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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm Getting A New Gown :)

6 months after giving birth to my daughter, I'm VERY satisfied with my weight, but not with my shape. I still look pregnant for goodness' sake! I know it's time to get on that elliptical or do crunches or whatever that could give me back a waistline that doesn't look like "mommy"! I'm not really complaining but the goodies we got this Christmas are certainly no help. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's dinner at Grandma's where I'll eat a lot again, for sure.

That's why, for my brother-in-law's wedding, I can't get an off the rack gown. I am going to have one made, one that will camouflage my tummy while having openings so that I can nurse my baby. I am so excited! Hopefully, it would fit my budget.

No pictures yet, though. I'd rather keep it a surprise for now. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas In My Heart

A belated Christmas greeting to everyone!

The Christmas season is actually a hectic one, what with the gift preps, the parties and whatnot, and of course, most importantly, the time we (want to) spend with our family. I want to make memories with my kids, even if it's just something as simple as looking at the moving display at Greenhills Shopping Center, or Noche Buena (Christmas dinner) at their lola's (grandma's) house, or simply going around the village gazing at Christmas lights. So do pardon me for not being very good with updating this blog. :)

My family is more into New Year's celebrations rather than Christmas celebrations, which is great for me because my in-law's are the opposite. It gives our family the chance to celebrate with both sides of the family for this season.

So far, the season is usually spent in Manila. The only times I've spent Christmas outside the Metro are the single Christmas I spent in Hong Kong with my Dad, Mom and brothers. It was so cold that thermal underwear, thick jackets, heaters and electric blankets even if it were not snowing (It doesn't snow in Hong Kong). We also experienced a real burning fireplace in Baguio on a New Year's Day evening (not New Year's Eve) in the Hyatt Terraces (which is now simply a memory after the great earthquake).

New Year's Eve is always spent with my grandparents. We used to have firecrackers when we were younger. But now that we're older (and presumably, wiser), we choose not to spend money and risk our life and limbs with explosives.

Of course, there are years that are better than others. But the season is generally about family. Wherever we are, as long as we are with family, the season will always be special.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tsinoy Wedding Invites

If you've gotten wedding invitations from Tsinoys/Tsinays like me, chances are, you'd notice that aside from the main invite and the entourage list, you'd also find another card or another page that's written in Chinese. This is actually the main invite in Chinese form. Some Tsinoys opt not to include this part, because of budget constraints or maybe because they think it's repetitive and no longer relevant, since most people just look at the English language main invite.

I have opted to still include this because this makes gives character to the invite. My then-fiancee agreed because...well, maybe he didn't really have any choice? LOL. Ours was the usual beige invite but with that extra sheet. I felt that not only does that extra page add a touch of culture to our invites, but it served the purpose of informing the older Chinese among our guests about our wedding. Believe it or not, some of them are still not as good in English as they are in Chinese.

Other Tsinoy couples go even further with tradition, opting for the red invitations with gold press lettering, which is the traditional look for wedding invitations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mom Gifts?

There's a joke (that's half meant, I believe) that men give their wives or mothers gifts that, while the women in their lives appreciate, are ultimately for the benefit of the whole family. You see, men give their mothers things like a microwave oven or a blender or a toaster or a washing machine. While these gifts may make the life of a busy homemaker much easier, still it feels like a gift that would benefit the whole family and not just the recipient herself! You see, the washing machine is to make washing clothes easier, but whose clothes? The family! It's not like the techie stuff that men often get that are all about them only, for their pleasure and not for anybody else.

What people don't seem to remember is that it's actually easier to buy gifts for her. Well, for me, actually! I find it more difficult to shop for gifts for men. I mean, there are so many things women would appreciate, and a lot at prices that are quite inexpensive. Bags, perfumes, clothes, makeup, jewelry -- the possibilities are endless and are limited only by your imagination and your budget! Of course, a microwave oven is still appreciated, but if it's given by the husband or son, it just feels like mommy's being given something that is actually for the whole family! Do give her something that she can appreciate!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No House Yet For Us

The Ondoy flood actually shattered another dream -- our own house in the very near future.

You see, my mother-in-law has a house and a lot, both located in Marikina. Her house is the one where she currently lives. She has another lot elsewhere, and a townhouse in QC where my brother-in-law and his family now resides. In short, there's a piece of land for each of her 4 children, whether or not there is a house.

My husband always had the idea at the back of his mind that we will eventually get our own place, either by building our own house, even one of those fast, prefabricated and inexpensive manufactured homes on my mother-in-law's lot, or the house that my mother-in-law now lives in. Or maybe the other lot. Whatever my mother-in-law decides to give our husband. The point is, we'll eventually have a place of our own.

However, with the deluge of floodwaters that came with Ondoy, my husband began to think twice, thrice and more times about settling in Marikina. It was just too dangerous and risky. The flood may or may not happen again to that extent, but he did not want to risk it. As it is, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were both lucky to have survived, although they spend a whole night on the roof with no rescue in sight.

We really, really want our own place for our little family. But at the moment, that is simply just a dream.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Hi-Tech" Games

Technology has come a long, long way in my lifetime. Let's take games. I remember that my uncle used to have the Atari, which was considered a state of the art game back in the seventies. We didn't have any of those since it was apparently expensive and difficult to acquire, so we were very happy when my uncle got tired of it and decided to give it to us. If you look at it now, it's so simple. The Tennis game does not look like a tennis game at all. A small square is the "ball" and rectangles are the "rackets". I guess kids nowadays would laugh at it!

Later, my father would buy us "game and watch" by nintendo. It was the in game in the late seventies to early eighties. It was his usual pasalubong (gift) whenever he went to Hong Kong. It was much better than the Atari. It's still a far cry from today's Wii and wii accessories, but during those days, they were considered hi tech!

Lest we forget, there were the arcade games like Pacman and Mario Brothers, available in game arcades in places like Virra Mall. They are also available for computers -- in those days computer monitors were all in green. Then there's the Nintendo Family Computer, then the Game Boy, then Sony Playstation, PSP, then the XBox, then the Nintendo Wii.

Electronic games have come a long, long way, indeed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Art of Regifting

When I was younger, I was more idealistic and would never think of recycling gifts. But that was then. Now, I'm a bit more practical and do recycle gifts, especially if it's something I don't need or want and just takes up space in the closet. Or sometimes there's a duplication of gifts. For example, we just need one water softener, a second one would just take up space and be virtually useless. Or a blouse might be in the wrong size (especially when it was bought in a bazaar where it's difficult to exchange) and would fit somebody else better. You know, things like that.

I believe, though, that there must be some finesse in doing gift recycling, or regifting. These are my tips:

  1. Always remember who gave the gift. You may stick on the tag for easy reference later. It's embarrassing if you end up giving the gift back to the person who gave it.
  2. If it's a food gift, check the expiration date and give it out as soon as possible. Do not give out expired food!
  3. Check the packaging. Make sure the gift still looks presentable. Change the box if it has yellowed (shudder) or do not give it out at all. Change the gift wrap!
  4. Do not give monogrammed items, items with a personal messages inside, promotional gift items!
  5. Be sure that the gift will be appreciated by the person you plan to give it to, even if it were a recycled gift. Give some thought to who to give it to.
  6. Do not give used gifts! Partially used up perfumes, lotions and the like are not in good taste at all.
  7. Be quiet about the gift being a regifted one.
  8. If you are the recipient of what you suspect is a recycled gift, smile and graciously accept it! It's still a gift. The giver might have thought that you may have more use for it!
Do YOU practice regifting? Any more tips that you care to share?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Honeymoon Trip

Hong Kong is truly a great place for the DIY tourist. Meaning, you can just map out your own itinerary and not join any tours at all! They simply make it so convenient for tourists to get around. :)

When you touch down at the airport and after you get through immigration and customs, you can actually find a lot of maps and guidebooks, all for free.

We didn't really have any specific plan when we got there. We just said that we'll visit Ocean Park (definitely at the top of our list, especially since there was no Disneyland yet at that time) and whatever we'll see on the maps.

Those free maps and guides were very good! There are suggestions for the places that one might want to visit. They actually gave detailed instructions on how to go there. And, for a free map and guide, the details are just right for a tourist. I mean, touristy spots like Ocean Park and Victoria Peak, among others are there, even places we don't usually go to like Repulse Bay, the Botanical Gardens etc, the hotels, the convention centers and the shopping districts. Although I wasn't looking for it, I wouldn't be surprised if they actually put down the non-tourist spots like drug rehab centers.

We ended up buying an MTR ride-all-you-can-for-3-days card and went around Hong Kong with it. We spent the afternoon of Sunday in Victoria Peak, the whole of Monday in Ocean Park, and squeezed in a temple (Wong Tai Sin, I believe), the Star Ferry and the Walk of the Stars on Tuesday morning.

