Lessons From Life (1971)

As a child, an illustrated copy of this simple yet very meaningful poem hung in my room, which I shared with my little brother and doubled as our learning and playroom. I remember how this small illustrated poster hung just above my little desk, not far from our colorful toys and books, not far from where mom would read us stories and let us play our imaginative games, Lego, and story-role-playing. 

Somehow, without memorizing this poem, I came to understand what I wanted to learn (and not learn) as a child, and now, in between reading values-filled Bible stories, I want my future children to learn the same. 

The following is the October 1972 issue of the poem from Reader’s Digest, which also appeared in the Reader’s Digest Treasury of Modern Quotations, (1975), (NY: Reader’s Digest Press), an adaptation of the 1969 version:

BY RONALD RUSSELL

Lessons From Life (1971)

A CHILD that lives with ridicule learns to be timid
A CHILD that lives with criticism learns to condemn
A CHILD that lives with distrust learns to be deceitful
A CHILD that lives with antagonism learns to be hostile
A CHILD that lives with affection learns to love
A CHILD that lives with encouragement learns confidence
A CHILD that lives with truth learns justice
A CHILD that lives with praise learns to appreciate
A CHILD that lives with sharing learns to be considerate
A CHILD that lives with knowledge learns wisdom
A CHILD that lives with patience learns to be tolerant
A CHILD that lives with happiness will find love and beauty

Copyright 1971 © AA Sales, Inc. Reprints at one time could be ordered from Reader’s Digest.

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Just an added thought. Because I am grateful my parents taught us these life lessons by example. And more.

Lamb Chops with Corn and Couscous Salad

More than chicken or even beef, my favorite type of meat is mutton, lamb. Whenever I’m at Middle Eastern restaurants or even in ones that serve Asian cuisine, I usually try to look for a mutton dish.

Mutton bears a different, if somewhat odd smell, but when cooked with the right amount of spices, tastes creamier than chicken and beef. And the texture….oh, the texture!

Last night, I slow cooked some lamb chops in a marinade of pineapple sauce, salt and pepper, olive oil, allspice, soy sauce, and whole garlic. I added half a Korean pear for sweetness and to add juicyness to the meat. After six hours on high heat, the lamb chops were falling off the bone and the house smelled divine!

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Lamb chops and corn and couscous salad.

Today, I made cousocus (bring 1 1/2 cup water with some salt and pepper to a boil, turn off the heat, then add a cup of couscous. Wait ten minutes then fluff up couscous. Add seasonings or veggies of choice: green onions, cilantro, lemon zest or lemon juice, etc.) With some sweet corn. Paired with some romaine lettuce, it was the perfect bed on which my slow-cooked lamb chops could sit.

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Lunch for my bosses!

With a quick plating, Saturday lunch was ready!

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Saturday lunch with family is such a comfort.

A Grandmother’s Love

It’s uncanny how we remember our loved ones through the smallest things: a favorite song, a whiff of their signature cologne, a memory, a single word.

I thought of my grandmother today. Sometimes I call ger granny; sometimes, I called her by the traditional term “lola” as well. Today, I remembered her as I was making my ripe papaya mush.

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Ripe papaya mush with mango yogurt.

When she was younger, lola stayed in our ancestral home, in the old wing where the room she shared with our late lolo was. In the oposite wing lived my uncle and his family. In this room she lived in until her daughters decided that she needed to stay with one of them for her safety and convenience.

Whenever I take my vacation in Iloilo and I happen to stay in our ancestral home, lola would make it a point to have ripe papayas harvested from her backyard. Then, because she didn’t own a blender, she would ask one of her helpers to mash the ripe papaya into a grainy puree by hand. This she would sweeten with milk and some sugar. It is this creamy, handmade papaya shake that got me hooked on ripe papaya for life.

It is perhaps one of my fondest memories of her, because I knew she would always go out of her way to make me a glass of this papaya shake, just for me, her granddaughter who lives in Manila; the granddaughter named after her late husband, the one who shares his birthday. I can almost see her, hovering over me in the old ancestral house, asking if the shake was creamy enough, sweet enough. She would always wait for my approval of her recipe.

Thank you for this memory, lola. My papaya shakes will never be as sweet or as creamy as the ones you prepare for me, but they will always remind me of the sweet memory of a grandmother’s love.

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This is a photo I took of Lola Charit at 86. She quietly passed away three days before her 87th birthday. We still celebrated it.

Mom’s Herbal Superfighter

One of the most common ailments in our family are asthma, cough, and (the common) cold.

