Sophie Kinsella has conquered the hearts of millions with her New York Times bestselling Shopaholic novels, which feature the irresistible one-woman shopping phenomenon Becky Bloomwood. Now Becky's back in a hilarious, heartwarming tale of married life, best friends, and long- lost sisters (and the perils of simply having to own an Angel handbag!). What's a round-the-world honeymoon if you can't buy the odd souvenir to ship back home? Like the Chinese urns and twenty silk dressing gowns Becky found in Hong Kong...the five kilim rugs from Turkey...the splendid hand-carved dining table (and ten chairs) from Sri Lanka...the, um, huge wooden giraffes from Malawi (that her husband Luke expressly forbade her to buy)... Only now Becky and Luke have returned home to London and Luke is furious. Two truckloads of those souvenirs have cluttered up their usually immaculate loft, and the bills for them are outrageous. Becky's even maxed out on her second secret credit card, and she doesn't have a new job yet! Luke insists she go on a budget. And worse: her beloved best friend Suze has found a new best friend while Becky was away. Becky's feeling rather blue--when her parents deliver some incredible news. She has a long-lost sister! Becky is thrilled! She's convinced her sister will be a true soulmate. They'll go shopping together, drink cappuccinos together, have manicures together, and watch their favorite videos together. Until she meets Jessica for the first time and gets the shock of her life. Surely Becky Bloomwood's sister can't...hate shopping?

~~~spoiler alert~~~

Finally! I've been waiting for ages to finish reading all Shopaholic books by the brilliant Sophie Kinsella and last Tuesday, I finished reading Shopaholic and Sister. All Shopaholic books are definitely must-reads!

In this installation, Bex and Luke have come to the end of their honeymoon and decide to go back home. Becky envisions heart-warming reunions and fab parties...but she comes home to find that she has a half-sister who absolutely hates shopping, her best friend Suze has found another best friend...and her marriage is falling apart because of her $2,000 Angel bag (and her spending spree).

I could relate to Becky's insanely impulsive attitude towards decision-making AND spending her (and her husband's) hard-earned money. The only thing is, I realize it's a problem--but she doesn't. She thinks everything is perfect and that the reason for Luke's waning attention could be because she didn't put the CDs in their respective cases. This book is absolutely hilarious! And it is also the only Shopaholic book that brought me to tears---literally! AND! I have fallen in love with Luke Brandon-yet again. :p Who doesn't want a guy like him?

Anyway, I really love Sophie Kinsella's approach in writing the story. Every scene and character was described so vividly, it was never a bore to read! Just like Harry Potter...only posh and pink! :)

Now I definitely WANT to read all of SK's other books.
Next week--The Undomestic Goddess / Remember Me?

Many blogs and articles have been written regarding Typhoon Ondoy (aka Typhoon Ketsana)'s disastrous effect on the Philippines, which put Metro Manila under a state of calamity. So I'm not going to write about that, but something connected to it, on a rather smaller, more personal scale.

Last Friday, I was supposed to work on some projects for the office (and some other personal tasks) all due before October starts. Naturally, I'll need to bring the laptop and my personal USB HD home. But I was too tired to carry the very heavy backpack all throughout my commute from Ortigas to Kamias, so I decided to go back for it in the morning. It was raining hard that night. Little did I know that the rain won't be letting up anytime soon and that it would change the lives of a lot of my friends, including mine.

I woke up early for the Youth Visitation the next day. The rain was still at it. It showed no signs of coming to a halt. So I decided to wear my Chucks, just beacuse I really hated the feeling of having wet, icky, muddy feet. Whoops! Bad idea. I barely got to the end of K-8th, our street, and I was drenched and my Chucks were soaking wet from the rain, which, as Forrest Gump once said, went sideways and sometimes came from underneath. When I got to the end of K-8th, I was totally shocked to see a street-turned-raging river right next to ours. K-7th was no more. "It's bagyong Milenyo all over again", I said to myself. This was not entirely a shocker to me because it had happened a few times before. As I turned to look at the other side, there seemed to be water coming in from the creek nearby, slowly but surely submerging K-10th in all it's muddy glory. And our happy little street was smack in the middle of it all!

