February Lovefest: I ♥ Your Blog Award

When I started blogging a little over two years ago, I found out that one of the nicest things you could do for anyone was to give them an award, a banner, or a badge of appreciation. In those days, awards were given out  so often that they became viral almost overnight. Lately, however, I’ve seen them go the way of tags and memes- rarely passed out for fear of unnecessarily bothering the recipient with spam. They’ve almost disappeared from sight, at least, in the blog circles I visit.

This criticism of “passing-along-something-in-blogs” and tagging nothwithstanding, with Valentine’s Day just passed, I wanted to give  my very own personalized versions of the I ♥ Your Blog award to my favorite blogs and to the friends I have made and reconnected with through blogging. I am deeply grateful to these wonderful people for making the experience of blogging something to look forward to every day.


Mushings was the very first blog I ever read on the Net, long before I jumped into blogging myself. Through it, I discovered a whole world of friendships that are no less real than the ones I have in real life. Leirs is a fabulous scrapper, aside from being a mom of two, an autism mom, and a devoted blogger.

To Leirs of Mushings

Megamom and I have known each other since high school. However, we knew little of each other except for superficial interactions and the occasional “hello’s” and “how are you’s.” I regret now that I never got to know her well then; we did not have the same circle of friends. Finding her blog, after all these years, I have discovered a whole different person- an accomplished professional (a doctor), a multitasking mom of triplets, a devoted member of our high school batch, Pisay Batch 1985- in short,  someone I would be proud to call a friend.  

To Aileen of Pinay Megamom

Teacher Julie was my son’s very first teacher in formal school. Alex loved her and her word was law, even in our home. I appreciate all that she has taught Alex but I will always remember most her as a friend who helped us cope in the first year of Alphonse’s diagnosis.      

To Teacher Julie

I’ve never met Ms. Susan Senator except through her book, “Making Peace with Autism,” which to date, is still the best and most realistic autism book I have ever read. I am a faithful follower of her blog and I am at awe at how she always finds the words I am sometimes unable to express. Ms. Senator is proof that there is life, love, and laughter in autism families.

To Ms. Susan Senator

No Special Effects is perhaps the only food blog I ever visit religiously. Not only is Doc Mark a genius in the kitchen, his food photographs are absolutely gorgeous. Beyond visuals, however, Doc Mark is also a gifted writer and one always finds a good story to read in  his blog. 

To Doc Mark of No Special Effects

When the doldrums settle in, I like to visit Little Miss Firefly for she can always bring sunshine to even the most dreary of days.  To you, Odette, I send you love from the warm summers of your homeland-

To Odette of Little Miss Firefly

Last, but certainly not the least, this is for J of My Sylvanian Collections. J and I have only been friends a short while but I always look forward to reading her Sylvanian adventures. Thank you being a great friend and a wonderful sister, shobe.  

To J of My Sylvanian Collections

And to all those who come and visit this blog, my thanks to all of you who share a part of their day with me. I send you love and blessings on this special month. Spread love, friends, and be blessed always! 


Tag! I’m It!:-)

I still haven’t finished giving away the Kick A** Award and today, I have just the person in mind. Before we proceed to that, however, I’d like to answer a Google image tag from Little Miss Firefly. I had such a great time looking for pictures! If you must know, I’m also addicted to Google, and if such a thing as a PhD in Google-ology exists (I think I beat Jenny McCarthy to this), I bet I’d have gotten it by now.

The rules are:
a) answer the question below, do a Google Image search with your answer, take a picture from the 1st page of results, do it with minimal words of explanation; and
b) tag 5 people to do the same once you’ve finished answering every question.

Okay, let’s take a deep breath… *hu hu hu… hi hi hi…* and agree to this: how about we do the first one and skip number 2? Everyone happy with that? 🙂 (I bet people just heaved a sigh of relief with this one.)

