I was trying to post this last week but something strange kept happening- the text kept disappearing on this post! If you noticed the post on Timelines, all I had were pictures and that was not even intentional. ūüė¶ For some reason, I kept trying to put up words and each time I saved my draft, the words disappeared. Today, I am hoping my words will stay put where they belong this time, as this next post has been waiting for quite some time.

I felt compelled to write this after I received this message in my e-mail from a certain “Jessica Rabbit”:

I visit your blog often and I’d like to ask if you were you paid or did you receive gifts and freebies to review things (your Kimmidolls, for example), food (Mr. Donut?), events and places? I feel that disclosure is necessary to make it clear to your readers if your posts are “commissioned and paid for”. Thank you.

Let me give you a direct answer to a direct question: No, I am not paid to write my reviews and I do not receive freebies or gifts to review things.

Okasaneko Chronicles is not a monetized blog, and as such, I have no sponsors and patrons. I do not carry advertising. Although the opportunities to create revenue and blog-for-pay have presented themselves quite a few times, I have not decided on taking this path yet. I pay for what I review so that means I only review things I really like and buy. Yes, I buy all my Kimmidolls. Yes, I buy my own Pon de Rings. And yes, I buy my own Clinique. No freebies.

Sometimes, however, I do get invited to special events and in such cases, I freely state that I was there by invitation. This is often the exception and not the rule, so unless I state otherwise, everything I review on this blog is paid for and mine by choice.

I blog to write, to keep my middle-aged brain going on days when the blood circulation gets seriously sluggish, and to document memories that may be lost to age. I also blog to connect with people with the same interests and passion, and that is exactly how I have found my circle of autism friends. It is also how the local Sylvanian Families community, PH Sylvanian Families, really got started.

Kittymama meme2 copy

Thank you for that question, Jessica. When I started writing this, I really didn’t feel like I had to justify anything to anyone, but now that I am done, I am glad you did. Writing this has got me thinking of what this blog means to me. There may be some days when I stand on my soapbox with tumbleweeds as my only audience, but I don’t mind. Six years of doing this have opened my world to tremendous people and wonderful experiences. When I think about the most important pay-off of blogging, and that is, making new friends, I feel like I’ve “earned” more than I have given already.


Temple Grandin- the Movie, the Date, the Sign

I‘ve had the DVD a few months now, courtesy of Amazon.com, but when the offer to see an exclusive¬†screening of the film came, I immediately accepted it in the hopes of immersing myself back into the world I had left behind many, many months ago. The invitation, sent to¬†my editor at BusinessWorld (Hi, Lali!) ,¬†came from¬†HBO Asia and the lovely people of Virtusio Public Relations, Inc. What better way to start writing again than to write about something very close to my heart- autism?

The screening was set August 23, at 10:30 am, at the Quality Life Discoveries Center in Cubao, Quezon City. I took a cab early to make sure I made it in time but the cab driver and I got lost along the way.¬†It was a little difficult to spot the building¬†at first; I was looking at low gates and building numbers that we both missed the center’s name in big bold letters¬†near the top of the building.¬†When¬†I finally spotted it,¬†I heaved a sigh of relief. How could¬†I have missed it the first time?¬†Still huffing and puffing after climbing three flights of stairs and¬†mixed with the breathlessness of excitement, I¬†was ushered into QLD’s Multi-Sensory Room by¬† Ms. Dessa Virtusio of VPRI and HBO Asia’s Ms. Angela Poh. It was lovely seeing them again.¬†We¬†exchanged cordial hellos and quick stories on what we have all been up to¬†since¬†last we met more than a year ago, also in an¬†HBO event. For me, though,¬† the best part of the day was meeting Ma’am Lulu (Virtusio) again. Gracious and charming as ever, Ma’am Lulu made¬†our brief meeting¬†feel¬†like a reunion of sorts. I could not stop hugging her, heehee. ūüôā

I was glad to run into old friends too. The autism community is a tightly knit one and with Autism Society Philippines’ partnership in the premiere, I was sure to see familiar faces. Dang, Grace, Ranil, Peng, and Tiff were there; these are the tireless faces behind ASP.¬† I took the opportunity to speak with¬†Prof. Abelardo¬†David, known as Teacher Archie to many; he is QLD’s Executive Director and founder/executive director of Independent Living Learning Center. ¬†I asked about¬†his views on behaviorally-challenged children with autism and¬†I was¬†heartened to discover new services that just might fit my son’s current needs. I promised to give him a call¬†and visit ILLC soon.

