Sunday, January 08, 2017

American Husband/ Filipino Wife Food Galore

As the old adage says, "The best way to the man's heart is through his stomach." My American husband however, shows in his own special way that it’s the other way around, “The best way to the woman’s heart is through her stomach.”

Therefore, we have come into agreement to feed each other at our heart’s content. The best way to do it? A mixture of American- Filipino dishes on our table.

Here's to growing fatter together!

Corn in the cob is the best part of a dinner. I love spaghetti so I got my wish and of course we both love garlic bread.

This is a complete meal for us. Cole's garlic bread is the best. 

Italian spaghetti sauce. 

As a native of the Philippines, I never thought that I would be eating corn in the cob during dinner. But, I love it!

We love weekends where my husband makes me blueberry pancakes. 

I love veggies so my husband made this egg omelette with veggies. 

My husband doesn't eat veggies so it's obvious who this belongs to. :D 

Any meat must come with gravy. My husband is the best in making it. 

Cream corn. If there's no corn in the cob, then there must be cream corn 

In about two months stay here, I have learned to make just the kind of mashed potato my husband likes. 

Yummy ham. Our fave! 

Plain rice for me and rice with cinnamon and sugar for my husband. 

Rice for my husband with cinnamon and sugar. 

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Winter in Michigan

After living in two tropical countries, I've been asked many times how do I find the winter in Michigan. Well, despite of bone-chilling temperature when the wind blows, I love how the snow feels frozen lace on my skin. I specially love it when my husband and I can go outside and walk our dogs. This Sunday is just one of those days. After church, we took a nap and we were out for our winter walk!

My four babies. 

Dani and Zoie in their winter attire. 

My husband was forced to carry Alice because she started limping. 

With Dani and Zoie. Dani's a gift from Dad two years ago for my birthday. 

Surprisingly, the wind was not blowing so bad this time so I wasn't that cold. 

They also love our walk outside! 

Winter is beautiful in Michigan. 

Dani and Zoie loved walking on the snow! 

I love our area. Nice neighbors and great view! 

For many, snow can be such a pain. Imagine how you would scrape the snow from this car! 

My husband. 

I wish the pine trees would start to get snow all over. 

Then the unexpected happened, the snow started blowing on us! 

When it happens, it's hard to open your eyes. 

Zoie running happily. 

I need to get some rest.

Happiest Sunday ever. 

Our Sunday adventure did not end with our walk. My husband got his class ring back! It was lost about 23 years ago during winter time and a guy contacted him on Facebook this week telling him that he had it. They agreed to meet today and my husband was so disappointed when he did not hear anything back from him. At about 8:00 p.m., the guy sent a message to my husband and told him to check our mailbox. The biggest surprise of the day! My husband got his class ring back 23 years after losing it. What a blessed day. 

Thanks to Facebook. My husband got his ring back. 

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Best Student's Letter for a Teacher

I was going through my files trying to organize them when I saw this letter of my former student. I remember getting teary-eyed when I got this from my email. It's a beautiful feeling being a teacher. One that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Sharing this as an inspiration to all teachers who work so hard out there. Everything you do is not in vain. Believe it or not, these kids, as raucous as they may seem will always have that gratitude in their hearts.

"Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity."
-- Lady Nancy Astor

Dear Ms. Nina Buena-Nichols,

I am writing in the format you have taught me for the whole year last year. My English may not be perfect but I can say that my English has improved due to your endless effort to teach me. Although you are no longer my teacher, but as what I wrote in my bucket list I will always remember who you are.

Firstly, thank you for being my teacher, mother and also a friend. At first, I admit that I was not used to your teaching styles as it was still new to me. I complained a little bit, especially when you assigned us journals. I have now understood that the journal was really essential to be able to communicate to you without feeling shy or scared. Now that we aren’t required to write journals, I missed writing them. Quoting my mom, we won’t be able to appreciate something we never lost. Not to forget your speeches, it contains a lot of good lessons we need growing up. In English, you were the one who told me what I need to improve and what I need to keep up. You have helped me grow not only academically but also as a person.

Secondly, you were always so caring to our class. You would interfere with our problems as if it were yours although you have nothing to do with it. You have exceeded your duty as our form teacher by giving us extra care. When you helped us talk to the different subject teachers to adjust our schedules. I remember those times when you used to always call my name every lesson and I would complain. I know those comments were necessary to remind me to control myself. I would always have your voice in my head reminding myself to behave. We have been through a lot of fun and problems as a class. Although we are all still in one class now, it would never be the same without you.

Lastly, I would like to wish you a very happy life with your husband. I hope you can have the family you always wanted and with you experience in teaching us you will be an excellent mother. I pray that you can be healthy and happy forever. I hope all of us will get a chance to meet you again before you go to Michigan.

As you said, “You may forget me as a teacher, but I hope you remember the lessons I have taught you.” Don't worry miss, not only will we remember your lessons, we will remember that there is no better teacher we could ever ask for. Before I sign off, I know you almost cried reading this miss. I know it’s too good. hahaha.

I wish you nothing but the best !!!

Your “bestest” student,

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Psalm 91 Testimony (Featured in the book of Dr. Chitra Soetoyo)

It was when I became a member of ESIS family that my relationship with God significantly deepened by memorizing and internalizing Bible verses. It was like learning how to walk, at times I grappled but soon enough, reciting verses became part of my daily life helping me to lead a more meaningful life.

