Birthday Reflections

It’s my birthday today! And it’s my biggest “celebration” yet. We’re not really big on birthdays, you see. In previous years, we just have dinner, just our little family of three; sometimes, we are joined by a handful of friends. It was always small, cozy, intimate, nothing grand.

This time, our family’s spending it in sunny Cebu. 😎 This is my first time to be out of town for my birthday. Though technically, it’s not a vacation coz we’re here for a conference. But any break from my usual routine is very much welcome. 🙂 At the least, I don’t have to worry about making the bed. 😛

bday pic
This was at the breakfast buffet. My friends’ told the servers that it was my birthday, so I got subjected to the customary “flash mob” singing. Quite embarrassing really. ^_^;;
elmo bday cake
It was actually the little boy who enjoyed himself more while the staff were singing. 😛

While in Cebu, we met up with Terci’s relatives who are now based here. Also met up with one of my longest friends from high school, Rita. We never really lost touch thanks to technology, but it’s still different and much much better to catch up in person. 🙂

On the whole, it was a wonderful day. And a better year even. There are still the little things I am wishing for, and the bigger things I AM PRAYING FOR. But it’s been a better year thus far (compared to 2016 which was very tiring and discouraging! @_@). I feel that I have got a renewed sense of Faith and purpose and gratitude. I hope things continue feeling being this way for a very long time.

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Being Truly Rich

Was chatting with a friend the other day. Our conversations usually revolve around money, careers and retirement, savings and investments. No, he does not sell insurance! But he is business savvy and enterprising; I am amazed at how he is brave to embark on various moneymaking ventures… which turn out to be lucrative, mind you. And these are all perfectly legal, btw. 😛

Lately though he’s been feeling overwhelmed and is contemplating on retiring early.

“What is the measure of being rich?” he asked. I am amused at how our conversation suddenly took a philosophical turn.

Continue reading “Being Truly Rich”

The 2016 Year-End Survey

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Mag-Ninang sa kasal. 😛

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t. Joined the “One Word” movement for the first time, with the word “Mindfulness.” I’m doing the same thing this year, with “Health” as my word for 2017. 😎

Did anyone close to you…
Get married?
My inaanaks. Hahaha! Monica & Al on Dec 10 (after 10 million years!). Ari & Diana – December 30 (Surprise! Surprise! 😛 ).
Give birth? Maciang to baby Alriq. Joni to baby Joril. Crizelda to baby Nathan.
Passed away? A high school classmate’s baby who figured in a freak accident. Our high school Chem teacher. One of the waitresses from our suking carinderia, whose death from an apparent illness was very shocking! She was always cheerful and would even watch over Elmo while we ate at their store. She didn’t appear to be sick at that time. 😦

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? Serenity

What date(s) from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? October 19–aftermath of Super Typhoon Lawin, and our anniversary.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? IDK, keeping the house clutter at bay. 😛

What was your biggest failure? Letting my emotions get the better of me ^_^;;

Did you suffer illness or injury? A lot! There’s the perpetual skin rash. And the flu which took me 2 weeks of convalescence. And allergic rhinitis & asthma attacks which occur on an almost monthly frequency. Hence my word for the year. 😉

What was the best thing you bought? It’s not something recently purchased, but we acquired my childhood piano from my parents. It was bought 30 years ago and has slowly steadily fallen apart over the decades. Spent quite a sum in rehabilitating it, but I’m happy we got to salvage it. 🙂

Whose behavior merited celebration? Therese who is still able to exude grace and peace, despite all the trials coming her way.

Where did most of your money go? House works pa den. The piano above.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? The piano. Christmas! My new iPhone. My X-Files charm bracelet. And The Heart and Brain comics.

