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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: In Retrospect - Adventure-filled Year

We traveled almost every quarter during the year 2013. For documentation's sake let me just list the places that we've visited in 2013:

January - Boracay (trip with Nono and Abbey)
March - Holy week in Antique
April -  My first time in Gunma, Hanyu and Tokyo, Japan
May - Japan again for me (visited Nagaoka, Ojiya, Gunma and Tokyo)
July - Tagaytay (stayed overnight at the T-house)/Vigan (with Tibs's barkada)
October - Dumaguete and Siquijor
December - Guimaras, Iloilo, Antique (spent our Christmas there)

We don't have any travel plans for 2014 yet. We want to go the impulsive traveler way this time. Let's see where that is going to take us.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

QOTD: Is this our farm, Lolo?

We went corn picking yesterday afternoon with the kids. Kids were bored and in our household, this is my dad's idea of killing boredom. That idea was brilliant, I would say. Kids had fun and for the little girl corn picking isn't really something she does everyday.

On our way home we swung by my parents' sugar mill. And while they were checking out the fields that are being prepped up for cane replanting, the kid threw the lolo a question: Is this our farm, Lolo?

She's seems to be loving her time here in Antique extremely well. And she doesn't retort anymore every time we kid her we will be staying here for good soon.

Someday, Maia. We will call this place HOME.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holidays In Antique

I've been mostly tied to my computer since we got here but I'm happy to report that it's not totally the same for the little girl.

Yes she spends a big chunk of her time catching up on her Disney/Nick/Cartoon Network favorite shows but she also takes time to go outside and enjoy what we really came for. 

Let me just illustrate that by sharing some photos:

Date night. Oldies went for beer and the kids enjoyed sausages and pasta.

Then most days were spent running and climbing fences and rolling on the grass and patting free range piggies in the grannies backyard.

These piggies were named Rose and Gumamela. And they really enjoyed calling the piggies by these names. "Mommy, can we feed Rose and Gumamela some apples today?" (kalurkey)

This face here. Just says it all. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

May you be blessed with unending joy and peace always
May the spirit of this season reign in your hearts forever
May you always be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

From our home to yours!

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." - Luke 2:14

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

So we're finally settled in my Antique now. We've been officially on vacation since last Friday but my siblings planned something out for our family and we made a stopover at the nearby Guimaras Island (will make a separate post of that weekend soon) for the kids to frolic a bit and get some more color before we hit it off for the holidays.

I'm that feeling that Christmas-y yet. I probably won't till maybe a few hours before. There's a reason for that but I'm not going to ruin this post by sharing that here. Maybe it's also partly because this feels so new again -- the idea of spending Christmas away from our Cavite home -- but the kid already claimed it by announcing: I LIKE CHRISTMAS HERE AT LOLA'S.

Yes, Christmas is definitely better here. I wouldn't have to worry about what to plan for our Noche Buena (oh yes, my mom will take care of that). And nothing will always beat sharing a Christmas meal with family.

So yes, we're wishing you a Merry Christmas! I hope no matter what circumstance you are in, you are spending Christmas with a heart filled with overwhelming joy and hope.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Cheers 2013

I posted this photo earlier today in IG with this caption: She's been practicing for her presentation since last week. I feel so sad I won't be around to witness the fruit of her hardwork. But. A working mom's gotta do what she needs to do. Super sigh.

Most working parents (if not all) can probably relate to that post. I have not only once, twice, or even thrice been in this situation before. And I've only been a parent to a school age kid for 2 years. When she moves to big school next year (yes, we are graduating to grade school parents by next year), I'm bracing myself for the worse. I would like to believe though that missing these things can be made up by my giving our bonding sessions my full, unadulterated attention. Time after work is the only thing I can offer her. For now, yes that is enough. I hope she really grows up to understand why there are days I will really have to miss moments like this. Sigh. Why does life have to be filled with trade offs?

