Baby # 2: Jorge Emmanuel

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was kind of caught unaware. I was actually almost done with my first trimester and had it not been for a trip to the emergency room, I wouldn’t have found out (probably at least until my tummy started showing). I mean, I was busy at work, and my health was (and still is) a big work in progress (thyroid, heart and back problems, among others – hubby even has a running joke that I have a lot of factory defects that he should probably return me to my parents and have me repaired)…
Looked like his older brother’s ultrasound photo.
Better late than never was our motto – did our last minute baby shopping on my 37th week… and didn’t finish until after I gave birth.

…and I wasn’t really planning on having a baby this year. I even planned in January for two out of country trips in 2013 which ended up being right smack in my second trimester and made a really long list of to do’s for the year.

Meet our latest bundle of joy: Jorge Emmanuel.
Yet God had other plans for me and so baby # 2 arrived just in time for the holidays. It was a bit of a bumpy road considering that my migraine attacks this time around were worse than when I was pregnant with Joey, and there were days when I just literally couldn’t get up from the bed. Not to mention there’s this mountain of work I have waiting for me when I get back. 

But you know what? 

Every worry, every pain, every sleepless night, every dent in my poor anaemic wallet, were nothing compared to the joy of seeing our precious little baby boy. Every thing just became worth it.

Georgie’s first ever photo.
My three boys.
On a partially unrelated side note, I honestly can’t comprehend people who say women should be given a choice (regarding abortion), and those who say that only someone with ovaries get to voice an opinion over this matter. They call themselves feminists but who are they kidding? Isn’t that kind of thinking kind of marginalizing the other sex?

Anyway, I am pretty sure I have functioning ovaries somewhere and even if I don’t, here’s my opinion nonetheless.  
And I say, what choice are they talking about? There is NO choice. Because it will always be my children over me. Any other decision to the contrary is just selfishness masked under the (misguided) concept of female empowerment and  (twisted understanding) gender equality, and (false) concerns over women’s health. And let’s not talk population control, shall we? Because arguing down that line is just plain b—s—. And it annoys me no end that the most of the people who are loud proponents of giving women these so-called choices, have not even experienced having a child. So no. Only women, and men, who have had the privilege of not just bringing life, but also raising children, into this world have the right to an opinion. 

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Happy 32nd to me!!!

I am indeed very lucky to be spending and celebrating my birthday out of the country for the second time in a row. Last year was definitely planned, but this year – not so much. My birthday just fell on the dates we were to go to Europe. Yipee!!! 

Anyway, I thought I had a pretty good 2012 but 2013 is turning out to be even better. 

First off, I’m going to be a mom for the second time! It was quite unplanned. I was too worried there would be much to do at work this year and that I wouldn’t be able to devote time and energy to a baby, but God had other plans. I’ve been having a couple of hiccups every now and then relating this pregnancy, mostly relating to my health as I am generally not a very healthy person and my habits of late have worsened everything (sleeping less than five hours, working late, not eating enough and on time – triggered all my allergies and my thyroid problems) but hopefully, all the meds I’m taking should take care of it. And I am getting excited seeing my new bundle of joy later this year (as timing would have it, I am guaranteed a Christmas vacation because of the baby, for the first time in 11 years!!!).
Yellow flowers at the back of the Notre Dame in Paris
Second, well, I was able to finally visit Europe! Just three countries/six cities as we had limited time (not to mention, resources! Hahaha!) but everything was so beautiful.

Late lunch at Le Procope, the oldest cafe in the world. Located in the Latin Quarter in Paris.

Got to try escargots at a traditional French restaurant for my birthday dinner.

Had roasted lamb for dinner.
Lit candles for my two little angels at the cathedral in Brussels.

So I guess I get to cross a few more things off my bucket list. I really have a lot to be thankful for and I feel so blessed. Here’s to the next 32 years!

I’m Back!!!

I’m back!!! I don’t know if anybody missed me while I was on hiatus for the last two or so months (I hope I have some loyal readers out there) but it’s good to be back blogging. 

So… what have I been up to?

Well, my laptop got a virus that made it very hard to upload photos and browse the net. I couldn’t use my office laptop because, well, it’s an office laptop, and I am not that familiar with a Macbook so I was hesitant to blog using hubby’s (for fyi, I am using a trusty Vaio running on Windows). And hubby took his sweet time getting my laptop fixed and by the time he did… well, I just got a little too busy.

