Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In The Name Of Love

My last post reminded me of an essay I submitted to my highschool website last year, so I thought I'd post it as well:

I remember during my junior prom, my classmate and I were the only 2 girls who brought non-Chinese dates. There were probably other batchmates of mine that had non-Chinese dates, but I'm sure we were the extreme minority. I asked my mother why she didn't mind me bringing a non-Chinese guy to the prom and she simply said: "It's not like you're running off to marry him." But I guess for the rest of my batchmates' mothers, that was exactly what they feared.

To put this fear into better perspective, I recall my highschool barkada tell me once what her mother said to her when she joked around about marrying a Filipino. She said her mother didn't utter a word and simply looked at her while a tear rolled down her cheek. How's that for something so subtle, speaking a thousand words.

I have to admit my parents weren't very subtle either when it came to me dating as I entered college. Who amongst us didn't hide the parties and secret crushes on the guy from Ateneo or La Salle. As for me, it was the guy from all parts of the world when I went to the US for college. When my dad found out I had a boyfriend during my sophomore year, he called me early one morning from Manila with fury in his voice. Good thing it was my aunt that answered the phone, and filled with guilt for reporting me to my father, she told him to cool down because I was still asleep. To this day I have no idea if it was the fact that I had a boyfriend that drove him up the wall or that my boyfriend was non-Chinese... or both!

As I trudged through my twenties, I dated all sorts of guys. Filipino, Chinese, Cantonese, Singaporean, Vietnamese, American and Australian. Of course when my current boyfriend was non-Chinese, I went through many tricks of the trade to hide it from my family. Although my parents were in Manila and I was in California, they had spies fronting as my grandparents and uncles. And when my latest squeeze was Chinese, I proudly displayed him to the spies, oh I mean relatives. But now that I think back to those years, I realize I never sat down and asked my parents why I had to marry a Chinese guy. All I knew was that they were just like parents of my batchmates in highschool. I'd rather hide it than see my mother cry.

Two years after I graduated from college, my parents got their long awaited immigration papers for the US. A few months before that, I was licking my wounds from yet another failed relationship. This time with a Vietnamese-French guy. Of course not wanting to admit defeat, I told my parents I had given up on California and returned to Manila to be with them. Talk about bad timing! They left the same year I decided to come back.

A few years later, I met an Australian during a visit to Hong Kong. I knew he was the one. Although I had full confidence what my parents felt would not affect my decision to be with him, deep down inside I wanted their approval. And of course I still feared what fury my dad could still lay upon me as an adult. And so the day came when we all met up in Hong Kong and they met hubby for the first time. In just a few minutes into our dinner, my mother popped the question. She asked hubby when he's going to marry her daughter. Surprised, yet half expecting my mother to do such a thing, I felt relieved that they approved. Leave it to Chinese parents to show approval in their own special way.

A few days after hubby and I were married, I finally had the courage to ask my mother: "Ma, how come all those years you questioned my choices in men. You and pa insisted I marry a Chinese man. But when it came time for me to marry hubby, you were the one that popped the question?" She said she simply saw how happy I finally was. I no longer seeked their approval as justification for me to be with someone and that proved to them that I had finally grown up. She admitted moving to the US opened their minds as well, but most of all, it was knowing she could now trust my judgement that I knew what I wanted in life. Rules were rules, but if you wanted something bad enough, they're there to be broken. And I definitely broke the rule to be with the one I love.

Fil-Chi But Not Filipino

When I was living in Manila, I kept myself entertained at times by attending a few Fil-Chi events and activities. It all started one day when my mom took me to this luncheon in Chinatown and said we were going to meet some new friends. I didn't think much of it until I realized it was a full blown match-maker event. All the parents were seated at their own tables while us single kids were seated in assigned tables with guys and gals alternating per seat. It was a nightmare.

