Roadtrip to Zambales

I have a confession to make. I’m not really a beach person. I can actually go for months, even years, without going on a beach trip. Our last family beach escapade was last 2015 when we celebrated my 40th birthday at Shangri-La Mactan. I don’t know what changed this year, but for some reason, my husband and I had the itchy foot at the same time yearning for a beach weekend getaway that was just a few hours away from Manila; Paranaque to be exact.

Initially, we were set on Laiya, Batangas, because that was one of the better options going South for our family with 3 kids — a restless tween, an energetic 8-year-old, and a terrific toddler. We crossed out all the other beaches that needed us to ride a banca. I felt our family just wasn’t prepared for a boat ride. We just wanted to be near the sea, feel the sand, feel the breeze, hear the crashing of the waves, and breathe fresh air. We had “high” standards. We wanted to do away with air-conditioned and hotel-type accommodations. We wanted the kids to experience how it felt like to be one with nature without the comforts of the modern world. The resort we were eyeing in Laiya almost fit our criteria, except that they were fully booked that weekend and, well, the cabanas still looked very much comfortable sans the AC.

Fortunately, I came across a friend’s recommendation to check out Aplaya Caarusipan in Pundaquit, Zambales. Browsing through their FB page, their place was exactly what we were looking for! I messaged them and received a reply on the same day.

The Trip

The trip from Paranaque to Pundaquit took approximately 5 hours. I think it could have easily been shorter had we left earlier (we left at 5:30 am) and avoided the piling EDSA traffic. We also stopped at NLEX for coffee, and Subic to visit the place where hubby used to work. Roads to Zambales were smooth. There was only a few meters of rough road as we reached Aplaya Caarusipan (AC). I wouldn’t even consider the roads rough. I’ve seen worse roads driving around Metro Manila. AC was quite easy to locate, thanks to Waze.

The Resort

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This was our view for the weekend. Capones Island and Camara Island can be seen in the horizon.

We were all excited when we saw the sea, and all the more excited when we saw our tiny house for the weekend, the kubotorre!

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The kubotorre is a kubo (nipa hut) that had a second floor. The second floor had a BETTER view of the sea. Love, love, love the view! Did I mention we could feel the sea breeze from up there? AC provided us with a foam banig. We only brought three pillows with us. I forgot to ask if they provided us with pillows. They were generous enough to lend us additional two pillows. Good thing we had our own blankets and sheets. The kubotorre was so cozy. Even Zoe and Phoenix, who were very choosy and critical about our staycation rooms, loved the kubo! We were all a bit scared for Titus, my 2-year-old, though. We made sure we kept an eye on him and assisted him as he climbed up and down the ladder. Not sure if I can vividly describe how it goes, but a portion of the second floor can be lifted and latched so you can climb up. That portion can then be closed when it’s time to roll up the other mat/banig on that part of the floor. The kubotorre was so masterfully made! I love how all four sides of the second floor had curtains to respect your privacy, especially at night when the light was on and you can easily be seen from outside. During daytime you can easily pull back the curtains to let more breeze enter. I also appreciate that the owners covered the whole kubo with netting or screen to limit insects entering. We weren’t feasted upon by bugs. We had those anti-mosquito stickers and bug sprays, but the net helped for sure. The kubotorre can easily house 6-8 pax (if the ground floor will be converted to a sleeping quarter, too). Our family of 5 fit the top floor just right. We used the ground floor as our dining area. The kubotorre costs Php2,500/night, Php2,000 for a daytrip.

Our host/resort owner, Abel, was very accommodating. He would reply to all my queries and transacting with him was smooth. He even arranged for someone to market and cook for us. We just had to let him know the dishes we wanted then they charged us accordingly. We brought lunch with us for Friday from The Coffee Shop Subic, so only Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast-lunch-dinner, and Sunday breakfast were covered. They charged us a little less than Php3k. Really good deal, right? The dishes were tasty, too!

In case you prefer to do your own marketing and cooking, the resort can charge you for usage of their stove or grill as well as cooking utensils. This is how their outdoor kitchen looks like.

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The Beach

The kids didn’t waste any time, and started digging away in the sand. Buhangin pa lang, masaya na sila! The sea was beautiful! Just looking out, staring at the blue hue of the sea, and feeling the breeze did wonders to my soul. The sand was not white, but the grains of sand were fine and firm. Unfortunately, the waves are quite strong in Pundaquit, so we were scared to take a few more steps farther. We were happy just catching the waves by the shore and building sand castles.

