Sunday, July 31, 2005

Back on

There are times when Ryland would put his shirt with the back on the front especially when he wears those ones in which I cut the tag off. Those tags help Ryland tell which side goes to the back but they sometimes irritate the skin and so I cut them off. He doesn’t like messing his brushed wet hair when he pulls up his shirt over his head to wear it with the front facing the right way. So I showed him how he can flip his shirt without pulling it up over his head. He needs to pull his arms in through the sleeves one at a time and when both arms are in, he turns the shirt ‘round his neck the other way. And then he pulls out his arms out through the sleeves again.

At church yesterday, I noticed that he had his striped shirt back on. It wasn’t really that noticeable but I made the mistake telling him. He immediately pulled his right arm in through his sleeve. I told him, “No, you don’t have to. It’s alright.” But how could he pay attention (as if) to Brother Jorge now that he knew he had his shirt back on, right? There was no stopping him. So I just stood behind him trying to cover him up. I thought it was funny.

My little wanderer

Ryland and I went with Reggie to McNally Robinson the other night. Reggie wanted to watch the free jazz concert at the bookstore where the Starlight Jazz band played that night. Ryland was with me when I was leafing through some books and then he said that he’d go to his Kuya. I let him go but after a few seconds, this mother got worried. I took a peek where Reggie was browsing through the magazine section. Ryland wasn’t there. Where did he wander off? I was full of fear for the next 30 seconds. They seemed like 30 hours. I walked through shelf after shelf hoping that he was at the other end. My heart jumped when I found him there at the end of the third one. He looked like he was about to cry, but he said that he wasn’t. What are you gonna do if you get lost, Ryland? He didn’t answer. Do you know Mommy’s name? Our address? Phone number? He recited them to me perfectly well. I told him that if he did get lost to tell those information to a grown up, preferably a lady, not a man. But then again, I thought that there are also lady kidnappers. Was I just being paranoid? I hate the thought of losing my child. And yet I couldn’t imagine what the parents of all the missing children in this world must feel.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On friends and letting go

Movies such as White Oleander move me and make me weep. I was once again transported back to my childhood.

White Oleander is about Astrid (Alison Lohman) who was 15 years old when her mother, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), went to prison for murdering a lover. Astrid was then sent to a succession of foster homes.

I was barely a teen-ager when my parents separated and that’s when we started moving from one place to another. When Mama left for Canada, sis and I went to live with my aunt. Although we both loved Auntie and cousins dearly, it had been just hard to fit in.

Also, moving from one place to the next, we left behind belongings. And I guess the hardest part was leaving behind the friends we met. Like Astrid, there came a point when I got afraid of attaching myself too much to the people I’ve met. I just never knew when I would have to move again and then would have to let them go.

Although Mama didn’t control me like Ingrid manipulated Astrid, I told friends what Mama wanted me to tell them. That my father was abroad that’s why he wasn’t around. Being from a broken home was taboo back then.

I had a best friend during my childhood in Noveleta, Cavite. Olive and I had been friends since I was about two. We grew up together and shared our secrets and crushes. When Mama decided to leave Papa, she picked me up and Lina at school on a Friday afternoon. We left Cavite right there and then without going home to pick up our things. We didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to anybody, including Papa and Olive. We saw each other again many times and we are still friends but we have both moved on.

When I was in high school, I met another dear friend, Estrella, who continued writing me when I moved to Manila from Imus, Cavite. I never told her the truth about my parents and when she realized that my stories didn’t tie up with one another, she started asking questions. I didn’t know how to explain everything to her. I was so confused that I told her that my life was a mess, she wouldn’t understand the situation I was in and that it was better if she stopped having anything to do with me. I underestimated her. She was hurt because I wasn’t able to trust in her. I never heard from her again. And I am sorry up to this day about what happened to our friendship.

All these years, I have met many other friends but never had one I would consider a best friend until now. I finally found one who I can talk to about anything. Elaine is one who I can confide to, share my innermost thoughts and secrets, even my personal demons and I know that she wouldn’t judge me. I hope this one stays. Even if she doesn’t, I’ll treasure our friendship forever.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A culture very similar to ours

Sometime in 1990, when I was still new here in Winnipeg, this Asian guy at the bus stop approached me. I was then on my way to my part-time job at McDonalds. We were the only ones on that particular bus stop. He seemed harmless and I didn’t get nervous when he started talking to me in a different language. I told him, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Realizing that I was not from where he was, he said, “I thought you were Vietnamese.” I said, “No, I’m not.” At that time, I thought, well, I am Asian and I must have similar features with other Asians like the Vietnamese.

