Friday, April 29, 2005

With the Kuyas

Our little sun-fest will soon be over.
The sound you hear is the sound of me sighing.

Here I am with my brothers. There are three things of note (or of no note whatsoever, depending on who you might be) about this picture.

1) We have not taken a picture together since my wedding day.

2) It documents our first vacation together in more than 20 years.

3) This is not a perm gone comically wrong; it is my actual hair,
left to its own insane devices.
(I figured if I was on vacation, my hair should be, too.)

the kuyas

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Here is the spot where I impressed my nephews by reaching down into the water and—all She-Ra Princess of Power-like—uncovering the most humungous black rocks from below and hoisting them up. What can I say?—Soooo easy to entertain.

They're headed back home to the North Shore on the noon plane. :•(

Mo Maui

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Day 2

Here is my nephew Malakai with a lizard hanging from his earlobe:


Tan Status:
Getting there

Local Fave (inspiring a Proustian moment):
Diamond Crackers

Relaxation Level:

Odd Discovery:
Vida likes li hing mui

Monday, April 25, 2005

I Am Here

Tan Status:
Bathing Suit Anxiety:
First Line of Beach Novel:
"Were you not told the story of the four children?"


Friday, April 22, 2005

Windy & Fuzzy Friday

'Tis not warm here. 'Tis windy. Allergies all a-twitter and whatnot. But. But about an hour ago I ran a word count on my story and it said "2,999." If I knew how to dance a jig, I'd dance a jig. Because it's a better story now; I feel it in my bones.


I love the Chatelaine's new shopping blog! And since blatant rip-offism is the sincerest form of flattery (and since wonderful Jean did it, too), I present my Ranch 99 receipt from the other day:

white shrimp headless

honeydew melon

kushpai sha he noodle (3 packs)

meiji yan yan chocolate & strawberry

back scratcher

glico kapukapu kapuriko chocolate

beef flank steak (2 packs)

crown broccoli

pea sprout

Okay, not too exciting. But read between the shopping lines, would you? I'm sure there's someone fascinating in there.


and later...

Oh, who am I fooling? This is not a warm and fuzzy Friday. In fact, I just had to ask the contractor (Sadistic Contractor Games aside, he's really quite nice) to help me rescue Risa, who flipped headfirst over an 8-foot fence into a neighbor's backyard. The configuration of the street is such that though this person is my neighbor, it would have taken me some minutes to run around to their house (they weren't home) to get Risa. So the contractor and his assistant climbed over the fence and handed her—kicking, screaming, and covered in dirt—to me. She was checking the "bug house" she'd hung on the neighbor's tree.

I suck at this half the time.

Nevertheless, happy weekend all.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Just Doing It

In an effort to shorten the amount of time it would normally take to determine which extra-circumnavigating activities (sportswise, at least) R & V would most enjoy, I opted to sign them up for a sort of sampler sports class. The first two weeks, they learned soccer fundamentals. At the end, they went two-on-two against the boys and I was shocked—completely shocked—at the volume of which I am capable when shrieking—shrieking—in their support. There was a long moment when Vida passed the ball to Ri, who then proceeded to dribble in the world's largest half-circle (yet still in bounds!), thwarting every attempt of the whippersnapper boys to steal the ball. As she approached the goal, I nearly lost my mind. I screamed so hard that veins were visible along my normally ladylike neck. Coach A. yelled, "She...could..go...all...the...way..." And she did! Then she ran to her sister and they did a jock hug, and I just wanted to lay on the grass and weep.

Yesterday? Day 1 of basketball. First of all, it took all my skills of manipulation to get them to don the yellow and red practice jerseys. Jersey that the boys, by the way, immediately threw on. "Sorry," I said to Coach A. "We're having fashion issues." After they spent 20 minutes spastically slapping at the ball ("I want you to try to push the ball when you dribble," said Coach A. "See? Push the ball. There you go, there you go, no, no, that's slapping again...") and/or hitting their feet which sent the ball zipping all over the court, I called the spousal unit and left a message. "I just want you to know that I think our dream of living vicariously through their WNBA careers is pretty much dead." Then I hung up and started laughing because, truth be told, I pretty much crack myself up.

