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

Archive for the 'Music On My MInd' Category

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….)

Blown Away

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I’m listening to Daughtry over iTunes right now, trying to relive the hype and buzz of a Daughtry concert. A and I were at the Eastwood Central Plaza last night to catch Daughtry’s one-night performance. While A and I are normally not rock-loving people (well, just the Guitar Hero-rockin’ kind, ahem), we both enjoy Daughtry’s music, and well, let’s just say that last night was a good excuse as any to rock out with the best of them.

We got to Eastwood at quarter of eight. Traffic was bad at the Libis area; it took us over 45 minutes to navigate the stretch of road from Katipunan Avenue to Eastwood City. With barely 15 minutes left before the concert started, we found a nifty parking spot, jumped from the car, and made it just in time to check out if we were late. And not having enough time for a decent sit-down dinner, we settled for the nearest fastfood diner nearest the venue (KFC- and oops, my mind is going in a different track now, but has anyone noticed how their logo of the Colonel is different than the other KFCs?), swallowed without chewing much (let the stomach acids do all the work, ouch!), and rushed back to to claim our seats in the VIP section at 8:05 p.m. I silently berated myself for being five minutes late as I sat down to a still almost-empty section. Tsk…tsk…tsk…


(8:45 pm, just passing the time)

The concert started late, as always; then again, when has a concert in our country ever started on time? I was a little miffed; plastic seats are not known to come in friendly orthopedic styles and are not exactly kind to behinds. Also, I could have used the extra hour to order real food. I could have even done with more chewing. Still, when the lights went down, all thought of sore butts, aching joints, and growling tummies were laid to rest. It was time to rock!


The crowd goes wild!

Pictures taken with a SE W960i, so they’re not as good as those taken with a dedicated digital camera. My bad, I forgot to recharge my camera. :-(

An hour and a half later, I felt like I had done Guitar Hero and Wii Fit at the same time. I was also almost deaf, haha. People jumped and screamed and shrieked and yelled and tore their hair out (okay, the last one’s an exaggeration), and it was hard to resist the same excitement and delight. Chris Daughtry certainly made me feel very young.

On the way back to the car, A and I took a detour to have a night cap of sorts. It’s my favorite shot of the entire night: me and ice cream. Dairy Queen, you had me at hello!

P.S. Just found out that Daughtry’s “What I Want” is included in Guitar Hero: On Tour for the Nintendo DS, which gives me another reason to save for the $49.99 game and attachment. (See picture below.)


Harry On My Mind

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Harry Connick, Jr. Tickets

 On Saturday night, A and I were privileged to watch Harry Connick, Jr. live at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Plenary Hall for a one-night concert in Manila. It was fun to be out with A on a date night; this comes so rarely in our hectic lives. We were able to arrange to leave the boys with my parents that night, and we brought enough food, toys, and videos to keep them busy until we could pick them up again. Anticipating separation anxiety issues with Alphonse, we had planned to leave early to give him time to settle in his grandma’s place before heading out. (The week before, when we left him to go to his brother’s play, he cried inconsolably for almost an hour.) Surprisingly, when we said goodbye to him last Saturday, he waved almost immediately -his way of saying goodbye- and blew us a kiss. We hurriedly left before he could change his mind. :-)

Saying goodbye turned out to be the easy part. The ride to Manila was a nightmare! Traffic was bad (again!) and the two-hour allowance we gave ourselves to have dinner before the concert was quickly whittled to 45 minutes. All parking spots near decent restaurants were taken, so A and I settled for a quick bite of Chinese fast food. We agreed that it’d have to do until after the concert.

The PICC was full that night, save for some latecomers who arrived nearly an hour into the show. The minute the lights went down, Mr. Connick took his place on the baby grand piano and dazzled us with his piano playing. Accompanied by a 12-piece band, Mr. Connick was brilliant on stage as musician, singer, and performer.



