Inspiration from Bridget

I actually found the time to bloghop this noon and I wandered into one of my favorite blogs and decided to see what was up with Jerome (a.k.a. Bridget) and came across a very inspiring post in his blog entitled “How do you keep the music playing?” .

He answers his question by ending his entry thus: .. “(more importantly), it is consistently discovering a new facet of each other that makes us anticipate each day for us to experience The Moment…which consequently keeps the music playing. (kilig)” 

I have been married almost 6 years now which doesn’t exactly equal that of my longest relationship, but I have always considered the fact that I married this man as the most significant distinction.  And although I always say in jest that I do find myself feeling like I want to strangle him from time to time, nothing is more comforting than actually reaching out across the bed beyond Angel and feeling him sleeping next to us.

We do have our peaks and valleys as he refers to them — and we have had to make a lot of adjustments with the addition of Angel to our family, but we continue to be a couple, nurturing the dynamics of intimacy in such simple activities like going home together at least once a week on the Express Bus where we hold hands and just catch up on each other’s day.  Even something as simple as sitting down in Starbucks by ourselves on a weekend, or sharing a “Gotta Have It” portion of Coldstone one afternoon counts as “couple time” for us.

We’re trying to go out more often although we are far from doing it as much as we used to before Angel came, back when we would go on a date in Manhattan once a week and try out a new restaurant or bar and just spend a romantic evening together.  We talk, we listen, we talk.. and although he would rather I read the book and just tell him what it’s all about, I can talk to him about anything under the sun and I know he would comprehend what I am saying and thinking about without missing a heartbeat. 

Continually being interested in the other leads to discovering new things — and for as long as we are interested, we see value in those little things that others wouldn’t notice or care much about, like innocent scribblings that are true works of art to us.  For me and Alan, it’s enjoying life together that keeps the fire alive. 

He would think nothing of driving to Montauk if I egged him on just so we can see my favorite lighthouse, forget that it’s 2 hours away from where we are.  And I wouldn’t mind watching a movie even if I would rather stay home with Angel, only because he’s such a cinephile and I know that’s a favorite past time for him.  So okay, I’m not going to bop him in the head tonight… he’s taking me out to dinner at a favorite seafood restaurant then what else?  We’re catching a movie!

HTML, PHP, CSS.. going nuts over web design

I have always enjoyed creating web pages and trying my hand at web design.  Although I tried it with Front Page and other web design softwares, I’ve still found it easiest to do actually coding.  So yes, I do my HTML codes by hand and have committed a few simple commands to memory.  When I am baffled, I simply right click on a page and “VIEW SOURCE” to see what language was used to create a particular design I want to do.

I haven’t really had much time to dabble in web design — that’s the reason my own commercial venture into e-commerce is now on haitus.  (Note to self: must really decide what we will do with that..)  However I had the audacity to volunteer for our batch website, being that we are now all agog over our silver jubilee homecoming 2 years from now.

So this morning I thought I’d try and check out a new photo plug in I tried to upload yesterday.  Don’t ask me why but it somehow over rode an index.php file for my survey utility which I then had to reinstall and reconfigure.  (I know, I know.. I should’ve installed the two in separate subdirectories.)  I trashed the photo utility and redid the survey.. so I’m back on track.

Before I get a monumental headache at the end of the day, I’m giving it up to go back to my first love of the moment — my scrapbook.  Half a day gone, and I’m looking forward to a weekend again =).  Here’s hoping there will be scrapbook layouts sometime next week on this site.

Back when I was in Law School

The rivalry between the two foremost law schools in the country has been there since time immemorial.  Funny how we sometimes have a “cross over” professor who has the distinction of being a teacher in both schools.  Both are usually very parochial, sticking to their own roster of distinguished alumni to staff their faculty which is their pride and joy.  While most of us hated our professors for their arrogance and condescension, I later appreciated all that they made us go through when I left school.

