A Tubby Tabby, Three Konekos, and a Life with Hello Kitty and Autism

Archive for August, 2008

Lost-And-Found Daddy

Friday, August 29th, 2008

This was written by my youngest sister Jasmine. I asked her permission to put it here in honor of our Dad’s 67th birthday today. I am not able to write about this as bravely as she has and so, I am borrowing her words today. Thank you, Jas.

Daddy and his first grandchild, Alexander

And to our dearest Daddy, the first man I ever loved, the man who gave all five of his children the sun and the moon and the stars- Happy Birthday! We love you so much.


Lost-And-Found Daddy

by Jasmine N.O.

My father smells awful.

And I am glad.

Most days, the smell of sweat, cigarettes, rust and hard work cling to him, trailing his every movement. It is an odor that has followed him every working day of his life. And for a time, during my adolescence, I found it quite embarrassing.

But now I welcome it.

It is the smell of a self-made man.

When I was growing up. My father made a decent living managing a factory he single-handedly built from the ground up. Daddy worked incessantly, day and night, weekdays and weekends- always with the seemingly untiring precision of a clockwork figure.

During those early years, we lived in a modest house half-perched on top of the factory. And each day, he would descend the stairs wrapped in a cloud of soapy freshness. Yet he would always come back smelling like the chemicals and metals of his trade.

As a matter of routine, upon returning home, he would lie down, still reeking like a sack of rusty nails. Then we would scramble up his bed and sidle up next to him, unmindful of the odor.

As we grew, his business flourished. Daddy’s hard work provided us with all we could ever need, and much more besides. We were by no means spoiled brats, but all our young lives, we never knew what it was to want for anything.

We lived a privileged existence. Pampered with more books and toys than we knew what to do with, chauffeured to and from the best private schools, encouraged to bloom through dance, art, and music lessons. We had the best of everything, all due to his tired, sweaty factory smell.

As the youngest child, I was Daddy’s Girl. On shopping trips, when a clean-shaven and perfumed Daddy would firmly tell me that a certain purchase would be my last for the day, I would turn on the charm and get him to agree to buy me the last, last item. And the last, last, last after that. And the last, last, last, last after that. And so on. I was loved. :-)

When I was about four years olds, I lamented being born three days before Christmas. Much to my dismay, I would always get joint birthday and Christmas presents from relatives and friends. To make up for this “gross injustice,” Daddy declared that my birthday would officially begin on December 1st and stretch all the way down to January 6th, the Feast of the Three Kings. True enough, beginning the first of each December, I would receive little presents from Daddy.

To be sure, Daddy was not a selfish man. The success of his kamalig (translation: warehouse), as he liked to call it, allowed him to send all five of us to college, and the other four on to medical or law school. But he always kept his widowed mother and younger siblings in mind.

The kamalig allowed him to provide jobs for his younger brothers and sisters. It allowed him to build a spacious house of his own and an even grander one for his mother. He was a father to the entire extended family. Even down to our less fortunate cousins, majority of whom he sent to school.

But in 1992, a series of strokes and a family dispute put an end to life as we knew it.

While in his sickbed, Daddy was accused of theft by the siblings he loved and employed. Never mind that he gave them more than he ever kept for us. Never mind that the deeds to majority of the property he had accumulated were in their names. Never mind that he had to do without a lot… for us, for them.

Confused, weakened, so much unlike himself, he yielded. And he lost everything he had ever worked for, save for the home and the cars. He lost the kamalig and with it, that kamalig stench.

I was still in college then. And pretending like nothing was different, I plodded my way through school, surrounded by the din of friends and classmates, many of whom were none the wiser to my new predicament.

When left to my own devices, I would try not to cry. Yet sometimes, sorrow and anger would get the better of me and I would wrap my fists tightly around a bunch of coins. Then I would wait. Wait for the rusty smell to grow on my sweaty palms. It was almost like that kamalig smell. It was comfort when I needed it most.

From school, I would often return to a quiet and darkened house. To a grieving family suddenly thrown into hard times.

We were not used to worrying about money. But more than that, we were not used to having to take care of Daddy. He always took care of us.

Robbed of his pride and his notion of self worth, he withdrew into a deep depression. His strokes left him with virtually no physical deficits and yet he remained bound to his bed. His work-calloused hands and feet grew soft and smooth from disuse.

What disease could not do, his siblings and his mother did effortlessly.

They broke him. They defeated him. They all but killed him.

Whereas before, he hardly ever raised his voice, he became prone to fits of rage. He lost his laughter- a man who once seemed invincible, reduced to muted tears of anguish and anger. Gone was his enviable zest for life and living. In its place was much sadness and thoughts of death and dying.