Dalawang tulog na lang and we'll be off to our family holiday. We'll be full time parents again with no nanny to help us get through the day. I'm so looking forward to that. It's going to be challenging and tiring for most part. But yes, I'm totally prepared to plunge into it.

While I revel at that thought, let me leave you with a photo of my pretty little miss in her presentation get up. She truly enjoyed her day so much that she replayed her presentation to her dad and me tonight not just once but twice complete with giggles and squeals. Oh how comforting those squeals sounded like. I suddenly felt like I wasn't the worst mom in the world at all. That it really is just okay that I couldn't make time to be with her today.

Looking so grown up and every bit a student. I love you so much, Maia.
Always remember that.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Maia Travels: Siquijor: Playtime At The Beach

I was cleaning up my Photo folder and came across a folder of my photos  taken using my phone which were dated October to November of this year. I clicked it and saw these:

Siquojor is forever etched in this little girl's memory because she spent a lot of time playing by the beach. We also spent all 3 of the mornings we were there early by the beach making sandcastles using our hands and what-nots we could find on the beach. The mere thought of it brings a big smile to my sleepy face.

I am going to sleep with wonderful thoughts tonight. And yes, I think I can officially say now that I am a converted beach lover. Yes I still love the mountains and the flora that abound it. But a day by a quite beach, with just you and your loved ones is equally relaxing too. Thoughts of summer on this cold, wet December night, not bad at all eh?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Traditions

It's official the start of our Christmas countdown. Today being the first day of Misa De Gallo or what is more popularly known as Simbang Gabi for most Filipinos.

My little girl has not attended any one of these morning masses yet. It's too early for her and our subdivision does not hold anticipated Simbang gabi masses yet (hopefully soon though). Can you remember the first time you attended Simbang Gabi?

I honestly can't. The closest memory I have is from highschool. When my uncle signed me up to join the church choir so I'll have something to list down in community participation in school. I've always been off-key. I love music but it never really loved me back. But my choir mates had the patience to put up with my singing anyhow and I survived that Christmas season unscathed and yes, with brand new friends.

I started this post hoping I'd finally come up with a bright idea for a Christmas family tradition but two paragraphs after, I still haven't felt that bulb light up. So much for traditions to start this year. That has long been in my list but every year during the holidays, I never seem to get myself out of urgent things to attend to at work. I super envy my friend Maqui for maintaining what in my opinion are super fun Christmas traditions. I'm sure her little boy Aki always looks forward to Christmas. What with all the traditions she has lined up.

Next year, Maia. Hopefully next year I can come up with something fun we can do as a family. For now, I hope you will cherish the memories that we will make your Pachoco cousins. We'll be spending our pre-Christmas weekend at the beach! Yay right?

Before I end I'd like to go back to the purpose of this post, would you care to share your Christmas traditions as a family?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Maia's Favorite: Doc McStuffins Theme Song Lyrics

We do not subscribe to cable TV so Disney shows are a rare treat to my little girl. She usually watches them in You Tube during days when she's allowed to use the computer (which is during the weekends during school season). Of late, she's been enjoying Doc McStuffins probably because she dreams of becoming a doctor (among the many other careers that she plans to pursue) when she grows up.

photo grabbed from the Disney Junior page
She always hums the theme and would sometimes pitch in a lyric or two. She would also occasionally request for me to join in but the only part of the song where I'm confident I got the lyrics right is the chorus. So I'm posting the lyrics here now, for personal reference when the kid suddenly calls for me to join in. (Tara, let's sing it together!)

(Thanks to for this!) 

photo grabbed from Activity Mom
The Doc is in and She'll fix you up.
if you're a toy then your in luck.
it's ok don't be afraid the Doc really knows her stuff.
Doo Doo Doo you know it's good for you
The doc is gonna help you feel better
Oh Oh Oh it's the place to go
when you feel a little under the weather
Let Doc McStuffins do her thing
to get you right back in the swing
Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins
Come and let the visit begin
the doc is in.
Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins
Come and let the visit begin
the Doc is in...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hardwork Pays Off - Musings On Grades and Study Habits

Our little kid went home a couple of weeks ago with her first quarter report card and I can't be any prouder especially with her grades for Reading.

