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Monday, January 24, 2022

I am a Disabled Person

Having a disability is really hard, moreso if it's invisible. My lungs were impaired by several illnesses. This limits my activities a lot and I immediately get sick when I overexert. The second pulmonary embolism I had last year really did a huge job on me. It forced me to retire. 

Most patients like me don't really get the understanding we need. I was once with my team in Sydney and we had to walk from the office to the restaurant for dinner. It was cold and the short walk was uphill. I walked very slow because I was having a hard time breathing from the effort and the cold. My teammates tried to stay with me, but I was soon left alone to fend for myself. It took awhile because I had to make a lot of stops, but I eventually made it to the restaurant. I soon left after eating because I was so tired. 

That happened several more times and I even experienced people laughing at me because I walked so slow. I eventually asked permission to work from home twice a week. The government work from home order was a huge relief for me because it reduced the guilt I felt from working from home. I became more productive, but the stress and a viral infection I picked up randomly made me ill. My doctor eventually declared I was disabled and recommended I retire. 

The ASEAN has drafted the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They envision to have a more inclusive community. I hope though that this will include people with invisible disabilities. There is very little understanding about it because very few people understand what it is. I have also experienced getting my condition trivialized. 

Having a disability is hard, whether it's physical, mental or an invisible illness that causes impairment. I decided to write about my disability to support the ASEAN Disability Forum. I have been able to cope with my disability with the help of family and friends, but there are many others struggling. I hope governments would implement the masterplan to make communities more inclusive for the disabled. 

A basic program the Philippine government I can think of is making sure that places for public transportation would be easy to maneuver. One example is the MRT and LRT where the elevators are always broken. If they can't provide ramps, they should at least make elevators and escalators work. You can also learn more about what other countries are doing from the ASEAN Disability Forum FB page (https://www.facebook.com/ASEC2025/). 

Let's hope and pray for a more inclusive community for everyone. Dear presidential candidates, bekenemen...

#BeKind #StayHome 


Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Interview

Watched the Jessica Soho's interview of presidential candidates last night. It was interesting to watch and gave me a better idea of plans and thoughts of the candidates. Every election is important because it makes and breaks a country. It's not just about addressing local level needs, but also managing how other countries perceive us. Majority of the issues that were tackled were for domestic needs. 

In 2016, I wrote about assessing candidates based on the job description written in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Let's do a brief rundown of it based on the interview:

Have the skills and network to appoint the right persons in office.

Lacson - he was PNP chief during the Estrada administration, a senator and has served the cabinet. He has a very long list of senate bills filed. His vast experience showed during the interview. I'd like to believe he has a good understanding of how things work and would have good credible contacts by now -- just hopefully not all military men!

Moreno - Isko's political career has mostly been in the local level although he mentioned that he served as DSWD undersecretary for a few months. I did not get a good impression that he has a good grasp on how things run in the national level. Local programs aren't necessarily scalable. 

Pacquiao - his sincerity shown through, but I think where he's good at is helping people not running a nation. 

Robredo - among the four candidates, she was the one who was able to show that she's been doing things already. Getting an ISO certification is no easy feat. With the many volunteers she's been able to encourage, I think she'd also be able to recruit and appoint the best persons in office. 

Good understanding of what the country needs in terms of security.

Lacson - I think among all the candidates he has the most knowledge when it comes to the military. I have no doubt he'd be able to keep the country secure. My question though is, will he be able to develop the relations with other countries to help with the territory issues? 

Moreno - he wasn't able to protect the beach in Manila Bay from dolomite, what more about our national security?

Pacquiao - sorry, but I cannot imagine him sitting down with other heads of state to talk about territorial matters. As I mentioned, I think his best asset is his heart in helping people. 

Robredo - she is going to push for the recognition of the ruling on WPS. I could see that she's going to be firm on it and won't back down from China. 

Will not abuse the ability to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

Lacson - with the Dacer-Corbito case, Mr. Lacson had been a fugitive for 15 months. It's worse than showing up in court with a neck brace. If he was truly innocent, why did he run away? 

Moreno - Isko gave me the impression he'd shadow the things the other mayor who became president did. 

Pacquiao - what I'm afraid of with Manny is he'll be used by his "friends". 

Robredo - I do not think she'd abuse this power. 

Good money manager.

Lacson - he has an anti-pork advocacy and from the interview showed he hates corruption. I think he'd be able to manage the budget well as long as he's able to get a good DBM secretary like Butch Abad. 

Moreno - so far he's been able to utilize his city's budget very well, BUT, I'm baffled about how the campaign donations ended up with him? Wasn't that supposed to go to the party? Correct me if I'm wrong.. 

Pacquiao - I've heard of his legendary bayong-bayong na pera pinamimigay. Not so sure about him managing the nation's money. 

Robredo - as VP, she's only had a meager budget, but she's been able to utilize it for good. Just compare her health packs vs. the DOH's. 

I just listed out some general guidelines from the 1987 Constitution. It's the job description for a president. I was a program manager for a very long time and being process oriented is important to me, so I looked at that also. I was also a community manager for a long time and I think at this time it's important to get help from volunteers, so I also looked at the ability to enable change. 

And as for the one who did not show up in the interview, why consider someone who can't be bothered to show the electorate his plans and platforms? Oh, but I never really considered him anyway. 

Go watch the show and keep an open mind. I thought to break down my thoughts based on the JD since it was a job interview after all. 



Great job Ms. Jessica Soho and team! :D

#BeKind #StayHome


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Cooked Spanish Adobo!

It's been more than a decade since I last cooked Spanish adobo. The last time I cooked it was for our Christmas family reunion in 2010. I remember because Tito Mon requested it. He super loved it and set aside half of what I cooked for the reunion (he didn't want to share). I didn't get to make it again because dalandan is not available in SG (afaik or I just dunno where to get).*


I learned this recipe from a TV show. It was KC Concepcion who showed how to make it (must have been Kris Aquino's morning show). I've since modified the recipe based on taste. Here's a short vid on how I made it -



Recipe available on Recipes for My Son

*Looked through my photos and apparently I was able to cook it in 2013 when I was home recovering from OHS, haha. I still prefer to remember the one when I made it for Tito Mon. 