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The place was very picturesque. Imagine staring out the sea on one side, then seeing the green mountains on the adjacent side. We fell in love with the sunsets at Pundaquit. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the bigger sun coz we were having too much fun viewing it from the above-ground swimming pool.

The resort has two above-ground pools that’s chlorinated, a basketball area, and a billiards table, in case you want to do something aside from enjoying doing nothing (haha!).

Aside from the kubotorre, you can stay in a bahay kubo which is farther from the beach but closer to the common toilet and bath, OR you can rent or bring a tent and stay on the shed, which is a few steps in front of the kubotorre. The common T&B is around 90 steps away from the kubotorre. It has separate T&B for the men and the ladies. There are two toilets and three shower stalls. I am usually finicky about using public toilets but theirs was well maintained.

 

Our two nights in Pundaquit is definitely one for the books. Our family had a grand time being one with nature and experiencing how to have a kubotorre as our home, even just for two nights. It was a wonderful time to just bond as a family and tune out from our normally busy lives. These mini vacations are really priceless!

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These flowers caught my eye. They look like our very own Cherry Blossoms.

 

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Zoe enjoyed looking for tiny crabs called ghost crabs. They  looked very much like the sand it was easy to miss one.

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PHX had fun flipping the bottle!

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Side Trip to CASA San Miguel

We took a side trip to CASA (Center for the Arts at San Antonio) San Miguel, which was 20 minutes away from Aplaya Caarusipan. It is an artists’ haven owned by renowned violinist Coke Bolipata. The place exposes music and art to the youth of Zambales. There, the children of mostly fishermen learn how to play music. It’s a very charming bed and breakfast place. For 100 pesos, you can go around the place, check out the museum, hangout at their outdoor area which had an old Volkswagen Kombi upcycled into a cozy mini library of sorts, and check out their art and music studios. You also get a welcome drink of either iced tea or unlimited Starbucks brewed coffee. The server said they use Starbucks’ Cafe Verona (one of my favorite dark roast blends), which I found to be too diluted.

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The outdoor area of Backstage Cafe.

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Kids had a quick lesson on recycling and upcycling.

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Inside the Kombi

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Art by resident or visiting artists are on display. PHX didn’t like having his pic taken at this point.

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Tatoo art by Zambales folks. Really cool!

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Loved this blue door and my boys in blue. 🙂

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This is where the kids did their art. The table had lots of paint splashes on it.

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Two children from Bataan were rehearsing for their Sunday’s Best concert.

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You know you’re in an artsy place when you step on floors such as these!

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Their mini concert hall.

We had lunch at Backstage Cafe and ordered their Pizza Zambalena, topped with Zambales longganisa and sili leaves. Their pizza was good! We also tried their special polvoron, which was served during Obama’s visit to the Philippines. We liked the mango flavor. The adobo roll and Zambales bread were just okay.

CASA San Miguel offers Summer art workshops. Kids as young as 9 years old can stay there for a week to learn. They also offer art, yoga, surfing lessons for a fee. Every Sunday, the kids of San Miguel hold a mini concert. Unfortunately, we wanted to be home before it gets dark and in time for Sunday mass so we didn’t wait for the concert anymore. All the more reason to be back.

Thank you, Zambales, for allowing us to plant more happy memories as a family. I can’t wait to be back and see what else you have to offer. When the kids are older, perhaps we’d take a boat ride to your many islands and explore more of your hidden gems.

 

 

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March 6, 2017. General. Leave a comment.

ALDUB: Finding Its Way to Our Hearts

A lot has been written and said about ALDUB in the two months of its existence. I caught myself unaware on how I was sucked into the ALDUB craze but, thank goodness, I was. Pre-ALDUB, we practiced an almost no-TV policy at home. TV time meant either parent-approved children’s shows (Disney, DK) or news channels. Because of Aldub, lunchtime has been rescheduled a few minutes earlier and my children are now exposed to the culture of noontime TV. I fear not because I watch with them and EB has become our bonding time. They now have a general idea why commercials take so long, they’ve taken to understanding more Filipino words, and they can now appreciate feel-good Pinoy humor. They also get to see up-close the realities, the heartbreaks, and the heartaches of the Sugod-bahay winners in All for Juan, Juan for All, and the word “bayanihan” needs less explanation.