After the movie, there was a short Q and A portion with Ms. Poh, Dang,¬† and Dr. Tippy Tanchangco. They were also joined by¬†JR Tan and Gabby Atienza, very able individuals with autism.¬†We all shared a wonderful repast prepared specially by the young crew of Abelardo’s Diner (more on that in another post), ILLC’s social enterprise. And then, after more catching¬†up and¬†another tour of QLD’s facilities ( I checked out their indoor pool), it was time to¬†go and ponder on all I’ve learned that day.

On the way home, I was struck at how fortuitous this turn of events were for me. After I resigned from HerWord last December, I seriously considered giving up on writing. It was Godsent, this opportunity to write for the paper again.  And to have it all begin with Temple Grandin and the one thing that has made my life different from all others- autism- I take it as a sign.

A very, very¬†good sign. ūüôā


My review of HBO’s Temple Grandin appears in the Weekender section of BusinessWorld’s online paper: A Reflection of God¬†¬†¬†(or check out the next post- thank you!)

Pass Go And Collect 200

hk monopoly copyI had been so busy these last few days that I didn’t even notice that I had already surpassed my 200th post. (Technically, this is post # 203.)¬†I passed the “100 posts” mark without fanfare months ago, not quite yet believing that I could actually sustain this blog. For a while back there,¬†my posts came in slow trickles as I battled¬†writer’s block, inertia, and the forces of real life all¬†at once.¬†¬†With A’s patient encouragement, however, I found the courage to start again. Thank you, dearest A.¬†¬†¬†

I am¬†also¬†deeply grateful to all my friends who help me vent, emote, and¬†express my feelings and thoughts within these pages. And to the occasional reader who just happens to¬†drop¬†by and leaves a kind word or two — many thanks to you too. Your support¬†makes writing so much fun.¬†¬†

200th post a

Raison d’√™tre

I started writing my own stories earlier than most children, in huge block letters at age three, at a time when Efren Montes and Vilma Santos were the rage on television. (I wrote a story about being his girlfriend, silly, precocious me). In grade school, I automatically drifted to the yearbook organization and the literary club, where I horrified my teacher with a very graphic story on decomposing, maggot-infested flesh (hey, I was eleven!) long before I learned all about blowflies. In high school, I was co-editor-in-chief of the school paper (the “co-“ part  because I didn’t have enough years behind me as member of the paper; in fact, the year I joined the paper was the year they made me co-editor-in chief). And in college, I applied for apprenticeships in local newspapers and got them, only to back out at the last minute because my parents did not favor a career in journalism. (Haha, I married a journalist instead!)

Writing in long handWhen I went on an indefinite hiatus from medicine many years ago, it was without expectation of a definite date of return. Somehow, the farther I strayed, the easier it was not to look back. I kept myself busy by writing in journals, documenting our lives as we transitioned from couple to a family of four within three years of marriage. As I found the courage to listen to my own voice, I found the same courage to put that voice in paper. I ventured into professional writing  by happenstance; one particularly blessed day, I sat down to write about our family’s early years with autism and this got published in a local paper. Later, this same story would be included in one of Dr. Queena Lee-Chua’s series of Blessings books.

As my expertise in technology grew (ably guided by my then-five-year-old’s natural talents) Col. Buzz Aldrin on the moonI started writing for e-magazines too. Aside from the thrill of actually having a second career, it was the easiest way to make a little money for a stay-at-home mom like me. Days, I took care of the kids, did the household chores, and home-schooled my son with autism; nights, I bled my heart dry on those virtual pages, writing about our lives, and about music and movies and books. In one of those wonderful experiences, I even got to interview my personal hero- Col. Buzz Aldrin!

