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

Family and Relationships · Personal

2019 | March and April are for saying goodbye

But I’m also saying “hello” to better things now.

One, I finally submitted my resignation from my post as BSCS Guidance Counselor. But I wasn’t leaving the school not in a high note. I opened the last month of the last school year I’ll ever have with BSCS by making history as I organized the first-ever Acoustic and Open Mic Night as a way to promote our Senior High School. With the help of our Student Council and my two reliable interns, we’ve proven hard work could really pay off. The event, comprising of 10 performances, was a blast both for our students and outsiders. It was actually a lot of work, stressing me real out because it wasn’t Guidance-related stuff and there were so many things (Guidance-related stuff) I needed to accomplish. The last month I spent with my second home for the last five years was stressful and hard work, but still worth it.

BSCS Acoustic Night (03.01.19)

I was also chosen to host this year’s Recognition Rites. Sobrang sinulit nila ang trabaho ko.

The Librarian and the Guidance Counselor. First time for NTP to host a major activity. (04.03.19)
Non-Teaching Staff. I’ll miss you ❤

I must have bid farewall to BSCS, but as Aljhon, put it, I “never quit my job, I just transferred work places”.

Last day of work at BSCS (04.06.19)

March and April also opened up more opportunities for me to give talks, opportunities that I will always consider priceless. I am 100% introvert, but given those opportunities, I’m all out in serving the Lord through being His voice.

Kristong Hari Lenten Recollection. I was invited to share about the Year of the Youth theme “Beloved. Gifted. Empowered” (04.11.19)
CFC CLP Talk #6 Loving thy Neighbors

Passionate about service, Aljhon and I have also said goodbye to being “just a member” in CFC and prepared ourselves to become a Household Leader as we served as Facilitators of the Young Couples group in our present CLP. It was a tough decision for us at first, because we are already serving Kids for Christ, but then God made us for bigger things, and He wanted to use us for more, so why worry?

Cluster NB2 Kids for Christ Couple Coordinators
CFC CLP Young Couples Group

On a more personal level, I welcomed summer and spent April resting at home and taking care of Ella. I really pushed to end my employment on April 5 so that I could be a bum the whole summer! Hahah. We went places, watched movies (Endgame is ❤) and re-watched GOT for the new and final season.

Staycation @ Azure with BSCS friends
Family summer outing at San Jose del Monte, Bulacan

I was working non stop since 2011, and I was really looking forward to spend this time for myself and as a full time Mom and wife. And it was the best. I got to be with Ella the whole day, learning more about what she wants and who she is as a little person. I discovered how fast she could learn things, and that even if she looks physically a lot like her father, in the inside she is my mini-me. She is smart, active, thoughtful, kind, and not demanding. She is also stubborn and tough. I am so proud of just being her Mom. One of the best things in my life right now is seeing her open her eyes in the morning and smiling because I am smiling right at her.

I said goodbye to many things in March and April, but there’s a lot more to welcome to in my life now. And I couldn’t be more grateful. Often, it really isn’t easy changing things, but sometimes that’s all that we need to see how we are all meant for bigger, more beautiful things.

Family and Relationships · Places

Staycation at Haeinsa Condotel

The #SingForever family held our Christmas/Yearend/NewYear party by having a staycation at Haeinsa Condotel last January 12-13. My friend booked it thru Zen Rooms, and for a 3k+ expense for one night, I could say, we just got the most out of what we paid for.

Haeinsa Condotel- 3 ⭐⭐⭐

Booking: I think we didn’t have a hard time contacting the hotel. My friend was the one who managed all the booking and contacting, and he had actually given us a confirmation email quickly after our agreement of the date.

Customer Service: The condotel’s reception was bland. When we entered the lobby, the receptionist just simply looked at us and continued what she was doing in her computer. I calmly told her my friend’s name, and she answered me rather unenthusiastically.

