Where are you now? Are you okay?

What haunts me most is the thought that Jim is not okay. How can I know? Is he feeling sadness? Is he really in a better place?

I googled “proof of after life” to get some sort of reassurance.

Visiting the office was hard. Memories of Jim is very strong there. But friends and officemates were around, and they did their best. On a weak moment, alone in my cube, I sobbed.

I didn’t know mourning is a physical pain. That your entire body would feel weak, cold, and heavy.

I long for that broken hard drive to be repaired, photos when it was just the two of us. This year, I was too preoccupied on documenting the baby’s life that I failed to document his.

Just a couple of months ago, I remember blurting out to Jim: “I”m actually happy. It’s as if I have everything I ever wanted.” He teased me for being cheesy, and I teased him back.

And now, “a part of me has died.” I never really understood what this meant until now.

To our dearest friends, thank you for your messages and SMS. I read and re-read them when alone … and it has helped me more than you know.

Thank you

For carrying my bags
For buying me food whenever I’m hungry
For driving for me, anywhere
For listening to me
For making my mango shake
For accompanying me when I don’t have anyone to eat with
For hugging me when I ask you to
For feeding the baby so I’ll get some sleep
For doing your best for me all the time
For saying sorry even if I’m at fault
For helping me pick out my clothes
For helping me take care of Gabby
For going with me anywhere I wanted to go
For being there whenever I ask you to
For being there even if I don’t ask you to
For not blaming me for my faults
For making me feel I’m perfect

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Thank you for your visits, the flowers, mass cards, your messages, your kind words, your hugs …

There are no words to express our gratitude.

Thank you to our friends, relatives, former classmates, and officemates who were all there to comfort us in our time of grief, to the class of 83 who shared stories of his stint in college, to his beloved 4B classmates whose antics Jim would gleefully share with me, his former bandmates, the PhilMusic community, the musicians, the neighbors he grew up with, Hackathon peeps, online friends (BBS, soc.culture, FB, Twitter), even those who have never met him personally but took the time to pay us a visit.

Most of all, thank you Jim Ayson. Your death has finally sunk in and is giving me the biggest heart ache.

Babe, I whispered words of strength on your deathbed. But if I have to be honest, as of this moment, I have no idea how I could do it.

But I will. I will do my best. And I promise to do everything in my power to give Gabby a good life.

I will love you forever.

My Breast Pump Story

An entire shelf in our condo is dedicated to Medela. I practically got its entire line: the Pump In Style Advanced, all the flange sizes, extra membranes and tubings, sets of bottles (in all sizes), micro-steam bags, accessory wipes, softfeeder, Calma bottles … You name it, I probably got it.

Yes, I got sucked in Medela’s monstrous marketing and distribution machinery.

But I hated it.

Medela made me hate pumping. It was so painful, it took so long to get a letdown, and it couldn’t remove any of my clogged ducts.

But I was afraid to try anything else. After all, it’s Medela — the giantess in the breast pump industry.

However, a few weeks ago, there were two incidents which just made me want give up all the money I invested in Medela and try something else:

  1. I had my nth clogged duct which, again, I couldn’t seem to pump out using my Medela PISA; and
  2. My supply started dropping considerably

I started to panic. I went back to my breastfeeding supplements and ate more oatmeal than ever. I replaced all my pump parts, tested the results in another PISA that a friend lent me, cleaned the tubings, and used all the flange sizes available on the market.

Nothing worked.

It was time to change my pump.

I started researching on the other brands available — Lansinoh, Ameda, etc. And then I vaguely remembered a friend telling me that she knew someone who had a good output using an unknown brand called the Spectra. This was information I scoffed at at that time, but I have to admit I became intrigued later on.

After reading hundreds of reviews on the Spectra, I knew I had to try it. But where to buy? I had two choices — Amazon (where it was P5,000 cheaper), or a local supplier. I rarely buy from local suppliers since I subscribe to a reliable and inexpensive forwarding service. But this time, it’s different. The pump is practically my life. I needed to talk to someone, to help me, to convince me that this is the right pump for me.

I called the local supplier to ask for more information, and I was relieved. The girl I talked to was so helpful and so kind. It’s as if she could hear the desperation in my voice. She gently urged me to pass by their office in Tektite in order to try out the different pumps they have available.

The very next day, I went to their office (with a very lovely and quaint interior, by the way). I was immediately escorted to a private room where I was able to try out the pump I had in mind — the Spectra S1. As soon as I tried it, I was sold.

To make the long story short, I am now a proud owner of the Spectra S1. And I love it.

And that’s my breastpump story.

So far, so good. Finally.

(I will be posting a separate review of the Spectra S1 soon. It’s probably not the first pump that working moms would initially consider, but I promise that if I get my hands on the more portable Spectra 9 Plus Advanced, I would also post a review.)

Seriously, INC.

All things considered, bilib ako sa pagkakaisa ng Inglesia ni Cristo. Bilib din ako sa sense of organization nila. It’s no small feat to congregate that much people.

If only they don’t think the planet revolves around them. If only they are fighting for a cause I believe in.

However, as someone who doesn’t have a lot of the knowledge on the issue, I can only conclude they are congregating to hide the illegal acts of their leaders. Kung wala namang kailangan itago, wala dapat i-alma.

Tomorrow is a workday for the remaining hundreds of thousands of people. A huge number of which can’t afford to be absent. Hindi madaling mag trabaho. Hindi madaling madagdagan ang oras sa trapik. Pagod na pagod na kami. What the hell were you guys thinking?

And we’re now on Yaya #3

In 7 months, we’ve gone thru 3 yayas. Didn’t expect to go thru so many in such a short time. Apparently, they don’t last as long as they used to.

Although I still can’t claim to be an expert on yayas (hardly!), I’ve learned a few things:

  • Yayas don’t really care much about the Kasambahay Law.
  • Contrary to popular belief, they don’t like taking a lot of day offs. “Magastos eh,” they say.
  • Some of them (not all) will take advantage of your first sign of weakness. If you unhesitatingly give in to something, they will ask for more. Sad, but true.
  • They usually have a “fair market price.” Pasig (bayan) rate for yayas is around 3,500. In BGC and Makati, it’s 6,500. 
  • If you don’t pay the market rate, other households in your area can easily poach your Yaya.
  • Yayas refer each other to other households. That’s usually how they get poached. If you think your Yaya doesn’t have friends in your area, you’re wrong. They will definitely get to know other yayas and communicate with them via text.
  • They also look for boyfriends thru text. Hehe.
  • Some agencies are scams. They make money out of finders fee. After the contract term is over, they connive with the Yaya to leave so that you will go back to the agency to find another Yaya (and pay the finders fee once again)
  • Established agencies usually have yayas who have been working in Metro Manila for a long time. That is a good and bad thing.
  • Yayas who have been working for a few years in Metro Manila seem to have more tendencies of jumping from one employer so another.

What’s your experience with yayas? Lemme know.

Mayaman ka naman eh

We stopped at a traffic light along Kalayaan Ave. A young boy ran towards our car with his palm stretched upwards, asking for alms. We tapped lightly at our window, the signal for “no alms.”

The boy sneered, kicked the door, and mockingly licked our side mirrors. He did this repeatedly until the light turned green.

To him, I was the lady inside a nice car — “ang may kaya.” And in this country — it doesn’t matter if they use the money to buy cigarettes, Tanduay, or rugby — I am still obliged to give.

“Mayaman ka naman eh.” Always said with a hint of accusation, as if daring anyone to complain.