A few years later, I was at a local Vietnamese store when a lady started talking to me in that foreign language once again. She mistook me for a Vietnamese. I politely said that I was not.

Vietnamese and Filipinos do have striking physical resemblances. And I learned that there are more similarities than that when I saw Tran Anh Hung’s The Scent of Green Papaya, Winner Camera D’Or 1993 Cannes Film Festival. This movie was set in 1951 Saigon, Vietnam.


Mui (Lu Man San) is only 10 years old when she leaves her family to take up residence as a servant-in-training. Hired by a merchant family, she is the victim of the son’s torment and a witness to both the father’s strange disappearances and the mother’s misery over her lost daughter. Yet Mui takes to her job with an almost spiritual devotion. She performs the most ordinary tasks with a delicate grace. The family’s old servant woman, Thi, teaches her how to prepare food – especially the green papaya which, when ripe is considered a fruit, but when green, is a vegetable.

Ten years later, Mui has grown into a radiant, graceful woman. Dismissed by the merchant family, she is sent to work for Khuyen, a wealthy composer, for whom she harbors a secret passion. Now under Khuyen’s roof, Mui’s service becomes mingled with love. Their seduction of each other begins with slight touches and chance encounters until little by little, they become indispensable to each other.

I enjoyed watching The Scent of Green Papaya because I can relate very well to the people, the scenes and the culture. They are very similar to those of the Philippines. Rice is also their staple food and we cook our ulam very much alike. They also use mosquito nets at night. And that servant thing reminded me of the house helpers we had back home.

The young Mui was very cute and graceful. The Scent of Green Papaya is subtitled but it won’t bother the viewer that much because there weren’t a lot of dialogues anyway. Told from Mui’s point of view, I think it focuses more on her observations of life. I loved that scene when she was watching the sap drop from the papaya stem, that one when she was studying the papaya seeds, and that one when she was watching the ants carry their heavy loads. And I also liked that the seduction was shown very subtly. It was very artistic, no vulgarity.

The Scent of Green Papaya is “a wonderful and touching story critically acclaimed around the world.”

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Living life to the fullest

Big Fish is a story about Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) who had been known for his tall tales. As a child, his son, William (Billy Crudup), was fascinated by his stories, but when he grew up he wondered which of his father’s stories really happened and which ones were just fabrication. All through his life, Will had heard his father tell people the story of his birth - the day he caught the uncatchable fish with his gold ring. This was the story Edward was telling Will’s guests on his wedding reception. Will got upset because it was the one night that was supposed to be about him but his father stole his thunder. They didn’t speak for three years after that night.

When Edward got ill, Will came home and asked his father to tell him the true versions of things. Because Will felt that he had no idea who his father was. Now that he was about to be a father, himself, it would kill him if his son wouldn’t know him. So Will tried to piece together the stories of his father.

The young Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) was a man of big dreams and ambition. His adventures began when he met the giant, Karl (Matthew McGrory), and left the small town of Ashton with him when he was 18 years old. Edward came to the town of Spectre - the first time he was early and the second time he was too late. He worked in a circus where he first met the woman he was going to marry. He was drafted to the war and was sent to Vietnam where he met the “conjoined twins.”

As Will tried to learn more about his father, he learned that there was more to Edward Bloom than his tall tales. He was “a man with more determination than any man you’ll ever meet.” He was an honest and generous man who helped a town when all it’s businesses went bankrupt. He made everyday a new adventure. And every “adventure was as big as life itself.” This is the lesson that I am getting from Big Fish. We should live our life to the fullest.

Will’s questions were also answered. When Will was growing up his father was gone more than he was there and he wondered if his father ever had another family. He discovered what really happened on the day he was born. His father told him about the witch with the glass eye which revealed how Ed was gonna go but he had never told Will because it was supposed to be a surprise ending.

As Big Fish starts, Will narrated, “My father didn’t see himself in me and I didn’t see myself in my father.” I think in the end, Will did.

Ewan McGregor was very charming as the young Edward Bloom. I enjoyed watching him with that whimsical smile. Alison Lohman was very pretty as the young Sandra Templeton. And what a striking resemblance to Jessica Lange, who played the older Sandra. Big Fish is another cinematic masterpiece from director Tim Burton, the same director who brought us Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

My favourite parts of the movie are:

The first time Edward laid eyes on Sandra and he narrated, “They say when you meet the love of your life time stops and that’s true.” Then the frame froze except for Edward. The performers stood still, the peanuts floated in the air, Ed brushed away the peanuts as he walked towards the lovely Sandra. And then everything, except Ed, was in fast forward motion. And then he told Mr. Calloway (Danny Devito), “I just saw the woman I’m going to marry but I lost her.” I felt his pain.

