Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kevin and Kyla in Working Mom

Kevin and Kyla's picture were featured in Working Mom's June 2010 issue (page 108 f you please)! Being the school opening month, June edition's Mommy Moments aptly titled "Me and My School Bag."

I happen to take pictures of the kids' first day to school. Every year. The picture I submitted was taken two years ago (Kyla in preschool). This was really special because it was Kevin and Kyla's first day together in the same school after many of Kevin attending home-based program. They gamely posed with their school bags beside them. Kyla was her usual cheerful self and was giving her Kuya an encouraging hug before the picture was taken.

Kevin's smooth inclusion in his new school is largely because of Kyla. Kyla's friends also call him "Kuya Boy" and also looks after him at school.

I am sure that someday we will once again look back at this picture full of happy, loving memories.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sound of His Music (Father's Day Tribute for Dada)

Jessica Zafra puts it aptly that “we are all hostage to our parents’ taste in music.” I couldn’t agree more.

My dad (Dada) – if translated to my generation – is the ultimate groupie. He loves music and this is an understatement. Dada is up early with the radio already on and predictably, the radio puts him to sleep. We grew up with the music of the 60s-70s fossilized into our memories. I realized much later that I can actually sing to the songs of his generation. And that we knew most of the artists of his time.

Every year, DZRJ would hold this poll where listeners can call in and vote for their choice of the ultimate rock and roll king. Year on year it always boiled down to Elvis vs. Beatles. We would call in and vote for the Beatles just to annoy him. Besides, I love Beatles. Of course, there are Frank Sinatra, the Cascades and Everly Brothers, Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka, Petula Clark and Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Cliff Richard. Curiously, his favorite song was a country song called Frauline, on the account of which he would jack up the volume gazillion times until our earwax fell out!

He loved Elvis and we ended up with practically a collection of all his LP albums (ie, long playing records). Naturally, this meant he also had a complete line up of turn-table, stereo and amplifiers, speakers, the works! These are stored in a made to order wood cabinet which occupied a great deal of space in our apartment’s living room then in Cubao. When LPs became obsolete, the more compact radio and karaoke player replaced his stuff. In the early 90s, he donated his collection to a local radio station that plays the oldies but goodies music. I wish he hadn’t because they would be priceless by now. And one time, we even stayed late at night to watch the Elvis bio TV series “Elvis and Me”.

Every payday, I recall how he would excitedly bring home his newest LP collection of Elvis or Beatles. There was one song in Elvis’ Blue Hawaii album that made me cry in fear when I was about 5 years old and younger. It was the intro line from a violin. I would cry my lungs out when it played and so Dad had to run to the turntable every time and skip the blasted intro!

He also loved the Beatles. Their songs were immortal and fun to listen to. Their songs have a more universal taste and a sense of timelessness to it whereas Elvis’ songs, being rock and roll are more of “to the moment”. Yesterday and Ticket to Ride was one of the first songs I learned to sing in pre-school, as a matter of fact, my current ring tone for the past 7 years is indeed, Ticket to Ride.

And because he is a true blue music junkie, it rubbed off to us I guess. All of us grew up loving music and radio and although in time, all four of us developed our own preference, I couldn’t help but reminisce that it was Dad who taught us the gift of loving music.

He also understood that to love music meant parallel indulgences (like buying the latest record in town). In my generation, there were no CDs or MP3 downloads. Songs come in singles or LPs and cassette tapes. My Dad indulgently bought us tapes from the sprouting New Wave and 80s era. I think secretly he liked those music as well because it kept him young . I was surprised when he brought home audio cassette tapes of Bagets (no throwing of stones please), Menudo (again, we were young ok?), Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Laura Branigan (he misestimated, none of us liked her), Michael Jackson, and others. We even collected Pepsi crowns to exchange them for limited edition glasses of 80s icon.

He drew the line finally in the mid-90s when Alternative Rock music was born and my younger sisters were into it. For us it sounded like a mass of tin cans waiting for annihilation at the junkyard. And that left the two of us stuck in the worm hole of 60s and 70s music. And for me, the 80s.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lessons Kevin Taught Me (Kevin's 10th Birthday Tribute)

To everything there is a reason and a season for every purpose.
My husband and I were blessed with two wonderful kids—Kevin and Kyla. We love both of them very much and they have their own endearing ways. Before Kyla was born, Kevin had been the center of our lives. Kevin was not just any ordinary boy.

Kevin has a bionic-but-selective hearing. He can hear the very soft ‘click’ of the remote control from two rooms away. He knew if his Dad is walking by the hallway and if the car came by, even if we are 30 feet away. He likes the simple stuff like leaves, his lobster stuff toy and his little towels. Lately he started to appreciate playing cars and Transformer robots. His favorite is basketball and we discovered he has a skill for swimming. He is happiest when he is out swimming or splashing by the beach.

Kevin is a very sweet and loving boy. When I’m sad or sick, he would sit beside me and bring his face close to mine and smile or touch my forehead. Those were the few moments when our worlds are one and without boundaries.

I have always believed that Kevin was given to us for a reason that is greater than our own understanding. Most of all Kevin taught us valuable insights about life – simple things that we mostly tend to forget or take for granted.

1. The best things in life are free.

We live in a world where material possessions are highly valued upon vs. the traditional values. To be ‘cool’ and be part of the ‘in crowd’ nowadays meant kids with mobile phones, PSP hanging upon their neck (and sadly, pounding on them while inside the Church), having a Twitter account and stashed with an i-Pod. Kevin’s happiness comprise of swimming, riding the bike, strolling around the village with our pet Kimby, playing with his basketball and hanging out by the swing. I am glad he somehow started liking Hotwheels (thus, the avalanche of cars as gifts last Christmas) and some curiosity on Transformers but he will never trade up his favorite face towels and pillow!

2. A time for everything.

We were so used to having a time table for everything. A checklist. A milestone chart. Kevin defied all those chronicles and timetable. At times, we got worried that may be he would not be able to do the simple routine tasks that most children learn at the first 4 years of life—like eating solid food, using their utensils, writing their name. But Kevin did learn them, one small task at a time, in his on time. He learned to eat solid foods when he was 4 years old. He was never fond of anything too sweet and would rather have soups and a good meal of rice and chicken dish. He can finish 8 glasses a day and except for iced-tea and orange juice, Kevin never drank anything that is unhealthy. This is why he is blessed with strong teeth, clear and smooth skin. He learned to dance and sing, stand still for the flag ceremony and fall in line to wait for his turn. Speech is his biggest challenge but slowly but surely, he began learning to speak and express himself. He can now answer basic questions and has started to master writing his name. He did this despite the fact that the road to get there was not easy for him. When Kevin is at the Church, I know that he knew it is time for praying. I am proud of Kevin now being able to sit through the entire mass without distractions. He is now able to appreciate “study time” and “school time.”

But most importantly, he did it. In his own time. I must admit that coming to terms with his own term was not easy and took years to understand. I had to remind myself often, “in Kevin’s time and in His time”.

3. Putting things into perspective.

The biggest lesson that Kevin thought me is being able to put things into a new perspective. Kevin taught me that nothing much on earth can hurt that bad or stress us out like crazy. My LT once asked me, after getting some unsolicited flack from my earliest board reviews, why I don’t seem moved or didn’t go into tearful bouts, my answer was simple, “nothing will be worth a tear than Kevin.” Sure there are not-so-good days but life goes on and compared to the challenges Kevin goes through, who am I to complain? Complaining will be a waste of time. Kevin taught me, let’s just get on with it and move on.

Thank you Kevin, for 10 meaningful years!