Monday, 3 December 2012

mind your own christmas beeswax

Ahhh, Christmas.  It really is a wonderful concept – peace on earth, goodwill to men – but sadly ruined in the execution.  Spreading joy to the world is all fine and dandy, but it is the season when traffic is at its most horrendous, shoppers are at their rudest, and you feign all these cheers and wishes to people you’d rather push off a cliff.  I am a Grinch this year.  

Mrs. McCluskey, who lives across from me, puts up her bright red and green lights with this massive peek-a-booing Santa on her front lawn while I still have giant spiders and skeletons hanging from my balcony.  It’s not that I have procrastinated putting down my Halloween decor.  The woman is way too eager to start her Yuletide season! It’s a bizarre sight to witness when you drive down my street. 

I look at Mrs. McCluskey’s decked out house as a warning of what’s to come. Christmas, I find, has become a holiday of obligation.  It is run by guilt and duty.  Expectations are high, tempers run hot, and budgets get thin.  You have to give to people and children you have not been in contact with for years just because eons ago you were baselessly anointed godmother to their offspring. 

And while everyone insists it’s the thought that counts, the sad fact is nobody wants to receive another bloody re-gifted box of chocolates from the drug store. 

It has become ridiculous, really, this business of gift giving.  Last year, a family member gave us back a $150 coat we gave her for Christmas.  She asked for us to write her a cheque instead for the exact amount to purchase a $350 coat that she would rather have.  I do not care how close her blood ties are to my own family. That’s just fucking rude.

See? My issues are not groundless.

I do not discount those with the truest of intentions, though.  They are usually the ones who give handwritten cards with personalized wishes, or small inexpensive gifts that make you feel like you were a great friend the whole year.  (Not to be pompous, but I am the best when it comes to friendship, and I demand no gifts from anybody.)

So, if you will excuse me, I need to put up my fake tree and hang my fake garlands all over my porch and front door while I simulate cheer and joy for the sake of my 2 children. They just started to count down the days until they receive their gifts from the biggest hoax this season has to offer (however benevolent it may be) that is Santa Claus.

Ho ho friggin’ ho.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Death by Gingerbread House

Today I decide to be the quintessential patient, crafty and involved apron-clad mother.  The kids and I are doing crafts on this beautiful snowy Sunday afternoon. 

A tv commercial for a cleaning product depicts a woman whose grungy children and wet dog running amuck all over her immaculate white carpet, covering it in slimy black grime and mud. The commotion startles her, but instead of going ballistic, she sighs, shakes her head and smiles.

It’s a load of crap, if you ask me. Unless they're selling LSD-laced anti-depressants, it's a big fat lie.  Think about it.  Who smiles at a sight like that? Stoned mothers, most likely.   

But today, I embrace it. I choose to be THAT mother. Not stoned, but I embrace a messy kitchen, that will be filled with happiness and joy.

Girl, 8 and Boy, 6 want to build a ginger bread house. I take pleasure in saying NO to them most of the time, but I am the fun mommy this afternoon, so ginger bread house it is.  They are ecstatic.  They are filled with excitement and happily discuss their plans for this edible house. 

Ahh.. the Ginger bread house: a wholesome fun activity for the whole family! This allows them to develop their creativity and encourage them to work together on a project.  Art, education and entertainment, all for a low price of $9.99! Everyone wins.

I get my camera ready.  I give myself a pat on the back and feel proud for creating this sweet memory for my children. Photos will be taken and shared with family members and close friends.  Even better, I decide I will capture a beautiful moment between the 2 kids and make that our Christmas card cover this year. Perfect.

I bring out the ginger bread house kit.  An argument ensues about who gets the coveted role of opening the box. I give them my ‘look’.  Warning #1 is declared.  I open the box.

Type A personality Girl neatly lays all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. Devil-may-care Boy picks up a bag of candy from the neat pile, feasts on it.  Fight no. 2.  I threaten to confiscate the entire kit if any argument strikes again. 

