Category: Personal


On seizures and fears

It was exactly a year ago. I cannot forget that day. It is embedded in my memory. It is a memory you would like to discard but it sticks with you like that gum in your shoe.

This is not a discourse on seizure. I am no expert on that. I am a lawyer, though a non-practicing one, and I do not know the specifics of seizures. I only looked it up on google, and studied most topics about it after my dear Ira had seizure episodes last year.

Yes. Seizures with an S. Two of them in one day. Darn it. I saw my toddler twitch and pass out twice in a day. Imagine the trauma of that. I even dream of it sometimes. I remember eac and every second I was doing when it all happened. And I still wish she did not have to go through that day.

Even the things that we had to go through just to make sure everything is okay with her is not a joke. Hospital confinement, several EEG tests, MRI, dates with the Neuro-Pedia…all that and the fear of the possibility of a repeat.

Its like for the past year, I have been living with this fear. Its like a part of me. Whenever Ira catches a fever or colds, I panic. I twist and turn with the fear inside of me. Inasmuch as I appear as strong to others, this fear has taken a grip on me. And for one whole year, I have lived with this fear inside me.

Today, Ira has colds. Something she rarely catches. So yeah. All of the days to catch colds, it happened to be today. Great, huh?

So I’m grappling with the fear and wrestling against it with fervent prayers. In my heart of hearts, I know that day will not happen again. So even if this fear is so strong, and even if seizure is such a scary thought for me, I know it will never touch my daughter again. For my faith is stronger than any fear or seizure episode there is.

God is with us in this journey. Another year of medication and Ira will be medically cleared.

Cheers to 2012 and to better things!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I grew up knowing about Thanksgiving celebrations because my father stayed in the U.S. for 18 years. Its a happy occasion for Americans, my father said.

We sort of celebrated it in the manner of phone calls. Since its a long weekend for them, he would make frequent calls during the holidays.

Although I mostly associated thanksgiving to roasted turkey, I realized as I grew older that its a day of celebrating your blessings. Its a day for us to thank God and the people around us for all that we have, material or otherwise. So even if I am not an American and I will not roast turkey tonight, I want to celebrate the day by expressing my gratitude for the life I have now.

I am still on a bumpy road. The major decision I made a year ago had an immense effect in our lives. But I know like all things, this too shall pass.

And on this day, I still feel grateful despite of everything. I know deep in my heart that I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for a family who loves and supports me. I am thankful for the food on our plate everyday and for the good health each member has. I am especially thankful for work and productivity.

Everyday I thank God for waking up alive and breathing–for another chance in life.

I am especially thankful that after a long day’s work, I have a loving husband to go home to and a smart and bubbly daughter to give hugs and kisses to. They are my pillar of strength and their mere presence in my life completes me.

Whenever I feel sadness for leaving home and for the challenges that I am faced with, I simply take solace in the fact that we are all together everyday. I am able to endure everything because we are physically together. For those who live abroad, I am sure they understand what I mean.

I know that life is difficult. For some it may even be unbearable. But I am certain that despite the tough things we are going through, God has a plan for all of us and He will never keep us out of His sight.

With the things I had to go through in my life, I know that every waking day is enough reason for us to be thankful.

So go hug your loved ones and say a little prayer of thanks today. We are all blessed just by being alive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Our Singapore Decision

It all came as a surprise to most people who know us. My profession is not generally a good job for someone who wants to work or migrate abroad but I thought I’d give it a try.

It was not an easy decision to make. In fact, it was by far one of the hardest I had to do in my life. I was a patriot in my own little way and leaving the Philippines never brushed through my thoughts. I have always categorically said that I will never leave the Philippines other than for a vacation. I sort of reconsidered after watching the Lord of the Rings that I will only leave the Philippines to live in the beautiful New Zealand, period.

But when you start a family, your priorities and decisions change. Your ideals remain in the past and they are simply left with your youth…something you can just happily look back on.

