Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We're on the homestretch here with 2 weeks left on our vacation. Can you guess what these girls will miss most?

Friday, March 20, 2009


Yes, Papa. We know the DVD's out. And we know that you got yours. So instead, we got ourselves a VeggieTales movie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reading Papa's Letters

The ladies in the family get the annual letter from the man of the house on St. Nicholas' Day (that's December 6 for y'all). So it's a special treat to get funny, heart-warming, make-us-miss-him-more letters unexpectedly. So special that it had to be captured by the paparazzi mom.

Because he's creative and smart at the same time, the papa puts a collage in the letters, inserts comic strips cut out from the Sunday Post, and includes junk mail with stickers! Yes, his girls had a blast ripping open their mail and basking in the love that had been sent with it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Teacher Moment

I couldn't have planned it better.

Back in VA, the girls attend a weekly Philippine language and cultural school run by volunteers. A few months ago, they learned about well-known Filipinos. Depending on the ages of the students, I am sure they do not remember the same personalities. My girls remember Lea Salonga, especially since we showed them a behind-the-scenes recording of Disney's theme song for the movie, Aladdin. On the other hand, the teens in class may remember Arnel Pineda, currently lead singer of the American band, Journey.

Last night, I skipped Journey's concert to watch a ballet and lost bragging rights. Yes, a ballet. It was an extended run of Ballet Manila's Tatlong Kuwento ni Lola Basyang led by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the first foreigner invited to join the Kirov Ballet. Lola Basyang was a creation of (another well-known Filipino featured in the girls' lesson), Severino Reyes. The girls have read the three stories retold in this performance, narrated by veteran actress, Luz Fernandez, who reprised the role that I've watched her perform when I was younger.

So far, so good. In watching this world-class ballet, a lesson from the past gets some flesh. For PhP100 (or $2) per person, my girls get to watch a story come to life, to see a prima ballerina, and to pose with an actress.

But we had another surprise in the form of another famous Filipina -- former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who came to watch the performance. Of course the girls remembered her from their lesson! And in a few days, the lesson from months ago will continue at the Shoe Museum where we will view this woman's collection.

On the drive home, Elena was writing on her pocket journal, recording that Imelda Marcos is a big woman. If I didn't know what it meant to give up watching Journey's concert, by evening's end, I did.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


After six weeks in a different culture, the girls have started showing the effects of immersion.

  • When they accidentally drop their utensils or bump at someone, instead of oops!, they now exclaim ay!
  • They have started enjoying cold, fresh-from-the-tap showers, even in the cooler evenings. Incidentally, that could be their second shower for the day too.
  • When they think of entertainment for the evening, it could mean plugging the Magic Sing, the videoke microphone. They've long forgotten their reticence in performing and easily belt out pop songs.
  • The tricycle is not anymore this strange contraption but a quick way to go to town--never mind that it's loud and that it isn't air-conditioned. The 2-kilometer ride costs PhP24.00 (or around $0.50).
  • At a fast-food restaurant, they're not likely to ask for burgers though those are available, even in the local eating places. At their only trip to McDonald's, the favorites were chicken with rice or spaghetti, and pineapple pie with ice-cold pineapple juice!
  • Ordinary objects have gained new meanings: turquoise-colored flowers have become fairy slippers; prickly weeds are shy and fold when touched.
  • Geckos? They expected to scream at the sight of their first one but instead, they tsk'd-tsk'd in imitation of its call.
  • The little one has visited the city library, considered one of the best in Metro Manila. She doesn't mind at all that she's required to remove her shoes before curling up with a book at the children's section.

  • If they cringed when I first offered it, they now clamor to have it for dessert: queso ice cream! That's right, cheese-flavored ice cream.
  • Purple? For the girls, it could only mean food. Ube!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

School at the Beach

Windsurf School, that is. Why waste the wicked wind that blows across the sandbar? Math just had to wait.

The cousins learned about windsurfing safely on solid ground. The instructor used a small board just the right size for a seven-year old, and boy, did our 7-year old want to join her older cousins. But there are still swimming lessons to learn.

Then off to the beach to teach those legs about balancing on the board.

With a little help from the instructor, Ate (pronounced AH-teh; elder sister or female cousin) was quickly speeding off with the wind. No, that wasn't our princess. She and her little sister were left on dry land, wishing for the day when their Papa will windsurf with them.

There were enough spectators to make one nervous. But since they were relatives, the applause was loud and long! Because sooner than we expected, Ate was on her own.

See her fly, all in an hour's hard work while on vacation at the beach ...

... as the little cousins work at getting a head start.