And sickly. Been having dreadful migraines (and a panic attack once!) of late so I just lie down whenever I have free time. But more on this later. Trust me, it’s all good, nothing to worry about.

I’ve got a couple of posts lined up so please be patient. Need to sort out the photos first which takes me quite some time. Hope I get it all done today!

Goodbye, 2012! Hellow, 2013!

2012 was a kick-ass year for me.

I got a lot of blessings and opportunities but also encountered a couple of bumps along the way. 

Earlier this year, I was promoted after only one year of being with my present company. It was something I honestly wasn’t expecting – I know I did a lot but it came so soon and so unexpectedly that I was so pleasantly surprised. It felt good to know that people notice and appreciate what I have contributed thus far, and it was that affirmation which really made me so happy and proud. The monetary benefits that came with it were just icing on an otherwise already very big cake. That promotion prompted me to even top 2011. I took on projects and volunteered for tasks because I wanted to prove them right in the promotion. 
I was also fortunate enough to have traveled a couple of times this year. This one rarely happens, given my line of work, plus the fact that Ipe and I have such conflicting schedules that just watching a movie together can be a daunting challenge. I was finally able to fulfill my promise to Joey to take him to HK Disneyland  and I was able to spend an entire week with hubby and our college friends in Ilocos (the longest vacation I had ever!!!). 

Work also presented me with two travels this year. Kind of unheard of in my present job but in any case, I was able to go to HK (again!) and the US, the latter of which I thoroughly enjoyed because I was able to see different places and meet up with my old friend Liz and her hubby.
I also had to exercise my being the first-born child many times this year – that saying “mahirap magpalaki ng magulang” is very true. I don’t know if I’ve acknowledged this so publicly before, but my parents have decided to go their separate ways (or rather, my mom) after thirty years. And being the first-born (my youngest sibling is still in his teens), I had to take on the responsibility of ensuring we still get together every now and then. I had always been the stubborn child, the one who wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I proved this time and again because I knew I was the only one who can demand that our parents meet and talk to each other (yes, I am that hard to resist – if they don’t give in, I hang up the phone and refuse to talk to them,but of course, in moderation and still with respect).

And in doing so, I realized a couple of things about myself, and about things I ought to be focusing on. In no particular order:

a) I like to pretend I’m superwoman, but I am not, and never will be. I wanted to do everything. I was saying yes to a lot of things, that soon I was doing too much work I was working 17-hour shifts everyday. Seriously. At home, I tend to do the same. I would spend my weekends scrubbing the bathroom, mopping the entire house, doing the laundry, cooking, and being a hands-on mom that by the time weekend was through, I was in even more need of rest.

Last minute Christmas tree. We bought this during the last days of November but I only managed to complete the decorations by mid-December. I was just too busy. Still, it turned out to be a very beautiful tree, right?
b) I don’t know how to say no. Well, I do, but in connection with item a), I tend to always say yes. I need to learn to be a bitch sometimes. 

Kick-started the festivities early last Nov 30, with a Christmas party at Buddha Bar, hosted by our big boss.
c) I’m a certified workaholic. I can’t sit still when I’m not working. I don’t like being bored. And I have a short attention span, so I need to have something new all the time. Which is probably the main reason for (a) and (b).

d) There are things that I cannot change and must learn to accept. I will never be able to change my parent’s temperament or mind-set (though I have very well-pointed out the flaws and what needs to be addressed but then, those kinds of things only work in the workplace, not in relationships, where things are always more complicated). I can never please everyone at work, and there will always be people I cannot be friends with.

