Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera: A Review

The Phantom of the Opera is a famous story documented by the French author, Gaston Leroux. Since it's original publication in 1911, his work has been adapted in various theatrical and film versions. As well known as it is for ages, this was the first time I took interest to grab a copy and read what's all the fuss about. As for the motion picture, I have yet to check it out.

At first, reading the prologue sent me into a wild confusion. Here, Leroux explained how he did his research over the "Opera Ghost" mentioning a number of uncommon names which are difficult to pronounce. Before he wrote the book, he was convinced that the OG existed in flesh and blood but his initial interviews prove otherwise. The major confusion was caused by the disappearance of the actress Christine DaaĆ© in the middle of her performance followed by the loss of the Viscount of Chagny, Raoul, and the discovery of the lifeless body of his brother, Philippe, by the banks of a lake. Without the phantom's participation which was the missing link, people speculated that the brothers fought because of the older one's disapproval of the love affair between Raoul and Christine, irregardless of the fact that both brothers "worshipped each other all their lives". Anyway, the prologue is better at second reading, after the book has been finished.

Honestly, I was a little bored while reading the book. For one thing, it was difficult to assimilate the foreign names. Then, although Leroux had ascertained that the OG was real, the circumstances made it not easy to believe so. For instance, how could the Managers of the Opera House hear something in their ears and see no one? And what human can cause Christine DaaĆ© a majestic performance when the girl was an ordinary singer as can be? And what with the death head and yellow eyes that glow in the dark?

One other thing that was quite perplexing was that despite Christine's realization that the OG was tricking her, she decided to play by his rules. A lot of times, she denied her love for Raoul and made him miserable with jealousy. But instead of taking pity over him, she thought otherwise and said "poor Erik!" (which was the OG's name btw). I couldn't understand why she took pity on the OG who apparently caused nothing but trouble, or evil, to those around him. I was thinking, why didn't she just went away from the Opera when Raoul was so willing to make her his bride.

Almost through, I dragged myself to reading the rest of the story for I do not want to leave it unfinished. Besides the first impression of incredibility over the book, there was one other reason for the total loss of interest. Last Monday, holiday, I took my little siblings out and found a treasure!
Yes, I found this treasure at Booksale for only Php35! Imagine my joy!
This book was part of my childhood days and after perhaps, 15 years, I'll be able to read it again. But that shall be another story.

Going back, I almost had the urge to set aside the Opera Ghost and start with this treasure yet I felt bad at having to start something and not ending it. So I read on. Fortunately for me, I had enough discipline at the time. The story turned out impressive towards the end! All the skepticisms I've had with the reality of the OG was answered as Leroux shared the journals of the "Persian" who knew about Erik too well. Every one of my confusions had been cleared. I began to understand the ironic feelings that Christine had for the OG for I, myself, felt the association with these feelings. Erik's genius and obsession with Christine was frightening. He did things that were horryfyingly evil. But the Persian said, Erik, who had not been loved even by his own family, might not even know the difference between good and evil. Everything that he did was out of necessity. He only wanted simple things, to live like a normal person, with a wife he can take out on Sundays. But the norms of the humankind did not allow this possible to him. Thus, it is quite natural, that one feels pity over him.

In the end, one thing I realized was that OG was capable of loving. He was as human as all of us can be but his ugliness did not let him live a normal life. And I can't agree with Leroux more when he said:

"...he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar."

It was the exact same thing I was thinking about Erik. If I had met him, I might have cried and held his hand too, saying "poor, unhappy Erik!"

The book's ending gloriously redeemed the pessimistic notions I had at the beginning. My only goal was to finish the book and move on to the next. After reading though, I found myself staring into space... imagining, contemplating. Erik was such an extraordinary person. He should have been a loveable person, if one was only willing to see past through the facade. Such strong feelings I had for the OG, mostly pity and I can't help but wish that somehow, he get his second chance at life to be happy and normal and free. But it's useless. He's long dead. It's just a shame how the norms of mankind can sometimes make life miserable...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Buwan ng Wika 2012

Last Saturday, 25 August, we participated in Demi's school program in commemoration of the Buwan ng Wika. This is in support to the heroes of our country who are given a date in August to be celebrated and remembered.

Part of the program is to showcase the children's talent in singing, group dancing and declamation. This part was announced way earlier but because of the busy-ness of the circumstances and my forgetful character, I didn't remember to choose a talent for Dem until it was but 2 weeks away. Now I'm a little bit choosy with presentation although I can say that nobody really has the showbiz blood in either side of the family. I don't want to settle with the songs suggested by Teacher, namely "Ako'y Isang Pinoy" or "Ako ay Pilipino." I wanted something unique and chose "Isang Lahi" instead, which later turned out to be a good decision because most of the kids who sang, from Prep down to Nursery, performed the song "Ako'y Isang Pinoy."