Going back to ALDUB…

I was buying veggies in a neighborhood stall today and mentioned to the old lady vendor how I was in such a rush to get home in time for Kalyeserye. Aba, natuwa si Lola! Lola gave me a toothless smile as if she met a long-lost friend and talked to me like a friend. She told me she lost her husband a few months ago. That was why she was wearing black. Me, a stranger she just met. I tried my best to humor her on how Kalyeserye‘s there to make her smile everyday. I left with a free piece of ginger. Amazing.

Really…How can you even put into words the pandemonium of followers that has spread like wildfire on FB, Twitter, YouTube? How can you explain the giddiness watching a split-screen romance blossom? How can you distinguish the real from the reel? How can you stop yourself from laughing, crying, swooning, and even praying for the Tamang Panahon? You just can’t. ALDUB gives you the feels like crazy, and in this cynic world of violence, misery, hatred, and bitterness, we find hope. We discover love at its freshest, romance at its old-school finest, and honest-to-goodness friendship at its sweetest. We pick up life lessons; words of wisdom from the lola characters of Kalyeserye, Nidora, Tidora, and Tinidora. We relate, we empathize, we share, we reminisce. The kilig stays waaaay after an episode has ended that you can’t help discussing the happenings with your friends (all of you happily married by the way, established in his/her own niche in life, and years older than Alden and Yaya Dub) and analyzing every gesture, every smile, every blooper. Hence, the line “malakas maka-teenager.”  Who would have thought, diba?

Eat Bulaga, thank you for the breath of fresh air that is Maine Mendoza. Thank you for a God-fearing and well-grounded Alden Richards. Thank you for the comic geniuses JoWaPao. Thank you for the chance encounter that changed Alden and Maine’s lives forever. Thank you for leveling up noontime entertainment. Thank you for crossing all genres and thinking of how to make us, your viewers, happy first and foremost. Thank you for making people smile more these days. Thank you for ALDUB.

September 17, 2015. General. 4 comments.

Titus Emmanuel’s 1st Birthday Celebration at Fun Farm

Forgive me for not having shared my birthing story of my little one Titus. A busy-er life  is what happens when it’s your third baby already and you’re trying to keep the normalcy at home. Most days I am kept busy breastfeeding, on demand, and Titus can be so demanding. I juggle it with homeschooling Zoe, who is now 10 years old, and PHX, who just graduated from preschool. But I digress. I want to skip my life scenario and tell you how we celebrated Titus’ 1st birthday. If with the first two kids I already got everything almost covered a few months before their birthday, with Titus I was still at a loss how we would celebrate it less than 2 months prior. Perhaps I was getting older so I didn’t have the time, energy, or enthusiasm I had back then, or perhaps I just wanted a change from the usual birthday parties we already hosted so I dillydallied on the idea of hosting something similar. I once attended a first birthday party where there weren’t any hosts, magicians, booths, etc. but I honestly enjoyed it because I got to catch up with relatives I hardly saw on a regular basis. The kids, being kids, found many things to do also as the parents of the celebrant provided modeling clay and bubbles. I also wanted a no-frills party where the guests can bond, relax, and just plain have fun.

1. Venue

Titus’ birth date fell on the summer months, and we know that summer here in the Philippines can be incredibly hot and humid, so one of our major considerations was that the party venue had to be airconditioned. Call us crazy coz we ended up booking quite the opposite! I wanted a venue where the older and younger kids can enjoy and the atmosphere was intimate, relaxed, and close to nature. I wanted Titus to have fun as well and not be overwhelmed by the usual loud party noise.

The one venue that came to mind was Fun Farm at Sta. Elena in Cabuyao, Laguna. The kids have been here twice already and they love it. It was perfect because Titus was really, really fond of animals, too. We knew the other kids and kids-at-heart would enjoy bonding with nature and being outdoors. We just kept our fingers crossed that our guests wouldn’t mind getting sweaty.  Good thing the clouds were a bit overcast on Titus’ birthday, and the guests were game enough to join the farm’s activities despite the heat. _MG_7776 _MG_7786 Fun Farm’s pavilion (a half of it actually) can be reserved for a minimum of 50 guests. The pavilion is shady and electric fans are provided. Their comfort rooms are well-kept, too, with a gracious cleaning attendant present. Their package was Php12,500 for 50 guests for 4 hours. Kids 2 years and younger are free of charge. Their rate allows the guests to roam around the farm and participate in all the activities. For me, this is sooo worth it because the activities gets them outdoors, something kids rarely do these days.