1. The age you’ll be on your next birthday:

Do you see it? I hope you don’t, heehee. Ah, well, I don’t look a day over 39, anyway. 🙂

2. Place you want to travel to:

Easy enough to answer, this one is. (Do I sound like Yoda?) A and I haven’t traveled a lot as a couple (well, he does, but for work) and almost everyone who knows the circumstances of our lives knows why. But one of these days, before we get too old and wobbly to move on our own, we would like to spend a little time here, in the City Of Lights. And if it doesn’t happen, I think I can photoshop myself very well in one of these pictures, heehee.

3. Your favourite place:

My favorite place in the whole wide world is the bedroom. This is where the family congregates most days: A and Alex watching movies on DVD, me playing with my Hello Kitty doll, and Alphonse blowing bubbles by the side. And of course, this lovely picture-perfect room isn’t my bedroom, but this one is:

(from Alphonse’s PECs cards)

Notice how there’s a blanket on the headboard? It’s to prevent Alphonse from banging his front teeth on it. He’s already chipped one. 😦

4. Your favourite food:

Yummy! I could eat a quart in one sitting! This is also my favorite flavor. A little trivia: did you know that this uses red cabbage juice for coloring, and not some nasty allergy-inducing Red #40? Hooray for Ben & Jerry!

5. Your favourite pet:

Alex used to have a guinea pig named Genie who looks almost like this little fellow, except she was slightly darker. He was five when he begged to get her but like most little children, he failed to realize the responsibilities that came with having a pet. So Genie became mine. I gave her baths, brushed her hair, fed her carrots, celery, and nuts and cleaned her cage. I even taught her some tricks using ABA.

Sadly, she’s passed on to the place where all good guinea pigs go to after life. Her cage now stands empty. I still miss her little shrieks. *Woot! Woot!*

6. Favorite color combination:

Pink and brown- these colors are gorgeous together!

7. Favorite piece of clothing:

I’m a jeans girl at heart and am thankful that there are very good local brands that cater to full-figured women. When A and I were planning our church wedding, I was seriously considering getting married in one, but my mom vetoed my suggestion. Yeah, maybe she was right on that one… maybe.

8. Your all time favorite song:

My all-time favorite song comes from the movie “Bituing Walang Ningning.” It’s “Sana’y Maghintay Ang Walang Hanggan,” with lyrics and music by Willy Cruz and Baby Gil. I get 99 on Magic Sing with this too! (Magic Sings says “What a excellent singer!”)

9. Favorite TV show:

We’re doing “Monk” marathons at home so this has got to be a current favorite. On shows for more mature audiences, A and I love “Deadwood.”

10. First name of your significant other:

No, not Maria. 🙂

11. Which town do you live in:

We live in a little barrio in one of the most populous and biggest cities in the Philippines, where sidewalks are brick red (or will soon be), and where urban lifestyles meet with rural surroundings. I’m a Kyusi (Q.C. for Quezon City) girl, born and bred.

12. Your screen name/nickname:


Kittymama is Kitty’s mama. 🙂

13. Your first job:

I wasn’t as cute as that little girl, though.

14. Your dream job:

I’m living it!

15. One bad habit that you have:

I’m a verrry late sleeper and my hours don’t always coincide with A’s. He sleeps early and wakes up at the crack of dawn whereas I can’t sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, Alphonse doesn’t wake up early too often and I can make up for lost sleep then. I ought to change, I know.

16. Worst fear:

Loss of my loved ones. And I’m not even going to think about it right now. Just thinking about it makes me weep.

17: Things you’d like to do before you die:

And maybe sing back-up to Sharon Cuneta. 🙂

18. The 1st thing you’ll buy if you get $1,000,000:

This is my dream home, a Tokyo Mansions home smack in the heart of one of Metro Manila’s most affluent cities.

19. Your husband/wife:

Kitty’s boyfriend is Dear Daniel. If I’m Kittymama, does that make A Danielpapa?

20. What present would you like for your next birthday? (Note: make it anniversary, heehee.)

This, I would love to have. I’m partial to the first edition Hello Kitty Build-A-Bear because Hello Kitty is traditionally a white cat, but the sunkissed Kitty is just as beautiful. I would love to have any of these two, with lots of clothes and shoes. Ah, eBay, here I come!


