Saturday, April 30, 2005

Thanking teachers

The other day I read a long, lovely email from Kathryn, one of my students last year, thanking me for everything and being the closest thing to a Morrie in her life. Unexpected expressions of gratitude like this never cease to blow me away. I don't know if students are aware how much it means to a teacher to receive the simplest of thanks-- a kind word, a short note, a copy of an original poem or story, even a bone-crushing hug (paging Alexis Go!) is enough to make all the hours of lesson planning, delivering lectures and checking papers worth it. I remember the first time I heard the words "you're a good teacher" said to my face (I bet the student doesn't even remember saying it... guess who you are ;p); it was one of the best highs I've ever experienced. A few weeks back another former student, Jo, sent an email to her teachers conveying her appreciation and respect for both the profession and the people who practice it. Reading it made me feel validated, and extremely proud to have been a teacher, and a teacher to this student.

Looking back, I realize that I too did my share in thanking my own teachers. In the last days of my senior year in Ateneo, I wrote several thank you letters to teachers who had made my college years memorable and meaningful. One of them was my Romantic Lit prof, Dr. Emmanuel Torres, who was one of the most terrifying teachers I've ever had, but from whom I learned so much about literature and writing. More than anyone, he helped prepare me for what would be my turn to teach literature (of course I was never as scary as he was). Another was my Modern History teacher Mr. Jo-ed Tirol, or Sir Tirol as I refer to him, even now after 7 long years since I took his class. He is my favorite teacher of all time, and though I hesitate to become mushy (especially when it comes to talking about him, since we are both adamant closet saps), he is my own Morrie, and if it weren't for him, my passion for teaching would probably have never been rekindled. I recall writing in the letter I left for him: "You are the kind of teacher I want to become." I don't know if I ever did become that kind of teacher, but he certainly was my inspiration in trying. Since that letter, he has become my mentor and confidante and big brother and friend, and he has helped me preserve my emotional and mental stability over the years of heartaches and headaches I have gone through (both related and unrelated to teaching ;p).

What about my high school teachers? Raqs and I just talked about this the other day; as high school friends are wont to do, we sometimes get to reminiscing about certain teachers who left an impression on us (though not necessarily a good one). I had few good teachers in high school, sadly, but those I did like made their subjects a joy and not a chore: Mrs. Bumatay for English, Mr. Deraya for Bio, Ms. Celis for Physics. I wish I had thanked them before I graduated from high school. But the one who actually had a direct influence in my decision to teach was my 4th year English teacher (whom I shall not name out of professional courtesy, hah). However, it was only because she made me think, I want to become an English teacher so I can not become an English teacher like her. So in a way, I also thank her, for she fueled my determination to pursue teaching, in a twisted kind of way.

We didn't cut our high school teachers enough slack, I admit. Some of them were teaching several year levels at the same time, with classes having as many as 60 students, boys and girls (there is a certain brand of mischief only girls are capable of, and another that only boys can exercise, but it's a completely different kind of havoc that a mix of girls and boys can wreak upon their teachers). I suppose I never gave my teachers enough credit, and it's only now, after having taught for 2 years, that I can acknowledge their efforts and concede that under those hellish circumstances, they weren't all that bad. I wouldn't want to have me as a student, and for putting up with me, and giving me enough of an education, quality or not, I salute them, and am grateful to them. Thanks, 'chers.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Beautiful Day

You may be wondering how it could be a beautiful day after my manic depression yesterday. Well, I woke up this morning to find a prettily gift-wrapped package outside my bedroom door... and it was in a ziploc bag. Even without the heart-shaped card identifying the sender, I knew it was from my dear OC friend Fara the Bag Lady.

When I opened the package (very carefully of course, knowing it was from someone who freaks out at the sight of halo-halo being mixed), to my sheer surprise and delight, it was a VCD of all of Constantine's performances, including the results show last night. And of course, true to Fara form, she had printed a cover and a CD sticker with Constantine on them, a detailed playlist, and a letter addressed to me, telling me she hopes her gift would cheer me up. Isn't she amazing?!? Could anyone ask for a more thoughtful, sweet, hopelessly OC friend? She stayed up late last night working on the CD, just so she could deliver it to my house the following morning. It was just the closure I needed, and it reminded me that there are more, far more important things in life than American Idol... such as wonderful friends like Fara. I love you Farapot! You're worth a thousand Constantines. :)

This song is dedicated to my Yellow Hat friend, who gave me such a beautiful day:

"...You're out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you're not moving anywhere
You thought you'd found a friend

To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace
It's a beautiful day

Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away..." -U2

Thursday, April 28, 2005


My sister calls it a Greek tragedy. I don't want to talk about it.