I didn't end up meeting anyone there (phew!) but I was impressed at the community that was thriving and put in place for the Fil-Chi youth. Sometime later I was invited to another match-making event, but this time it was an open party so I thought why not. Another friend of mine had friends who were organizers, so at least I wouldn't be alone. I thought to myself that if anything I would have a great time people watching, making fun of others and making fun at myself for attending such a pathetic event. From these innocent events I started knowing the organizers more and thus the parents who actually ran the show from behind the curtains. Somehow they were impressed with me being outspoken and opinionated when things sucked or didn't work, so soon I was asked to help organize some events and later I even hosted one of the Christmas programs they put up.

Later, I was asked to run as one of the officers for this organization to which I have to say honestly I don't even remember the name of anymore. During the meeting or maybe it was the election meeting? Anyways, I wouldn't know because most of the meeting was conducted in Fukien which I don't understand. I got to meet the parents who actually ran the show and realized I did not want to be associated with them. I was so blind! There was an alterior motive to all this! Why didn't I notice it sooner?

During the meeting, I don't remember whether it was me or someone else, but the question of what the goal of the association was for and the parents said it's for their children to meet and make friends with other Fil-Chi kids. Althought there is nothing wrong with that, I couldn't help but notice that the underlying, unspoken reason was that they didn't want their children to end up with Filipinos. So what better way to reassure that than to flood their social life with Fil-Chi's and nothing more. I almost ended up arguing with a few of the parents there and left the meeting that evening vowing not to associate myself with them again.

I still often think about that night with the image of those parents sitting there in a long row with their arms crossed. They stand for majority of the parents of MY friends and it saddens me that up to this day, there is still so much blatant discrimination. I was frowned upon because I couldn't accept the fact that these parents, these adults still wanted to live their lives with closed doors. And what more, they want their children shut behind those doors with them. The moment they want to step out and god no, marry a Filipino, they would be kicked out and shut out forever. And reading some of the forum posts on Tsinoy.com, I can see that it is still going on today.

My parents didn't immigrate to the Philippines and I wasn't born in the Philippines either, so I cannot claim that their reasons for thinking this way are illogical or completely unacceptable. Maybe in a minute way I could understand where they're coming from, but sometimes I wish they could also pop their heads out from behind that door and see how great things could be too on the other side.

And just a side note. One thing I can't figure out with this whole thing is this. I've noticed that most of my Fil-Chi friends mainly speak Tagalog. They seem to be quite uncomfortable using English, if at all. But my Filipino friends mostly speak English and not Tagalog. If there is this whole thing against mingling with Filipinos and eventually becoming Filipino, then why the fluent Tagalog only? At least with the Filipinos, most can switch comfortably between the two languages. With my Fil-Chi friends, I speak to them in English and they answer with Tagalog. I don't get it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Still A Long Way to Go

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Macau overnight last weekend with my in-laws. Granted its not the best or even one of the nicer hotels there, but something small happened that pissed me off. While we were in the lift, a couple stepped in and the guy was holding a lit cigarette. He tried to hide it, so at least he was "concerned" about the smoke while in a confined space. When we got to the lobby, I saw the same guy approach the front desk to ask something while smoking his cigarette. Then to my horror, he dropped the cigarette right there on the floor and step on it. I could not believe my eyes! Granted we were not in a 5 star hotel, but my gosh, dropping your cigarette right in front of the front desk and putting it out there? What is this world coming to? Or should I say where is Macau headed to?

I have been really impressed with the direction Macau is headed over the past year or so. We have invested in Macau and are really happy with all the casinos and hotels being built there in a hurry. Almost every few weeks we hear another new hotel will start construction there. With all the progress happening, its obvious majority of its clientele will be from the mainland. Although its good for us as investors, I would hate to see Macau turn into a typical mainland state as the years go by. I may sound "racist", but being Chinese myself, I admit us Chinese are not the cleanest, most orderly race.