Had an impromptu Christmas lunch with my co-leads at Top of the Citi mid-December.
e) I need to take care of myself. I was so concentrated on work and other matters that my body soon started giving up on me. I was never a very healthy person to begin with (I have heart, thyroid, and back problems) but I have always managed to “bend” my body to my will. But last November, my skin asthma was triggered again (probably by my travel to the US, where I experienced extreme hot/cold temperatures) and I developed vertigo. The latter, I have been experiencing for quite some time but not being too fond of hospitals, I’ve also been ignoring them for the better part of the year. Until early December, when I started throwing up, at one point, throwing up ten times in a span of three hours until I was so weak I couldn’t even get up from bed. I was forced to go see a doctor twice. Mid-December, I developed a four-day fever which went unchecked coz I didn’t want to spend a day away from work. And towards Christmas, I developed a boil on my leg which again went unchecked until it got infected (gross, if you ask me), painful, and quite inconvenient to walk around. Again, I had to go to the ER twice over the Christmas holiday because of it. Now, my goal is to have all my health problems checked early this year so I can take proper medication. 
Christmas celebration with my P&G friends in Tagaytay – one of the rare occasions I had allowed for some me-time.
f) I need to spend more time with Joey. It dawned on me that I was spending more and more time away from Joey when one day, as I was saying goodbye to go to work, he replied back with “See you tomorrow, mom!” Joey has always been a very sensitive and sweet child, and he must have realized that when I leave for the day, he only gets to see me the day after, when he wakes up. I usually go home in the wee hours of the morning and leave quite early the following day, so I am technically home less than eight hours during weekdays. Now I am aiming to change that. I need to learn to manage my time better, delegate work, and prioritize.

Lunch with Hubby and Joey on the 23rd of December, after my first visit to the emergency room.

g) I miss hanging out with my friends. I haven’t been keeping in touch regularly and I miss them. It’s quite hard when we are working different time zones in different cities but I know it’s not an excuse.

my friends from four companies and ten years ago. Yes, we still meet up from time to time. 🙂

h) Family comes first.

Francisco reunion (hubby’s side)
Hubby playing Santa, handing out the aguinaldo during the reunion.
My family – my brother and sister and her kids, and our parents. I always always make it a point that we still meet up and have family pictures together even if I have to twist and blackmail my parents to do it.
Three generations of women – my lola, my mama and my sister
Impromtu reunion, Nunez family (my side)

I don’t have any wishes for 2013 other than good health and peace of mind for myself, my family, and my friends. But if I am to write them down for posterity (and to force myself to do them, since the whole world know about them), my priorities would be (again, in no order as I am typing this as they come to me):

a) Health. As I mentioned in my realizations above, I will be scheduling my medical tests this month – I need my 2D echo (to monitor my heart defect) and thyroid tests (to monitor my cysts and my hormone levels) done annually but I’ve missed them both last year.

b) Travel. I promised Joey we’d go to Legoland (in Malaysia) for his birthday so I will start scouring for tickets and hotels later this month. If I can manage, I am also aiming for a European vacation with hubby later this year. Oh, and I need to hit the beach. Wasn’t able to last year. 😦

c) Watch more movies and read. Being some sort of movie buff, I had missed far too many movies last year for my own good. And I’ve read so little that I am practically illiterate now. This year, I will try my damnedest to watch at least one movie a week and read one book a month. Oh, and blog more would fall under this goal too. 2012 was the year with the least posts from me and my blog has been gathering dust, with lots of backlog entries forever saved in drafts with nothing but titles on them.

Greeted the new year with a cup of hot milk chocolate. Simple pleasures that make me so happy.
d) Time Management and Prioritization. I am quite proud of the way I manage my time but given that there are more and more things to do, it has become quite challenging. I sometimes find myself at a loss while plotting my calendar at the beginning of the week (I’m OC like that, I have to plot my work for the entire week on the first working day of each week).
e) Spend time with my family. Go out on dates, just me and hubby, something we haven’t been doing lately (our dates are usually of the errand-type), play with Joey and read him the bedtime stories he has been nagging me to read. I miss doing those stuff.

Photo taken by Joey – he likes taking photos and I am thinking of giving him a small camera. Nothing fancy of course, just something he can use every day.

I want to keep my to-do list this year short – all the more so I can concentrate on making sure I am able to accomplish them. No point in setting lofty goals that will just end up as carry-over goals for 2014. And well, it’s only the second day of 2013 – let’s hope and pray this year is even more kick-ass (in a better way) than 2012! Happy new year everyone!

