Monday, July 31, 2006

July 31, 2006 - Beautiful Day!

In spite of the gray cloud canopy and the rain that didn't stop, I had myself a beautiful, beautiful day.

Our godparents treated us (and good friends from the States) to a day trip to Tagaytay.  Unfortunately the weather didn't allow for us to partake of the lake and volcano view, but that didn't matter... what did was the good company and the wonderful food that we would have that day and night.  Salad and pasta at the Greenhouse Bistro at Tagaytay Highlands, a 90-minute full body aromatherapy massage at Spa Aromatique (ohhhhh how I needed that!), and dinner at Antonio's, which is always a fantastic experience.  I don't think words could ever adequately describe how great the food is there... you just have to trust me and enjoy it for yourself. 

Ahhh, it was nice to get away even for just a day, and what a day it was.  The memories will make up a "mini holiday" in my mind when things get harried and crazy in my life.

On the way home, the conversation led to oh so many topics: what's going on in the lives of my friend's schoolmates... life in the US compared to the Philippines... and (going back to me... this IS my blog after all, he he he) how there was a point in my life when I was so independent.  That was around my late 20's-early 30's, when I racked up some frequent flyer miles traveling to the other coast, just for fun.  (Oh, the things I did for fun...)

Looking back, I revelled in the solitude and silence when I was living alone.  There were times when I preferred the company of my own shadow than of another flesh-&-blood being.  Sure, there would be a day when I'd crave companionship for a meal out or a movie, but it never really bothered me to be by myself.

Having said all that, I am ever so thankful for the blessing of the people that keep me company nowadays: my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter, my indefatigable mother, the rest of my incredible family and my fabulous friends.  Every one of them is an answer to a prayer (even of those my heart would make without my knowing).  They each light a corner of my heart (including the corners that once knew only darkness), and even on the grayest day, there is sunshine because of them.

In case I haven't said this enough (and I don't think I ever could), I love you so very, very much.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'd Give My Life For You

I was 17 when I first learned that song, and 18 when I sang it in
public.  For most of the 16 or so years that I've been singing I'd Give My Life For You,
I really had no idea what I was singing about.  It was about the
lengths a mother would go to for her child... an experience that was
distant to me.  My singing was more informed than it was heartfelt,
something that I had to "reproduce" night after night.

Now though, I truly understand exactly what that song is about.

Everyday, as I go about my baby business... changing her, feeding her,
bathing her (and getting splashed when she kicks in the tub)... I take
one look at her and still am filled with a sense of great disbelief. 
Every so often I look over to Rob and exclaim, "I can't believe we did
this!"  Those chubby cheeks, the healthy legs, the hands that wrap
around my finger, the strong cry, those tufts of hair, and that
charming, engaging, totally disarming toothless smile.  Oh, I fall in
love over and over and over again every time, every minute, every
single day.

Now I understand.  I would do anything for her... I know that I would die for her. 

It's true what my other mommy and daddy friends said: "you don't know love until you have a child."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Never Let 'Em See You Sweat

Over the weekend we watched The Dawn movie Tulad ng Dati at
the CCP amidst many of the band's fans, family and friends.  Needless
to say, a good time was had by all... there was abundant cheering as
well as sobbing (most especially by the loved ones of one of The Dawn's
founding members, Teddy Diaz).

Although throughout the film there were many magical moments, there was
one that really, really stuck with me.  Near the end of the movie,
there is a duel between the two lead bands, The Dawn and Ratbunitata
(now I wonder who the heck Tata might be, heh heh heh).  The duel
culminates with a head-to-head guitar battle between Ratty and Francis,
the bands' guitarists.  Ratty is all flourish and bravado (at one point
"masturbating" his guitar's fretboard), while Francis is quiet
strength, his face showing barely any anguish or difficulty while his
fingers jump in a frenzy on those guitar strings.  Of course, he wins
in the end.  (His acting was actually pretty good, too.)

I just have a great admiration and respect for those that are able to
keep their cool and calm despite the craziness going on around them.  I
deem hissy fits to be quite unnecessary, and only shows a weakness in
character (you only have one when you're losing control).  It's far
cooler to, even under duress, maintain grace and a smile through it all.

Just goes to show... when you're in your peaceful place, you could be
in the middle of a hurricane and it would still be a beautiful day.  Yeba.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Don't Be Hatin'

Today is my father's 77th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dad! 

For more than 10 years I harbored a grudge unlike any other for my
father... as a child growing up, I always kinda knew that he had a way
with the ladies (producing 9 offspring isn't the work of the most
virtuous and upright of men), and one fine day I came face to face with
one of them in the bedroom that he and my mother used to share when
they were still together, in the house I grew up in.  My mother had
confronted her first, guns blazing, fire-and-brimstone angry.  My
approach was far less confrontational.  I knocked on the door (it was
locked), and she opened it.  I looked at her (she was actually quite
pretty), and all I said was, "I don't approve of this."  Oh yeah, like
they actually needed my approval for anything.  I then headed
downstairs and left.  Later that afternoon I spoke with my father,
expressing my distaste for what I had seen.  His reply was that he
wouldn't let his indiscretions ruin his relationships with his
children, and basically to mind my own business as far as that was
concerned.  I then told him to mind his own, and leave me alone.  So
for over 10 years, we left each other alone.

There are others with whom I've had long-standing disagreements...
people with whom I'm just instantly uncomfortable with for whatever
reason, be it from a fight, a grudge or the fact that we just mix like
oil and water.  And now, I'm tired of this feeling... the weird,
uneasy, far from happy, icky, yucky, bogged down feeling.

I'm tired of hating.  Sa totoo lang, nakakapagod.

A 10 year old grudge here... a 3 year old grudge there... here a grudge, there a grudge, everywhere a grudge grudge...

There is a time and a place to find resolution and closure with all the
things that have gone awry in one's life.  There's a time to ask for
forgiveness, and a time to forgive.  A time to let go, to release all
the anger in the heart.  A time to just say, "Fuck it, I'm done with
this," and move on.