He had the audience in stitches with his funny spiels on the Philippines’ odd assortment of native delicacies. Halo-halo (literally translated as “mix-mix,” a mixed blend of shaved ice, milk, fruit,  and sweet preserves) is “nasty,” according to Mr. Connick who, having been raised on gumbo of his childhood, is unused to corn and beans as dessert elements. Doing a live “Fear Factor” performance onstage, he bravely ate a balut (fertilized duck egg) but quickly downed a can of Coke to wash away the aftertaste of the dead duck embryo. (Eeewww when I put it that way! No arguments here; I don’t eat balut myself.) Then the concert turned interactive, when he started throwing away extra balut eggs to audience members who waved for one. A couple of pitches were too strong, and the eggs shattered on top of  people who were dressed-to-the-nines. 

With the balut

But the fun wasn’t over yet. As Mr. Connick sang the first few bars of his next song, he let out a strong, satisfying belch, and we all let out loud guffaws. He grinned sheepishly, aware that this event would be remembered as a first in performing history. :-)

Shimmy on

Moving his booty

Mr. Connick shimmied, crooned, and warbled his way into our hearts. As he leaves Manila for the next leg of his tour, he carries with him our deepest appreciation and respect. Manila is not likely to forget him any time soon.

“Nano Nano”

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Mork And MindyNo, this is not an homage to the seventies’ hit show Mork and Mindy, though I am reminded of it each time I hear the word Nano. Mork (Robin Williams) and Mindy (Pam Dawber) brought into our consciousness a sense of quickfire humor, as well as the cultural hallmark of the era, the “Nanu-Nanu” (Orkan for “hello”) and its accompanying hand signal. And while I would love to reminisce more on my era of growing up, this post isn’t really about Mork or Mindy, but about Apple’s iPod Nano.

I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire the new 3rd generation iPod nano in pink, a gift from my gadget-geek husband who knew that his gadget-geek wife appreciated, well, duh, gadgets. I’m not much of a flowers-and-chocolate kind of person, though he does buy me flowers weekly (mums and chrysanthemums), and he indulges my sweet tooth very often, perhaps much too often. :-) But for special occasions, we both agree that while flowers may be beautiful and romantic, they wilt and die all too soon, and decadently rich chocolates in a fancy box get eaten just as fast as they are unwrapped, the sweetness gone before they are even savored. As such, nothing beats a gift of a gadget (or a household appliance.) Rather unromantic, some would say, but not for a gal who get chills down the spine just from the letters P-S-P.

For Valentine’s Day this year, A got me three gifts:
a.) a Hello Kitty Nintendo DS Case to add to my collection of Kitty stuff.

Kitty Ds Cases

b.) a Belkin USB laptop cooling stand which I soooo love because my laptop does not overheat anymore even after four hours of The Sims2  It makes me wonder, how did I ever live without it? (You can see a great review of the item here.)Belkin USB Laptop Cooler

c.) and an eight GB 3rd generation pink iPod Nano.

Pink Nano 3rd gen

This is my 3rd ipod in as many years. The first was a pink iPod mini, followed a year later by a 1st generation iPod Nano in black. (See it below, dressed in a Kitty case.) The mini and Nano1 still work perfectly (the batteries haven’t died out yet, thank God!) but the new iPod is a most welcome gift, as Alphonse will be the direct beneficiary of an older unit. Just to show you how attached he is to pink (okay, okay, blame the mother…), here is a snippet of the conversation we had today.A Mini and Two Nanos

Me: Look, Alphonse, two iPods! (Mom points to mini and Nano1)

Alphonse nods. “Yes”

Me: Do you want to have one?

Alphonse nods again. “Yes”

Me: You can choose which one you like. Black or pink? (Holds one on each hand.)

Alphonse flashes a big grin, and shyly points to… pink.

Me: You can have the black one. (Mom instantly regrets giving the child a choice. Talk about confusing the poor child!)

Alphonse shakes his head emphatically (“NO!”), then makes a grab for the pink mini.

Me: Well… okay then, pink it is. 

He then puts the earphones in his ear and motions for me to play his favorite songs from the Joseph King of Dreams soundtrack. He is in bliss.

Ah, a son who loves pink. What did I do right?

A Quick Peek Into My “Accidental Life”

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

This is my response to Teacher Julie’s tag on Seven Things About Me.  