Were you grade conscious as a student? I've been trying to remember and my memory tells me I probably was. I really wanted to graduate top of the class because I wanted to make my parents proud.

I would later realize I should have done it for myself first. Well I never graduated the way I dreamed to but I would like to think I still made my parents proud somehow. I was never a diligent student but I learned fast. And I loved English and Math and Physics (no not Science and yes, in that order).

I hope for my little kid to be an enthusiastic learner too. To always embrace that thirst to learn something new. But I would want to be as cool as my parents were. So I try not to be imposing.

I do see that she's starting to develop a study habit. And I'm happy for that. That wasn't my influence though but more of her school's because she's asked to complete several sets of homework everyday. So far, so good -- she's been very diligent about finishing most of her homework before dinner time. Once or twice a week I make it a point to give her some slack and let her finish in the morning. I really am scared she will get burnt out so early in my student life. So I want her to still make time to enjoy her childhood while she can.

Anyways, again for posterity's sake I am posting a photo of her first quarter grade in reading.

Again, thank you for always listening and obeying us Maia! We love you and I keep that in mind. ALL THE TIME.

p.s. Posting here a photo of the card we made for you. You were sad you didn't get a merit card but you know little girl, it didn't really matter to us. What this card says is real. And that's exactly what felt when we saw your grades. Just keep that up. And just keep asking questions. As long as we are assured you are learning, that's what is important to us.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Peak At Maia's Day In School: Prayer Before Mealtime

Last October on her birthday, Maia treated her classmates to a pizza and spaghetti lunch. We ordered 5 boxes from the nearby Yellow Cab store and had the canteen pack them individual boxes of spaghetti. Based on our experience last year, not all of the kids are going to eat so we decided to just stick to pizza and spaghetti as requested by the birthday girl herself.

As kids are, they were pretty excited to share the simple meal after they greeted the birthday girl with a joyful Happy Birthday song but they had to play super cute first before they get to the table. 

So here's our little girl, leading the class in prayer before mealtime.

p.s. We would later find out that their class adviser would assign a prayer leader to lead the class in prayer every day. Our little girl seemed to be very good at that role, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hey There, December!

Just checking in for now to say "Hello! We're still here!"

The little girl worked on getting our humble tree up the minute we plucked the fake spider webs out of the flower bed in our lawn.

I wanted to have brighter lights this year. I don't know why. But the sight of Christmas lights is like a happy pill for me these days. I wanna fill our home with lights. But it's the 3rd day of December already and I don't think that wish is going to happen this year.

We are spending Christmas with my family in Antique for the first with the little girl this year. I guess that should be more than enough replacement for my bright wish this year. Just 17 more days to go and I say hello to rest again.

Our household can hardly wait.

Here's to hoping the rest of December is going to be kind to all of us. Tight hugs.

It is going to get better.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Value of Asking Questions By Reina Reyes

I tried to join the kid and the husband on their Sunday activity - afternoon siesta - but couldn't get myself to take that shut eye so I decided to log into Facebook to catch up on some updates on Yolanda (how shallow no, but Facebook really is the fastest way I can brush up on news these days).

One of my college friends shared this You Tube link of Joey Ayala's rendition of the Philippine National Anthem - Lupang Hinirang - at TEDxDiliman. I like this version better. And Joey hit bullseye when he mentioned we do tend to mispronounce some of the lyrics. This version gives more emphasis to the lyrics that really mattered. It gave it more heart. It gave it more power.

After watching it, I saw another link to another article written by Shai Panela for Rappler titled: THE VALUE OF ASKING QUESTIONS. I just had to click and read as I've always been a curious kid. And have always been awed by scientists and piqued by how their minds work.

I just have to bookmark this hear. For my little girl to read when she grows up. I know that I've repeatedly said it here, I will let her pursue what her heart desires. But I also wanted her to asking keep a curious mind. Because as a kid, being constantly encouraged to ask questions by my dad was one of my fondest memories of my childhood.

