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My son turned 3 years old yesterday, July 20.  Instead of celebrating with a big party (like what we did last year), we decided to give a small party in his school and then we will celebrate again with family and friends this Saturday.  Here are some of the pictures we took for his birthday celebration yesterday.

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It seems like only yesterday when I gave birth to Enzo.  I can still vividly recall that day.  It was a Sunday and early in the morning, about 730AM, I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom.  I spent about an hour in the bathroom and my hubby was getting concerned.  Fortunately, Nanay was still okay at that time and when she came home from church, Dean told her I had been in the bathroom for an hour.  She told me to get out of there because it was already time.  So I got ready and we arrived at the hospital at about 10AM.  I had a short but painful labor, but I think I was physically and emotionally ready for it because of all the pregnancy books I read (they do help!).  Enzo came out at 1:17 PM.  I had a natural childbirth (no epidural, no pain medication).  It was truly a wonderful, life-changing experience that I will never forget.

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I'd like to remember Nanay the way she was before her stroke.  She was a woman always on the go, with the energy of a 30-year-old.  People always thought her younger than her years.  She was involved with a lot of stuff.  She was active in our parish and served as our only lay delegate to the diocesan synod.  She was the Vice-President of her alumni association.  She never said no to assignments to head committees or lead prayer meetings in BLD.  As a teacher, she shared her expertise with students in both the undergrad and graduate levels.  She was a strict and demanding teacher.  But what she demanded from her students, she also demanded from herself.  She challenged her students to test their limits, to never be satisfied with mediocrity, and to reach for their dreams. 

As a mother, she gave the best to her children.  Even with limited finances, she made sure we got the best education.  She took us on trips to widen our horizons and make us aware of a world beyond that with which we are familiar.  She took care of us in every aspect – even cleaning our rooms and fixing our closets when we were old enough to do it ourselves.  She pushed us, encouraged us, and helped us to realize our full potentials.  She was everything a mother could be – and more. 

Nanay before her stroke was an excellent school administrator, an accomplished teacher, a good writer, an eloquent speaker, a loving wife, a supportive mother, a doting grandmother.   

That's the Nanay I want to preserve in my memory.

When I was in high school, our guidance counselor gave this poem to me during a recollection.  I was 15 years old and in search of my own identity.  I went to an exclusive school for girls and most of my classmates belonged to families in the upper echelons of society.  I come from a middle-class family and my parents were not hacienderos.  So you could imagine the struggle I went through to belong.  I didn't have new clothes always and I couldn't buy the latest Tretorn or K-Swiss or Giordano shirt. 

This poem helped me to realize that I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not, and that it's okay to let people know who I really am. 

RISKS

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow.

But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are slaves.

They have forfeited their freedom –

Only a person who risks is free!

Both my parents love to cook.  My mom was a Home Economics major in college and my dad learned how to cook from his mother.  When they were starting out in their married life and money was hard to come by, they turned to cooking to augment their income.  They would cook siopao and piaya (a Bacolod delicacy) to sell to their friends.

It was no surprise, therefore, that we were raised in the kitchen and taught how to cook at an early age.  Since my mom loved to bake, she taught me how to make cookies, cakes, and other goodies.  I didn't like making ulam, but I loved baking.  I was about 10 or 11 when my mom taught me how to make meringue, which I would sell to my classmates for P1 apiece.  I remember my sister and I would bake cookies almost every Saturday, and I had a childhood friend with whom I also cooked.  We would take turns baking in each other's homes.  While other kids were out playing patintero, we were in the house baking – and eating, of course – our goodies. 

My dad worked as an engineer in a sugar central where we also lived.  We had a huge lawn which was surrounded by many fruit bearing plants, such as santol, indian mango, and bananas.  There was a time that we had an unusually huge harvest of bananas (the green kind), and since we couldn't eat them all, my mom taught me how to make banana cake.

After my first few failed attempts, I finally got the recipe right, and pretty soon, I was cooking banana cake for birthdays, specialy occasions, and every time we had an oversupply of bananas.  Eventually, my siblings got tired of it, but my mom would always ask me to make banana cake.  Now, every time I see a banana cake, I am reminded of a happy childhood and the warmth of my mother's kitchen.

Here's the recipe to my banana cake:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 1/4 tsp. baking power

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter or margarine 

2/3 cup buttermilk

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (4-5 medium sized lakatan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Add shortening and half of the buttermilk.  (To prepare buttermilk, place 2 tsp. vinegar or calamansi juice in a measuring cup.  Add milk to make 2/3 cup.)  Mix until flour is moistened.  Add eggs, bananas, and other half of the buttermilk.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into greased and floured muffin pan.  Bake for 35 minutes or until done.

Now that I have 2 kids of my own, I can't wait to teach them the joys of cooking… maybe in a few years when they become taller than the kitchen table.

I received an email from Iska today, inviting me to join Lasang Pinoy 8.  This time, the theme is Kusinang bulilit, lutong paslit! To those who don't know what Lasang Pinoy is, click here.

Since this is my first time to be invited to this event (feeling ko tuloy certified blogger na ako when I got this invitation!), I'm very excited about it.  I've been thinking of how my parents taught us how to cook at a very young age.  I still have to arrange my thoughts, though, so this is not going to be my entry.  I'll write my entry later, when I'm not so busy and my mind is not so cluttered.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank Iska for the invite.  I hope I can do justice to the invitation. 🙂  Thanks again, Iska!

