Friday, June 10, 2016

Star Player

My sister-in-law asked if I wanted to sign A up for a summer football clinic. I was unsure about it, given his previous experience in a sports-oriented class (the coaches couldn't really rein in my hyper little man), but his dad was all for it. So we signed him up, and—true to my mantra of "If you can't perform, japorms"—got him a pair of cleats and some knee socks.

He and his cousin (a week younger than him) were the youngest ones in the group, and the others had already been exposed to football before. It was the first time for my son, so he lagged behind when it came to following instructions. Although I suspect that had more to do with the instructions being in English; he was, after all, the only Filipino-speaking kid in class.

Coach Ricci: Who wants to run?
Other kids: Me! Me! Me!
A: Ako din.
(By the way, Coach Ricci was awesome. It amazed me how A actually listened to him. Kid probably recognized that he wasn't the alpha in this group!)

As the days progressed, I became increasingly frustrated, seeing A run off somewhere, or be more interested in playing with the dirt than in scoring a goal. He probably spent more time eating on the sidelines than actually joining the scrimmage (or what counts as scrimmage for three- and four-year-olds).  

(From top) Eating a cookie during drills; having some taho; snacking on cereal. He is his mother's son.

Babycenter sent me a relevant email ("Should you sign him up for an organized sports team?") a few days too late: "Watch a little-tot soccer game and you're apt to see a child or two off picking dandelions and another in tears on the sidelines." That's my son! I thought. Except he's pulling up grass and playing with rocks.

On one particular day, my competitive spirit was getting the better of me. All the other kids were eagerly chasing the ball around, trying to score, while A was busily knocking over cones. I kept calling out to him, but he was off doing his own thing. And then as he ran across the field, laughing his hearty, infectious laugh, another soccer mom remarked, "He is such a happy kid!"

And that's when I caught myself.

My son is a happy kid. He laughs so easily, and he would crack up whenever they would do new things (like heading, which he thinks is the most hilarious thing). He would run around the field pretending to be Spider-Man until a bunch of other kids also started pretending to spew out webs from their wrists. Who cares if he wasn't quite living up to his Messi jersey just yet? He was having fun! Besides, he's three—there's loads of time for him to grow into an athlete.

And even if he doesn't, that's fine by me. I used to joke that he would be the next Lebron (same birthday, also raised by a single mom), but I've realized: I'd much rather have a son who's watching from the sidelines, but who's bursting with joy over the simplest things.


Friday, January 15, 2016


Two weeks ago, my little boy turned three. And I've been wanting to write something to mark the occasion, but I just couldn't figure out what to say.

The milestones: He was potty-trained by two and a half, and he self-weaned from the bottle shortly thereafter. He speaks fluent Tagalog, and has a thick Filipino accent when he tries to speak English ("One, two, three, pour, payb"). I think it's some sort of cosmic joke that I have a son who says things like "iskol bus" (school bus) and "kohkies" (cookies). He says the funniest things, and I have a collection of much-Liked Facebook posts to prove it. He eats like a champ--the first thing he does when we get home is open the fridge to see what he can munch on. And while he does love ice cream and chicharon, he will sometimes ask for vegetables for breakfast (!). He throws a tantrum like a pro, but also knows how to go up to the people he hurt and say sorry once he's calmed down. He loves to pretend to cook, and also helps me bake. He has blue-collar aspirations, pretending to be a taho vendor one day and a bote-dyaryo buyer on another. He's obsessed with construction vehicles (especially backhoes) and security barriers (which he calls "up and down")--it was a dream come true for him when a security guard let him assist with raising and lowering a barrier.

And while it's easy to describe those things, I can't put into words just how overwhelmed I am when I look at this boy, my boy. How my heart breaks when I watch him play because I wonder just how many more times I'll be able to watch him like that, content in his own little world where his imagination rules--no barkada, no crushes, none of the emo-ness of adolescence. How he infuriates me with his stubbornness, and yet I wouldn't trade this spirited, strong-willed kid for anything in the world. How he makes my heart swell so much when he smothers my face with kisses that it feels impossible, impossible to hold all the love I have for this little man.

In the morning, one of the first things he asks me, with a hopeful look in his eye, is "Mommy, hindi ka aalis?" ("Mommy, you're not leaving are you?") He just wants to be with Mommy, so much so that I sometimes can't even go to the bathroom without an audience. And it makes me a little bit sad when I have to tell him that I have to go to work, or that I have to run some errands--but I'll be back, I say, Mommy will always be back.