Cleanliness: Our group’s a total of 9 pax, so we got 2 Family Rooms as accommodation. The room was spacious enough (though, it was narrow and elongated, not wide) for 2 single beds, 1 double bed, a square dining table with 3 chairs, a refrigerator, and bathroom (with thermostat to control water temp). The room and bathroom were clean when we arrived, but I think a bigger trash can is needed (kasi diba Family Room, so maramihang tao kaya sana mas malaki ang trash can).

Family Quadruple Room good for 4-6 persons

Amenity: Given its location, I think Haeinsa is primarily a traveller’s inn, for it offers just a comfortable place to sleep in- nothing more, nothing less. There’s nothing much you can do, but I must say that their internet connection was fast and reliable.

Convenience: It isn’t hard to go to Haeinsa Condotel. It is very near (walking distance) to East Avenue and EDSA. There are also a lot of stores, including fast food chain, outside the building, so it wouldn’t be difficult to grab some food if their restaurant doesn’t appeal to you.

All in all, Haeinsa Condotel is good enough for a comfortable place to sleep in. Just plan to bring in games or activities that you actually enjoy (and you are not the bunch who are into swimming) and your staycation will be affordable, okay and fun.

Family and Relationships · Motherhood

My first Mother’s Day

Mas masaya pala magcelebrate ng Mother’s Day pag ikaw mismo ang mommy. Kumbaga ikaw ang bida. Hahah! My first Mother’s day was filled with food, flowers, sweet messages, and of course, a whole lot more of hugs and kisses. Parang birthday ko lang ulit! Hahah ^_^

I started the day by serving in the 6am mass at SPP. Then we already got ready to go to SM Megamall. Aljhon had to go to Kalayaan early because it was also their Fiesta Mass, so I had to do all the preparation by myself. Feel na feel ko lang nun ang hirap ng pagiging Nanay. Hahaha :p

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Twinning with baby Ella at St. Peter Parish. Thank you Lord for making me a Mom 😀

We planned on having lunch at Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant. We arrived at 11am but still we are 4th in line. That had been my 2nd time with Mesa, and I observed that smaller groups are faster to be seated than bigger groups (you are ordered in line but the order by which you’ll be seated is according to how many you are in a table). Also, the SM North branch is better in terms of interior design and lighting, though I could say that the servers are friendlier (they smile more!) in Megamall.

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Kami naman ngayon 😀 This lunch is brought to you by the magigiting na empleyado ng pamilya. Heheh. Love you Mama and Papa! ❤
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For a family of 71/2 (Ella included haha), this feast was very affordable for a less than 4k budget. Very recommended: Crispy Pata and 2-way Laing 😀

After dining, we strolled around the mall and bought shoes for Mama and Papa, as well as shirts from Spoofs (wala sa budget kaya lagot). Before heading home, Mama treated us sundaes and blizzards. ^_^

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Ice cream!!!!
Thank you ate Joan for the gift 👕💋

This is my first Mother’s day and my only regret that day was Aljhon was not around to celebrate with me. I was actually preparing myself not to expect anything from him, because I know he doesn’t recognize special occasions. But honestly, it did make me sad. Kasi nga first mother’s day ko diba 😦 But anyway, he’s him, and urging him to do something he doesn’t want will just put us both in a difficult situation. Wag na lang pilitin. Hahah.

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After all the pagod of his busy day, Daddy Aljhon gave me this self-arranged flowers. Kahit galing ito sa fiesta, thanks Daddy :*