My new blog friend Dinna (Pinay New Yorker) wrote a post on high school memories.  She ended the post with the question: What do you remember about your high school days? I started posting a comment which got very long.  The memories just came rushing.  So I decided to cut everything and post it in my blog na lang…so that I’ll have something to post naman. Hehe.

Anyway, here are some of the things I remember during my high school days.

1.  I was a newcomer in high school and the first thing I told my mom when I got home after the first day of school was that I wanted to go back to my old school because the girls in my new school were all snotty and stuck-up.  I felt I couldn’t fit in because I was surrounded by children of hacienderos who talked about their summer vacation in the US while the farthest place I’ve been to at that time was Baguio.

2.  I remember getting into a shouting match with some girls in class after an election.  One of the girls in “the other group” called one of our friends a moron and we got so mad and started shouting at each other.  Our teacher was a guy (the only male teacher in our school at that time) and he was getting quite agitated and didn’t know how to make us stop. Haha! Poor Sir Arca!  My mom was called by the principal – for the first time! – because of my misbehavior and I nearly got kicked from the honor roll.  That was the first time I used to F word against a classmate. Haha!

3.  Sweet Valley High was the hottest read at that time.  Some girls in my class created a newsletter for our batch (we were Freshmen that time) in the fashion of the SVH school paper (forgot the name na) where they lambasted our teachers.  Our batch became well known from that time on.

4.  We had cooking class in sophomore year and our teacher, Mrs. Ledesma, taught us more than just cooking.  She told us never to sit on our boyfriend’s lap.  Haha! She was such a cute lady.  I also remember that we had an Interaction with the guys from La Salle and everyone was so excited that our maja blanca got burned!  We were so busy going in and out of the comfort room to fix our hair.  The ozone layer must have thinned by a couple of inches that day because everyone was using spraynet!

5.  I would spend hours in the library after school hours.  My friends thought I was studying but I was actually poring over the “adult” books (mostly novels by Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, and Harold Robbins) which were reserved for fourth year students only.  Since I couldn’t take them out, I would read the books in the library na lang. 

6.  My first sex education came from steamy romance novels with very vivid descriptions.  This is where I learned a lot of synonyms for the male sex organ (member, shaft, etc.).  The friend who introduced me to these novels would put paper clips on those pages where all the sex scenes were and we would huddle around her to read those juicy parts. Haha!  We even covered the book with bond paper or yellow paper so that our teacher wouldn’t see the well-endowed lady with the very tight corset carousing with a very muscular, long-haired man on the cover (I think he was a model named Fabio).

7.  I remember searching far and wide for extra-curricular activities that I could join during the summer so that I could earn points and graduate with honors.  I couldn’t rely on my grades alone because involvement in extra-curricular activities was given a 30% weight in the computation of the final average.  On the summer before fourth year, I joined a summer camp for streetchildren (as a facilitator, not a participant ha!) and there I learned the true spirit of volunteerism and service.  I wish I could still do that now, but with work, marriage, kids, and other sidelines, I don’t think I can anymore.

8.  I learned to love Math even more in high school.  While most of my teachers dreaded our Geometry teacher (God bless her soul!), I enjoyed her daily recitations because it kept me on my toes and challenged me.  But I didn’t like Filipino mainly because I had a difficulty in speaking the language (as did most of my classmates) and because I was poor at talasalitaan. 😦

9.  And of course, who could forget the button system?  Our school has this English-speaking policy where three “buttons” (poker chips, actually) were given to each class and, at the beginning of the day, the class president is tasked to give these buttons to whoever she hears speaking the dialect (Ilonggo).  Whoever receives these buttons should be on the lookout for those speaking the dialect and should pass them on before the end of the day when the president checks who holds the buttons.  Those caught several times (forgot how many) would get deductions from their English grade at the end of the grading period.  At that time, it was quite effective for us.  I don’t know if it still works now or if it is still in place.  But we were really obedient students at that time and we pretty much followed the rules.  I was forced to speak English and I thank my school for that strict, but very effective, policy. (Actually, Tuesday-Friday were English-speaking days but Monday was a Filipino-speaking day – just another reason for me to hate Mondays. Hehe.)

10.  On our last year in high school, we went on a field trip to Manila.  I have a lot of memories of that trip but the one that really stands out was when we rode the LRT for the first time from Vito Cruz to Baclaran.  We were divided into groups and had one adult (either a teacher or a parent) for our chaperone.  My friends and I agreed that we were going to speak Tagalog while in the train so that we wouldn’t be mistaken for foolish probinsyanas and be taken advantaged of.  We were all happily conversing in Tagalog when our teacher started shouting to us in Ilonggo to get ready because we should be getting off in the next stop.  So much for trying to look and sound like a polished Manileña.

There are a lot more, but I wouldn’t want to go on and on.  There are so many memories, some nice and some not so nice (I don’t even want to think about my hs bf!) that they wouldn’t fit into this blog.  Oh well, that’s my high school life. 

Now it’s my turn to ask…what do you remember about your high school days? 🙂