Thursday, September 6, 2007

Nine Months to Go

Shame on you--if you're thinking that I'm conceiving and will be giving birth in 9 months! I'm referring to the remaining nine months that we have to train for our 5k run (walk for most of my friends) on June 7, 2008. So let's see. What have we accomplished so far?

Let's take a look at our track record:

May -- started with 2k walk & 1/2k run, slowly increasing distance for both walks and runs
June-- 3.6k walk & 1.4k run
July -- 3k walk & 2k run
August -- 2.4k walk & 2.6k run
September target -- 1.8k walk & 3.2k run
October target -- 1.2k walk & 3.8k run
November target -- .6k walk & 4.4k run
December target -- 5k run

You might be wondering why I'm targetting December and not June 2008. Well, better to be ahead of schedule so that when something goes wrong and I have to prolong my training, I could still make it by June next year.

For those of you who still haven't started your training, you've got 9 months to go. Good luck! Hope to see you all on June 7, 2008.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 14)

STORY # 14

After the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, Barry Manilow rocked the Philippines in 1992. I was able to convince my dear mother to watch my much-awaited Barry Manilow concert at ULTRA. I enjoyed it so much that I almost flew to Cebu to watch it again there. It's good it was announced that Barry will do a repeat performance in ULTRA before I purchased a ticket to Cebu, my favorite hide-away. Barry Manilow felt the tremendous desire of the Filipino people to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event that he had to do a repeat performance after coming from Cebu. I just knew I'm gonna regret for the rest of my life if I fail to watch his farewell concert.

Cherry and I went to ULTRA, with my Supervisor Meng on the wheel coz I didn't want to hassle myself with the traffic jam and all. I just wanted to relax that night. But things don't always happen as we expect them to be.

We were nearing ULTRA when a group of suspicious-looking scalpers offered their tickets to us. We didn't mind them but there was one very persistent fellow, begging us to buy his last ticket for he desperately needed to get home. I told him OK. On two conditions: He should secure 2 other tickets and I will have to show his tickets first to the cashier to verify if the tickets were indeed authentic. He readily said yes and off he went to look for 2 more tickets. Cherry and I waited at the ticket booth while Meng parked the car somewhere.

When the scalper arrived, I immediately showed his tickets to the cashier and she said they were OK. I paid the scalper and he disappeared in a jiffy. We proceeded to the entrance gate and excitedly gave the checker our tickets. I almost fainted when he said "Ma'am, isa lang ho ang pwedeng pumasok. Fake ho ang dalawa." I vehemently disagreed, telling him that I had them checked by the cashier. But the gatekeeper's decision couldn't be swayed. I ran back to the cashier and demanded an explanation why she told me that the tickets were OK. She answered "Ma'am, OK ho kasi itong nasa ibabaw. Di ko alam na fake pala ang dalawang nasa ilalim. Sorry po."

Cherry and I panicked but we still managed to devise a plan. She'll search for the scalper and I will look for a policeman. She went right and I went left while solemnly praying to St. Anthony. I then saw two policemen from afar and I called them "Mga mamang pulis, tulungan nyo kami." But they didn't seem to care. They walked farther from where I was. I ran towards them and grasp their belts--one at the left and one at the right so they couldn't walk any more step. I pleaded with them "Wag po kayong umalis. Niloko kami ng scalper." I let go of their belts and held on to their arms. Then Cherry arrived, telling me and the policemen that she didn't find the scalper at the right side. Then, out of nowhere--our scalper friend passed by, oblivious of what's happening around him. Faster than a speeding bullet, Cherry grabbed his shirt telling him to return our money for two fake tickets. His initial reaction was to deny that he was the one who sold the tickets but when Cherry and I confirmed his identity to the 2 policemen based from his distinguishing features, he had no choice but to admit he was the seller but denied that he sold us fake tickets.

The two policemen ordered the scalper to give us back our money or replace the two tickets but the scalper refused to do so, hanging on to his declaration that the two fake tickets didn't come from him, but from his colleague. The heated argument between him and us just went on and on until I heard the emcee announced Barry Manilow's name. I begged the policemen to solve the problem right away coz the concert was about to begin. I heard the two policemen whispered to each other "Pards, padaanin na lang natin ang dalawang ito sa may bandang likod." When I heard Barry Manilow singing "Copacabana" I was literally transformed from a normal person to a raging lunatic. That compelled the scalper to buy two good tickets for us and after thanking our two knights in shining armour, we rushed inside ULTRA to catch Barry's first act. And I screamed on each and every song that he rendered, as if I was experiencing it for the first time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 11, 12, 13)

STORY # 11

After CRC, my friends and I put up a corporation and tried our luck with the restaurant business. We were in the center of Ermita, the melting pot of foreign tourists. One day, a group of money exchangers and an American sat in one of our tables and ordered soft drinks. I saw them talking and one of them counted some pesos and gave the money to the American. The American in turn gave them his dollars. Then they left the restaurant and went their own way. One of my waiters told me "Naku, Ma'am. Kawawa naman ang Kanong yon. Naisahan siya ng mga hustler. Nabawasan na yong pera bago binigay sa kanya."

Only a few minutes later, the American came back with a policeman looking for the group of money exchangers. We told the police they all left with the American at the same time. The policeman told me that they swindled the tourist. When the American went back to his hotel and counted the money again, a considerable amount of money was already missing. The angry American even thought that we were in cahoots with those money exchangers. We calmly told him that we're not.

