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In memory of Franco Loja R.I.P (Greenhouse Seeds)

Franco Loja – A Tribute to Life, Passion, and Friendship

Family, Musings, Personal By January 7, 2017 Tags: , , 2 Comments

I met Loja for the second time only the day after. He didn’t have so much time. He got up every now and then to talk to my daughter in her bedroom. He stood outside her bedroom, leaning against the door, asking what she is doing, and making a comment on how organized her room is. Loja, a father himself to two boys, was great with kids. My daughter said she liked him because he was funny. And he spoke English. That was always a plus to her.

He was leaving Torino to bring his kids back to Barcelona after spending the Christmas with their grandparents. He would not be able to make it to our wedding. We all came down the stairs together, and he helped us load our things into the car. And for the last time, he hugged me, and kissed me, and said, “It was so nice to finally meet you. And congratulations.” I said thank you In Italian and got into the car. I watched him walk away, and down the street. In a black coat and a black bonnet, his silhouette barely visible in the dusk.


To Philately, the IYS, and 17 Years of Friendship

Personal, Random Stuff By May 5, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , 1 Comment

I inherited my brother’s stamp collection when I was 12. He had graduated from college (the university) and as a direct result, also from some hobbies of his, and he had passed on to me his precious and extensive stamp collection. I was ecstatic. I was excited about knowing all these countries and their histories, their culture, and I flipped through giant world atlases and thick geography books. I spent hours organizing and re-organizing the collection in various albums. Sometimes I organized them according to countries, and sometimes according to themes. I loved philately.

I thought about ways on how to add stamps to my collection. I joined a philately club in the city and combed book stores and specialty stores for more stamps. One of my aunts lived in Italy and we always had letters coming from Italy and I added those to my collection. And then it came to me – what better way to add stamps but to receive letters! I only didn’t get stamps, I also got friends!

I signed up for the International Youth Service (IYS) – a service I found through some clubs in my high school in Naga City.

“IYS (International Youth Service), founded in 1952 and based in Turku (Finland), was an internacional penfriend organization which arranged foreign penfriends for children and teenagers between 10 and 20 years of age. In exchange of a fee per address, IYS provided addresses of one or more penfriends (matched in age, country, interests, language abilities… through a computer system). Sadly, IYS closed down in 2008 as this Finnish firm couldn’t compete with the communication through the Internet.”

I remember being 13 and holding this form. I filled it up, checked the boxes with the names of the countries I wanted to have pen friends from, and mailed it to Finland. Basically, I checked the countries where I had wanted to get stamps from, and have some unique friends from – like Brazil because to my 13-year old self Brazil sounded far, far away and totally exotic! (Heck, to my 31-year old self, Brazil still sounds far, far away and totally exotic! :P)  I also checked the box for Thailand because the Miss Universe Pageant was held in the Philippines in 1994, I had loved Miss Thailand and thought Thais were beautiful. 😉


Photography by Lia

MOMents, Photography By October 13, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , 2 Comments

My daughter has a very good eye and I am immensely proud of it. I’d buy her her own camera soon as she is old enough to know exactly what it’s for, and is responsible for what she will get out of it. She loves looking at the photos I take and I like asking her opinion on which photos are good or not.

She also does not like having her photos taken. More often than not, she would say No when I ask if I can take her photo.

Some days I’d ask her to take photos and she’d flat out say no.

Whereas some days she wouldn’t stop taking photos. She loves taking photos of me.

So one September morning, while hanging out in our bedroom in El Nido, Lia decided it was portraits time.

And I guess that day, Lia was really in the mood for taking photos because that evening, she was still at it. She found it extremely amusing that I had Angry Birds stickers on my face, which she put on herself.

Lia and I definitely have lots of fun together. Even if we are just hanging out inside our bedroom. 😉


Give Me A Hug… and That’s An Order

Life in El Nido, MOMents By August 24, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Through all of Lia and I’s many ups, and a significant enough number of downs, is a blossoming friendship. More than being mother and daughter, we are best friends.

