Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Tribute to my Friends & "Enemies" (Part II)

I celebrate by feasting on a buffet meal when I'm happy. Food is the shoulder I cry on when I'm angry (I cry when I'm angry). When I'm down in the pits, food is my inspiration. I eat when I'm tired, I eat when I'm at rest. In short, whatever physical or emotional state I'm in, food is my constant companion. It is no wonder that this Part II will solely touch on F-O-O-D, my passion of all time.

I pay tribute to you who paved the way to my gastronomic journey. Without you, my life (especially my stomach) would have been "empty". Thank you for opening my doors to the exciting new world of culinary experience.

1. Thelma:

taco & chef salad at Pancake House
fresh lumpiang ubod & sotanghon soup at Goldilocks
Caesar salad, sangria and steak at Mario's
her very own recipe of chocolate mayonnaise cake
palillos de Milan of Goldilocks (cried for days when this was phased out)
super large siopao & mami of Ma Mon Luk
fruit salad of Milky Way

2. Louie & Vins:

baked oysters in white wine sauce & garlic at Mingoy's
bibingka & guinumis at Via Mare
marjolaine cake at Sugarhaus (enjoy eating this with beef stroganoff & apple pie)
fried chicken at Tom Sawyer
roast beef of Dayrit's
baked potato topped with sour cream & bacon of Wendy's

3. Tess & Ted

shrimps with green peas, quail eggs & cashew nuts
buffet lunch at Dad's
ready-to-eat tapa & squid flakes of Cebu

4. Ate Alma: tapsilog at Don Galo & halo-halo at Digman
5. Mimi, Elsa and Malou: churros con chocolate at Dulcinea
6. Zeny: sugbakilaw at Gerry's Grill (we order this with guinataang kuhol & sizzling sisig)
7. Jessy: whiskey/rum/gin with pineapple juice and SMB Super Dry
8. Angie: chicken a la king
9. Choy's spaghetti carbonara of Carousel Diner (the best I've ever tasted)
10. V.C.: bar-b-q and garlic rice at Nipa Hut (one goes to Nipa Hut not because of the food but to enjoy drinking under the stars and marvel at the magnificent view)
11. Kuya Herman: bouillabaisse, crispy pata & kare-kare at Barrio Fiesta
12. Jun & Lea: Brooklyn Pizza (near gate of Tahanan Village, BF Paranaque)
13. Jojo: His very own recipe of grilled panga ng tuna
14. baked tahong & fish salad of Ats
15. Nilo: Manager's Choice of Shakey's
16. Tho & Elsa: sushi & sashimi of Saisaki
17. Madel: grilled ensaymada & hot chocolate of Red Ribbon
18. Gay: Tokwa't baboy of 3 Sisters
19. Marilen: Daiquiri drink, goto of Gooodah and cuapao of . . . (forgot the name of Chinese rest.)
20. Agnes: vegemeat, baked macaroons & buko pie from IRRI
21. Cyndi: baked macaroni
22. Majella: green mango shake, Wewin's biscocho, Teriyaki Boy's kani salad
23. Vicky: baby back ribs of Outback

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Tribute to my Friends & "Enemies" (Part I)

Here's a tribute to my friends and "enemies" who have shaped and molded me for the past 49 years. Without you, I wouldn't be what I am now (or should I say I wouldn't be still here at all?). Thank you, thank you all!

What I Learned from my Friends and "Enemies" (in random order)

1. Use of Hula hoop to trim the belly

On my 26th birthday, Tess gave me a hula hoop and made me understand that there are no belly dancers with excess fat on their bellies. Since then, hula hoop has been part of my physical fitness routine. At my age, I could still make 500 rounds in clockwise direction and 500 rounds in counter-clockwise direction. If your goal is to sweat after 5 minutes, you may want to try the hula hoop.

