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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We Are Better Than This

So much hate, distrust, and negativity. We claim to be  strong and united, but we ourselves are very quick to depict that our government and our military are useless. This is the time to work together, not point fingers. It’s past time that we realize that the government alone cannot hold this country up. We all need to hold this nation up. I agree that aid should have come sooner, things should have been done better, response could have been faster. But it is always that way in a calamity. In life, generally. It could always be done better. You always wish that things could be better than reality. We wish people were better informed about storm surges. We wish we had roads that don’t wash away. We wish we had endless supply of fuel so that the helicopters can just transport everyone out of Tacloban into a massive evacuation camp. Hell, we didn’t ask for a super typhoon to begin with. A lot of things in life we ponder about in retrospect, and a lot of things in life we just have to weather through.

So much information going around that are just plain rumours. People are trigger-happy with that ‘Share’ button. I would rather see information on how to help and stories on how people are helping and are being helped, shared many times over on social media, than the bickering and blaming and painting our country as a nation of thieves and liars. We are not. There are a few individuals that steal and lie to the masses, but as a nation we are honest workers, loving and kind to each other, devoted to our families, decent, peaceful and God-fearing. But now where is the love? Where is kindness? Where is healing?

Each of us are held accountable for what we do in our lives. Each of us are held accountable for what we do now in the face of such devastation. In my capacity as a Filipino living abroad, I extend what financial help I can and encourage friends and family to do the same. A government official in Leyte has different responsibilities, to his constituents, to his own family, to the nation in general. A soldier tasked with recovery operations has a whole other set of responsibilities. We all need to realize what we can do and we all need to do them now and without fanfare. Those that fail to do their job will be judged and held accountable in due time.

I agree that we need to be vigilant and critical of services that we should get from the government. But I think that calling out the government should be done in an informed, factual and educated manner. Let us not get emotional and political. Don’t get me wrong. I am very emotional every time I watch the news and see the extent of desperation in Visayas. But I wish that our emotions would push us to set aside differences and hatred and negativity and focus on helping and healing. We have to be careful about where activism takes us. In a real apocalypse, there will be no government and we will have to survive on our own.

If we want to really, really change our nation for the better, and not just about dealing with catastrophes like this, we need to change our way of thinking. We need to educate our kids. We need to elect real leaders. We need to respect ourselves and trust that as individuals and as a community, we will rise above anything and everything. We need to recognize that there will be difficulties and that we work together to overcome it.  Tama si Maya, dapat kapit-bisig.

Here are just a few ways to help:

**For every dollar donated by individual Canadians to UNICEF Canada from November 9th to December 8th, 2013, the Government of Canada will contribute a dollar up to $100,000. UNICEF’s generous corporate supporters will be matching all donations for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, excluding the Government of Canada donation match, up to $25,000.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Elfie Come and Gone

Last Christmas, somebody very special showed up at our house.

Her arrival was a big surprise, as was the sugar-packed North Pole Breakfast she prepared to welcome herself into our home. She was clearly well-trained in the custom of elves, because I was on Pinterest and saw this other elf gracing somebody else's breakfast table with a wonderful spread of snow-covered donuts and mini-marshmallows floating in yummy hot chocolate, and presents! But our elf also brought peppermint Oreos, candy canes, and peppermint & yogurt-covered star pretzels. Sugar at 7:30 a.m.? Once a year is good.

North Pole Breakfast
Elfie sure knows how to throw a party!
As is custom in our house, the elf was named.... {drumroll}..... Elfie. (Big J had 4 different Betta's that she named Fishy, and if I didn't name our dog before she saw him, he would be Puppy now and forever.) Although Big J is 10, she still claims to believe in Santa and was appropriately surprised and excited about our guest. She did ask why Elfie came now and never before. I said, "Could it be that Santa needed help watching our house now that there's two of you?" "Yeah, that must be why." Phew. Santa needs to warn Mom and Dad if there are major changes in his action plan!

Snow-covered donuts, candy canes, marshmallows 
and peppermint Oreos! (And no, she did not bring 
the peanut butter.)

