Motherhood and all that

I’m on my way to Manhattan with a good 20 minutes or so to my ride. All dressed up with a pair of heels in a handy bag, I’m all set for a fine dining experience with the son. It feels good to be celebrating with him. Everyone can celebrate any other holiday with me, but this one, is strictly between him and I.

So 19 years a mother now— and I’m praying for more years. At the same time, I think about my mom who is 10,000 miles away, whose aging seems to have been accelerated by an injury she suffered just a couple of weeks ago. She molded me into the mother that I am now, and then some.

I go home every year only because she is still around. I know that the annual trips home will stop when she is no longer there, so for now, I do my best to make it home. The only lull was the pandemic, and those three years spanning 2020 to much of 2022 were the most difficult to bear when I thought of her. And finally, in November of 2022, I made it back. I even made it for her birthday in March this year.

On the other side, it has been a year of adjustment for the son and I. He moved out in the fall to begin his BFA in Film not too far away, and I felt a profound sense of loss as my daily routine and life, in general, changed. It’s a relief (although a surprise) that the usual 10 month academic calendar was only 8 for them. I get to have him back for the next 4 months until he can move back into the dorm again.

I’m a proud mother but part of me wants to hold on to him longer. I try to console myself with the fact that he is thriving, which shows me that I have done a good job of preparing him for the world.

Whether you are a mom to someone you carried in your womb for 9 months, or someone who has been your child for whatever period of time, I take my hat off to you. Today, the world recognizes us all, and my hope is that the one who calls you “mum” does the same and gives you that warm hug you deserve and more.

Heading home

A note from Pinay New Yorker: This post was written during my flight home to Manila on March 2, 2023, and is being published belatedly days after I arrived back in New York on March 15.

I’m just over 2/3rds of a 17-hour flight home to Manila, just four months from the last time I touched down on the land of my birth in November of last year. That’s a little rich but I planned this trip the same time I planned November’s emotional journey home.

The November trip was my first time to come home in 3 years. Covid kept me from my yearly trip home, and while air travel slowly returned to almost normal, the fares and schedules just didn’t work. Finally, on the Independence Day seat sale of Philippine Airlines, I snagged the first availability I could find for a round trip New York – Manila sale fare, which happened to be in November. The fare was $1076 dollars, a far cry from the regular fare of $2400 I kept seeing. That already included the additional fee of $20 for an aisle seat each way.

So I decided to buy a ticket for the same price for March, in time for Mom’s birthday.

And here I am, all excited!

The trips home are a gift to me from me. I’ve been a New Yorker for almost 23 years now, but my entire family is in Manila. I left to start a family in New York and while that has been whittled down to just the son and I, I have all of my family back home. Dad passed away 11 years ago, and mom is turning 83. In preparation for the trip home, I always get excited months ahead, planning on the pasalubong I will bring home, and spending time with the family and reconnecting with friends. We’re a tight knit clan of 4 siblings and 4 in the next generation. Although we are constantly in touch via Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, these times that we get to spend in 3D as some now call it, are precious indeed.

In the weeks leading to the trip, I start shopping for the presents for the folks back home. Chocolate is always on top of the list, but we always decide which ones to get depending on the season. It’s easier when the son and I are both traveling, because then we have four 50-lb bags to fill.

I got 3 bags of 100 piece Lindt truffles, and that alone already ate up 4 kilos and change. Ferrero Rocher is also a favorite across the board, and I caught a buy one get the second at 50% sale at RiteAid which made it a good buy. I unpack the truffles from their original container and arrange them in a carton so that they don’t get crushed.

I already have a system whereby I weigh and apportion my luggage allowance, making sure to keep within the 50 lb or 23 kg limit. While I paid for an extra piece in November, this time around, I stuck to the 2 pc checked in bag limit, and I went with a roller and my huge tote as hand carry. I actually ended up checking in a pound or two lighter than the max.

