Mother’s Day for Mommies and Friends

This year was the first Mother’s Day I have ever celebrated without my family since I officially joined the ranks of moms in 1993. The funny thing was my friends and I didn’t really plan it that way. When we started talking about a weekend trip to visit another friend in the Queen City of the South, the thought of Mother’s Day didn’t even cross our minds. Weird but true.

A few weeks before leaving, however, I noticed the small print in one of the pages I was following on Facebook. I had to do a double take when I realized that Mother’s Day this year was falling on the very same weekend my friends and I would be out of town. What to do… what to do…

So I did what I do best. I worried.

This was what started the vacillation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through with it after thinking of what I will be missing. I’ve never traveled before without my husband. I’ve never taken a plane ride without him by my side. Now that I think of it, I’ve never been anywhere without him! In almost 23 years of marriage, the longest we have been apart were the days he had to go overseas for work meetings, and those have been few and far-in-between because he hated being apart from us. So as much as I wanted to go on a new adventure- this time, by myself- I was still very much afraid.

It was my husband who broke my indecision. After I exhausted him late into the night with all sorts of “what if” scenarios (the truth was, I wanted him to say “don’t go” and just be done with it), he told me this: that were it all up to him, he’d prefer that I stay, even if my tickets have been paid for, but the decision must be mine to make. He also told me that were I to tell my friends I wasn’t going with them anymore, I could not use my family as an excuse. He could very well handle the house and kids by himself over the weekend so I could not and should not use them to justify my decision. “Say you changed your mind and own it,” he reminded me.

Cebu 07I guess I don’t have to tell you all that I married a very wise man. In the end, he made me realize that I needed to do this for myself. And so I did.

On May 10 this year, long before the sun was up, my friends, C* and K*, and I were at the domestic terminal waiting for the plane to bring us to Cebu. It would be short flight and my lovely girl friends would fall asleep on me on the way over, heehee, but we would have two days all to ourselves.

We were met at the airport by our gracious hosts, Ch*, her mom, and her little daughter. That short weekend would be a hodgepodge of touristy things and gastronomic pleasures, but it would also be a weekend of some real girl bonding- a meet-up with a young and lovely doll collector/crafter named Vicki, late night chitchats while gorging on Cebu’s famous chicharon and ice-cold Coke, playing with dolls till we could hardly keep our eyes open, snoring competitions, and shopping for souvenirs, toys, and fabulous plus-sized clothes!

Here are pictures from our weekend trip to Cebu. Unmarked pictures are not mine and belong to my friends because most of the time, I was actually busy talking, eating, or snoring, haha.

The Lapu-Lapu Shrine

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The girls, Nimes and Antonia, didn’t mind the heat at all.

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Kittymama with her dear friends- K*, Ch*, and C*

(Photo taken by Ch*’s six-year-old!)

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Our dollies in a group pose- yay for girl dates!

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I love this picture of Ch* and her wonderful daughter. I fell in love with this little girl and I still miss her.

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The Pilgrim Center of the Santo Niño de Cebú Basilica, picture taken on Sunday amid a throng of moving people

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Magellan’s Cross, encased in this tindalo wooden cross for protection, was set on this exact spot on March 31, 1521.  History always gives me goose pimples. *geek mode on*

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The small octagon-shaped building was built in 1834. The murals on the ceiling, done by Serry M. Josol (1932-2006) and Jess Roa, depict two events: the baptism of Rajah Humabon and his household and the erection of the original cross on Cebu shores. 

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Cebu’s lechon is a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Crispy skin tops evenly cooked layers of fat and meat. It is salted well and is not bland, thus, one hardly needs sauce or sarsa to make it work.  You can just eat it as is. 🙂

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A take on bitter gourd (ampalaya) as a salad topped with dilis or crispy anchovies. this is served with onions and tomatoes and slightly sweetened vinegar. The combination of the salty dilis and the sweet-sour vinegar cuts down the bitterness of the ampalaya. It is surprisingly refreshing!

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At the Happy World Museum in Cordova, Cebu where we all went giddy posing for pictures! This is one of my favorites as you can see how the illusion works. Poor C! She had to rescue a blue whale, hehehe.

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Posing for more pictures!

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As you can see, I have not given up on the dream of becoming a ballerina. ❤

Dainty as a ballerina…

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But strong enough to receive a punch from the PacMan!

