Sep 21, 2011

No Trips So Far

Unlike last year when we visited several foreign destinations, 2011 proved to be a different one for me in terms of travel. This year, Jerry had business trips to Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and (a forthcoming one for) USA, while I stayed put. Save for our short vacation spent locally in another city, I was mostly a homebody.

It was by choice that we had to forego spending for trips. We had a bigger expense to prepare for... worth more than touring the world as a family, if you ask me. Hehe. Like I've mentioned in a previous post, we just moved in to our new home. And nothing beats having a nice cozy place to come home to... at least for me... That's where part of our savings went.

Europe, USA, or neighboring Asian countries could wait... Next year perhaps?

Aug 6, 2011

Drive to SRP

We had a short window to plan for a family vacation last summer. Matt, the eldest, only had mid-April up to May for school break while Kyle, the middle son, was in Xiamen from March up to May. That left us with barely a week to be complete as a family and enjoy each other's company before the start of school. With a few days before Matt flies back to Manila, we made sure to spend the limited time being together even if it meant simply sharing home-cooked meals or just driving around town.

One such place we drove to was the SRP (South Road Properties) in Cebu. Right now, it looks empty and massive, but it gives you an unobstructed view of the sea on one side and the mountains on the other side. Jerry once told me that Kawit Point used to be a small island but is now connected to mainland Cebu because of the SRP. Click here for "then and now" images. Hmm... I have mixed feelings about that. Anyway... SRP will soon be the site of the new SM, UP campus, Bigfoot, Citta di Mare residential area, to name a few.

We found a place to park and shoot some pictures. It was a clear and breezy day, just perfect for hamming it up with the cam.

coastal road

19 years post-nup :)
there is a place to have post-nup pics :) hehe...

... to sit and to enjoy the view

View at SRP
... or to watch boats sail by

My boys
... or to talk

My boys
... or in my boys' case, to just be crazy!

My boys
... or to get serious for a bit

The family
And here's a pic of the whole gang, 4/5 of which will be missing Matt until his next Cebu trip.

Aug 5, 2011

Lemon Grass or Lemongrass?

Googling it confuses me more as I see it written both ways. Anyway, the restaurant's name is Lemon Grass and it's where we were invited for dinner to celebrate our good friends Forden and Dahlia's birthdays last May (catch up entry #2 after almost 3 months!). I used to think their serving size was on the small side but after that night, I had a change of heart. The Vietnamese-Asian fusion dinner we had was actually filling and delicious.

I should give this resto another go soon. :)

Lemon Grass Dinner

Cindy in Cebu

It took a looong time for me to post this and sadly, I have no excuse except for the "procrastination" bug that hit me. I haven't been actively blogging as of late. And save for the birthday greetings to family and friends to let them know they are in my thoughts on their special day, I haven't been posting as much status updates on my Twitter, FB or Google+ (yes I had the nerve to create yet another one) accounts. Social media burnout? I hope not. :)

After going through hundreds of entries from the very first time I started blogging in Oct. 2002 (that long ago!), I felt energized to up and start again. So here goes catch up entry #1.

Sometime in May, Cindy and her family spent a few days in Cebu. With my Jake and her kids in tow, we spent an afternoon chatting about stuff that covered, well, everything! We talked about family/kids, school, work, R&R, plans, health and errr... gossip. Hehehe. We practically lost track of time. And like always, stories would outlast our tall cups of coffee.

Cindy went to school with me (since Grade 5) at De La Salle Zobel. Although we saw each other in Manila last December 2010 and April 2011, this was one of the few times we talked one on one. Bottom line is, I'm glad all is going great with her.

Nothing beats sharing a hearty laugh and having a grand time with good company. If only her kids weren't excited to go for an afternoon swim at Radisson Blu, and if my Jake didn't run out of PSP power, Cindy and I would have gone chatting on and on and on like energizer bunnies. :P

Cindy in Cebu (May 2011)
Cindy and her kids with me and Jake

Jun 23, 2011

First Week

We have moved a few times in the past. This was our 3rd. And each time, we are excited and hopeful that the new place would be better than the last. To those (few blog readers) not in the know, we lived with my mother-in-law for 7.5 years, then bought a condo and stayed there for 7.5 years. We sold the latter for a decent extra and bought a townhouse. Four years and one month later, we moved to this current one, a (condo-sized? :D) house... For how long we'll stay is another story, but we plan to stay put for as long as the space permits. :D

