I’m officially courting!


After 6 years of being single, I am officially courting.
And it was not just any simple courtship..it was announced in a BIG way!
Like it was announced to around 50 people…

Yes..it was announced just last week (during our training) to all the leaders in the church we are both actively serving.
You may ask why it has to be announced by our Pastor to the leaders?

First, it’s because we need prayers and guidance as we decide to enter into the next level of our relationship.

Second, we are both serving as leaders in the church. As a family, they have the right to know and be a witness of what God will do in our lives in the coming days, weeks, months, etc.

It feels kinda strange and awkard at this time really…
We treated each other as a brother and a sister for 4 years, serving the Lord together…
and then now…

We gotta know each other deeper (without those physical intimacy thingy) and this time of courtship is crucial because after this, we will decide if we want to go to the next level which is already an engagement.

And that’s the right way to go…The Christian way..
It’s totally different than having a relationship in the world.

In the world, it’s so easy to be in a relationship..because you can quit anytime you feel it’s not working anymore.
You need to try if you will be comfortable emotionally, mentally, even sexually.

But that’s not how love works..

It’s not merely about physical intimacy or emotional compatibility.
Love is definitely much much bigger than that.
Love is a decision, it’s not an emotion.

You decide to love a person despite their flaws, their limitations..knowing that all of us are flawed…we are all limited but because of God’s grace and by choosing to remain in Christ, we will continue to grow and be transformed and we can extend love and grace to the person we decide to be with.

The feeling I have is just amazing as God continues to unravel the next chapter of this beautiful story He authored.
4 years of waiting were not lost years after all.

In that 4 years, God has grown me as a person..from the day I decided to recommit my life to Him up to this day, He is maturing me to be that Man of God He called me to be.
He is preparing me physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually into a higher calling and at the same time preparing a suitable partner for me.

So…yeah…i’m officially courting…
don’t know yet what to do or where to go on our so-called “first date”.
Still having that jitters you know… (c’mon at this age!)
That’ why I decided to blog. LOL.

Tribute to Mom

I guess many of us becomes emotional when saying something or paying tribute to our parents. It’s because of the plain and simple fact that apart from nurturing us from the day we were born, they’ve been giving us unconditional love ever since.

Since Mother’s Day is fast approaching, allow me to write a simple tribute to my Mom. I don’t know if she is able to read this post as she hardly uses internet and if she do, normally she has to be helped by my siblings since she is not so familiar with using a computer. I love my parents equally but since the occasion is for Mom’s, I will focus my blog entry about my Mother which we fondly call “Mama”.

Reasons why I should be thankful to my Mom:

1. Being the instrument for my existence- God gave me life. And He used my Mom as the person to make me be part of this world when she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy few decades ago. I actually am so advanced and I wanted to go out earlier than expected. I was a premature born baby. I’ve been enjoying my life as far as I can remember.

2. Undeniable skills to nurture- I can’t remember any specific subject in school training would-be mom’s the skills to care for their future families. Surely we were taught of good values in school but I believe being able to nurture their children and bringing them up as a good individual is a “Mom’s Nature”, There is simply no Master’s Degree or even PhD courses training them to do it. It just comes out naturally to most of the moms.

We were 5 children in the family and you can just imagine how hard it is for my Mom to take care of us equally as we grow up. Naturally my siblings and I have different personalities and she has to manage us so we could still feel special and not left behind. We would often tell each other that this sibling is mom’s favorite, the other is dad’s favorite but they would always tell us we are all equal. I can’t contest because I still have no children of my own so I can’t exactly know if the feeling is true.

When we were studying, my Mom has to wake up around 4:30 or 5 am every day just to cook food for us, heat water, prepare our baon and make sure our uniforms are smartly pressed. We used to have a housekeeper but when we were growing up, my mom single-handedly take care of the household.

3. A good doctor even though she has no medical degree- We would get sick occasionally. But every time we are not feeling well, we know we will be ok as long as Mom is there. She would always cook good food and cared for us until we get better. If we complained of headache, stomachache and various body pains she would always have the good solution for it. That’s why I truly missed my mom every time I get sick now that I am overseas as I have to take care of myself.

4. Best cook- I’m sure every children would consider their mom the best cook in the world. Truly, no KFC, Jollibee, Barrio Fiesta, etc. can beat our own Mom’s cooking. We are fortunate that my Mom comes from a family wherein everyone can cook. Now me and the rest of my siblings acquire the same skills and would cook good food whenever we can.

5. Thinks of her family first before herself- I am so lucky to have parents who are so selfless. They would always think of their family first rather than themselves. I would remember my Dad would always tell my Mom why she don’t want to buy something for herself and she would always say she doesn’t need any more material things so she’d rather buy something for her family.

There are more reasons why I should be thankful to my Mom that I don’t have to write and I am sure she knows it. Now that I have a stable job, I want to give her the best, let her see the world while she can.

I’m sure my Dad would appreciate it and would be glad if we could continue what he has been doing before- that is giving our Mom the best that she truly deserves.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

Family Fun in Thailand

It’s been 4 years in the making!

Last 2 weeks I was so busy. Busy with work and arranging itinerary for my so-called VIP’s.
You see, I’ve been working in Bangkok for nearly 4 years now and it will be the first time my family (not entire though) will visit the Land of Smiles- Thailand.

I would’ve wanted them to come earlier but as some of my regular blog readers would know, the past 2 years had been quite a roller coaster ride for me and my family. My Dad was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer and they have to stay home as much as possible due to frequent visits to the Doctor. He died early last year.