My very good friend Greys (spelling was intentionally altered by her when we were in college) works in Dubai and I have marvelled at the things she could buy and how she has changed in all aspects. We remained close despite distance and maintain an online friendship through (almost) everyday email. She mentioned in passing that her beau has a co-worker who has a lawyer wife in the Philippines who is now working in Singapore. I quizzically raised my eyebrows asking Greys how could that be. She said the lawyer went directly to Singapore to look for a job. The idea sparked a lot of lightbulbs in my brain but it did not go any further than that.

There came an officemate who suddenly disappeared from our office and after some rumors being confirmed, we found out that she was working in Singapore and her salary is probably more than  four times the amount she was receiving before.

I then started making researches and have abandoned my Farmville life and chose to spend nights focusing on my research. Just when I was so engrossed in my research, Greys again informed me that we have a classmate back in college who now lives in Australia where he is likewise a lawyer. I liked the idea better because my brother is due to leave for Australia last year (which he did by end of November 2010). If I would migrate, I wanted it to be in a place where I know some people and I happen to have some friends in Australia.

So my research went from Singapore to Australia. After some mulling over, we realized that we did not have the funds yet to immigrate to Australia. Singapore is nearer, fare is cheaper, and we did not need a visa before leaving. I then went back to my Singapore research and I found out that it is very much possible for me to bring Ira along with me if I get any pass higher than S-Pass. That fact made me more eager to pursue our decision. 

Hubby and I discussed it and we agreed to give it a try after settling some things in the Philippines. We agreed to wait for the right time and to properly tie some loose ends in the Philippines first before jumping into such decision. We knew it was not an easy one.

Then came my father’s stroke.

Lots of things changed and we had to deal with these changes swiftly. We had to decide for my father to come home from the States because no one would take care of him. Expectedly, we had to shoulder additional expenses at home for his medications and therapy. Personally, I knew this was something I owe to my father after years of sacrifice for us. 

To cut the very long story short, hubby and I tried our luck  in Singapore and after literally shedding sweat, blood and tears, we are here now…together. That is the bottomline of our decision. Even if it is in the richest country in the world, but we would have to live apart, we would not go for that. I was raised with one parent working away and I did not like it. I do not want to subject Ira to that kind of life.

In my research, I found out that there are many Filipinos working here in Singapore. Some of the best IT people here are Filipinos and they are earning a lot for it. Though it is a foreign country, not a day goes by that I do not bump into another Filipino. It makes me feel at home.

It was indeed a difficult decision. But when we were heading out for this life, I asked God to lead me to where He wants me to be. I knew that if I was not meant to live this life, God with all His might can stop me. But without me knowing it, God helped me in my decision and He is still carrying me through it all.

I am still adjusting to everything around here. It is not too difficult to adjust to some things because they actually make life ergonomically easier around here. From the transportation system to the way we wash clothes. But of course, I will always love my country…even from afar. I will continue to be sad about the bad things that are happening there and I will still marvel about the people and things that make the country proud, like that little girl Maria Aragon.

I am still unsure as to how long we are going to stay here. We are living each day as it comes. We have made enough planning last year that I want to take a rest in making further plans this year. But one thing is definite, Philippines is just a three-hour plane ride away…and we will surely visit as often as budget and time will allow us.  😉

How am I?

I am often asked this question now because of the recent big leap that I and my family took. I usually answer with a simple “we’re okay” template because that’s how we really are now. Okay.

Not doing extravagantly good yet. But not also dying with famish or almost crawling on the ground. We are simply okay, I shall say.

So, how am I really? Personally, that is.

I can say that everything is considerably fine in my new life. You see, I recently found a new work in an economically successful country and I was able to bring my family along. For that alone, I have been immensely thankful. That single fact makes me feel good and blessed and I could not further complain when I see moms here who work with their children left in the Philippines and they can only Skype or YM during weekends or so.

Even if I am having personal crisis with the thoughts of working far from home and leaving my entire support system all of a sudden, I could not complain. I am incredibly blessed.

I die everyday with the thought of leaving Ira at home just to work. I pity my hubby everyday because he has to attend to the needs of Ira everyday for more than 9 hours when Ira is at the age of being difficult and unreasonable at times. My hands are all toiled with grease for cooking every night after going home from work, cleaning up the kitchen and whatever else my hands could reach.