The good news is that they didn't give up despite their frustration. And, well, there's always Day 2. Meanwhile, I'll sip hot tea and let my vocal chords heal.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Unlike two certain Filipino males who are gallivanting about the blogosphere sticking their thumbs in their ears, wiggling their fingers, and saying neener, neener, I have a secret, I am all about almost sort of kind of semi-complete disclosure. Unfortunately, also unlike these two certain males, my secret has nothing to do with lovely women, mysterious lists of poets, or any combination of the two.

And now I've built it up too much. We're going to Maui, that's all. On Sunday. For a week.

neener, neener, neener!


For anyone who's wondering, my word count is now 2,676. For anyone who's not wondering, I don't blame you. And I still like you. A little.


Have you all seen the beeeyootiful cover of Leny's new book? Can't wait to get my hands on it!


And, finally, today's Sadistic Contractor Game is called, "Sometimes Your Water Will Be On; Sometimes Your Water Will Be Off. Pee Accordingly."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Google Me This

Before I delve into another scintillating post about "Things That People Google That Lead Them, Sadly, To Me," I'd like to offer a late welcome to Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor. May she enjoy her stay in the land of blogs and honey.

And now, without further to-do, a recent Google Me This list:

1. cornrows + for + white + men
2. anna + kournikova's + butt
3. pinay + beauties + video
4. jack + n + poy + game
5. fingerless + gloves
6. high + school + smoking + pits
7. steve + miller + is + a + stoner
8. billy + don't + be + a + hero

Each of these thrills me in its own special way, but I must confess a fondness for "anna kournikova's butt." And perhaps that will thrill you in its own special way.

Clearly, I need sleep.

The Simple Life Starring Lea

My contractor is playing a sadistic (yes it is. It's sadistic) game in which he randomly turns the electricity on and off. Though I have nothing urgent to blog about (do I ever have anything urgent to blog about?), I feel compelled to beat him at his game by somehow producing a post before the power goes off again. And so...

This morning at Ranch 99, Lea requested some coins to throw in the sad little fountain out front. I handed her two pennies and told her she had to make a wish with each one. She tossed the first one in. After an excruciatingly long wait, she wished for "ice cream." (It sounded like this: "I wiss...I wiss...I wiss...I cweam!") She tossed the second one in and yelled, "I wish for a ponytail!"

And you know what I wish? I wish I could trade places with her for a day.

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's Warm. It's Fuzzy. It's Friday.

On my lap: Lives of the Saints (Quick! Name the patron saint of writers!*)
On the iPod: All Day Music - War (Quick! Name the patron saint of musicians!**)
To my left: Child magazine (Oh, you're so smart! Name the patron saint of children!***)
On the floor: box of s'mores Luna bars, almost empty (Now invent a patron saint of nutrition bars that are high in calcium and folic acid!****)

Okay, dumb game. But never mind—I am happy today! The sun is out, my shower was—miraculously—uninterrupted by small children tramping in and out, my hair is shiny, I'm wearing a girly skirt with a black peasant tee, and my red Cynthia Rowley flats are making their first Spring showing. Also, my current word count (see previous post, if you like) is 2,308. And also, the sub-floor is down in my kitchen.

So ends another Warm & Fuzzy Friday post. But before I go...behold the patron saint answers:

*St. Francis de Sales
**St. Cecilia or St. Gregory the Great
***St. Nicholas de Myra
****Um, how about St. Excuse to Basically Eat a Candy Bar?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Who's Counting?

Imposed word counts annoy me. Especially when I under- or overshoot them. Of course, due to my debilitating fear of someone falling asleep while reading my stuff, it's usually the former.

Hey, wake up.

To be more specific, I've written a story that's 1,997 words—words that I am perfectly happy with, by the by—and I've found a place for which it's suited (at least in the alternate universe known as VerWorld) in every way except that said place is asking for a minimum of 3,000 words. Coming up with 1,103 words is no small task for me. The only reason I'm considering it is because someone I trust read the story and liked it, but said she wanted it to be longer. So. How to proceed? One superfluous, awkwardly placed flashback? Blatant adverb abuse? Or maybe I'll comb carefully (ha! how's that for adverb abuse?!) through my trusted reader's feedback because—what a lucky duck I am—she generously pointed out the spots she felt might benefit from, well, more words.

I'm going for 100 words a day, each a jewel. Wish me buena suerte...

