Monday, November 30, 2009

The First Sunday of Advent in Manila

Today is the first Sunday of advent.

The season of celebrating Christ. The season of being with Christ. The season of living with Christ.

The season of giving (and receiving). The season of sharing. The season of being with the family. The season of fun.
Tradition is very important. That is why even if we are in Manila, we wanted to continue our usual Christmas preparations.
To keep our German tradition of lighting a candle, I had to assemble an advent wreath from scratch. This time, there are no freshly cut pines from our garden. I miss the smell of fresh pine!
What I did was buy an already formed wreath (which here they usually put up on the doors); and asked the girls to help me use the 'old' Christmas decors we brought from Germany.
It was easy to do, the girls simply had to stick those balls, wrap those ribbons, plant those flowers. My husband protested a bit when it came to putting those 'apple formed and scented' candles but I told him I have in hand those sturdy candle holders from Germany. Of course, I told the whole family to be extra careful. Let us not keep the candles burning too long; and we should always watch out (not only for Santa Claus) :D
And here's how it looked like (see photo). Of course, there's the advent's calendar. But that's another story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

She hates school and then...

My five-year old IC hated school.

She's a newbie in a German school here in the Philippines. We visited the school a few times before the school year started. She loved that there's a big swimming pool.

The first day of school started normally. She went inside the classroom and talked with her teacher. Then suddenly, she wont let go of me. She clung so tight I couldnt breathe. We had to bring her home because she was screaming and clinging; there is nothing we could do.

When she calmed down I asked her what happened. She said she wants a bigger bag. Then I remembered; her teacher noticed that she's got the smallest bag in the whole class. That made her a bit insecure. So off we go to buy her a new, bigger bag.

She got the bag; but never let go of me. Wont go inside the classroom; wont join the kids in the playground. Nope, she only stayed with me. That was the second day. The third day, we decided that I would join them in the classroom.

The fourth day I was asked to stay outside. IC was allowed to check that I am still there every few seconds. The fifth day IC insisted I should stay outside and wait until the school is out. And everything went smoothly afterwards.

And then came the one week semestral break.

A few days before classes would resume, she kept on saying she hates school. The night before classes would begin, IC cried herself to sleep. She wont go to school, she adamantly repeated. Never telling us the reasons why.

First school day? She cried and screamed. She wont stay in the classroom; and instead chose to sit alone on a bench outside the whole time. Second day? She cried and screamed, bite and kicked, slugged and pushed -- I had to compromise. She'll stay and I would sit outside until the school bell rings.

The third day, we talked to her teacher. It turned out that her bestfriend; the only girl who could really speak German; was transferred to another section after the school break. She felt really lost.

Thus both parties resolved:
- to find IC a 'new' buddy in class
- to give her extra activities that she loves to do
- to remind her again that doing hurtful things is not a good thing to do; that it is better if she would tell us what she wants
- to be patient but resolute in making her see that being in school is the best for her because she would get to know more friends and learn new things
- to understand what she is going through and try not to use bribes and threats to encourage her to stay in class
- but the best of all, she's got an invite from her teacher to write to her, to send her emails or text messages on just about any topic that she wanted to share (that made IC so proud)
- to take it easy and

Now, it seems IC's cured of her 'I hate school phase'.

What made IC excited about school again? She got injured in a biking accident and she wanted to show off her plastered foot :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wishing Stars

I marked the calendar when I read in the newspaper about meteorites shower and told the girls about it.

I told them in the Philippines, when you see those falling stars including those meteorites showers, you are supposed to start making a wish and it would come true.

But first, their papa had to explain what a meteorite is (it is a natural thing that comes from outer space and when it reaches the earth it becomes a fireball that are usually called shooting stars); and we told them they should prepare if they want to see it.

We told the kids the meteorite shower is to happen one very late night until very early the next day. They chose to be up earlier than stay up late. They are very excited to make a wish. They wanted to list down their wishes but I encouraged them to sleep on it and choose the 'bestest' wishes.

The day came. The kids slept earlier. I stayed up late and watched the shower of meteorites by myself and of course, whispered a few precious wishes. Very early next morning, MC refused to budge but IC was all agog.

I carried my sleepy bundle near the window. I closely observed IC as she looked outside, closed her eyes and mumbled out her wishes. Afterwhich she gave me a big hug and I heard a satisfied sigh.

That was when I noticed that the cloud is already parting to make way for the sunrise. That it was already too bright to see the falling stars.

But that didnt bother IC, she mainly believed that when she looked outside, the falling stars would wait for her and her wishes. That's faith for you :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When we have a lot of money...

One early morning on our way to school, MC shared her thoughts...

'Mama, when we have a lot of money, please buy me a lot of black clothes.'

She added, 'Plus, dont forget to buy me a BLACK knee high boots, too.'

When I simply nodded and smiled at her, she emphasized, 'I want to be a superstar when I grow up that is why I needed those kind of things.'

To which I replied, 'Why dont you try to be a superstar now so you could buy those clothes and much more if you earned money?'

MC cleverly answered,'Well, I wanted go to school first.'

That's my girl :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

St. Martin's Day in the Philippines

November 11 is St. Martin's Day, a German tradition.