Thank you, Odette, for this enjoyable tag! As a thank you gift, I pass on this second Kick A** award to one of the most creative people I know. Odette (or Little Miss Firefly) makes beautiful things by hand, and if you go visit her blog right now, you’ll find that she’s been very busy these past few weeks with her household projects. She’s also one heck of a photographer with an amazing eye for detail. I wish I was even just half as creative as she is.

So here’s to you, Little Miss Firefly, and may you continue to light the world with your beautiful creations. 🙂

Family Movie Night

Movies, Kitty, and Me

Movies at the cinema are a rarity in our family life. For one, Alphonse never learned to enjoy movies in a darkened movie theater. The first and last time we brought him to a theater for a screening of Mulan, he started crying as soon as the lights were turned low. A had to bring him out and distract him with other enticements, as his crying grew louder and louder. Then too, the cost of tickets and munch food for four of us and two or three nannies (for Alphonse) can be more prohibitive than an original DVD (I’m with you there, MegaMom!). And lastly, my aching back does not appreciate the contours of theater seats as even the reclining ones offer little comfort. As a result, we watch movies at home, often on a daily basis, with the last one being last night’s Jodie Foster-starrer The Brave One.

Once in a while, however, the wait for a movie’s official release on DVD can seem interminably long. Sometimes, you just have to brave the lines and bear the non-orthopedic seats to get immediate gratification. Such a must-see movie beckons only every so often, and we are always cognizant of its call.

One such movie is I Am Legend, which we watched at the Eastwood Cinemas last January 11. (The one before that was Harry Potter, seen at the IMAX theater of the Mall of Asia sometime late last year, and the one before that was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, seen at the Shangri-la Cinemas in June of last year.)

I’ve always been partial to Will Smith movies (I still tear up when I watch Independence Day, boo-hoo!) and in fact, I think I was the one who suggested watching it that night. We took a late show to make sure Alphonse was asleep then and had a relative help the nannies watch over him lest he woke up during the few hours we were gone. Fortunately, that night, while he did wake up a few times, he promptly went back to sleep without any fuss. Sometimes, the planets just align themselves perfectly and you just got to grab at this gift and be grateful. 


Ah, but, as usual, I digress. I Am Legend is a movie based on the 1954 sci-fi novel of the same title written by Richard Matheson. It is actually the third film interpretation of the novel, starting with The Last Man on Earth in 1964 and The Omega Man in 1971. While the original story sets the last man alive in Los Angeles, California in the years 1976-1979, this recent reincarnation of the novel relocated the setting to New York City in the year 2012. Again, there have been minor changes made from the book to the movie, but none of them distracts from the basic premise: a plague (a bacterial pandemic in the book and a man-made viral mutation in the recent movie) devastates human population and creates a group of survivors who exhibit the traits of vampirism.I Am Legend poster

In the year 2012, cancer is a thing of the past, thanks to a re-engineered measles virus that had a cure rate of 100%. Within a few months, however, the patients started dying and what was touted as the final cure for cancer became a final solution to mankind. Ninety percent of the population died; nine percent became infected and mutated into “vampires” (although the movie makes no use of this direct reference). The remaining one percent of population who were immune became hunted as food. US Army virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) remains in ground zero (NYC) to search for the cure. The movie takes off from this, showing Neville’s daily grind as NYC’s sole survivor. The action scenes come from his maddening interactions with the “Dark Seekers” and they are indeed heart-stopping. Yet, I like to think of I Am legend also as a story of spiritual redemption. (See dialogue below to get an idea of what I mean.) Without going into the details, allow me to say that while I would have wished for a different ending, I am heartened by the message of hope and faith in the film. After all, in this transient world, all we really have are hope and faith.