We Need A Moment

My blog and I are in the midst of a content-related disagreement. It's getting ugly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I'm Better With Coconut

Kutsinta: A sticky rice cake that is served for

Which Filipino Food Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

An aside having very little to do with my kutsinta-ness or lack thereof:

Place: Northshore, Oahu
Thing: Handpainted, spelling-challenged sign reading "Cold Cocont Here."
Kuya's Quip: "Hey, I know her."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Something Is Amiss

Something or other is amiss in my fifth chakra (yes, go ahead and laugh). To that end, I present various snippets (though not the juiciest ones; those are reserved for my other super-racy blog) from my head, starting with a few sentences and growing progressively longer.

The flutter of wings. Then nothing.


He cheated. He was a tiny, sneakered, whining ping-pong cheater.


She prayed once to lose her tonge and then remembered a girl who had none, her cheeks sunk deep in search of their rightful shape. She grew ashamed.


She was thirteen years old, but had the perfectly shaped hands of a beautiful woman. This was not necessarily the root of her problems, but it was certainly the beginning. Because when Arturo Jonas Miner saw them lifting a can of Coke to their owner's lips, he knew he must have them. At first he simply wanted to paint them, but the more he stared the more focused his desire became. He wanted to caress the hands, nurture and kiss them. He wanted to hide them from the rest of the world and smother them in cream.


I often tell people that my grandfather was the bastard son of a wealthy Spanish businessman whose name I never quite caught. It is close enough to the truth not to be a lie and besides, it is far easier than explaining that I came out looking this way because my great grandmother fell in love with a Chinese food importer (who was already married to a fifteen-year-old girl who would one day become a popular lounge singer in Manila) and, in turn, their daughter fell in love with an American soldier with black skin and yellow eyes. He didn't return her affections, but in his carelessness he left behind a child—my mother—who to this day draws curious stares from strangers. My mother fell in love with nobody at all, and as far as she knows my father was a German exchange student who studied at the International School one especially rainy and humid summer.


So maybe that will help. You never know.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Tooth Fairy is Freaking Out

Risa lost a tooth a few weeks ago. A tooth that the dentist says she ought not to have lost until the age of nine or ten (she is five). She also had a meltdown while having her teeth polished (something about the flavor of the polish being unbearable) and when the dentist attempted to rinse her mouth out for her with that little water gun thing, Risa promptly spit the water back up into the dentist's face.

That happened this morning. I keep waiting for the day to get better, but it looks like a no-go. Keeping my fingers crossed for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Poems Are Spark-y

I was just flitting through my entries at Diaryland, where I share work with my online writing pals Cecilia Brainard, Nadine Sarreal, Susan Evangelista, Erma Cuizon, and Marianne Villanueva. We usually take turns offering up prompts, and then we write something—anything, sometimes even just a paragraph—and post it over the weekend. I went through a phase where I was giving prompts from different poems because I was attracted to the possibility of a poetic image sparking a short story (hey, that sounds kinda dirty). I remember that the first few lines of Jamie Jacinto's "Heaven Is Just Another Country" produced some fine writing from our little ragtag group.

Anyways, I'd completely forgotten that I used Oliver's Names Above Houses one week! Though I only produced two less-than-stellar paragraphs, I thought it might be fun to show you how I responded. Or maybe it won't be fun. Maybe it will be incredibly painful. In which case, I'm sorry, but it's too late to turn back now.

So, the first sentence belongs to Oliver:

All day he would gather twine from his mother's frayed skirts and braid them into wreaths of darker hues.

Years later, when he was no longer a young man, he would find the lumps of cloth in his attic in a box marked "Memories." He turned them over in his hands, impressed by the weight of some of them, but unable to remember how they came to be or what they represented. He held them to his nose, then against his cheek. He threw one at a mouse that scuttled out from behind a suitcase.

Eventually, he brought the box downstairs to his wife. Being a practical woman, she used them to block the terrible drafts that snuck through the cracks beneath the doors in the house they both hated. It was winter in Chicago, and they were such a long way from home.

And, well, that is all.

The Incredible Shrinking House

The kitchen is being demolished as I type (man, is it loud). So try to envision this if you will:

•The foyer is now the kitchen (let's hear it for hot plates and microwaves!).
•The bathtub is now the kitchen sink.
•The linen closet is now the pantry.
•The living room is now the office and dining room.
•The den is now the playroom.
•Our bedroom is now a storage facility.
•The upstairs bedrooms and bath do not exist for three more weeks.

Perhaps the worst part is that we moved all three girls into Lea's bedroom and, being naive and short-sighted, moved only the mattresses, not the beds. Which means that the room is essentially one big fucking trampoline.