**Please also like and subscribe the Recipes for My Son YouTube channel. :D


Friday, January 21, 2022

Alien!

There's an alien plant in my lettuce pot! The plant just grew overnight in the big wave lettuce pot. I've been trying to identify it using Google Lens, but it's been giving different results everyday. I guess I'll wait a few more days so I could identify it better. 

Banana? Curry? Moringa? Tamarind?
Hopefully not an invasive plant.

Just like other aliens in my life, I have to decide whether I should keep it in the same pot, separate it or discard it. This will probably depend on what kind of plant it is. Whether it's ornamental or a veggie and hopefully not an invasive plant. My Mom would probably not think twice and just pull it out, haha. I've been a bit bored the past few days since I've been forced to rest, so forgive me for overthinking this. 

A Mom-friend pinged me yesterday to ask how I was doing. She reminded me to just chill and let the boys do heavy stuff. I told her I miss our cleaner in SG who came in once a week to clean for us. She said I could probably do it again once things get better. Keep your home happy not clean. That advise made me smile because I'm okay with the house being messy, but I get anxious when it becomes dusty.  Anyway, she was yesterday's guardian angel. Thank you Tita Dine :)

I probably need to do better at staying put. Just chilling is an alien concept to me. Whenever I watch TV, I'm usually multi-tasking. I normally sew. Sweetie told me yesterday to just rest while watching TV. It was hard and to calm myself down I put my planner on my lap. I just made a list of things I need. I eventually managed to just watch TV. With practice I'll get better at this. 

Happy weekend everyone! Double mask to stay safe :)


#BeKind #StayHome 


Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Scare

I haven't stepped out for over two weeks now, so when I started feeling unwell on Monday I said maybe it was because I overexerted myself. I mopped the living room and kitchen floors. I like doing it because it gives me a good workout and is the best sweat-inducing chore. It's probably too much for me because my whole body ached until the next day. 

Strangely I started having slight fever. I reduced my activities, drank more water and used EOs. It helped, but the fever kept coming back. The ABS-CBN Foundation Benefit Concerts kept me company while resting in the sala. We monitored my temperature closely and it's always a bit elevated. I didn't really experience any other unusual symptom. 

When I woke up I told Sweetie it's probably better to do a swab, just to be sure. I had a similar incident back in September before I had a biopsy. The hospital tested me also, but the doctor said that it was unlikely I was infected since I didn't have any exposure (I was also just staying home all the time). Anyway, the CDC said to treat any symptom as COVID-19 and to test to know. So I did a swab and as expected it was negative. 

The boys have been fussing over me since it's unusual that I've been feeling extra unwell. My rheumatologist explained to me that the ESR in my blood has been constantly elevated for three years now. It's an indicator of an inflammation or infection. Whatever it is remains a mystery. I think maybe the slight fever is a manifestation of PTSD (it was triggered over the weekend) and the sadness of losing a good friend. 

Negative, whew.


Well, it is what it is, I found some Biogesic in my suitcase. Hopefully that would put an end to it. If needed, I'll go see a doctor (or teleconsult). It's truly a miracle I've lasted more than two months without seeing a doctor. I shall go celebrate and eat some maki. 

On a happy note, my plants have finally started sprouting! Except Cucumartin! Gaaaah. But happy to see progress. Woot!

#BeKind #StayHome

*It would be really useful if self-testing kits are made available for everyone. I still don't understand why Watson's requires a prescription to purchase. In Singapore they provided kits for all households and you can easily buy at the pharmacy. My friends who need to go to the office use it every Sunday night to test. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Goodbye Fwend

I feel defeated. This pandemic just doesn't know when it should stop. I've been feeling unwell the past few days because I overexerted myself (a.k.a. I mopped the floor). I was settling down to sleep when I chances upon a post. I thought it was just someone trying to be funny, but after some investigation I realized a good friend just passed away. 



It was so unexpected and felt like someone punched me. It was the same feeling I had when I lost Juned. 

Eugene was a colleague turned close friend when we were working for EYP. I was a young product manager then given the additional task to make sure EYP delivered revenue. Eug was one of the 15 people I hired to do sales. He was one of those who believed I could deliver the herculean task. With his support we cracked the code to generate revenue for EYP.


For many months we spent time saturating Intramuros and Malate. After work we'd unwind with the while team in Malate. It was always videoke night for us and that's how I got to know Eug more. We were complete opposites. He was funny, pilyo, easy going and chill. At that time everyone saw me as an ice queen, but Eug managed to see through it and that's how we became friends. We usually talked about our kids. The best support he gave me though was seeing me through a breakup. He absolutely hated my ex.


Through the years though it was hard to bring the gang together again. We kept in touch online and the last time we chatted was last year. He asked me why I was in the hospital again. We updated each other about our kids and reminisced about those times we spent in Malate. I told him I didn't have clotting issues back then because we regularly drank! 


Fwend, I didn't expect you'd be gone so soon. Thought we'd still have time to update each other about Hope, Miggy and my inaanak. Mahilig ka talaga manggulat noh? Rest in peace my friend, please say hi to all my loved ones up there.

#BeKind #StayHome

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Trying Something New

Our neighborhood continues to be eerily quiet. It's always been quiet, but I usually hear more planes pass by and schoolbuses dropping off kids (plus Miggy when he was younger). In the mornings, I'd hear Mang Jabar, our favorite taho vendor, shout out "Tahooooo!". There would also be the sound of horns from the manong who picks up trash for composting. There would also be sounds from the walis tingting sweeping front yards during early mornings. Of course, there was also the wake up call of chickens and dogs barking. 


The only sound I regularly hear now is the rustling of the bamboo leaves from our garden. Even the sound of sirens have lessened (which is a good indicator there are less emergencies). I guess my neighbors are all staying home and keeping safe just like us. Well, if you're interested to be my neighbor, the house in front of us is for sale (needs renovating though). Anyway, I noticed how quiet it was again when I watered the plants earlier. 