But I need some form of catharsis or I'll implode, so I have to let it all out here. It's actually pretty pathetic how stunned-furious-depressed I was when I found out (I made my best friend Raqs tell me before I watched the show). I don't know if it's because I have become completely addicted to the show or if it was my Constantine fixation, but his getting kicked off (very prematurely, I might add) really hurt.

Gawd. I have to get a life.

In a lame attempt to justify my emotions, I guess it's because unlike last year, my favorite actually had a real shot at winning (I had a weird crush on Matt Rogers from last season; he was the second to leave from the final 12). To see Constantine leave so early, ahead of other contestants I abhor, just pisses me off. It's not even about Scott anymore. It's about losing someone I adored. Melodramatic, but honest.

Strangely, watching the elimination episode made me feel a bit better. Constantine had a great send-off, and they actually let him finish his swan song. And he looked hot in that white shirt (pure lust, Shirley, pure lust ;p).

The only thing left at this point is to a) root for Bo and b) put hexes on the other contestants.

P.S. Congratulations Nicole! Your Miracle Boy made it! I'll leave his hex for last. :)

Idol chatter

Not that there was ever any doubt, but it was all too evident last night who the real rocker on American Idol is. Bo was in his element, but Constantine was not quite in the same league. Simon’s comment after Constantine’s performance was spot-on: he has, for better or worse, “crossed over,” and he might as well stick to the path he chose to go down, since the charming crooner routine has been working for him anyway. Heck, sure works on me.

Carrie is a pretty girl and a strong singer, but what she has in looks and talent she utterly lacks in personality and fashion sense.

If anything will save Anthony now (I hear Nicole praying ;p), it has to be his sappy pre-performance video. Seeing his proud parents all choked up and teary-eyed touched even my cold-hearted self. Sniffle.

I don’t know why, but Vonzell gets on my nerves. Too damn pa-cute.

Last season, Ryan Seacrest was irritating but kind of funny. This season, he's just irritating. And what was up with him sitting on the lap of some guy in the audience last night?? Gee, and I wonder why there are rumors he's gay.

Someone has to tell Paula the Parrot to stop repeating herself and stop stealing Simon's lines ("having said that..."). And stop getting dressed in the dark.

And of course, we can't have an AI analysis without my favorite topic...

If Scott still doesn't get kicked off, I'm going to have a conniption. Listening to him croak "Dance with My Father Again" (by itself the song is enough to make me gag) was almost physically painful. America must be a nation of sado-masochists to have kept him on the show this long. I seriously hope we're put out of our misery tonight.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hey Hollywood, stop ruining the good stuff!

Currently reading and loving The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy omnibus. It's a riot. It's the kind of sarcastic British writing that will give you the giggles, even if you're not the giggling type (like me). I bought the book well over a year ago, but I hadn’t had enough time to read it since (too busy checking book reviews to review my own books!). With the movie coming out soon I thought it best to get started before the film adaptation ruins it for me. I have little trust in film adaptations; very few do justice to the original literature, The Godfather and the LOTR trilogy among the notable exceptions. I think the Harry Potter movies, especially the first, failed miserably to capture the magic of the books. They took a thoroughly engaging series and turned it into a mutilated mess. HP should take a page (pun not intended) from the film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events: it breathed new life into the story (the production design was particularly amazing), not following the book word for word for word (as HP stubbornly attempts to do, thus resulting in butt-numbing 3-hour sagas), but still managing to remain true to the original work.

Movies that betray the original literature are the worst (Troy being one of the most atrocious offenders, hunkfest notwithstanding). Of these, what rankle me the most are film and TV adaptations of comic book series. I am a purist when it comes to superheroes, and I hate it when Hollywood takes liberties with the original plot or premises, changing names, identities, ages, appearances, histories to modernize, glamorize, and sensationalize. You simply cannot take a classic superhero, like Superman or Spiderman, and toy with the details that make them Supes or Spidey. Because of the Spiderman movies, everyone now believes Peter Parker can organically produce web and shoot it from... holes in his wrists?? And thanks to that ludicrous show Smallville, we have a generation of media babies who will grow up thinking Clark Kent and Lex Luthor were actually friends in high school (WTF?!).

Some sacred things should never be tampered with.

