Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bloggers' Survival Kit

People are amazed at how I manage to maintain a blog when in fact they receive work emails from me at an unholy our of the day. I can catch a whiff of sarcasm somewhere somehow in few exceptional times when I get those questions... but hey, life is too short so let me enjoy the one thing I do that I am happiest about. Writing.

Blogging is not an 'effort' at all for me. It's a publicized soliloquy. It is like talking to oneself really and then writing all about it. My blogs doesnt take me more than 10 minutes to write. Finding the right picture and uploading them is actually longer. One of my top 10 blogs, believe it or not but I wrote it 10 minutes before my conference call that I took late night at home, simply because the memory of an event suddenly flashed back to me like a light bulb moment! (see "The Living and the Dead")

For Wannabe Bloggers, here are the basic survival kit guide....

1. A lightweight laptop. One that you can lug-around while travelling so you can update and upload blogs in jiffy. I bought a 10.1" laptop for blogging purposes. Must have bluetooth, wifi capability. You can also do the same nowadays via Tablets and Smartphones but I find the touchpad very cumbersome. If your thoughts flow fast enough, you have to be able to write faster. Can't do that in my phone.

2. Camera and card reader. Pictures paint a thousand word and blogging is publishing so it is always good to have visuals. I always bring a camera with me for those 'blog-worthy' moments and places, and you can immediately upload your pictures. New laptops have built in card readers already though which is a lot convenient. camphone with hi-res pictures are good alternative.

3. Prepaid Mobile Internet when travelling. Or go to any spot with free Wifi. I was able to write a new entry while waiting for my flight. Or connect via your smartphones. Figure it out. Of course, doing it from your home office is simpler.

4. Your creative juices. The real joy about blogs is that it is really effortless. You see something interesting and you write about it. An idea passes by and you capture the essence of the thought before it fleetingly disappears.

Like right now. Me and this blog entry. Pictures to follow later. My 10-minutes worth.

Our Kokeshi Dolls Collections

Our Kokeshi Tribe (and the Mini Me at far right)

I wasn't really into collecting novelty trinkets until recently. We started collecting Kokeshi Dolls. I like to put it as "we" meaning Kyla and I but I guess I'm the one who is more into it.

Kokeshi Dolls are sold at most Precious Thots outlets here and they have a wide variety of assortment of dolls. I call it the small-medium-large-extra large and Ninja edition. They also have key chains and knick knacks like make-up kit (I bought two), stationeries, ID holder, purses etc.

I decided to Google the origins of Kokeshi and this is what I found...

Kokeshi dolls date back as hand carved dolls from wood for the farmers' children in Japan. It evolved as colorful, themed-wooden dolls that we know today. Each doll is bestowed a name and represents core values and wisdom. I have one original Japan-made Kokeshi Doll from Tokyo. My youngest sister bought this in Japan during the same week when the earthquake rocked Sendai.
An Original Kokeshi Doll from Tokyo, Japan

Friday, April 15, 2011

When Wishes Come True

I received the "Daruma Doll" as a gift from friends at work. I have two of them.

These dolls originate from Takasaki, Japan. Also known as a Dharma doll, it is a hollow, round, Japanese doll. These dolls, are typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma). Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement.

Darumas are still usually made of papier-mâché, have a round shape, are hollow, and weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always return to an upright position when tilted over. In English, this roly-poly style is called a "tumbler doll," and in Japanese it is called "okiagari." meaning to get up (oki) and arise (agari). This characteristic has come to symbolize the ability to have success, overcome adversity, and recover from misfortune.

The eyes of Daruma are blank when sold. Monte A. Greer, author of Daruma Eyes, described the "oversized symmetrical round blank white eyes" as a means to keep track of goals or big tasks and motivate them to work to the finish. The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time they see the one-eyed Daruma, they recall the goal.

Way back home in Laguna last year , I actually decided to fill-in one eye of the Daruma doll and silently uttered the "goal" which to me was more of a wish.

My Daruma Doll. One wish granted.
Last March 8, 2011 I was finally able to mark the other eye complete. Of course, it was more than just luck or wishful thinking.... persistence, hard work and consistency was involved. In my heart, i also believed there was an element of Divine Intervention and destiny as well. It was a day our family will never forget for the rest of our lives.