What song(s) will always remind you of 2017? Pen apple pineapple 😛

Compared to this time last year, are you…
Happier or sadder? This “time of the year” is definitely happier than last year’s. But if I am to average this year’s “happiness” vs. last year’s, this year’s actually more negative in the scale. 😯 I’m not sadder. But I am more anxious and fearful. And very very tired.
Thinner or fatter? My clothes fit more comfortably now. But the weighing scale, mirror and pictures say otherwise. 😛
Richer or poorer? Richer in material things, poorer in spirit. 😦

What do you wish you’d done more of? Sleep. Physical activity. Go out and explore the outdoors. Take pictures. Write/journal/blog. Count my blessings. Meditate.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Eat. Worry. Get angry. 😠 Idle Internet surfing.

How did you spend Christmas? It was a Sunday, a slow day. We mostly have work during Sundays and even holidays. But this Sunday was rare for us, in that we were able to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest. It was my “ideal” of a perfect Sunday, I actually cried that night (seriously! 😛). We had lunch at Rufino’s, in Paoay. Dinner at Saramsam. Gift-giving at home. Received a mechanical metronome from my husband and the Jim Kay-illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Did you fall in love in 2017? Yes.🙂

What was your favorite TV program? Mostly Disney Junior!

What was the best book you read? Only got to read a couple of books–Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (both the Hogwarts textbook and the movie screenplay)

What were your greatest musical discoveries? Rediscovering John Williams

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Round skirts. Sleeveless blouses. Whites. Black pumps.

What did you want and get? An iPhone, to replace my old 5-year old Blackberry which finally conked out on me. Not the fancy schmancy iPhone 7, but the more practical iPhone SE, which fits in the palm of my small hand, and is perfect for my purposes! The mechanical metronome which my husband gifted me for Christmas.

What did you want and not get? A slim and healthy body. 😛

What was your favorite film of this year? Only got to watch two, which I both loved. “Finding Dory” which hits me differently now that I am a parent. While kids might probably relate to Dory (and Nemo) whose search and rescue ended in success anyway, I now feel for Dory’s parents and Nemo’s dad. The thought of losing one’s child is frightening! 😮
I also enjoyed “Rogue One”. Most people found it dark, but IDK, I found it to be a ‘refreshing’ take on the Star Wars universe. Indeed, it puts the “War” in Star Wars. I find it a fitting tribute to the unsung heroes of war; not the captains and generals and Skywalkers, but the many nameless soldiers and warriors who bravely sacrifice, fight and die for a cause.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 30++ We had dinner with a couple of friends.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Serenity

What kept you sane? Only by God’s grace. I don’t know how I got through 2016. It’s been a very trying TIRING year! 😮

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Elmo! 😎

What political issue stirred you the most? Philippine elections

Who did you miss? The Competitors! I’m not part of their group, but I am friends with them. 😉 My HS barkada. And Tita Paula! 😎

Who was the best new person you met? Roanalaine! She’s not new. But I think we’ve bonded more this year. 😃

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

Tagging Diane, Leah, Edelweisa, The PseudoshrinkRenette, SAFM, SIU, theLittleDoramaGirl. And to anyone who wants to respond this survey, feel free to do so. Just link to this post to create a pingback so I could read yours.😉

Hope in Uncertain Times

And just like that the storm has passed. We’re still dealing with the bands, but at least the worse is over. Thank God for the Sierra Madre which broke the winds.

Terci woke up in the early morning, and together we kept vigil as the eye of the storm passed over us; it was a momentary period of calm. 😯 Elmo got awakened by the loud banging of the doors and windows, but was consoled back to sleep. I was also able to sleep already after that, but only for a couple of hours.

Woke up this morning to find puddles outside our room.

Terci: Oh there’s water on the floor.
Elmo: Yes. It went in through the windows. Because it rained for forty days and forty nights! ☔️😅

Aww Elmo, our little ray of sunshine in this stormy weather. 😊 I realized that although kids are dependent on adults for their physical needs, they are not useless. In fact, they are a great morale booster! Their seeming “helplessness” is overmatched by their hopefulness.