P.S. Also currently loving Haagen-Dazs custard pudding ice cream. Yum-mee.

Billboard and bouquet beefs

On my way to work this morning, I saw the most baffling ad for eyelash extensions from the Ricky Reyes salons. It declared the extensions to be “semi-permanent.” Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “semi-permanent” the same thing as temporary??

My cousin Gue got married last Friday, and to the immense relief of all my unmarried female cousins, she forewent the traditional throwing-of-the-bouquet torture and simply handed it to her younger sister (who’s getting married next year anyway, so I hear). “At least we don’t have to go hide in the bathroom anymore,” sniggered my closest cousin and oldest friend Joy (by oldest I’m not referring to age, since she’s a month younger than I am, but to the fact that we’ve been friends since we were in diapers). It’s funny how in the movies women are always shown to be fighting for the bridal bouquet, short of clawing at each other just to get it, but here in the Philippines, women practically cower under the tables to be spared the ignominy of public disclosure of their singleness. I’ve never had a problem with being single, but it’s precisely why I object to the whole silly spectacle. I’m not that desperate (not to mention stupid) to think that by catching a bunch of half-wilted flowers, I am going to walk down the aisle next. Sure, I’m not having much success finding the man of my dreams now, but at least I’m not sacrificing my dignity in the process.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Very glad to be back in blogging action (and very, very glad to have Star World again... missed the performance episode of American Idol, dang... more on AI later). Will spare you all the boring details of the business aspect of my trip to Shanghai, and share some random thoughts that meandered through my mind while I was there.

1. There is actually a Hooters in China. When I saw the poster (featuring Chinese waitresses who had suspiciously fair-sized boobs), I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I don't think you could ask for a surer sign of cultural decline.

2. At the fashion show we attended, the clothes were modeled by Caucasians in a roomful of Asian executives and entrepreneurs. I couldn't decide who was being degraded by whom, so I was torn between muted outrage and amused irony while watching the spectacle... and checking out the hot male models (hey, I'm only human :p).

3. I envy ABC's (American-born Chinese) who are fluent in both English and Mandarin. My pathetic Chinese-Filipino self can only claim fluency in English and competency (if you can call it that) in Filipino, which is pretty much useless anywhere outside our dinky archipelago. The usefulness of Fookienese is pretty much limited by the same geographical boundary, plus Xiamen and Taiwan, but I've never been to either. I can get by with Mandarin to haggle with street vendors or order "safe" food at restaurants, but not well enough to actually conduct business with suppliers. I am such a pathetic Chinese person.

4. It's so much easier now to get my parents to buy me stuff, because I suspect they're so pleased that I came to work for them, they're sort of rewarding me for it. My mom got me a very nice bag that I can use for carrying documents and which will make me look more professional at meetings, haha. I feel less guilty now when I get expensive gifts like this because I figure, it's part of the fringe benefits of being the C.O.O. *evil laugh*

5. Why did McDonalds Philippines stop serving milkshakes? :(

6. If I hated GMA before for being a lousy president, now I hate her with a passion for personal reasons. It's one thing when she screws up running the nation, but an entirely different thing when she screws up my life. The day of our return to Manila, she had NAIA closed for an hour so she could fly to Jakarta, delaying our flight home by an entire three hours. We spent five hours at Pudong Airport waiting and aging, all for GMA's own frickin' convenience.

For everyone who texted and asked me how my trip was, you may now understand why my response was "tiring, extremely so" (see number 6). We arrived in Manila a bit past midnight instead of 9:00PM, and we had to wait until 2:30AM to catch the second rerun of the AI elimination episode. And as if I wasn't infuriated enough that day, Scott still didn't get kicked off!! What the hell?! I am at a complete loss to explain how such a class act like Anwar could have gotten fewer votes than that unjustifiably smug redneck (did you see how he smirked when Ryan read Simon's negative comment on his performance? augh, I hate his fat ass!). My brother may be right, all the underachievers in America must be voting for him. Perhaps Hooters is not the surest sign of cultural decline after all.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Tangsoc found a complete DVD set of all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation at Metrowalk, the new pirates' paradise. She was going to get her dad one, so I asked her to buy a set for me too. It set me back by P3,300, but my siblings and I are such TNG fans it was a small price to pay for 48 discs of our favorite Enterprise crew. Last night we watched the first disc, finishing at around 2AM. Well, almost finished. The last chapter of episode 3 was missing, hmph. So if any Trekkers out there know the ending of "Code of Honor," please tell me!

