maandag 31 december 2007

The Old Year's Last Rant

I was online at the same time as my bro and he told me to check out a clip on youtube. The clip is from a young filipina (15 yrs. old) named Charice Pempengco. The threads on this young lady's clips(check out the Star King episodes)are quite lengthy and full of positive thoughts.

Browsing through these clips, I couldn't help thinking of a young child star who won the International Star Search in the US when she was 10 years old. Everytime I hear a belter, I think of that young child star and I wonder what happened to her. I remember sitting in front of the tv and keeping my fingers and my toes crossed and not saying anything for fear it would jinx whatever mojo was bringing that young girl to victory, and when she won, I remember we were all joyful and tearful at home.

But after that, it was like total silence closed about the girl, and we didn't hear even a single peep about what happened next.

Thank goodness for the internet though. I googled and found this, which was like a nutshell history of what happened to Banig after she won the International Start Search.

So, I thought to myself, if Charice has youtube vids, I bet Banig has got some too and perhaps it's possible to trace her progress through the vids. So, I went over to youtube typed in Banig and got a line-up of vids. Of course,some of these were not related to her whatsoever, but there are some really great vids of a concert in2003 which gives the listener an idea of how her voice has changed/evolved since those childhood days.

I suppose the waning of an old year is a suitable time for nostalgia. But I watched those vids, thought of that brave little girl, and well, I couldn't help feeling really proud that she's gone on to fulfill her dream.

On another thread there were some negative comments about Charice's english, I thought to myself...good heavens people, I mean this child grew up in the Philippines. Over here in NL, your ordinary 15 year old doesn't speak english. I mean, I know. I live here, and I have tried speaking english to 15 year olds who just giggle and smile because they don't understand what I'm talking about. So, why is it that we're so quick to crack down on a Filipina who can't speak straight english?

Would we do that so easily to a girl who grew up in Holland? Would we be as easy to criticize someone who can't speak English if she came from a "western" country?

I remember back in the days when I was starting out as a writer, someone told me that no matter what I did I would never be able to write english as a native english speaker would.

So what? I think that if we all decided that was the standard we would have to reach in order to succeed, then we would all sound alike...and who wants stories and fiction and songs and art that all sound like they came out of the same pressing machine. We'd all be robots then, wouldn't we?

This has sort of evolved into a I'm ending it here and wishing everyone a unique changing of the year. May 2008 be filled with good things, good things, good things...and of course...with lots and lots of stories and publications ;)

And finally, here's the link to Banig's MySpace. Very cool.

zondag 30 december 2007


I've been meaning to add Leigh Dragoon to the links on my side thing. Byzarium's still one of my favorite zines, and through the artworks regularly used on the site, I've become acquainted with the work of some excellent artists.

There's also quite a number of interesting discussions going on all the time on her blog. I could just fritter away time reading the posts and the threads that issue from the posts.

Here's the link:

Leigh's Sketchblog

vrijdag 28 december 2007

zondag 23 december 2007

payment received

Received amidst a flurry of christmas cards : two american dollars as payment for How to Prepare a Head.

Saving that for when I finally cross the ocean.

Revving up for the great send out come January. During the christmas break, I plan to write every morning for at least an hour. This will mean still waking up when it's dark, but it gives me the advantage of being up before Joel Jan and Samuel are up.

Seven stories in the waiting. Two of them just need to be printed out, put in an envelope and sent out with SASE. Five need a bit of tweaking before I send them out.

Currently reading: Nancy Kress's, Beginnings, Middles and Endings. She has got great points.

That's my christmas rush.


Outlining next year's book proposal. At times like this, I wish I could go home and have immediate access to all the data. I will be patient...


donderdag 20 december 2007

living without

It's been a couple of months since the tv was relegated to the upstairs bedroom. While Joel Jan does make the trek upstairs every now and then, downstairs with the lights and with people about has a stronger pull on him, and it's easier to implement time limits on watching tv.

These days, there's an increase in household serenity. After the kids are both in bed and I'm done checking my email and finishing the necessary column, hubby and I have time to spend together chatting and sharing not only about our day but also about the things we're passionate about.

