Sunday, November 30, 2008

Think out-of-the-box

Check it out -- a cabin for the Lilliputians!

Who ever thought that pages from the phone book and a box of tetrapack juice could be fashioned into such an interesting-looking house? For this "log cabin," my multi-talented co-worker Nicole used about 25 or so pages from the Yellow Pages telephone directory, an empty box of Zesto juice drinks, an empty box of a bar of bath soap, an empty box of a toothpaste tube, some glue, clear adhesive tape and scissors/cutter.

Brilliant huh? She did all the work; when she brought the little cabin over, it was all done. Here it is, with Snoopy as the welcoming committee for his humble abode, standing by the half-open door.

"I wonder what toy we can make out of boxes..." I thought aloud one day as we thought about one of the upcoming materials in our lineup for an upcoming issue. Then I brought a bunch of boxes of different sizes for her to transform into playthings -- the juice box, milk cartons, a couple of buco pie boxes, an empty box of pressed powder, soap boxes etc.

"I can make a log cabin out of this Zesto box and the yellow pages," she remarked, "and use a small toothpaste box for a chimney."

When she showed me the finished product, was I blown away! I knew it was going to be creative, but I had no idea it was going to be so fascinatingly cute!

Obviously, I wasn't the only one who was so taken by the little cabin; 3-year old Marco liked it a lot and played with the door, fiddled with the paper "logs" and tried putting his matchbox cars inside the cabin. Who said kids need expensive toys that beep, light up, talk and make all sorts of sounds to be entertained?

How's this for a "cabin in the woods"?

Back to the kids and their playthings. Shown below are some kids having a grand time (it doesn't look like they're having a grand time, but take my word for it: they weren't anything near being bored) with old boxes and coloring materials. They decorated the box with their own kind of artwork using oil pastel...

... then this rambunctious toddler choo-chooed his way around the lawn. I'm not sure if this was before or after we punched the bottom side of the box so he could make like a train and carry the box off the ground as he choo-chooed.

But he sure had fun -- and he didn't need Thomas to do the choo-chooing for him. That he did all by himself. And with cheap, easy-to-find things around the home!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stick-ing up for the child

What drives a parent to hit his/her child? Like many other situations, it's never only about one thing, I believe. It could be frustration, impatience, a general lack of self-mastery, "temporary insanity" and a host of other factors. Along with these, other people may have been ingrained with an orientation which includes hitting as a recommended form of discipline.

People have varied views when it comes to corporal punishment, but if a line were to be drawn somewhere, I think it would have to be somewhere near carrying it out in public. If a parent starts hitting the child where others can see it, this is clearly a violation of several principles (which I won't go into now).

Much as I loathe witnessing a child being harmed in this way (whether it's between an elder and the little one, or between kids), I'm always at a loss when I do see something like it. I related one incident here. Two days ago, I experienced the same don't-know-what-to-do, don't-know-what-to-say situation.

Anticipating getting back my computer, which had been in the repair shop for several days, I joyfully walked from the building parking lot toward the stairs leading to the shop. As I neared the staircase, I saw what seemed like a father and his son, the elder gripping the boy's arm. On his other hand was a walking stick which he was swinging, hitting the boy on the back repeatedly. The little boy -- who may have been around 7 to 9 years old -- was trying to wrench himself free of the man's grip while attempting (though a bit feebly) to avoid the whipping. He was crying and wailing protests the whole time I was there, watching while trying to figure out what to do.

Due to the boy's attempts to free himself from his elder, both were kind of circling a small area below the stairs. It's not as if there was no one else around to witness the episode, as a few steps away were a small flea market, some food stalls, a Chowking outlet (glass doors and windows afford patrons a clear view of the goings-on outside), and a police help desk (I don't remember if there was a police officer at the time). Fellows normally milled around the area, and that afternoon was no exception.

The blows from the stick weren't weak at all, and the father was visibly angry over something the boy had done.

For about one minute, I kind of slowed down and shuffled about, waiting for something though I'm not sure what -- probably for the whole thing to stop or for someone to step in and calm the man down. Neither happened, and by the time I had negotiated the stairs and reached the second floor, I could still hear the reprimands and the protests below.

The father was blind and the incident happened in an area where blind masseuses and their patrons are seated, going about their business (I've forgotten if the masseuses wore red or blue tshirts, but they were garbed in an identical color). Was the boy-smacking a regular occurrence as far as they were concerned? I don't know. Does the father's blindness justify the treatment he showed the little boy? I believe not. Would trying to calm the man and urging him to stop the striking have been putting one's nose where it didn't belong? I believe not, but I probably would've risked getting hit myself had I tried to intervene.

On hindsight, what probably would have been a good course of action was calling the attention of the security guard at the nearby parking lot. Whether it would have been fruitful or not is irrelevant; I could have made the effort. It didn't occur to me at the time, though.

What I find saddening, though, is that during those moments, nobody intervened to keep the little boy from getting further hurt. And I was one of those who didn't do anything.

I swear, if I'm witness to a similar incident again, I'll do more than watch and wait for others to act.


What are your thoughts on the whole issue?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Isn't this ironic?

Tolerance fails T-shirt test
John Kass

As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we're all united now, let's consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment.

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

"McCain Girl."

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told us. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

"People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it," Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

"Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said," Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' " Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican."

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing," she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

Read in full at Chicago Tribune

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tulles of the trade

There are many ways to capture a moment with a little child and make it a brilliant photograph and turn it into a great magazine cover. Babies, after all, to start with, are cute simply by being themselves.

