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.
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.
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.
Today I start the new year as a new wife. Having been married before, never did I imagine myself getting married again. In fact, I didn’t want to. I balked and bailed. I took two steps forward and one step back. I started and stopped a million times. I have commitment phobia. Maybe I even have abandonment syndrome. Maybe I have a gazillion of other undiagnosed mental disorders. Maybe I just didn’t want to be married, committed, and my sense of freedom and independence bound. Or maybe I did not want to make the same mistakes or fail again. But Lia, the light in our lives, the center of our big universe, the cord that ties all of us together, is the reason why we are here.
As a mother, I know enough not to judge anybody else’s parenting or mothering skills or approach. I always say that we can only parent the way we know how, and in the way we know best. No one can teach you to become a good mother or parent. We all just do the best we can. And this is a story of how I did it, at least in all the past seven years. Last year, I embarked on this two-month journey on my own to find myself and thankfully, I did. I came home with the realisation that I must prepare my daughter for a life without me and I came home with a journal. In this journal, I write letters to her when I can, for her to read in the future when she is much older and hopefully, much wiser. Let me share with you what I wrote on the very first page…
It may seem absurd, but yes, we tropical people only know rain and sun…. and typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, among other things, of course. So here we were, in Jafferau, with the remnants of winter…
The family arrived in Italy on April 6th and spent some days in Torino before going for a 1-hour drive to Bardonecchia – one of Italy’s original alpine skiing resorts. Bardonecchia is located in the upper part of Val di Susa in the Alps, with the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The resort is situated on the French border, due west of Torino (Turin).
Lia almost always does not want her photos taken – unless it is of her making bubbles – then she is all up for it! Here are some photos I took of her blowing home made bubbles in the garden using a Nikkor 50mm lens.
I have been meaning to write this post as this happened three and a half months ago but I have been extremely busy. I used to blog everyday. Before I moved to El Nido, I posted something twice or thrice a day. One would think that with my moving to El Nido, to live in a native cottage that is roughly 15 square meters, with just the most basic necessities, without air conditioning and television, far away from the city, I would have more time to blog. As it is, I have barely written anything noteworthy since I sort of officially, permanently, moved here half a year ago.
Anyway, my 4-year old daughter and I went to an afternoon party at a beachfront restaurant along Corong-Corong Beach where we live. At the party, my daughter found one of her best friends, our 5-year old French neighbor, and together, they went swimming. They were out on a paddle board, while two Filipino boys ages 10-12 were on two surf boards following along and keeping watch. I was sitting on a bench on the beach, watching all of them from a distance.
I saw my daughter waist-deep in the water, as she had probably fallen off the paddle board, and heard her screaming “Help! Help!” while making frantic wading motions in the water. I ran towards her as fast as I could. By the time I got to where they were, my daughter Lia was already lying face down on one of the surf boards with one of the local boys. One of the boys had managed to fish her out of the water and up on the board. She was quiet but breathing heavily. I called out her name, and she slid off the surf board. She ran towards me. I was unsure of what was happening and I immediately took her into my arms, and felt the stings on my arms and my stomach, where her legs had touched my skin. “Ah, jellyfish!” and I put her back. There was no way I would be able to carry her myself back to shore so I borrowed the surf board from the boy and paddled us both back to shore.
On the shore, I walked towards the restaurant and calmly asked for a glass of vinegar. I poured the vinegar all over my daughter, all over her stomach, arms, hands, legs, chest, as well as on her face and ears. The owners and the staff came running to assist. She still had a lot of tentacles wrapped around her hands and legs. We picked them off of her one by one. We used two full glasses of vinegar on her.
My daughter was crying but not screaming. She was very brave and strong. I kept asking her if it hurt and she kept saying yes but she was very calm. She kept asking me to take her home and give her a bottle of milk that she takes as comfort food. I rushed her home up the path to the road, into a tricycle, off again into the street, down the path at the back of our house and all the way home to our cottage by the beach. I gave her a quick bath and gave her some paracetamol for what I expected would be a quiet night of applying hot water on the stings every now and then.