Of late, UP has been topping the Bar which is really no surprise at all.  And while I have no access to the passing average, I know that Ateneo remains very consistent in having a higher passing average than the state university.  UP will say it’s because from day 1 on, the Ateneans are taught to answer the Bar, and the state scholars are taught how to be lawyers out in the world.

It’s been a decade since I left the halls of the Ateneo School of Law, and it wasn’t the sprawling grounds in Rockwell then but that solitary building on H.V. De La Costa street.  My choices for law school were only between UP and Ateneo, and I make no bones about the fact that I ended up in Ateneo because they saw something in me that UP didn’t.  (That’s not sourgraping, that’s  a fact.) 

My days in law school saw me inventing study habits that I did not have in UP where I managed to coast through on my gift of gab and my ability to write.  By my sophomore year, I was no longer being chauffered to school but commuting for the first time in my life — a nerve-wracking but humbling experience that eventually saw me skilled enough to cross the Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue end of EDSA in front of Dasma in my heels even late at night.

I entered law school after extending 2 years in college, so I somehow managed to have 2 years of world knowledge over my classmates.  They were surprised to hear me defining what a “midnight decree” was when it was not in the text books — which was simply street smarts combined with my ability to say something coherent which sounded like it was memorized from some text book.

Right about the same time I learned how to commute, I started working part time to help me with the mounting expense of books, photocopying, and dressing up according to the Corporate attire requried by Ateneo.  I also learned how to eat balot to help me keep my strenght up as I studied late into the night, waking up to hit school, then repeating that over again.

By my junior year, I was working full time and traveling to boot.  There were days when I would come to class and would be unable to give an answer during recitation for the simple reason I wasn’t able to read the assignment.  From working as a newscaster on RJFM to ending with a stint in an Advertising Agency before I took the Bar, I managed to supplement the costs of school as well by writing digests or summaries of the cases which were assigned by the professors, typing them up at work and then charging for the photocopying or print outs.  It helped me study for the lessons in advance, write coherently and succintly and find some additional spending money.

One memorable part of being in law school is how I would fall in line in the cafeteria with my dear friends Onggie and Reagan, just to make lambing that Onggie get me the arroz caldo and Reagan get me the puto.  One of the boys was behind us and asked in jest if I didn’t have any money, to which I replied that my payday was still a day away.

Those were humbling days indeed but I saw myself through law school somehow.  Although I finished law school in 1994, I postponed taking the Bar because I did not have the resources nor the time to stop work and study full time for a heads on review.  By 1995, my Mom begged me to take the Bar and told me that she knew God will provide.  And she assured me just as any mother would that it would be alright if I didn’t make it.. the important thing was for me to try..

So I filed my application before the deadline in June, and I took a leave of absence from work only the week before the Bar month of September.  (The Bar exams are 4 Sundays.)  I will reserve the Bar Experience for another post, but suffice it to say that it was not an easy task, but I made it.

I never really practiced law but have dabbled in Corporate Communications instead.  But in my heart and mind, I have achieved what I have always wanted to achieve — pass the Bar, and that is what makes me a lawyer, body and soul.  When I came here to New York, I made an agreement with Alan that I was putting aside any legal aspirations as I wanted to start a family.  Perhaps when Angel is grown up, I can go back to that one love.. for now, I have a greater love I’m nurturing.  After all, I know deep inside me — once a lawyer, always a lawyer.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

[11] Have some fishball, squidball and other kakaning kalye (Street food)

The weeks before I left, I ate all the street food I could find to my heart’s delight.  I stopped by the street vendors who took their place somewhere in the long stretch of Ayala Avenue to sell kakanin early in the morning.  I had my eyes peeled for the buko vendors.. I ate manggang hilaw and requested it to death that my Mom started suspecting I might be pregnant.  (Yeah, right.. )  Time to pig out again when I go home.. in 3 weeks.. yikes!!!