2. Sunset at Manila Bay

A former boyfriend brought me and my friends to Manila Bay and watched the sunset. When I broke up with him, I cried my heart out at the back of Folk Arts Theatre from sunrise to sunset. The following day, I moved on with my life. I still go back to Manila Bay from time to time to watch the sunset but no longer to nurse a broken heart. I go there with my kids, admire the breathtaking view and simply feel the warmth of the sea breeze tickling our skin.

3. Unwind at Siete Pecados

When Marilen first brought me there, we watched the show from 9PM to 1AM. We only ordered 3 bottles of beer (1 for her, 2 for me) for the whole time. Yet we asked and asked again for refill of potato chips (with dip) which was still free during those days. Now you know why they scrap their free chips . . .

I was also with Marilen when I first went to a Spa. I asked her where she wanted to go during her short vacation from Canada. She told me she wanted very much to relax and pamper herself in a Spa and I couldn't say "No" to her although deep inside, I was quite hesitant. Thanks to her I found out that it was an exhilarating experience after all.

4. Exercise in the Morning

Gay (that's her nickname). Can you believe her full name is Scholastica? I can never fathom how her parents knew that this child of theirs would someday live exactly to that name. Anyway, Gay never fails to exercise upon waking up in the morning. That's the first thing she would do. At her age of 45, she has maintained her all-time weight of 90 lbs.

5. No Salt, Sugar & Cooking Oil to lose weight fast. Also from Gay.

6. Skyflakes diet after stuffing your stomach with too much food. Also from Gay.

7. Run and Win the Race

When I was in CRC sporting the quadruple chins and log-like body, somebody commented that "Nora, you shouldn't only exercise your vocal chords but your body as well." Then one of our arrogant teachers challenged me that there's no way I could be in top form and trim my body. I took the challenge. I ran with my friends and eventually won the Center's 800-m. race.

By the way. I won the race because of Jessy's running tips. Since he claimed to be a former member of DLSU Running Team, I believed him. He taught me the proper way to sprint. I owe him my victory.

8. Float in Water

It was raining mad that day, in one of our school's field trips. Agnes taught me how to float. Because of her, I was able to overcome my fear of water.

9. When Elsa took her vacation in Pampanga, she taught me the back float/stroke. I cannot put into words how I felt that night (I used to swim only during nights before because "panggabi lang ang beauty ko"). It just felt soooh good!

10. Mountain climbing after heavy rains with Ning, Jessy, Gay and Tess. I think I'll write a separate post of what happened that muddy day. Bottom line is, after the hardship that we endured along the way, Imelda Falls at Majayjay, Laguna is truly worth the trip.

11. From Grade 1 to 6, my classmate Leandrino made it his supreme vow not to bully anybody except me. I dunno why he had to pick me as the object of his aggression. He insulted me with names, contradicted me about anything and everything, even influenced his buddies to physically fight with me. I begged my mother to enroll me in Karate so I could defend myself like Wang Yu and Meng Fei but she wanted me to join the ballet class instead.

Anyway, I thank Buboy for exposing me early to the harsh realities of life--that you cannot please everybody all the time. And you should never allow people to treat you the way they want to treat you. You should only allow people to treat you the way that you like to be treated. You should never think low of yourself just because other people criticize you. You are what you are--inside. It takes courage and strength to face the world's trials and disappointments but you just have to do it. You cannot solve your problem by running from it. You have to face it head-on. You cannot have everything you want but you can still choose to be happy.

12. Trim my Eyebrows

Among my different set of friends, Luz (Stat Group) and Sis Mila (Handmaids of the Lord) were both very vocal about my horrifying eyebrows which appear right above my eyes! Well, after their prodding and nagging, I finally asked an expert to trim my eyebrows.

13. I have never met a woman who walked as slow as Angie. It was a major problem for the both of us because according to her, she had to run in order to keep pace with me. So we made a deal. She'll walk faster and I'll walk slower. It was so irritating at first but I did learn to walk slower because of her.

14. I used to be very conservative in the way I dress like I didn't want to wear sleeveless shirts, open necklines, body-fit pants nor go out in my shorts. My Ex-M.U. changed all that. He told me "You've got assets, lady. Why don't you show it?" And the rest is history.