Speaking of plants, we decided to try something new -- hydrophonics! Sweetie successfully grew basil in water when we were in Singapore. We've been frustrated with buying lettuce lately. It's either not available in supermarkets or full of insects. It's ruining our healthy eating plans, so we thought we should grow some. After scouring Lazada and Shopee, I found a starter kit that seemed easy to follow. 


We started the process last Friday. Waited three days and opened the container where we put the rockwool with seeds. They sprouted! (Faster than the ones I planted in soil!). Woohoo! We transferred them last night and it's sitting nicely in the kitchen for now. We're hopeful it will provide us with lettuce and mustasa. If we're successful then maybe we'll add more kits so we can provide veggies for Mom too. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!

#BeKind #StayHome


Monday, January 17, 2022

Why It's Important to Get Tested

In early 2003, I had a debilitating illness. For many days I had very high fever, experienced chills and had muscle pains. Everything was just dark for me and the only people I would hear come in to check on me was a doctor and my Dad. 

The doctor advised not to bring me to a hospital because I might spread the virus. I heard her say, "Yan na yun." I had no idea what it was that afflicted me, but later on found out that my BIL who had just visited us from the US tested positive for SARS. 

My doctors in Singapore wanted to figure out what caused the scars in my lungs. They required me to list down everything my lungs have been through. There were two major incidents: (1) The strange illness in 2003, and (2) Pneumonia in 2008 which caused heart failure. They wanted to review the tests and previous xrays, but unfortunately everything was destroyed by Typhoon Ondoy. 

For both illnesses, I never found out what virus/bacteria caused it. Second opinion doctors who reviewed my case confirmed that the lung scars would have been caused by previous illnesses. My heart surgeon noted in his operation report that my lungs looked liked it had previous surgery already. I never had surgery prior to OHS. 


VQ scan, one of the many tests I went through.
The medtech said sorry and good luck to me when we finished the two day test.


I'm sharing this because I see some friends who posted on their timeline that they are afraid to get tested. They said that they'll just "definitely get it" from getting swabbed. Some just also assumed that they have it. Looking back at what I've been through, I wish I had known. I wish we were able to address the issues better. We could have prevented or reduced the lung scarring and the issues that developed many years after.

Get tested because it's better to know what you're up against. In late 2019, I was infected again by an unknown virus. It wasn't the coronavirus, but probably a different one according to my doctor. Two months after that I had another pulmonary embolism. My doctors did everything they could to make me well. For many months I experienced shortness of breath, fatigue and brain fog. I probably got it worse because I have an underlying heart condition. I am seeing friends post about experiencing the same thing. 

Get tested. Consult a doctor. Do exercises to prevent lung scarring. Don't just go "business as usual". You'll thank me 15 years from now.

If you're scared to go to a testing center, you can request for home service. I have a list of home service providers here.

*OHS - open heart surgery

#BeKind #StaySafe #GetTested

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunshine

Are you getting enough sunshine?

One thing I look forward to doing everyday is watering the plants. It's the time of the day where I get some sunshine. I usually try to do it around 4:30 in the afternoon when it's not too hot anymore. I've been doing this since we moved and noticed I'm not paper white anymore! Haha! 

Getting some sun back in 2017 at Nami Island, South Korea.


The sunshine has also helped me resolve my vitamin D deficiency. I was experiencing a lot of body pain and joint pain. A roller coaster ride of tests led me to a rheumatologist. He had to review whether I had an autoimmune disease. Luckily I don't, but he found out I was severely vitamin D deficient. I'm supposed to take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 every week for four months. 

Two months in this was reduced to 25,000 since I showed symptoms of toxicity. I emailed my doctor in SG when this happened. Good thing he responded immediately and advised to reduce the dosage. My rheumatologist was the "last stop" I made to determine what caused my clots. He had a huge headache after going through all my files. He told me that he'd try his best to end the investigation. He also explained that sometimes there are just mysteries that never get resolved. 

Flexing my zipper* in Boracay, 2014.


By the time I had gone to the rheumatologist I had gone through many tests. I had also seen many other specialists. I had already accepted that my clotting issue would remain a mystery. I was not surprised anymore when the doctor told me I didn't have an autoimmune disease. I'm just grateful that my prescription was to take vitamins and get more sun! 

The sun provides us a lot of benefits and it's for free! The sun helps with vitamin D which contributes to better immunity. It also helps with your mental health because it's a mood booster. This is probably my Mom's secret. She gardens twice a day. That's probably how she's remained strong and permanently in a good mood. 

Thank you Papa God for always providing us with good sunshine everyday! :)

#BeKind #StayHome #StaySafe

*zipper - open heart surgery scar


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Budol Phails, the Funniest and Most Annoying

I've been home for more than two months now and I haven't physically visited a mall or grocery. I haven't eaten out and have not seen any of my favorite places. I've been purchasing all our needs online. Of course, nothing is perfect and even though I read reviews and buy from preferred local sellers I still encounter rotten eggs. I oftentimes don't dispute bad items if it's salvageable, but I do submit reviews for most of my purchases (mainly so I'd remember which ones are good). 

Definitely not plus sized.

Don't Buy Clothes Online Unless It's Branded

I recently encountered the worst seller. When I got the item I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I normally don't purchase clothing online since it's a miss more often than not. I needed to replace some of Miggy's clothes though and my attempts to buy via SM did not work out. It took me several days to find a shop to order. I ordered three plus sized shorts, but received 2 pairs of shorts that won't even fit me and a blouse. Whuttttt. The most annoying thing is Shopee rejected my refund, so now I have to report it to DTI. Well, I disputed it again last night so I'm giving them a day or two before I report to DTI. 

Bubblewrapped, but Warped

It's abhorrent how sellers go overboard with bubble wrap. I understand they're just making sure that the item doesn't get damaged. I've had to get help from Sweetie and Miggy to unwrap packages because of the crazy way sellers wrap items. The other day I ordered some pots and a seedling tray. The seller wrapped the tray around the pots. This caused the tray to warp. I'm still trying to straighten out the tray, but I don't think it's going to be useful. Good thing I only ordered one. 