A week later, the same group of money exchangers came in with a foreigner. I told the foreigner that such kind of transaction is not allowed in our restaurant. We don't have a license for money exchange. In a subtle way, I conveyed to him that he should go to a legitimate money exchange shop and not to trust people on the streets of Ermita.

STORY # 12

After many years of avoiding Baclaran, I had to take the jeep from there going to Harrison. I had Jobo bills in my bag which I will convert to cash in Central Bank. I only brought a small bag with me so I could clasp it with my two hands. From the time that I sat on the jeep I was almost not breathing, consciously looking at the hands of the passengers beside me. I was continuously praying that I arrive Central Bank without any thief trying to rob me. Then I noticed the passenger in front of me got a small paper from his boots. He then unfolded the small paper and it turned out to be one whole page of newspaper. It completely covered him and the person beside him. Then before we reached Buendia he took off. We were crossing Buendia when the man beside him shouted "Para, Mama. Nadukutan ako!" He went down the jeep although it was still running, trying to catch the thief that slashed his back pocket and took his wallet. Maybe when the robber spread the newspaper before him, he also tried to read it, not noticing that his back pocket was already being slashed. I thanked God over and over again that I was not sitting beside the thief. I wonder if he knew how much the Jobo bills were worth just in case he grabbed my bag from me . . .

STORY # 13

After my brief stint as restaurateur, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of managing a garments business. I prepared for it by studying everything first before I formally start opening one. One fine day, I went to Harrizon Plaza with my friends Angie and Charo like we normally do after (sometimes during) school. From there, I took the jeep going to Baclaran, then another one going to Philamlife Village.

Traffic was at a standstill for almost 30 minutes and when the jeep finally moved, I just felt a pain in my neck. A young boy grabbed my gold necklace with a gold heart pendant which my Kuya Johnny gave me when he arrived from Saudi. It wasn't even visible, since it was inside my closed-neck shirt. I was able to grab his arm and for a while we were like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in "Enter the Dragon". Unfortunately, the jeep increased its speed. For the third time, I was a victim in Baclaran.

Many years after, my master cutter went to Saudi. I sent him a drawing of the exact shape of the heart pendant so he could buy it for me there. I didn't tell Kuya Johnny that I lost his gift so as not to hurt his feelings. Thank God I received the exact replica of the heart pendant.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 9, 10)


When I joined the IEP in CRC, my female batch mates decided to rent an apartment in Bo. Kapitolyo, Pasig City to save in travel time and concentrate on our studies and researches. During week ends, all of us go to our respective homes--Gay and me to Pampanga, Gracie to Loyola Heights QC, Tess to Frisco and Vins to Dasmarinas Makati.

I was shocked to find my bedroom ransacked one Monday morning when I came back from Pampanga. My radio cassette recorder was gone, along with my camera, desk fan, towels, some clothes and food items. The robber didn't break in through the front door. He went up the roof and entered through my window. We suspected the thief to be one of the tenants coz he could have easily went outside his window and walked on the roof, entered my room and went back to his own bedroom. But of course, even though we reported the incident to the Barangay Tanod, the criminal was never apprehended.

STORY # 10

Right after Tess graduated MS IE from CRC, she went home to Cebu and put up a boutique. She sold R-T-W clothes, at the same accepting made-to-order garments. Her source of clothing materials was Divisoria. One time, Ted and I accompanied her there. We had so much fun chatting and laughing while Tess was picking different designs and materials. At the end of the day, Tess summed up her purchases and when she found out it was already P 150,000 she said it's time for us to go home. The last store owner that we visited issued Tess a P 5,000 Official Receipt and she advised us that if somebody asks us of what we bought, we'll just tell him we only bought polyester fabric.

We hired a "kariton" in going back to the parking area, not suspecting that we were already being watched. We placed everything inside the trunk and some at the back. The three of us sat in front with Tess in charge of the wheel. About 2-3 kilometers from Divisoria an owner jeep blocked our way out of nowhere. We had no choice but to stop. Then 2 armed men in civilian clothes stepped out of the jeep and approached us. They told us they were policemen, while showing us their badges (which we didn't figure out whether true or fake). Tess and Ted went with them near the jeep while I looked for my fan in my bag. Then I proceeded where they were talking and asked the police "Mamang pulis, ano ho ba ang violation namin?" This, I said with irritated voice while fanning myself. The police answered "Gusto nyong malaman ang violation nyo? Pwes, sumama kayo sa presinto." Tess and I angrily retaliated "Bakit naman kami sasama sa presinto na hindi namin alam kung ano violation namin?" What followed was an exchange of heated words between the two policemen and Tess/me. Then Ted, in his usual casual, melodramatic voice, requested that Tess and I just go back to the car while he negotiate with the policemen. Tess and I went back to the car then after a while, Ted came and whispered to Tess that we only have to give them P100. In unison, Tess and I shouted: ONE HUNDRED PESOS? One hundred pesos lang pala gusto nila? Ang cheap naman pala nila. Di pa sinabi agad. Inabala pa tayo ng husto.

