Friday, December 30, 2005

Another Reason to Avoid TV

i stopped watching tv around 5 years ago, and ive been happier since then.

first, i stopped watching by default, because the ex hogged the tv and the sofa and i didn't like the programs he was watching. then, our eldest grew old enough to wrestle the remote control away from her father when she could, so that doubled my competition. for peace and love, i turned to reading and rereading my collection of books instead, and writing down my thoughts alone in the bedroom. i never knew that was a blessing in disguise.

i gradually learned what a bunch of drivel we're all fed when we watch tv, especially when we watch tv too much. little by little, you give away your own power over your own mind, what thoughts to think, because tv thinks for you, and feeds you ideas in a way that lulls you into acquiescence, because of the lack of true human interaction and discourse.

but here's another reason not to watch tv which i came across just now in one of the free newsletters i subscribe to:


For years, ETR has been trying to convince you to drastically limit the hours you spend watching TV. Not only does it waste time and lull your brain into a false sleep ... it is also slowly but surely eating away at your bank account.

The 2005 J.D. Power & Associates Residential Cable/Satellite TV Customer Satisfaction Survey reports that satellite subscribers pay an average of $57.72 a month and cable subscribers shell out an average of $58.51. That's about $700 a year squandered on mind-numbing, nattering drivel.

If you were to invest that money and get a 15% return, you'd have close to $7,000 in five years. Keep stowing that $700 away, and in 25 years you'd have close to $200,000! With that kind of money, you could buy a Ferrari F430 Spider, pay off your child's med school loans, or enjoy a much more comfortable retirement.

- Suzanne Richardson


nice food for thought, huh, but it still doesn't beat reclaiming your own mind from the clutches of mass-produced mindlessness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

blessings flow

ive just finished my cleaning, filing and organizing, and i texted my sister to ask if her daughter would like my old collection of Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High books which id like to give away. she promptly texted back to say that Aia would love it, as much as Aia and her two other siblings loved the gifts i gave them last Christmas. my sister had a sweet way of describing what i did, of all the gifts they received, they loved yours best. you know their heart.

my heart further warmed to that, doubling my joy from just giving freely and with as much thought and care as i could. i feel blessed knowing i made my nieces and nephew really happy with their gifts.


and then, my aunt's secretary in cebu called me to say that my aunt, who's based in new jersey, but who has her export company in cebu, is sending each of us (including the kids) 500 bucks (10 dollars) each as Christmas gifts, through my bank account.

sure, it isn't much, but it's still a happy and surprise blessing. where i live, that's already worth a 2-hour spa massage session and a really rich and frothy cappuccino afterwards! : )


thank You, God, for these blessings too!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ray Bradbury Revisited

what's taking me so long to sift through my old files and books and rearrange them is that not only do i wipe each file, each book, lovingly, i open most of them and browse through old notes to my self, old underlined words, and remember who i was then, what i was thinking about, and how they have brought me to who i am, where i am now.

right now, i am taking my nth break from my "work" to digest things, even as i think about what i want to do next for the coming year.

right now, i am feeling quite glum for not making it to the two writing contests i applied to and was so excited about a few months ago (i just learned of the results today when i Google-searched for them again for the nth time, too), but i also feel the building up of a steel resolve to do better, to study my craft better, even get into the only national writing workshop for children's lit here by preparing for it well, and continue writing my stories anyway and telling my truth, win or no win in contests.

ive just come across an old beloved book by Ray Bradbury, Zen in The Art of Writing, and an old unsent letter to Mr. Bradbury falls out from the pages. it was from me at 26, wife, young mother, businessperson... but oh so lost about who she was then and slowly dying inside. i remember now how this book made me secretly cry copious tears, even as it slowly healed me and encouraged me to pick up my pen again, even if only by writing in my diaries, and find my own voice again, and write my way through my life again.

it has been 11 years since then. ive not only made a shift in my life's work from business to education, where i can be closer to books and writing, but have even made a part-time freelance career out of my writing, become a fellow to two national writing workshops, won a national writing award for my first children's story, and had my first book published to critical acclaim. the best thing, always, is people coming up to me and telling me how my writing has touched them in some way.

so i shouldnt feel so glum, but i still do. i guess there is the thought at the back of my mind that im not good enough for more, that maybe this is the end, that i shouldnt even dream about making writing my life's work (how dare i?), that even if i loved writing with a passion, writing may not love me back similarly... : (

picking up Bradbury's book again, erased all those doubts away, though, and renewed me.

here are now some excerpts from the book, which i not only underlined in red, but marked with a star even, to remind me of my deepest loves and passions--literature, writing, living, a constant wondrous inquiring into life and human nature...

- Stay alive! Yell. Jump. Play. Out-run those sons-of-bitches. They'll never live the way you live. Go do it.

- Not to write, for many of us, is to die. ... What would happen is that the world would catch up with and try to sicken you. If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

- If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being your self.

- Do not, for money, turn away from all the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are-- the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore, indispensable to others.