So, Happy Birthday, Dad.  Enjoy the start of your 78th year on this good earth.  And yeah... I do love you very much.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006 - The OC

To some of my friends I'm known as OC (obsessive-compulsive).  No, not to the degree of washing my hands a bazillion times a day and wanting to always check the stove before I leave the house.  I'm just very detail-oriented to the point that even I am irritated by it.  Lyric sheets have to be a certain font, font size, style and format down to the margin and space between lines... the toilet paper has to roll in a particular direction (I've actually changed TP in most every bathroom I stop in)... I'm a spelling and grammar freak, obssessing over every word and punctuation mark in all that I write and read... and items on a desk need to be oriented and arranged exactly right, hind puwedeng magulo. 

Having said that... there are things I readily let go of.  My bed can remain unmade for days... the cables on the floor look like a million snakes intertwined... my files are a mess and I'm disorganized as far as my documents are concerned.  Ha, maybe I'm not as OC as I thought.

I guess sometimes, I tend to focus on the details... of a document, a conversation, a situation, a circumstance... losing sight of the bigger picture.  I have to tell myself to step back and gain perspective, as well as a new appreciation for what I see. 

Just like looking at a Monet... up close, it's a mess of paint, but from the right distance, it's a thing of beauty.

Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006 - All in one

I got my very first Swiss Army Knife when I was 21 or 22... it was a gift from a guy I was dating at the time.  Actually, it was his own (there were still bits of apple left on the knife blade... yeaaaaaaaah), but I loved him, so I thought the gesture was sweet.  In hindsight, I think I might have preferred a brand new one... the least he could have done was wash the darn thing.

I've asked myself on occasion... if you were to create the perfect Swiss Army Knife (or other type of all-in-one tool), what would you put in it?  Of course the knife... Philips and flat head screwdrivers... a bottle opener and corkscrew... tweezers... this other tool and that... only those attachments I needed for me.  I'd then add a few extras just for fun (hey, you'll never know when you'll need an awl, a flashlight or a pen).

But does the perfect knife exist?  Is your ideal the shiny model with every single tool that could ever be thought of, or is it the simple one with just a few attachments?  Is it imperative that it has a magnifying glass?  Do you need the corkscrew that badly?  Exactly what is it that catches your eye?  No one can answer those questions for you... except you.  Only you can decide which knife you will take home.  And only you can figure out exactly what it is you need.  Maybe the one you want has the corkscrew, but not the pen.  And you also wanted a pen, but can do without it.

At the end of the day, there will never be such a thing as "perfect", but there is always such a thing as "perfect for you".  And I lucked out with the knife I got.

La Leche League International: Breastfeeding Information and Support
Now this is one website I couldn't have breastfed without... check this out! Information, support and attitude!
Here's one resource to check out... it's one I refer to when I'm in a bit of a pickle!

July 20, 2006 - Going up and down

I love roller coasters.

There was one evening in Los Angeles where a bunch of us from Flower Drum Song reunited to head to Knott's Berry Farm for Halloween (it's then known as Knott's Scary Farm). Hobgoblins, monsters and freaks of all kinds hide in the shadows ready and waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting passer-by, wanting to elicit a scream or three. A friend of ours was doing a show in the park, so we headed there to support her.

Before and after the show (and while being jumped at by the scary creatures of the night), we all headed onto our favorite attractions: roller coasters and turny-twisty rides of all kinds.  Not everyone went on the scary rides... I had to opt out of one drop ride after eating a funnel cake and going on a coaster that ran backwards.  Ugh, not a good combo.

Each ride on a coaster sends me on a trip... the slow uphill climb... the lightning-fast initial dive... twists... turns... loops... more dives... more climbs... until finally, the car settles in slowly and comes to a complete stop.  It's certainly not for everyone and can be intimidating, but when you're on, it's a ride like no other.

The twists and turns... the rises and falls... it can all be as scary as hell.  However, it's a ride that gets my pulse racing, my heart beating and my mind going mad.  Exhilirating, frightening, fantastic.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Baby Last Day

These photos were taken during the final day of the Baby production in Manila.

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 16, 2006 - As we forgive those...

At every Sunday mass (and I presume many other Christian church services) the Lord's Prayer is recited, the entire congregation joined together in united worship.  It is, for me, the most important prayer at the mass, as it is the one taught to us by Jesus Himself.  "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name... Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

When I get to that part, I want to choke.  I feel like a total hypocrite uttering those words. 

Think about it... if I am to ask for and expect forgiveness from God (and my fellow man), shouldn't I be able to forgive as well?  I too have committed my own share of transgressions... trespassed, if you will... and have asked for (and thankfully received) forgiveness.  Why then can it be so difficult for me to do the same?  I can hold grudges for years, and the person who incurred my wrath usually knows I'm monumentally pissed off that not even a litany of the most sincere "I'm sorry's" can soften my heart enough to forgive and forget.  Is it the betrayal, the feeling of violation, the loss of trust, the pain and suffering, the tears shed, the anger ignited?  It could be a combination of any and all of these things that hold me back... all I have to do is see the bitch/bastard that angered me, and I see nothing but black and shadows, and hear the sound of that person's skull hitting the floor.

Yeah, I'm going to hell, aren't I?

Not long ago, both my brother and I were badly burned by one of our good friends... so much so that (after many hours of crying and enough alcohol) we visited a priest friend for spiritual counseling.  He counseled us to forgive... to get over the hump of anger and hatred... to treat him still with respect.  He has no idea how f-ing difficult that was (still is) to do.  We try to push it all out of our minds, but (and I can only speak for myself) my heart is still smarting from the pain.  I'll get over it completely, eventually.  Maybe.

I have a long way to go before I can be as benevolent as the saints in heaven.  I'm only human and am prone to spells of sadness, frustration and all out blinding anger.  It takes much before I can forgive someone when I'm crossed, and much for someone else to forgive me of my own sins... but I know that reaching that point means coming to a state of grace, and I can only pray that I overcome my humanness in order to get there.