During one of our other trips to Macau the lines at immigration when we got there were crazy! There were several huge groups of mainland tourists and we were stuck lining up amongst them. When we were 5-6 persons away from the immigration counter, a lady from the next line decided she was going to cut in front of us. Of course hubby would not have a bar of it and made sure she could not squeeze in. She then decided to cut in front of the group behind us and thankfully the lady behind us who was also a mainlander gave her an earfull. After realizing her arguments are of no use, she went back to her original line. I was so shocked at the whole situation comedy that was happening in front of me.

But its not just Macau that have to beware. Even living in HK, I can already see the nasty mainland habits going on. One day coming home on the bus, hubby sat in the row behind Boy Wonder and me. When I turned my head to talk to hubby, I noticed the lady sitting behind him take out a plastic bag, pull down her 2-3 year old's pants and ask him to wee. My jaw dropped. Good thing her kid said he didn't want to wee so she put the bag away. Had the boy actually started weeing, I seriously would have told hubby to quickly move away and I would have given the lady an earfull. For goodness sake! What mother in a civilized society makes her son pee into a plastic bag while on a public bus??!! Oh, she was speaking in Mandarin, so I knew she was from the mainland.

You can just imagine what it was like when we actually lived in Shanghai. Good thing we realized our mistake and even more thankfully hubby's boss didn't care where he was based, so we quickly packed our bags after 6 months and moved back here.

All I can say is that if this pattern of mass exodus of mainlanders keep up, they better start polishing up on how civilized people live when it comes to cleanliness, sanitation and basic courtesy. We are happy to be more exposed to their culture, language, etc. because that is what makes their nation great. But as China steadily progresses economically, I hope they realize all other aspects of their country are still 20 years behind the rest of the world.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Withdrawal Symptoms

My in-laws left on Sunday. They took an evening flight right after we got back from Macau for the weekend. Monday I was ok I guess, but when the afternoon came I started getting a headache. I tried to sleep it off, but it rocked on until Wednesday morning then faded away. I thought to myself, sheesh I knew I would miss having my in-laws here but this headache was like a major withdrawal symptom. Then it hit me, it WAS a withdrawal symptom.

My father-in-law would drink around 6 cups of coffee a day. So while they were here, our kettle would often be on the go. Whenever he askes if anyone wants a cuppa, it would be difficult to resist. So for the 2 weeks they were here, I had been having more than my usual amount of caffeine. After they left, I stopped coffee cold turkey and I guess it was a shock to my system.

But seriously though, it wasn't just the absence of caffeine that was a shock to my system after they left. While they were here, they brought Boy Wonder out almost every morning for over an hour, sometimes even longer. In the afternoons, they would take him out again for at least an hour. For the first time in months or even since Boy Wonder was born, I was able to go out at night and enjoy myself. I was also able to meet up with my friends and enjoy a leasurely lunch without chasing after Boy Wonder and miss majority of the conversation. It was great to have such freedom, even for only 2 weeks.

So now that they're gone, I've gone back to weekly lunches at someone's apartment instead of a restaurant and no more stepping out of the apartment without Boy Wonder attached to me. And most of all, no more telling Boy Wonder: "Where's grandma? Go to Grandma" whenever I need a few minutes to myself or I'm just too tired playing the same game over and over. Oh! And also when I want that extra 5 minutes of sleep in the morning it was great to just send Boy Wonder off to grandma and pop. That was wonderful. I'm going to miss that.

All in all this was a great preview to how things should work out in April when we leave Boy Wonder with my in-laws while hubby and I attend a wedding in Adelaide. I hope he'll retain most of his memory of his grandparents so we won't have to do the whole reorientating Boy Wonder to his grandparents thing again.

So now that I've shook off my withdrawal symptoms and am pretty much back to normal, I shall blog with more regularity again!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Money CAN Buy You Love

Hubby asked me yesterday whether I wanted a fancy Valentine's Day dinner with him or use the money and go shopping instead. I chose to go shopping. Why spend money on something I'll remove from my system by the following morning when I can use it to get me something I can wear on my feet, like a pair of shoes for a long time after? I'm just thankful hubby and I don't make a big deal out of "special" days like Valentine's Day. I would have ran out of things to give him by the second year of our marriage.

