July 27, 2009

Let's Go Surfing!!!!

One of the most fun things I did when I went to Davao last year was pretend to surf. Why pretend? Well, because all I did was play with a surf board hehe. Secondly, there were no waves in Talicud Island. Plus the water was too shallow. So my friend and I worked on standing up on the board.

This August 15-16, Sago of is hosting a Surfing Weekend. Not only is this a great chance to learn how to ride the waves, it is also a charity event for the benefit of WWF-Philippines. The surfing clinic is sponsored by SM and Bico Australia.

I am contemplating trying out the real thing...I signed up for the trip, but let's see if I'm brave enough to actually ride the waves! Wanna join? to continue reading...

Home Safety with ADT.

Not so long ago, I blogged about a home invasion my cousin experienced. It's been several months since their home was robbed in the middle of the night (yes, they were home when it happened) but still, my cousin is plagued by nightmares about what could have happened, especially to their three very young children.

I think that for parents, one of the biggest concerns in the home is not having the nicest things, but to provide the safest home for their kids possible. From baby proofing outlets and cabinets to finding a good security alarm system, kids' safety is definitely key. They have started educating their children about how to escape should their be a fire and have even had done several fire drills. Also, they have posted emergency numbers beside the telephone and by the refrigerator. They even placed it within the kids' eye range.

Since the home invasion, my cousin has tried a variety of alarm systems and has yet to find one that suits their needs perfectly. Perhaps something like ADT in Floral Park. Having these systems are not only deterrents to home invasions but actually effective ways of protecting themselves as ADT systems offer 24/7 monitoring and quick emergency responses. What's best is that its simple, which, in my opinion, is great when there are kids around. to continue reading...

There's Something Wrong With Esther....An Orphan Review

I have always been a big fan of psychological thrillers and suspense movies. There's something about the twisted tale of the demented human psyche that fascinates me. Besides romantic chick flicks, this genre is definitely one that I don't miss out on. From the time I saw the billboards in Edsa and teasers of the movie Orphan, I immediately knew I wanted to see it. I was definitely not disappointed!!!

The story revolves around an emotionally wounded family who is struggling to make sense of life after the tragic loss of an anticipated third child, who was stillborn. The couple, Kate (played by Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard), then decided to adopt a child in an attempt to regain a sense of normalcy to their strained relationship. They welcome to their family Esther, an adorable, talented and extraordinary 9-year old. Then trouble begins when Kate realizes something is wrong with Esther... I won't ruin the story for you but I hope I peaked your curiousity enough to want to go see it.

The movie went beyond just a typical psychological thriller to a full-fledged horror flick, minus all the ghoulish gory. I liked how the director fooled the audience repeatedly by making so many scenes to appear like a typical horror film with a different twist in the end. I could hear the audience gasp audibly every time the music swelled in anticipation of the shocker!

What I liked best about the film is how it really kept me at the edge of my seat for the entire time and despite me thinking "I know what will happen next" I was always proven wrong! Twelve year old Isabelle Fuhrman gave an outstanding performance as the mysterious lead character. Watching her reminded me of the very young Dakota Fanning's performance in the movie I am Sam. She was that captivating. Another extremely laudible performance was that given by eight year old Aryana Engineer who played the couple's young daughter, Max, who was profoundly deaf. Aryana, who happens to be hearing impaired and fluent in sign language and lip reading, showed amazing talent. I could really see the fear in her eyes and her emotions were so raw and real.

Orphan is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra ("House of Wax") based on the screenplay by David Leslie Johnson and story by Alex Mace and is released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Orphan opens on July 29 in your local theaters. GO SEE IT!!!

Suffice it to say I LOVED this movie. A big thank you goes out to Warner Bros. Pictures for the invites to the special screening of the flick. to continue reading...

July 26, 2009

My Favorite Book.

It's been a long time since I wrote the article I appended here, but up to now, Shel Silverstein's "The Missing Piece" is still my favorite book. Why? It is a constant reminder of how to live and love life despite my personal imperfections. So when given the chance to re-read my entry (it was asked in a contest hosted by Frances in Topaz Horizon sponsored by I did not hesitate to share once more why I love this book.

Last Sunday, May 6, my essay was chosen as the weekly winner of Philippine Star and National Bookstore's "My life as a book" contest. To those who couldn't access the link, here's a post of my entry ;-)
No Longer Missing the Missing Piece

As a preschool teacher I have used many books to teach young children important lessons. From the basics such as the days of the week with Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to life lessons like embracing one’s uniqueness with stories like Leo Leonni’s Swimmy and the importance of sharing with Markus Pfisters’ The Rainbow Fish, the books I read to my kids made values more than just an idea. Rather, these life lessons became real to them, in words they understood.