Poor Customer Service at Pao Tsin

Hubby and I went to the grocery a couple of days ago and since it was past noon and we were hungry, we decided to have our lunch at the food court.
Food was okay – I mean, nothing fancy, just your usual food court meals which I sort of miss. I don’t get to eat at food courts anymore coz they’re usually closed by the time hubby and I get off work, or are just plain crowded on weekends. 
One thing I don’t get though is why Pao Tsin, where we ordered two rice meals, a huge bowl of soup, two large drinks, and several dimsums, refused to give us an extra spoon for the soup? And as per the lady manning the counter, we only bought one bowl so she can only give us one spoon. 
WTF?
Is Pao Tsin’s margin that small that they couldn’t afford to give us an extra spoon, even though hubby and I bought enough food for four people (mind you, we bought several servings of dimsim on top of the rice meals)? A plastic spoon couldn’t have cost more than 50 cents.
Talk about poor customer service. It was just plain stupid (pardon the use of this word). Definitely not going back there.

Rainbow Connection

Saw two rainbows during our out of town vacation last week – such a rare occurrence. I rarely see rainbows nowadays and to see two rainbows in two consecutive days?!? Amazing.
Day 1:
The other end of the rainbow

 

Day 2:

The second rainbow I saw was even a first for me – it was my first time (as far as I can remember) to see a full arc! Too bad our car was moving too fast for me to get a decent shot, plus, there were too many cars on the road for me to simply get off our car and take photos like I did on the first day.
Don’t you just love rainbows? To me, they symbolize hope. And what better way to be reminded that good things are to come? 🙂

Christmas 2011

Christmas Party at Republiq – great company though I did get hungry (and my hair smelled realllly bad):

Dinner with Ipe’s high school barkada at SM North…and a photo op at the North Pole-themed Sky Garden:
dessert at this little cafe at the Sky Garden – forgot the name though

The best custaroons ever from my friend Neri. I’ve been wanting to buy these custaroons but I only know of their Eastwood branch, and I am too lazy to go there:

Finally setting up our Christmas tree the day before Christmas. Talk about last minute. Oh, and I did my shopping only last Thursday. I literally dropped from exhaustion. Well, that’s what happens when you work 11 hours straight then shop for four hours straight without even stopping for dinner. Whew.

Christmas Eve mass at the Sta. Ana Church in Taguig, before we started our food giving:

Joey opening his presents. Tons of presents, might I add. Courtesy of doting titos and titas and just about everyone. It helps to be a really sweet and cute little kid. Now I don’t have to buy him any new toys until next Christmas. Hehe.

Going home to my parents’ house and seeing our old dog Britney looking, literally, like a pig. Seriously, did I tell you she suffered s stroke and just flopped on the floor unmoving? And she had to undergo emergency operation coz she couldn’t give birth to her puppy. Papa was beside himself with grief (as in he was breaking down into sobs on the phone when he called me up to tell me Britney was at the vet, haha!). She’s doing fine now, obviously.

Joey with his cousin JC “from the far place” as he calls it. My sister lives in Cavite and works the night shift so we rarely see each other. 

Finally getting a mini-tripod so we can have a decent enough family photo (I still insist on us having a studio pic sometime soon).

Not officially together anymore, but hey, at least we’re all in this picture, right? I’d settle for this photo, for now

At UST

Christmas this year was hectic – we started late, around noon, since we were too tired from all the preparations and food giving the night before. Plus, we had two reunions to go to this year on the same day, and they weren’t exactly right next to each other. Usually, Christmas Day is spent with my side of the family (my father’s side, actually, in Bulacan), as it has been a tradition to hold the family reunion on this day for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, Ipe’s side also decided to bump up their reunion on the same day so you can say we were literally driving all over Bulacan and Metro Manila. But hey, at least we made it. Too bad we were too bummed to make it to my tita’s house in Manila. I would have loved to end the day with her fabulous cooking.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas like I did.

Give Love on Christmas Day

Hubby and I had picked up on my family’s tradition of giving food on Christmas Eve and this is our second year. Nothing fancy: just home-cooked spaghetti and ham sandwiches, cheese and a zesto. But imagine how all these must taste like to people who have nothing to eat.
I don’t have the resources to make this project a daily thing but no one deserves to be hungry and cold on Christmas Eve.

Ready for distribution – our route takes us in front of the BSP, where a lot of homeless families had set up shacks
I am also happy that our friends all agreed to donate instead our exchange gift fund to charity. Really, we have all been so blessed and what’s one less gift, right?

Also, I am posting this not to brag about the good we did for Christmas, but in the hope of maybe inspiring some of you to do the same. Hey, if Ipe and I can feed a couple of families, imagine how many families will not go hungry on such as special night as this if a couple more people do it? It would truly be a Merry Christmas then.