I went back, took my shoes off and braved the storm in slippers and a windbreaker. I had to withdraw some money just in case the storm gets worse. The servers of the banks might shut down and I only had 11 pesos in my wallet. Not good if this storm lasts for days. When I got back, I was really hungry so I decided to buy some food from the nearest bakery.

That's when I saw that Ondoy meant business.
This wasn't some ordinary typhoon. It was one we would never forget for years to come.

K-7th was still a raging river, only higher this time. But K-10th was no longer visible nor passable. And it had only been less than an hour! I've never seen it this deep in creek water, in all my 20+ years in Kamias. Tito A--a once very close friend of my mom, Lourd, Edge, their sister and parents were living right smack in the middle of the makeshift ocean! So I hurriedly bought a pack of cigarettes and dropped by the higher side of K-10th to ask for help from our friend Eky. Their side of the street was further away from the flooded side than ours.

I've never really helped anyone in dire situations like this and never thought the day would come when I'd brave the dirty waters and plunge right in to help save a whole family. I was brought up sheltered and kept as far away from harm as possible. I could have stayed home, dry and safe, tucked in my bed with a warm mug of chocolate and a good book. But the waters from the creek behind K-10th was rising really fast and I knew I had to set comfort aside and get help because no one was doing anything to get any of the people out. Perhaps they thought the house was high enough to keep them safe but I didn't want to take any chances. There was no way to know when the rains were going to come to an end. If no one would get them out and the storm continued to pull heavy rains into our area, they'd be trapped in there for sure and I dare not think of what would happen to them if they were.

Then, I thought of my best friend, Janice. She lives right in the middle of the raging river of K-7th. I wanted to make sure she was okay too. I wanted to swim to her house but I didn't know how I was going to pull that off! The current was so strong, cars and vans were being lifted off the sidewalks! Naturally, I was so relieved when she sent me an SMS. Her message brought bad news about their home, but I was glad she was safe and with her family. They're a strong lot. I was sure they'd help each other survive this tragedy.

Then I also remembered Dice, who used to live in Kamias and is now in Antipolo which was surely as flooded as Kamias was, if not more. I sent her a message asking if she was okay. That was all I could do for her now. There was no way to get to where she was at the moment. The only thing I could do for her is to pray He'd keep her and her family safe. She sent me a message telling me she was stuck on the 2nd floor of her house, inflating lifesavers, even joking about her floating couch and fridge. She still had spunk in her. I knew if there's anyone who was brave enough to survive this, it was Dice.

Then, I thought, if K-7th looks this bad at the East side, it was probably even worse at the West side because that part was lower than the east of Kamias. Tita G and Tito Ferds' house was at the last stretch of K-7th. That's where all the water from that street was headed for! They're surely in need of help!

And then it hit me...If Kamias was hit this hard, what more of Marikina and its neighboring towns? And my heart sank when I remembered Chino and all my cousins in Provident Village, Marikina. Normal rains brought flood waters into their village about as high as 8ft. Surely it's higher this time around! I tried calling him but his phone was turned off...

Why is this happening, I asked myself. What can I do?

Somehow, I snapped back to reality and remembered we still had to get Lourd, Edge and everyone else out of that muddy dangerous makeshift sea. It was the only thing we could do for now. The current wasn't as bad as K-7th so I knew there was a big chance we could all get out of there safely. I called RJ (who aslo lives in the middle of K-7th) up without further delay and asked him if he could help us get the Fedilos and Tito A out of their house. He went with us, no questions asked. Minutes later, Jude & Julius were also with us. RJ swam right up to the house and tried to check if they were okay but he said he couldn't see them. So he went inside (which wasn't that hard to do because the water had already reached the top of the walls) and swam all the way up to the balcony that led to the 2nd floor. A few minutes later, he was back saying they were all accounted for and safe, but as soon as they heard this wasn't flood water but creek water, they wanted to get out ASAP. There was one problem. Not everyone knew how to swim.