1.  As a child, I was enamored with the idea of being a physician in service of others.  As an adult, I chose life as a 24/7 stay-at-home mom, a full time Inang Yaya, if you please (mommy and nanny in an all-in-one! new-and-improved! convenient packaging) in service of a much smaller community of men: my family. No regrets there.

Kittymama transformation

2. Writing has always been a lifelong passion but I stumbled into it as a serious vocation only when BusinessWorld (yes, the business paper, where a newspaper is a public trust) launched its first ezine called Outpost. I’ve been writing in ezines since 1998; I received the privilege of writing for the arts and leisure pages of BW in 2005.

3.  I became a teacher when special schools in the city turned down my son. With nowhere to go and no hope in sight, I assumed the role of teacher/motivator/advocate for my son with autism. Today, we have a homeschooling program run by professionals, but I still teach my son. These are the moments I look forward to in a day.

Teacher Kittymama

4.   Growing up, my best friends were always boys. I went to Maryknoll (now Miriam College) for grade school, and aside from the only girl who befriended me there, my best friend was a boy from neighboring Ateneo de Manila. Even when I left Maryknoll to attend a different high school (where Megamom was my classmate), he remained my best friend for many years. 

miss J stillSadly, he passed away in a tragic car accident in 1984, a few months short of high school graduation. He would have graduated valedictorian of Ateneo High School Batch 1985. Sigh. I miss him still.

5. happy in love My best-est friend in high school was also a boy. I married him. Given another chance at life, I’d still marry him. In a heartbeat.

6.  The Abominable Snowman  Now that Megamom has opened that sticky can of worms codenamed The Abominable Snowman, it is safe to disclose that Megamom and I were “involved” with the same boy in high school (not A). Una siya, me next, then back to her, then to me. (Loose translation: First it was her, then it was my turn, then he went back to her, and then back to me.) He was obviously a very confused soul. 

Those were probably some of the most foolish years of my life. (Remind me to share a story I wrote called “Surviving Mr. Wrong.”) Still, I don’t regret any of those stupid, stupid years. Allow me to quote Barbra Streisand’s song “On My Way To You” as I think of those years in this perspective,

If I had changed a single day/what went amiss or went astray/ I may have never found my way to you/I would not change a thing  that happened/on my way to you.”

I found my way to A, alright.

7. I have had weight issues since I was a little girl. I was lightest at birth (I weighed as much as three apples, oops, my mistake, that’s hello kitty’s weight! I was 7.3 lbs when I came beaming into this world.) and apparently, I have not looked back since. I was heaviest when I was pregnant with Alphonse (seven months of complete bed rest + unrestrained eating = Jabba the Hutt) when I tipped the scales at over 250 lbs. (I can’t tell you exactly how much because I couldn’t see the scale anymore.) Now my weight hovers somewhere between the two. Don’t guess. Hehe. It’s all in the face, dahling.

hello kitty fat meter

Current weight: JUST RIGHT

8.  confused and dizzy I started blogging as therapy after Alphonse’s last major meltdown. This keeps me sane.

I went beyond the prescribed seven, Teacher Julie; I hope you don’t mind. I would’ve added more but let me whet your tastebuds for more “indecent” revelations (don’t I wish my life was that colorful!) of an otherwise zany, crazy, joyful life. Thanks for tagging me!

And now, we take a break…

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007


My response to Teacher Julie’s tag will come out in the next few days. I am currently Santa-mommy in the house, which means I have to do the following things before I can unwind and blog again:

1. Finish the tree and take pictures. (This year: Hello Kitty theme with handmade bling-blings!)

2. Change the living room curtains in anticipation of Christmas guests. (*dread*)

3. Get back to serious work and finish my reviews. (I have been playing hooky again! Boohoo!)

4. Wrap gifts. (Not enough yet.)

5. Shop for more gifts. (I no longer like this part.)

6. Give myself a Guitar Hero hour (or hours)! :-)

Guitar Hero Legends of Rock Wii Bundle

I got this as Christmas present number ahm, uhm, ehrm–really, who’s counting?– last night! Hooray! 

