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An open letter to my daughter

My dearest,

You do not know how many times I thought about writing this letter. My mind keeps telling me not to and just be silent about it, but my heart says otherwise. I have always been like this, ever since I was young. I used to have my own journal (or diary as we used to call it). I was trained to maintain a journal when I was in second grade. Our teacher then would check our entries every end of the month and would grade us. I carried that habit with me up until my college days. Maybe I really am a certified introvert. I would rather write my thoughts about something rather than share them with someone else. Solitude is most of the time a welcome relief for me.

So in this case, I am more comfortable writing all my anxieties and worries about you.

Shocking truth

I was more than shocked when you finally shared with me what went through your life during your 6-year stay with your Papa and his wife. I figured out now why you have not been telling me anything before about your life with them. Because of this one single incident that they carried all throughout their life with you, things become difficult for you. That incident led you to hide things from me. And that incident made them tell you these exact words, “Life is unfair, Lara. And that all started with your mom.” These words came from your Papa, as you told me. For me, it was so shallow of them to take that incident against you. And that incident was just about me finding out one day in the year 2013 (and you were only 12 years old then) that they let you do your laundry, although with a machine. Because I know how tiresome it is to do the laundry. I reacted negatively (okay, maybe even overreacted) during that time and was prompted to call your Papa and eventually said negative things about it. As I recall what I said was they should let you focus on your studies and learn to help only with small chores. His wife should be doing the laundry. They got angry of course. And according to you, your Papa’s wife managed to not talk to you for a month after that.

Then came another scenario where you were just standing in a corner and you found your Papa and his wife cleaning up. Since you just moved in with them during that time, you were shy to move around. Your papa’s wife found you and maybe you were blocking her way because she said, “Tumabi tabi ka nga dyan kung wala kang gagawin!” When you told me that story, in a very casual way, my heart was breaking. You were still young then and yet you were treated that way.

Neglect

I talked to one of your close friends. I did not tell you about it because I know you will never understand why I wanted to know everything, all the angles of your story. I asked her through messenger how was your relationship with your Papa and the wife. She said it was seldom okay. And even shared with me that she always wondered why you were never invited to join them in their out of town trips or even out of the countries. Your response was either your passport was expired or you were tasked to feed the cats. She said that’s how much you love your Papa. You always understand their actions. You never speak badly about them.

So even on the birthday of your papa last year, according to your friend, you were left alone in the house with the cats, while they travel all the way to Singapore! I don’t care about whatever affairs they have. But when you are obviously neglected, that’s one hell of an issue for me. Your friend also mentioned that when they came to your house they saw many framed pictures of your Papa and the wife, even the cats, not even one picture of you. But I said that was their home style, not a big deal. I have many pictures of you at home. She also mentioned that the wife discouraged having your friends come over at your place. And whenever she did find you at home with friends, she would go straight to her room and not even offer some kind of hospitality.

Child neglect is a form of child abuse, and is a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs, including the failure to provide adequate health care, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs. Society generally believes there are necessary behaviors a caregiver must provide in order for a child to develop physically, socially, and emotionally. Causes of neglect may result from several parenting problems including mental disorders, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, unplanned pregnancy, and poverty.

One day, when we were eating lunch at home, in the middle of our many conversations, you uttered that it was not the same at your place with your Papa. You said when you eat with them, it was mostly quiet, although comfortable. And when you and the wife are not in good terms, you would eat dinner alone. You also said the wife doesn’t like noise so you usually spend your time in your bedroom.

One thing that bothered me was when you told me their response when I asked why your Papa preferred not to reply every time I sent a text message (which was very seldom and I only send a simple text message when I cannot reach your phone and being a mom, I was worried especially when I know that you were out with friends). And I quote, “Why do I need to reply? We were never friends.” BOOM! Those were his words. You see Lara, I learned years ago that co-parenting should exist and conveying messages thru you is not a good practice of co-parenting. I would just be putting you in the center of our conflict. And according to an online article on co-parenting tips, the first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs ahead of your own. And we can do that by being considerate and respectful.