Yes, it was just a 3 day 2 night trip. So short, but so memorable. I wish, though that we weren't so rushed and we could have enjoyed at least a week with just each other before having to come back. Sigh...

The Beginning Of Our Honeymoon Journey

I can't believe how time flies! It's been 5 years (and a few days) since my husband and I said our "I do"'s. That day was a really emotional one. I never thought that I would cry at my own wedding (too emotional I guess). But I was definitely, definitely happy, deliriously so, on that very special day.

We didn't go on our honeymoon trip until a week after. What happened? First, we didn't get ANY hotel bookings in Bohol, our first choice for our honeymoon. Well, there were some rooms available, but the ones available are way out of our budget. We adopted a "bahala na" (come what may) attitude and just concentrated on the wedding preps. We decided that maybe we can work on it after the wedding itself. 1 day after the wedding, still no accommodations. 2 days after the wedding, still no accommodations.

My mom was already saying, "Why didn't you just book a trip abroad? Like Hong Kong?" We realized that, hey, that IS an option. Problem is, my husband didn't have a passport yet at that time. We had to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs to have his passport rushed before even buying the airline tickets.

Our wedding was on a Saturday. Monday, the first working day after the wedding was the mandatory "going back to the bride's house day". My mom didn't allow us to go out that day. It was only on Tuesday that we were finally able to try to work for the passport. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we were only able to go out in the late afternoon.

On UN Avenue, our car suddenly stalled. As in slowed down and didn't move at all. Needless to say, we weren't able to make it to DFA that day. We called Wheeler's Club for towing. They are a big towing company and since my husband was a member, towing was free, but we had to wait for several hours. The truck they sent was big. They didn't actually tow the car but "carried" it -- which was way better, in my opinion. (I wonder if they have larger tow trucks for big vehicles, like truck and motorhome towing?) We went all the way back home to Marikina. It turned out that the clutch cable of my husband's car broke. It was quite an easy fix. The next day, we were able to go back to DFA to have hubby's passport processed. It was a good thing that rush processing only took 3 days. (You don't get that nowadays.) That was a Wednesday and hubby was told to come back Friday, 2:30pm to 5 pm. He was also warned that he has to be around when his name was called or he won't get his passport.

We went back Friday, 2pm (we were so afraid we'd miss the call). He got his passport past 5pm. The DFA had an inefficient way of distributing passports. They simply got a stack of passports and called out the names of the owners. My husband, unfortunately, was called at around 5pm already. Which meant that we won't be able to go to the travel agency to buy our tickets.

We were able to buy our tickets the next day, Saturday morning. Tickets were for Sunday morning, first flight. Unfortunately, we were not able to book a hotel but the travel agent gave us a couple of calling cards for pension houses for Hong Kong. That night, I called long distance and was able to book a room for us.

So the next day, Sunday, we were off to the first trip we had as a couple!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Work Education

People of my grandpa's generation (and to a certain extent, my dad's generation) believed that all the children should get involved in the family's business, especially since they are expected to take over the reins of it one day. My dad recalled that at 16, below the legal driving age, he was tasked to drive the truck. I'm not talking about the beautiful SUVs you see nowadays with all those glistening truck accessories which are now considered "luxury vehicles". I'm talking about actual delivery trucks loaded with wares. My dad said that he had to make himself look more mature so that he won't be harrassed by the authorities by being an underaged driver.

My dad didn't really imposed that on us. He did "hire" us on different occasions. I remember one summer when I acted as his secretary. He gave me a small salary. It was so satisfying to get rewarded for doing actual work, even if the boss was my father. Later on, when my brothers finished college and had a little bit of work experience, he employed them. Since I went to a different field -- Medicine -- he didn't really have me join the company, but he did ask me to be a company physician, while I was still in residency training. I received a retainer's fee for that, in lieu of my allowance. I had to show up once a week to check on the employees.

I do not know if my kids are going to be in the same field as we are. One things for sure, I have to make my kids appreciate the value of work, the value of money, the fact that you eventually have to work for your needs and wants and that you can't always have everything that you want.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Look Pregnant!

I'm so not loving my shape right now. People keep asking me if I was expecting, when in fact I already gave birth more than 4 months ago!

The good news is that my weight is back to what it was before I got pregnant. However, I have to yet to learn how to lose belly fat because that has always been my problem, even before I got pregnant. Now, of course, after 2 babies, it has just gotten worse.

Maybe I should just start doing those crunches...Suggestions, anyone?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Incense

What we usually light to honor our dearly departed. It's a big part of our Chinese culture to give respect to our elders, even if they have already left this life.

My mother, brother and sister-in-law went to the cemetery last November 1 to pay respect to our dearly departed -- Grandpa (paternal), Dad and Grandma (maternal). Since my baby is still small, my mother decided that I we should just stay home. They brought food, flowers and candles as offerings aside from lighting the incense sticks.

My husband and I, together with my brothers and my sister-in-law went to the temple on November 2 to light incense sticks and offer fruits to ALL our dearly departed (the ones mentioned above as well as my uncle and his children who passed away in Phuket during the great tsunami of December 2004).

It's kinda sad remembering them, especially my cousins who were so young at the time of their deaths (13 and 10) but the thought that they are in a better place somehow comforts me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Run, E, Run!

Yesterday, we brought our kids to the mall. I am thanking the lucky stars that I have a yaya to run after Kuya E. That boy sure can run! No wonder yaya doesn't get fat at all!

I'm thinking that I should have an exercise regimen when my baby turns six months. While I've lost enough weight already (I'm already at my prepregnancy weight!), I'm not very happy with my post partum shape. I'm thinking that running after my hyperactive son will be better than the best weight loss pills!!! Add some crunches to make my abs look better!

I know I can do it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembering

Last November 2, we went to the temple to burn incense for our dearly departed. What made me especially sad were the pictures of my young cousins who died in the great Tsunami that struck Phuket, Thailand on December 26, 2004. They were enjoying the Christmas break together with the whole family. The initial plan was to visit Bangkok, but somehow they decided to make a side trip to the famed beaches of Phuket.

The day the tsunami struck, the day started out bright and sunny. There was no hint of any pending disaster, no hint that a family vacation would turn into a travel emergency, and later a tragedy.

When we first heard about the tsunami, I didn't even know that my uncle, aunt, cousins and some of their relatives were in Thailand. A cousin called up frantic with worry because she knew that my uncle had plans of bringing the family to Bangkok. We were hoping that they WERE in Bangkok. Nobody knew that they actually made a side trip. I became frantic when I couldn't contact any of them on their cell phones, but tried assuring myself that maybe because of the disaster, there was a problem with the connection.

We were hoping against hope, but the reality of the horror struck us the next day when my cousins' aunt, their mom's sister called up to inform us about the tragedy...

It's been almost 5 years. And I'm still mourning for them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thinking of Angkong

Migration -- new place, new people, new environment, new job. I wonder what my grandparents felt when they decided to finally bring my dad here to the Philippines. My grandfather was already working in the Philippines for several years by then. He started as a teenager, sent alone to the Philippines to literally look for money to send back to his family. He spoke neither English nor Tagalog. No promise of work (no Executive Job Search for him, he did not have the required education), but work could be had if you were willing to try anything. He went back to China to get married, but basically stayed in the Philippines, trying all sorts of work until he found the business of trading. He tried out different types of products before he really became successful. He persevered until his business grew and he was able to have his family brought to the Philippines. THEN he became an executive--of his own company. He had his family brought over, bought lots, built his house, his office/factory, and became VERY active in the Tsinoy community.

I wonder if I could be as brave as he was. I would probably be like most people -- try to secure a job first before setting out. I guess it's easier now to look for work even before you go to another place. But then, you still need a lot of courage in order to face everything that's new.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Inheritance

I always thought that inheritance is such a straightforward issue. Just name your heirs, how you want your assets to be distributed, and when you die, your heirs get your assets.

In traditional Chinese families, even without a will, it's understood that such assets generally go to males only, and usually the eldest male. Well, at least that's how I understand it. The eldest son not only inherits the estate, he also inherits the responsibilities of being the head of the family.

In modern culture, however, sons and daughters, at least legitimate ones, are treated the same, with equal shares in the estate. The surviving spouse gets half of the whole estate (assuming properties are conjugal since he/she legally owns half of it even if his/her spouse was still alive) AND an equal part of the estate with the legitimate heirs. This is what is being followed, unless you made a WILL prior to your demise. Without a will, Chinese traditions won't be followed and the modern, legal way will be the one followed.

One more thing, before I wasn't aware that there is a large tax associated with inheritance. That's the reason why families who are land rich but cash poor go into debt after inheriting a large piece of valuable land, because the valuation of the land is so high that they do not have the cash to cover it.

While I would love to have real estate assets, I now know enough that I should have some sort of estate planning with life insurance, so my kids won't incur a lot of taxes and face a lot of problems with the government if in case they inherit my properties.