The other night, as I was slaving away, like I have been the past two weeks, she and I were staying up late, me with my two laptops, many text books, pens, notebooks, and many paperwork, and she with her portable dvd player and two books she has “borrowed” from God knows where, I suddenly hear her in a very serious, commanding tone, “Mama, hug me.”

Startled, unsure of what I actually heard, the tone being commanding, my forehead creased in lines, I asked, “What?”

“Hug me!”

Bewildered at where this was coming from, I went over to her, where she promptly put her arms around me and held me quietly and tightly for about a full minute. I glanced at what she was watching, wondering if this sudden need to hug me or be hugged by me came from what she was watching, and saw that she has been watching an episode from her favorite Little Einsteins show and that there was absolutely nothing there that could have prompted this overwhelming show of emotion.

She proceeded to flip her book with one hand, while another arm was around my shoulders and we we’re like that, for about five minutes.

Ah, my darling sweet little girl… You’re the love of my life.

Mother and Daughter, Simizu Island, El Nido, Palawan

Mother and Daughter, Simizu Island, El Nido, Palawan


Yeah, Tell Me About It…

MOMents By August 2, 2012 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

I keep saying this to all my no-kids friends, of which there are plentier than plenty, since I was almost the first of all my friends put together to get married: You will never know what it takes to be a parent until you become one.

“Your life will change when you have a kid” is an understatement. Though superficially, my life now seems not too different from the one I used to have pre-baby, that’s all it is, superficially.

The very first thing I learned when I had the baby was, it’s possible to love something so much that nothing else comes close, and you will do everything, anything to make your life and that thing you love so much, work. It’s even possible to forget all other loves you once had. That was how it was for me.

When I read this article, I cried, bitterly.


Friendship… and then some.

Music and Arts By July 30, 2012 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Here are two of the images that got my attention recently, shared by my friends on Facebook.

The first one being about friends… and the other about music.

I know the first image probably looks corny but Snoopy reminds me of childhood and how I used to collect his posters, to the point that I would give my sisters posters too so they can decorate their room with it. Him and Garfield.

Besides, my friend who is now in Zimbabwe, shared it, and she is one of my most treasured friends. She and the rest of the gang were with me during my goriest, most horrific, days in Naga.


All About Shoes

MOMents By January 15, 2012 Tags: , , No Comments

Lia is making me very emotional tonight.

To answer the question, “Where is Papa?” I had to say, “Papa is not here. You know he doesn’t live in Lolo’s house. Papa lives in Papa’s house.”

While hanging out in the balcony, where she chose to join me after seeing me sitting in the dark on a little step and after putting on her favorite pair of shoes from the shoe rack that now holds almost all of her shoes and almost ALL of mine, she looked up at the sky, held her arms over her head and said, “It’s raining on a starry night.”

Looking at her shoes, and remembering mine, I am reminded of what her Papa said this morning, as he was packing my shoes in a big box, “You’re bringing all of these shoes? Now, you don’t have any shoes here.” I said I still have about six to eight pairs of footwear in the shoe rack. He said, “But these are the shoes that you don’t wear anymore.”

Lia went up to me, holding a little doll dressed in pink that she found in my sister’s bedroom’s display cabinet and that she fondly calls Princess, asking me, “Where are her shoes?” I said, “I don’t know. She doesn’t have any shoes.” Then she picked up another doll, a doll from my childhood, a United Nations costume doll from Denmark, and looked at its feet. Seeing that the Danish doll is also barefoot, she told me, “Her shoes are also missing.”

A few minutes later, she came back to me, holding a little black piece of something that upon closer inspection was revealed to be a tiny shoe. “Look mama, it’s a shoe.” And she tried to fit it onto the Danish doll’s foot and lo and behold, it fit! I heard her exclaim, “Yaaan!”

Coming back to Princess and her bare feet, Lia held it up and said, “Her shoes are missing. I’ll go and find it?” To which I could only nod. Speechless.