Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ice skating

"Boys, let's go skating," I told Gabriel and Markus in the car yesterday morning as I drove them to school. "It's free at Robson Square." After nine years, a refurbished ice rink reopened in Vancouver in November last year in time for the coming 2010 Winter Olympics.

The glass-domed below-street-level open-air GE Ice Plaza on Robson St. (photo from

"I don't wanna go skating. Take Markus," Gabriel mumbled.

"Nah..." Markus wasn't interested either.

"Come on, guys, you can do it. The first time you tried it you learned quickly. Me, I could not even stand for more than 5 seconds."

I recalled the first time we all skated in January of 2004 at the Seattle Center. My four boys, a nephew and I went skating while the rest of the family watched from the sidelines. We were all inexperienced. To my surprise, they all quickly got the hang of it and started skating like they had done it before. But I had to hold on to someone or something the whole time.

My first time to skate. I was flanked by my son Gino and nephew L-A (hidden behind Mickey).

There she goes!!! Can't keep her balance even with the help of 3 assistants. (Mickey following behind).

How come they all did it? Even Markus, who initially wobbled to the rink, easily became comfortable in skates.

"Mom, do you get better as you grow older?" Gabriel asked sarcastically. Yeah, what makes me think I'd be any better after 6 years of NOT skating.

"Uhmm, you get braver," was all I could say. The memory of a sore butt and bruised thighs are no longer fresh in my memory. "I heard the rink is beautiful and people can watch you from the outside. You can show off...," I kidded.

"It's not like we're going to do back flips... Mom, you'll just show people you're falling," Gabriel replied.

Well, that happens to the best of us. Just watch any skating competition.

"So, do you wanna go skating?" I asked again.



"Come on..." I insisted. I wasn't giving up.

"Mom, no one wants to go skating except you--because it's FREE."

The skating is free but you still have to rent the skates for $3 and a helmet for $2 if you need one. But yes, FREE is a motivating factor.

I guess I can't expect these boys to go skating with me, and hubby already said that he won't risk breaking any brittle bones. Whaaat? So nobody wants to see me learn to swizzle and swirl? C'mon, you guys...

Today I did a bit of research and found out that there are plastic carts to push around the ice for children and those who can't skate well. I can't skate at all, period. I should be able to avail of that. With this cart, hubby now seems open to the idea of being my ice skating buddy. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do some pair skating to the tune of Ice Castles? (Please don't let this feeling eeeend...)

I may yet learn to skate. Woo-hooo!

View of Robson ice rink from the top. (photo from

Friday, January 15, 2010

Driving range amateurs

Yesterday, I drove by the Fraser Golf Centre going home from work. I started laughing to myself as I remembered the time I brought my boys to this driving range.

"Boys, you have to be really quiet. People don't want noise around here," I said as we walked to a vacant bay with a bucket of golf balls. Gabriel and Markus were probably just 10 and 11 years old then and they couldn't keep still or quiet for more than 5 minutes. Oh this is going to be a challenge. I talked in a low voice hoping they would catch on. They were arguing within minutes, even before we started. But at least they tried to keep their voices controlled.

"OK, this is how you do it. You have to keep your eye on the ball," I said and started demonstrating the little that I knew about how to stand, hold the club, swing and hit the ball. I had picked up a few techniques when I volunteered at a golf tournament of our Alumni Association here in BC. Fellow alumni gave me basic instructions before I began pounding at least a hundred practice balls. I didn't do very bad for a first-timer. I thought it shouldn't be difficult to do it again and even teach it to my kids.

"Me first," I said. I put a ball on the tee, positioned my feet on the mat, gripped the club and confidently swung at the ball really hard. Whack! MISSED! Hitting nothing but air, I spun and almost lost my balance.

My boys started snickering. Too funny! Even I wanted to burst into laughter.

I tried a few more times then it was the boys' turn. We alternated. They probably did better than me at times. In the end, we had as much fun watching each other's lousy hits as we did having successful ones. It would have been more fun if we had the freedom to laugh out loud or scream in excitement. But those were not among the driving range etiquette.

That was so funny, I thought to myself yesterday as I drove past Fraser Golf. In fact, I was still laughing alone in the van blocks after passing the area. I felt de-stressed after a busy day at work.

It might be a good idea to occasionally de-stress at the range after work. Boys, anybody wants to come?

The 300-yard driving range of Fraser Golf Centre. (image from

Friday, January 01, 2010

Almost silver, part 10

Our garden wedding would not have been possible without the help, generosity and cooperation of family and friends. My mother-in-law offered to shoulder the cost of our clothes. My choice was an off-white semi-formal dress rather than the traditional white wedding gown. I wanted to be able to mix and match it, and wear it again and again. Our rings were the gift to us by one of my sisters-in-law. We found a good 2-for-1 deal that sold for 1200 pesos at a jewelry store in Greenhills Mall.

The food was contributed by Groom's family as in a potluck but more organized and well-presented. A brother gave a goat from his farm in the province that my father-in-law made into his famous caldereta. A brother took care of the music that played throughout the ceremony.

We refused to have a videographer because we thought that would ruin the sunrise ambiance with their spotlights. We did not even hire professional photographers. Just family and our Best Man.

Friends helped a lot too. Our Best Man accompanied Groom around prior to the wedding because he had a car. I think he also drove some guests to the venue. He was the Groom's all-around assistant.

My Maid of Honour, who was my best friend from college, was only too willing to be Maid of Everything from the pamamanhikan to the wedding and post-wedding. She, and a couple other friends, helped with my hair and makeup. I did not want to hire a professional stylist because I preferred everything simple. My Maid of Honour looked after other details like making our honeymoon reservation at Puerto Galera and filing our marriage contract at the city hall while we were honeymooning. I forgot to mention that she was also the Ring Bearer at the ceremony!