I am sharing the part of that Rappler article here to preserve for my little girl. Please click on this link and the one above if you want to read the full article.

"The Value of Asking Questions by Reina Reyes
When I was a kid, I asked a lot of questions. Isa akong makulit na bata. Thankfully, my Mom never got tired of them. She didn't shush me, or dismiss me, like other parents would. And even if she didn't know the answer, she would simply say, "Anak, hindi ko alam (I don't know), but we can find out together. And we would look it up in our books. Wala pang Internet noon – can you imagine? (We didn't have internet before. Can you imagine?)"
So I learned early on that it is OK to ask questions. In fact, it was good to ask them- and to look for the answers. And I've never stopped asking since.
One afternoon, it was raining. So I asked, "Saan galing ang ulan?" (Where did the rain come from?)
She answered, the rain came from clouds. So of course I asked – where do clouds come from? And we looked it up and I learned about the water cycle. Clouds, themselves, form from water that evaporated from rivers and the ground itself, after it rained. Water made its way from the ground up to the sky, and back down again as rain – the cycle would repeat itself. Again and again.
So I learned that beneath something that seemed random and unpredictable – the rain – sometimes it rained, sometimes it didn't – there is an underlying process, an order hidden from plain sight, but is happening all the same, all the time.
When I was a kid, I wanted to become an astronaut. I became fascinated with space, like many kids do. But I was a smart kid, and soon I realized it was not a practical dream– height limit pa lang, hindi na papasa! (With the height limit, I cannot possibly pass!)
So I set my sights back down on Earth. At some point, I wanted to become a lawyer, like our good family friend Atty. Lontok. Then I wanted to be an architect, like my older cousin Kuya Raymond, who was studying to be one then, and is a successful one now. Eventually, I decided I wanted to be a businessperson – like my parents.
Only in high school – at Philippine Science – did I start to think about becoming a scientist. You see, growing up, our family didn't know anyone who was a scientist, and it didn't even occur to me that I can be one. In the books, scientists were an abstract concept, or they were people long dead, in strange costumes, from a different place and time – not here, not now, nothing like me. In high school, I got to read about scientists who I can relate to, who I admired – Uncle Albert Einstein and Mr. Feynman. And I started to think I can follow the same path. That became my dream. And that's what I did.
Luckily, it turned out to be a natural fit. As a scientist, my job is to ask questions – and to find the answers. But this time, the questions are not the kind for which you can find the answers to in a book – or even in the Internet. These questions are ones for which no one knows the answers to – at least not yet.
As scientists, our job is to push the boundaries of knowledge, to discover something new, to understand the world a bit better than we did before. One of the greatest pleasures of doing science is that moment when after months and months of hard work, you hold in your hand something – a result, a plot – that you know you are the first person to ever see!
As an astrophysicist, I ask questions like, how did galaxies form? How did the universe begin? How will it end? These are big questions. And the reason we are able to even begin answering them is because there is an underlying order behind all physical phenomena – the rain, the Earth, the stars, and the entire cosmos, all follow the same physical laws. And these are laws we can understand.
The science that explains the formation of clouds here on Earth, also explains the giant clouds of Jupiter, and the clouds in planets outside the solar system, like Kepler 7-b. The gravity that pins me down to this stage – and keeps you at your seats – is the same gravity that holds our galaxy together, and that governs the evolution of our universe as a whole.
The underlying order that I sensed as a kid is with me today – even stronger now – stretching out over all space and time.
I don't confine myself to questions of astrophysics, for the world is in fact much bigger than the universe. As a Filipino, I ask questions like, how did the Philippine archipelago form? And how did we – Filipinos – come to populate it? Where did our ancestors come from? These are big questions, too, and our scientists at the Philippine Genome Center and at the National Science Research Institute, led by Dr. Corazon de Ungria and Mr. Frederick Delfin, are starting to piece together some answers.
When I was younger, I asked where the rain came from. Today, our scientists at DOST's Project NOAH and at the Manila Observatory ask and answer questions like – when will it rain, where, and how much? They ask – where does the rain go? And perhaps most importantly, to save lives and livelihoods from the floods – where should it go?
Just recently, a new species of beetle was discovered inside Ateneo – by Dr. Henrik Freitag and his collaborators. A new species, right in the middle of Metro Manila! In fact, our country has one of the highest concentrations of endemic biodiversity in the world – and one can only begin to imagine how diverse and unique life is in our forests, mountains, and waters – just waiting to be discovered and studied and – if we are wise – preserved and protected.
I hope I've given you a flavor of the wonderful science that is being done, right here in the country. There are many more whose stories deserve to be shared – and I hope that more and more will continue to be shared. You see, I have something to confess. When I was younger, I thought – naively, but perhaps, understandably, that to be like the scientists I read about and admired, I had to go study and work where they studied and worked. And that's what I did. Today, after 8 long years abroad, I'm happy to say that I no longer think that's true. I'm happy to say that I've decided to come back, to come home.
For although there are still many challenges to doing science here – in many ways, it is a wonderful time to be a scientist in the Philippines. And I'm excited by the fact that as more people realize this, and join us – geographically and virtually – together, we can build a future in which science plays a bigger role in the public life of the country, a future in which engaging in questions is encouraged by our culture, not dismissed, a future in which more young Filipinos can grow up imagining that they can be scientists, too. And I feel very lucky that I can be part of building this future.
You may ask me, Reina, why bother? Why bother to ask these questions? What does it matter? To me? Today? To be honest, I ask these questions myself, too, sometimes. But in the end, I have to ask back, why not? Why not ask? Why not ask for the same reason a child naturally asks questions – like I did when I was a kid, and I bet, like you did when you were a kid, too. The question is – When did you stop asking? And why did you stop asking?
My appeal to you today is to remember that "makulit na bata" you once were. My appeal is that you don't shush the kid inside who is asking questions. And please, don't shush the real kid beside you, for beingmakulit. My hope is that you find yourself starting to ask again, like a kid, and with your kid – or young cousin, niece, or neighbor. My hope is that you discover the pleasure of learning something new, every day. My hope is that you never stop asking – and I sincerely hope the same for myself.
For we do not ask questions because they matter. We do it because it matters that we ask questions.
Thank you very much.
13 October 2013
UP School of Economics"

