Personal

2019 | July

July is the month of heartbreaks and miracles.

Just looking at my Mood Tracker you’ll know I went through series of ups and downs the whole month.

Though we have the means to spend on our daily expenses because of Aljhon’s business, we started to feel the effect of my work hiatus on our savings.

Nastress kami eh! ๐Ÿฅด

Especially that I was finally able to enroll in Graduate School for MA Counseling program. I actually preferred to enroll in UP, but I decided to prioritize the “quicker” route to obtaining MA degree and RGC license, rather than pursuing my dream school.. Sa ngayon, tiis lang muna kasi may hinahabol akong deadline. Pero wait ka lang Sablay, makukuha din kita.. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Home every weekends for the next 2 years ๐Ÿ˜Œ

This month, Aljhon and I had more “fights” than usual (which is actually zero ๐Ÿ˜‹ ) over varied concerns- household chores, financial obligations, and individual differences. I cried ๐Ÿ˜ and I think he did, too. But the miracle here was Aljhon was able to understand what I’m going through, and I’ve seen great improvements on his attitude (especially towards keeping our house clean hahah ๐Ÿ˜… ).

CFC Wellness Program

In terms of service, we persevered in continuing our mission to train our YFC ROCK and to form our KFC, despite low attendance in our members. Sabi nga ni Tito Art, dibale nang konti, basta ang puso nandun.

Ella is still the biggest miracle in my life now. After turning two, I observed rapid development in terms of her speech and social skills. She can now tell short stories of what she did outside with Loloy or if Daddy pinched her again. She plays very well with other children and now she doesn’t want to go home whenever we’re at Loddy’s house because Ate Heart is there. She embraces me more and I’m loving every second and minute of this precious period of time when she’s a baby and child at the same time.

But the biggest heartbreak and miracle is with my “job searching” story this month. Of course I needed to apply, and after some confusion and as to my decision to pursue the Counseling career, I ended up still doing it, because I knew deep down that despite giving me stress and heartaches, that’s what I was made for. It wasn’t easy but I was shortlisted to 3 schools- 1 specialized college and 2 universities. God directed me to the one nearest our house (2 tricycle rides away! My golly) and I felt at home. He has not really forgotten His promise, and I am in awe and eternally grateful.

Personal

2019 | Thank you June

I was reminded of a very important lesson for the month of June: the attitude of gratitude.

You know the feeling when your mind is tricking you to over think and then believe in something you are not? I was like that the whole month. I was visiting places, experiencing things I could not really do when I still have work, and seeing my baby grow every day; but there was lurking darkness in my heart that continues to weigh me down. I am a Counselor, and I am very much aware to always see the bigger picture while embracing the negative emotions to be able to sort it all out; that’s what I tell my students, anyway. But it’s hard. Especially that I’m smiling on the outside, all the while, keeping the negatives inside (because I don’t want to worry my family and for others to think I’m in trouble…).

Right in the middle of my saddest day in June, I had the realization that perhaps my mindset was the one at fault. I am always unhappy with my situation. What I have forgotten in the past 8 years of continued working is to become grateful- no matter the circumstance. I tend to look at what’s lacking, not at what’s been given. I lost that ability to see God’s hand in the every toss & turn of my life, to see every single thing as what it really is- a blessing.

Right now, there’s still heaviness in my heart, I won’t hide that. But at least I re-learned to stay thankful to everything that’s happening to me. I’m still waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled, and his amazing plans to unfold, and I believe that’s also the beauty of gratitude- you have HOPE. I’m thankful because I know that there are reasons behind everything, and these are all for my good.

And who would not be thankful for all these?

Ella turned two!
Aljhon & I were appointed Household Leaders
We celebrated Father’s Day
I was able to join my former co-employees for a hearty dinner
I gave a talk on Family Mental Heath on North B Couple Coordinators’ Assembly
We attended and actually enjoyed a concert (for free) for the benefit of Kristong Hari Parish
We celebrated Owa’s birthday at Hundred Islands, Alaminos, Pangasinan
Personal · Places

Pangasinan 2019

โ€œIn terms of our happiness, time is really the fundamental currency. What really matters for your day-to-day moods is what it is youโ€™re doing with your time.” -Psychology Professor Elizabeth Dunn

Our family spent another happy weekend out of town as we visited Alaminos City in the province of Pangasinan. It was also the weekend of Owa’s birthday. We left Manila by 1am and arrived by 6am. We first went to Minor Basilica of our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, attending the 7am mass.

