New Year 2016

2016 has rolled in. We really didn’t welcome it with a big bang. I left for Cebu with my little girl while my hubby was left to old the fort here in Manila. Visits to Cebu can be fun and stressful at the same time.

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Tourists in our own city.

 

The kids rarely see their cousin (my daughter) so every night is slumber party night. Of course we have to keep watch or referee… eventually, one kid ends up crying.20151227_152306_resized

 

I didn’t even get to spend time with any of my friends (sorry, guys), it was all about the kids shopping, games, food and more food, visiting places they Googled about like this Cat Café and Café Tiala. All good fun.20151228_143255_resized

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Café Tiala. You can borrow onesies and costumes and play video games in tiny rooms.

 

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We’re not really cat people but we went to Cat Cafe

They have all grown up so fast. Soon, they’ll be teenagers and I don’t know if they would want a mom or aunt chaperoning them. The thought breaks my heart but on the other hand, it gives me time to sleep and rest. Haha. Really, I don’t want to think about the time they’ll be gallivanting on their own. 😦

 

2016 will be a great year. I just know it. I don’t know what it will bring. Everything just seems so unsure but I’m just going to just go with the flow and let things surprise me.

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Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 Zee

 

 

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Empty Calling Card, Full Heart

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There are just some things that are more important than work. Admittedly, it took a while for me to learn all this. I was independent from my family in my early twenties (in the Philippines, that’s pretty early or unimaginable) and have been stressing about household bills and surviving for around 16 years. I guess working my ass off to have food to eat and save for my future was hard-wired into my system. Things changed when I had my daughter and my second marriage. Work didn’t seem to be THE priority. Whatever joy I derived from work just didn’t seem to compare to the joy I had at home. This actually confused me. For many years, I latched on to my work and it slowly ate me away – my body, personality and my joy. It turned into an addiction and just like any addiction, difficult to manage.

I stopped working for a few months this year. Dropped everything and stopped working. For the first time in 19 years, there was no company name attached to mine. Questions such as, “What are you doing now?” or “Where are you connected now?” was something I dreaded. I came out with a blank. I had no calling card.

For the months of September and October, I decided to just recuperate and re- align myself. I focused on family, friends, painting and resting. Things and people I love. In a span of a couple of months, the addiction called work melted away.

My husband and I had a long talk about our situation. My choices in the next few months were crucial. If I were make a wrong choice when get back into the rat race, all would have been wasted. At this point, I told my husband that I wanted to step back at work, paint, write more and support him. The decision came with huge sacrifices but we feel that it’s all worth it.

I’m back at work now. Everything has been working well so far. It’s so hard to consciously pull back but I know that it is needed and a decision made. I apply my “Decide, Do, No Looking Back” motto again.

Some question my decision of taking a few steps backward career-wise but you know, when we die, our tombstone won’t have a company logo, credentials and a position title. So yeah, get over it.

There is nothing is more important than being happy. There is nothing more important than family.

Zee

Marriage: Always A Work In Progress

It has been quite a while since my last post. In fact, almost a year has passed. I left everyone hanging while in the middle of packing my former life to move on to the full fledged life of a newly married (again) woman. The move to the new place didn’t go to smoothly and I’m sure some of you have experienced some condo turnover blues. In fact, I think we have the entire People’s Republic of China on the floor right above us. We have learned to live in peace the past year.

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Chairs from Craftsmithliving

A new home requires new things and finding the right pieces (that we could afford) and trying to “marry” the home ideas of two individuals was a bit of a challenge. In fact, during my last move to Makati, the house was up, running and decorated in 4 days..all from scratch (See post on: Ngarag Central ) Of course, I had to be confined at the hospital for 4 days after that ordeal but my place eventually looked like this: The Impatient Patient’s Place . it was easy because I had full run of the house, budget and the entire hullaballoo. I want a floral rug, I get a floral rug! Now, I have to consult and remember that this is not a temporary abode but something more permanent, our home. Plus, I have to consult..and consult and sometimes that doesn’t really work out too well and to think my husband and I have pretty much the same taste. We just wanted furniture that made us happy like this table and set of wrought iron chairs from Craftsmith Living or have a TV rack and a wonderful Bomb chair made by LongLive Upcycled things.