Since my sister and I will be going to Shanghai next week, my brother has 4 whole days to watch some more episodes, so Hanks and I will have some catching up to do when we get back. We plan to finish the entire series this summer, but I don't know if we'll manage. We definitely need to finish before we get the DVD set of the LOTR trilogy (we're getting the original this time, no cost spared for LOTR!). We intend to make a whole day out of it, schedule it on a day our parents are out of town (so there will be no interruptions) and see the three movies straight, sustained by Yellow Cab pizza, KFC chicken, and Fruits in Ice Cream. Whee.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Confessions of an O.C. Packer

I have started packing for our trip to Shanghai next week, and I am driving my mom and sister nuts with my fussiness. I admit I can go crazy when packing for a trip. A few days prior to departure, I actually make out a list of the outfits I will wear for each day of the trip. I have to know what we'll be doing or where we'll be going on each day, and I also get a weather forecast from my CNN Weather source (Hanks) so I can pick outfits that are appropriate and comfortable. Then I make sure the shoes and bag I'm bringing are color-coordinated with each other, and with all my outfits. I even pick out specific underwear and socks! Then I set about packing all the items in a systematic and space-saving method my mom taught me when I was still a kid: pants flat on the bottom, shoes and travel kits stuffed in the sides, shirts in the middle, jackets on top.

I would make even Fara proud.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Lonely lunches

Our staff gets free lunch everyday, in a small kitchen/dining room above our office. I eat with them, and though pockets of conversation spring up I usually keep silent because either I cannot relate to the topic (usually Korean telenovelas, which I never ever watch) or I cannot think of anything to say, because I'm wary that I might let something slip that they shouldn't know, or my parents shouldn't know (you know how efficient the office grapevine is, even in reaching the higher-ups).

So during my quiet lunches I get to remembering the loud lunches I used to share with AP-Annex back in ICA, and the things I miss about those lunches: watching Tangsoc unpack her personal buffet... Pau's purple untensils container with the mirror at the bottom (for checking if you have something stuck in your teeth, she says)... Kat snitching a piece of your food, saying "pahingi a" but not bothering to wait for a yes or no... Loida hogging all the chocolate available for dessert... Margaux getting frantic if she doesn't finish her food before 12:30 (so she can spend the rest of the hour talkingtalkingtalking)... Lynn and Elyse coming from proctoring, or rushing to get there... and the razzing and ranting and raving in between bites, and long after everyone is done eating.

And I miss Dessert Thursdays, when the Three Musketeers (a.k.a. Two Kats and a Bitch, haha, now I can finally say it!) would go buy ice cream and pester Shirley in her office.

Lunch will never be the same. Sigh.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I just don’t get it!

Things about this season of American Idol I simply cannot comprehend:
1. Ryan Seacrest's fashion sense;
2. Ryan Seacrest's lame one-liners;
3. Paula's fashion sense;
4. Paula's compulsion to jump to her feet and dance even during lousy performances;
5. Why Simon thinks Carrie will win;
6. Why Simon doesn't slap Paula silly;
7. Why my mom hates Anwar;
8. Why Bo was in the bottom 3 last night instead of Carrie;
9. What Anthony was wearing on his head in the video packages;
and, most perplexing of all...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I still blame the pants.

Matchbox Twenty is my favorite band, and I think Rob Thomas is hot stuff, especially now that he has shaved his head. I'm not so thrilled about his going solo though. He sounds different without his band backing him up; there's less of the angry rock edge I love about him. I pray the solo act is a temporary thing that he just needs to get out of his system.

Even as I write this, his first single "Lonely No More" is playing on the radio (what is it about Rob and songs about bitter break-ups?). I've heard it dozens of times already, several times in a day, but last night was the first time I saw the video (albeit a choppy version on Yahoo Launch), upon the insistence of my student Karen. She kept on saying that Rob looked gay in the video, particularly in "those pants," but I refused to believe it of my beloved frontman. However, after viewing the video, I had only this to say:

Damn those pants. *sulks like Karen*

I don't know who told him to dance (and to dance like that!), but I sadly beheld the sight of his lovely tush in those pants swaying in an almost obscenely feminine way. Talk about a buzzkill. He looked awesome with the new hair and the cool shades, but those blasted pants had to go ruin everything.