Feedback from a Blog hopper

I try to bloghop when I have the time but I don’t often have that luxury these days.  So if you noticed, my blogroll hasn’t particularly grown the last few weeks, and I am happy keeping it that way because I can’t even keep up with that limited list.

It is, however, rather delightful to see a comment from someone who strays into my blog.  Here’s one from Leo who wrote:

hi pinay, nice posts! i’m bloghopping and just checking your blogsite. Keep the blogs rolling!

Leo, I’m trying..I’m trying.  Blogging, for the most part, has been very therapeutic for me.  Writing has always been a good release and I find that it keeps the brain cells active, more so these days when the last book I tried reading is gathering dust by my bedside at home.  (I have to finish the book before I leave for Manila!)

I like what you write about, though.. don’t we all dream of hitting it big and becoming successful putting up our own business?  For the entrepreneurs out there, go pay Leo’s blog a visit and you’ll get some good ideas.  Thanks for visiting, Leo.

Top 10 of the Philippine Bar Exams

 THE top 10 in the 2005 bar examinations are:

1. Joan De Venecia (University of the Philippines) — 87.2
2. Jomini C. Nazareno (Ateneo de Manila University) — 86.4
3. Sheryl May B.Tanquilut (Ateneo de Manila University) — 85.9
4. Nyerson Dexter Tito Q. Tualla (Manuel L. Quezon University) — 85.4
5. Tamsin Rae N. Lucila (University of the Philippines) — 85.3
6. Gladys V. Gervacio (University of Perpetual Help-Rizal) –85.3</<BR>7. Claudine B. Orocio-Isorena (University of the Philippines) — 85.2
8. Pedro Jose F. Bernardo (Ateneo de Manila University) — 85.5
9. Dexter B. Calizar (Philippine Law School) — 84.7
10. Johnson A.H. Ong (Far Eastern University) — 84.6

*The Ateneans get special mention.. although my pre-law was with UP

So the results were finally released by the Supreme Court yesterday (or today since it is still Friday in Manila as I write this.)  I suppose that the 20% who passed are celebrating and euphoric over hurdling this task, and the 80% are all drowning their sorrows with a vow to try again.  (Unless, that is, they’ve already struck out 5 times in which case that is FIN for them.)

I remember how, in 1995, I refused to go to the Supreme Court grounds and wait it out with everyone else.  I sat at home waiting by the phone for a friend who was already a lawyer working in one of the Court of Appeals offices call to tell me I had passed.  It was a big relief to hear I had hurdled it, knowing how ill-prepared I was to take the Bar Exams in September of 1994.  I had taken a big gamble and the gamble paid off.  I knew for a fact that half my answers were wrong, but I guess the examiners found merit in my English and understood my arguments and gave me credit. 

It is heartening to see some lessesr known schools in the top 10.  They deserve it because everyone knows that a top 10 passer and high passing average means higher enrollment for the coming year.  Little do people know, though, that most — but not all – of the bar placers not in the top 3 (Ateneo, UP and San Beda) are actually kick outs of the top 3 schools who failed to make the Quality Percentile Index (QPI) requirement.  It is no joke trying to maintain one’s standing in any of these schools, but it’s the same rigorous training that allows you to think sharper and hones your mental faculties in preparation for the Bar. 

We have to give credit, though, to those brilliant minds who did not have the means or the opportunity to go to any of the top 3 schools who find their moment in time when they finally take the Bar Exam.

I know of some schools who actually give monetary rewards to Bar placers, as if forever being touted a Bar topnotcher were not enough honor for the examinee.  I remember when I took the Bar, I didn’t even hope to make it to the top 10, but I had a studio photo taken anyway because my bestfriend Jonathan, himself a lawyer by the time I took the Bar, told me libre namang mangarap.  (It doesn’t cost a cent to dream..)  I would so hate to see myself in a mugshot on the front page of a national paper just in case by some twist of fate, I landed in the top 10.  LOL

To those who passed, I am sure it was well-deserved.  To those who didn’t, there’s always next year if the dream is truly in your heart.