What is St. Martin's day? According to :

November 11th is a special day in the U.S., Canada, and German-speaking Europe, but when North Americans are observing Veterans Day/Remembrance Day, most Austrians and German Catholics are celebrating a different kind of holiday. The Feast of Saint Martin, the Germanic Martinstag celebration, is more like Halloween and Thanksgiving rolled into one. Martinstag or Martini commemorates Sankt Martin (c. 317-397), Bishop of Tours, one of the most revered European saints.

The best-known legend connected with Saint Martin is the dividing of the cloak (die Mantelteilung), when Martin, then a soldier in the Roman army, tore his cloak in two to share it with a freezing beggar at Amiens. Today in many parts of Europe the feast is still celebrated by processions of children with candle-lit lanterns (Martinslaternen - see the German children's song "Ich geh mit meiner Laterne") and a banquet of roast goose (die Martinsgans).In former times, Martini was the “official” start of winter and the 40-day Christmas fast. Today Martinstag is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season in German Europe.

Here in the Philippines, the usual preparations were done.

The kids practiced their songs and their theater piece. The parents were invited to come to school for a day to create lanterns with the kids (see photo below). Aside from crafting lanterns, the kids get to play while the moms and dads get to meet and exchange stories.

During the day itself, we had to gather in an airconditioned auditorium; usually we celebrate on cold winter nights in Germany. Aside from having the usual lanterns, we had to wear warm clothes as the parade is mostly done outside.

That was why it was a pleasant surprise that we could wear whatever we wanted when we celebrated it in the Philippines :)

The kids sang, others played instruments, (see photo above) and they presented a theater piece about the story of St. Martin (see photo below).

What came as a disappointed for the girls was not seeing the St. Martin riding a real horse as what they are used to back in Germany. But they were delighted to see a 'cute' horse on stage.

Here is IC proudly displaying our artwork during the lantern parade. Another surprise for the girls? Instead of getting their St. Martin's mannlein or a bread shaped like the famous gingerbread and a glass of hot kinderpunsch or kiddie punch; they were treated to a feast of different kinds of rolls and cold orange juice (see photo below).

The kids enjoyed the celebration especially since they enjoyed a lot of firsts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


In a tone worthy of a queen to her servant, my seven-year-old MC tried to put the fear in me with a dager stare and uttered a cold ‘hey’ to me.

Pointing out that she has been trying to catch my attention. She wanted to give me a soiled glass which I am supposed to take with me into the kitchen.

I looked at her, gently I reminded her I am still her mama even though she is sick and she’s allowed to boss us around during these ‘sick’ times.

But, she must not use that tone to me or anybody else for that matter. That being sick doesn’t give her an excuse to forget to be respectful and to forget to use the good words.

I hugged her and told her we could do it one more time.

Well, we did and both of us felt better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Picnic Time at the Cemetery

There is something that makes the Philippines very, very unusual during the first of November. We celebrate the All Saint's Day like a fiesta!

tables are set-up, food are served

the kids enjoyed the picnic

November 1 spells: homecomings, reunions, food, drinks, fun and games, music and of course, candles, prayers and flowers, too.

I couldnt resist bringing the girls for their first taste of this kind of 'fiesta'. At first, they were both hesitant. But when I told them we would be taking the tricycle (a three-wheeled vehicle) instead of using the car; they agreed with urgency. Well, with IC, she asked me if there would be cakes served and I told her 'yes, of course.'

Because I havent visited my grandfather's tomb for more than 10 years; it took us sometime to locate it. In fact, I had to ask people the location of a famous person's mausoleum, because I know that ours would be almost facing it. With the kindness of a stranger, we found our lot.

The oldies were praying; the young ones were either eating, sleeping, playing with their own electronic gadgets or simply doing their best not to get bored.

The kids were all eyes. Of course, the first one who saw us led us straight to the food section. MC immediately chose what she wanted (she finished two full plates); but IC refused to budge. She's on the verge of a tantrum before I realized she didnt find the promised 'cakes' on the table; well, they had cakes but the traditonal kind that she isnt familiar with. Good thing an ice cream vendor walked by. That and choosing what ice cream to eat distracted her.

Well, we were fed. We got updates with family news. We got entertained with games and even a few magic tricks.

The kids were filled with the sounds, colors and smells of November 1 that IC commented with pride during dinner time, 'Papa, you should have attended the fun party at the cemetery today.'

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cinderella and Snow White

My very own Cinderella and Snow White.

What happens when a wild typhoon greets the morning of Halloween?

Well, the kids would wake up early, as usual.

But... they would start to feel the excitement of Halloween as they watch the trees bend to almost breaking point. As they hear the howling of the wind. As they see parts of rooftops flying. As they identify debris floating around.

Thus, they were all geared up and ready to face the monsters and ghosts by the time we had breakfast!

We had to miss on a hotel halloween treat because we dont want to risk travelling on a stormy day.

Good thing I remembered a friend living in one of the villages near our place who I know practices Halloween 'trick or treat'. Although it was a little wet, the girls marched with their gowns and gamely collected their treats.

What made this stormy Halloween more fun?
- The typhoon's morning wake up call prepared them for that 'scary' feeling
- The anticipation on what would happen that day because they were told if the rainfall would be too much, we would instead create 'trick or treat' stations inside our house
- They were very proud to announce the fact that they know 'in the Philippines, one should say 'trick or treat' and not 'suesses oder saures' (sweet or sour) like in Germany
- They met new friends
- They experienced Halloween without freezing (it is cold in Germany at this time):D
- They shared their sweets to friends who were not able to go around for treats