I have to think of how easy it is for married couples to lose sight of each other in the process of raising kids, earning a living, and just trying to get by. Back in the days when tv was a huge black presence in the living room, we'd both spend hours zapping aimlessly from one station to another. True, we'd be sitting side by side, but somehow the evening would end with me zapping around while Jan dozed off beside me. Not exactly the way to spice up a marriage.

These past months without tv, we've been communicating more openly with each other, and this week, we decided that it was time to reinstall our together time which meant sharing with each other, praying as man and wife, and taking the time to just listen and be there.

This holiday season, with Joel Jan being home a lot more than usual, I think I'm going to implement one of Mary's suggestions and take the time to sit down with him and watch his favorite tv show. I'm quite curious what discussions we'll have after he's finished watching it.

After all, we do discuss the stories I've read in Interzone...and yes...Joel has got his own favorites too...but that's something for another time.
Holiday Moods:

How to Prepare a Head (my gory hay(na)ku)is now up at Sam's Dot Publishing.

At the same time, my Christmas column which was supposed to come out on Monday at Haruah, has been picked up by TeenAge Magazine and The Sword Review.

Busy, busy, busy. I finally have sat down to write out Christmas cards and greetings. I'm almost done, so I thought I'd sit down and post about the above.


zaterdag 15 december 2007

Sharing and a chance to win 150 conversation starters

Last summer, I joined a blogtour for Mary de Muth's latest book, Authentic Parenting in a Post Modern Culture. Recently, I received an email from Mary with the following article which I'd like to share on this blog. A lot of the points in this article are points that I'm in agreement with and while I haven't practiced all of them yet, there are a number of things in there that I certainly intend to implement as we strive to raise our kids so that they grow up to be adults who aren't afraid to engage and interact with the world around them.

Here's the article in full:

One of the questions author Mary DeMuth (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) gets asked in radio interviews is this: What can a parent do to help kids filter their media intake? Her answer: Strategically engage. The following is five ways to help re-engage your kids in a media-saturated culture.

Bio: Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church. Learn more at

Five Ways to Engage Disengaged Kids
By Mary E. DeMuth

In a world of Halo, iphones, and IM, how do parents strategically engage their tuned-out kids? How can we create the kinds of homes that are irresistible to our children, enticing enough to make them tune out from games, media and texting and tune in to the rhythms of family life? Five ways.

One: Offer ‘em Something Better

The most enticing thing to a kid is community—real, authentic, God-breathed community. To create this, learn to do the following:

• Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.
• Strive to become the person you want your child to become. Practice reconciliation, open communication, and serving each other.
• Listen, really listen to your kids. Give them eye-time. Don’t uh-huh their concerns, but strive to ask great questions to draw them out. Be willing to share your own struggles with your kids.
• Plan meal times together. And when you do, talk! One way to foster great communication is to have questions already prepared. For a sample, click here: To purchase all 150, click here: To win them, click here:
• Have an unplug day—no phones, TV, gaming systems, and return to old fashioned board games, taking walks outside, and reading together.
• Resist DVDs in the minivan. Try books on tape instead—a wonderful way to engage your child’s mind. Discuss the book afterward.
• Welcome others into your home. Be the house all the kids want to congregate in.

Two: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em

Our kids will see movies; they will watch TV shows. Instead of always pushing against that, sit down next to your child and watch shows and movies together. Then use the time afterwards to discuss these questions:

• What is the worldview of this movie?
• What kind of person is the main character? Is she someone you want to be like?
• What lies does this movie perpetuate?
• What does this show say about materialism?
• What part of this movie showed God’s love?

Strategically engaging alongside our kids in the very thing we’re leery of does two things: It shows our kids we are willing to sacrifice our own desires to spend time with them. And it helps prepare them to better discern the movies and media they watch.

Three: Explore Different Ways to Celebrate Sabbath

Taking time away from the crazy rush-rush of a media saturated world is a counter-cultural move your family can take. Choose a day or afternoon for rest. Limit media that day. Choose to engage in artistic, creative endeavors together:

• If a child loves music, encourage him to write a song or create an unusual soundtrack.
• Supply kids with all sorts of visual arts tools: paint, brushes, magazines, pens, glue, and let them create. If you need focus, think of five families or friends who need to be encouraged, then create cards for each one.
• Let your kids have free reign of the video camera. Encourage them to make a movie. Then watch it together as a family, complete with popcorn.
• Pull out that karaoke machine.
• Read together.
• Do a puzzle or play board games.