Living in a Material World

Crossposted on Motherhood, Etc.

I am a fan of Madonna’s work, largely because she has managed to reinvent herself each time, morphing from music diva to mom-writer and music sensation through the decades with such ease.  But this post is not about her.

I’ve been meaning to write about my dilemma when it comes to instilling the proper values in my now almost two year old son.  I have to admit that I am literally groping in the dark yet trying my darnedest.  The things I see around me are not very encouraging.  I have a 16-year-old stepson who is steeped in materialism it clouds his own loyalty to his father.

I love my son more than anything in this world, but I do not intend to give him everything he asks for.  I did not grow in want and poverty, but the reversal of fortunes we experienced in my early adulthood taught me the precious lesson of working for one’s living.  I was in the middle of law school in Ateneo when I was forced to work part time to help defray the expense of seeking higher education.

My first job was as a newscaster in DZRJ – FM where I was paid an hourly wage.  (It was then that I did the female voiceover for the novelty rap, LOUNINGNING by Markie D a.k.a. Denmark).   For a time I moonlighted as a paralegal researcher for one of the councilors in Manila.  Then I moved to become an Executive Assistant to a Program Director for a joint project of the Department of Health under Secretary Juan Flavier in coordination with the USAID for 18 months.  My next stint saw me as Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of a boutique Advertising Agency where I honed my skills in communications and I got acquainted with the nuances of Public Relations and Advertising.  Finally finishing law school, I took the Bar Exams of 1994, but before the results could be published in 1995, I switched to the client side and joined a newly established foreign life insurance company as their Corporate Communications Executive, working directly under the CEO.  In this job I got to travel to the regional office in Hong Kong which was my first ever chance to go beyond the shores of Philippines.  After 2 years, a competitor recruited me to join their Marketing and Advertising department and that was my last job before I left for New York.

All throughout my more or less 10 years in the job force, I have been humbled and enriched by my interaction with all types of people.  I learned the value of money.  Throughout those years, be it in my failures or successes, I have found my parents’ (particularly my Mom’s) wisdom a meaningful guide in the corporate world.

Now that I am a Mom myself, I want Angel to see the importance of earning the rewards of a life lived well.  I want him to enjoy the benefits of the hard work his Dad and I have put in to put a roof over our heads and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.  We are by no means wealthy — but we enjoy a relatively easy life because we work hard.

I want him to see that hard work will pay off, be it at home doing his chores (he now puts away his toys on command at the end of the day, and puts his clothes in the hamper after we take them off to take a bath) or later on in school.  It is so frustrating to see my stepson struggling through his freshman year in high school and giving up so easily.  Next year will be his third time attempting to complete his freshman year.  He is so easily frustrated by early failure, so much so that if he sees he is not doing well, he just gives up and stops trying to make the grade.

I want my son to see that parenthood is not all about lavishing one’s child about presents, but more importantly, it is about being there for your child at all times, through the good and the bad.  My stepson celebrates his birthday in a few weeks and had asked his Dad if we were going to celebrate it — and of course we will, but when his Dad told him it won’t be the same as in previous years when we celebrated it with his favorite Aunt and Uncle who had a falling out with us and his Grandmother — he felt bad and said “but they give good presents”.

Two weeks ago they had arrived from Manila with presents and had asked him to stop by.  Despite his father’s admonition that although we cannot stop him from seeing them, he felt it wasn’t a good time as yet given how jarring the enmity has been between them and us, the stepson went anyway and boasted to his grandmother how he had received a new pair of sneakers from Manila.  I have a good mind to reiterate to him that we don’t want to hear about his going there and we better not find out.  It hurts to see my husband’s feelings being trampled upon by such materialism, and yet his own son is blind to this.

