The Phantom of the Opera: A Review

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera is a famous story documented by the French author, Gaston Leroux. Since it's original publication in 1911, his work has been adapted in various theatrical and film versions. As well known as it is for ages, this was the first time I took interest to grab a copy and read what's all the fuss about. As for the motion picture, I have yet to check it out.

At first, reading the prologue sent me into a wild confusion. Here, Leroux explained how he did his research over the "Opera Ghost" mentioning a number of uncommon names which are difficult to pronounce. Before he wrote the book, he was convinced that the OG existed in flesh and blood but his initial interviews prove otherwise. The major confusion was caused by the disappearance of the actress Christine Daaé in the middle of her performance followed by the loss of the Viscount of Chagny, Raoul, and the discovery of the lifeless body of his brother, Philippe, by the banks of a lake. Without the phantom's participation which was the missing link, people speculated that the brothers fought because of the older one's disapproval of the love affair between Raoul and Christine, irregardless of the fact that both brothers "worshipped each other all their lives". Anyway, the prologue is better at second reading, after the book has been finished.

Honestly, I was a little bored while reading the book. For one thing, it was difficult to assimilate the foreign names. Then, although Leroux had ascertained that the OG was real, the circumstances made it not easy to believe so. For instance, how could the Managers of the Opera House hear something in their ears and see no one? And what human can cause Christine Daaé a majestic performance when the girl was an ordinary singer as can be? And what with the death head and yellow eyes that glow in the dark?

One other thing that was quite perplexing was that despite Christine's realization that the OG was tricking her, she decided to play by his rules. A lot of times, she denied her love for Raoul and made him miserable with jealousy. But instead of taking pity over him, she thought otherwise and said "poor Erik!" (which was the OG's name btw). I couldn't understand why she took pity on the OG who apparently caused nothing but trouble, or evil, to those around him. I was thinking, why didn't she just went away from the Opera when Raoul was so willing to make her his bride.

Almost through, I dragged myself to reading the rest of the story for I do not want to leave it unfinished. Besides the first impression of incredibility over the book, there was one other reason for the total loss of interest. Last Monday, holiday, I took my little siblings out and found a treasure!
Yes, I found this treasure at Booksale for only Php35! Imagine my joy!
This book was part of my childhood days and after perhaps, 15 years, I'll be able to read it again. But that shall be another story.

Going back, I almost had the urge to set aside the Opera Ghost and start with this treasure yet I felt bad at having to start something and not ending it. So I read on. Fortunately for me, I had enough discipline at the time. The story turned out impressive towards the end! All the skepticisms I've had with the reality of the OG was answered as Leroux shared the journals of the "Persian" who knew about Erik too well. Every one of my confusions had been cleared. I began to understand the ironic feelings that Christine had for the OG for I, myself, felt the association with these feelings. Erik's genius and obsession with Christine was frightening. He did things that were horryfyingly evil. But the Persian said, Erik, who had not been loved even by his own family, might not even know the difference between good and evil. Everything that he did was out of necessity. He only wanted simple things, to live like a normal person, with a wife he can take out on Sundays. But the norms of the humankind did not allow this possible to him. Thus, it is quite natural, that one feels pity over him.

In the end, one thing I realized was that OG was capable of loving. He was as human as all of us can be but his ugliness did not let him live a normal life. And I can't agree with Leroux more when he said:

"...he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar."

It was the exact same thing I was thinking about Erik. If I had met him, I might have cried and held his hand too, saying "poor, unhappy Erik!"

The book's ending gloriously redeemed the pessimistic notions I had at the beginning. My only goal was to finish the book and move on to the next. After reading though, I found myself staring into space... imagining, contemplating. Erik was such an extraordinary person. He should have been a loveable person, if one was only willing to see past through the facade. Such strong feelings I had for the OG, mostly pity and I can't help but wish that somehow, he get his second chance at life to be happy and normal and free. But it's useless. He's long dead. It's just a shame how the norms of mankind can sometimes make life miserable...
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Buwan ng Wika 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last Saturday, 25 August, we participated in Demi's school program in commemoration of the Buwan ng Wika. This is in support to the heroes of our country who are given a date in August to be celebrated and remembered.

