Friday, December 23, 2011

Tragedy in our Midst

I know most of us are neck-deep in preparation for our Christmas celebrations but I would like to share these stories of two of my colleagues who were personally affected by Typhoon Sendong. Not to dampen the merriments but just a reminder to help our fellowmen.


When T left her hometown, Cagayan de Oro, a week ago, she had no inkling that she was not going to see it in the same state again. On 16 December, Typhoon Sendong (Washi) unleashed flash floods in the dead of the night, devastating the coastal city and causing widespread destruction its people have never seen or imagined.  

The raging floods swept away people and property, devastating 20 towns and leaving more than 1,000 dead. The damage was so massive that the Philippine government has declared a national state of calamity.

For the people in the affected areas, the losses were tremendous and the experience, daunting.
T’s husband and family, all based in Cagayan de Oro, were forced to seek higher ground as the waters rose quickly and entered their house, located near Cagayan River. They had seconds to escape in complete darkness. Unfortunately, a 70-year old aunt was unable to get out of the house in time.

"Everything happened very fast, and now things have changed forever," T says. Only two structures now remain standing in their compound which used to be home to five families. Their vehicle was submerged in the floods. Mud covers the few items that they salvaged. T’s family, now based in an evacuation center along with hundreds of homeless families, is slowly picking up the pieces of their lives. They want to start cleaning up, but unfortunately, supplies are limited. Fresh water is not yet available.

Amidst the loss and uncertainty, T tries to find hope. She is scheduled to fly back home before Christmas Eve as she knows that her assistance is needed there. She draws strength from the words and expressions of help and support from colleagues, family, and friends. Starting anew may be difficult, but with others’ help, she – as with the rest of the affected people—can build life anew. "We cannot stop hoping — it is the only thing that sustains us now," she says.


Article below written by another colleague:

For the past 3 days, as L and I drive to town to buy cleaning materials, food, and water, we witness haunting scenes and hear stories of devastation that we never imagined would happen to our very own community in Iligan.

Two hundred meters from our house, there is a new Honda Civic waiting for its owner—a professor at the Mindanao State University—to return. At around 10 p.m. on Friday, 16 December, the professor tried to save his car from the rising flood waters, before rushing back to his house in Orchid Homes to save his family. But along the way, he was struck by a log and now lies in a hospital fighting for his life. There are many other scenes that speak of this tragedy.

Until this weekend’s floods, Orchid Homes, a  housing development built over the past decade, seemed to be an idyllic place to live in. It is located on a peninsula bounded by the sea and the last bend of the usually peaceful Bayug River. About three kilometers upstream is the bridge on the national highway leading to Iligan, built about six meters above normal water level.

Logs and mud
Last Friday, close to midnight, a torrent of muddy water carrying huge logs from Bukidnon’s forests was raging 2 to 3 meters over this bridge. The water cut down all in a path almost a kilometer wide straight to the sea across Bayug Island, drowning riverside homes—including  our own—and sweeping straight through Orchid Homes.

“Never in my 65 years here has this river’s waters reached this height”, an old-time neighbor told me after the flash floods. The worst flood in this area was in 1982, he said, but the water level was at least three meters lower than this year’s floods.

There was a very short window of time for people to realize they were in danger and act. At about 10 p.m., Army reservists rushed to Orchid Homes and across to Bayug Island to awaken people and warn them to leave. However, many people did not wake up, apparently not believing they were in danger. By 10:30 p.m., the water was knee deep and continued rising over the next minutes. What surprised people was the speed and strength of the water current. Between 11:30 and midnight, the floods peaked, ripping wooden houses from their foundations and completely submerging many single-storey concrete houses.

To describe it, the scene was very similar to the tsunami in Japan that swept all in its path. However, this flood came in the dead of night. Other than cars and debris from destroyed houses, this flood also carried a deadly cargo of huge logs—over one meter in diameter and up to 10 meters long—which hit people and destroyed property. These logs were cut from the forests far away and are now strewn around our neighborhood.

A safe haven for all
Amidst all this devastation, we can only do our best to pitch in and help out. Thankfully, late last year, we extended our house and decided to add a concrete roof to create a large upstairs terrace. On Friday night, this was the highest point in the barangay.