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BFFs share BFF fries!

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If I  were to list down all the little things we did and talked about to fill those 48 hours, I’m sure one post would not suffice. We missed our families and longed for them, and yet we were also grateful to be in the company of these wonderful women who showed us how to appreciate the little things we often take for granted in our busy lives.

It’s not often we get to chuck the roles we play as wife and mother. There’s often little freedom to be the silly, fun-loving, doll-playing girls we once were, but for those few short days, we were young, fanciful, and carefree. We breathed in the air of youth and savored the friendships we made and choose to keep. And if we were to think about what Mother’s Day really is- a day to thank the mothers in our lives- then we honored that by nurturing the mothers and women in us.

All in all, it was a unique Mother’s Day experience.  Thank you, dear friends. I had a great time with all of you.


P.S. C*, K*, and Ch* are codes to protect my friends’ privacy. K is not K but she insists on that letter, hehehe.


For My Friend

Today, I wanted to send love to a friend who lives halfway around the world from me. I want her to know that she is thought of with love always, that despite the distance and the long stretches of silence that may last weeks and months, she is never really far away from my thoughts and prayers.

I want her to know that sometimes, things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Relationships may not work out, plans may fall apart, and dreams may change but it doesn’t mean that that is the end of dreaming. Something- someone- better will come along, I know it. Just open your heart to the possibility and it will happen.

Comfort copySo cry for now, my dear sweet friend, and pour your woes and griefs into tears. But when the tears stop- and I promise you they will– dust off the dirt of an unhappy past and be grateful for the lessons it taught you.

It gave you the courage to stand up for what you really want. It made you realize that you deserve to be loved without conditions and demands. And it showed you the person you are within- strong, intelligent, beautiful, resilient.

You have not lost everything, dearest one. You still have you. And you have us. You have me. I am always here for you.

Love you always and my prayers go with you.

Happiness is… (xiv) Postal Love

Who says Christmas is over? I got some late Christmas greetings via post today- and boy, when it rains good cheer, it certainly pours!

Christmas cards

Now since my desktop crashed over the holidays and I lost my high-resolution Christmas photos for printing, I am going to make a determined dash to make up for it in the coming Chinese New Year. That’s around a month away, plenty of time to make and send my New Year Cards. I’ve a few ideas hatching in my brain already. 🙂

My grateful thanks to my wonderful friends for the lovely cards and sentiments- Ondine and Jun in Texas, Candy and her beautiful family in California, and Bogi and Csenge in Hungary. I’m going to wallow in all these postal love tonight! Love you all!

The Happiness Series (xii): Jewels* of Friends

If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”  ~Alfred Tennyson

On hindsight, I was cute!

There was a point in my young life when I had very few friends. I was eleven then, fat, with huge buck teeth and thick eyeglasses. I was miserable, and not many people knew it. I made one best friend during that time (she is still my best friend today) and a few more over the next three years, but by the end of seventh grade, I could count with one hand the number of friends I had.

Beginning high school, however, I began to be more comfortable in my own skin. I made friends, many of them boys, who also liked the nerdy things I enjoyed as a teenager- Star Wars, Gameboys, and morbid anatomy, to name a few. But even as I made so many good friends that time, I was even lucker to find one real best friend during that time. (Ten years later, I married him.) 🙂

When I got older, my circle began to shrink again as my world revolved solely around the family my husband and I were raising. I lost touch with so many friends as they spread across the globe in the pursuit of careers. The rest disappeared in the haze of our busy lives. Worse, I didn’t have anything in common with many of them anymore.

In the last few years, however, I was surprised to discover new friends where I least expected them. Having gotten used to a life isolated from many because of my son’s disabiliy, finding these really wonderful people from all over the world has brought me so much joy. Who would have thought that a child’s plaything would be the key that opened the door to friendships again? Suddenly, my fingers (and toes) are no longer enough.

I write this as my personal thank you to so many friends hereJoanna, Caryl, Carol, Caren, Cha, Noreen, Isabel, Carol, Skin, Ledz, Meliz –  and abroadSarah, Karen, Candy, Pornphan, Jonathan,  Hayley, Hai Yen, Pei, Hayley, Courtney, Eric– and if I miss any, it’s not because they’re not my friends but because my senior citizen neurons and their synapses are firing up short. I want to say thank you to all of them, because their friendships have opened up my world.  God bless your kind hearts, dearest friends.

