Wednesday, December 28, 2005



I am going back and retracing the events of the second year of Kai-Kai with us.
We had been away from Kai-Kai for three weeks...Manila was hot and humid when we arrived there and still hot and humid when we left. In crossing the International Date Line there was still at least 16 hours difference plus the times spent between flights. The most important thing was we celebrated the 95th birthday of his great-great Umma. Tisha sent her a card with Kai's picture and I noticed that my Mom put it in her handbag which she has with her at all times.
As usual, I waited outside for Tisha to pull in the driveway. As I was coming toward the car, Kai spotted me and I can see that he is straining his head to have a good look as to who was coming toward the car. I can detect that he recognized me though he did not smile; he immediately came to me from his Mom and put his head on my shoulder. His eyes wide open, looking around, maybe tiring to tell himself that: "I had been here before." "This place look familiar." He was in a certain mood that morning. It became obivious when Umma greeted him; "Hello Kai-Kai..did you miss us?" His response was some combination of a grunt and a whine, which could be interpreted as: "Where have you been?" He would not let Umma hold him but clung onto me.
The rest of the morning we were together by ourselves, me holding his little hand as we started exploring his old "turf." We walked in circle, going from one cupboard door to another in the kitchen. We went outside for a while, changed his diaper, fed him with banana, cheerios and milk. By the time Umma came back from her Monday shopping, he was asleep in his swing. That was the first time for a long time that he slept in my arms. I just cradled him in my arms and we dance and I sing..."Sleep Little Boy To Become A Big Boy" (my own composition) Umma came back, him sound asleep with Nalie by his side watching him.
The year seems to have gone too fast...Kai-Kai has grown! I would say he has absorbed so many things that a boy his age could accomplished...probably more than one would expect. He has learned to make conversation; although at times he reverts to his 'gibberish" way of expressing the things that he would like to say. Of course, Umpha understands him! He is making very good progress. The "r's," the "s'es" and "l's" are getting pronounced. He started to put words together like "Up, up away!" or "Up, up in the sky" when he wants to express something way beyond his reach. It amazes me how he will put a couple of words together to get to the point of what he wants to say. This year, he was on a dinosaur craze. I think he knows more about those creatures than I do or his Umma combined. Of course, the real love for cars is still very strong! You won't find him without his favorite car in his hands. When we are outside in the backyard and he will be engaged in another thing, he will give me his cars to put in my pocket. Halloween and Christmas has been a learning process with him. He associated the pumpkins, monsters and ghosts wrappings with chocolates inside...and with "Happy Halloween." Of course let us not forget the "purple spider" balloon that we visited practically everyday in the neighborhood...the same neighbor that has the Snowman and Santa Claus right now that he still wants to visit. The lights and the tree are also his favorite. He learned how to sing "Twinkle, twinkle little star" but with added words in the rendition, of..."Up, up in the sky."
I have to start sorting his "paintings" to be framed for the show in March. This will be something I am looking forward to and with a little apprehension; wondering how he will act during the reception. But, I can assure you that the show will be great for a boy with too much time on his hands.
I have written a journal of his first year with us...mostly our daily routines. It was 20 pages in all and I thought I lost it among my files...found it and re-read it just now. It was really a journey for us together! I wonder if Tisha would let me include that in his time capsule??? I will have to have either Tisha or Rodin transfer it to a disc. After all this years with the computer, I haven't done that!

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Let's get this out of the way right from the top. Christmas has pagan roots!
All those Christmas trees we bring home have no connection to Mathew or Luke. Same with Yule logs and old Saint Nick, which trace to Old World pagan traditions. The Puritans were so appalled at the season's rites they did not even celebrate Christmas.
You may have heard this before, so excuse me for bringing it up. But the fact keeps eluding those in contemporary America who see secularism's attack on Christmas as something akin to a broadside on every doctrines of the faith.
