read-along bags ncca award for PDI

much of my life lately has revolved around these read-along sessions every other saturday, and the occasional fridays. what started as this small reading thing with about 20 kids in May 2007 has since expanded to jampacked sessions featuring at times more than a hundred kids - something that still strikes me as overwhelming until now. the event has since taken me places, some as far as baguio and bataan, some nearer like cavite and bulacan. i'm not really much of a kid person, but after more than 70 of these sessions, i think i'm developing a kind of affection for them. ahahhaa.

anyway, so we were extraordinarily surprised:

PDI Read-Along bags another award

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:37:00 03/27/2009

MANILA, Philippines – For instilling the habit of reading among children, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has been recognized as a “culture-friendly” media organization by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine-International Theater Institute (ITI).

The Inquirer, which was cited for its Read-Along sessions, was among the recipients of the first ever ITI-NCCA Award for Culture-Friendly Media Institutions in a ceremony held Friday at the Premier Guest House in MalacaƱang.

(L-R) with Ruthie, the boss and the comedy king himself

(Read full story here.)

Other artists also honored included glass sculptor Ramon Orlina, designer Pitoy Moreno, and Dolphy for his contribution in Multimedia and Popular Art. It was my first time in MalacaƱang, and with the super short notice given us last-minute substitutes (read: night before, around past-7. event was at 9am the next morning, late pa ako.) i wasn't even able to dress up in proper Filipiniana. Shame actually. buti na lang naitago ako nang maayos-ayos dito sa photo na ito hehe.

boss says now more than ever we have to work harder to deserve the award. couldn't agree more.


graduation day recap

As previously foretold, my youngest brother (a.k.a. The Last of the Pedroso Siblings) graduated from Bene grade school yesterday, in simple rites held in the school gymnasium. After all these years, it was still similar to what I and Krista had when it was time for us to graduate from the same grade school as well. Incidentally, his was the 33rd grade school commencement; mine was the 21st (1997), while Krista’s was the 25th (2001).

This graduation has perhaps punctuated our 16-year stay with the school – with a fancy combination of question marks and exclamation points, I guess. Haha.

He was seventh in academic ranking – it came with the fancy name, “Second Honorable Mention -- With Distinction.” But then, whatever its name was, all that mattered was the effort that came with it and the fact that as photographer for the day I was little concerned with anything else other than the times that he was on stage. =) Oo, napaka-“tita” na lang ng dating; pagbigyan.

The day started off early – I was shaken awake by dad around 5.15-ish in the morning. I slept barely anyway as I shared the top bunk with several huge stuff toys and a giant balance ball (yes the one you see in gyms. Don’t ask why), but only because Wy was already asleep when I got home the night before and was hogging all the space on the lower bunk, where I usually slept when I was there. Anyway, we had to get to school by 7 because my brother was in the band.

Actually, both my siblings were band geeks – I think my sister also played the violin during her own grade school graduation (didn’t you?). Anyway, for the first part of the morning, I was seated on the bleachers near the band, taking pictures and video clips of my brother playing violin in the school orchestra’s version of the graduation march. Awesome? I know! How come they got all these musical gifts that I didn’t? I KNOW! Hahahaha.

Anyway, he got up to join the march a while later, as the honorees were supposed to march last with their parents. I came to the grad with only Auntie and Dad, seeing that Krista still had an exam to hurdle at around the same time. Too bad, because this meant that I was all alone (cue: Heart), since Auntie and Dad had seats near the graduates by virtue of being honoree parents. Le sigh. To amuse myself, I took lots of photographs and violated a lot of rules of the “Parents, please be reminded of the following guidelines about taking pictures”-variety instead.

Good thing my cousins, Bene alumni themselves, dropped by to watch the grad. The younger ones were also nice enough (read: easily bullied) to buy us food in the middle of the ceremonies.

