Mar 27, 2011

Love in a Box

Bookish moms here's a story for you. 19-year-old college girl is kidnapped by Demented Pervert, imprisons her in his backyard shed, then uses her as his concubine. She eventually bears a son, and with her child she shares the 11x11 foot dungeon-of-no-escape. And so begins her life as fiercely-loving Ma to wonderful Jack. For years, their only link to the outside world are nightly visits by their captor whom they call Old Nick.

With a plot like that, this book could have just become a cheap, sordid, voyeuristic read inspired by the Josef Fritzl case. Far from it. As someone from The New Yorker puts it, Room is "a horror story redeemed by radiant prose." I see it as the story of how Jack and his Ma save each other. And I'm not just talking about saved from captivity.

Writer Emma Donoghue makes 5-year-old Jack the narrator of her novel and this works out brilliantly. There is nothing like a child explaining Life's Truths so simply, and nothing like a dire situation to highlight Life's Truths. Parenthood truly makes us most vulnerable. At the same time, it is also what gives us strength to forge ahead… imprisonment, emotional torture and nightly-rape-be-damned.

Ma is smart, wise and brave. She's the kind of fighter any good mother should be. Jack is childhood goodness and imagination personified. But they are not airbrush-perfect people. They are also damaged and flawed, at times weak despite their resilience. Their story is painful, but ultimately it is a beautiful mother-child love story. Mothers, you will respond to this! This novel will grip you. It will make you ask yourself profound questions. I just finished reading Room and after being emotionally walloped I am now bursting with Hope.

Viva La Vida, Ma!

Mar 24, 2011

How To Be Alone

To My Dearest Bear and Cheecha,

I often walk into experiences just when I need them. Here, again, The Universe speaks to me, in poetry form. While this lesson on How To Be Alone resonates right here, right now, I know one day this will be relevant to you as well. Press play. This is important for you to understand.

To be alone in Manila can be hard, in many ways, for many reasons. Cliques and social class and Family Names are too big a deal here. This is Herd City, where people will think you strange when you watch a movie or eat at a nice restaurant by yourself. As a friend puts it, even going to the bathroom is a community event around here. It is also considered strange to be single at age 30, 40 or 50.

And then... Sometimes we get rejected. Sometimes we're seen as too different, not good enough to be part of certain herds. Sometimes you might feel alone even among people you're supposed to belong to. But then, to quote Tanya Davis above...
Lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.
In fact, let me share some of my fantasies, which actually involve being alone. One, go to an Ashram one day, just me and my bag. Two, soak up the moon and music in Coachella--dancing by myself, not caring about others thinking me weird. Exactly like this...
Dance like no one's watching...because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.
And yes, Universe and my dearest children, I am constantly working on this, as I think we all should...
It's okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can think like you, for this be relieved, keeps things interesting life's magic things in reach.
And it doesn't mean you're not connected, that community is not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. Take silence and respect it. If you have an art that needs practice, stop neglecting it. If your family doesn't get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don't obsess about it.
You could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it. If your heart is bleeding make the best of it. There is heat in freezing, be a testament.
So go off sometimes to be alone, embrace it. Do not fear being by yourself. Be a Testament. Then when you need company again, I am your quickest antidote to alone. Always.

Love from your permanent fixture,

Mar 22, 2011

Mongolia in 30 Hours

I'm finally all settled in. Here are the photos I promised. Credit to MacDaddy for the shots. Even with a 7-hour flight delay that reduced our trip to mere thirty hours in Mongolia, MacD still managed to get all the sightseeing we wanted done PLUS get our cold, frozen asses to the football game we planned to see. I'm hardly, by any standards, a football fan but MacDaddy is and if watching a game means getting to pack your bags, checking off Mongolia from our to-do list and experience what super sub zero weather is like, I'm so there. I guess Macdaddy's insanity has rubbed off on me after a dozen years. Let's do this before were too old, arthritis sets in and our joints won't be able to handle the cold, we convinced ourselves. Did I already mention we're insane that way?

Pinoy pride at the Philippines vs. Mongolia match

Thank you, Mongolia. That was a trip.