So we asked people we knew, who lived nearby, if they had any life jackets or rafts or even training boards. But no one had anything that could help get people safely out of the water. RJ, Jude and Eky swam back inside the house through the side gate (which was more accessible than the main gate) to help them pack the belongings they needed to save. Good thing they had big plastic containers for their things, which could easily be floated to safety. Too bad they couldn't carry the weight of full-sized people. Tita Chu lent me an empty 5-gallon water container which might help those who don't know how to swim. It was a long shot but was worth a try. As Julius and I were about to swim to the side gate, the plywood that served as a patch for the back wall of the house was knocked down from inside by Lourd and Edge's dad, revealing a pathway that was more passable than the side gate. The water level was safer here, at about half a foot higher than the waist. So Julius and I took that entrance and minutes later, we had everyone with us, including Tito A.

The house was a wreck and they barely saved anything. but Tito A was right---these were just worldly possessions that can be bought and replaced. What was more important was that everyone was safe.

We dubbed ourselves Kamias Red Cross, just to keep the mood light. :) After that "rescue operation", we checked on the Trajanos and Aricos and headed back home after hearing they were okay.

The flood waters receded late that night and Edge's parents had to go back and spend the night at their house to make sure no one sneaks in to steal what was left. Meanwhile, their kids spent the night at our place, while Tito A and his grand daughter spent the night at a friend's house. The next day, we helped the Trajanos at K-7th clean their house up. It was a total mess! Clearly, they too weren't ready for what happened.

That day was an eye-opener for me. I did things I never thought I could do.
Clearly, not all "heroes" were born to be one. Others had to choose that path because of love, friendship and hope.

Ondoy's wrath brought disaster that was off the scale. But it also brought out HOPE.

What we did will be forgotten in a few days. No one will tell that tale to their children. No one will build monuments, no parties will be thrown. But I believe that no heroic act is too small.

So, I award this Medal of Honor for heroic valor, to RJ, Eky, Julius and Jude for daring to cross the line from safety to danger to save and help friends in that time of need. :)


Okay. Today must be a day of complete shockers!

First of all, my mom calls, telling me she won't be able to help with the house expenses starting October. Well, that's fine by me because it isn't her responsibility anymore, we're all of age now and should be handling our own living expenses. But she should have given me at least 2 months notice! Now I don't know how I'm going to come up with deposit & advanced payments for apartment rental, because clearly, we will have to move out of that 12K one which we could barely afford.

Second, what's with all the rush jobs at work? Gah. I am an obssessive compulsive person at times and my day just goes totally wrong if my schedule doesn't go according to plan.

But, as my father always tells me---I have the uncanny ability to see the positive side of every wrong turn, I have a job that pays better than most, so I know I'm still lucky. :)

Hangover Blues

Last Saturday (well, technically Sunday morning) after DOTA night, 4 friends and I went on a drinking sprint. We used to have marathons that would last for hours but that day was a record-breaker.

Long story short, there were only 5 of us and 2 long necked bottles of alcohol, one being a brandy, the other a gin---which we all downed in 4 hours.

4 hours!

2 bottles!

2 kinds of alcohol you're not supposed to mix in one night!

Well, I woke up at 3PM that day with the weirdest and worst hangover I've ever had in my entire life. I wasn't able to go to some activities I planned to attend that day. 1st was the brunch with 2 good friends. 2nd was the fellowship at church. 3rd was the studio time I was supposed to have with a few friends.

And now, a day after that nightmare, my whole body hurts, as if in protest of my drinking stunt. My ears are ringing and I'd really love to wear shades all day. I am never going to drink 2 or more kinds of alcohol in one night. ever. EVAH!

9 Home Remedies for Hangovers

1: Bananas

Bananas are your best friend! While you were drunk and peeing like a racehorse, lots of potassium drained from your body. Eating a banana bursting with potassium will give you some giddy-up and go. All you have to do is peel and eat.

2: Ginger Root

Ginger has long been used to treat nausea and seasickness. And, since having a hangover is much like being seasick, this easy remedy works wonders. If you're really green, the best bet is to drink ginger ale (no preparation required). If you can remain vertical for 10 minutes, brew some ginger tea. Cut 10 to 12 slices of fresh ginger root and combine with 4 cups water. Boil for 10 minutes. Strain and add the juice of one orange, the juice of half a lemon, and 1/2 cup honey. Drink to your relief.

