Monday, November 30, 2009

My Mom, The Author.

I used to joke Mommy, with hurt in my voice, “why didn’t you give me your payat genes?” I was referring to her special gift of gobbling sweets and carbohydrates without gaining an inch on her waist. Whereas I, her bratty bonch, have accepted my fate of diet pills, crash diets and gym sessions just to keep insecurities away. I learned to accept eventually that I was going to be chubby all my life. Tough luck, huh?

But this doesn’t mean I didn’t inherit anything good from her. In fact, I have a lot to thank her genes for. I got her unflinching “work before play” attitude; her go-getter stamina, a zest and passion for life and...according to her, a creative flair for words.

My mom writes like she breathes and eats. She conjures words and phrases like she stirs and throws ingredients in a pot of stew.

And I’ve got to admit, growing up with a writer for a mom made my life “more interesting” in school. Hey, don’t get me wrong, she didn’t write anything for me. She wanted me to sweat it out like the rest of my classmates. That’s how great a mom she is! Well…let’s just say she edited me and edited my essays well, making masterpieces out of relatively “ho-hum” compositions.

But in college, I started attending more scriptwriting classes than creative writing ones. Perhaps, it was a conscious or subconscious effort, knowing that I could never measure up to my mom as a creative, feature and technical writer. I carved my own niche, but I realize I wouldn’t be a great TV Writer now if not for my mom’s merciless editing and bashing, her gift for finding better words and syntaxes, which still amazes me to this day.

Knowing all these all this time though, didn’t prepare me for the wealth of emotions I felt the day my mom launched her first book—IN ANOTHER DRESS last November 27 in UP, Diliman. Under the pseudonym AnnaManila, also the namesake of her blog, my mom wrote mostly about retirement jitters, the pains and joys of growing old, always with a dash of humor and a relentless quirky tone that can topple any top magazine editor-in-chief.

The night before my mom’s launch, and as I read on, page after page of my mom’s stories in chapter two (Whimpering, Simpering, Blundering Youth), I realized that even though my mom and I are very close, as in girlfriends/BFF-kind-of-close, there are still so many parts of her I didn’t know.

I knew her only as my mother— the working mom, the caring mom, the worrier mom. She told me she came from Tondo, sported pigtails in high school and liked eating Horlicks. But I never saw this shy, insecure girl, who pined for her father’s approval and her sister’s recognition. I never ever saw my mom as a struggling colegiala, who wanted to gain new friends and be “ensconced in college society”. Never imagined my mom, my dear, loving mom, grieving over childish mistakes.

I never imagined what my mom went through, living in Tondo, raised in a lower middle class home, studying and working at the same time, raising a brood of 6 while balancing a career-- what my mom had to go through just to be the strong and talented woman she is now. To be my mother that she is now.

As I continued to leaf through the pages, I felt a surge of emotion overcoming me. The night before the launch, mom was in full panic mode.

What if they hate my book?

I hate my book!

I hate my hair!

What if too few people attend? What if there’s too many?

What if I stutter, what if I fall, what if--!!!!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to control myself any longer, even as I planned to prepare a small speech at the launch. There was no better time than this, I thought to myself.

Tears started to well in my eyes as I told her, “Ma, this is a great book. I’m so proud of you.”

Mommy replied with a tight embrace. “Now, I don’t feel so nervous about the launch anymore. Thank you my bonch.”

Stripping myself of biases, being a book-lover and my mom’s toughest critic as well, I can honestly and with all sincerity say that AnnaManila wrote a great book. Any reader, regardless of age, class, gender and status will surely cry, laugh, sigh and daydream with AnnaManila. For in four chapters, and forty-eight stories, AnnaManila succeeds to “undress” herself, and speak from the heart. In the end, it’s “another dress” we’d fit over and over again, and never get tired of.

As for the daughter in me, I thank my mom for always being there to edit not only my words, but also the work in progress that is me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The First Day of Christmas Project

Exactly four years ago, I watched a documentary film entitled Bunso. It was about juvenile delinquents locked in jails in provinces, and it touched me so much that I was inspired to organize an outreach for them. I started out in Pasig City Jail. It was tough to do since I had to ask permission from DOJ and all the red tape I had to go through. But they were very supportive and together with my friends and orgmates in college, we gave the kids a very memorable Christmas.

Today when I received an email from Miss Jaedee regarding the First Day of Christmas Project, I felt not an ounce of hesitation. My immediately said yes.

And since I cannot explain the project better than the blog site itself, please feel free to click on this link to find out more about the project:

If you're interested, kindly email me (my email is found above) or you can contact Jaedee directly at

Advanced Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Behold my mighty, shinin', spanking new planner!

So there I was, walking straight to the school supplies section. My steps were small but quick. I was eager to hold and turn the cover, smell the fresh pages and dip my hands on clean texts of dates and months.

I was elated when I saw a a whole shelf of planners, brimming with colors. There were big leathery planners that were too expensive for my taste (and budget..yeah, but mostly budget!), small ones with a few pages with colorful covers to make up for its thinness, and other medium-sized ones that were either brown or black, like no-nonsense, comely secretaries with round-rimmed glasses and stiff freshly-starched skirts, ready for business and eager to organize its next master's life.

And I was the most willing, over anxious master.

But then all of the planners had one glaring defect-- it all had the year 2010 stamped on them. I felt my hope waning.

I approached a National Book store sales lady near the area and asked if there were any 2009 versions left.

"Ay, phased out na po Ma'am yung 2009!" (Translation: Hibang ka ba, magtu-2010 na! Siyempre wala na davah?)

Well, of course it is! I know because my naughty kid neighbors have been letting loose their fireworks as early as now. Yes, it's just two months before the Happy New Year of 2010 arrives. But because my 2009 planner (my 2 beautiful 2009 planners -- from Starbucks and Skin Food) floated in murky and did I mention stinky flood waters of Ondoy (which submerged our entire home last September 26, oh that ill-fated day!), and since this November, I will be taking my Masters and working as TV/NGO Writer/Producer at the same time, not to mention doing voice overs and writing for Hinge Inquirer magazines, I need, am in desperate and in dire need of a planner!

Anyway, just as I was about to turn around, my shoulders hunched, about to give up my fate to writing my life plans on my Jollibee Kids notebook (which managed to survive since I brought it with me when I was in Ateneo for the's funny how the old things survived Ondoy, the ones we often reject and almost laugh at, like our old car that managed to be wreck and mud-free from it all), Sam (my bestfriend and my boyfriend-- yes I'm lucky to have found both in one guy)pointed out a lane of organizers, hiding in the dark part of the book store.

And there it was-- black and small and cheap. It is sensitive enough to include 2009 in its roster of years (it has until 2013 I think). It has sections for weekly, monthly and even hourly planning. I grabbed the lone organizer and squeezed it between my arms.

Today, I opened my new planner. It might just be a planner, that's all. Just an organizer, no big deal. But for me, it was so much more. After Ondoy, my plans in life suddenly changed, as if my world stopped.

But then, here I am, clutching a new planner, starting anew, taking off from where I was before Ondoy.

And I'm so excited to fill it up with my messy handwriting. And get elated over the special dates where I have to do some stunts just to get over the day.

Hello, new planner, are you ready for my schedule and my calligraphy handwriting? I'll try my best to get you dry this time! But I can't do anything about my handwriting, sorry.