Yo, Loser! You!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On a recent occasion, I questioned using the word "loser" in the teen circle.

It was explained to me (by a teen) that the word loser is a commonly used term of expression and does not mean anything and should not provoke if it's used on you.

I would tend to disagree. Nobody likes to be called a loser, even in jest. And although I will not debate that loser is common, the word itself connotes such a negativity that we do not even teach our children from a young age to say it.

Imagine this: At a match or a game, you have the winners and you have the losers. Do you hear the announcers say "Here are our winners! And there are our losers!" Is it not more common to talk about the losers as the contestants who did not win or make it, or the contestants who lost?

If your child or children did not make the cut in a team, do you teach him to say "I'm a loser, ma." or "We're a bunch of losers, ma."? I think not.

And let's take it to another context. What if there is no match, no game, no contest....and the word loser is used? What does it mean? What exactly are you when you are called such in the greater scheme of life?

This post is not to attack anyone (any teen for that matter) who thinks that there is nothing to the word "loser". Certainly, it is your right to be called a loser, and to be cool enough to accept the tag "loser" without reaction.

I just know I don't like it. And I'll never be cool enough to accept any such label. Neither will my children.

It's probably not much but that's my two cents worth on the subject.

YOU'RE A LOSER! Say, how do you feel about that?

TCP: While You Were Sleeping

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I've been waiting for this topic to feature on Tuesday Couch Potatoes for the longest time because I've got just the movie in mind.

This week, our assignment is to choose a romantic movie in the 90's. And my choice (with drumrolls please!) is the 1995 romantic comedy, While You Were Sleeping.

The film tells the story of a lonely ticket booth collector Lucy (played to perfection by Sandra Bullock) who has a secret crush on a handsome commuter, Peter Callaghan (played by Peter Gallagher). On Christmas Day, Lucy rescues Peter from an oncoming train after a mugger pushes him onto the tracks. He falls into a coma. Lucy takes Peter to hospital but due to unforeseen circumstances, she was misinterpreted that she was engaged to him by a nurse when Lucy said, "I'm going to marry that man".

Afterwards, Lucy meets the rest of Peter's family and instantly she is accepted as one of the family. She is invited to spend a belated Christmas Eve with them and in the morning, she meets Peter's brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). Jack is not quite convinced that Lucy is who she says she is.

The story goes on when Lucy finds herself not being able to confess to Peter's family that she is not really engaged to him and that Peter does not even know her. Peter eventually wakes up but because he does not know her, his family is convinced that he has suffered amnesia. A wedding was set for Peter and Lucy, but in the last minute, Lucy finally admits the truth and that she has fallen in love with Jack, Peter's brother.

In the end, all's well that ends well. A happy ending is to be expected of course.

This movie really caught me by surprise when I bought it on DVD more than a decade ago. It is one of my most treasured film. I watch it every time I feel like I need a laugh and a lot of love. Not to mention that this is one of the romantic films I've watched where there is no nudity or sex scenes but the movie still successfully conveys the love story across to the audience. Gawd! The main characters only kisses at the end of the movie even.

So there it is. My kind of romantic film. Join us for the rest of the TCP gang at Just About Anything.

Weighing In: Stepping Mad!

Monday, September 26, 2011
So after my gruelling post about the Stepper, you’d think that that was it, right?

Me and my beloved step (er, any step will do)

Well, apparently, I am a sucker for punishment, because I now proclaim that stepping is my favourite gym exercise. Although I must admit that I’ve taken a variation to the Stepper. I still share my ups and downs with the Stepper machine (hey, check it out! a little pun here). But what really gets my heart pumping for more is the Steps class that the gym offers.

My most used gym equipment

We are taught a series of stepping sequences during the class in which we have to remember and follow throughout. The sequences are all linked together and if you are attentive enough to the trainer, you’ll know just which foot to step when and you’ll never lose your step. As you go through the different levels, you’ll also learn more difficult stepping sequences.
I started with the classes because I figured I needed more help with the Stepper machine and so the classes might help to improve my stamina. And whoa! After attending a few of the advanced classes, I was hooked. I wanted to be advanced. I tried to keep up with the rest of them advance steppers….but just barely. Not to mention, all sweaty.
So there it is, my favourite gym pastime. You can surely get me to the gym faster if you mention that there’s a Steps class happening. Out of my way!

The Accountant Is In

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I spoke about our office move a few posts ago and I am happy to show off the first pictures of my new office.