Four: Go Outside

We are a disconnected culture, defining ourselves by the great indoors and cyberworlds. To combat that in your family, dare to open the front door and walk on out. Take strolls with your kids. Find a local park or wilderness preserve to poke around in. Hike together. Feed the ducks. Launch rockets. Play Frisbee. Kick the ball around. Ride bikes. Pick up garbage along the road. Skateboard. Make going outside as much of a habit as going outside.

Five: Focus Outward

Computers and movies and TV and phones focus us inward. Instead, seek to find ways to focus your family outward toward the needs of the world. Sponsor a child in a third world country. Go on a mission trip as a family and take a year together to plan it. Find a cause to support—like digging wells in Africa or alleviating AIDS. Volunteer at a nursing home. Muddying our feet and hands in the real needs of the world gives kids a greater picture of the world and pulls them away from the artificial, often narcissistic world they live in.

It is possible to re-engage your disengaged child. It takes effort, creativity and pluck, but it can be done. The reward? A rejuvenated, connected relationship with your child that no gadget can compare to.

Copyright, Mary E. DeMuth, posted here with permission from the author.

If you'd like a chance to win 150 conversation starters, there's a contest going on at Mary's blog ( Just click on the link or copy and paste into your browser and go there.

vrijdag 14 december 2007

It's Arrived

Thanks to editor, Beng Alba, who had this package sent via Fedex so I wouldn't have to wait three months for it to arrive :)

donderdag 13 december 2007

Samuel's Teletubby Coat

Here's our Samuel in the Teletubby Coat.

coat economics

Coat economics, the Dutch mommy way:

Everybody knows Dutch mommies have at least two coats for every season. One coat is the everyday coat. This is the coat that mommies throw on when they take their kids to school, pick kids up from school, take out those trash containers, do gardening, do the grocery shopping, wash the windows, and all sorts of menial outdoorsy stuff in. This is the coat that's generally rain-resistant, mostly dirt-resistant, and is more often than not, washable. The everyday coat may cost a lot more than the good coat, but that's okay. You have to have a really good everyday coat because it's got to endure a lot of wear--day in, day out.

The second coat is the good coat. This is probably a wollen type coat. Mine's an a-line cut and greyish with nice rough texture. It's quite pretty and isn't too long. It's quite sturdy, and it's warm enough for if I need a presentable coat to wear over dinner clothes, party clothes or whatever occassion clothing. I choose grey because black is just so black and grey goes with just about anything in my wardrobe.

Some mommies (the really well-off ones) have a third or a fourth coat, depending on how fashion conscious and brand conscious they are. There are some mommies who color-coordinate their coats. Ummm...well...I'm not one of those or maybe I'm just not fashion conscious enough.

Coat economics apply not only to Dutch mommies, but to Dutch daddies and to Dutch children as well. As a matter of fact, it seems to apply to just about everybody Dutch. Amazingly enough, the only person in this family with the luxury of choosing whatever color or type of coat to wear is our Samuel. His coat wardrobe is quite extensive. I think he's got about four coats to choose from, in all.

Our favorite thus far has been the "Teletubby coat" that he inherited from a friend. I'll have a look through my files and see if I can find a picture of him in the teletubby coat.

So why this treatise on coats? My everyday mommy coat has decided it's time to I'll have to head out to the shops soon and get myself a replacement.

Only trouble is, there are so many coats out there, and trying to match personal style and taste to the right color, right size and right price is usually quite time consuming.

One reason I love windowshopping: I don't have to buy anything.

dinsdag 11 december 2007

i read
in your eyes

of today
plundered, forgotten, found

lost again and
reclaimed by


My aunt lived and worked among the Mamanwa people of Surigao. They were curly haired, wandering folk who lived in the mountains. She slept with them under the arms of trees. She was a young woman when she began--graduate of nursing, doctor's daughter, home from the US after intensive training.