Update, July 22, 2006.  The opportunity to work with this friend has very recently come up... if and when all things pan out, I'm going to take it.  I'm too tired of hating.  It's been 3 years, time for us all to act like grown-ups.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July 15, 2006 - Awwwwwwwww.......

My mom took this photo not too long ago of me and Nicole... that mouth never fails to make me smile.

My big girl has now officially moved from the bassinet to the crib... she got too heavy to carry out of there.  I also tweaked my shoulder in bed a couple of days ago (must have found myself stuck in a not-so-good position), adding to the difficulty. 

She's growing so quickly... she was so tiny when we brought her home from the hospital 2 months ago... when we put her in her bassinet she was swimming in it, and now she barely fits.  She's put on a healthy amount of weight and gained a few inches in length (never underestimate the power of the breast).  She has also started to imitate us... we stick out our tongues, she copies the action.  Someone talks to her, she responds (at least we think so).  She doesn't cry as much as she used to, saving her tears for when she's hungry or feeling neglected.

Pretty soon she'll be doing more complex imitated motions like "beautiful eyes," "close-open," "eat bulaga" and others... eating solid foods in a high chair... learning baby sign language (they have classes here every first Saturday of the month)... crawling... singing simple songs... it's all happening so quickly!  I can just imagine myself at her graduation, happily crying from being so proud.  

Parenthood... yes, it truly rocks!

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14, 2006 - Making the call

Not too long ago I was chatting with one of my cousins... she had just ended a long-term relationship (over 9 years), and I could tell that she wasn't in her "happy place".  Her significant other had personal issues to sort out, so they called it a day.  She and I kidded around in an attempt to bring levity into our online conversation, but I knew it was nothing more than a band-aid with which to alleviate her pain.  The only thing that will heal her is time (and plenty of booze).

Many a time I've found myself in relationship hell... I've spent many a tossy-turny night in tears over something either he or I said or did (which has caused anger of incredible proportions) or by something external, something out of our control (which has caused anger of incredible proportions).  But as bad as things would get, if there was something worth saving, I'd fight to save it.  However, if things were beyond help, if the relationship was becoming toxic and exhausting to us both, or if there simply was no more love to fight for, the call would be made: it's time to move on.  In as much as it would be the right decision to make, it was never ever easy or painless.  At times, I felt I just wanted to die.

I don't know that I was able to impart any grain of wisdom to my cousin on that online chat besides the perfunctory "you'll be okay, just give it time."  Sometimes I feel I'm so full of shit when I say something like that; there wasn't anything I could say to really make her feel better. But one of us did say one thing that rings true in every relationship: if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.  I guess only time will tell if that'll hold true for her and her love... if they do get back together, I'm sure it'll be for a lifetime.  You just never know what the future will bring.

I remain engaged... I have a feeling they'll be right back where they started.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006 - Another gray day

A storm is amazing... it's a force of nature that has the potential for destruction.  Floods, mudslides, roofs of houses blown off, broken tree limbs on the streets, a general state of distress.  The picture seen following a storm is one of desperation, one that seems impossible to repair.

However, lo and behold, the chaos is returned to order.  The streets are cleaned up, roofs nailed down, the water level subsiding.  The calm following the torrent is a welcome sight. 

But after this respite, another storm will always hit, and woe be to the unfortunate soul who finds him/herself in the thick of it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

July 12, 2006 - Eye of the storm

The above photo is a real time infrared image of this typhoon over the Philippines.  Cool, huh?

Today was the stormiest day I had seen in a while.  I was actually thankful to be indoors in the safety of my bedroom with Nicole for company.  She's a wonderfully calm baby, usually content to lie on the bed, crib, or bassinet... even with the TV on or moderately volumed conversation, she falls right to sleep.  However, on this gray and stormy afternoon, she much preferred to be held close.  So that's what I did... kept her in my arms as I was on the phone, surfing the net, sending text messages or watching TV.  I couldn't put her down for more than a few minutes... she'd start fussing once she realized she was not in my arms.  In the midst of the gray, windy, rainy afternoon was a safety zone in my arms for my little girl.

Strange, but my mood finds itself lifted and invigorated by a day like this... in spite of the rain falling (oftentimes sideways) and the winds blowing to an almost tornado-like intensity, I find I've formed a wide smile and taken on a relaxed mien.  It's weather that commands staying in bed for a nice long cuddle (the longer the better)... for daydreaming... for sleeping... for whatever.  Wonderful.

Yeah, we can choose to see the gray day as a mood downer, or choose to see it as this: a temporary veil through which the sun will shine eventually.  Behind the storm there is sanctuary.  It's peaceful just knowing it's there.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Nicole's Baptism (July 9, 2006)

These photos were taken before and after the church baptism (no, we didn't take photos at the church unfortunately... but we had friends and the Philippine Daily Inquirer to do so!). Enjoy!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

July 08, 2006 - Stop thinking

My brain is, more often than not, my best friend... sometimes though, it's my biggest obstacle.

I've been acting and singing professionally for a little over 28 years (I'll be celebrating my 30th year in March 2008), and sometimes I feel as though I haven't completely gotten the hang of it. Especially the acting part. My singing has gotten to a nice place, where I feel comfortable with the voice that comes out of my mouth and the emotional commitment with which I perform a song. When there's a melody and a set of lyrics, plus a band or an orchestra behind me, I find the freedom to stop thinking and just sing. My intellect aids me only with remembering what words I'll have to sing next, and reminding me to not take any moment for granted. After all, each song lasts only a few minutes, every second counts.

But take away the music and the orchestra... then hand me a script for a straight play or a film. That's when I feel completely naked, unaided, and helpless. Sure the performance will be just fine in the end, but not before I go through being a complete and utter idiot for a few weeks. I feel like a sailor in the middle of the ocean, without the stars to guide me home. I knew that I needed help.

I took acting classes in LA off and on for about a year in an effort to gain some direction, and the one thing I came away with after all was said and done was this: STOP THINKING. Learn all your lines... your blocking... your subtext... know all of it like the back of your hand. And after you have all that down pat, forget everything you've learned and just do it. And learning how to stop thinking was one of the most difficult things I've had to do.