I have lived with a helper for as long as I cannot remember. As soon as I moved out from my parents, I have lived independently but have always had a helper along. It was a luxury I chose to live with, albeit the fact that I have no problems doing chores at home. I always felt that for working everyday, I deserved the luxury of laying around whenever I chose to and go to places during weekends, instead of doing laundry and cleaning up the house.

So right now, the biggest part of the equation that makes it difficult for me now is I live everyday without a helper at home. It is not unusual here to have a helper at home but since we just moved here, we are still taking time processing things, papers and all that.

I cannot now simply dismiss Ira to her Ate whenever I am tired. I have to wash our clothes regularly and cannot simply choose to wear a shirt for two hours and then change again after I feel sweaty. I no longer can SMS the instructions on what to prepare for dinner just so I can directly cook upon going home. I now have to take the pains of slicing every bit of ingredient I need, except when dear hubby can do so without Ira whining around.

We have to buy everything we need because we have no helper to do the buying for us whenever we forgot something from the market.

It is just the three of us now.

For the first time in almost two years, it is just us. It absolutely thrills me…but at the same time it scares the hell out of me.

Even as I try to think that we have gone this far, that we have made it here, there are times that I get scared that we are thousands of miles away from home. Although Ira has been doing great with her medications, there are fears in me that only moms can understand. Seeing my daughter have seizures twice in a day left in me a big hole filled with fear. And I do not wish for anything to happen to her in this new place when we have not even warmed up yet.

So far, my work has proven to be fine. I have not been stressed for the last two weeks (just yet) and people have been nice to me. They may not be as warm as my previous co-workers, but they are nice to me. That is enough, for now. After all, I am a newbie with a different language and nationality. The company is good to its employees and to me, that is important. They were generous enough to sponsor the visa processing of hubby and Ira, so I think I can love them forever. 🙂

So…how am I?

Frantic, I guess. Of the things that are yet to happen and the things we are yet to see.

But absolutely happy and grateful, for the enormous blessings from God and for His trust that we can handle this new life. 🙂

My WordCamp Experience

I first found out about it through iMom’s post and even commented that I so wanna go. But after checking on WordCamp’s official site, there were no more slots opened for bloggers. I got kinda sad because I wanted to learn more about blogging and wanted to see what WordCamp was all about.

Nevertheless, I signed up for email updates to know more about WordCamp and whaddya’know? They came up with a blog contest saying they were giving away free tickets to the event. Yes, you read that right, free! Its either you tweet or make a blog about the sponsor and winners will be given free tickets to WordCamp, with all the freebies that come with it. I chose to blog about it and with another stroke of luck, I won!

So off I went last October 2, 2010 to the College of St. Benilde to attend WordCamp. It all felt surreal for me. I was like a student again attending a conference where I will meet participants from different schools. It was a nostalgic experience for me. It reminded me of debate competitions, of journalists seminars, of girl scout campings. I just loved it!

Hubby dropped me off right in time for the lectures. I even got to munch away the Krispy Kreme donuts they gave away for free and even drowned myself with the free-flowing coffee. The event was well attended by bloggers of all shapes, sizes and ages! I realized that the blogging industry has grown so big and everybody is just welcome regardless of age, profession or school.

After a day of WordCamp, I got to take home new experiences, new friendly faces, and new websites to explore. I also stashed away a Krispy Kreme gift certificate and one year free webhosting. I also met Mr. WordPress himself and got to listen to his few words.

It was an enriching experience all in all. One worth repeating and worth blogging. I hope to join again next year, when I am better in blogging and I can join advance lectures instead. 🙂

Massage at Home

I first tried body massage some six years ago and after the first try, I instantly fell in love with it.

I used to have home service by Jojo. He’s gay and he does all things for us. My mom used to pay for it so I would text Jojo weekly for our beauty regimens. Jojo would give us foot spa, nail treatments, hair treatments and a massage. But after moving from one house to another, we lost touch of him.

I loved his services because they were given to me right at the comfort of my own home and I can have them anytime I want to. No lining up, no need to dress up, no need for travelling to and from.