When Ted gave them the P100, we saw them talking and laughing with each other. Tess and I wondered what they were laughing about. When Ted finally joined us back in the car, he told us what the police told him: "Sabihin mo sa asawa mo, wag siyang high blood. Lalo na yong namamaypay. Kawawa ka naman. Dalawang high blood na chicks ang kasama mo."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 6, 7, 8)


After my horrifying experience of "tug of war" in front of SM Makati, I changed my big, native bag to a medium-sized leather bag. I was extra careful when boarding buses so I was quite confident that such accident won't happen again. Thank God it didn't. I didn't play 'tug of war' with my bag anymore. Not ever. But still, I lost my wallet inside my bag without my knowledge. I just knew that it wasn't there anymore when I was about to pay for my fare. This time, the venue was moved to Baclaran. I'm just thankful that the conductor believed my story that I lost my wallet inside my bag while boarding the bus. He even advised me to be extra careful coz a lot of pickpockets are stationed in Baclaran. I said to myself "how extra careful could I be, when in fact I was already extra careful!"


Now don't try to slap me 2X when you read about this next story.

Immediately the day after the Baclaran incident in the previous story, I boarded the bus on the same spot and when I sat and looked for my wallet inside the bag . . . my wallet was still there but my bag was already slashed! But since it was genuine leather (I guess), the slasher used was not strong enough to cut through my bag, hence my wallet was spared of being separated from its rightful owner. After that incident, I completely avoided Baclaran in going home. Even though the Alabang route was longer in terms of time and distance, I still chose it just to avoid rubbing elbows with the Baclaran robbers.


It turned out that I made the right decision in choosing the Alabang route over the Baclaran route. No more close encounters with the 3rd kind until I graduated from college and worked in Coca-Cola Makati.

Thelma and I were enjoying our lunch at the Makati Fast Food Center (that was beside SM Makati before) when a newspaper boy offered me to buy from him. He showed me different kinds of tabloids with different titles. Naturally, my first tendency was to read the different headlines. I was engrossed with reading the headlines I didn't notice that he already took my wallet on top of the table. When I said "no" to him, he immediately left and headed for the exit door. He was fast. But I was faster. I noticed right away that my wallet was missing so I ran after him and grabbed his shirt and told him to return my wallet. He was afraid that I would report him to the security guard who was standing at the exit door so he gave me back my wallet then ran as fast as he could.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 3, 4, 5)


It was December of 1974. Neneng (one of the Six Sexy Chicks of Room Six) and I heard mass at Sta. Cruz church. We were waiting for a taxi in a corner beside the church when a suspicious-looking man stood beside us with his hands inside his jacket pockets. It seemed not unusual for him to do that because it was quite cold during that time. Neneng was wearing a jacket her boyfriend gave her and I was wearing a trench coat I didn't like but bought it anyway because it was sold to me by my Economics teacher (sepsep!) Anyway, when I was about to call a taxi, I just saw Neneng holding the arm of the man telling him "Mama, kinuha mo wallet ko, no?" The man was caught unaware of what Neneng did. I then held the other arm of the man telling him "ibalik mo wallet ng kasama ko. Sisigaw kami ng pulis." With both arms being held hostage by two amazonas, the poor man had really no choice but to give in. He told us "Ayan ang wallet o." We just saw Neneng's wallet on the pavement and while we stooped down to get the wallet, the man ran as fast as he could.


1st Sem of 1975. Nanay and I went shopping in Cubao for my necessities. I was then staying in Kalayaan Dorm in Diliman, Quezon City and she was in Manila for a conference. When we were boarding the bus I saw her nudged her elbow to a man right behind her. When we were already seated inside the bus she told me "Siniko ko yong mama na gustong mangdukot sa akin". I asked her to check everything in her bag if something was missing. She told me the robber didn't get anything. Then the conductor came and asked where we were going. I put my hand inside my bag to get my coin purse but it was no longer there. How did that happen? Nanay asked me how much money did I lose. I told her "2 pesos and my I.D." She answered: Humanda ka. Baka abangan ka ng magnanakaw na yon at ipakain sa yo ang dalawang piso.

Funny thing is, after a week somebody gave me my lost ID.


Since the Cubao incident, I was extra careful when boarding buses. I would hug my bag before going up the steps of a bus. But I couldn't possibly do that when I am still carrying a number of books.

At a time when there was still a bus stop along EDSA right in front of SM Makati and Dusit Hotel Nikko was still known as Manila Garden, I was among the hundred or so passengers waiting for the bus to arrive. Naturally when the bus arrived people ran towards it at the same time. I was about to climb the last step of the bus when I felt that my bag was heavier. It's because a man was trying to grab my big, native bag. I was only a foot away from the lady conductor but she just froze. I wanted to shout at the police who was just a few meters away but no voice escaped my throat. I was holding 3 books while playing 'tug of war' with the robber. Then the bus started to move but I held on to my bag. Convinced that I won't break free, my opponent finally let go of my bag. I immediately went up and when I passed by the conductress, she told me "mabuti na lang binatawan nya ang bag mo." I said nothing to her but deep inside, I wanted to scream why she didn't even try to help me.

I thought Nanay would be proud of me upon hearing how brave her daughter was. Instead, she expressed her fear what would have happened to me if the robber was strong enough to pull me from the bus. I assured her I wouldn't have let that happen.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 2)


If you recall in the previous post, I kept looking at my watch wondering if I could sell it at a price that would cover my hotel, food and transportation expenses. It seemed that I wasn't the only one interested in the value of my "Citizen" watch.

After the Christmas break, I was back in the dorm still with my precious watch. But not for long.

