Nanay ko! Happy Mother’s day

Originally posted May 2009

It was a love story that begun when my Mom was only fourteen.  She and my Dad started a family at a very young age.  It started in Manila, then briefly in Davao, and, again,  back in Tondo.  I was the youngest of eight children.  Needless to say, I was spoiled (atleast, compared to my other siblings). 

My Mom and Dad were very caring individuals.  I remember,  inspite of being poor, my  parents would bring kids who ran away from home to provide them with food and shelter until their situations were resolved.  Then, in their 50’s, they both migrated to the U.S. in hopes to better support the family (that’s “extended” family).  They sent most of the very little money they earned working as a housekeeper and fastfood worker to the folks in the Philippines.  And once, I annoyingly ask my Mom why they sent all of their money instead of saving it for their retirement.  She responded, “We need to keep helping others while we can.”  With that, she kept me grounded.  That’s how I learned about selflessness and humility.

I remember growing up watching my Mom pray all the time…when she’s sad, angry, worried, happy, sick, or just wanted to win the lotto.  Then my Mom and I would say the 6 o’clock rosary everyday for as far as my memory take me.  She would also take me to Quiapo every year on my birthday which falls on the same day as the town’s fiesta.  And for every blessing that we recieved, she thanked God.  That’s how I learned about family tradition and faith.

I remember that my Mom was my biggest supporter and fan at school.  She was always proud of my academic achievements and “popularity.”  And once when she got called in to come because I got caught trying a cigarette,…well, she didn’t tell my Dad.  But, she was also my Jiminy Cricket.  And when conscience is not enough, she would pinch me with her sharp fingernails on my side so hard that it would bleed.  She’s proud and supportive, and tough when she needed to.  And that’s how I am with my kids.

I remember getting molested (briefly) by a couple of older men in our neighbourhood, then coming to my Mom to confide.  I saw anguish in her eyes.  And yet, she asked that I don’t tell my brothers for she knew that they would badly hurt them.  Instead, she asked me to avoid them and to pray for them.  And I did.  And once in a while I still do.  And with that, she not only protected me from harm, but also from hatred.  And that’s how I learned about calmness, forgiveness and moving on.

I remember the first time she met Dawn.  How she squeezed her arm and said “You’re fat.  That’s good.”  And never before, have I seen my mother so happy to meet a girlfriend of mine.  She used to hate any girl that I dated and would always ask, “Are you leaving me for her?”  But with Dawn, she was very pleased and comfortable.  And that’s why I married Dawn. 

Happy Mothers Day, Nanay. (and to my wife, too :))

An Angel to Watch Over Me

She watched by my cradle through long, sleepless nights
She taught me to pray as she knelt by my side
She guarded my childhood, and all through the years
She echoed my laughter, she counted my tears
In the arms of my mother, I came to believe
That God sent an angel to watch over me

She taught me the meaning of courage and faith
She taught me to live with the Lord as my strength
She taught me to follow the pathway he marked
She guided my steps when the journey grew dark
And I know there were dangers that I could not see
But God sent an angel to watch over me

She taught me to serve with a spirit that sings
She taught me to seek after heavenly things
And because of her love and her kindness and care
Because of the place that I hold in her prayers
And because of her goodness, I still believe
That God sent an angel to watch over me

Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 12:50 am  Comments (42)  
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Quick repost

 My main computer crashed!  Gone are my new pics and vids.  So,probably, no new blogs until I get a new one.  Here’s a quick repost for Ax and the rest of you who are wondering what I look like topless.  (J*Kul,you’re a pervert!).

And just for fun, I wanna tag Ax, Hamster, Padz, J*kul, Kaye, Sows, and B*Sisa.  Post your brief descriptions on the comments section.  And for the rest, feel free to introduce yourselves.
 Jesus Maria!
Photo from Time Magazine's Baby of the Year: Jekjek

Photo from Time Magazine's Baby of the Year: Jekjek

3/30/09: AHHHHH!  I was recently “tagged” by a fellow blogger, Winkie, in a name game challenge.  The rule is to expose all the names that I have been called.  Interesting.  Well, I’m a good sport so here I go: 

Jesus-my given name.  I was born on the same day as the Jesus of Nazareth’s Feast day.  My mom thought that I was deserving to be called by that name and even pushed me to become a priest.  And for a while I really thought of becoming one…until puberty set in.  

There was a lot of confusion when I came to the states, especially in college.  First, I’m just not used to being called by my given name.  Second, they would always say  Jee-zess (as the Messiah) vs. He-soos.  Once, a teacher went looking around for me in the school asking everyone if they “know” or “have seen” Jee-zess.  Of course, most everyone thought that she was talking about the “Savior.” 

Jesse(state-side)/Jessie(Filipino)-it’s funny how parents, especially Filipinos, would give you a name but always call you another.  It’s confusing to me.  I mean it doesn’t even make sense considering they really didn’t lose any syllables or letters.  So why bother?  

Jess-coz others think Jesse is too long. 