Then I discovered a Spa in Banawe, Quezon City. I forgot the name of the Spa but it was very affordable. My dear friend Chubby and I would go there almost every week, if budget allowed us to. Evlyn Spa, as Chubby reminded me the name, is right in front of Bench Fix Salon so our Banawe trip would usually be for hair and body treats. I even had the chance to let my hubby try it and he loved it as well.

But when I became pregnant, I had to take a rest from my weekly massage. I promised the therapists that I will be back as soon as the OB says that I’m okay to go.

But since we now live in Mandaluyong, a Banawe trip has become tiring for me and hubby. We have tried nearby spas but we didn’t get to like them as much as we loved the Banawe Spa.

Months after giving birth, on our way home, I saw a sign in Makati that says “Massage at Home“. I got the number and told hubby about it. Hubby, as always, was ecstatic about it and asked me to try calling the number. At first I was hesitant because it might be a phony massage service or it might be run by a syndicate of thefts. We tried it nonetheless and it turned out none of our fears were true.

In fact, it was the other way around! We had a great time such that we would have it as often as we could (weekly, if possible). We have tried different therapists and recently got hooked on Ella. She has been with Massage at Home for many years now and I can personally vouch for her. Not only is she good at massaging our stress away, she is trustworthy and you can sleep all throughout and not worry about your any of your things getting lost. I especially like her Foot Reflex and Full Body Massage. All my body pains and stress are relieved when I get my massage from Ella.

She is the very first person Ira said “Hi” to. On that night alone, Ira said “Hi” to her approximately ten times. Up until now, Ira likes waving at her and now that she can walk around the house, she imitates what Ella does to us by joining in the massage. At the end of the session, Ira would end up with oil in her tiny hands!

I personally recommend Massage at Home. Therapists are always on time and they have many therapists who are of service anytime you want. The only time that their therapist failed to show up was a day after Ondoy (which was understandable). I prefer getting it at home because I save a lot of time and money. Hubby and I need not dress up just to get oiled after. Right after having a massage, hubby and I snooze off to la-la land because we don’t have to travel home anymore.

Massage at Home is located in Makati and they specifically cater to home service. They offer Full Body Massage, Foot Reflex and all other types of massage, and even Facial, as Ella said. They are open daily, from 1PM onwards, and you can call them at 742-1829.

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*This is not a paid advertisement but rather a personal recommendation from a satisfied customer. 🙂

Loving Long Weekends

Since we had the new president, long weekends have become scarce. For working peeps, that’s disheartening. I have nothing for and against the previous and new presidents, but if there is one thing I loved about GMA’s administration, it must be her economic policy on long weekends. But for reasons only he knows, PNoy chose to deviate from that policy. Luckily, we had two consecutive long weekends which made me think that working four days a week isn’t so bad after all. Hubby said if he becomes president of the Philippines, that’s the first order he will draw up. I couldn’t stop laughing with that silly dream. Not a bad idea, huh?

Because this weekend is a long one, hubby and I met up with good friends Ino and Sheba. We had fun at dinner just talking about anything we missed about each other for the past couple of months. It always feels good to be in their company. We met up at Greenbelt and spent almost an hour just looking for a place to eat. Can you believe that? Restaurants and bars were packed because of this long weekend fever. Good thing we found good seats at Fish & Co. We ate to our hearts content, although missed out on desserts.

The waiter nicely offered hubby a privilege card which entitles us to 20% discounts in any of Bistro restaurants, including our favorite Friday’s. The card seemed pricey at first but getting it gave us a consumable coupon which we can use on our next visit. Hearing that, I chose not to oppose hubby’s decision to get the card. Its like we will just have no choice but to eat out again next week. 🙂

I suddenly remembered all the coupons that my boss gave me months back, giving discounts and freebies. I am such a rat pack that I tend to forget where I placed all these little papers. Some of them probably expired without having been used. What a waste, huh? If these Coupons she gave me can be found online, I would have found them easily. 😉 I would have bookmarked them right away.