Anna: The world is quieter now. We just have to listen. If we listen, we can hear God’s plan.
Neville: God’s plan.
Anna: Yeah.
Neville: All right, let me tell you about your “God’s plan”. Six billion people on Earth when the infection hit. KV had a ninety-percent kill rate, that’s five point four billion people dead. Crashed and bled out. Dead. Less than one-percent immunity. That left twelve million healthy people, like you, me, and Ethan. The other five hundred and eighty-eight million turned into your dark seekers, and then they got hungry and they killed and fed on everybody. Everybody! Every *single* person that you or I has ever known is dead! Dead! There is no god!

This movie was originally meant to star Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Neville (he ended up producing it) and when Alex learned of this, he seized this piece of information to start doing the dialogue in Mr. Schwarzenegger’s Terminator voice (“Hasta la vista, baby!). This never fails to crack us up, and when we’re feeling particularly short-tempered with him, he’ll drop us some lines he’s memorized from the movie (“My name is Robert Neville. I am a survivor living in New York City. I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies. I will be at the South Street Seaport everyday at mid-day, when the sun is highest in the sky. If you are out there… if anyone is out there… I can provide food, I can provide shelter, I can provide security. If there’s anybody out there… anybody… please. You are not alone.”) and he’s got us in the palm of his hand (or at least, until I remember what I was angry about, haha).

Best supporting actress Abbey as SamanthaIf you ask Alex, though, who his favorite character in the movie is, he’ll quickly point to “Samantha” or “Sam,” Robert Neville’s three-year-old German Shepherd (played by brilliant dog actor Abbey). He recounts the reaction of the venerable Mr.P, his drama club adviser, after seeing the film: “The dog acts better than half the boys in the club.” Alex humbly agrees.

“Someday, mom, I will be as good an actor as Sam…”

And I thought he meant Will Smith. 🙂


This is a post in response to MegaMom‘s Tag called “Recent Movie that the Family Enjoyed.”

Rules Of This Tag:
1. Link back the person who tagged you and write what was the movie his/her family enjoyed watching recently.
2. Now your turn to tell about the movie your family had just watched.
3. Tell something about the movie and spoilers are accepted (hehehee).
4. Write anything that has something to do with movies: Trivia, your top choice or favorites and why, your family’s story about your favorite motion pictures, the first film you watched with your husband, any traditional film the family’s been keeping etc…etc…
5. Copy and paste the rules of this meme on your blog and pass the tag to as many friends, bloggers and movie lovers you want. Don’t forget to tell them they’re tagged and leave a comment here if you’re done with the task.

In the spirit of the New Year, I’ll let the people I was thinking of tagging off the hook, just this once, as a New Year’s Day present. Just saving up on karmic goodwill, my friends! 

Prelude to a Tag: Onscreen Romance

Written seven years ago in 2001, this article chronicles our family’s love affair with movies. Just a little prelude, my friends, to share with you the beginnings of our own family ritual: Family Movie Nights.

I never used to go to the movies.

As a child, I grew up with a staple of B movies in the glorious decade of the Betamax. My parents were rather liberal with their children’s viewing fare and gave us discretion over what movies we wanted to watch. My brothers’ choices were those with blood, decapitation and zombies in them, while my younger sisters opted for cartoons.

Between unrestrained violence and an inordinate amount of cutesy babies prancing in circles singing “Maria, Maria, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” it was hardly surprising that I lost my taste for the movies shortly after I turned 10.

Fact or Fiction?I remember, however, that as a child, my personal favorites were those comprising the Faces of Death series, you know, those movies on beta tapes that were all about death and pathology.

The rare times our family of seven would troop to the cinemas for an honest-to-goodness full-length movie, it would be to watch Superman and its sequels. So, going to the movies was never ever a family affair. Superman

I never met a certified movie addict until I fell in love with my last boyfriend (now my husband). We weren’t allowed to go on dates for the first two years of our relationship, so watching movies was absolutely out of the question. Well, okay, I must confess, we did see a movie once.

Platoon - first official dateWe went to see Platoon, I remember, but because we were so scared that my parents would find out, we never watched another movie until my dad gave us his permission 20 months later.

We watched a movie or two every week afterwards, but I thought back then that watching movies was just something a couple does to spend time together. Whenever we had some free time, my boyfriend would pick up the paper, open to the movies section and point to the latest one he wanted to see.