Big J and Baby J were excited when they found that Elfie also brought them presents. They each had Santa felt baskets filled with a pair of Christmas socks, Kinder Bueno chocolate, hot chocolate mix, Christmas foam craft, a stuffy (Rudolph for Big J and a snowman for Baby J), and ornaments (glass skating Santa and a nutcracker for Big J, Cars-themed balls for Baby J). Mommy was happy that Elfie brought a Christmas tablecloth and placemats and left them for her to use.

Baby J has a mouthful of snow-covered 
"From the desk of Santa Claus, 
Santa'sWorkshop, North Pole."
Lightning McQueen ornament from 
Baby J's basket.
Hey, it's a snowman.
Kisses for you.
Peppermint Oreos for breakfast, yum!
Toasty feet, thanks, Elfie!

Each morning, Baby J was always up before Big J, and he would find Elfie right away, sometimes with a little bit of help from M+D. And no fail, he would always spoil the surprise for Big J, because as soon as Big J stirred, he would yell out to her, "Elfie is on top of the kitchen clock!" or "Elfie is climbing Aunty K's castle!" Sadly, M+D forgot to document Elfie's escapades so there are no photos of her climbing up the Christmas tree, swinging on the hallway light, listening to Big J's iPod, breaking into the Nutella jar, or riding the Christmas moose. Suffice it to say that she had weaseled her way into the kids' hearts so that on Christmas Eve, it was bittersweet having to say goodbye. On the morning of the 24th, she left a present each for the kids with a sweet note, and gave them a few magic minutes to finally touch her. Big J and Baby J smothered her with kisses and hugs and made her promise to come back again next year. (She told me she will, and I told her I will be ready with my camera every morning.)

Saying goodbye to Elfie. Sniff, sniff.

And wouldn't you know it? Elfie's arrival in our lives reminded me that to truly be in the Christmas spirit, one has to immerse in the season with child-like joy and gusto. Elfie wasn't the only new tradition started this year. Grandma and Grandpa also treated us to a 2-hour tour to see Christmas lights... in a limo! So fancy. We brought hot chocolate in mugs, and Uncle D provided the booze to flavor it with. We sang carols and annoyed Monty, the bus driver moonlighting as our chauffeur. We had a blast and ambitious as it may sound, we truly want this to be another new holiday tradition, God-willing. On Christmas morning, we brought Baked Panetonne French Toast (recipe here) to G+G's house and it was a huge hit. And instead of New Year's Day dinner at Ming's, Grandma A took us all to Butchart Gardens to see the holiday lights and watch Big J skate in the outdoor rink. It was such a great time to be a family and be with family, and to create new traditions and make beautiful memories.

Checking out the Christmas lights in the limo.
My own elf snuggled up to Aunty K and 
enjoying his first limo ride .
That mug of hot chocolate packed a punch!
Outdoor ice skating with Uncle A, 
at The Butchart Gardens.
Family photo at The Butchart Gardens. 
Baby J did NOT want to leave 
Santa's sleigh.

Click here to read more about the Elf on the Shelf, and if one of them ever finds his/her way to your homes next Christmas, do share your stories and photos.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jacob's Happy Day

Last Saturday, we threw a construction party for our little boy who turned two yesterday. Yes, two! (Although ask him and he will enthusiastically say, ‘Three!’) 

The days leading up to it were pretty stressful, even with a guest list of only 8 adults and 1 baby, and everybody family who’ve already seen our house at best and at worst, and have attended an event we’ve hosted before. Some of the stress came from the scarcity of construction theme party supplies in town. I knew we should have gone with the Thomas theme. I must’ve scoured a half-dozen dollar stores! I did find a pack of construction cut-out signs and twirly whirly banner things from a party discount store but that was it.

Enter homemade. The procrastinator that I am, suddenly I’m running out of time to make handmade birthday banner and poster. Plus I had vowed to make the cake myself. Either I switch my superpowers on, or I give up at least 3 hours of sleep each night to accomplish everything I’d planned.


