboob is true." JR nods in agreement. Then she motions to the left and says, "See for yourself."

Alvin drinks. the end.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kid with a Brain

On the set of ANC's Square-Off-Frankahan: The Drilon Debates
I never realized I had a cute baby til my sister Alice commented, "I watched all the babies on tv, and I think Kat is cuter than they are". Before then, she was just my baby and that was the whole entire thing for me. Who cared whether or not she was cute?

But my sis got me thinking, and i joined her in a baby contest -- surprise, she became a Zwitzal Baby, and there was a cash prize and gifts. And it made me think, this is not exactly a bad thing.

Growing up, Kat always showed up in mags because she was a cute kid. Oftentimes, if I needed a cute kid, I would grab one of her photos to go with an article I was writing. So yesterday, while Kat and Luis (da fella) were hanging around the house, she picked up an old magazine that had her baby pictures in it. She showed it to me and said, "I never knew you did this".

When she started to dance, she was quite good at it too, and has done a number of solos. She has also done some modeling, and I was amazed at what a trooper she could be, working under difficult circumstances and not minding because she just likes getting things done.

That's my kid at the right laughing in embarassment that mom is taking pictures. This is the College of St. Benilde Debate Team -- Chico Fornier, Nat (last name to be added later cause I forgot) and Kat.

But here was something new -- Kat appeared on TV to represent her school's debate team. The program was "Square-off Frankahan: The Drilon Debates" Her school was up against UP Iloilo and College of Saint Benilde won TA TARATA TA TA TA!!!!!!!!

And suddenly my sis (in our family we have this strange thing going -- we are all nuts about each other's kids :):):)) called to give her comments on the show. My sis Sami is an Ateneo Dean's Lister and has recently been made a partner in the Firm where she works. She has some of the most high profile clients in the country. She is Kat's idol, who, in Kat's eyes, can never do anything wrong. Oh, and Sami's boys have inherited her brilliance.

But she gave a blow by blow and it was an altogether new experience for me, for the first time to hear someone commenting on my daughter's brains. And i thought, that was pretty cool:)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

House Renovations

Here’s the thing. When you renovate a house, it’s like a tsunami for the insects.

We laid 2 trees to rest, and large red ants crawled up metal posts looking for their new home. They climbed electrical wires, walls, everything but they always climbed upwards. We hope they have found a better abode.

Inside, we disrupted the homes of the black ants, who came out onto bathroom sinks, and the cockroaches seemed disoriented. The termites, I would like to think, have long gone. I saw one tiny little spider, and last night a mosquito had bitten my nose.

But I would like to think, nonetheless that my house is approaching its nirvana.

I discovered lots of things we accumulated after 14 years of living here that we simply had to let go. Garbage bags were filled with stuff. Others went to the maids and workers to choose among. And the remainder we gave to an orphanage.

Ah, that orphanage. It was my bright spot in the tsunami. I would have never gone there if I didn’t have so much to let go. Inside were babies, beautiful, perfect babies. Babies who had been surrendered by their mothers at different hospitals.

The nun at St. Rita’s orphanage explained to me that those six months and below stayed in the first room, so that the parents could always claim them back. In the next room were the older children, toddlers, who hopefully could find loving parents someday.There were many beautiful babies and not enough people to do the one thing babies need to be done for them – carry them when the cry.

And I decided to make that my job for as long a I can. Go there and carry the babies. Touch is an intellectual and emotional experience for a child at that age. Touch nurtures physical growth and health and emotional maturity.

As I carried the first baby, I was amazed at how the tiny hand pinched my neck, and how with his other hand he clung to my shoulder. It was heaven. The next day, I carried a little girl, and again, that loving pinch of a tiny hand on my neck made my day. She rested her head sweetly on my chest. They were so light, their skins so beautiful and clear. They were perfect babies.

Angelina Jolie, where are you? If I had my way, I would love to take on one of these babies. But we also have another baby in our house, the baby of our maid. I figure, this child, whose name is Ashley (just like my dog) is the one that God wants us to care for, for now. We call her Ashley baby, so we don’t get confused with the dog, who always comes when I call the baby. We call Ashley Pumpernickel Ashley Puppy. So we always know which Ashley we are talking about.

House renovations turn the world of the insects upside down and rock our lives and help us to discover sometimes that what is really important is oftentimes outside your nest. It’s nice to live in a good looking house. But outside the house are innocents, the needy, the jaded, the greedy, the hopeful, the angry, the workers, the lovely.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Being Sabalones

One good thing about moving forward is that finally you get to the point where you don't mind looking back. That's the thing with me now, at least where my Dad is concerned. I don't mean to disrespect him by not showing up at his funeral. Because looking back, he was really in his own way a good man to many, many people. Many people love him and like him and miss him.

