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Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama!

It's my mother's birthday today. I am so amazed. The biggest female influence in my life, the woman who give birth to me, raised me, nagged me to be a better person is now celebrating her ____th birthday. She remains as lovely as ever.

I still do not know what to give her for her birthday. She has better taste than me and I really do not have a big budget. I mean, I would buy gold for her if I could afford it, but I would have to save up for months in order to be able to set aside enough money, what with so many different expenses that we cannot give up right now, like my son's tuition expenses! (I'd still shop for the gold, since it's a great investment option either for me and also for her, and with online merchants like the US Gold Bureau, it's so much easier to buy...but I won't be able to buy it right now -- maybe in a few months' time.)

But I know that whatever I give her, she will (hopefully) still be happy that we thought about her.

I know we've had a lot of differences in opinion and some quarrels. But there is no other person in the world that loves me the way she loves me, even if she's not showy about it. And while I may seem like a pasaway daughter some of the time, deep in my heart, she is always the mom that I admire and love with all my heart.

Happy birthday, Mama!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eat all you can vegetarian feast at IBPS

Earlier, we had lunch at the Mabuhay IBPS Buddhist Temple in P. Ocampo St., Manila. The event: an eat-all-you-can vegetarian feast. All for only 300 pesos! The tickets were sold old days before, and my mom, who was one of the volunteers, had some difficulty is getting some for us.

So, was the price of the ticket worth it? Yes! There were about 60 different dishes served. It was a pity that I did not get to take pictures. The venue was spacious despite the number of people and the aircons were strong enough to ensure that the patrons were comfortable. Of course, my mom did say that the devotees and volunteers actually subsidized the cost of the food as some of the ingredients were quite expensive. Anyway, for IBPS, it was a way for them to introduce vegetarian dishes to the general public. Most people do not know that vegetarian dishes can be actually good tasting, even without any meat or seafood products and without some spices like garlic and onion which Buddhist devotees go without. Some even think that such a meal may serve as a colon cleansing detox. And of course, it shows the Buddhist principle of showing compassion to animals by refusing to kill them and eat them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aku!

It's my brother's birthday today and I still haven't gotten anything for my kid's sometimes-surrogate-dad (when we're out, that is)! Well, we did buy some drinks for his birthday dinner but that's it. I don't know what I can buy him that he either needs or wants which falls within my budget. Sigh.

Since he's into steaks, I'm thinking of buying online coupons from buyanihan for 2 orders of steak at Slice and Dice as a birthday present. He'd probably enjoy it, and it's pretty cheap for me.  Too bad the coupons are redeemable only at their Cubao branch. I wish they could also be used at the Granada branch, since this is nearer to us. I think he'd appreciate it, nonetheless.

If you happen to be interested in the Buy 1 Take 1 deal of Slice and Dice, click here and you may be able to buy 2 steaks for only 99 pesos!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lotto pot for charity?

There's this congressman who's proposing capping lotto winnings and contributing the excess to charity. He's saying that lotto with large pots like the current 6/55 pot of almost 700million pesos contributes to a culture of gambling, making people lazy and relying on the elusive luck to pull them out of poverty and even gambling away their food money.

While it may be true that some people do that, it applies to any pot, be it big and small (relatively). There will always be people who gamble, whether legally or illegally. But you don't really see people actually giving up their jobs or their investments on the off chance that they will be "saved" by winning in the lotto. People continue to invest in the usual things, like real estate, stocks, bonds, some buy gold bullions, and others invest in a business of some sort. These do not change just because he/she was tempted to put in a bet at the lotto. People still have sense, ya know.

Truth be told, I'm wary of "having the money contributed to charity". As far as I know, the lotto already has a portion set aside for charity. And, sorry, but I do not have faith in politicians when it comes to money. It is difficult to make a check and balance for "charity", especially when there are people in power who are behind it.