The whole thing was eventful, actually. A fuse broke in the middle of Very Reverend Father’s inspirational talk. Dead air for at least five minutes. There were announcements of retirements (Principal Agregado’s – after 32 years of service, SERYOSO), appointments (Fr. Gerard as Grade School principal – I think this is the first time the grade school would be under a priest. During my time, it was under Edith Alvarez), new buildings (a new four-story one to house the clinic, the book store, the computer lab and even more classrooms), tuition increases and the lack thereof because of the global meltdown (greeted by applause, actually – yehey hindi na lalagpas ng 60k a year ang tuition ng anak ko dito! I know, right).

(And I know, nakinig talaga ako sa inspirational talk para maireport ko dito yung mga nangyari hahaha.)

Anyway I also listened to the two other student speeches – the salutatorian’s welcome address and the valedictorian’s speech toward the end. I marveled at how such young people could hold themselves that well in front of a huge crowd. (It was also cute that the valedictorian had to stand up on a box to reach the microphone, which couldn’t be lowered hehehe)

I remember when Krista graduated in 2001, I wrote her welcome address. (And with the latest grad over and done with, now it can be said that her finish from grade school was the most stellar haha) Anyway, delivering speeches in graduations has always been my frustration, seeing that I had consistently graduated third and always one spot shy of the opportunity to actually have one. Hahaha. No matter, I always had asthma during graduations anyway. I remember I was having this horrible attack in the middle of my grade school grad in 1997 (I blamed it on spraynet) and at the end of the thing I was supposed to lead this Panunumpa ng Katapatan (I love how that entire ceremony was in Filipino) and I remember wheezing right into the microphone. Hahaha. Lame, I know.

Lamer, I think, is the fact that I had extreme difficulty getting nice shots because I was so short (Grrr). But the lamest, I suppose, is the fact that I was teary eyed while the batch was singing Kaleidoscope World as their grad song. Jeeeez. Seryoso. And then they sang that American Idol final song Time of your Life with actions tapos kinilabutan ako – sa actions. Hahahaha. (Eh yung akala ko theme sa Dirty Dancing yung kakantahin nila nung una kong nabasa yung title ng song sa program? Ang tanda, te.)

And they reverted to the old Bedan Hymn! (Oo friends, the one that starts with, “Herald the Bedans.”) It must have come with the change of name into San Beda Alabang. When I graduated from grade school, I think it was already St Benedict College at the time, and with this change we started singing this “Hail Alma Mater, St. Benedict” song, which was okay, but I really liked that first one. And now here it was, back again.

I was surprised to hear myself singing along – I still had my lyrics intact, it seems, save for two lines toward the end, which I must have never really figured out all along. Haha. E sorry transferee ako at nahiya namang magtanong tungkol sa lyrics, buti na lang never kasama sa exam. I love how there were these times you could sing your alma mater song while pumping your fist in the air, and how graduations were such occasions. For all the things that have come between Bene and I after all these years, my sense of loyalty to the institution that has educated me for seven years is something I could never take away from myself, I guess.


I was glad to have been given the go signal to take the day off at work, despite the fact that it was a weekday and the middle of the week at that, to be able to take part in such an occasion. I always have this soft spot for graduations, and I think part of my whole “guilt-sisterhood/absentee-sisterhood” complex is this urge to at least be present in all the important occasions, if I couldn’t be at home every night.

Afterwards, I dropped by the high school department to say hi to an old/older friend (haha). Along the way, I ran into my fourth year Statistics teacher, who honestly didn’t look a year older, despite having a toddler already. The student lounge was full of seniors trying to get through clearance week in time for Friday’s high school graduation, where my brother is also making an appearance, this time purely in his capacity as violinist for the school band.

The thing with high school faculty is that they recognize you, because you’re only from 8 years ago. More or less, the face you have on now is the same face you left with in 2001. More or less. Grade school is different. I didn’t even smile in grade school, so I wouldn’t blame my teachers, some of whom last saw me at graduation 12 years ago, for not recognizing. I was too shy to call out their names as I knew them; for all I knew, they’ve already married, though I should note that upon verification, a lot of them were in fact still single.

