Wednesday, June 21, 2006


We were having lunch at a Chinese restaurant last Sunday when Markus said, “I’m the only normal person in this family.” He then started to rattle off a short critique on each family member starting from Gabriel. When he got to me, he said, “Mom laughs at everything.” I started to laugh.

“See,” he said. I laughed harder.

“Mom is deaf. She didn’t hear what you said,” Gabriel butted in. I couldn’t stop laughing. Even the jab at my hearing sounded funny to me. Truth to tell, I don’t always get what my kids tell me until they speak slowly. So they tease me. It’s a running joke around the house. Even I laugh at my own “deafness”.

Markus is right. It takes little to make me laugh. And with funny kids like mine, I'm one happily abnormal or abnormally happy person.

Friday, June 16, 2006


“Mom, did we have a better car in the Philippines?” Gabriel asked me this morning on our way to their school.

“Yes,” I said. “We had a new ’93 Honda Civic. We got it the year you were born.” The Honda Accord I currently drive is ’91.

“Yeah, I can still remember the seat covered in plastic,” Mickey recalled. We had a good laugh about it. “Mom, is that a Filipino thing, the plastic?” Mickey asked. He mentioned that the sofa set in the house of his Filipino friend here was still covered in plastic.

“I think so,” I answered. Then I recalled how we. when I was still single, used to have a nice velvety orange living room set which we kept covered in plastic until the plastic got brittle and quite torn. Only then did we actually enjoy the couch's nice velvet feel. I remember that so well. I chose the set with my parents.

The plastic covering can make you all sweaty in the hot weather of the Philippines but it keeps the furniture (or the car seat) looking new longer. It protects the seat too especially when there are kids. Besides, there's too much dust in the air. I think we kept the plastic on our Honda Civic until we got car seat covers.

This plastic tradition is probably uniquely ours. It is so common among Filipino homes that it was parodied in the Pinoy sitcom Abangan and Susunod na Kabanata.

“I think we are the only culture who does that, Mom,” Mickey said.

I think so too. But here, I wouldn’t think twice about discarding it assuming I’ll get a living room set brand new. Nah. I like what I already have.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The power of words

When I was about 9, I had three close buddies in our neighbourhood. The four of us played frequently, sometimes all four of us together or two or three at a time. One day, someone suggested that we each reveal who our best friend was. Joyce volunteered to go first.

“She's my best friend because she does not share my secrets,” Joyce started with a tinge of melodrama and suspense. Then she continued, “My best friend is Lerryblossoms.”

I was somewhat flattered but nonetheless surprised. I wasn’t sure I was as loyal as Joyce had described me to be. I wasn’t even sure she was my best friend.

Because of this incident, I tried to live up to Joyce’s pronouncement on my character. The impact of her kind words and faith in my trustworthiness followed me, and continues to follow me through adulthood. I have loads of confidential matters entrusted to me by friends and acquaintances, deep secrets I will take with me to the crematorium.

Words have the power to give life or death, the Bible says. I totally agree. I try to speak life-giving words to my children hoping that some of these will shape their behaviour the way Joyce’s simple statement influenced mine. “You did it!”… “You are good in Math (or Arts or whatever)….” “You will grow up to be a fine man.”… “You will succeed.”… “You have great potential.”… “You are very smart.”… “You are a good helper.”…

Be generous with praise. How often do we hear it said? And I mean genuine praise, not flattery or condescension. Try it and see it work in someone's life.