Monthly Archives: September 2012

Reasons for breathing

May I share my recent post on my column Mothering Heights.

I learn much from other mothers. I learn love and unselfishness from my sister, Naomi. I learn about creativity from Rhea. I learn about wellness from Richelle. I learn about defying the odds from Rachel Santos.

I visited Rachel in 2006 to interview he­r for Working Mom. She talked almost non-stop, with a mouth primed for laughing and eyes built for smiling. She had just finished her licensure exams for teaching, her dream job since she was a little girl. “I am just so excited to start teaching,” she said. “But who would hire me?” She pointed to her arm, “They’d look at this and think I tried to commit suicide.”

Her right forearm was pocked with needle marks, bruises, veins, and a noticeable bump on her wrist that vibrated when you laid a finger on it. It resembled a battlefield, for that was what it was, with scars of Rachel’s crusade for her life and that of her son’s.

Read the rest of the post here.


Mothering Heights: Like magic

This is my fifth post for my column Mothering Heights.

A few nights ago, while I was journaling, I thought: Nothing remarkable happened to me today. But that’s the thing: nothing has to. Writing isn’t just about recording the fantastic; it’s recognizing that the very ordinariness of our days are worth writing about, are worth being grateful for. Each day is carved into its own space, separated from the gush of time—each day is sacred and each day’s delights are sanctified. What we do with that grace is our gift, but also our accountability.

Read the rest of the post here.


It’s my second night away from home. I didn’t get to sleep much; I was namamahay.

An exact translation for the Filipino term namamahay escapes me; the term homesick doesn’t capture the traitorous way my body searches for familiar scents, for pillows shaped by our contours, for carlights playing on the ceiling, or for a bed that creaks when I turn to my right but not when I turn to my left.

Our home has carved itself on my body.

Mothering Heights: God is in the details

Sharing my fourth post for my column Mothering Heights.

‘My husband and I would like to share our story, which was published in a lovely anthology, Against All Odds: Coincidence or Miracle? Volume IV, produced by Flor Gozon Tarriela and Butch Jimenez. It was one of the hardest stories I had to write, not because I didn’t know how to tell it, but because the road we’d traveled, from there to here, had been pockmarked with hope and despair. It was hard to relive the journey, and much harder not to break down in tears for how God had blessed the broken road that led us straight to our Anna. (Thank you, Rascall Flatts, for letting me borrow your words.)”

Read  the rest of the post here.

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Writing on the go

Traveled three hours this afternoon to Bataan, where I will hold a technical writing workshop in the next two days. I was the only passenger in a comfortable rental van.

The drive, though pleasant, wasn’t how I wanted to use my very limited me-time. So I got out my laptop and started writing. I got carsick–I often do–so I positioned my index fingers to find the trusty ridges on letters F and J, and wrote while looking out the window.

I didn’t care about errors and typos; I couldn’t, anyway. So I just wrote, the mobile equivalent of Julia Cameron’s morning pages–seat-of-my-pants and stream-of-consciousness writing. I unfettered my thoughts, undeterred by bumps in the road or in my mind.

I came out with so much. Especially a truth I had not recognized in something so familiar. As my mind leapt from my mother to my daughter to magic, I suddenly realized this:

Before Jesus miraculously multiplied a little boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, He first lifted up the boy’s lunch basket and thanked God. He gave thanks for two tiny fish and five pieces of bread before they amounted to anything.

Before we ask for more, perhaps we should first be grateful for what we have. How can we be entrusted with much when we cannot appreciate less?

The writing exercise underscores three things:

1. I should write. My memory is weak, and my thoughts are mercurial. I think of something one minute, and I’d lose it to the void the next. I need to tether my thoughts to the ground.

2. I can write anywhere.

3. I will be OK with first drafts (Anne Lamott calls them “shitty first drafts”). I will rewrite them later; the real writing is in the rewriting.

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Years ago I wrote this paragraph in a rush. Years later I still need to finish the last few pages to complete this story. I should, very soon; the suspense is killing me.

It was supposed to be funny, the way the invisible borderline officially cleaved the marble floor of their house, running obliquely from the corner window towards the staircase, and thrusting the dining area and kitchen from part of the living room. The house was riven between two governments: one portion lodged in a city and the other entrenched in a municipality. Eleanor’s stepfather, for instance, could have laughed at the fortuity and joshed her mother: “Where would you like to eat tonight, dear? Pateros or Taguig?”—the tone and endearment achieved perhaps after a bottle of pinot noir. And he would pronounce the names Pa-táy-ros and Tágweeg, the way Americans do, and Eleanor would see little value in correcting him; her stepfather wouldn’t think it as significant as her properly stressing the first syllable of inventory, the second syllable of guitarist,and the third syllable of mountaineer. Her mother, in a voice as small as her frame, would pretend to consider the question and then simper, “Tágweeg,” as if she too shared his ruddy cheeks and pale skin. And maybe her mother could take the banter a little further: say, if there would be someone who would call for Eleanor, her mother could say, “May I put you on hold? Lenlen is in Pa-táy-ros,” tittering as she would hand her the phone. (Enlightened, her mother no longer told callers if she could please “hold” them.)