Then there are plenty of talented photographers who know how to bring out the beauty in any subject.

And now you have plenty of tools at your disposal -- from sophisticated photographic equipment to computer programs that seem to do all the work (if you let them).

But what ultimately gives fulfillment is the effort that went into everything leading up to the capturing of images. Of course, it is easy to simply choose the nicest outfit on hand, get a nice place, pick a baby, and have a shutterbug snap away with no thought as to concept. But if this is the way it's done all the time, where is the love in that? It's the amount of love that goes into the work being done which ultimately matters most.

So, what's the inspiration behind the cover of Baby magazine's current issue? This:

I came across this photo at Creature Comforts, a charming art and design website I visit from time to time (it's also on the list of blogs on the sidebar here). "What an amazing cover this would make," I thought, at the same time amused by the thought of hours of attempting to persuade an infant to strike -- and hold -- such a pose.

I showed my colleague Nicole the photo and together we marveled at the many possibilities (though some of them weren't possible at all!) as regards cover concepts. Eventually, the tulle concept stayed; so did that of a tutu-clad baby girl. Lilymoms already had the Ballerina Baby among its collection, but what I wanted for this cover was the skirt alone, not an entire ballerina outfit. But what to wear on top? Will she simply wear a skirt and nothing else? Would a pearl necklace complete the look? What about a headdress? Won't the 11-month old baby look too old for the skirt-only portrait? Will she sit still long enough? What about a top shot? Many concerns cropped up; solutions were arrived at. In the end we decided on a neutral-colored "Drama queen turned dairy queen" tee to complete the ensemble.

Lots of other details were considered, and you've seen the photo that ended up on the cover in a recent post. Here it is again:

Of course, the photo session in itself was another string of challenges. But that's another matter altogether.

I must say, though, that seeing a topic like "Kidnap-proof your kids: Know the latest M.O.s" on the cover -- next to a striking photo of such a charming tutu-garbed baby girl -- felt a bit strange. But then it's one of the more important articles in this issue, what with reports of child abductions in shopping malls (attempted or successful) in the media during the past several months. One of the practical points I remember well from the piece penned by the Phil. Daily Inquirer's Alcuin Papa was this: kids in flashy clothing and jewelry attract criminals, especially if the kids look as if they're not aware of their surroundings and if their parents and other companions have their attention on shopping. So parents and other guardians, take your cue from this!

What else is in this issue? A sampling:

"And the rest is history" (Maximizing bed rest, including insight on what moms may feel)

"Is your pregnancy too sweet?" (On gestational diabetes)

"Getting it down pat" (Early intervention for babies with Down syndrome)

"Chemical war: Is Bisphenol-A really bad?"

"Too hot to handle" (Effects of prolonged heat on male fertility)

"Hubby helpline" (Tips for new dads on easing into their new role)

"Up, up and away!" (Getting ready for air travel with one's toddler)

"Playground play" (Making preschoolers' experiences at the playground more fun)

"Disappointed over your child's report card?" ("Understanding your Child" column)

These are just some of the topics covered in the November issue. The regular columns are: Baby's Doctor by Dr. Lourdes Anne Co, Childbirth 101 by Rome Kanapi, Best Gift for Baby by L.A.T.C.H., I am a Child by Marita Villafuerte-Pierce, Pediatric Dentist by Dr. Fina Gupit-Lopez, Understanding your Child by Tedi Villasor, Family Finance by Antonette Reyes, and Fatherspeak by Manny Escasa.

As Christmas is barely a month away, there's also a nifty Gift Guide to give you practical ideas.

Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at all SM Department stores (baby section), National Bookstores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama, Shoppesville), Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Procreation Shangri-la mall, and Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In pursuit of upholding equal rights

"The election of an African American president sends a powerful and historic message that what was previously unthinkable can become reality. The battle for equal rights has reached a major milestone, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of full equality remains just a dream as long as unborn children continue to be treated no better than property."

Africans who lived centuries ago knew how it was to be treated like property. Some were sold and even caged; others were more fortunate to belong to homes and to be given more decent living quarters, but it was still basically slavery in a different degree.

"President-elect Obama has promised actions that will only increase the number of abortions. Pro-lifers, in turn, must promise to redouble our efforts to resist anti-life proposals, speak up for the babies, and, above all, pray.

"We must pray with persistence and love that, in God's time, what is now deemed unthinkable will become reality - that all our brothers in sisters, from conception to natural death, will be protected in law and welcomed in society."

African-Americans during the 20th century -- in many instances till the present day -- knew how it was to be ostracized and to be treated as less-than-human. Talk about being unwelcomed in society. If the president-elect does not recognize the same treatment he is extending to younger members of society, I hope the rest of the african-american community does -- and reminds the man they elected into the highest position in the "land of the free."

At least one person has issued such reminders. The above words are from Dr. Alveda King -- Dr. Martin Luther King's niece.

Source: LifeSiteNews

Monday, November 03, 2008

The charm of a child

Let me post nothing besides the cover of the latest issue for now.

More details soon.

Looking to the past

"To become truly great,
one has to stand with people, not above them."

- Charles de Montesquieu, French politician and philosopher (1689-1755)

* * * * *

"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing
on the shoulders of giants."

- Isaac Newton, English mathematician and physicist (1642-1727)

* * * * *

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be.
Be one."

- Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (AD 121-180)

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