Part of the program is to showcase the children's talent in singing, group dancing and declamation. This part was announced way earlier but because of the busy-ness of the circumstances and my forgetful character, I didn't remember to choose a talent for Dem until it was but 2 weeks away. Now I'm a little bit choosy with presentation although I can say that nobody really has the showbiz blood in either side of the family. I don't want to settle with the songs suggested by Teacher, namely "Ako'y Isang Pinoy" or "Ako ay Pilipino." I wanted something unique and chose "Isang Lahi" instead, which later turned out to be a good decision because most of the kids who sang, from Prep down to Nursery, performed the song "Ako'y Isang Pinoy."

True, the song I chose is a bit hard plus we don't have much time to prepare so I had to make amendments with the minus one I got from YouTube. Here, I thank the person who upload the video and my sister for teaching me how to convert the video to mp3 file through a site. Equipped with a talent for cramming and a few know-how in editing videos using Windows Movie Maker, I just had to cut away the second stanza and voila! Demi was all set to perform.

One other cramming I did was buying the Filipiniana dress which I only wondered about on the morning of the day before the program itself. I asked my husband what the children should be wearing and had a hunch it would be a Filipiniana dress but he wasn't sure either so I went to office in the morning and had to take a leave in the afternoon after my husband verified that my premonition was right to buy the dress (*stops to breathe air :p*). The truth was, I had enough experience with this back when I was a student myself to know better and that I was even negligent to the last minute hehe. So I still didn't possess the good diligence of a father of a family. First is because I'm not a father of course, second, because I wasn't able to foresee promptly.

Well, everything paid off, even the fact that Demi caught colds during the program, as what happened with the Nutrition Month last July. The day before the kids were to recite, Demi lost her voice. I promise I did not overdo her practicing. It was plain coincidence coupled with the unpredictable weather. But since she was singing this time, the whole situation got me nervous. I didn't pressure ourselves though. I just told my baby to do her best and quite naturally... she brought home the bacon. Hehehe... Please allow me to exercise the bragging rights of a mom ;)

And now I give you, the first placers (because these sisters are always one), Demi and Daisy!

Before her performance. Not a hint of stage fright. I was the one nervous haha.

Demi's very first medal! I'm so proud of my baby :)

One thing that's cute about kids is that they don't let their achievements get into their heads. At the end of the day, they're still as simple and pure as they are.

With friends:

The main objective of the program has been achieved: another milestone in building up these kids' self esteem. For me, they are all winners! :)
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Sunday Sound Trip # 5: If I'm Not In Love With You by Jennilyn Mercado and Janno Gibbs

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"I miss you... I don't know why this is happening to me. I never expected to feel this way again so soon. For many nights, I am expecting that I would wake up one day and the feeling would be gone but it's only getting stronger and deeper each day. Although it's too soon to make conclusions, I want you to know that I am happy. Ironically though, there is this constant fear that when I finally fall in love with you, you will suddenly realize that you don't love me anymore.
For a while, I wanted to be alone, I enclosed myself again inside my comfort zone. I'm surprised that just lately, I am opening up myself to you. Right now, I am really vulnerable...
I had many heartaches in the past, I almost said I will never fall in love again. But I want you to know that I am willing to try one last time to fall in love again with you... I am willing to risk getting hurt again, because I trust your words...
I do feel how much you love me..."
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An Introduction: My Family

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This post is particularly made for my kins in OZ who deserve a little bit of introduction about my lovely children and husband before they actually see each other hopefully next year, God willing. I've been meaning to make a post about them even before this necessity came, so the request from tita Angie is actually very timely. Without further ado, let me begin with my eldest daughter.

This is Demi Jenn. She's turning 5 on November 9 this year. She started schooling this June and enjoys it. I named her after a character from Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (a sequel book to the classic Little Women by the same author). It's actually Demi-John, the male twin child of Meg but when I learned I was carrying a girl, I shifted the second name to Jenn. I kinda liked this idea of naming her after me. Like a junior. Some of my friends thought the same and even called her Jenny Junior hehe. In fact, she was so like me when I was little.