Of course that is still a long way off since I do not have the properties yet for my kids to inherit (LOL).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dental Work Ongoing

There was an old saying: "For every child a tooth" which probably means that a pregnant woman would most likely lose a tooth due to decay. Supposedly that means that the tooth becomes weaker because the body leaches calcium because of increased needs. (That's why we're supposed to drink milk when we're pregnant -- because we need the additional calcium. I have found a better alternative though...but I'm still doing further research.) I refused to believe it. However, imagine my surprise when the day before I was due to give birth via Cesarean section, I felt a cavity in one of my molars. The day before my CS! What was I supposed to do about it? At that moment, nothing. I had other, more pressing matters -- namely, my baby -- so my tooth was not my immediate concern.

Fast forward to almost 4 months later, my tooth was constantly having some sort of dull ache. Bearable, yes, but I know it should not be there. I finally went to my dentist who noticed that my impacted side lying wisdom tooth had eroded into the neighboring molar. I needed to have both surgery to remove the impacted wisdom tooth and a root canal for the decayed molar. Quite a lot of dental work that will take definitely take more than 1 session and would need the expertise akin to those of Plano dentists. She brought in a dentist who specializes in dental surgery and we had the surgery done. For the first day, I had ice cream for lunch and cooled lugao for dinner. The next few days, I had regular meals but the side of my face swelled. Yesterday, my dentist finally removed the stitches.

I'll be going back to the dentist for root canal next week. I am endeavoring to preserve my teeth for as long as possible, because I do not want to have to use dentures. I hope most of my teeth will still survive for the rest of my life.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Depends On Who's The Boss

My family's business was ever changing, depending on the interest of whoever was handling the business at the time. With my father at the helm, they ventured into steel and into agricultural products like peanuts and watermelon seeds at different times in our business history. When my mom handled the business, however, focus was more on small electronics, T shirt printing and a bakeshop. With my brothers, they tried bath products and virgin coconut oil Pretty diverse huh? Looking back, I'm not really that surprised. Our business never really had the focus of many big businesses, so if you asked me what business my family was/is in, I cannot really give you a straight answer. Suffice it to say that our business is in trading -- in whatever sells at the moment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't Sell What You Win

I don't know if it's a Chinese or a Pinoy pamahiin (traditional belief), but there was a belief that anything you won, you should not sell. It's okay, I guess, because you MIGHT need what you won. But what if you win more than enough of the same item?

Over the past decade, we've been exceptionally lucky as far as televisions were concerned. I mean, our family would go to raffles and if there's a TV set as one of the prizes, we'd surely get it. As a result, we have more than enough TVs at home. Which is ridiculous because we don't get to use them all. We used to kid around that we should probably not join raffles with TVs as prizes, since we don't get the other prizes anyway.

But that was years ago already. Our luck with TVs seem to have run out. We are stuck with analog model TVs which are supposed to be going to be passe in the next few years. Why, oh why does our "TV luck" run out now that we're in the age of large, flat, thin screen, high definition TVs with plasma mounts? LOL. NOW we'd love to have one of those!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Money Woes

We really, really need to build up an emergency fund AND another income generating activity. This year has been quite a year of expenses, both expected and unexpected. All things being considered, I wonder how my husband and I were able to live within our earnings, which are much reduced nowadays, mainly because I haven't gone fully back into my work schedule since I gave birth. Of course, I still do some blogging and some other online work like my online store, but that has never been my main source of income but my sideline, a little something to augment what we earn from my profession. Since the recession (especially in the US) occurred, income seemed to be reduced from before. Sigh...

Added to that, we have a lot of expenses, even more than last year. Kuya E's tuition fees have increased since last year. I gave birth. Baby R had to stay in the hospital for a few days more (which translated to a much higher bill than we expected).

Then Typhoon Ondoy came and destroyed a lot of the stuff we parked at my mother-in-law's house. We WERE very glad that nobody was ultimately hurt in the flood, but of course, having possessions water damaged was no joke either. Good thing nothing was lost in the break in at my mom's house (blogged about this earlier), nothing, that is, except our dog. Sigh...

That was on top of the usual expenses like phone bills, clinic rentals, payments for life insurance policy, groceries. Sigh...

To be honest, I have actually loaned some money from my mom to pay off Baby R's hospital bill. Actually, mom also had an accident at the start of this year. It's a good thing that she has money of her own, which she used to pay for her hospitalization. Sigh...

Well, they do say that we won't be given problems which we cannot ultimately handle. And we will. We just have to believe in that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Home Insurance

The recent events -- Typhoon Ondoy destroying stuff at my mom-in-law's house and the break in at my mom's house -- have underlined the fact that our homes are not really that safe and secure. I think we should all consider getting home insurance so that we are covered against burglaries, fire, etc. that may happen to our home. I wonder if the moms will consider that, after all that has happened.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My (Microscopic?) Business

To a rather small extent, I'm trying to earn some extra by engaging in a small online business. While this is not the same type of business that my parents and grandparents engaged in (and the income of course is not as much as what full time businesspeople get), it does add a little extra something. It's difficult to have a full time business when you're also practicing a profession AND being mom. So the internet is a godsend in providing us with the means to sell stuff.

The advantages of online selling: It's practically 24/7, you can do business from home, so no need to invest in renting an office space. And since you "display" your products via pictures which you post online, there are no additional expenses like cardboard displays, although these certainly come in handy during bazaar season (which I haven't tried but might look into later).

The disadvantage of being a part timer is that you sometimes neglect some tasks, either for your business or some other aspect of your life. Also, people think that just because you're home, it means you're doing nothing, which is certainly not the case for most online sellers. Oh well, there will always be the good and the bad, and we just have to adjust. For now, the good really outweighs the bad. Although, as with any profession or work, this is not for everyone!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Break In!

While we were out for my cousin's birthday dinner last Saturday night, something was happening at home.

When we got home, we got up immediately to our rooms since it was getting late and we all wanted to rest. Nobody bothered to go to the living room. The helpers noted that one of our dogs, Beauty, was acting strange. She seemed very weak and her tummy was getting bigger. It seemed that she was sick. She's quite old already (11 years old) so we were thinking that maybe she just had some health problem that we didn't know about and it was catching up with her. Anyhow, my mom insisted that my brothers bring her to a 24 hour vet. The vet can't do anything and she died on their way back.

Before my brother went to sleep, he did a routine check of all the doors in the house. It was then that he noticed that one sliding door was open. Another door was broken and glass was all over the floor. It was a good thing that we didn't really have anything that the thief/thieves would find valuable and easy to sell in the sala -- no cash lying around, no jewelry, no wall candle sconces that could easily be removed and sold. The thief wasn't able to go to the other rooms because everything else was locked. He was wounded, though, probably from breaking the glass, as there was evidence of blood near the doorknobs which he tried to open.

The security guards of the village were alerted. Later, the police came to investigate, and then the SOCO came to get fingerprints and handprints (got ours too, for comparison).

I do not know if the culprit/s will ever get apprehended. We didn't lose anything actually...at least nothing material. Our hearts bleed for Beauty, our dog who died in all this drama. The greatest thing that the thief did was to make us feel insecure in our own home, in our own haven. The thought that s thief was actually able to go inside our house made us feel so violated. Next thing we ought to do is beef up security in our home.

Blsted thief!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gold Coins From Dad

My dad used to go frequently to Hong Kong for business. In fact, he had an office there and a small studio flat (where we also stay when we go for vacations).

When we were younger, he often bought toys for us. That was when there was a dearth of good quality toys, maybe because of Martial Law. If you wanted, for example, a nice walking doll, it would be difficult to find it here, not to mention expensive. It was much cheaper there in Hong Kong. That's why most of our toys then were from Hong Kong. We usually get extra special toys for our birthdays.

Later, when we outgrew toys, dad thought of other stuff. On different occasions, he got an electric guitar for my brother, a pair of binoculars, a shoulder bag for me, stuffed toys etc. Then one time he decided that it would be a good idea to give us gold coins. It was something that we could keep as investments and sell when we need it later on, with the value most likely appreciating over time. At that time, that was quite a new idea and there were not many coin dealers so he bought it from banks. I think he hit upon a very good idea. Most of our toys are already gone, but we still have our gold coins. We could sell those if we need to. Good, "portable" investment and easy to transfer and to give. Great idea, Dad!

I think I'd like to continue the tradition he started, giving my kids gold coins for their birthdays when they are old enough. Of course, I would buy from reputable dealers. I've heard that Monaco Gold Coin is a good one, deals with both buying and selling AND is available online.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival 2009

This year's Mid-Autumn Festival (aka the Mooncake Festival) is supposed to be the first for Baby R. It was, however, relatively a sad one.

Firstly, because my grandmother is not around. We are used to having the dice game in her house, with all my paternal uncles and aunts and cousins. We usually have dinner first, then the game later. Aside from the usual prizes of varying sized "mooncakes" (or hopia, if on a budget), there are some money to be had when you win prizes. That certainly ups the excitement level. Sadly, none of that yet. Maybe when grandma comes come.