They start building.  The icing fails to completely glue the four panels of the house, and as soon as the roofs are placed, the whole structure collapses.  Girl gets frustrated. She tries again, this time crying for help.  I put more icing, and instruct her to wait a few minutes for it to dry.  She follows my instructions.  She pipes a beautiful pattern of icing on the roof, squeezing more than she should have.  The weight causes the house to flop again.  She gets on the ground in a dramatic fashion claiming she has caused the destruction of this edifice. 

The Boy, with mouth full of sugar balls, mimics and mocks her and this triggers an all out war.  One is high on emotions, the other jumping up and down, high on sugar. Candies and plastic knives are thrown in defiance. 

Boy drops 2 bags of colored icing on the floor.  He gets off the kitchen stool and accidentally steps on both bags squirting red and green icing all over.  He walks on the goo, slips and lands on the Girl who is still in the middle of her emotional outburst on the floor. They scream at each other, both turn to me and simultaneously argue their case, expecting that I reprimand whoever started this whole debacle. 

I blankly stare at them in surrender. 

The phone rings.  It’s my friend Abigail who is now a welcome distraction to the ongoing chaos.  I tell her to not mind the noise, as it is the sound of my reality that I want to block for a few minutes.  Abigail, who is not a stranger to crazy fighting children, offers an unsolicited advice: 

“You know, what you should do, get them to make a gingerbread house.”

Friday, 23 November 2012


The wonder car I learned how to drive stick with.  The beetle that carried wonderful memories from my highschool and university years. My joy. My life. My youth.  

Rest in peace, Bones.


Sunday, 7 October 2012


A 22 pound dead bird covered in cheesecloth sitting atop a bed of Yukon gold potatoes lay still inside the oven.  Poor bird.  He lived a full life only to be murdered so a party of 17 can be fed as they celebrate what they are most thankful for. 

On this day, I run on a time and tested schedule.  In an hour I need to take the cheese cloth off the bird and switch the pan around. In 2 hours the potato gratin and sweet potato casserole will share oven space, while I concoct my special gravy, which every year seems to be the first to go. 

Close friends and family members will start arriving in 5 hours.  At this time I am ready to hit the bed, change into my jammies, and have the sweetest sleep of the year after being up at the crack of dawn.  But I don’t.

I manage my exhaustion with a nice hot shower, fresh clothes and a red lipstick.  I put on a smile and allow the women take over the kitchen as I consume my first cold bottle of Corona.

This is my Thanksgiving.  It started one year when the combined powers of Martha Stewart and Katie Brown came over me and I decided to host dinner and give thanks for my countless blessings.  My daughter’s godfather in his drunken state and happiness volunteered my house and my dishes to everyone and declared it an annual Thanksgiving tradition.  It has been 8 years.

I am exhausted.  Every year I vow that it is the last Thanksgiving dinner I am throwing.  I stare at the dead bird, and feel sorry for its demise. I silently thank the bird for allowing me to celebrate this tradition I have come to both detest and embrace. 

A dead bird is what I am grateful for this year.  And I contemplate on other unexpected things I give thanks for:

1.       My son’s uncanny ability to comprehend sarcastic humour and his perfectly round buttocks.  I am also amused at how at age 6 he can casually talk about my death and his plans thereafter. He makes me laugh, my son.
a year old

2.       My daughter’s dry wit, her brilliance and beautiful curly hair.  Most days she assumes the role of mother in my household.  When stressed, she vacuums the living room. And at 8, she still proudly shouts ‘I love you’ at school drop off in the presence of her peers.  I still rule.
3 years old here

3.       My unforgettable birthday party at Attivo this year.  People who matter in my life back in Manila all gathered one night and partied with me as I turned technically old.  I sang “The Warrior” backed with a punk band I adore.  Best night of the year.  Hands down.
Shooting at the walls of heartache.. bang bang!

4.       My MacBook Pro, iPhone and Google.  The biggest life lesson I face nowadays. Brought on by these.  I love it.  I abhor it.  But am very thankful.

