Tuesday, January 26, 2010

quintessence: ESSENSIA SALON

quintessence: ESSENSIA SALON


Our Anniversary wud hav been perfect except 4 our horrid experience at ESSENSIA SALON. I would like to warn everyone NOT to get that deceiving promo where they lure you to purchase a package worth 350.00 with attractive freebies & discounts, only to find out that the freebies, i.e. hairspa, coloring and haircut, had been reduced to free hair spa and haircut only! It cannot even be converted to coloring only, which is my sole reason for going there. With the reduced package, parang binili mo na rin yung hairspa and haircut. The staff are not accommodating, not welcoming even. They give all sorts of reasons so that customers will be discouraged to avail of services offered. They argued with me that the package was changed sometime in October (sorry na lang kami that Dino bought the package in September), instruction daw ng management (the general stupid excuse), prices are subject to change without prior notice (duh?!), etcetera. To my utter disgust, we walked out from the salon. In the end, kumita na sila without even rendering any service! Indulgence to my FB and blogspot friends, I just want to shout to the world the DECEPTION of this salon. They have 3 branches, one in EDSA (we went here this morning despite the traffic), one in LIBERTAD (this is under renovation) and one in Paranaque. Please, I request you to pass and repost. Other than that, our 8th year wedding anniversary went well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Charlottesville and Charlotte's Web

AUGUST 4, 2008

We arrived in Charlottesville August 2 at 11 p.m.. We stayed first in a hotel for 2 nights.
Today we will be moving in to an "apartment" (in the Philippines it is condo-type)inside the university (they call it on-grounds). We have seen it yesterday, got the keys, inspected it (inspection is required prior to move-in). It is similar to the condo we have lived before, only bigger. The apartment is simple but cozy, 2 bedrooms, fully-furnished and with balcony. At $855, it already includes all utilities and Ethernet,except telephone service.

We are still adjusting here. Weather is good. It's summer but temperature is still a bit cold at 20 to 22 degrees. We don't perspire. The kids have adjusted better (maybe because all they do is play).
While at the airport playground at Detroit, Yno already had playmates. He led a group of four "black" kids in his type of play, that is, running around a playhouse and catching each other. He even introduced Deen as his brother. With them. mukhang pumuti si Yno and Deen sa paningin ko. Hehe. Our host here is amazed that Yno and Deen speak and understand English. She asked me how they learned the language, I said "on tv" and we speak to them in English at home. She said some students she had hosted can understand but can't really speak the language very well. I told her that Filipino kids nowadays speak English well because they learn that at home by watching english videos and cartoons and that's what they use in school. Maybe if she hears Rainer and Chot speak and converse about insects and dinosaurs she will be really awed.

We had a very long flight from Narita, Japan to Detroit, 11 hours and 45 minutes! It's a good thing that Yno and Deen were asleep most of the time, we didn't have a difficult time. Northwest Airline doesn't have individual video screens. They only have the big screen in front of the bulkhead seats, we didn't get bulkhead seats, i saw that they gave them to disabled people. It is a very boring long flight.

It is 6:26 a.m here now. Sun sets at 8 p.m.. Dino and I were already awake at 4 a.m. and we feel sleepy during the day.
The Philippines is 12 hours ahead, so it is now 6 p.m there now. I am using the hotel computer. free use, pati print kaya sinamantala ko na. today will be a busy day, i will go to housing to submit the documents, then we have to look for a car to purchase. having a car is a necessity here. imagine, there are no roaming taxicabs. i was told we have to call the company for taxi service.

so there, dino has texted already. yno is awake na raw. (i'm downstairs in the hotel lobby) our cellphones from the philippines don't work here. dino and i bought motorola cellphones for $9.00 each, with loads of $20 and $9 dollars. the cellphones are too simple, no cameras, no hightech features, just for calling and texting. i noticed that americans are not particular with cellphone models. cellphone is not a fad here.

AUGUST 8, 2008

we have settled a bit.


we noticed, it's a lot cheaper to live here. we don't buy water anymore (water is drinkable even by little kids, even by babies!),appliances are cheaper. dino bought a flat screen tv with dvd for $300.00 and a small dvd player for $100.00), and a gateway laptop(3gigabytes, 200gb hardisk) at $700.00. we just bought a 1991 subaru legacy car for $1950.00.
maganda pa naman itsura at takbo. transferring title to a car only took us less than an hour, it's a one-stop shop where the guy who entertained us from the start did everything till the end, like reviewing the documents, receiving the payment, releasing the title.
we were also able to transfer the title to the car BEFORE we have paid the owner a single cent. we only paid him (with a check) after the transfer. (people here are so trusting (or na├»ve?!) they even leave their cars unlocked in public areas.) there aren't much people shopping in the stores. the guy who assists you from the start is also the cashier and the bagman. dino bought a dvd player but when it did not work with our vcds from the philippines, he returned it the next day and kmart accepted it without any question. he got the refund right away. our host got us a booster seat (similar to a car seat) for yno for free at the local firestation. we also got a free stroller for deen from the university supply closet (that's where people donate things when they leave), now, yno and deen both have strollers. Yno gets tired from the long walks to the grocery because we didn’t have a car then. There are lots of playgrounds. The family housing is structured to be child-friendly.