Over 100 people, from babies to the elderly plus pigs and chickens took shelter on our terrace as the waters swirled through the house below. A neighbor, told me that her daughter was trapped in her bedroom and that her husband forced open the door so they could flee the rising waters and reach our rooftop. It is good to know that our terrace became a safe haven for people during the most critical hours.

Yet one cannot help but feel a strong sense of loss. I heard over 400 are dead and 200 are still missing in Iligan. When added to the 700 or more souls lost in Cagayan de Oro, Typhoon Sendong has led to one of the greatest losses of life in recent Philippine history.

Still, we have to move on. For now, we are focused on helping each other out. Many neighborhood children have cuts, so yesterday, L rounded them up so that they could be given tetanus shots by her brother’s nurse volunteer friends.

The new homeless
In between cleaning up and helping out, we visited the suspension bridge which was the link for Bayug Island residents for over 25 years. A few steel cables lying in the mud attached to huge foundation beams are all that are left. B and S, long-time residents who knew L from childhood, were sitting looking forlorn under two pieces of roofing iron, with just a plastic chair and a small bag of clothes—their house gone. R, a 7-year old neighbor, and his five brothers and sisters ate dinner at our house tonight, also homeless. People are devastated and suffering but realize that life has to go on.

Definitely, support for those left homeless is needed as people come to terms with their losses and rebuild their lives. I know that life will never be the same again for the people in our community, but I do hope that the process of rebuilding and recovery can begin soon with other people’s help.

Again here's a list on how we can all help.

*Articles and photos taken from our office website.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Ramble

It's a few days before Christmas and how have you been coping? Me? I'm not yet done with Christmas shopping. To think I started shopping in October! This week have been hectic, buying gifts, lunch out with friends, buying more gifts. Add to that, the hubby has been busy at work so we're not able to go home early every day for the week. Well, we're still able to come home at a decent time (8pm is already late for us - we're lucky like that) but our little one has been clamoring time with us. The past two days, our yaya has been texting me to call Miya because she's crying and waiting for us to come home. You see I don't really call our house every hour of the day, I usually call home when we're already on our way home. But the past two days, our yaya had to text me to call because we're not yet home at our usual time. Haay! When I text early to ask if Miya's awake, she's always sleeping so it ends up that way - the yaya texting. The other night, we came home I think 9pm. We're lying in bed by past 10 and Miya's trying to fight off sleep just to be able to play with us. It was cute and sad at the same time.

This is our first Christmas with the little girl so we're pretty much excited. We've put up our Christmas tree way before December started.

Look at her naughty smile
She wants to get the trimmings
She really likes the silver flower
We didn't buy any new trimmings for this year. My plan is to just build up on what we've already have and add new trimmings every year as our little family grows (not just in number).

Sent out this photo of Miya to my colleagues since our party theme was hiphop.

From our family to yours, have a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sendong (Washi)

Please click on this link for a comprehensive list of how you can help the victims of Sendong. Let us all help.

Photo source

AVA + googoo&gaga

You would think my first purchase from AVA would be a designer bag or designer shoes...but no, my first purchase was for the little girl.

Chubby little hand excited to open the bag
Colors peeking through the wrapping paper
Sweet googoo&gaga dresses for my baby
The dresses are still big for her but I think in a couple of months, she'll fit into them. The size of these is medium. These will be Miya's 3rd and 4th googoo&gaga purchase. The first one was a onesie and a lap tee but she hasn't worn the tee yet. Bought the onesie for 12-18month size but she was able to wear it by 6months. The lap tee size I got was 2T and it's still big for her. Here she is featured in the googoo&gaga site a few months ago.

Nuat Thai: Ensogo Voucher

Remember I've been buying those Ensogo vouchers? The first ones I bought were for a massage at Nuat Thai. I've read good reviews for this massage place so I bought a pair for me and Joema. The first vouchers they sold can be used at any Nuat Thai branch so we went to the one in Pearl Drive (didn't know that the one in Mandaluyong was just our neighbor). The voucher was for a P250 body massage so we upgraded to a Swedish massage for me and Thai massage for Joema and just added P200 total. The next set of vouchers I bought were only for the branch in Mandaluyong so we went there two times (Oh yeah, bought many vouchers for these massages). Both branches were simple and neat. No frills massage place. Here are some photos from the Mandaluyong Branch.

