Thursday, July 23, 2009

all at play

This, from a travel magazine I contributed to two years ago: “From Aparri, Baler, Surigao del Sur to Zambales, surfers have a term for what they do: ‘laro.’ Play. Because that’s what surfing is. It’s a game, played with abandon, where your body and Mother Nature are one. If you’re more concerned about poise and looking good than having fun, then surfing is not for you. At one point or another, you cannot avoid looking like a drenched cat.

“But isn’t that the way we used to play when we were young? When we were totally unself-conscious? And that, I believe, is how one should live life: you get on the board of life, paddle out to find and catch your wave. You ride it, hopefully with grace. And if you don’t, you get back on again. And again. And again.”

I had the chance to enjoy this kind of play recently, when the kids and I took a road trip to San Juan, La Union (where I first stood on a surfboard in 2006). I remember Luke Landrigan, who runs Billabong Surfing School and San Juan Surf Resort, telling me that children could start learning as early as four years old. My twins are five—and one of them, Mateo, is exceptionally agile—so I thought: perfect. They learn to surf, I get to work on my ever-darkening tan, and we get to enjoy the crazy-fun kids and parents have when no one is looking (and cares).

Painless trip

The trip itself is relatively painless—around six hours (including a breakfast stop) on good roads. What will make it more painless is a “happy stop” at a convenience store, where you can have the kids run free and pick up whatever they want. This is where I feel I have to jump to a defense of some sort: at home the kids have their pick of fruits—from kiwi to apples to oranges to melons to dried jackfruit, mangoes, and bananas—so feasting on junk food is a treat. It only happens when we’re on holiday, so bring on the Cheetos and Doritos!

Located on MacArthur Highway, San Juan Surf Resort is in Urbiztondo, around 15 minutes drive north of San Fernando, La Union. You won’t miss it. Once inside, you might as well just forget you came from the city (or wherever) and focus on just one thing: having fun.

Pets are allowed, which is a bonus, but Luke’s dogs, particularly his Labrador, River, is clearly an Alpha male and will let your dog know it. Good thing my dog, Gizzard—who looks exactly like River, except he’s got, er, extra padding round the middle (like his owner)—is the self-effacing type and conceded immediately to River’s authority.

Surf’s up!

We arrived a little after noon, so we had to wait until the waves swelled a bit higher and rougher to actually do some surfing. Luke, who by the way, bagged the silver medal in the recent Asian Beach Games in Bali, told me we would start at 4 p.m., which gave me plenty of time to a) play with his year and half-year old baby boy, Kai, b) drink a few beers, c) watch over my twin boys to make sure they stayed away from the “danger no swimming” area of the beach, and d) correct people from calling Gizzard “River” (“that isn’t River. River has ribs.”).

By the time Luke called my attention, I was already feeling a little buzzed, but the buzz would give way to absolute thrill when I saw Mateo ride his first wave.

How does one explain it, the excitement and pride that literally rises from your gut and explodes into cheers and whoops and sends a parent to do a crazy little jig of happiness even amidst the roaring waves? Well that’s precisely what I felt—and did—when Mateo pushed himself up on his little arms and stood on the surfboard. Ah, magic.

I have to credit Luke and his fellow instructors, like Joel, who patiently walked Mateo through the motions and rules. Hands at chest level. Push up. Balance. Before you hit the shore, jump off. Mateo got it on his second try. And he went at it, again and again and again, and would not stop bugging me until he tried it again the next afternoon.

My daughter Simone, 12, who was hesitant to try it at first, finally gave in to her curiosity the following day. She got it on her fourth try, when she realized she wasn't a ‘goofy’, like her brother (her right leg is more dominant), and rode wave upon wave. The next morning, the salesgirl in the surfshop asked me if the twins were my children. I said yes; so is the gangly dalagita. “Ah, yung magaling mag-surf?” she answered. I kidded Simone about it after, and watched her blush. Lovely sight.

Ok, now for the practical stuff

Don’t expect fancy digs, though. This is, after all, a surf resort, and the guests are active types who are used to roughing it. We stayed in a beachfront room good for four adults (P1890 per night), but other types of rooms are available as well, according to your budget and length of stay (you can even rent a condo unit for up to a month!). Everything is clean and well-maintained. There may be the occasional glitch of the cable TV not working, or the Wifi being down, but what the heck—you’re there to surf the waves, not the Internet.