15. When I was small, we used to have a Ladies Dorm. in Marbel, South Cotabato. One of our bedspacers was Ate Neneng. If I remember right, she was in her first year in College. She had a childhood sweetheart who came to visit her every week. My father was so strict that she was not allowed to go out with her boyfriend without me as their chaperon. During that time, the only place for recreation in my hometown was the theater. I grew up loving all kinds of movies--from romance to horror to comedy. In short, I became a "movie addict" because of Ate Neneng and her boyfriend.

16. Two things I learned from the father of my children:

a) I learned to quit drinking because according to him, it is so unbecoming for a respectable woman like me and

b) I learned to stretch my patience which I thought didn't exist before. I was able to prolong my marriage to 5 years, instead of 5 months! Whoa! What a feat!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HOW TO SURVIVE 50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

He says "it's warm." She says "it's cold." He says "it's short." She says "it's long." He says "it's difficult." She says "it's easy." He says "Let's pray." She says "Let's."

How do two people so different from each other stay together for 50 years?

My father and mother disagree on everything (well, almost!) under the sun. Yet they managed to survive 50 years of marriage. How, in the world did they do it?

Well, let me share with you 10 lessons I learned from my parents:

1. THE SECRET OF LIVING TOGETHER FOR 50 YEARS IS LIVING APART FROM EACH OTHER

My mother stays in Pampanga from Monday to Friday. She only stays with us during weekends. No, they are not separated by choice. They are separated because my mother's work is based in Pampanga. Her territory includes Olongapo as well. I cannot imagine the two of them staying in one roof for more than 1 week. It would be the start of a civil war!

2. THE BEST WAY TO WIN AN ARGUMENT IS TO AVOID IT

When my father and mother starts talking to each other, I look at my watch and wait 1-2 minutes. Expect an argument after that. And when they do, nobody wins!

3. THE BEST WAY TO AVOID AN ARGUMENT IS TO PLAY DEAF AND MUTE

I often tell my mother "just don't comment anything when tatay starts talking to avoid any argument. Pretend you didn't hear anything." Better said than done, actually. My mother is the only person I know who can talk 24 hours straight without damaging her vocal cords. You can turn off a radio, but not my mother when she starts talking . . .

4. WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING FROM YOUR SPOUSE, ASK FOR DIRECTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU WANT AND YOU WILL SURELY GET IT (Need I say more on this?)

5. THE SECRET OF BEING HAPPILY MARRIED IS TO ENJOY THE COMPANY OF YOUR FRIENDS

My father walks everyday at 3:30AM with his walking buddies. He swears that this daily ritual sustains his life. He enjoys talking and laughing with his friends. That's what makes him happy and we are happy that he has a group (actually he has 3 other groups--the tennis players, small prayer group and his co-Extra Ministers of the Holy Eucharist) that keeps him going. At 82, this makes him fully alive.

My mother, on the other hand, is constantly surrounded by her staff, managers and agents whom she enjoys working with. She used to tell me "when you enjoy what you're doing, you're no longer working." True enough, at her age of 73, she's still as enthusiastic as she was 43 years ago when she joined Philamlife.

6. Practice the "FORGIVE AND FORGET" Principle

In our home, this means the offended forgives--the offender forgets. When my father shouts at my mother, she forgives him even though he doesn't ask for forgiveness. He, on the other hand, forgets right away why he shouted at her. It's as if nothing happened.

7. THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS SEPARATELY STAYS TOGETHER

Don't get me wrong. We do pray together whenever we're together but precisely because we're only gathered as one family during weekends, we pray separately. My father has his own community. My mother has hers and I have mine. We all have different communities but hey, we're still together.

8. THE LENGTH OF MARRIAGE IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE TOLERANCE LEVEL OF THE WIFE

I can never measure my mother's patience because it is simply unmeasurable. Mine was limited to 5 years. And that's it. One more day and I will break into pieces.