My dad has previously been diagnosed with adult asthma and the obvious medication was doses of prednisone (a steroid) and salbutamol (a drug that when taken to its full effectivity can cause tremors). My profession as an educator causes me to over-exert my vocal cords which often leads to sore throat that evolves into either a flu, or cough, or worse, tonsillitis.

But whenever anyone in our family has any symptoms of these and other minor illnesses, we have learned not to immediately resort to manufactured drugs. Our go-to prophylactic treatment? Mom’s superfood cocktail that burns the throat (and germs!), but packs a superpunch of natural antibiotics and immune system boosters.

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Mom's superfood fighter! The best medicine!

Ingredients:

a handful of young ginger roots, washed
A teaspoon of ground turmeric powder (turmeric roots can also be used)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
three lemons
1/4 cup honey
a clove of garlic, peeled (optional)

Directions:

Push everything through the juicer. Store in a mason jar and take the juice cocktail in small shot glasses, three to four times daily until symptoms disappear.

Why this works:

Ginger, honey, (garlic), and turmeric all have antibiotic and purifying properties. Turmeric and apple cider vinegar strengthen the immune system. Lemons bring a dose of Vitamin C.

I swear by this concoction as it has cured me and my dad countless times. My dad has stopped taking anti-asthma drugs continuously and he has avoided steroids in his system. Taking this super-cocktail has not only saved me trips to the doctor, but a load of chemical pharmaceuticals that would have entered my body otherwise, had I not recovered with the help of this all natural superfighter. We even take it when we’re not sick! The cocktail can also be diluted into hot water and sweetened with honey to serve as tea.

Bottoms up!

How to Survive Valentine’s Day Single-handedly

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Feverish me during Valentine lunch this year.

There’s so much hullabaloo about this one day in the year which either renders everyone special, or the exact opposite: not special and lonely, or left out.

But if you’re like me and there’s no sweetie to celebrate the day with, I don’t go moping around. I celebrate with friends and family. There’s much to be thankful for, after all, and the world really does need love, cliche though it may sound. So why not spread it around!

Begin with yourself!

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Flowers from someone who loves me unconditionally.

The good thing about Valentine’s Day as a single woman are the salon discounts!

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Hand and foot pampering, plus a soothing cup of tea. Not to mention the 20% discount!

So why not happily treat yourself to an hour or two of pampering, hand and foot. And fall asleep midway. Because there’s nothing in the world to worry about. Nothing. Nothing at all.

Thirty-something and Getting There…

When I recently met up with a longtime friend whom I had first met in my teens, we both decided that, “Hey, thirty-something isn’t so old after all. This we proclaimed as we wrapped up our annual catch-up, after we had discussed careers and career shifts, family concerns, biological clocks, relationships and men, and a myriad other things that occupied our thirty-something waking thoughts.

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It wasn’t so bad. After all, we conceded, “When we were in our teens, thirty sounded like such an old, old age.” I remember always saying to myself something along the lines of, “When I become thirty, I will still remember to have fun, to climb trees, to jump around and laugh, to make more time for the things I enjoyed as a teen.” And while many of the things I enjoyed and experienced during my younger angsty days are now gone (no more staying up ’til 5am to party! No more blushing every day ’til kingdom come! No more needing to be part of each and every happening!), much of my teen-self still remains. I feel that I am now just more streamlined, a tad more focused, less flighty, more decided, more calm, less pressured to…BECOME.

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And if this crowdsourced “research” article is of any value at all, it would seem that the refinements I’ve incorporated are just in the right direction. Just right for someone over thirty.

The amazing thing is that thirty-something doesn’t feel old at all. ^_^

(Graphic quotes taken from the interwebs.)

Breathing Inspiration

Art comes from inspiration and inspiration is infectious.

I took a relaxed walk home today; from EDSA-Ayala Mrt, I strolled down the Makati CBD walkways and let my thoughts fly by until I arrived home. This is what I saw.

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A gentle reminder. (Street photography by yours truly)

These #delarosamurals aren’t new. I remember a couple of years ago, I saw them being painted, little by little, part by part, and I was excited. I was as excited then as I am now that I am finally able to stop and “smell the flowers,” so to speak. Each time I passed by this walkway, I was always in a hurry, always on my way towards something. Or there were always too many pedestrians in quite the same rush I was in.

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(Street art photography by yours truly)

But today is a lazy Saturday and the walkways are almost deserted. At 12nn, the wind is cool here in tropical Manila, owing to the polar icecaps still melting up North (I think.) So on my way home, I paused more than a couple of times, smiled up at the murals, took in their bright colors and happy messages, captured photographs.