It was really my earnest wish for my parents to visit the place I now consider my 2nd home. I know my Dad really wanted me to just work in the country so the family could be together but I would always tell him I had to grab this opportunity. It also helped us financially speaking during his sickness.

Some years ago, I had the chance to take both of them to Ilocos Region during a business trip. The room and transfer was free anyway so I just had to pay for their meals and other miscellaneous costs. They would always tell their friends and relatives about how memorable that trip was and how beautiful are the places we’ve visited. Apart from that we would go to some nearby places like Baguio, Tagaytay, etc. if our busy schedule permits.

Going back to the Thailand trip, it was postponed further as my Mom had some problems in securing her passport due to her birth records cannot be found in Manila so they have to go to the province to secure the documents. Anyway, it finally happened mid of April in time for Thailand’s longest and happiest event- Songkran Festival or their Thai New Year.

My Mom, my youngest Sister and her Boyfriend arrived in Bangkok on 13 April which is the first day of Songkran. Traditionally, Songkran is a water-splashing festival wherein everyone just literally splash water to each other either by water gun, hose or any thing they can use to throw water to expecting or non-suspecting passersby.

I had to meet them at the airport so I really carefully walked along the street from my pad to the main road and gingerly took taxi. I was successful not to get wet.

After they arrived in my place and had few hours of rest, they began their 1-week journey with a visit to one of the biggest shopping mall in Bangkok, MBK or locally known as Mah Boon Krong. It is the counterpart of Greenhills Shopping Center in Manila but maybe 5x bigger. You can buy clothes, souvenirs, cellphone and all those gadgets in this mall.


After MBK I took them to Siam area which many consider is the very heart of Bangkok. We visited few other shopping malls like Siam Center and Siam Paragon.

Next day I took them to the traditional places tourists visit such as Royal Grand Palace, Wat Po, Chatuchak Weekend Market. It was such a scorching hot day so it made our activities on that day more tiring. They enjoyed the cheap price of clothes and souvenirs though.

Before heading home, I let them try Thai Massage. It was indeed a great relief after walking almost the whole day!

Next day I took them to Holy Redeemer Church which is one of the few Catholic Churches in Bangkok. After that we went to Platinum Fashion Mall for more shopping. At night, I took them to a Dinner Cruise along Chao Phraya River.

Monday is still a holiday because of Songkran. My Thai boss and her family took us to the ancient capital of Siam (former name of Thailand), Ayutthaya to visit the ruins of the old city as well as the Bangpa-In Summer Palace. We also rode an Elephant which is a first time experience for me and my family.

We had our lunch in a popular restaurant by the River. We feast ourselves with a variety of Thai and Seafood dishes including the highlight of the restaurant, the grilled King Prawn. It’s very large and costs THB 300 a piece. Good enough to indulge once in a while.

We visited Bang Pa-In Royal Palace which is also known as Summer Palace. Entrance to the Palace is THB 100 per person for foreigner and it is convenient to rent a Golf Cart as the complex is big and if the weather is very warm, walking is discouraged.

The Palace has a mix of Thai, Roman and Chinese style structures. The lawn and gardens are well maintained and such a refreshing view.

Within the next few days we did more activities. We went watching Siam Niramit, dubbed as Thailand’s Must See Show. I’ve watched several other shows like Alangkarn Show, Tiffany Show and others but I must say that Siam Niramit is the best of them all in terms of grandeur and production value. Too bad they don’t allow photography or video inside the Theater but there are many interesting things in the Theater grounds that is worth taking few snapshots.

We stayed in one of Bangkok’s finest 5-Star Hotel, lebua at State Tower near the Chao Phraya Riverside Area. The hotel offers picturesque view from the balcony. We were assigned in the 57th floor of the hotel so you can just imagine the unobstructed magnificent view of the city.

Not only is the view the selling point of this hotel but all the spacious and luxurious guest rooms. We were assigned in the Club Floor Room with access to the Executive Lounge and the bath amenities are Bvlgari. You will literally bathe in perfume when using the toiletries.

We capped their  one week holiday with a drink in the hotel’s rooftop bar located at the 64th floor called “Sirocco- Sky Bar”on their last night in Bangkok.

It was such a memorable trip for my family. I would surely be glad to welcome them again and other family members too.

Best of Visayas (Cebu and Bohol)

I’m sure many will contest the title of my blog post as definitely it is debatable. There are a lot more beautiful and charming places in the Visayas which this Blogger definitely agree. Reason why this blogger used the title is that among my several trips to this region, the last trip in Cebu and Bohol is definitely the best.

Firstly, I’ve never been to Bohol before and I was really captivated by the sheer beauty of this province. Secondly, it is the first time that I flew to Visayas with a family member, my Mom at that. Lastly, the trip was purely a holiday. In the past, I’ve visited several other places like Boracay, Iloilo, Bacolod, etc. but mostly it is combined with Business so I didn’t really get to enjoy these places 100% leisure time.

I’ve planned the trip since last year. I was trying to convince my other siblings to join the trip too but since it is still not school holiday and their sons or daughters cannot skip school especially the end of school year is just around the corner so only me and my Mom got the chance to fly. I flew back to Manila in time for my Dad’s first year death anniversary and coincidentally, it was my birthday week. As a treat to myself (and my mom too) I decided to take a break.

It was my mom’s first plane ride so I really wanted to make it memorable. She has mixed emotions about the trip cos definitely she would’ve wanted my Dad to be with us (but obviously, physically he can’t anymore) as they really enjoy traveling together. I just consoled her by saying that Dad is in a better place than where we’ve visited and I’m sure he wants you to be happy and see the places that he wasn’t able to take you before. It is actually my dream to take them to all the beautiful places I’ve been too as much as I can. And I’m working to make that dream a reality at least for my Mom while she still can.

