Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Back from Edmonton

I finally had an opportunity to travel out of BC to another part of Canada -- Edmonton, Alberta. I volunteered to represent my department at the Edmonton Missions Fest last weekend. Fortunately, my office sent me. Send me anywhere for free!

Going there, our departure was delayed due to a snowstorm in Calgary where we were scheduled to stop over. The flight from Calgary to Edmonton was delayed again as the plane was de-iced and washed by a huge and powerful shower. All in all, I must have been sitting for about 8 hours. It was a good thing I brought an interesting book and an iPod.

It was -9 and snowing in Edmonton when I arrived at 10pm. I was prepared for the biting cold.

North Saskatchewan River is frozen.

Seeing my friend Beth at the airport was like a breath of warm air. It was so good to see her again after her family moved from BC last summer. This was an unexpected reunion. I stayed at her house in Edmonton.

Beth, her children and me. My very gracious hosts. (Not shown is Bert, Beth's hubby).

Their sixth floor apartment had a nice view of Edmonton. The landscape looked so vast. Not a mountain in sight.

View from my bedroom at daybreak.

On Friday, Beth and I drove to a commercial area called South Edmonton Common. When we chanced upon a Nike outlet store, we decided to check it out. I had planned to get two pairs of rubber shoes for Gino and myself to replace our worn-out ones. Tax in Alberta is just 6% compared to 13% in BC. I could save some. I was very happy with my purchases. Good Nike shoes for the price of Payless!

After lunch, I started my shift at Missions Fest. Beth drove me to the Shaw Conference Centre at downtown where it was taking place just across Canada place and overlooking North Saskatchewan River.

Shaw Conference Center on Jasper Avenue

The next day, I was scheduled to man our booth for seven hours with a three-hour break in between. I enjoyed meeting and greeting people. I got to chat with some.

During the break, I decided to walk around the area and find some place to sit and rest my tired feet. I walked on the Pedway that connects buildings below and above ground. You don’t need to walk out in the cold. I found myself at Citadel Theatre which had a lovely atrium. I decided to find a quiet corner and sat on a bench. Lovely!

An indoor garden at the Citadel Theatre

Before my next shift, I decided to walk around on the street and look at the buildings in the area. It being Saturday, most everything was closed and few people were out on the streets.

Walking back to Shaw, I started to feel the penetrating cold. Brrr... I had to feel my cheeks if they were falling off. I paced hurriedly back inside the building. My cheeks and nose turned red.

When I was done working at 7pm, a friend, Moneta, treated me and Beth to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. Yummy! I met Moneta at our Whistler conference last summer. We were at the same team in Amazing Race.

Sunday, I went to a Filipino church with Beth and her family. After lunch, Beth’s daughter, Bea, toured me around West Edmonton Mall, the largest in North America. I just had to see that. I was very impressed. I wished I had my boys with me. They will love this place, especially Galaxyland and Amusement Park.

Called the Mindbender, this is "the world's largest indoor high speed, triple loop roller coaster." It is too dizzying even to watch.

I enjoyed looking at the Waterpark. Looks like a real tropical beach that smells of chlorine.

The 5-acre indoor waterpark. The world's largest indoor wave pool that offers more than 20 water activities including bungee jumping. Look at that slide!

The trip back to BC was uneventful. I was glad to be away for a weekend but also happy to find my family intact.

Thank you Beth and family and Moneta!! I will see you again. You too West Edmonton Mall!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Calling Leonardo

While watching TV last night, I briefly caught a text ad on TV.

Andito si Da Vinci!! (Da Vinci’s here!!)” I instantly exclaimed.

“He’s dead, Mom,” Gino wryly said behind me.

There was laughter from everyone, myself included. I sounded dumb.

I re-read the ad. It said “Leonardo da Vinci Centre, Victoria”. I got da Vinci mixed up with his namesake, di Caprio.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have da Vinci rise from the grave and speak in BC? I'm sure I will learn from him a smart thing or two, like who he thinks is the better actor--Hanks or di Caprio?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Worry wart

I was watching a late night talk show last week when I heard the guest, a Christian writer and mother of 5, say that according to a study, a mother’s greatest fear is that something bad will happen to her children. I agree! I’ve heard other mothers say the same thing. Nothing terrifies me more. This is way up there in my list of Oh-God-forbid! things. I’m sure many mothers can relate.

The lady guest further shared how she’s learning to release her children to God every time her anxiety level goes up--she resorts to prayer. After all who is in a better place to keep them in His hands but their Maker? In the final analysis, He has numbered their days and there is nothing anyone can do to add to them. But we can still pray for our children, do what we as parents can do to the best of our knowledge and ability, and leave the rest to God.

The reason I’m saying this is that last night Mickey told me about a teenaged boy, whose family we knew by name, who was beaten unconscious last Friday night. He remains comatose. A young boy in high school! Then today when I went to work, my friend told me that the 20+ year old son of a dear friend of ours met a vehicular accident on Saturday night. He is now on life support.

My heart goes out to the parents! I cannot even begin to imagine their grief and pain!