Secondly, it was the week after Ondoy (Ketsana) wreaked havoc over Metro Manila and caused flooding in 80 percent of the city. One of the hardest hit cities is Marikina, where my in-laws are. My husband has been going there almost everyday since the floodwaters receded, and as expected, he was sad and depressed about the state of his home. Fortunately, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were able to survive the flood by going to the roof. Still, it is very sad to see the home you built and the things you've accumulated through the years destroyed by a few hours of heavy downpour.

Thirdly, my children were sick. E had a four day fever prior to "the day" and still has the sniffles. My 3 month old R is starting to have a low grade fever and I was getting a bit worried about her.

Nevertheless, my mother wanted a small celebration, even if it's just the few of us (my mom, my 2 brothers and my sister-in-law, me and my husband and 2 kids) rather than the whole clan. She also decided to let the hired help join in this year's game. For some reason, though, we couldn't find any "play sets" (sets of different sized mooncakes for the different prizes plus a set of six dice). This didn't deter her, she simply asked my SIL to buy grocery items in lieu of the mooncakes (this might be a good thing though, as some of us get too much sugar as it is...this way there's less need of diet pills).

However, when we were about to start the game, we noticed that R was a bit hotter than usual. A temperature check showed that she was 38.8 degrees Celsius. I gave her Paracetamol and stayed with her. We didn't go downstairs anymore. The boys (my husband and son) subbed for us in the dice game.

It was a pretty fast game! It lasted less than 40 minutes, I guess. Before I knew it, my husband was lugging our grocery prizes. It seemed that Baby R actually won the first prize not just once but twice! But she was overshadowed by 2 of our hired help, and finally won by her nanny. :)

I'm hoping that we'll have another one with the clan, but I really do not know if we'll get one this year. Well, I hope next year's celebration will be much better than this year's.

Friday, October 9, 2009

On SSS

Pride may be a good thing but sometimes I think that we have too much of it. Sometimes we do need to get what we deserve, since we paid for it in the first place. For example, my grandfather was a regular SSS contibutor when he was still actively working. He never claimed any sickness benefits, never used any disability appeal as far as I know. He was entitled to a pension from SSS when he reached mandatory retirement age, but he never got any. He didn't want to because he felt that he didn't need it anyway. Or maybe he didn't know that he could get regular pension. The thing was, he was entitled to it!

From the mandatory age of 65 up to his death at the age of 87, that's 22 years worth of retirement pension. I was told that my grandmother could actually claim all the accumulated benefits, plus interest. She can even claim burial benefits, I believe. I have to remind my uncle to process these things for her, as I don't think that she can do it for herself.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Grandparents' Cars

I remember that my grandparents had quite an odd assortment of vehicles throughout the years. They had a 60's model car when I was small. I don't know the make but I remember details like the gear shift being just behind the steering wheel, and the front seat being one whole seat, like a sofa which could seat three.

Later on, they had a utility vehicle. The make escapes me at the moment but if I recall it right, it's a locally assembled vehicle. If I remember correctly, it didn't have any aircon.

Then came the Lancer. My grandfather actually won it in some raffle. I don't know if he would have gone out and bought a new vehicle if he hadn't won in that raffle.

When Toyota came back to the Philippines, my grandparents bought a Toyota Corolla, the XL type (entry level).

I guess my grandparents are okay with any vehicle, as long as it works and takes them where they want to go. Pretty simple tastes. No fancy lambo doors or any modifications whatsoever that would cost additional.

I guess I am too. I would go for a vehicle that would serve my needs and would not cost too much and call too much attention. No fancy vehicles for me. Just a plain, reliable car would do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Entertainment Jobs

While Chinese immigrants to the Philippines are mostly traders, Filipinos who seek work abroad are mostly professionals, either in the construction or health care field. There are also a large number of domestic helpers and entertainers. In fact, Filipino entertainers are very much appreciated in other countries since Pinoys, for the most part, are good singers and dancers, and enjoy doing those.

Here's a good Entertainment workers Job Search, mostly for USA and Canada jobs, for those who feel that they have a future in this industry.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Environmental Destruction = Disaster?

I would not be surprised to learn if the current mess that we're in after Typhoon Ondoy is partially due to irresponsible and selfish people wreaking havoc on the environment via their actions. I wonder if the deforestation and tree denudation somehow contributes to the flash flooding. Not to mention the presence of garbage which clogs the drainage. We are ultimately reaping the results of the destruction of the environment.

The sad thing is that people die because of something that while difficult to implement, is not impossible. Make people realize the consequence of their actions before disaster strikes. I know there are such things like Mesothelioma lawyers for people who want to claim vs. companies of asbestos products which cause their cancers. Maybe cases can be brought against individuals and companies who are proven to be consistently destroying the environment, all in the name of self gain.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Worst Flood I've Encountered In My Life

My brother is using my grandparents' old house as an office. It's beside the building which we used as our abode for the first 24 years of my life.

My grandparents' house and its adjoining building has gone through numerous floods through the years, since its location is very flood prone. That's why one of my grandparents' (and later, my parents') criteria for choosing a new house is that it should not be flood prone. They got tired of having to moving stuff upstairs every rainy season so that the floods would not reach their belongings.

But in all the 24 years that we have lived there, we have never encountered flooding to this extent. My grandparents' house usually gets flooded before the streets, but I have never heard that the floodwaters reach the second floor before. This time, they did, up to the second floor where the bedrooms and the walk in bath are. Our former home, which is even higher than my grandparents' house, also had floodwaters reach the second floor. It never did, when we lived there. We never had to move stuff to the third floor before. We only had to move the cars to higher ground. Thank goodness there was still a third floor where our relatives can go up to.

As for my in-laws, waters reached the second level of their split level house. They have never encountered this situation wherein they had to actually go up to the roof. My mother-in-law and my sister-in-law spent the whole of Saturday night and Sunday morning on the roof. No rescue in sight. Thankfully, the floodwaters no longer reached them at this point. My husband and brothers-in-law were able to go there on Sunday afternoon. They returned today for cleanup. There are a lot of things lost. But at least they are finally safe. That is the most important thing for us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Going Off! Yey!

The battery on our bathroom scale went dead so I was not able to check my weight in a long time. I don't know if any additional pregnancy weight was shed during this time. No, I didn't take any diet pill as I am optimistic that I would naturally lose the weight through time, especially as I was breastfeeding. It happened with my firstborn and I'm sure it's gonna happen now (keeping fingers crossed!).

Yesterday, I finally had the chance to weigh myself. Lo and behold! I am only 2 pounds away from my prepregnancy weight! No diet (in fact I believe I ate more, coz I was constantly hungry) and no exercise (I should find time for this to shape my body, though) yet, would you believe?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kidnap

A few years back, a Tsinay was abducted by amateur kidnappers who eventually killed her "accidentally". It turned out that the kidnappers were under her family's employ. They noted her daily routines and planned their strike accordingly. While some may argue that these kidnappers resorted to these because of extreme poverty, the reality is that poverty is not an excuse for committing ANY heinous crime like robbery and kidnapping, especially if lives would be at stake. It's also a cautionary tale that you can never really completely trust anybody. An employee background check and character references may help, but they may not be foolproof either. Many of these criminals target Tsinoy families because they believe that if you're Tsinoy, you must be rich. Which may not be true at all, but it's a firmly entrenched belief.

Now that election year is almost upon us, expect a surge in crime rate. As to why...well, your guess is probably as good as mine.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cold Water = Bad?

My grandma and mother have this belief that it's bad to drink cold water. I think Chinese herbalists think that the cold is the cause of many diseases, including coughs, colic, phlegm etc. For my mom, cold drinks do trigger her allergic cough, so she is firmly convinced that there is evidence to it even though we do not react to cold water the way she does. That is why we do not have cold water in the refrigerator (I would have loved to have a Whirlpool ref with a 4396508 filter if finances permit) and our water dispenser which could supposedly serve hot and cold water is never plugged. It is simply a dispenser.

However, it's so much nicer to have cold drinks in a hot country like ours. So most of the time, I still try to drink some, especially when I feel especially warm. Ang init kasi eh! (It's just so unbearably hot!) Thankfully, I haven't gotten sick or anything, so they can't really fault me for not following, and honestly, I don't quite believe in that myself. ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Post Pregnancy

The weighing scale at home broke down a few weeks ago so I was not able to monitor my weight loss at all. Last time I checked, I was only 6 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, without having to take any weight loss supplement. My tummy still remains bulgy however, and I am still wearing girdles to give it a more pleasant look. I wonder if I have lost any additional weight since then. It took me 3 months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight with my older kid. My daughter is now almost 3 months old. I certainly hope so. I'd like to gradually fit back into my regular clothes.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Me In Business

I don't know if this is what you call going back to one's roots. Most of my family are entrepreneurs. I guess that's what Chinese people here in the Philippines are known for -- being business minded. It is only in the recent years and with the younger generation that you see more and more Chinese in the other fields and professions. Like me, for example, I went into medicine. But both my brothers are involved in business.

