Trying to get out of here..

So the plan to actually get out of work early fizzled out and I am sitting here waiting to fly out of the coop so to speak at 5:55PM.  I actually told Alan to go ahead already so they can order pizza and wings and to make sure Mom doesn’t eat dinner.  Mom usually has to have dinner by 7PM which is earlier than we get home.

I should be there around 7:30.  I told her I had a birthday cake and all she said was I shouldn’t have bothered spending for it. Moms…


Remembering the JollyJeeps

My last 5 years in Manila were spent in the City of Makati, the financial district of Metropolitan Manila.  While almost every other corner had a Starbucks, most of the interior streets of Legaspi Village or Salcedo Village (to the east and west side of Ayala Avenue) had a sprinkling of restaurants and fast food centers.  A common source of food for the many white collar workers in this area were the so-called JollyJeeps, eateries selling complete meals (rice+viand) from jeepneys or other similar vehicles “adapted” to be a rolling eatery.

The food was already prepacked in plastic bags and were “assembled” depending on the customer’s request.  (Adobo with double rice + gulay + sabaw)  My last company was an American insurance giant which had tried (in vain) to start up an Asian business (the company has long since pulled out of the region, dismantling its International business) and had put up beautiful offices in the Valero area.  With buildings being constructed on various streets surrounding our building, there were a couple of these JollyJeeps catering not only to the office workers but to the construction workers as well.

For merienda, they would often have turon or some other kakanin.  My dear friend Reggie and I would often stroll down, both in corporate attire, sometimes affectionately holding hands.  Of course half the world didn’t know that I was hold hands with my “sister”, because despite the fact that Reggie was “out”, he carried himself in a very manly manner.  Some of the JollyJeep attendants thought we had a thing going, causing us to incur the ire of one of the servers who had a big crush on Reggie. 

It was the closest you could get to home cooking in the heart of Makati next to bringing your own baon for lunch.  And you would see people in corporate attire and hard hats lined up, taking their pick from the day’s offerings.  There would be adobo, pinakbet, chicken curry, fried chicken, pork chops, daing na bangus, tinola, nilaga.. the list goes on and on.  You could eat on a plate by a makeshift table (sometimes INSIDE the jeepney), or as we were wont to do, bring up your stuff to the office where you could eat in silence by your desk or join the lunch crowd in the pantry room.

Here in New York we have the breakfast carts selling coffee, tea, bagles and other assorted pastries.  In Manhattan even, they have the carts selling hotdogs and gyros.  Still they do not compare to the very enterprising eateries on wheels which I am sure still dominate the streets of Makati. 

The Things We Take Forgranted: Manicures & Pedicures

My usual routine was to have my nails done twice a week — once to actually have them cleaned and polished, and the second just to change polish.  This went on like clockwork for most of my professional life in Manila.  It helped that we had our own beauty parlor, but sometimes when things weren’t good between Dad and me, I opted to have it done at Regine’s in Greenbelt.

When I came here to the US, I decided to start doing my own nails.  I was vain enough to have learned how to change my own polish, and in time, I found a nail nipper to help me deal with my cuticles which had gotten used to regular trimming.  I managed to be able to take good care of them and even grow very long nails despite the fact that I did the dishes by hand and did regular housework. 

Unfortunately, having a baby has changed all that and now I am confined to just trimming my nails to a decent shape.  I haven’t had nail polish in ages!  I look back to that time when my digits were so pampered and I realize I had taken that all but forgranted.  It’s not even a matter of cost or availability of the service, but rather the time to buff and paint and allow to dry — all that takes forever and a day when I hardly have time to do as much as pick up and tidy the room.

So these days I keep a small tub of petroleum jelly on my desk at work.  I notice my cuticles getting dry and dab a little on each fingernail to help moisturize it.  I’d love to have my nails done back home.. the way I’d always been used to having it done.

My New Toy

Going home last night was such a struggle not only on the road, but in walking the three blocks from the bus stop to my doorstep.  While the maintenance people had dutifully cleared the walkway, the low temperature made the just plowed snow very icy and slippery.  The strong winds didn’t help any either.  But I got home, and I had a late dinner of cheese sandwich.  Alan got home at just past midnight, freezing cold from waiting for a bus that wasn’t on schedule.

I was so bored last night on the bus that I downloaded a game (for $5.99) and now I’m hooked.  I have been mulling about changing my phone for over a year now but I was happy to have a very unique and tiny phone.. When fate snatched it away from me and I ended up without a phone before the trip to Paris, I was forced to go to Cingular (who had acquired my previous provider, AT&T) and would’ve opted to kept my old plan, but they wouldn’t give me a new phone without “migrating” to their side of the business.  Talk about twisting my arm..

There weren’t that many choices and the NOKIA units being offered were just far too simple for my taste.  I thought about what I wanted in my new phone:  It had to be on the GSM network.  I wanted something that had a good camera (which Alan couldn’t understand because I have a fantastic digital camera that takes great pictures!) and only because you can’t have too many pictures of Angelo.  It had to be affordable (so nothing over $100) and handy.

I got my SONY ERICSSON Z500a.  I’m happy.  While I am still unable to “transfer” or upload my pictures off the phone, I have taken quite a bunch of nice pictures with it.  I’m able to text my siblings back in Manila, and it has been pretty reliable (and actually more reliable than my NOKIA) in terms of call signal. 

There were no built in games, however, so I had to download it for a fee.  I chose COLLAPSE because they didn’t have TETRIS.  Not bad, it’s not that different, and it keeps me entertained.  (Much better than my Nokia 8390’s Snake II).  Been playing it less than 24 hours and I’m already scoring over 12,000!  Hooray!

That’s technology for you!

Celebrating Mom

Written on the bus on the way home 08 February 2005

I’m on the bus and it looks like it’s going to be a long ride.  (Note: It was.. almost three hours for what was usually an hour-long trip!)  The snow has stopped falling but it’s icy cold out there.  The buss is full and at least a dozen people are standing, but I was lucky enough to have taken the bus at the beginning of the route.

I stopped by at Macy’s to pick up some gifts for mom.  She turns 65 tomorrow, and I want to make this as sepcial a birthday as possible because I have missed spending her birthday with her the last 5 years.  Yes, it has been that long — but I had always made sure I sent her a birthday gift and I ordered cake from an online site ( )which delivered to the house.

I didn’t realize until recently how special such a routine was for her, because it had seemed to her that everyone else had stopped making the effort to remember her special day.  I’m sure my siblings (who all live with her) remember and make the effort to make it special.  Perhaps mine was just more pronounced because I was far away.

Besides, of all of us, I was the most expressive and I always took the time to greet her and make her feel special.

I got her 2 Clinique lipsticks which qualified me for eht free gift.  And since Angel and I had already given her a nice Etienne Aigner bag for Christmas, I picked up a green wallet “to bring good vibes and attract money” (or at least that’s what my sister says..).  Tomorrow, I intend to leave work early and surprise her with a grand meal to celebrate!  On the weekend, Alan will take us out to have a special luncheon to celebrate.

She has been saying no to a celebration, but how can I not celebrate an occasion I’ve been dying to spend with her all these years?

My mom is a special woman and she is now a special woman in my child’s life.  She has given so much of herself to take care of my son here in a place so far away from her home.  It is but fitting that we celebrate Mom.. not just today but always..