She did not ask for fame or recognition. She never asked for her name to be broadcast in capital letters.

For years, she wandered as the tribespeople wandered.

Under the ceiling of sky she slept. I wonder if she dreamt of the day she would live again within the enclosure of four walls. How must it feel, I wonder.

In time, her patience bore fruit. The tribespeople learned to read, and write. They learned to till the land, to plant vegetables, to tame the mountain, to build houses with walls. But the sky kept on calling to them and the land and the longing to wander still flowed in their veins.

My aunt grew old among these people. She never married. These people are her children, these tribe is her family, the mountain became her home.

They weathered storms.

First, came the soldiers and the rebels.

"Why must we choose sides when all we want is peace?"

Then, came the loggers.

And then, the miners ...

They chased the people off the mountains, there is copper in the ground or some such precious ore. For profit's sake, the tribe is driven off... again, and again, and again.

This is the inheritance of a generation to come. Deep caverns emptied of wealth, mountains denuded of trees, a government that has sold off the future for a fortune that does not last.

My aunt has grown old with memories of children lost to forgotten wars. Her hands tremble when she writes--a legacy from years carrying heavy bundles up and down the mountains. Her dreams are haunted by shadows in uniform. Out of the corner of her eyes, she sees apparitions. They are there, she cries. Men who come to steal away the innocent, men who come to steal away the land.

There is no shelter.

In this land, in this country of our broken dreams, our desire is frustrated, our longing for a better future is put to death by our fellowmen.

*********update note*************

Apparently what these miners are shipping to China is laterites with 1.5% to 2% Nickel and cobalt. The Chinese are also buying laterites from Palawan and so far they have shipped more than 2million tons of these soil.

They are shipping our soil? Transferring shiploads of earth from PH to China? That's a mind-boggling thing. OMG, the sf dwende is jumping around inside my brain.

bikes and cars

We've been carless for about a year now. One year on bikes. Through rain and shine, through the cold and through the heat. I recently read this article about a family that decided to get rid of their car and who do all their travelling by public transport and by bike (just like us). This family says their decision is a conscious choice prompted by concern for the environment and a need to de-stress their lives.

While I contemplate driving lessons for next year, I'm thinking of how our lives and our activities haven't been gravely curtailed due to the lack of a car. I actually feel that our experience as a biking and public transport family has helped us to slow down and prepare more.

Carlessness has also levered us the financial advantages of not having to pay taxes on a car and taxes on using the highway. That's how taxes are done over here. Not only do you pay tax for owning a car, you actually get taxed for using it and for using the road as well. The bigger your car, the more taxes you pay. Add to this the benefit of environmental friendliness.

I'm wondering if owning a car is wise or even necessary. I must confess I'm quite attached to my bike and am so used to taking the public transport. Maybe we'll just go carless for sometime and rent-a-car when the need arises. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I acknowledge my need to get a driver's license.

I confess to not being very enthusiastic about learning to drive, but as my sister-in-law says, it is handy to have, I suppose I better just square my shoulders and get to it.

maandag 10 december 2007

Here's the link to the Hope Away from Home book blurb:


thinking of objects

I object.


Joel's jeans have started to show wear and tear around the knees. Instead of heading off to the shop to buy a new pair of jeans, I decided to do some home repair. It's a simple matter of sewing the tears together and patching them up with some neat leather patches. The leather patches cost me one euro fifty a pair, and after I'd sewed them onto Joel's jeans, they looked really cool and hip...and very cowboyish.

Knowing how to sew, by hand or by machine, is a moneysaver. Shortening pants/jeans/skirts is quite easy, don't forget to trim the side seams so they aren't too thick for your ordinary sewing machine. Using the right needles and the right threads will give your clothing that professional finished off look.

I had a friend who paid 12 pounds for her jeans to be shortened. Wasted money. She had six pairs shortened and not one of them was shortened to the right size. Also, the tailoring service did not use the right kind of thread. When shortening jeans, use jeans-sized needles. There are special jeans threads on the market that are sturdy and leave you with jeans that look really finished.