And sometimes, I want to ask my little boy the same question, "Hindi ka aalis?" Because part of me wishes he could be like this forever, that he didn't have to grow up and eventually go out on his own. But I understand that that's how things work, that's how things are supposed to be. I just wish with all my heart that when he's all grown up, he'll also feel like he has a compelling reason to go back, to always go back home.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

10 Struggles Only Ultimate Players Understand

1. Chasing after you mark when your teammate lets a break pass through

2. Seeing zero cutters

3. Being surrounded by super fit athletes and getting your self-esteem trampled on

Images from here and here

4. Zombie toenails

5. Swapping spit from sharing Nalgenes

6. Spending a bundle on sunblock...

7. ...but still ending up with weird tan lines

8. Forking out money for league fees, provincial/international tournaments, gear, and Golden Siomai

9. Being judged for ordering extra rice

10. Dreaming of an 8-to-5 job playing disc.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I'm struggling with a massive case of writer's block, and a friend suggested that I write something—anything—just to plow through it. And so, as I wait for inspiration to strike, allow me to share something another friend sent me recently.

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? You say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes,' a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

 He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of my spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of my heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give you when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for three.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still...Wait."

I've mentioned a few times before that patience is my weakness, so the universe keeps putting me in situations wherein there's nothing I can do but wait. You know that bumper sticker that goes, "Lord, give me patience...right now!"? So me.

Recently, I was stuck in traffic near my office, and I found myself reflecting on where I was, both literally and figuratively. I looked out my window and saw the restaurant where my co-workers and I would go for a nice-ish lunch when we couldn't go too far from the office. I thought about how mundane my life was, and wondered how long I would have to wait for amazing things to start happening. "This couldn't be it, could it?" I thought. My life just seemed so...ordinary.

And then I thought about myself ten years from now. And even though my future is still so unclear, I knew in my heart that I would look back on these days with fondness, even longing. I thought of Future Me thinking about the silly-to-serious conversations my team and I would have over pork chops and garlic rice, while Just for Laughs played on the restaurant's flat-screen. And I realized that if I stepped back and viewed my life from a different perspective, I would see that, in fact, amazing is happening every day.

It's in the camaraderie that my co-workers and I have developed, banding together through collective stress and working holidays. It's in the moments when I clutch my son close to me and spin him around, dancing as he belts out a made-up song. It's in the times I'm stuck in traffic with my teammates, singing along to a boyband playlist. It's in the Sundays spent under a scorching sun, playing a sport that I truly enjoy. It's in the nights when my son insists on hearing the same story ten times before he goes to bed.

The big, bells-and-whistles events I'm waiting for are awesome, for sure, but I'm realizing life is more about the little things, the everyday. And when I think of it that way, well, it's not a bad life at all.  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"The storm that shook thy nest taught thee to fly"

A friend sent me this over two years ago, when I was going through a difficult time. I just thought it might give comfort to anyone who's dealing with anything heavy right now.
As an eagle stirreth up her nest. (Deut. 32:11)
God, like the eagle, stirs our nest. Yesterday it was the place for us; today there is a new plan. He wrecks the nest, although He knows it is dear to us; perhaps because it is dear to us. He loves us too well not to spoil our meager contentment. Let not our minds, therefore, dwell on second causes. It is His doing! Do not let us blame the thorn that pierces us. 
Though the destruction of the nest may seem wanton, and almost entirely come at an hour when I do not expect it, though the things happen that I least anticipate--let me guard my heart and be not forgetful of God's care, lest I miss the meaning of the wreckage of my hopes. He has something better for me.
God will not spoil our nest, and leave us without a nest, if a nest is best for us. His seeming cruelty is love; therefore, let us always sit light with the things of time.
The eaglet says, "Teach me to fly!" The saints often sit idly wishing that they were like to their Lord. Neither is likely to recognize that the prayer is heard when the nest is toppled over! 
The breaking up of a nest an act of God's benevolence? What a startling thought!
Yet, here is an old writer who makes it a subject of praise; blesses God for it; declares it to be the first step of my education! I can understand praising Him for His gifts to body and soul; but I lose my breath in surprise when I am asked to make the first stance of my hymn the adoration of His mercy in loosing the ties of home!
Nay, my soul, it is to strengthen these ties that my Father breaks up the nest; not to get rid of home, but to teach thee to fly! Travel with thy Teacher and thou shalt learn that
The Home is wider than any nest!
He would have thee learn of the many mansions of which thy nest is only one. He would tell thee of a brotherhood in Christ, which includes, yet transcends, thy household fires. He would tell thee of the family altar, which makes thee brother to the outcast, sister to the friendless--in kinship to all.
Thy Father hath given thee wings in the breaking of thy ties! 
The storm that shook thy nest taught thee to fly!
God spreads broad wings;
And by His lifting, holy grace,
We find a wider, fairer place,
The freedom of untrammeled space;
Where clearer vision shows us things
The nest-view never brings.
The wing-life is characterized by comprehensiveness. High soaring gives wide seeing! (J.H. Jowett)

