February 07, 2018

The Gold Key

Our sonshine Niccolo just won a 2018 GOLD KEY, the highest honor granted by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, for the short story he submitted to New York! 🔑🏆🎉 Past award receipients include Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates. This just makes us the most awed, joyful, proud and grateful parents of the moment! Yay! ♥️♥️♥️

This is his winning entry:

"Right Back at You" 
by Niccolo Manuel C. Tuazon

      The boss furiously storms through the office hallway. His eyes blaze, his thick brows are set in almost one straight line, and his cheeks are flushed red.  His dark unbuttoned coat reveals his crumpled shirt inside while his tie hangs unevenly around his neck. He stomps onward with both his hands clenching a bulging stack of paperwork. He abruptly stops at one of the office rooms and kicks the door open. 
       He immediately spots his employee seated at a desk. The sales clerk is slouched backward with his head bent to the right. His computer screen is on but he obviously isn’t seeing it because his eyes are closed. 
       The boss is in front of him in an instant. He slams the huge pile of papers on top of the table, making a sound as loud as a gunshot. The dozing employee wakes up with a jolt to find his supervisor glaring down at him. 
       “What do you think you are doing?” his boss yells at the top of his lungs. “Trying to sleep on the job? Again?” 
       The employee can’t help but shake with fear. “I’m sorry… so sorry, Mr. Hawkes! I didn’t mean to fall asleep!” He desperately tries to hide his panic and keep his voice calm. “It’s just that I had a long fight with my brother late last night so I hardly got any sleep after…”
       His boss does not bother to let him finish and growls at him. “You have slept on the job many times, Cain Linkladder, and I refuse to tolerate any more failures from a useless and pathetic punk like you who never runs out of excuses!”
       Cain‘s finger shakes as he points at the papers scattered around his desk. He asks with a trembling voice, “What are all these papers for, Mr. Hawkes?” 
       Mr. Hawkes smiles meanly at him. “Those papers are your punishment for being the worst employee in the entire company! Your workload has now been doubled and your salary has been cut in half.” He continues mercilessly, “Stop making fake excuses using your brother. It won’t get your life anywhere. Just get out of here this second and start working on those company orders!”
       Cain’s face is now completely pale. He tries desperately to explain his situation, “But sir, it’s--” Cain suddenly loses his ability to speak as he is forcefully grabbed by his collar by Mr. Hawkes.  
       His supervisor shouts, “Quit talking! Just get out on the field now and get your job done!”
       Hawkes then releases his employee from his grasp. Cain uses the chance to run rapidly out of the work building. He flees, consumed with great fear, worry, and shame. He wants to get back at his boss, but he knows he can’t. He cannot afford to lose his job. All at once, he feels a rising hatred towards his brother. 
       Cain ends up standing in front of the small and cramped apartment building he lives in with his younger brother. He marches inside, climbs up the stairs and unlocks the door of the space he pays monthly rent for. As soon as he hears his brother’s voice in his bedroom, his eyes narrow dangerously.  
       He barges into the messy room where his brother is engaged in an online conversation using a laptop. Without a word, Cain seizes the computer and ends the ongoing call. His stunned brother protests, “Stop grabbing my stuff and give that back! It isn’t yours!” 
       Cain’s expression darkens. He blurts out, “I’m the one who bought this and practically everything you have, Abel! And you never even thank me for anything I give you!”
       He continues lashing out at his brother, “Ever since Mom and Dad disappeared, I have been working with blood, sweat and tears in order for me and you to survive, but you just don’t care. You don’t do anything to help. You’re a useless and pathetic punk who doesn’t have what it takes to live in the real world. This is my punishment to you, so just grow up!” 
       Cain raises the laptop he is holding and swings it down until it smashes on the wooden floor. Shrapnel and glass from the destroyed laptop fly across the room. 
       In utter shock and anger, Abel charges at his brother. Cain, who is much larger than he is, easily dodges his attack and then shoves him into the concrete wall. Abel hits the wall so hard that he falls on his back in pain.
       Cain does not reach out an arm to help his brother up. He instead leaves the room at once, slamming the door shut behind him. He is not heard from again the rest of the night.
       Abel sobs and sobs as he lies on the floor. Slowly, he stands and cleans up the debris of metal and glass spread in the room. His sadness is overpowered by his anger and hate. He wants to get back at his brother, but he knows he can’t. He feels an overpowering need to release his rage. 
       The next day, Abel wakes up early, eats his breakfast, gets dressed, and heads out for school while his brother is still in bed. Abel reaches the school gates and stands by to watch the students coming and going. He finds himself setting his sight on Isaac, a skinny kid with glasses who annoys the class with his nerdiness. 
       He follows Isaac until the boy reaches his locker.  As Isaac opens the door of his locker in the hallway, Abel rushes up to him and slams his locker door shut. 
       Caught in total surprise, Isaac asks, “Why did you do that?”
       Abel replies, “Because I wanted to, ugly nerd!” 
       Isaac, his heart beginning to pound, says, “What did I do to you, Abel? I have done nothing wrong!”
       “Oh yes you did do something wrong, Isaac… you know what you did wrong?” said Abel. 
       Isaac, now white as a sheet, asks, “What?”
       Abel replies with a scary smirk. “You. Were. Born. You useless and pathetic punk!” 
       “No… please don’t hurt me, Abel!  I’ll give you my lunch money! I’ll even do your homework! Just please, don’t hurt me!” Isaac pleads with him.
       Abel merely replies with a villainous look, “Too late.”
       Abel then punches Isaac in the face and throws him down to the ground. The dazed boy tries to recover, but Abel kicks him in the stomach again and again. Isaac rolls on the floor, crying for help and begging for mercy. 
       By the time teachers and other students arrive, Isaac is knocked out cold and Abel is gone from the scene. 
       The school administrators quickly have an ambulance take the unconscious child to the nearest emergency ward and call the parents of Isaac. 
       The father and mother of Isaac rush to the hospital and are terribly shocked to see the awful condition their son is in. The doctor reports that Isaac is suffering from a concussion and fractured ribs. 
       They then see Isaac’s eyes slowly open. 
       The father carefully approaches the medical bed he is stretched out on, leans down, and asks, “Son, do you recognize me?” 
       Isaac nods. 
       The father asks, “Do you recognize Mom?” 
       Isaac nods again. 
       The father asks one more question, “Do you remember who you are?”
       Isaac softly replies, “Yes, I am Isaac. Isaac Hawkes.” 
       The father embraces his son and asks one last question. “Son, who did this to you?” 
       Isaac’s eyes fall shut. He struggles with all his might to answer, “My classmate Abel. Abel Linklad- aahhh!” 
       Isaac cannot continue. He starts shaking violently. The doctor rushes forward to help him, but he has already collapsed. The doctor reveals to his parents that Isaac has most likely fainted again due to the painful trauma of recalling the incident that happened to him. 
       The parents are overwhelmed with pity for their only child.  Suddenly, the father remembers the name his son was trying to say and figures out who did it.  It was Abel Linkladder who must be the younger brother of his employee, Cain Linkladder. 
       The father’s thoughts go whirling inside his head until the pieces come together. He finally understands what happened. He had lashed out at Cain who lashed out at Abel who lashed out at Isaac. The chain of rage and hate began with him. He was actually the useless and pathetic punk who started it all. Now, this was his own punishment.
       Hawkes crumbles to the floor and weeps hard, his insides overflowing with deep remorse. He comes to a kneeling position and prays harder than he ever prayed before. With his whole heart, he asks the heavens for forgiveness for his sins against Cain and others like him. He vows to never again let his own anger hurt and infuriate others. Nobody deserves to feel like a useless and pathetic punk.
       The father promises to himself that, as soon as Isaac awakes, he will shower him with utmost love, care and kindness that his son will live paying forward. 