Yeah, sure, sometimes he asked me what I wanted to watch, but since I had no firm opinions one way or the other, he had the run of the show. I figured, he loved movies, what of it? He stopped smoking for me and gave up drinking altogether (not that he loved alcohol to begin with).

He loved books as much as I did; he was cute, and he kissed well, so I thought better to let him be with the movies thing. Sure, sometimes I’d fall asleep and drool while watching a movie, but he never took that against me. He always thought I was fun to be with, awake or asleep, at the movies.

Then I married him. I suppose it came slowly enough. My parents bequeathed us a host of brand-new appliances to start us out, and my generous father threw in his extra Sony Betamax player. We started out by renting movies at a nearby video store, but more often than not, my husband still preferred the big screen, a movie date with him and me and his other “girlfriends,” Snickers and Baby Ruth.

When I got pregnant, however, my solicitous husband thought better than to jostle and squeeze his balloon-of-a-wife along the narrow aisles of the moviehouse.

And that was when he really got started.

I knew that my husband loved movies the way I loved Hello Kitty. It was something he enjoyed immensely. He could go on and on about movies he loved as a child, the Star Wars Trilogy and Jaws to name a few.Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI

He could dissect the characters’ emotions and motivations based on their on-screen interactions and prevailing circumstances. He was as interested in the process by which the movie came about as he was by the final product. He loved the movies for everything they were. Still, rather than attempt to over-intellectualize things, he simply enjoyed the hours of relaxation and vicarious living the movies offered.

He Said, She SaidLike I said, when I got too fat to go out on my first pregnancy, my husband rented movies for us to watch at home. Then he bought movies for us at the mall, kicking off a collection that would dramatically increase in just a few years. I think his first purchase was He Said, She Said, a symbolic commemoration of our status as a certified “till-death-do-us-part” couple.

As his expertise in video hardware increased in proportion to his earning power, he also made personal copies of movies he wanted to collect but could not find original copies of. Pretty soon, what started out as a few Beta tapes in a shoebox gave way to an extensive collection.

Then the Beta format died. When the video stores’ array of Beta tapes dwindled to give way to new VHS stocks, my husband jumped at this opportunity to purchase a VHS player/recorder. What was a collector to do? He made VHS copies of the movies he had on Betamax, adding original videos as he found them.

Simultaneously, his interest in laser discs grew. He was often torn between his laser discs and his VHS tapes; fortunately, we had reached some sort of understanding on the financial liberties he could take with his collection. He bought the Star Wars Trilogy and James Cameron’s movies on laser, as well as the Disney classics, excusing his purchases as gifts for his newborn son. These were his Must-Have movies, or movies he could watch over and over again everyday.

Groundhog DayOf course, sometimes he would excuse his new purchases as being simply too good to pass up, like the time he bought a brand-new Groundhog Day laser disc for four hundred pesos, a steal if ever there was one. So, if you’ve ever seen a grown man dancing on the aisles of Astrovision while holding videos and laser discs, then you’ve probably met my husband.

Pretty soon, my husband’s collection grew to almost video store-like proportions. We still have some old movies on Betamax, though only for sentimental reasons, what with our player having heaved its last breath four years ago.

We have almost two hundred videos on VHS and around a hundred on laser discs. It got to a point where we had to transform our bedroom into his storage and viewing room, and we had to buy new furniture just to accommodate his unwieldy collection.

Most weekends, we had to pull him out of the bedroom to stop him from going through his collection and watching them over and over again, one by one. Most irksome was his love for Titanic and Twister, movies you wouldn’t catch me dead watching.

On days when he was feeling particularly amorous, he would set his chosen format of Titanic (he has both original VHS and laser disc versions) and watch with rapt attention, oblivious to the gagging, retching noises I made beside him. So, on the day my husband declared his intention to curb his movie addiction, I heaved a sigh of relief.Titanic

The truth was, my devious darling stopped buying movies to save up for a VCD player and a DVD player. In the meantime, he satiated his need to watch movies by simply renting at the video store.