Now, the bad things. First, it's lonely here. People don't go out or socialize much often. nababato na nga si dino kasi wala siyang kainuman. namimiss na niya tuloy ang maynilad boys. nakakita lang siya ng kayosi, yung host namin na retiree. mukhang house-office lang mga tao rito. there aren't malls here except for department stores, at yung parang bonifacio heights or tiendesitas sa pinas. ang meron sila yung separate stalls in a complex. kung may bibilhin ka, kelangan mo pa maglakad ng malayo or magkotse para lang mabili ang gusto mo. sa pinas, punta lang sa mall, andun na lahat. pati sinehan, kainan, andun na. dito, hiwa-hiwalay. Second bad thing, people here seem to be ignorant of so many things. We need to apply for a telephone service. I was told by the university that we can apply at a certain number, the printed instruction said we have to call 811. It turned out 811 is a digging service. Nasayang lang ang load ko sa pagtawag. Then I was told it is only embarq that serves this area. I called embarq. After supplying all information, I was asked for a Social Security Number. I told the person I don’t have any since I am a student and won’t work here. He said it is really a requirement so they can do a credit check. I told him I already have a bank account with $15,000.00 on it (nagyabang na ako sa inis ko) and I can give him my university id. Still the person insisted that an SSN is required. The person in the bank also said I need to submit the social security number (SSN), so I won’t be subject to withholding tax. Left without a choice and to make our lives easier, we went to the Social Security Administration, filled up forms to get an SSN only to be told that I am not entitled to an SSN because with an F1 visa, I am not allowed to work here. I told her I won’t use the SSN for work, but is required by the telephone company and the bank. She said she didn’t know why the phone company is requiring it, and that I should go the IRS for the withholding tax. Yoko na! Sobrang bureaucratic! Right now, we still haven’t figured out how to get a landline phone. The prepaid cellphone loads cost too much and there is a charge both on the caller and receiver. As for the bank, if they charges much on withholding, isasara ko na lang yung account. Bahala sila magbilang ng milyun-milyong cash everytime we pay. Huh!! (hehe, AS IN!) by the way, people here seldom pay in cash. puro checks, debit cards (ATM cards) or credit cards.

sa ngayon hindi ko pa masabi kung saan mas magandang manirahan. there are pros and cons. in our almost one week stay here, we only met one pinay, a cashier at kmart.

"YNO: Daddy, are we going to Charlotte's Web?
DINO: No, we are going to Charlottesville, the sister of Charlotte's Web."

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Dino, Yno, Deen, Den. They are all my favorites, except that the last one is not a person. It is a place, a corner, a spot, a den in “Kristina”. That’s how we call our house in Antipolo. Kristina is located exactly at Kristina Homes, which is inside Bankers Village III in Antipolo City.

Dino & I purchased Kristina in December 2001, a month before we got married in January. Last year, Kristina became ours, technically speaking, after full payment. It is not, however, a cause for celebration because some four or five years ago, we left her on her own when we decided to live in a condominium in Manila. Even then, we make it a point to stay in Kristina, every month, or at least every other month. There was only one instance when we had to postpone visiting Kristina and that was during my pregnancy with Deen.

We have very fond memories of Kristina. Maybe that’s the reason why, despite trying to sell her several times, she remained to be ours to this day. And no matter how tight our budget is, there seem to be always something left for her upkeep and improvement.

Dino and I had our first Christmas in Kristina in 2002. We bought our first Christmas tree and native capiz lantern, filled the front door with garlands and decorated the gates with lots of Christmas lights. Almost all our neighbors have Christmas decors too. Different styles, different colors. Twice, we attended the Simbang Gabi. It was a festive, happy Christmas!

We also spent our first New Year at Kristina. Despite the initial conflicts about the homeowners’ association issues, the homeowners decided to have an after-new year media noche right on the street. Food and drinks were overflowing. Everyone was in high spirits. Kristina Homes was one big happy family that memorable New Year of 2003. That was the first and the last New Year street celebration at Kristina Homes.

My eldest son Yno was born in Kristina on July 13, 2003. Dino asked his two drinking buddies, Tisoy (who is actually not “tisoy”-looking but very pinoy looking) and Noli, to be his first-born’s godfathers. The two readily agreed with enthusiasm. Pareng Tisoy (or is it Mareng M) is a thoughtful ninong. He always has gifts for Yno on special occasions. The bike he gave Yno for his 1st birthday is still “alive” to this day. Yno still rides on it every time we stay in Kristina. Pareng Noli is Dino’s bestfriend in Kristina. Every night, Dino teases Pareng Noli about his almost daily routine of hanging the newly laundered clothes at their front porch. Pareng Noli and Mareng Ana have two daughters, Angel and Nicole, whom Dino also loves to tease. I told Dino that Nicole would be a good wife for Yno someday, and if that happens, maybe we can just make a hole in between ours and Pareng Noli’s house to serve as passageway.

