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Mom on the Run

3 Jul

These days, our household’s daily schedule is very regimented, revolving largely around Alphonse’s schedule. Everything is a function of his needs- food, toileting, medications, therapy. I can speak for all of us, my husband and eldest son included, when I say that our personal needs have taken a backseat to his. It’s certainly difficult but we’re not complaining; it’s just the way it needs to be.

Once in a while, however, we allow each other the time to de-stress and relax. Take for example the time two weeks ago when Alex took charge of Alphonse so that my husband and I can catch a late showing of “Wonder Woman.” We must have been one of the last ones in the city to catch the movie (I had read all the reviews by then), but it still turned out to be a great, if harried, date. Or how about last weekend, when my husband gave me an hour of nap time and cared for Alphonse while Alex was with friends? Despite the lack of extra manpower to aid us, our household continues to function because we all try to give more than, if not as much as, we take, each one of us mindful of the others’ needs. 

Now, one of the things I wanted to do for my birthday last month was to go to the salon for a pampering. Unfortunately, long hours at the salon are now impossible to fit in our schedule, so we had to improvise on an alternative. Instead of getting the full service at the salon, which would not only be time consuming but expensive as well, I split the process  into easier, more manageable, and less costly steps. This way, I don’t stay too far and too long from Alphonse, and I save a few bucks in the process.

I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for the last 20 years, and Rose of David’s Salon SM North EDSA Annex is an expert when it comes to cutting my hair the way I like it. Thus, the hair cut is nonnegotiable and would have to be done by Rose, no ifs or buts. As for hair color, since I like DIYs and I’ve been doing my own color for years, I decided to find an easy alternative.

For those who want a quick, no-frills, affordable hair color service, I discovered that nothing beats the “free application with purchase” service. In the Northern mall landscape, Landmark TriNoma offers this regularly, as opposed to other malls with limited time promotions. It has even provided a dedicated area called The Lounge for patrons who may want to avail of the service, with personnel trained and employed by the hair color companies manning the section.


The only requirement to avail of the service is that the hair color (Revlon at P394.75, for example) must be purchased on the same day as the service. Patrons must keep their receipt and submit it for registration. They are also required to sign a short waiver form stating they have used the product previously and have done a skin test. 

Yes, this is me, with three months of gray hair !


The Lounge can accommodate 5 clients at once and usually, there are enough personnel to keep the line moving. There is a small seating area beside it for clients waiting for their turn. Those who don’t like sitting idly while waiting can go around the mall to shop (as I did, shamelessly, with a black plastic cap on my head) or move to the adjacent nail salon for a manicure or pedicure. 



So how was the service? The color application was good, almost professional even, and for the cost of a bottle of color, well-worth the hour I spent at The Lounge. The attending service personnel definitely eased and hastened the process, especially as a perpetually stiff neck has made it difficult for me to reach the back of my head for an even application. 

A week later, also on a Sunday, I got to finish the process with a visit to my favorite hairdresser. I made sure to come as soon as the mall opened to be first in line, and I was done in no time at all. I’m only sorry I didn’t have enough time to enjoy the other services at the salon. A manicure and pedicure would have been heavenly, as also a hair treatment. Still, just a decent cut is enough to make one feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and that is how I always end up feeling after  Rose does her magic on my mane. The picture speaks for itself- doesn’t my hair look movie star worthy? 

This is what they call “talikod-genic!”


Moms on the run do not always have the luxury of time, but we do deserve pampering. That this is done affordably, with minimal time and effort away from children who need us, made these experiences well worth the effort. Will I be doing this again? Definitely. A great big thumbs up to this! 

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730 Days Gone

18 Jul

I wrote this on July 15, 2016, on the Second Death Aniversary of my father.