Perhaps it's the control freak in me... the mind doesn't like letting go of the wheel. But when my brain shuts down in complete surrender and allows my more basic, primal instincts to take the lead, it's one rapturous, glorious, incredible ride.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Entry for July 07, 2006 - The Healing Touch

Even at this early stage of her life, Nicole realizes the importance of the human touch.  I was holding her while surfing the internet tonight after I nursed her, and she fell fast asleep.  Her breathing was deep and her face so peaceful, her cheek pressed against my chest.  At that moment I envied her.  How at that moment I wanted to be held close, falling asleep to the beat of a strong heart.  But alas, I was on mommy duty... my own sleepy-time embrace will just have to wait.

One cannot underestimate just how powerful touch is.  What that can convey is absolutely amazing.  No words are required, they would only be a waste of time.  I've found myself the fortunate recipient of a good long hug at a time when my mind was blinded by anger, sadness and/or frustration at the circumstance of the moment, as well as the giver of one when in the company of someone that needs it for one reason or another.  Strangely enough, even giving can be as healing as receiving.

Throughout my lifetime I will always require my fair share of tactile communication... I don't think I could live without it.  It brings about comfort... it placates... it heals.  More than words, it is by far the most wonderful and effective way to give and receive love.


I found the above photo during my internet surf session.  Seeing it, and reading its story, made me cry.

This is a picture from an article called "The Rescuing Hug." The article details the first week of life of a set of twins, Brielle (left) and Kyrie (right).

Apparently, each were in their respective incubators, and one was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. The smaller baby's heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal!

They both survived and are thriving. In fact, the two girls went home to share a crib and still snuggle. The hospital changed their policy after they saw the effect of putting the two girls togther, and now they bed multiples together.

Let us not forget to embrace those whom we love, and never underestimate the power of a hug! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Rob's Birthday

Happy Birthday, Honey! We celebrated at Prince Albert (Hotel Intercontinental, Makati) and at Luce (Jupiter Street, Makati).

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

July 4, 2006 - Blog resurrected

I thought to resurrect my public blog, but on another site.  I deleted Blogger and am posting publicly on Multiply.  However, I shall keep this site active and healthy.

As with most of my life I've learned to differentiate the public from the private sides of me.  It's helpful in preserving my sanity.  Over the course of many years I've found it necessary to have two faces, two sides.  To most, I am the "bastion of wholesomeness," an example cited by parents of children who refuse to eat their vegetables... the one who always gets things right... the one who very rarely makes mistakes... an effective leader... almost inhuman... beautiful... always smiling... always succeeding... always strong.

Oh man... you couldn't be more wrong.

The ones closest to me know the reality... I have "foot in mouth" disease (it's not as bad as it has been though)... I've struggled with my weight... I know firsthand what "binge eating" is... I have the sleeping habits of a fruit bat... I can be a lemming, hardly a leader... I've dropped off the face of friendships without explanation... carried on romantic relationships that were clearly wrong for me (as in, made my relationship with my family suffer as a result)... I cry... scream... get angry and frustrated... I am vulnerable... insecure... weak... human.  I show this face to very, very few people, only those with whom I feel safe.

Showbusiness being what it is is a business of "perception".  The truth doesn't really matter, only a palatable, sellable version of it.  Those of us who are participants in the dance know the steps by heart.  Showing the public face is almost now second nature, a knee-jerk reflex.  At a press conference... in front of an audience... doing an interview or a guesting on TV.  We know which face to show, and which face to hide.  We know full well that if the public knew the cold, hard truth, they wouldn't like us anymore... won't buy our records, watch our movies, come to our concerts.  The perception must remain... we like being liked, and we also know what Joe and Jane Public like.  I don't mind this... as long as I have the private face to balance the public one, I'm in my good place.

My best friends know the crinkle in my forehead... my alligator eyes... the furrow in my brow... the decibel level of my laughter... my orgasmic reactions to food... what type of alcohol I enjoy... what "mischief" means... my loves... my hates... my passions.  The world at large needn't know these things... only those in my little world.

Happy 4th of July!

A quiet day...

I think I'm actually getting the hang of motherhood... it certainly
isn't as frustrating and crazy as the first few weeks were. The
breastfeeding has gotten much easier (it's gotten to the point that I
can be on the phone, texting, 'net surfing or channel changing while
nursing) and I'm starting to live the "sleep when she sleeps" rule. I
found myself one day napping while she rested, and felt refreshed when
I awoke.

Speaking of breastfeeding, I took for granted that it would be the way
I would feed Nicole until she was at least a year old. Many members of
my family as well as close friends breastfed their babies. It was, in a way,
expected... the first choice... the norm. What I didn't know (and only
found out recently) is that many Filipina moms don't breastfeed their
babies by choice (I'm not counting the ones who, for reasons of
physical inability, cannot breastfeed -- one mommy I know didn't have enough milk, while another was hemorrhaging when she breastfed). The percentage of NCR moms who
do breastfeed, I was told, is .5%. Half of 1% of moms who can
breastfeed opt instead to feed their little ones formula. That means I'm part of a very, very small minority, which is something that blew my mind. I had no idea. Personally, having tasted both breast milk and formula, on the basis of what actually tastes better, I'll take the breast milk anyday. Infant formula tastes like shit. We know; we fed that to Nicole the first few days of her life until finally my own milk came in. Since then, she's been exclusively breastfed (save for when I'm out of the house and the sitter runs out of stored breast milk... then we turn to formula).

I have my reasons for choosing to breastfeed my baby... one, I get my figure back faster (I'm only a few pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight)... two, all the immunities I've acquired over the course of my life is passed on to my baby (and I can also make antibodies on demand for her if she's sick)... three, she and I form an extremely close bond (to the point that I can already tell when she's going to wake up for a feeding, just by how my breasts feel)... four, it's 100% free (have you seen how much a can of formula costs?!?)... and five, well, it just tastes better. It also aids contraception, in that while I'm exclusively breastfeeding, I won't get pregnant.