We reached Cebu on a very sunny Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the Crown Regency Hotel in Fuente Osmena. This hotel is the highest hotel in Cebu and became popular because of the extreme activities at the hotel’s rooftop. Of course I can’t convince my mom to do all those extreme rides as I myself am afraid of heights though I’ve experienced rappelling, slide for life, etc. before just for me to help conquer that fear.

We were assigned in the 30th floor of the hotel and the view from our room is just superb, overlooking Osmena Circle. Though that centre of Cebu City could be better had all those plants and flowers are not dry or wilted. The hotel was so full of Chinese group considering it was already after Chinese New Year. I can’t help but think, am I in China or Chinatown at the very least? Lol.

The room is nice and clean but the service is not satisfactory. I tried requesting for a bath towel because the room only got 1 and I booked for 2 persons. 30 minutes after I had requested, the towel has not arrived. Since we were so hungry (that’s almost 2pm) we decided to take our lunch first and the housekeeper didn’t arrive at all. Think the towel was delivered almost dinner time.

Another incident of poor service is that they provide free LAN internet. Even as I changed all the settings I know to be able to connect to the internet, still I can’t. I called to ask someone to assist me in connecting to their Internet. The staff said yes and will send someone. An hour after, still no knock on the door. I followed up and the same person I talked to was surprised that no one assisted me and she said she will follow–up. Another 30 minutes had passed, still no Crown Regency staff in my room. As I need to connect to the internet I decided to go out of the hotel to find any Internet shop that’s still open (it’s almost 10 pm then). I asked for an extra key card since they only issued one and I can’t take it otherwise my mom will have no electricity in the room so I requested. The receptionist said I have to go down and leave PHP 100 as deposit so down to the Ground floor I went.

I told the receptionist that I requested assistance to connect to the internet 2 hours ago but nobody come. She said sorry and will “again” ask someone to go up and help me. I went out and have a quick stroll in the area. Since it’s getting late, a lot of the shops are closed so I decided to go back to my hotel room after 15 minutes. When I returned, I asked my mom if somebody came and she answered in the negative. Till the time we checked out the next day nobody showed up. Breakfast the next morning was the same. There are so many staff in the coffee shop but I guess they are mostly student trainees. Requesting for basic things, it seems they are unsure and takes long time to deliver. Another incident is that we bought a lot of dried fish and otap. The security staff told us we can’t bring them in the guest room for it may smell which we understand and a lot of other hotels would also have that policy. They asked us to keep in the luggage area. While asking for assistance from the luggage counter staff, 2 of them just keep on talking instead of helping me with the stuff which I find quite unprofessional. I’ve stayed in some smaller and lower star hotels in Cebu in the past but the service was great. Mango Park Hotel comes to mind first.

Anyway, Crown Regency is ideal in terms of location and quality of rooms but I hope they will improve the service so that more people will be enticed to stay again.

In Cebu, we took the usual tours: Taoist Temple, Magellan’s Cross, Sto. Nino Basilica, Cebu Museum, Cebu Heritage Monument, Fort San Pedro. I asked the driver to take us to Tabo-An Market too so we could buy all the “Pasalubongs” of Danggit, Pusit and other dried fish. We’ve also stopped in Shamrock store to buy Otap, Dried Mangoes, etc.

We only spent 1 night in Cebu. My mom earlier told me why it was such a short stay. I told her Cebu City is just like Manila and you could cover the city tour in just half day, unless you decide to go to the Beach then at least 2 or 3 nights is required. Next day we took a ferry ride to Bohol.Ocean Jet Ferry is nice, clean and safe. While we waited in Cebu Pier, I noticed a lot of Japanese, Koreans and even Western people go to Bohol which I am really happy to see that people are starting to know this very lovely island. I just do hope the government will renovate the pier. It is old, dirty with lots of broken chairs, roof is decaying, etc.

The trip to Bohol by sea is approx. 2 hours. I didn’t book transfer from the pier to our resort as I thought there are plenty of Taxis in the port just like in Cebu. Little did I realize that Tagbilaran is such a smaller and less developed city so it’s better to book transfer in advance. Luckily, there is a counter of Bohol Beach Club in the port and that there was an available van at that time. Transfer costs PHP 600 per way per van.

It takes about 40 minutes drive from Tagbilaran City to Panglao Island. The island is connected to the main land by 2 bridges. Bohol Beach Club is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) resort in Panglao. I learned that the name Panglao came from the term “mapanglaw” or gloomy, quiet, melancholic which is still true to this day. Despite modernity and looming tourism boom, Panglao is still more secluded compared to Boracay, Puerto Galera or Mactan beaches. Definitely, I miss the very lively nightlife of Boracay but Panglao has a charm all by itself.

Bohol Beach Club is exactly the opposite of Crown Regency in terms of service. From the van driver to the receptionist, restaurant staff and all the other resort people we’ve encountered, service is really personalized, fast and friendly in this resort. The room that we’ve stayed has nothing fancy but is comfortable, clean and well maintained. The rooms are just few steps away from the private beach. Since both my mom and myself are quite tired from continuous travel from Manila the past 2 days, we decided to doze off in our room that afternoon and stroll to the beach later. Unfortunately, it rained that afternoon till night time. There was actually a beach dinner set-up for a Chinese Group and they decided to move the program to the covered Dive centre  because of the rain.

