Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Nanny Weekend

     My nephew and niece are at an age where they are practicing their independence. At ages eight and six respectively, they have just recently been introduced to the concept of SLEEPOVERS.

     I remember the time too, when my cousins and I were at their age, we too had regular sleepovers at each other's houses during summer vacation. We had one week to raid, pillage and conquer the chosen castle, uh, I mean camp out at the designated cousin's house before we were returned to our respective parents at my grandmother's house the following week.

     I think giving kids this type of experience, even at the tender ages of six and eight is a very good idea. It teaches kids how to plan ahead, make choices, get along with other people, adjust to living conditions and house rules that they are not accustomed to, take responsibility and take care and be respectful of their and other people's belongings.

     Although what I can only recall now is how much fun we had as kids in those sleepovers with my cousins, I did not realize how prepared their houses had to be for such an invasion of minimum five kids per week of summer vacation. It's only now when my mom and I babysit for my nephew and niece do I realize what a well-stocked pantry and a very creative "baby sitting activity list" can do for your and your little guests' sanity and relaxation.  :-)

     Doing the "learn to eat what is on your plate" sermon, though a very good lesson to teach kids while they are young is really not the best way to deal with picky eaters. And while a hotdog and fried chicken smörgåsbord would be the most painless way to get them to eat for the duration of their stay with you, I do not think it's very sensible from a nutritional and healthy-eating habit point of view. Though they would have their moments, these two are beginning to open up their palates to new taste experiences whenever they are here at home.

     So, my dilemma this week was how to keep these two kids occupied so I can finish chores around the house. Well, after breakfast and a little time for cartoons on the television, I called the two over and gave them each a pad of paper, and watercolor pencils. To keep the mess at the minimum, I just told them that those are colored pencils and the small brush in the kit was just put there by mistake... :-P

     Then, I told them that I for the next hour or so, they would be competing with each other in making a storybook, with a story that they each made up. I expected my niece, being younger, would protest as she is just beginning to spell and draw, but she gamely rose to the challenge like her brother! Good job, sweetie!

     I just gave them key words to jump start that hour of productive housework, uh, I mean creative fun. I touched on things that they loved to do and toys that they played with to make into a story, and within five minutes, I was told that that they already had their story ideas down pat. So, after laying down the ground rules (share the pencils, no fighting and poking each other in the eye with the pencils, and make the most beautiful storybook that you can), I left them on their own.

     I really did not know what to expect and was on the alert for someone giving up the task because of boredom or frustration. Surprisingly, these two kids kept at it until they finished their storybooks, and right on the hour at that!

     The kids came up with simple and imaginative stories that were fun to decipher and read. As to the winner, well I gave them both a prize for creativity, imagination, and best of all, peace and quiet co-existence for an hour all in one weekend! :-)


      Cheers everyone!

©CherWriter 2011.01.30

Friday, January 14, 2011


We can be sick, not only of the body, but also of the heart, the mind, and the spirit. By this prayer, we ask not only to be healed from our bodily ailments, but even from our ailments of the heart, the mind, and the spirit.


O, God our Creator and Father, You love us so much that You sent Your divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to help us in all our needs, and above all, to save us. And so, to show His concern for us, He went about doing good, healing the sick, and even restoring lives to some. The disabled, the lepers, the paralytic, the blind, and many others — they were all restored to their normal health by the touch of His hand, by the word of His mouth.

O Jesus, our Divine Savior and Physician, touch us by Your hand, and let the healing power of Your love flow unto us. There is nothing impossible with You. You will it, and we are healed.

Heal me from my bodily ailments that can badly affect my performance in my daily activities and work. Give me the health and strength of body that I may be able to cope with my responsibilities in life effectively.

More importantly, dear Jesus, heal me from my sicknesses of heart, of mind, and of the spirit.

Heal me, dear Lord, from my pride and arrogance that make me feel superior over others, or even despise or treat them with contempt. Heal me from my cynicism that make me take spiritual things for granted, indifferent, and snobbish towards You and my neighbor. Heal me from my conceit and self-centeredness that make me see and exaggerate the good in me and the faults of others. Instead, give me true humility.

Heal me, dear Jesus, from my greed and selfishness that make me desire inordinately material things to the point of losing my taste for spiritual values, especially my love for You. Instead, give me the spirit of generosity.

Heal me from my lust and sensuality that make me desire inordinately illicit pleasures of the body and even abuse my human sexuality or exploit others for my own gratification. Instead, dear God, give me purity of body and soul. Help me be decent in thought, word, and deed.

Heal me from envy and jealousy, dear Master, that make me desire unreasonably the good that I see in others. Help me love them, instead, O Lord.

Heal me from my anger, my tendency to lose my temper even over little things, and in the process make my disposition irritable and irritating. Instead, dear God, make me patient and forbearing.