We had our breakfast after the mass, and started another journey to Alaminos. Manaoag was far from Alaminos, grabe! We passed by Lingayen and Dagupan. We arrived in Alaminos shortly after 11am. We stayed in a rest house owned by Ate Gem’s relatives. It was actually small for us (we’re 15 people!) but it was beautiful and well-maintained, even though it doesn’t cost a lot. It was actually a 10-minute drive from Hundred Islands, and just 5-minute away from Alaminos Market and Victory Liner terminal.

Our itinerary was to visit Bolo Beach in the afternoon and Alaminos municipal hall in the evening, but we decided against it because the weather was bad. We’re actually starting to worry if we can still push through with the island hopping in Hundred Islands. But as always, God is so good to us. We woke up by 4:30am the following day on clear Pangasinan skies.

We started island hopping in Hundred Islands by 6:30am. It cost us P 3, 710– 2,000 for the boat rental, 1,510 entrance fee for 15 pax and 1 baby (babies are not charged for an entrance or environmental fee but the 10 pesos daw is for insurance), and 200 pesos refundable fee for the trash bag. I actually liked the initiative of giving insurance to the tourists, as well as the fee for the trash. It’s about time to change tourism system for the better.

We visited 5 islands, and passed by several more (according to our boat man, those that don’t have shores are just rock formation, HAHAH). We decided to just land on those islands where we can actually do “something”, because we have “elderly companions” who wanted to drive back home to Manila in the afternoon.

First island we visited was the Governor’s Island. It’s a 5 to 10-minute hike up to be able to see the panoramic view of all 122 islands around you. Tip: Be careful for even though the steps were not very steep, however, it can be slippery because of the moss. There were also 2 viewing decks- the second and higher one can give you a better view.

Our second stop was the Romulo Island. It’s my favorite island because of its calm waters and fine sand. We went swimming here, and I love that the water was clear and the view was spectacular. Tip: It is a small island, can easily be strolled around. Behind it is the Mayor’s island, you can also check it out. Also, it can be a very good spot to take your lunch, if you’re opting not to rent a cottage in other busier, more developed islands. Be very careful though because it is rocky underwater, wearing aqua shoes may be necessary.

We passed by Virgin Island and the Pilgrimage Island on our way to our third island. We decided not to land because our elderly companions were tired already daw, hehe. Sayang lang, because Virgin has a floating bridge. Pilgrimage Island, on the other hand, features a large statue of Jesus the Redeemer, stations of the Cross, and a 1000-step hike trail.

Third island was Marcos Island. We stayed here the shortest period, but it was actually the most intense: we survived the cliff diving in Imelda’s cave! It wasn’t actually a daredevil jump (12 feet), but it was exciting. Tip: They observed a No Life vest, No Diving policy, which is very good. What’s not right was our boatmen insisted to make us pay P50 for each person who jumped, their exact words were: bawal po kasi gamitin ang life vest sa labas ng bangka. Kung gagamitin sa pagdive, rerentahan ng P50pesos (Life vests cannot be used outside the boat, otherwise you have to rent it for P50). And they have informed us of this “policy” after we’re done cliff diving. Kudos na sana to Hundred Islands eh, meron lang pa din talagang nananamantala sa mga turista (btw, bakit nga kaya ganun? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ) Anyhoo, at least we enjoyed the experience. In addition pala, don’t bring any valuables (or even slippers, if you’re not wearing aqua shoes) to Imelda’s cave, unless you have somebody with you who won’t be jumping, for it’s a one-way out from the cave.

After the exciting jump in Marcos Island, we then headed to Quezon Island, the largest (I think) and most developed island. It’s like a big resort where you can rent a cottage, cook your meals, swim all you want, and take amazing pictures. Some of us opted to go swimming, but I and my siblings went up to the Hanging Bridge.

