Sunday, February 15, 2009

Smelling shoes

I did 6 things on Vday yesterday and came home at around 3:30 am but didn't even feel sleepy yet. 1.) gym 2.) office work 3.) zip line at Outland Adventure with Pam, Robert and Shena 4.) Rachel Alejandro's concert in SM with Ian, Winvic and Jolen 5.) dinner at Iranian resto and 6.) halo-halo and chill in MTS with them gihapon - plus Yeng.

The day involved buying expensive but extremely comfortable high heels Crocs for work, watching half naked girls do the belly dance, and the car breaking down.

But by far the best thing about yesterday was the talking - whether or not children should take care of old parents, suspicions that Obama might be an atheist, the cost of our real estate and car purchases, Rachel Alejandro's love life, annoying people we see every day who talk about shoes and bags and telenovelas and moviestars ALL the time, former classmates who have not aged since college graduation, overbearing parents, being overworked and grossly underpaid, dealing with demanding bosses, stem cell research, Democrats and Republicans, GMA, Karlo Nograles, Sarah Duterte, Luz Ilagan, corruption, double standards of Pinoys, and so on and so forth.

At one point in the Iranian resto full of people, Ian picked up my right shoe and smelled it to see if it was indeed odorless as Crocs are supposed to be. It wasn't he said. He picked up his shoe and Winvic's shoe to smell them too and compare. Winvic's shoe was odorless Ian declared. That's how Winvic and I ended up smelling all our shoes too just to check whether Ian was telling the truth. I found that hilarious. Glad to have friends who can be crazy like that.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Went to MEDCO yesterday to listen to Seng Awng Mai Nbwi, a peace staff of the Shalom Foundation from Myanmar and Quinton Mtyala, a journalist from South Africa. They're exchange fellows of Environmental Broadcast Circle's PEACECOMM (peace communicators communicating for peace). 

Interesting discussion we had. Some of the things that came up:

In Myanmar it's forbidden to use the name of Aung Aung San Suu Kyi or the name of Burma's Senior General Than Shwe in print or broadcast. Since 1962, Myanmar has been ruled by the military junta but Seng says that next year in 2010 the country will hold national elections. That seems to be good news but the military junta has continued to be vague about when the elections are going to happen. Seng says that in Burma freedom of speech is non existent. A special government censor board reviews all news articles before they see print. So anything that's felt to be critical of the junta simply gets cut out.

On the other hand, in South Africa, self-censorship of the South African press is extremely disciplined - there's great effort to not sensationalize news and put victims of abuse on the spot. Unlike in the Philippines, South Africa doesn't have an MTRCB that censors nudity in film and on TV. Quinton says soft porn can be seen anytime of the day and it's up to South African's to decide whether to watch it or not. "We're adults, we can decide for ourselves what to watch," Quinton explains. What's funny was that Quinton expressed his shock and amusement that here in the Philippines, porn is easily accessible on the sidewalks! "In South Africa that's impossible. Porn can only be bought in sex shops!" Hmm... Now that's food for thought!

The best part of that meeting was at the end when Quinton spoke in Afrikaans (the language of South Africa) and I spoke in Dutch (the language of The Netherlands which is very similar to Flemish, the language of Belgium). We understood each other perfectly despite the tiny differences. For instance, "lekker" is the same as "leuk" in Afrikaans. Kung sa Bisaya pa, "lami" ug "nindot" pareha ra ang paggamit. Anyhow, Quinton got my facebook contact details and I'm expecting to add him anytime soon and keep in touch till my dream of visiting South Africa comes true! Leuk zeg dat ik iemand ken van daar en die ik nu dus kan bezoeken! :-)

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Sunday, February 8, 2009


Alone in the office. Capturing the videos I took in Marilog. In front of me, 7 floors down, lies Victoria Plaza. There are 15 taxis, 15 jeepneys and 10 cars. The sun has sunk. It's going to get dark soon. But it's only 4:30 p.m. I'll put on the lights when I can't see the letters on my keyboard anymore. Kapoy magcapture ug video. I realize my hands are too shaky, the footage too dark, the audio uneven. It's tough to be a filmmaker. Need lots of patience to sit for long hours and learn from my mistakes. Logging all the good shots. Several more tapes to go. Tomorrow I'm going to visit Steve, Andrew and Rey in Ateneo to ask about renewable energy tips for house renovation. Thinking about meeting May and Joy too about upcoming wedding. Already the to-do list in my head is getting longer. Got to make time for Mt Biking. Looking forward to Saturday with the girls, Sunday driving to the farm and Feb. 21 diving with Bayani and his vets. I need to stop thinking and concentrate on what I'm doing.  