(In picture, Ms. Bibbit, Panda, Kittymama, Kate Dante, and Rocky)


I purposely left out one name there, and this piece is very apt for her because her name translates to English as “jewel” and “buttercup.” Her name is Boglárka but we call her Bogi for short.

I met Bogi last year in the Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters forum and then in Facebook shortly after. She and I have exchanged thoughts, Sylvanian and otherwise, over in Facebook and I’ve enjoyed her blog, Life in Plumcake, enormously over the past year. Bogi is one of the nicest people I’ve met in the Sylvanian forum, and were we even remotely near each other, she would be exactly the kind of person you’d want to have for a close neighbor. Yes, she is sweet!  ♥✿◕‿◕✿♥

Bogi and I did a trade recently, and it was with utmost excitement that I started on my package for her and awaited hers for me. When you have to surprise someone you like, just getting the gift parcel together is an adventure in itself.  And what can I say about when her gift comes? It feels like Christmas has come too early!

This was the package I sent to Bogi. 🙂

And this was the one I received- wheeee!

Alphonse was eager to open it, mistakenly thinking it was his, heehee. As he opened the package, he handed the contents to me one by one. The first things we both saw were these wonderful dresses crocheted (with love♥) by Bogi’s mom. Just beautiful! Köszönöm szépen!

I was able to get a few critters to model them for me (I had sent the critters packing just the day before that, to move to a new location in the house)

but this is how they look, as modeled by Bogi’s little critters. Aren’t they sights for sore eyes!

These handcrafted pillows, bag, and small rug would make Kitty’s room in Sylvania easily the most coveted! Even the design is hand drawn- WOW! 🙂

I knew they were coming- Bogi told me beforehand- but seeing them in person brought me real joy! I have been wanting these for a long time now so these are real treats! 🙂

Now, this turned out to be Alphonse’s favorite in the package; this miniature owl that is so tiny it is only a little bigger than the tip of my pointer finger! I held it out to him to kiss it but the sly one wanted to run away with it, heehee. When I took it away, he looked crestfallen and just as suddenly walked away, leaving me on my own.

I loved everything! Thank you, Bogi! I am not likely to forget this wonderful experience. Two people, separated by thousands of miles (more than 6000, I believe) between them, but united in friendship and a common passion- this is truly heartwarming.

It may be a month early for Thanksgiving but let not this day pass without celebrate all the wonderful people who have opened their world to me. Thank you for being my friends. 🙂

(Picture drawn by Bogi and colored by me) 

Swinging By Singapore

I was in Singapore a few weeks back, on the weekend after Valentine’s Day. The trip was a gift from A♥ because he knew I had been dying to watch Wicked at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theater. As early as January, my friend Auden, who is a lawyer based in Singapore, had purchased tickets on our behalf, and on the date we planned, she, A♥, and I met up to watch the show together! It was absolutely marvelous! If they ever bring Wicked to Manila, I will definitely watch it again!

With Auden at the theater lobby

Grandmother Mabel and Grandfather Mack got in for free- in my bag!

At the same time, on this trip, I had thought this the perfect opportunity to meet with some friends I had made over at the international Sylvanian Families Runboard forum. Jonathan and Hai Yen are both collectors too. Jonathan, for one, has been collecting for 13 years- and he is only 18! He knows so much that I run to him for advice or information. I am grateful that he has often generously provided help for newbies like me. I  kid him with the title of Professor of Sylvanian Studies and were a degree like that possible in real life, I am betting he already has a PhD. 🙂

Hai Yen, on the other hand, has been collecting nearly as long as I have. She is a proud mom to a young daughter and a teacher to fourth grade students. She shared her stories of how she and her daughter would often share playtime with their Sylvanians. Sigh. I wished for a daughter just then.

Kittymama with Hai Yen (tomoe) and Jonathan (Rockie)

I enjoyed the afternoon with them, talking, looking at Sylvanian stuff together, even doing a bit of shopping (Hai Yen spotted the lone set of Whiskers grandparents available at Takashimaya- yay!). We were also fortunate to get a table at the newly opened French boulangerie called Paul Bakery and Cafe in Ngee Ann City, beside Kinokuniya, (the queue was uber long), where we spent an hour talking- what else?- Sylvanian! It’s so easy to feel comfortable with people who share the same interests that I feel like I’ve known them both forever.