And when he finally managed to buy his dream equipment after scrimping on his bonuses and setting aside part of his salary every month for around half a year, he couldn’t resist laying off the software. Needless to say, he was able to build a considerable collection of Chinese movies on VCD and just about everything else on DVD.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that my husband’s favorite store is Astrovision. We’ve been to different branches of this store almost every week this past year, and often, he goes home with one or two chosen DVD purchases. It really is an undying love for him.

I don’t think love for the movies is genetic, but somehow (through osmosis, perhaps?), he’s passed his passion to our eldest son. Alex guards his own DVD collection of Disney movies and Japanese anime with zealous vigilance and vehemently objects at idle threats of selling them off to Disney lovers. Surprisingly, his favorite movie is about twin girls (The Parent Trap), an amazing complement to his Rurouni Kenshin videos.Samurai X

My husband and son gang up on me every night, forcing me to watch a movie they’ve scheduled for the night. Weekends are no different. These days, I have two couch potatoes to drag and pull out of the house. Most of the time, I win handily in what I consider to be a tribute to female persuasive owers. It turns out, however, that he actually lets me win so we can scout for more DVDs. It’s always a compromise, then; he gets what he wants and I get my weekend out of the house.

I’ve been married for ten years this month, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, these movies have added a touch of excitement to our lives.Goonies

When Harry Met SallyTruth to tell, I derive a certain amount of security from knowing that tonight, tomorrow night, or even the night after is another movie night. Another movie night with the loves of my life. Romantic nights with When Harry Met Sally, adventure nights with The Goonies, Sci-fi nights with The Matrix — when I think about how our choices in movies have grown with our marriage, I sigh in bliss.

The MAtrix

But, hey, don’t tell my husband I told you that.


Update (Seven Years Later):

Alex’s tastes in movies have certainly grown with him. While Rurouni Kenshin will always be a favorite, he’s given up The Parent Trap for more adult fare. The Disney movies have been passed on to Alphonse, who will remain forever, a Mouseketeer.

The last of the vhs tapes and vcds are boxed up now. There simply is no more room in the house. DVDs rule our home as we wait for more blu-ray discs and players to flood the market.

And yes, we now have original vhs, vcd, laser disc, and dvd versions of  Titanic.

New Year Traditions Redux, Chinese Style

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is a post for MegaMom’s tag on New Year traditions. With the Chinese New Year barely two days away, I feel compelled to clear my long-standing debts, this being very first in my list.

Here are the rules: Answer this question: What’s your New Year good luck tradition?
Then copy the names and answers of the people that answered before you and add your own to the bottom of the list. It helps build the community.

*My mom used to collect some coins and when the new year comes she put the coins in a bowl and shake it to create sounds. She said its good luck for money throughout the year. And also wearing dotted dresses on new year don’t know why. CC/chalyza/keep

*My old folks always told us to avoid spending money on new years day. They said, once you spend on the first day of the year, you like to spend the rest of the year. Behind d Scenes of ME/ Retchel’s Pure Life/ A little bit of me  

*I grew up believing that if you have some money on your pocket (whatever you’re wearing) come New Year’s eve it will ensure steady flow of income throughout the year. The other belief is that the main door of the house should be wide open come New Year’s eve so that good luck will be ushered in. Juliana of MY WORLD and JULIANA’S LAIR.

* We always lit fireworks (Chinese belief) as part of tradition to scare off “bad spirits” and start the New Year with a blast. Hailey of Hailey’s Beats and Bits

*We have our family worship when the sun sets on January 31st and we have thankfulness prayer when 12 o’clock strikes. In this way, my mom thinks that if we pray this time with thankfulness we gonna pray over and over again throughout the incoming new year. Sunshineforlife of Life is What We Make it// Dancing in Midlife Tune.