It was no surprise that when I started teaching psychology at the undergraduate level, I took with me stories such as The Giving Tree, Seven Blind Mice and William’s Doll. While my older audience initially scoffed at the thought of their instructor story-telling, they quickly changed their minds. From neuroanatomy to human development and social norms, the once technical concepts became facts they actually remembered.

If my life were a book, it would definitely be a children’s book, not too long, not too short, colorful and simple yet full of lessons that matter most. If there was one, however, that most represents my life, it would be The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein.

Growing up I always used to feel that my life would be so much better if only I had the missing piece of myself that would have completed me. Very much like the Circle who couldn’t go places quickly because he had a part missing in the story, I felt like there was something wrong with me, that there was something missing which was holding me back from being the best possible me.

While I cannot say I had a bad childhood nor can claim no good opportunities came my way, I always had a nagging feeling that there was something more, that there was a life out there that I did not have because I was not “perfect”. I felt that if only I was prettier and thinner, or perhaps smarter, life would be so much better. I even believed that if only my parents were still together, everything would be great.

In my fantasies I imagined finding what it was that I was missing. I’d close my eyes and live in a make-believe world where I was a princess who knew no sorrow, pain or longing. When morning came, I held on to my dream and tried to make it reality by filling the void I felt with things I thought should be there.
In my quest to find it, I came across different people, places and things that looked like it would fill the vacuum and make me whole. Like the wedges the Circle in the story picked up, these pieces were supposed to complete me. So that’s what I did: I took on these roles, responsibilities and wrappings with the fervent belief that with my missing piece found, I’d be okay.
However, not all these pieces fit perfectly. Nonetheless, I tried to make them fit. After all, you make do with what you’ve got right?

Once I picked up the “be-the-best” piece. This piece held the belief that being the best at something would make me happy, I strove to be in the honor’s list and to have the nicest things in class, and to be everyone’s best friend. However, that didn’t fit right. While I was proud of my accomplishments and recognitions, I grew so tired of trying to outdo myself. With the resolve that I do not need to be the best but to just do my best I let it go.
Being a true-blue daddy’s girl, I used to feel that with him around, I’d be whole. So at thirteen, I decided to live with him in the States. I even got a job and earned money a thirteen-year-old in Manila would never be able to. The shopping, the freedom, and the independence…that was great! But then it was too much for the adolescent-me to handle. Pretty soon that wedge felt overwhelmingly large and I was consumed by it. So I took it off, called my mom and came home.
Back in Manila, I decided to take on the role of the family caretaker: the responsible one and the one who took charge of everything. I went out of my way to provide for my siblings in all possible ways. I took care of my lolo as his health failed and spent many Sundays by his side watching basketball while tending to his needs. But when lolo died and my brother’s stopped needing me, the hole returned and I was left with that lost feeling again.

So I tried filling that empty space with lots of nice things, from beautiful clothes to the coolest trends. When Sweet Valley High was the teen Bible, I had a complete set. Before the cellphone era, I was one of the first to get my own pager. I did love all my nice things, however, these things didn’t love me back.

One day, I finally found it. I was finally whole! The funny thing is, I found it just as I stopped looking for it. Out of the blue, I found it there lying in the strangest place: my doctor’s clinic. At first I ignored it, denied I wanted to try it on and went on with life as I knew it. Eventually I caved and tried on that wedge which, to my surprise, fit perfectly. With newfound confidence, I went off and loved every moment of it. Life was good! And yes, I was perfect! I lost eighty pounds, got a new job I loved, went to graduate school and aced it. I even made amends with my father. More so I finally felt secure enough to let my guard down and let others see the real me. To top it off, I fell madly in love with a guy I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. For once in my life, I felt complete.

Now that I was whole, the world seemed brighter. I was finally traveling at speeds once unknown and seeing sights once unseen.

The trouble with speed, however, is it leaves no room for control. No time to, as the Circle puts it, stop and smell the roses. Soon, the values and beliefs I held on to began to slip away. I never realized that all the time I thought something was missing I was enjoying a beautiful life. I got so caught up with what wasn’t there that I didn’t appreciate what was actually there.

