Sunday, January 8, 2017

1st Birthday After 40 Years

Dream Come True: A Kiddie Party with Hello Kitty Theme

I was born so deprived of good life. As recounted by Mama Dulcing, my father was jobless when I was growing up. Both my parents would have to farm rootcrops and even the oldest taro root they have to sell in order to buy milk for me.

Every turn of years, I also turn a year older. I always know my birthday every 9th of January. But most often than not it passed without jubilation. Seldom did I surprise my family realizing that it's my birthday. And in order not to embarrass me, my mother would then buy some bread and soda to celebrate my natal day.

Recognizing our inability to blow a party every January 9, I swore to myself that when I am able and can afford I would have to sponsor a birthday bash. So when I turned 22, and was already earning as a college instructor, I held a party at our parents house. My last birthday there before I transferred to Manila was celebrated with roasted pig and seafoods. That was my last year as the Municipal Accountant of my hometown, San Francisco (Anao-aon).

While earning a reasonable amount of professional fee as a consultant, I normally celebrated my birthday here in Manila with plenty of friends. One year I cooked, another year we ate out; one year it lasted for a day, another year a week.

Then came two most compelling reason to celebrate my natal day: one, just found out that my birthdate falls on the Feast Day of the Black Nazarene, and two, my younger sister En married on January 8, 2010. Every year since then is triple celebration.

Now that I turned 41, and taking on the idea that "Life Begins at 40", I decided to rewrite my history of celebrating my first birthday. A kiddie party therefore to mark my First Birthday after 40. My sister arranged the venue and food accommodation. My first choice was McDo but no store was available on the 8th of January 2017 at my chosen time. So we finalized the contract with Jollibee Pearl Drive.

Such a birthday special to be guested by my BFF from Surigao, Dupong, who thank God had successfully recovered from illness, and my great partner-for-life Erick

Of course my immediate family was there, Mama Dulcing and our baby girl, WanWan, who initially feared the Jollibee mascot when it came out

My very special guests and close friends and always my travel sponsors, Sam (Jun) and Ruth Go tugging along my whole extended Parañaque family

The Rivas fanily, where Loloy and Arlene also celebrated their wedding anniversary, so with Jun and En that very day

Ruth, En and Mama D wearing all smiles

Photo opportunity with the kids, the reason for holding the kiddie party

And there were fun games for big boys and big girls

The youngest among my guests, my god-daughter, Baby Shiloh and Lola Salud and the Parañaque group

My small family (beside me from left to right) En, Mama D, Jun and WanWan

Dupong, Erick and myself

Another surprise from Afable Family, my god-son Niño, Tonch and Ruby who chased the party time straight from their Antipolo Family Trip

Photo opportunity with Jollibee

And my moments with Jollibee to top it all!

A picture of a huge crowd to wrap the party up

Monday, January 2, 2017


It’s a “wish granted!” for our family when the Tacloban children agreed to spend Christmas holidays with us here in Manila. En and I thought about bringing our nephews and nieces together this Christmas in the metro and celebrate Christmas and New Year with us, with their Lola most importantly. En floated the idea to our elder brother, Bobby, the kids’ father, who also agreed to pay for their plane fare. 

The four of them, Keith, Ayssa, Kim and Paula, flew in from Tacloban on 22 December. They joined our baby WanWan and instantly formed a flock. Kuya Entoy, the eldest of them all, the only son of our eldest brother, Danny, could not make it this time because he had plenty of stuff to attend to, now that he’s a practicing lawyer and got a son of his own. So he stayed in Mindanao with his mother and his little son. 

Initially, the tow little ones, Kim aged 12 and Paula aged 7 declined my invitation because they fear flying. I told them that in such case they would miss the Disney on Ice Christmas Show. By mere mention of Disney, the two changed their minds and finally agreed to join Kuya Keith and Ate Ayssa. 