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2. Food

Fun Farm allows you to bring in your own caterer, with an additional fee of Php5k. Because I wanted to stick to a budget and also make the party feel like a picnic, we opted to have food delivered instead from Tia Belle’s, a restaurant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna that’s known for their Pichi-pichi and Pancit Malabon, and the kids’ favorite, Jollibee. We also ordered a dirty ice cream cart thru Ms. Wilma of Fun Farm. We ordered Titus’ birthday cakes, one chocolate cake and one yema cake, from a homebaker based in Paranaque, and just DIY-ed the cake buntings and animal paper toppers. From Tia Belle’s, we got Pancit Malabon, Pancit Bihon (theirs is served with scrambled egg and bits of lechon kawali), Manok sa Pugaran, and Lumpiang Shanghai. We also got our favorite Chinese fresh lumpia/lumpia amoy from Cecil’s Cafe, another resto based in Sta. Rosa. We had to pick up our orders though coz they do not offer food deliveries. There were also toasted siopao and Villa Socorro banana chips as snacks. Buy Pinoy, buy local!

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3. Theme and Decor

Thanks to Google, Pinterest, and a dear friend with an eye for styling, we set up the pavilion ourselves. I picked a farm/country picnic theme with red and blue as the main colors. Luckily also, the universe was in our favor as I was able to source red gingham table runners, loot bags, vinyl table cloths, gingham paper plates, blue table napkins, cutlery less than 2 weeks before the big day. Glad that I didn’t have to go all the way to Divi anymore! Here are some of the details of the party:

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Our table centerpieces. Bottles of Stellina Lemonade upcycled into flower vases, Tolsby frame w/ party print thanks to Titus’ Ninang R.

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Titus’ birthday invite

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Farm-themed mugs purchased from a bargain store in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Checkered paper plates and blue table napkins from Party City

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Table runners were a great find from an online garage sale. The anahaw fans were from a nearby market. I just glued red gingham ribbons on it. The fans came in handy when the weather got humid.

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A registration table was set up for the kiddie guests. _MG_7938 The kids got one crochet band, sort of like a marker for the photographer to easily spot who our guests were. Luckily, we were the only group on the farm that day. Our guests thought we reserved the whole farm for the event! Lol!

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We also prepared a kit of bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and sting ointment._MG_7913 _MG_7928

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4. Photographer

We hired a Laguna-based photographer to capture our fun event. He was referred by a friend and we were very much pleased with the pictures. He took a lot of candid pics of the kids having so much fun boating, pretending to drive the tractor, fishing, feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs, ziplining, and many, many more!

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The Birthday Boy!

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5. Activities

A few days before the event, my 6-year-old son asked me if the party would have “organized play” or “free play”. He requested it would be free play. I definitely wanted the kids to play to their hearts’ content. We just included a few activities that involved minimal energy. The farm was play enough! There was the scavenger hunt in search of the letter “T” around the farm, coloring farm animal worksheets, and guessing the number of choco eggs in a jar.

Overall, Titus’ party was a success. Despite our very last-minute preparations, we were able to pull through. Whew! Will I recommend a farm party to my friends? Oh yes! Your kids, especially if you have older ones, will thank you! It’s also a fun, learning experience for everyone. It’s not everyday that the kids get to fish, feed animals, ride a horse, or climb ropes. A lot of the kids didn’t want to leave even if they played for 4 hours already. One story I got from a friend was that our kids were boating so well, paddling properly and all. When the parents called them because they were leaving and it was getting dark, for some reason, they couldn’t steer the boat to the “dock”. Smart, funny kids 🙂

Here are a few tips on staging a farm party at Fun Farm:

1. Book the venue early. We would have wanted the event to fall on a weekend but the farm was already booked. So we settled on a Friday, which was fine coz it was Titus’ actual birthday anyway. We also had the farm to ourselves.

2. Inform your guests way ahead of time so they can plan the trip to Cabuyao and make the necessary arrangements, esp. if they will be coming from Metro North. The Fun Farm is in a gated community and is not accessible by public transpo.

3. Bring lots of water. Guests can get really thirsty.

4. Psych your guests on what to expect. We informed them that the venue was outdoors. We also advised them to bring lots of extra clothes especially for the kids and to wear cool summer outfits.

5. I highly suggest that you hire a photographer. The grounds are pretty spacious and it would be difficult to gather all the guests together for the usual photo-ops with the celebrant (read: kids wanting to play, play, play) so the photographer can pretty much go around and take candid shots of the guests instead. Plus the farm is a great venue for a family photoshoot! Nature can work wonders!