  • Yellow plastic tablecloth outlined with construction tape from the party store
  • Plastic orange safety cones from the party store
  • Yellow and black plastic plates
  • Twirly whirlies
  • Cut-out construction signs
  • Yellow poster board stenciled with “Jacob is 2, Caution Party in Progress” and framed by leftover construction tape
  • Handmade banner from yellow paper, black poster board, and brown ribbon (there are tons of ideas on Pinterest; I ended up using Word to draw diamonds and inserted letters inside them spelling out Happy Birthday Jacob, and a couple of diggy pictures as spacers; printed, cut and glued to poster board for stiffness, hole-punched the sides and threaded together with the brown ribbon)
  • Digger balloon from dollar store
  • Kid's tool belt from Home Depot, stuffed with stickers and plastic tools. Sadly the babies were not too impressed with it, although Big J used hers to carry her phone and the video cam as she was the official photog.

Party food:
  • Bits and bites as nuts and bolts
  • Pretzel sticks as screws
  • Reese pieces as building pieces
  • Chips as spare parts
  • Two-bite brownies as spare tires (there were no chocolate donuts in town on Saturday)
  • Cocoa puffs as boulders
  • Appys, veggies, cheese and crackers and dip


I’m so happy the cake turned out well. It was a bit of a stress, as I didn’t know how the inside would end up looking, and I didn’t have the budget, the time, or the inclination to make a tester cake. I just thought that if it was bad, Dairy Queen was pretty close by and we would all be just as happy with ice cream cake. I used this recipe for the cake, which I made on Wednesday and Thursday night. I used buttercup yellow gel icing on the vanilla cake, and black on the chocolate. The cake was not that bad, although very dense—I think it was from mixing too much as I was very worried about adding colour. I put a knife tip at a time on the vanilla cake, and I ended up having to use half the bottle anyway to get the yellow I wanted. (Big sis came when I was doing the chocolate cake, and she just told me right off the bat to use more than a knife tip. “More, Mom.”) The procrastinator that I am (uhm, sound familiar?), I did not have time to make my own frosting, so Duncan Hines stepped in. 

Now, procrastinator that I am (again... see a pattern here?), I waited until December 3rd to order these uber-cute construction vehicle candles off Ebay. It’s Christmas season, dumbo. On Friday afternoon when it was evident it wasn’t coming, I called all over town to see if anybody had it (which in hindsight I should have done first before ordering online, yada-yada.) Nope. This lady even said, “Oh, the construction theme has been phased out a long time ago.” Huh? You mean, nobody expects kids these days to like diggies and dumpies anymore, and for their parents to give what baby wants? It was a SMH moment. A funny side note: I was close to tears with disappointment so hubby got on the phone and called all over town to see if anybody had these candles. Imagine the harried dollar store clerk getting two phone calls in a heartbeat about freaking construction candles!

So baby got regular candles. I don’t think he cared, but I can just imagine his face if….. (As I’m writing this, the offending candles have yet to make an appearance. Maybe I’ll use them for hubby’s cake in the summer.) 

I decorated the cake with matchbox diggy and cement mixer, oreo crumble for dirt, and chocolate rock candies for, well, rocks. The inside was a whole other matter.  Look at this!

Here’s the tutorial for making striped cake. It looks daunting but actually is pretty easy. No need for tester cake.

I think the party was a success, and the birthday boy was blown away by his presents and that people came to his ‘happy day.’ I gave him the matchbox diggy and ‘ment mixer from the cake, and now he shows it to people and tells them it was from the cake. 

Mama A has the best jokes ever!

Can I open presents now?

Check out my sweet fire department set!

Playing with the safety cones.

Opening presents.
Everyone is singing "Happy Birthday"!

Waited a long time to blow the candles on the cake.

Checking out the fire department set, with Big Sis and Cousin L.

Birthday present from Aunty K.

Watch out for dumpy with heavy loady, Daddy!