Like all of us, he made his mistakes. But he also did many good things, too. I think the best choice he made was just before he died, when he faced his errors and genuinely felt sad about them and accepted Jesus in his life. He is in the heaven that he deserves. Who said, it's not where you start, it's where you finish? I figure you can't go to heaven and be the same flawed person we all are here on earth. He is the best of himself that he can be now.

And I am thankful for him because he did have vision, he loved his country, he was proud of being Filipino. He had a vision for his children, too. We all got good educations, and he gave us things we never had. He was generous and liked to give. I would always see him giving coins to street people. He said when he was poor he wanted someone to give him money, and now that he had money, he wanted to share it with them, too.

Looking back is even less difficult for me now because Dad gave me my youngest sister, our bunso, Stephanie. In a very large way, she makes me happy to be Sabalones. The wonderful thing about God is that even our mistakes, God uses to be our greatest blessings. We all missed Dad when he moved on. But he provided, he kept in touch, he gave. I know he loved Steph very much, and I thank God that she is here for his other children to appreciate.

And I'm glad that she is cared for by people who love her and who love him. Heaven is a wonderful place and from up there, he looks down and I think he is smiling.

Friday, October 17, 2008


"You have to watch House" Mau told me. 

See, that's the thing. I love House, I love its humor, and I love how the medicine still manages to be the star. I love how it has avoided turning into one of those soap dramas where the story is more about the characters and their love lives than the hospital setting. I love it's dour side.

But we have not been able to watch House lately because my house is being renovated and things are topsy turvy. We sleep on the floor of an extra room, and there is furniture on top of furniture, and 14 years of gradual degeneration that has to be made up for. But when I mentioned to Ed the story of House, he very sweetly saved the show for me and we watched it together at midnight on the computer.

Now about lies, I love how House says "everybody lies" because it's true. But I must say some lie extraordinarily better than others. I am a very bad liar. I am actually trying to teach myself to lie better. I mean really lie, stare someone straight in the face a lie, and give the perfect face to support it. Not turn away, not quiver a bit in the voice. Not avoid the lie. This morning I lied rather well, though. I lied to my husband who was looking for something. I had accidentally thrown it away and I said I had never seen it. And he let it pass, because he knows I'm a bad liar.
Another thing about House, he always has this "It's never lupus" attitude that I would love to have. He always has to be right and when he's wrong, he knows how to sail through it with enough arrogance to let the moment pass. I would love that attitude. Instead, I listen to everyone, and I always bend a little here and there. One time my daughter said, "You have no mind of your own. You let others decide for you." because I changed my mind about something she wanted and sided with her father. So I told her, "You're just upset because right now it's not you controlling my mind!"

Of course, House pays the price for being as he is. He is hated, and he lives with that. He is miserable and he lives with that, too. I don't think he knows what he really wants. He doesn't show his scars of payment for the life he leads. It shows instead in his leg, his vicodin.

But we all have our legs and our vicodin, don't we? How I would like to just say "It's never lupus!" and believe it and know it and live by it.

Anyway, I gotta get back to fixing my house.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Moment of Serendipity

When mama was sick, I kept looking for this poem. I thought it was written by a Filipino and I always kept a copy of it because it seemed so helpful for people who had lost a loved one. I even got in touch with the guy whose father I thought had written it, but he didn't know what I was talking about.
Then I looked through my things about a week ago, and I found the poem among some of Mom's papers. It even had a spelling correction in the margin in Mom's handwriting. So I guess she liked it too, and she kept my copy of it.
But I believe in serendipity, one of those things that happen at a specific time for a specific purpose. I felt maybe Mom wanted to show it to my siblings, especially Alice and Vic.

I sent the poem to Alice in an email, and looked up the first lines from Wikipedia. That's when I realized it was even more beautiful in its original poem. So here it is:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Mama had to attend a lot of functions when we were based in San Francisco. Here are a couple of photos of her:)

Oh Mama, I just can't ever get enough of you!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Extraordinary Day of Sudden Great Danger

There once were 5 people who were having lunch and dessert on a very ordinary day.

Suddenly, news was heard on the radio that the MBASTRAMICHP (ergo, megabyte astroid microchip) was about to crash onto planet earth and cause havoc. Where would it strike from? What would happen?

Alya was concerned that her hair might not be apropos an oncoming megabyteastroid microchip. bets wondered if he could sleep the attack off.

So alya lifted up her hair at the same time wondering if it would open airwaves to communicate with banana and warn her. beting still focused on the sleep option.
"we have to do something," sockie whispered. "Calm them down."
When we saw the evident fear and panic in the men's eyes, the terror, the sheer, oh what the heck.