Most are Mini

Usually sellers try to make items look bigger. I normally buy toilet paper from the supermarket, but thought I'd try to buy in bulk. I take pains to read product details and reviews, but should have known that most of those who submit reviews just do it for the coins. Anyway, so I ordered toilet paper and facial tissue and was surprised that they were tiny! Pang tiny home living ganern??? This also happened for some kitchen items. Eye-roll

Reality vs. Expectation


Wet

I ordered desiccant last month. I expected the whole package to be dry as a desert since that's what desiccants do. I was wrong. The items in the package were wet and after some investigation I found out that the desiccant was wet. It was sticky and caused my hands to itch. We threw out the desiccant since we thought it was unsafe to use. 

PII of Hospital Patients!

I've been ordering all of my garden needs online. I found this shop that sells nice terracotta clay pots. I've ordered twice from them. Since the pots are very heavy, Sweetie usually unboxes it for me. The pots were wrapped with filled-out health declaration forms and photocopies of IDs of patients from a hospital in Novaliches. This is really bad and I have sent info to the National Privacy Commission about it. 

The Forgetfuls

I have also encountered some sellers who fail to send all the items I ordered. This is usually the easiest to resolve and I've been able to get a refund for missing items. Just make sure to check the items before clicking "order received". 

I treat buying online as an adventure. The local landscape is very different from Singapore. My rule of thumb is, "You get what you pay for, so be forgiving." It's very hard though to determine which shops are reliable, but that's what the "preferred" stamp could help you with. I'm currently on a hiatus from purchasing items online to reduce interaction. Going to miss our friendly delivery riders for now. 

What budol phails have you encountered?

#BeKind #StayHome #StaySafe 


Friday, January 14, 2022

Breaking Routine to Attain a New Reality

I'm breaking the routine I have settled on this past week. I wake up, eat breakfast, drink my meds, check on the bell peppers, blog, prepare for lunch, water the plants then I settle in front of the sewing machine. I haven't been able to do anything else and realize I need to break the routine. I got so absorbed trying to finish the curtains I ended up setting aside all the other things I need to do. 

Settling in a routine is dangerous. If you stick to one too much it can stunt your growth. In my case, it left my other tasks in disarray. It's physically manifested with the mess I have behind my dining room chair, haha. I realized this last night and told myself I will break my routine today. 

Why is settling on a routine not good? Dr. Joe Dispenza who wrote "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself" explained the science behind getting stuck in routines. He said that if you keep doing or acting the same way it puts your body in a stale state also. He proved this when he had an accident that left him paralyzed. He used his mind to heal his back. I'm probably not doing a good job explaining it, best to watch this video of Dr. Joe Dispenza -



"Your personality creates your personal reality" according to Dr. Joe Dispenza. So if you want to reach a goal or be something else then you have to create that future in your mind. Aside from working hard to reach a goal, you have to act like you have already reached that goal. 

Looking back when I was 17 and just had Miggy, Ate's HS classmate who went through the same thing told me that things would be so different in 10 years. Something clicked in my mind then and I imagined what we would be in 10 years. I created a future in my mind where I was in a stable job and Miggy was in school. I focused on that reality and what I painted in my mind did happen. 

And that's what I did last year when I was very, very sick. I knew part of the healing process required me to break my habits. It forced me to create a different reality. I wanted and needed to have my family physically together and I always dreamed of having a permanent home. It required a huge change for all of us, but because I kept working on creating that future in mind things just fell into place. 

So now that I have attained some of my goals, I have to work on my other goals. I have a picture in my mind where I'm able to bike around our village. I'm still hopeful and have faith that I could fully heal. 

#BeKind #StayHome 



Thursday, January 13, 2022

Wall Push-ups, My Fave Exercise

I have a number of friends who are infected right now. Some have been complaining that they still experience shortness of breath even after testing negative. It is not surprising since the virus is a respiratory illness. The bad thing about it is it can cause lasting lung damage (read more here).

My lungs were scarred when I had pneumonia in 2008. It was what caused me to have asthma and severe allergies. I worked hard to get over some of my allergy triggers -- chicken, Coca-cola, and chocolates (yes!). I just kept eating the 3 Cs until I rebuilt my immunity. Just can't live without chicken, Coke and chocolates! I never got over the fourth C -- cockroaches. Even just the smell of roaches trigger my asthma. My asthma attacks were always mild and I was able to manage it very well. 

Things got worse when I had pulmonary embolism in 2018. Cause is still unknown. I had a second attack a year ago. Do know that COVID-19 can cause PEs too, that's why it's important to have your lungs checked and monitored post infection. Experiencing shortness of breath may be an indication of lung damage, so make sure you have it checked. 

I think my second PE was caused by the viral infection I had in October 2019. My health declined after I had it. My doctors said it wasn't the coronavirus that caused it. Whatever it was it affected my lungs because I gasped for air. Two months after I had another PE. I lived through it because my respiratory doctor followed his instincts and ordered a CT scan. 


Living with lung damage isn't easy. What has helped me a lot is consistently doing wall-pushups everyday. I started with 3 at the hospital and slowly worked my way up. I do 3 reps of 10 now. I do deep breathing while doing it. So far it's helped expand my lungs, keep my arm pain at bay and it helps keep my core firm (no more back pain!). I integrated the exercise to my coffee routine so I don't forget.

I've been nagging my friends to do wall push-ups. I hope they do it since I believe it would help their lungs recover post infection. Of course, do check with your doctor first. :)

Be well everyone!

#BeKind #StayHome

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

My Statement Curtain

I wanted a pink parol, but I couldn't find any. We have a huge window that can be seen from the street, so I thought I'd just make a statement curtain. I found a cute pink fabric online and ordered 11 yards of it. The fabric actually reminds me of a pink suit I had many years ago. I think the fabric I got is normally used for clothing haha. 

My very pink curtain :D


This year honestly feels like 2020. That year started with the eruption of Taal Volcano and then the pandemic started. That year was really hard since we had to adjust to many things like staying home and being away from family. The rise of cases is making me feel like it's 2020 again. I learned a lot from that year, so I'm going to make sure I don't go through this year the same way again. 