Reception area

Door leading to the massage area

Your feet will be washed first before your massage
They use that peppermint scrub to wash your feet

Massage tables are behind those curtains. 

Bend It With Beckham

As a belated Anniversary gift to hubby, I bought us tickets (the cheapest!) to the Azkals-LA Galaxy match. I was one of this first to buy tickets I think. Saw on a news article that they were supposed to sell the tickets November 10, but they released the tickets on the 11th. Oh yes, I ordered online immediately. I monitored twitter and FB for news on what time they are releasing the tickets haha! Then after office, I went to Robinsons Galleria for the Ticketworld outlet to pay for and get the tickets. Later that night, I gave it to Joema. He was surprised alright! Because when I told him days before the ticket prices, he asked me if we'll watch and I told him no because the tickets were expensive. Yay me!

So last December 3, we trooped to Harrison Plaza early (that's were we thought it would be easy to park), around 4:30pm we left the house.

Left our tabaching at home
We were already in HP past 5, so we ate dinner first at Shakey's. By the way, I'm not that familiar with the area, although I used to live somewhere in P. Ocampo, so I had to google where the Rizal Football Stadium is. Was so happy to find out the it was just across SM, which is beside Harrison Plaza. After eating we went straight to Rizal Stadium that was a little after 6pm. We thought we were early because our ticket says 7:30pm. The entrance across SM is for VIP/Grandstand ticket holders only. We had to walk all the way to the other entrance along P. Ocampo. Fortunately, we saw the LA Galaxy bus just as they were arriving. When we got to the bleachers entrance, the line was so long! We had to walk all the way to Starbucks along Taft. I had to sit there because my foot was bothering me by this time. Joema thought of going to the end of the line and good thing he did because the line snaked all the way to and circled McDonald's beside La Salle.

The line in front of Starbucks

See the time? Almost 7pm and the line's still there. And I'm still there waiting for Joema.
I don't know what the organizers were doing and why the line was not moving when we got there. By the time we got inside those gates, everyone was in a frenzy because the match was about to start. Hay! We got tickets for the blue bleachers (told you, it was the cheapest) and the nearest bleachers when you enter the stadium is the white bleachers. We turned left, unfortunately that was going to the green bleachers. We had to turn back and walk all the way to the other end of the stadium where the blue bleachers were.

We were seated near this cheering section
The happy football fan
Can you spot Beckham?
A blurry David kicking at Beckham's corner
That's him! Jersey # 23
After the match Azkals went around the stadium...there's Phil and Anton

I won't even attempt to do a recap of the match. I hope you were able to watch it. My most memorable moment was when David took off his shirt. I was not even bothering to watch the match anymore hahahaha!

We didn't have a hard time going home either. Traffic wasn't that jammed as I expected it to be. Unfortunately, my yaya forgot to pack the breastpump so I had to wait until we got home before I pumped milk for my baby. I was irritated with my yaya for forgetting. Miya was already asleep when we got home but she still woke up when we arrived. But I had to pump breastmilk first before I got to play with her. That's why I needed the breastpump with me sot that I can pump milk while in transit. I want to immediately play with Miya when I get home. The woes of breastfeeding moms!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Date with Ninang Grace

Finally my daughter was able to see her Ninang Grace again (before this, Grace only saw Miya during her baptism).  We met up at Ayala Triangle after Miya's check up with the derma. She has regular check-up due to her atopic dermatitis. I don't know why we only thought of meeting up with Grace now when we almost always go to that park after Miya's derma check-up. Here's a photoblog.
They can pass as mother+daughter because they're both chubby haha

With Mommy and Daddy - Miya can't fix her eyes on the camera, she had so much to look at

We had dinner at MOMO - one of the few places with only a couple of people on a Saturday night

Miya transferred next to Daddy - it was her first time to sit on a high chair in a resto!
Practice walking

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Miya Update

Remember that post I made where I mentioned that I made another blog exclusively for Miya? Well, it turned out I haven't been updating that too. For me, it's such a chore to maintain two blogs. And since most of what's happening with me nowadays are somewhat related to my daughter, it turned out I didn't blog here either. So I've finally decided to just blog whatever I want to blog here and decide later on if I want to transfer it there.

