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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sea Travel -- In Peace and In Conflict

My uncles and aunts recently brought my grandmother to a cruise. It's not one of those Caribbean cruises that are so popular nowadays but an Alaskan cruise. I didn't think that my grandmother would enjoy it, but she in fact, did! She got to visit places she would have never thought of going, saw animals that she saw for the first time in her 80 plus years, and basked in the glow of attention from her children.

I realized that when she was younger, ships and boats were strictly for transportation and not really for leisure. My grandfather came over to the Philippines on a boat when he was a teenager to look for earning opportunities in the s0 called "land of opportunity". My grandmother and my father almost missed the boat going out of China to migrate to Hong Kong, where they would later meet up with my grandfather. According to various accounts, migration out of mainland China was nearly impossible during those turbulent years.

We should be more thankful for these (relatively) peaceful times. Though, of course, danger lurks within. There are still conflicts around the world, and for as long as there are people greedy for power and money, there will never be true peace and harmony.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hotel?

I don't know if the hotel we stayed in rural China back in the 1980's is still there. It was a very simple affair, nothing like a standard San Diego hotel with amenities we consider as standard and sometimes take for granted. Like what? For starters, our room did not have an ensuite bathroom. What they had was a washbasin and a (?)potty. There was a communal bathroom though, although I do not like getting up in the middle of the night to go out of the room in my nightwear in order to answer the call of nature. I'd like some privacy too when taking a shower. I know it's standard for most dorms and cheap accomodations, but, hey, the place did call itself a hotel! Or maybe, it just reflected how backward the place is that we could not really get more luxurious accomodations. The upside is that our accomodations were cheap and quite clean. They also had no phones in the rooms. The lighting was ordinary fluoresecent lamps.

I don't know if it's because I haven't gotten back to the more rural places, but the next time I went to China, I had more "standard" hotel accomodations with the usual ensuite bathroom with hot/cold water, telephones and sometimes even WiFi. China has certainly come a long way, and I hope that it would not just be the case with the big cities but also with the smaller towns.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Conveniences

Most modern conveniences that we take for granted nowadays, are virtually unheard of before. Sometimes, I feel like a dinosaur when I relate to my nephews and nieces the time when there were no cellular phones and no internet. They could not really imagine life without them. What more if I tell them that our grandparents went through at least a part of their lives without electricity and running water, which we now take for granted? I mean, we could watch period movies and see that they don't have these "luxuries" yet, but I actually saw that my great grandmother's house in rural China still does not have indoor toilets (they used outhouses and urinals) nor Hansgrohe faucets (they actually draw water from a well), no refrigerators for storing food, no television, and just a few electrical bulbs (electricity had come, but was not very stable yet). And this was already in the eighties!

I've since heard that modernization had happened and my late great grandmother's house already has at least a few modern amenities that the family didn't have when we last paid a visit. We may feel lost without our cellphones and laptops, but we actually take for granted the simple but big contributions of the basic conveniences that we now enjoy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Grandparents' Apartments

We lived for 24 years in a compound. My grandparents built an apartment complex beside their house back in the 1960's, composed of 4 large 3-bedroom apartment units and a one bedroom unit. They had 4 sons and 1 daughter. What they envisioned was that their sons would eventually marry and would need a place to stay for their families. Thus it would be a simple (and cheap) matter to just move into the adjacent apartment unit (No need to hire moving trucks!) The daughter was expected to marry out and her husband was expected to provide for her housing. I'm guessing though that the small 1-bedroom apartment was probably envisioned as a halfway house of sorts for maybe the daughter and son-in-law.

I think it was a great idea! Three of their four sons did live for a while in the apartments. Eventually though, they wanted their own house and eventually moved out. We were actually the last family to move out. But in the meantime, they had a place to stay that was independent of their parents. It's the best of both worlds -- a free place to stay, with relative autonomy but having parents nearby whenever you need them. I think it's perfect for newlyweds. When the units were unused, my grandparents were able to rent them out for extra income.