I try to give my best in all that I do, be it professionally or personally. This is no exception. I give the best of myself to Nicole when I take her in my arms, offer her my breast and nurse her. I give her my time and my love, and there's no replacing looking into her eyes as I do.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Blogger Entry #7

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Manila, Manila... I'm gonna miss you, Manila..........

my stays in Manila involve a lot of work and a lot of family time. Of
course those two things were present (and I doubt the work aspect will
change drastically anytime soon), but there was much more that I found
and much more that I will miss (rather, am missing): the camaraderie of
old friends, and the discovery of new experiences.

new experiences part happened by accident. At dinner with my friend
Bobby Garcia (who was kidnapped by Mickey Mouse and is now being held
hostage in Hong Kong -- send him back to us!!!), the subject of Beauty
and the Beast came up, and I remember loudly volunteering to do
whatever he wanted me to, to help the Belles if need be. I thought
nothing would come of that conversation, and that the run would open,
run and close the way other shows would. HOWEVER... Menchu
Lauchengco-Yulo (I'll just call her Yulo in this blog... one, it's
funny, and two, it's easier to type in a hurry) and I got called to
active duty by Bobby to help his Belles. This was to be our first foray
as a duo to coach anyone. I can't speak for Yulo as she has coached
other young actors before, but I was a virgin to this... I was always
the leading lady, the one on stage, the one who doesn't crumble when a
setpiece decides to fuck up. Now, it was my turn to teach, to pass on
information, to lend a few trade secrets here and there of how I do my
job. At first, I thought I would show up maybe once or twice, give a
few tips (backstage behavior, responsibility of a lead actor on and
offstage, singing technique) then go. But oh no, that was not the case.
I paid my first visit to the Oppen building rehearsal space alone, and
spoke to the two girls with Bobby by my side. I did get to see the
girls rehearse to some degree, but did not pay attention to the level
of actually nitpicking. That came when I visited rehearsals with
Menchu, after our morning dance class.

We headed over to Oppen,
very excited. When we arrived, we said our hi's and hello's to the
people we knew (and we knew quite a few -- Cathy Azanza, Chari
Arespacochaga, Robie Zialcita, Robbie Guevara -- one R in the surname
or two? I can never remember -- Marisse Borlaza, Manman Angsico, Jett
Pangan, Loy Martinez, Jonard Yanzon), then sat down by Bobby to watch
the rehearsal with more attention to detail. We took pen to paper when
the need arose, taking notes whenever we saw an area that needed
improvement, or whatever just didn't fit. We paid quite a few visits to
Oppen, nitpicking more and more with each trip there, teaching more,
coaching more, and being very very detailed about which direction we
felt was right for Belle to go, following Bobby's direction. At least
one of us was there... if not Menchu, then me. At the end of the day,
we considered it our responsibility to take care of the two girls and
make sure they were as good as they could be on opening night, and even

I think we did our jobs well... their singing improved
after we taught them some basic warm-ups to do before each rehearsal
and performance... the acting improved once we were able to keep them
still... and their general performances are wonderful to watch, in
different ways. I'm glad that I was called to be part of the show.
Truth be told though, it was far more nervewracking sitting in the
audience on press night while KC was on, rather than be on stage... the
feeling of utter helplessness was what I didn't expect! How awful!

was probably the most major part of my visit to Manila... and I would
love to do more of it. It felt good to make even a small difference and
be participant to the creative process as a coach rather than as a
performer. Very different highs, very different results.

than anything work-related though, is the friends I leave behind when I
travel to work... you all know who you are, and I miss you terribly. I
only wish we had more time, but hey, it gives us all something to look
forward to. In the meantime, thoughts of you will fill my mind and my
heart, and I take you all with me wherever I go.

I love you guys, very much.

Haaaaaay... I hate goodbyes, but they're necessary if we are to say hello again.

Blogger Entry #6

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My brother's wedding (aka If Looks Could Kill...), Part 2

I apologize that this has taken me too long to complete. Life decided to get busy on me when I wasn't looking.

Now let's see... where was I...

yes, the actual wedding ceremony. Following Fr. Manoling's beautiful
homily, it was time for the bride and groom to exchange wedding vows.
Given the march and how both Gerard and DJ were in tears, I had a
feeling the vows would be just as, if not more emotional. When Fr. Mano
asked them to express their love for each other in their own words, the
floodgates opened anew... first for the groom, who in very colloquial
Tagalog, how much he loved DJ, and how he wished they had plenty of
children (enough to form a musical ensemble). DJ, in fluent English,
cried as she told Gerard that he was the best thing to ever happen to
her. Needless to say, all of the congregation was in tears. Plenty of
tissue paper was passed around. The exchange was gorgeous. I then had
to come up with the page boys to present the rings, the arrhae and the
bible, after which came the proclamation we were waiting for: THEY'RE
MARRIED! I let out a loud whoop and holler, and a few Tiger-esque fist
pumps. My baby brother was now a married man, and we were overjoyed.

came the Prayers of the Faithful, which I asked my older brother Caloy
to read. At a few of the petitions, my mom would react... there was one
in particular that made her head turn: a petition for all husbands and
wives to be faithful to one another. Her head immediately turned to my
direction, her face contorted with the half-frown half-smile as she
mouthed the words "faithful" referring to my not-so-faithful father. I
gave her a look that told her to behave. She pretty much did for the
rest of the night. But I gotta hand it to her: she took pains to avoid
my dad, and for the most part, was successful.

The mass
continued as normal, with the inclusion of a beautiful "peace"
ceremony, where all the parents, ninongs, ninangs and siblings, came up
to wish peace and love upon the newlyweds. I made sure to go first to
set the circle going, as well as determined that my mother would follow
me, and that my father would be a few people behind her. No reason to
create a fuss on this day of days.