I would have loved to chat more and visit more people, etc, but as usual, in this sprawling campus, to get from one place to another, it was always a long, long walk and the frilly blouse I had on was *this* thin and yet it was so hot (no, not *that* kind of hot. Or okay, maybe that too, but not that kind, primarily) and my folks were hungry, and were waiting. After a while, I had to go.

I wish I could have stayed longer. (Always, when I am here, my parting thoughts are, I wish I could have stayed longer.)


My friend said that now that my brother’s out of here, I would never be back. I wish I could say outright that was not true, but then, I was afraid of making promises.


the year of magical thinking

I’m nearing the end of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which is an account of her husband’s death and the process of coping that came later. Didion wrote it with startling clarity and honesty and reading it feels like she’s picking on a few of my stitches and prying them open.

In keeping with the theme, I rummaged through one of our cabinets and unearthed my earliest account of my mother’s death. I had brought it here after I moved out from QC to Makati, perhaps thinking it was time I had re-read it. It was handwritten, dated Dec. 20, 1997 and severely stapled on the edges. It had an extra blank page that I must have used in lieu of an envelope. I must have written it while on Christmas vacation during my first year in high school, and then, re-reading it upon finishing, I must have gotten scared my parents would clean my room and chance upon it so I stapled it up, thinking it would be safer that way.

That Christmas was horrible and we wanted to do everything we could to not remind each other of the tragedy; this four-page journal entry, if discovered, wouldn’t have done any good to any of us. I must have had this thought when I tore the pages from my spiral notebook journal and stapled them close, taping the “package” with clear tape against the inside of the back cover.

As a 12-year-old, I seemed to have had a lot of foresight. (This despite the fact that I kept on repeating in that note about how I did not see it coming, did not see my mother’s death coming so quickly.)

Looking back, the whole attempt (of stapling and taping the bulky thing) wasn’t at all inconspicuous, but seeing its preserved, untampered state about a decade later, I guess dad and auntie hadn’t strayed into this journal, or into any of my journals, for that matter.

It had a lot of the details that I had been repeating, time and again, whenever I came to writing about mom, usually during her death anniversary in November, birth anniversary in January or around Mothers’ Day in May. Sometimes I worry if I am too repetitive, but then again, I figure, this was a way of keeping her memories alive, for when I am older and when that time comes that I would be too far away from that day. I guess, I’ll never tire of writing about her, basically because I feel like I owe it to her to remember, always.

But then, it was also quite striking how my younger eyes had in fact taken note of some other things that I must have edited out of my later remembrances. Like how I had in fact written that I should have taken the fact that I had left my wallet and lunch money at home that morning as a sort of omen. I had written about how we had come home from school that day: I cut class half-day, Auntie came to get me and Krista with her shades on; I was called to go to the Prefect’s Office via the PA system, something that just doesn’t happen at all since I wasn’t the kind of girl often called into the principal’s office to begin with, or at least, not at the time.

At the time, there was no text messaging; I had called home via payphone, asking Auntie to look for my wallet and bring it when she attends Krista’s math contest that morning. That should be in time for recess, I said. I was on my way back from the contest venue, which was already empty when I got there and everyone I ran into all told me the same thing: I was being called into the Prefect’s Office. The fact was that I didn’t hear myself being called. I could only imagine how more harrowing things would have been, had I not fled the lounge, had I heard my own name myself. Maybe it was meant to be that way.

I wrote about how when we got home, we found that the living room had been re-arranged. I was amused to see how my 12-year-old self had written, “There was a plain white curtain hung by the wall.” Two reasons: One, I had completely forgotten this fact. Two, while there were many cringe-worthy, ill-constructed sentences and fragments in the whole thing, this one seemed to stand out. I wanted to take my 12-year-old self aside. I would have told her, Nice sentence kid. Now, if only you would remove all these annoying ellipses.