Global English

I have been blogging for two years now and while I rarely read my own blog, I usually cringe when I do – not because I think I have been over sharing (I am very vocal about my life but I always think about what I want to share before I even start writing), but because of the grammatical lapses I keep seeing.
Mistakes which I would never have made when I was younger.
Let me repeat that last bit. Or rather, let me rephrase it for you – my English now is far worse than when I was still a student. It has been deteriorating steadily over the years and hubby could not resist pointing it out to me.
Take note: my English is far from perfect. But it was quite good – not to brag, but I actually got a 99% ranking in my college entrance exam for English. My NEAT and NSAT for English were both 98% and in college, I consistently got the highest grade in our class (even the highest grade given by one professor for the entire batch), so it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about good grammar.
What I find quite ironic is that the decline didn’t start while I was working for local companies, but rather, when I started working for a multinational company six years ago.
There is a recent study by researchers from the Aarhus University about English in a multinational company and they concluded that while employees from the same country feel they speak/write good English, there are often misunderstandings when it comes to communicating with their counterparts in other countries.
These misunderstandings would often result to what is called the ping-pong effect, in some cases, requiring translators to intervene. There may even be times when employees are sent overseas just to discuss face to face. Over time, unresolved issues can become so aggravated that it can and will affect productivity because of the tensions arising from these little misunderstandings.
No wonder – according to an article in the Financial Times year ago, 80% of all interactions in English are actually between non-native speakers. Given that people tend to think first in their native language and translate it to English as they speak/write, you will most certainly get varied interpretations and translations.
Tell me something I don’t already know. In the six years I’ve been employed in a multinational company (more accurately, three multinationals), I have yet to handle a country which has English for its native language. I know firsthand how frustrating it is to send what you feel is a very clear email, only to have replies sent back and forth because your counterpart can’t understand you. There were even times when I had to resort to drawing diagrams and sending this via email just to stress my point; other times, I am left with no choice but to give rhetorical/leading questions so I would just get an unequivocal yes or no.
But what’s worse is when I have to mimic the other parties’ word usage and grammar just to get the job done. I had this contact who kept calling “figures” as “fingers” and I simply gave up correcting her. Situations like this are what contribute to the slow demise of my near-perfect English.
Plus, I seriously the laptop is partly to blame as well. When I was younger, I would prefer using the typewriter or a notebook and pen to write my thoughts and I would be forced to think things through before I write them down because I can’t erase what I have already typewritten.
But with the advent of very affordable laptops (also, you can’t really expect me to carry a typewriter or a bulky notebook), copy/paste has become as easy as breathing. One other thing I am guilty of is changing my mind halfway through a sentence, resulting in sometimes very vague and unrelated statements. Not to mention mismatched tenses and verbs.
I am not expecting the situation to get any better – I still prefer working in a multinational/multicultural environment and I simply cannot give up my laptop. But the least I can do is to practice, practice, practice. From now on, I will simply refuse to revert to simplistic English (or what we Filipinos call “barok English”) just to please or make life easier.
And I will go back to the basics – PEN & PAPER.
Yes, you read that right. And to motivate myself, I got this very cute notebook. Quite perfect for me – gorgeous cover and unlined yellowish paper, which is exactly the way I like it (I hate ruled paper). I’m a sucker for vintage and this one fits the bill. 
Te Nues notebook, Glamour edition with Audrey Hepburn on the cover and side flap:
It’s almost too beautiful to write on – available at Fully Booked
I couldn’t resist putting flower petals. Haha!
 Wish me luck. And do pardon the slips from time to time. I will get my groove back.

Must Love Dogs

I have been constantly nagging the hubby to get me a dog, insisting that one is a necessity for me, not a want. I’m not consistent though, but after our recent trip to Baguio where we saw several St. Bernards posing with tourist, my craving just resurfaced. Hubby doesn’t understand this but having grown up without any dogs, or pets at that, I can’t really blame him. I mean, if you haven’t experienced taking care of one, it would be quite hard to imagine that you can actually care for and love an animal almost, if not as much, as you would any member of your family.


See how the dog would naturally cling to me?