The Home Above

Two years ago, while my sister Jas and I were going through boxes of old papers, a single letter fell on the ground. It was a letter from the Carmelite missionaries, dated July 15, 1978, saying that July 16 was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I told Jas about it, wondering at the coincidence and pondering on the importance of this unexpected discovery. It turned out to be Daddy’s last day. A week later, I found a stash of old cards we gave Daddy, and this was in them. I think Daddy was sending us a message. I know for sure he is in heaven now.

It was late on a rainy night much like this two years ago when Daddy left us. Alphonse, normally in bed and asleep by ten, could not sleep that particular night. He paced around the room, restless and seemingly bothered. We tried to appease him by blowing bubbles with him, an activity that almost always soothes him, but he angrily shooed us away.

When the phone rang twice at 11:00 pm, Alphonse stopped walking around the room. He stood near the foot of our bed, transfixed and silent. When I put down the phone, he seemed relieved. Then, without fuss, he allowed himself to be led to his bed by his brother. I often wonder about this night, how Alphonse seemed to know of or sense Daddy’s passing even before the call came. Daddy passed away sometime after ten in the evening, alone in his room in a private care facility in Taguig.

I broke the news to our mom as soon as the call came. She started wailing loudly, her heartbroken sobs interrupted only by the anger and blame she directed at me. I stopped her from going to the facility that night. There was a storm coming, I told her repeatedly. I promised we would all go back when the storm had abated. How was I to know?

At one in the morning, amid strong rains that whipped and lashed at our convoy of vehicles, we made a slow, sad trek back to Quezon City with Daddy. We finished signing papers at two in the morning. The funeral staff had brought him to the preparation room but they allowed us access to him. Daddy was soft, but cold. He smelled faintly of baby powder and dried blood. The attendants had wiped Daddy’s face clean and we kissed him on the cheeks and forehead. We held his smooth, cold hands one last time. And then we left him lying in a metal slab, a white cotton sheet tucked around him as if he were sleeping.

The power was out when we returned home. It was going to be light soon but we needed to rest our weary bodies and troubled minds. My husband and I tumbled into bed and fell asleep, my fingers knotted in his. I closed my eyes and willed myself not to cry. There were still so many things to think of. I made a mental list of them, going through each item over and over again until sleep finally came.

Hours later, I woke up unexpectedly from my dreamless slumber as I felt a cold chill pass through me. Sometime during the early hours of morning, A♥ had let go of my hand and rolled over in a fetal position, his back to me. I turned over to reach out to him but in the darkness, I saw my dad lying between us. Daddy seemed to be just sleeping. I’m a self-confessed scaredy cat but somehow, I didn’t feel scared; I felt comforted. I stared at the figure before me and whispered “Let’s rest na, Dad.” I rubbed my eyes of their tears and closed them again.

Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) made landfall in Metro Manila early that morning, leaving much of the city in shambles and without power. The rains fell without let-up but Mom, A♥, and I needed to brave the downpour for one more errand. Daddy needed new clothes. All his old ones were much too big for him. He had lost so much weight in the last six months that he needed to hold up his pants with a tight belt. And his shirts, even the new ones, they all hang off his scrawny frame loosely.

Mom went through all the racks of suits they had and chose a navy blue suit, a light blue shirt, and a striped tie. A♥ hurried to pay for our purchases while I oversaw the packing of the suit. The saleslady reminded Mom to hold on to the receipt so we could exchange the suit if it didn’t fit. Mom looked at her sadly, eyes brimming with tears, and said “We won’t be bringing it back.”

Daddy’s wake lasted all of five days. We did not expect so many people to come. From early morning to late at night, we sat with guests who wanted to pay their final respects to him. We told Daddy’s stories over and over again and in turn, we heard snippets of his life from those who knew him as their friend, as mentor, as business partner. Daddy felt most alive to me then.

The night before his funeral, I finally allowed myself to cry. I knew that the next morning would be the last time I would ever lay my eyes on his face. After that, I would only get to see him in my dreams, and only if I got lucky. I burrowed my head in A♥’s arms and wept till his arms were drenched in hot, salty tears.