Home-cooked meals are available in the resort restaurant for an average of P160 each. (There are other worthwhile places to eat at in San Fernando, like Midway Grill and Café Leona. Also, if you want to take a break from surfing, you can visit places like the Taoist Ma-Cho Temple and Botanical Gardens.)

Surfing lessons go for P400 an hour (that includes use of a surfboard and the instructor’s fee); or P800 for half day (that’s 8 a.m. to 12 noon). Don’t forget to give them a nice tip! The best time to go surfing if you’re a beginner would be about now, when this issue comes out. Waves get bigger and stronger come October—that’s when the big boys come out and play.

All good

Seeing Mateo’s enthusiasm and fast addiction to the sport, Luke warns me: “Nako, every weekend na yan: ‘Mommy, surfing tayo!’” I laugh, a little nervously. Seeing my son enjoy and experience something new is one thing; but fully committing to it is another. “Hah! Let’s see,” I answer. Do I really want Mateo—or Simone, for that matter—to get glued to a surfboard, do nothing but surf all day, win competitions, watch them turn golden and healthy, like Luke and his partner, Kai’s mom, Noelle? A part of me, the beach bum mom who secretly wouldn’t mind selling t-shirts and homeschooling her kids screams “yes!” But the grown-up inside me takes over and counters: “No. Not yet.”

So, even as I make plans for Mateo and Simone to try out Corey Wills’ surf school in White Rock, Subic, I push away any dreams of them surfing professionally from my mind. Marco, the least athletic of my children, the dreamer, the flower-child, rolls on the sand. Mateo runs with Gizzard, and Simone sits beside me, laughing her precious laugh. We allow the waves to spray us, and the sand to get into our hair, under our rash guards and shorts.

We enjoy the crazy-fun kids and parents have when no one’s looking. And we don’t care.

For inquiries and reservations, go to

published in the july-aug 09 issue of HIPP Magazine. get a copy. now.

Friday, July 03, 2009


i remember the time when Ali and i had nothing to do, for about four months or so, except play pool. carom, to be exact, in the most pedestrian sense of the word. for some reason, there was no working TV in the house. mom was out of town. my papa was too busy doing something else to properly stock up the refrigerator with real food, so Ali and i had no choice but to play carom day in day out. get really good with it. chalk all over the table, all over our hands, all over our skin, us busting poses and moves that would've made the pahinantes and drivers on the outskirts of BF Homes blush. and we were good.
we learned to drive those disks into the holes with one shot. we learned to angle our shots and temper the force with which we thrust our sticks. we were coming up with absurd expressions to punctuate every move, like "slideh peninsula." we were learning to hustle. and we were learning to subsist on cheese. ("che-heeeeseee...." Ali used to mock-cry when we got hungry in the middle of the night, nibbling on an aging brick of cheddar.)
one day, when our mom was finally in town, we came home to find a gaping space in our family room. no more pool table. no more tako. no more chalk. "i gave it to Factoran," mom explained, naming her boss, the then-secretary of DENR. and us? what were WE supposed to do?
we never articulated it, but we loved that carom table. we loved those nights as we played, round after round, coming up with absurd names and poses of the shots we pulled off.
but as easily as we got used to the game, we got used to watching TV again.

my kids and i now dine on a carom table. a find derek traded for a bottle of tanduay. but it's not the same. it's not the same.

trying out hyperlink. check out red's blog. now.

red's SMS to me june 21, 09.

"when you stroll down the path of fabricated personal deficits, that's when things become difficult. enjoy your paella and curse the gods for making so many imperfect men."

ex-husband's dream of uncle dalmacio, late '06

at the end of this entry is mardy's text to me after i reminded him about uncle dalmacio, how we visited him in the hospital just before he passed away. he was so different--well, at least his body was--from what we remembered him. he had turned into skin and bones, dark, dry, paper-thin skin stretched over the distinct, gangly Abuyuan frame.
i loved that man. he was the one who wrote the Ybanag version of my wedding invite. he was graceful and quiet and didn't mind a drink, any drink, as the sun went down. i can remember him leaning against the sink in the dirty kitchen, tipping his beer bottle my way, then sipping from it delicately, like it was champagne instead of San Miguel. his jaw and mouth like my own, Indonesian Class B, wide and curved, how our ancestors must've looked. he visited us every summer, or before or after the rice from my papa's land was harvested, to give us a heads up on the workers and how much the crop brought.
my Auntie Mina Falcon remembers how Uncle Dalmacio used to carry her on his shoulders as he walked her to school. he was so like my Lolo Tomas, her and my papa's father. genteel and gentle and always calm, moving like a cat. like Papa. an old boyfriend used to call Papa the Ninja. we would never hear him as he approached and caught us almost making out. but that's another story.