I should have saved that paper I had written my mother’s eulogy on – yes, I delivered my mother’s eulogy in that last Necro before the burial. But then, it wouldn’t have survived my sweaty palms. All that’s left of it is the first line, which I remember until today. I had started with, “When I came to know about my mother’s death.”

* * *

By way of ending, I had written, inexplicably within quotation marks, about how death was both a sad and joyous thing, depending on where you’re coming from. There was no attribution, so I think that I must have used the quotation marks more as aesthetic devices than practical ones. In the succeeding, “non-quoted” paragraph, I talked about perspective briefly, a sort of analysis of what the whole ordeal has taught me. I had written it the way students usually ended their essays – “Through this experience, I developed a better perspective about death.”

Have I, really, at that moment, so quickly “developed a better perspective?” At 12, I must have been faring well with b’s-ing my way through school papers with this kind of language. Thinking about it, this thought really made me smile.

Incidentally, by way of going back to Didion, the page I am on is Page 192:

“People in grief think a great deal about self-pity. We worry it, dread it, scourge our thinking for signs of it. We fear that our actions will reveal the condition tellingly described as ‘dwelling on it.’ We understand the aversion most of us have to ‘dwelling on it.’ Visible mourning reminds us of death, which is construed as unnatural, a failure to manage the situation. ‘A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty,’ Philippe Aries wrote to the point of this aversion in Western Attitudes toward Death. ‘But one no longer has the right to say so aloud.’”

If I were to try to write down everything that strikes me so closely about this book, I think I would end up quoting pages of passages. But I’m not ruling that effort out entirely.


to the beach and back

i heart beach season. thoroughly.

On Sunday, we had that quickie Zambales beach trip with the girlfriend, college friends and their respective boyfriends, and a few officemates who were available on a Sunday. The waves were monstrous and impossible, I could still feel pain in my legs for all my efforts to negotiate with the undertow while trying to remain upright by the shore. Our preliminary beach activities consisted of trying to get to the sea and then screaming while running back to the shore whenever there was a huge wave coming - and this was like, every time, in rapid succession also. It was insane. On one particular instance, the wave was so huge it hit the shore, the ledge and washed over our belongings already a few meters away. Ok wave, you win. This was where I lost Gibs, my 1-GB usb drive of two or so years. I didn’t even know it was there to begin with, sadly.

Coping with the tragedy, we retreated into our pagoda. I took out the Didion book I had been reading, while the others took out a straw mat and slept. The waves continued to rage with the noontime sun, the sand outside smoldering.

After a while, I decided the sun outside at this hour was perfect for photographs. To wit,

I should mention there was this board-barrel-balance thing near the sari-sari store:

And that we had to move to some other beach to surf, so this was us in the van:

I did not get sunburnt; actually, we got rained upon in the afternoon, while the others were surfing. Again, I just have to say, the waves were monstrous, but what’s the use of avoiding water when you’re already rainsoaked eh. Might as well. Somebody brought a Frisbee, so we might as well invent game rules. We played until there was too much sand on our bodies. We washed ourselves in the sea, surprisingly calmer now but then, it was getting too dark to stay.

We left Makati around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, reached Zambales’ Crystal Beach around past 8 a.m. and got back to Makati around 1 a.m. that night, or technically, the morning after.