At six in the morning of Daddy’s funeral, I woke up suddenly again, shivering. My teeth chattered from the cold that wrapped itself around my chest and back. I knew it was Daddy hugging me goodbye.

Over the next year, I would dream of him intermittently but often, and in each one, he grew more robust and less frail. I dreamt of him frequently as the father I had in childhood but of late, I see him looking more like he did in his early sixties. The last dream I had of him was a few months ago. In it, I saw him through my bedroom window looking up at me from the garage. He looked healthy, happy, and serene. I saw him mouth the words “I love you” over and over again. I woke up with cheeks wet from tears. I think he’s telling me- us– that he is alright where he is.

It has been two years since that rainy night in July. Seven hundred thirty days without Daddy. I don’t feel the pain and loneliness too much these days, but God, I really miss him still.

The Currency of Life

10 Jun

buddha kindnessIt was a few days before the deadline for graduation ball registration. I had been waiting for a particular person (not A♥, he is quick to remind me) to ask me to the final ball of our high school years. I was jittery and already a bit afraid that the call would never come but I had my heart set on that one boy. Just him. I crossed my fingers and waited.

Perhaps sensing the distress I was in, a friend came up to me and said “Hey, Pinks, I know how much going out with him means to you, but if he doesn’t ask you, I’m here. I’ll take you to the ball.” I hugged him awkwardly (back then, hugs were always awkward affairs) and thanked him profusely.

“No big deal,” he said. “That’s what friends do for friends.”

As it turns out, I finally got the call the night before the deadline and what I mistakenly thought as my dream-come-true did come to be. Still, in all these years, I have never forgotten the thoughtful words of that young man. Although he and I have gone on separate roads since then, his act of kindness remains undiminished in my memory.

The other night, A♥ and I went to say goodbye to him.

His was the third wake we have been to in as many weeks. The first was for my cousin, who passed away after a bout of illness. Then, early this week, we paid our respects to a friend’s beloved parent. On Wednesday night, we bade farewell to our Pisay batch mate and dear friend of our youth.

As we find ourselves going more to wakes and funerals of those we hold dear, we are changed by the knowledge that Time is no longer our friend. Life is short and each passing second draws us nearer our end. While we used to measure our lives by grades and achievements, by graduations and promotions, by the leaps and bounds of our youth, today we are suddenly more aware of the beats of our hearts and the breaths we take. For the first time in a really long while, we feel mortal.

But life, as they say, is a one-time offer. You can’t have it more than once. As such, we need to live and live well. To love and love fully. To make each second, each breath, each beat, count. And we need to live with kindness as the currency that drives our short lives. “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”* – it’s to live forever.

Judging from the testimonials on our friend’s Facebook wall, kindness was never in short supply in his life. He gave it away often and all too willingly.

Many years ago, I was one of the recipients of his gift. I only wish I got to say “Thank you” one last time.

 

*Hallowed Ground, Thomas Campbell

The Ring (with Update)

23 May

lost and found 02I lost one of my weddings ring yesterday, I don’t know exactly when or where. I wore it yesterday morning when I left the house; when I took off my jewelry later in the afternoon, it was no longer in my right hand. I’ve been trying to think of where or when I might have lost it, but nothing comes to mind.

I’m not much of a jewelry person but I do have a few favorites. This is one of them. A♥ and I bought our first pair of rings- a pair of plain white gold bands- from a roving “Manang alahera” at the Philippine General Hospital. We paid for the rings in installments over six months, well, because we didn’t have much money of our own back then. (I was a junior clerk in medical school and he had been working just a little over a year.) They were cheap compared to the ones we got for our church wedding much later, but for both of us, they were worth so much more than gold and diamonds. The rings reaffirmed our desire to be together, back when it seemed impossible. They reminded us of how much our friendship and love endured over the years. And for a young couple with little money at the start of their marriage, those rings represented a commitment to build a life together, for better or worse.