I got this after my nest wasn't just shaken, but had pretty much been toppled over. It was the most painful experience of my life. Each day, I would wake up wondering if things were ever going to get better, if the hurt was ever going to end, if I was ever going to be able to say I was OK. (I wasn't even gunning for "happy"--OK was good enough for me.)

After my world was turned upside down, I went to a friend's place, and I just cried and cried and cried. "It was the worst night of my life," I sobbed. After I had a good long cry, friend wisely said, "Well, if you say it was the worst night of your life, then the good thing is, it can only get better."

And things have gotten better. I've learned how to fly. I can't say I'm soaring, but I'm getting there.

So if you're going through something right now, have faith--you're going to be just fine. You'll even be more than just OK.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Best Musical of the Year

My friend and former colleague Carlo Vergara (of Zsazsa Zaturnnah fame) penned a one-act play called Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady. It was turned into a fantastic musical that has received such rave reviews. Watch the video below to get an idea of its awesomeness.

Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady - THE REPEAT!Na-miss mo ba ang unang run namin? Wag nang mag-alala! Ito na ang pagkakataon mo! Catch the most awaited re-run of the Musical to end all musicals! "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady The Musical" runs at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 from July 3 to 26. Wag nang magpatumpik-tumpik pa! For tickets, call ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit #KPANLL #LeadingLadyTheMusical #KPANLLOnstage #KPANLLTheRepeat #DalanghitaProductions
Posted by Dalanghita Productions on Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Video courtesy of Dalanghita Productions

You can catch the show on its second run tomorrow night (July 11), 8 pm at OnStage Greenbelt. Tickets are priced at 1500 for orchestra center, 1200 for orchestra side, and 800 for balcony. More info below. Carlo will be there to sign books. :) See you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Talking Body

After day 6 of my 30-day yoga challenge, I took off my shirt, stood in front of a mirror, and frowned at what I saw. Recently, I had accepted that I could not out-exercise the way I eat, so I've been trying to make better food choices (and not necessarily always succeeding). I know this is a great opportunity to build up the virtue life keeps prodding me to acquire again and again: patience. Sure, I've been working out more consistently and eating a bit more mindfully, but real results aren't going to come in a week or two.

After turning away from the mirror, I thought, "Life is too short to spend in a body I'm not happy with," and resolved to step up my efforts. I was tired of hearing people tell me that I "have such a thin face." (It happens a lot more often than you'd think.)

But maybe this yoga challenge is making me more enlightened, because immediately after that thought came another: "Life is too short to spend being ungrateful."

My body, for all my perceived flaws, has served me well all these years, and I realized that I hadn't even thanked it for all that it has done for me. So, body, THANK YOU.

For allowing me to keep dancing, and for remaining fairly flexible.

Photo by Felix Angue

For letting me finish a half-marathon, even without sufficient training.

For letting me keep playing the sport I love.

For carrying a child for nine glorious months, and producing enough breast milk (with equal parts difficulty and determination) for 22 and a half months before my son self-weaned.

Photo by Sara Black. Makeup by Omar Ermita.
For being able to do pull-ups, something I haven't been able to do before--not even when I was younger and lighter.

For allowing me to bear the weight of a toddler who's growing fast and seems to be all about the gains.

This gratefulness doesn't mean that I'm about to let myself go--it's just enabling me to see my body in a whole new light. I want to work out and eat right not (merely) because of vanity, but because I know my body deserves to retain its strength and its resilience and its beauty (in spite of--or because of--everything it's gone through: childbirth and breastfeeding and just plain getting older). It deserves to be treated with respect, and it deserves to be loved and nurtured. Just like the rest of me.

Photo by John Paul Santos