Barely 1 week from the time we moved in, I think I have rearranged the furniture quite a bit I hope I didn't cause any permanent damage to the flooring. :) So far, this is how part of the ground floor looks like...

standing from the main entrance, the living area is on the left, tv room on the right, dining area by the yellow wall, and partly hidden on the right is the kitchen

More pics to follow as soon as I'm done emptying the other boxes. :)

Jun 17, 2011

Crazy Happy Week

We have just moved in to a new address. The house took over a year in the making. And as everyone is familiar with how much work that entails: prior, during and after the move itself, imagine my current state of mind. I still have a lot of sorting to do. Errr where do I even start? And what am I doing tapping this post when my boxes and clothes are a messy mound sitting next to me? Well, I call this a short break... hehe... just a quick "me" time to check out what's new online.

First off, I think I found a really good app to use for my Excel spreadsheet on my iPad. So far so good. Best part is it doesn't cost as much as the other similar apps with limited capabilities. I'm happily porting my finance and budget spreadsheets now and loving it. I will soon find out if its any good handling form 4868 tax extension or if it will meld with popular tax softwares.

For now, I'm going back to sorting my mess, unless I don't mind sleeping on them literally for another night. More posts and pics of the new nest to follow asap.

Jun 1, 2011

Goodbye Winter!

Glory to God for Spring is Here
Toronto, Canada

"Glory To God In The Highest"

Glory to God in the highest, Glory to God in the highest, And peace to His people on earth Lord God, Heavenly King, Almighty God and Father We worship You We give You thanks We praise You for Your glory
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father Lord God, Lamb of God You take away the sins of the world Lord, have mercy on us You are seated at the right hand of the Father Receive our prayer
For You alone are the Holy One For You alone are the Lord For You alone are the Most High Jesus Christ With the Holy Spirit In the glory of God the Father

Gabby is now officially 3 ft tall! His full winter has allowed him to grow bigger but at the same time become more lovable in his mischievous ways. Since September, he bade goodbye to his 2 sets of lolos and lolas who left for the Philippines before the onset of the cold-er season.

Although Winter wasn't harsh this year, we still had enough snow to be able to sled. We had 4 or 5 major snow storms, the last one last Wednesday but the snow banks never reached more than Gabby's height. :) Now we're ready for Spring!

Expect more outdoor pics as we step out of our cabin fever and enjoy the sun!

Indeed Glory to God!

by Junnie

Playtime is Almost Over

It's the first of June and we're now on the brink of summer vacation, right before school starts. And I just heard the collective groans of my sons, who are now glued to the digibox watching CSI, when they heard me say that. Heh, kids...

We have a long list of activities on the homefront lined up for the succeeding days and that doesn't even include school. A big move is happening and we may appear unflustered by it all but the undercurrent is such that I couldn't even begin to describe. To cut the story short, my parents are moving from Manila to Cebu. Now it's my turn to groan. Haha!

Just kidding on the "groan" part. This has been a long laid out plan we hatched since 2002 when my father underwent a quadruple bypass. They were hesitant to move and be under our care up until last year when Pa had to undergo yet another heart procedure, angioplasty.

Soooo... after a lot of talks and wavering in between, they are finally coming. More on this as the event unfolds.

For now, my boys and I are off to our second "happy" place to enjoy whatever little time remains before another happy chaos.

This coffeshop in the mall is where we hie off for Jake to play with other kids from his school :) while I sit and enjoy a cup of mocha.

May 31, 2011

His Own Man

In less than 24 hours, eldest son is flying back to Manila for yet another trimester on his second year in the university. Although not as worrisome for me this time around compared with last year's episode of anxiety attack which lead me to palpitate and be subjected to 24-hours of holter monitoring, I'm now a bit more conditioned (I think... I hope...) and ready to be momentarily separated from him.

What makes me somewhat at ease is the thought that he has shown positive traits he wouldn't have easily learned if he were in Cebu conveniently enjoying the comforts of home and having nannies at his beck and call. Because Jerry and I bit the bullet and sent him off on his own, he has definitely become an independent young man who learned his responsibilities from experience, from the mundane task of keeping his shared condo and personal stuff clean and orderly to the more challenging task of managing his meager monthly allowance, plus grown up stuff he has to deal with on top of maintaining good grades.

Tomorrow, when I send him off, my thoughts won't dwell much on being worried that he'd be away (again), because I know (and I pray) he could take care of himself. Sure, I would miss him badly, but I would be more excited looking forward to his next homecoming.