It feels a little worrisome that I lost a wedding ring on our 25th year. But I don’t want to read anything more into it than what it was, a lousy accident in an otherwise okay day, and so I pray that it brings love to whomever finds it. My ring may have been lost, but I have years of memories to cherish and appreciate. Then again, perhaps it’s time to get a new ring to commemorate moving forward to the next 25 years. Let’s go find “Manang alahera” again, A♥.

lost and found 01

P.S. That’s my ring there. How I miss it. 😞

~0~

UPDATE: The Ring

Last night, I went to bed thinking of all the things I did yesterday and retracing my steps. This morning, I woke up with a heavy sense of loss. I posted my ring story here on Facebook and then went about our day.

On Mondays, I try to clean our bedroom more thoroughly than other days and this afternoon was no exception. Against the odds, I hoped that my ring was just somewhere in our room, that it rolled off to some dusty corner waiting for me to find it again. As I often do on Mondays, I started my cleaning by stripping the bed off its sheets. Just for good measure, I whispered a prayer to St. Anthony again. I took off the sheets, brought them to the bathroom, and shook them there. Nothing. I strained to hear a clink against the tiles but none came. I did the same with each pillow, fluffing them at the same time. Disappointed, I placed the sheets and all eight pillows back. Afterwards, I took my sturdy pink broom (instead of the usual, the vacuum cleaner) and swept every corner. I even crawled under the bed to reach some hidden dust bunnies. Still not a sign of the ring. I finished by wiping down our things.

By then, I had given up; the ring was not in the room. I would have to move to another part of the house to look later. I had already been through the bathroom, even the trash cans, but the ring was nowhere. The kitchen would be my next stop.

I was mentally going through the list of things I would have to check when a wave of exhaustion swept over me. I sat down on the bed, forlorn and a wee bit bitter. Remember I had just made the bed- removed the sheets, shook them in the air, and put them back- AND then I saw the ring.

In the middle of our bed.

I still have goosebumps over it.

Happy 57th, Barbie! *

10 Mar

Barbie 02

*Barbara Millicent Roberts turned 57 yesterday, March 9, 2016.

I’ve never been a girly kind of girl. Ask anyone who knows me. Apart from a short interlude with a Fisher-Price Mandy doll and a 1974 Baby Alive doll when I was nine or ten, dolls were never really my thing. I liked reading and playing video games more.

As a young girl, I hoarded back copies of Reader’s Digests from my relatives and spent the bulk of my allowance on Nancy Drew books. I bought music cassettes with what was left of my allowance, spending hours sitting by my huge “portable” radio/cassette player (the kind that needed six D-cell batteries to operate). Long before emo and goth were fashionable, I was the girl in black in the middle of summer, listening to songs of loss and death, writing essays about the futility of “being” and the death of love. In short, I liked solitary, nerdy, dark things and not the glitzy, glam, bedazzling life of a Barbie doll.

ballerina barbie

Wish I had been able to keep mine. (Source: http://www.giank.it)

Eh, Barbie dolls? I only really had one. It was a Ballerina Barbie with pale blonde hair, a white and gold tutu, pointe shoes, and the highest arched heels I had ever seen in a doll. She was so beautiful she made me want to become a ballerina myself. She was my inspiration for taking up the dance in my childhood, never mind that I always had thirty pounds over my peers in weight and body mass. Unfortunately, Ballerina Barbie suffered an early demise. She survived me for all of a year, until my younger sister Joee accidentally decapitated her in a brief struggle for ownership.

My sister Joee was the one who loved Barbies. She still has many of them today, dolls we bought together on summer trips to Hong Kong. Given time to explore the small city by ourselves, Joee and I would find ourselves entering dimly lit stores along Mody Road, looking for Barbie dolls to take home. Along the stretch of Nathan Road, we found many of our treasures and hoarded them happily- Barbie for her, Hello Kitty and Game And Watch for me, or as much as our combined allowance for the three- or four-day trip would allow.

