Sunday, August 29, 2004

Kuya is mad at me

RG was being too hard on his brothers today. RC wouldn't wash the dishes at night and RG was just at him. Then later on, RK wanted to eat something after dinner and RG told him that he couldn't. RK came running upstairs to me crying.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

My space

"Isinasara pa kasi ang pinto sa banyo," that was R while I was getting ready for church. Sorry, but the bathroom is the only place where I can lock myself in this house, where no one will follow me around and bug me. You may knock if you want but please give me my space. Besides, I have three boys and I don't want them to see me naked.

On books

I bought the book "The Way the Crow Flies" by Ann-Marie MacDonald, who is a Toronto-based novelist. I have wanted to read this novel since it came out last year, but the book was just too expensive. It was recently released on paperback at an affordable price. Yeah, that's me, cheap. But I have no choice because raising three children can be very expensive. I've tried the library before but sometimes they don't have the books that I want to read. I am interested in coming-of-age stories with a tinge of mystery.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

It's not what happens to you

On "Balance" at CTV, motivational speaker W. Mitchell talked about how he suffered and survived two horrific accidents (He suffered burns due to a fiery motorcycle accident and was paralyzed after an airplane crash) in his book "IT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, IT'S WHAT YOU DO ABOUT IT." He also quoted "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

He sure has a positive outlook in life. Instead of dwelling in pain, he turned his loss into something useful, talked about it and inspired others who must have gone through some kind of loss and pain.

This is similar to what I have in mind, the reason I want to someday publish my memoirs.

Friday, August 13, 2004


Last day of band camp. I was worried when RG didn't come home on the same time that he usually did. He missed the bus and waited for the next one. I worry too much.

The "campers" had a recital at Jubilee Place tonight. We all went to watch, including R. In the past, R never went to his kids' school concerts. The first one he attended was RG's spring concert, where RG had a flute solo. He also went to RG's grade 9 graduation. He didn't attend his grade 6 graduation.

My niece A, Ma, Auntie D and Sparky also went. A said that she saw Auntie D fell asleep during the performance. Ma said that when they went to another Folklorama pavilion the other night, Auntie D also fell asleep during one of the performances. Sparky said that the performances at the recital were very good.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

All by myself

RG took the bus by himself on the way home from band camp for the first time. For the last 3 days, I have been dropping him off and picking him up in the afternoon. I still can't let him go by himself in the morning because he has to cross the street on the highway. But he doesn't have to cross to wait for the bus home. His classmates Paul and Emmanuel were on the same bus (without parents) when we went home yesterday. So I thought that he could manage it on his own. After all he's already 14. I see kids younger than him on buses by themselves. It's just that this was his first time. We were lucky to live in an area where their schools have been walkings distances from our house. I don't worry if he walks to school or go to his friend's house walking. But commuting is different. Well, I am the over-protective mother! I just worry about him.

I still remember when I had to travel by myself for the first time. I must have been in Grade 1 or 2. We were without a maid and were looking for a new one.
“You will have to go to school by yourselves,” Papa told me and sis.
“But I am scared to go ride in the jeepney all by ourselves,” I replied with a long face.
“Oh, I am not,” sis said. “I know how to ride the jeepney all by myself.” She was only five years old.
Papa then said firmly, “You are big enough to go to school by yourselves, ok, Irene” And so we went to school all by ourselves.

Monday, August 09, 2004

On vacation

First day of my two-week vacation.

RG started band camp today at Jubilee Place. He received a band scholarship from Junior High. He was awarded this scholarship for his excellent performance in Band and diligent attendance in the flute choir and jazz band. Yesterday was registration and audition day. 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. One-week camp started today, from 8:45 am to 3:30 pm. We got up early, dropped off RC and RK at my sister's place and then I dropped off RG at Jubilee Place. I couldn't let RG on the bus by himself since he had to cross the highway and the cars and buses go very fast there. Besides, there are no traffic lights on that stop, only a crosswalk where you push a button that turns the lights on to alert drivers that you are crossing the street.

It rained almost the entire day.

Auntie D and Sparky came from Minneapolis. They will be staying here for one week. We went to Folklorama - Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion. The show that we watched was almost the same as the one we watched last year. The wedding dance, the tinikling, the binasuhan. The show was still fantastic. The mayor was in the audience. Auntie D wanted to watch the next show, the one with the Igorot dance. I did too, but the kids were already tired. Oh maybe next year.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My Bio

I grew up in a small town in Cavite, a province just outside of Manila. My parents were both tailors and they owned a tailor shop right in the center of the town. I have a younger sister. Both my parents came from big families and they were not able to go to college (or university as you call it here in North America). My father finished high school but my mother was only able to finish her elementary school. My mother had been the butt of jokes of her siblings. They even called her “Bokya,” which means “nothing.” Because of this, my mother made sure that my sister and I had good education. She sent us to a private catholic school in a nearby town. Most of my parents’ siblings did not go to college either, except for a couple of my father’s siblings. Uncle Lucio was one of them. He and his family were always dressed nicely. He was a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and he worked at a prestigious company. When I was eight years old, I told myself that I wanted to be a CPA when I grow up.