At one of the meetings with
the wedding coordinator, DJ and I determine the order and arrangement
of all the photographs to be taken, and thank goodness we did. There
were people at the wedding that weren't speaking to each other (and I
don't mean my parents, either), so it was going to be one delicate
operation to make sure the photography session went without a hitch. We
placed my parents of opposite sides of a tableau so that they didn't
stand next to each other. Other relatives that weren't speaking to
other relatives had to have lots of space (and other human bodies)
between them. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once the session was
over... we could then head to the Le Pavillon tent for the reception.

much else to say, really... we had a pabitin instead of a bouquet
toss... we hid the garter with a bunch of hair scrunchies to make the
garter toss more interesting... there was a band set-up in case anyone
was itching to jam (nope, only one song was played, "My Romance," which
Lyn Sherman beautifully sang)... there were couples games... how well
do you know the newlyweds games... all in all, it was a great time.
Unfortunately the festivities had to end relatively early; it was
Sunday night after all, and people had work in the morning.

I was a happy big sister the night my little brother got married... he
found his soulmate, best friend, the one he laughs with... the one he
loves. It's so rare to find everything you wish for in one person,
which is why it can take so darn long before you find "the one", but
when you do, that is a day to celebrate... and for sure, the angels are
celebrating with you. That's the day you are blessed.

Blogger Entry #5

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I wish...

... that I could walk on a beach, completely and utterly confident, in a bikini...

that in that bikini I was sipping margaritas in Boracay with my girl
(and gay) friends... okay fine, we'll invite a select few straight guys

... to do a show with my friends again, like we did in BABY...

... that Bobby Garcia was in Manila (I just miss him plenty)...

... there was more good theatre, fewer bad films...

... that this production of Beauty & the Beast tours Asia...

... that my cat was here...

... that DJ gets pregnant, as my mother would want nothing more than a grandchild...

... that everyone in the world finds their passion in life and runs with it...

... that this whole Garci business was resolved...

... that we have no more EDSA uprisings... it gets really old really fast...

... that no one cheats in elections...

... that no one gets fat eating dessert... or steak... or risotto...

... that there were fewer reality shows, more great storytelling on TV...

... that people are allowed to find God for themselves without being pushed...

... that my single friends find their soulmates...

... that gay marriages were legal EVERYWHERE in the world...

... to play anti-type (I enjoy being the ingenue, but I want something offbeat and weird)

... that Streisand never gets old...

... that my friends know and realize that they are loved.


Blogger Entry #4

Thursday, June 02, 2005

My brother's wedding (aka If Looks Could Kill...)

posting is going to be very long, so you might want to settle in with a
cup of java and some pastry, or a glass of red and some good cheese.

wedding... I owe my friends photos of the occasion... unfurtunately I
don't have any yet. DJ (Gerard's wife) is currently going through all
the shots the photographer took and will make final decisions later. I
can't wait to see that photo album!

Anyway, as the wedding fell
on Mother's Day, Rob, Sheila and I had brunch with Mom at the lobby of
the Peninsula Hotel, where we were all billeted for the night. Gerard
was still asleep (reasoning: "it's my wedding day, I'll wake up
whenever I want"). The Pen prepared one hell of a buffet! Breakfast
favorites, salads, beef and lamb, seafood, an omelette station, a pasta
station, and desserts. I had a gown to fit into, so I skipped the more
fattening delights, but Rob with his tireless and speedy metabolism,
enjoyed himself. My mom limited herself to the salad and pasta (when
she isn't sure of what's in the prepared food, she visits the pasta
station by default). The carbs in the pasta kept her relatively calm
for the stress of the storm to follow. (Yes, I'm exaggerating... I do
get a bit dramatic sometimes... not as dramatic as some of my other
friends, but that's another posting for another time.)

on with the more mundane details of the day: make-up, hairstyles,
Gerard finally getting out of bed... the hairdresser trimmed and styled
Rob's hair, then headed upstairs to take care of DJ, and then back
downstairs to groom Gerard... my mom and I were handled by another hair
and make-up person... then we all dressed up and posed for preliminary
photos. Say cheese! My mom was still calm. She was beautiful in her
Inno Sotto gown of different shades of blue chiffon, the shades getting
lighter from her shoulders to her ankles. It made her look gorgeous,
which was the effect she was after ("Gusto kong magmukhang reyna"). I
had a Rajo Laurel gown of baby blue with a lace top, something to match
the groomsmen's barongs. Of course, I was my brother's best man so I
needed to look my best. I was also responsible for carrying the wedding
bands (white gold of two textures: matte and shiny, thanks to Ding
Velayo) as well as Kleenex and pressed powder. I can't be having a
shiny nose in the wedding photos!

6 PM comes around, and we're
off to the Sanctuario de San Antonio Church in Forbes Park, Makati.
Gerard and DJ were able to secure the venue because one of their
ninongs is a Forbes resident, DJ's one and only violin teacher, Prof.
Basilio "Billy" Manalo. He was the man to whom DJ's own father left her
for her tuition. Her skills are owed to this man, and she loves him
very much. She was the only person he smiled at the whole night.

remained at the hotel for her solo pictures to be taken, while Gerard,
Mom, I, Aurora Go (one of the ninangs), Sheila and Rob are at the
church waiting for the ceremony to begin. Sanctuario's last Sunday mass
was scheduled to end at around 7-ish, so all we could do was wait in
the heat and humidity. Not make-up-friendly weather, unfortunately.
Thank goodness the make-up artistes had the foresight to use waterproof
everything, and I was armed with tissue paper and pressed powder in my
purse. One by one, relatives and friends were arriving, waiting along
with us in their finest wedding attire. Then my father arrives... my
mom upon hearing of this immediately and quickly darts into the
church... and not too subtlely either. Subtlety isn't one of my mom's
finer qualities. Man, my dad was starting to look a little long in the
tooth, much more than usual. I let him know that my older brother
Charlie was downstairs with his family (including my adorable
5-year-old nephew who I met for the first time that day and immediately
fell in love with), so down he went. I just thought it was hilarious
for my mother to behave that way. Indifference is perhaps something she
just doesn't practice very well.