But for me, this is exactly the case. Since the day I was born, I’ve always been around dogs. I can even remember their names: it was Kukot when I was a baby up til I was four, when she died after getting run over by a car. I was young then but it was a very traumatic thing for me, seeing her limping all bloodied across the street and finally dying. Then it was Browny, Kukot’s offspring, and she stayed with us for more than five years. After her, it was TJ, my dog for seven long years, then Yuki and finally, Tiger, my last pet, who also stayed with me for seven years. Aside from my own dogs, we had several other dogs in the house, each belonging to a particular family member; at one point, all five of us in my family had one dog each.
BROWNY
Browny was my first real pet – I was too young to take care of Kukot but with Browny, I can say I grew up with her. She was there for me at night when I couldn’t sleep and she would stay by my feet until I woke up the next day; she would bark excitedly whenever I come home from school or even whenever I look outside the window calling her name.
I have this particular memory of Browny, which happened when I was six or seven years old. Back then, the City Pound in our old neighbourhood was relentless in catching stray dogs and putting them in the pound. Unfortunately, Browny was caught one time – we initially thought she was taken by one of our neighbours who were notorious for catching dogs and eating them (yes, yucky but true. And how I wish I was old enough then to report them to the police; back then, I didn’t know there was a law prohibiting consumption of dog meat. I only knew it was wrong, and unethical to do so. But then, these people I am talking about are fugitives from the law – two of them are known murderers and no one would dare cross them. I did get my sort of revenge many years later, in the form of a legal case but that’s another story altogether). But after a kind neighbour tipped us off that she saw our dog being hauled off by one of the pound’s trucks, my mama and I trudged all the way to the pound on the other side of the Tondo.
I almost missed Browny – the cages were labelled by day, representing the day of the week when they were caught. We started off with Monday but by Wednesday, we were kind of disheartened that of the almost hundred dogs we’ve looked at so far, none even resembled our beloved family dog. I was young but I knew Browny was there, and I broke free from my mom’s hand and ran to the next pen – Thursday. I knew we lost Browny on a Thursday even though my mom had all but given up. I looked as far as I could see (mind you, I could barely see past the waist-high wall and steel bars) but I couldn’t see her familiar brown fur. I remember crying out her name softly, “Browny,” before walking away.
And that was when I heard her loud bark – the unmistakable bark of Browny, magnified ten times with her delight at hearing my voice. I remember the caretaker saying it really was our dog. No denying – all dogs cry out loudly when they hear their masters coming to get them.
Browny stayed with us a couple more years after that, and then she disappeared. We scoured the City Pound as we did before but did not find her. I looked around the neighbourhood to no avail. I knew she was there somewhere – I can hear her howling at night and the next morning, I dared to look inside out neighbour’s gates.
And what I saw was something I never wish to see again: I saw skinned bodies of dogs being flame-grilled. I was so shocked I stood there. I was eight and to see your own dog being burned was not a lovely sight. I wasn’t 100% sure it was her, of course. I was probably five meters away and it was dark and there was no fur on the bodies. But my instincts told me it was her. And I cried myself to sleep that night. And many nights after. I probably wished all sorts of bad luck and karma on our neighbours that day.
TJ
Losing Browny to such a tragic end didn’t deter me from having any more pets but it did teach me to be more careful and watchful. My papa brought home a tiny pup one Sunday night – he had the same brown color, albeit darker and thicker than Browny’s. It was love at first sight.
If Browny was my first real pet, TJ was the perhaps the one I have most memories of. He was a shared pet between myself and my sister, and later on, my brother but everyone knew he was my dog; we must have had other dogs than TJ at the time but they all died too young. TJ lived a healthy eight years, quite short, even when converted to human years it would be around 56 years.
TJ was a smart dog; sometimes, he displayed intelligence that some humans aren’t even capable of. Case in point: if Browny got caught by the City Pound, TJ was AVOIDED by the City Pound. They did try to catch him when he was younger but TJ always managed to break through their nets; several times, he would even run after the truck and gnaw on the nets until all the other dogs are freed. He was a sort of hero among the other askals roaming the streets. Later on, the City Pound guys decided he wasn’t worth their effort and just avoided him even if he was roaming around freely.
