Monday, November 26, 2012

Mental Allergy (ie, It's All in the Mind)

I can name at least 3 things that I'm mentally allergic to.   I am limiting this list to non-living entities because if I start ranting and raving about types of people (and okay, movies) I'm allergic to, I might get stoned to death, so let us not go there.... for now.

The first two objects are actually foodstuff.  My mental allergy stemmed from the following elements -- food that I actually ate when I was very young (between 5-6 years old), situation that involved sickness (fever, malaise-stuff that kids go through..) and a physical reaction moments after eating the blasted thing.  Am trying not to be graphic here so I hope you get the drift.

One of them was chico (the fruit, also called Saponilla, thanks to Google).  I recall crying my lungs out after the horror of it all.  After that episode, I swear that I can never, ever, ever, ever look, and moreso, attempt to taste the poor fruit.  Until this very day.  I cringe when I see it.  Unless you really hate me, don't bring this near me ever.

The other one was the apple pie. The boxed variety that was introduced in early 80s via a rising foreign fast food joint.  My father bought it as a pasalubong one weekend.  Never tried it again (I am omitting the details).  It took years and years before I overcome the anxiety of having to get gastronomically acquianted again with any apple pie.  I made peace with the said apple pie but I prefer the traditonally baked ones.

Mental allergy is mostly a state of mind rather than an actual physiological reaction.  It involves anxiety, palpitation, stress, name it.  Probably the same feelings induced when you are actually in love but in this case, you happen to hate it.  And because the brain is quite powerful, the mental impact is strong enough to obliterate reason.  And just like the usual allergies, it does leave you with funny reactions, mentally speaking.  If I do a reverse comparison, my mental allergy to those foods has the same strength (but in reverse) as the addiction of people young and old to the Twilight series.

I also grew up having physiological allergies.  I am allergic to seafoods (shrimps and crabs were the worse) and I share this with a sibling as well.  Unfortunately, my son inherited this allergy too.  I was able to overcome this only after giving birth to two children.  I don't know if those events are related but all I knew was that the allergy disappeared only after the second baby.  Some never outgrow of the allergy so I consider myself lucky to be able to enjoy chili crab and cereal prawns now. I am also allergic to detergents but this did not excuse me from having to wash clothes or wash the dishes (pre-Joy dishwashing liquid era).  I had to wear kitchen gloves.  I also grew out of it later on which is a good thing considering I ended up working with detergents.

I did say I'm allergic to three things.

Lastly, I am (mentally) allergic to the sun.  When we had our first ever beach outing, I stayed too long under the hot summer sun and ended up with sunburn. Not a good sight, believe me.  And ugh! When the old skin started peeling off?  Gross!  I ended up looking like a dark ghost in photographs (I was vain).  My natural color came back but I swore not to repeat this episode ever. 

In my second year of high school (I spent one year in Siena College Taytay after moving from the city to the ultra suburbs), I had a morning class and I would arrive home by noon time.  I don't have enough money to take the tricycle ride from the main highway to our home so I will have to walk for 500 meters or so.  I carried an umbrella every single day.  The non-folding variety, even though it was a nuisance.  In my first year in college, I carried an umbrella as well (folding one) even though the university and my dormitory was literally next to each other.

So now, while I have kids who love the beach, you can only make me swim when it's overcast and close to sunset.  Any photograph under the sun is a concession on my part (and I've slathered tons of sunblock prior to that).  Given the amount of ultraviolet rays these days, you are out of your mind to actually desire sun exposure.  And it is incredibly ageing.  So nope.

The irony of life is that while my allergy to the sun is probably all in my mind, it ended up that my daughter who love the beach did have a real allergy against sun exposure.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Year Older

This is a very very very late blog post.

I have forgotten to upload my birthday blog early this year. That day was a literal chaos.  One of our production plant had a fire incident the night before and so the day started amidst a flurry of emergency meetings and conference calls left and right.  We were huddled the entire day in what we called the situation room.  And uncannily, three of us who were meeting and talking together the whole day, were wearing black! 

I am not really big on (my) birthdays. Often, it is a quiet family celebration over dinner. I never needed a flashy, fancy celebration.  Just being alive and happy, surrounded by few but important people in my life, is enough to be thankful for and I keep it simple as that.

I am also grateful for friends at work who made it extra special and ensured that I will not be spending my birthday boxed up in the "situation room" over soda and takeaway sandwich (my go-to meal if I had to work over lunch).  Or worse, missing your lunch during your birthday. Which happened to me three (or four) birthdays ago!  Not by choice.