However, I realize that my profession demands a lot of my time and effort in order for me to earn as much as I'd like. Since there is only a finite number of hours in a day, there is a limit to how much I can earn. More so because some patients are TY patients or charity cases, and of course, you cannot really predict how many patients you can and will see on a certain day.

So to supplement my income, I do online work. I blog and I run a small online store, http://www.ethansstore.com . I realize that this means that I am actually eating the words I've said to my grandfather that I am NOT going into business, but really, this is the more practical thing to do. At least an online business is more flexible than a brick and mortar one. I do need to submit my sites (e-store and blogs) to different web directories so that it gets more exposure though. It's way different from traditional businesses, but at least I get to earn something on the side, even while doing my practice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Kids Are Sick

When I was a child and I got sick, my mom used to make a nightlong vigil at my bedside, checking my temperature every now and then, and giving me sponge bath when my temperature would rise.

Now I have kids of my own. My husband and I discovered how much toll a sick kid can wreak on his/her parents. After a bout of illness, the child is not the only one who loses weight, even his parents look like they have consumed weight loss pills as there is a noticeable loss of weight.

I realize that while my husband and I are both doctors and in theory know what to do when our kids get sick, when it occurs, we're simply dad and mom -- in the league of worried parents the world over, jumping at every little cough.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Technology Brings Families Virtually Together

For example, my grandfathers both came to the Philippines to earn money while their families were still in China. All communications were by mail, whether personal mail or sending money. Of course, that takes time so for the times in between letters, there was virtually no news of your loved one, what he's doing, if he's healthy, if he's eating well, etc.

When my father had to go the USA to work, there was already the telephone and we could communicate via long distance. But since long distance calls are expensive, these are short and often reserved either for special occasions or for emergencies. But at least, my dad was just a (long distance) phone call away.

Now, there are cellphones and computers. You can text for much much cheaper than before. Long distance rates are going down. If you want it cheaper, and even "see" your loved one, you can chat via your laptop computer with your webcam on, and carry on a conversation with your loved one. It still does not replace being together, but at least you get to "see" and talk to each other in real time. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taller Than Parents?

While we Asians are generally shorter than Caucasians, we do notice that kids nowadays seem to be taller than the previous generation. Is it because of the food nowadays? See, I have a brother who's 6 feet tall. He's a good 4 inches taller than my dad. He took tien chi, a Chinese herb that's supposed to increase height (I wonder how it would far against the best HGH releasers), but then so did my other brother who ended up the same height as my dad. So, what made the difference? Frankly, we're not quite sure. Me? I'm the same height

Will our children be tall? If they're gonna get their height from us, no. But if the trend of being taller than their parents continue, they just might be.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Still On Vacations...

I just realized that our family could also enjoy Vegas vacations! I remember that we first went to Las Vegas back in 1991, then later with my mom in 1998 (after a convention in New Orleans, but that's another story). Of course, Las Vegas is known best for legalized gambling, thus a lot of people go there to try their luck in getting rich as quick as possible.

But Las Vegas also has these wonderful hotels. You can actually watch some great "shows" for free. I especially loved the show on Treasure Island (there are 2 versions) and the water dance at the Bellagio. Even walking through the hotels is a fun experience in itself. I know there are more hotels now, each with its own unique attraction.

And of course, there are the shows! Las Vegas would not be Las Vegas without the girly shows, but there are actually family-friendly and kid-friendly show like the magic by David Copperfield which we watched way back in 1991 (don't know if anybody remembers him, but he used to be so famous).

I'm sure I'd have fun again here. Also, it's not so far away from Los Angeles, where we can find Disneyland, Universal Studios and those other theme parks that children and children-at-heart would love to return to again and again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Panama?

While on the subject of family vacations, I came across a website for cheap panama city vacations. I wonder if I could get my family to go with me? One thing is for sure...none of my family members have ever been there before! I mean, different family members have gone to the more popular destinations around Asia (like China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore), North America (particularly USA and Canada) and Europe, but I've never heard of any of us going to Panama yet. If it won't really make a dent in our budget, why not? :) It would make a different experience from what we're used to.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Vacations

It has been such a long time since we have gone on a family vacation. When we were small, it was usually a trip to the beach. I remember when the whole family on my Dad's side would all go. My Angkong and Ama (grandpa and grandma) and all my uncles and my aunt on that side plus us, of course. Ama would cook her kiam pong (rice with pork, chicken, dried shrimps, mushrooms), we would bring pork strips to barbecue.

When we were older, we started having trips abroad. We've gone to China and Hong Kong with our grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and cousins, visiting our great grandmother in her village. It was very rural and quite inconvenient for us city dwellers, but hey, it's really something different, and I got to see my great grandmother.

Dad and Mom also brought us to smaller trips with just the five of us, to Hong Kong, the US and even just short trips around the country -- beaches, Baguio, the usual.

I've love to have trips with my own family too, when the time and the budget permits. I'd love to go to Europe, because of its beauty, its history & culture and because I've never been there! I mean, I'd love to have a new travel experience with my husband and kids. Maybe go to the USA again, on the East Coast this time (last time it was on the West Coast), or go down to Mexico. With kids in tow, it would probably be more convenient if we get an all-in-one vacation so that we don't need to worry about where to stay, where to eat and what to do. I'm afraid I like my luxury, so the new resorts like those under Karisma Hotels appeal to me because they provide almost everything one needs for a family vacation. Now, if we can only find the time and the budget for it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tsinoys = Businessmen

People usually associate Chinese immigrants as negosyante (businessmen or traders). That's because many Chinese who came over to seek their fortunes are from poor families from farming communities who may not have college education, have limited command of English and Tagalog, and do not have the know-how for more technical work. Also, during the post-war period, there was little work to be found, so they are forced to be enterprising, as families back home in China were counting on their financial support.

It is only in the later years that we find more and more Tsinoys and Tsinays in the health and professional fields, mainly second, third or forth generation Tsinoys/Tsinays with better command of Tagalog and English than their parents and grandparents. Sadly, however, with the downspiraling of the economy, we find less of highly trained individuals in their chosen fields but instead being forced to be employed in fields that they may not be trained for or interested in. This is not limited to Tsinoys and Tsinays, though, but to the population as a whole. The good news is that with the boom of the call center services in the recent years, there have been a rise in demand in call center agents. However, whether or not this trend will be continuing in the next few years will have to be seen. More and more, Tsinoys and Tsinays are returning to what their grandparents and parents have been doing and excelling at -- being business people and entrepreneurs.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Ke Tseng

Every Chinese bride brings along her ke tseng to her husband's home on the day of her marriage. It has evolved through the years, but usually this consists of practical items plus some symbolic items which are thought to be wishes for a son soon after the marriage. Although my then-fiance (now husband) is not Chinese, my mother still practiced this, although she just gave the basic stuff -- beddings, small sin-na (special baskets) of candies, a pair of lanterns (to wish for a son), icons of wealth, health and long life, some new clothes for me, a pair of vases with artificial flowers and a set of Samsonite luggage.

This is usually an opportunity for the parents of the bride to display their wealth and love for their daughter.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Great Skin

Chinese women are renowned for their fair, clear, porcelain like skin. My late maternal grandmother's skin was still very nice even when she was already in her eighties. She didn't have a lot of lines and she could pass for someone in her late fifties. She applied some sort of day cream everyday and another at night. She developed that habit early in life. I never did that, but maybe I should. I'm nearing middle age and although I'm not really vain, I'd like to "grow old gracefully". :)

Friday, July 31, 2009

6 Weeks!

At 6 weeks post partum, I have not lost any weight yet. This is bad! I not only have an unsightly tummy, I have all these extra weight I'm lugging around! I just asked my OB when I could start exercising (since I underwent CS), she said that 2 months post partum should be okay. But I have a little bit of suture granuloma, so I probably have to wait a bit.

I do breastfeed full time. I have gone back to my pre pregnancy weight with my firstborn at 3 months postpartum. I'm hoping I could at least achieve that sort of weight loss and just rely on exercise for a better looking tummy. I guess supplements like Lipovox could help, but I don't want to take anything extra since I'm breastfeeding.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pearls On The Wedding Day

There's a belief that brides should not wear pearls during her wedding day. I thought that applied to guests. Apparently not.

On my cousin's wedding day, my mom wanted me to wear a set of pearl jewelry that she's been keeping for me. I was surprised and told her about the belief. She told me that the belief only applies to the bride herself and not to the guests.