There is still a lot to be done but we will surely get there.

I am not yet settled and it will probably take more than a few weeks still. I actually have this feeling that it is more chaotic now than ever!

But knowing me, I revel in the most glorious of messes. Bring it on!

Some NCIS, Anyone?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I've been hooked for the last 4 years. Although judging from its seasons, it has been around longer. Pity I can't get my hands on Season 1 and Season 2 episodes. But I am really so into NCIS. There was even a point in time that I was watching it six nights a week (reruns and the current episodes all together).

Haven't heard of it? Where have you been, under a rock?

According to Wikipedia, NCIS is going into its ninth season this year. In 2011, it was apparently voted as America's favourite television show. I wouldn't know that much, being way out here in South Africa. But it's a sure favourite in my house.

NCIS follows the goings-on and investigations led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). His team consists of Special Agents Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). In the background, they have their Medical Examiner Dr Ducky Mallard (David McCallum) and Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette).

We watch on as we get embroiled in their lives and drama as only a TV series can do to you.

Weighing In: An Intro To The Stairs Monster

Monday, September 19, 2011
Back in 2004, when I first joined the gym, I was really amazed at how such a simple machine could evoke so much sweat and 'out-of-breath'ness in one person. I am talking about the one and only Stepper. The one where you take steps as if you are on your way to a never-ending stairway to heaven.

Yep, that's the one. I dub ye The Stairs Monster!!!!

My first encounter with it was not very encouraging, to say the least. In fact, I would describe it as very one-sided - the step machine big and sturdy, unmoving and me on the other end, gasping for air and deciding that I need medical attention after 3 minutes of stepping (or as the experts say, taking the stairs). I could not perform any other gym exercises after that first meeting with the step machine. It had become my nemesis.

Of course, if I had known then what I know now, I would have realised that I've set the bar too high by doing something silly like increasing my level to 8 when I didn't know what the machine could do to me. The steps were stiff but as you increase the level, the steps became smoother...but then you also needed to step faster to keep yourself afloat. It felt so easy just taking steps. I was misled so I continued increasing the level of ease, or as I found out later, it was actually the level of difficulty. I've setup myself to fail. Not to mention, that I just showed myself up as totally unfit.

I avoided the step machine for a few months after that but decided to adopt the "no pain, no gain" policy. I came back to it, and after resolving that I should not play around with the controls of the level, I had a much more enjoyable experience with it. One that did not involve hyperventilation.

My Child Shows Support - RWC 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Last Friday marked the start of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. For a lot of our friends in the Philippines, rugby would just mean some sort of superglue. Be assured that in South Africa, rugby is serious business.

Supporters have started the Rugby Friday, where everybody is urged to wear their rugby jerseys, shirts, gears, etc. on Fridays to show their support of the South African team. Most schools and businesses really showed their enthusiasm last Friday at the start of the World Cup. You can see my child as she gears herself with the springbok shirt and waves her small South African flag.

According to Wikipedia, rugby is a style of football originating from Rugby School in the United Kingdom. I personally have not taken a liking to this game and think this sport is too rough as the players do not wear padded sports gear (this way, it is very different from American Football) as they tackle each other on the field.

But the game is definitely big here in South Africa. The South African team, fondly called the Springboks, have been twice World Champions already. Once in 1995 - this epic and symbolic win was depicted in the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as former President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the then winning Captain of the Springbok team.

The Springboks are the current defending World Champion, having won the tournament in 2007. There is high hope that they will win again this year. Go Bokke!

Of course, being a supporter can get really tiring, and so after her big rally, we popped by the local KFC to feed our little big supporter some KFC pops. :-)

More About Moms And Mooncakes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Wikipedia photo

Celebrating the Mooncake Festival recently, I was reminded when I was little - maybe around 5, 6 or 7 years old - that my mother used to make mooncakes.

I remember sitting on our rectangular wooden table (because sitting on the lower chair just wouldn't do for me and I couldn't really see what she was doing) and watching her make these mooncakes. I don't remember much about the recipes (as we all know how I am with cooking) but then this post wouldn't be offering any mooncake recipes anytime soon.

I remember there was some kind of yolk inside it. I think it was salted egg yolks, strained. Then it would be covered with black bean paste. I am not sure what other steps were involved except that there were unshelled watermelon pips stuck on the black bean paste all round before the whole thing is covered by dough. The dough couldn't be thin as it needed to stretch while it was being pressed into the metal stamp with the mooncake logo at the bottom. I really enjoyed playing with this carved stamp as it looked like some sort of misshaped hammer with a big dipper in the middle.