True, the song I chose is a bit hard plus we don't have much time to prepare so I had to make amendments with the minus one I got from YouTube. Here, I thank the person who upload the video and my sister for teaching me how to convert the video to mp3 file through a site. Equipped with a talent for cramming and a few know-how in editing videos using Windows Movie Maker, I just had to cut away the second stanza and voila! Demi was all set to perform.

One other cramming I did was buying the Filipiniana dress which I only wondered about on the morning of the day before the program itself. I asked my husband what the children should be wearing and had a hunch it would be a Filipiniana dress but he wasn't sure either so I went to office in the morning and had to take a leave in the afternoon after my husband verified that my premonition was right to buy the dress (*stops to breathe air :p*). The truth was, I had enough experience with this back when I was a student myself to know better and that I was even negligent to the last minute hehe. So I still didn't possess the good diligence of a father of a family. First is because I'm not a father of course, second, because I wasn't able to foresee promptly.

Well, everything paid off, even the fact that Demi caught colds during the program, as what happened with the Nutrition Month last July. The day before the kids were to recite, Demi lost her voice. I promise I did not overdo her practicing. It was plain coincidence coupled with the unpredictable weather. But since she was singing this time, the whole situation got me nervous. I didn't pressure ourselves though. I just told my baby to do her best and quite naturally... she brought home the bacon. Hehehe... Please allow me to exercise the bragging rights of a mom ;)

And now I give you, the first placers (because these sisters are always one), Demi and Daisy!






Before her performance. Not a hint of stage fright. I was the one nervous haha.

Demi's very first medal! I'm so proud of my baby :)

One thing that's cute about kids is that they don't let their achievements get into their heads. At the end of the day, they're still as simple and pure as they are.

With friends:





The main objective of the program has been achieved: another milestone in building up these kids' self esteem. For me, they are all winners! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Sound Trip # 5: If I'm Not In Love With You by Jennilyn Mercado and Janno Gibbs


"I miss you... I don't know why this is happening to me. I never expected to feel this way again so soon. For many nights, I am expecting that I would wake up one day and the feeling would be gone but it's only getting stronger and deeper each day. Although it's too soon to make conclusions, I want you to know that I am happy. Ironically though, there is this constant fear that when I finally fall in love with you, you will suddenly realize that you don't love me anymore.
 
For a while, I wanted to be alone, I enclosed myself again inside my comfort zone. I'm surprised that just lately, I am opening up myself to you. Right now, I am really vulnerable...
 
I had many heartaches in the past, I almost said I will never fall in love again. But I want you to know that I am willing to try one last time to fall in love again with you... I am willing to risk getting hurt again, because I trust your words...
 
I do feel how much you love me..."
 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Introduction: My Family

This post is particularly made for my kins in OZ who deserve a little bit of introduction about my lovely children and husband before they actually see each other hopefully next year, God willing. I've been meaning to make a post about them even before this necessity came, so the request from tita Angie is actually very timely. Without further ado, let me begin with my eldest daughter.

This is Demi Jenn. She's turning 5 on November 9 this year. She started schooling this June and enjoys it. I named her after a character from Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (a sequel book to the classic Little Women by the same author). It's actually Demi-John, the male twin child of Meg but when I learned I was carrying a girl, I shifted the second name to Jenn. I kinda liked this idea of naming her after me. Like a junior. Some of my friends thought the same and even called her Jenny Junior hehe. In fact, she was so like me when I was little.

I think the most apparent proof is the body built. Although this little girl consumes reasonably enough food everyday, she stays as skinny as she is. But mind you, she's VERY HYPER ACTIVE, if the adjective is not redundant. I have no choice but this is the most fitting phrase to describe her. Practically, she can't sit still and doing nothing is her greates agitation. She doesn't have ADHD though, I can attest to that. :) Some other trivial facts about her include her being left handed and her addiction to fishes and everything under the sea.


My second daughter is Daisy Jenn. I named her after the twin sister of Demi-John in the book, Daisy, and attached the name Jenn after it. However, unlike the character who is very shy and reserved, my daughter turned out to be very lively and playful. She could be prone-accident due to this which is why we filled the house-floor with thick mats. At first meeting, especially if you're a guy, Daisy would shy away and even cry.

When she was born, she was so like her father. From hair line, to nose, to skin complexion... everything was Nilo-ish. I was glad though that after a year, she had shed off majority of this boyish looks and looked more like me. Because Daisy's a girl, she should tend to be more like mommy hehe (the selfish notions of a mom like me). She's just turning 3 this 16th of October so she doesn't go to school yet.