Mar 19, 2011


MacDaddy and I just got back from a quick 5-day adventure. The annual We-Time we promised ourselves ever since I learned to pack those bags with less guilt and less tears.

And... here is Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the coldest capital city in the world registering -15 degrees Celsius that crazy Tuesday morning. Brrrrr........

More photos, more kwento as soon as I catch my breath and defrost.

Mar 13, 2011

Cherry Blossoms and Beauty at the Pinto Museum

Actually, there are no cherry blossoms at the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo. There are bougainvilleas instead.

It's just that, after the recent disaster tsunami of tragically sad and scary proportions I thought, Your cherry blossoms will bloom again Japan. Sending light and positive thoughts to a beautiful country now gripped by tragedy.

And so...

While life can be tragic and painfully fleeting at times, there is still beauty and happiness in the world. Just like the simple beauty and happiness of visiting a lovely museum with kids in tow.

Narcissus, Salvador Alonday

Mr. Moo Wears a Leopard Hoodie, a favorite sculpture of hers by Plet Bolipata

Hollow, Nona Garcia using X-rays and light boxes to show altar figures

Bayan ng Ginhaw, Rodel Tapaya

Paraisado (Rampa), Jose Tence Ruiz with Danilo Ilag Ilag

Cheecha: Look, I'm a sculpture!

Why does this remind me of high school and college?

A thing of beauty for Cheecha. Into the Realm of Consciousness, Keiye Miranda

A thing of beauty for Bear. Playground, Jose Santos III

Pinto Art Museum is at The Silangan Gardens, 1 Sierra Madre Street, Grandheights Antipolo City. Call 697-1015 for directions and museum hours.

Mar 10, 2011

The Warriors

I'm back from the Breast Cancer conference in Orlando. Do you see me?

Considering many like me didn't know a single soul before we walked through those doors, the bonding was instant. And insanely beautiful. We were soldiers who fought - and continue to fight - the same war. And you just can't beat that.

We did yoga in the morning. We listened to doctors telling us the strides they are making to getting closer to a cure. We had pizza by the poolside. I attended a wonderful workshop on how to talk to your children about cancer. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. Why is it we all seem to turn to mush when it comes to our kids? I learned about mind-body connections. I learned how to breathe.

A lady stood on a podium and did her own version of a "cancer auction". I hear one year, one year. Do I hear one year?, she called out. And the one-year survivors stood up. Do I hear two? Two years? Many more stood. She went through every year. My knees were wobbly when I stood at twelve years. Sometimes I forget I've come such a long way. As each stood, the hope in the room grew. We were clapping and tearing when the last woman stood. A survivor of twenty six whole years. When we grow up we want to be just like her.

On our second night a lovely company called Pure Romance threw us a pajama party. You see when most women undergo treatment, being beautiful is the last thing we feel. Our self esteem hits rock bottom. Add losing key body parts, your hair and energy to that equation. Pure Romance offers a whole bunch of stuff to help in that department. Go google them if you want to see what I mean. You kids reading this, check with Mommy first. Let's just say these toys will never be found on the shelves of Toys R Us. We were squealing and laughing like kids in a bingo game as they called out numbers to raffle off everything on their catalogue. Our loot bags had all these tubes and gadgets, and yup, batteries included. Pasalubong, anyone?

We told our stories. We listened to other stories. We sang our hearts out in a nearby club. We danced. Yes. I danced for hours. Save for my brief obsession with Lorenzo Llamas and that 1984 Body Rock flick , I do not dance very much. But I danced for those who aren't around to dance anymore. And I danced because I am grateful I can.

Mar 3, 2011

Melancholy Hill

Bear loves the Gorillaz and Melancholy Hill is one of his favorite songs from Plastic Beach, so I could easily say this post is for him. But no. Let's be honest. This is for me. Mama needs to treat herself special once in awhile. Sometimes all that takes is some you-tube watching or enjoying a meditative run while this is melodically wafting from my earphones…

Wouldn't that just make the coolest lullabye ever? As I pleaded on my tumbler, Damon Albarn please stop being so hot and talented already.