If I do become lucky enough to win, I will give to charity...anonymously. I won't upgrade my lifestyle too much. Maybe just buy a modest house. But I'll still continue to do the work that I am doing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ipad still out of touch

I've been salivating over the IPad for a while, but the price tag is making me hold back. I even stayed for the fellowship night in our convention (I usually do not do so) because of the slight chance that I might be the lucky winner of the year's most coveted gadget. No dice. Somebody else was lucky enough to win. Sigh.

If a relative or friend would be coming home from the States, I might consider doing shopping online on Cyber Monday and having them handcarry the ipad. But I do not know of any. Sigh again.

Maybe I'll just go out and buy one of the lookalikes/imitations. Most of them are made in China that's why their price tag is so much lower. I've heard some of them are pretty good. But it's a touch and go thing. You may get a good deal, or you may end up with a lemon of a gadget. But at 1/4 of the price of the real ipad. Hmmmm....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mommy tummy

I do not see a lot of *really* big and fat people in our family, although a few of us do need to lose some weight. Me included. I'm need to lose about 9 pounds BUT more than that I need to lose the stubborn tummy that looks still looks pregnant more than a year after my Cesarean section. Sigh. For me, the question is not "do diet pills work" in losing the weight but do they work in giving me a better shape. I still think it should be good old fashioned exercise. And maybe less carbs. Good luck to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas is almost here!

Time flies! We're now on the second half of November. You can't help but notice Christmas peeking around the corner especially with all the Christmas decors and lights around (which reminds me -- we haven't put up our Christmas tree yet!)

I haven't gotten around to making up my Christmas gift list but I suppose I should -- VERY SOON! I might just give *some* youngsters ang pao especially if it's difficult to think of gifts. Key word being "might". I'm also thinking of Red Envelpe gifts for mom on christmas, not the literal ang pao (red envelope) but gift suggestions for women who seem to have everything. Maybe I'm missing something nice that she might enjoy.

Anybody care to give me suggestions? Gifts that won't break the bank please!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SSS

Many older Chinese do not really know about social security benefits. My grandfather never collected his retirement benefits from SSS, even if he had contributed for several decades. I am not sure if my grandmother ever collected. I was told that she was entitled to get her benefits AND my grandfather's benefits as well...including interest. It would be substantial, since my grandmother is already 90, which means she has 25 (or 30 years, if you start counting from 60 years old) years of unclaimed retirement benefits. My grandfather passed away 9 years ago at 87, so that's 22 years of unclaimed retirement benefits, not to mention funeral claims and death claims, which my grandmother is entitled to. I don't know if my uncles have helped her with it. Maybe I should ask him.

Even my mom hasn't gotten around to claiming benefits for her own retirement AND my dad's death and funeral claims. I (or one of my brothers) should find time to accompany her to SSS so that she can process her papers. Sayang din yun. I hope it would not be difficult to file her claim. She also has to have her picture taken for her SSS ID since she doesn't have the credit card type ID yet. Hmmm, have to prioritize this.

As for me, I've used mine for my maternity benefits -- once for my H. mole, then when I gave birth to R. Sayang nga I wasn't able to claim when I gave birth to E, because I didn't know about SSS maternity benefits then and unfortunately my brother forgot to put in my contributions that's why I was no longer entitled by that time (grumble). Anyway it was a learning experience so I knew better the next time around.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cancer

The secretary in our office just informed me that her uncle, who was suffering from cancer for quite a while, passed away this morning.

This made me think of my dad, who passed away 10 years ago, at the age of 58, from lung cancer. While he was a nonsmoker, his friends do. We all believe that he was a victim of second hand smoking.

My grandfather was also a lung cancer victim but he survived for more than fifteen years before succumbing to another disease at age 87. He was a chain smoker, so it was not really unexpected. He only quit when his cancer was diagnosed and turned to hard candies for his oral cravings.

I don't really know if the electronic cigarette katherine heigl smoked on the Letterman show would have been a better alternative to the usual tobacco products. Some people say they do, but I need to see more proof.

Seeing how my dad suffered through his illness, I wouldn't wish anyone else to get this disease. It doesn't kill you immediately but makes you suffer little by little in which there is little hope for escape.