I overslept one morning so I ran towards the bathroom without removing my watch. I couldn't go back to our room anymore or I would have to fall in line again and wait for a cubicle to be available. So I went in and placed my watch on top of the dividing wall. Since I was already pressed for time, I rushed back to our bedroom after my bath, completely forgetting that I left my watch in the bathroom. After I put on my school uniform in a jiffy, I tried to look at the time in my watch. I wasn't wearing my watch! I hurriedly went back to my cubicle but as expected, my watch which I predicted would save me from my misery before, is now gone. For good. I uttered a prayer that whoever took my watch won't sell it and use the money for drugs or something like that.

Again, I didn't tell my parents about my unfortunate incident. I was hoping to save money and buy a watch exactly like that so they wouldn't notice. But after about a month, Nanay came for a conference. I tried to hide my wrist from her but after the mass in San Sebastian Church, she asked me why I wasn't wearing my watch. I could have easily lied to her that I left it in the dorm but I couldn't coz we were still inside the church. So I spilled the bad news. She told me to be careful next time and I promised her it won't happen again.

My room mates reported to our land lady that I lost my precious watch in the bathroom but I never set eyes on it again. Lucky for me Nanay bought me a new one before she went back to Marbel.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 1)

QUESTION: What's the difference between a crooked cop and a straight thief?

ANSWER: A crooked cop asks for money. A straight thief gets your money without asking.

Bottom line, there's no difference--you lose your money to any one of them!

Why, in the world, am I writing a post about cops and thieves?

Because I have been a consistent victim of these two vultures for the past 49 years and I just want to:

-- take everything out of my chest
-- warn you that such situations do exist around us
-- test how far I could remember and how much I could still recall and
-- hey, you deserve a good laugh


I was a neophyte in Manila back in summer of 1973. In the Globe building across Philamlife Head Office, I was waiting for Tatay and Nanay in the lobby when I suddenly felt the need to go to the ladies room. I immediately stood up from where I was sitting and rushed to the rest room. When I went back, I realized I left my bag on the couch but didn't even bother to look inside if something was missing. There were about 10-15 people sitting on the L-shaped couch. Silly me to assume that no thief would dare touch my bag. Later that night I discovered that my wallet was gone, along with a substantial amount of monthly allowance.

You think I told my parents so they would give me additional allowance? I feared my father so much that I just kept that unfortunate incident to myself. During that time, my yearly allowance was already deposited in the bank. I just had to withdraw every time I needed to. My father warned before they left me in Manila: "Bahala ka ng mag budget ng pera mo. Huwag na huwag kang tetelegrama na kailangan mo ng pera. Pag naubos ang pera mo bago matapos ang klase, gamitin mo ang PAL ticket mo at bumalik ka na sa Marbel. Doon ka na uli mag-aral. Hindi ka na babalik pa ng Maynila."

Needless to say, I struggled financially during my first year stay in Manila. I kept a record of all my expenses, always checking whether I could still survive until the end of the year (when I go home in December, my mother will give me another check which is supposed to last until summer break when I go home again).

Came the day before I leave for Christmas break. I still had money left for shopping and so off I went to Isetann. It was too late for me to learn that I only had FIVE PESOS after I paid my laundrywoman and other miscellaneous expenses. Oh no! How would I even go to the airport with only five pesos? I prayed for a miracle and guess what? God gave me one.

Ate Neneng, my guardian at that time, was so kind enough to bring me to the airport. When she offered to pay the taxi fare, I said 'thank you' right away then raised my head to the sky and whispered "thank you, thank you Lord!"

My plane ticket was only up to Davao. Nanay will fetch me at the airport then we'll take the bus going to Marbel via Dadiangas (now known as GenSan, the hometown of Manny Pacquiao). When I arrived in Davao, I expected Nanay to be waiting for me at the lobby. But she wasn't. Instead, a group of excited Marbelenos swarmed over me then hugged and kissed me. One of them said (have to translate from Ilonggo to Tagalog so everybody would understand) "Mabuti naman at nandito ka. Kanina pa kami dito at nagdarasal na may taga Marbel na dadating. Wala na kaming pera. Naubos sa shopping. Pwede mo ba kaming pahiramin? Bayaran ka namin sa Marbel."

You could just imagine the look on their faces when they found out that I only had five pesos in my wallet. But I told them that they could wait for Nanay, whom I'm sure will be coming to fetch me.

For the succeeding 3 hours we were all seated in one row, waiting for our 'guardian angel' to arrive. I was beginning to worry because Nanay was never late. All I could do was pray that nothing bad happened to her. I kept looking at my watch wondering if I could sell it at a price that would cover my hotel, food and transportation expenses. Then somebody shouted "Ara na si Toning!" Everybody ran towards her, embracing her, some clapping and some jumping with joy. Nanay was astonished how she became an instant celebrity. After she related how the bridge was toppled down by the heavy rains causing a horrifying traffic congestion between Dadiangas and Davao, our kababayans who waited for her took turns to borrow money from her . . . all is well that ends well.

As for me, I promised myself not to go home again with only five pesos in my pocket.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Julia Roberts, Vilma Santos and Me

1991: In the film "Sleeping with the Enemy", Julia Roberts staged her own death, fled to a new town and acquired a new identity in order to escape her abusive husband.

1993: In the film "Ikaw Lang", Vilma Santos tried to escape from her abusive husband but was almost killed by Cesar Montano when he found out about her plan. He already left the house but forgot something so he went back and looked under the bed where he accidentally saw the packed suitcase of his wife. Vilma was severely beaten, hog-tied in a sack and thrown into Pasig River for dead.

