Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Neverland

I have a deadline.

To post my Christmas entry right before Christmas ends and the way it’s going on now, I feel like I’m rushing to edit a TV segment, airing live in five, four, three, to one…

Ho-hum! Just one of the things I love about blogging, though. I can write whatever the hell I want. It’s my space, my words, at my own pace and time. Yet it feels fun imposing pressure. Writing’s nature is half of that, I suppose.

Now what to write? I can jot down my 12 days of Christmas; or upload pictures of our noche buena; or will an essay entitled “My Christmas Vacation”, ala-grade-school-english-assignment do? Maybe something political, touching on the oppressive consumerist aspects of Christmas, and how capitalists use the season to make us – the common men— shop 'til we drop, buy now, buy more! (, such an ugly word, don't you think?)

Instead, I decided to write down the smallest, simplest things that make me happy. In Peter Pan’s world, these are “happy thoughts” that make Wendy and her brothers float and fly into Neverland. I guess I’ve come to a point when Christmas doesn’t mean festivities and gift-giving, lights and lanterns, sparkles and peace signs passed around. It’s a state of mind, a state of being, a line of thought.

This Christmas, my gift for myself is not the coveted full body massage or diamond peel, or a purple cute sandals I've been visiting in Shoe Salon for a year now, earning suspicious glances from the sales ladies. Instead, I give myself this— a list of precious, priceless memories and thoughts I can go back to, time and again, just to remind myself how blessed I am to have been created by Jesus and be surrounded by so much love.

1. The smell of my mom' dusters. I loved to sniff them when I was a kid every time mom was away for a business trip. It made bearing her absence much easier. Mom never used perfume. She has an innate scent, a combination of dough, mint, jasmine - it beats all CK and Cool Water and all those famous perfumes. I used to fall asleep, hugging her duster.

2. My sister running, throwing herself in front of me, to save me from a hearty beating from Dad. I believe I have the greatest ate in the world. I used to ruin her birthdays, snatch her gifts, bite her, scratch her, even ruin her solo pictures, by inserting my hand or foot just when the camera clicks. I've done the meanest, cruelest things to her when we were kids. But ate was just altogether a different species. I thank her for teaching me what it really means to love.

3. Back in grade 3, as we were heading home in our school service, I just couldn't keep still. I knew it was the day we were going to have our new car! I was too anxious to get home that I even shared this fact to my bus mates. Around 3 blocks from home, a run-down, dirty silver owner-type jeep passed by and honked. The owner was just halfway done. It did not even have a roof and the engine was out there, naked. My brother honked again. I swallowed a little. Then, chin up, I stepped out of our service and sat next to my kuya and beamed back to my bus mates.

4. Dancing "Ice Ice Baby" with my grade 3 buddies Tiudy and Ida.

5. Auditioning for a slot in our Drama Club and landing it with my very own rendition of Katya Santos in Ang TV. Plus I also imitated the "Flintstone" commercial, where little sister keeps pestering big sister why she's wearing a dress, putting on make-up, etc. And ate keeps answering "Because!!!!"

6. Sneaking out of school during mornings. This was a private, all-girls, nun-administered high school and we weren't allowed to leave the school's premises. That would be like cutting classes, right? But often, we snuck in a friend's car and hid at the back to have breakfast in Mc Donald's, St. Francis. I hated the pancakes, but was just in love with the thrill of getting caught! Luckily, we weren't.

7. Ranking 3rd in a carbonara-eating contest in college, organized by the student council. Competing with THREE hungry boys, and a starbucks GC at stake, I bid poise goodbye and chomped away.

8. The first time I sang in front of a crowd. It was for a freshmen orientation and our org UP UGAT was presenting. I sang "Here's Where the Story Ends" by The Sundays (with partner Adam David). While singing, I just felt the whole auditorium listening, really listening. After the performance, a girl from the next band introduced herself and said she liked my voice. I was in bliss!

9. And hmmm....I remember Fete de la Musique in Podium. I was with K4 and some of my orgmates in UP CAST. Something was already going on between me and Sam, but we weren't official yet.

That whole night, Sam and I weren't together. But during the Cynthia Alexander gig, finally, we had time alone. It was the first time he wrapped his arms around me from the back (spooning, in short!). I felt goosebumps all over! My head was light, and my cheeks were on fire! The crowd, the heat, the sweat, the rush of people moving here and there made me feel dizzy. I held on to his arms just to keep from fainting. I also knew then that I was falling in love.

10. My pamangkin Andeng's sweet, impish, mischievous smile. Ang pinaka-pilyang bata! She totally changed me. Before, I didn't understand why people go gaga over kids. For me, they looked all the same, just...well, kids. But when Andeng came, I finally understood why.'s past midnight already. And I'm already sleepy.... hope you're not though! My buzzer beater greetings to all, keep those happy thoughts coming, Merry Christmas! Tata, I'm off to fly fly fly in a faraway land, in the secret pockets of my dreams! Goodnight everybody!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Christmas and Crisis: You can never be too cheap when it's about the spirit, after all!

With the global crisis and skyrocketing prices of gas, vegetables, and practically everything one has to pay for, what's a girl and guy to do?

So today, Sam and I have officially said goodbye to road trips in Tagaytay, weekly splurges on foodie-fact finding missions in posh restaurants and expensive movie dates.

Hello cheap, but nonetheless fun and thrill-filled dates!

For our first stop: Greenhills Shopping Center.

Every night, from 7: 00 to 10: 40 pm, masa people troop to Greenhills to watch a Christmas show staged in a life-sized manger, while enjoying cheap, but great food and strolling the night market.

The food binger in me relished in the abundance of Philippines' best cuisine. Street food, what else? From everything inihaw (corn, squid, isaw, bangus, betamax) to
Oriental (siopao, noodles, congee and siomai) to Pinoy's favorite Christmas staples like suman, bibingka and puto-bumbong. Chairs and tables are available for those who want to eat, while watching the show.

And while you're at it, why not squeeze in a bit of shopping? The place is filled with tiangges, where cheap finds and thrills are sure to be discovered. Plus, you can ask for bargain prices with a little bit of prodding
and charm. In other words, make "TAWAD!!!!!"

The looped Christmas show might not be music to the ears once you've heard it for the nth time, but the throng of people coming in, not to mention the sights and smells, might just provide variety and ample entertainment.

For me, just imbibing the Christmas spirit is worth it. I remember feeling so much awe when I watched the show the first time in COD, Cubao, when I was six years old. They transferred the show to Greenhills around three years ago, I think. But every year, I make it a point to watch, just to remember how it feels when I was kid. When Christmas was all the magic and happiness I've known it to be.

The night ended with our stomaches bloated from too much food, and yet our wallets and budgets intact. Best of all, blue, green, red and yellow lights blinked on our faces as we kissed good night. Without words, we knew it was the best pre-Christmas date we ever had.


Commute to Greenhills: P22 (two persons)
Entrance Fee: None
Ferino's Bibingka: P95
Gulaman: P20 (two persons)
Rice with 3 pieces isaw: P69
Inihaw na Mais: P20
Fishballs: P30 (two orders)
Siomai with noodles: P25