Of course, if you live in the PH and you buy your jeans from one of those shops with free tailoring service, by all means have it done in the shop. Over here in NL, we don't have that luxury. Sometimes, you buy a pair of jeans on sale only to pay double the price to have it shortened. Yup. Those sewing lessons were a real investment.

Taking the time to do clothing repairs (in the evenings and during baby's naps) may seem tiresome, but in the long run, are well worth it.


Christmas DIY

Christmassy tablecloths can be rather pricey. At this time of year, the cloth merchant who visits our market every Tuesday has lovely sales of cloth at 5 euro per meter. I bought some beautiful burgundy colored cloth and am going to seam it and use this as my christmas tablecloth. We liked the color of the cloth so much that we've decided to purchase more cloth so I can make seat covers for our dining chairs as well.

Yup. We are in a holiday-diy-creative mood.

vrijdag 7 december 2007


I do admire folks who are willing to invest time, finances and energy in charity. Last week, I did find myself questioning the purposes behind why certain people engage in what's called "charity".

We attended this birthday party where one of the guests (a slightly drunk Dutchman) stood up and announced that he and his wife and a couple of friends had put up this charity for the sake of helping out the poor (the poorest) in the Philippines. An admirable intention, to be sure. And that they had collected and sent a grand total of 80 balikbayan boxes filled with clothes, blankets, toys and whatnot and sent them all home to the Philippines wasn't something to be sneezed at.

Quite impressive, I thought.

In his slightly drunken state, this Dutch fellow then went on to expound on how they were doing this all for the sake of poor Filipinos. We were also informed that he and his board members did not gain any profit from this. And we would certainly see that in the albums that were going to be circulate among party guests.

This fellow wasn't a friend of ours and we had gone to the party because the one who'd invited us was a friend...we'd gone without our bags and wallets because they live just a street away and who needs money when going to a friend's birthday party?

Anyway, this fellow went around asking guests to purchase this gift package which consists of a symbolic gift cheque the amount of which was meant to fund the shipping of more goods to the Philippines. My girlfriend and I didn't have a cent on us, and when we told him this, he acted as if he couldn't believe our hardheartedness at not giving towards the poor whom he stressed were our countrymen and not his.


Well, the albums came around and they were filled with pages and pages of thank you letters with pictures of the smiling poor embracing stuffed toys, electronic toys, gadgets and what not.

Included in this album were clippings from local newspapers with photographs of this man in an overfull attic.

No, no. I'm not sneezing at this man's intentions. I certainly believe they were well-meant. Indeed, if I believed sending the cast offs of a well-off nation would help alleviate poverty in my home country, I'd do it without a second thought. What I did wonder at, was whether this charitable action really resulted in something concrete and life-changing.

Who does this charity really benefit? Is it meant to assuage a sense of guilt at living in a nation that's filled to the overflowing with castoffs? Is it meant to fulfill a longing to be seen as doing something great and wonderful? Call me cynical, but I couldn't help wondering whether this was an instance of poor brown folk being made to pose in front of the camera in thanks for the white man's largesse.

My interpretation of true charity would be one wherein folks engaging in it wouldn't feel the need to broadcast to the world at large that "here I am doing this wonderful thing for all you poor people" and "you must help me and support my cause because if not for people like us, you people would be nowhere at all."

I think of my fellow Pinoys who've given their lives towards supporting the less fortunate without a word of thanks. I think of my fellow Pinoys who travel the islands with a minimum of financial support just to bring medication and healing where no doctors and medical staff are. I think of my fellow pinoys who silently and without asking for praise carry on the work of caring for the poor. I think of fellow Pinoys who work among the tribes giving literacy lessons and living as the tribespeople do, because they care.

"Yes sir," I wanted to say to the tipsy dutchman. "Your intentions are well-meant, and your largesse is appreciated, I'm sure. Nevertheless, I know of men and women who've walked and worked among the very poor. I know men and women who sacrifice for these poor. I know men and women who don't say a word about their good deeds and who don't need the thank you letters in order to press on with their good work."