He became a stranger to us.

That above all was the greatest loss. Far greater than the loss of money, property , or extended family.

He was robbed of everything that made him who he was. And we found ourselves just as lost as he was. Perhaps more so.

A very good school friend who knew a similar fate once told me how much of a stranger her own father had become. “I love him,” she said sadly. “But I no longer like him.” For a time, that summed up how I felt about my father. I could not find even a glimmer of the man he once was. And that is a horror and tragedy that I never would have thought was possible.

But opiating forgetfulness is kind.

In time, the gaping wounds healed.

Grandchildren brought back a twinkle to daddy’s eyes. He found his laughter again. He regained his pride.

The sale of the lavish residence, so close to his mother’s and siblings’ homes, gave him renewed vigor.

It was like cutting ties again. Only willingly this time. And permanently.

We packed up our things and never looked back.

And from the sale of the house, daddy constructed a new home. And a new factory. A modest one that can’t compare to what he once had, but it’s his. All his. Pabrika (translation: factory), he now calls it.

And each day, he leaves the new home under a cloud of soapy freshness.

And each night, he returns, the smell of sweat, cigarettes, rust and hard work clinging to him.

Like old times.

Well, almost…

Off With My Head! (Or From Princess To Queen, All In One Day)

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

For a few minutes yesterday at lunch, I was a queen dressed up in the fashion of Henry VIII’s reign. I should have expected it when the invitation for the advanced screening of HBO’s The Tudors landed on my hands. It was just the kind of kooky and fun thing the creative people behind Virtusio Public Relations would have up their sleeve. And really, as a  prelude to the screening, it was a perfect way to break the ice with a group of journalists.

I had some misgivings at first with the heavy period costume, with its faux fur collar and sleeves, layers of petticoats, and heavy satin lining; besides, I did not relish the idea of dressing up, only to be decapitated. :-) After a while, however, I started to enjoy the lavishness and outrageousness of the costume. I mean, how often in one’s life does one get the chance to be a queen, if only for a few minutes? Before I knew it, I felt immensely royal and, ehrm, queenly. I was also seized with this sudden urge  to command people around.

“Let them eat cake!” I wanted to scream. (Oops, I channeled the wrong queen; that’s Marie Antoinette.*) 

“I will make you shorter by the head!” (Still the wrong queen; that’s Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I am a history nut.)

I was brought back to earth when I was introduced to the wonderful Ms. Karen Lai, Director for Communications for HBO. Over a sumptuous repast, I also had the privilege to exchange a few thoughts with Mr. Romy Virtusio, the man himself, the force behind Virtusio Public Relations. He is a thoroughly engaging man, with a quick wit and a very unassuming manner that makes one feel instantly at home with him.

After lunch, we headed to the theater, free popcorn and drinks in hand. We were shown the first two episodes of The Tudors and I must say that despite some awfully large liberties with history, this series is sure to catch the public’s imagination. Too bad they only have it on HBO Signature for now (starts September 10). I think I’ll ask A to buy for me the complete first season boxed set at Amazon (retails $20.99) so I don’t have to wait while Skycable Platinum finds its way into my area.

In the league of Henry’s Queens? 

The wives of King Henry VIII plus one: Queen’s photos from http://www.eriding.net/media/tudors.shtml#3a

At the end of the screening, we were asked to vote which of the people who had their pictures taken as King or Queen would be awarded King Henry and Queen Anne (Boleyn) for the day. Votes for the King were unanimous, but the Queens slugged it out neck and neck. Alas, I should have voted for myself because I lost by only one point. Boohoo! 

Still, I have have no regrets. When I got home late afternoon, I still felt very much like a Queen, surrounded by a retinue of gorgeous men (three, to be exact, heehee) who obeyed my every beck and call. Pondering upon the fates of Henry VIII’s queens, I realized, however, that perhaps I must exercise more discretion with all the commanding and summoning and beckoning that I do. For indeed, the last thing I want is suffer a tragic fate like this:

photo of headless Anne Boleyn doll from http://joycestahl.blogspot.com/2008/05/ghosts-and-pumpkins.html (Go visit this very creative, if a little morbid, site!)

For more gruesomely fascinating photos of decapitated Queen dolls, visit www.headlesshistoricals.com.


A thirty-second history lesson: “Let them eat cake!” is a statement often attributed to Marie Antoinette in the days leading to the French Revolution, but historical scrutiny has shown that this came from French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his autobiographical book Confessions which was written in 1766. And in 1766, Marie Antoinette was only 10 years old, certainly too young to be married to Louis XVI. 