We had planned to do something fun this month. We wanted to visit the cemetery and do a day trip somewhere. Just really wanted to get out of the house. Now that it's too risky to go out, I'm just keeping myself busy with home projects. I already made 3 curtains. Two yellow ones for the kitchen and the ginormous pink one for our front window. Good thing Sweetie and Miggy set-up my sewing nook. 


We also finally unboxed the last box from Singapore. Hooray! My motivation was to find my box of threads, haha. The last box we opened was Sweetie's toys. The box of thread was sitting in a closet. I'm now working through checking the list because the mover said there were two missing boxes. Gaaaah. It's been hard to track since they duplicated some numbers and some boxes didn't have a number. The naming convention of the boxes was also messed up. We'll see. 

I was hoping to have my Mom see the very cute curtain I made. I haven't been able to visit her for a week now. I'm avoiding unnecessary exposure for her. The three of us have been sneezing off and on the past week. It might be allergies. I also inhaled a lot of dust when I tried cleaning the top of the water tank. Ugh. So just keeping safe for now. Mom has been in high spirits whenever I call her. 

So for now, we stay home. No joyrides to spin Pokestops. Hope to finish the rest of the living room curtains this week so I can work on my blanket project. I was planning to bake cupcakes for friends, but will just delay it for now since we're avoiding unnecessary external interaction. 

Stay safe friends and praying for those who are sick. 

#BeKind #StayHome

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

My Anxiety Management Kit

I have family and friends who have been infected with the coronavirus. Got worried last night when my best friend told me he tested positive too. Good thing they are all vaccinated so they're all asymptomatic. My boys have been very strict with me. They don't allow me to step out if there's a delivery. We all wear masks if someone drops by, even if it's just at the gate. 

I always feel anxious whenever I feel unwell. A dark cloud always comes over me when I get sick. I've had to deal with anxiety since I had my first pulmonary embolism in 2018. It felt like it was easier to manage when I was busy at work, but that didn't help. I was just avoiding the issue and it eventually emptied my tank. After I had my second pulmonary embolism, I realized I needed help. 

A huge part of recovering from an illness relies on having a sound mind. Battling physical illnesses requires you to have a strong will. I know my issues are extraordinary compared to most, but I thought I'd share what I've been doing because it may help you or a loved one who may need help. Here's a list:

1. Sleep - I had trouble sleeping for years. My doctor kept reminding me that getting 8 hours of sleep was important for recovery. What helped me was putting a few drops of lavender on an essential oil stone. Using an air filter also help a lot (doc said breathing well is a huge part of getting proper sleep). Praying the rosary before sleeping also helped me calm down. 

I guess a huge part of being anxious was being far away from home. I rarely have trouble falling asleep since I got home. 

2. Look Up - I got this tip from my Kuya. Whenever the black cloud sets in and my train of thought goes dark, I break it by looking up. It forces me to think of something else. 

3. Essential Oils - I have been using EOs since 2019. It was my HS classmate who's a doctor who finally convinced me to use them. I do a lot of research though before using any oil to make sure it doesn't interact with my meds. I diffuse several times a week and the boys love it too because it makes our home smell good. 

4. Drinking Lots of Water - I doubled my water intake. It made my blood flow better and resolved kidney issues. Feeling good means less anxiety. 

5. Exercise - this was never in my dictionary. The only willing exercise I used to do was malling*. It's the only place I could easily get 10k steps. My back ached so bad after my first PE I had to go see a spine doctor. He enrolled me in physiotherapy. My PT said I should treat exercise like the requirement to brush my teeth. Strangely that's what got me moving! As long as I do at least 30 wall push-ups a day I've been okay. This has helped expand my lungs, keep my core firm and keep my joints working properly. I guess it helps produce needed endorphins too. I'm not as grumpy anymore. 

6. Hugs - get at least 8 hugs a day. 

7. Do some gardening - watering plants have been helping me with balance. I use it as escape time to stay offline too. 


8. Stay offline - my doctors mandated this for me. I set up my phone to track how much time I spent online. It took me four months before I became less wired. I realized that my doctors mandate to stay offline was the best advise they gave me. 

9. Get a hobby - I read that anxiety stems from being unable to control a situation. I found it very useful to work on my hobbies. It made me feel accomplished whenever I finished a project. Working on your hobbies also help keep you offline and away from triggers!

10. Know your triggers. A good understanding of what stresses you out is important in managing your well-being. Part of this includes surrounding yourself with people who truly love you. 

Of course, pray and always remember that Papa God loves you. 


*Malling - going to the mall to shop!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Don't Be a Lame Duck

Election period started yesterday. That means more checkpoints around the country (aren't they permanently there already?). This means the official campaign period is just around the corner. I've been seeing a lot of posters around already for those running locally. A lot of them took advantage of the Christmas season with greetings from their families. If you really do well, people will recognize your work and you don't really need to do posters. 

I made a list of how I assessed candidates back in 2016 (read here). I based it on the job description as written in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. My candidate lost and sadly the current administration did not do a good job based on the basic JD from the constitution. I will follow that list and thought I'd add a values list. 


1. I will not vote for a lame duck. A lame duck is someone who gives a gazillion excuses just to get out of a tight spot. Quack, quack, quack. Usually they just make a lot of noise noh

2. I will only vote for someone who has a clean record. Our leaders should have integrity and credibility. Palabra de honor.

3. I will only vote for someone who has really made contributions to improve the lives of the people. 

4. Definitely not voting for someone who is self-centered and selfish. I want someone who works hard.

5. Definite no-no to those who are pakitang tao

6. Someone who can enable change and get those who can help to support programs. Bayanihan.

7. Respectful and courteous. I've had enough of vile talk. 

8. Someone we can be proud of when representing us internationally. Let's find someone who can be a good role model.

9. Peace loving. 

10. Someone who prays. 

Halfway while making the list I looked up the list of basic Filipino values. Most of what I was thinking about covered it. Other people have the opinion that we need a strong leader. Someone who has an iron fist. I heard that from a lot of taxi drivers in SG. I disagree. I believe that we can progress better with cooperation and working as a community. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Dinosaurs!