We stayed in Quezon Island for about 30 minutes, and our elderly companions were starting to complain and wanted to go home na daw. Haha ๐Ÿ˜‹ So our boatmen just let us see the other islands (Old Scout, Lopez, and Children’s Islands) from our boat. Our last stop was my second favorite- the Cuenco Cave. Yes, upon landing, you have to go through this large cave to be able to go to a restaurant at the other side. It has comfort rooms, and a cliff diving spot. This is where we had good pictures of our jump. ๐Ÿ˜Š

We ended our Hundred Islands visit at 11:30am, a little bit tired but full of happy memories. If you’re running out of time, and just wanted to experience what each island has to offer (you don’t really care about beach bumming or having lunch in the islands) you may also do what we did, but I do strongly suggest you take your time, explore each island, and experience all the other activities (snorkeling, helmet diving, zip line, banana boat ride, and even go hike in Pilgrimage Island). Please check this blog post from Pinay Solo Backpacker for complete fees and sample itinerary for your own Hundred Islands visit.

Overall, I enjoyed our trip in Alaminos. I will probably come back, once Ella is old enough to fully appreciate the trip, and I’m also knowledgeable enough of the place’s history, marine life, and biology. Haha, oo, mag-eeducational trip kami dito. And I really wanted to do the 1000-step hike in Pilgrimage Island. And I’ll bring our tent the next time so I can stay over night and camp.

Family and Relationships · Motherhood · Personal

Ella at two

Our beloved baby Ella turned two last week, and I couldn’t be any prouder. We are raising her for two years now- without any major illness, accident, or parenting mishap- thank you and praise you Jesus.

Her birthday celebration this year truly reflected who we are as parents- basic, thrifty simple, focused on love, values, and fun. It is our guiding principle to always choose what matters most, and for Ella’s second birthday, the year she started to fully recognize all members of the family, call them by their names, and enchant them with her silly antics and facial expressions, we decided to spend it with the people who we love and love us the most. And YEAH, we definitely HAD TO spend it with cakes and lots of ice cream, because the little princess craves for it every.single.day.

Birthday cakes #1 & #2 plus Minnie Mouse dress & wall decor
Birthday cake #3 on her birthday

I will always honor Ella’s birthday not just because it’s the day when the good Lord brought her to us, but also because it reminds me of the day I discovered how deep a mother’s love is and how indomitable her spirit must be, and that I, with all my frailness and selfishness, am capable of doing it, and even more. Ella’s birthday reminds me of all the pain I was able to endure, and have to endure further, and how it’s all truly worth it. It reminds me of God’s unconditional love- that He loved me first, so I must also love.

Saying thanks to the Lord by attending the Mass at St. Peter Parish

Ella’s birthday is also a celebration of how we love as a family, that though we may have our different views and opinions about what’s best for her, we’re all doing the best to take care of her and make her happy, because she is the greatest gift God has given us.

I love you Ella. Thank you for being such a healthy, loving, and bright child. Thank you because you are strong, enough to endure our shortcomings as your guardian, and enough to give us strength when it’s tough to be one. Thank you because you are happy, your smiles and laughter overflowing our hearts and lives with radiance and purpose- purpose to work hard and make this world better for you to live in. Thank you because you are so smart, taking in the world fearlessly, discovering and learning things in a rapid pace, and not being afraid to fall down and cry a little bit, reminding us that we don’t own you, but prodding us to see the world with childlike faith, hand-in-hand with you. Thank you for being kind, even when you’re still in Mommy’s tummy you didn’t give me a hard time carrying you, and every day when I see you with other children, I am brimming with pride as I know you don’t hurt them, but young as you are, you already know to set boundaries and avoid those who may hurt you.

Thank you for all that you are, everything you have been, and all that is yet to be. I love you my dearest. Happy, happy birthday!

Family and Relationships · Married life · Musings

Dear Husband

You’re the man of the house. Of every breakfast, lunch, and dinner that need to be prepared and are served with love, much flavor and vigor. Of nappy changes and dirty feeding bottles. Of passive but profitable family income. Of minute but very important decisions to be made daily, from which color of sheets to use for the bed to what products to buy to cut in the grocery budget. Of all household things broken and must be repaired or replaced.