Honestly, I was always worried every time I learned that your Papa allowed you to attend parties in school until midnight. I was worried when I learned that your Papa allowed you to stay over at a friend’s house because he wouldn’t be able to pick you up at night. I was even more worried when I learned that he allowed you to have a boyfriend at the age of sixteen, when in fact as the father he should be that strict parent who would not agree to that. He even allowed your boyfriend to come over at your place with a reminder to never lock the door of your bedroom (?!?%@!!). Is he not aware of how curious teenagers usually are? One more thing that greatly bothered me and really raised a notch of anger and resentment was when you told me that your Papa offered to rent out a dormitory for you this year, in your 12th year in school. His reasons were because it would be safer for you to be near your school since there will be many projects and late-night group meetings with classmates (SAFER!!). His offer came when his wife finally got pregnant, after their many years of waiting, thank God, right? But that situation they’re in now does not give them the right to decide on their own what kind of home they’re gonna throw you into. Hello, I am still here. They should have consulted me that they wished to do that to you. You see Lara, I read somewhere that if a child and a new spouse are not usually getting along, the parent should find a way to protect and nurture the child, not ignore or abandon the child.

Anger and regrets

These past few weeks, I have come up with an endless stream of things I regret. Things I wish I had done differently. And I know other people will probably say that I should not have agreed to let you go with your Papa in the first place.

Honestly, Lara, after the laundry incident, I thought everything was working out great with you at their place because you don’t talk anything anymore about them. Every time I call you, you will always say you are okay or you just woke up or you are busy at school. You sometimes get angry with me every time I check on you after school. Then I will call you again in the evening to check if you had your dinner. Then I would send you messages to take care of yourself every time you commute going to school or home. We see each other every other weekend only because I respected you when you said you get tired of going to two different homes weekly. When I talked to your classmate about your situation, she said you mentioned to her that you do want to stay with me but you are having doubts because my place is so far from your school. And you want to finish the six-year term with your Papa, and then off you go with me by the time you enter college. You just don’t know how much I have been waiting for that time. But.. If I had known all these trials you’ve been through Lara, I would have adjusted myself. I could have rented a place near your school. I can make sacrifices for you. You have done enough sacrifices for me when we’re together for five years, after my separation from your Papa. I never heard you complain when you kept on transferring schools because I kept on changing jobs just to get by. But I know you were tired. That is why when you moved in with your Papa, I know you will be staying in one school until you graduate high school.

God's purpose

Until now I cannot understand why this happened to you. You will be experiencing now this big responsibility in life, far earlier than what happened to me. I am honestly holding on to my faith and belief that maybe God has a purpose for you. Maybe God has plans for your life, far better than what I and your Papa hoped for you to become. I cannot forget what my husband said when he was comforting me while crying my heart out when I learned about it. He said I should be happy for this blessing. A new life has been given and not taken away.

It was just sad how things turned out. When your Papa called to have a talk with me and you at his office, I was controlling my anger. When he admitted that you and his wife never really got along and that they were really surprised and not ready when you moved in with them, I was holding your hand because I want you to feel that my heart was burning with anger. I prayed silently and asked God for help while he was giving his long speeches on how he provided well for you. He then said that you need to go out of his house because you betrayed their trust and you need to mature on your own. I never expected a parent saying that to a child. I was supposed to be the angry mother because this thing happened under his care, under his roof. But I did not surrender myself to anger. I am not perfect. I also have shortcomings. The only difference between me and your Papa is that I become your shield when other people said not so good things about you. I stand by your side, especially when they are truly wrong. Even with my husband, I can protect you. But when you really did something wrong, you know that I have all the time to talk to you about it. So, I took a deep breath and just said, “I will take her with me.” As a mom, Lara, whatever happens, even if I have a gazillion questions for you, I will understand and just be there for you. Growing up from a broken family was never your fault. It was our job to help you feel secure despite the situation, provide you with all the basic needs including emotional, social and safety needs.