Stick to singing, Rob.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

New York, New York

I love AXN for showing all 3 CSI series, and for rescuing what used to be blah TV Tuesdays with CSI NY. Of the 3, Vegas is still my favorite because of the more interesting and complex characters, especially Grissom, and Greg cracks me up. Plus, that cute AV tech guy Archie (played by an actor named Archie Kao) occasionally appears. :D Miami's cast isn't as compelling, especially David Caruso, but I appreciate that his Horatio is more human than William Petersen's Grissom.

As for NY, it's too early to judge Gary Sinise's Mac just yet, but I do find the series to have the best production design. Whereas Vegas is bright desert sun and dazzling Strip neon, and Miami is orange sunsets and bronze beaches, NY is pale stone and gray Goth. It's nice to see a darker, colder Big Apple, starkly different from Donald Trump's glitzy metropolis, or NYPD's mean-streets 'hood, or Friends' cozy-cafe Village. Even the CSI lab was made to distinctly fit the whole ghostly atmosphere. I hope the episodes will be as good to watch as the sets are as nice to see.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The perks of being the C.O.O.

For now, until my parents decide what to do with me, my designation at work is Assistant Vice President (heavy on the "assistant"; "vice president" is purely nominal). I was making an organization chart for our company when I asked my dad where my name would go. He decided on AVP for the meantime. Then my mom piped up with a laugh, "Aren't you C.O.O.? Child of Owner?"

Contrary to what I was dreading at first, there are several things I like about being the C.O.O.

1. I do not have to clock in or out, although I am expected to arrive on time at 9 AM like everyone else.
2. I do not have to wear a uniform, not that our office uniform is anything as hideous as ICA's.
3. I do not have to report to work on Saturdays, while the rest of the office staff has half-day work.
4. I get to use the bosses' private bathroom, so even if I have to do number 2, I don't worry about the stink.
5. When the bosses need to go home early, I go home early too (like today, whee!).

Plus, next week, the bosses are going to Shanghai to attend a fashion show, and guess who's going with them?

Yep, it's good to be the boss, but being the kid of the boss ain't bad at all.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Family friends

I once read somewhere that friends are the family you have chosen. It's always easy to think of our friends as family, but it's more unusual to think of our family as friends.

My sister and brother are two of my best friends in the whole world. I love them fiercely, and though we have our fair share of sibling spats, we get along famously. We can attribute our closeness to having spent so much time together growing up (and even now that we're all twentysomethings) and sharing many interests and obsessions (we're all LOTR fanatics, Jedi wannabes, and *gasp* Trekkers :p). We have a pact that we will never let anything tear the three of us apart, be it huge famiy disputes or trivial disagreements.

Only lately, however, have I started feeling that I am now becoming friends with my parents as well. I don't know if it's because I am now working with them (but heck, it's only been a week), or my age (close to a quarter-century now, eek), but I am more at ease with them and find myself agreeing with them on a lot of the same issues. In fact, I suspect that my brother is getting annoyed with me for acting like a third parent more and more, especially when it comes to his upbringing.

I don't want to alienate myself from my siblings just because I am becoming chummier with my folks, but I believe our tight bond will survive this transition, although it will take time for my siblings to adjust and maybe catch up to me in terms of maturing and seeing things from our parents' point of view. Our biological ages are not very far apart (2 and a half years between me and Hanks, 1 and a half between her and Bens), but our school ages may be the factor here (4 whole years between me and Hanks, 2 years between her and Bens). I can only hope that when the time comes, we can all understand each other even better and all 5 of us can be family and friends.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

10 things you may not know (but should) about Ailee

I was still sound asleep at 1 in the afternoon when Maddy called me on my cell phone, jarring me awake. When I told her (groggily) that she had just cut short my stay in the land of Nod, she laughed in disbelief. I realized that with the exception of my close high school and college friends, not many know of my weekend ritual of sleeping until early or mid-afternoon. I just love sleeping, and the more hours I can get away with the better. For me, sleep is one of the purest forms of blissful release. But it's also weird because I am a nocturnal person, and I can stay up really really late, and I can also go without sleep for more than 48 hours straight. Aren't I a lovely bundle of contradictions.

In order to avoid another unintentional wake-up call and other things that may inconvenience me or tick me off (but don't worry Maddy, I swear I wasn't sore with you), I have drawn up a list of 10 things people may not know about me, but probably should. Consider this a friendly warning in the interest of public welfare, since some people (especially my students) claim I am scary when mad.