- To fail is to give up. But you are in the midst of a moving process. Nothing fails then. All goes on. Work is done. If good, you learn from it. If bad, you learn even more. Work done and behind you is a lesson to be studied. There is no failure unless one stops. Not to work is to cease, tighten up, become nervous, and therefore, destructive of the creative process. We are working not for work's sake. What we are trying to do is find a way to release the truth that lies in all of us.

- How does one get lost? Through incorrect aims... Through wanting literary fame too quickly. From wanting money too soon. If only we could remember, fame and money are gifts given us only after we have gifted the world with our best, our lonely, our individual truths. Now we must build a better mousetrap, heedless if a path is being beaten to our door.

- What do you think of the world? You, the prism, measure the light of the world; it burns through your mind to throw a different spectroscopic reading onto white paper than anyones else can throw. Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper. Make your own individual spectroscopic reading.

- Go dig the Troy in you!

thank you again, Ray, for reminding me of what i am about.

and so, i will continue to write even more, and write even better, this time.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Passion

i heard about it and all its rave reviews but i never got to watch it when it was shown in all local theatres here more than a year ago. i was happy to find a vcd version of it, though, when we were at the local home movies shop a week ago, and i promptly borrowed it.

i didn't know what was coming when i asked Thea to play it for me yesterday early morning. it was just the last vcd we haven't watched yet, but the timing couldn't have been more right. watching The Passion of the Christ only made me see clearly what the life of Christ, and especially his birth at Christmas, was all about -- Love one another as I love you. that is all.

i cried so hard from watching the film, but it was a good kind of cry, the healing kind. i cried so hard i feel like all vestiges of whatever hurt and pain i still harbor from the unkindness of people in my past has all been washed clean.

the door to the past is finally closed, for good, and i am finally healed, whole.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

the right thing

i think i did the right thing by prioritizing the kids' Santa wish list items over housing loan mortgage arrears payments (sigh... this one's another blog to write about...!).

i arrived home from gift shopping for them late last night, and i think little Bea must have somehow wondered whether there was something special in the car (of course i hid the gifts in the trunk : >), because right after i went into the bedroom, i heard the car door close again, and i found her running from the car into the house and going directly to the Christmas tree, looking at the gifts under the tree again (these are assorted gifts from friends and relatives), gazed at the ones addressed to her, stroked them, hugged them, then re-arranged them more neatly under the tree.

then she went to the pc and clicked on the calculator function. apparently, she was trying to compute how many days more it would take before Christmas, as she asked Thea when Christmas would be and what date it was yesterday. : )

then, satisfied for the moment, she went back to watching tv.


the most "painful" part of my shopping yesterday was deliberating on whether to go ahead with purchasing the learning laptop Bea really wanted (Barbie, which cost 6k), or just any of the other China-made learning laptops, which cost one third of the Barbie laptop.

common sense would dictate that i purchase the cheaper ones; they still meet the requirements in her list-- a laptop-- didn't it?

but heart sense felt violated at the idea.

i remembered how it was when i was her age, hoping and wishing and praying for some particular item in my Santa list, and getting something like it on Christmas day, but not really the color/style/form i wanted. through a few more Christmases like that, i learned how to settle for less, for what's available, instead of staying close to my heart and going for my heart's desires, keeping passion for life alive. i remembered how, for most of my growing up years, i felt much older and wearier than i am now, simply because i almost forgot about my heart and its true desires, in favor of what was sensible and logical and rational and economic and efficient. : ( ... and i remembered how, for a long long time now, Christmas has been almost like a tiresome chore to tolerate and get done and over with. no wonder.

so i closed my eyes and stood by my self at a quiet corner of the toy store for a few minutes, and reflected on my decision. the Barbie laptop that Bea has been daily praying for and checking out for and hoping for, or the cheaper generic laptop which was more favorable to my budget?

the thought that i could be dampening my little girl's young heart and maiming her spirit by making her settle for less clinched it for me; i couldn't do that!!!

and so i bought her the Barbie laptop.

the saleslady who tested it for me had so much fun playing with it, i knew i did the right thing. i could already see Bea's eyes light up when she opens her gift on Christmas morning, and feel her heart soar, for heart and soul desires fulfilled, even when appearances seemed to go against its fulfillment.

the gift is as much for Bea as it is for me, an affirmation of faith in the goodness of life and the Universe and God, and miracles, and dreams coming true.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The X

while turning a corner on the drive home last night, another car appeared to want to turn in the direction i was going, too, but hesitated and paused... so i let it go ahead. i only found out a moment later, while i was following it and my headlights beamed on its plate number, that it was the ex's car.

i was bemused by the situation and i just watched what would happen next. the occupants in the other car seemed excited, though. i saw the ex's head rear up and i guess he must have sat up straighter, as his head actually showed over the head rest (he is not a very tall man). the other occupant, a woman, seemed all agog turning her head this way and that, then turning to look at my car. although there's nothing to see-- my car is tinted.

i couldnt make out their faces and expressions either, as they appeared to me in silhouette; i could only make out their agitated movements.

why would they be agitated, i wondered? we're both free now, with the annulment. they can do whatever they pleased. if that was the gf, i even hear they're planning to marry next year. but, the way they acted, looked guilty to me. and i just sat there amused.