I think of my own boys too. If I don’t learn to continually release each of them to God, I will go nuts worrying about where they are or what they are doing. I tend to worry about them a lot!

When Gino and Mickey were in their young teens and just learning to go out with friends, there were times when I'd panic and look around in the neighbourhood or at their school grounds. Relax, Mommy Blossoms! But I couldn’t.

When they started to come home later and later at night, I would sit anxiously at home and wait and wonder. I have gotten more used to it. There are nights when Gino's classes last till 10pm, add to that a 1.5-hour travel time. Mick works till closing of Church’s Chicken.

“Mom, don’t worry about us. We’re just somewhere. We’ll go home,” the two would say.

“I’m a mother. I worry. So you have to call,” I’d tell them.

It's a good thing they now have cellphones. I sometimes call them or they call me when they would be home later than expected. It’s not that I don’t trust them. Gino and Mickey are responsible young men, have no vice that I know of, and they have not given me anything to worry about in terms of the company they keep. I trust them to stay away from trouble and, thank God, they have been trouble-free throughout their adolescence. What sometimes scares me is the number of crazy people out there and just the random evil that happens with no explanation.

So I pray with Bud every morning for God to keep them safe. Then again by myself at different times of the day or night. I wonder how I would've been with daughters especially in this very permissive society.

I guess the tables have turned. I am now my mother.

Did I give my mother a hard time? Not really. We lived inside the campus where I studied till university and beyond. My routine was predictable. School-home-school-home. Then later it was school-home-church-school-home-church. Then school-home-church-office, school-home-home-church-office. It was only in my last year of college that I had the confidence to leave the campus on my own or with my friends.

But when I began to enjoy more and more freedom and independence, I was out several nights a month. I became actively involved in church and Christian fellowships. My social life became so busy. Then I got a job that took me travelling to remote barrios often by myself several times a year.

Though my parents did not have to worry about my circle of friends or the activities I did, I sensed they still worried without really saying it. I was careful to call every time I would be late, or from the field where I was assigned if there was a telephone facility. It gave me peace of mind to give them peace of mind.

Now I am on the other side. Ahh, the tables have really turned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


“Did you chat last night?” I asked Gino on Saturday morning. I was referring to the weekly chat my side of the family holds on Friday nights.

“No, I slept early,” he answered.

“I chatted...” Gabriel butted in, “with my imaginary friend.” He was of course joking. Then he asked me, “Mom, did you have an imaginary friend?”

“No, I did not,” was my curt reply. “I had an imaginary brother.”

That last part elicited chuckles from the brothers. They were flabbergasted. Gabriel shook his head as I babbled on.

“He was one year younger than me and his name was Emanrico just like Markus. We went to parties together. I thought about him once a year...”

“Wha---?” Gabriel kept saying.

“Whaat? You think you are the only crazy ones?” I asked.

“That’s the dumbest thing I heard this morning next to squid beef,” Gabriel said jokingly. He was referring to my squid beef boo-boo, which is another story.

“Mom, what age were you then?” Gino asked. They were getting more curious and amused by the hitherto unknown side of their mom. “Can I put this on Yahoo?”

“I was in high school or college. Every Holy Week, we would travel to Bicol. The trip took like 12 hours and there was nothing to do. So I thought up a brother I never had,” I continued storytelling.

I have a flesh-and-blood brother who is 10 years older. I imagined one who was about my age, a buddy I hang out with, and who accompanied me to happenings and stay-in parties popular during the martial law years in the Philippines. I imagined fun things I could do with a younger sibling and a brother at that. As for the name, I heard it from my parents who would have given it to a son if they had a second one.

My imaginary brother lasted only as long as the trip. After that I quickly forgot about him until the same trip the next year. It was one of those things I imagined to pass the time.

In real life, I made many friends from the opposite sex from college onwards. Wholesome, non-romantic friendships lasting many, many years. It was like having lots of brothers. I had no need for an imaginary one.

Back to Gabriel. If he had asked me about having an imaginary boyfriend, I would have answered differently. Which brings to mind a funny incident when Gino and Mickey were about 10 or 9.

“Mom, what were the names of your boyfriends before dad? Kuya LA said something about blah blah blah blah,” Gino told me one day.

Skirting the topic, I made a joke I thought was pretty obvious. “Oh, I went steady with Richard Gere, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson...”

It was months later when Gino would catch the joke. Coming home from school one afternoon, he was smiling broadly as he exclaimed, “Mom, you were kidding about Mel Gibson... They were really not your boyfriends!”

Not even in my imagination!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Last night, I went to bed about midnight after falling asleep on the couch then doing a little "Interneting". Upstairs, I found Markus sleeping on the floor in the hallway to the bedrooms. It was as if he had camped out with a blankie and a pillow. Did he perhaps sleepwalk? Or is this some kind of protest against the establishment? Then I found the following note beside him:

Aaahhh. Isn’t that priceless? It sounded like a protest, all right, in the same manner he tells me quite often, "I need a hug!" or "Mom did not hug me yet." A sweet protest.

“I want to hug Mommy forever,” Markus told me in the kitchen not too long ago as he gave me a tight squeeze.