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...

May 1, 2011

Ilustrado: 10 Days Before the Royal Wedding

Ten days before the royal wedding of William and Kate, this couple from Cebu celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary last April 19th with an intimate family dinner at Ilustrado, one of the restaurants within Manila's old "walled city".

With just our immediate family in attendance, it was an austere remembrance of a union that is (at present) almost as long as half of my lifetime! Yes, we are this couple, through thick and thin and for richer or for poorer, who tied the knot on Easter Sunday of 1992 in San Agustin Church, Intramuros (the same church where my own parents wed in 1966).

Has it been 19 years? It's the same question we keep asking ourselves when April rolls in. Only the number of years changes. And I get reminded of how long we've been together each time my eldest son celebrates his birthday. The sort of reminder where I say: "Matt, you'll be 18 in July... Wah? That means your Pa and I have been together for 19 years!?". Lol.

Like they say, time flies when you're having fun. Though we've had our share of ups and downs, it took efforts (and prayers of course) from both parties to live harmoniously together...

Here's hoping and praying we get to celebrate 19 x 19 years more!

19th on the 19th

* Middle son Kyle is in China as of this time...

Of Travels, Troubles, Uteri and Mammaries

Such was the range of topics we chatted about. Being friends from way back (since grade/high school), our evening together would always be a session of "no-holds-barred" chatter, usually picking up from where we last left off. The last time we all gathered in one place was December 2010 during our high school silver jubilee held at DLS-Zobel's gym in Alabang. And things have happened since then.... so...

We tried to take turns but we could hardly keep up, each one trying to catch her breath while recounting significant (as well as insignificant. ha-ha!) events... Picture all six of us (and we're not even the complete group!) blabbing excitedly and laughing almost at the same time... Tsk, such a raucus! Never a dull moment there.

I have to give it to my Manila friends to pull an instant get-together each time I happen to be in town... health concerns and tight travel schedules notwithstanding. Having them around always makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over...

...just like when we were schoolgirls.

All giggly at Starbucks, Madrigal (Ayala Alabang)