The stamp looked like these but ours was metallic silver
 and looked like a kitchen utensil

So when I see mooncakes at my local Chinese shops during festival time, I am reminded of this time with my mom when she made her special mooncakes while I was happily sitting on the table, eating away some of her melon pips and filling the metal mooncake stamp. A blast from the past!

Again, happy mid-autumn festival to everyone!

Mooncake Festivals and Dice Games

Monday, September 12, 2011
I was reminded by a Chinese friend that mooncake festival was coming up. This year, the Mooncake Festival will happen on the 12th of September.

For those who do not know, the Mooncake Festival is a harvest festival popularly celebrated by the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese people. It is also often called the Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Festival or Zhongqiu (as we normally call it in Philippines). Sometimes it is even referred to as the Lantern Festival. 

The Festival is held every 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. It normally lands sometime between September and October.

When I was young, we used to celebrate the Mooncake Festival with a family celebration. Family members would gather at my uncle's house and we would play this dice game, consisting of six dice in a bowl. There would be prizes up for grabs. Each time you get a four or a one (both represented by red dots on a die), you would get something from the prizes. The more of the same numbers you have, say, getting five fours or five threes or six twos, the grander the prizes (usually the grand prize is something big and luxurious). The game could go on for hours until somebody throws the winning combination. I was usually happy if I get one or two fours as that would mean sweets and chocolates.

When I was in school as well, we would also celebrate the festival the same way. It was, of course, slightly different as you would need to chip in some monies for the prizes to be bought by the teacher. Each student would get a turn to throw the dice and win the prizes.

I think back on these childhood memories with such fondness.

Since coming to South Africa, I have not celebrated the festival in this way. The closest thing to a celebration was getting mooncakes on festival day. And then I would be reminded of all these wonderful memories of the dice game, the sweets, the chocolates, the prizes and the family. Sometimes I wish I could relive them and show my children some part of their Chinese culture.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to everyone! Zhongqiu Jie Kuai Le!

I'm Seeing Doubles

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I've never believed it much when people used to tell me that I looked like a certain Philippine actress. I've always thought it was just people being cross-eyed or something. After all, my looks are not actress material....or are they?

So 2 years back, I decided to put this to the test and show my youngest a picture of the actress that I reckoned had almost the same look as me. Imagine my surprise when my child became convinced that that is a picture of mommy.

And so it became official. I looked like her. Or rather, she looked like me, hehehe....

You decide!

Note to Ate (big sister) Kris Aquino: I hope you don't mind if people tell you that you look like me, I'm not well known naman. LOL. Anyway, my hubby says I'm lacking in the nose department (too pango daw ako) to be a true dead ringer!

Kris Aquino Bio: She is a Filipino television and movie personality but comes from a family prominent in the political arena. She is the youngest daughter of the late Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, who served as the 11th President of the Philippines. Kris is also the sister of Benigno Aquino III, the current President of the Philippines.

TCP: Fame (2009)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Couch Potatoes this week present movies with the groovy music and dance moves.

My choice is Fame (2009), which is a remake of the 1980 film of the same name.


It tells the story of various students who start out their freshmen year in an art school. Their concentration varied from dance, vocals, music and drama. The film relates how difficult it is to make it in the business and how much pressure is impressed upon these students to excel in their field of studies. This is because only the best make it and mediocrity leads nowhere.

The film did not have big names on the bill but managed to entertain and educate viewers on student life in art school. The heartaches, the triumph and the pain....

With regards music, who can forget the song "Fame"? Definitely, remember my name..... :-)

Weighing In: My First Bowl Of Veggies

Monday, September 5, 2011
What a momentous occasion! Who would've thought this day would eventually come? Definitely something worthy of a Guinness Book of Record.

The family went to a fancy restaurant for Sunday lunch and I decided to order my first green bowl - a salmon salad!

Okay, it doesn't sound much. But if you know me, you'd know that I've never ever touched green since I was a babe. And except for green beans, all cooked greens are instantly rejected at sight. So this was truly a momentous - I would even call it majestic - event.

I am on strict doctor's order to shape up or ship out. I have to do this. I have to do this. I have to do this. Now all I need to do is repeat these words a few more hundred times and I'll be able to convince myself.