2002: In the true story of my life, I planned my escape from my narcissistic husband based from the two films above.

Inspired by Julia Roberts and Vilma Santos, I wanted to go far where my husband couldn't possibly reach. I purchased 4 Super Ferry tickets going to Cebu as early as March 2002. But I had no heart to spoil Tatay and Nanay's 45th Wedding Anniversary in April 4. Then it was Nanay's birthday May 10 and Mother's Day May 12. Unfortunately, May 13 fell on a Monday which is color coding for the Revo with plate # WHR-811. So the nearest date was Tuesday--May 14, 2002.

I didn't want to suffer the same fate with Vilma Santos so I didn't pack our things yet. I only arranged our clothes inside the cabinet and waited for the right time to put them inside the suitcase.

Came May 14, 2002: The father of my children was "reading" the newspaper after having his breakfast at @ 7:00 AM while I was nervously waiting for him to take a bath and leave for work. I waited 2 months for this day and I couldn't afford any change in my plan. It was @8:00 AM when he finally announced that he's leaving. I carried his attache case (he was, at that time, suffering from lumbar dislocation because of his promiscuous activities) and walked with him to the Tamaraw FX. I hugged and kissed him for the last time. He already drove away but I remained standing along the pavement. I waited for 15 minutes, making sure that he won't be back and catch us packing our things.

Unlike Julia and Vilma, I was leaving with 3 persons in tow: Ate Ella, Gio and Eia who were only 4 and 2 years old then. After I was convinced that my husband won't be coming back anymore, I went inside and told Ate Ella to pack her things (she only knew about my plan the night before, around midnight. I recall vividly her reaction after telling her that I was leaving my husband. She broke into tears and had to sit down because her knees were literally shaking).

I started packing our clothes and some toys and books for the kids. I felt like Julia Roberts when she was packing hurriedly inside their house after swimming far from the sea where she fell overboard. She was dripping wet from her swim while my sweat was also dripping out of anxiety and excitement.

It only took me 30 minutes to pack everything that we needed. During this time Gio was bombarding me with a lot of questions like "Why are you packing my clothes? Why are you packing my toys?" I told him we will go to an orphanage and donate his clothes and toys but no need to worry because I will replace them with new ones. He didn't want to go with us but when I mentioned the magic word M-A-L-L, he immediately took a bath and dressed up.

We said goodbye to Tatay who thought that we were only going to Eia's speech therapy at Communicare. We passed by the post office to drop my letter for her mother, a xeroxed copy of my farewell letter to her son. I also left a letter for my father, with instructions that my helper give it to him after his dinner.

Our next stop was El Ciudad del Rey, where Nanay was waiting for us (how I told nanay about my plan will be in a separate post). We transferred our things from the Revo to Nanay's Pajero and after enjoying the delicious merienda offered by no less than Mr. Rodrigo de los Reyes (former President of Philamlife), we headed for the pier. Sir RR was so kind to include the Revo in his garage together with his collection of vintage cars.

At this point, Nanay's driver was boiling mad already because he had no idea what was happening and where we were going. I specifically asked Nanay not to tell him that we're going to Cebu. We told him that we're going to Japan, much to the surprise and delight of Gio, who was dying to go there because of his favorite TV program, "Oh, Tokyo".

Julia Roberts heaved a sigh of relief when she finally boarded the bus going to the town where her mother's Care Home was. As for me, I was still receiving calls and texts from my husband who wanted to borrow the Revo because he couldn't leave Las Pinas in the Tamaraw Fx, which was color coding during Tuesdays (another reason why I chose to leave on a Tuesday). I texted him that we were going to Bulacan for my TMJ follow-up.

When I finally lied down on my bed in our cabin and felt the cushion at my back, that's the time I heaved a sigh of relief. I felt a big weight removed from my shoulder. I just felt sooh light. I wanted to shout "I'm free!" I called my priest-friend and told him we're already in the boat going to Cebu. He told me he will pray for our safe trip and I thanked him for all the prayers and support he has given me since I decided to leave my husband.

I also had to inform my friend Angie because during that time, she calls me in the house once or twice a day. (In Sleeping with the Enemy, Julia's husband suspected that she was alive when a friend called to offer condolences to the husband. He found out that she took swimming lessons when all the while he knew that she was afraid of the water.)

Angie was really shocked upon learning everything because according to her, she didn't suspect that I was carrying a heavy burden based from the way I talked over the phone. We talked everyday and I always sounded vibrantly happy. I suffered for 5 years and nobody knew about it. If my life were a movie, I could have bagged the "Best Actress" trophy.

When my husband arrived home @11:30 PM he was surprised to find his clothes and personal belongings gathered in the garage with my farewell letter on top of his travel bag. I instructed the helpers to call the security guard if he makes an attempt to enter the house. But he didn't dare anymore. According to them, he just cried and cried (perhaps over the shoulders of B-bheng whom he eventually courted and lived with since February 2003. They now have 2 children.)

