Best of Digressions

Being a ‘houseband’ for five years helped me realize the silent struggle of many mothers

Note: This column appeared in Manila Bulletin’s print edition on April 14 2018. You can also read the online version.

For the past century, modern society has relegated women as the “light” of the family — which felt more like a consolation title to having that heavy burden of rearing children and managing the home. Like most things in life, this is easier said than done and I assure you, having taken the role of a “house husband” for more than 60 months has made me empathise with how we see parenting from the mother’s point of view.

Here are three things I learned (and am learning) to accept for being a ‘houseband’ in charge of a home and two small kids for 5 years:

On having that ‘second wind’
One of the best moments coming home to family were that few seconds where my boys would run to the door and tackle me with hugs (and plastic swords). As a parent, we all know that second wind — the fatigue from a long day at work washes away when we see our family. It’s not as easy when you’ve been at home the whole day. You’re just tired. Imagine now the roles being reversed — if your wife stays home she must probably feel the same thing. Now I totally get why it’s offensive to say “But you were just home! You didn’t have to go out?” A stay-at-home parent doesn’t have an office job that acts like a vacation from the kids.

On celebrating weekends
When I got back to working weekdays full time, I became oddly excited for the weekend. My wife, who works a full-time job all the way in Quezon City (we live in the south) and I woke early (we have kids duh!) and had brunch in one of those garden malls nearby. I told her “OK now I get it. I know why you look forward to weekends.” Being a stay-at-home parent made me complacent with weekends because it felt like “just any other day” except that your spouse is home. On one end, she dug me out of the hole which was domestic life and helped me remember that married life is a lot more than just having children.


On having honest conversations
One evening I almost broke down in front of my wife because there were just too many things that needed to be done. Balancing my work, taking care of the kids (thank heavens for their grandparents being around when needed), chores, our marriage – this was a huge turning point that led me to really do a deep dive into what it means to handle a household and, more importantly, having a supportive partner, who I realize is on the same page. Had the roles been reversed and my wife told me the same thing I could easily have said “Kaya mo yan! You’re so good at it,” but now I know this response would have come from a place of zero empathy. My wife asked me “how can we make it better?”

Are you a stay-at-home dad? Then kudos to you! Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing like having a home with a father’s touch!

Best of Digressions

An audit of what it means to be young

This article originally appeared in the December luxury supplement of the Manila Bulletin, dated December 4 2017.

The relentless search for youth has been a consistent theme in humanity’s aspirations. Because youth is fleeting. It is synonymous to time, to better days — “the good old days”, to unbridled passions where mistakes were to be made, and the scars — both physical and emotional were worn with pride. To freedoms, rebelliousness and the small but seemingly timeless window of being invincible.

I thought I was young (in age, at my late 30’s), but I realized that the power of real youth is recognizing old from new. To declare, without hesitation, that “wow that was so long ago” or recognizing a 90’s playlist as oldies or to say that good guy Kanye West is “giving this Paul McCartney guy a chance to be famous” with a duet.

The age of information has made the search for youth more bittersweet:

“People think this 60 year old mother is her son’s girlfriend.”

“Nigella Lawson’s secret to looking great is eating lots of chocolate.”

“Nurses reveal the things patients at their deathbeds wish they had done when they were young.”

It’s also given rise to the 1% of the metabolically gifted — all flaunting on Facebook; that while many search far and wide for the best diet and cleansing routine, these flawless men and women are outliers in that they eat and drink anything.

It is in such times that humanity has labeled youth to be part of the many luxuries we aspire for, and the concerted effort to “looking and feeling younger” is all thanks to the coalescence of social media with the debates on both sides never being resolved. But the one thing that we can all agree on is that the culture of youth — of being young — whether it is a mindset or a literal turning back the clock to look a decade younger is more prevalent today than any other time in human history.