This is indeed THE day.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Road Trip: Weekend at Sentosa

I did promise to write about Sentosa by end-April but as a pleasant surprise, it came too soon!
I was soooo tired and dead to the world so hubby and I decided to treat the family to a weekend at Sentosa to de-stress.

Sentosa was apparently a former fishing village and part of the island is reclaimed land, beautifully transformed into a themed resort. There are several hotel resorts within Sentosa and you can get packages for accomodations and Universal Studio tour. Shangrila being the famous one (and pricey). I learned that Sentosa is actually divided into several distinct themed areas. We were booked at the Hard Rock Hotel (coz the other hotels were unfamiliar to me, but I found they were ok). Kyla thought it was so cool.

Great details in the Rock Themed Hotel!

Iconic Merlion at the Imbiah Point
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The Lake of Dreams is a Kaleidoscopic Sight to behold at night.

On Day 1, we explored the Imbiah Point where you will find the Tiger Sky Tower, Cable Car, Zip Line Adventure, Luge and Skyride, Songs of the Sea, Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, Merlion Point, 4D Magix and CineBlast and many others. Exploring this area will need one day already.

Kevin was a bit nervous going into the Cable Car ride esp. when the accelerators are boosted but overall he was fine. I learned that Kyla isn't a bit bothered by heights.

We wanted to try to Luge Ride but apparently kids 6 y/o and above have to ride alone. Which could be quite risky for Kevin so we figured we'll do this another time.

Kyla and I went crazy over the Candilicious Outlet, as in a world-full of candies. Nuff Said.

We saved Day 2 for the Universal Studio tour. The Iconic Universal Studio "Globe" (aka "Your Official Been There Bragging Right" shot) was actually under renovation (!) so a photo wall will have to do. There are five themed areas named after key blockbuster movies from the Universal Studio and the Hollywood and New York lanes littered with shops and food outlets. The park rides are 100% completed by now so its a great time to go. The Cyclone was quite awesome to behold! There are also plenty of themed cafes in every area so fear not, you'll never go hungry!

You can also catch your favorite (or not) characters and celeb lookalikes around the park for photo-op. I was actually hoping to find Marilyn Monroe or Michael Jackson... And dont worry because they have assistants who can take your family pic and ensure that there is smooth queueing.

The grand finale is the Firework show at the Lake Hollywood which I thought was a blast of an ending. There is something about theme parks that touches me. Theme parks remind me of the good ol' days of my childhood when life was simpler and we have the Fiesta Carnival at the Araneta Center in Cubao as the center of our childhood weekend treat. The sights and sounds of the theme park keeps us forever young at heart. I am sure that our children will also someday look back and find these memories locked in their hearts.

For more pictures, find me at Facebook!

Friday, April 1, 2011


April 1 is the World Autism Awareness Day.

Coincidentally, this marks Kevin's 1st Day at his new 'school' in Singapore. While it is a learning center for his speech therapy, it is simpler in his mind to just call it school. Even if Singapore is such a small island-country, I was amazed to learn the sheer number of Special Schools and Therapy / Learning Centers.

Back in our country, through the active advocation of Autism Society of the Philippines, I believe that the awareness and acceptance for people special needs have improved over the years.

However, it is also true that there will still be pockets of discrimination and misinformation. As parents of a special needs child, we have learned to take in stride the demeaning and condescending stares of people specially during the early years when our son would have a melt down in public places. They wouldn't know of course how difficult it was for a child to not be able to express his needs and be understood.

Not too long ago, I once had a colleague back in Philippines who called a famous media personality's son (a special needs child) as 'abnoy' (colloquial for abnormal) in one our conversation. Whether or not he realized that I am a parent of a special needs child, and that his comment alluded to how I think he sees my son --  I wouldn't know. I looked back at how I felt that moment.

And it wasn't righteousness or anger. I felt sadness. That he couldn't see past the curtain of a person's disability. Or see the beauty or the goodness within that every special child represents - that's why they are called Angels on Earth.

This day is not just a Special Day for all the Special Needs People all over the world- this is also a symbolic day we share with our families, friends, therapists, caregivers, teachers, advocates and professionals-- and the random every day people they meet -- who makes our Angels' world a little bit brighter.. a lot more optimistic and who sees them exactly as our Creator willed them to be. Special.