Since Bohol Beach Club is private and secluded, it is quite hard to walk to other resorts and dine there or find a local restaurant as such mostly you have to take your meals inside the resort. Buffet costs around PHP 400 per person. There are 2 wings of the resort and each have a main restaurant. One will serve a la carte while the other is Buffet. Since my mom has to control her food intake, she don’t prefer buffet so we ordered ala carte for dinner. The dinner was superb and food tastes good. We decided to order 3 dishes mostly veggies and a soup because in Cebu we had a buffet dinner and I felt so sick of all those pork in the buffet. The staff also gave 1 big serving of lechon which I had to consume most as my mom can’t eat a lot of pork. The dinner we had in Bohol with all those veggies was the best meal we had in that trip.

Btw, did I tell you that it was my Birthday on that day?  🙂

Next day, we went into a full day countryside tour of Bohol. Pick-up time was early and it was still drizzling. Our Tour Guide Ging is a pleasant lady and knowledgeable about many things in Bohol. She could quickly answer our questions. First stop was the Blood Compact site in Tagbilaran. Then we headed further north in the town of Carmen to visit the famous geological wonder, Chocolate Hills. Upon reaching Chocolate Hills, the weather fortunately became better (Thank God!) and the clouds slowly disappeared so we were able to take some decent shots otherwise, the pictures would look all so gloomy and dark.

After visiting Chocolate Hills, we went to Tarsier Conservation Area. At that point, our Guide heard the people talking about a strong earthquake that just happened minutes ago and that the government announced cancellation of work and school. We didn’t felt the earthquake because we were on the road and it was a bit bumpy. Little did we realized that indeed the earthquake was strong and affected a big part of Visayas, Dumaguete the most heavily affected.

Going back to the Tarsier, we were able to see with our own eyes the world’s smallest primate. Since they are nocturnal and very small, visitors are not allowed to touch them or take pictures with flash as well as make loud noise. Next stop is Loboc River for our Cruise and Buffet Lunch. The Loboc River is very calm and clean with a lot of trees surrounding the river. I was actually looking forward to this part of the tour because I ever watched in TV about the Loboc Children’s Choir which are a group of children with very angelic voices. I thought they are the ones singing during the cruise but our guide explained that they are also studying and would only sing during vacation or off-school which is understandable. Anyway, the singer during our Cruise also have a good voice.

Next we went to Baclayon Church, the country’s 2nd oldest Church after San Agustin Church in Manila. Baclayon Church was build since 18th century. The Church is visibly old with molds, weeds and other stuff are present in the Church facade but the altar like most of the old churches are very nice and intricate. Beside the church is the museum displaying all the stuff used in Church service and ceremonies like very old Bibles, various robes, cups, holy images, etc. The smell of the museum is old as well. Imagine most of those things were made more than 300 years ago!

Next day, the Sun finally appeared my Mom and I decided to walk to the beach and swim in the clear waters of the sea. Many other guests decided to go out of the sun and enjoy their holiday. We went back to Manila later that afternoon.

It was indeed a memorable trip. I would definitely love to return to Bohol perhaps explore the other parts of the province and also take the Dolphin Watching Tour or Fire-fly watching cruise.

Indeed it’s more fun in the Philippines!

My Luggage and all it’s happy stuff

It has been 2 months that I’ve not blogged. I was busy with work and all it’s challenges but also had a great time last New Year when I had the opportunity to spend it at home (1st time in 3 years)! I was there before New Year and went back to Bangkok 5th of January after my Mom’s birthday. It was a short but really memorable trip.

Now, going back to my new blog post. Maybe you wonder what is the picture above all about? Or you may also be thinking if what it was, actually. From afar, it may look like a mini Sari-Sari Store (Philippine version of the convenience store but it’s more of a family-run business) what with all those toiletries, noodles, chocolates, mixes and sauces. Well it’s not a delivery for 7-11. The picture you are seeing above is my typical luggage…

I am coming back home (again!). And what you had seen above are the items I had been compiling in my room for several weeks/months. It’s all the goodies I want to bring home. Actually, If I have no scheduled trip I would usually put it in a Balikbayan box and send back home.

Maybe some of you think I am a fool bringing back all these stuff as if there are nothing like those in the Philippines and at times the cost of shipping them is even more than the actual cost of the item.

Overseas workers like me would definitely understand (I bet 90% or even more of these OFW’s are doing the same thing everytime they go back home) what I had been doing since I started working abroad (coming 4 years on May).

For me, it’s not all about the price or the quantity of goods that matter. Looking at my family (even friends) waiting for what’s inside my luggage and dividing it amongst them (as if I’m the younger and slimmer version of Santa Claus) and seeing how excited they are for any “pasalubong” I bought is good enough for me. And the feeling is just great. It is also a product of my hard work as each item in the luggage (or box) are from my hard-earned money.  There was even a time that I bought bottles of perfumes for each member of my family. Even though it cost a small fortune for me, they were really happy to receive something from my heart (and of course seeing me makes them happy and excited too!).

Honestly, I don’t mind packing stuff like these even if I really have to spend time going to the supermarket or malls regularly, putting packaging tapes on liquid items so it won’t spill, making sure everyone has something to receive and even replacing my clothes with all these items.

My forthcoming trip in the next couple of days is kinda exciting in the sense that I am traveling in time for my birthday. I treated myself  and my mom to a trip to Cebu and Bohol for several nights. It is even more special because it’s the first time for my mom to visit these places (for me will be 1st time in Bohol). I was inviting my siblings and their families to join the trip so it will be a big family affair but since school is still on, they cannot join. It could have been more memorable if my Dad was still alive.