I'll be making a trip to the emergency room before all this is through. Whine, whine, whine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Fall, The Valor

Written with advance apologies for all that I don't know and/or yet understand. I'm still learning.

Not to get all historical on you, my unsuspecting readers, but I spent the morning reading about the Fall of Bataan and now of course can't help but blog about it. I didn't, by the way, realize how close we are to the anniversary of the surrender, which happened on April 9, 1942 and is called "The Day of Valor" in the Philippines.

So the essay I was reading, "King of Bataan," written by one Thaddeus Holt, praises General Edward King Jr. who, in direct opposition to President Roosevelt's no-surrender order, made the heart-wrenching decision to hand over his gun and his starving, diseased troops—some 66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans at the onset of the last battle—to the Japanese. When he asked for assurance that his men would be well treated, the Japanese staff colonel standing in for General Homma (who refused to take the meeting with King) famously replied, "The Imperial Japanese Army are not barbarians."

We all know what happened then: up to 10,000 Filipinos and 650 Americans died on the death march to Camp O'Donnell where, in a few more weeks, at least 15,000 more Filipinos and 1,600 Americans would perish.

Not wanting his boss, General Wainwright, to bear any responsibility for the surrender, General King made the decision on his own. I can't imagine his anguish once he began to witness the gross physical and mental abuse of his men at the hands of the Japanese. After the war, he fully expected to be court-martialed for disobeying orders, no matter that his decision saved thousands of lives. Instead, his career was simply over—something he apparently never complained about. He took care that those who served under him received medals and recognition, and through it all, he pointedly defended that arrogant arse MacArthur, who returned the favor by pretending not to know him (not know your third in command? Whatever, Dougie) at some reception in Washington. "I believe he does not like to be reminded of Bataan," King wrote to a friend. You think?

Anyways, I found this whole story—which I later googled like mad, you can bet—terribly moving, especially knowing that Bino's late father and my Lola Engueng's late husband were both survivors. Thaddeus Holt ended his essay saying that General King devoted much of his retirement to the Red Cross. When asked to speak at this local function or that, he stuck to a few themes, one of which was Do not forget the loyalty of the Filipinos. He died in 1958. His headstone bears words from St. Luke. It says, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."


Here is a picture of General King.
Here is Bino's poem for his father, Augusto Roa Realuyo, who was a Bataan veteran and Death March survivor.
And here, a link to articles about the heroic Philippine Scouts.

Monday, April 04, 2005


When Lea and I arrived to pick up R & V at preschool, I was immediately ushered into the center of the Celebration Time Circle. This made me surprisingly self-conscious. I thought reading to college students was bad; turns out it's nothing compared to standing in the middle of the Celebration Time Circle being stared at by 25 small people. Just as I was about to improvise some sort of dance/mime/tumbling performance for their amusement, Teacher J. began to strum his guitar and I was treated to a resounding, delightfully out-of-tune rendition of the Birthday Song. Then the circle closed in on me, and I got a big ol' group hug that soon morphed into a group tackle that almost resulted in my landing face-first on the rug. Fortunately, I managed to remain upright. Risa and Vida, having orchestrated the entire thing, had huge grins on their faces. It was so corny. In a good way.

P.S. Thanks, all, for the bday snail/e-mails! And a special thank you to kuya mike for my killer mango mousse cake...

Friday, April 01, 2005

You Say It's Your Birthday...'s my birthday, too! On Monday, that is.

I'm going to count yesterday as a birthday treat because I had a grown-ups only lunch with my cousin and her husband at Machi in J-town. The conversation was excellent, if a bit macabre: my cousin is the principal of a private special education school and her husband teaches special ed. at Washington High in the city, and they told me all about behavior in young kids and teenagers that signals future sociopathic tendencies. Yikes. We then raided Kinokuniya Bookstore, where I stocked up on books for the girls before moving on to the stationery store to participate in a frenzy of notebook-buying that left me breathless and glassy-eyed.

A fine afternoon.

I am now going to share the secret to an excellent birthday. Listen up, one and all...the key is to have low expectations. That way, all the sweet little things that happen—from a couple of cards in the mail to, I don't know, a chewy fudge brownie (no nuts, thanks) after dinner—automatically become so sparkly that by nightfall you begin to glow from the residual light. It works, I swear.

Does that count as a Warm & Fuzzy Friday Post? If not, let me know and I'll give it another shot before the sun sets.