And during these interesting times (and I don’t just mean this typhoon, but all the other uncertainties in this world right now, i.e. terrorism, wars, political instability, disease epidemics, climate change), when I start succumbing to worry and fear and anxiety, I look at my son. His innocence and carefree ways are a source of cheer and strength and encouragement. 😃 No wonder children hold a special place in Jesus’ heart; they are a tangible evidence of God’s love and grace and promise that everything is or will be alright in this world. 😃

What Matters Most

I am writing this on the occasion of our 7th year anniversary as a couple. We are holed up in a hotel room. Elmo is soundly asleep. Terci is asleep as well; he is trying to stock up on strength and energy, but I can feel that he is restless with the way he keeps fidgeting. 😯

As for me, I can’t sleep. 😯 I hear the wind howl outside and the windows rattle against it. Neither of us imagined that seven years from when Terci first asked me out that fateful morning, we’d be spending this night na nag-alsabalutan, with a toddler in tow, on preemptive evacuation from one the strongest typhoons (literally! 😛) our relationship would have to face.

Super Typhoon Lawin is expected to wreak havoc this side of the country. At sustained winds of 225 kph, it is weaker than Yolanda which devastated Southeastern Philippines in 2014, but it has stronger gusts at 315 kph and has a wider range 800 km vs. Yolanda’s 600 km. It is predicted to make landfall in a couple of hours in neighboring Cagayan, and storm signal no. 5 has already been raised in our province. NDRRMC has been regularly sending SMS updates, warning us of a “severe danger” and to prepare for a “catastrophic event.”

Better OA than sorry.

So last night, we packed our things. One large luggage to hold 4-5 days worth of clothes. Not even my favorites nor most fashionable clothes, but those which are comfortable and practical. 😯 (And they are few! Coz I wear dresses and skirts more often, and my “pambahays” are so ratty! 😛)

In a smaller bag, we placed our “valuables”: legal documents, a hard drive of pictures, “The Life Application Study Bible” which was Terci’s first gift to me when we became a couple, and Elmo’s little devotional book.

Elmo thinks we’re going on a holiday. I caught him slipping in our luggage some choice Star Wars space ships 🚀 and the book, “Guess How Much I Love You.” 😊

And as for today’s gloomy weather, he has this to say “Today, the sun went to sleep. Tomorrow, it will wake up again.” 😃

Life and death situations (whether brought about by calamities or terminal illnesses) can force one to examine what is most important. And in the grand scheme of things, apparently my library (and for Terci, his Lego and Star Wars collection) do not mean much.

And what matters is Faith and hope and family. ❤️

Post-Birthday Reflection

Another year older, another year wiser. Or so they say. I am a year older, but I feel none the wiser. 😛 I look at my parents and other people older than me and imagine how they were when they *were* my age now. In my memory, they seemed to have it all put together: they were wise about a lot of things, they were strong and energetic, they were confident and sure, and strong and brave. Whereas I–at this age–am so tired and anxious and fearful. Maybe they were just good at faking it. Or perhaps they just seemed like that to an impressionable youngster. 😮

Mercy for The Miserables

Les Miserables is in Manila! And it’s playing at The Theatre at Solaire Resort and Casino for a limited time only. I wish I could go and watch the live performances, but the logistics of travel to and from Manila, accommodations, braving traffic (the thought of this alone is most discouraging! 😮 ), and leaving my still-breastfeeding baby is probably not sulit. Maybe someday, when Elmo is old enough to sit still in a theater and appreciate this kind of shows (I would love for him to be able to watch this. 🙂 ). But for now, I will just content myself with listening to the OST. It is my favorite and most listened to soundtrack. (For the longest time, “On My Own” was my theme song. 😛 )

Les Miserables is several love stories intertwined: Fantine’s self-sacrificing love for Cosette, Valjean’s fatherly love for Cosette, Cosette and Marius’ love at first sight, Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius, the revolutionaries’ friendship and love for country, and above all, God’s forgiving and transforming love. 🙂

We all know the story of Jean Valjean. Nineteen years in prison, “just for stealing a mouthful of bread”, and he has become a broken and bitter man. 😡 He “had come to hate this world; this world which always hated” him. When a kindly bishop takes him in, he steals the man’s silver and escapes, only to be caught shortly thereafter. Instead of turning him in, the bishop claims that he gave the silver as gift, and Valjean was able to avoid another prison sentence.