1. Obviously, since I'm a nocturnal person, I am definitely not a morning person. This explains why I am sometimes late for work, because it's a struggle to get out of bed so early in the morning. Therefore, as much as possible, do not schedule anything with me before lunch, unless you intend on buying me breakfast and a tall cup of coffee to wake me up.

2. I hate pink. No, make that I loathe pink. Pink is the most revolting color in the entire spectrum of colors (no matter what Rachel says). I do not own a single stitch of pink clothing (I have gotten rid of my much detested ICA uniforms, hah!), nor will I ever voluntarily wear anything pink, rose, or any shade resembling such. Therefore, do not give me anything pink, because chances are, I will not let it see the light of day.

3. I have weak knees. When I was in grade 6, I dislocated my right kneecap while playing table tennis. You may wonder how one injures herself playing such a dangerous sport. Well, clumsy, ill-coordinated me slipped and banged my knee on our garage floor. In my second year of high school, while we were on vacation in Cebu, it happened to my left knee, and it was bizaare because I simply sat down on a hotel bed and my left kneecap popped out. It turns out I am missing some ligaments in my knees which make them prone to dislocation. Therefore, do not invite me to engage in any activities that put too much pressure on my knees, lest they pop out again.

4. One of my biggest pet peeves is when things don't go according to plan. I can be a bit of a control freak, so it gets on my nerves when someone (including, and perhaps especially, myself) is late, or when people back out of commitments. Therefore, if you have an appointment with me and you don't want to get on my bad side, please show up on time, and never stand me up. Please.

5. I am a picky eater, and sometimes my food aversions make no sense whatsoever. Take my dislike of young corn and cucumber, for example (right, AP-Annex?). Or my refusal to eat sushi. Or wasabi. Or green mangoes. Or salmon. Therefore, do not offer me any weird things to eat, since I would most probably politely but firmly turn you down anyway.

6. I am tone deaf, though that doesn't prevent me from singing in the shower and at videoke outings with friends I am comfortable baring my musical inadequacies to. But I am definitely what Simon Cowell would call a horrendous singer; I suspect I could make even William Hung sound good. Therefore do not ask me to perform in public. Have pity on everyone within earshot.

7. If you haven't noticed, I do not have ear piercings. No female in my immediate family does, and it's become something of a trademark that my sister and I intend to keep, unless our future daughters insist on getting their ears pierced. Therefore, it's pointless to give me earrings of any kind.

8. I do not, nor will I ever, paint my nails, even with transparent polish. My hands and feet are two of my few vanities, and I like keeping them immaculate, which includes keeping them color-free. Therefore, do not volunteer to paint my nails, for you will meet a flat refusal.

9. I abhor golf. My father and brother are golf fanatics, but I think it is a despicable sport. It is one of the most blatantly elitist sports, and it's practically a social sin. Playing it consumes too much time and money, and the courses take up too much water and land. Imagine if you divide all the golf courses in the world into smaller parcels of land and converted them into farm land or distributed it to the poor. See what I mean? Therefore, do not attempt to talk to me about PGA tournaments or Tiger Woods, for I will just get up on my soapbox and start ranting about the evils of golf.

10. I am allergic to all small live creatures, including house pets and children. I do not like hanging around anything that cannot hold up their end of an intelligent conversation or are not able to pee and poop properly on their own. Therefore, keep your dogs and cats and guinea pigs (sorry, Fara!) and little brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and daughters and sons as far, far away from me as possible, for their health as well as mine.

If you haven't noticed, I hate a lot of things. The list could drag on beyond 10 (organized religion, Philippine government officials, LaSalle...) but trust me, you don't want me to go there anymore.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Bring the bitch back!

This morning I woke up to find that I had somehow pulled a leg muscle in my sleep. I know I'm not the most peaceful of sleepers, but injuring myself while asleep is ridiculous. In my morning-cranky state (exacerbated by the pain in my leg), I contemplated using it as an excuse to skip work (as if a pulled muscle would prevent me from performing my desk job, haha). But then I remembered that I was supposed to go on my first round of store visits today, and though I could have used the pulled muscle as an excuse out of that, I decided I didn't want to miss it. So I smeared some Bengay on my calf, put on some comfortable shoes, and set out.

Together with two of our sales heads and one of our designers, I went to Robinsons Imus, SM Bacoor, SM Bicutan, Robinsons Metropolis, Market! Market! and SM Megamall to check on our department store corners and boutiques. It wasn't as tiring as I thought it would be; in fact it was kind of fun. Of course there was nothing too complicated about it, I was simply tagging along to observe and see how our people conduct their rounds so that I can do it myself in the future.