Thank you for reading Titus’ birthday story.

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May 8, 2015. General. 1 comment.

Life is a Beach!

It has been almost 6 years since hubby, my daughter, and I have been to Boracay. Now with Phoenix, we’ve finally made it back! What was supposedly reserved for our 10th wedding anniversary this coming January 2013, became an advance celebration of sorts as we booked a 3-day/2-night stay in Shangri-la Boracay’s Resort and Spa. Never mind if our anniv is a long 6 months away. We were a bit hesitant to splurge on our Boracay trip but because we planned on celebrating a milestone in our lives, we thought we very much deserved it. It helped to know that we didn’t have to worry about our airfare 😉

We booked the first flight out of Manila. The earlier we get there, the better. Unfortunately, it was raining in Caticlan, hence, our flight got diverted to Kalibo. I am notoriously known in our family to get dizzy on trips but I was okay all throughout. Hooray! The kids were in high spirits and didn’t get restless.

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May 7, 2015. General. 3 comments.

New Year, New Love, New Life

The talk on The Feast two Sundays ago dealt again on relationships. Bro. Bo Sanchez talked about the power of compounding and how compounding can make or break our lives. Compounding, in finance, is how one small amount can double again and again through time. To elaborate, he talked about a love account, similar to our bank accounts, but instead of making money talk, we’re either making deposits or withdrawals on our relationships every day. Some accounts can go on starting with a whopping amount but remaining dormant for years, while others may make one big withdrawal to the point of closing the account. Yet, the worst account of all is the one that keeps the account going and makes tiny, minute withdrawals every single day. These withdrawals can be in the form of hurtful words, mistrust, indifference, infidelity, and so on and so forth. Ouch, right?

As a parent, it hit me hard. How many times did I make withdrawals from my love account for my kids? Oh yeah, the time I scolded my kid for spilling his drink for the nth time. And the other time I pushed my daughter to rush when it was not in her nature to be rushed. And what about that time my son wanted to play with me but I was busy on Facebook? GUILTY!

As a wife, it hit me harder. Have I been making enough deposits to my spouse’s love account? When WAS the last time I cooked him a meal? As in really cook him a meal not because I was obligated? When did I last massage his feet or give him a back rub? When did I last drop everything and snuggle up to him? Worse, there’s the list of withdrawals I made. The time I complained about this, nagged about that, expected him to do one thing and yet ignored the many other things he has already been doing for me…the list can go on and on. I felt so small at the moment I just wanted to crawl under my seat and cry at how selfish and ungrateful I had been.

I also did the worst thing unimaginable. I tried to list everything my husband deposited to the love account. I felt so ashamed! He has been filling it up, day in and day out, making deposits to my account and to the kids’ account.  Nothing grand, I must say, but constant, consistent, and compounding (e.g., a trip to the playground, bringing home fruits and buko juice, helping with the chores, saying yes once in awhile to the kids’ whims, saying yes to my crazy wants). Thank God my guilt and shamefulness turned to gratitude and hope. Gratitude for all the “deposits” made and hope for more deposits and lesser withdrawals from now on.

My daughter Zoe, who attended Awesome Kids, The Feast’s kids’ ministry, also brought home a “Love Account” passbook. The kids were told to keep a list of every good deed they made and to write them down under the “deposit” column. They were to list down every not-so-good thing on the “withdrawal” column. I guess the love account also did my daughter good because everyday I would see her listing down her deposits, and making more effort to write down a deposit. So far these are what are in her deposit: greeted family and friends, talked politely, packed away gift wrappers, played with little cousins, helped little brother, prepared water bottle (a chore I entrusted to her every time we went out), folded underwear, helped unpack groceries,  ate my veggies, drank buko juice (something she’s really not fond of), kept self busy, helped make breakfast, set table. I’m loving how she’s been more helpful around the house and more cooperative lately, probably because of the love account. She’s also made a few “withdrawals” yet her deposits far outnumber her withdrawals. I am praying this will be a continuous thing, or she will have the habit of counting blessings and being more of a blessing to others.

So this 2014, I’ve resolved to fill my love account to overflowing. To make deposits every day. To make the power of compounding work positively in my life and for it to have a ripple effect on my husband, my kids, and all those around me. I know, with God’s grace, this is possible. 🙂

January 21, 2014. Family, General, Married life. 1 comment.