The bishop’s actions made Jean Valjean rethink his life and start anew. The generosity and kindness he received has rippled into various directions and touched many lives, including the townspeople which he led as Mayor, the employees in his garment factory, and in particular, the single mother Fantine and her orphaned Cosette. He saves one unnamed man who got mistaken for him from being sent to jail, delivers Marius from death, and even allows Javert to escape.

If Valjean is the personification of grace in this story, Javert is the archetype of the law–cold, rigid, uncompromising, unforgiving. 😡 He lives by the adage that “those who falter and those who fall must pay the price!” Valjean may have been the ex-convict, but it is Javert who is the real prisoner, of his own beliefs and prejudices.

Les Miserables is not a Lenten season staple (unlike say, “The Passion of The Christ”). But I love how it has poignantly and popularly tackled Law vs. Grace without being overtly preachy and moralistic. That Grace always trumps Law 🙂

“And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God!”

This Holy Week, we commemorate Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. It is not enough that we only remember, but that we should respond to His sacrifice. That the grace and mercy we have received from Him will transform us to be good and do good. Not out of a sense of obligation or fear of punishment. But out of thanksgiving. Out of love. ❤

Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week everyone! 🙂

It’s a Small World After All

Received an email from one of my blogger friends (BF) asking if I knew Blogger X IRL. Blogger X was a former classmate and a good friend. Apparently, he is the brother of BF’s batchmate at work.

Such discoveries on connections and relations never cease to amuse me. I look at my Facebook feed, and while some relationships are borne out of school or work or geography, it’s surprising to see friends with whom I connected with at different episodes in my life, themselves collide at certain points of their lives. 😉 The Internet and social media has made us more interconnected than ever. Although some of my notable “connections” are actually outside of social media. 😉

  • My husband’s classmate’s wife is the boss of one of my dearest friends, which we just found out on our wedding day. Good boss naman, so it wasn’t awkward. 😉
  • My dentist in Manila is my husband’s second(?) third(?)-degree cousin. Matagal ko na syang dentista, hindi pa kame ng asawa ko (tuloy, walang discount/family rate sa dental services. 😛 ) My husband actually knows my dentist’s brother and sister, but because of their HUGE family, my huband and my dentist have yet to meet.
  • One of the most amusing connections I have is with a college instructor I have never met. One of my barkada called me one time to ask about the latest on The X-Files (this was pre-Wikipedia days, when Google wasn’t as powerful a search engine as it is now, and we connected to the Internet using dialup. 😛 ). His roommate’s girlfriend’s sister’s teacher is an X-Files fan and asks X-Files trivia for bonus points. Turns out this teacher is best friends with my classmate at that time. Eh pwede pala akong dumerecho kay classmate for test question leakage. 😛

We’ve all heard of the “six degrees of separation” theory, that any two people can be connected in 6 steps or less. Recently, Facebook debunked this; in their analysis, FB has determined that each person in the world (at least on FB) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. Why, I am actually connected to Mark Zuckerberg by 3.17 people! (What is a 0.17 person though? Kamay? Paa? Daliri? Kuko?)

Yes, we are more closely connected than we think. 😎

And yet, not all connections are lasting. Some are temporary, like a curve and its tangent line, that only intersect at one point and never cross again. And then there are those connections that last longer, some even enduring, and which develop into friendships and relationships. 😉

My favorite “connection” story thus far is that of my Maid of Honor, Veil Sponsor and Cord Sponsor. 🙂 I’m jotting it in bullets, so that it’s clearer, because even I am getting confused writing about it in paragraph form. 😛

  • VS and CS were best friends in primary school.
  • In HS, VS moved to a different school, where she, MoH and I became best friends. 🙂
  • MoH likewise came from another elementary school, to which CS transferred in HS; MoH’s elementary barkada, became CS’ high school barkada.
  • A decade after HS graduation, CS and I became roommates and ended up becoming good friends as well. 🙂
  • Several years later, when I got married, all three of them played important roles during my wedding. 😉

Every time I recount this story, I can’t help but be amazed at how intricately connected our lives are. 🙂 It makes me believe that some relationships are meant to be, and I don’t just mean the romantic kind, but friendships as well. 😉 That even if we “missed” the opportunity to be friends with someone in the past, Fate has its way of reconnecting us with that person (sometimes over and over again) until it is the “right time and place” for a friendship to develop. 🙂 Sa tamang panahon, ika nga.