In the end, the piece I thought had been perfect was actually not. By the time I knew it, though, it was too late. It was stuck and I was going too fast. I lost touch of my thoughts, feelings, and most importantly, to what was essential. I began to do things I swore I wouldn’t, like attach my worth to someone else. My sense of happiness and identity became correlated to a phone call or a text message, or what people thought about me. Worst of all, I suddenly did not know who I was anymore.
It was difficult to let go of that piece, for it seemed to be so right. But eventually I had to. And it was when I gave it up that I realized that I was okay just the way I was. Maybe there wasn’t really a “perfect” me, but a “me” that was perfect. With that, I embraced my being incomplete…from not being thin and pretty enough, to not knowing all the answers, and to still not having a husband, the two and a half children, a station wagon and a house with a white picket fence. It was only then that I truly understood what being whole meant: it wasn’t having all my pieces together; it came with loving what I’ve got right now. It isn’t always easy, I admit. Times still do come when the feeling creeps up, but that’s what life is about right?

And so if my life were a book, it would be amongst my favorite authors in the kiddie section, picked up by preschool teachers just like me. Underneath a brightly colored cover with big, animated drawings, my story will hold it’s own lesson, encrypted in simple text to be read during story time. While they underlying values may not immediately be grasped at age four or five, my story will hold values they will take with them for the rest of their lives. After all, is really where all life’s lessons are truly learned: in kindergarten. to continue reading...

July 22, 2009

Five Things I'll Never Understand about People.

There are a lot of things in this world I don't understand, but given my teaching and psych background, I'd like to think people wouldn't be on that list of things I don't understand. However, more and more each day I'm made to remember things I don't get. So I made a list:

1. I don't understand why people honk their horns or flash their lights at you when you're stopped in a traffic light.

2. I don't get why people try to walk in to an elevator at the ground floor without letting people exit first.

3. Still with elevators, I don't understand why people who are standing by the elevator door refuse to move when you try to get out.

4. I don't understand why people step on toilet bowls.

5. I don't understand why people cannot follow simple traffic rules. to continue reading...

July 21, 2009

Home Improvement DIY Style.

When I was younger, one of my favorite television shows was Home Improvement. It starred Tim Allen and the then very young and cute Jonathan Taylor Thomas. The sitcom revolved around a DIY guy who starred in a show about making home improvements on your own. Since then, I developed a love-hate relationship with DIY hardware and the like. To be fair, my mother and sister are much better with tools and stuff, but I love building those desk sets and bookshelves on my own.

Now that I'm running a house almost all on my own, I've learned to find ways to make minor repairs and improvements, be it with changing light bulbs and simple fixtures and appliances around the kitchen. I suppose being a relatively tech savvy helps a whole lot too, as it has really given me home improvement strategies at the tip of my fingertips. By simply searching for on the net, I not only get prices but also product reviews and tips and techniques in my home repairs. There is one thing, however, I'm not ready to venture in: electrical work. This of course includes HVAC repairs, installments or even cleaning...I may just leave that to the pros for now. But give me some time, I may change my mind! to continue reading...

July 19, 2009

Tools For a Tan.

Being the big beach fan that I am, I am always in search of a good products to use while I bask in the sun's glow. I have to admit, however, that I am not so much of a fan of sunblock because I like getting a tan but because I know how bad the sun is for my skin, I always use some to protect me from harmful UV rays...then I just put some tanning oil to complement the sunblock!

Recently, a friend of mine gave me a tube of this Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Complete UV Waterlight Lotion SPF50+ to try. I gladly obliged because I have heard about Neutrogena products but have not really gotten myself to invest in it because I have a whole bunch of other sunblocks at home. It came just in time for my trip to Anvaya Cove too!

So what did I think of it? I liked it. In a scale from 1-10, 10 being I'd most likely use it again, I'd give it an 8. What I liked best about it is the greaseless feel it had and right after applying it, I didn't feel like I had any sunblock at all. Unlike other products, it didn't sting, especially on the face. I applied it only once during the day and even if it was quite hot, it protected me well. So well, in fact, that despite my tanning oil, I didn't get all dark and toasty the way I like it. I suppose that's a good thing!!! The only thing I wish it had was a more "beachy" smell! I kinda like my sunblock smelling like sunblock, so this almost unscented version kinda didn't give that.

Check out the NeutrogenaUltra Sheer Complete UV Waterlight Lotion SPF 50+ at your leading department store and supermarket. A tube sells at around Php 460.00 to continue reading...

Hooked on the Internet

I recently guested in a television show where we discussed Facebook and internet addiction. It got me to thinking about my own personal internet habits. Do you think you're hooked on the net? to continue reading...

July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

© 2009 Warner Bros. Ent.
Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R.

Harry Potter characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Ent.