Heal me from my hatred, from my bitterness and resentment against those who may have offended me, from my desire to revenge or to be vindictive. Remove any grudges from my heart that can destroy my peace of mind and inner joy. Instead, dear Lord, make me charitable and loving to others.

Heal me from my laziness, from my inordinate desire for comfort and ease that make me forget or even neglect my responsibilities. Instead, dear Lord, make me diligent, conscientious, and zealous.

Heal me from my memories of unpleasant events, hostile persons, and evil places that have caused me embarrassment and shame, or marred my past life.

O Holy Spirit, the Divine Paraclete, make me experience the strengthening effect of Your grace. Drive away my fears and doubts, my anxieties and worries, my feelings of insecurity and frustration. Enlighten and guide me, strengthen and inspire me, as I go through my daily life committed to Your Will.

I ask all this through Christ our Lord, Amen


     I found this prayer 12 years ago in the chapel of a hospital, during the time Daddy was sick. It is a very beautiful prayer that I hope all of you would be able to draw strength and renewal from.

©CherWriter 2011.01.14

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Year's Resolution Solution

     Well, it's been a little over a week into the new year. For those of you who've made New Year's resolutions, have you been keeping them so far?

     Personally, I no longer make new year's resolutions. To me, they just look good on paper, and nothing else. It is burdensome too in those times that I attempted to fulfill one. I successfully and spectacularly fail rather than fulfill those on things I repeatedly put on the list anyway! Hehehe!!!

     So, to do away with feelings of guilt, panic, anxiety, and foot-in-mouth disease (which is a very stressful way to start the year), I have resolved to just start the year with a prayer like this:

You know O Lord, that I want this year rockin',
Please grant me the things that were not stuffed in my Christmas stocking.
Like a 26-inch waist, nipped and tucked in the right place,
And soft smooth skin, with nary a wrinkle on my face.

To white hairs that peek ever so slyly on my crown,
I wish O Lord, they remember that they looked better growing brown.
My thighs and arms, look Lord, they are all at an excess,
The charity to donate it to, lead me, for You know who needs it best.

A good job that provides well, and keep the bills at bay,
A job with no stress arriving every passing day,
These O Lord I deign please provide,
That my health be good, and I be kept sound of mind.

But seriously, Lord, here is the real reason I start this year in prayer,
Knowing I cannot exist or do anything alone outside your care...
Please have it in Your heart to listen to this little list of wishes,
That in the year, we see them come to pass, and be left laughing in happy stitches...

Good health and safe voyage each and everyday,
O Lord, grand my loved ones night and day.
A hand filled to excess with blessings and riches,
Help me give away to those whose homes are made in ditches.

Help me discover more of myself as you made me to be,
With the help of new friends, and those old true and trusted by me.
With each day, teach me love, and teach me true prayer,
To praise Thee, with all that I am, now and forever.

 A happy heart, mind and joyful soul,
Free of sickness, debt and thoughts of coal,
All these I ask to prosper in my hands,
That when You account for it, I give you excess, and not any lack.

O Lord, your blessing of another year has come,
For us to think of what we have and have not done.
For all the blessings that I have received,
Thank you for these and those to come indeed!

©CherWriter 2011.01.11

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ilocos Norte: A True Bastion of Northern Philippine Culture

     I have to admit, time has gotten the better of me once again. It has blurred past, leaving me speechless. At the start of this new year, I am amazed to realize that it has been 10 months since our company road trip to the northern part  of the country: Ilocos.

     That looooonggg road trip from Manila to Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte and back was fun as staff were allowed to bring their families. It was not only a chance to unwind, but get into an educational field trip with the kids in tow.

     I would highly recommend you rent a large vehicle and driver (not unless you want to sit behind the wheel for the duration of the trip) and take this road trip with your family. I was delighted with all the surprises Ilocos had in store for me on that trip.

Vigan Church, Ilocos Sur

The imposing beauty of Paoay Church
(St. Augustine Church, Paoay Ilocos Norte)

Paoay Church detail

A long forgotten treasure by the side of the church

The side of Paoay Church

Paoay church  bell tower

Paoay church bell tower detail
or Rapunzel's tower... you decide.  :-)

      The architecture of the churches that have stood their ground with the passing of time is a testament to the care Ilocano's take in preserving history and the beauty of these living monuments.


     Of course, the Cape Boreador Lighthouse (Burgos, Ilocos Norte) is also a testament of how past generations have safeguarded the coast from pirates who may have wanted to pillage and plunder in one of these, most likely...

Abandoned row boat on Bangui, Ilocos Norte's shores
     View turn of the century houses along the famed streets of Vigan where you can take a calesa (horse drawn carriage) and cruise at a leisurely, rhythmic clip-clop, clip-clop gait of the horses.

   Ilocos is the home of many famous personalities in the Philippines. Some of them are Padre Jose Burgos, painter Juan Luna,

Painter Juan Luna's ancestral house

the family of Former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos,

To this day, her beauty is timeless

 and National Artist for Pottery (1986) Mr. Fidel Go.