Without much ado, I bought their plane tickets in advance which their father promised to reimburse in installments. It cost him a total to-and-fro fare of P21,000. Then we identified the activities for the kids and come up with the final itinerary, as follows: 
Dec 22 – Fetch them at NAIA 
Dec 23 – Mall tour and buy groceries for the Christmas Eve preparations 
Dec 24 – Swimming pool party at Los Arcos in Tungko, City of San Jose del Monte
Dec 25 – Christmas visit to Go’s Family at Jackielouville in Sucat, Paranaque
Dec 26 – Disney on Ice at SM MOA Arena
Dec 27 – Manila Oceanpark in Manila Bay
Dec 28 – Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna
Dec 29 – Mind Museum in BGC, which they missed because they arrive late in the afternoon when the museum is closing
Dec 30 – Tutu’s 7th Birthday at my cousin’s residence in Grand Strikeville 4, Bacoor, Cavite 
Dec 31 – Kidzania in BGC 
Jan 1 – Swimming pool party at Los Arcos in Tungko, City of San Jose del Monte (the repeat) 
Jan 2 – Send them off at NAIA 

WanWan really enjoyed the company of her cousins, especially Paula. Now that she appreciated the fun of having fellow kids around, she find it hard to send them off. Indeed, she cried and kept saying they should not go home to Tacloban. 

This has been the most extravagant Christmas I ever had. I spent lots for the entrance fees or tickets, fuel, gifts, and foods during every trip. Although, En and Jun contributed in groceries and food purchases. Roughly, I shelled out this much:
Disney on Ice - P11,000
Mind Museum - 4,000
Christmas Gifts - 5,000
Manila Oceanpark - 5,000
Enchanted Kingdom - 5,500
Swimming Pool (2x) - 5,000
Kidzania - 8,000
Foods and Snacks - 15,000
Fuel - 7,000
Total = P65,500

I had to juggle my time with work and holiday activities for kids. In between days and time, I finalized draft contents for the website our office was working on, including the revision of the test cases and trai ning guides which was needed to be ready by Dec 29. I missed joining them for 2 days, the Oceanpark and supposed Mind Museum. 

When I interviewed the kids when having very early breakfast with them at NAIA before their departure, they told me that they really enjoyed their Christmas vacation with us. That’s enough compensation for me, it justified my one-month extravagance.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May Bakasyon, May Big Celebration

As scheduled, our family readied for the summer vacation.

En and I followed Mama Dulcing, Jun my brother-in-law, and Baby WanWan on May 14. They went on May 8 ahead of us for Mama to vote the May 9 National Election and for Jun to celebrate their home-barangay fiesta with his family. Following the same route, we flew to Butuan airport and was picked up by our nephew Entoy, accompanied by Jun and WanWan. We drove to straight to Surigao  finalized all preparations with Ate Emily for May 15 celebrations, from spices to desserts, before proceeding home to Anao-aon Surigao del Norte.

May 15 marked a day of many celebrations, plenty to be grateful for. Our whole family commemorated the First Death Anniversary of Papa Tantong. His younger sister, Auntie Tina and Velarde family came to join us. That day also was a Thanksgiving Blowout of Atty. Entoy, our oldest nephew from our oldest brother Daniel and Ate Mely who passed the Bar Exam held in November 2015 which results had just been released in April 2016. It was also the Feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers like Papa Tantong. And on that day, our Auntie Sidra, our father's youngest sister, celebrated her 56th birthday.

All my friends I invited came. It was very memorable to accept back to our fold one of my long lost friend, Victor Ortiz whom I cut communications with after some business issues. Refer to previous articles. That was also the very first day for a very long time that I joined with friends to go to Parang, Gigaquit that celebrated the fiesta during nighttime amidst heavy rains and thunderstorms in order to visit my ever dearest Madam Rebecca Febrero, our dean during my Accountancy years in St Paul University Surigao.

Our family vacation lasted until May 20 and in between I attended more parties like the birthday of my friend and a MBA professor, Windrow Bugas on May 18 and my cousin Manang Neneng Candia's on May 19.


We also enjoyed going to the beach, like on May 16, we talked to the nearest Punong Beach to witness the marvelous sunset and on May 19, we spent the whole day sunbathing at Looc Pebble  Beach.

Other than visiting Papa Tantong's tomb, I also offered flowers and lit candles to the sisters, Tweet and Caca Lozada's tombstones. They were both my dear friends in Surigao, who both died of Lupus Erythematosus (?).