So sockie discreetly put marijuana laced cakes on the side of everyone's coffee.

And Mona put some of her antianxiety pills in everyone's coffee.

And so everyone calmed down and the attack of the megabyte asteroid microchip was forgotten, for now. Still...did they survive?

the cyclops eye of mona matura microchip blastura did the trick.

Saving the lives of all humanity

And the latest of human technology.

Thank you mona matura microchip blastura all the children of the world chimed in muscially. for only they knew the secret powers of mona blastura. the end.
Cast of characters (alphabetically)
Beting Dolor
Sockie Fernandez
Alya Honasan
Ed Gonzalez
Mona Gonzalez
A walk on part

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Thank you BLUE! It took awhile but I finally figured out how to put this in my blog. It has been on my desktop like forever but would never get over here. Then I realized it should be with the photos folder first. Phew.....
Now my life is BLUE BLUE BLUE:)
I would like to send this award to:
Tazeen, because she is a young mind who is not afraid to be passionate about ideas and current issues.
Life at a Glance because I admire how she loves Peso and how she could find comfort in her dog when her mother was dying, and how that commitment made to go to great lengths to try to raise money for his hernia operation.
Lima Y Limon because he takes great photos and writes well.
Green Tightwad because he walks the talk.
Confessions of a Narcissist because he writes from the heart.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Street Children

I saw the boy to the left one night, sitting on the steps of a department store. He has so many burn marks on his face and body, so i was curious about him. but steet children pose quite a bit of a dilemma. you give some money to one, and the next time more come back again and again. they know the givers. what's more, we are encouraged to give instead to orphanages for street children, so the children will be given more incentive to leave the streets.

i once taught english to 5 such street children from the orphanage, "House of Refuge". it was one of my most heartfelt experiences. i deliberately didn't ask about their past till the last day, as i didn't want to see them as anything other than simply children. but these children loved to be made a fuss of, loved affection.
two of my friends did a docu on street children. one of the children said she was careful not to touch anyone because she knew they wouldn't like her touch. at any rate, this boy and his brother were very happy to have their photos taken, and they created their own poses. apparently, they live with their parents but they ask for money anyway, not very apropos but children are children.
after they posed for the shots, i let them see themselves in the camera and they were quite thrilled. then i gave them some coins without counting. the boy to the right asked why he was given less money. the boy to the left happily exclaimed, "because i have body burns!" and the joy in his voice made me laugh. children are brave, resilient and beautiful. don't you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


True, floods occur everywhere in the world. But what I could never understand is, how come every year without fail, floods occur in the Philippines in the same areas every single year? You would think that one year is enough time to anticipate that a flood will occur so that the city governments could prepare in advance. But no, nothing happens. Except more floods.
In the photo below, it may seem rather dark. But you can see the white hair of an old, bent woman who was caught in a sudden downpour without an umbrella.
She ended up stepping right into the flood, holding a pan over her head.
And off she goes.

Floods make it hard for a lot of people to get home because jeeps and buses are stalled by the flooded roads. They spread disease, etc. etc. My officemate said in her area it floods so much they have little rafts to get by difficult places. Her house however doesn't get flooded because
they have elevated it.
. video
I was trying to take pictures of this flood, and accidentally, instead I was on film mode. So I have 2 films aside from some photos.
The images speak for themselves.

Monday, September 1, 2008

This is Why

I didn't go to my mom's 40th night mass. It had nothing to do with whether I love mom more or less. It had everything to do with what I believe in. In our faith, we don't pray for the dead. We figure, what for? She is in heaven already. We don't believe in purgatory because the only incident in the Bible that referred to praying for the dead is in the apocrypha, which is not part of the Biblical canon. But I don't judge those who do pray for the dead. God knows all of us and what's in our hearts. That's what's most impoprtant.

It's just that I'd heard many people in my wonderful family (relatives, etc) have been noting I wasn't at mom's 40th day mass, and I owe them all an explanation, because they are all so very, very, very important to me.

When mama died, I told myself, "that's just the body, mom's spirit is flying around us and she's happy". I was thankful for the loving way the nurses and maids cleaned her, as though her body still had life. They dressed her and there was so much caring I'm sure mom could see how much she was loved by everyone who had come to know her and care for her.

When mama's coffin went down the ground, I looked around the grounds, because I knew that she wasn't in that box, she was walking around and watching us all. I wondered where she was at that point in time.