There are tons of photographs that I would hopefully have the technical resources to upload to Multiply, but then, for the time being, I leave you with this friendly reminder:

(I mean, Dear you guys who caused this sign to be put up, Srsly?! No love lost, Me.)


to bataan and back

a thoroughly tiring day this has been. i've been out of the house a solid 14 hours and i'm due here again tomorrow in less than 12 hours for another similar activity - same program, different children. the whole thing's exhausting, but strangely gratifying. seeing those children dance around barefoot this morning made it all worth it.


a penchant for smoking areas

so it's 3 p.m. and i've finished my requisite mango-and-creme crepe. i am sitting by the window in a quaint coffee-pastry-pasta-whathaveyou shop somewhere in some corner of makati. predictably, i am thinking about the beach, and why i have this penchant for sitting in the smoking section of restaurants when it's been a year since i last smoked anyway.

yes, i am slacking, and i am doing so on the only day in the week when i could do so solo. (because i do it in tandem with the girlfriend on sundays hehe) i'm thinking about coffee now.

this morning i cleaned our electric fan. god knows how dust could accumulate so fast in such a piece of work. i mean, we don't take it outside, we only use it when we're there, and it's not like we have open windows anywhere. what a mystery.

anyway. yesterday i cooked lunch and my girlfriend sewed two of my pants and my shoe (the left one, to be specific). oh how i love her and how we spend our sundays. and to prove just how much i do, i've even upgraded both our relationship statuses on facebook. ahahahah. <3

me: what is your opinion of people who declare who they're in a relationship with on facebook?

her: it's okay, i think. why?

me: nothing, it was just a question. (beat) you mean you wouldn't mind if i put there i was going out with you?

her: (laughing) are you asking my permission so you could put it on facebook? you are so adorable.

i am so dorky, it's making me nauseous. haha.


rest in peace, francis m (1964-2009)

(photo from francis magalona's facebook fan page)

a sad thing happened today -- rapper francis magalona passed on around noon. he was 44 (b. Oct. 4, 1964). he came out with the news that he had been diagnosed with leukemia in august 2008.

about half a year later, he's dead.

it's one of those really surreal moments. first there was an email from a co-worker asking for confirmation. apparently, the news first broke on noontime show Eat Bulaga. i'd never seen that show that muted, as if a heavy cloud was upon everyone.

but then, revisiting the announcement on primetime news, i couldn't help tearing up myself.

mr magalona, a pillar in the philippine music scene, left behind not only his wife and their 8 children, but legions of fans as well. i heard he was even slated to perform a special number in the Eraserheads concert tomorrow night. the fact that he won't make it leaves this indescribable gap. and i'm not even the biggest music fan, to begin with.

francis m's death strikes a chord too near the heart - he and my mother died of the same disease. in an interview with a doctor aired over primetime news, the doctor said francis m suffered from a rare, fatal kind of leukemia. the same news outlined the symptoms of the disease, and suggested that adults over 40 have regular checkups and blood tests. my mother wasn't even 40 when she died - she was 38.

the doctor's explanation in layman's terms, of how the red blood cells and the bone marrow and all that fit into the perfect picture of a life-threatening condition, somewhat sounded familiar. i never really got to the nitty-gritty of my mother's death; i had resigned myself to the fact that i was not one made for these kinds of truths. but perhaps, one day, i will understand, too.

one day, i'll be ready.


and onto the bright side of life, so to speak

i should mention somewhere that my sister and her team won the debate. it was about this guy who was under supervised release and he was questioning the constitutionality of this act that apparently allows for the collection of blood sample/dna from convicts like him. he argued that it was in violation of his rights under the fourth amendment of the US Constitution safeguarding the rights of persons against warrantless seizures and searches. my sister was on the techinically losing side - she was arguing for the constitutionality of the thing and i think that guy has won in some court by a slim margin of 6-5. as it is, the case is still under review, i guess.

plus she was going against this guy whom we shall not name -- and now that i have refused to name him, i'm guessing some of you already have an idea as to who he is. hehehe. anyway, you should've seen how nervous she was because she's really convinced that 1) they would lose and 2) she would suck in comparison to this guy, who was the lawyer for the other side.

anyway she bribed me with pizza on sunday, and i dropped by her place to help her draft her opening and closing speech since she was supposed to deliver it on monday.