May 17, 2017

Hair Maintenance

Real beauty comes from inside.... inside the beauty salon! 

Thank you to Carl of Hairshaft! Have a happy hair day! 

May 14, 2017

The Best Hood of All

It can be unpredictably crazy, incredibly daunting, and downright scary. It can make you question yourself and ponder the ridiculousness of all your decisions. It can make you sob desperately, sigh with worry, scream in fury, and pull your hair out in frustration.

But still, you know in your heart of hearts that it is a job you will not give up for anything else in the world. You'll keep at it and try harder. You'll take whatever is thrown at you and bounce back up with more determination to get it right. You'll forget yourself and love another with your entire body, heart, and soul. As if your life depended on it. Because in a way, it does. And that life depends on you, too. 

You'll feel the need and unhesitatingly, you'll feed it and fill it with all you've got. 

And then comes the reward. Oh, the reward! The unparalleled satisfaction, the immense joy, the  unparalleled high. An unexpected kiss, a bear hug, a silly smile, a grateful look in the eye ... any tiny gesture of appreciation and everything is worth it. Everything.  One good day out of a hundred embeds in the memory and keeps hope and happiness afloat. 

Truly, there ain't no hood like motherhood.

Happy Mother's Day!!! Spread the love! 💖

May 10, 2017

Pillow Talk

Never underestimate the power of pillow talk.

I've been married to my husband for 16 years. Prior to our wedding, we went out for almost eight years. One thing that has helped keep our relationship intact is communication. We talk about anything and everything under the sun, the moon, and the stars.  And more often than not, we do this right at the comfort of our bed just before nodding off to sleep.