Matthew, posing as if to say: "Who's hotter?" :)

May 27, 2011

A Visit Like No Other

We treated her to dinner for her birthday last December. And because she is not well enough to venture outside the confines of her bedroom, we marked this special day in May by a visit to her place. It's been a long time, it seems, since I saw her last.

Mommy sat quietly as Jerry and our sons told her stories about work, school, our recent vacation in Manila with my side of the family, and other family updates. We showed her pictures as well. Despite the limiting effects of her illness, she would laugh at the stories, occasionally ask questions or contribute to the conversation. I just sat by the edge of her bed and took the whole scene in and savored the moment... It's really been a long time since my last visit to her house. We stayed here during the first seven years of our marriage. This is where 2 of our 3 sons spent their toddler years. And for that, we will forever be indebted to her.

When it was time for us to leave, we greeted her again a happy mothers' day. Jerry and the kids went ahead of me. I bent to hug her and then kissed her cheek. This lady, I do love and respect. The very same who molded Jerry to the person that he is today. She has no mean bone and I have very high regard for her. And before I could turn to leave, she held me lightly and whispered in my ear: "Thank you so much for coming".

After visiting my MIL, we had dinner at Red Kimono to mark the occasion.

May 21, 2011

From the Same Mold

In a gathering of relatives, it is common to hear greetings accompanied by: "Ang taba / payat mo ngayon!" ("You look fat / thin"). It is such a prevalent practice especially coming from the elder generation that I fear (but I hope not) it has become part of our Pinoy culture. Sometimes I would nudge my mother after she had remarked something like that. To which she would tell me later on, "I meant that as a compliment!". Probably... but to the recipient of such a comment, it might come off negatively.


Fortunately, I didn't hear any of that when we went to attend a wake for Jerry's maternal uncle. After the customary (re)introduction of our boys, the aunts would say "He is tall / big / handsome!" (said in Fookien which Jerry promptly translated for me). That certainly had a good ring to my ears. There was one comment though that stood out, not because it was negative, but because it was amusing.

Jerry's aunt, upon seeing 7yo Jake, squealed: "Hey look! Jake is like his Papa Jerry when he was that age!" Haha! That was cute. I guess she said it several times as she stared at my boy smilingly. Really? And I've always thought Jake had rounded eyes like mine! Hmmm...

Now it's like when I look at my son, I get a visual of how my hubby looked like back then. And I would tease Jake about it just to humor myself. As a response, he would wrinkle his nose and give me a naughty grin which is very...uhh... Jerry...


Jerry and Jake
Who's copying who?

Jerry and Jake
Son teaches Pa some tricks for Angry Birds. LOL

May 16, 2011

Why I Can't Be A Paparazzi

Paparazzi shot of the paparazzi wannabe

When it comes to photography, it's hit-or-miss for me with the point-and-shoot camera and even more so with the dslr. However, no matter what the outcome is, I still am fond of taking photos especially if they're of travels, family, friends and occasions I want to preserve (digitally). Some enthusiasts I know have chosen their particular niche in photography: fashion, food, landscape, nature, celebrity, etc.... I have actually dabbled in some. And where there is amateurish or not so stellar pic after taking the shot, there is "post-processing" to the rescue. Somehow, I still end up with decent looking photos (for my taste) worthy of a space in my Flickr account and in my blog.

One day at Maxim's while enjoying a tall glass of iced mocha at Cafe Au Lait, I chanced upon a celebrity a few meters away from where I was sitting with my family. My immediate reaction was to reach for my point-and-shoot camera, check the settings and take a shot. I had about a few seconds to do just that, and without hesitation, I aimed at her. Click, click, click.

The pics I took were as good as shooting blanks except for one. At best, you could make out a human form in the pic. Sadly, no amount of post-processing could help you identify who this is... Who would even believe I saw Lea Salonga with her daughter that day?

Guess Who?

At Cafe Au Lait
At least I was able to capture the smiles of my fam at Cafe Au Lait. :)


With Matt
Here with Matt

May 11, 2011

Have You Tried Coupon or Voucher Hunting Lately?

It's not entirely a new thing. Wikipedia says "Coupons first saw widespread use in the United States in 1909". These days, there is a proliferation of companies that sell coupons or vouchers, that entitle the buyer to discounts. Examples are Ensogo, Deal Grocer, Metro Deal, Cash Cash Pinoy, Crazy Deals etc. (This is not a sponsored or paid post, btw).