Anyway... the mass ends, and
all the regular churchgoers file out in a trickle that I was wishing
went a little more quickly. We all then went inside and hurriedly
starting taking our positions. I left my dad to one of the coordinators
(I didn't want to be bothered with him either, to be honest), said a
few quick hi's and hello's to friends and family, then took my place at
the back of the church along with my mother and Gerard, ninongs and
ninangs, secondary sponsors, flower girls, and the pageboys (ring
bearer, bible bearer and coin/arrhae bearer). My bouquet was handed to
me... and then, following a few last minute casting changes (some of
the ninongs couldn't arrive and proxies weren't assigned, so some
shuffling had to be done), the wedding began.

The page boys were
to walk first, then me (best man kasi, eh), then Gerard and Mom,
followed by Primary then Secondary Sponsors. Once the flower girls hit
the aisle, we knew that DJ, along with her mother and eldest brother,
would walk soon.

When the last flower girl disappeared, the
orchestra began playing the wedding march... it was a special piece of
music that Gerard wrote especially for this day, inspired by his
beautiful bride. At the wedding rehearsal two days before when it was
first played, there was not a dry eye in the whole church. My mother
broke down, the orchestra played with tears in their eyes, and DJ was
just a sobbing mess. The music was just so beautiful... you just knew
that the angels in heaven were whispering those notes to Gerard. I
don't know that it will ever be played again. I sure hope so; I want
that preserved on CD.

A few bars into the march, Gerard put his
arm on my shoulder, sort of leaning on me as he anxiously awaited the
arrival of DJ to the altar. He was, for the first time in a long time,
nervous. My brother normally has nerves of steel when it comes to
situations of great pressure and high stakes, but this was his wedding
day after all, the day when men of great sinew and nerve are turned to
mush. Happened to my own husband; it would happen to Gerard.

was beaming... the church doors flung open to reveal the silhouettes of
the bride and her family. All heads immediately turned to face the back
of the church. With every note and bar played, the bride was getting
closer and closer to her beloved, tears in her eyes from her very first
step to the very last. The groom, becoming increasing giddy and
emotional, began to shed tears of his own, while smiling his widest,
his arm over my shoulder. I would turn to him, then to her, and I could
see the love exchanged between then, the veil covering her face a minor
obstacle. If anything, it lent an almost fairy-tale mistiness, making
the view from each pair of eyes that much more romantic.

mass was celebrated by a close friend of the couple, Fr. Manoling
Francisco who was one of the priests concelebrating the mass at my own
wedding. Rob read the First Reading and the Responsorial Psalm. I was
very proud, considering that he isn't Catholic and thus not completely
familiar with the sequence of a mass. Archie Castillo, Gerard's friend
and Berklee College of Music connection, took care of the Second
Reading. Then the Madrigal Singers broke out into a resounding Alleluia
which lead to Fr. Manoling reading the gospel, then the homily. I've
been to masses where I found myself shutting down from bad church
speakers, poor enunciation (on the part of the celebrant), or a
combination of the two... but when Fr. Mano spoke that evening, all
ears were fixed and we all hung on to what he had to say.

homily at the mass was one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. He
likened Gerard and DJ's relationship to a simphony of three movements,
each movement mirroring aspects in the chronology of their love affair.
I can't remember the movements by name unfortunately, but I do remember
smiling at the description of each one. It was gorgeous.

(Next time: the ceremony itself... I need a break! This is long!)

Blogger Entry #3

Friday, May 27, 2005

Food Tripping...

there's something I haven't really been able to enjoy in Manila, it's
the food. As in, there are so many restaurants... diverse flavors to
fit any palate's preference, from the bland to the mild to the really
spicy. Previous visits have prevented me (because I make the lifestyle
choice to live like a nun while I'm working... and most of my Manila
visits have been for work) from truly experiencing the gustatory
delights that Manila has to offer... and I can eat. Yeah, it's this
love for food that necessitates my swimming for a half hour or Tae-Bo
for at least 20 minutes.

far, I've been to just a few restaurants here... I haven't taken in all
that Alabang has, and I know that Makati contains so many good places
for food tripping. I'm looking forward to next week, when a few friends
and I are going to take in some really fantastic seafood. This might be
a tradition in the making: a Wednesday night food trip! Yum! God gave
us the sense of taste alongside sight, hearing, smell and touch, and a
good food trip makes full use of all five: oil and garlic as it drips
off your hands... the sight of color in a beautiful plate of
vegetables... the smell of onions wafting from the kitchen... perhaps
reading "Like Water For Chocolate" this morning stimulated something
primal in me... I read the whole book today, and it's something I would
definitely recommend to anyone who loves food... love... sex... the
kitchen... the smells and sights of wonderfully prepared dishes, dishes
containing love and passion... oh, but to have tasted the quail in rose
sauce... or the chilies in walnut sauce, with those lovingly shelled
cashews... and that wedding cake! The layers of cake with apricot
preserves... oh, so yummy! I'm tempted to give the recipes in that book
a try at least once. My husband will be impressed for sure.

a stay-at-home Friday for me... I guess as I get older, the less
inclined I am to want to head out for "gimmicks" and late nights out.
My brother said it best: "I know I'm getting old when all I want to do
is water the lawn and talk to the plants in my garden, the way Lola
(Grandma) used to." It made his wife and me laugh when we heard that.

Blogger Entry #2

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Star Wars... series concluded, it is

went with some friends to a showing of the final installment of Star
Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The evening started out with
some really delicious Japanese food at Sugi, then a nice stroll in the
balmy Manila weather to the theater. Like just about anyone
anticipating the arrival of George Lucas' final part in the series, I
went in hoping for great lightsaber duels, fantastic action sequences
and closure: I too wanted to know how Darth Vader came to be. After
all, he is the icon of evil in the galaxies near and far, far away.