Pandemic dreaming is back! I strangely had dinosaurs in my dream last night. Even stranger when Godzilla made a cameo. That woke me up, haha. 

As usual I did a quick search on Google to find out what dreaming of dinosaurs mean. There are different interpretations, but a general view says that the dinosaur represents your past and it's time to leave it. Another interpretation says you may be afraid of change. 

I'm definitely still in a transition phase. Easing into my new life hasn't been easy. I'm not without problems, but I think I'm dealing with issues better now. I know I've always been intense and I'm just learning now to be more chill. One thing I've learned to do is to say no since I have to be mindful about my health. 

Or maybe the dinosaurs represent the hoards of things I still need to organize. I'm still living out of a "suitcase" because I prioritize organizing our kitchen. I still have some boxes I need to clear. Activity has been stalled because my arm has been hurting since new year. It's just getting a bit better, so hopefully resuming my wall push-ups would fix the issue. Ugh, I abhor being "fragile". 


Our neighborhood has been very, very quiet the past few days. I rarely hear cars passing by. The only sound I hear consistently is the rustling of the bamboo leaves. The zen atmosphere is only ruined when ambulances pass by. I guess everyone's trying to stay home for now. 

May you have a peaceful and stress-free Sunday, sans dinosaurs! 

#BeKind #StayHome

Saturday, January 8, 2022

The First Week of the Year

The week just flew by after we had our New Year celebratory lunch with Mom. I've only been keeping track of the day through my meds, LOL. I've been writing the day of the week on my primary medication to make sure I drink it on the right day and time. #titahitz

Hello Brownie! Not mine, but she lives in Mom's house.

At this time of the year I'm normally finalizing my work goals and targets. My whole year would revolve around it and whatever I wanted to do outside of work had to adjust to it. I just realized I have a very clean slate, haha. I'm keeping things slow for now to make sure I remain stable. 

The first week of the year brought alarming news. Cases have drastically gone up and even those who have been very careful have gotten infected. It's reached our family too and all we can do is pray for each other (the Paranaque contingent remains safe don't worry). It's really best to stay home if you can. 

My project to get my childhood home fixed has been put on hold for now. I'm just praying it won't rain so that the roof won't leak and cause more damage. I told the contractor we'll schedule when things are safer. I'll also have my Mom stay with me while the roof is being fixed. She'll probably make a fuss over not having access to her garden, but her safety will be the priority. Other home projects are also on hold. Best we can do is finish organizing the kitchen and focus on planning. 

Mama Mary protect us.


I think the most productive thing I did this week was work on my garden. The bell pepper seeds Miggy and I planted before Christmas has produced 23 sprouts! The spring onion and leeks are stable now and growing nicely. I was also able to re-pot the citronella plants I got a month ago. They've outgrown the temporary plastic pot and needed a new home. I got really nice clay pots for them. 

I have gardening gloves, but I want to feel what I'm doing better so I use latex gloves.


There's a meme showing that 2022 means 2020 too. Much as the case numbers are going crazy now, I think we're in a better position to win over the virus. We all know what we need to do -- get vaccinated and stay home as much as possible. Help where we can and pray. 

#BeKind #StayHome


Friday, January 7, 2022

What I'm Doing to Refill My Tank

My tank has finally started to fill up. I was running on fumes for more than a year. I really wondered how I could refill my tank. I learned that you should heed the signs when your tank is running low. The signs were there as early as 2018, but I just kept going. I'm a trooper after all, but it's really important to take care of yourself. 


Oh before I forget, today is my 9th mitral valve repair anniversary. My heart has been thumping nicely for 9 years already. My surgeon really did a great job and he says that everytime he peaks at the valve, haha. The valve is leaking a bit again, but they said no need to worry as long as I limit my activities. My doctors are amazed how I'm able to recover from all my health issues. 

Faith, hope and love. That's my secret. I have been praying for a miracle because my family needs me. I think I'm finally stable now and it's truly a miracle I have not visited a medical facility for two month now. Thank you Lord! I'm really happy about it because I'm able to do things for my family. 

If you're not careful, you can run on empty like me. Thought I'd share what I did the past year to refill my tank:

1. Pray for healing, truly, madly and deeply. I also prayed for help from Mama Mary, Padre Pio and St. Jude. 

2. Forgive yourself. I beat myself up for not being able to contribute to anything. It triggered my PTSD all the time. 

3. Accept that there are things you cannot change. Treat it as Papa God's way of pushing you to a new path. 

4. Take a break. Take as long as you need. It's okay not to function as you normally would.

5. Surround yourself with people who love you truly. 

6. Do things that make you happy. 

7. Learn to say no. No, no, no, no! Haha. I still get invitations to speak and people can get pushy! They don't understand that my voice runs out after a few minutes of talking. It's a mechanical issue. So i just keep saying no. Sorry guys. It is what it is.

8. Move on and discover new things about yourself. Since I had to stop doing what I loved to do, I moved on and discerned my new mission. Just family for now. 

9. Indulge yourself. I'm so far happy my weight has stayed stable since I got home, haha. I'm not pressuring myself to lose more. Just focusing on increasing daily movement for now. 

10. Get as many hugs as you can everyday. I squeeze my boys like crazy several times a day. 


#BeKind #StayHome


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Starting My "Bahay Kubo"

We had just moved to a new apartment when the first lockdown in SG started. We got lucky then because the day after we moved everything was restricted. One of the difficulties we experienced was getting groceries. Getting a delivery schedule was really hard since that was the time a lot of people shifted to buying supplies online. 


I realized we had to be more resilient and that's why I started to plant veggies in our balcony. I'm starting to do the same now in our new home. Getting groceries is easier now, but I noticed there are some veggies that are hard to get, i.e. lettuce. My Mom had  a lot of it when Kuya set up a hydroponic garden, but it's been replaced with ornamental plants now, haha. I've been trying to read on setting up a small hydroponic garden for green leafy veggies. This way we can have the needed ingredients to prepare salads. 