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#ReliefPH: How You Can Help Yolanda Victims

I've always feared for this day. For the day when Mother Nature will lash back at us for taking her for granted.

Yolanda may be a natural disaster that would've seemed out of our control. But every time I see flooding, destruction, death brought about by catastrophic natural disasters I can't help but feel we all might have a hand in this. I can't help but think it is mother nature calling us to be more responsible. 

But this post was not written to point fingers, or to preach about environment care. I wanted to help disseminate relief operations so help can reach those who need it very, very badly faster. If you are a blogger like me, please help spread the news as well.

Here's a comprehensive list compiled by Rappler (please click the link) and an infographic shared on their Facebook page as well:

And some reminders on how to make good use of social media hashtags:

I can barely hold back tears every time I turn on the TV to watch the news. The destruction brought about by this recent super typhoon to hit our country, claimed to be the strongest to make a landfall by far in (recorded) history, is just too massive. And after being beaten down by back to back (just about a month ago by a strong earthquake) calamities,  it make take longer for the government to help rehabilitate those who were greatly affected.

But yes, the Filipinos are extremely resilient. We will get through this.

Bangon Pinoy! Kaya natin to!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Little Witch Princess Fairy

My little witch princess fairy holding my DIY flying walis este twigs. I blistered my hands trying to make this prop realistic but she ditched it because who needs a flying walis when she has fairy wings already. Kalurkey.