was also anticipating more of the wooden acting that was ever present
in the first two parts, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones...
I was right. Why didn't George Lucas get -- at the very least -- a
co-director to take care of the actors? I'll give him his due for the
excellent CGI graphics, but he's a lousy actor's director. He's also
not much of a scriptwriter (an excellent storyteller, but the dialogue
was just... bad). Whenever Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and
Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) were on screen together, I found myself
wishing that I was watching the film on DVD, so I could hit my "next
chapter" button and be done with them! The sad part was, I knew these
two actors to be much more talented than this. Christensen was
excellent as the tortured teen in 'Life As A House"... he was one of
the main reasons to see that movie, as his performance was layered,
deep and truly interesting to watch. His on-screen journey was tragic
and rivetting. Miss Portman, who began her career at 12 in "The
Professional" has just won a Golden Globe for "Closer", so I knew she
had some serious acting chops in her. So... who else to blame but the
director? Mr. Lucas obviously took much more time developing the
battles and duels, not in the acting exchanges. Didn't anyone tell him
that the human element is what makes a movie fun to watch?

the "good acting" note, Ian McDiarmid was deliciously evil as
Palpatine, and Ewan McGregor was perfectly understated as Obi-Wan. I'll
admit, I'll fawn over Mr. McGregor reading the phone book. I totally
fell in love with him in "Moulin Rouge", and couldn't stop singing his
praises after watching the film. Mr. McDiarmid took the schlocky
material given to him, and turned it into something substantial. He was
perhaps the one actor who rose above the dialogue to leave a memorable

I should have taken the advice of another Star Wars fan, to watch the
film with lowered expectations. I might have had a better time and left
the theater recommending the film to everyone. Unfortunately, as
fantastic as the special effects were, the lousy dialogue and hokey
execution of what was promised to be a fantastic story left me
unattached and uninvested in what happened to these characters. I might
just be of another generation... for whom the first Star Wars will
always be "Episode IV: A New Hope", and the best film of the series
"Episode V: Empire Strikes Back". At the absolute very least, the
humans were the reason we hung on to the action, and the scripts were

Oh well, George is laughing all the way to the bank, so any review, comment or complaint is moot.

more excellent Star Wars action, I recommend Cartoon Network's Star
Wars: Clone Wars, the animated bridge between Episodes II and III. No
schlock, just lots of action. The animators and director knew what they
were doing. Trust that if and when these are ever released on DVD, I'll
be one of the first in line to get my copy.

Old blog entries... here's #1 from Blogger

I've decided to move my Blogger blog here to Multiply... unfortunately, Multiply couldn't import all my past entries, so I'll have to add them one by one. No problem, there isn't much to copy and paste.

Enjoy reading!

Lea =)


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

First posting... ah, it's been a while

Wow, I'm blogging!!!

the blog of one of my close friends, I figured to start one of my
own... I did have some sort of "random spoutings from my brain" thing
at an old website of mine, but didn't pick it up for a while. And now,
thanks to the advances in technology (and my friend's blog being
inspiration for me doing this), here I am... blogging. So... what will
my first blog be about? Since I did name it "Random... 'La Lang", I'll
have to keep it... random. Wala lang talaga. It's so hot!!! The weather
here in Manila has been... close to unbearable. The pool in the
backyard has been my friend, as well as a source of some much needed
exercise. What they say is true: once you turn 30, your figure just
goes downhill. My husband and I watched an old video of mine, taken in
1999-2000, and I couldn't believe the figure I used to (USED TO!!!)
have. As in, ANO BA YAN??? So I'm trying to do right by my body... I
just have to not eat like Rob, whose metabolism is quite incredible...
can eat mountains of rice and still look good. I hate that.

night was a major sibling reunion... I had dinner with Gerard, Jeff (or
Gie as he's more known to his fans and friends) and Philip at a nearby
restaurant then adjourned to the house for conversation. I hadn't seen
Jeff for... yikes... over 15 years, and what a difference the time
makes. He's come into his own fabulousness which is wonderful. It's
brave too, to be your own person, never mind what anyone else thinks.
He's a stand-up comedian who sings (and quite well)... I'm not sure at
which clubs he performs at and on what nights, but I've vowed to catch
a show.

Yeah, it's not just Gerard that I can count as my
brother, or sibling. We're 9 all in all, officially (different mothers,
same father). Weird, no? I'll be the first to admit, meeting everyone,
one by one, was uncomfortable at times, but once you get over the
initial hump, it gets easier. It was funny, not too long ago one of the
major networks decided this was big news, that I had a younger
half-brother. Sorry, Pare, lumang balita na yan sa amin. Huwag niyo
kaming pag-aawayin, magkakapatid kami.

As I said... officially.
My older brother though said that, "we won't really know how many we
are until the funeral." So, malay natin kung ilan talaga kaming

Okay, it's hot... I have to hit the pool now.
Summer in the Philippines... I'll never complain about New York winters
ever again!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

July 01, 2006 - Let 'em eat cake!

It's been a relatively uneventful day... took Nicole to the pediatrician to check on her diaper rash, one that I was somewhat worried about.  Even though I read up on this on the internet and got other bits of advice, I still felt it was something to not dismiss.  Sure enough, it was a fungus causing my baby's discomfort, so he prescribed an anti-fungal cream and a concoction called Castillani paint, something available only at Makati Med.  She's now sleeping soundly, wearing a loosely pinned cloth diaper, her father snoring contentedly by her bassinet (he's actually drowning out the TV).  Poor guy's had a long day and way too much beer.

Tonight, for some strange reason, I was craving cake... a rich, dense, heavy chocolate cake.

As with all things, there's cake, and then there's caaaaaaaaake.  Some look good, but taste like cardboard... some don't look so hot, but each bite is delicious... and some are just perfect in every way, from how it hits the eye to how it hits the mouth... from the frosting to its innermost filling.  One bite of a cake like that sends me straight to heaven... I am then unable to speak.

For me, one slice... just one, good-sized slice of perfection... would be more than enough to make me happy, rather than have one whole mediocre confection.  Each bite of that pastry would be savored, taken time with and remembered.  I would choose the right beverage with which to wash it down (sometimes a good coffee, at other times warm or ice cold milk), and end the experience feeling completely and utterly satiated.

I sometimes find myself in a pastry shop to discover that there's only one slice of my cake left... the rest had already been served up to other customers.  Drat, and on a day that I wanted more, too!  That's okay... I'll take whatever's available, knowing there will always be more some other time.  And if my luck is good, I may be able to take the whole cake home.

Bring on the warm milk.