They enjoy watching cartoons on TV particularly:

Disney (mostly the modern ones) like:

Brother Bear 1&2
Little Mermaid 1&2 (where Demi got her everlasting fondness of fishes and everything under the sea)
Tangled

Some creepy cartoons with lessons:

Coraline
Nightmare before christmas (they never get tired of this presently)

Etc:

Bolt
Hi-5 (so far this is one OZ exposure)

Other times, they're into watching YouTube videos of cake making and miniature clay molding of foods. They sometimes shift to games and cartoons (again).

Moving on, I'd like to introduce my husband Nilo lastly but not the least:

This was our pic from 2010's Company xmas party. I know he'd gravely disagree with me in case I put here a solo picture of his unless it's the picture of his counterpart (not counterfeit hehe).

He'd kill me if he sees this hahaha!

(A famous local actor, Coco Martin. Photo Source here)


My husband and I met each other in Friendster, it's the predecessor of Facebook, at the time when I had just started my work at the audit firm. He's an OFW in KSA, Jubail for almost 6 years. :)

It's crazy sometimes, how love works but I'm most thankful to God for a responsible husband and father. I couldn't have imagined and asked for someone else.

Bottom line is, I am most gratified having a God-given family. :) I am most proud of them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Sound Trip # 4: How Could This Happen To Me by Simple Plan

"At one point in my life, I was desperate..."


Video borrowed from YouTube. How could this happen to a reindeer...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Driving Lessons for Dummies

This too shall pass, is what I say to motivate myself to go back tomorrow for the actual lessons. I attended the orientation this morning and started with an excited feeling like a youth going to school again, learning something, undergoing an exam and the glorious feeling of passing it. But the minute the instructor announced that we, ourselves, shall handle the wheel tomorrow and drive the car from its parking, I looked behind and observed how busy the streets were outside. My heart sank, I trembled like a leaf and felt cold inside throughout the rest of the orientation.

Inwardly, I had to laugh at myself for the confidence I initially portrayed by choosing to study manual against automatic transmission. My reason was, because it's easier to shift from manual to auto, than vice versa. Glad I was convinced to take the latter. And the lessons from the instructor boosted up my self-esteem a little bit. I figured out that the "clutch," which is not present in the automatic transmission cars, was the main object responsible for the complexities of driving. Feet coordination, along with other physical coordination, is something I don't possess. I remembered getting envious with my little brother who plays the drum as if he's eating cake and thought I could play the drums too. I was wrong. Trying out the drums gave me the realization that I probably lack the nerves connecting from the brain down to the legs and feet, or at least the glands to coordinate them. That was just drums. Say, what more with cars?

Minus the clutch, I'll only have to use the right foot. Whew! That's better. But smart driving is a lot more than feet coordination. Let me just share what I learned this morning straight from my notes.

First is the right sitting position: Adjust the distance of the seat from the steering wheel as well as the back rest. The arms must not be too bent or too straight. If your wrists rest above the steering wheel when your arms are stretched, then you are at the right distance.

Second is the seat belt: Even before starting the engine, secure the belts on. Make sure that the belts are locked by pulling on it.

Third is turning the engine on: For automatic transmissions, make sure that the shifting lever is on P (park) before turning the key from Lock to Acc. In order to undo the lock, turn the key counter-clockwise while steering the wheel upward. Then turn the key from Acc to On. With an interval of one second, turn finally to Start. Once the engine hums (about 3 seconds), let go of the key. It will settle back to On. Do not hold on longer than 3 seconds as this will cause the starter to break. (I wish I had more fetish for machines to appreciate this)

Fourth is adjusting the mirrors: From your driving position, adjust the rear view and side mirrors. Side view mirrors are correctly adjusted if only 10% of you car's body could be viewed (how's that? only the handle at the back door could be seen and the rest are views of the surroundings.)

Fifth is the use of turn signals: With the index and middle fingers of the left hand, push the turn signal upward for right or down when turning left. For city driving, at least 30m (or 3 cars) from turning point, the signals must be started. For highways, at least 90m (or 10 cars).

Sixth is the steering wheel: For frequent steering, which is for city driving, the hands are positioned like this:
Photo here
 This is supposedly for easier steering. Experienced drivers position their hands oppositely, at the lower part of the wheel, for greater turns.

Finally, the driving itself: For manuals, the clutch thing made everything complicated. All I remembered was, you push on it when you start, shift gears, and stop. And all the time gradually releasing the tension. It's like calculating the level in which the car will run smoothly. This is done in coordination with pressing on the gas or break, plus shifting gears with your right hand. For automatics, just don't forget to shift the gear to D (drive mode), step on the gas gradually and break to stop. It's simplified a thousand times but it doesn't stop me from getting nervous.