While Cesar Montano tried to kill Vilma Santos, my husband tried to "kill" himself. The following day, it was published on a tabloid "Nagsaksak sa sarili, dinala rin ang sarili sa ospital". Julia's husband moved from town to town in search for her. So was my husband. (will try to write about this episode in another post)

Since I didn't inform anybody about my plan, it so happened that Tess and the whole family were vacationing in the States when we arrived in Cebu. Although she wanted us to stay in her new mansion, I asked Dorene (her sister-in-law) if we could stay in their home. She and her daughter Issa were more than happy to accommodate us. Thank you, thank you Dors and Issa. We enjoyed every moment in Cebu because of you. I never saw Gio as happy as he was when we were there. We could have stayed with you forever but had no choice but to go back home after 10 days.


Well, that's another story.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Made It Through the Rain

I know what you're thinking. You probably think I still ran in spite of the heavy rain. Sorry to disappoint you but I didn't. Hmm . . . maybe when I could already run 10k I'll ask Jaymie to run with me. Knowing this woman, she'll be more than delighted to run even in the middle of a storm.

Yesterday afternoon when the LTO staff handed me my new Driver's License, I read and reread and reread (repeat 100x) my new name: DEL ROSARIO, NORA DE ALA. I couldn't believe that after 5 years of waiting, I'm back to my beautiful name again. I almost hugged and kissed the person beside me. I wanted to jump with joy and shout at the entire universe that I am now back to being "me" again.

But wait. I specifically asked for a correction in my first name as well. I have been using Nora all my life but Norberta-Nora appears in my passport since it is based on my birth certificate. The same is true with my Marriage Certificate. When I went to the bank to apply for a change in name, there was no problem with changing my married name to del Rosario again. The discrepancy lied in my first name. They requested me to submit an affidavit stating that Norberta-Nora and Nora del Rosario are one and the same. They also wanted another ID (preferably my driver's license) aside from my passport showing my true name.

To make a long story short, I submitted to LTO my 1) Marriage Certificate with Annotation of Nullity, 2) Birth Certificate and 3) Affidavit of "one and the same". I even explained to one superior there what name should appear in my driver's license.

Frankly, I am quite happy with my old, plain name Nora but for purposes of consistency in all my personal records, I have to carry Norberta-Nora though against my will. And so, I had to go back this morning to LTO to settle this issue once and for all.

While waiting for my new driver's license, I recalled the past 5 years that I have waited for my status to be single again. I wonder why the first question that people will ask upon knowing that I filed for annulment is "Ang laki siguro ng nagastos mo noh? Mahal ang magpa-annul." My ready answer would be: P100,000 is a small price to pay for one's independence. Freedom is priceless. Then their next question would be "Ang tagal mong nag-antay. 5 years!" I just smile and tell them: 5 years is nothing compared to a lifetime of misery and pain.

When the LTO personnel finally handed me my new driver's license, I read and reread and reread (repeat 100x) my new name: DEL ROSARIO, NORBERTA-NORA DE ALA.

I couldn't stop myself from crying, not minding the people around me. After what I've been through, I made it! I made it through the rain: 5 years of living with my narcissistic husband and another 5 years of waiting for the approval of my Petition. Thank you, thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When It's Raining Mad

Much as I wanted to run in the heavy rains, I still opt to stay indoors for the pursuit of self-preservation rather than the pursuit of my happiness. Now, let's see. It's 10 months to go before our 5k fun run and we are stuck inside the perimeters of our homes (or offices if you're not a full-time mother like me) because of the storm. I can't run on the treadmill because I don't have one, but below are some activities we could do while waiting for the sun to come out.

1. Strength train using dumb bells or crunch ball or resistance ball. Unless you've been strength training for the past year or more, never use all of these at the same time. Pick only one. And do it every other day to allow our muscles to relax. For a more detailed explanation why we need to strength train, you may visit

2. Pedal your stationary bike which you have been neglecting for a long time now (I sure am guilty of this) for 15-30 minutes.

3. Walk/run up and down the stairs for 30 minutes. Be sure the steps are not too shiny to avoid slipping.

4. Jump rope. Alone or with your 2 kids.

5. Hula hoop. I do 500 rounds to the right and 500 to the left.

6. Stretching/Flexibility Exercises

7. Sitting exercises (while watching your favorite TV show)

8. Dance the disco, cha-cha or whatever

9. Sweat it out with your favorite exercise video. Mine is Aerokaebo--a combination of aerobics, karate and boxing.

10. If you don't have an exercise video, there's two at Solar Sports channel every 6:00 AM and 6:30 AM.

So there. We don't have to skip our training just because it's raining mad outside. Good luck to all of us!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alone with James Ingram

It all started as one ordinary day. After bringing Gio to school, I parked my car in front of the tennis court, did some warm-up exercises, then started my 5k walk/run. I was happy with my new record: a total of 2.4 k run and 3k walk for 45 minutes flat. Hmm . . . maybe next time I'll run 3k and walk 2k. I'm sure Jaymie (my mentor) will be very proud of me.

At 9 AM, I was already in the bank. I knew the queue will be long because it was pay day so I wanted to be the first in line. Well, I wasn't the first but I was in a good mood so I didn't really mind. I did some errands after that and before I knew it, it was lunchtime for Eia whose class starts at 1 PM. After bringing Eia to school, we went to Starmall to buy Tatay's alkaline water and our favorite sampaloc.

Then it happened. Again. The car just won't start. This time, it was for real. What happened last Friday was just a warning. Or maybe God helped me that time because the children were with me and it was dark and raining. The thought of this actually happening last Friday when we climbed the mountains of Antipolo gave me the shiver.