I honor you for taking the biggest leap of faith and having the most drastic change of career by choosing to stay at home and be the one to take care of our family. I honor you because I know it’s far from being the easiest thing to do, and because together, we steadfastly fight unnecessary drama that is unsolicited advices (and judgments) from others (concerned or otherwise), our own personality differences, and your inability to thoroughly (and consistently) tidy the house (and/or do the laundry alone). But most importantly, I honor you for allowing me to dream, and pushing me to make those dreams come true; all because you believe in me and my capabilities.

I know it’s hard, but sometimes I envy you. Everytime I have to leave you for work in the morning, with the baby in your arms, both of you ready to go back to sleep, I envy you. Every lunch time I get to check on you and you’ve sent me a video of our adorable baby doing adorably nothing, I envy you. And every evening that I arrive to see the house in disarray, but you and the baby’s faces show how great an adventure happened to lead to such mess, I envy you. But really, there’s nothing to be resentful about, for your work is one without price, vacation leaves, or holidays. It’s a continuous commitment. A vocation to lead us, nourish us, and sustain us.

And so, I’m always proud to say you’re the man of the house. Of all things to be cooked, washed, or cleaned. Of every bit of sanity and courage in overcoming the struggles of nurturing a baby by yourself. For at the end of the day, despite the longingness, exhaustion, disappointments, and fear I feel on a daily basis, and through every big or small accomplishments our child did and all her smiles showing that she had proudly done it by taking on the world with dirty hands, grazed knees, and full heart (because no Mom will ever allow that), at the end of the day I know we made the right decision and are doing the right thing for our little family.

Thank you for surpassing this society’s expectations of how a Mother or Father should be, because you are, and will always be, a great Father. I love you dearly.

Happy Fathers’ Day,

Your wife

Personal

2019| Merry May

I’m still at home, and I’m so glad that I am.

May is officially the most eventful month for me this 2019, so far. I went places, attended church gatherings, watched Ella grew, and rested some more. May is the extension of my vacation that I didn’t requested, but was given, and I’m absolutely grateful.

When a month starts with a holiday, you automatically know it’s not a month for work, but for play, and May is just like that. In the Philippines where the school year is from June to March, this last month of vacation is the time when you realize that time is of the essence and it’s an obligation to make the most out of the remaining carefree days to go out and play, (or sleep, in my own opinion), despite the melting 40-degree temperature. Our family joined in the fun, as we went swimming in Ciudad Christhia 9 waves Resort in San Mateo, Rizal. We actually went there during the Election day, so there were fewer people, and we enjoyed our stay. It was a bit pricey, though, considering what it offers.

May is also the month of celebrations, as we celebrated Mother’s Day, Mama & Papa’s 31st wedding anniversary, Aljhon and I’s anniversary, and Aljhon’s birthday.

This May, I was still in full gear for service. I was invited to be a Resource Speaker for a Mental Health lecture in a youth camp in Morong, Rizal. I was “overly prepared”, and it was a struggle to go there via commute, but I love the experience.

We came closer to ending our Christian Life Program in CFC this May, and as the highlight of our evangelization program, we held the “Baptism” night or the pray-over session this month. This is the time when we prayed over our participants so that they can start a renewed life of commitment to Christ and Christ-centered family life.

And of course, we attended the CFC KFC North Luzon Family Conference at Olongapo City, Zambales. It was both a special religous occasion and simple gala for our chapter as well.

May was a merry month for celebrations and outings and events, but there were still days of topak and loneliness, especially that I’m now on a journey of finding a new workplace. But still, blessings are overflowing and my heart’s totally full. Not because I possess things or that I went to so many places, but because I have Jesus in my heart. Every day, and always.

Christian life · Personal

Light to the World

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visibleโ€”and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

โ€œWake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.โ€

Last weekend was a gift for our community in CFC Kids for Christ as we attended the Family Conference 2019 with the theme “Light to the World”. It was held in Columban College-Baretto, Olongapo City, Zambales. It was an annual gathering of CFC-KFC families from Metro Manila and North Luzon.