So now, even if tomorrow feels like Sunday already, hubby and I will probably watch a movie, eat out and play around with Ira. And on the real Sunday, we will slack off the whole day and have DVD marathons. Oh I really wish we could have more of these long weekends more often. Less stress and less headaches for everyone. Philippines would probably be a better place. Hahaha. 🙂

WooThemes: Royalle

In my short stint here at WordPress, I have changed themes several times already. I like changing my theme every now and then. Its like changing the theme on my mobile phone.

Recently though, I haven’t had the chance to browse through the various themes WordPress offers (and boy, are they many!). But WordCamp emailed me about WooThemes and I thought I’d check it out.

For me, the theme of your blog is somewhat a reflection of your personality. I say somewhat because I do not think it can be an exact gauge as to what kind a person is, but then it gives us a hint, right?

I usually do not pick girly themes lest my blog seem too loud, with all the pinky stuffs and flowery ones. I love a touch of girl in the theme, but I like it subdued. That’s why it is hard for me to pick themes. But when I see one that I like on that particular day, I easily pick it.

So when I browsed on WooThemes, the theme Royalle immediately caught my attention. It had a touch if pink in it, but not too girlish. The whole design looked subdued to me and upon checking the features, it made me like it more.

For one, the color is changeable. In fact, there are five colors to choose from. Now, isn’t that amazing? That means that when I’m feeling a little more serious, then I can just change the color of my theme, instead of browsing through the hundreds of themes available and choose again. Quite neat, huh?

It also has all the widgets I need, the customizable bars on both sides and one has complete control on the excerpt of posts displayed.  I also like the fact that you can put in the networking sites that you have so that you can just create a link there. But the highlight of Royalle for me is the changeable colors. As my mood varies on different days, I sometimes want vibrant colors, some days I just want plain blue, as my current theme shows. So now, I can choose to be girlish or neutral both on the same day, without having to change themes at all. Convenient, huh?

Oh well, let me drool over Royalle for now. And if I have time, I will check the demo for each one that I liked next to it. Its actually fun though time consuming. 🙂

A3 Scanner

I photocopy and scan a lot of documents. It comes with the job.

But since I am hardly adept with gadgets and other computer accessories, I usually ask my hubby to do it for me. He has scanned copies of all our identification cards, even our passports.

I first asked him to do it when I needed to authenticate the documents of my SIL Ate Debbie when she was processing her papers for her work in Australia. I was on maternity leave then.

Hubby didn’t know that the sizing of the documents mattered a lot. He scanned all documents using the regular scanner and resized the documents. When my SIL submitted them to the agency via email, she was asked to rescan her scholastic transcript of records to their regular A3 size. Hubby had to look around the office for a scanner that has a scanning solution for the exact size of the documents. Luckily, he found one and was informed that in the whole office, it was the only A3 scanner that we have available.

When he told me about his dilemma (which took days, by the way!), I quizzically asked, shouldn’t each department have its own  a3 scanner? It would be more convenient for everyone because then we can easily scan all types and sizes of different documents. Our office secretary shared the same sentiments, saying that our scanners are quite outdated already.

And since I work and notarize documents at home, I think I also have to get my own scanner. Maybe its good to start looking for one that can accommodate all my scanning needs. 🙂

The Thursday a week before last, a good friend asked me if I still wanted a reservation at Fontana Leisure Park. I said yes, but due to budget constraints, we plan to go there August or September. She surprisingly said the Villa is free and that I would only have to pay for a meager sum as maintenance fee. So with just short notice, the whole family except for my eldest brother stayed at Fontana last weekend. Even if hubby and Ira just had fever that week, we simply could not resist the offer. But that’s not what my entry is all about. So fast forward to my real topic.

After a fun weekend, we arrived home Monday afternoon, just a little past 5PM. Before we left, we had to close the water meter because hubby involuntarily messed with the shower handle, thus the leak. Our doggie Buster was reeking with his pee and poo combined (ulk!) so we had to wash him instantly. I asked (our newest) Ate to open the water meter. She came back and simply said “nakapadlock po”. I thought she was referring to the railings around the water meter, so hubby said he will be the one to do the honors.