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TV Rack from Long Live Upcycled things made from vintage windows and recycled wood
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Bomb Chair by Long Live Upcycled Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past year also required a lot of purging and giving away of old things and furniture. You can only fit so much in 100 square meters. Seriously. Throw, clean, give away..haggle over what to keep and what not to keep, have cabinets done and just making sure there’s a semblance of order. We are far from done, actually. We just needed to pause for a bit to put up artworks of love. Our own works and ones collected through the years. Art at home make us happy.

We are literally still building up our home. Adjusting, purging, making sure everything is perfect and working like finely-tuned machinery. It has not been easy but building a home and marriage has never been easy. You just have to keep going and trying. It may take months, years, even a lifetime. When things get tough, we pause and do things that make us happy. There are some things that just cannot be resolved so, we create our own rules and practices that just make the family happy. Every home is different, every family is different.

Marriage a year and a half later, is still a work in progress.

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Banyo Art: A reminder to the toilet users at home
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Knowledge: Signage for our study (acrylic on canvas)
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Le Carnivale: A family portrait of my different, happy, funny family. Acrylic on Canvas 4′ x 6′
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Art adds so much colour to our home.

Travel Disaster Of The Century!

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Universal Studios Singapore: It seemed like a normal trip at first.

What happens in Singapore stays in Singapore. Until now.

Only a handful know about this story because:
a.) It’s so unbelievably stupid.
b.) It’s unbelievably embarrassing.
c.) It should not be attempted by anyone else.

I present the “Travel Disaster Of The Century!”:

The week before school started last June 2013, Bea and I decided to have a “Mom & Bea Adventure!” in Singapore. I love traveling with Bea. She packs her own travel bag and brings it around on her own, reads the map. We’re like a well-oiled mom and daughter machine. She brought along a backpack for water, iPad, face towel, extra shirt, etc. I brought my trusty old Y-3 messenger bag that I use often for travel because it’s huge and has lots of pockets. That bag was around 8 years old and has been repaired professionally and by my own hands so many times. The lining was torn at the seams but I kept using it.

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Jurong Bird Park: Birds! Birds! Everywhere!

Our last day was a trip to Jurong Bird Park. Before leaving the hotel, I had problems with my bag’s zipper. “It’s okay, I’ll just make sure it’s in front of me. We’re heading home anyway” I said. So off to Jurong Bird Park we went! I had my travel bag in front and backpack with both our clothes on my back. Mom and Bea having an adventure with our backpacks like Dora and Boots!  We loved the fluffy and colorful birds but of course we had to buy water as we walked around and that’s when the trouble started.

The strap of my bag snapped and broke. It had no zipper and no strap. So I had to lug it around with both arms. David HASSLEhoff.

I didn’t want to be a drag and kill Bea’s mood (she was starting to worry about our things and my backpack was starting to feel like it had rocks in it) so I said, “We’re going to ION Orchard after this to go to Sephora. I’ll just get a bag at H&M to replace it and I want you to try Popeye’s! It has chicken like Jollibee!”

So off to ION Orchard we went with our backpacks on our backs. I had on shin-length oxblood patent leather Doc Marten’s, jeans, and MAC Russian Red lipstick.

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The scene of the crime. Popeye’s.

Sephora… Check! Buy a bag at H&M… Check! Popeye’s for a snack, rest a bit and change bags…

So we ate chicken and said hi to some Filipinos who seem to like it there. I moved all the things from my Y-3 bag into the H&M bag, double checked, folded the Y-3 bag and placed it inside the H&M plastic bag and searched for a trash bin.