What's easy to grow: mustasa, spring onions and leek. For spring onions and leek, just use what you buy from the store. After a day of soaking the stem in water with a drop of honey, I just planted it in soil. Now I get it anytime I need it (nice to top sinangag!). Mustasa was the first veggie I was able to grow successfully. If I was going to have a farm, I'll probably have a mustasa farm hahaha. 

What takes time but fulfilling to grow: tomatoes and bell pepper. I prefer to grow stuff from seed. I had a good run of growing tomatoes and bell peppers in SG. I hope I can do better here since the soil is richer. Ahh, will have good use for our rice wash again. 

What I'm wary to grow: calamansi. I used to have calamansi in one of our previous homes, but it attracted caterpillars and I had a hard time controlling it. We had to transfer it to my Mom because it got crazy. It is very useful though to have one or two calamansi plants, so will think about it. 

What I want to grow: onions, lettuce, eggplant, cucumber and maybe carrots and kangkong. I thought about growing garlic, but apparently it takes a long time before you can harvest (six months). I already planted two red onions, but I made a mistake and will have to pull it out to fix the error. 

We don't really need a lot, so I hope planting veggies can help us have access to what we just need. Also this will help us prevent wasting supplies. I haven't thought about what herbs to plant. It's Sweetie who has been interested in planting herbs. I hope he'll plant basil, rosemary and oregano since I use those for pasta hehe. 

My Mom has been upset that I don't have any flowers in my garden. She's already started to give me plants. I don't want to have too many plants because I want to make sure we're able to take care of them. Watering our current garden already takes up an hour to finish. Good thing Miggy's been able to help me since there are days when my energy is MIA. I have to think of a way to keep Mom's garden from overflowing into mine, hahaha. 

I'm also grateful that I'm able to do some gardening now. I had to give it up when things got hairy health-wise. So need to make sure it's manageable for all of us. 

#BeKind #StayHome

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Fixing my Childhood Home

Just came from my childhood home. I lived there for more than 30 years. I only moved out when Sweetie and I got married. We lived in seven different homes since I moved out. I must admit, there was always one thing I couldn't get in the other homes we lived in -- space! 

My parents built a spacious home. It ended up that way because the architect, Tito Bert, made it bigger than originally planned. It took my parents 15 years to complete the loan they made for the house. I remember that's one of the things that was celebrated on my parents 25th wedding anniversary. 

The day the house was completed is etched on one of the walls - January 30, 1970. Our home is turning 52 years old already. It has seen better days, but the structure is very much intact. I had an architect check it just before the pandemic and he affirmed that it just needs a little sprucing up. 

Everytime I visit my Mom I make notes on what needs to be fixed. The ceiling was leaking when it rained last month and I've been trying to find a reliable roof service provider. I tried an app, but the provided was overcharging us. Geez, it's really hard to find trustworthy help. I found a roof service provider that's been around for 29 years. Let's hope they give a better quotation. 


The one thing that's stayed beautiful as ever is my Mom's garden. It's always stayed so lush. It takes at least an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon to water her garden. I know because I covered for my Mom whenever she traveled. I spent a lot of afternoons playing on a banig in her garden when I was a child. It's where my Mom taught me how to sew and do other crafts. I hope I inherited at least half of my Mom's green thumb, haha. 

Anyway, looking at my childhood home I realized my dream home is almost a replica of it, just a much smaller version. We looked at many houses in the last few years. I was drawn to our current home mainly because it looked a lot like my childhood home. At least now I can no longer complain about having enough space, haha. 

#BeKind #StayHome


*Tito Bert is probably turning 100 years old this year. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Sprouting

What brings a smile to my face the past few days is seeing the bell pepper seeds Miggy and I planted before Christmas sprout. They started germinating on new year's day. From four sprouts there are 20 tiny stems today. Wow! It's going to be challenging to re-pot them when the time comes! I need to find the mustasa seeds I harvested in SG. Must be in one of the boxes. 


Seeing the bell peppers start growing gives me hope. There's been so much bad news lately, the typhoon, the Omicron variant spreading fast, etc. It was disheartening to see friends suffer from the effects of the typhoon, moreso because it's Christmas. It is hard to celebrate when you know people are suffering. 

I had to remind myself about the time when we also went through a disaster. Our house was flooded and everything I owned went underwater. When I started to cry, Daddy told me those were just things and it can be replaced. I immediately stopped the tears and focused on recovering from the incident. Much as I worry for my friends, I can just pray they will have the strength to pull through just as we did. What's really more important is your life and family. Just help where you can :)

We finally unboxed the last kitchen box! Woohoo! My baking pans are still MIA though. Not sure if it was packed in a different box. We probably have about 20 more boxes to open. Organizing has been going very slow because we don't have cabinets yet to store them. My Mom told me it really takes time. 

Well, I just realized that we'll need to change our curtains soon. I told myself I'll make the curtains instead of buying since they can get very expensive. I already made one. It's 3.5 yards long! It cost less than a cup of Starbucks coffee. I'm learning more about fabric also with my curtain project. Making more curtains will allow me to experiment with different types of fabric. I'm glad getting fabric from Divisoria is accessible through Lazada and Shopee! Yay! 

Please stay home as much as you can. In Paranaque City, there were only 13 active cases on December 24, and as of yesterday there were 266 active cases with 79 new ones (Source: Paranaque PIO). 

#BeKind #StayHome


Monday, January 3, 2022

December One Second Everyday, Cooking with Miggy and Gardening!

How I wish I could use Molly Weasley's spell to magically organize everything at home. I am getting anxious because I haven't been able to sew and do other creative stuff. Since I overdid things last week which ruined our media noche, I'm going to limit the clean-up time so I can get enough rest and do other things. 

I was on a roll yesterday. My arm was hurting so I was forced to just sit still. I ended up writing 4 blog posts and edited one video. It was good to just relax for the day. It also allowed me to work on the design of the maker/craft room.  That task has been pending for a few weeks now. Interior design isn't really my cup of tea. It makes me go zzz, hahaha. 