5.       Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. Who needs a joint when 10 seconds into this song, I'm in my happy place.  Panic attacks be gone.

6.       New and returning bebsycakes clients.  I am still amazed I make people happy with how I do my cakes.  Cakes!

7.       Maria and from-the-gut laughs we share because of random stupid conversations only she and I can understand and appreciate.  Best girlfriend someone like me can have.

8.       Jon Stewart and his gifted writers. Why I LOL at 11 at night.

9.       My kick ass artisan Kitchen Aid mixer.  It deserves a thank you.

The oven dings.  It’s time for me to pour a bottle of Guinness on the dead bird.  This is my secret ingredient.  Makes for a killer gravy too.

I hope the next year brings forth more blessings that will make a 20 pound bird worth killing for.

Bye bye, birdie.

He's not amused, is he?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

They had us at Hola: A History Lesson

Fernāo Magalhaes was a nerd.  He was the son of the mayor in his native town, and as a boy, he studied map making and navigation.  In his 20’s he joined a Portuguese fleet, engaged in battle and in the process got himself wounded.  As a result, he walked the remainder of his life with a limp. While nursing his injury, he was falsely accused of illegal trading with the Moors and despite his services to Portugal,  Fernāo fell from the grace of the King.

Ferdinand Magellan
He eventually renounced his Portuguese nationality, and then pledged his allegiance and offered his navigational services to Spain, and took the name Ferdinand Magellan.  Because really, what were his other options?

In 1521, Magellan and his fleet of 5 ships came upon the Philippines and claimed all of her 7,107 islands for Mother Spain.  They weren’t really the first foreigners to arrive the archipelago seeing that Indians and Chinese were already trading with the natives, but first to claim to have discovered it.  These Spaniards were just too cheeky for their own good.

Naturally, the natives were greatly impressed with Magellan's circumnavigation project and very much in awe with this bunch of sweaty armor clad mestizos.  They smiled graciously and went for the beeline to be baptized. They gave up their land and proclaimed an unknown crazy man as their King who lived half way across the world.  Because as a people, we bow and say yes to whatever a white looking dude tells us to do. (Note sarcasm here. Actual historians, hold your hate mails.)

We as Filipinos are known for our hospitality, as evidenced by travel books and websites. It must have started here.  We're so hospitable we gave our land away. It would've been crass not to.

Battle of Mactan, 1521
Not everyone took to the Spaniards, though.  A native tribal chief warrior, Lapu-Lapu, was not impressed with the foreigners and refused to be the vassal of Spain.  Magellan and his men wanted to give him a lesson, went after him, but in the end, got their asses resoundingly whopped.

My friend XabiWanKenobi assumed that Magellan died from a disease during transit back to Spain.  This is historically incorrect.  He was killed in battle by the great Lapu-Lapu from Mactan, Cebu.

There is little known fact about the great Philippine hero Lapu-Lapu, which coincidentally is also the name of a type of fish.

Years ago I attended a film workshop by a brilliant Filipino filmmaker with metal plates in his head.  Noel Lim went off topic and discussed his own theory about Magellan and Lapu-Lapu. 

Magellan is peddling ashore one morning and a giant fish jumps out of the water and devours him.  “What the heck was that?” cry his men.  “Lapu-lapu!” a native onlooker answers.

The Spaniards head back to their Motherland and report their commander’s untimely demise.

“Who killed Magellan?” the King asks.  “Lapu-Lapu.”, they say.

“Who is this Lapu-Lapu?”

His men look at each other in silence, contemplating on their beloved leader now reduced to fish shit in the bottom of the ocean. The most loyal in the group speaks up, “Um…err…he was a fierce tribal warrior! Yeah, yeah…that’s right…he was so big and strong!”

Because of Noel’s genius as a writer and filmmaker, I’m sticking to this story as historical fact.  It has more pizazz.

Anyway, the Spaniards came back a few years later, this time bringing with them mean chubby friars and converted everyone into guilt-ridden Christians. They overstayed their welcome for more than 300 years.

That’s how ‘Shit, coño dude!’ came to be.