“Are you throwing that out?” I asked the Chinese bus boy with the full trash bin who seemed to know a little English. “Ah, yes!” he said. So I placed the H&M plastic bag on top of the garbage bag. He tied it up and carted it off.

We quickly left since the H&M and Popeye’s pit stop was not in the schedule and asked this nice Filipina at the concierge where the taxi stand was. Off to the airport we went!

Halfway through the ride, I decided to prepare our tickets and travel documents to save time. The next words I uttered were, “OH MY GOD!” It was so loud that the cabbie asked what happened. “Uncle, we need to go back to ION Orchard!” was all I could say and I just calmly told Bea Baby, I forgot something at the mall and we really have to get it.”

All this while I sent a message to my Mark saying “Babe, I left our passports in the bag I threw away. Don’t worry. I’ll try to get it back. I’ll just update you if we can make it to our flight.” I don’t think that reassured him.

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One thing you should not lose when traveling.*face palm*

My head was whirring. I knew time was of the essence since I knew the garbage bag was off to God knows where.

The taxi driver brought us back to ION Orchard. I dragged Bea to the Concierge and spoke to the Filipina girl “Hi, we left our passports at Popeye’s and I really need to get it. Can I leave my daughter and luggage with you?”

“OUR PASSPORTS?!” Bea said.

“I need you to listen to me carefully. I’ll leave you here with the woman, she’s Filipino and I’ll just quickly run and get our passport from Popeye’s okay? I will leave the Samsung tablet with you and you can text and call me anytime. Trust mommy,” I answered in the calmest mommy voice I could muster.

“Okay, Mom.” was all my poor daughter could say. Her anxiety-driven head must have been stressing.

I ran fast, 3 stories below, past shops and corners, and got to Popeye’s. I went to the same Chinese busboy and asked him where the garbage bag was and he just stared at me. He didn’t understand what I said and I had to revert to sign language. He called his manager who spoke English and they talked to discuss the situation. “Aahh… it’s with the uncle. Old man uncle who gets the garbage,” the manager said.

“Where is he? Can you call him? Where do they bring all the garbage?” I asked.

“We don’t really know but uncle comes by several times a day. Maybe you can wait for him,” she said.

“I CAN’T WAIT! I HAVE A FLIGHT TO CATCH AND A DAUGHTER ALL ALONE AT THE CONCIERGE WITH A STRANGER!” I screamed in my head. “Okay. I’ll try to wait,” I said.

3, 4, 5 minutes passed… I call Bea and to check on her while praying for a miracle. Then I see an old man walking. He could have been a mall customer but I just felt he was the “old man uncle who picks up the garbage.” I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. I pull the Chinese boy from the counter and asked “Is that uncle?”

“Yes, uncle!” he said. I ran towards the man and explained. I repeated my story to the man who knew less English than the busboy.

So I challenged my sign language skills. Garbage – documents – where put garbage?

He looked hesitant and signaled back : Me-no look garbage. *swimming motion and shaking his head*

Me *I point to myself* look in garbage… and his eyes light up and he points to a door marked “Authorized Personnel Only.” I ran while dragging him with me and we went 3 floors down a flight of stairs and into the basement.

THE BASEMENT

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Left: How it looked like. Right: How dirty and gross it was

The basement was more like a docking area. It was where deliveries were done for the stores and restaurants. It also had rows of garbage compactors. Huge garbage compactors where you just throw in the bags 10 feet up the air and they land inside waiting to be compacted and ready for garbage truck pick-up. Uncle brought me in front of this kind of compactor:

“Inside,” he said. Well, more like me flailing my arms asking if it were inside and him saying yes. So I went to the Indian operator and told him what happened. He looked at me crazy and said no. I said “YES! I can’t leave with my daughter if I don’t get it!” and proceeded to just unplug the compactor (big-ass plug) looked at him and said “For safety,” then climbed up the slippery, slimy, garbage-ridden compactor in my jeans, red lipstick, shin-length red patent Doc Marten’s and thanked years of National climbing competitions for training me for this day. He had no choice but to watch or I think he was in shock.