A Fairy Tale Come True

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I was officially released from my “husband-imposed quarantine” (sorry, hon) last Friday, when A, Alex and I took in the third-to-the-last show of Cinderella at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). By then, while I still couldn’t wear abrasive clothing (like jeans) which would scratch at my healing abdomen, I was well enough to put on a soft, slinky dress (imagine me in a dress!) that A had bought for me and stay out till late at night.

As soon as the lights went out and Lea Salonga’s voice filled the hall, I wept like a hormone-addled PMS sufferer. I couldn’t help it. Something about her voice evokes that same reaction every single time. Indeed, Ms. Salonga’s voice has definitely grown more refined and more elegant with time, mirroring her emotion and thoughts with subtle changes in inflection, tone, and body. And as old (at 41) as I am and as jaded as I am now of real life, I still wept when she finally found her Prince.

A held my hand tightly in his. I think he was a little afraid I would pass out from the excitement. I saw him glance at me a few times in the dark, as he wiped a tear or two from my cheeks. :-)

A got good seats for us, just four rows from the stage. We were so close we could see the microphone stuck on the actors’ foreheads, heehee. And much like the four-year-old child I was when I first saw Disney’s Cinderella (technically, Disney’s Cinderella is much, much, much older, having been created in 1950), I had my mouth open for most of show, in turns guffawing in laughter, holding my breath in excitement, and weeping with happiness. Moreover, I was enthralled by the details- the lavish costumes, the wonderful colors, the elaborate sets, and the lightning-quick changes (Ms. Salonga changed from servant girl to fabulous-princess-of-the-ball in less than a minute). The production values were excellent in every way.

I loved Cinderella, loved it so much that I begged A to watch another show with me, even just a matinee. I knew, however, that with Alex’s exams coming this week, our weekend would have to be spent at home. I was sad to go but A always does the sweetest things to cheer me up. He gave me a souvenir program, a CD of the international tour cast recording, and a charm bracelet (with slipper, pumpkin, and Cinderella charms) to bring home. On the car on the way home, Alex was already singing lines from the song. When he asked me which song I loved the best, I said it was this:

Prince: Do I love you because you’re beautiful,
or are you beautiful because I love you?
Am I making believe I see in you
a girl too lovely to be really true?
Do I want you because you’re wonderful,
or are you wonderful because I want you?
Are you the sweet invention of a lover’s dream
or are you really as beautiful as you seem?

Cinderella: Am I making believe I see in you
a man too perfect to be really true?
Do I want you because you’re wonderful,
or are you wonderful because I want you?

Both: Are you the sweet invention of a lover’s dream
or are you really as wonderful as you seem?

While Cinderella and the Prince sang this song, I was reminded of myself and how I saw myself through my eyes. Sometimes, fairy tales do come true. At least, it did for me.


I looked for this article which I wrote years ago and I read this to Alex when we got home that night. He was asking too many questions, wanting to understand why that specific song resonated loudly in my life. I think he understands now.

The Beauty of Loving

Early on in life, I knew I was no ravishing beauty. At an age when many little girls dreamt of becoming Miss Universe, I knew as early as then that it was useless and foolish to pine for this impossible dream. I didn’t chance upon this conclusion by myself. One of my earliest memories was that of my paternal grandmother pinching my flat nose and saying, “Eto, pango, hindi talaga maganda.” (This one has a flat nose, not beautiful at all.”) I was only three years old.

My younger sister Joanne (the one who grew up to call herself Joee), well, she was the beauty of the family, everyone agreed. She was lithe and petite, whereas I was chubby and chunky. Her complexion was golden and creamy, whereas I was pasty and white like a ball of dough. She had deep-set eyes fringed with long eyelashes, while mine were hairless Chinese slits I inherited from our father. She had pouty lips that I tried to imitate, only to end up looking like a fish without gills. She even had dimples — on both cheeks! Hands down, my Incredible Hulkette was no match for her graceful beauty.

Foolishly, I took all those against her while we were growing up, as if she had any choice on the matter at all. I deeply resented her luck. Thankfully, she didn’t quite catch on that I didn’t want to be around her most of the time. I’d devise ways to get back at her, though she always put one over me, no matter how deviously I tried. Looking back, I was a rather lame evil sister. I’d play with her Barbie toys and leave them lying around (so she’d get scolded by my mom), and as soon as I turned my back on her, she’d be running around the house innocently gumming and chewing on my Ballerina Barbie doll’s leg. By the time I rescued Barbie, my sister had already dripped drool all over the doll’s hair and painted face. She even decapitated it accidentally.