I walked to the nearest auto repair shop and requested someone to go with me to Starmall to check my car. According to Romy (the mechanic), the car should be brought to the shop for a possible replacement of starter. He called 2 parking boys to push the car so it would start and off we went to the shop. As soon as we arrived there, my celfone rang. It was T. Chad, Eia's former speech therapist who was vacationing from the States. He wanted to meet me later that day to finalize his investment portfolio. I told him I'll just wait for my car to be fixed, pick up Gio and Eia from school then I'll meet him at SM Megamall.

The mechanic had to go to Zapote to buy a replacement for my starter. I informed him that the car should be fixed before 4 PM for my children to be fetched in school. At 3:45 PM, Ate Ella and I were already on our way to Eia's school. T. Chad called again, requesting me to meet him at Kitaro Wack-wack cor. Shaw Blvd. So after bringing the children home, I immediately left to meet T. Chad.

I was jubilant that it only took me 30 minutes to reach the intersection of EDSA and Shaw but I was wrong to presume that I could turn left from EDSA to Shaw. I had no choice but to go ahead and make a U-turn in Ortigas, go back to EDSA and turn right to Shaw. I couldn't believe that it took me ONE HOUR to reach the other side of Shaw!

By now you would think that I was already fuming M-A-D. I promised T. Chad that I'll meet him @5-5:30 PM but I arrived there 6 PM! I was relieved that he was with the very beautiful T. Lua (also a former therapist at UP CAMP). At least, he didn't wait alone.

As for me, I wasn't alone either. I was with James Ingram all the way from Philamlife Village to Wack-wack. My radio just wouldn't work after the replacement of the starter but the CD player worked. It so happened that the only CD in the player was that of James Ingram. Thank God James Ingram kept me company or I already went nuts going through that monstrous traffic.

After a quick meal at Kitaro and finalizing my business transaction with T. Chad, I dropped them off at the MRT Station then started my way back home--with James Ingram serenading me over and over again.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ain't No Mountain High Enough (the Sequel)

(You have to read the previous post in order to appreciate this--sequel nga kasi!)

After experiencing cramps in my hands and feet for driving 3 and a half hours, we finally made it to the very private resort of Buboy (referred to as Leandrino in my previous posts) at 8:30 PM. We headed straight to the rest room and while we were there, I said to Ate Ella that we'll just "Eat and Run". I was too tired to even comb my hair, the thought of asking Mimi where I could lie down and rest did cross my feeble mind.

But when I saw the smiling face of Catsut (Leoncio's nickname), all the pains in my body disappeared! I merrily kissed him and congratulated him on his Silver Wedding Anniversary. He then introduced me to his charming wife Myrna who was too happy to see some of her husband's former classmates. Also present were his Notre Dame High School buddies: Paeng Sunga, the honorable Congressman Doy Pingoy and surprise of all surprises--Nilo! (He didn't know I was coming and I had no idea he already came back from Vietnam)

Nilo and I embraced each other, much to the awe and wonder of my favorite son, Gio. I then introduced him, Eia, and Ate Ella to the crowd. After an exchange of hand shakes, hugs and kisses, we made our way to the buffet table. In between my eating of fresh lumpia, I told Catsut "Kung hindi lang talaga dahil sa yo, hindi ako magtitiis na magdrive ng 3 1/2 hours para pumunta dito. Ikaw lang talaga ang dahilan at nandito ako ngayon."

Buboy then voiced out "Salamat naman Nora sa pagiging truthful mo". With that, the conversation was directed to our elementary grades, when Buboy used to bully me. I assured everybody that although I hated him for six years, he already managed to soften my heart when he visited me at the Coca-Cola Warehouse and asked for forgiveness. Then when I left Coke and took MS IE in CRC, he also visited me there and we indulged ourselves with Red Ribbon's Chocolate Marshmallow cake (cried for days when this was phased out a year later). I remembered we ordered 2 slices but during that time, there was no available cake for slicing. Buboy ended up buying one whole cake and we ate 4 slices at Red Ribbon, the rest I finished in 3 days. When I opened my first shop along Zapote-Alabang Road, Buboy would drop by every time he's in the area. He swore that his mechanic for his sports car in Las Pinas City was the best so he really didn't mind that he had to drive all the way from Antipolo to our place. We would just eat and laugh at each other's life stories whenever we see each other.

So there. For the benefit of everybody concerned, I am officially declaring that what happened between Buboy and me in the past is IN THE PAST. What compelled him to say those nasty things about me in grade school is no longer relevant. I am now happy and relieved that we can talk about the past with humor and laughter.

Going back to our main story, it was a jolly recollection of our elementary experiences--how Leoncio became my constant dance partner from Grade 1 to 6, our crushes, puppy loves and first loves. Then Lorimer came with his son. He was introduced to everybody and when it was my turn to shake hands with him, he was asked if he still remembered me and he answered "How can I forget?" I smiled to myself, thinking how he, his friend Carlito and me posed for several pictures in a photo studio before graduation. It happened 36 years ago and yet I could still remember very vividly that after our photo shoot, they invited me for a light snacks where I honestly admitted (while sipping my 8-oz. bottle of Coke) that my heart belonged to Bert since Grade 3.

After dinner, we joined all the tables (the Elementary Group and the High School Group) and started the Videoke. Of course, our host Buboy initiated the singing spree, followed by Mimi and Nilo. I'm glad I brought Gio with me who belted out "Hero" despite his sore throat (he wanted to sing 'Better Days' but it wasn't included in the list). Lorimer's son also sang and it's no surprise that he had the voice quality of a true artist. He is, after all, a kin of Cesar Banares--the lead male singer of the former ASIN band.