Another reason for me coming home again this February is in time for my Dad’s 1st year death anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when he was still with us but now almost one year has passed since he joined our Creator. I know that even though he is not physically with us  anymore, he is happy that my Mom could go to places she’s never been before. They’ve always treasured memories of trips together as a couple or with the whole family.

Going back to Bangkok from my holidays, my luggage is again always full. The contents are different though. I would fill it with all those Sinigang, Menudo, Kare-kare and all the whatnot, local vitamins and medicines, some local-brand toiletries and also pasalubong for my friends and colleagues in Bangkok.

My luggage is always full. Full of foods and other perishable stuff. But I also make sure that my luggage is also full of happy memories from all my travels. All my excess baggage (read as: bitter memories) I usually leave behind.

Have a good one my friends and readers!

Happy Birthday Papa!

Today is the first year that we are celebrating the birthday of my dad (Sixto “Tito”Asuncion)…without him physically present.
As I had mentioned in previous posts, he died of Cancer last February. Had he been alive, he could have celebrated his 73rd Birthday today.

Every time I see his pictures I will suddenly realize I am still in denial that he is no longer with us. For He had always been there in all aspects of our lives.

I can still vividly remember that when we were young and it’s examination period, he would patiently spend time with each of us kids to review the lessons and have question and answer sessions just to make sure we will pass and have high marks in our tests which definitely molded us and made it our habit to study harder even until college.
He is a firm believer that education is the best inheritance a parent could give their children. I know it is a tough job to raise 5 children, more so give them quality education which he is able to do single-handedly since he is the sole bread winner in our family, my mom being a plain housewife ever since having children.

My dad is not the authoritarian type but we are also scared of him in many aspects especially during issuance of school report card. He would usually pick-up the cards in school and so when we know he is coming, we will be worried if our grades are good enough up to his satisfaction. Fortunately, in most cases we have high grades but he would always remind us not to be complacent.

He wanted me to become a doctor since he was a frustrated doctor by profession (believe he was studying medicine proper when he had to stop due to reasons I can’t exactly remember why). That’s why he really wanted one of his children to have fruition of this dream. He would always tell me to try Medicine in college because I am patient and he is confident I can finish long years of studying and reviewing and wanted me to try taking exams in PLM or UP.

I had this ambition too till 4th year high school but just before graduation I started realizing it could be hard and not practical firstly because it would also need a lot of resources to finish a medical course. During that time me and 3 other siblings were still studying so I thought it will be very difficult financially speaking.
Secondly, I had been studying since I was 4 years old so I also had a feeling of tiredness because of studying since young. Pursuing a course that would take longer years to finish could aggravate this feeling.
At the end, even if I did not become a Doctor I know I made my parents especially my Dad proud since I also had some achievements during college and be able to have a good career.

Papa (which is how we dearly call him) is generous and thoughtful. I remember my sister Princess as a young girl is used to seeing cake in the dining table during her birthdays. In one of her birthday, my dad failed to buy a cake on time. She started crying very loud and is not willing to stop unless she can have her birthday cake. Papa still tired coming home from work had to go out again and buy her a birthday cake even though the nearest bakeshop is very far from our home then.

My mom would always receive gifts from Papa during her birthdays. She would sometimes receive either a perfume, blouse, bouquet of flowers or even orchid plants (since my mom love to plant trees and flowers in our garden).

Papa’s generosity and thoughtfulness is not only for his immediate family. He makes it a point to greet and visit relatives during birthdays or special occasions. He would lovingly dedicate songs or greetings through a local radio station that he and mom would always listen to during weekends. Suppose it is my aunt’s birthday she would call the radio station to request my aunt’s favorite song then followed by a birthday message. Next, he would call my aunt to remind her to listen to the radio that instant. Upon hearing the song and dedication, naturally my aunt will be surprised by the gesture and will be very thankful.

He also loves his grand children so much. Every afternoon, he would take them out for a walk in our village from the time they were babies until the time they can walk. Our neighbors would always compliment him that he loves the children so much and very proud of them which he would confirm by saying his grand children are not only kind but also smart and all good looking so there is no reason not to be proud of them. I heard a story from my sister that even on his sick bed, he reminded them to buy my nephew’s favorite toy car as his surprise gift as soon as he goes out of that hospital.

I am sure many people misses these thoughts and gestures from my dad. There are countless memories to tell but it will be such a long post and words cannot describe exactly the feeling just reminiscing these events since we were young.

But I am certain he is in a happier state now with our Lord.

Happy Birthday Papa. We truly miss and love you.

Bittersweet memories…

Bittersweet..it’s how I would describe the first months of the year 2011.

The beginning of this year I got a very grand New Year cum advanced Birthday surprise. I got a work promotion which came quite unexpectedly. Surely, I am hardworking and an achiever but I didn’t expect I will be promoted this early. Upon learning about it, I immediately informed my parents of the good news as I know they will be proud of me. Since it was not officially announced yet I had to keep it to myself and my parents only for quite a while.

With the fruits of my labor already being reaped, I started to plan something good for my family, my parents in particular. I have traveled to many places, seen how beautiful the world is and I want my parents to enjoy and experience the world that they would just usually see in postcards, magazines or Television. I wanted them to have a grand holiday. By Grand I really meant GRAND. We had few good holidays together and all of these occasions had been memorable to them and they would have countless stories about these trips. There was a slight hindrance though on my plan…around August of last year, my Dad had undergone a major operation because of cancer.