Tomorrow I shall start my first actual lesson. Just like the Physical Education subjects in college, I'd probably finish this course with... at most a satisfactory level I hope.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Gold Is Tested By Fire

It's almost 2 weeks since my last valid post. Valid because sound trips doesn't count as writing but more of just sharing. So much had been going on and so many things to be done, to share. But I have been agitated over the weeks. Later I shall tell what the cause is. But finally, here I am at the stage of acceptance. I have been preparing myself and the others around me for this big change that came a little sooner and finally, I'm filing my resignation from my company.

Before this, I had posted about a desire to flee. But I had reverted the post back to "draft" because I didn't want to dwell in those negative feelings, for the company had been a blessing in general. Something happened though, and when the gold is tested in fire, a lot of revelations appear. At this stage, so early, all we could see are the disadvantages. The heat of the fire is too much, some might not endure it. But in time, the gold will shine. Pity, I will no longer be around by the time this happens. Still, I wish those who remain to have enough strength and those already affected to find the silver lining amidst the dark clouds.

I am one of those affected during this early stage of the trial. Our plan to leave PH is not due until next year because (materialism aside) I expected the bonuses to finance our fares partially. After the accident, it felt wrong to even look forward to it especially since other employees are on the brink of losing their jobs. So we decided that I went ahead so I could save up for fares and eventually fetch them. I'm going ALONE the month after.

I declined this idea with utmost resistance. I couldn't bear to think of myself in a foreign land without my nearest of kins for I've never been farther than Zamboanga Mindanao, and that was just for 2 days, service and accommodation well prepared. Now that my aunt has confirmed to accommodate me, the sole problem I bear is the thought of leaving the kids behind. *sigh* It won't even be for half a year but still... I won't be there on their birthdays... My heart is breaking now.

We've resolved these issues by now. I made it a point that we'd celebrate their birthdays earlier before I leave. But still... I can not fathom the depths of my sorrow at the moment. All I know is I do these things and those, in preparation for this supposedly "feat." I am overflowing with things to do along with sorrow overshadowed by the busy state I'm in. Also fear. I am not the most independent person on earth. But I guess when faced with necessity, I don't have any choice but to be "able."

In a way, I feel like I have my own fire where I am being tested...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sunday Sound Trip 2: Need To Be Next To You by Leigh Nash


"I need to know I can see you smile each morning, 
look into your eyes each night, for the rest of my life..."


"I think I’ve done my time. Telling you my honest feelings is the best thing to do. And I realized, I can’t just let myself live into fantasy, I want you to let me in your heart. And I know by myself, I found the true meaning of love." - 18/11/08

Friday, August 3, 2012

Please Look After Mother: A Reflection

I meant to make this post soon after I've finished the book, which was a relatively long time ago. I've read it in June but I wasn't sure about the impact which the book has left upon me and so consequently, I did not feel like writing about it right afterwards.

First of all, I failed to find a deep enough connection. Unlike with other books wherein I begin to feel the association mid-part with a character or characters, I had a difficult time feeling for the characters in this book. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the style in which the book was written, from different points of view, which diverted my attention from the story itself to figuring out whose person was the story being narrated. Or maybe because it hasn't really crossed my mind that the possibility of ignoring a mother's presence to a great degree is limited only in dramas. Whatever the reason, I was only half satisfied towards the ending of the story. All throughout the book, I was anticipating their reunion with the lost mother. It never happened.

Disappointment, the hollow feeling, these were the reasons why I didn't write earlier about the book. But when I was faced with my own situation with my mother, who is in the hospital right now, suffering from a great headache and high blood pressure, I remembered the book. Today, while I was tending for my sick mother, I felt odd seeing her that way. I remembered how in the book, the author pointed out that most of us see only one part of our mothers: the part who is strong, the person who watches over our needs unceasingly, the mother who constantly prepares our food, clothing and keeps the home neat always... all our lives. That was how I felt a while ago. I felt odd because it had always been me in the hospital bed being taken cared of by my mother. It should be the other way around. I have never seen her like that before. Whenever she was confined in the hospital when we were still young, my father looked after her. I just see her when she comes back from the hospital, healthy and able again.

It's a sad feeling because I realized that mother's getting old. I do not want to face the fact that she could be getting weak also. It hurts even more because when I needed her, she was there 24/7 while I, tied up with my own obligations with the kids could not commit my whole time to look after her. I am crying inside. Deep within this heavy feeling in my heart, I know I wanted to pray... please, please look after my mother...

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