I understand their point. We shouldn't ignore the spiritual reason for the season. But they seem to forget the season is not all about purity on earth. Instead, it offers a wonderful metaphor for Christian living. If you look closely, Christmas is about the sacred and the secular living alongside each other.
Go back to the original stories. We have the babe whom the world so rejects that his parents can't find a place to sleep.What more do we need? Can't we realize that Christmas has always been about the contrast between Christ child and the world around him?
Well, the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution protects religious free speech. Evidently what some people have forgotten is that free speech requires the tolerance of people hearing speech they don't like. The religious tradition of America is tolerance - and what Christians wants is for the same sense of tolerance that has always been extended to religionist of small or minor populations to be extended to religionist of the overwhelming majority of the U.S population--Christian.
"Merry Christmas" has been hurled as an insult. A Christmas tree is not put up as an affront. People who say they are offended by the greeting or the tree should should realize that when they take offense, they indicate hostility or animosity towards Christians.

Saturday, December 24, 2005



Ever since, it has been a tradition in our house that we celebrate Christmas Eve attending church service, have our Christmas Eve dinner and then open our gifts. 2005 is no different except that this year, the prince of the family celebrated the tradition with us for the first time. When they arrived, right away Kai was all over the house. It surprised me that he picked up the snowman that I made for him I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, showed it to everybody and then put it back next to the tree. He seems very excited because I think this is the first time that he came to Umpha's and Umma's house in the evening. With all the lights, the candles aglow, it must had had some effect on him. I have a place setting for him at our table. He opted just to be himself and do his own thing. He is more interested with the candles and started to blow them out. My mistake! I taught him how to blow a candle. He knows that it it "fire" and it is "hot," and not to touch them. At least he ate at their house before coming here.
I think it is a universal tradition that the youngest member of the family should open the first gift. I handed him a box and told him to open it...Boy did he dive in doing the opening right away. I found out later that he had an opening rehearsal today at their house. He really tore-open the wrappers...and when he saw the batman figure on the box...his first word was "oh no...! Telling him to go on and look what was inside, he was very delighted to see that it was a pair of shoes that lights up. Immediately he wanted to put them on...stumping the soles for the red lights. Umma gave him a collections of cars, and a Christmas story pillow which was welcomed with reservation. His uncle and Julie gave him books...not too interesting than the cars.
He was a great help! He wanted to open every package there is.
This Christmas seems to be different from other Christmas! We have Kai with us and he made the difference. His presence made it very special in may ways! I wish you many, many more Christmas to come Kai!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005



Kai loves to play with water. In the backyard I have several five gallons pails recycled from paint containers. I use them when mixing fertilizer. For some reason Kai will collect stones and pebbles and throw them inside the pail. At times he will find a stick or a bamboo pole; anything that he can use to stir the water that was left in the pail. Today, like anytime that we are in the backyard, he was able to find a tin can and a plastic coke bottle. I let him do his thing because I don't think there will be any harm at all. Besides he enjoys what he his doing and I change the water often so he can play with clean water. I can also trim the dead leaves and sweep at the same time. I keep an eye on him once in a while...but suddenly I heard: "Umpha...Umpha! I am stucked!" I saw him sitting with his pants down, trying to pull it off, but his shoes were in the way. That was what got "stucked..." "What are you doing?" I asked. Upon inspection, I saw that the one of the pants' leg was wet. He will scoop the water and will transfer the water to the bottle then pour it to the pail again. I imagine he missed the bottle and the water went to his pants. He knows how to pull his pants down... uh...uh.! Tisha was telling me that he usually undress naked. One time here in the house, he got his arm out from the neckline of his shirt trying to take off the shirt..."it is hot!" That was what he said to me when I came to the rescue. It is amazing how he was able to analyze the situation of being stucked. He uses that word when he can't get anything from his toy box or just like today, his two play cars were on top of each other and when he tried to get one... the word just came out. He knows the word "broke" and "fix." He has always been in the stage of tinkering; pushing buttons, opening and closing all that will interest him ever since I can remember. He really started early trying to find out how things work. I guess it started when I taught him how to operate the light switches in the house...with the "yaets" (light) and "dak" switching the lights on and off in the house. He still does those things once in a while except that the words sound more precise.."light" and "dark." I think it is a good sign because his mind is working. This afternoon got a hold of the Polaroid camera. For sure he knows what it is. He knows that it is for taking pictures. Could you imagine that he as able to open the camera and shot a couple of pictures? At first I am not paying attention when he gave me a Polaroids picture. I thought it was one of my missed-shots, but when he gave me the second one, I saw that he was carrying the camera. I have to run after him to get the camera because he was on his way to the backyard when I told him to give it to me. Boy Oh Boy!... he was really fast!