His Bladder was removed and the Doctors had to attach an artificial urine bag so he could function like normal. He lose weight and became a bit weak which led to him mostly staying at home as he could barely do long walks like in the past. He  would skip events or occasions being held far from home. However, I am still positive that the planned trip would push through soon. Don’t know exactly when but deep in my heart I know it will happen.

Just right after New Year, my Dad complained of severe stomach pain and he had difficulty doing bowel movement. At first the doctor thought he lacks sodium and it seemed not a very serious case. However the pain persisted so the doctor thought it is due to something else. He ordered my Dad to undergo CT-Scan.

True enough, when the result of the CT-Scan was released it was something the family dreaded and hoped not to hear. The cancer has spread to the stomach with many tumors in the area. He was confined in the hospital for more than 2 weeks. One of his Doctor advised the family to just bring my Dad back home so we could spend more time with him. Upon learning this, I immediately decided to take a trip back home to spend time with them. I was in the hospital helping to take care of my dad until the day he was discharged and sent home to recuperate.

My youngest nephew will be celebrating his 2nd birthday and also my birthday in a few days time plus my Dad’s return home so we had a small family gathering/dinner arranged last minutely since my Dad was released from the hospital almost 7pm. It was January 30 then…the next day I had to fly back to Bangkok.

The Doctors did not say how long my Dad is going to live but all of us are hoping for the best and wishing for a miracle to happen so our Dad could be with us longer. We continued praying.

Upon my return to Bangkok and just after Chinese New Year, my promotion was announced in our office and various overseas offices. I was really glad and immediately informed my parents that it was now official! A lot of my friends and colleagues congratulated me as well.

However, it was a temporary happiness. Just 3 days after my promotion was announced, I received a very early (around 4 am Bangkok Time) phone call. Hearing my phone ringing at that unholy time I already had some thoughts that something bad may be happening. It was my brother on the line.

At first he tried to sound a bit cool and ask me if he woked me up and if I am still sleeping, etc. Since it is unlikely for them to call at that time, I went straight to the point and asked, “What Happened to Papa?”

“Papa is now gasping for his last breath” my brother replied.
I was caught off guard with what I heard. “What happened? Why it happened so fast, I just checked Mom about Dad’s condition and she said he was OK?”.
“It could be what God wants for Papa” my brother tried to comfort me though his voice is breaking.

I later learned that almost the whole morning till afternoon of Feb 09, my Dad showed some upbeat feeling and looked stronger so the family thought he started to feel well again. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated towards the evening and was even unable to eat dinner. He just looked at them with very faint response. He held my Mom’s hands and touched her face as if saying Thank You and I love you to her as he cannot utter any word. Same goes for my siblings and other family members. All of these were happening while I am hundreds of miles away and totally unaware of.

Around 2 am, he had difficulty breathing and so they rushed him to the nearby hospital. His breathing became fainter and have longer gap, his blood pressure dropping and heart beats once every few seconds. It was during that time that my brother called me to inform me what was happening. I was so frustrated and anxious for I am so far and not able to be with him until his last breath.

After a while, they told me my Dad was gone..It seems I was in denial and cannot believe what I just heard. I started packing my bag but my mind was blank. I wasn’t even sure how I was able to reach the office. I informed my boss about it and ask permission to go back home. I was fortunate to be able to get a flight on the same day.

When I saw my Dad in the casket I’m still in denial. I shed tears but I tried to control it. Cos it seems to me what I saw is not real. For my Dad had always been there, very strong, very supportive. It is not likely for him to be laying still and will never wake up again. Though its true everyone of us will eventually die, we are just not prepared for it to happen to him that soon. Our only consolation for which we really thanked God is that my Dad did not suffer much on his sickness compared to other people with Cancer. Or maybe he tried to conceal his pain to us so we will not worry. There were several occasions that it seems he was in pain but when we try to ask him if there is anything painful, he would deny it.

During the funeral, the family broke down to tears. My Eldest brother was tasked to say his last words during the Church service while at the cemetery I had to say my piece. I was unprepared but what I said was all coming from my heart. I know Dad lived a full life. He is only 72 when he died…he could have lived few more years but we know he died peacefully and an accomplished man. As I saw all the relatives and friends who went to the funeral, while weeping I can’t help but be glad to realize that my father had helped and touched a lot of people’s lives. He is not a politician nor a religious leader he is just a simple man but is well respected and emulated..The love and sympathy poured in to my family by well meaning friends and relatives is just overwhelming.

Truly it was such a bitter sweet memory at such a short span of time. The year is still early so I am praying for the best not only for myself but for my family.

Christmas in the Sky

For the 3rd straight year, I am celebrating Christmas away from home. I just came back home for a very brief holiday beginning of December so I am not too emotional not having to spend Christmas with my family. In Facebook, I can read many of my friends working overseas and not spending their holidays at home are posting all those comments about missing their families for Christmas, being alone in a faraway land which makes it more difficult, etc.

The fact of life is that most of us working abroad decided to have this kind of life for our dear families in the Philippines so we just have to make the most out of our situation.

Fortunately for me, 2 of my friends are staying in Bangkok for Christmas. Most decided to fly back or spend the holidays somewhere so the 3 of us decided to experience Christmas the GRAND way.

We booked 2 nights in Lebua Hotel, a 5-Star luxury hotel located near the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Because of some connections, I managed to get our room upgraded. We were assigned in a 58th floor Suite with a very spacious living area, a kitchenette, luxurious bathroom with Bulgari toiletries and a balcony overlooking the magnificent river. We felt like a total VIP!