And on May 20, while Mama and En went to Butuan ahead of me to process their passports with DFA Butuan, I met with more lady-friends, Juris, Annabel and Manang Lolong (Liza and Nanan were absent but we three were together during the trip to Parang) and treated them to a coffee and pastries at Figura in Gaisano Surigao. I joined Mama and En at  Dotties Hotel in Butuan where we passed the night before flying back to Manila early the following morning.

Monday, April 11, 2016


To account for my week's facebook updates while in Taiwan, here we Go:

April 3 - My 2016 adventures started with Taiwan, in the cities of Taoyuan and Taipei, to accompany the Go Family, headed by my dearest classmate and friend, Ruth Arienza-Go. It was indeed a family affair staying at Manang Rhona's residence in Taoyuan City (Manang Rhona is Ruth older sister who married a Taiwanese), with Nanay Glori (Ruth's mother), Auntie Myrna as our cook (Aunt Myrna is Ruth's aunt-in-law), and the day tours were exclusive, chaperoned by Rose (Ruth's younger sister).

Landed safe and sound... and on schedule

Chasing the time to still catch some Cherry Blossoms

April 4 - Some English translations help... But the Citizen's inability or difficulty of speaking English definitely a tourist trapper. Thanks to Manang Rhona's husband and son for the company. Kuya leads, his son translates.. Awesome tandem! 

See the world in one place at Window on China Theme Park.



Roaming around with Auntie Myrna and Rose plus the Wild Water Plunge
April 5 - Another kiddie trip in a foggy noon, feeling some nip in the air outside, traversing the almost empty superhighways. Strange feeling... Indeed, we are somewhere away from home!

Wrong timing! The zoolandians are having siesta... at Taipei Zoo. 

Catch me I'm falling... at the ravine fronting the Wulai Falls right after the waterbiking at Bitan Bridge.  

Water pedaling around the river

Viewing the Wulai Falls from a distance

April 6 - Rocks are formed by the slapping of waves plus the movement of tides, just as fate triumphed over life's challenges, through good and bad times - At Yehliu Geological Park.

Having fun with Auntie Myrna, Manang Rhona and Rose with all the formed and deformed rocks

The higher you climb, the wider your perspectives become. See the world in such light... at Taipei Tower 101. 

A view from the 89th floor of Taipei 101 Tower

Chiang Kai-Shek Monument is One place that reminds of Taiwan plus some taste of cherry blossoms. 

Caught some cherry blossoms in the area

April 7 - At Tiger Mountain, Sharing nature with a friend can be a wonderfully relaxing and invigorating experience. When you get back to your daily routines, you may find yourself daydreaming about that lovely day you spent with your friend and making mental notes about where to go next! Reference: If I Really Wanted to Be a Great Friend, I would…

Help me read the sign...

April 8 - On to unplanned tour... Hope it pays the long distance at Xinwu District...And it was an expensive disappointment! We got lost and the driver couldn't locate the Green Tunnel.

Lost and Found: We were lost but then we found this view and the beautiful bridge

Blueberry waffle with ice cream: the rewarding dinner shared merrily by friendship, sponsored by Auntie Myrna.

April 9 - Another place and another time to unleash the child in each of us at Lavender Carnival, Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village.

A ride with an adorned train of flowers

A ride with a cable car on our way to Sun Moon Lake

Should we care about environment, preserving its natural beauty, harnessing its nature to boost fun and adventure, then everything else are green and gay. At Sun Moon Lake!


April 10 - An eat-all-you-can farewell dinner at Shian Yeou, a Shabu-shabu.

Had a very wanderful experience of Taiwan!
Room: Li's Residence - Special thanks to Manang Rhona for the place to stay for free!
Food: Li's Residence - A round of applause to Auntie Myrna for the delicious, hunger-quenching recipes!
Tours: A million miles of gratitude to Ruth Arienza and Sam Go Jr for the unlimited day tours!

UFO Drop

Gold Mine
Mayan Roller Coaster

Carribean Splash

April 11 - What you see in Taiwan is different and you can see it in me... That's the good thing about travel!