Sometimes, TJ would even go out on dates with his “girl friend” (our next-door neighbour’s pet, Disney) and this he did with utmost precision – he would sneak past our gates when my papa would drive to the office or when one of us would go out, and he would run out of sight and come back later in the day with his “girl friend” in tow. When he does something wrong, you can tell by his expression that he is remorseful. He would bow his head and stand in one corner while papa would scold him and he would stay that way until we all fall asleep.
What makes him very endearing was the fact that every morning, he would accompany me and my sister to our school bus and then go back home after we’ve left. It’s quite touching really, and he’s the only dog I know who has ever done that. TJ was probably one of the dogs I was closest to: he was certainly the one I was able to take care of the most as I would often give him a bath when I am not at school and I would spoil him with his favorite chocolate every weekend, taken out of my meager allowance.
However, TJ was also to meet a tragic end, again in the hands of our neighbours. No, he didn’t end up skinned, broiled and eaten. But his end was nevertheless painful to bear as well.
It happened one summer night – call me psychic or what, but I already knew something was wrong when I looked out the window and TJ just looked at me with sad eyes, not even wagging his tail when I called his name. I went to him and hugged him, teary-eyed because he looked so sad and scared. And that was when I saw a suspicious looking torn plastic bag near him. It didn’t even from our house because I swept our yard that day and my mama would kill any of us who dare mess the yard after it has been swept. I never knew what was inside it but knowing how much the thugs in Tondo hate our dog (he once caught a neighbour climbing over our roof, for what reason, I can only guess), I can only imagine it was something lethal to TJ.
Suspicious, I called our other dog and when he didn’t come out of the garage where he usually stays, I panicked and called my papa. That’s when we discovered our younger dog, stiff dead in the garage. And I knew then TJ would meet the same fate.
I couldn’t do anything but hug TJ that night until my parents had to order me to go to sleep. But I didn’t have to wait long – TJ died a few minutes after I went in.
Burying TJ in our garden was probably the saddest day in my life; half my life he’d always been there (I was 14 when he died and he was with us seven years). I didn’t get my own dog for more than four years, overcome with grief.
TIGER
Of course, I got over TJ’s death in time. And when my mama felt I was ready, she asked me to go with her to the pet store and pick out a dog – I went home with a white and furry spitz whom I called Tiger (plus his brother Jimuel which went to my sister).
Tiger was perhaps the family’s favourite pet – he was all sorts of charming and witty. He wouldn’t eat vegetables but liked corned beef. He wouldn’t come near any of us when he’s dirty and always welcomes a bath.
He was the only dog I knew who loved jumping up and down tables and sinks and would prefer sleeping on a rug outside our kitchen door.
And all the neighbourhood dogs feared him and his brother and our third dog, a Belgian Malinese. Even the bigger dogs of our neighbours stayed away from them and walking them one day, I realized why.
As my sister and I were walking the three dogs, a big dog started growling at me. I was scared – he was easily three times bigger than Tiger and we could never have outrun him. But what surprised me was when Tiger faced him off, baring his tiny teeth and growling back. Then all three of our dogs circled the big dog as my sister and I scampered off to safety.
I never knew what happened after we left but I heard the big dog howling in pain back to his house while our three dogs found their way home as well, all looking haughty and proud, the way they do when their ears are all flicked up and their tails raised.
Sometimes, I think Tiger forgets he is a dog. He doesn’t eat dog food; he doesn’t like getting dirty and he likes being hugged and tickled in his ears. And he gets jealous – really, really jealous.
Taken five years ago, while Tiger waits for bath
Perhaps the reason hubby doesn’t want to get a dog is because even after more than two years of dating and visiting me at home, and even living there for half a year after we got married, Tiger never liked him. Tiger would always growl at him. He did try to bribe my dog with chocolates but Tiger was smart – he would come near Ipe and eat the chocolates and when he was done, he’d start growling again.
And he would get in a fighting mode, all ready to attack Ipe when he would see him hugging me or even standing near me – how cute was it to have your dog jealous of your husband? It was funny and endearing and makes me smile just thinking about it now.
I left Tiger in my parent’s house after I got married. He remained my faithful dog until the day he got sick and died of old age.
So you see, my history is littered with dog memories. It’s been almost five and a half years that I have been pet-free; to be more specific, since the day I got married and moved out of the family house. It has been a very long five years which I long to break sometime soon – hubby should expect some heavy nagging in the days to come.