Watch my December 1 second everyday here.

One of the things I've enjoyed doing the past few weeks is cook with Miggy. I have been involving him whenever I cook so he could learn firsthand. He is a natural like his Papa Lolo and he seems to enjoy cooking more than me. We've been able to film short videos and that's what I've been editing (check it out and subscribe to Recipes for My Son). The videos are meant to serve as a guide for Miggy. I started doing this because I realized we weren't able to preserve the family recipes of our elders. 

Our latest cooking adventure: cream chicken with bacon, mushroom and thyme


On gardening, I think I mentioned in passing that I almost killed the bird nest fern. It was overwatered. The good news is I realized my mistake early and it looks like it's recovering. I should have researched about the existing plants first before I went on a daily watering rampage! Apparently I should just water the plants 3x a week. Since I was on a roll yesterday, I also made a post on The Balcony Farmer. We're still debating whether we should change the name of the blog since we don't live in a condo anymore. Well, our pocket garden is a floor higher than the road, so maybe we could just stick to the name. 


I planted some bell pepper seeds before Christmas. I used the seeds from the bell pepper I used for the chorizo pasta. It's been exciting to check on the progress because I didn't expect many of the seeds would sprout. Well, from experience it takes a lot of care to get the plant to bear fruit. I hope to get a couple that would mature so I won't need to buy bell pepper anymore. 

See progress everyday on my FB page.


The cuttings I brought from Singapore are still alive! I separated the pothos into two jars so they can grow better. Only two leaves of the the baby rubber plant survived when I transferred them to a pot. They look okay, but I'm monitoring them closely for now. My Mom has been wanting to give a couple of plants. I told her I'm taking it slow for now since I want to make sure I keep everything alive. Maybe I'll pick up the plants in a week or two. 

Whew! Looking back at the past few weeks made me realize that I've been doing a lot. I'm supposed to be slowing down. I just have this odd compulsion to stay productive even when I'm physically challenged. I told myself I'm going to do what Sweetie does and write down daily tasks. I think that would help temper my compulsion to stay productive, haha. 

How's your January going?

#BeKind #StayHome


Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Surprise that Made Me Cry

Just before midnight last Friday I received a notification. It was a shared file from my friend, Cathy. I opened it and the file's name was "Thank you and farewell Aileen Apolo". I immediately cancelled opening the file because I knew it would make me cry, haha. I participated in many of those farewell docs previously and knew it was messages from people I worked with in the past 15 years. I did not want to cry as new year rolled in!

I finally opened the file again after breakfast yesterday. I told Sweetie about the surprise and he said he was conspiring with Cathy for a few months now. And oh wow, they found people I worked with since 2006. Soon enough I was teary eyed while reading the messages. 


I left my post quietly and without fanfare. I even declined having lunch with my manager for safety reasons. I only had a brief hangout with my team so I could say a proper goodbye. Reading through the messages of my friends made me realize that I did something good in the past 15 years. They recognized the hardwork and love I put in all the programs I managed. 

Yesterday's Didache reflection was on remembering who you are. The lugaw inside is more important than the bowl (what people see outside)*. And that's why I'm so grateful for the messages of my friends. They saw through my output and recognized the hardwork and love I put in everything I did. In the one year I wasn't able to contribute I felt inadequate. My former manager said, "A chunk of Google's soul leaves Google with you!" The messages gave me the closure I needed. I am at peace now.

2006 with my scout brothers Colombia, Pakistan and Malaysia.

With the Outreach team 5 continents.


Thank you Cathy, Habs, Myra, Mark, JohnnyB, Jek, Miami, Ruth, Karen, Sebastian, Sami, Nopparat, Ria, Jolly, Marcus, Obum, Andre, Mavila, JP, Iris, David, William, Sophie, Victor, Suan, Yoshi, Prissilia, Mani, Jose, Lih Shiun, Anish, Tim, Nica, Sajith, James, Nikka, Rachel, Christine, Nette, James, Nap, Jim, Cherry, Dette, and Jana. Truly appreciate your messages <3 

As Bo Sanchez said in the Didache foreword, "Because if you want to win in life, here's what you do: don't focus on the pain; focus on the prize!"

#BeKind

*Best to read the reflection here.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022, New Year in Manila

Ahh new year in Manila once again. A year ago we were forced to celebrate the new year far from our family. It was a very quiet new year in Singapore since they only do fireworks at a central location. That was one of the things we missed, so last night we watched fireworks from our window. It wasn't a lot compared to previous years, but enough to feel the spirit of the new year roll-in. 



Well, we were lucky to still see fireworks because it was supposed to be prohibited in Paranaque City. We even heard a caravan go around earlier in the day reminding everyone that fireworks were prohibited. We heard a drone flying around from 11 p.m., not sure if it was for leisure or if they were checking for violators (Big Brother isdatu???). It was heartwarming to know that some of our new neighbors were having parties. Our new neighborhood is quiet most of the time, but there was someone belting at odd tones until three in the morning. We're really back home! Hahaha. 

She was so happy she got the original flavor.

The funny thing is we ended up ordering late dinner/media noche. Sweetie and I were running around the whole day cleaning the house. I had a brilliant idea to mop the floor around 7 in the evening. Of course, it sapped all my energy and I couldn't cook anymore. Before that I did some laundry, watered the plants, did some planting and puttered around the kitchen. Sometimes I forget my energy is very limited, haha. I made up for it today and made creamy chicken bacon and thyme, potato salad and pineapple glazed ham. It's truly a miracle I'm able to do those things. I'm sure I'm going to take a nap after washing the dishes hahaha. 

I decided not to write specific goals for this year. I just want to be kinder, learn to listen better, be healthier and be more prayerful. The one thing I want to do is focus on my family, build a loving home where we can create more happy memories. And do my best for Mom. 



2022 didn't start with the media noche I had in mind, it was just a bit delayed. We were still able to have a fun New Year lunch as a family. Cheers to a kinder, healthier and more loving 2022! 

Happy New Year everyone!