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Our Best Summer Yet

Family, Life In Italy By July 15, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

This is turning out to be a summer that I am immensely enjoying – in stark contrast to my previous summers in Sardegna, marked by countless packing and unpacking of bags as I struggled to remain in a positive mood, enough to last three months, in an island where I did not speak the language, and transportation was limited.

Perhaps it is largely because of my recent adoption of a dog that found me on the street. For months, I truly knew I needed one. Despite my best efforts in adopting one from a shelter, it was met with a number of disappointments and not a few times of crying outbursts that lasted through the night.

These days I look forward to waking up in the morning. I do my stretches while I wait for my coffee.I give our adopted cat and dog their morning meals before sitting to enjoy the cool morning and my black Illy or Lavazza coffee. Afterwards, my Maremma-Golden Retriever mix of a dog that I had named Poldo, and I go on our hour-long morning walks to nearby beaches. Aside from helping me get fit, these quiet walks make for great time for reflection, and planning the rest of the day. Or I go on my Duolingo app to achieve my daily goal of 100 XP or more, improving my Italian or learning French. I am having the time of my life.

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Surfing in La Union, February 2016

Family, La Union, Surfing By June 16, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

While we were in El Nido, something happened. Fabio and I had a huge fight that almost ended our relationship. He moved out to stay at a different resort. Lia and I left for Manila ahead of him while he hung out with his friends for a few more days. He was also waiting for his own Australian visa. I decided to invite him to go surfing somewhere close to Manila. He flew back to Manila and all together we found ourselves in La Union, staying at the apartment of my friend Raffy who works with the owners of Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel and El Union coffee.

I introduced him to my friends at Four Aces Surf School and we went surfing with the Valdezes, Daisy, Anthony, and Lea. We found ourselves having our breakfasts at San Juan Beach Resort and El Union Coffee, dinners at Kahuna, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Naknak’s – a popular carenderia across El Union Coffee for the duration of our one-week stay there.

And even though I was happy to see all my friends in La Union again and go surfing again, you could see the toll of all these frenzy taking its toll on me.

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Sibaltan, El Nido, Palawan

Family, Life in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines By June 5, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It takes an average of two hours on a motorbike to get to Sibaltan. The drive is hot and dusty, and scooters are a definite no-no. We rented a proper motorbike to get ourselves there and took at least two stops on the way for respite from the heat and the accompanying stress of having to dodge rocks and holes on the road. There are two roads one can take to get there. The other has more paved roads but is longer. It takes the same time to get to Sibaltan then whichever road one chooses. The trip is largely uneventful, passing through dry forests, little villages, and few sights.

Soon, the roads from El Nido town to Sibaltan would become more accessible and as the town center becomes more and more crowded, more and more tourists looking for peace, quiet, and good old nature would find themselves going north.

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A Family Vacation in Siquijor Island, Philippines

Family, Philippines, Siquijor By June 3, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

From Dumaguete, we decided to take a ferry to the neighboring tiny island of Siquijor, where we stayed at one of the more expensive dive resorts – Salamangka Beach and Dive Resort. We almost never choose expensive accommodations but we only started looking for accommodations, ran out of options, and eventually decided we deserve this, even just this once. We took our breakfasts at the restaurant or by the pool while sunbathing and swimming. The pool-side bar afforded us swim while getting semi-drunk on cocktails and enjoying live jazz music. We were lucky in our timing because the owners had some of his friends over from New York who are professional musicians and they made beautiful music from sundown til late. When my then-boyfriend and now-husband’s mother asked us what we were doing and we told her, she infamously asked, “What about real life?” Still, our time spent in Siquijor was one of our most memorable, work-free, and stress-free family trips.

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A Future Without Me

MOMents By June 2, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

My daughter is getting more and more independent. Yesterday she spent all day taking care of me while I lay in bed all day writhing in pain from migraine. She made breakfast for herself, went to her grandparents’ house for lunch, and prepared the dining table for the dinner that was prepared for us. She prepared her travel bags. Today, I watched her take the elevator, her backpack behind her, on her way to spend the weekend with her grandparents in Bardonecchia for three days and two nights without me. On Monday, I will bring her to the train station where she will board a train to Genoa with her schoolmates, spending two days there, and one night “sleeping with the sharks” at the Genoa Aquarium.