All of my love affairs with dolls ended unhappily and lasted no more than a summer’s worth of boredom. Even as I maintained my fascination for Sanrio, books, and video games, I lost interest in dolls, Barbie dolls most of all. On hindsight, I think my body and self-esteem issues as an adolescent contributed a lot to my inability to connect with a Barbie doll. Try as I might to look or feel like one- beautiful, glamorous, perfect- I was always a gawky, nerdy ugly duckling in my mind.

DSC07819 copy

My first Silkstone- Trace of Lace: A♥ got her for me because her hair is like mine. *blushes*

It thus comes as a big surprise that as I cross the threshold of middle life, I find myself an owner of not just one or two Barbie dolls, but, ehrm, quite a few. Silkstone Barbies and Kens make up my current Barbie collection. They are all beautiful in their exquisite ways, all perfect, and all mine.

What caused this change of heart, you ask? For starters, they were gifts from my husband. He must have noticed me spending a little more time viewing doll pictures on Facebook and so he gave me one on Mother’s Day three years ago. This was followed by three on my birthday, and some more on the countdown to our 22nd anniversary. So, even as I whine and complain about the cost (Silkstone Barbies are not regular, play line dolls and do cost a bit more), I find myself quite fascinated with them.

The truth is, despite my long history of angst with what I used to perceive as the “impossible perfection” Barbie endorses, I have made my peace with her. These days, I no longer see Barbie’s beauty and unlikely body proportions as a critical reflection of my deepest personal flaws. I don’t diss her choices to become a nurse, secretary, cheerleader or any of traditionally female gender work roles that stereotyped her for years; after all, she has made larger strides in gender equality in her 57 years. I don’t blame her for materialism, eating disorders, intellectual inferiority, promiscuity, or the sexualization of young girls. These problems are not Barbie’s doing; they come from a much deeper place than a doll or the ideal of the doll. Instead, I think of Barbie as a reflection of the changing times. She is not perfect but she knows how to adapt and survive. And while I would wish for her to temper her mind blowing expenses on fashion, I laud her for the zest and love of life she espouses, for the kind of giggly enthusiasm that is hard to match by jaded men and women of her years.

(Below are some of my dolls. Click the picture to view it on a larger scale.)

barbie 01

barbie 07My silkstone dolls (well, some of them)

barbie 03

barbie 04I love the doll and dress sets best!

barbie 05Lingerie Silkstones 1-6 
barbie 06My favorite Barbie and Ken set- Darya and Nicolai

I can only think of one more argument that trumps all of the above and it is this: all of my Barbies have been gifts. As such, I choose to focus on these acts of giving. For the first time in ages, I know what it feels to be a girly kind of girl, even just a teeny weeny bit. I doubt I’ll ever be one completely, knowing how most days, I’d give up a bath for a couple of hours of The Sims 4 or Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Some things never do change. But if there’s anything I learned from my experiences with Barbie these days, it is that Mattel might have had it right all along.

“Girls can do anything.”
“Be who you want to be.” 
“Be anything.” 

I am A♥’s best friend. I am a mother. I am a geek. I am a wife. I am a nerd. I am a gamer. I am a collector. I am an advocate. I am a girl.

And I like being all these.

I like being me.

Happy birthday, Barbie! Thank you for the inspiration.♥

HBD Barbie

Image

Keep Calm and Break Resolutions

8 Jan

Broken ResolutionI have only two resolutions for 2016 and on the eighth day of this new year, I realized I’ve already managed to break them both.

The first one was to write more. I’ve been putting off writing for a while now. When my PC’s hard drive died on me at end of the year, I figured I had gotten off easy with fulfilling my first resolution. I shushed the voice inside my head that nagged at me (“But don’t you have a laptop? And an iPad?”) and pretended that the death of my PC was the most compelling reason not to write. The truth is, it isn’t for lack of anything to say. In the last few months, writing- the physical act- has become more difficult. I can’t hold a pen firmly and my handwriting, once the stuff teachers raved about, has become illegible. Even typing is hard, as my fingers lack the strength and the feedback it once had. All I feel now is a lot of achy pins and needles in my hands.