In July 13, 2004, Yno celebrated his first birthday. We call Yno then as the “Heartthrob of Kristina” because he is the only little boy among the little girls in the neighborhood. Even the teenage girls love to cuddle him. Whenever I bring Yno out in his stroller, the little girls, one by one, will also come out of their houses to take turns pushing Yno’s stroller. When Yno turned 1, he had two birthday celebrations, one at Jollibee in Libis, and the other, of course, in Kristina. We gave every house in the neighborhood an invite for Yno’s birthday. I was afraid then that there will be only few visitors because we only know some families and it rained very hard that day. Lo and behold, at exactly 3 p.m., the rain stopped, and the little guests started to arrive. We had to close the street to accommodate Yno’s guests.

Months after that, Pareng Tisoy and family left Kristina Homes to live at Brittany. And then, we accidentally found a condominium which is nearer to our workplaces. At the start, our plan would be to stay in the condominium during weekdays and go home to Kristina during weekends. We found out that what we have planned wasn't easy to do. We have not abandoned Kristina but we don't anymore regard it as our home.

During rare weekends when we visit Kristina, we found ourselves cleaning her cobwebs, dusting the furnitures, sweeping the fallen leaves, watering the hungry plants. Dino will always have his chat with Pareng Noli about the latest happenings in the neighborhood; Angel and Nicole will excitedly play with Yno, and, this time, including Deen.

A year or two after we left, Pareng Noli, with his wife and kids, likewise left Kristina Homes to live in Marikina. Some old-timers, Jun and family, Mang Chit and family, Architect Jo and family, have also left. And so, everytime we stay at Kristina, we long for remaining acquaintances, and most often, we are just on our own.

Last month, we had Kristina repainted. She still needs some roof repair. I cajoled Dino into putting some improvements in the laundry area.

Just this weekend, we had our usual stay in Kristina. After a tiring day, I conquered my favorite den at the 2nd floor. I enjoyed reading the day’s newspaper while sipping coffee and having occasional yosi puffs. Dino watched Voltron in his mini-DVD. Yno and Deen played with Jasmine at the purple room. Ate Delay stole her afternoon nap in the orange room. The weather is good. The family is happy. It is so comforting to be home again.

Monday, December 31, 2007




"Mommy, when are we going to the manok?" "Manok" is my son's byword for my parent's home in Bulacan. They practically enjoy chasing my father's chickens and roosters around. They like very much feeding them too. Ama gives Yno and Deen the chicken feeds, they throw the feeds on the ground, and suddenly, all the chickens are huddled together around them. I can hear my sons laughing as they throw more feeds in different directions.

Recently, Yno has discovered a new interest. He loves riding Ama's motorcycle. Before, he is too afraid to ride on it, now he is too excited! Ama and his grandson Yno have found a bonding time in the motorsiklo as they slowly and steadily roam Malibo for errands and for visiting Yno's Ninang Marlyn last Christmas. It is a surprise for me that I feel less danger in Yno riding the motorcycle with Ama than when we all ride my husband Dino's Innova! Aside from the seatbelts, we have to hold the hand rails as Dino speedily curves through the streets of Manila and then suddenly screetches with the brakes! With Ama's motorsiklo, there is no seatbelt, no handrails; nonetheless, I feel that Yno is safer riding on it, just as I felt safe then riding on it when I was still a child.

Gone were the days when trompillos, fountains, luces, roman candles, five-stars, bawang, baby rockets, whistle bombs, watusis and the likes are fads during New Year's celebration. When we were kids, we were already delighted at the sight of a fountain in our midst, or a trompillo that is fast turning round and round in a wooden pole. A bonfire is usually lit in a vacant lot where we throw 5-stars and other types of "labintador" (per dino) or "rebentadors" (as I knew it). We cover our ears everytime there is a sporadic explosion of firecrackers but enjoyed the smell of dust and the reverie. We even delight in the simple "harmless" watusis, except that one time our little brother Rey swallowed some of them and we all panicked! We observed Rey after swallowing the watusis (we don't know how many) but when he appeared normal, we proceeded to again scratching the watusis on the ground and watch them sparkle to oblivion. My sister Ellen, on the other hand, after that particular New Year, gathered the dusts from all the luces, formed them into a volcano, then lit the mound with a matchstick. There was an explosion and after it cleared, we saw Elen covered with smokedusts, with her eyebrows burnt and her fingers with blisters. She cried aloud upon realizing what happened. I wondered what Inang could have felt then upon finding her daughter in the middle of an explosion. I never saw Elen touch a Luces after that.

Nowadays, the fireworks are quite different. Last night, when we gazed at the city's facade, the skies abound with all sorts of pyrotechnics and displays of lights and colors. Only few have fountains; we only saw one trompillo and watusis are absent! We can hear continuous explosions of labintadors lasting for 30 minutes or more. The endless parade of fireworks in the skies is a source of amazement to everyone. Yno and Deen would clap their hands each time a nice display flashes in the sky. As for Dino and I, for the first time in years, we didn't buy any of those firecrackers; not even a simple luces. That's a drawback in condo living. No space, no space. Without the simple bangs, we felt that New Year is not the same. Maybe we will try anew next year.