I ended up not wearing those pearls on that day, though, because I was afraid that some people might interpret that belief the way I did and take it the wrong way. I do not want to have misunderstandings over old beliefs and jewelry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Water Problem

We're having some problems with our water system lately. There's been a huge, huge spike in our water bill, but the water flows out of our faucets (whether the ordinary type or the nicer Delta faucets) in small trickles only. There seems to be a huge leak somewhere. Currently, repairs are underway. Hopefully, our water situation would be much better (and our bill much less) when the repairs are done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scaredy Cat

I am such a scaredy-cat. The thing is, I think I'm more of one now than when I was younger. Would you believe that I never learned to ride a bicycle? Nor even learned to use a skateboard? I used to ride roller coasters when I was in my teens, but now, I don't. I just don't feel like it. I don't even like scary movies (but weirdly enough, I loved "The Sixth Sense" and wasn't as scared as other people).

While I do not wish my kids to be regularly involved in extreme sports, I wish they'd be more courageous than I am. A few slides up and down skateboard ramps should be okay. Or climbing mountains in the right weather. Or biking. I just hope they'd know their limits so that I wouldn't be perpetually scared of what might happen to them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Car Insurance

My family and my in-laws have different views on whether or not to get comprehensive insurance for our cars. For my family, it's a small expense to pay so that if anything happens that relates to our car, we won't have to worry too much about the expenses. For my in-laws, it's an extra yearly expense that may not be used anyway. I guess I'd still go for the comprehensive car insurance, but I'll look at auto insurance quotes first to see if there are good deals. I guess that would be an acceptable compromise.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ideal Vacation Is With My Family!

Would you believe that my 86 year old grandmother actually went and enjoyed a few days on the sea via a cruise? I'm not really sure where it is, but she actually enjoyed herself. Honestly, I didn't think that a cruise was her idea of a good vacation, but she enjoyed both the luxury liner and the stops that they had. It also helped that her children (my uncles and aunts) were with her during that vacation.

It made me think that maybe a Caribbean cruise might just be a great way for my husband and I to spend some romantic days together. The last time that we had been on a trip alone together was in Hong Kong. It was fun and memorable, although quite short, and you gotta admit, it's not the most romantic place in the world. What made it romantic was the fact that we were together, and we were newlyweds!

I believe that the sea, the luxurious boat and the exotic places that we will get to see will be a romantic way for us to spend, hmmm, maybe our tenth anniversary? Or maybe we can bring the kids and enjoy the cruise as a family. As long as my husband and my kids are with me, it will be a great, great vacation for me!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Handbag Business?

If you're like a lot of women who go gaga over bags and shoes and want to make a business out of it, there's a new site which features wholesale handbags . What's different about their products over other handbags you usually see is the unique, quirky, western designs, some with rhinestones and other decors. I mean, how many sites do you know feature wholesale western flip flops and wholesale western handbags ? I know that these are not available here in the Philippines (or perhaps I just don't know about them?).

The fact is that when you're doing business, you should consider the following:
1. Saleable items -- things that would attract buyers because of the goods, quality and price
2. Your own interest -- it's hard to do a business if you're not interested in your own goods
3. Uniqueness -- if you have too many competitors, it's more difficult. It's easier if you have a bit of monopoly or not too many competitors.

If only for the number of women who are so into these stuff, wholesale handbags seem to be a great place to source out items for a good business, especially if you yourself are into them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Future Pianist?

My little girl has long, tapering fingers. They look very nice. Everybody says those are the hands of an artist, maybe a classical pianist. Who knows? My husband and I both play piano, but at a very basic level only since that's not really our interest. Maybe our little girl will be more inclined to it than we ever were.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Herbs After Giving Birth

The traditional ge-lai is practiced by most traditional Chinese families. This is the one month period following the child's birth in which the mother is pampered in order for her to regain her strength. Care is taken that she does not become too tired. Traditional Chinese Medicine also suggests several herbs and suitable food for her to take, many of which are supposed to strengthen her, make her uterus recover and supplement her with iron she lost during the childbirth.

In cases of Cesarean deliveries, fresh (live, if possible) lapu-lapu (grouper) soup is also given, in the belief that it would make wounds heal faster. It's also believed to be a good galactogogue (increases breastmilk). Since it's a natural and nutritious food and I lose nothing, I have nothing against it. It's actually delicious. :)

Since I'm breastfeeding though, I do ask my mom to provide me with the list of herbs traditionally used and try to research on them. No ginseng nor dong quay for now, since they are contraindicated in both pregnancy and breastfeeding. No Phenphedrine either. This is simply not the time to be indiscriminate about things I take, even if I am a bit concerned about my excess post baby weight.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sung Dynasty Village

When I went to Hong Kong with my parents back in the late seventies, we went to this tourist attraction called the Sung Dynasty Village. The Sung Dynasty from around 976 AD through 1279 AD and the village is a recreation of a typical town during this age. You'll find people in period costumes going about their business as if it actually were a thousand years ago.

They have tea houses, temples a traditional Chinese opera and a wedding! Oh, you are given old fashioned coins like those used in that period and you can actually use them to buy food at the tea house! These are the ones with the hole in the middle so you can string them up. Of course, these were not genuine antiques and have no value outside the Sung Dynasty Village, but they do make for great souvenirs. It would have been great if those coins have real value and would appreciate over time if you keep them, but I'd stand a better chance of getting such coins from coin dealers like Monaco Rare Coin, where you can find various rare coins for investment or for your personal collection.

I would have loved to go there again on our honeymoon, but I couldn't find it any of the guidebooks, so I thought that the place was probably gone. Lo and behold, it wasn't! The next time I go to Hong Kong, I'll be sure to check it out!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Yet

As I've mentioned in my previous post, I still have 9 pounds to go before going back to my prepregnancy weight. I have no plans to do exercises yet because I really can't -- my body has to recover or I'll be doing more harm than good. But to reiterate, 9 pounds is not too bad, considering I'm only 10 days postpartum! I'm in no hurry looking up fat burner reviews, especially since I'm breastfeeding. For 2 reasons: (1) I have the utmost faith that breastfeeding would aid me in my weight loss, as it did during my first pregnancy and (2) precisely because I'm breastfeeding, I'd rather not take in too many supplements since I'm not sure of the effect on my baby.

Now, if I've weaned my baby already and I'm still not within my ideal weight (and shape, of course), I might consider going on a diet and/or exercise program and a doctor recommended supplement.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gyms and Exercising

Back when I got pregnant with my firstborn, I immediately canceled my membership to a well known gym here. I used my pregnancy as an excuse, but I actually haven't been to the gym in quite a while, and the monthly dues are automatically charged to my credit card. It was not worth it, to say the least. The gym had a reputation for not canceling the membership immediately when you ask them to. Their policy is 3-months' notice, if I remember correctly. Fortunately, since I had my doctor's certificate with me, they agreed to cancel mine immediately. They did tell me that I'm welcome to come back anytime after I give birth so that I can exercise to get back into my prepregnancy shape. I didn't. If I couldn't find the time to go when I was single, what more when I had a child? Especially now with 2 children!

Maybe home gyms would work better for me? That's a big maybe, because my dad actually had one but I never bothered to use the equipment that he bought. What I need is a big dose of initiative to start working out. Not now, though. 1 week post CS is not exactly the right time to start an exercise program. But I do want to look and feel better in the long run.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just Gave Birth?

If you're Chinese and you've just given birth, visions of yourself cradling your baby in outdoor chairs getting some sun is probably not going to happen, especially if you have a strict mother or mother-in-law. That's because for the first month of confinement, called the "ge-lai" in the Fukien dialect, new mothers are advised to stay indoors and avoid being exposed to "wind". This is supposed to help the mothers grow stronger immediately.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Q&A: Adjusting To Married Life

I got this set of Q&A's from n@w. For a bicultural couple, marriage is quite a challenge, but I guess it does not take just different cultures. The fact that you were raised by different families with different values -- that takes some getting used to.

OK, here goes...

Q1. What was your major adjustment when you started living together after
the wedding?

  • Adjusting to the fact that my money is no longer just mine to spend but part of OUR money. Well, his money is no longer just his to spend but part of OUR money also.
Q2. What was the thing you like most/least about it?
  • Having to ask permission for big purchases because it now affects the family as a whole. For small purchases, we have an allowance for our small luhos (wants).
Q3. Is there something you wish other married couples had told you
beforehand?
  • None that I can think of. Most of the things I encountered after marriage, I already half expected :). I think I was prepared.
Q4. Any tips for other newlyweds living in their new home/with their in
laws?
  • If you're going to live with your in-laws, know their house rules and follow them. Don't expect that things will be the same in your in-law's household. Since you're the newcomer, you have to be one to do the major adjusting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The In Law Factor Foodie Quiz

For this week's Wifespeaks: Foodie Wednesday, here's an interesting Quiz...

Most questions are in Tagalog, I'll put the English translations (in yellow)....