When he finally tracked down Sandra in Auburn and told her, “You don’t know me but my name is Edward Bloom and I love you.” I just melted.

When the young Sandra opened the window of her dormitory and there stood the young Edward outside in a yard full of daffodils, professing his love for her. Edward had learned from Mr. Calloway that her favourite flowers were daffodils. “You don’t even know me,” said Sandra. “I have the rest of my life to find out,” said Edward. How romantic.

There are also many memorable quotes in Big Fish. These are some of my favourites:

The biggest fish in the river gets that way by never being caught.

There comes a point when a reasonable man will swallow his pride and admit that he’s made a terrible mistake. The truth is... I was never a reasonable man.

The more difficult something became, the more rewarded it was in the end.

A dangerous path is made much worse by darkness.

It’s rude to talk about religion. You never know who you're gonna offend.

The most things you consider evil or wicked are simply lonely or lacking in social niceties.

There's a time when a man needs to fight, and a time when he needs to accept that his destiny is lost... the ship has sailed and only a fool would continue. Truth is... I've always been a fool.

The thing about icebergs is you only see 10%. Ninety percent is under the water where you can’t see it.

Have you ever heard a joke you heard so many times you’ve forgotten why it’s funny? Then you hear it again and suddenly it’s new. You remember why you loved it in the first place.

There are more memorable quotes here.

Big Fish is rated PG13- Parents strongly cautioned. I was alarmed by the phrase “some images of nudity” so I told my children that it’s not for kids. I guess I could have let my 15-year old watch it because it was just the naked butt of the lady in the river and that of Devito's that you'll see. Oh yeah, there's a silhouette of a naked lady swimming. "A suggestive reference" may pertain to Calloway's shaking trailer, which could suggest that someone's doing it there, but no, there were no scenes of that kind.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Racing against time

As April raced against time to finish cooking the turkey, so did her ill mother, to create good memories with her daughter.

Pieces of April is a story about how April Burns (Katie Holmes) who was painstakingly preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for her family. She wasn’t in good terms with her mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), and she wanted to make amends. She wanted to show her family that she was doing fine on her own in NY. But disaster after disaster happened as she try to prepare a decent meal. The oven was broken, her boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke) left the house, and she struggled to find strangers in the apartment who would let her use their oven.

Meanwhile, her family was on the way over driving. Her sister Beth (Alison Pill) was waiting for her mother, who had breast cancer, to say that she “wasn’t up to it.” At first, Joy was determined to go even though she had been throwing up the entire trip. Then as she reminisced about her troubled relationship with April, she started to back out. Jim (Oliver Platt), her husband tried to persuade her to give April a second chance to prove that she can give her mother at least one pleasant memory. But when they saw April’s dilapidated place and Bobby’s bloody face, they turned back.

I was touched when April realized that her family left and she was crying on the bed. Instead of saying anything bad against her family (she had doubts that they’d ever come at all), she asked Bobby, “What are we going to do with all the food?” They invited the neighbours who helped her cook the turkey. So you see, behind her rebellious appearance, she really had a good heart.

April’s family was on their way back home when Joy saw in a restaurant washroom a young girl being cruelly treated by her mother. This was literally the turning point and they went back to April’s place. I burst down in tears when April opened the door and there stood her mother. They didn't have to say the words. They just looked into each other's eyes and you know what they wanted to say. They hugged and the family joined April’s guests.

I enjoyed watching Katie Holmes as the edgy April, such a contrast from her sweet character as Joey Potter on Dawson’s Creek. I think she’s a versatile actress and very beautiful, too. And did you know that this movie was shot in just 16 days?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Familial love, rift and unrequited love

I spent my first vacation week of the summer putting my feet up and watching a few movies.

Let's start with Legends of the Fall.

This is a story about three brothers: Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt), and Samuel (Henry Thomas) who were raised by their father, Col. Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) with the help of their Native American friends. Their mother abandoned them because she couldn’t stand living in a ranch.

Samuel brought home his fiancée, Susannah (Julia Ormond) and then decided to go to war. His two brothers went with him . The night before they left, Susannah asked Tristan to help her persuade Samuel not to go. The two had a tender moment and Alfred saw this.

At war, Tristan, who was the wild one and an experienced hunter, tried to be always at Samuel’s side to protect him. But the one time that Tristan was gone to visit the injured Alfred, Samuel sneaked off and volunteered to be at the front lines of the war. When Tristan learned this, he immediately set out to find him, but he was too late. Samuel had been blinded by tear gas and two enemy soldiers took this chance to fire at him right there before Tristan’s eyes. Tristan went over to his dead body and wept.