Moving forward

I guess what we need to focus on right now is establishing a good future now that you are working towards the next phase in your adult life, with the help of course of your new extended family. You may have been a year delayed in your schooling, but we will not stop from here. We will secure a good education for you. You will have to finish high school and graduate in college. Whatever course you will take, as long as it is your interest, we will be here to support you. I am actually looking forward to what your future holds. It may be difficult at first, but with God’s guidance, we can get by.

Here are some of our pictures at home, images to remind you of our sweet moments.

I love you so much!

Mama

Welcoming 2016 – Catching Up

Happy New Year!!!!! It is 2016! A little catching up and updating won’t probably ruin the purpose of this blog – which is to empower women like me, who is very ordinary and with minimal control over life’s great changes and challenges.

Remember in my previous entry, I mentioned that I transferred here in Manila on October 2014, mainly because I wanted to be neared Lara, my one and only daughter. She was residing with her biological father then in Antipolo with a madrasta. She moved in with them in the year 2013, after her series of requests to be with her Papa because they have not been together for five years (her father and I got separated when she was 6 years old).

 

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The simplest wedding event that I managed to execute (civil wedding, August 8, 2015)

And one year after that transition to a new job and new home, I found myself getting married in August 8, 2015, to Mr. Larry Felipe Paraiso, who actually was my first official boyfriend back in my teen years (18 years old to be exact). He found me (again) during my weakest points in my life and that was around year 2011, four years after my unofficial break-up with Lara’s father.

Larry, my hubby, was very understanding and he accepted everything about me, my painful past and all that. I could write more stories how he found me again but there were trials along the way, and there were not worth remembering, believe me, same with the stories before I had Lara. Those years, because I was still young, pregnant and striving hard to graduate, were all hardships and sacrifices. I thank God so much because I survived those times.

I know my marriage to Larry surprised my family, especially Lara. My family knew him from a family friend, because he was one of our neighbors in the old Filinvest Village where my parents lived when I was in grade school. They never knew him as my first boyfriend when I was in college (not a good one, huh). Lara, on the other hand, got to meet him only five years ago. They spent a year knowing each other and that time ended when she had to move in with his biological father. There were reasons why she had to move in with his father. One was the fact that she really did miss her Papa. Another reason was I know Lara was tired from shifting to different schools every time I had a new work contract. You see, It was hard running a home on your own and raising a child with very limited resources. I had to search and search for better work every year. But it was not good for Lara, I know. Her father never had a hard time like mine when it comes to financial matters. He could definitely help with Lara’s schooling. I was also thinking, in addition to all that, the father can help develop the (many) talents of Lara since he is an artist, and as a father, can lure Lara away from different temptations in school, especially high school. That happened in 2013. That crucial moment was hard. I cried and cried but I had to believe that everything will turn out okay for me and Lara.

Honestly, I am in a tiny bit of a limbo (even editing this entry for many times now). I have many adjustments to deal with from this year forward. But I have never been happier now. Now that I’m completely settled here in Manila, I get to see Lara every time I want to, I have a hubby who teaches me every day to be strong, and I also have this little baby bump who would soon bring more craziness in my life.

 

 

How I spent my birthday

Today is my birthday. And I am now 35.

It has been like ages since my last post. I have been busy these past few months with deadlines and stuffs at work. Nevertheless, I love everything about this new job. I did mention about this new job earlier right? When you get to this age, you sometimes question yourself on where you are in terms of career, finances, relationships, even health. And after gaining over ten years of experience working in three different fields (call center, sales, freelance writing), you would wish for your job hunting to stop and pray for a VERY STABLE job where you can retire peacefully or even abundantly. So when my college friend encouraged me to take the Civil Service Exam (that’s a major requirement for government employees), I said to myself, “Why not?”. I took the exam in October 2013. The results came around December, telling of course that I passed (all because of God’s grace).