We had dinner in a Pizzeria near the hotel as it’s almost 10 PM and there was also a bit of traffic jam on the riverside area perhaps due to Christmas festivities in the hotels within the vicinity (most of the hotels along the Chao Phraya River are 5-Star International chain hotels). We were deceived by this restaurant because from the outside, it looked quite well and have a good number of selection.

The food served can be forgotten as it is not tasty at all. The Pasta in white sauce I ordered seemed more like a stew because of overflow of sauce that made it tasteless. My friend ordered a glass of Red wine and it was served chilled (which is not the correct way) and tastes like the wine cooler “Spy” than an actual Red Wine. Only thing good was the Caesar’s Salad I ordered but I can’t say it is outstanding. Anyway, for the price that we paid, we can’t complain much (price range almost the same as Pizza Hut)…and we just console ourselves that the highlight of our Christmas Eve celebration is a drink in the signature bar of Lebua- – Sky Bar.

After Dinner, we called home and greeted our families. It is midnight in the Philippines and is quite difficult to call. After few attempts, we managed to speak to our loved ones back home. It was such a good feeling spending time with family over the phone and asking them about their celebration and vice-versa no matter how short the conversation was.

Suddenly, there were fireworks near Shangri-La Hotel which is few minutes away from our hotel. It’s the signal that the world is already welcoming Christmas Day!

After the fireworks, we headed to the 64th floor (roof top) of the hotel to a bar called Sky Bar. Sky Bar during Christmas Eve is teeming with people (foreigners mostly). On the edge of the bar are glass panels which serves as the walls of the bar. Since I am afraid of heights, I am a bit uncomfortable in the beginning especially with cool winds blowing and less space to walk around.

Anyway after getting our cocktail drinks and having a few sips, I felt easy. We took a few snapshots though most of the pictures didn’t come out quite good because we failed to bring any DSLR cameras.

We decided to sit in a corner of the bar and while me and my friends are talking, we were able to witness an actual marriage proposal at the Sky Bar. The couple are just few meters away from our spot and we realized it was a proposal when the 2 just started kissing each other and the lady was so happy and they are looking at the ring just worn in the hands of the wife-to-be. It was such a romantic venue to do a proposal.

Only thing that is unappealing are the huge crowd in the bar at that time which makes the place very noisy. Nevertheless, it is the thought of asking someone to marry him and on the other way around her replying on the affirmative that matters most.

We headed back to our Suite almost 3AM, tired but full (of food and drinks) and satisfied. Next day we enjoyed a buffet breakfast feast in the Hotel’s coffee shop and headed to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Later at dinner, we went to Narai Hotel to try Buffet in their Thai Restaurant wherein the food was superb! It really compensated for the lousy dinner we had on Christmas Eve.

It was such an enjoyable and unforgettable Christmas in the Sky with friends.

What about you, what is your Christmas Story?

I miss my Lola…

Few days ago, I had a dream. I was in a hospital with my Family and we were waiting for someone. It seems like a Deja Vu. I saw a person laying in a stretcher and covered in a blanket. I didn’t see the face of the person but was certain it was my Grandma. She is there cold and dead.

Then I woke up.

I realized it is past 7 am and I need to prepare for work and what I witnessed was just a dream. I remembered it’s few days till All Saint’s Day.

It is almost an annual routine. Few days before “Undas”, I would always dream about my Grandma who died few years ago. Last year, I dreamt about her being alive I was so excited and we hugged each other very tight. When I woke up, I’m not sure if I just finished crying.

I guess it’s her way of reminding us not to forget her and also trying to tell me she is still there guiding us as one of the family’s angel…indeed she is an Angel.

She was originally from San Fernando, Pampanga. She came to Manila for work. She is a professional Modiste. Because of her talent, she met my Grandpa who was a tailor. I remembered my Mom telling us that their parents had a shop in Manila. My Lola I believe was the first member of her family who “migrated” to Manila and they have settled and had children in the City.

She is the only Grand parent I knew from the day I was born. Both parents of my Dad passed away before we were born. My Grampa from Mom side passed away when my mom and her siblings were still young. Lola became a widow at a very young age.  Though she is very pretty (has some Spanish features) she never got married again.

I am not ashamed to admit I am a Lola’s boy. My Parents used to live in my Grandma’s house when they just got married. It was quite a big house (2 stories) during that time. When my parents were able to buy a house and lot in a new village, they wanted to move. My Lola preferred us to stay in her house but since the family is also getting bigger (we were 4 kids already then) so we had to move.

I don’t know why I became close to my lola considering I have siblings and other cousins too. Maybe because as a child, they considered me special and lucky…I was born premature, only 7 months old. Everyday after work, my Dad visits me in the hospital and he is very sad to see a poor boy trying to live. I was in an incubator for 2 months. I am just assuming but I think that is the reason why my Lola see me differently.

Every year during summer vacation, I spend it in my Lola’s home (who by then is joined by my youngest Aunt’s family) and I would just see my own family whenever they visit the house (which is every weekend or every other weekend). Whenever she visits her hometown in Pampanga, I had to join her too. Because of that, I could understand almost 100% (but unfortunately can’t speak Kapampangan dialect).

My fondest memory with Lola is every night, before we go to bed. Even how sleepy I am, I had to pray with her. Then we would kiss each other good night and she would hug me tight.

During my birthday or Christmas we sort of have a deal…I am revealing it for the first time now so if any of my siblings or cousins would read my blog post, they would know our “little secret.”

Whenever I would make “Mano”, my Lola would secretly give me some cash. If for example my siblings and the rest of the cousin would receive from her 100 Pesos for Christmas (which is already a big money for kids that time), I would receive more (sometimes even 500 pesos!).