When Tristan came home from the war, he and Susannah became involved, much to Alfred’s dismay because he knew that Tristan couldn’t make her happy. And Alfred was right. Tristan, burdened by the guilt over the death of his brother, left and roamed around the world. Alfred was furious when he read Tristan’s letter to Susannah that he won’t be coming back. Meanwhile, Alfred professed his love for Susannah. She married him although it was Tristan whom she loved.

Years later, Tristan did come back home and learned that the two had married. Alfred was now a politician. This had caused a rift between him and his father, who didn’t want him to be involved in politics. Their father had a stroke that prevented him from speaking. Tristan married Isabella Two who had been infatuated with him since she was a little girl and had now blossomed into a young woman. They married and had two children. The oldest was named Samuel, after Tristan’s brother.

When Tristan’s family was in town one day, Alfred and Susannah saw them. It was so heartbreaking to see Susannah’s pain when she saw Tristan with his family including little Samuel. She and Alfred didn’t have any children of their own.

Isabella Two was killed when the family was attacked by jealous politicians. Tristan attacked an officer and was sent to prison where Susannah visited him. She expressed that she still loved Tristan but he didn’t return her feelings. She took her life later. Alfred took her body back at the ranch. “You’re getting her back,” Alfred said in his telegram to Tristan.

Tormented by all of these tragedies, Tristan decided to leave. On the day that he was to leave, three officers came to the ranch and were about to shoot him. But Alfred was quick and shot them before they could kill his brother. Tristan asked Alfred to take care of his kids. Col. Ludlow forgave Alfred when he saw his oldest son stood up for Tristan.

In the movie, the mother abandoned her children. I could never do that. If I couldn't stand that ranch, I would have taken my children with me. I guess, the writer just wanted to give us a reason why the children were raised by their father.

The movie was set during the turn of the century. Even then, families had disputes and they drifted apart. The story shows us that no matter how much we disagree with our family, in the end we would stick up for them.

Before, I didn’t really find Brad Pitt that handsome. He had this square jaw and I wasn’t really crazy about that. After seeing a few of his movies, I can understand why girls swoon over him. But watching Legends of the Fall, I was distracted by his long hair. I liked the story, though, especially the part about the unrequited love. I wept. I can relate.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Goldeyes and the teacher

I like teaching my children and bringing them to places where they’ve never been before. I never thought that they would also teach me things and bring me to places I’ve never been before.

Mama gave us two free tickets to the Goldeyes game this Sunday. She knew that Ryan was into sports. Ryan was excited and was faced with the decision of which parent to bring to the game. It was a no-brainer to him. No, he didn’t pick the obvious choice because he was worried that “Daddy might not buy me hotdogs on the game.” Because what’s the point of watching a baseball game without hotdogs, right? It’s like going to the movies without popcorn. So I was honoured and gladly went to the game with him even though I didn’t understand a thing about baseball.

The thing about baseball is it is an outdoor sport and you watch it out in the open. Today was a sweltering 32C degrees and it was sooo hot. Good thing that we applied sunblock before we left home. Forgot the hats though. We saw Goldie, the team mascot. Yes, we had hotdogs and cold drinks, which turned warm just like that because it was sooo hot. And we got a treat from the owner of the Goldeyes team, none other than Mayor Sam Katz. It was his daughter’s birthday and he gave everybody, all 6,000 (?) of us Breyers frozen delights. That was sweet, or I should say cool.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes played against the Edmonton Cracker Cats. The home team won 12-8. And Jorge Moreno was the star of this game. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you much more because I am not familiar with the terms. Although, I did learn a little bit about baseball today. Thanks to my patient teacher.

I'd miss you babe

The other day, Ryan and Ryland were looking at their baby pictures. They both love going through our photo albums. Ryland came across this photo when he was 11 months old. He asked, “Mommy, did you throw away this carpet?” He was referring to the area rug that used to be in our TV room, which is now also my workstation. This rug had pictures of roads and streets and this was where he played with his toy cars, mostly the Hotwheels ones. I said, “Yes, I threw it away a long time ago. You spilled your milk and juice on it, and also vomited on it a lot of times.” Ryland said, “Oh yeah, I remember. That was my favourite carpet. I miss it.” Then I said, “I miss him,” pointing at his picture.

Last night, Ryland and I were lying on the bed just having one of our bonding moment. He was lying across my stomach.

Me: Come here beside me. You’re heavy. You’re squishing my jelly belly.

Ryland: Because you’re fat.