"Oh yeah! I remember i dreamt of him last night! We were
sitting by a grill, he was cooking and he told me not to
worry. I said about what? He said i know how you feel.
I've been there. I said what are you talking about? He hit
me on the head and smiled. I'm looking after all of you.
Then i woke up. Ganda ng dream na yun. So don't worry gina,
He's there for you!"

sms to myself: april 1, 2006

I am 33 years old. The age reeks of botox, tennis bracelets, lacoste shirts w upturned collars. SUVs and perhaps a desire to grow my own herbs. Instead i have a fading henna tattoo on my arm, a dead palm on my balcony, and a deluge of deadlines i have yet to meet. The sky is pink, my babies squeal in the background. My mouth tastes of marlboros and i'm wondering if i can ever kick san mig lite.I am 33, and strangely, still feel like i am immortal. There's a motherlode of history in me, and more yet to be made. I feel so alive it hurts.

harvest moon, neil young

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin'
We could dream this night away.

But there's a full moon risin'
Lets go dancin' in the light
We know where the musics playin'
Let's go out and feel the night.

Because I'm still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.

But now its gettin' late
And the moon is climbin high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin' in your eye.

Because I'm still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

sweet mateo

beautiful surprise of the day from mateo: plastic container with pieces of paper with "mommy," a heart, and a flower drawn on them. yaya said he was loitering outside my door waiting for me to wake up so i could see his "surprise". sweet, sweet boy. he's going to break some hearts, this one.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Twenty minutes past the witching hour, and i'm still awake.
feeling like i'm going to implode. but still.
plodding on, plodding on.
been through worse before.
kicking in the door, seven months pregnant,
finding a den full of porn.
plans to clean out a bank.

i should've sank.

but no.

plodded on, plodded on.

like i do now.

'love's got nothing to do with it,'
he said.
'this is self-preservation.'
and so i read.

how many witching hours to go
how many implosions to endure.



july 1

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


glenfiddich tonight. after all the beers have gone.
glenfiddich, i remember, when times were much simpler and i, young.
Er. he called me to his house that night. said he needed company.
but i left the other one in the bar that night. and he too, needed.
but of course
i chose
the white horse.
he made everything more.
joy. more.
sadness. more.
hate. more.
and i saw forevermore.
like i thought ma and pa were. So.
glenfiddich tonight. after the beers have gone.
single malt, baby. let's have some fun.
back to sounding trite.
back to feeling all right.
maybe. or not.
memory: him lugging a tire: "hon, this is how much i love you."
"piece by piece, i'll build a car for you."
"i see the future with you."
"here's a toast to you."
a Medoc? A burgundy? Maybe. i don't know.
it's this glenfiddich i sip now.
and i miss being young.

june 30. 1.30 a.m.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

simone, my original baby

I came home after a 20 hour workday, hoping to catch some brainless action on Facebook or Twitter to de-stress, and lo and behold--what should greet me when I opened my laptop? A small swarm of red ants swimming in and out of the keys.


She had complained about the same thing happening to her a few days ago--that ants were invading her desk, to which I replied: then don't eat there. "But all I eat is yoghurt!" She protested. I brushed it aside, attributing the presence of the ants to the freakish weather we were having lately.

Then, an epiphany tonight: Fruit Roll-Ups.

Simone got herself a motherlode of these from Derek when I came home from Dubai. She ate them everywhere--in bed, watching TV, at the table, at the computer.

First reaction was to scream and shake her from her sleep. Do you rinse your fingers after eating your roll-ups? I imagined myself telling her. The ants were all over my keyboard. Even after I had wiped the whole thing down with alcohol, they were back in full force, just as I turned my back. F&%k!

Then I stopped.

This was a good thing. Yes, the best thing that happened to me over the past 24 hours--the incompetent lawyer from Laguna, me learning that what Ungas had givne for his capital gains tax had been squandered, the late proofs, the driver calling my sons gay, making them cry, and me firing him on the spot (more on that in another post).