But don't get me wrong. I would still prefer to spend time with my hubby if given the choice. But since today is like any other day for us, why eat out when I have the added excuse to go shopping? We've been living on a tight budget this past year, so shopping is a luxury I don't have often. My in-laws are here too so the free time I am given without Boy Wonder is an even more rare luxury available at the moment.

On the other side of the spectrum however are those people who do go all out to celebrate this highly marketed occasion. As mentioned on the news, a dozen red roses will cost you HK1,500, dinner for 2 is around HK700 per person and a box of Godiva chocolates around HK300-500 per box. I pity the poor sod that HAS to get all these things or else his girlfriend will be highly dissappointed. In the past I found it hard to believe there are actual people out there who would judge their relationship on how much and what their boyfriend gives them. It was after moving to HK that I realized this was all true.

I recently met someone who admitted she would make a good mistress but not a wife. She said she likes buying and given expensive brandname stuff. She doesn't care about whether the guy will spend time with her or give her commitment, she just wants him to buy her stuff and maybe go travel together once in awhile. Heck, just buy her the ticket and she'll go travel with her friends. She went shopping a few weeks ago and bought 10 pairs of branded shoes in 5 days. One day she spent HK60K shopping with her sister and another evening she spent HK70K because her brother-in-law paid for a chunk of it. What do you do with all that stuff?? If she finally meets a guy who takes the bait, he will have to fullfill her shopping extravagance. I feel sorry for the guy already.

So for someone like me who can't fall asleep at night when hubby is on a business trip, I can't imagine what life would be like with a closet full of clothes and shoes but an empty spot in bed next to me. Alot of people here have made money synonymous to love, and use money to fill the hole they don't realize exists in their lives. I'm just glad the hole I have in my life is in my wallet. But it sure feels good to burn a larger hole in it once in awhile.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Hubby the Marathon Hero

Sunday, February 12 was the 10th Annual HK Standard Chartered Marathon. My hubby joined it for the 3rd year in a row and this time, his dad joined him all the way from Melbourne. They both finished with impressive times and I am so proud of them!

My father-in-law arrived a week ago and continued his training with hubby at the Aberdeen sports ground. It was funny listening to them exchange "threats" as each said who will be eating who's dust at the marathon or who will have to take the loosers bus to the finish line because he was going too slow. Dad said during the halfway point where they had to double back, he saw hubby on the other side of the road and yelled: "I'm not on the bus yet!". One of the runners heard him and almost fell over laughing. The loosers bus you see if for those who didn't make it at the set time in which all runners have to reach a certain point during the race. You get picked up by the bus which we have all lovingly referred to as the loosers bus if you're too slow. I'm just glad neither of them had to be given CPR like 2 of the racers who are now in critical condition at the hospital.


Hubby had been training for around 9 months and kept off the beers for that same amount of time. He lost close to 20 pounds in the process and is looking leaner, meaner and oooh so fit! But of course right after the marathon, his dad and him sat on the coach the rest of the day watching Cricket and drinking beers. They sure deserved it though! We ordered pizza for lunch and KFC for dinner. I don't think we've ever had such a massive amount of junk in one day. Good thing yesterday was the only day an excuse to do such indulgence was acceptable. We now need to find hubby another sport to get into to make sure he keeps off the weight! So far he's suggested professional Chess.