*New Year’s Eve is always special because it also happens to be my parents’ anniversary. We always started the day by going to church. Then it would be a day of setting off firecrackers. Dinner is light to pave way for media noche or midnight meal. Media noche always had arroz caldo and buko fruit salad – true Pinoy comfort foods. For good luck, we had a bowl of various round fruits, shaped like money (coins obviously and not paper), which we always found hard to resist eating until the clock strikes twelve. What am I doing talking in past tense? We still do this now, as my own family heads off to my parents’ house to celebrate with them. Pinay MegaMom


I grew up in a fairly liberal Chinese-Filipino household. My father wanted us to think, grow, and live outside the “box of traditions” so he made it a point to create our own rituals for special feasts. Still, it wasn’t always easy to get away from prescriptions and taboos, what with a feisty grandmother hovering around with a list of do’s and don’ts.

Some that I still remember:

· Do not sweep the floor on Chinese New Year’s Day; you’re sweeping out good luck. (Make sure your house is spic and span before the N day.) If you must sweep, make sure that you do not throw dirt away on that day. Keep it inside the house and bring it out the back door the next day. Never sweep over the front door threshold as this means “sweeping away” a family member. (To this day, I keep my front door closed most of the time so no one inadvertently sweeps over this. Old habits die hard, true, true.)

· Same rule with hair washing. Have your hair washed, styled, and coiffed the night before. It may be hard to sleep with little ringlets or curlers on your head but deal with it. After all, New Year’s day only comes once a year. Or twice, in our case. 🙂

· Wear red (even if it’s a little too early for Valentine’s Day, haha) because red ensures a bright future. I always got in trouble with this one because I always wore pink. Pink is a light, sweet, romantic color, but to many, it’s simply washed-out red, so it literally meant I was setting myself up for a washed-out future.

· Make a lot of noise on the stroke of midnight to drive away evil spirits. We used to do this with fireworks but since a lot of the smaller kids had asthma, we made do with banging kitchen pots and pans, howling like banshees, and making a**es of ourselves.

When I was young, Chinese New Year’s Eve meant a mandatory trip to the Big House, as feisty grandma’s house was called. As I grew older, Daddy decided to stop dragging us along and started establishing our own rituals. Yes, much of the same superstitious traditions were observed, but this time, dinner was a joyful experience as we took part in preparations, from setting the table to cooking to preparing ang pao (little red envelopes with new crisp bills of cash or sweet candies). Red and orange and violet and pink (yes, pink!) were our colors. We set the table with fresh flowers (to symbolize life and prosperity) and round fruits of all sorts (round to symbolize wealth and money). And then there was the menu. We always had tikoy or New Year’s rice pudding as a dessert staple. Tikoy embodied all the attributes prayed for at the start of the year: closer family ties/ unity (sticky), prosperity (sweet), and reunion (round), and it was said that to have a fill of this dessert meant having a fill of luck. I usually ate two or three boxes myself.

There was also always a noodle dish on New Year’s Eve and we are careful not to cut the noodles accidentally or purposefully. Noodles symbolize longevity of life and to cut it necessarily means cutting away at life.

While the Chinese do not mind having whole chicken on New Year’s Eve, my Filipino upbringing struggles with this tradition. Normally, Filipinos avoid chicken dishes on the New Year because it is said to be a harbinger for subsistence living (isang kahig, isang tuka—or loosely translated, one scratch, one peck). As a compromise, Daddy opted for duck (symbolizing fidelity), prepared Peking style, or turkey, prepared American Thanksgiving style, with lots of stuffing and cranberry sauce. (How confusing can this be?)

These days, with all the children grown and leading very different lives, Chinese New Year celebration is a thing of our past. With New Year’s Eve falling on a weekday, and my siblings all busy with work and family, we make do with text messages or phone calls to commemorate the day. Yet, just as Daddy cut tradition with his family, this time, I am carving my family’s very own celebrations and memories. I’ll be keeping my Dad’s practices to heart, making sure to observe them the way we did when we were small.

I don’t have any blogging Chinese friends, but if any one wants to follow this up, feel free to grab this tag. 

And hey, Kiong Hee Huat Chai, my friends!  (Congratulations and be prosperous!)

Sun Nin Fai Lok! (Happy New Year!)

Drive evil spirits away!