His obsession to look at the inflated Snowman is still going. I told Mike that I have to go to that yard sometime in the evening and put a hole in it (just kidding). We spent about half an hour just sitting on the curb looking at the Snowman and Santa Claus balloon. It is about six houses down the street...and this is where he would like to go as soon as I loosen his seat belt. "go...go...snowman!" "come on umpha." I will have to distract him or tell him that they are still asleep. I made a twelve inch high snowman last night hoping that he will give me peace...I was wrong! He does not like anything that resembles a doll. That is a "no" - "no." I am not sure what he gets from just looking. When I told him to go near the Snowman and touch it, he will say no. The only way I can persuade him to go home is by telling him that Santa Claus will read book to the Snowman because the Snowman will go "nite-nite" and the door will be closed. I will ask him to say "see you later Snowman."
We did not watch much TV today. We read books and when Mike came, he greeted his Daddy. While Mike was eating he sat opposite him and saw that Mike is drinking Coke. I know that he would like to have some, so I poured a little bit in a glass and gave it to him. He showed his appreciation by his smacking his lips with a sound of "mm-mm." He actually just took a couple of sips and then went to the living room. That was when he started to untangle his toy cars and started riding them in the house. Finally he got the other one and he wants me to ride it. He even asked Mike to ride it too. I told him that Daddy is eating...we can go to the living room. He decided that he want to do it outside. "Open door..." Umpha carried the two cars and we played there til Mike was ready to bring him home. Mike had to catch and grab him because he is not ready yet. Bye..bye Umpha...see you later...

Monday, December 12, 2005


"We wish you a merry holiday, we wish you a merry holiday." No, that doesn't do it. "I'm dreaming of a white holiday, with every white holiday I write." Nope... nope, that doesn't get me there. "The first holiday the angels sang." No. Can't have angels. I guess I will just have to reveal my bigotry. Merry Christmas, Kai-Kai!
Yes, "Ti's the season"...but I can't understand what all the fuss is about over specific religious greetings. Each morning since Kai learned to say "Merry Christmas," we have greeted each other with that phrase. Then I will ask him about the snowman in their front yard and the day is centered around "Christmas." I hope Kai-Kai will have a "Merry Christmas" all thru his life according to all of the great American traditions. Let the tactics of the Grinch's, the Scrooges, the white witches and their relatives be gone by then, so he can keep and enjoy Christmas - its date, its name and its best traditions, then honor the rights of anyone who has and celebrates other holidays without interference. Let no one tamper with it or usurp it. Instead in the spirit of the season, let anyone who wants to join in this joyous occasion do so and have a great time.
Today, I put up the Christmas tree with him around. He was with me the other day when I was untangling the lights and I showed him where to press for music. He remembered. As soon as he saw the the lights on he started to look for the "music." I haven't bought a tree for awhile now. I always construct one from the cypress and pine trees that I have in the front yard. He started right away to touch the balls, in spite that I told him..."just look and don't touch." He broke one of the balls..."See...what happen?" I guess he understood me then; that if he touch, it will break. I was able to do the hanging with him just looking, and he kept busy with other things with Umma.