The 2015 Year-End Survey

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? Teach–in a formal classroom setting.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Kept some. Broke some. Of course, will make some for the new year, because it’s always the perfect time for starting anew. 😉

Did anyone close to you…
Get married? Angel and Venus (August 30). Maciang and Anwar (December 10).
Give birth? This year actually saw a lot of miracle pregnancies and long-hoped for babies. 🙂 Jake’s wife to triplets! Joni to baby Joline. Maan to baby Sofia. Emily to baby Samuel. Gracelyn to baby Nikki. Ethel to baby Eli. Dej to baby Chicco.
Passed away? Someone I remotely knew

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? Courage and confidence.

What date(s) from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 18, 2015 – the eve of our 6th year anniversary as a couple, the day we moved house 😉

What was your biggest achievement of the year? My baby whole thus far. I’m just so paranoid I’d damage him irreversibly. ^_^;;

What was your biggest failure? “There is nothing major major…” (copyright@Venus Raj, 2010)

Did you suffer illness or injury? Horrendous skin allergies

What was the best thing you bought? Those stainless steel rolling trays/shelves that can fit inside kitchen cabinets. Very organized and space efficient, which is just perfect for our tiny kitchen! 😎 A pair of ottomans, for more storage. A new laptop, to replace my 7-year -old {pink} Vaio which crashed and can’t be revived anymore. 😦 (I luvd that laptop!).

Whose behavior merited celebration? Elmo! Because he’s just so adorable. 🙂

Where did most of your money go? House repairs

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Elmo’s first steps, among many milestones. 🙂

What song(s) will always remind you of 2015? Nursery rhymes from the Little Baby Bum YouTube channel 😛

Compared to this time last year, are you…
Happier or sadder? Happier
Thinner or fatter? Fatter
Richer or poorer? Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of? Sleep. Walk. Drink water.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Worry. Mindless munching. Impulse shopping. Idle Internet surfing. 😮

How did you spend Christmas? At home, with my husband and son, over a home-cooked meal of giniling. We do not observe noche buena because my senior citizen parents retire early, and Elmo also has his bedtime.

Did you fall in love in 2015? Yes. 🙂

What was your favorite TV program? We haven’t got TV. @_@

What was the best book you read? I only got to read 4 books: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, “Shopaholic to the Stars” by Sophie Kinsella, “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, and the official novelization of “One More Chance” by Juan Miguel Sevilla. 😛 But the best book I’ve read this year is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. 😉

What were your greatest musical discoveries? The Piano Guys

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Stripes. Blue. Nude shoes.

What did you want and get? Mercy, grace and a miracle.

What did you want and not get? A fancy smartphone. 😛

What was your favorite film of this year? Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, A Second Chance

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Didn’t get to celebrate what with all the stress of starting renovations on the house, and preparing for a trip later that week, and inefficient ticketing systems. 😮

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? It was good. 🙂

What kept you sane? Faith and family.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Elmo!!!! BB-8. Popoy and Basha. Aldub. Pope Francis.

What political issue stirred you the most? Mamasapano Massacre 😦

Who did you miss? Phoebe. 😦

Who was the best new person you met? IDK, I am quite an introvert you know. And my social circle’s just small and intimate. Online, there’s thepseudoshrink and derdo and diane.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
“There can be miracles when you believe.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Tagging thepseudoshrink, diane, leah, claireSAFM, SIU, theLittleDoramaGirl, urbanpilgrimdonna, susieshy to answer the same set of questions… or just some. (I understand it’s too long, but it’s great for whiling away the time. 😛 )

And to anyone who wants to respond this survey, feel free to do so. You can even add or modify some of the questions. Just link to this post to create a pingback so I could read yours. 😉