I think the most apparent proof is the body built. Although this little girl consumes reasonably enough food everyday, she stays as skinny as she is. But mind you, she's VERY HYPER ACTIVE, if the adjective is not redundant. I have no choice but this is the most fitting phrase to describe her. Practically, she can't sit still and doing nothing is her greates agitation. She doesn't have ADHD though, I can attest to that. :) Some other trivial facts about her include her being left handed and her addiction to fishes and everything under the sea.

My second daughter is Daisy Jenn. I named her after the twin sister of Demi-John in the book, Daisy, and attached the name Jenn after it. However, unlike the character who is very shy and reserved, my daughter turned out to be very lively and playful. She could be prone-accident due to this which is why we filled the house-floor with thick mats. At first meeting, especially if you're a guy, Daisy would shy away and even cry.

When she was born, she was so like her father. From hair line, to nose, to skin complexion... everything was Nilo-ish. I was glad though that after a year, she had shed off majority of this boyish looks and looked more like me. Because Daisy's a girl, she should tend to be more like mommy hehe (the selfish notions of a mom like me). She's just turning 3 this 16th of October so she doesn't go to school yet.

They enjoy watching cartoons on TV particularly:

Disney (mostly the modern ones) like:

Brother Bear 1&2
Little Mermaid 1&2 (where Demi got her everlasting fondness of fishes and everything under the sea)

Some creepy cartoons with lessons:

Nightmare before christmas (they never get tired of this presently)


Hi-5 (so far this is one OZ exposure)

Other times, they're into watching YouTube videos of cake making and miniature clay molding of foods. They sometimes shift to games and cartoons (again).

Moving on, I'd like to introduce my husband Nilo lastly but not the least:

This was our pic from 2010's Company xmas party. I know he'd gravely disagree with me in case I put here a solo picture of his unless it's the picture of his counterpart (not counterfeit hehe).

He'd kill me if he sees this hahaha!

(A famous local actor, Coco Martin. Photo Source here)

My husband and I met each other in Friendster, it's the predecessor of Facebook, at the time when I had just started my work at the audit firm. He's an OFW in KSA, Jubail for almost 6 years. :)

It's crazy sometimes, how love works but I'm most thankful to God for a responsible husband and father. I couldn't have imagined and asked for someone else.

Bottom line is, I am most gratified having a God-given family. :) I am most proud of them.
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Sunday Sound Trip # 4: How Could This Happen To Me by Simple Plan

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"At one point in my life, I was desperate..."

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Driving Lessons for Dummies

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Driving lessons for dummies
Photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini

Learning how to drive for the first time

"This too shall pass," is what I say to motivate myself to go back for the actual driving lessons tomorrow.

For first time drivers, we had to attend an orientation first. It was all theory. It was exciting to feel like going to school again, learning something, undergoing an exam and the glorious feeling of passing it. 

But the minute the instructor announced that we, ourselves, shall handle the wheel tomorrow and drive the car from its parking, I trembled like a leaf. I thought that I'll be watching him drive first. But NO, we have to drive the car in actual.

I looked behind and observed how busy the streets were outside and my heart sank. I felt cold inside throughout the rest of the orientation.

Is it scary to learn how to drive?

Everything that's first is usually scary. I never had experience in driving before so naturally, my fears were normal. My family always have had a car but I was always the passenger. It actually took me 29 years before finally deciding to learn how to drive.

Besides, there are inevitable risks and dangers in driving that could cause serious accidents. Study shows that a lot of car accidents are caused by overconfidence in drivers. 

So don't worry if you're scared (like me). Just a tiny amount of fear is actually necessary when driving. Just enough to make us cautious but not a lot to cloud our judgements.

How to overcome your fear of driving a car

If you are really scared to learn how to drive, I suggest that you take lessons from a professional driving instructor first. They will not only teach you the technical knowledge of handling a car but more importantly, the safety rules and precautions that you need to look out for when driving.