Something funny happened while I am doing the tree. I went out to get some bricks to stabilized the tree. As usual, he is on my tail. I went in and he was left outside. I had my ladder propped against the pine tree...suddenly we heard..."Umpha help!...Umpha help.! He was on top of the fifth rung of the ladder. I guess he decided to get down but does not know how. Umma was the one who took him down. That's Kai-Kai...!
He is getting to be very adventurous! There is nothing he will not try. I have to keep a keen eye on the things he picks hammers, pliers, screwdrivers. He knows the functions of those tools by watching me and he will imitate.
I made a mistake of giving him a paper ball. They are made in China and when I was a kid we used to play with them. They are made of colored paper, and a hole where one can blow to inflate it. I think he does not have the concept that it is not like the balls he's used to playing with. He started to bounced it, didn't work and finally started to kick it and it collapsed. He got frustrated and made a fuss. I am sure that it will not work, and decided to get it from him...was he mad!...and started crying. I just let him cry and finally I carried him outside in the backyard for a while. He calmed down and collected himself. I noticed that he was his self again after while as if nothing happened. We went to the kitchen and I sat him on the sink counter. He looked at the sink light ..."no light." I switched the light on and he is happy. He opened the cupboard, picked up his mug, and indicated that he wants some juice. After that he noticed his toothbrush and wants them (he has two). So we both start brushing our teeth. By the time they are ready to go home, he still wants to bring his toothbrush home with him, but Tisha was able to get it from him.
I guess this is what some child rearing experts will say..."you have to have a boundary." I am sure that Kai-Kai is learning that. It is still a long way but I will keep on trying. I am using some key words, magic words that I hope will help him understand that it is not always his way. He is a very smart boy and can learn things quick!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


After lunch, I felt sleepy and decided to lie down. While I am settling down under the blanket, I asked Kai to lay down with Umpha..."NO" was his answer. He started to gather some of his toy cars and left looking for Umma. I really dozed off because I did not wake up until 3:30pm. I did not even hear when Tisha came, ate her lunch and both of them left for the day. He and Umma stayed in the living room the whole time. Umma told him not to bother me because I am asleep. He is getting good about this. When Umma closes the bedroom door, I will notice that he will not go there and will tell me..."Umma sleep!" This boy has not taken a nap for quite awhile now. He has been on the go all the time. It seems that when he takes a nap he will miss something.
I have not mastered the Adobe Photo shop yet! But I'm trying... and did try again to make a Christmas card with Kai's mug shot incorporated with some of his favorite characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Taz and Daffy Duck. I think it came out nice except that it needs some clean-up. The Adobe Photo shop won' t respond to what I is something to do with the "fixed pixels that won't blend." So the heck with it! Kai being like a "kiti=kiti" (mosquito larva), always on the move, is hard to get him to pose. But he likes to see his face in the "cameya" after each shot. I was trying to have him posed with the "parols" (lanterns) I made for the PASACAT dance group for their Christmas way Jose! I only took a couple and quit. At least with the digital camera, I can always delete the shots that at times are just part of his head, sometimes his face turned around, or the back of his head, etc.
Now that Christmas is coming, his daily trip to the park and the neighborhood gives him a chance to see the early declarations. He came the other day telling me
"snowman...snowman." Oh yes, he is learning to say Merry Christmas...I have to decipher yet how it sound before writing it down...but he is getting there. I have not put any Christmas decoration yet. We will see what will happen. This is one learning situation here for him...DON'T TOUCH! Last year I remember that he was so fascinated with the ornaments and almost toppled down the tree.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I haven't had the chance to "blog" the last two weeks. Had been busy moving out of my downtown studio. Since the place is just a stones throw from the PETCO STADIUM, the area has been going through an urban renewal. They are going to rebuild the place as a high-rise structure. Can't blame the people who owns the place...they have to conform with the rest and also their is big money to gain. So, practically every day, I have been loading my van and hauling the accumulated stuffs I had there for the last fifteen years. Kai-Kai has been good about it. Whenever I leave the house, all I have to say is that I am going to get gas. He will be content with Umma. It is funny how he has been able to formulate the idea that he has to stay home while I am gone. I think he knows that I am coming back and we can be together again. He knows the gas station. I often get gas when we are driving and I will tell him. "Stay here, Umpha will get gas."