I hope that I would be able to provide for my kids' housing, even if it's just a small condo or apartment unit that could serve as their startup housing. If they eventually want a bigger place, I could rent out the unit for additional income for their old age.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Height Factor

Don't you feel that it's a tad unfair that there's a height requirement for beauty pageants and for models? Beauty pageants are about beauty, and beauty comes in all sizes and shapes. While it may be possible to control our weight and girth through diet and exercise, the height is more or less hereditary, unless one resorts to other means like HGH. Asians are generally more petite than Caucasians. I do not think that this means we are any less beautiful, just that we have a different type of look.

As for models, aren't they supposed to show how to carry a look? I think the "model-figure", which is usually tall and thin, is not the look everyone can achieve! While there are now Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Filipino and other Asian models who have the height and the build to become models and supermodels, the great majority of us are much shorter.

Maybe that's the Barbie doll mentality. That you have to meet Caucasian standards in order to be considered "universally" beautiful. Too bad.

Here's Hoping....

That I will get back into shape without much effort after I give birth!

A common problem of women after giving birth is getting back into their pre-pregnancy weight and shape. I could proudly say that I didn't need any diet nor exercise, and never had to ask anyone for the best diet pills since I slimmed down to my pre-pregnancy weight after 3 months of breastfeeding (I breastfed for a total of 1 year and 10 1/2 months) my firstborn. I'm hoping that this would be the case too with this baby I'm carrying right now. It certainly looks promising, as except for my tummy, my body still looks quite slim. My weight gain has been steady but not overly fast. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I've seen my pictures from the time when I was still single, and man, was I slim then! People don't mistake me for being pregnant then, and I didn't have a hard time looking for suitable clothes to wear. After I gave birth, people keep asking me if I'm already pregnant with my second baby even if I wasn't. Hmmp! People can be so tactless! Anyway, I finally got pregnant and I got the excuse I needed (and wanted)!

I'm so thankful that we're going to have another little angel. We certainly feel blessed and humbled to be given another little baby to love.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Holy Week That Was

Although we've decided to just stay in Manila during the Holy Week, it's tempting to either just check into a hotel to enjoy their airconditioned luxury -- because it's just so hot! My mother actually thought of using one of her coupons for a free stay at hotel, however, we decided that other people may have the same idea and just used their coupons. So, we just decided that staying home and turning on the A/C during the afternoons is a better idea. We basically just tried to relax and watch Koreanovela DVDs, although my husband spent most of last week's long vacation on fixing stuffs and arranging our bedroom (I stayed away because my son had some sort of viral exanthem and I'm pregnant, hence we're being extra careful). It was capped by an Easter egg hunt (this deserves a separate blog entry).

Oh, I was able to submit most of my tax papers to my accountant to prepare my ITR. (Deadline set by the BIR was yesterday).

I hope we'd be able to have a better, more fun vacation next year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We're Just Home This Holy Week

Although Orlando vacations are a lot of fun for the whole family, we've opted to just stay home during this long Holy Week break. There are several reasons for this. One, I'm pregnant and while traveling is really quite safe, we'd really just feel better if we stay put. Two, my son had some sort of viral exanthem and is still recovering from it. Three, my mom still has difficulty walking around, although she has improved a lot since her accident. Four, we need to save -- both for my Cesarean delivery this June and my son's tuition fees.

Anyway, my son and daughter (yes, it's a daughter!) would enjoy the trip more if they're a little older. That means we have more time to save up for a grand vacation in a few years' time, hopefully before we get too old! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Difficult times

Most Filipinos know of Chinese are good merchants. That's because most Chinese immigrants to the Philippines, including my grandfather, became tradesmen. They didn't really have much choices then, since most of them were not able to get advanced education like most of us now do. My grandfather was still a teenager when he had to find his fortune here, far away from his family, which was basically subsisting on farming. Trade was almost the only thing they could do if they wanted to earn big money someday, assuming that they get lucky. Some actually did, with hard work and determination. We now see the likes of Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwei etc., among the list of the richest men in the Philippines and even the world.

Such should serve as inspiration to us that no matter what circumstances we're in, there's always something you can do to better yourself, as long as you have the guts and the determination to make it work. This should make you seek out, and not just wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. In today's world, such opportunities may come even easier if you keep an open mind. There's the ukay ukay trend which happened just after the Baguio earthquake. There are now some great bargains through online auctions which I'm thinking would be very saleable here, if the price is right. These opportunities are all out there for us to take it, if we just want to. Hard times or not, you can always do something.