Our 2013 Bangkok Kidzania Adventure

We have happy thoughts of Bangkok coz we very much enjoyed our 2011 trip seeing elephants and visiting temples.  So when hubby informed me that his trip this October would take longer than the usual 2 days, we grabbed the chance to go with him. I was also on my first trimester of pregnancy, and knew that I wouldn’t be able to travel once my tummy gets bigger, so might as well go, go, go, never mind if I had to cope with motion sickness. I get crazy dizzy during plane rides, which was further heightened due to the pregnancy.

A week before our Bangkok trip, the whole family got sick. The kids even had to be confined. We got discharged from the hospital just 3 days before our trip, and I was seriously contemplating on staying home instead. Thanks to a lot of mommy friends who convinced me it was alright to go ahead, hubby and I decided on the last minute and he got our tickets on the day itself!

Because hubby had work most days, the kids and I spent time just relaxing in our hotel room or walking around the airport which was walking distance from the hotel and has a connecting underground link.

The highlight of our trip was visiting Kidzania. Kidzania is a little town designed for kids, where the kids get to experience how it is to work as grown-ups. They could choose from numerous jobs such as firefighters, physician, dentist, interior designer, artist, actor, athlete, pilot, flight attendant, police, secret agent, and many, many more. They get paid for working, mind you, so kids experience how it is to be earning their own money. If the kids want to learn or join in some activities such as sushi-making, culinary school, they had to pay using their kidzos. Kidzos is Kidzania’s currency. The kids were not interested in spending but would prefer to earn, so they were able to double their money in a day. Not bad for a day’s work. Kidzania’s counter looked like an airport check-in counter. There the kids are given a check which they need to encash in the bank so they can spend money if they wanted to.

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Zoe worked as a firefighter, 7-11 crew, photographer, interior designer, artist, dentist, and veterinarian. She signed up and had to pay to train as a secret service agent. She liked the secret agent part coz they had to dodge the laser beams and she found that so cool.

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PHX also worked as a firefighter and artist. He also was a gasoline attendant and the kids all looked so cute in their uniform!

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PHX surprised us when we passed by a dance club and he told us he wanted to ‘work” there. I guess he was attracted to the neon lights and the beat of the music. It was hilarious watching him dance. There were teachers who taught him the dance steps, which he tried his best to imitate. Afterwards, they told us PHX was to perform downstairs at Kidzania’s town square. They wanted to dress him up for the program but PHX didn’t like. He preferred the “skeleton” shirt he asked his dad to buy a few days earlier. Downstairs, PHX, at first, got the shock of his life. I guess it never occurred to him that he was going to perform in front of all the people who were hanging out and milling about. But after a few seconds of shock, dance he did!

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Can you imagine, we were there at opening time (10 AM) and stayed there until closing time (5 PM)?! The kids really, really had so much fun that they want to go to Kidzania again! Zoe was thrilled when I told her Kidzania will be opening in Manila soon.

Overall, our trip to Bangkok was so worth it. Never mind if I had to deal with motion sickness without the help of meds (which are not allowed during pregnancy), as well as this crazy afternoon sickness, which I’m hoping would disappear after my first trim. Seeing the kids having the time of their lives at Kidzania was just priceless!

P.S. Sorry some of the pics are lying down! I couldn’t figure out how to rotate or edit them on wordpress.

October 28, 2013. Tags: , , . General. Leave a comment.

Uno, Dos, Tres!

Finally, after long months of hoping for another baby, we are pregnant again! We’ve been wanting to get pregnant when PHX turned 3. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very cooperative in monitoring my fertility cycle that we ended up just trying and trying without hitting the target. I also went through moments, albeit fleeting, of disappointment and frustration every time I would miss a day or two of my period, only to see it greeting me month after month. My husband was there to knock some sense into me and make me realize that there’s Someone else in control of things and it would be crazy for me to expect that everything I wished for will be given to me according to my terms. He was right. I was acting like a brat and thought that conceiving would be something we could take charge of. I was wrong. God had other plans for us and His timing was always right. God first made me surrender everything to Him. I never really did. He asked me to relax, let go, and let God. Honestly, although I wanted a child, I never really bothered to ask Him for one. I just kinda assumed He knew. And I just expected.

So I started asking and praying silently, even including it in my birthday wishes this August. My prayer was for another child, but if it is His will that two children are enough for us, then His will be done.