But anyways its been very interesting watching hubby get into marathon running. He's gained a ton these past 3 years from participating in it. He has shown me just how much determination, discipline and heart he can pour into something he sets his mind into. I love him for it and I look forward to supporting him in the next project he finds.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sax, Dinning and Alcohol

I realized I haven't been on a night out in awhile when I started to figure out what to wear for last night's outing. I had this dress in mind and when I tried it on in the afternoon, I discovered my boobs had decided to decend 2 inches below the boob line. When did this happen!? I didn't even know I had enough boobs to notice they're not at the correct height they're suppose to be in that dress! So on with the next. I then found a tube-top dress which was black and elastic on the top. You can't go wrong with that! But to my horror, I had a new discovery: I had another set of boob-like mass spilling out from the top of my dress near my armpits! Great, one set of boobs that didn't want to stand up and be counted and another pseudo set of boobs peeping out and couldn't avoid being counted. And so I tried a few too many more outfits. They were all either too dressy, too tight, too boring, smelled to old and unworn or didn't have shoes to go with them. Sheesh, what did I use to wear when I went out at night? In the end I settled for a slightly miss matched outfit which consisted of a black skirt, a top and a black shawl to cover everything up. I was just glad to be in a skirt and high heels with no Boy Wonder in tow.

And so around 630pm we took our glamorous bus to Wanchai. When we got to JJ's we were given a detailed tour of the newly renovated former club courtesy of one of our mommy's hubby who works for the Grand Hyatt. (its definitely good to know the right people!) They had transformed it into a Thai restaurant/bar. After the tour, we were seated at one of the tables in their wine tasting dinning room. Knowing we didn't have to pay for anything, we ordered 2 appetizers: fish cakes and pork neck, 3 salads:green papaya, pomelo and chicken with coriander, 4 mains: grilled chicken, green curry with chicken, veggies and sea bass and topped it off with 3 desserts: thai tea ice cream, boiled banana in coconut milk and coconut creme brulee. The food was magnificent! I seriously had not eaten that well in a long while. I told the other mommies the best place I've eaten in the past 3 months was at a place called the Steak Bank while vacationing in Oz.

After we had filled our tummies, we headed upstairs to where the bar was with an R&B band playing. The band was contracted from Seattle and will perform there for a whole year. The music was great! We ordered some drinks and sat ourselves at the bar. Being the wuss that I am, I went with a non-alcoholic drink called the Thai Dream. It definitely was not a dream. The green mango was too tart and with the hint of basil, it smelt abit too fishy after a few sips. Noticing I was not impressed, the bartender suggested the virgin vanilla daquiri which was much better.

The evening was made even more interesting after meeting a few of the band members. Knowing they were from Seattle, we were expecting typical US guys. But when we started chatting to a few of them we found out one was Serbian and the other was from Somalia. They were as interesting as their music. But sadly for the Serbian guy we weren't the single hot chicks he thought we were that would join him at Typhoon afterwards. It was funny seeing his reaction when I said sorry but we all have to go home to our babies after this. At least he was gracious enough to ask about our kids before heading off. But hey, that meant we were still hot enough to have been invited by the band. Even if it was just the one band member.

I got home last night around 1245am. Not too late and not too early. Boy Wonder was fast asleep and so were my in-laws. There was no frantic phonecall or anything from them the whole evening. I was told Boy Wonder did look for me for a short while but went back to normal, ate his dinner and went to bed with no drama. I've GOT to go out again before my in-laws leave!

All in all it was great to go out again and just hang out with a couple of gals. Not only did I enjoy the food, but the company was great. The ladies I was with may only be mommies I've met at the playground downstairs, but they're fast becoming good friends and I'm glad I'm getting the chance to spread myself out more than just my apartment. I'm definitely looking forward to getting out more when Boy Wonder gets older or when we finally hire a helper. But in the meantime last night was a great preview to what is still out there for me.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mommy's Going Out To Play

My in-laws are here from Melbourne for 2 weeks. My father-in-law will be joining hubby for the marathon this coming Sunday. Hubby will be off to antarctic Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday and I, will be going out Tuesday evening with the playground mommies for an evening of food, drinks and music... for free! While grandma and pop look after Boy Wonder. It can't get any better than that!

I'm abit apprehensive though. When my parents were here 2 months ago, I left Boy Wonder with my folks for an evening of serious gossiping with the Thursday Group. 5 minutes after I got on the bus, my mother calls and tells me Boy Wonder had thrown up from crying so much. I could hear my dad going crazy nearby as he cleaned up the spew. Being the typical protective Chinese grandparent, he didn't understand how I could just leave my baby and not bother coming back after knowing he's just thrown up all his dinner. But hey, he's already thrown it all up, what else can I do anyways if I came running home.