Me: Hey, I’m not fat. Do you think I’m fat?

Ryland: No, I’m just kidding.

Then he named people who he thought were fat. I’m not gonna mention them.

Me: You’re just too heavy for me now. I miss my baby. Where did my baby go?

Ryland: I grew into a child.

I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Me: Yeah, you did. You are now my little boy.

Don’t grow up too fast little boy.

Sometimes at church, he gets bored and he would hold on to my hand or hug my tummy. Until about three or four years ago, I would carry one of my children during mass and I would rock him to and fro while singing along to the songs. Nowadays, I find it silly when I rock to and fro to the songs without carrying any child. When they were little, I couldn’t wait for them to grow up so that I wouldn’t have to carry their heavy bodies. It had been hard on my back. I now miss that. And you bet that I’m gonna hold on to Ryland’s hand and hug him so long as he will let me.

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
Far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Well, every moment spent with you
Is a moment I treasure

I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing

Excerpt from I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sticking up for our children

I watched an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” last night. Ally, the 13-year old daughter, came home with an F on her report card. Debra, the mother confronted her about her failing grade. Now, Ally, who got A’s and B’s in her other subjects, retorted to her mother, “What about my good grades? You only noticed my failing grade.” Ally explained that she got an F in Math because her teacher was mean. Debra wouldn’t listen to her and thought that she wasn’t paying enough attention. They had a heated discussion and Ally answered back at her mother. Ray felt that it might be the teacher. When Ray and Debra had a meeting with the teacher, they found out that he was really mean. Ray berated Debra for not sticking up for her daughter.

In the Philippines, children are raised to respect their elders, parents especially. They are not supposed to interrupt when adults are talking. I knew people whose children were even sent to their bedrooms if they have company – visitors in the house. So answering back at parents is a big NO NO. This is even depicted in some of the Tagalog movies I have seen. It is not unusual to see a father saying to his child, “You have no right to answer back at me so long as I am feeding you and you live under my roof” or something to that effect. I thought that I’d hear that only in the movies until it happened to someone dear to me just recently.

If a parent is obviously at fault and a child answers back in the heat of a discussion/argument, what should the other parent do? Does one stick up for their child or do they take the side of their partner? I understand that parents should be supportive of each other in raising their children. But if the other parent is being unreasonable, what is one to do?

I have seen quite a few people close to me who had been in conflict with their parents, usually their fathers, who were more of disciplinarians, sometimes to the point of being an authoritarian. The children of these parents ended up leaving home, sometimes running away. The mothers were helpless and left heartbroken. They chose to take the sides of their partners instead of sticking up for their children. And it’s really sad.

Have you ever been in a situation like this either as a child, as a parent, or as a mere spectator? Does anyone care to comment?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

I'm loving you

We were planning last year to go to Toronto this summer. But since R had been laid off earlier this year, we had to forego our plans.

We were at the dinner table when Ryan asked, “Are we going to Toronto?” I replied, “I’m sorry, not this year. Daddy’s still not working.” Then Ryan said, “We never go anywhere!” Ryland interjected, “Yeah, we do. We go to Tita Carol’s and to McDonalds. I’m loving it!”

We all laughed. This is just what we needed. There had been quite a tension in this house lately because someone had been so irritable due to lack of finances. I just couldn’t help it. I hugged Ryland and told him, “I’m loving you!"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bears on Broadway

We visited some of the Bears on Broadway. They are really cool!

We have more pictures here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Canada Day at The Ex

We had quite a downpour on the last week of school. So when the forecast said that it would be sunny on Canada Day with a high of 24C, I thought that it was better to bring the kids to The Ex on that day and use their “Read & Win Pass” instead of the last day of The Ex, July 2, which would be a hotter day, 28C.

Ryan didn’t want to come. I didn’t make him go because I didn’t want to deal with his “I didn’t even want to come here.” Mabuti na lang at hindi nga siya sumama. He would have complained. Susme. Who would have thought that there would be thousands of people at The Ex on Canada Day. The bus was all packed. You wouldn’t believe the traffic when we got close there. Reggie, Ryland and I ended up walking because the bus wasn’t moving. We got there before the bus did. The parking lot was full. There were cars parked on the highway and even on the grass.

There were lines at the gate and at the rides. It wasn’t that bad naman. We went to the Glass House and the Cuckoo Haus. Ryland tried the balloon darts twice and he got prizes (plush toys) on both tries. He and Reggie tried the Rising Water but the girl on #12 won. Ryland and I went on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Ryland didn’t get dizzy. I did. Mahihiluhin talaga ako. Anyway, we had fun and brought home cotton candy for Ryan.