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1. Kung ang mother in law mo ay isang dish or ulam, ano siya? Pwede mo rin sabihin kung bakit, pero kung ayaw mo, okay lang. If your mother-in-law is a dish, what dish would she be. You can state the reason but it's ok if you don't.

  • Maybe RICE? I think she's the "staple" in my in-law's family. Fits well with any "ulam".

2. Ano ang madalas ihandang pagkain kapag may party sa bahay ng in laws mo? What food is usually served if there's a party at your in-laws' place?

  • barbecue
  • fruit salad
  • meat loaf
  • pasta
  • lechon (bought, not cooked)
  • seafoods (crab, prawns/shrimp etc)
  • dinuguan

3. Ano ang pinakamasarap na pagkain na nailuto ng in laws mo? What is the best tasting dish cooked by your in-laws?

  • My MIL's specialties are -- dinuguan, meat loaf and adobo

4. Anong pagkain ang nailuto mo na para sa in laws mo? What have you cooked for your in-laws?

  • I tried cooking tuna pasta once. Pero di mabenta sa in-laws ko.
  • They liked my sweet and sour pork, pero once ko lang naluto ito.
  • Just realized that I should probably cook more....

5. Meron bang dish na itinuro sa iyo ang in laws mo, either traditional family meal or paborito ng iyong asawa? Is there a dish your in-laws taught you to prepare? Either a traditional family meal or your husband's favorite dish?

  • My MIL taught me her version of adobo, which is what hubby loves most. I have yet to try it, though.

6. Mahalaga ba sa in laws mo na matuto kang magluto bago kayo nagpakasal ni Hubby? Was it important for your in-laws that you know how to cook before you and your husband got married?

  • Not really. It's an advantage but not a requirement that I know how to cook.

7. Anong eating habits ng in laws mo ang na-acquire mo na rin through the years? What eating habits have you acquired from your in-laws through the years?

  • Can't think of any...

8. Meron ka bang unforgettable kitchen moments with your in laws? Do you have any unforgettable kitchem moments with your in-laws?

  • None that I can think of. Shucks, should spend more time in the kitchen.

9. Binibigyan ka ba ng cooking tips ng in laws mo? Ano-ano ito? Did your in-laws give you any cooking tips? What are these?

  • Sorry, really can't think of any....

10. Ano ang paboritong pagkain ng father in law mo? What is your father-in-law's favorite dish?

  • No idea. My father-in-law passed away before I got to know my husband.

11. Mahilig ba sa desserts ang in laws mo? If yes, anong hilig nila? Are your in-laws fond of desserts? If yes, what are their faves?

  • Yes, if it's Fruit salad by MIL!
  • Cathedral windows from Goldilocks is another one they love
  • Not so much with cakes and pastries, but they do eat in moderation (so no need to look for the best diet pill!)

12. Pagdating naman sa inuman after meals, “Go” ba sila or “No”? When it comes to drinking after meals, are they in favor (Go) or not in favor (No) of it?

  • On special occasions, "Go" but in moderation. You're talking about alcohol, right? :P

13. Saan madalas mag-dine out for family dinners ang in laws mo? What restos/eating places do your in-laws go for family dinners?

  • They don't really dine out much, they prefer to just eat in MIL's house. But they like Chinese food, the Saisaki-Dad's-Kamayan buffet, Max's...

14. Mahilig ba sila sa exotic food? If yes, ano-ano ito? Do they like exotic food? If so, what in particular?

  • Depends on your definition of exotic food, actually since I'm Tsinay, some of the food I like are considered exotic pala, while I find some of their food exotic din (they're Ilokano). But they're adventurous enough to try some food that I know other people won't. Sorry di ko lang maisip for now.

15. Lastly, masasabi mo bang bonding moments are “food moments” mo with your in laws? Can you say that food moments with your in-laws are bonding moments?

  • Yes!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Marriage of Cultures

When we get married, we usually get the advise that it's the son (or daughter) you're marrying, not the family. So, you should go with what you want, from the wedding preps, from the money decisions, where you live, etc. etc.

While this may be true in principle, it's a reality that you do marry into another family. Your spouse's family is now your family too (as your family is now also his family). There are certain things that won't be the same. Especially if you come from different cultural backgrounds. Like me and my husband, who come from different backgrounds. He comes from a family of professionals, Pinoy, of course. I come from a family of Tsinoy businesspeople. Of course there are bound to be differences, and when we married each other, we knew about that, but we were already prepared to embrace and adapt.

I am lucky that my in-laws have been pretty good to me. Of course, there are always some things that we learn each day about and from each other, but then as along as we remember to "respect" each other and the differences in our culture and our upbringing, we get along fine.

We started married life living with his family but moved to my mother's house when we had a child. Long story but suffice to say that it was because it was more convenient for us. My husband has been pretty good about adjusting to our living situation, but we do know that sooner or later, when the kids are big enough and no longer need constant supervision by relatives, we'll want to move to our own place (we'll make sure to enlist the services of a reliable mover like moving companies Los Angeles when we do so). It's nothing personal against our folks, it's just that at a certain point in our lives, we should really be an independent family and make our own rules and traditions for our own kids.
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This is my contribution to Wifespeaks: Chika Tuesday. Topic this week is about the in-laws.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

11 More Days!

My OB visit yesterday went smoothly. My OB told me that I gained 1 pound since my last check up, which is just 1 week ago. This is very normal and most of weight seems to go to the baby. In fact, I gained a total of 24 pounds so far for this pregnancy, which is what most OBs and pregnancy books would recommend. Except for my tummy, which is definitely protruding, the rest of me looks almost the same. In fact, people keep telling me that I don't look pregnant from the back :). That means that I do not have to research on how to lose the post pregnancy weight nor look for the top weight loss pills. From my experience with my first pregnancy, though, I should definitely work on my abs as they will not look as tight as before. Maybe crunches will help?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Money Is Unromantic! But...



Money is unromantic. We don't really want to talk about it. It causes conflicts in most relationships, most especially a marriage.

Marriage is a partnership. It's even more obvious in marriages as "my money" and "your money" becomes "our money". Everything becomes conjugal. You no longer have sole control over the money that you earn or the money that you have.

So, I believe this issue should be something that's talked about even before the couple decides to settle down. Who works? Who handles the money? How much to spend on personal expenses? Prenuptial agreement or not? It's not an easy topic to handle, however, it is something that needs to be discussed, especially when both parties come from different backgrounds. I should know, I come from a Tsinay, mostly business people family and my husband comes from an Pinoy background of mostly professionals in the family. There's bound to be differences.

It WILL continue to be an issue even after marriage, when one discovers each other's spending habits. It is part of the adjustment in marriage.

The way we handle our money has evolved throughout our marriage. It will continue to evolve throughout the years. While money has caused some discussions and misunderstandings, it has not reached the point where it threatens to break up our marriage. That's because of COMPROMISE and LOVE, and the desire to do and decide the best for the family as a whole.

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This is my contribution to Wifespeaks: Speak Friday

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Only 2 Weeks To Go!

Only exactly 2 weeks to go, and my Baby Girl's gonna make her much awaited appearance. Since this is an elective Cesarean section, we had the freedom to choose a date, and we chose a date and time that is lucky for her. We're not really superstitious, but then, it doesn't hurt to follow tradition. I mean, you don't really lose anything, right?

For people who wonder why I'm not going through normal spontaneous delivery, it's because my passage is too narrow. I underwent labor during my first pregnancy and even after 12 hours of labor (and 24 hours after my water leaked), I was stuck at 1 cm dilation and my baby never descended.

I'm aware that I won't be having any vacations anytime soon. This does not stop me from dreaming though. I'm looking at Westgate and I think I would have a great time there with my family...when we get the time to have a vacation!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What If I Won The Lottery?

I don't know if it's common to both cultures (Pinoy and Chinese), but here in the Philippines it's definitely a bad idea to let the whole world know that you've gotten a windfall, like winning the lottery jackpot. So the first thing I'm going to do if I won the lotto is to KEEP QUIET! Hahaha! I don't want to have instant relatives and friends who I never saw before in my life show up at my doorstep for balato (I think it roughly means their share of your blessings). It may sound selfish and cynical, but I've seen too many people who treat "richer" relatives and friends as an instant source of funds for their various wants and needs.