I was the big sister she desperately wanted to close be with. She hounded me like a sweet little puppy and tried to insinuate herself into my life. I kept her at bay and distanced myself from her. At family reunions, I’d sit as far away from her as possible so that our critical and tactless relatives wouldn’t have to compare her to me.

A funny thing happened when I reached adolescence. I sprouted a foot and a half overnight. I grew breasts and curvy hips. My face developed a semblance of cheekbones as puberty distributed the fat in all the right places. All of a sudden, I was no longer fat and plain of face. Sure, I was still no beauty, but I didn’t think I looked all that bad. My sister, on the other hand, remained a child for some years after I had grown. Because she was always small for her age, even in adolescence, she remained smaller than most. I got to wear hip, teenage clothes while my mom forced her to wear baby dresses with Peter Pan collars and Dumbo patches, much to my sister’s chagrin. I almost pitied her then.

When she finally caught up with me (I think she started to grow and develop around her junior year in high school), I lost steam again. Ah, that was it, I gave up. I felt that I had no chance of ever competing with her in the arena of physical attributes so I buried myself in books. I stayed up late at nights to do more work for extra credit. I made myself adhere to a rigid schedule of study and it paid off. When I got a science scholarship in high school and later on got in the state university, I heaved a sigh of relief. Finally, people were no longer wont to notice my funny-looking face or my large figure, only my brains.

There was a commercial advertisement many years back that struck me on a personal level, not because of the message but because of the character they employed to get the message across. In the past, I often identified myself with that girl in the commercial. Rosa Axion Bida had pimples on her face, a few blackened teeth, a large flat nose, and an ungainly, awkward build. In short, she was pimply, fat and ugly — a cruel stereotype of household help. Many days, I felt as ugly as she was depicted.

I carried that image in my heart for many, many years. I even dreamt of her, and in my dreams, I was Rosa Axion Bida. Her image was seared in my brain.

I didn’t realize it then, but when I finally acknowledged that I could achieve something on my own by sheer hard work, I stopped becoming preoccupied with physical beauty. I learned to laugh more. I learned to laugh at myself. I laughed from my belly and from somewhere deeper down, a layer I hadn’t known existed. I ran and played and enjoyed myself. I became comfortable in my own skin. And somewhere down the road, I forged a real friendship with my sister, never mind that she is and will always be the ravishing beauty of the family.

Still, I didn’t chuck all the cosmetic trappings; rather, I learned to use it for my own pleasure. I dressed to please myself and I made myself up not for anyone else but for my own satisfaction.

The people in my life attested to this change. They never flattered me and called me beautiful; that would be hogwash, of course, but many complimented my grace and my spirit. Some loved my feistiness and my grit, others my determination and my persistence. They loved my laughter, which they said was natural and devoid of artifice. They admired my words, which they said could evoke strong feelings in them. I was happy. I was being me.

I met my husband when we were both thirteen. When we were eighteen, he said I was the most beautiful human being he had ever known. I punched him hard in the arm and guffawed. Me — beautiful? He must be joking! He took it all in stride and punched me back lightly in the arm, all the while grinning and exposing his pearly whites like crazy. He learned never to call me beautiful again.

Then late one night, a few nights after I had just given birth to our first son, I awakened to the light rustling of sheets as my husband sought to swaddle Alex in flurry of blankets. I heard him crooning softly to our newborn baby. “You’re the luckiest baby in the word,” he said softly. “I love you, do you know that? And you are as beautiful as your mom.” My heart leapt for joy. Fast-forward to today. My son is ten, and beginning to appreciate the different faces and figures of people. “Human beings are like art, Mama,” he says knowingly. “Some are abstract art, but their colors make you happy. Some are beautiful paintings, but they leave you cold inside.”

“What about me, then?” I asked in jest. I wanted to see what he would say. I remembered suddenly, with a twinge of pain, how in kindergarten, he wrote about his mother being the kindest woman he had ever known. He added that his best friend wrote that his mom was pretty and had a nice figure. Why didn’t he write the same of me? “But, Mama, that would be a lie.” I had to smile despite myself.

“You, Mama?” I heard him breathe deeply. “You are the most beautiful painting in the whole world because you make my heart sing. I love you.”

I should learn a thing or two from the people who love me. Maybe I am beautiful. In their eyes, anyway. And if so, it is their love that makes me that way. So today, in the midst of eyebags and stretch marks, cellulite and thunder thighs, I no longer see myself as Rosa Axion Bida. I am beautiful, this I’ve learned from those who love me.

I am beautiful because I accept. I am beautiful because I forgive. And I am beautiful because I love.