I expected my monthly period to arrive last week. I was a few days delayed but I didn’t get my hopes up, although hubby was already keeping his fingers crossed and would ask me everyday if I already got my period. Last Sunday, at The Feast in PICC, the topic was about surrender. He says we can never really be out of control because the moment we aren’t in control, God remains in control. It made perfect sense. Bro. Bo talked about the miracles waiting to unfold in our lives, and how, before a miracle becomes visible, it starts with being invisible. He talks about how, during the times we question and cry and doubt, God is already cooking up something exciting for us. We just don’t see it yet, but it’s already there. He then compares a visible miracle to a baby, one that you can hold and cuddle and see, and tells how it started as a fetus in a pregnant mother’s womb, still invisible from our eyes. The words “baby,” “fetus,” and “pregnant” gave me goosebumps. He goes on to say that we are “pregnant with God’s miracle.” I started getting emotional as I heard God speak to me. My thoughts were racing. Could it be that I was, indeed, pregnant? Was this the sign I was waiting for? I wanted to believe it was.

The next day, hubby and I gathered enough courage to take the pregnancy test. And there it was…two strips on the pregnancy test! I was positively pregnant! My period wasn’t just delayed! We were crying tears of joy! Then, after we composed ourselves, we called on Zoe and PHX to share the wonderful news. Zoe was ecstatic and PHX was also pleased. I know PHX doesn’t quite comprehend it yet, because he thought the baby was gonna come out already that evening, but I saw he was excited, too. I can’t wait to see him as a kuya!

God never fails to amaze me with his miracles! During the times I doubted and cried out in despair, he was planning this surprise all along. Always, always, in His perfectly sweet time.

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August 28, 2013. Family, General, Married life, Mommyhood. Leave a comment.

Our Friday Scare

I woke up a little past 6 am to my little boy’s hot temperature. He was feverish. Although I didn’t take his temp, I got a washcloth, moistened it with tap water, and wiped his neck, armpits, and forehead. I hoped the washcloth would be enough to lower his fever. Last night, the thermometer registered his temp at 36.5 deg Celsius, although I doubted it and kept the digital thermometer a few minutes longer until it showed his temp at 38. PHX did not at all show any signs of nursing a fever or whatever viral infection. He was his usual energetic self and I took that as a cue. We have been conservative in giving meds and avoided the usual paracetamol for fever as we believed in allowing one’s body to fight the illness.

I lay down beside PHX hoping to get a few more hours of sleep with my kids before we start the day. Just a few minutes later, I heard PHX grunt a little loud. I had the instinct to get up and look at him, then I saw his eyes roll upward. Followed by involuntary shaking and jerking. I knew this was something different and there was something wrong. His breathing became shallowed as if he was gasping for breath. I was touching his face and calling his name. I thought I would lose him. After 10 seconds or so, he just went back to sleep as if nothing happened. Those were the longest 10 seconds of my life!  My daughter, Zoe, woke up and knew something was wrong. She was asking what was wrong with PHX and I couldn’t give her an answer. I felt so helpless. Dazed, too. Hubby was already at work when this happened, which left me alone with the kids.

In the flurry of things, I tried calling PHX’s pedia. Phone was ringing but she wasn’t answering. I also tried calling hubby but knew he was already airborne at that time. I gave Zoe quick instructions to change clothes and brush teeth, did the same, then we headed for Asian Hospital’s ER. My mind was racing on our way to the hospital. I was pleading to God to help my son. To keep him safe and to just please cover him with His Most Precious Blood.

PHX woke up on the way to the ER and was even cranky because the seatbelt was bothering him. He even told me to slow down in my driving. Took that as God’s sign that he’ll be alright. I am normally a slow driver.

We seemed to be the first patient in the ER that morning. They took PHX’s temperature, which registered at 38 deg Celsius. We were led to one of the beds as the nurses kept an eye on him in case he might get into a seizure again. The physician on duty informed us that what happened may have been a Benign Febrile Seizure, which children usually outgrow, and is considered harmless. Of course, we still had to be admitted and observed. PHX’s pedia wanted to make sure there was nothing more to the seizure so she requested for a CT scan. An EEG will follow.

PHX did not have any fever during our whole stay in the hospital. We did notice that he was less energetic and slept a whole lot more than usual. On the second day of confinement, he got his energy back and was his usual talkative self.

The CT scan results were normal. Thank God! After 3 days, we were ready to go home.

PHX does not have any memory of what happened to him last Friday. He has no idea how my heart broke to tiny pieces as I was witness to the seizure . How I thought he would just stop breathing. How the life we have isn’t ours. How we all are living on borrowed time and how our sons and our daughters and our husbands may be with us today and gone tomorrow. Morbid, I know, but this hit me hard. Really, really hard.