Anyways, Miya's now 10 months old! Can you imagine that? When I look at her newborn pictures now, I find myself surprised at how small she was then. She's so big now! She's so talkative (just baby talk - mum-ma, bababa, athathatha) and bungisngis! She can now clap her hands, wave bye-bye. And just yesterday, she walked in her crib all on her own... no cruising! I'm just sad I wasn't able to witness it. My yaya told us when we got home that Miya even placed her toys in the crib to one side and she tossed her pillows out of the crib then slowly tried walking without help. I can just imagine her. But she's so shy (sometimes), she doesn't want anyone looking when she does it, our yaya says. So last night I tried discretely recording her on video when she was in her crib, she just sat there looking at the cellphone - she knows she's being recorded because the light in my cellphone was lit up. Smart girl!

Here she is pushing her toy. This toy converts from a toy "car" which she can ride to a walker which she can push around while practicing her walking. She still needs a "lampin" around her chest so that yaya can assist her while walking.

Cruising on her push toy

Passports: Check!

We finally have our passports! I've changed my name to my married name, got Miya her first passport and well, Joema renewed his just so we'll all have to renew our passports on the same date in the future.

We schedule our appointment through the DFA's website. For family appointments you may go to this link. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that we were supposed to go on the 7th but we rescheduled the appointment to the 16th. The new DFA building, in case you had previous passports in the old building, is now near SM Mall of Asia. Here's the map.  Our appointment was for 8:30am but since the documents sent to me said we need to be there by 8am, we left the house a little after 7am. We arrived there before 8am. I think there's a parking lot right across DFA but we parked in the lot next to McDonalds. Miya was like a probinsyana. She was looking everywhere while we were crossing the streets. She must be amazed by the buses she saw, the wide road we were crossing, the buildings. We arrived early but there were already a lot of people in DFA that morning. Once you get inside the gate, you need to present your appointment papers to one of the persons in the table just before you enter the building. Since we were there with Miya, we were told to go up directly to the second floor. When we got upstairs, we went through another round of checking the papers and application form, then we were handed a number. We proceeded to the first room on the second floor for the processing of our papers. I guess the window for family appointments was not yet open because we waited for a bit. Just for a bit. I think they were bundling up the applications before opening the window since they were already receiving applications for the elderly. One man there got angry (I believe he came with his child and wife) because he said he was waiting for a long time already. He said he should have just waited downstairs where, we can see from the number monitoring thingy, atleast the numbers were being called and moving. A few minutes later it was our number was blinking in the monitor. For Miya, who's a minor aside from the application form, we submitted her birth certificate (in NSO paper). For me, I submitted photocopy of my old passport and our marriage contract (in NSO paper) since I'm changing my name. For Joema, we only submitted a copy of his old passport. Although of course we brought the old original passports as well. Don't worry every document that you need to bring will be listed once you make the appointment online. The problem with that was it was a bit vague if they need the birth certificate in NSO paper for passport renewals.  This stressed me a bit because I didn't have on file Joema's birth certificate in NSO paper. I found this out on Monday before our appointment (which was on a Wednesday). We had to ask my in-laws to bring the one they found in Bocaue. Which actually had me more stressed out later because the one they brought is in the old NSO paper which looked like it was just a copy that was authenticated to be a true copy. Anyways, I was really glad DFA did not need the birth certificate. Their requirement was vague because it said it needed the birth certificate if the birth place in the old passport was not specific. Joema's old passport only says Bulacan so I thought that was not specific enough. But just the same, better to bring everything in case they need it. Also for Miya, since I was with her they also attached a copy of my application to her application. So better have your application forms photocopied as well. I did not do that so I had to pay P5 for the copy (they have a ready copy machine there). After the processing of the papers, we had to pay at the other room. Paid P1,200 for each of us since we were all qualified as express processing because we have a kid. You have no choice in that matter, as long as you lined in the express lane which is automatic for the senior citizens and young children. After that it was picture taking time. I thought we were going to go back to the first room where our papers were processed because there were cameras there but apparently those were for senior citizens only. While us with children will go and mix with the other applicants for the picture taking. Fortunately, it wasn't a long wait since Miya was starting to get squirmy. The problem was the guy manning the station we were assigned to didn't know how to take Miya's pictures. Now, you've seen Miya's pictures here in my blog you can attest that my daughter knows how to look at a camera and smile for a picture. That guy was horrible. Instead of looking at his monitor to which the camera is hooked and see if my daughter's already looking, he was looking at us (me while I get Miya to look at the camera, and Miya looking at the toy I was dangling in front of the camera). We had to do it several times. I wanted to tell him, "let me click the button!" So irritating! My daughter was getting irritated too, she was trying to get out of the chair because it was taking him a long time. Plus they were telling me to get her bangs off her eyebrows. What the eff?! What can I do with baby hair which doesn't want to be bothered?!?!?! Anyways, after all that, we still had a fairly easy time getting our passports. After the picture taking, it was time to pay the courier and then we were out of there. Took us about an hour and a half to finish the whole process. Not bad eh? 