While listening to one sales head admonish (there's a sentence for you, Tarin!) one of our salesladies, I realized that on this job, I would have to shed some of my ICA-acquired teacher-niceness. No molly-coddling, no sweet-talking, no joking around. More discipline, more straightforwardness, more formality. In other words, I need to invoke the bitchy Ailee of days past. I'm not saying bitchy Ailee really went away (AP-Annex can attest to that), but she kept a low profile during my teaching days. She had to, naturally (that explains why my students think I'm *shudder* "sweet"). Now bitchy Ailee needs to rear her ugly head more often. On one hand, I'm relieved that I am free to be that part of me, but on the other, I'm concerned that once I tune nice Ailee out, I might never hear from her again. I have to admit, I like having her around. Hopefully bitchy Ailee doesn't forget herself and devour nice Ailee whole.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Get in line, Paula!

Last night on Am Idol, Paula declared she was falling in love with Constantine. Well, Ms. Abdul, I wish I could claim to have first dibs on the Greek hottie, but I think we're two among thousands smitten by the smoldering rocker (excluding my silly students who would rather swoon over Phil of the Future :p).

Oh, and was I the only one who found Anthony Federov's rendition of "Climb Every Mountain" bizarrely entertaining?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

So this is who I am...

Today was my third day on the job, and for the first time, I actually felt it. I was on the phone with my dad discussing cotton yarn count, and it hit me: hey, look at me, I'm really doing this! And unexpectedly, the feeling of settling in, that twinge of belonging, was quite pleasant.

I spent most of the day sitting in on one of our training/orientation seminars for our salesladies. I felt like Ms. Sia or Mrs. Liamzon observing a class. I took a lot of notes, and by the end of the session, I was positively bursting with ideas for improving our training program. It's terrific that the teacher in me still has an outlet in this line of work.

My mom is both puzzled and amused by my seemingly sudden interest in HR development, and I can't blame her; her daughter isn't exactly the friendliest of people. Heck, if someone had told me 3, 4 years ago that I would be raring to handle HR, I would have snorted in derision. I've never thought of myself as a *ugh* "people person," but apparently, some part of me is... which had probably been buried deep down alongside the part of me that my students call "patient," "cheerful," and *double ugh* "sweet." (I can hear my high school and college friends laughing their asses off.) I guess my teaching stint was the catalyst that made these alien aspects of Ailee surface. It's nice to know that after 24 years, I'm still unearthing strange, surprising, and sometimes disturbing bits of me. I wonder what else is down there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I went to Mt. Carmel for Che’s wake. The place was packed with Che’s family and friends, testament to how much love there had been in her life. Kevin was there, and I walked over to him and squeezed his shoulder in condolence. I didn’t get to talk to him, and I don’t think I needed to. My friend Pia and I took a deep breath, and holding on to each other for strength, went up front to have one last look at Che. My co-teacher Shirley, who had been to the wake last night, was right; Che didn’t look anything like the girl we knew and loved. It seemed absurdly easy to pretend that it wasn’t really her lying there, but there was a finality in that heartrending sight that made it painfully clear she was gone. Pia said my hands were like ice. I felt no fear, just an excruciating awareness of chill reality.

Seeing so many familiar faces (mostly MIS batchmates from Ateneo), Pia and I talked about how awful it was that it had to take a tragedy like this to reunite friends. It’s depressing to think that people our age are already so consumed by matters of consequence that we neglect to tend our roses. Like I told a student recently, our youth blinds us to our mortality, and deludes us into believing we have all the time in the world to do everything. If this isn’t a bucket of cold water thrown in our faces, I don’t know what is.

Postscript: Thank you to all my dear students who have taken time out to express their sympathy and concern the past 2 days. I plead guilty to having been one of these teachers who complain of students’ insensitivity, but students like you make me glad to be proven wrong. My appreciation goes out to you guys.

Monday, April 04, 2005

She was just a girl...

This morning, a friend of mine was on her way to the US embassy with her family when a truck running a red light hit their car. Che Pe (an ICAn friend and Ateneo batchmate) was killed in the accident. The other family members in the vehicle were injured.

I can't believe Che is gone. When I received the first text message delivering the tragic news, my brain couldn't process the information. It's such a shock because one, she was so young, two, it was so sudden and violent, and three, it was Che. Bright, bubbly, cheerful Che, who was so tiny yet radiated with such sunshine that within minutes of meeting her you could not help but adore her. I feel like a small but vibrant light has gone out in the universe, and it hurts to think of how many more lives she could have touched with her warm presence, had her life not been cut short by the recklessness of an irresponsible truck driver.