This meant my daughter was still, in many ways, mine. She was not given to having crushes left and right, like her classmates. She preferred sneakers to nail polish; considered it gross when a boy had a crush on her; actually enjoyed still horsing around with her brothers. She still asked permission from me if she wanted to hang out longer with her friends, and asked me--me! not her friends--to watch 17 Again and the David Cook/Archuleta concert this coming May 16 with her. She still loved Fruit Roll-Ups. She was still my little girl.

Still tried to kill them pesky ants, though. But they'll be back.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A good Good Friday

I've always associated Good Friday with the unrelenting heat of summer, somewhat akin to the fires of hell. I remember pabasas in our ancestral home in Larion (20-30 minutes away from Tuguegarao by tricycle), us cousins being powerless against our parents' rules of 'no-swimming-in-the-river-today-BAWAL', so all we were left to do was to sit on the squat staircase leading from the bedrooms to the living areas, and watch the old women wail away about the torments Christ endured, lazily fanning themselves in tempo with their voices and dizzying heat.

As an older child–and when Randy and RJ, our Larion cousins, started to spend summers in Manila–I remember my mom trying to infuse us with her Catholic chirpiness, and coming up with the all-too-ideal idea of reading Bible verses under the shade of the santol tree in the garden of our BF home. She spread out a mat, brought out snacks, and urged Randy, RJ, Ali and I to take turns reading the gospel. Of course we played along–but only until we couldn't stand the heat anymore and started to make excuses of having to go to the bathroom–and staying there. One by one, we slipped away, leaving I think only Randy to keep my mom company. Sorry dude. Sorry mom.

One summer, though, the Bible-reading fever got to me. But instead of turning to the evangelists, I preferred to start off with Revelations. Suddenly filled with anxiety and fear, I made a steadfast vow to myself to give myself a good painful pinch every time an evil or impure thought entered my head. I realized I was pinching myself every five minutes. Determined to distract my mind and save my soul from the eternal agony, I busied myself preparing our merienda–green mangos with bagoong, and rock salt with chopped siling labuyo. At one point I rubbed my eyes. Suddenly, a painful burning set in–this is it! I thought. I'm being punished for my sins! I'm being blinded by God! I groped my way to a chair and slowly sat myself down, bracing myself for fate. God is indeed swift to anger, I thought, and He has smote me with His mighty Hand. So be it, so be it. As I started to imagine my life without sight, the effects of the capsaicin faded away. I had been forgiven and healed! Allelujah!

As a teen I was once again gripped with fear of being unworthy of Christ's love if I didn't repent. So just before the reading of the Seven Last Words, I walked to BF church and tried to be a pious Catholic. Again, the summer heat got to me as I swooned and felt a blackout descending. Sorry, God, I said to myself as I staggered out and trod with great difficulty back to our house. I tried, but damn it if I faint in public and wake up on a cot in the parish office. Eww.

This year's Good Friday was no different, temperature-wise. Waking up from a Maundy Thursday night cross-continent hangover (Ungas and I spent around eight hours online drinking, talking, fighting, making up, and talking again), I crept downstairs and promised the kids we'd cook an honest to goodness meal using the herbs the twins re-potted last soon as the sun set.

We have oregano, mint, basil, and lemon. The photo here shows them on my balcony, but because of the crazy-angry heat, we had to move them, along with the other plants, to the less-photogenic back part of the house, where it's cooler. Predictably, pasta was on the menu. I wanted to do a natural tomato concasse, but Chef Ungas said better if I just used pureed canned tomatoes or tomato paste rolled over heat to remove the sourness. So I did that, and added mushrooms and bacon to the mix. The twins' job was to pick the leaves of whatever herb I needed, wash, and dry them. "This is fun!" Mateo said, finally speaking in English due to sheer excitement. And Marco: "Di ba Mommy pag kinain mo yung pli-nant mo, parang kang farmer?" He gets the whole slow-food concept, this boy.

To put the mint to use, I blended orange juice with Dona's Wild Organics honey (Mateo operated the blender), poured it in the popsicle mold I got from Choitrams in Dubai, and dropped in a couple of mint leaves. In the ideal picture I formed in my head (something I got from Mom), I imagined us sucking at them while watching Harry Potter on HBO after dinner. Instead, I succumbed to a catnap, Sim practiced her Speed Stacking, and the twins watched Chowder on Cartoon Network. The kids enjoyed them the following morning, but I was too lazy to take photos.