What a fun day! I feel so blessed watching this little one grow big and strong and happy, surrounded by people who love him. I will happily throw him many, many more birthday parties.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In A Moment of Patriotism

"The capital city, Manila, has recorded 34 inches of rain in 72 hours."cnn.com

"Eleven dead after downpours turn half of Manila into ‘water world’."nationalpost.com
"Heavy flooding paralyses Philippine capital Manila." bbc.co.uk

While it is heartwarming to see everybody working together to help the victims of the flooding brought about by fierce monsoon rains, it is more heartbreaking that the same thing happens over and over again. The lessons are not learned. I remember during the aftermath of Ondoy when there was a deluge of articles and documentaries about preparedness, aka stocking up on food and batteries. But I think Filipinos need to know as well that the floods are preventable. No, you can’t stop the rain or storms. But the floods don’t need to happen. It will take a lot of work, and a budget that the government is ill-prepared to spend. The cities should have been planned properly instead of the haphazard zoning. Instead of increasing the fleet of rubber boats for rescue efforts, maybe the local government units should focus on fortifying the riverbanks and cleaning up the outlets to the ocean. I wonder how much it would take to build a proper sewage system for the whole metropolis—and if such an undertaking will survive the corruption that runs rampant in DPWH. The country needs to develop a consciousness of proactivity, that is, educating themselves about proper garbage disposal instead of stocking up on food and rain gear and Styrofoam rafts. We always seem to just stand still and wait for weather, or poverty, or colonialism in the past, to batten us, and hurray if we survive one or all of them standing up. What about striding forward to be a better nation, calamity or not? What about leaping forward to greatness, morally and economically? I hate all these memes popping up on Facebook about how Filipinos will always rise from the rubble of the latest calamity. How about conquering poverty and laziness so that we never even have rubble to rise from?

I have repeated conversations with my father about the differences in Canada and the Philippines. It’s like comparing apples to mangoes. Sure there are catastrophes in Canada. In the spring or early summer, when the snow melts off the mountains, there’s always flooding. Or in the height of summer, there are always wildfires. But the scale of these disasters is nothing compared to Ondoy, or the Ormoc landslide, or Sendong. Canada has more advanced response teams, but it also has better information dissemination to the public about prevention. The Canadians are better educated about the fragile relationship between man and nature. I also realize Canada is a well-off country and has infinitely more resources to achieve this. And so my father and I always concluded that in order for the Philippines to make any sort of advancement, there needs to be a concrete action against poverty, in the personal and family level, as well as the national level. And the only way to overcome poverty is through education. And in times like these, when I think of ways that the flooding could have been prevented, I come to realize that it also comes down to education. We need to know that our actions have direct effect on ourselves, our families, our surroundings, our world. We need to be educated about the abuse we do to our environment, and we need it drilled in our heads from birth so that proper garbage disposal becomes automatic. We need to instill in our children a huge respect for themselves and the world and the value of education, so that they know nothing else but the fact that without education, they would be nobody, and that no one respects a nobody. And I don’t mean that our kids should aspire for titles or top positions. They need to strive to become somebody that makes a difference. We need to make people understand that planning for the future is the only way we can have some semblance of control over what happens to our world and our children’s world. We need to shape our world as it is shaping us. We need to understand that we can prevent urban flooding. It is not a spectacle that we want to see every year, so that afterwards we can squat around in the village centre and exchange exaggerated stories over cheap liquor. We need to support the government’s efforts to quash corruption, so that we can have a dependable public works department that will make sure the cities are properly drained and the rivers flow where they should. The list could go on and on, and it is a tough and expensive list. And the road is long towards achieving these. But we gotta start somewhere at some point if we want a better metropolis, a better country, better lives. We need an educated populace. We don’t want handouts; we want opportunities. We don’t want free truck rides and a phone line to request to be rescued during floods, we want a city that never floods. We want work, we want possibilities, and we want freedom from worrying about our next meal or slippers to wear to school. We want permanent and decent housing, and not shacks hanging over riverbanks that will get swept away the next time the river rises. We want to work with the government and non-profits in making our lives better; we don’t want to rely on them for our basic needs. We want to be able to look after our children and give them chances to play and develop. We don’t want to see them being floated around in floodwaters in washing tubs, or catching diseases from playing in these waters. We want a clean, safe, and nurturing world for them. If there is one thing that the government should d, it is to prioritize creating an excellent educational system that’s accessible to everybody, and increasing its anti-graft and corruption efforts. In my opinion, that’s the only way for a third-world country to beat poverty, rise above the label and compete worldwide.