I realize that Mother’s Day is also about the little one (it’s all about the children nowadays, isn’t it?). I thank God for giving me Ella because she is the one who makes me a mother. Because of her, I learned that I’m capable of a love so deep that even I was not aware of before. I changed- physically, mentally, emotional, socially. My priorities shifted- from being self-centered to having Ella as the center of my and Aljhon’s universe. For her, I was able to know how it felt to have genuine fear for the first time (when she had dehydration fever at 4 days old, or when I once woke up without her by my side), but as well as how strong I can be especially in the face of sleeplessness, power pumping sessions, and/or immunization (seeing Ella cry because of the injection would always break my heart). I would never know the real strength I have in me since I have to go back to work, all the while patiently and painstakingly building my breastmilk stash, and then take care, spend time, and play with Ella after getting home. I would never know how tough and resilient I am until the fatigue of being a working Mom and wife, weariness of life in general, and a little bit of PPD on the side, kick in but here I am- still alive, feeling grateful even, right now. I would never how great love can truly move and change me, until I have a little baby in my arms, and I swore to God I would live the rest of my days protecting her and making her happy. God have given me the best gifts of life, family, service, work- but what I would always be proud of would be being a Mother.

Family and Relationships · Reviews

Ten things I’m grateful for at #enjoyPH: Monasterio de Tarlac

  1. Ate Joan’s 29th birthday celebration.
    Tinky-winky!

     

    Wow! Just one more year, and there’s already a 30-ish in the siblings. Hahah! This family trip is memorable for we know that we may not get to see Ate Joan everyday next year. She and Ephraim are already preparing to get married, and the plan is they will reside in Cavite. 😦 While this is a bitter-sweet milestone in the fam, we couldn’t say no because we know that that will make our Ate Joan happy. I am thankful that we  made her special day memorable and happy, while being together.

  2. The beautiful, sunny weather. Monasterio de Tarlac is a beautiful recluse hidden atop one of the mountains of Tarlac. Having a pilgrimage here can be enjoyed most if you come during the dry (but cool) months. We’re grateful for our decision to go on an early hour of an October Saturday because it allowed us to enjoy the area with less people (to photobomb in our pics, hahah), no hassle from a hot and humid afternoon (that can lead to cranky, irritated little baby, plus sunburned skin), and just cool and calming ambience (even better than the hustle-bustle of Baguio).
  3. Uninterrupted, safe travel. Make sure you have your own transportation if you wish to come to the Monasterio. I am not sure if there’s public transpo that can get you to and from the place, but based from what I experienced on the long, winding, and uphill road, it would be very difficult to commute, if you even find any. Our family doesn’t have our own car, but we’re fortunate and grateful to come across Island Discovery Tours and Travel Services, where you can rent a van for a very affordable price. As a second-time customer, we can really vouch on their hassle-free ride and kind drivers.
  4. Instagram-worthy landscape. 
    In this era of selfies and photographs, one’s travel destination wouldn’t be #travelgoals if it isn’t visually appealing. While I believe that Monasterio de Tarlac doesn’t need tourists, but pilgrims, their landscaping definitely isn’t eyesore, either; and for that, my IG feed feels thankful. Well, you could never go wrong with nature, anyway. The whole -hectare of land is situated atop the mountain, so the view is expectedly breathtaking. There’s also a 30-feet statue of Jesus and smaller monument of Mama Mary that are surely mandatory IG photo.
  5. Opportunity to pray and rest.
    What really pushed me to push through with this lakad is the opportunity to attend a mass in their Church and touch the relic of Jesus’ cross. Yes, as in the real cross carried by Jesus to his death and Crucifixion. I really don’t admit my being a devout Catholic (especially now that I lie low in our choir service), but I take pride in my faith and religious upbringing. I am also a woman of tradition, and I am fond of seeing, touching, and experiencing different relics as well as observing religious customs. Consequently, attending the mass in the Monasterio urged me to revisit my own conscience. The mass celebrant repeatedly told us that we arrived there for a reason, and that wherever we are in our life journey, we never are alone. I just felt kilig upon realizing God’s sweet message for me: that He is still my Father, whatever the circumstance. He never leaves nor forsakes me all the step of the way.
  6. Opportunity to meet new people while renewing the bond we have with those we’re always with. 
    One thing I always look forward to family trips is the bonding we’ll share not just with the family, but as well as to new friendships that could be formed in the place we’ll visit. I am grateful because we (or specifically, Mama) became friends with some people at the Monasterio. While I am not really the extraverted one who befriends locals, I reaped the benefit of the..
  7. Hearty breakfast overlooking Tarlac plains that satisfy both the soul & heart. 
    COMPLETE ^_^