9. THE GREATEST GIFT A FATHER CAN GIVE HIS CHILDREN IS TO BE FAITHFUL TO THEIR MOTHER

When I tease my mother "konti na lang kayong hindi pa nababaril sa Luneta". She would stand by her principle that she could take anything and everything except a husband's womanizing. According to her, only one philandering mistake by my father and she would leave him. Well, we never got the chance to know whether this would really be the limit of her patience because after 50 years, not once did my father cheat on my mother.

10. ACCEPTANCE

One word that covers it all. Every problem has a solution. When a situation presents no solution, then it is no longer a problem. It is the reality of life. You just have to accept it. Period.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No Pain, No Gain . . .

Whew! How time flies. Already, it has been a week since I started this blog and my training for my 5k dream (I just hope it doesn't remain that way--you know, just a dream?) Here's a recap of what transpired for the past 7 days:

Monday, May 14: Cast my ballot very early in the morning, tennis at 11-12, swim at 5-9PM
Tue: Walk/Run
Wed. : Tennis
Thurs. : Play with Kids in the Family Pool
Fri. : Tennis
Sat. : Play with Kids in the Family Pool
Sun. : Walk/Run

As I write this short article, my whole body is in pain. Who wouldn't based from what I did for the past week? But as the saying goes . . . No pain, No gain!

For those of you who are just starting their training now, please consult first your physician before jumping into any physical fitness program. I need you alive and well next year--okay?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What a Coincidence!

I just noticed it today that I began my blog "Life Begins at 50" on May 14, 2007--exactly 5 years since I made that "Great Escape" from my children's father (I cannot refer to him as my ex-husband because technically, I was never been married to him. Since my Petition for Marriage Annulment was already granted, my marriage to him is now declared null and void. Unlike divorce which recognizes that there was once a marriage that existed, an annulment doesn't.)

May 14 is now memorable because of 2 reasons:

First, it was the day that I began a totally different life--the life of a single mother to my 2 kids. I call it my "independence day".

And

Second, it was the day that I started to make a "new beginning" in life, not only in mine but to as many as my blog could reach.

And oh, another coincidence . . .

Did you know that I gave birth to my daughter Eia exactly 75 years after my father was born? My father's birthday is Nov. 11, 1924 while that of my daughter is Nov. 11, 1999.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Time Heals All Wounds

Something extraordinary happened today. After 5 years of not talking to the father of my children, I finally talked with him over the phone and even invited him for a meeting (with his new 'wife' of course). What I thought impossible before is now possible. I could actually talk with him without bitterness and tears!

I thank all my friends and relatives who have been praying for me through all these years. You know what I've been through. Because of you, I learned to embrace life's trials and disappointments with hope and forgiveness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

MY FAVORITES (Partial List)

1. Coke (my daughter with Down Syndrome knows Coke is my 1st love)

Have you ever met someone (other than me) who can't live home without Coke in a cooler filled with ice?

I used to drink 1 case a day of 8 0z. Coke when I worked with the Soft Drinks Division of SMC. That would approximately be 1 truck load of Coke a year! When I resigned from the company, I abstained from drinking Coke for 1 whole year. I couldn't accept the fact that in order for me to drink Coke, I had to buy it.

As of this writing, I have miraculously lowered my consumption to only 1/2 liter of Coke Light a day. My father once asked me "hanggang kelan ka ba iinom nyan?" I told him I will never stop drinking Coke.

That's right, folks. I can live without a husband, but I can't live without Coke. And that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God.

2. My passion was, . . . is, . . . and will always be F-O-O-D!

Is there anyone out there like me who'll eat merienda right after lunch? I eat almost anything and everything from locust adobo to roasted peking duck.

3. Movies

My friend Luz commented that "kung anak ka ni Nora, wala kang mamimiss na sine". True enough, my children and I watched the advanced screening of SHREK 3 today. We brought with us 2 packs of ACT II popcorn and had a really good time inside the theatre.