At times, we discuss big things - our still unfulfilled dreams, significant plans for the future and our family, ideas for the improvement of our business, and other profundities that may or may not turn out to be life-altering.

But more often, we simply chat about the most mundane trivialities. We discuss encounters we've had during the course of our day... a client's improbable demand, a friend's hilarious Facebook post, a mischievous prank pulled by our son, a cool show discovered on Netflix, a hyped-up restaurant that fell below expectation. Nothing is off topic - politics, showbiz, sports, work, religion, the weather. We just go on, taking turns speaking and listening. His new haircut, my blue nail polish, his motorcycle trek, my shopping adventure, his aching shoulders, my tired feet.  We rave, we rant, we argue, we listen, we laugh, we sigh, we ramble, we smile. We pray. We dream.

The result is cathartic. We find that being able to let things, big or small, off our chests brings about lulling comfort and a soothing lightness of being. A fitful sleep is the reward. Usually, it is only upon waking up the next day that we realize we dozed off mid-conversation. 

I read somewhere that relationships are harder these days because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls, and feelings become status updates. Don't allow yourself to get sucked into that walled and filtered mire. 

Log off, lay down, grab a pillow and start talking. 

November 11, 2012


I refuse to be a golf widow, so I decided to take up the game with my husband. 

I realize that I actually enjoy it. The surroundings are so calming and peaceful, and getting that one good hit feels so amazing that it makes up for all the lousy ones before it.  

But you know what I really love about it? Getting to driving the golf cart! It's so fun speeding about the lovely hills and taking in the breathtaking views in my little vehicle. 

It's simply exhilarating, made even more so when my son is with me on the ride. His whole face beams with joy as we weave across the course and jump in and out the cart for every hole. During those moments, I forget all my worries and cares and just forge on ahead, savoring the moment. Wheeeeee!

See you at the greens! 

June 08, 2011

The Kiss

My six-year old approaches me looking uncharacteristically shy and a tad embarrassed: "Mom, I watched kissing. But it's in the cartoons... so that's okay, right?"


December 30, 2010


As G.K. Chesterton said: "The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul."

Let's celebrate all the good things that happened in 2010 and look forward to even better things to come in 2011!

May 28, 2010

Twitter Bug

Follow me at http://twitter.com/LoonymuseIrene so we can be tweet buddies!

Woot! Woot!

February 27, 2010

The Best Gift

All the expensive presents in the world will never compare to the value of the hand-made card my son gave to me on the eve of my birthday.

It was all I needed to feel such overwhelming love, happiness and gratitude.

Everything else that followed was just icing on the cake.

February 16, 2010

Staying Alive

Unbeing dead isn't being alive.

- ee cummings

February 15, 2010

Love Blossoms

Thank you for the beautiful bouquet of red roses, my honey! I feel like the luckiest woman in the world for having you in my life.

From that fateful moment we met many moons ago, I have amassed wonderful memories of Valentine's Day celebrations happily spent together. Whenever I think it can't get any better, you always do something to surprise me and prove me wrong.

You have an endearing way of keeping the romance burning.

My heart feels so ever content.

My gratitude is boundless.

You are my saving grace and I love you endlessly.

January 03, 2010

New Label

Upon spotting one of my bras lying on the bed, my impish toddler suddenly exclaimed:

"Mommy, you forgot to wear your booby belt!"


December 31, 2009


"Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment."

- Sydney Smith

December 27, 2009

Farewell to Cuteness

My 4-year old's teacher told him he was so cute and pinched his cheeks.

His indignant reply: "I'm not cute... I'm not a baby! I'm a big boy... I'm handsome!"


August 07, 2009

People Power Lives On

There it was, weaving its way through the crowded city, a startingly simple truck carrying the simple coffin of a simple woman who in her own simple way succeeded in summoning the people's power to unite and fight to regain our country's freedom from dictatorship through peace and prayer.

Even the heavens seemed to be in mourning as the wet drizzles from the sky mingled with the yellow confetti showers falling from the skyscrapers of Makati. Everyone left their office buildings and sacrificed their lunch hour to wait outside for a glimpse of President Cory Aquino's casket.

She always had the gift of bringing together Filipinos from all walks of life, and there they all were... reuniting of their own free will, paying their respects, shedding tears for her, flashing the famous L sign for LABAN and reliving the moments of the 1986 EDSA revolution when we rallied to her cause and stopped soldiers and tanks with nothing but rosaries to shield us.

She strove so long and so hard for peace. Though the entire nation is saddened by her loss, our hearts are also rejoicing with the certainty that Tita Cory is now finally permanently at peace in the arms of the Lord together with her husband Ninoy.

Thank you. We will never forget you.