Put Your Right Foot In

Well, hello! Right about time I update this blog. I can think of a bunch of topics to update you with but let me start with a not so good thing. I was brought to the ER last week because my foot has swollen. It really started two weeks ago. I noticed a small bump on my left foot after practicing for two days for our Christmas presentation (our theme is hiphop - go figure!). No, we're not practicing the whole day, just an hour or two each day. And then on Friday, I went to Makati and met up with a friend. We had dinner and did some shopping in Forever 21 (it was my first time in their Makati store, it was HUUUGEE!!!). Later that evening I felt my right foot was starting to swell too. Hmmm..I thought it was just because I was tired or something. The following Monday, we had a massage at Nuat Thai, Mandaluyong (will blog about it) and after the massage I felt that my feet were back to normal. Only to be bothered by it again on Wednesday, my daughter's 10th month birthday celebration. I was really cringing in pain that Wednesday night. It was actually a good thing her grandparents were there who couldn't get enough of her and were always wanting to carry her. By Thursday early morning, I couldn't step with my right foot - it was that swollen. So I've asked Joema to bring me to the hospital. We were there around 5:45am and got out by lunch time. Hay! My foot was x-rayed which resulted in a suspicious fracture. So they had to ask an ortho to take a look at me. I was given Arcoxia in the ER and the Voltaren gel was spread in my swollen foot. I was given treatment for acute gout but my uric acid level was not even that high. I'm just frustrated with the ER doctor because after repeating to her a few times that I'm breastfeeding and asking if the meds she's prescribing is safe, she was still adamant in giving the meds to me. Aside from the other two meds, she also prescribed Colchicine. She said her dictum is that the mother should manage the pain first. I don't care about her dictum, I care about my baby. I did not take any other meds when I got home. I wanted to consult with our pedia first but he was out of town so I contacted his wife, who's my OB. But my OB was not replying back to me so I had to search the internet. I got conflicting answers in the internet so I was starting to get worried. I had to ask two friends to ask their sister and husband, respectively, who are doctors if the meds are safe. Later that evening, my OB called me and said not to take any of it and just drink mefenamic acid or ibuprofen for the pain and folic acid with vitamin B complex (Folanerve) and stick with the right diet to lower my uric acid. She also told me to consult with a vascular surgeon, she referred someone to me who is also her doctor. She mentioned that in her case, they did an ultrasound of her foot or something. Funny when she called me to ask what happened, she said "Cris, kilala kita." Haha maybe she remembered how I was during my labor. I won't complain unless the pain is something I can't bear. Now, I have to set an appointment with her doctor because my right foot swelled again last night. Haay!

A Love Letter to the Father of My Children

Dear Honey, Yesterday was Father's Day but I don't think any celebration is enough to celebrate how good a father you are to our k...