4. Concerts

One of my frustrations in life is not having a good singing voice. But I just love watching concerts--local and foreign. I have seen most of the local concerts (at least, in my time). As for the foreign shows, I haven't missed Julio Iglesias, Barry Manilow, Diana Ross, John Denver, Air Supply, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, Irene Cara, Sergio Mendez, Rod Stewart, Engelbert Humperdinck, Don Mclean, Rupert Holmes, Jack Jones, etc.

5. Stage Plays

My fascination with stage plays began in college when we were required by our History prof. to watch various stage plays and concerts. I enjoyed watching them with my barkada and I now enjoy watching them with my 2 children, who are actually stage performers in their own right. To name a few, my children and I didn't miss The Sound of Music, Pinocchio, Noah's Big Boat, Aladdin. But my favorite is Footloose, where the role of Kevin Bacon was played by my dear inaanak, Macky Santiago. I remember Gio telling me "let's watch it again, Mama!" after the actors and actresses waved goodbye on stage.

Go for it!

I finally started my training yesterday! And it feels sooh good. Learning from Jaymie's experience, I started it slow. I walked 2k for 30 minutes then ran 1/2k for 4 minutes. This morning, when I ran five times around the tennis court before our tennis lessons, I was no longer gasping for breath. What a nice experience!

So if you're still deciding whether to run or not, simply go for it. Begin by walking first like what I did. Run only when you think you're ready for it. Don't rush. We have 1 year to prepare for this 5k fun run. Will you join me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Run With Me (for DSAPI)

They say life begins at 40. Maybe so.

At 40 we celebrated my eldest son's first birthday. I am now 49 and next year, on my 50th birthday--I want to run 5k for the very first time in my life. I have invited my Stat friends to join me and now I am publicly calling all women who'll be turning 50 next year to "begin their lives" and run with me.

Run with me and help the Down Syndrome Association of the Phils., Inc. (DSAPI), the recipient of this fun run. My 7-year old daughter has Down Syndrome and our association is in great need of financial assistance.

I still don't know where this event will take place but it will be on Saturday, June 7, 2008. If you know someone who will turn 49-51 next year, please encourage her to join. It will be a fun run or walk so as not to pressure anyone. And it doesn't have to be 5k for everybody. She can cut it down to 3k if she wants. Our goal here is to enjoy ourselves, not to injure our bodies! We are running not to please anyone. We will run to please ourselves (and benefit the DSAPI while having the time of our lives).

Thank you, Jaymie (the bull runner), for the tips you gave me. Hope you stay in touch.

Have to end this post to begin my training.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why Start Now?

Hi! I'm Nora, a 49 year-old single mother of 9 and 7. You may wonder why my children could already be the grandchildren of women my age . . .

Well, I really had no intention of settling down because I didn't know how to raise children. To put it bluntly, I "hated" children before. Being an only child, I wasn't exposed to having children in the house. I pitied mothers with screaming children with them and I abhorred the idea of taking care of babies' poops.

But as the saying goes, God works in very mysterious ways.

5 months before turning 39, I just found myself walking down the aisle and bubbling "I do" to a 27-year-old man  whom I thought I truly loved. Don't you worry. For now I won't be writing why our marriage didn't last . . . maybe later.

Why am I starting this blog? Why start now?

My son and I started our tennis lessons as soon as the school ended last March. It started out fine. But now that we are already in the 'advanced level', I felt out of breath every time I run from left to right of the tennis court. That's when I thought that I should go back to running.

I used to run in my younger years but of course, that was more than 2 decades ago. When my Stat friends met in Greenbelt last May 12, I told them I'm planning to run again and even asked them to join me and run 5k next year on my 50 th birthday. My dear friend Agnes suggested that if there's no fun run scheduled that day, then we could just organize a fun run ourselves.

Before I went to bed that night, it just hit me that I could also invite all the other 50-year old women to run with us. I surfed the Internet for Milo Marathons and I was very lucky to get in touch with Jaymie, the bull runner.

Since then, she has been my inspiration. Hence, this blog.