“I am sorry I will not be here to take care of you, make you feel better, and make you laugh… but at least you will not have to think about me and take care of me. There will be less stress for you and you can relax,” my daughter said to me as she squeezed a tube of toothpaste in the bathroom the night before.

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My Blanks and I on Our Very First Date

Life In Italy, Lifestyle, Sardegna, Surfing, Surfing By April 21, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

It may not look it but this picture shows many firsts and it had to be documented.

A first time for my wetsuit, a Christmas present from my husband.
A first time for my brand new surfboard, an advanced birthday present from my husband. Along with a new leash and booties.
A first time for me and my husband to be surfing together at the same time in the water. We had to take turns before in terms of boards and instructors.
A first time for me to go surfing this year.
And lastly, a first time for me to be surfing in the waters of Sardegna.
And what better place to do it but in a secret spot close to our home. A mere 20-30 minutes away drive, in the very same town we live in.

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Celebrating New Year in Dumaguete, Philippines

Diving, Family, Negros Oriental, Philippines By January 12, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

We are a simple family. When we travel, we avoid staying at expensive hotels or resorts. We prefer to stay with family, friends, or at AirBnb places. Our two-week stay in Dumaguete in January 2016 was no different. There are many choices for staying in Dumaguete. One can stay in the city itself, in one of its many hotels, BnBs, and hostels. Most of the AirBnb places are not in the city center though and we think that’s well and good. After hours of looking on AirBnb and actually driving around on our rented motorbike, we found a small farmhouse in a town outside of the city, and it was the perfect place to stay for the New Year and the days after. We played many games of Dobble, Fabio’s Christmas present for Lia, and watched movies. On New Year’s Eve, all three of us laid on the hammock, covered with a warm blanket, and watched and counted shooting stars in the night sky – the distant sounds of firecrackers, and fireworks a faint glint in the far horizon.

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The Last Christmas in the Philippines

Family, Personal By January 8, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Lia’s last Christmas in the Philippines was in 2015 and she spent it with her biological father and his family, as she did the past Christmases. We had spent some time together before Christmas though, seeing and being with my friends. We own a flat in the Taguig area and we hang out in the many establishments found in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). We stumbled upon this lights show in the roof deck of the SM Aura mall and Lia and I had some fun.

Our first stop was Last Frontier Beach Resort, located in Corong-Corong beach and owned by a friend of ours, and had just been recently completed. It took quite a while and a lot of efforts and stress for our friends to finish the resort and the least we can do is be supportive. We stayed for the sunset – always a not to be missed event.

We had Christmas dinner at Republica Sunset Bar in Lugadia. The day after Christmas, we dropped by El Nido Art Cafe, and Mezzanine Restaurant – making a round of businesses in Serena St. that our friends owned.

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In memory of Franco Loja R.I.P (Greenhouse Seeds)

Franco Loja – A Tribute to Life, Passion, and Friendship

Family, Musings, Personal By January 7, 2017 Tags: , , 2 Comments

I met Loja for the second time only the day after. He didn’t have so much time. He got up every now and then to talk to my daughter in her bedroom. He stood outside her bedroom, leaning against the door, asking what she is doing, and making a comment on how organized her room is. Loja, a father himself to two boys, was great with kids. My daughter said she liked him because he was funny. And he spoke English. That was always a plus to her.

He was leaving Torino to bring his kids back to Barcelona after spending the Christmas with their grandparents. He would not be able to make it to our wedding. We all came down the stairs together, and he helped us load our things into the car. And for the last time, he hugged me, and kissed me, and said, “It was so nice to finally meet you. And congratulations.” I said thank you In Italian and got into the car. I watched him walk away, and down the street. In a black coat and a black bonnet, his silhouette barely visible in the dusk.

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