There are those that believe that youth is directly related to the physical aging process. This is the default stance, where the west has been trying to discover that miracle cure of eastern medicine and treatment. A digression: about a year ago, I attended a small “meeting of the minds” with several regional journalists who were all digital practitioners. We were social media and the prevalence of how fake news takes its form per country and the rep from Thailand said that most of the false news isn’t about politics, but about the beauty and wellness industry, with miraculous claims of snake oil permeate the news feed of tens of thousands of Thai women.

There are those that believe that youth can be prolonged through science. The life sciences have become rather exciting in the past decade. With ketogenics (or insert new science-backed diet fad here), intermittent fasting and Functional Medicine leading the pack, society is at its healthiest. In this lifetime, we’ve rid ourselves of polio, malaria and smallpox all because of science. In the Paleolithic era, I would have been dead ten years ago. In the past 50 years, we’ve almost doubled the life expectancy to an average of 71. What does this tell us? This trend of catching our youth is a direct response to a scientific breakthrough, a bi-product of the sign of times because of advances in food and medicine allow us now to live longer than 50 years on average. Imagine, just about 70 years ago, the global average life expectancy was 50 years for human beings. That would mean that your 30’s was your last hurrah before retirement. The longing for youth in our 50’s and 60’s is a luxury in itself, as human beings have never lived this long.

There are those that believe that youth is a state of mind, and this is is perhaps the stance that most people want to accept – that youth is a life style – a life choice, that 40 is the new 20, that your retirement plan is to travel – because this is the most positive manifestation of affordable luxury. Positive thinking, yoga, anger management – these lifestyle pursuits ultimately lead to a clearer mind, spirit and conscience.

On a personal level, I do believe that youth is humbling. It is the reality that punches you in the face, once you realize that you tend to catch your breath at closer intervals when climbing stairs, and that the only solution is even more suffering in terms of diet and exercise. I also do believe though that the pursuit of youth is a tautology: the Romans defined duty and responsibility as being in medias res, or with all things in moderation. It is most apparent in Bk II of The Odes by Horace titled The Golden Mean,

Whoever takes delight in the golden mean,
safelt avoids the squalor of a shabby house,
and, soberly, avoids the regal palace
that incites envy.

This advice is often given to the young, bestowing upon them a sense of responsibility and duty, to be at the center of the turning wheel so that you are never up nor down. But of course, we all know that this sense of sobriety comes as a function of time and wisdom. Isn’t the youth defined as brazen and unbridled?


Manila Bulletin’s MBLife


Hello. Just a quick update. I’m blogging. Again! It’s been a long, long road since 8List back in 2012. Just this week, the team at Manila Bulletin soft-lunched MBLife, which is essentially our own agile experiment at our millennial marketing efforts.

From the lighter side of Manila Bulletin, we welcome you to MB LIFE, our latest lifestyle portal among our ever-growing portfolio of new products. Yes, there are articles. But more than that, we choose to be a bit more self-aware by welcoming you into our home, namely to our curated collection of “very nice things.” On one hand, there are toys. Lots of them. Absent of pretense, we open our ever-growing toy collection to the public eye through our TOY SHELF section. Then there’s the nostalgia. Being in the most unique position of having chronicled news in the Philippines for the past 116 years, we open our doors to the prized archives of historical front pages, photography, and vintage ads through NOSTALGIA MANILA. These, together with our bite-sized web documentaries, tutorials and slice of life (the agonies and the ecstasies) op-eds comprise our daily dispatches for the everyday millennial.

Check us out!


Behind the screen: On humanity and its place in technology

Krizette Chu of Manila Bulletin’s Panorama asked me to do an opinion piece on how I thought technology changes the way we deal with people. Being a young parent, I wrote about iPad parenting (it’s benefits!) and building resilience. This is an excerpt of the piece. The full article can be found online.


Manila Bulletin Video: An Interview with Tiffany Grace Uy


Our Manila Bulletin video team was able to interview summa cum laude Tiffany Uy for our weekend video series. Check it out below.