Next year, I will let her DIY her own costume. Graduate na ako sa pagiging stage mother. :)
p.s. The initial plan here was to dress her up as Ghoulia Yelps from Monster High. She's crazy over this cartoon show. Good thing she only gets to watch it occasionally in You Tube as I don't really think it's appropriate for her age yet. Gotta find some way to kid-protect my phone. Any suggestions?

Maia Travels: Siquijor - The Preview

We booked our tickets for Dumaguete six months ago during a piso fare promo sale from a local airline. As always, I never bother with itineraries. I guess, I will forever remain a crammer. Also, knowing that earlier that week a 7-magnitude earthquake hit the Bohol which was in the same region where our destination is located, I guess I didn't want to raise expectations so much. As I've been under a lot of stress these past few weeks, I didn't think I still have some room for disappointments. So my strategy was to take things a day at a time. Maia had her mastery tests in school the week prior to our scheduled trip as well so I'm glad I had the excuse not to get her all excited as well. 

I swore off being pessimistic a long time ago, but I couldn't help but fall into the pit of pessimism easily lately. Honestly, up to the last minute, I was half-expecting our flight not to push through. 

But it did. 

And I'm glad it did. Because who wouldn't fall in love with this place? Maia did. Well, we all did the minute we stepped out of the van that fetched us from Siquijor port. 

Took this photo before we left the island. We shall be back. Maybe when the kid is older and able to go snorkeling on her own :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

United Nations Day - Winning Best Costume

It is both amusing and scary at the same time. I am more scared than amused to be honest. I do hope and pray this milestone doesn't give you the impression that you can only win best in costume when you start exposing some skin. (You called me after you were recognized onstage: "Mommy!!! Nanalo ako Best in Costume! Kasi, labas pusod ko eh!")

This was something really unexpected. Not much effort on our part and yet you won! And you were the happiest!

Congratulations, little girl. You rocked that Brazilian costume!

Our daddy had his share of milestone on this day too. It was the first time he came to school with the kid on his own. He played Daddy Paparazzi/Yaya Daddy (yes, I would learn that he was even the one who dressed her up) so well and tailed the kid like he was chained to her. He took great photos of that day and I just have to compliment him for those. Good job, sweetie! (see it ain't that bad at all!)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Princess-themed Class Party At Five

Dearest Maia,

You have been counting down the days since the beginning of October. It always amazes us how you remember the days and the dates. You wake up cheerful in the morning and announce how many days are left till your 5th birthday. One of my favorites was the morning of the 15th when you announced, "three days na lang birthday ko na!!! yes!!!"

You planned your 5th birthday immediately after you celebrated your 4th. You planned your 6th, 7th, 8th till the 10th. Oh, it was really fascinating to hear you make plans. This 5th birthday, I couldn't remember now if it turned out to be the way you planned it. I now have a fuzzy memory of that day but seeing you smile from ear to ear made me feel like it was exactly how you planned it to be.

Ate Inday and I did this handmade MAIA letters 2 days prior to the party.
It was one of the few brilliant ideas that my cramming mind managed to come up with.
Would have been nice if we made a tiara, no? I bought the banner at National Bookstore for P60.
We had fun interacting with your school friends today little girl. We can see how much all of you have grown up in a year. You now had voracious appetites and can now eat independently. Your dad found it amusing too that you all know how to throw your trash properly. That was really nice to see. 

It was an awesome party, little girl. All credit goes to you. You planned it well. And you were the most beautiful Princess party host I've ever met ;)

Your classmates sang happy birthday and greeted you with a loud, "we love you, Maia" and we caught you getting teary-eyed.
You mumbled a gentle THANK YOU and quickly joined your classmates to eat. I guess you didn't want to be caught crying but remember it's okay to show your emotions too sometimes my little girl.

This year is your last year in preschool. I'm bemused every time that realization hits me. I guess, it will always be bittersweet for me and daddy. But we're glad you seem to be growing up just the way we'd hoped it. Stay compassionate. Prayerful. Adventurous. Passionate. I pray you'd learn to speak your mind as well. But you're perfect just the way you are my little girl. Always remember we love you very, very much!

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