Of course there are sort of jealousy among siblings and cousins and they partly know I am the favorite grand child but we would not confirm it. Whenever they ask me or my Lola how much I received, both of us answered the same amount as they received and my Lola would always say “Pare-pareho ko kayong apo kaya wala akong paborito sa inyo…pantay-pantay kayong lahat” (All of you are my Grandchildren and I don’t have any single favorite. I treat all of you the same). Ha ha ha! To my brothers and sisters+ cousins…pls. don’t get mad at me or Lola.I know you are also a favorite of one of our aunts or uncles so we are just even. Ha ha ha!

There was this one time that my Lola and mom just say in passing that they wanted to watch the latest Sharon Cuneta movie cos they haven’t been to the movie house for years. Though I don’t like to watch that Sharon Cuneta movie (can’t remember which film it was), I decided to treat them (I just started working then and earning my own salary) to a movie and we dined out.

My mom told me after, that Lola would always tell people about my treat and she was very happy and thankful about my gesture and she was proud that I have my own job.

At past 80 years old, she is still very healthy. Suddenly she became sick. She was in and out of the hospital and she lost a lot of weight. Every time I see her, I can’t help but be very sad. I used to see her healthy and strong but she became thin and weak. I guess she felt it is almost her time so she asked to be brought to Pampanga to be with her siblings.

One time we visited her, the friend of my brother who joined us asked me “Do you think your Lola would live longer?” because he can see how weak she is. I told him, I don’t like to think how long she will be with us. I just want her to be ok.

During that trip, I can’t stand long time being with my lola in the room. I wanted to see her as the same Lola I knew. She was very weak and can’t see clearly cos her vision became very poor. In our last conversation together, I told her I got a good job and is now a Manager. She said she is so proud of me and I grew up smart and handsome. I know then that she will be with us for few more days.

True enough, after a few days she passed away. One of the greatest regret I had is not being able to cry when she died. I don’t know if any of my family members realized it. You may think why?

The night she died, I am just about to go to sleep when they woke us up informing that my Lola passed away just after the prayer for her was finished. My Mom and aunts were all crying. Since they know my mom has high blood pressure, my aunt instructed me to console my mom (only me and Mom from our family was in Pampanga then because my youngest sibling was about to Graduate from Elementary so my Dad and the rest had to stay in Manila) for fear that she will break down and would have health problems.  Since I had to make sure my mom was ok, I didn’t have time to cry even if I wanted to. It’s ironic that the next day, Mom had to go back to Manila to attend my sister’s graduation.

Also, during the funeral mass it still didn’t sink in my head (or I just don’t want to accept it) that my Lola is dead so still I am unable to cry even if the whole family is crying. But this doesn’t mean I am not grieving.

Up to this day, even though she died many years ago we still miss her. Whenever my Mom would hear words about mom or any TV program talking about moms, she would silently cry.

Lola, I miss you so much. I know you are very proud of my accomplishments and even though I am away from my family, you are always whispering to God to send His angels to me for guidance and protection. Till we meet again…

Fur kids or real kids anyone?

Last night I was watching in Channel News Asia the programme called Blog TV. The episode is titled “Fur Kids”. The guests debates and gives opinion as to which one is better, raising your own child or owning a fur kid (read as: pet). Wooaah what a topic. Owning a pet has been a trend nowadays and many pet lovers spend a lot in grooming, dressing up and feeding their “fur kids” which is good because most household pets (especially dogs) help relieve stress, are very loyal and fun to look at. However, personally I believe the topic is non debatable in the first place. In totality, it is a lot better to raise your own child as opposed to raising a fur kid.

Please don’t get me wrong with my opinion. I have no objection if some people spend a lot in raising and maintaining their pets. I also emphatize to those couples who want to have their own children but cannot so have to resort to owning a pet for diversion. It is definitely a good deed. However, if a legally married couple has the financial, mental and physical capacity to have their own children, then by all means do not think twice having your own. It’s all about satisfaction, fulfillment and pride of raising your own children.

I don’t have children of my own yet but as I see my parents, siblings, relatives and friends who have their own children, I can see how proud, happy and contented they are having their own offspring especially for my parents as all of us are grown ups now and are successful in our own ways. No matter how obnoxious, underdisciplined or naughty kids these days can become, a parent will always love their child.

We are happy when our pups would learn how to bark and compliment them how brave they are even at a very early stage. However the feeling is entirely different when our baby starts to say its first word like Mama or Papa or giggle when we do peek-a-boo or tickle them. The world seems so full of happiness and the sight of a very innocent face staring at you is priceless.

When a dog learned it’s first trick like sitting still or rolling, we are very proud and would show these tricks off to our friends. However, when our baby responds when we asked them to close or open their hands, blink and do “beautiful eyes” gesture or when they learn to take first small steps, some parents can’t help but become teary eyed with their child’s progress.

When they start to go to school, learn how to read, write us short poems or messages or even draw a picture of their family and show to us, we will treasure these memories for a lifetime.

The list of memories and events shared together between a parent and their children goes on and on. Of course there are random instances wherein the children may grow up not as expected like giving the parents some problems like unwanted pregnancies, being hooked up in drugs or other vices, not following parents orders and stuff. But these are isolated cases and not usual to all families.

Overall, the bond between a parent and a child is stronger than the Great Wall of China, deeper than the Pacific Ocean and greater than the Great Barrier reef. It’s all because the foundation is love, trust and physical and emotional connection.

Let us continue to become a good parent or child or both, whichever role we play in life.