With Maid of Honour and Best Man

Our invitations were mostly verbal because the guests were very dear friends who would not mind it. But we did give out a few invitation cards for certain people. Those cards were individually handmade and printed by an artist friend. Maybe she made around 10 of them.

Our invitation card. Inside is the Bible verse we picked out.

We knew it would be difficult for our guests to come very early to the wedding so we invited those who had no cars, which were the majority, to sleep either at my house (for the girls) or at Groom's pad (for the boys). I think my sis-in-law had guests sleep over at their house too. We provided them a ride to and from the venue.

It was quite a wedding that some people would remember months and years later. Some still mentioned it to us when we happened to meet again.

Nobody seemed to care about the septic tank, but Hubby and I would be laughing about it for months later. "We are the only couple in the world who can say we had a septic tank marriage!" I once exclaimed.

"Septic tank wedding, not marriage," he quickly corrected me. Yeah, there's a big difference. Although we've had many crappy moments in our married life, it did not stink through and through.

Last December 14, we marked our 24th anniversary. Our marriage is ALMOST SILVER!



Now that would be a different story requiring a new series. Suffice it to say that ours is an incredible telenovela that continues to unfold with surprising twists and turns 24 years later.

But for now I will end this Almost Silver series. I might attempt to write a postscript that has less to do with us and more to do with the sterling Director that chose to work with these two second-rate Actors who sometimes mess up the Script and get off character.

I wish I knew the rest of the Plot, but since I don't, I'm better off simply trusting the Director for each and every scene on an almost silver screen.

Almost silver, part 9

(As I mentioned, this is now the conclusion of this series. However, I had to cut it in two parts because it's rather long).

Outdoors. Intimate. Nontraditional. Simple.

These were what we wanted for our wedding. And one that would not burden our parents financially or otherwise. With creativity and resourcefulness, we believed we could still have a garden wedding somehow. Forget the gazebo, the trellises and symphony. Any garden would do.

We decided on a venue that would entail the least hassle and expense--the yard of Groom's house. No need for permits. Accessible. The yard was small, maybe just 12' x 20' or smaller but it was covered with green grass and there were plants along the edges. It could easily contain 50 people, standing.

The only thing that Groom didn't like was a prominent concrete rectangle on the ground that covered a septic tank on the side adjacent to the house. I didn't care. At that time, I wouldn't know a septic tank if I stood on one.

Because the yard was located at a street corner and visible to neighbours and cars and tricycles driving by, we had the wedding at 6 a.m.(!) before the area got busy. It was still dark and the December air was cool. It turned out to be great timing because the sun rose behind the mountains of Antipolo while the ceremony was going on. Poetic!

Getting married at dawn. Really cool!

To have an intimate wedding, we limited our guests to 50, including our immediate families, closest friends and relatives and those who had a significant part in our lives. This was a hard decision considering that we both had many friends and relatives, but we stuck to it. Even our entourage was small: just a Best Man, a Maid of Honour and a Flower Girl (my eldest niece). We did away with the traditional candle, veil and cord ceremonies done by groom's men and bridesmaids. Ho-humm.

The ceremony was short, maybe 15 to 20 minutes in total. Remember, everyone was standing and we did not want to tire them (and us) with things we had seen and heard many times before, they had become trite. As far as I can remember, our program had only the following:

- A Processional. Bride, preceded by Flower Girl and flanked by Parents, walked all of 15 steps or so to the front where Groom and Minister waited, Maid of Honour and Best Man on either side. (Instead of the usual wedding music, we chose Bach's Minuet in D to play in the background. Loved this piece.) My mother had to slow me down because I did not pace myself like Brides normally did. Couldn't wait to get to the Groom.
- Appreciation of Parents, where I choked but held off tears because my mother said aloud "Walang iyakan" (No crying). So Groom had to read my prepared speech from an index card.
- Exhortation by the Minister, which we requested to be concise (no long and boring sermon that everyone has heard before, please).
- Exchange of vows that Bride and Groom wrote ourselves, memorized and recited.
- Rings.
- Our much anticipated Kiss the Bride
- Recessional

The officiating minister was Groom's friend in college who entered the ministry after graduation. I think we were about the same age.

The ceremony was over before the classical music pieces we compiled on one side of an audio cassette tape was finished. As Bride and Groom walked together during the Recessional, I tossed my bouquet unannounced towards the single ladies. Surprise! My Maid of Honour caught it. I think I threw it towards her direction.

A few tables were quickly set up in the garden and reception started. I was very pleased at how my new in-laws, who were very good cooks, prepared the food and decorated the buffet tables. For centerpieces, they used white and yellow flowers, baby's breath, and blades of the ubiquitous cogon grass arranged in vases. I can't remember if the flowers were wild (growing in vacant lots) but that was what we suggested.

My sis-in-law at the dessert table

Because the affair was small, Bride and Groom had a lot of time circulating and chatting with guests. They mostly knew each other from university days and from church so they also socialized with one another. I thought it was quite cozy. Just the way we wanted it.

With girlfriends

I could say that this simple wedding was not stressful for me and Groom and our families before, during or after the wedding. There were only minor glitches, which we took in stride. We did not go into debt. In fact, hubby and I spent more on our wedding photos than we did on our wedding.

Hopefully, we made the guests feel special, relaxed and attended to. They did not have to come all dressed up in shiny clothes and jewelry. We hoped they would not have to buy new clothes. We simply requested that they come in something pastel, off white or white if they could, for the sake of the photo shoot.

I wonder if other people knew what that concrete was.

Here's the continuation of the previous pic to give
you an idea of the size of the garden.

After the reception, we moved to the Bride's house where my parents had prepared lunch for relatives we could not invite to the ceremony.

(conclusion of the conclusion here)