Meanwhile, salud to the rescue teams and relief efforts of different organizations.  It is my fervent wish that this latest tragedy take meaning in the sense that it sheds light on the real problems and push our leaders and our people into rethinking how they do things.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What's On My Pinterest 'Craft' Board

If you’re on Pinterest, chances are you have a craft board. (And a food board. Which deserves a whole other post, so wait for that one.)

Here are the reasons why I sit in front of my computer for hours on end and barely survive the depression that follows because I don’t have the budget and the time to tackle all the awesome DIY stuff I find, a.k.a. my collection of craft ideas and tutorials. I ought to rename this board, “What Superwoman Does In Between Changing Diapers and Folding Laundry.” 


Yoga Pants from Leafy Treetop Spot

Boho Maxi Dress from Sweet Verbena  

The Maxi Skirt from Elle Apparel 

Beginner Maxi Dress from Sew Homegrown

Sunny Resort Blouse from Grosgrain (guest post by Adey from The Sew Convert)

Kaftan from The Sew Convert 

Ruffled Shirt from Tea Rose Home

Ruffled Tote from it works for Bobbi!

Stuffed Owls from EfemeraInk

Everything Else:

T-Shirt Rug from Xoelle

DIY Gold or Silver Nut Bracelet from Rent the Runway On Campus
Love Letter Lamp from The Shabby Creek Cottage

Christmas Card Mini-Scrapbook from Scrap Inspired

Lace Lamp from Dos Family

This list only covers the past couple of months. I have binders and binders of sewing/knitting/crochet patterns and craft ideas, and bookmarks on my laptop when Pinterest wasn't around. And my Pinterest craft board is certainly growing, with the amount of time I still spend on it, despite stern warnings to myself everytime I log on to my computer: "Half hour. It's all you get. Or else." 

And now if somebody can tell me when they invent a real, working time machine so I can hack away at this to-do list and make room for more. 


I could look on kijiji/craigslist/usedeverywhere for a "small-ish" container that will fit somewhere in my backyard and convert it into a studio. Something like this, perhaps?

By ROLU, rosenlof/lucas, ro/lu [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Project idea? Hmmm. (Will hubby mind if I add this to his honey-do-list, after he makes me planter boxes and a sandbox for Deeqs?)


Pinterest would have pictures of craft rooms and studios, right? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Let's Kick This Off

To myself, welcome to your new and fifth (or sixth? or seventh?) blog. Where's that blog planning sheet you found online the other day? And you need to gather those lists of possible blog posts and staple them to the planner. Maybe it will motivate you to keep this, this blog, alive and kicking and breathing. For longer than two months. 

To the rest of the world (meaning my mother and maybe a handful of random friends), welcome to my new and fifth (or sixth? or seventh?) blog. No, I don't think you've read those other blogs. Yes, maybe I will export everything/some things to this one, at least the ones I haven't regretted posting. I will mostly write about crafts that I found online and want to do but never had time for, my kids and how awesome they are, and my opinions about world events, not that anybody cares but hey, it's my blog. 

I named this blog jammified because I think I think better in my jammies. In my house, we tell the kids (well, the older one for now), to go and jammify. That's when all the fun begins. There's lots of lounging, snuggling, tickle-fests. We watch a movie, pop the corn, fix hot chocolate, surf the net, have impromptu dance parties, sing karaoke, make red velvet pancakes. There's something about the warm embrace of jammies that bring out the best in us and in ordinary, everyday things. Don't you agree it's always nicer to read a book with jammies on and a cup of tea beside you? And feel free to assume that this blog will be written in the dead of the night, when the kids are in dreamland, I'm jammified, and I finally get the peace and quiet and the technology to feed the creative monster inside. 

So c'mon, get jammified and let's kick this off. 

This blog is best enjoyed in jammies.