We were having so much fun that we couldn't leave to say goodbye. Nanay called at around midnight, asking me where we were. I told her we were just leaving. True. But then I was told that Buboy's father (our school principal) wanted to see me. I went back inside to say hi to him and he was teary-eyed (out of joy, I hope) when he saw me. He told me "I cannot believe you came here. I always ask Buboy why we don't have visitors from Marbel. Remember the song 'tayo na, sa Antipolo, at doon, maligo tayo?' I can never forget you. You and Buboy always fight". I could have talked with him longer but hey, I have 2 children with me who were dying to get home.

After the long goodbyes and deliberations who will ride in who's car, we left Antipolo with Elsa and Tho (they went with Nilo in his car in going to the resort). We dropped them off at Elsa's office in Ortigas Complex where she left her car. Genevieve, Rod and Kring went with them, since they were going in the same direction. Malou's apartment was our last stop before we finally headed for home. I won't narrate anymore how we went around in circles trying to find Boni Ave. that would end in EDSA. Bottom line, we reached Philamlife Village safe and sound. At 2 in the morning.

Now sing with me:

"Ain't no mountain high enough,
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wild enough
To keep me from my friends."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Nope. This post is not about Diana Ross. But I did think about her and this song when I drove for 3 and a half hours last Friday, July 27, 2007 with my 2 kids in tow, traversing chaotic traffic and rocky mountains just to see Leoncio, my elementary dance partner whom I haven't seen in 36 years!

When Buboy called last Monday inviting me for our mini-reunion in honor of Leoncio and his wife Myrna, I didn't think twice to say yes although my son was at that moment, terribly sick. Leoncio and his family came all the way from the States to celebrate the couple's Silver Wedding Anniversary in our hometown Marbel, South Cotabato (now known as Koronadal City). They were leaving Saturday so Friday night was our last chance to have a get-together.

Later during the week I suggested to Mimi that we meet at SM Megamall, being the center place for everybody. But since Leoncio's family was staying at Buboy's resort in Antipolo, Buboy was generous enough to invite all the batch mates living in Metro Manila to have dinner at Guillean's Place (you may want to check it out at Incidentally, Buboy is actually Leandrino--my ever loyal bully from Grade 1 to grade 6. How we became civil with each other will require a completely different post (maybe I'll write a sequel to this post--on second thought, I definitely will!)

Anyway, I knew it would be a hell of a drive from Las Pinas City to Antipolo, stopping over at Robinsons Place Pioneer Ave. to pick up Malou and then picking up Genevieve along the way. It was already raining at around 5 PM when we left home. I anticipated the ordeal that I was about to hurdle so I took 1 Biogesic tablet just to make sure I won't be dealing with one pestering problem--my migraine (which simultaneously arrives with my "visitor").

As expected, traffic was slow (it was Friday and raining). We were cruising along EDSA when I saw the Robinson's Pioneer Ave. signboard so I signalled to go right to pick up Malou at the entrance. All of a sudden, the engine died. I heard a deafening sound of horn at my back, then "BOOM!" I realized we were on an upward slope so I immediately pulled my brake shift. But I knew I already hit something when we slided back. I immediately called Malou to inform her of our unexpected predicament.

I was still talking with Malou when a man appeared beside my window so I had to go out and see the damage on his car. He was driving a white FX taxi. It was quite dark but I knew his front bumper was barely hit. I begged him with trembling voice: "Mama, pasensya na po. Maawa na kayo sa akin. Huminto po ang sasakyan ko, ayaw pa nga hong umandar. Patawarin nyo na po ako." These, I said while gently holding on to his arm.

He was stunned (probably out of pity for a lady in distress) so I went back inside the car. I stared at my mirror and saw him pulling back and then drove along. I thanked God after heaving a sigh of relief. I made several attempts to start the car but failed. I requested Ate Ella to pray the 'binding and casting' while I 'prayed over' the car so it would start. After what seemed to be eternity, I called Malou that we were already on our way to fetch her.

I was almost tempted to go back to Las Pinas after what happened but I thought of Leoncio--the reason for this trip. Then I thought of the mountains of Antipolo. It's risky to even bring the car up there, with my 2 kids at the back of the car. Then I thought of Diana Ross in the 70's: "Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wild enough to keep me from you . . . " I smiled to myself and proceeded with extreme caution.

By God's divine intervention, Genevieve and her husband Rod and daughter Kring were travelling almost behind us when we passed by SM Megamall. We just stopped in front of Chow King at Robinson's Galleria and waited for them. It was almost 7 PM when the 8 of us finally settled inside the REVO.

If traffic along EDSA was slow, traffic along Ortigas was worse. I had absolutely no idea where we were going. Malou was the only person who's been at Buboy's resort. But since she was there only once, we had to stop in Antipolo to call Mimi/Elsa for directions. Malou told me that we will be passing through a rough road before reaching the resort but I didn't anticipate it was that rough. I prayed hard that everything will be alright and I praise and thank God that it did.

We miraculously made it to the reunion on the same day, at exactly 8:30 PM. Seeing Leoncio again after 36 years (and of course my other friends from Marbel whom I haven't seen for so long) was after all, worth the trip.