I had Marco pick lemon leaves–I didn't have to teach him which herbs were which, he knew, just by smell and shape of leaves, he even taught Ann how to tell them apart–for my own version of butter "cookies". I shook some flour in a bowl, cracked an egg, poured some milk in, added sugar, and had the kids mix the batter. We threw in the leaves while spreading it out on a sheet. Twenty minutes in the oven at 200 degrees (everything is guesswork with me and baking), and sliced (er, broken) while hot. After finishing off the pasta, Mateo ate almost all of them. Lalake talaga.

For most of my life, I've struggled with the guilt the nuns taught us in parochial school. It was only when I reached my late 20s that I figured my spiritual self out, and formed and grew comfortable with my own opinions about Christian–not necessarily Catholic–faith. For me, the saddest and yet most glorious day in the Lenten Season is Palm Sunday, because that's when Jesus absolutely knew that He was literally riding towards his death and victory. He got on that donkey (mule?) and accepted His destiny. You can't get any more astig than that. I can't get why people get all mopey during Good Friday. Jesus' death was just symbolic. He rose from the dead on the third day, Christian legend goes (there are other resurrection myths in other religions, but we can visit those another time), so if Catholics believe in that, why be sad? He lives. Always will.

And so: an easy, love-bank worthy Good Friday with the kids. Without the fear of the burning fires of hell.

Monday, March 02, 2009

angry johnny by poe

this song brings me back to 1997 or so, just before i gave birth to simone. it's angry and poignant and beautiful at the same time. i don't know exactly what to feel when i listen to it, even now. not because of the memories of sim's biological father, but because of how poe sings it. low, clean, husky voice, classy yet pained and shameful--of what? why?--all at once. i think that's why i like it, because it's so multi-textured, but very sexual--at the same time.

Angry Johnny

Johnny, Angry Johnny, this is Jezebel in Hell
I wanna kill you
I wanna blow you...
I can do it to you gently
I can do it with an animal's grace
I can do it with precision
I can do it with gourmet taste
But either way
Either way
I wanna kill you
I wanna blow you
I can do it to your mind
I can do it to your face
I can do it with integrity
I can do it with disgrace
But either way...
I can do it in a church
I can do it any time or place
I can do it like an angel
To quiet down your rage
But either way...
I can do it in the water
I can do it on dry land
I can do it with instruments
I can do it with my own bare hands
But either way
Either way, tou know where it stands
I wanna kill you
I wanna blow you
Where did your pleasure go
When the pain came through you
Where did your happiness go
This force is running you around now
Getting you down now
Where is your pleasure now Johnny
Where has your pleasure gone now

Sunday, March 01, 2009

sunday lunch with sim

The twins are staying with their tatay this weekend, which means Sim and I are all alone here (of course, Giz is here too, and the cats). I let An and Ric go as soon as I got back yesterday from Greenhills with Josh. So last night was Yellowcab night. Even Giz had a slice. But today...ah...I stuck to my plan to actually cook something instead of ordering in.
Rib-eye with paprika/salt/pepper/garlic rub, and pasta spirals tossed in olive oil, squash, garlic, and nori.

Yeah, ok, the plating looks really lame (Derek's way better in that department than I am), but pfffft. Who cares? It was perfect. Sim ate almost half of the steak and a bowlful of the pasta. She really enjoyed it :)
I originally wanted to have the usual potatoes-and-cruciferous vegetables siding, but I only had two-and-a-half potatoes in the fridge (sad) and no more cauliflower and broccoli (ginamit ni An sa chopsuey nung isang gabi). So I decided on a pasta dish. I wanted to use pine nuts or cashew nuts to go with the squash, but obviously, I don't have those on hand (and considering my recent sensitization to almost everything remotely allergy-causing, I wouldn't imbibe any sort of nut for the next year or so...teka, parang bastos ata pakinggan yon a). Next dilemma: the coloring. How blah naman with no green! A-ha moment: nori. Salty, crunchy, it would add flavor and texture. Ok na!
The steak took 7/5 minutes on each side. It was still moist and tender when Sim and I cut through it. And she usually sets the fat aside, but this time, she ate everything. "This is so good, Mommy," she said.
Forgive my gushing. It's been almost a year since I last cooked anything (when I was kitchen-testing the kids' baons at the start of the school year! June 2008!). It feels almost as good as when I write something worth seeing print.
Check out how beautiful that steak looks, and how wonderfully the fat sizzles out while it's being cooked. Me go vegetarian? Nevah again!