When mama was sick I wanted to die. I couldn't believe that life could be so cruel, there didn't seem to be any reason to live. But when I read 2 books, one was "90 minutes in heaven" and the other "diamonds in the dust" by Joni Tada Earickson, I realized how wonderful heaven is and I knew mama was going to a better place.

I can't possibly want to live if I didn't know about heaven. What would there be to life for, to look forward to afterwards? This is a journey we are going through here, sometimes it's hard and sometimes it gets easier, then hard again.

But heaven provides so much hope for so many people. For Joni, who is disabled from the neck down, heaven becomes so much more real to her. She became disabled when she was 17, and she is about 53 years old now and is married. And heaven has kept her going.

So no, I wasn't at Mama's 40th day prayer. But she knows that every day since she has died, in my heart I have been telling her, "Congratulations!!!!!!!"

That's why I didn't go.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


One day, when my daughter was about 6 years old, she peeked inside a Catholic church and asked me, somewhat regretfully, "Mommy, why do the Catholics have all the beautiful churches?" By then she had attended some Catholic weddings in some of the country's oldest churches. But even the new ones had a lot to offer to a child's imagination.

I could identify. I was born a Catholic but am now a Christian. But as a child, there was so much to be astounded at in church. in those days old women still wore lace veils and I found them to be beautiful and couldn't wait to wear one. The rosaries came in lovely glass beads of different colors and seemed like necklaces. The statues, the angels with the holy water, and the lovely cool dip of the water on my face and lips whenever I first entered feeling like I was touching something magical.

Some things I could never quite take to, however. Like statues in boxes where the boxes were sometimes taken down the road for processions. Never really was my style. And i didn't like suffering statues, except sometimes when I felt I should somehow have a vicarious sentiment or two. But the lady in blue, oh she could be depicted in lovely ways. And I liked the candles you lit for people, though I never really felt anything much deep inside.
Now the high arched ceilings, that i really liked. personal taste, i suppose and it just roused my imagination to see steeples. but other than all these, the church was a place to spend one very boring hour, feeling quite sleepy and hungry because especially if you planned to take communion you weren't supposed to eat more than one hour before. The confessionals were nice, cozy and suitably fitting for one. But talking to the priest was not always great. I often wished I could be the priest and hear everyone's secrets instead.
When we went to Rome, Mom made sure we visited all the most important churches there. I particularly remember two things: St. Peter's Basilica, because I liked the pond outside where you tossed coins and fed the pigeons in the plaza. And the feet of Christ, imprinted on a cobbled floor outside and also inside a church. I actually thought they were really the feet. My brother said the feet were flat footed. which would be okay, as I am too.

But the ritual, though it had a calming effect, never really touched my heart. In due time I realized that what really mattered was having a personal relatioship with Christ, and with having an awareness of his presence in all details, both large and small, of our lives. Christ was not limited to a church, a church was a building. Christ is everywhere we are. So my most engaging prayer times have been outdoors, in a garden like this, beside the church in our village.

But one good thing about the Catholic churches is that they preserved the works of some of the greatest artists of our time. Da Vinci, Botticeli, El Greco, Raphael, Rubens, et al. These were starving artists, but the church kept their work going because the church had the money to pay them. And they were also a way of drawing the people into the church. You had to have a showcase to make people want to come in and pray. and so these wonderful artworks of history are preserved and the artists had an outlet, thanks to the Catholic Church.

Our churches don't have statuary, but we do have screens, and we have multi media effects, songs, bands, and all sorts of modern things. I guess, the modern equivalent of the artists of the days of old. I can sit in service for two hours and I will not be bored. Never bored.

Yesterday I went to Rockwell, and found something interesting, a Catholic chapel in a mall. Well, that struck me -- Christian churches were usually the ones renting space in a mall, or renting restaurants on Sundays to hold service. But here was a real Catholic chapel.
And as I went in, I saw something else quite interesting -- a monitor, so that those who could not see the priest close up could view him from the monitor.
There was a time that Catholic services were quite solemn, you weren't supposed to sing and it had to be in Latin. Now services are in English or any language, and there are lots of modern gospel songs being sung. And these days, it seems, they have entered the malls and are exhibiting the beginnings of going multi media.
Good for them. I notice too that more emphasis is being placed on the personal relationship that is necessary in a renewed Christian's life. And it seems they are beginning to go through the Bible more. Which is very good. My daughter is studying at a Catholic school with a Catholic Bible class, and she is surprised at how unfamiliar her classmates are with the Bible. She had been learning it since grade school.

What's important is that God really relates to us in so many different ways. There are Catholics who have become protestants, there are protestants who have become Catholics. I just hope that in whatever way you choose to worship, what is essential -- the personal relationship -- has become a strong bond that is never broken by anyone or anything.