My heart goes out to my cousin Kevin, who was Che's ex-boyfriend (and who I know still loved her). I can't imagine how he must be feeling right now. I won't begin to try.

Someone just sent me a news link about the accident. The headline coldly, cruelly reads, "Woman killed in QC smash-up." And again my brain refuses to process this. Woman? Surely they can't mean Che. Dammit, she was just a girl.

If this has given you the impression that Che and I were close, well, we weren't. But that's just how special she was. You didn't have to be an intimate friend to love her, and now, miss her.

Goodbye Che Pe.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Endings and beginnings

Last Friday was my official last day of being an ICA teacher. There was a mixed sense of loss and liberation as I surrendered my faculty ID to the HR department. There are many things I will miss about being a teacher (my students, AP-Annex, teaching literature), yet there are also many things I will not miss (checking papers, teaching grammar, and certain individuals I will not name).

The past 2 years have been the most amazing, exhausting, rewarding experience of my life, and I still believe teaching is my calling in life. However, it was this very calling which made me realize and accept a higher obligation I have to fulfill, which is help my parents in our family business. Not everyone comprehends and agrees with my decision, but surprisingly, my students (whose maturity and understanding in this matter have moved me and made me immensely proud) were among the first to express their support despite their initial disappointment. It reassures me that I am doing the right thing, that by giving up teaching, I am teaching them perhaps the most valuable lesson I can impart: sometimes, you have to sacrifice personal happiness for the people you love most.

The evening of that same Friday, I received this text from Madel, one my third year students: "Ms. Lim, I know today was your last day as a teacher. I know you'll miss teaching as much as we'll miss you. Well, even though we might be losing a Ms.Lim-English teacher, we know that we gained a life teacher, an achi, a friend, and a second mother (our young single mom, haha) forever." I like the idea of forever, for I know that I will forever be a teacher at heart, no matter what I end up doing in life.

Tomorrow I start working at our office, and there is the apprehension and excitement that usually accompany beginnings. I keep in mind what my friend/counselor/replacement Maddy told me, that whatever you choose to do, do it with excellence. I have chosen this path, and I resolve to walk it with sure, steady steps, and not drag my feet. I also hope that I do not get into too many fights with my parents, although I accept this to be an inevitable part of the job. I have to remember that I am doing this because I love them, and because they love me, and that should override any argument.

Yesterday was my sister's graduation from UST's College of Fine Arts and Design. I'm very proud of her, for I have personally witnessed all the hard work she put into 4 grueling years of drawing and painting and cutting and pasting and lettering and tracing. Now she has to review for her board exams in September, and I am anxious and excited for her own new beginning.

Towards the end of the CFAD graduation rites, this girl who graduated magna cum laude from Advertising Arts (and who received the Rector's medal for academic excellence, I might add) delivered the address of thanks. Apparently, her idea of an address of thanks is equivalent to an Oscar acceptance speech. She proceeded to waste 10 minutes of my life by rattling off a long list of her personal friends and acquaintances, who all helped her reach her glorious achievements. What was supposed to be a speech on behalf of her batch became a self-centered, self-serving spiel that left me and my family (and I hope most of the audience) bewildered and disgusted.

Inspired by her show of egotistic gratitude, I shall now list some people who deserve my thanks for the past 2 years of my short but sweet teaching career:

My parents, who failed to conceal their pride while openly criticizing my line of work;
My siblings, who kept me sane weekday nights and weekends throughout long hours of checking;
AP-Annex, who were my peeps, my posse, both inside and outside the faculty room;
Ms. Sia, who took a chance on a young, inexperienced, overconfident Atenean, and served as my mentor and mother in ICA;
Sir Tirol, who reminded me of my desire to teach by showing me what a good teacher is, and inspiring me to become one;
and above all,
My students, who made being inside the classroom a constant challenge as well as a constant joy; who overlooked and forgave my shortcomings and booboos; who made me feel young and old at the same time; who gave me their confidence, trust, respect, friendship, and love; who taught me as much as, or perhaps more than, I taught them; who made me an infinitely better person than I have ever been in my entire life.

As the song goes, "At the end I want to be standing at the beginning with you." Here's to endings and beginnings, and the people who are there with us from start to finish, from finish to start.