When I first heard Psalm 91, I was amazed by the different testimonies of the students how it helped them when they were in dire need. It never occurred to me that one day, I would be needing it as well.
It was early morning when I left home that fateful day hoping to be at the meeting place that my friends and I agreed. We were planning to jog in a famous place in Jakarta (Ancol) and see the beauty of sunrise so we decided to make it the earliest possible. It was around 5:15 when I left home and I was greeted with stark darkness. The guard was nowhere to be seen so I just locked the gate and continued walking to look for a taxi. I was a bit inattentive with my surroundings since I never had any bad experience before in this country. Though it was dark, I was not bothered at all.

I was fixing my sweater when I suddenly felt the presence of somebody near me. I was momentarily taken aback when I saw a man on a bicycle looking at me. He said something in Bahasa angrily but I did not understand it. My heart started beating so fast the way he was pointing at my bag. Out of fear, I said something in Filipino and the man looked at me quite baffled. The moment his gaze locked on mine, I immediately started reciting Psalm 91. I had this split second to decide what to do, run or face him. Other neighbors have security guards as well but I didn't see anyone. It was still dark and I knew I was alone. I ran as fast as I could while reciting Psalm 91. The man could have easily followed me, but he was left quite perplexed also how I reacted. When I was reciting Psalm 91, I struggled to remember the words since I was so scared. Repeatedly, I have recited these lines, I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

The man could have easily followed me since he had a bicycle. However, when I looked back, he was frozen where he was standing. Thankfully, I was able to hail a taxi fast enough when I reached the main road.

In retrospect, we have no control of the situations that we may be facing in the future. But, the giant leap with my spiritual belief helped me to surrender my complete faith in Him knowing that He is ALWAYS in control.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Six Thousand Plus Dead and Counting

"When the first drop of blood of the innocent cascades, and the dawn of understanding sets in, no, I won’t say ‘I told you so.’ I, too, shall weep."

The ballooning number of those killed in the war against drugs of the Philippines reminded me of this post I had on Facebook before the election. I deleted this post as soon as the new president was sworn in as respect for the 16 million votes he got which catapulted him in the position. It's a sad world we live in. One that is mostly decided by those in power. Now, six months after being sworn in and more than 6 thousand people were killed including children and innocent bystanders (in his words collateral damage).

I do not intend to sound so apolitical. After all, our Facebook timelines are already blitzed with countless articles and meme’s of this and that candidate. However, just as the suffrage is a right so is the freedom of expression.

Though I did not vote for Duterte, I believe that due respect must be accorded to those who remain strongly convicted that they should vote for him. If there is one thing I have realized reading comments and articles of those who are rooting for him, they really believe he is the most qualified to bring change albeit of the brand of leadership he portrays- that of extra-judicial killings.

Whatever will be the result of the election on Monday, I pray that it will be an honest and peaceful one. It is easy to be unperturbed because I am not in the Philippines but my heart will always be in the land where I was born.

There is probably no other election after martial law regime which seems to be so divisive and so wearying than this election. The spirit of reconciliation is far from sight for friends and families obdurately arguing of their chosen candidates. There is so much hate. There was a time that I was ranting frustrations just because I ardently believe that I was fighting for a great cause. Then, I realized that others are fighting the same.

In light of the different surveys, a part of me has already conceded that Duterte will really win as president. A part of me has conceded that the man who lauded himself as the Davao Death Squad with 1, 000 plus victims will really govern the Philippines. A part of me has conceded that the injustices done to the mothers whose children were taken with a victim as young as nine years old will never get justice. A part of me has accepted that the man who cursed the pope, who made fun of the PWD and LGBT, who said that while in front of the Australian rape victim with slashed throat, thought that, "I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing but she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.", will live in Malacanang (with his ex-wife, common wife, and two other mistresses) for six years. A part of me has conceded that in the spirit of progress that people are pushing, we are willing to brush aside the issues of corruption- lavish gifts, unexplainable bank accounts, undeclared properties, and ambiguous 708 million contractual workers.

A part of me has conceded that the man who claimed he can eradicate crime in 3-6 months will seat in the highest power, that he will change the form of government so he can deliver his cause.

The biggest part of me though is fervently praying that EACH and EVERY policeman in the whole country, is clean and just in exercising power. Remember, Duterte may be the tough presidentiable that you think but he is not a superman. He can not be in the 7, 100 islands of the Philippines killing criminals like he promised. Shooting them like what you have probably imagined. To borrow the mayor’s lines laced with profanities and populist tirades:

“Am I the Davao Death Squad? True. That is true.”
“You know when I become president, I warn you. I don’t covet the position. If I become president, the 1,000 will become 50,000.”
“One shot in the head will do it.”
“I will increase the salary of the policemen.”
“I will kill all of you.”
“I will pardon myself for mass murder.”
“I will also extend pardons to security forces who abuse human rights.”
“I will issue 1,000 pardons a day,”
“Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte.”
“If I'm the president, I will declare a revolution. I will rebel against my own government and close down everything except your businesses and make a body to take care of your expenses.”
“Barilin mo na agad kesa kasuhan pa. Tatagal lang ang kaso.”
“Expect more dead pushers when I’m president, build extra funeral parlors, please.”
“Diyan mo makikita tataba yong mga isda sa Manila bay. Diyan ko kayo itatapon.”
“I’ll pardon cops who kill criminals, civilians in line of duty.”
"I say let's kill five criminals every week, so they will be eliminated,"

Please pray that you don’t have brothers, uncles, husband, father, friends and relatives who might be mistaken as criminals. Don’t claim that they are not doing anything wrong. Remember, as the mayor said, there will be no due process of law. Remember, not all those killed by Davao Death Squad are criminals some are mistaken identity.

Sources (No ABS-CBN here and mostly international news publication/ networks only):


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