Professional instructors' cars also indicate labels and signs that the driver is just learning which help the cars around you to be more careful to avoid potential accidents.

This gave me a bit of confidence to start learning how to drive. Too confident in fact, I had to laugh at myself for even thinking about going for manual against automatic transmission. I heard it was easier to shift from manual to auto, than vice versa. Glad I was convinced to take the latter because manual transmission cars are way harder to learn. 

During the orientation, I learned that the main object that makes driving complex was the "clutch." This thing is no longer present in the automatic transmission cars. That was a relief!

You see, feet coordination, along with other physical coordination, is something I don't possess. I remember getting envious of my little brother who plays the drum as if he's eating cake and thought I could play the drums too. I was wrong. 

Trying out the drums gave me the realization that I probably lack the nerves connecting from the brain down to the legs and feet, or at least the glands to coordinate them. That was just drums. Say, what more with cars?

Minus the clutch, I'll only have to use the right foot. Whew! That's better. So instead of managing 3 pedals (with 2 feet), I only need to manage 2 pedals (with 1 foot).

But smart driving is a lot more than feet coordination. Let me just share what I learned this morning straight from my notes.

7 important lessons for first time drivers

First lesson: The right sitting position. 

Adjust the distance of the seat from the steering wheel as well as the back rest. The arms must not be too bent or too straight. Try leaning against the back rest and stretch your arms forward. If your wrists rest above the steering wheel, then you are at the right distance.

Right distance from the steering wheel
Photo by CDL Physio

Second lesson: Always put on seat belt.

Before even starting the engine, secure the belts on. Make sure that the belts are locked by pulling on it.

Third lesson: Turning the engine on.

For automatic transmissions, make sure that the shifting lever is on P (park) before turning the key from Lock to Acc. 

In some cars, you will need to turn the key counter-clockwise while steering the wheel upward first to undo the lock. Only then can you turn the key from Acc to On. 

With an interval of one second, turn finally to Start. Once the engine hums (about 3 seconds), let go of the key. It will settle back to On. Do not hold on longer than 3 seconds as this will cause the starter to break. (I wish I had more fetish for machines to appreciate this). 

Again, this depends on your car. Most modern cars are pretty easy and straightforward now.

Fourth lesson: Adjust the mirrors.

Everytime you drive, specially when you share cars with other people, always remember to adjust the mirrors first. We all have different heights and built so you must check if you can see your surroundings well through the mirrors.

From your driving position check if you can see the entire back windshield.  

Adjusting the rear view mirror
Photo by Autodeal

Side view mirrors are correctly adjusted if only 10% of you car's body could be viewed (how's that? only the handle at the back door could be seen and the rest are views of the surroundings).

Fifth lesson: Use turn signals.

Before leaving the curb of the streets, make sure that you are indicating with your turn signals. With the index and middle fingers of the left hand (or right hand for right-hand-drive cars), push the turn signal upward for right (left for right-hand-drive cars) or down when turning left (right for right-hand-drive cars). 

Get the feel of this first so you don't get confused because you can't look at your dashboard too much while driving. Eyes always on the road!

For city driving, at least 30m (or 3 cars) from turning point, the signals must be started. For highways, at least 90m (or 10 cars).

Sixth lesson: Hands on the steering wheel.

For frequent steering, which is for city driving, the hands are positioned like this:

Hands on the steering wheel
Photo by

This is supposedly for easier steering. 

According to my driving instructor, most experienced drivers position their hands oppositely, at the lower part of the wheel, specially when they need to take greater turns.

Seventh lesson: Driving.

Last but not least, is the driving itself.

For manual transmission cars, the clutch thing made everything complicated. All I remembered was that you push on it when you start, shift gears, and stop. All the time gradually releasing the tension. It's like calculating the level in which the car will run smoothly. This is done in coordination with pressing on the gas or break, plus shifting gears with your right hand (or left hand for right-hand drive cars). 