I was very fond of my father when I was a child. He always helped me with my homework and he taught me tricks on how to solve my math problems. He made math easier for me. I was very shy in school. I never talked to anybody unless they asked me something. And if they did, I would just answer the question with a quick response. At recess, I didn’t play with the kids. I just stood in one corner and watched them play until the bell rang.

Unfortunately, my parents separated when I was about 12 years old. It was devastating for me because I loved them both equally, and yet I was made to choose to live with only one of them. It was a difficult decision for me at that age. My mother didn’t want my sister and I to separate, and I knew that my sister wanted to live with my mother. I decided to live with my mother and sister. We moved to Manila and transferred to a different school. After a year, we moved back to Cavite, but in a different town. Times were hard then and it was difficult for my mother to support her daughters financially. She applied for a working visa in Canada and luckily, her application was granted. She left the Philippines in 1980. I was 15 years old; my sister was 13. My sister and I went back to Manila to live with our aunt, my mother’s sister. It was a tough time for us. We wrote our mother regularly. We comforted each other through letters.

My sister and I transferred to a public school when my mother went abroad. My mother couldn’t afford at that time to send us to a private school because she was starting a new life abroad. My sister and I understood. In high school, I tried to study hard so that my mother would be proud of me. I joined different school clubs and participated in school contests. I was able to come out of my shell. I excelled in almost all of my subjects, especially in Mathematics. My desire to be a CPA grew stronger. After high school, I pursued a course in Business Administration, major in accounting.

In college, I was introduced to World Literature. I discovered the literary classics of the world. I enjoyed reading The Iliad and the Greek mythology. When I was reading The Iliad, I wrote summaries of each chapter. I didn’t want to read the long poem all over again to study for our exams. I would just read the summaries that I wrote.

After college, I took the board exams and eventually became a licensed CPA. I worked as an accounting clerk in a pharmaceutical company, and then later was promoted to junior accountant. As I started to earn my own money, I bought book after book. I always bought the classics, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hugo, Hawthorne, etc. I read Romeo and Juliet and wrote a summary. I also read the other works of Shakespeare and wrote summaries. I sometimes re-read my books, but poems and plays were a pain to read. That’s why I wrote summaries.

When my mother’s sponsorship for me to come to Canada was approved, I had to quit my job. I wrote a letter of resignation, which touched both my supervisor and my boss. I didn’t pack a lot when I left the Philippines, but I brought all my books with me.

When I first came here in Canada in 1989, I couldn’t get any position in an office. Most of the companies were looking for a local experience, which I didn’t have yet. I already had a child at that time and was supporting him by myself. (His father was still in the Philippines then and eventually came to Canada two years later.) I decided to get any job that will support my family. I was hired at McDonald’s Restaurant to work on the fries and the cash register. I worked there for a couple of months. Working there wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I met different kinds of people while working on the cash register. It also helped me practice talking English more fluently. But the salary wasn’t enough. I started looking for another job and landed a position as an order filler in a garment factory. It was a more permanent job and I earned a stable income.

After five years of working at the garment factory, I realized that I needed a change of career. I wasn’t happy there anymore and I really wanted to work in an office environment. I quit my job and took a six-month word processing course. I gained computer knowledge and this gave me the confidence to apply for office work. I was hired as a claims adjuster at an insurance company and I am still working there. I enjoy my work there, especially now that I have been given the chance to work at home.

I have three kids now and I think working at home is one of the best things that have happened to me. I no longer have to pay daycare fees. I am less stressed than before. I don’t have to rush in the morning and drag my kids out of bed. I am able to spend more time with the kids. I am able to read again. Well, you see, I lost interest in reading when I started having kids because there just wasn’t time to read if you’re raising a family and working full time at the same time. Now, my passion for reading has been reawakened. And as a result of that, I have found a new interest, writing, that is. The more I read, the more I want to write. Before, I read only classics, but now I read books of contemporary authors. I read Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald and I was intrigued by the dark family secrets. I thought that I want to write about my family, too. I read Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes, and was amused by the way he wrote about his hardships in childhood. There are quite a few similarities in our background and that made me want to write my own memoir. I want my kids, and also others, to know about my experiences and maybe learn a few lessons from them.

On Writing

In 2001, I discovered the wonderful world of internet, and of course, alongside with it, e-mail. I started writing to family and friends from back home in the Philippines. Since I haven’t communicated with them for a long time, I had lots of stories to share. A few have commented that I was a good storyteller and that they enjoyed reading my e-mails. With these comments, I was inspired to write more creatively. I then got interested in website building. I created my very own personal webpage wherein I posted not only pictures, but some of the articles and stories that I have written as well. I wrote about my personal experiences here in Canada and about my experiences as a mother.

I have also taken up reading again. I used to read a lot when I was younger. But ever since I started a family, I got really busy and haven’t read any books for a long time. Now that the kids are older and need less attention, and also because I work at home, I have found time to read again. The more I read, the more I want to write about my own personal stories.

Friends ask me how I find time to write and update my websites. Surely, working at home has made my life easier but raising three young kids still take up a lot of my time. You'll probably find this true though: Don't we always find time, no matter how busy we are, to do the things we love.