So they cajoled me into having a Japanese lunch.
The SNO Team, the PS lunch regulars

But being a certified sweet tooth, I did enjoy so much the Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting.  It's a neck to neck favorite alongside a mean Chocolate Cake. 

My Birthday Carrot Cake

I left a bit later than usual that day, still huffing and puffing when I arrived home for the family birthday dinner, with all my favorite dishes cooked up by my better half, as requested!

And somewhere in the back of my mind, hoping that the next birthday would be a more 'regular' day than it has been.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kyla's First Holy Communion

It was a special day for our daughter Kyla.   It was the day she will be receiving her First Holy Communion.  I'd say special and meaningful. Unlike me who grew up and attended an all girls Catholic school where First Holy Communion is part of the second graders Christian living or  religious education, from where we live, the First Holy Communion is a privilege to be earned and not an automatic bestowal that comes with a certain age.

Kyla attends a non-sectorial, non-religous affiliated international school.  In this setting, raising morally upright, God-loving children lies fully in the parents' responsibility.  And this is not just a matter of providing religous education or catechism, but at the end of the day, walking the talk and giving your children an exemplary model of what it means to know and love God.

Although we have been attending Sunday mass, we learned that to prepare for First Holy Communion, children are required to attend catechism every Sunday to help them prepare for receiving the Sacrament of Contrition and Holy Communion. 

We have come to meet the catechists in the Our Lady of Lourdes Church who leads the Sunday catechism class for children, mostly volunteers that include the elderly ladies who dedicate significant time of their life in the service of the church and yound men and women who teach catechism to children.

Children are allowed to receive First Holy Communion only when they are ready and demonstrate maturity in understanding what it truly meant to receive Christ and participate fully in the Sunday mass.  Incidentally, there is only one window every year for First Holy Communicants to receive this sacrament.

We are thankful that after only a few months of catechism class, Kyla was ready for First Holy Communion. She loved her catechism sessions so much that she continued to attend the Sunday classes before hearing the Sunday mass at church.

Seeing our little girl dressed in girly white dress and veil also poignantly remind us that she is, after all, no longer a baby but growing into a graceful, elegant young lady soon.   And we pray that she grow up continuing to have the love of Christ in her heart.   In the end, it is all that truly matters in this life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is Singapore's newest attraction at the Marina Bay Promontory area.  Imagine yourself in a vast sprawling garden that is tucked in the middle of a bustling metropolis. This is also interconnected and directly accessible from the Marina Bay Sands itself.  Here is a pictorial tour of the Gardens...

A newly constructed brideway from MBS connects to the Gardens

Gardens by the Bay features a diverse range of plant life from southeast asia as well as from the world's four corners. There are at least seven main attraction within Gardens by the Bay.  The main entrance opens to the Dragon Fly Lake.

Find the Dragon fly...

The Supertrees are a dramatical vertical plant diplays and you will find several of those within the Gardens. These are interconnected by the OCBC Skyway. Tickets are also required for entrance and be prepared to queue.  At nighttime, the Supertrees come to life with a light and sound show!

The Supertree Grove

OCBC Skyway interconnects the Supertrees

Tall and Majestic Supertree

Dine in Style in the Supertree Dining

Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are housed within the two cooled conservatories. Tickets are required for entrance. Be prepared to queue and wait though during busy days.

One of the two Cooled Conservatories.

A view of the conservatories from the elevated deck

If you are fit for long walks, try exploring the Heritage Gardens and World of Plants. These are a collection of six gardens. I started to have an appreciation of tropical rainforest tours after joining my daughter's exposure trips at the Singapore Zoo.

Explore the garden in style via Garden Cruiser tram's 25-minute tour. This will take you from the Dragofly Lake and around the picturesque perimeter of the Gardens.

View of the lake from another side

Gardens galore and long walks make a peaceful afternoon.
See the Singapore Flyer at the horizon.

Gardens by the Bay also got your tummy's covered, from fine dining, seafood restaurant, coffee shop or fast food fare.  Or simply, bring your own picnic basket and blanket and enjoy the afternoon sun sprawled across the lawns.

If you the mere sight of greens and colorful flora brings you a sense of wonder and peace, this is the place for you.  I liked the idea of taking an afternoon stroll in one of the gardens. We found this bench in one of the parks and breeze had a nice, cool feeling as we watch the sunset lurking behind the skytrees. Quite a day.

Rare view of City Sunset behind the Supertrees