It's the new marketing medium now as these vouchers market stuff that you normally would patronize. Good for people (like me) who love eating out when schedules or funds permit. Like fish to water, I naturally signed up for these and now get daily email notification about discounted stuff.

I watch out for discounts from restaurants, resorts, and hotels. However, before I buy, I do a bit of research to see if the discounts are the real deal. Some establishments would package an offer like it's value for money when in fact, it's their regular price.

During our recent stay in Manila, we were able to use pre-purchased vouchers from 2 providers: Deal Grocer vouchers which entitled us to 50% discount for a 4-course dinner for 2 at Ilustrado (used 2 for our party of 6), and Ensogo vouchers for Italian lunch at Il Ponticello and Chinese dinner at Henry's Place on Burgos Circle. Both restos gave us to 50% discount as well. Not bad for a peso-pinching Mom like me. It's like happy-hour at Starbucks where they give you 50% off from 12-2pm for a week (which I missed because I preferred to have my frap for free using HSBC's promo... but I digress).

And I just read that Ensogo has introduced Cebu deals just recently. I hope the other companies would soon follow. The more (discounts) the merrier.

henrys place
Henry's Place by Good Earth

il ponticello
Il Ponticello

*Thumbs-up for the food and service at Henry's Place and Il Ponticello.


If there's anything that I feel was the highlight of our Manila Ocean Park visit, it was the Aquatica musical fountain show. It was a 25-30 minute spectacular mix of light, water and music/sound, making for an awesome show for the whole family. It costs P250 (weekdays) or 300 (weekends, holidays) per ticket.

At the time of our visit, they had a P99/ticket promo if you signed up at their website - a huge discount if you ask me. It would have cost us quite a sum had it not been for the promo that we were fortunate to take advantage of. Because of that, even the extended family with nephew, niece and nannies were with us to watch. LOL.

For those who have seen Sentosa's Songs of the Sea, Aquatica is very much like it for a fraction of the cost (even without the promo tickets). Or it's like a more animated version of the complimentary Bellagio musical fountain show, but you would have to be in Las Vegas for this. And that's another story.



May 10, 2011

Sea Lion Show

Manila Ocean Park:  Sea Lion Show

Wearing black in this sweltering summer heat while exposed to the afternoon sun is simply silly. I could be like that at times, wearing something not fit for the occasion. Oh well. The show wasn't to start until 430pm but we wanted to have good seats for Jake's sake, that we decided to line up early. The sea breeze from Manila Bay gave a cooling effect, fortunately for me, and it helped that the Manila Ocean Park organizers put canopy on some parts of the bleachers as well. We made sure to be under the shade.

It wasn't the first for the big people in our group, but it was Jake's first or second time to see a sea lion show, and without having to go to Hong Kong, Singapore or a farther place at that. Such a precious moment every time he gets all excited and "hyper" seeing the sea lions do their tricks. And it was so, for the 30-40 minutes that followed. Shows like this are made for the kids indeed, and this one at Manila Ocean Park definitely made the P150/pax fee all worth it.

*Tip: Make sure to put/bring sunblock and have cool drinks with you. To avoid too much heat, it's better to watch the late afternoon show than the morning counterparts.

Manila Ocean Park:  Sea Lion Show
the sea lions did the salute

Manila Ocean Park:  Sea Lion Show
the trainors performed a dance number with the sea lions

Manila Ocean Park:  Sea Lion Show

Manila Ocean Park:  Sea Lion Show

May 7, 2011

Manila Ocean Park: Dancing Jellyfish


The Dancing Jellyfish exhibit wasn't there yet on our first visit to Manila Ocean Park when they opened a few years back. During our short Manila trip, we were on the prowl for new sights to see / things to do that we and the kids might enjoy and this was one of them.

The exhibit costs P150/person and can be viewed within 15 minutes... or more, depending on how impressed you are. Mirrors are cleverly used to give the illusion of space. And with classical music playing on a loop, the jellyfish looked like they were indeed gracefully swaying to the tune of Pachelbel. The changing colors of the neon lights illuminating the tanks made the display even more magical.

I could gaze at these sea creatures floating about inside their tanks for a long time. For me, it's kinda calming. In the beach, these jellyfish are poisonous and could sting unsuspecting swimmers. Here, they are dreamy dancing sea fairies.

Dancing Jellyfish

Dancing Jellyfish


May 5, 2011

Shooting the Breeze at Amici

images in Amici

An afternoon with my good friend is like an afternoon 20+ years ago at the college canteen. We never tire of talking about the good old days as if they were just yesterday. And it's always like that when we meet up.