So there came hubby to open, and voila! The water meter was indeed padlocked! By whom? Our good ole’ service provider, Manila Water. I have always taken pride with the fact that our area has good water service.  Even in the latest issue of water shortage in the metropolis, we were not a bit affected. But on that particular afternoon, I wanted to strangle to death whoever caused the padlocking of our water meter.

I immediately went to check our bill and we all realized that we missed the due date of our bill. This month’s water bill was a disaster because we had a flush leak, so there was somewhat a thousand percent increase in our regular bill. Yes, almost a thousand percent! But that’s another story, of course.

I called up 1627, the customer service of Manila Water. A friendly Abigail answered the line. After some verification questions, I went ahead with my complaint. I lamented that they (whoever did it!) shouldn’t have padlocked our meter considering there was no one to give consent because not a single soul was home. Much to my dismay, she retorted that it was SOP that when there is a disconnection notice for a certain customer and their people go to check if it has been paid, and there was no one at home, they will disconnect it. That answer fueled my fire inasmuch as I said they are public utility service, with full emphasis on the last word. So I said, where is the service? For all you know, the customer died. Or someone from his family died. Or he had an accident. Or whatever. It would have been more prudent for them to come back the next day to check if that customer still hasn’t paid.

I told her I have a one-year-old baby and a sick father who cannot stand, even just for a night, without water. I told her further that we have work the next day, and how do they suppose we go to work? Without a bath?

She kindly suggested that I can pay through any 7-11 branch and call them again to request for the reconnection of our service. Dear Abigail assured that it can be reconnected even at night. Okay, I thought.

I asked hubby and my brother to rush to the nearest 7-11 and pay our bill plus the reconnection fee. I told Abigail that I am paying that stupid reconnection fee under protest, just so I can have my service back.

After 10 minutes or so, our bill was settled. So there I was dialing the same number with a different agent answering my call, this time it was Catherine. When I gave her the details of my receipt, she went on to say that it is “possible” that our service can be reconnected that day, with a maximum of five days. Its like the devil got into me after hearing the words “possible” and “five days” that I shouted, “Five days! Do you know what you are talking about!” She went on to show empathy on the line by apologizing for the inconvenience. I said no. Do not give me the empathy spiel coz you do not have an idea as to how I feel. I said I used to work in a call center, I don’t need the damn spiel.

I asked Catherine if she has a baby. She said no. So I said, then you don’t know how I feel. We do not have a single drop of water. I need my service back. I told her that Abigail assured me that it can be done so I wouldn’t have it any other way. I further told her that if they do not remove the padlock in an hour, I will have to remove it myself. She said I shouldn’t do that lest I pay a penalty for doing such. I laughed at the idea of the penalty and told her that when they disconnected my service, it was because I reneged on my obligation to pay on time. But now that my obligation has been fulfilled, I have every right to access to my water service, so in an hour, whether they are there or not, I will have my service back, and I then I hang up.

After about thirty minutes, we heard the faucet in the bathroom running. They didn’t bother to buzz and tell us that they are reconnecting the service. Anyways, I didn’t care anymore just as long as my service is back.

I have usual bouts with these customer service people. This usually happens with my phone service, especially when DSL connection is a problem.

I commiserate with them because I, too, have been a call center agent once. I know how it feels to deal with an irate caller. And yes, I try to talk to the agents as pacified as possible. I just hate it when they tend to give me BS and spiels, which I know they have memorized over time. I especially hate it when one agent promises you one thing and another agent says its not possible. I have had these a hundred of times already and I am sick of it.

Nevertheless, we had a happy ending. We got our service back and we were all happy. I plan to write our provider about this nonchalant treatment of their customers.  My neighbor told me that they saw these people who padlocked the meter and she informed them to come back the next day as no one was home. I understand these people are merely sub-contractors, being measly paid for every water meter disconnected. I perfectly understand too that as customers, it is our own lookout to pay on time. But when no one is home, shouldn’t you think again and come back the next day? Who knows what happened to these people. Even MERALCO doesn’t cut services that way.

I don’t know. Sometimes the word “service” has no meaning anymore. Sometimes business is more important than true service and these utility service providers tend to forget why they exist in the first place.