God made me wait though. I got this “stable job” that I prayed for by October 2014. It was not that easy though. I have gone through a lot of pressure (and competition). I cried. I fought. Two months later, I found myself publishing the agency’s newsletter. I was the editor/lay out artist from cover to cover. And God helped me through it all. Wow! He really is an amazing God!

After eight short months, I heard myself saying, “I love my job”. I am happy with my work because I can write what I want, I communicate with a lot of people, I take pictures, I can travel for free (locally though but that is perfectly fine with me), I can practice creativity when it comes to printing designs and stuffs. You know what’s more amazing? I have my own office! Yey! Small, yes, but workable.

Going back to my birthday celebration…

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My legal/PRO friends greeted me with this. I was honestly surprised!
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And of course, what would be the greatest experience for me? Being able to spend my birthday with my one and only LARA. ❤

And it’s gonna be a week long celebration (note to self: no excessive monetary obligations involved). xxx

Moody and Uninspired

I have not been blogging these past few weeks. I was down and so depressed when my Gretel.. I can’t even type the word. Let me just say that she’s in pet heaven now. I guess that’s where they go right?

I now understand how people form that special bond with their pets. I used to just empathized when a friend or family lose a pet companion. And I sometimes ask why they feel sad. But when destiny gave me that chance to have my own pet, I now understand why. I’m not that much of a pet lover. I used to have a rabbit, one when I was in college and another one just a few years back, but I just couldn’t take care of them. But with Gretel, I was able to learn how to be responsive, how to be playful.

I missed Gretel.

I felt that pain of losing one great companion. A companion who never fails to greet you with her own gesture of love and loyalty. And no matter how tired I was from work, one glimpse of her waggling tail, and begging paws, she can easily get my attention.

We love you Gretel..

Chao Long Vietkong

I was just watching Rated K in ABS-CBN and they featured this food somewhere in Muñoz, Quezon City, Chao Long. The moment Ms. Korina Sanchez started showing how it was prepared and cooked, I googled the name of the eatery right away. I have always been a fan of asian cuisine. But when it comes to noddles, I am quite picky. I prefer Thai and Vietnamese noodles. I stayed in Cagayan for years but I admit I was never a fan of their famous Pancit Batil Patong.

I remember the time I was in Palawan. That was the time I was tagged as “Vietkong” by my CMLIers family, because they saw a Vietnamese waitress who looked a lot like me. Doppleganger huh? Anyway, I just can’t remember the name of the restaurant but I know I have tried this popular noodle soup. And after so many years, I am going to taste this remarkable dish once again. Real soon…

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Chao Long in Quezon City

Holiday cleaning and sorting

Merry Christmas everyone!

I am taking this time off from work this holiday break and this is the perfect time for me to sort some stuff at home, clean up files from my laptop, rearrange my clothes, and simply declutter my entire home.

As I was checking my files and pictures from my laptop, it seems like most of my pictures are not only of Lara’s, but a lot of them are food. Yes, I love food. It’s not quite obvious though because I weigh only about 105 lbs. Argggh! Some may like it but I don’t. I need to reach 110 lbs, if not the end of this year, probably by January of 2015. Well, anyway, here are the pictures of some of the  food that I love. I am a huge fan of Asian cuisine from Japanese to Chinese, Thai and Korean. I also love crabs, prawns, oysters and mussels, beef kebab, beef salpicao, beef burrito, (haha all beef!) and steaks! And how I wish I can eat all of these every month! (go work work work!)

I love crabs and oysters!
Japanese food will always have a place in my stomach
Tuna or Salmon Sashimi (of course, with lots of wasabi!)
Chicken Feet (Spicy!)
Beef Burrito (only in The Breakfast Project Cafe!)
I love Shawarma ever since college days ( try Behrouz in Tomas Morato)

These are the happy days! And I can’t wait for next year’s post on my food gallery (yum yum!).