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Shakespeare on beauty

"God gave you a face but instead you want to paint yourself another one." - Shakespeare

Somebody recently told me to put powder on my face and be more kikay. Wala daw koy kaarte-arte and that's why I tend to look older than my age and very plain. My friend even told me to wear plunging necklines for a change. He was probably joking but I was incensed. 

I remember the first day of my teaching career. I was 19 on June 6, 2001 and worried my first year college students wouldn't take me seriously because I was only 4 years older than them. So weeks before I had practiced wearing high heels and lipstick, thinking that these would make me look more mature at least. 

I vividly remember during a break on that first day of teaching that I had to go to the toilet and saw myself in the mirror. The pink lipstick was the first thing I noticed and remember feeling foolish so I took it off.

On that first year of teaching, the lipstick stayed off, never to be put on again (until six years later when I had bought a super expensive lipstick which I felt compelled to use as it would expire in 3 years time I was told). But the blouse stayed on and the heels too. Every day of that first year of teaching I walked up and down the 5 floors of the buildings named after dead Jesuits in those excruciating heels. That's how I ended up perfecting classroom management sitting down since this was the only position that gave my poor feet some respite. 

In the second year of teaching, I decided that well dressed teachers are not necessarily the best teachers so I exchanged my heels with flats and the pants with more flexible jeans. The blouse stayed on. The problem with blouses though is that they can be quite uncomfortable at the arm area. I lift my arms and the whole blouse goes up. 

Fastforward to my last years of teaching: my attire had evolved to sneakers, jeans, and t-shirts. Friends kidded me that I didn't look teacherish but I reasoned that a couple of male colleagues were doing the same so why shouldn't I? The problem was that every semester students would be pointing out in their teacher-evaluation forms that Miss Maya is really pretty BUT she would look prettier if only she dressed better. I never thought that my fashion sense could cause such ruckus. The students obviously wanted me to put more class and variety into my wardrobe - to help inspire them to actively participate in class (?) 

My hair, I discovered years later, was also a hot topic among students. A good friend who's the tita of one of my students confided that her niece and her niece's classmates observed I come to class with unruly hair. I didn't realize it was THAT unruly but apparently it was so I started combing my hair more often. Instead of only in the morning, I combed my hair before every class - if there was enough time left. 

I would like to end this blog entry with an insight of some sort but there are so many things to say that it's better not to say anything at all. If i have provoked you, caused you to disagree or agree with me well, then, my blogging goal for the week's been accomplished. 

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Had Yoga-Pilates yesterday with Philip who learned it in America. All the stretching looks boringly easy but after 10 minutes, I and Manny, the only other exerciser in the room, were panting and sweating and complaining. Philip was relentless. I barely had time to fix my falling hair every time we got up from lying down. No time even to readjust my oversized T-shirt during push-ups so that my bra wouldn't peek through and reflect in the mirrors along the walls. The one-hour session had us contorting in Mountain Pose, Extended Mountain Pose, Cobra Pose, Tiger Pose, etcetera animal pose. All the inhales and exhales had to be executed to the rhythm of the flexing and unflexing of our stomach muscles. (If ever the financial crisis catches up with me too and I become too poor to afford gymming, I can always do Yoga-Pilates at home on just a mat. How reassuring.) 

One of the useful things i learned that night was this: the abs can only be as strong or as weak as the back because their muscles are interconnected and go around the body kind of like a flowerpot. 

The highlight of the session, however, was during downtime when Manny and I got chatty about my ambitious houseplans and Manny's husband whose highblood spun out of control last year resulting to his early death at 44. Manny's revelations blew me away:

1. The man you marry will not be the same man ten years later. (And she didn't mean for the better.)

2. If Manny could turn her life back she wouldn't have married at 22. Too young she now says. 27 is a better age. 

3. 80% of Manny's friends would love to leave their husbands but can't because they're financially dependent on the jerks.

4. Manny was busier when her husband was still alive. She was so busy, she never had time to go to the gym. "My husband wasn't very open-minded," Manny muses.

I couldn't help asking, "So it's a good thing our husband died, isn't it?"

Manny: (Smiles) Yes.

Maya: "So you're saying you're happier now than when he was still alive?"

Manny: (Laughs) Yes.

(An honest question gets an honest answer.)

Manny was quick to point out, however, that she didn't mean to discourage me. It's fate probably she mused. "Some get lucky but for most people I know, marriage is a drag more than it's supposed to be liberating." How insightful of her. I rephrased her point: "In other words, you're saying that it's better to be single and in control and happy than married with kids but not really happy and always wishing you could be happier." 

Before we parted ways, Manny and I agreed that whatever state a person's in - whether single or married - it's important to try to be contented and not always wish for this and that. Contentment, according to Ghandi,  is the secret to happiness. Heck, I'll make that my goal this year. 

Peace out!

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