I always make sure my underwear and at least one change of clothes is in my hand carry. Just in case my luggage gets lost, I know I will have a change of clothes. And I like to change to something more comfortable when I land, more so when I leave New York in winter clothes and land in the much warmer climes of Manila. I have a pair of leg warmers that have travelled back and forth with me, that is essential to my travel go bag. And while I always go with a neck pillow, I have managed to start a small collection because I always end up leaving it behind. To date, I think I have 6. I know I left one in Manila and am almost sure I left one in Sydney in November. I just bought another one when I left New York today when I realized I failed to take my newly washed neck pillow with a hood with me. You’d think an item so essential to my going on long trips would be something I would be glued to. On the contrary, in my haste to go down and catch the Uber car picking me up, I often end up forgetting about it.

So I am heading home,and my heart is full. Nothing quite compares to the joy that takes me over each time I find myself back with family in Manila. Laking pasasalamat ko.

My phone is charging on the seat USB port and I’ve picked out the films I’m watching. I am exhausted from the long wait for take off. I’ve taken off the shoes and donned the slippers, made sure my eye glasses are within reach, and I closed my eyes.. finally. Dreaming of Manila.

One of those days

I always start my posts with the title. And top of mind tonight at 8pm is that it’s been one of those days. Indeed.

I just finished a dinner of manchego cheese, grapes and most of the Ste Chateau Michelle Riesling 2022 bottle I got from the ex for Christmas. I think I’m officially buzzed and it’s just 8pm. But it feels good.

It was a long, long day. A day of disappointments in a sense, but it was at work, so the disappointments ended at just before 6pm. Then I shut the computer off and I disappeared into my own moment.

I had started chilling the Riesling around 4pm when things were really bad. I vented. I ranted.. I breathed and I said, I’m okay. I just need to let this go.

You know how sometimes something is said or happens, and you step back and have a totally unrelated realization based on it? I had one of those moments today. When, at the end of the conversation, I realized people thought I didn’t have enough to do. That because some things at work had changed, my load was easier. Forget that there are other things that are part of the job which is totally overwhelming me at this point. So what was all the chasing for?

Realization: everyone thought it was easy as pie because I got it done. I remember someone telling me decades ago I need to slow down. The pace at which I work makes people expect that kind of efficiency at all times. When I end up sliding down to “normal”, they find it “slow” and unacceptable. It looks effortless even when I’m pulling my hair trying to keep my head above water.

I’m upset, I know. Upset enough that I am returning to meditation. I had my half a bottle of Riesling. I am here ranting.

Breathe, Dinna. Breathe…

Where did 2022 go?

Every year, I begin a list of things I hope to accomplish or do in the the coming year, with periodic updates in between. So today I was looking for “22 for 2022,” and I couldn’t find it. I could’ve sworn I would have a draft at least, but even that eluded me. Wow.

The last year seems to have breezed by not just quickly, but unremarkably. How could I have skipped that altogether! It doesn’t help that I cannot seem to get WordPress to load properly on the laptop, and midweek next week when I return to the city might end up a tad too late.

So here I am tapping away on my phone, in the app. I want to write a post to end the year right, and hopefully begin the next properly.

I don’t have a new year’s eve party to host or go to— my left hand still has 4 fingers elegantly bandaged after I had a cooking mishap last Wednesday. I purposely chose to stay home and just greet 2023 quietly. (The son is with his dad but will be with me tomorrow.). I wasn’t that excited about the new year in the weeks leading up to it, so much so, that I just made my dinner reservation for tomorrow with the son, before I started this post. And I’m still iffy about the steakhouse I chose.

I saw a blanket of fog outside when I picked up two deliveries that came in the afternoon. I was almost tempted to grab the phone and walk around to take some footage, but the prospect of dressing up in the heavy and puffy winter coat and donning the boots was enough to convince me to stay put. I told myself, I had more than enough footage I still need to edit to bother with adding more.

I am too lazy to cook so I ordered some Thai food from a neighborhood reliable. It’s been a while since I ordered out— mealtimes have been simpler since the son went off to college, but I’ve been cooking since he returned for the winter break 2 weeks ago. I thought I’d celebrate the year’s end with a dinner treat to maybe inspire more writing. My planned videos for this weekend were all thwarted by the cooking accident, and the only thing that shows promise is maybe, the podcast.