guess what. she demolished him. bwahahhahahahaa. her prof said her closing speech was good and gave the debate to their side. PWNAGE! anyway, if you know my sister, you'd know how she's usually a nervous public speaker, so GUJAB KRISTA! \o\ /o/ \o/ ...


eh yung not once, but twice?

oo inaamin ko. i watched this movie twice and i loved it.

the first time was saturday night, with officemates, caught the last full show at greenbelt 3. the crowd was insane -- thank god for top row seats, we actually got to watch the cinema get filled. we realized everyone in the cinema lobby was there to catch the last full show of the same movie all along. hahaha. sige magpasimple lang kayo.

watched a second time using compli tickets at glorietta 4 last night with the girlfriend. free seating pa ang 8pm showing, so it meant na the cinema was literally bursting at the seams, with people standing at the back, sitting on the aisles, that sort.

and for more - me palakpakan involved. me nagtitilian every time lumalabas si johnlloyd. me nagsasabay-sabay na nagrereact ng "awwww" pag kilig moment. at tumatawa nang parang isang malaking tao ang buong sinehan right when you expect it, parang canned laughter lang, only tunay na tao. amazing. and i loved it. hahaha. jologs na kung jologs, e sa panalo talaga yung me mga nagsa-side comment pa nang malakas sarap tapunan ng cell phone na nagriring ng "bebe ko" eh. hahaha. pakshet. the movie was just the right amount of annoying, it was endearing. plus me mensaheng mahalaga, to be fair. swak na swak at kontemporaryo hahaha teka hindi ito movie review.

anyway. ako lang ba ang nagsusuggest na sana me movie kung san magkapatid si rowell santiago at dominic ochoa. kasi i swear magkamukha sila.


on other news, it's time to take out the oversized pants. dear body, this is not to say na it's okay to be this huge. it means this has got to stop, and that wearing these pants to the beach is not acceptable. ktnxbye.


a portrait

found this in one of my sister's more recent photo albums. last month a couple of months ago, we marked my mother's birth anniversary. she would've been 50. i'm not sure who took this photo, but this is by far the most final photo i've ever seen of my mother's tombstone. sorry i wasn't there mom. you know how it is. of course, you do.


anyway it feels like ages since i last wrote wrote something. i still attribute it to the lack of nicotine. jesus, a year hence and still that part of my brain is still not working on its own. kinda scary, if you think about it. what exactly have i done to myself. tsk.

so yeah, a couple of nights ago i finished something that had been sitting in my hard drive for the last six months. that night, the ending came to me, and i was like, Of course, how else could it have ended? indeed. how else.

opening summer up

this morning i went to my sister's place to help her with her debate speech. i left my apartment around noontime; the sun was high and i loved it. finally, reason to wear shades, though it only made me miss my perfect eyesight all the more.

summer is perhaps my favorite season, though i have to say it edged out the christmas-birthday-new year season by only a couple of points. though i love the chilly morning wind in early january/late december , nothing beats the summer wind, that gust of cool air in the middle of a sunny day - love it love it.

(see, i am feeling better.)

and as per tradition, i'm coming out with a summer-y layout - i asked krista if she still kept photos of our massive 2005 vacation -- this was the summer before work, right after graduation (that was the year krista graduated from high school and i graduated from college) and we visited relatives in the visayas, jumping from cebu to bohol to leyte in april and driving from manila to iloilo then boracay then guimaras in may. i actually had a tan come graduation. wow. come to think of it, that was already four years ago, and this year we're having two more graduations and wow. i am so getting old. heh.

i took that picture in the header when we were in panglao. i remember that was the first time i actually rode a plane all by myself. humabol lang kasi ako kaya sa cebu na kami nagkita. wala pa nga akong tulog nun dahil galing ako sa induction ng UJP. haha. buti hindi ako nalaglag sa eroplano. anyway.

btw this summer i'm swearing off surfing. seriously.