Thank you for the wonderful afternoon, Hai Yen and Jonathan! I hope you had as good a time as I did. 🙂 I hope to see you again when I come back for a visit!

I did go Sylvanian shopping but there were hardly any sale items left that time of the year so my pickings were measly and few (measly and few by my OC standards, that is, haha). Still, I found some treasured gems during those few days and while I have yet to document them, I wanted to show you a sample picture of one of my purchases.

I’ve been holding off buying this Waltzing Figures set for the longest time but I could not resist it anymore. Grace and Kelly have been previously released in the Ballroom set so I figured this was just another repeating set of figures. But the ballgown and the twirling base got to me and I found myself clutching at the box without thinking.

I haven’t opened it yet, unfortunately. With all the chores and the excitement over the last few weeks of the PH♥SF Photo Contest, all my purchases remain in boxes still. Hopefully, with the contest finally over, I can take some time to unwind, relax, and play again.

Hére’s hoping!

Friends, Fun, & Love in One Weekend

Sorry I forgot to put up yesterday’s post. I am back home from a wonderful night spent at a fabulous hotel. It’s another anniversary weekend and I feel pampered and refreshed, ready to face the coming week with verve and zest.

I started my weekend chores really early to prepare for our short Parents’ Days Out. I kept a list so I didn’t forget anything. We needed to make a quick grocery trip to pick up some household staples (eggs, bread, honey, and straw for packing- done!). We also needed to pass by TriNoMa to get free tickets for a special screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part1 (done!). And most importantly, A and I promised to spend a few hours at the Komikon 2010 to support a good friend (done!).

I’ve never been to a Komicon (a comics convention, it is named after the way Filipinos spell comics in Tagalog, with a k, as in komiks) even though A is an avid graphics novel collector. We went on the invitation of a good friend who was launching his first comic book at the 6th Annual Philippine Komiks Convention. For a man educated strictly in the sciences (he is both a Pisay graduate and a UP College of Medicine alumnus), Doc Ernest has amazing creativity and artistry. His comic book, MEGA-WOMAN, is homage to one of Philippine entertainment’s best stars, Ms. Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan, and inspired by our common love for the Megastar.

The artist and writer of MEGA-WOMAN

Front cover of Doc Ernest's comic book

 A and I spent a few hours there, marvelling at the talent and dedication of our local artists. Above is a picture of us with Doc Ernest and another old friend from Pisay, Theresa Ongchangc0-Diaz. The picture is blurry because we had it taken by someone else but I just had to put it in. (Just squint your eyes for a better view.)We were happy to get autographed copies and even happier knowing that we had shown support for our friend. And wouldn’t you know it—Doc Ernest drew me and some his friends in cameo roles in his comic book! Whee! Kittymama is now a comic book character (never mind that my line had me gushing and fawning over Mega-Woman, heehee). Thanks, Ernest! I loved the drawings and the story so I hope that Part 2 is coming very soon.  

Kittymama in cameo

I wish we could have stayed longer to look at all of the wonderful comics on sale, but the weekend was waiting for A and me. After saying goodbye to the kids and some last -minute packing, we were off to the hotel and got there in record time. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous; the employees at the Marriott Manila were very hospitable, courteous, and professional at all times. Check-in was a breeze. I loved our room and fell in love with the plush bed immediately that as soon as my head touched the luxurious sheets, I fell fast asleep. I woke up to find the sun had set hours ago and my stomach had started its angry grumbling. A was beside me, snoring lightly, and I waited for him to wake up. Then we went out and had a really big dinner, took in a movie (Unstoppable), and if the long afternoon nap was not enough proof that we are, indeed, old folks, fell back to sleep within minutes after reaching the room.

Kittymama in Hello Kitty fashion

Personalized service

Service is so personalized that as soon as you lift the phone to call room service, they know who you are and call you by name!  

Loved♥ this room!

I wish I could take this home with me!

And now it’s Sunday evening and the weekend is almost done. We’re back home, back to the kids, and ready to face the week’s coming challenges. It has been a great weekend, filled with friends and fun and love and rest. I wish I could have more days like these with A. Happy Anniversary again, my love.  (‿♥)