Yes, I’m finally pushing through with the plan, but kicking off the effort with an audio version of the posts I write here. The idea for the podcast had come together during the pandemic, and I regret how I’ve sat on it for the longest time. The avatar, show title (Conversations with Pinay New Yorker) and the intro and extro soundtrack had long been available and set. And now I’m seriously rethinking the title given what I am planning to do. Shall I shift to “PinayNewYorker says”..? Should I change that to “Just thinking online,” a category that I use here on the blog, or should I stick with the original title?

I’ll give myself the first week to decide. This might yet end up the first episode of the podcast. Meanwhile, I hope that we all have an even better 2023 ahead, whatever our plans and dreams may be.

Manhattan streets

Thoughts on Christmas Eve

I woke up this morning to a few texts.. I replied and tried to savor sleeping in on a Saturday like I usually do. Sleep has been a luxury at my age— more so now that I’ve gotten back to work full time. Weekends are all about chilling and just lazing the days away… until Monday, that is.

Well, I have a long weekend to look forward to. No special plans really— except tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner with the son. I have him Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. The latter can be a dinner some place outside.. tonight, I cook.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but it doesn’t mean that I always greet it with guns blazing, all set and festive! I am still writing my Christmas cards and it’s Christmas Eve! I haven’t finished my window decorations which I am hoping to get done tonight. And the biggest blunder was that I forgot we had thrown away my old Christmas tree last year, with plans to buy a new one for this year. It was too late to order by the time I found myself remembering this while I was desperately turning the attic upside down, so I decided to use what was a lit up twig tree I nestled on the bigger window in previous years. It actually worked out great, but now I have no use for two sets of white Christmas lights I meant to use on my former tree. (I am torn between returning them and just keeping them for next year..)

Christmas dinner isn’t a big production, because the carnivore in the son and I means a steak dinner usually seals the deal. I order a standing rib roast good for a full table, and just keep the half that remains for the intervening week between Christmas and new year. Our sides are pretty predictable as he prefers his corn and his rice, and I make a Brussels sprouts side. I am just glad he’s home.

I did the customary Christmas family Facebook chat after midnight and caught up with the siblings. I miss Christmases back home but that has been tough to pull off given the cost of travel post pandemic. I really only managed the November trip home because of a fare sale that I caught sometime during the middle of the year. That was a lucky break for me, given that flight schedules are nowhere near normal as yet, making the fares still a bit on the high side. So I’m happy spending Christmas on this side of the world.

It’s not quite the same— spending Christmas here and Christmas back home, that is. But Christmas here has improved from the two christmases before it. The throng of tourists are back— almost to normal levels. You can feel the spirit of New York coming alive again with the festive air everywhere. I actually don’t mind the crowds as much as I used to— maybe because they give me the sense that we are back — or almost back— to where we used to be.

That really isn’t such a bad thought— considering we diverted to different routines and had to adapt to the demands of the pandemic. Last year, people crowded the urgent care centers and testing booths to get tested before heading home. Lines wrapped around corners and people waited their turn. I haven’t seen the lines. Perhaps we have let our guard down with a false sense of security, thinking the vaccines and boosters are all we need. There is that sense of complacency that even I am guilty of.

We celebrate the holidays in the ways we are used to. And I know not everyone chooses to celebrate — we all have our own faith that guides us during these times. I’m winding down Christmas Eve with a happy thought. I celebrated with the ones who matter the most to me, and for that, I am grateful.

Grand central this Christmas season 2022

Monday and Tuesday Musings: Into the holidays

UntitledIt’s a cold, cold Monday again in New York. (So what’s new, you might ask..) Well for one, I’ve been unsuccessful in trying to lose the weight I gained from the trip home. I know — I should give up as it’s an exercise in futility given the season, but I’m trying to get in control before I get beyond hopeless. The weather and staying home through most of the weekend just passed didn’t help. The flesh is weak, indeed. So yes, I’ve given in to seeking comfort in the warm embrace of my bulky puffy winter coat, even if I have a hard time navigating crossing the streets and anticipating oncoming traffic from the right and the left. I don’t know that I helped you visualize how that goes, but it takes a bit more effort. I also have taken to wearing the snow boots without the snow. At least I don’t have to worry about icy pavements and my toes will always be cushy warm. The things we do in the wintertime!