Fortunately, while fine motor movements are difficult, gross movements can still keep me busy. I can cook and bake, but my knife skills are shot. I can still whip up a mean cake, but I can’t ice it. I can hold a doll, but I can’t brush her hair or dress her up in her fine little clothes. I can only look at my little Sylvanian toys now so I play video games more; smashing buttons is easy. Little things that I took for granted are once again the bane of my existence. Heck, I can’t button my clothes or hook my bra! Even typing these last two paragraphs have taken longer than usual as I now need to look at the keyboard more often to see if I am hitting the right keys. My fingers feel thick all the time.

I don’t know what caused this but I have a nagging thought that my neck, stiff and unyielding again, is related to it. (I’m also keeping a close eye on my blood sugar levels, promise!) So while I muster the nerve to show up at my orthopedist’s office, I will have to manage this the way I did seven years ago- through sheer grit. Wish me luck I can squiggle my way through this.

My other resolution was to walk more. I’ve been taking daily walks with Alphonse since the start of the year, nothing big, just short walks around the neighborhood. The plan was to walk slowly and build up my momentum so I can go back to longer distances. Somewhere at the back of my head, I thought that maybe I can even manage to learn how to ride a bicycle. (Unless my husband caves in and buys me a three-wheeled bike! Please, A?) But in the last two days, Alphonse has had other things in his mind except walking and we’ve been stuck inside the house. Resolution two broken before it even got off the ground.

The good news is that there are still 358 days left in the year, time enough to restart and get a do-over. Also, there’s another New Year coming up in about a month, so if this New Year isn’t enough to galvanize me into action, maybe a second one would finally give me the shove, errhm, push I need.

So here’s to the New Year, dear friends! May it be kinder than the year that passed and may God bless us all!

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” ~Buddha

The Cab

24 Sep

It was the second cab I hailed successfully that Tuesday afternoon, and the first to agree to accept me and my companion as passengers. There were many other empty ones passing the stretch of road we were in, but not one slowed down. By the time this cab came, I was relieved that the driver even stopped at all. My relief turned to gratitude when he opened the door right away. I thanked him profusely, gave him our destination, and we headed off.

The cab smelled strongly of Coronado Cherry, a popular scent of the air freshener brand California Scents, one that I know very well. Back wCalifornia_Scents_Spillproof_Organic_Coronado_Cherryhen our then eleven-year-old car needed a bit of sprucing up, scent-wise, to hide its age, this was our product of choice. True enough, I spotted the familiar dark pink tin can tucked between the driver and front passenger seats. The scent of cherries filled my nostrils and made my chest feel tight. “This is too sweet and cloying,” I thought, but I was more grateful than annoyed so I simply let it pass.

I tried to engage the driver in small talk but he would only respond in monosyllables. He did, however, tell me he would need additional details on my destination. I gave up on the chitchat, pulled my phone from inside my bag, and opened my mobile phone to access Waze. I was still busy fiddling with my phone when I inadvertently looked up. I caught the driver looking at me and my companion through the rear view mirror. Ordinarily, this would not have seemed suspicious except there was something in the way he looked at us that unsettled me. When our eyes met, he hurriedly looked away.

I sent my husband a Viber message giving him the license plate number of the cab I was in. Then I took a picture of the mobile number stenciled on the inside paneling of the door to my right. I made a big fuss about sending the message; I read the license plate aloud as I typed it so that the driver knew someone else had my whereabouts at that moment.

Now and then, I snuck quick glances at him, only to find him looking at us surreptitiously and repeatedly. That was when I pulled out my pepper spray, set it to spray, and held it, just in case. My chest was tight and painful. My heart and head were pounding. I debated silently with myself, wondering if staying inside the cab was a logical decision. It was mid-afternoon, almost rush hour, and if only one of all those cabs I tried to hail even bothered to stop, what were my chances of getting another cab in this traffic? After all, all I had were my instincts telling me something was wrong; he had not done anything untoward against us at all.