The long wait is finally over! The latest installment of the critically acclaimed Harry Potter series opened in cinemas worldwide yesterday, July 16, 2009. Like many, I eagerly awaited the release of the film. Thank you to Warner Bros. International for the red carpet premiere held in the IMAX theater of SM Mall of Asia!

Fellow bloggers, Howarts afficionado, and members of the press and media were treated to a spectacular show, made even more special with the 3D opening sequence of the film. It was my first time to watch a movie in IMAX, and I have to admit, my criticisms (many of which included the discussion on whether the fees were worth it or not) were quieted finally. I loved the seats in the theater, as it was super comfortable! The experiene was really a "see more, feel more, hear more" one!

I will not offer any spoilers or statements about the storyline, per se, so as not to ruin the film for those still to watch it. I will say, however, that the cinematography and special effects, as always, were fantastic. The grandiouse Hogwarts school was once again captivating. Given that I have not yet read the series (yes, I am one of the few who have yet to read it!), I was often left in a quandry as I felt something was missing. Thankfully I had seen all other films, which allowed me to make good sense of the story. I did feel a little bit more somber by the end of the film, feeling somewhat bitin because unlike most other stories and films, I did not leave with the light and happy feeling. In many ways, this has set up the stage for anticipating the last two films... to continue reading...

More than Just Watching TV.

Just the other day I read a post about DIRECT TV being launched in our area. I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to shift from regular cable service to this Satellite TV Service, especially with the whole digital technology improvements nowadays. When I was in a long car ride with my nephews not too long ago, they talked incessantly of how much their tv service was better than what I get here, which peaked my curiosity. I used to think it was just the same thing, but after listening, reading and trying to understand the difference between Directv vs. dish or cable, I kinda got sold. I suppose the next home investment I should make is for an HDTV, wouldn't you think?!? to continue reading...

July 14, 2009

You’re the 1, Goldilocks!

Coming from a large, extended, and often enmeshed family, there was always something to celebrate. From birthdays to graduations, baptisms, weddings and reunions, the Saenz clan definitely got together a lot. And of course, all of these occasions were filled with lots and lots of food! Even though I come from a family of good cooks, we always bought our desserts, and trust me, we'd have lots of it on any gathering! Most of the time, that familiar blue and yellow box from Goldilocks would sit at the middle of the table, just waiting for us to sink our sweet teeth into it! Even ordinary days would hold a treat from Goldilocks, as my lola always made sure there was something to eat in the pantry whenever anyone of us dropped by.

However, if there is I miss most about those days, it is spending lazy Sunday afternoons with my Lolo enjoying our favorite treats from Goldilocks. We spent many an afternoon watching basketball games on television, him lounging in his lazy boy and me curled up in the bed beside him munching on a bag of Goldilocks Caramel Popcorn. I still remember how it was packaged back a thick somewhat opaque plastic bag with the customary blue lines and signature of Goldilocks. He didn't like it that much, because it was sweet, but he always made sure to ask my lola or my mom to make sure that there was a pack available for our Sunday rituals. Every once in a while, I drop by the branch here in President's Avenue in BF Homes on my way to visit my lolo's gravesite and just sit there and remember how we were when he was when he was alive.

Another favorite treat of ours is the Cathedral Window. Because Lolo was diabetic at the latter part of his life, we had to cut down on sweet treats but he'd always make pasimple and have some of this. My lolo liked it so much I attempted to learn how to make it, but for some reason, I could never get it to taste right, perhaps because I tried to not use sugar or use the sugar-free jell-o's available. I remember how I had tried to trick him into thinking what he was eating was from Goldilocks, but because it didn't taste and "feel" right, he saw right through it!

You're the one the 1 Goldilocks because like a big hug just when you need it, you're always there to bring comfort and joy to any moment. Thank you for filling my heart with fond memories of bonding with my favorite person, my hero and idol, my Lolo. When the time comes for me to get married, I hope to be cutting this cake and making new memories and carrying out more traditions with my own family :-)

pastry and cake images from the Goldilocks Website. to continue reading...

July 11, 2009

A Pissy Morning Treat.

I went to bed in a bad mood and woke up with an even worse one, despite the fact that I've been looking forward to today. I'm trying desperately to get centered and to let it go but all I feel right now is like crying...bawling to be precise. So since I was early for my appointment, I decided to swing by Starbucks for breakfast and ended up treating myself to a tumbler for my collection. In the end, however, I am still pissy. It reminded me all of a sudden about an important lesson I learned in therapy - I have to keep my feelings in check, honor them and allow it, and not shop or eat to cover it up. Too late now. to continue reading...