Now that we have our own families, our conversation would keep shifting from the past to the present. One moment it would be about our family and kids as we marvel at how time just flew by and then only to realize that we used to be my son's age (17 years old) when we first met! That would bring us back to our DLSU years all over again. And the cycle would continue.

I am not exaggerating when I say we would have stayed longer and would have kept shooting the breeze if not for Amici that was already getting ready to close for the day. :)



Science Discovery Center

Just when we thought we were running out of things to see and do while on a short Manila trip, we remembered about Science Discovery Center at SM Mall of Asia. It's been around since 2007 and has been a favorite venue for school field trips. We thought our young grader, Jake, might like to check it out. And so off we went.

The entrance fee was quite steep, you could buy 1 decent toy for the price of 1 ticket, but we treated it just like any other museum or theme park. We paid for the experience - not the active (aka fun rides etc) but the more educational kind.

The younger kids would enjoy the displays that appealed to the senses (sight, touch, smell etc). Jake enjoyed the "Grossology" exhibit which made learning about burp, barf / vomit, urine and bad smell fun. Haha! We did find it amusing, errr... educational as well! He also had fun having his tete-a-tete with the "interactive" fish, Mr. T, in the Virtual Reef.

As for the older ones, the Gesturetek is something to try. They can interact with and move around the 3D virtual worlds with simple body movements. Also, the planetarium / theater dome would be a treat. It is like traveling to outer space and watching cosmic collisions on a 360-degree screen with digital surround sound. It was truly mesmerizing. The Gesturetek and the Digistar Planetarium made the bang for my buck, so to speak.

Digistar Planetarium

science discovery center
Urine: The Game, Patient's Please, inside the planetarium, Sniff Sniff, inside Gesturetek's virtual world, Jake as Generator Rex, inside the Virtual Reef, playing virtual volleyball, earthquake simulator, and flight simulator

May 3, 2011

Cafe Mediterranean, Resorts World

Food pics:

Hummus - classic garbanzo and sesame dip

cafe mediterranean, resorts world

Parmesan Crusted Fish Fillet - cream dory fillets crusted with parmesan cheese lightly fried in olive oil served with rice or pita

cafe mediterranean, resorts world

Moussaka - classic Greek dish, layered eggplant, ground meat and bechamel sauce

cafe mediterranean, resorts world

Grilled Beef Gyro Plate

cafe mediterranean, resorts world

* Food description came from here.

May 2, 2011

Kaos at Resorts World

There were no grand plans while we were in Manila for the Holy Week. The family stayed put and spent the Lenten holidays with the kids' maternal grannies (my folks). However, on Easter Sunday, we went to catch the much talked about Kaos, a musical spectacle with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, at Resorts World.

We have been to Resorts World a few weeks after it first opened and the place was not yet fully operational then. This time, on our second visit, we found that it is now teeming with restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. A lot of people were there not just for the casino but also because of the boutiques, the dining places and the theaters. It was no surprise to see a lot of families with kids in tow. Resorts World is an option for those who have gotten tired of the other malls. :)

While we got the balcony tickets for the adults to see Kaos, Matt (to his dismay :P) had to accompany the 2 younger kids (Jake and Zia) to see Gnomeo and Juliet on 3D. It was a good thing Pa and Ma had their senior citizens' ID, we were able to avail of the discounted tickets. Also, since I paid using Visa, Jerry and I were given discounts as well. Not bad. The balcony seats we got were right smack in the middle and at the right level that we didn't have to strain our eyes or necks to have a good view of the show.

Kaos was astounding! I was almost tempted to take a video of the colorful spectacle before us. The stunts and acts were amazing, the orchestra played beautifully and the actors sang well. In my opinion, it is quite comparable to Cirque Du Soleil's Zaia which we saw in The Venetian Hotel last year. Hard to believe we have this kind of show here in Manila so if you haven't seen it yet, Kaos will run for 6 months starting December 1, 2010.

Click here for the show schedules and ticket prices.

@ Resorts World after seeing Kaos... This place is reminiscent of Largo De Senado in Macau.

Jake and cousin Zia had McDonald's while the big people had Greek food at Cafe Mediterranean

Happy senior citizens, Ma and Pa... As a bonus, Pa won P4,000 at the casino that day.

grannies and grandkids

Jake wasn't getting along with Zia here. Hehehe...

Jake and Zia by the fountain...