Kitty Happy Itchy* Feet

Friday, August 15th, 2008

My Hello Kitty Dress Me doll arrived last Wednesday from the US. I had been waiting for her for months. She was a gift A bought for me on my birthday but since the Sanrio site does not ship internationally, she had to wait in New York with other items and gifts my father-in-law was sending back home. Finally, after a month and a half of a lengthy ship voyage, she finally got home. 

I got the idea for a Kitty travelogue from Travelocity’s roaming gnome, the one who was gnomenapped from his owner’s front yard in North Carolina and is now living a shussing, jet-setting, high-rolling lifestyle. I wanted Kitty to be part of my everyday life, never mind that I do get stares from people who think of me as nuts.

Kitty got here with very scanty accoutrements, just her standard underwear and two sets of clothing (a polka dot bikini set and a Japanese yukata). They ran out of other clothing designs before I could purchase them so I guess I’ll have to start looking for them on eBay.  

I made up my mind to bring Kitty to Friday night’s concert as early as Wednesday. But I didn’t think any of her two dresses would suit the concert scene so I simply dragged her along in her underwear. A promised to bring us shopping the next day, though. :-)

Kitty at Burgoo Gateway

Kitty at Sharon Cuneta’s concert

A celebratory stopover at Dairy Queen (Kittymama ate a moccha Kitkat blizzard)

On Saturday, we dropped by SM Megamall for a special Sanrio sale at the Atrium. I managed to pick up a few items on sale. However, I missed out on the afternoon activities (a meet and greet affair, a Kitty photo shoot, and face painting) because I went very early to avoid the crowds. Kitty managed to squeeze in some pictures, including one with an overweight Kitty cheerleader.

With Chiqui of Sanrio Surprises Megamall A

Then it was off to Trinoma for clothes shopping. My cousin had told me of an Animaland branch in Trinoma that might carry clothes for my 12-inch Kitty, and we weren’t the least bit disappointed. Animaland is much like Build-A-Bear, where you can stuff your own doll and choose clothing and accessories for them. Although there were a limited number of items for smaller female dolls like my Kitty, I did find jeans, shirts, a ballerina dress, sequined hot pants and matching blouse. The staff were very accommodating and very enthusiastic about their jobs. They even gamely posed for my camera. I liked Animaland a lot and they’re going to see much more of me soon.

With Ice (I hope I got his name right) of Animaland Trinoma

In the afternoon, before we prepared for Saturday night’s concert, Kitty and I tagged along with A to have the car’s matting changed. The car was parked near the sidewalk and people could see me taking shots of Kitty. Some smiled at me, others laughed, and yet a few others gave me shocked stares. Whatever.

Having a 12-piece car mat set fitted at Miggyboy’s

Notice Kitty’s new outfit? They didn’t have shoes in her size though. Early evening, A and I chose to have a light snack at the Gateway Food Express before heading off to the concert venue.

And at Tony Hadley’s concert, Kitty was seen jumping up and down with Kittymama. The cameras also pannned over them a few times. :-)


The night ended with a quick repast at Cafe Bola. Here is Kitty, trying to decide on what to eat.

And before we knew it, another day was done. Kitty rested in her brand-new Disney Princess stroller because Alphonse wanted to crush her in his embrace. He was also quite intrigued with her pink ribbon. :-)

*Yawn* Good night, Kitty!


Thirty-second note on Philippine Idioms: Itchy feet (makati ang paa) is a local idiom that means one is a gallivanter, or fond of going places  

The Kitty Business

Friday, August 15th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to post new pictures of my Kitty purchases. The pictures are not complete; I chose only the pieces that I really, really like. My seller-friends know what I got from them, and that’ll have to remain between them and myself. (Procrastination excused!) But I wanted to share some, because they’re just so darned beautiful or because as simple as they are, they brought so much joy to Alphonse and myself.

This is a denim visor I got from AJ a few months back. Alphonse picked out the blue one himself. I think he thinks he looks cool in it. :-)

These are new bookends I got from Vivi and they go very well in my bookshelf. But wait…

Alphonse loves the vibrating Kitty strawberry toy Vivi sent as a gift! See the smile on his face? Suddenly, my purchases all seemed rather unimportant. How much is Alphonse’s smile? Absolutely priceless. Thank you, dear Vivi! 