    The friend of my Mom I was referring to in the previous point told us of a beautiful place where we could eat our breakfast (bangus sisig binalot whole-heartedly prepared by Mama). This is actually my favorite part of our trip to Monasterio, because that was when I truly felt one with the fam. Also, the view was beyond beautiful. All of us were thankful for that one hour of pure laughter, catching up, and social media-freedom (no one was using the phone when we’re eating!).

  8. The time to be away from the hubby and realize that I miss him terribly. Well, aside from the fact that I was forced had to attend to Ella’s wet diapers, I realized that I am no longer comfortable leaving Aljhon from important and out-of-town trips like this. I cannot even remember the last time I left Manila without him! (I am no travel junkie, and I wasn’t able to join company/church summer outings for 2 years in a row due to my wedding and pregnancy) We’ve been together for 6 years now, and I just realize how he became not just my partner, but an arm extension, an indispensable part of me. Honestly, becoming a parent took a toll on our relationship lately. I didn’t even flinch upon learning that he can’t come with us because of his photography classes, much more, offered not to join this family trip to stay with him. But that day without my husband, I know that my joy was not complete. I kept on thinking about how he was, what he was doing, or what he had for lunch (okay, fine, I also regretted that he, his dslr, and his photography skills were awol). I thank God for He made me realize how important Aljhon is, and that no beautiful place or experience can ever be as wonderful having my husband by my side.
  9. Being close to nature, thus, becoming closer to God. Just to reiterate, you can never go wrong with nature. Or at least in my opinion. Having seen too many greens and smelled the distinct probinsya air, even just for a day, made me feel relaxed and recharged to face the second half of the school year. I also thought of how blessed we are for having an amazingly creative God. Nothing can really equal God’s idea of mountains, plains, trees, etc. Everything is in proper order, has its own organization and system. And whenever I think about this, I feel like a small speck of dust in a vast, infinite universe. But this small speck of dust is God’s princess, His beloved; and for this, I am eternally grateful.
  10. For simply being with the family. 
    Paulit-ulit man, I would like to express how grateful I am for this time to be with my family. Yes, we all may be residing under one roof, but often, life throws in so many commitments, errands, and to-dos, that we forget to even check on our family members and ask how are they doing. I just realized, especially now that I have my own family unit, that we must never forget our roots, that truly, time is the most precious thing we can spend on the people that are dear to us. And time cannot be chased. We don’t wait on time, either. We make time, instead.

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Monasterio de Tarlac is situated at Mount Resurrection, Eco Park in the barangay of Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac. Mass open to the public is at 10:30am every Mondays to Wednesdays, Fridays to Saturdays. You can go there as early as 6am, but staying beyond 5pm is not really advisable for the road has sharp curves that are dangerous without daylight (I actually didn’t see any road lights). There’s no entrance fee for each visitor, but they charged P50 per vehicle upon entering the compound. Bring your own baon, and like us, eat at the pavilion situated at the back of the restroom. Turn off your wifi. Enjoy! ^_^

Family and Relationships

Family Day: Bowling!

Last Saturday, #TheAgustins spent the rainy afternoon in a bowling alley, to also celebrate Jona’s 22nd birthday. ^_^

We were able to play for two hours in Playdium Bowling Center at Araneta Ave., by purchasing Metrodeal’s discounted vouchers.

This activity is highly-recommended for the whole fam. I and Aljhon were the only ones who already played bowling before, but my family enjoyed it altogether. Lalo na si Papa! 😊👍

Sad nga lang dahil wala si Owa, but meron pa naman madaming next time. Happy Birthday Jona! WE LOVE YOU! 🎂❤👍😊