Monday, February 23, 2009

one sunday night

this is not healthy. at least, i don't think it is. but edgar allan poe and ernest hemmingway resorted to the same devices, so why can't i? (uh, because you're NOT them!).
consciously unstable again because of the last dredges of my pastis--which, i realized in horror, was not ricard, but a rip-off of ricard (but who cares)--and i sit here again, wanting, needing to talk to someone, but finding myself faced with facebook and twitter instead. pathetic.
marco and mateo got into an almost-fist fight earlier this evening, and i had to physically pry them apart and carry one off to safety (they were pulling at each other's shirts and threatening to get physical at the top of the stairs). mateo said marco wasn't giving him enough time on the computer. marco said mateo spit at the computer. i asked who was lying. each said each other's names. i asked if they were scared, and if that was the reason why they were telling on each other. each said no. standstill. dead end. standoff.
in the end, i managed to get marco downstairs to eat and bribed him with a book called "let nature do the growing." mateo, i had to cuddle and soothe like he was two years old and let him play the final 20 minutes of a ben 10 game.
"let nature do the growing" is a technical book. but you should have seen the glow on marco's face as he flipped through the pages.

he's a bit different, this boy.
after mateo had his dinner, i handed him a book on diving ("mommy, di ba ito yung corals sa isang book ko?"), rock climbing ("ayoko to"), and finally, cats ("di ba eto si Gus? si Max?").
then they both gravitated to "family gardens" and "gardening techniques," until they were both arguing again about fertilizers (organic and inorganic).
all this, while their ate Simone was upstairs, enamored with french-inspired graphic posters of revolution, and understanding the perfect blends of CMYK for different pantone palettes.
i wish derek was here to mentor her. she even has notes and everything, on percentages of CMYK. stuff i only learned in 2002.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

this is why i love my job

sometime in 2005, i wrote an editor's note that touched someone so vividly that she was moved to adopt a child, even if she was still single and about to be married. i remember reading her email that day, and shouting to marla to "come! read this!" only then did i fully realize the impact of what i was doing. i wasn't just editing a magazine. i was changing lives. i was influencing their decisions, and being a part of their life journey. a year later, when i joined another company, and was asked what i was most proud of as an editor, i singled this experience out. imagine--the power, the grace to have someone give a child such a chance, the encouragement mere words could give. this is what journalism is about: talking to people and making a difference. it doesn't have to be controversial or globe-shaking or libelous (as some journalists revel in). it just has to be sincere, meaningful, well-intended, pro-active. i'm going to follow up this woman's progress now; now that i've grown "wiser" and more well-grounded. i'd like to see how it all played out. the universe is funny. imagine, a mediocre mom like me, who's made so many mistakes in her life, inspiring one to give a child another, better chance at life, even at the expense of risking a job or a higher position. i am deeply humbled, and grateful. in this editorial, i said that being brave is about sticking to your convictions. the letter-sender was 25 at the time--i wish i were brave enough at that age to stick to mine. i know most of us do, too.

cerilyn pastolero <>

06/15/05 07:10 PM


thank you

Dear Ms. Gina:

Hi! I would just like to conggratulate you for such a touching and inspiring issue of Working Mom this month. I dont usually buy glossies thinking theyre just pictures and a waste of money. But your cover story on Claudine Barreto struck a chord. I too adopted a 6-year old girl, which a left a lot of people puzzled. I am 25 years old, single and having the time of my life in terms of my career and social life ( whatever I have left). I met her through my volunteer work with small orphanage in Manila. The first time I saw her she could hardly walk because she has Escobar's sydrome which means her joints and tendons are not growing at the rate theyre supposed to grow. Because of this she cannot stretch her limbs. After several months of volunteering there I had to quit because of work. A year later I came back with my boyfriend since we have been talking of how to spread the blessings we've received. I was amazed at my daughter's transformation. By that time she has already undergone her first operation and was already able to walk. Despite her disability though she was bubbly and intelligent and very independent. My boyfriend and I were so inspired that we decided to sponsor her and eventually adopt her once we get married. But this orphanage was closed down and our daughter was transferred to another orphanage. We followed her because we couldnt bear disapppointing her. This year was the turning point. I decided to bring her home with me because I couldnt stand the thought of her not having enough to eat or her being bullied by the other kids. I wasnt prepared. The original plan was to wait until such time my boyfriend and I get married before we adopt her. But I just could no longer face myself in the mirror. Everybody who knows me were shocked since Im know to be very career oriented. Its been difficult. Because ive never had any experience on parenting. I dont even know how to cook or to do the laundry decently.But am doing ok so far. and its also fun. shes given me an excuse to catch up on my childhood:). A few months ago I made the most difficult decision in my life I had to give up a job offer abroad that pays well and would make me one of the youngest in the agency holding a senior position. But pushing through with the job would also mean I would have to bring my daughter back to the orphanage because the adoption process has not been finalized yet. Its difficult. But as you said in your editorial, being brave is just about doing what youve got to do based on your convictions. Thank you again you dont know how this issue has made me more confident of my decision, since I know that the right decisions sometimes do sound illogical and impractical. But the right decisions is what makes you earn respect for yourself and from other people.

