Babyhood is SO short. I am reminded all the time. People feel compelled to remind me, too. Like, constantly. I believe every parent comes to this realization pretty quickly and all on their own anyway. What might be easy to forget (especially if you're not really into kids - not everyone has to want/like kids) is that who they become once they are done being these cute, little creatures is... FAMILY. I look forward to those next stages with excitement and humility. I couldn't imagine a baby for many years. I hesitated to want to tackle parenthood on my own (side note: bravo to single parents!). But when Rudy and I got together, I thought: it would be nice to have family around. It's the reason we women put our bodies through the trauma of pregnancy and birth. Both physically, mentally and emotionally. But I'm humbled and grateful to have had the chance. Changes are happening fast with Rumi. Daily. I'm in awe. I'm focused on every amazing moment of his babyhood.
Some recent conversations about food I’ve had with friends in Toronto and New York prompted me to write about it today. I was raised with an almost sacred view of food. I realized how much this has contributed to my perspectives, love and respect for food of all types as an adult. Some of the unwritten rules around food in my childhood were:
· try everything once (especially food you’re afraid to try; there were very, very few exceptions)
· never scoff at food you don't necessarily care for (esp. when at people's home cooked dinners or even restaurants) because that would be extremely disrespectful to whomever prepared it – and to food, in general
· meals are enjoyed together and talked about at length
· nothing is ever wasted (before the ‘nose-to-tail’ was ever a trendy thing, poorer countries practiced this as a given), so excess was frowned upon
· processed/packaged food wasn’t readily available in the Philippines and also more expensive. Therefore nearly everything was cooked fresh (thankfully)
· you ate everything on your plate because so many children around go hungry everyday so a clean plate was a sign of gratefulness
· when dining on the beach, you ate with your hands on picnic tables lined with banana leaves
All of this taught me to enjoy and respect food as much as I do today. I think it’s normal to have personal preferences. But a narrow-mindedness about food and scoffing at food you didn’t like was looked down upon and simply not allowed when I was growing up. So it drives me crazy when I see narrow-mindedness now. I feel lucky and grateful to have had the upbringing that I had. I love that I was brought up this way. I love seeing children who are growing up with a wider palate and an open-mindedness about food. I have my parents —especially my mom— to thank for this. I was never the kid who was fixated by eating candy. Nor was I allowed to be picky. I was always more interested dinner (not to mention, dessert). Filipino culture centres so much around food in many ways too. So none of this is a surprise. I lived there until I was almost 12 before moving to California. Food was the other religion. Meals were, in essence, pure love and joy. Meals were everything. Not much has changed today.
Living in New York starting in 1999 only helped enhance and widen my perspective and palate. I'm surrounded by even more people over the past two+ years who regard food in this same way in Toronto. It's an endless journey of discovery. It's so fantastic and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last spring, my sweet cousin Valerie broke the news that she and Mark, her long-time boyfriend, got engaged. She soon thereafter contacted me for advice on graphic design and photography for the big day. She wanted my insight on her shortlisted photographers so we went back and forth via email. In the end, she chose Jen Huang. I am thrilled with the result and so thrilled for her and Mark. The wedding and reception (April 28th, 2012) were absolutely gorgeous. Valerie looked stunning. I loved the attention to detail. The photos really captured it all beautifully. The photos were even featured in Style Me Pretty magazine this June issue (pages 112-119).
The Highlands Country Club in Garrison, New York was such an elegant setting for the reception – one of the best that I've seen. Plus, it was also so much fun! The evening included making smores around the firepit outside – white pashminas and cigars that were provided for everyone was a nice touch.
A big congratulations again to my cousin Valerie and Mark! xoxo Love you both.
I drew a lot of strength, joy and inspiration from all those who were so good to me this year. Thank you for your encouragement, support, generosity, laughter and kindness. I hope you all know who you are.
Back in October, I posted an old photo of my maternal relatives. It's a lot more unusual for me to see old photos of my father's side of the family. I loved seeing these. It may very well be the first photo I've ever seen of my great grandmother (center) and the first time I've ever seen such a large group photo of my paternal relatives.
Take a WILD guess which one my father is. It's so obvious, it's hilarious. He's the man with the thick framed glasses on the left (he's standing directly behind his dad, my grandfather). Funny that decades later, we would share similar taste in eyewear! I love the suit and the hairstyle as well. Well done, Pa.
I also love this photo below. I love how handsome my grandparents look here. My dad is second from the right. The look on his face already showing a faint defiance – a hint of the little trouble maker he apparently grew up to be. Ha!
With my mom and her mom both celebrating October birthdays (14th, 28th, respectively), it was only fitting to share another recently discovered gem of a photo. It's a follow up to the photo I posted in July. Thanks to my cousin Joel for sharing photos he recently unearthed in Manila. That's my lola (grandmother) in the middle, my parents to the right and my my mom's sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law to the left. This must have been in the very early 70s. I love how elegant everyone looks. My mom looks like a teenager here. But she had to have been in her early 20s. Whenever I see old family photos, I feel like I know my family just a little bit more. And I love that.