Mr. Fidel Go at his pottery workshop in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
      There was even a shop waiting for the eagle-eyed treasure and bargain hunter.


    There are a lot of food choices to make a for a happy tummy in Vigan. There's bagnet (deep fried pork belly), pinakbet (mixed vegetables with shrimp paste), dinardaraan (Ilocano version of blood stew or chocolate meat), and Vigan longganisa (Vigan style savory sausage links, a personal favorite.). There is also tinubong (sticky rice cake cooked in bamboo cylinders).


The local coffee stand... uh, 3-in-1 coffee, anyone?
     But of course, one of the more well known products of the region is garlic. Yes, and lots of it! 

     I guess if I were in Ilocos, I would set up my own gourmet aioli shop with these around the house. Definitely no vampires here! Hehehe!!!  

     As Ilocanos are known to be thrifty, being careful with their personal belongings has really made it possible for future generations to have these in their midst. I was amazed that not only the architecture of buildings were preserved, but the interiors as well as seen from these pictures...

One thing is for sure. This phone does not need pre-paid load credits.  :-)

Kitchen work area at the house of Padre Burgos

Music room at the Burgos house


Capiz windows, a beautiful exhibit piece
of Filipino architecture, creativity, originality and culture

One of the many rooms with wicker furniture and capiz windows
at the Malacañang of the North, Paoay Ilocos Norte. I can only imagine how
lavish this looked like when the Marcoses were at the peak of their power.
    Looking out to the horizon, holding on to the treasures of the past, Ilocanos look also to the future for things that they can leave as a legacy for today's generation. Though not built of stone or wood, the Bangui Windmills harness the power of the winds passing through the coast to ensure a bright future for its residents.

   Ilocos is a long way away from Manila. The distance making it perfect to just zone out and recharge your spirit with views like this...

Unspoiled beaches


A peek into the South China Sea
from Thunderbird Resort, La Union

     Sadly, that trip was over all too soon. I hope lady luck will have me visit again and see more of what I have missed next time around.

(P.S. Thanks to Shyla and Ate Mira for some of the pics posted here. :-) )

©CherWriter 2011.01.06

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mise en Place: Strawberry Mash Shakes are the Life!

~Fresh Baguio Strawberries! Yum! ~

       One of the things I love starting the month of December is the abundance of fruit available. One of my favorites are fresh Baguio strawberries. Yum!

     I love these little morsels of sweetness, either dipped in sugar or on its own. Yummy!

     When we were younger, each December, and during Holy week, we would make the annual trek to Baguio with our parents, grandparents, and even household help. Imagine a convoy of five to six cars, packed to capacity with passengers, and double the amount of luggage in the car trunk. :D That's around 25-30 people back then! :D

     All of us would then stay in one house, one room per family. :D Breakfast would either be fried rice and adobo or longganisa from the market for the adults. For the kids, we were each given our tools of:

One bowl or glass (whichever you could manage)
One fork
Fresh strawberries
Kellogg's Cornflakes
Chilled Fresh Milk

     Then comes the assembly:

  1. With your bowl and fork at the ready, choose the best looking, most plump, red, ripe, juicy strawberries in a bowl (about 10 pcs, making sure to get only what you can finish  :D ).
  2. Mash these to your desired consistency (lazy mash, or super fine, pulverized strawberry mash) into the bowl with the fork, making sure to "corner" the strawberry against the bowl or glass so that it does not escape. :D
  3. Sprinkle sugar on to the strawberries.
  4. Add cold milk.
  5. Top with cornflakes.
  6. Enjoy by the spoonful, or tip your glasses and judge who gets the best strawberry milk moustache.
     The recipe above is one my cousins and I share as part of our childhood memory favorites!

     We weren't exactly given a license to play with our food but rather, even as kids, we were given the freedom to create, and learn about food other than just something that you get frozen from supermarket shelves that you stuff in your mouth. It's pretty much like what my cousin-in-law is teaching her daughter, as they spend some bonding time together.

     Doing little family "rituals" as this also reinforce your idea of a particular comfort food because there is an actual skill or process tied into the food itself, that for me, rounds out the whole experience. From this little activity our parents devised for us kids arose our food preference personality. There were comparisons as to who made the best tasting strawberry milk? Are chunky shakes better than super smooth ones? How pink could you get your own creation? What is the correct strawberry : milk : cornflake ratio? Is your strawberry mash shake shaken, not stirred? Are bananas in the mix a way to show off? ;-)

     All in all, as a kid, making your own strawberry mash shake was a good way to get you out of a grumpy mood in the morning. It was a healthy, filling, breakfast item made with no food processors or blenders. You made it yourself, so it was always extra special. Hey, no one even complained that it was too pink a drink in the morning! :D


©CherWriter 2011.01.03


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