Our Friday scare also opened my eyes to God’s overflowing love. It was He Who woke me up from my deep slumber that morning, earlier than my usual waking hour, to hear my son and be there when he needed me. He kept me calm and did not allow me to panic.

God also whispered to my husband to replace and install our other (blue) car’s dead battery the night before so I had the gray car for use on that fateful day. Hubby planned to use the gray car and leave the blue car without replacing the battery, since we didn’t have any planned errands for that day. Praise God for His whispers! God made His presence felt by sending prayer warriors…relatives and friends who prayed for PHX. Oh, how the prayers made wonders! PHX’s fever never came back and there wasn’t any repeat seizure!

PHX’s seizure will remain etched in my memory and I will always look back on that Friday with fear. It was traumatic, to say the least. I hope and pray nothing like this will happen again.

August 13, 2013. General, Mommyhood, PHX stories. Leave a comment.

The World Needs Men of Courage

The World Needs Men of Courage

Here’s to all the husbands and fathers out there! Happy Father’s Day!

June 15, 2013. Tags: , . Family, General. Leave a comment.

Back to Nature, Balik Bukid Style

It has been a long time since the kids have communed with nature. Our usual trippings included dining out and malling, so when the news came that there was going to be another Balik Bukid Fair, we jumped at the chance.

Sunday’s weather was perfect for a day at the Fun Farm in Sta. Elena. It was our first time there so we did not know what to expect. Just to be sure, we brought lots of water, some hand towels, and extra clothes.  I skipped the sunscreen but brought my handy bottle of Giga insect repellent just in case. The kids were excited to be spend a day outdoors but I did caution them that they could run around all they want, get dirty and sweaty, and that there won’t be any airconditioners to cool them, just outdoor showers. I guess that got them all the more thrilled.

Sta. Elena Fun Farm, Cabuyao, Laguna

Sta. Elena Fun Farm, Cabuyao, Laguna

We arrived just in time to listen and watch the Drum Jam. Anyone from the crowd can join and drum to their heart’s content. The setup of the place was gorgeous! It really felt like a country fair as there were booth after booth of lovely wares, from recycled bags to native decors to creative and whimsical crafts. Food and drinks that were on sale were healthy, refreshing, and most, organic.

There's no excuse not to get dirty!

There’s no excuse not to get dirty!

Lovely handmade stuff

Lovely handmade stuff

Washi tapes are here!

Washi tapes are here!

Takatak horses

Takatak horses

Home decors from Cornerstone Pottery

Home decors from Cornerstone Pottery

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Of course, the kids did not waste any time exploring the farm. After a quick snack which consisted of puto, taho, tsokolate batirol, it was on to fishing. Zoe was thrilled that she caught a fish! PHX, on the other hand, was happy feeding the rabbits.

Go fish!

Go fish!

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There was much more exploring to do: horseback riding, carabao cart ride, zipline, and obstacles of different kinds. It was simply playground heaven for the little ones.

PHX calls this a spider web.

PHX calls this a spider web.

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Look, mom, I can balance!

Look, mom, I can balance!

Logs, lots of them

Logs, lots of them

Watch Zoe....

Watch Zoe….

...goooo!

…goooo!

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The kids were like energizer bunnies, going this way and that, wanting to try one thing then another. They did get hungry, so off we went to the food booths. We ordered brick-oven pizza and some BBQ. For dessert, we had Isobel’s ice cream bars. The espresso flavor was to die for! The food on sale were quite pricey. I made a note to myself to bring some snacks next time around as it was a lovely day for a picnic. There were picnic mats that can be borrowed and a shady picnic area to relax and forget about the word “rush”.

This pizza's really good!

This pizza’s really good!

Papa tried this Katipunan Indio Pale beer. it passed his standards

Papa tried this Katipunan Indio Pale beer. it passed his standards

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After resting a few minutes, the kids were off again to make the most of their afternoon.

Racing…

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Boating…

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row, row, row your boat

and crafting…

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A bracelet made out of coconut leaves

A bracelet made out of coconut leaves

For a moment there, I simply forgot we weren’t home. Why? Because it felt like home just being there, surrounded by nature and feeling the good vibes of the place. The kids want to go back. They can’t get over it. We’ll definitely be back.

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Emphasis on “FUN”

PHX

PHX

Zoe, all smiles

Zoe, all smiles

 

 

May 1, 2013. Family, General, Mommyhood. Leave a comment.

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