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Saturday, July 18, 2009


A friend had lent me her copy of The Secret and have browsed through it, again, this rainy weekend. I got bored so I go online and check their website and am flooded with testimonials from people who have benefited from the book. I am however a skeptic at heart, and naturally veer away from the mushy stuff especially if it's too hard-sell. And why does their website have a paying-members-only page? Hmmm...

I decide to go to youtube. I chance upon a video of Sharon Stone giving a tribute to Tom Hanks as The American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Awardee in 2002. I don't know how I got to that video when I was originally searching for 'men in speedos'. Anyway, Sharon Stone was in white pants and a sleeveless knit silver blouse. And the whole time I was listening to her speech about Tom Hanks's contribution to AIDS Awareness I was staring at the 'favorite' link below the video screen.

I thought: Silver knitwear, favorite, silver knitwear, favorite... AHA! With 'expressing gratitude' in my consciousness from reading The Secret to Sharon Stone's silver knitwear: Here now is a list of a few of my favorite things and why I am grateful to have them.

1. I have a classic silver turtleneck sweater I bought from the ukay-ukay in 1997 and still keep to this day. I only wear the sweater for special occasions because all that sheen reeks of formality. Unlike Ms. Stone's sleeveless number, mine is a body-hugging top. It is perfect for semi-formal events paired with black pants or grey flannel slacks. Wearing the sweater I feel like a million bucks, knitted bling makes you feel rich, but also because I am forced to pull up my back so the sweater doesn't scrunch in the middle, giving me perfect posture. I lengthen my neck so the turtleneck doesn't scrunch up also, but basically because the silver yarn is a tad itchy. All in all it is a comfortable and warm top for chilly nights. I've worn it on Christmas and other Holidays -- yes, even in Manila. And I have been complimented many times for it. The sweater makes me feel good and reminds me that you can never go wrong with a classic.

2. Two books I will never throw away in my collection are A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and Out Of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Both books were given to me by my teacher Vicky Rico-Costina. The first book was handed to me at the end of First Year High School in 1981. Vicky had scribbled on the inside page: For Martin, who was a good and happy bear when I was around -- fondly, Miss Rico. Vicky was my English teacher and the first person to encourage me to spend time reading books and to write essays. She was an unorthodox teacher taking our class out in the sunshine to observe nature, flying kites, playing games, and through these activities imparting our lessons in English.

I was fortunate to have Vicky as a teacher again in college. This time we had tackled the dreaded Shakespeare, unpronounceable Maupassant, suicidal Hemingway, and other great writers. On one of our first days in English 3, Vicky had brought a tape recorder and played us some Beatles songs as we dissected Lennon and McCartney's poetry. Eleanor Rigby could've been the girl in 'She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways'.

We had to do a movie review of Out of Africa, so the whole class caught an evening showing in the old Pines Theater in Session Road. I submitted a darn good review if I may say so, as Vicky upon giving back our graded assignments, asked me if she could keep mine for posterity. She gave me a copy of the book at the end of the semester, again, writing on the front page; To Martin, who best appreciates Isak Dinesen's world -- Miss Rico. I remember her reading passages from the book to our class -- Vicky with her impeccable diction -- it was like listening to a professional recording of the book.

I am grateful for having Vicky and other great teachers while in school. They taught me valuable lessons I still hold dear today.

3. My grandfather's brandy snifters because they bring me back to my childhood when I would be asked by my Lolo Ikong to pour him two fingers of brandy in his glass. Those glasses are now collectibles according to Martha Stewart. I am grateful that they just might be worth gazillions on ebay someday.

4. My brown, leather bag given to me by my sister. No, not the one mistaken for an Hermes by a dingbat. The brown, actually tan, back-pack with the heady leather smell that reminds me of horses and the time this same sister bought a horse and how we all learned to ride bareback that summer in '78. Horseback riding was a wonderful diversion for me while being riddled with adolescent anxiety. I am grateful for my sister and how to this day she is generous to me.

5. My father's gas range and oven that I inherited when he passed away in 2005. Slightly used as he had just bought it when he remodeled his house, the truth is I was the first one to use it when my Dad decided to test the oven by roasting a turkey. He bought the big bird from the supermarket and ordered: "Cook it!" I miss the old man and am grateful we patched things up before it was too late.

It's 6am and I have got to get some shuteye as I will be meeting up with my other sister after lunch. I am grateful to this sister for giving me her slightly used skin products that she buys on a whim but develops allergies or skin reactions to after a few days of use. Now I shall lather the Retinol-A cream before I doze off to ensure a youthful skin tone later when I wake up. Who knows who else I might meet at Shangri-La?

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