First Crafting Live Show on Youtube didn’t happen. I didn’t want to go about it without good planning. First, there was the problem of scheduling against already existing live streams from people I don’t exactly want to go up against. These are the live streams that I have been a part of in the last few months I’ve been a content creator. Then again, there’s the question of whether or not I want to hit the same “audience,” given that I am trying to cater to a different group. (Thinking on that!) The live streams I’ve been a part of have primarily been geared towards fellow content creators who are trying to get support for their own channel. It’s not exactly a target audience for the show I want to put on, but I am not discounting my fellow content creators’ interest in what I intend to show.

I did manage to create the intro, and should be able to do an extro easy. It’s taking shape and who knows.. I might actually pull off one this coming weekend.

Grabbing some proudly Pinoy holiday cheer. I ventured out to the Union Square Holiday Market last night to look for Chef Daniel Corpuz’s pop up shop. The boss is a certified chocoholic like me, but she loves dark as against my milk obsession. It also gave me a chance to get some content for the YouTube channel which I will post separately.

I love the feel of Christmas in these holiday markets which sadly, end on the 31st. So try and catch at least one of the holiday markets to get the full New York Christmas feels this season. There are actually a more varied group of vendors in this one because they allowed for small booths as opposed to full stores which can be heavy on the overhead. While there were a bunch of stores which are present in other holiday markets like the Winter Village in Bryant Park, there are artisans who have a store in only one — particularly the one in Union Square. I am actually planning to go back one time I’m not rushing through like last night, and hoping I can examine the stores more closely before they are gone!

It was a hectic Monday — so I’m finishing this the following day. The son is home so I rushed back to cook — something I truly miss since he hied off to college in the fall. It feels good to have him back but he is the same that he is not. Which is fine. Life goes on and I can’t stop him from growing up. That’s something I have had to come to terms with as a parent and as a human being .. and I am on the journey.

I’ve been getting a lot of creative inspiration lately. Putting away and sorting through my things has caused me to run into half finished projects, or materials that were bought for a reason when I got them. I’ve been organizing and that has gotten the creative juices running again. I am hoping to create a piece or two in the next days running up to the end of the year. That might get things rolling in that department, much as I’ve been writing more here. I am excited about 2023 and all that it promises. Meanwhile, time to get ready for the holidays..

Can you believe Christmas is just days away?

Christmas 2022

Monday Musings: Colder days and even colder nights


Winter is here, indeed! And yes, I now have my cap in my purse, and I’m wearing the thicker scarves. Still resisting the winter coat, though. Last week’s sweaty layers have me on the fence. Today was pretty cold and I walked out to a dusting of snow on the ground. It was more than just frost— there was enough to scrub off windshields. I am wishing the snow away even if I know I’m not going to get my wish. It can’t hurt.

Planning a Crafting Live stream. I was thinking of doing it this past weekend, but I didn’t have a real plan. First of all, I had no thumbnail and I knew it was not a good idea to just pop out and do it with no structure. No, still NOT getting in front of the camera— I will craft with the camera on my hands. I hope to make up my mind about the title tomorrow and execute the thumbnail by midweek. CRAFTING WEEKEND seems simple enough. Perhaps my first episode will be on jewelry, and the second on crochet. I can actually get away with crocheting a slouchy cap in one sitting. So many possibilities.

Getting caught up with the material I picked up from the trip home. I’m still way behind and I’m trying to chase after Christmas, as a good portion of my videos are holiday related. The others will have to wait, and I still have to keep up with what’s happening in New York.

I walked to Saks Fifth Avenue last Friday and filmed the Holiday Light Show, uploading it the next day. I used the original soundtrack as rendered at the light show, using Sir Elton John’s music. I knew that would mean sacrificing the monetization aspect but it didn’t matter. That holiday light show is as much a part of Christmas in New York as the Rockefeller Christmas tree, so I couldn’t let my first year as a content creator go without including that in my line up.