To my mind, that's worth a lot more than charity where folks give towards because whatever you give is tax-deductible. Thank you very much for your charity, but I wonder when this charity will move beyond the providence of material comforts to what really changes and betters life...meaning providing education, health and the infrastructure that will move us beyond dependence on your largesse and the fickleness 0f human nature.

To my fellow pinoys who serve without needing praise...I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you with largesse untainted by the need to kowtow to the "big white man".

dinsdag 4 december 2007

examining buying habits: how do you buy and why?

I've got a guest over from the UK and due to the euro-pound exchange, my guest perceives prices in the Netherlands as being quite cheap and reasonable as compared to UK prices.

She's been spoiling us quite dreadfully and I confess to this making me look at my recent purchasing habits.

Recently, I've taken to looking at price tags first before considering whether an item would be attractive to me. The lower the price tag, the more interesting a product becomes. My friend, looks at a product first in terms of whether she likes it enough to consider buying it. The price tag is secondary.

We'd been looking at some designer websites and comparing prices on bags and shoes. Inspite of her not being budget-minded, even my friend found it quite puzzling that some people would actually pay a thousand dollars for a handbag. Some people meaning not people like the Ayalas who have tons of money, nor one of those rich oil-heirs and heiresses, but rather ordinary working people who are deep in credit trouble because of the desire to own not one, not two, but a roomful of designer bags or designer shoes.

In my frugal state of mind, I find the idea of spending a hundred euros on a handbag mind-boggling enough.

Nevertheless, I found myself thinking of the way I buy. Am I going too extreme by considering prices first?

maandag 3 december 2007


Yesterday, we made a daytrip to Cologne. We took the ICE train and went first class back and forth. Five of us on this trip, Samuel and my adopted sister included. On the way back, we bumped into a friend who'd been to Dusseldorf.

So, she says. You travelled first class.

And she raises her eyebrows and teases me about being "sosyal".

The story of how we came to travel first class on second class price has to do with me trying to book a trip because we'd promised our lover of trains that we would give him a real trip across the border. Cologne seemed like a place that was reasonably close enough (about two hours of travel by ICE) and far enough away for him to get the idea that we were indeed in another country. I'd been checking out the NS site for cheap trips and this one came up at 38 euro a person. That's still about 160 euro in total, but that's just how life is, I thought and anyway we didn't have any plans to fly off to the Philippines this year.

Booking online is pretty easy and it seemed like the ideal way to go especially since it means I wouldn't have to pay the booking fee normally charged at the counter. Eventual adjustments to dates even got me a total price of 114 euro for the five of us. I was pretty happy about that until I found out that all the tickets in that price class were sold out and the next available one was close to 300 euro for the five of us.

What's the quibbling all about? Some folks might say.

For budget-conscious me, there's a huge difference between 114 and 300. Just compute. That's two driving lessons in the difference.

Anyway, the site went down and I ended up calling customer service. It was a blessing in disguise. The lady I spoke to listened to me. She understood my problem and my dilemma. She understood my desire to give the train enthusiast the perfect surprise and my need to stick to a budget, and she found us a trip that cost less than 150 euro. Add six euro to the deal and we all were travelling first class back and forth.

In my conversation with the lady, she first proposed a rate somewhere in the 300 euro region. I was honest and told her that 300 was way beyond my budget and so maybe we would just have to wait and save for another time. This resulted in her asking me if I'd be willing to let her look for time and day schedules where we'd get a reasonable price and still get to do some sightseeing in Cologne.

After a ten minute wait, she called me back. She had a date. Departure was rather early, and the return trip was on the late side, but she had found a date. If I added six euro to my budget we could all go first class both ways.

Yesterday, we were up before the sun. At 7.46 we were on the train, travelling first class all the way from our town to Utrecht where we got on the first class coach to Cologne.

I bless the lady who arranged that trip. The roominess in first class was ideal for travelling with a child approaching the toddler stage.

Whoever is in charge of the NS must hire real child-friendly personel. I mentioned Joel's train enthusiasm and it was like finding the key to a floodgate of kindness, accomodation and understanding. This is something I've noticed in my dealings with the Dutch. Whatever their shortcomings, the Dutch have a soft heart when it comes to kids.

It's this trait that keeps me hopeful.