July 10, 2009

Kids with Glasses: Geeks no More!!!

When I was in the third grade, I lost my prescription eyeglasses. Those days I wore glasses due to astigmatism but thankfully, it's gone now. I remember, however, how upset my mother was because the pair she had gotten for me cost roughly Php 3,000 or $75.00. And yes, like most children, that wasn't the first and only pair I had lost. Perhaps if she had gotten me $ 8 Rx eyeglasses, she wouldn't have gotten as upset as she did.

As a teacher, I have dealt with children who wear glasses in class and I have more than once, set aside a pair of glasses that my kids had left behind. A few times, however, these glasses were damaged or broken. I'm sure their parents were a bit upset as they needed to go get them replaced. Lucky for them online shopping is such a craze now and great deals are literally at their fingertips. I would suggest they check out Zenni Optical on TV!!! That way they can get a good deal to replace the lost glasses at affordable prices. If I were to choose one for a little girl, I definitely would go for this!!! Isn't it adorable?!? With frames like these bullies can no longer call kids with glasses geeks! High Five to Zenni Optical :-) to continue reading...

Photography Class

Yes, yet another thing I've gotten myself into that is taking away time from my supposed thesis. Tomorrow I am attending my first ever photography class, and I am so excited!!! It's been an amazing two weeks exploring my Nikon D40 but the dyslexic and lazy me hates reading the manual so I decided to sign up for a class. This, I am hoping, will be a better option for me especially since I'm more of a hands-on learner.

The class will be held tomorrow at 11 in my alma mater, UP Diliman. Check out for more info! to continue reading...

UAAP Season 72!

Tomorrow marks the opening of the latest UAAP Season! I have to admit, even though I'm not an athlete, this is something I often find myself looking forward to. I don't often make the effort to go watch it live though! I hope this year I get to watch even one game, just so I can take photos hehehe. to continue reading...

July 7, 2009

Weekend at Anvaya

I spent this weekend out of town :-) You gotta love it! Here's the latest addition to my collection of corals. Sometimes I wish I could just move to a quiet beach town. I love how being out in that kind of an environment soothes my soul. However, I think I would miss the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. One important consideration for me is whether Direct TV service would be available if I do move. It may be a silly or trivial thing, but it's comforting to have the familiarity and company of Directv, wouldn't you agree? I think it will help the transition easy for one.

Nonetheless, if I were to choose a state to move to, it would definitely be one where I'm close to the waters. Perhaps I can consider something like Florida. Other than it being surrounded by beaches, I have to admit watching CSI Miami has peaked my interest in that city. Plus of course, one of my really good friends has just moved there...hmmm..lemme go check if she's got Direct TV in FL! to continue reading...

July 3, 2009

What's Your Dream Car?

I'm sure when you're asked this question, images of Ferrari's, BMW's and the like come to mind. However, let me put a qualifier to that statement here: I'm not talking about those super duper fancy cars or what, but given your present financial capacity and the practical reality of today, what car would you consider getting now and why? I faced this question not too long ago as I tried to figure out what car to get to replace my old one that had died on me. I considered models such as the Toyota Yaris or perhaps some kind of a hybrid like those that Dodge makes. Besides the price tag (don't we all have to consider this first and foremost?!?) I was thinking about how important it is to get a car that gets good mileage, is fuel efficient and yet environmentally friendly. It's too bad though that these aren't easily available here in the Philippines. Nonetheless, it is still nice to look, right?

As I asked around, many suggested getting a Honda, mainly because of it's said to be a smooth drive, which honestly I didn't understand (but then again, I guess I won't understand because I personally have not driven a Honda before) but I kinda like their big cars, such as the Honda Pilot or Honda Element. They seem to be good options for out-of-town trips that I love taking :-) Sadly, though, besides them not being available locally, it is way out of my budget, even in my dreams. Sigh. to continue reading...


I'm so looking forward to the upcoming weekend....the family and I are off to Anvaya Cove and I can't wait to practice shooting :-) I am hoping to get some great shots and to be able to get a better handle on my new camera. WEEEE!!!!! to continue reading...

July 1, 2009

Car Troubles.

Last month, my car's windshield cracked....yesterday, the wipers decided to die on me! What makes it even worse, it happened in the middle of a sudden rain fall. was raining. WAAAAHHH!!!! It's a good thing I found the Best Auto Insurance that I could afford, thus saving me a bundle on car repairs. Nonetheless, it still is a major hassle to have to go through having it repaired and all. to continue reading...

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