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(Street art photography by yours truly)

Street art excites me because it reminds me of my doodlebooks, my scribbles on my planners, the (presumably) imaginative squiggles I drift off into in the middle of meetings and planning and brainstorming, the compositions I create with my daily photographs, the words I write on my journals. Street art excites me because it reminds me that anyone can express themselves, that art is a community affair, that art does not have to be high and lofty and difficult to comprehend. As I walk, I am affected by this art. My own psyche wanders off into its own expression, perpetuating inspiration.

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Quiet nudges. (Street art photography by yours truly)

Art, after all, is rarely ever completely original. Each artist is affected by someone, through someone, from someone.

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(Street art photography by yours truly)

When I was a student at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, we lived and breathed art. As students, we were all billeted in dorms where we shared rooms with fellow student-artists from across the country: musicians, poets, dancers, sculptors and painters, writers, choreographers, visionaries. We covered our dormitory walls with art inspiration, we rehearsed performances at night, we breakfasted over the din of pianos playing and voices of students reading poetry. We dined amidst photo galleries and art installations and storytelling and playwriting. We slept (or in most cases, didn’t sleep) in the name of art and art deadlines.

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(Street art photography by yours truly)

Walking through the #delarosamurals reminded me of how it felt to be amidst art, if only for a few minutes. But these few minutes were enough to breathe some inspiration into me, so that each step I took amidst the grey and aging city of Makati felt new. Each familiar building I saw on my walk home looked fresh; each thought a possibility.

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These used to be dingy grey-white walls and ceilings. (Street art photography by yours truly)

Art breathes new art, even if this art is only contained in one’s soul.

(Street art photography by yours truly. If you wish to use any of the photographs for presentations or articles, kindly message me and give proper credit.)

A Memorable Day

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I found the perfect place to read and get some sunshine.

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course may have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” -Charles Dickens

Ube Brazo FTW!

I love purple yam.

I enjoy it’s creamy purple texture made into jam (Good Shepherd, Baguio), as creamy filling for round hopia (cream-filled pastries, Eng Bee Tin), as a chewy filling for cube hopia (cream-filled pastry cubes, Dimsum and Dumplings), as cake icing (Red Ribbon Ube Cake), as an ube tart (Rowena’s, Tagaytay), or as ube halaya (mashed root crop, Pandin, Laguna).

Purple yam, is of course ube, and is better known as that tiny smidge of purple one usually finds on top of the Filipino dessert, Halo-Halo.

Ube, when mixed with a lot of milk and very little sugar, is smooth and creamy and just uniquely tasty. It has the earthy flavor of sweet potato, only creamier. And purpler. Hehehe.

Someone brought me an entire roll of the creamiest ube brazo de mercedes today!

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Oh. My. Goodness.

Oh my goodness! It is LOVE! Neither the filling nor the merengue cake is too sweet, but oooh, since I am trying to cut back on my refined sugar and carbs, I just took a small thin slice…and savored each mouthful.

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A creamy ube center wrapped in a fluffy cloud of ube merengue! ♥

Many thanks to my friend Che, who recommended that I try this lovely cake from my mother’s home province, and to my ate Miles and her sweetie pie Samantha, for bringing me home an entire box!

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Where to get the cake? From La Paz, Iloilo!

*happiness*

Cleaning Up

Today is one of those perfect Saturdays.

I woke up without an alarm clock, but it was not too late in the morning yet. I made myself a nice clean breakfast. I figured all the work I’d finished the past week deserves a slow, healthful breakfast in the comfort of our dining room. So I made multi-grain porridge with steel-cut oats, flaxseed, oat bran, and chia. It was topped with muscovado sugar and some banana and strawberry slices. Better yet, I placed it in a shallow heart-shaped bowl, just for some whimsy.

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Clean breakfast

Having been refreshed by last night’s sleep, I was able to easily work on a deadline a couple of hours before lunch, just in time to join my family for a sunny walk around our neighborhood. We tried a new cafe just across the street. Simple food with laughter and reading and storytelling.

After lunch, I wrapped up my editing work while hydrating with cups of water and coffee.

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Training myself to keep hydrated the natural way.

I really wanted to finish up so I could reward myself with a nice bike ride around the neighborhood. After all, my bike (and helmet) had become a bit dusty after a month of sedentary living.

The afternoon ride was uneventful and the roads were quiet and cool. It was a good transition ride for my body, since I plan on becoming more active again. Cleaning up is a start: fresh, unprocesed food; lots of water; rest, and sunshine from outdoor activities.

Saturdays should always be this unhurried, unstressful.