The princess and the king

Josh and Sophie with their respective "queen" and "prince"

(photos grabbed from the album of C. Litiatco)

I am still glowing over the fact that both my kids Sophie and Josh stood out in last night's ball, she being named Masquerade Princess and he Prom King, and Trendsetter of the Night.

It's more than vanity.

Instead, it is a confirmation that you don't need to spend a lot of money in order to look, or feel, like royalty.

Things are pretty tight because I am just recovering from all the expenses pertaining to the house transfer. My savings for the past year, not that it's hefty, has been wiped out.

I am also extra challenged because Bea is now attending a private school, Kalayaan College (established by UP professors and boasts of an all-UP faculty). Josh will be attending UST (for a five-year course!) in June. I am also transferring Sophie to a bigger school - St. Mary's, my alma mater. Elmo, if he suits up, I will also transfer to the adjacent school, Notre Dame.

Needless to say, the next few years will be daunting, but I figured this is the best investment possible. Better to pay for good schools rather than spend on fancy possessions.

It is thus understandable that the prospect of helping the kids get ready for this year's masquerade ball and the prom was met with much anxiety. I had to get creative.

Sheer serendipity that while walking around the new neighborhood I chanced upon a sign that says there was a seamstress who specialized in gowns. We knocked on her door and showed her the picture of Sophie's idol, Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) wearing a nice lavender dress. Ms Marlene, who seemed to sew not for a living but for a hobby, offered to buy the cloth herself in Divisoria. She charged us 400 for her labor.

The result = Sophie's off-white flowing dress cost me 580 pesos. I am not kidding.

We used last year's silver shoes. Did your feet grow bigger, I asked my daughter. She said she was fine.

I also did her hair, using the curlers lent to us by Clai -- Josh's lady friend. My other daughter Bea and I took turns applying make up on Sophie. We had a few laughs when I applied some cheek tint that made her look like a clown and Bea had to come to the rescue.

The only things I spent for was a silvery-gray little bag, a shell-shaped bangle and the pair of silver earrings Sophie never used anyway because her earholes had shut.

Josh used last year's coat as well. He had last year's pants adjusted because he had lost a lot of weight in that span of time. He bought a few things: his white ribbed long-sleeved shirt from Victory Mall -- he cut off the tag that said "Big Ball" -- as well as his vest and bow tie. The tie was loose around the neck and Ms. Marlene was kind enough to adjust it for free. He had his black school shoes repaired at Mr Anthony (competitor of Mr. Quickie). He then hired a car that would take him and his date to the prom venue (they hitched a ride on the way home). All these purchases, repairs and everything else for P2,000 -- while I kept reminding him he was not the only kid in the house. I would be lying if I said I did not grumble.

This is why I feel like royalty myself. Of course I am proud that they are good looking. But definitely I am prouder that they know how to make do with what we have -- and still feel like the luckiest, richest kids in the world.