His very own grandmother who had lavished presents on him could only shake her head in disapproval and say “mukha siyang regalo..”  True in the literal and figurative sense, but it was his upbringing which made him the way he is.

Which brings me back to the point of this rambling of mine today — as a parent who thinks the world of her child, I have to stop a moment to think about whether or not something I am giving to my son will actually be good for him and lead to strenthening his character instead of weakening him.  Who doesn’t want to give everything to the apple of her eye?  The smile on my son’s face and the unmistakable glee that he glows with when he is happy are far beyond precious, but there are things that are far more important than seeing him happy, like teaching him how to be a good human being.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no strict disciplinarian.  My son has his own spoiled moments — take for example his continuing to breastfeed from me.  I am usually prone to indulge his whim, but I know when to put my foot down sternly and hold my ground.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from the way things have turned out with my stepson, it is that it is important to start things young.  You cannot spare the rod at a young age, and then find yourself dying to use it when he is older — at which point you have no option to do so anymore lest the child call 911.  It is never too early to teach your child the proper values, even if you are at a loss about how you are going to do it.

We all want to be good parents, and while there are a hundred and one books on parenting, the truth of the matter is that there is no particular set of rules that ensure us we are doing it right.  I have my Mom’s wisdom to guide me and my own upbringing as a measuring tool for the highs and lows of parenthood.  And my stepson. 

True, we can measure a person’s worth monetarily — by the clothes and jewelry that she wears, the expensive shoes or the fancy car he has.  I want my son to see that the true measure of a person is not his bankbook or the possessions he has, but rather the goodness of his heart.  I want him to see that beyond the presents that he receives is the love that goes with it — and that love is the more important possession and gift even in this material world.

Coming down with something

I’ve lived with asthma all my life and it’s now something I anticipate when the seasons change from cold to warm.  I’ve been feeling under the weather lately, probably due to the ficklemindedness of Mother Nature about whether or not it will finally get warmer here on my side of the world.

My tonsils have been killing me for most of the week and last night, I tried to take some Nyquil to hold off the flu.  Not much luck, and I’ve been feeling chilly of late.  Again, ginawin ako.  Even after 6 years of living here, I still can’t get used to it.

Fortunately, my asthma is more of an allergy and not really a full-blown condition.  I don’t take maintenance meds and only grab my inhaler when I’m actually in the middle of an attack which lasts anywhere from one to two weeks.  Hopefully not..

Meanwhile, I have to drink water to death to keep myself hydrated.  I might yet lick this one and not succumb to another bout of asthma this time of the year.

Creative Juice Flowing

I spent the whole day doing scrapbook layouts.  There was an important section when we took a day-trip to Montauk on the far end of New York (past the Hamptons – the ultra-sosi getaway of the rich and famous here) which I failed to include and print when I planned the initial layouts.  Even with just two pictures.  There is another trip we took when we brought Mom and Angel to the Pelligrini Vineyards in the North Fork of Long Island which I am busy putting together.

Angel had fallen asleep on the sofa so I started working out on the background paper there last night.  Mom walked past me and had inquired what I was doing, and she brushed it off when I told her it was HER scrapbook.  I know she will keep leafing through this project when she finally gets it.

As excited as I was about the Paris scrapbook, this is more meaningful to me because it is a gift to my Mom.

I had been printing out the backgrounds in 12×12 sheets broken into 2 printed on legal size paper which I had been pasting together to form one solid page.  Since I’ve been downloading scrapbook elements, I decided to stitch together the actual layout online, combining ribbons, different patterns/graphics to come up with one page.  It was rather exhausting because the printable graphics were rather huge in size, and I had to keep going back and forth between printers waiting for the printer to spew out the page.  It was quite a wait as well because despite the fact that we have huge printers with equally huge memories, it took the machines a while to process the data.

I will try and bring some layouts to scan tomorrow.  (Yes, I know, it’s been planned but never done.. who knows?)