This is Alphonse’s favorite clock from Nancy (it goes very well with his Kitty timer). For now, it hangs in our room while it awaits a permanent place in what will be Alphonse’s work area. The classic red and apple Kitties are his favorite. Most touching of all, Nancy and Vivi wrote Alphonse short notes which I have read to him. I know he loves being remembered and thought of. :-)

Now, this is my current favorite, a scientific calculator which I got on a clearance sale at Nancy’s. I’ve been dreaming of this for quite a time (it was quite expensive in other sites) and I was fortunate to have snagged this before anyone else did. Now, I’m looking for another one for Sweeney, who I think will be able to use this in her high school algebra and trigonometry classes. Oh, I do hope I find another one!

And for my Oriental-inspired living room, here are my newest add-ons:

a pair of gorgeous Kitties from Allen to watch over Akemi, my Japanese baby doll

a lucky manekineko gold plush from Gift Gate


and an elegant Japanese Kitty from AJ

I don’t have a specific room to house my Kitty collection. More often than not, you’ll find her here and there, scattered in the different corners of my home, proof of how she has insinuated herself into my life. Each piece reminds me of something, of Alphonse’s smile as he looks at Hello Kitty tenderly, of Alex’s clumsy but ultimately successful attempts to worm himself into my good side (a mommy bribe, he calls it), and of A’s willingness to sacrifice his own interests and desires just to accommodate mine. It’s not so much as the Kitties but the story behind them. And that story is always about love.

Crazy Ate (8) The Night

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I promised A that I will not blog until I finished my work and I kept my promise, much as I was tempted to drop everything and blog my head off. There were moments over the weekend when a certain experience or event or scene would strike me, and the first thing that would go through my head was “I can’t wait to put this in my blog.” As enticing as it was, I had to put the brakes on my compulsion and act as a responsible adult. Work first. Fun comes next. And blogging is soo much fun that all I can say at this point is “Finally!”

Last week was pretty hectic; three concerts in one week (Alicia Keys on Tuesday, Sharon Cuneta on Friday, and Tony Hadley on Saturday) and my body felt as if it were being punished already. By Sunday, all I wanted to do was sleep and for the first time in days, my body resisted the call of mommy duty.

“Mom, I need something,” Alex would holler. I’d drool in response.

Alphonse would tug at my hand and give me a PECS card; I’d stare at the card blankly and wonder what the heck those little pictures meant. My mind was a blank.

And A would ask me, “Do we need anything from the grocery, honey?” and I’d try to scribble a list. I think I gave him some funny chicken scrawls and squiggles on a piece of paper. A, always patient, did the groceries himself and let me just sleep in. 

Whoa, I think I’m getting a little too old for nightlife, heehee.

Still, I had such fun over the weekend. A was my concert partner, as usual (he has much more stamina for these things than me, I am constantly amazed at his endurance). I love my husband and I can’t say it enough. When I think about what I made him do over the weekend, I cringe in mock embarrassment, but I am all the more grateful that my life is blessed by this man’s love.

I mentioned that we went on three concerts, right? Well, I didn’t mention this: I brought my Hello Kitty Dress Me doll everywhere over the weekend. And A was usually the one who held “her” while I took the pictures. :-)

Ms. Cuneta’s concert, Megathirty, on Crazy 8 night was very well attended (my review will come out soon) and I’ve never ever been disappointed in any of her shows (I’ve never missed one). Her voice is in the best condition it has ever been in recent years. Her special numbers with guests Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera were truly awe-inspiring. It made my heart swell with pride that these were homegrown talents who could stand tall with the rest of the world.

Then too, it happens in the most unexpected of places but that night, I was suddenly reunited with two old medical school classmates I haven’t seen in years. One is a well-known hepatologist (he did his residency at Yale University, completed a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and obtained his Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University - whew! that was a mouthful!) and the other is a physician who loyally serves his hometown of Tarlac and is such a talented artist that I think he’ll soon be leaving behind medicine to go into full-time graphic novel writing and drawing.  I couldn’t seem to hug them enough when I saw them. In the excitement, I forgot to take our pictures and I rued it immediately. Drat!

Mr. Hadley’s concert made up for in sheer fun what it lacked in attendance (the venue was roughly 60% full). Both concerts were held at the same venue (Araneta Coliseum) so I was able to compare the volume of crowds. What was initially a disappointing sight turned out into a blessing- we danced and jumped and hustled, and we didn’t feel like we were sardines trapped in a can. Tony Hadley still has the voice that catapulted Spanda Ballet into the ‘80s icon it was, and despite the rather poor attendance, he gave us a show to remember.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ll post a separate article on Kitty’s Day Out soon. Enjoy!

Megathirty 8-8-08

Kitty attends her first concert ever (in her underwear)!