There’s a second half to this particular shoot- — the portion pertaining to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree which I am still working on.

Dreaming of another art journal. I have to admit the inspiration has been lacking the last two years. I’m trying to overcome it and get myself to start crafting one again. Maybe that can be one of my live crafting topics: My art journal reborn. I might just start with the vacation just ended and see where that goes.

On a related note, I want to do a video reveal of the two art journals I have. Perhaps that will stir up the creative juices again that will give me the inspiration to try again.

This blog in voice? I’m thinking of picking out select pieces here and rendering it as a podcast or audio piece for people to listen to. Once upon a time I was a radio newscaster so I know I can read and modulate to make it sound good. There’s a wealth of material in here after years of writing. It’s a matter of choosing which ones I will literally lend a voice to. My only fear is that k might not be able to keep up and it fizzles before it can even take off.

The original idea I had at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown in 2020 was an actual podcast to be entitled “Conversations with Pinay New Yorker”. I had my soundtrack ready, with an intro and extro and extended background music rendered by a friend. I had a couple of topics I even laid out with outlines and a script, and my niece who is a graphic artist created an avatar. All that is still in the back burner.. this new idea, though, has existing content I just need to voice. Let me ponder that.

I’m hoping the week eases up a bit beginning tomorrow. But with the grid lock alert hanging over our heads and the constant buzz of the city ringing in my ear as the holiday approaches, I can only try to go with the flow. Hope you have a good week ahead.

Almost Freezing Friday

I missed the bus I was trying to catch and the next one is a full 12 minutes away. I decided to walk to the bus stop in lieu of stopping by the neighborhood Starbucks because I thought I’d try to start another post. Third this week, and I am both surprised and happy about that.

I was looking for a photo to post with the last two pieces I wrote but I didn’t have any. I have been taking video after video, forgetting I need photos, too. Thankfully, there is the screenshot. Problem solved.

The last couple of days left me feeling like I was overdressed in layers I didn’t need. I ended up sweating with too much warmth that it was uncomfortable. Sometimes you just can’t win with the temperatures getting milder some days, and plunging to lows of 35 like today. But I can feel the freezing wind hitting my face, and I am thankful k didn’t forget my cap and I wore a light knit jacket under my transition coat.

Winter can be a tricky business. People look forward and not look forward to snow. It gets too cold and tricky walking when it comes. Like I always say, I like the snow when it’s freshly fallen or when it’s actually falling — even if it’s a snowstorm. It’s the aftermath of the snow that I dread. So white christmases are a nice thought but not something I actually pine for.

I really could’ve stayed home but am heading to work because of some things that were just easier done from my workstation, rather than via the laptop’s remote connection. For all the advances we have seen this past 2 years in enhancing the “work from home” scenario, it still isn’t quite the same as being in the office. Plus, I wanted to do some errands that needed to be done sooner rather than later. Today was one of those days that I can actually look at finishing the day earlier than usual, so there is hope..

My Fridays are “happy thought” days. From “sleeping in” to doing “me stuff” and just having a 48 hour break— it is a promise of good things to come. Yes, even when it’s an almost freezing Friday.

So here I am trying to plan the weekend. I had wanted to go to the city one day — and looks like it will be Sunday. The postcard group I’m a part of is having its Christmas party and I have missed the meetings the last couple of months. I even missed the grand postcard show in November because I was on the other side of the world. The thought of cramming everything else into Saturday, though, gives me pause. I guess I will decide on Sunday depending on how Saturday goes. It’s a pretty fluid calendar.

Those are my weekend plans. I certainly hope that yours turns out well, whatever you have in store for you.

Rainy New York

I walked out of the door ready this morning. The skies are a gloomy grey and the rain was heavy enough for me to whip out the umbrella. Purse and tote in hand and a small bag of trash, umbrella in the other and my alarm goes off. I calmly walked to the dumpster behind my courtyard and then dealt with the pesky alarm. It’s one of those days when you just have to go with the flow instead of getting all stressed out. (And then I decide to check my work email.)

No fires to put out so I can focus on me and writing here.