3: Honey and Lemons

The classic hot toddy (nonalcoholic, of course) is honey, lemon and hot water. Easy to swallow, this beverage replenishes fluids and sugars lost to a hangover. It is vital, however, to use honey instead of white sugar. Honey contains fructose, which competes for the metabolism of alcohol. Some healthy competition is needed, since it prevents the rapid change in alcohol levels that results in headaches. Plain sugar contains sucrose, which isn't absorbed as quickly. To make a toddy, boil 1 cup water and mix in honey and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy a toddy several times a day.

4: Rice, Toast or Soup

Food is probably the last thing you want to look at while recovering, but you do need some sustenance for energy. Stay with clear liquids until you can tolerate something solid. Then start off slowly with mild, easy-to-digest foods such as plain toast, rice or clear soup.

5: Sport Drinks

Sport drinks are a good way to replace fluids as well as electrolytes and glucose.

6: Ice

Put an ice compress on your aching head. Place crushed iced in a plastic bag, wrap in a dry towel and apply it to where it hurts. Or just rinse a washcloth under cold water, place it on your forehead and rest.

7: Juice

Juice, especially freshly squeezed orange juice, will help raise your blood sugar levels and help ease some of your hangover symptoms. However, if your stomach is upset, skip acidic juices such as orange juice and stick with apple juice instead.

8: Water

Next to time, drinking water is the best cure for a hangover. Dehydration does a doozy on your body and causes much of the discomfort associated with a hangover. Stick to water, be it tap, bottled or carbonated. Drink more than eight glasses a day while recovering.

9: More Dos and Don'ts

  • If you can remember one thing while intoxicated, remember this: Guzzle plenty of water before going to bed. It will help nip dehydration in the bud, and you'll feel much better in the morning.
  • Stick to one drink (or less) per hour, and sip it slowly. One hour is about the time it takes for the average adult body to process an alcoholic beverage. One drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
  • Rest. Pull the shades down, unplug the telephone and go to sleep.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Try Pepto-Bismol or an antacid to relieve queasiness and settle your stomach.
  • Take a multivitamin with B vitamins to replace those lost during your night of carousing.

These natural home remedies should get you back on your feet after a night of overindulgence. With a little tender loving care, you should be all better in no time.

My family is broken. It's been that way for so many years, and I expect to feel numb every time I remember how it all happened, but I still feel the dull stabbing pain I felt back when it was happening. It still feels so fresh and new.

But I learned how to cope with it. My closest friends helped me through it without even knowing. They've made me a part of their families and although I longed for my own, I still felt loved. But the hugs, the advices, the caring words, the genuine friendship, although truly appreciated, are really different from the ones I get from my real family. It's been ages since I felt secure through a mother's touch, and protected by a father's arms. My youngest brother is in the US now and I'm living with my other brother. And he's never there. Well he is...but isn't. He's never there when I get excited over something. He's never there when I feel sad. Never there when I need him. I talk to him and my voice is part of the world's everyday noise. There--but never heard.

Now it feels as if I'm standing on one side of a street looking at the other side, where all the other people are, including my friends. They smile at me, wave at me, cheer for me, and then it all dies down after some time. And I'm left alone at my side of the street. I walk and I enjoy what I see, and then after some time, I don't anymore. And I look to the other side and everyone's just immersed in their own thing. Even my brother.

I occupy my mind with work. I fill my to do list until I am so swamped that I don't remember I'm alone on my side of the street.

They say your friends will fill whatever gap your family leaves when it is shattered to pieces. And I'm telling you, none of that is true. They don't fill whatever gap you long for a mother, a father, a brother or a sister to fill in. They just pass by, linger, and then leave. Happiness with friends is seasonal. Like alcohol. Like gimmicks. Like money.

And the only thing you hold on to is hope. And faith. Which, surprisingly, I still have a lot of.

I used to think "Was it me? Have I done something wrong to ruin the perfect life we used to have?" and then it dawns on me...nothing ever "just happens". It is all written.

And all I can do is hope, and have faith.

Hope. Have faith.

..and then, at my side of the street, alone, looking out...I know I am still whole.

About Karaiwashi

I've had a sketchblog for quite some time now, but I couldn't post random thoughts if it had nothing to do with arts, so I set this blog up for all the other clutter inside my brain. :)