Update: I had to change the picture because the giftgiver (A the husband) insisted that I show the correct one (or else my journalistic integrity would be at stake). What I got was the Wii bundle (purchase from Datablitz).

Wanted: Indestructible Earphones

Monday, November 19th, 2007

I love music. I’ve been singing since I can remember and once, just once, in my young life, I was even offered a professional recording contract.  (Scout’s honor!) Unfortunately, being a minor then, I was not allowed to make my own decisions and my parents turned down that lucrative offer for me to step into the limelight. Still, a part of me can’t help but think…hmmm…what would have turned out different if I had?

Despite that minor glitch in my otherwise predictably orderly life, I continued to love music. And it’s no surprise that I found a husband who nurtured the same interest.  Truth to tell, my husband can do a mean rendition of Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” (The line “when you see your unborn children in her eyes, you know you really love a woman,” completely floors me. Such poetry in a song! But I digress…)  And it came as no surprise, too, that our offspring carried the same genetic predisposition for music. Alex, my firstborn, is a natural baritone, with a deep love for theater music, the opera, and a little of Taylor Hicks’ soul.

Silence began to fill the house when the little one came along.

Alphonse, even at infancy, was highly sensitive to sound. He could not tolerate loud music and he went bonkers when noise overwhelmed him. More often than not, he would cringe in fear and cover his ears when something particularly loud and offensive was within auditory range. When that wasn’t enough, he would go into a fullblown rampage, destroying everything within reach of his hands, wreaking havoc and chaos in our lives. When he was unreachable in his tantrums, we learned to quiet down and diminish our sounds. As the music and noise of ordinary life were turned down in our home, we found out, sadly, that the laughter died too.  Thankfully, over the years, we’ve been able to desensitize his hearing and slowly, the music has returned back into our lives.

Despite his limitations in communication, Alphonse can readily give feedback on what type of music he wants. Josh Groban’s first album, Josh Groban, was a shoo in. So too, Sheryl Crow’s Wildflower album. Andrea Bocelli’s Amore is a Yes. Sharon Cuneta’s Isn’t It Romantic is a Yes. We soon found out that easy listening songs are okay, but he readily grunts his dissent with rock music. His favorite yet? The soundtrack of Joseph, King of Dreams. This one never fails to soothe him.

Because of his sensory issues, we were afraid to let him come near his brother’s iPod or mine. We were afraid that the iPod would somehow channel sounds a little too forcefully on his sensory-excitable hearing. But having read one mom’s account of how her son was able to  deal with his sound hypersensitivity with an iPod , we crossed our fingers and for once, gladly let him use Alex’s old iPod nano. IT WORKED! (♥Thank you, Mom-NOS!♥)

Alphonse enjoying the iPod

Where Alphonse would shout and scream at the top of his lungs when the noise of our home overwhelms him (sometimes, just the drone of the vacuum or the blender is enough to unhinge him), we show him the iPod and in an instant, he quiets down, asks for the earphones (by pointing, so, remind me to make a PECS card of it)), slips them on, and smiles as the music fills his ears. He is a completely different child with the music that he loves.

Ah, but as usual, nothing is ever as easy as pie. Just this weekend, Alphonse was using the iPod while we were waiting for his father to come get us in the car. Alex wanted to lie down on Alphonse’s lap because he was drowsy with sleep. I cautioned him against doing that. Alex is sooo big compared to his younger brother: Alphonse might not appreciate the extra weight on his lap. As unpredictable as autism is, I can predict certain instances that are most likely to draw a negative reaction from Alphonse. Sure as the sun follows rain, Alphonse took a quick peek at his brother’s head on his lap, tousled big brother’s hair, exposed a bit of ear, and … nipped it.

No, he didn’t draw blood but it was enough to make Alex howl in pain and anger. Alphonse jerked back in surprise and indignation, his face registering a look of “what the heck is your problem, bro?” Alex continued to sputter in anger despite my admonitions for him to quiet down. And Alphonse, angered by his brother’s reaction, took the earphones off and ripped it in four pieces. (Picture only shows three; these were all I retrieved from the trash.) 


Then, he smiled sweetly at me.

Oh, well. Guess we only have to look for indestructible earphones for the iPod now.