Save for the queasiness I felt, we reached our destination safely, thank God. The queasiness turned into a pounding headache soon after. I was nauseated badly and my stomach hurt. I initially attributed it to the overwhelming odor of the air freshener, made worse by paranoia and nerves. I drank some hot tea to calm my tummy but the pain and tightness persisted. A few minutes later, my companion reported that she was feeling dizzy and nauseated. Something had happened during the cab ride.

In hindsight, I can point to his strange behavior as extremely suspect. He drove unusually slow, seemingly taking his time, an oddity for cab drivers out to get as many flag downs and rides as possible. He took us through side streets with little or no human traffic, even when the main thoroughfares were clear, making the trip longer. And his shifty-eyed, furtive rear view glances, well, they were enough to heighten my senses to impending danger. Was he waiting for something to happen?

At home, I asked my companion if she noticed any other thing during our ride. I had not told her any of my suspicions, aware that I was treading on flimsy ground. “Uhm, Ate, he held a small, clear spray bottle in one of his hands and he squirted its contents by his legs,” she replied reluctantly. My companion sat on the back passenger seat diagonally across him while I was directly behind the driver. The only reason she didn’t say anything was that she wasn’t sure what the bottle was or what was in it. Now that we were both feeling sick, we had a strong feeling it was something intended to make us sleep or sick, something that can be camouflaged by the strong scent of cherries.

I only have my word against the cab driver and short of evidence- the kind that would stand up to scrutiny under the law- I choose not to post his license plate or any other identifying details. I can only attest to what happened to me during and after the ride. I write this, however, to remind everyone that crime is no longer stuff we just read in the papers. It is coming nearer and nearer our homes and our persons every day.

Please be safe, everyone, and take all necessary precautions when getting rides. If you can access Uber (my husband told me to use this service but again, I was foolhardy), this is ultimately a safer, albeit more expensive, choice.

Still, we can’t all be afraid all the time. We can’t let fear rule our lives but we can try to always be safe. Here are some of the lessons on cab riding that I’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Try not to commute alone. Bring a companion, if possible, or go with a friend. Ask your friend to alert you if he/she notices something suspicious.
  2. Call for a taxi instead of hailing one. Some taxi companies have hotlines you can dial. If they are not able to provide you with one, find a taxi lane and get your cab there. Security personnel in most malls and hospitals make a list of the cabs that take passengers and they are most likely to have CCTV footage.
  3. Take a picture of the exterior of the cab before you board it and take pictures of the driver’s ID, license plate, and their contact numbers. Check for meter, ID, and window and door handles. Don’t go in if the cab is missing any of these. Check if the door opens from the inside and if the windows can be rolled down.
  4. Call a friend and text him/her your cab details so he/she will have a record of where you are and who you are with.
  5. Sit in the back passenger seat. It’s the safest place for lone passengers. Again, make sure the doors and windows can be opened, but once you’re inside, lock them.
  6. Do not bring valuables and jewelry. If you must bring them, try to keep them discreet. Leave your credit cards if you don’t need them. Hide your valuables but keep your phone near you.
  7. Save an emergency number you can call withblog safety one key stroke.
  8. I always carry a whistle and pepper spray when I commute. The latter is not for everyone but the point is to be proactive and not be a victim. Know how to use them.
  9. Plan your destination and know the possible routes you can take to get there. Find out how long it will take you to reach your destination. Waze is a great application for this.
  10. Trust your guts and instincts. They’re usually more right than wrong. (Remind me to heed this next time.) And don’t forget to pray.
I am still reeling from this recent experience. I got lucky (again) but I am always mindful that it only takes one slip-up for bad things to happen. I continue to pray for safety and send you, dear friends, my wishes for peace and safety in our cities and country.