This is special for us because this is Aljhon’s first KFC conference as well as the first time for us to go together as a CFC and Couple Coordinator. I think the last conference I attended was way back 2008, when it was still called International Kids’ Village (IKV). I love how it transformed- focusing on families and building and strengthening family values, incorporating theological “lessons” into sessions but explaining it in a way even little children can understand, and requiring the delegates to utilize non-disposable dining utensils. The conference has indeed changed- adding variety of workshops that children learned practical stuff like saving money, having a ROCK facilitators assembly, and conducting a Parenting Summit. I am proud and pleased to be able to attend the conference with our young “children”.

Day 1 opened at 9am with Creative Competitions- a friendly contest showcasing talents from families of North Luzon CFC & KFC. It features dance, band, duet, show choir, tableaux, and painting competitions that must be participated in as a family. Daddy Aljhon and I were supposed to join show choir (Family Pitch Perfect) but he got sick during rehearsals so we had to back out. In the afternoon, sports took the spotlight as the conference continued with Sports Competitions. Our chapter didn’t have a representative to any event so we just spent the afternoon fixing our things in our accommodation room, watching some family games, and preparing ourselves for the session in the evening.

Evening session began with a Holy Mass celebration, followed by preliminaries from CFC & KFC leaders. We got our dinner and ate in the session hall (Columban College Gymnasium). Afterwards, an Aeta tribe from Zambales presented their tribal dances, welcoming all delegates to their province and culture. Then session 1 began, given by Remojo Family. It was about the characteristics of the Catholic Church being One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic and how we can strengthen the Church through Culture of Togetherness. It urges the families to do things together, especially attending the Mass together, because that’s how we can fight the indifference that is slowly breaking up the Filipino Church and families. The activity challenged us to think of our personal promises to strengthen our family, and make a family covenant to always practice the Culture of Togetherness. The night closed with a worship and Kids’ Praise.

Day 2 began early for us. Since there were a lot of delegates and few shower rooms provided, the girls and I woke up at 4:30am to take a bath. Then breakfast was served at 7am, followed by praying the rosary at 7:30. The first activity for the day was the ROCK Facilitators Assembly, discussing with our YFCs the importance of time management and proper prioritizing. Then it was followed by Morning Kids’ Praise and then, Session 2. It was given by Fr. Tim and the Florencio family. It was about the power of the Eucharist. Fr. Tim talked about 4 powerful things that happen when we attend Mass: (1) it unites us with Jesus, (2) it separates us from sin and our inclination to sin, (3) it brings us closer as brothers and sisters, and (4) it makes us more thankful and faithful. It rightfully concluded with the celebration of the Holy Mass.

The afternoon activities centered on workshops. Our kids attended theirs, while the Parents had a parenting seminar. Of course, it was about Mental Health. Hmmmm medyo hindi satisfying ang pagkakadeliver ni Speaker. Mental Health is a beautiful but complex topic, and I think it must be delivered in a positive and creative way. Anyway, there was a firehose bath after all the workshops, but our Chapter opted not to come. We stayed in the room until dinner time. Then we came back to the Session Hall to watch the Praise Parade. It was heartwarming to see a Father and son tandem to lead the delegates into worship. The day closed in by 9pm.

We began Day 3 at 4:30am again. We still had our breakfast by 7am, but we sneaked into a mini-photoshoot before attending the Mass at 8am. Session 3 was afterwards, challenging us to become Light to the World by becoming modern day Saints. We had an activity of choosing our Family Saint, and we chose St. Peter because just like him, we are close to Jesus but sometimes we fail and deny Him, but are still saved by God’s grace. Concluding the session, there were 4 family sharers who talked about the KFC values which we can all imitate and practice in order to become Saints- Love for God, Love for Family, Love for the Poor, and Love for Life. We then proceeded to the final worship and Kids’ Praise, wrapping up the Conference. We felt blessed because we were also had the chance to pray over one another as a family.

The conference ended with a lunch, and our North b sector took a side trip to a beach resort, thanks to the generosity of our CFC leaders. We left Zambales by 5pm and arrived safely in QC by 11pm.

The North luzon Family Conference 2019 is one of the weekends I will always treasure. I was able to serve our children in the community as well as learn more with the husband on how to become better Couple Coordinators. I realized so many things, and I am truly grateful to God for giving us this service. Though I missed Ella because we left her with Loloy and Lolay, we will definitely bring her to the next FamCon at La Union. Right now, we’re off to applying what we learned and becoming Light to the World!