I suppose the leap from online writing to blogging is a natural evolutionary step, seamless, logical and smooth. Yet until late 2007, I hadn’t seriously considered taking the plunge. But things happen for a reason, and in my case, it was the events of a year before that, in late 2006, when our lives turned upside down again, that I felt like a lost a big part of myself. I stopped writing. Completely. I was emptied of everything I was then. It’s difficult to explain in a few words what happened, and I include this not to horrify you about my life, but to give you a sense of where I came from. Continue reading

Just A Short Break

I’ve been lurking in my own blog for a few days now, never actually logging in, just checking every now and then on activity in the site. I’m glad that some of my friends have still visited despite my absence and I am grateful for their words of support and encouragement. ūüôā

I’m almost there where I should be, in terms of catching up with housework, my teaching load (with Alphonse), my part-time business (I make laminated PECS cards and I also¬†sell autism awareness jewelry), and my writing (I’ve submitted two articles this week, edited two more, and started on another one just now- not bad). Once I get over this huge hump, I plan to blog more and write about what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks. In the meantime, while I savor a few minutes of downtime (I just emailed my article to my editor and I am awaiting his comments via SMS), I thought to say hello to everyone I’ve missed. HELLO!

Sending you Kitty love

Once my work load is decently managed, I am scheduling more ME time. Time to blog. Time to take pictures and edit them at leisure. Time to listen to music. Time to meet up with friends. Time to watch movies.

With Ms. Sharon CunetaSpeaking of movies, I just saw the trailer of Sharon Cuneta’s¬†latest movie, Caregiver. I’m a big Sharon Cuneta fan, really, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet her (and hug her in person!!!) because of my writing (I do reviews of music and movies, on the side).¬†I’m not a big¬†movies fan; moreover, I’m not a big Filipino movies fan.¬†Still, despite the limitations of our¬†entertainment industry, we do manage to come up with stellar performances that¬†are at par with world-renowned talent.

Aside from being a Sharon-starrer, this movie caught my attention because it tackles a theme very close to our heart- the plight of overseas Filipino workers. We are a country of migrant workers scattered in every corner of the globe. We are doctors, nurses, caregivers, engineers, bankers, domestic helpers, seamen, entertainers, and teachers. 

I hope that you enjoy the¬†movie trailer as much as I did.¬†When this comes out on the big¬†screen, I’m hauling A and forcing him to watch this with me. ¬†


Of Writing

(Originally posted 28 September 2007) 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.

At three, when most little girls played with their dolls, I was scrawling large fat letters on a little pad my father gave me, copying words in disjointed phrases, pretending they were all mine. One day soon enough, I discovered I could make my own words and string them together to make my own stories. They were horrible stories in the beginning, mostly cobbled fragments of my fascination with the horror genre  and dripping with as much blood and gore as a little girl could muster (what can I say? I truly was a little freak). In the end, an encounter with my English teacher and the guidance counselor at school taught me the power that words can wield. Reading through a short story I wrote on decomposing maggot-infested flesh (hey, I was eleven!), they reminded me that I always have a choice on how to use my gifts. My words are my wings, there to take me where I want to go, they said. And young as I was, I was to make a choice each time I put something on paper.

It took a while before I truly understood but I always kept their words to heart.

True, writing is all about choices. It is precisely this freedom afforded to us that allows one to explore the many avenues and the myriad possibilities available in the world. And once you open yourself up to the world of words, you realize that you can channel the universe and all in it to convey your innermost thoughts, to express deeply-guarded emotions, and to realize goals and long-forgotten dreams.

I did not make a living of writing. I was shunted into a more technical discipline as I grew older, favoring the strictness of the sciences over literary expression. As the years wore on, however, the cracks in my so-called life grew bigger and bigger, until I found out I could not go on. One day, I simply picked up pen and paper again and started writing again. And I wept for joy.

The words, stifled for so long, echoed through pages and pages.

These days, I still write a lot. On and off, I write for e-zines and magazines, but mostly I write for myself. For my sake. For my life.