Monday, January 16, 2017

BTMS Portal Team Building

Miguel Ramirez, our technical expert from Guatemala, is interested in Philippine beaches. We promised to give him one on his next visit.

As promised by my BTMS Portal Team, Alma,  Andrew, Wendy and myself,  we booked a trip to Boracay Island upon confirmation of his next arrival to the Philippines.

To celebrate our minor success with project website,  now that the BTMS Portal is ready for public viewing, that Friday afternoon of January 14, Miguel,  Alma,  Wendy,  and myself convened at NAIA Terminal 4. Andrew regretted.

Although we experienced delay in our flight departure, we still looked forward to our fun days in one of the best islands in the world - Boracay.  We reached the white sanded paradise via Kalibo Airport around midnight.

We stayed at a budget hostel-resort for 3 nights and ate at food places where credit card is not acceptable but pure cash. So Miguel still  has to withdraw from ATM first, and so Alma took care of his share as his advance.

We wasted no time, but experienced immediately the first night in the island and slept very late.

Despite the lack of sleep,  we found ourselves that following morning queuing up for the island adventures. We agreed to do together the banana boat ride but Wendy set out when we did the helmet diving.

It was a different way of enjoying Boracay. For the few times I was in the island I only availed of island hopping,  purely swimming on the beach,  walking to the Grotto and back. There was once when I joined a beach fun run.

That following night we dined at a beachside restaurant that cook fresh seafood, served with entertainment - a firedancing showdown, and acoustic music in between. When the time to bill out came,  we were informed that the dining place accepts credit card payments.  Miguel decided to pay using his card and so went alone back to the hostel to get the card he left. We waited for him for more or less 30 minutes then saw him arrived so defeated.  He lost his way and haven't located our room accommodation.

Our second and final day in the island was spent fully in the long queue for the parasailing. We flew by twos,  Alma and Miguel,  Wendy and myself.  Alma and Miguel went ahead of us,  flying overhead for 15 minutes.  Upon their descent, Alma was found so pale,  sick and so tongue-tied. When it was our turn to sail above,  dangling and swaying, blown every now and then by the wild wind,  I realized why Alma came down in such condition.

We realized in the end that we wasted too much time in the queue to parasail; we lost the whole morning actually. It was already lunch time when we landed back to the island and we have to leave right away to catch our flight in Kalibo at 3pm. We hurriedly packed our things and checked out,  but then waited for Miguel who later we found was lost again on his way back to the resort.

We commuted through the airport via tricycle from resort to island port,  boat to Panay mainland,  van from Caticlan to Kalibo. To insure our seats,  we checked in through the web. We then claimed our boarding passes upon arrival.

Thinking we would again suffer delay in AirAsia flight back to Manila the way we were on our way here,  we decided to have a bite after skipping lunch. We looked around and found a Japanese restaurant across the terminal.  After few spoons of ramen, I volunteered to just take out my share and go back to the terminal to watch out for the boarding time.  Funny enough,  the boarding was raised when I arrived there,  so I called them over the phone.

I still didn't see them coming when I climbed up the ladder to the plane. As per their recount of the event,  they were paged for final boarding.

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.