I know I have to watch out as genetics plays a big part, but I should also do my part in minimizing the chances of me or my family members getting it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A pension house in Hong Kong

The last time I went to Hong Kong was almost 6 years ago, during my honeymoon. It's funny, really, how we ended up honeymooning in Hong Kong when we had wanted to go to Bohol. We were able to book a flight but were not able to get a hotel. After our wedding, we still didn't have a place to honeymoon! It was a last minute decision. Since it was going to be my husband's first overseas trip, we had to get a passport for him ASAP. Good thing the rush processing at that time took only 3 days. But we experienced an unexpected delay while going to the Department of Foreign Affairs -- the car broke down. Sigh, more delays.

Anyway, when we got his passport and booked our tickets, we only had 3 days for the honeymoon! Not only was it last minute, it was also very short! We weren't able to book a hotel (for some reason, hotel bookings were different to come by during that time) but the travel agency handed me a business card of a pension house where we can stay in. I was able to call the owner/caretaker and had a room reserved for us. It was much cheaper than hotels, only HKD 250 per night, I believe. And located in Causeway Bay, which is a good location.

When we got off our plane, we rode the airport bus to the stop that the pension house owner/caretaker specified. We weren't sure how to get to the place so we called him up again. He got out and met us near the bus stop and led us to our home for the next 3 days.

It's actually a typical condominium building. Unlike here in the Philippines, there was no security guard or receptionist when you enter the building, just a caretaker who looks at everyone who enters then resumes looking at the monitor showing images of the different security cameras positioned all throughout the building. We rode the elevator and when we got off, we saw more security cameras along the hallway.

We were brought to one of the condo units. This was not a large unit, but it has 4 bedrooms. There is a small common area with a refrigerator, a telephone and a water dispenser. Of the 4 rooms, 3 are for rent, 1 is for the caretaker. We were given a room with a queen sized bed. It's not bad. All the amenities that I would be looking for are there: A/C, TV, a comfortable bed with clean sheets, bathroom with clean towels and basic toiletries, also hot and cold shower. It's smaller than the usual hotel room, but it serves its purpose of providing us a place to sleep. Anyway, we were out most of the time anyway. And it's near a grocery, food places, the MTR station and a bus stop. So convenient. Payment is in cash and in Hong Kong dollars. We paid just before we left for the airport.

It would have been ok for me to go there again if I go back to Hong Kong and if I could not find a hotel. Unfortunately, I gave the calling card to my brother and I think he already lost it sometime ago. It is not in most travel websites or mags because I think it's just a small time operation -- just 3 rooms for rent! But now I know that aside from hotels, there are other options for lodging in Hong Kong, especially if one is on a budget.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Saint's Day -- Tsinoy version

We followed the Pinoy tradition of visiting our dearly departed at the cemetery yesterday. While we had similar traditions with the usual Pinoys like the lighting of candles and offering of flowers, we also had offering of food. Following Chinese tradition, we also lighted incense and burned "paper money", which are specially made paper marked with gold paint and folded to look like ancient Chinese gold bars.

The traditional Chinese belief is that our dearly departed will come feast on the food. Food is quite plentiful, 6 different kinds of viands, 5 different kinds of fruits, and oftentimes some other extras. I don't know about other families, but we do not leave the foods in the cemetery -- we usually eat or give out the "leftovers".

The candles have to be lighted in pairs. That's why the number of candles are always even and there are plenty of them. Also, the colors of the candles represent how long the person has been dead. White candles mean that the person has been dead for less than a year, yellow candles if between 1-2 years, red candles for more than 2 years.

The "paper money" is believed to be used by the dearly departed in the afterlife. We burn some of these during anniversaries and feasts for the dead, but there are a lot more during November 1 since most relatives go to the cemetery at around this time and give some of these as part of their offerings.

We do not stay overnight like most Pinoys do.

I guess Pinoys would find some of our practices weird, but I find them meaningful, even symbolically. We all have different ways of showing our love and respect for the people who have gone before us. This is how our Tsinoy family does it.