Jekjek-(along with jekky boy and baby boy)Repeating words and syllables  is like a Filipino habit.  Nengneng, Toto, Lili, Botbot,Jengjeng are among the most common nicknames.  Also, words like magandang-maganda(very beutiful), malakas na malakas(very strong), sabik na sabik(very exited) mean above average qualities.  So in a sense, Jekjek means extremely jek.  Hmm? 

Honey-well, I share this one with another person.  Nope, not Mariah Carey.  I’m talking about my wife.  We tried cream puff and french fry, but I’m really neither one.  I’m more like lumpia or tofu.  On bad days, she’d call me by my Americanized-version of Jek—-Jerk! 

Mr. Nonsense-given to me by my kids since I like to play word and mind games with them.  They also find it appropriate when I get tired and revert back to my Filipino accent. Humboorgeer!  They also call me Mr. Poopoochoo and  DADDY, of course. 

Paez-that’s too easy. They called everyone by their last name in school.  Although, some would say Perez, Paraz, Paze, and Rodriquez? 

Pita-given to me by my siblings and my sister’s term of endearment to me.  Pita was an old neighbor lady’s name.  They told me, when I was probably 4-5 yrs old, that she was my girlfriend.  I remember I used to get irritated by it. 

Idol and Pogi(handsome)-my nephew, Nino (who was named after me), called me these a lot when he was little.  I remember when his mom used to tell him to stay close to me at all times so that my good looks would rub on to him.  I think it worked some.   

Puti(whitee) -few girls in the neighborhood called me that.  I was a bit lighter toned than most kids back then.  They even said I was mestizo.  

Mr. President-briefly in high school because I was the student council leader.  Later, when my wife was the coordinator for the Filipino-American group, I addressed myself as Your First Lady. 

MJ(Micheal Jordan)-apparently, even though I can’t jump and shoot like Mike, I have similar moves to the basket.  I did kind of pattern my game to Pippen and Mcgrady….(not even close) 

“Kuya(Big brother) Paez”-I was called this name by one person  only once, but it made the biggest impact on me and on how I see the world and my place in it now.  I remember (when I was  kinda/sorta Mr. Popular) walking through a small muddy alley near my high school when a little skinny boy, who looked about 5-7 yrs old and had ripped pants, no shirt, no shoes, and dirt and mucus on his face, went right in front of me and said “Hello, Kuya Paez.”  I had no idea who this kid was and I never saw him again.  But I will always remember the most genuine smile on his face.  Here, in the ghettos of Tondo, is a poor boy who was able to find happiness in the most humble circumstances.  And to think, even for a flitting moment, I was part of that joy.  This have taught me a lesson in HUMILITY.  Since then, I have always dedicated myself in helping the less fortunate and speaking, with pride, about the struggles and the joys of Tondo and other places in the world like it.  And whenever I bring my state-side family to the Philippines, I make a point of showing less of the tourist attractions, but more of the realities in Manila.  And the last time my family and I were  in Manila, we stayed at a pretty fancy hotel with all the Western conveniences.  And right below us, just outside the hotel door, was a mother and her naked boy living in a cardboard box.  You couldn’t get more real than that. 

 So there you go.  I hope to tag everyone who reads this blog.  You know who you are.  You’re it! 

And for a treat, here’s a YouTube video of Eraserheads that reminds me of  life in Manila.  Sorry, no English subtitles. 

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 1:21 am  Comments (76)  
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Soldiers are mothers, too

War is not like a hollywood blockbuster.  A soldier is not an action hero.  Outside the statistics and the news-worthy portrayals, there are deeply personal issues that most of us don’t see.

Filmed on Mother’s Day 2005, the video shows a mother’s farewell as she returns to the Middle East after a brief R&R with her family.  Note the only time Elijah refused to give his mother a kiss—a “goodbye” kiss;  for the last time we said goodbye, our lives became engulfed with loneliness, anxieties, anger, and nightmares for my children.  I couldn’t imagine how especially hard it was for my wife to leave her children whom she, just months ago, were carrying in her womb for nine months…

November 107November 115November 095

…but whatever it is that doesn’t kill us, will make us stronger.

fall 2006 048



LINK UPDATE (8/29/09):


….the war is not their fault.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm  Comments (99)  
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IOWAna have fun!

This summer, my family and I went to visit our hometown in Iowa.  It’s where my wife grew up, where I spent ten years going to college (not really, but it felt like it), met the love of my life, and had my first borne, Elijah.  It’s a simple Midwestern town where everyone says “hello,” yet global enough in thinking because of the university.  But this land of corn is far from being metropolitan compared to our city here in Washington State.  Suprisingly, Iowa kept us busy.  We spent 10 days constantly going out, pigging out, and catching up with our family…and we didn’t even get to do everything we wanted to do.  Saying goodbye was very hard…not to mention that we were really exhausted and I gained 10 pounds. 

 Iowa will always be part of us.

But in the end, it’s not the places, events, or food that make a trip meomorable…it’s really about the people you meet and the ones that you are with:)

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:50 pm  Comments (49)  
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Backyard Camping

After 9 days in Iowa pigging out, going to fun places, bbqing, and laughing with our family, we dread coming back to work. So the night before, we decided to unwind by camping in our backyard. I only slept 3 hours in the tent, but spending time in there with my sons made it all worth it.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 12:05 am  Comments (4)  
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