I plopped into a sea of garbage bags and garbage. Hundreds of them.

It smelled like hell. Seriously. I didn’t know where to start so I started from the very back end left then dug into every single garbage bag. In my head, I knew I was looking for a Popeye’s garbage bag then it would be a fastfood bag with red-orange paper containers and plastic cups and chicken remnants. I tore open part of the bag, peered in or pulled out the contents, checked and moved on to the next bag on the right. Food remnants, kitchen garbage, bathroom filth with toilet paper, innards, paper, and every single disgusting thing you can think of. I wasn’t thinking at that point. I was just zeroing in and doing what I needed to do until I reached the last row of bags. By this time, I wanted to give up and just cry. Nobody offered help, they just watched from outside and kept shaking their heads as if I were crazy (which was actually true at that point).

By then there was already a crowd of maintenance people watching and I was already crafting plan B, which was to go find a hotel and contact the embassy the next day. I was already there so I kept on. Half of the last row of bags was already eaten up by the compactor and lodged on its teeth. I moved to the left side and started there and moved to the right. As I opened each bag and saw nothing but filth, my heart sank. Then I tore into the last bag on the right but it was already lodged tight into the compactor but I just had to try because there were red orange containers in it!

I tore and pulled and tugged and threw out chicken remnants and half chewed food and rice and finally a cream colored H&M plastic bag emerged! But I couldn’t pull it out because it was already half compacted and there’s no way to reverse the compactor. So, I just opened it and saw my old, trusty Y-3 bag and kept tugging and opened the pockets trying to feel for our passports. Then, I decided to check the torn seam and yes, they were there. The passports went through the torn seam (no wonder I didn’t see them) from the pocket and I easily pulled them out and raised them up. “I found them!” and this time I screamed aloud. It felt like winning the Olympics, I tell you!

Up the slimy, stinky, slippery compactor I went and jumped on the pavement of the basement in the middle of a crowd of maintenance people. I was covered with garbage. There was disgusting, dirty rice all over my shoes, my jeans were all covered with garbage slime, there was lettuce all over my hair. And everyone clapped! What. The. Heck. I’m glad I seemed entertaining.

 “Uncle, I found them!” I told “old-man-uncle-who-picks-up-the-garbage” with a big smile on my face. He just looked at me crazy. “I have to go to my daughter!” I said. I got $100 from my pocket and gave it to him, said thank you for the help and ran. I paused for a moment because I wanted to take a picture for Instagram but changed my mind because my hands were covered with the puke of hell. Though in hindsight, I wish I had.

I went up the stairs, passed by a toilet, and quickly washed my arms. The stink was bad and I really wanted to throw up but I had to rush. I ran back to the concierge and just in time because Bea had this “I’m about to cry look” on her face.

“Hey, babe! I found them. I told you, I’ll get them,” I said calmly. I wanted to hug her to feel better and cry after the ordeal but I was filthy.

“You were gone for 45 minutes, Mom. You scared me!” she said and gave me a smile. Wow… 45 minutes. It felt like hours.

We rode another cab for the airport and I told her everything that happened. We laughed about it and she said “Mom, you’re crazy but this has been the best adventure ever!”

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Singapore Art Museum: Mom & Bea Adventure
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At the airport after: Sweaty, filthy, stinky, tired but on our way back home.

Moral of the story:

  1. Do not use broken bags when traveling.
  2. Do not leave your children with strangers.
  3. Do not climb inside a garbage compactor but if you do, unplug them.
  4. Do not bully people especially if you’re not in your own country,
  5. If you lose your passport, call the Philippine Embassy.

I had to share to everyone and when I have grandkids, I’ll just print this out because this is one long epic story about grandma’s travel disaster of the century.

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Until now, I fear of a CCTV video popping up on YouTube of a loony woman searching garbage bags at ION Orchard, and I still can’t stand the stench of garbage.

Zee