Kitty enjoying the show…

Sharon Cuneta with Gary Valenciano

With daughter KC Concepcion (duet of “Dear Heart” sung in English, French, and Filipino)

KC sings “Imposible” while swinging from a wire harness

With Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera

The Pangilinan Family


Tony Hadley Concert 8-9-08

Kitty trying to steal the show, popping in and out of the video screen

Wearing Alex’s horns, watching the Sabado Boys (a crowd favorite), the front act

The man himself, Tony Hadley, a little older, a little heavier, but still as good as “Gold”

A thrilled Kittymama with her new baby (Kitty is a Brit like Mr. Hadley :-) )

Crazy 8 Day

Friday, August 8th, 2008

It’s half past one in the morning, Manila time. The whole family’s sleeping soundly, nestled comfortably in their beds. I am the last one up, as I anxiously await the Crazy 8 Sales that are about to start in my Kitty network. It certainly helps that I am not the least bit sleepy. The truth is, I’ve been running on less than four hours of sleep a day for the last three nights and I am surprised that I have not turned the least bit batty!

I think I can say outright that I can lay the responsibility for my insomnia to the Alicia Keys concert I attended last Tuesday night at  SMX, Mall of Asia. I still have a big hang-over from all the partying that went on that night. If the Daughtry concert rocked my world, this one literally blew me out of my socks!

I wasn’t expecting much really. For one, the concert started really, really late, way past the announced 8 pm. Ms. Keys was onstage just a little before ten, and while the front acts (Luke Mijares and Duncan Ramos- they were good too) tried their best to tied the crowd over, the wait was already too long. Imagine the sacrifice and effort it took to get there, only to be asked to wait again, and I was almost ready to call it quits that night. From my part of the city to the Mall of Asia, what should have been a leisurely 30 to 45 minute drive turned out to be frenzied Speed Racer driving at rush hour.

Then, too, the venue seemed hastily put together. It was cramped and uncomfortable. To be fair, the concert was originally slated for an open air venue (SM MoA parking lot between building south, the sacred heart shrine and SMX) but because of the torrential rains the past days, it had to be moved indoors. I wish they had moved it to the Araneta Coliseum instead; the seats would’ve been more bearable. (Notice how I keep complaining about the seats? Ohh, my aching bones…)

Still, not considering its technical shortcomings, this was one of the best concerts I’ve been to this year. And to think that until I heard Alicia Keys in person that night, I was not even a fan. A had loaded my iPod with her albums a few weeks before so I’d have more of an empathy for the show, but I kept forgetting to listen to them. He really had to exercise his persuasive skills to convince me to come that night, and it was only the thought of some alone time with him that made me change my mind. Well, am I glad I did!

Before I share some photos taken of the event, I wanted to put this in. I found this from a thread of the concert at the Philippine Macintosh Users Group (aka PhilMUG) forum. It comes from member courtside3 (who echoed my exact sentiments):

As has been noted, the Alicia Keys concert ranks among the best so far this year. Her performance was worth every centavo of the already reasonably priced tickets. Props to MTV Philippines for bringing her back to Manila. And the good news is that she promised to return anew. :-)

“As booblanco pointed out, however, the SMX Convention Center was cramped. In fact, concertgoers were packed like sardines, compelled to sit in round monoblock chairs that were tied together. In all the concerts I’ve gone to, the only setup more physically restrictive was that of Daughtry’s at Eastwood City, where there wasn’t even any legroom to speak of between rows of seats (and we were in the so-called “VIP” section). It’s a good thing Keys was so good; my wife and I couldn’t help but dance to her hits, and thus ended up using the seats sparingly.

“Clearly, the SMX isn’t built to host a concert. In the “Gold Right” section, for instance, there was one big foundation that blocked the view of many a patron in the back. And because there was no progressive elevation to speak of, people in the entire “Silver” section had to stand on their seats in order to get a glimpse of the stage. And, even then, Keys must have looked like a matchstick. It’s a good thing officials had the presence of mind to set up multiple vidiwalls.

“Nonetheless, I’m glad the concert was held at the SMX. For one thing, it boasted of excellent acoustics (and it may just be because we were situated near the stage). Heck, the sound quality was, in my opinion, even better than those of concerts I’ve watched at the Araneta Coliseum.

“All told, I’d watch it again under the same circumstances. The only thing I’d really like to erase from my experience was the offending smell of cigarette smoke. Yes, some A****e (editing mine) in our part of the SMX had the gall to light up. :-)


And now for the pictures: (I used my Sony point and shoot, but others were carrying sophisticated DSLRs. Dang it! Why didn’t I think of that? Then again, “how do I smuggle in a fully loaded DSLR in my handbag?” would be a better question. Thinking….)