Happy October birthdays to Mama & (my late) Lola!
My cousin Joel sent me this photo of my Lola (grandmother) and her kids that I have never seen before. Her name was Leonarda – Lony for short. Doesn't she look fantastic?! I love that she looks so relaxed and elegant. My mom is the one to the right of my grandmother. I've seen very few photos of my mom at this exact age. It inspired me to write another post about my family history as a kind of follow-up to my post last year. Another thing that inspired me today is a comment someone left on my old blog about my ancestors. It was nice to be reminded of your ancestry.
My Lola lost her husband, my grandfather Tomas, when he was only 51 years old. He suffered from severe asthma for years and eventually lost the battle. Back then, there were limited options for treament. I never actually had the chance to meet him. He probably took this photo, now that I think about it. My grandma was left to raise six kids on her own. From what I can recall, her family was fortunate enough to own several pieces of property in and around Manila. She earned a living collecting rent from tenants of several apartment buildings. I still remember going with my grandma to collect rent. Between raising six kids and managing property, she also spent a great deal of her time volunteering for an organization that helped the poor. I also remember accompanying my grandmother many times to visit the sick and the poor. Even as a child, I found this to be very humbling. She would always bring them baked goods that she made. She would sit, hold the hands of, and and talk with people who were sick. It was all very much a part of what my Lola was about. The Lola I remember was eternally (and fiercely) independent, generous, sassy and charming. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind. She had to. During the 60s until she passed during the 90s, she was on her own. It's also great to learn that she descends from a long line of strong women — matriarchs. This of course means that I, too, (along with my mom and her sisters) are part of this lineage. I realize that it's a big part of who I am, too. That's something that's to be proud of.
I love this photo of my dad. It was taken on our big island-hopping trip in the Philippines in 2006. That's my sister behind him, by the way. Not me. Our parents often can't tell us apart in photos and in sunglasses.
Happy Father's Day, Pa!
This is a hand-tinted black and white photo of my father that I recently restored. I'm guessing he was in second grade here – his First Communion portrait. He looks so adorable here with that sweet face and that bow tie. And check out the very ominous looking shadow of a crucifix behind him. I like the unlit candle, too. Oh, Catholicism. I took liberties with toning down some of the colour – too generously and inappropriately applied in certain areas. I think my dad was pleased with the result.
Happy Birthday, Papa :)
It's already Mother's Day where my mom is. So I figured, a slightly early post would be just fine.
That's my mom in the center of the photo with her cousins next to her. I recently finished restoring this image. I love this photo so much. Everything about it. I even kept the skewed angle it had originally been scanned in. Perhaps it's simply because I love her look in this photo. She's beautiful. It must have been taken of her in the 60s before I was ever born. I really first learned about style and how to love clothes from my mom. She did dress me and made a lot clothes for my sister and me when we were young. It made me think: my mom was my original stylist! ;)
Thanks, Mama. Happy Mother's Day!
I love you.
Today is the day to remember that I was once a child. It's a humbling thought and an unrelenting reminder that years speed by
faster than you can say 'birthday.' Savour every minute, you live it only once!
Perhaps the most inspiring experience that came out of my Montreal trip was finally getting to see People Power – a very powerful and moving play about the non-violent revolution in the Philippines back in 1986 that lead to the toppling of former president Marcos' nearly 20 year corrupt dictatorship. It was written from diverse points of view, all seamlessly represented by the cast. All of it honouring the unsung heroes of the revolution: such as the people of the working class and the activists. Not only was my sister, Christine part of the brilliant cast, she is also part of the CBT Collective that wrote this smart, rich, multi-dimensional, modern, sensitive (and sometimes humourous!) piece of theatre. Not only is my sister active in her theatre work, she's also a talented freelance art director and designer like me! I loved seeing this play and was incredibly inspired by the role my sister played in it's creation.
Toronto-based, Carlos Bulosan Theatre is also lead by another good friend of mine, Nadine Villasin, who is the theatre's artistic director. My other, multi-talented sister Caroline also designed the costumes and my brother-in-law was responsible for the sound design. I am pretty amazed and humbled to be surrounded with such talent and creativity here in Canada.
People Power has received numerous accolades. Not the least of which are the several Dora nominations for many cast and crew members as well as a Dora Award* winning actor, Nico Lorenzo Garcia for his very moving portrayal of an average Filipino taxi driver in People Power.
*The Dora is the Canadian equivalent of the Tony Award)
If you happen to be in the Montreal area between now and October 2nd, go see People Power. There are five shows left before it closes. You will be as inspired and moved as I was.
Photos by Reese Baguio
On Tuesday of this week, my sister and her husband's house caught on fire. It was a fire that started in their neighbour's basement.
Thankfully, NO ONE was hurt – including their two dachshund dogs. It's particularly heartbreaking because this is their first home. They
just bought it late last year. The extent of the damage is still being determined but it's safe to say, it was significant enough for
them to have to likely move out for a while. This fire just makes me realize how much I need to be closer to my family and how much
I miss them. And isn't this a great photo of them?
Photo By Alex Felipe