What I will do when I win the lotto, aside from keeping quiet:

  1. Buy a house and lot. It doesn't have to be a very big and opulous one, but one just right for our needs. What's important for me is the location. It has to be in a safe and secure environment, close to our children's school and our work, if possible.
  2. Invest. Buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds -- whatever is feasible at the moment -- at regular intervals. Maybe buy a Jollibee franchise. Put some money in time deposits in different banks (but only up to Php500,000 per account so it will still be covered by PDIC). Buy lots if there are some available.
  3. Set up trust funds and endowment funds for my kids.
  4. Secure my kid's education. Maybe get an educational plan for each of them.
  5. Travel.
  6. Share my blessings. With less fortunate relatives, friends and other people. But again, QUIETLY and discreetly. No need to broadcast the good things you do.
  7. Maintain almost the same lifestyle, and NOT spoil my kids with material things they do not need.
  8. Continue to work as an ophthalmologist. I love my work. I find satisfaction in it. It's a calling and a passion, and it makes me who I am. If I had lots of money though, work is simply fulfilling my passion and not just a way for me to make money.
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This is my contribution to Wifespeaks: Chika Tuesday

Monday, June 1, 2009

Credit and Debt Consolidation

During my grandfather's time, getting a loan is dependent upon trust. They didn't even have written contracts in those days. If you keep your word and pay on the promised date like an honorable Chinese should, you can be assured that you will be able to borrow money again the next time you need it. Word also travels fast, so if you build a reputation of being a deadbeat and not paying off your loans, the whole Chinese community here in Manila would know about it...and there goes your chances of borrowing more funds.

It's pretty simple and straightforward, but somehow, it's no longer applicable in the present society. First and foremost, there are a lot more to debts nowadays than it used to be. You didn't get into credit card debt before because plastic was unheard of in those times. But now they're probably the biggest source of consumer debt. I just realized lately that there are so many different types of loans one can avail of -- housing loans, car loans, personal loans, business loans, etc. from different banks and financial institutions. Which is all well and good if you budget well and pay your amortizations on time. However, if you have some trouble with your cash flow right now, that may not be the case. While you struggle to find money to pay off your loans, it becomes bigger due to the compounding nature of loans. That's why in these hard times, you do need to look into things like debt consolidation in order to make you life much simpler. You can actually get debt consolidation loans so that you only need to pay one institution instead of paying several ones. The advantage to this is you only need to pay one interest, usually at a lower negotiated rate, than several different interest rates to different institutions.

Of course, it's still best not to get into debt, but sometimes money is tight and you have no choice at the moment. Just be sure that you do not go overboard and get buried in debt that you cannot eventually pay off in the future.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Only Weeks To Go...

I'm lucky. Less than 3 weeks away from delivering my second baby and I only gained the recommended 23 pounds so far. My baby seems to be a good size, so my tummy is quite protruding but the rest of my body is still quite slim. People keep commenting that from the back, they wouldn't guess that I'm actually heavily pregnant. Looks like I wouldn't really need any weight loss product after I give birth! But I may need exercise since from my experience with my first pregnancy, I look perpetually 3 months pregnant even after giving birth!

I am thankful that aside from a few minor discomforts, my pregnancy has been progressing nicely. My baby is going to be delivered by elective Cesarean section on June 18, 2009, a date my mother and I picked using the Chinese calendar. I am praying that she will be a healthy, happy baby who will grow up to have a wonderful life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grandma's Birthday

My grandma's birthday was yesterday. Although we're doing the "real" celebration (with dinner at her house with the whole clan) this coming Sunday, we couldn't let the day pass without at least having a simple celebration.

We all wore red (or at least tried to) when we went to their house for breakfast. 2 red candles were lit for good luck. Instead of our usual breakfast, we had special birthday noodles (misua) with hard boiled eggs (delicious!) and tea. And, of course, we went and greeted her happy birthday!

We didn't have a birthday cake yet. I guess we'll have one on Sunday. But that's okay, because for traditional Chinese families, the birthday misua is more important. It symbolizes long life. The birthday cake is a Western adaptation.

I think some Pinoys have adopted our tradition of wearing red whenever somebody celebrates a birthday. I love that color, it's so happy! And for Chinese people, it is usually associated with such happy celebrations like birthdays and weddings.

Grandma is now 87 years old. She's still very clear minded and very wise. I wish her more good years to come!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not Quite Like Mom

My father loved my mom's cooking. He doesn't get to eat his meals at home often, but when he does, he usually requests that my mom prepare the meal herself. However, there are certain dishes wherein he always feels that HIS mom does it much better. Like the traditional si-but soup. He always claims that my grandmother, his mother, does it best, and however hard my mom tries to copy the recipe, she doesn't get the exact taste that my father was looking for. For us kids, however, it was just right. :)

Since I've been married myself, I've since discovered that my husband looks for qualities of his mom's cooking. No adobo or dinuguan is as good as his mom's. I believe that I do a mean adobo, but his taste is different from what I am used to. His mom's adobo is very simple, with no laurel leaf and no visible peppercorns. I haven't actually done it myself since it's quite a staple when we visit on weekends. His taste is also on the Ilokano side, when compared to mine, meaning he doesn't really like too many spices and too complex tastes. I like putting some ginger in fish and shrimps so that there would less of the fishy smell, or in my beef stew so the smell will be less gamey but he doesn't like ginger AT ALL. He also has a taste for processed meats like hotdogs, bacon and corned beef which I enjoy only once in a while. Well, I'm Tsinay, so there's bound to be differences, and I've accepted the fact that there are some things that I'll never compare to his mom. They do say that a man loves his mother the longest. Maybe I'll have the same place in my kids' heart. :)
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A late entry to Wifespeaks: Foodie Wednesday. :)

Covered? Enough?

My husband just paid his premium on his life insurance policy. Although it's a bit of a drain on our resources, we are aware that we need to have life insurance because we have a family and dependents. Most oldies (both Chinese and Pinoys) do not really appreciate the value of insurance, thinking it's more of a drain on their pockets rather than ensuring a bit of financial support for the family in case the unthinkable happens.

Now, I'm thinking if we should add to our insurance since we are now expecting another baby. I am pretty sure our present coverage is enough for at least the short term, but just to be sure, we'll also be checking some lower cost term life insurance rates so that we know our options on whether or not it's wise to get more insurance. It's a good thing I'm also covered by the SSS so that should also give something additional.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chubby Kids

One thing that Chinese and Filipino elders have in common is their fondness for babies who are chubby. Most oldies think that chubby babies are cute, and they are, really. However, overweight babies do have the tendency to become overweight kids, and later, overweight adults, when they then think about diet, exercise and weight loss pills because by this time, everyone wants them slim. It's ironic right? Not just that, being obese also poses a lot of health problems.

That's why I want my babies to be just at their ideal weight. Not too fat, not too thin, just healthy enough. I do not want to give in to the pressure of fattening up my kids so they'll look commercial worthy (at least here in the Philippines). I want them to have a good and healthy image of themselves, and be happy and healthy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ideal Marriage?

Father Pete admonished us during the Homily in our Nuptial Mass: "C, J was my classmate in elementary and high school. I will tell you that she is not a perfect woman. And J, C is not a perfect man. That's because wherever you look and whatever you do, there is no perfect man or perfect woman because all of us are not perfect."

I think that also applies to marriage. There is no perfect marriage. There is no couple that doesn't (secretly or not secretly) have a few peeves about each other. But there are couples who realize that marriage is always a work in progress, and by both parties.

What makes marriage close to the ideal, in our book?

  • Understanding
  • Compromise
  • Complement
  • Communication
  • Faithfulness and Loyalty.
  • Acceptance
  • Sharing
  • Individuality
  • Openness
  • Humor
  • Love
And what destroys a marriage? The opposite of what is above.

Both my husband and I try to work towards a good marriage, and so far we've been happy in it. :)

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This is my entry to Wifespeaks: Speak Friday. Do join us!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Marriage of Different Cultures

Times may me more modern now, and interracial marriages are becoming more and more common, but traditional Chinese families would still prefer their children to marry fellow Chinese people. I didn't really understand that but I realized now why parents feel that it's "safer" to stay within the bounds of the same culture. No matter how integrated your family is with your adopted community, there will always be differences...in taste in food, in beliefs, in practices, in how one relates to the family, etc. Marrying somebody outside the same culture would raise alarms in a parent's mind because they know how difficult it is for one to adapt to another person, what more to another family and even more if that person has a different cultural background.

Of course, true love does conquer all. I've married somebody not Chinese and we have strove to adjust and complement each other. It's not easy though, in addition to having to adjust to a person who's raised by a wholly different family, we're adjusting to a partner who came from a whole different culture. But it can be done, as long as we're both committed to our marriage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Skin Talk

It never fails to amaze me how good my mother's skin is, compared to mine. She does not have as many trauma brought about by bad acne, which I have despite undergoing numerous acne treatments. Of course, she's older now and her skin is showing some signs of age, but she could still pass for somebody in her late forties or fifties (she's now in her early sixties). Her mother, my grandmother, also had very good skin.

If good skin were due to genetics, how come I'm not lucky enough to inherit the "good skin genes" from my mother and grandmother? Or maybe it's already something environmental and diet. They had better diet with emphasis on vegetables and cooking with little fat and oil. I grew up in an environment where fast foods were easy to come by. Pollution maybe? Stress? (Medical school was soooo stressful, and that's when most of my pimples cropped up! But then they also had their own share of stress!)

I really hope that my children will inherit better skin than me. After all, they always say that the Chinese have beautiful skin. I just never lived up to that.