For automatics, just don't forget to shift the gear to D (drive mode), step on the gas gradually and break to stop. The pedals of automatic transmission cars are quite more sensitive apparently, so just light touches can make the car move. On a warning note, DO NOT STEP HARD ON EITHER PEDALS!😱

The procedure is simplified a thousand times but it doesn't stop me from getting nervous.

Tomorrow I shall start my first actual lesson. Just like the Physical Education subjects in college, I'd probably finish this course with... at most a satisfactory level I hope.

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When Gold Is Tested By Fire

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's almost 2 weeks since my last valid post. Valid because sound trips doesn't count as writing but more of just sharing. So much had been going on and so many things to be done, to share. But I have been agitated over the weeks. Later I shall tell what the cause is. But finally, here I am at the stage of acceptance. I have been preparing myself and the others around me for this big change that came a little sooner and finally, I'm filing my resignation from my company.

Before this, I had posted about a desire to flee. But I had reverted the post back to "draft" because I didn't want to dwell in those negative feelings, for the company had been a blessing in general. Something happened though, and when the gold is tested in fire, a lot of revelations appear. At this stage, so early, all we could see are the disadvantages. The heat of the fire is too much, some might not endure it. But in time, the gold will shine. Pity, I will no longer be around by the time this happens. Still, I wish those who remain to have enough strength and those already affected to find the silver lining amidst the dark clouds.

I am one of those affected during this early stage of the trial. Our plan to leave PH is not due until next year because (materialism aside) I expected the bonuses to finance our fares partially. After the accident, it felt wrong to even look forward to it especially since other employees are on the brink of losing their jobs. So we decided that I went ahead so I could save up for fares and eventually fetch them. I'm going ALONE the month after.

I declined this idea with utmost resistance. I couldn't bear to think of myself in a foreign land without my nearest of kins for I've never been farther than Zamboanga Mindanao, and that was just for 2 days, service and accommodation well prepared. Now that my aunt has confirmed to accommodate me, the sole problem I bear is the thought of leaving the kids behind. *sigh* It won't even be for half a year but still... I won't be there on their birthdays... My heart is breaking now.

We've resolved these issues by now. I made it a point that we'd celebrate their birthdays earlier before I leave. But still... I can not fathom the depths of my sorrow at the moment. All I know is I do these things and those, in preparation for this supposedly "feat." I am overflowing with things to do along with sorrow overshadowed by the busy state I'm in. Also fear. I am not the most independent person on earth. But I guess when faced with necessity, I don't have any choice but to be "able."

In a way, I feel like I have my own fire where I am being tested...
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Sunday Sound Trip # 3: Stranded by Jennifer Paige

Sunday, August 12, 2012

“I don’t wanna be

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Sunday Sound Trip 2: Need To Be Next To You by Leigh Nash

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"I need to know I can see you smile each morning, 
look into your eyes each night, for the rest of my life..."

"I think I’ve done my time. Telling you my honest feelings is the best thing to do. And I realized, I can’t just let myself live into fantasy, I want you to let me in your heart. And I know by myself, I found the true meaning of love." - 18/11/08
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Please Look After Mother: A Reflection

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I meant to make this post soon after I've finished the book, which was a relatively long time ago. I've read it in June but I wasn't sure about the impact which the book has left upon me and so consequently, I did not feel like writing about it right afterwards.

First of all, I failed to find a deep enough connection. Unlike with other books wherein I begin to feel the association mid-part with a character or characters, I had a difficult time feeling for the characters in this book. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the style in which the book was written, from different points of view, which diverted my attention from the story itself to figuring out whose person was the story being narrated. Or maybe because it hasn't really crossed my mind that the possibility of ignoring a mother's presence to a great degree is limited only in dramas. Whatever the reason, I was only half satisfied towards the ending of the story. All throughout the book, I was anticipating their reunion with the lost mother. It never happened.