God Bless,


working mom ed's note, nov 05

i was looking for something in my old CDs when i came across this--an ed's note i had done for the november 05 issue of working mom, which had the theme "passion". i remember jose enrique soriano shot the cover (a problematic one, because it was uncharacteristically de focado [well maybe not, as i later learned], and pixelized to the core). that frederick peralta designed the gowns and knorr had bought the cover brought me much stress during those days. frederick screamed when he saw it; knorr didn't want to pay. but they did. i remember pacing the living room of my apartment, squirming with discomfort on how i would deal with soriano about the quality of his photo. in the end, i ran it. WTH. it was a good-selling issue, though. and this was my intro for it.

the true meaning of passion

I was chatting with an old friend last night on YM. He’s based in Israel for the moment for a leading semi-conductor company, then will fly home next year to rest, then fly out again when it’s time for him to update the bosses on what’s happening in this region. He’s with his family, gets to indulge in his hobby of guitar music and Apple gadgets, and has a clean credit history. “I gotta hand it to you, man,” I said. “I would never have the guts to do what you’re doing, being away from the Philippines and all.” His answer was a surprise. “I’d trade places with you anytime,” he typed. “You’re doing what you always wanted to do. I feel I’m still drifting.”
This defines what Cora Llamas, WM contributor, content editor, and Star Studio International editor in chief, recently asked us: “If you could choose between having a job that paid really well, as in MALAKI, versus staying at a job you loved, but didn’t pay really well, what would you have?”
The answers were unanimous: “That’s why I left ADB,” Marla replied.
Ditto with yours truly, who had a short stint writing and copy editing for a regional health publication and was earning what junior editors-in-chief earn—with none of the headaches of administrative, staffing, advertising, and circulation. I came in three days a week and had a cubicle twice as big as mine now, with floor to ceiling windows. But I left after barely three months, eager to get back to the gritty world of journalists who were art guerillas by night, and who accepted stories on a pittance because of the rush and fulfillment they gave.
This is what this issue is about: Passion. The passion that drives us to do what makes us happy; the passion to overlook all discomforts to pursue what we believe in. It’s also the kind of passion tempered by self-knowledge and self-inquiry—the passion of a woman with children—not the reckless ardor of someone alone and carefree.
Our two cover moms, Jean Garcia and Eula Valdez, epitomize this passion as today’s icons of working momhood. “Plastik!” Jean declares to people driven in their jobs “for the children’s sakes.” “Common, that’s for yourself! Because if you’re not happy, if you’re not OK, how can you be OK for you kids?” she challenges. That’s passion without guilt.
Eula, meanwhile, settled in her new marriage and on top of her TV career, still wants to conquer the world of films. Quality films. That’s passion subdued with discernment.
Bing Balayon, our Good Life mom who shares with us her story on page XX, is a reading clinician and single mom who built her impressive career around her son Czar. From grade school to college, she went where Czar went, but never let go of her advocacy to spread the love of reading. Now, she and Czar run a reading clinic and library called Bookgrove. That’s passion with focus.
In a time and world when people think the only passion is of the kind that’s ruled by hormones, it’s good to know that we’re part of a community that sees and funnels passion the way it should be used: upward and outward. It may start as a basic instinct, from a flicker at the base of our spine, but—and this is just how the ancients say the kundalini flame travel—it should flow up, heavenwards, shooting above our crowns to meet halfway with the divine.
Now that’s passion. That’s hot.