when i first heard the news of their planned marriage a week ago (the ex bragged to the maid as he came to pick up the kids, and the maid told me. he said childishly, i have a house now... duh!), i felt a pang somewhere deep inside. was it jealousy?

not of the other woman; people tell me she's nothing close to me. my sister was actually blunt about it: she's ugly, manang. : )

but still, jealousy, yes... in the sense that he seems to be moving on in that department, while i still have years to go. but in my heart, i wish him well, and i wish her good luck. : )

still, just before i woke up this morning, i dreamt of the ex. he was in a training seminar i was in, too, and people were talking about us, about how we used to be married to each other. i just took it calmly, going about my way nonchalantly but he seemed overly disturbed.

as i turned a corner to go to another room, he blocked my way and confronted me, and started blaming me again for the past, for leaving him, but which i coolly ignored. that must have infuriated him further as he now started talking abusively to me, calling me names and insulting me. even in that dream, his anger at me was palpable. but all i remember thinking was that, my god, he's still hurting after all these years, poor guy, so trapped in the past.

finally, when his abuse was getting loud and obnoxious, i challenged him to a fistfight to settle it once and for all. i took on my basic aikido stance (the only stance i learned... heehee... as i only had one session of aikido), and prepared my self to take him on.

instead, though, he tried to kick me, but i was able to adeptly cut his kick with my hand and twist his leg so, he groaned in pain.

people gathered around us and i could tell he was dying from shame. i only calmly told him, nobody abuses me anymore and gets away with it.

and then i woke up.

Friday, December 16, 2005

All Set

the kids and i are all set for the christmas holidays.

the house has been cleaned (i only have to re-arrange my books in the shelves), the tree has been up since october, my classes have ended while theirs are winding down by early next week, i have received my whole month's pay for december as well as my 13th month bonus, and i have drawn up my budget to last us through the middle of next month, at the very least. i even have the budget for gifts all drawn up, too (i hope i will be able to stick to it and not get swayed by the holiday frenzy again...; i have a strategy planned even for that, to do my christmas shopping when the malls open and there are still very few customers around) : )

i only accepted invitations to attend three parties, though-- the ones where the people are really my closest friends or students. the rest, i declined.

i like to spend my holidays quietly, reflectively. i will be re-arranging my book shelves tomorrow, even as ive already started reading two books simultaneously. the kids and i just got in from the mall, where i treated them to an early dinner, and then we spent our time browsing for vcds we could borrow over the holidays. i have my own set of movies to watch, too, movies i never got to see at the cinema as i had no one to watch them with, but which i can now watch happily in the privacy of our own home.

im busy handwriting on my diary again, even as i make plans and revise my timetables and budgets for the coming year and years...

it's only been our fourth christmas since the sep three and a half years ago (and my first christmas as a legally free woman again! : >), but the kids and i are back on our feet again, by God's grace and the love and generosity of friends, family and even strangers.

life is good again, thank you God!

we know it can only get better! : D

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


it's been 4 days already since i witnessed that early morning road accident while driving bea to school last friday, but i guess i am still reeling from the shock of it all.

on the surface, i go about my days, seemingly the same, but inside, something shifted for me.

right after the bridge along the circumferential highway on the way to bea's school, we passed by a navy blue toyota lancer rammed into the back of a sugarcane hauling truck. no wonder there was a long line of cars already at 8am on this normally wide and open highway.

when it was my turn to go around the road mess, the image of the front of the car, left-half twisted, top right-half ripped off, sent chills down my spine. whoever was driving it and riding in it too couldnt have survived that impact. i said a little prayer for the souls of whoever was in it, whether they died or are still alive.

three hours later, on our way home from bea's school and with the noonday sun bearing its heat and glare on the highway, i slowed when we approached the accident site, and mentally said a little prayer again... but this time, when i turned to look at the exact place where the truck and the hapless car had been, the sight of broken glass all over and a torn shirt caked with blood still on the middle of the road and against the brightness of high noon, shook me up more than the early morning sight had.

the first thought that came to my mind was whoever was in it mustve thought they'd still get to celebrate christmas this year. was the driver alone, or with passengers? was the driver a single parent, too, like me, with three young kids at the back? or was the driver a younger person, probably rushing home from a late late night party, but rushing to his doom instead?

whoever they were, the one thing that remained with me was how fragile and fleeting life truly is. and the next thought that came to my mind was that how stupid and useless it is when we waste it on petty quarrels and smallmindedness and meanness, when it could be so much more given its fragility and fleetingness....

and then i thought how i must still be wasting it with my negative self-talk, too, when things don't go my way, and i blame my self for them, even when ive done all i know how and the best i could.

so that has been my struggle these days, especially the last 4 ones-- being more conscious of my negative self-talk going inside my head and learning how to gently and lovingly deal with it, even as i try to move on now to higher ground...

and because of this increased awareness and alertness to negativity from both inside my head and outside me, i am seeing more and more how most people and the media and the world in general are basically stuck at the level of complaining and negativity and unlovingness...

that's why ive been so quiet, too. suddenly, i am feeling like i am in this world yet not a part of it anymore.