Disappointment, the hollow feeling, these were the reasons why I didn't write earlier about the book. But when I was faced with my own situation with my mother, who is in the hospital right now, suffering from a great headache and high blood pressure, I remembered the book. Today, while I was tending for my sick mother, I felt odd seeing her that way. I remembered how in the book, the author pointed out that most of us see only one part of our mothers: the part who is strong, the person who watches over our needs unceasingly, the mother who constantly prepares our food, clothing and keeps the home neat always... all our lives. That was how I felt a while ago. I felt odd because it had always been me in the hospital bed being taken cared of by my mother. It should be the other way around. I have never seen her like that before. Whenever she was confined in the hospital when we were still young, my father looked after her. I just see her when she comes back from the hospital, healthy and able again.

It's a sad feeling because I realized that mother's getting old. I do not want to face the fact that she could be getting weak also. It hurts even more because when I needed her, she was there 24/7 while I, tied up with my own obligations with the kids could not commit my whole time to look after her. I am crying inside. Deep within this heavy feeling in my heart, I know I wanted to pray... please, please look after my mother...
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Another Month Ends

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I have to say that July offered the most for me this year… so far. We’re just halfway through 2012 so I really can’t conclude for the rest of the months. It’s just that a lot has happened and I am very thankful for all of them.

First of all, we have a handful of birthday celebrants in July. It’s interesting that since Mom was a July celebrant, the rest of her kids married July celebrants likewise, from my eldest brother down to me. The pressure is on for Olie and John to not break this cycle haha, just kidding. Anyway, greetings are in order:

Happy birthday to:
My husband – 3rd of July

Daisy, who can not be asked to face the camera despite our coaxing, would not take her eyes either off the cake or the lopsided banner :D

Forgive the decoration. I just had to do the most of the 2 hours while the husband was out. It's supposed to be a surprise. That part was a successful one. He expected none of this, the decoration, the cake, the gifts. ;) Told him, he could learn the element of surprise from the master! hahaha!

My mom – 8th of July
We had a small celebration over at mom's house but I don't have the pictures with me now. Anyway, here are the kids wishing their lola a very happy birthday!
Demi prepared this delicacies especially for her lola.

"Ha-boytdey lula!" It sounds very much like that hehehe...
My first sister-in-law – 21st of July
We were invited over by ate Rizza for pancit and biko but because it was raining, we didn't take the kids with and us and stayed over for a really short while. The biko was really delicious. Too bad, we forgot to take pictures hehe. But the kids made you a cake. :) (And remind me, we still have the birthday card with us.)

Demi's cakes :)

Daisy made this cake with utmost care and patience hehehe...

My other sister-in-law – 26th of July

Since she lives a bit farther from us, we weren’t able to celebrate with her. But here’s to you sister-in-law, happy birthday and may all your wishes come true!

One of the most important events in our lives happened this month too: our VISA was granted! It had been a difficult journey, but finally, God answered our wish with a YES. I am forever gratified.

And since July was nutrition month, (I have forgotten this fact ever since I have stepped out of high school, but it’s back!) Demi’s school held a Nutrition Month Program. All the students performed per their level. And for the record, this is another milestone in my momhood so I perceive this as another great event.

And last but definitely not the least, it’s seeing my best friend again, after so many months! There’s nothing like us seeing each other, despite our very hectic schedules, hers being a hundred times busier than mine. Sometimes I’m becoming jealous of her bf, named “Project,” so I’m thinking of a scheme to break them apart haha. Kidding aside, we stuffed ourselves (I’m not delving into the details) over a good chatting and afterwards, she insisted on treating me 2-scoops of ice cream. It was a great night which almost ended drastically. On the way home inside the FX, I thought I was having a heart attack. I felt clammy and sweaty despite the aircon. Luckily, traffic was fast and once I got out for fresh air, the ominous feeling of vomiting faded gradually. After that, I vowed to go on a diet and lose some pounds hehehe.

As the days quickly unfold, my panic is also starting to grow. I always wonder why we're more than halfway across the year and yet the last December holidays seem but a few days ago. Hay. I'll never understand. I'd just take the days one by one as they come, always being thankful for the chance to experience another beautiful episode in this series called life.

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