Girls In My Circle

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Dedicated to my girl friends:

     My mother, my first best friend,

     Cocok, my best friend since grade school at the ‘knoll,   

     Cynthia, my best friend in high school at Pisay,

     Helen and Gaylie, my best friends in med school,

     Jasmine and Joee, my sisters who are the second mothers to my children,

     Joyce, my baby sister-in-law (although she’s no longer a baby),

     Ampy, my baby cousin (she’s no longer a baby too) who is Alphonse’s adored aunt and teacher, 

     Ondine, wife of our (A’s and mine’s) high school buddy Jun, and my dearest kumare

     Leirs, my kumare (we sealed the bond online, can you imagine that?)

     Megamom, my high school classmate with whom I shared the Abominable Snowman experience(*wink*) and newly-rediscovered friend (see, we’re making up for lost time)

     And to all the women who have shown me kindness, compassion, and friendship: Casdok, Susan, Maddy, Babs, Cris, Beth, Julie, Mari, Odette, Gracey, Vivi, Esi, Dee, Allen, Nancy, and Shirley, this one’s for you!


When I was little,
I used to believe in the concept of one best friend,
And then I started to become a woman.
And then I found out that if you allow your heart to open up,
God would show you the best in many friends.

One friend is needed when you’re going through things with your man.
Another friend is needed when you’re going through things with your mom.
Another will sit beside you in the bleachers as you delight in your children and their activities.
Another when you want to shop, share, heal, hurt, joke, or just be.

One friend will say, ‘Let’s cry together,’
Another, ‘Let’s fight together,’
Another , ‘Let’s walk away together.’

One friend will meet your spiritual need,
Another your shoe fetish,
Another your love for movies,
Another will be with you in your season of confusion,
Another will be your clarifier,
Another the wind beneath your wings.

But whatever their assignment in your life,
On whatever the occasion,
On whatever the day,
Or wherever you need them to meet you with their gym shoes on and hair pulled back,
Or to hold you back from making a complete fool of yourself ..
Those are your best friends.

It may all be wrapped up in one woman, but for many, it’s wrapped up in several..

     One from 7th grade,
     One from high school,
     Several from the college years,
     a couple from old jobs,
     On some days your mother,
     On some days your neighbor,
     On others, your sisters,
     And on some days, your daughters.

So whether they’ve been your friend for 20 minutes or 20 years,
Pass this on to the women that God has placed in your life to make a difference.

Newspaper Of The Year

Monday, August 4th, 2008

For my husband A and my dear friends of the BW family (and indeed, we are a family), congratulations for bagging Newspaper of the Year. BW’s been through a lot these last couple of years, but today, 21 years past its founding, it still stands true to the ideals set forth by the late Raul Locsin, 1999 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for Journalism, founder and editor-publisher of this venerable institution.

God bless you all, guys!  

P.S. If you caught the announcements over primetime news last week, you would have seen my A on television, sitting beside Korina Sanchez, who won Newscaster of the Year. A received the award on behalf of BusinessWorld.  Yayy!!!

Autism and Kitty Love

Friday, August 1st, 2008

My son Alphonse will turn 14 in a few months (in three months, to be exact) and were he your ordinary, every day, typical kind of boy, he would not have a thing to do with Hello Kitty. His older brother, Alex, does not even set foot inside a Sanrio store, except when absolutely necessary, like when he has to buy a gift for me. (When Gift Gate used to carry Legos, Alex would ask that the Legos be brought to him by the door. The sales persons, thinking he was darned cute, would oblige. They would stand near the doorway, hold a couple of Lego boxes, and Alex would make his choice by pointing from afar. I think this will change in the near future, when he has to buy gifts for girls other than me.)

But Alphonse, well, he grew up with Hello Kitty beside him- on his bed, on his clothes, on his things- and to him, it was as natural as anything else in his little world. While A was concerned that I encouraged it a little too much, he didn’t exactly forbid it. I think as long as Alphonse was happy, he was happy too, never mind that Hello Kitty does not rank anywhere near A’s favorite things in the world.

This week, a package I ordered some months back arrived. It came from Esi, one of my friends in the Multiply social network. I knew as early as then when I asked for measurements that this would not fit me, but I had someone else in mind: Alphonse. And I was right. When he donned this on, he gave me the sweetest smile, rubbed his hands gently on the fleece surface, and hugged me tightly. Even more, when I started taking pictures of him, he posed like a world-class supermodel.

Wearing his fleece vest (from Tita Esi), with his Kitty timer (from Tita Vivi) on him and his favorite Kitty vibrating pillow (from Mama) in unprompted poses

Ah, the innocence and simple happiness of a child, one of autism’s unexpected gifts.