Although I was filled with guilt, I continued on into Central and tried my best to enjoy my rare evening out with the ladies. Around 1am, my mother calls and asks me when I'm coming home. I asked whether everything's ok and she said Boy Wonder cried and hubby is looking after him now. Again I asked what is the problem and she said shouldn't I come home already since hubby needed to get some sleep coz he still needed to go to work the next day. I admit I wasn't too happy when she said that and told her I'll come home when I feel like it.

After hanging up, how was I to enjoy the rest of my early morning? Pissed off, I told the ladies sorry and went home. When I got home I was expecting an upset hubby because I supposedly caused him to loose sleep when he still needed to go to work the next day. Instead he asked me why I was home already. I told him about the call my mom made and we ended up getting up and chatting somemore in the livingroom. A few minutes later Boy Wonder got up again and I gave him a bottle since he was hungry after spewing out his dinner. At least the night ended up on an okay note and we all went off to sleep.

So we're going to run the experiment again, this time with the other set of grandparents. I've warned my mother-in-law about the spewing and she said pop is a good spew cleaner-upper. I'm quite satisfied with that reply, so we'll wait and see what happens.

In the meantime I'm looking forward to hanging out with the playground moms and hoping to enjoy myself. Ooooh now I just need to decide what to wear! I'll let you all know how things went after I get back tomorrow.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Excess Baggage

I know I'm going to sound defensive, but the situation is already shitty anyways, so whining abit more will not make much difference. I would like to justify why I did not visit her.

There really was no need to dwell upon my inaction at first, but after quite a few friends asked me whether I did it started to bug me. So for my own sake, I feel that typing it down would solidify my reasons and most important of all reassure myself not to dwell upon it anymore.

Other than the obligatory birthday and Christmas greetings, I have never heard from her. When I had my baby, she came over to visit which touched me deeply. I thought it was the road to recovery for our friendship but it all came crashing down when she started pointing fingers at someone which brought us back to why things went bad in the first place. Why visit me if you're going to accuse someone I love and rehash the whole thing all over again? I told her before that we should just go on our seperate ways and agree to disagree. I don't think she got that.

So anyways, for the past few years we have not done anything that would identify us as friends. We've digressed to acquaintances. And if I were to illustrate our so called friendship in a moving picture, it would go something like this...

Hubby and I are taking the midlevels escalators upwards. Hubby suddenly points to someone behind me. I look back and there she is walking towards us. I stand there not sure what to do when she walks straight past me, literally 1 inch away from me as we were both on the escalators. Before I could say anything or even react, she has walked away and taken the next set of escalators up.

And the funny thing about this analogy is that it actually happened! But since I can say I know her well enough, she probably didn't see me. Wow, I think that statement totally hits home in regards to us.

So anyways, I didn't visit her because there's no point pretending. I don't want to feel obligated to visit her and I don't want her to feel the same. Doing so would only create this subliminal score card on who's done what this time round and what will the other person do next. Why pretend we're friends still when we aren't? What's the point?

And besides all my points above, I don't want to visit her because it still hurts to see her. I'm not ashamed or embarassed to admit it because that is how I feel. Not only am I still hurting but I'm also dissappointed. I thought a friendship that had lasted for more than 10 years could have had some advantages when the going got tough. It really hurt when I found out it meant nothing because she was married now.

And that's why I didn't visit her during an occasion when friends usually would be obligated to do so. But come on, I wasn't that heartless ya know? I did call her when I heard she was hospitalized the day before this blessed event occured. I showed concern because I trully was. Now isn't that what really counts? (ding! ding! ding! that's one more point on that subliminal scorecard)

So damn me, I have dwelled upon this tired tired issue again! But it sure feels good everytime I find an excuse to unload some of it.