I haven’t quite adjusted despite being back a week now and was totally bushed by 8pm last night. I dozed off and woke up at just past 1am but was able to go back to sleep. I beat my alarm clock by an hour and started preparing for the day.

With December rolling out, I can’t help but marvel at how fast 2022 swept by me. It seems as though we were just starting off the year not too long ago, and now we are here, getting ready to say goodbye. I don’t want to start reflecting on the year just passed beyond the fact that it just flew by. That’s for another blog post.

After vacation feels usually keep me on a relative low because I start missing everything I left behind. I think I cope better now, and it’s good to be on solid footing again with my everyday reality, but I still find myself wishing I could stay longer.. or go back. It doesn’t last very long, though. I’m eventually taken over by a sense of accomplishment after seeing the friends I meant to see, and visiting the places I meant to go to.

Even if there were bumps along the way, so to speak — the good outweighed the bad by tons. I am grateful for the chance to go home again after the three years I waited. That was a blessing I am thankful for, many times over.

And even in the gloom of a rainy morning, there is a hint of a milder winter’s day unlike the previous days. And that is a blessing in itself.

Monday Musings: Trying to get back to writing


I’m back! So I am grateful that I managed a post on my way home but sadly, didn’t get to write anything anymore after that. I am back in New York a week now and I’m still adjusting. It’s not just the jet lag but it’s also about getting back into the swing of things now that I’m back to my “normal”.

I’m getting there.

I surprisingly got myself unpacked within 24 hours of arriving, but also realized that I had left a ton of the goodies I had meant to bring. Note to self: stash all goods in the suitcase as you buy them so the dried mangoes and Goya chocolates don’t get left behind!

Winter is here. It took me quite a bit to catch up with the 30-something degree mornings, and for the first time left the house layered, with the winter scarf and a hat – finally! I am still trying to find my leather gloves but will get my warmers tomorrow if I don’t find them. Today was the first morning that was below freezing and it’s as good an affirmation I am back in New York as any. We drove past the soccer field coated with visible frost — a portent of things to come.

I didn’t get to buy any coats in the tiangge in Greenhills because the brands I was looking for weren’t there, or there were no sizes in the styles that caught my eye. There were some nice J.Crew factory seconds which, unfortunately, weren’t in my color or size. I had purchased some nice Ann Taylor coats from the same store in the past, but the styles just weren’t appealing to me. I also realized that there is a marked difference in thickness and warmth between “Korean coats” and “US coats”. (This particular store only sells the US brands.). The former are actually thinner and provide less insulation than the ones that are made for use here.

Christmas is creeping up on me. I need to make up my mind about my holiday card. I can have one of the many photos I have printed, or rendered as a card, or I can go the regular Christmas card route and just insert one. On top of my to do list!

Meanwhile, the Christmas tree isn’t up yet as I am seriously thinking of downsizing this year, foregoing the bigger tree I usually assemble. Perhaps the smaller tree I have been resting on my bigger window will work this time around. Still thinking.

Still creating content. The YouTube struggle is real! Although I’ve been monetized and officially creating content to earn, the vacation has been both productive and a drag. I’ve created a ton of material but need time to edit and upload. I’m on it! It was an enjoyable experience documenting the journey home and to Sydney and back, but not always easy. It can be quite the production trying to pull things in chronological order, and I gave up the minute I accumulated the first 5 videos of the trip. I am working on it diligently and hoping to catch up soon.

I actually just started a “shorts only” channel which I hope to populate with exactly that: shorts only. Aptly running under the banner of “Shorts, Etcetera,” it’s an experiment on how long I can get the channel to rack up the 1000 subscribers and the 4000 watch hours required. Let’s see how that one goes.

I’m trying to write more. Part of the whole business of chronicling my life in pictures and videos is actually keeping a journal — be it physical or virtual— to later remind me of the nuances of the day.

I can be good at this when I put my mind to it. I have journals, blogposts and captioned social media entries that are a testament to that. It’s the time that the whole effort requires that presents a problem. But I will try to overcome.

I started this post on the bus this morning and I am ending it on the bus on my way home. The post itself is a victory of sorts for me. I know— I have to make sure that I come back sooner than next month. And I will.