Tisha related to us that one evening, they heard him crying from his monitor. When Tisha came to his room..he said: "monster...grabbing!" It gave Tisha an eerie feeling and he ended sleeping with them that night. One thing that I will not do is encourage him to believe in monsters and such. He knows the word monster but here in the house it is all for fun. We still have some Halloween chocolate with Frankenstein, ghosts etc., and he knows that inside the wrappers is chocolate. I can remember the days when I was just about maybe three and my sister two, we are scared seeing the bearded "bombay" (found out later that they are Sheiks from India.) Those days in the Philippines anybody that comes from India was called "Bombay." The scary part of it is they carry a big bundle on top of their turban which contained bed sheets, blankets and mosquito nets. They peddled them house to house to the locals. Parents who want their children to behave scared to them point of wetting their pants that they will give them to the "Bombay," and they will put them inside the bundle and carry them away. There was also a "crazy " woman in our town, sort of homeless, demented sort, dirty but harmless. All the children were scared of her. I remember my sister wet her pants when she saw her approaching us. You should she my Mom! She shooed away that woman with a broom. Her name is "Kadepa." I am positive that we never scared Tisha and Rodin when they are growing up.
In case of Kai-Kai, I think he was dreaming, got the image from somewhere in the TV. Just wondering, could it be the start of being a "Calvin" syndrome? I have two comic books of Calvin and Hobbs. In one of them was a situation where he and Hobbs concocted the idea that there is a monster under the bed...bedlam and chaos began...Hope not!
He is scribbling again. I found some cards from my junk from the studio and gave them to him. He was happy to get it and right away got some pens and start
doing his "personal" art. We have been doing his toy computer and still are learning the ABC's. Lately, it is getting cold and he always comes with a hooded jacket. It is funny because he used to hate having something on his head. I gave him a black knit cap and right away he put it on. That reminds me, I have to ask Tisha to bring it back with him sometime. I have a red one which I was wearing when I gave him the black one and he immediately named it; "umpha hat." He will not wear it at all but will try to put it on my head.
I guess, I had mentioned that one of his favorite food is shrimp. I found some shrimp-fry (tiny shrimps) that my Mom use to cook for us with pure coconut milk until the cream comes out and stir it until crisp from the coconut oil. That was a nostalgic time...but, I cook them differently. The shrimp-fries are seasoned and coated with corn starch, deep fried in hot oil until crisp. Now, this is one of his favorite..."baby shrimp," that's what he calls them. Since they are not uniformly sized, he will look for different sizes and will call them. "Daddy shrimp" or "Mommy shrimp." Today, I have to go to the Vietnamese market to buy some more because he is done with the first batch I cooked. Of course he eats them with rice too!
Today, and like any other day, we bide our time while waiting for Tisha and Mike to pick him up. A couple of hours was spent outside. After "the end" (he knows the words) of his favorite cartoon, you can be sure that he will ask me to: "up please Umpha," " go...go away," which means that he want to be carried and we are going outside. At times he will gather some of his cars take my hand and indicate that we have to go. I noticed today that he can open the latch on the backdoor to the yard. He is really growing! So far the front door is still safe, but I think he is working on it. A very imaginative mind! He is starting to formulate words and associate them with the things he likes to express. One of the things that I think is funny is when he wants a package to be opened, he will say,"open door." Anything that is dirty or "eecky," he will say, "eeeew." One thing that I can say, he won't mind you if you clean his face, cut his finger nails (Umma usually does it) because there are bugs there or to clean his nose if I told him he got a "booger." Of course he will dig dirt, pick up stones and pebbles, check the empty shells of the snails or just sit on the pavement.
Tomorrow is another day I will hear; " "Umpha...Umpha...go...go!"