The locals said she would be fine, that there was nothing else I should do, that the stings would start to get itchy the next day but everything would be okay.
That’s when I took a photo of her right leg.
The SM City Fairview Annex Atrium was jam packed with moms, dads, kids, kids-at-heart, babies in strollers, mascots, as well as all kinds of cartoon character goodies this Friday afternoon. We quickly circled the entire area to find entrances, and to get an idea of the event’s general lay out, so we knew what we needed to do in that sea of people. Stage and audience area on one end, the booths and play centers in the middle, and the gift shop on the other end, next to the registration booth and main entrance to the cartoon fest. Check!
We went around the booths as the characters were being introduced one by one onstage and the booths were still empty. We found a booth that Lia loved at first sight: the Barbie Ballerina booth, where there was a table for coloring pages and activity books, as well as a table where she could get her nails painted. My 4-year old daughter did not like the idea of having her nails painted, but took a seat without a moment’s hesitation on the activity table and started coloring Barbie pages.
She had to stop coloring when Spongebob went onstage and shrieked with delight upon the explosion of the confetti. Confetti that kids would love throwing onstage, up in the air, and at each other, afterwards.
At five o’clock, the characters went to their respective booths one by one so kids could come meet them, or have their photos taken with them. Lia, upon going through all the booths, also one by one, and overwhelmed with the mascots’ sizes, said they were all scary so we went around the shop instead. And here is where she found the most joy, amidst the Barbies.
It was a really fun Easter activity for the kids last Sunday at the Greenhills branch of Young Artists’ Studio.
Lia had been really looking forward to this egg painting activity and she was delighted to see the venue. The Young Artists’ Studio is located inside Sound Learning Therapy Center on the 3rd floor of the Promenade Bldg. at the corner of Wilson St. and P. Guevarra St., Greenhills, San Juan.
Having finally decided that Lia and I will never come back to live in Bicol, we embarked on a road trip to haul all of our stuff back to Manila. We used to travel together every two weeks when Lia and I were both based in Bicol in 2011 but this was Lia’s first return trip to Bicol after leaving nearly ten months before. We allotted two out of the three-day long weekend for just driving the 900+ kilometers back and forth, and only one day to stay and roam around the area. This mainly meant having coffee at Starbucks Magsaysay, dropping by Bigg’s Diner and Red Platter, having kinalas and puto bucayo. Of course we could have done more but with the limited time, we had to prioritize the ones I missed the most.
I have always wanted to go up and visit Stonehouse Gardens, and because we had no plans of ever coming back, it was imperative that we go this time.
We arrived a few minutes before four in the afternoon on the first Saturday of December. The sun was nearly at the horizon and behind the clump of trees by the fence. After refreshing ourselves with glasses of juice served by the resort and take-out food from Bigg’s Diner, we went on a walk around the place and took photos. The setting sun gave just the right light for what would become some of my favorite photos for the year 2012.
We were all sitting in our respective “offices”, mine under the stairs, Lia in her designated sofa space, and H on the dining table, when we heard this song playing on Lia’s tablet. It’s a pretty catchy tune, and more often than not, it’s the music that I hear and never the lyrics of a song. H says, “I like that music Lia. Great music choice,” so I go over and look at her tablet to see what’s playing, because earlier she was just singing along to Umizoomi videos on YouTube. And I see the cartoons and hear the “dumb ways to die” lyrics. The mother in me says, “Uh-oh, what is this song about? Masquerading in great, catchy tunes and adorable animation, BUT what is the message?” So we google.
Details are found here from huffingtonpost.
“Well, this is definitely the most precious way to convey the message, “Don’t stand in front of a train, idiot.”
Australian Metro put out this twee-soaked, very creative animated music video listing things that end in tragedy that are just as preventable as being careless around trains — like using your private parts as piranha bait and taking your helmet off in outer space. The song is by a band called Tangerine Kitty, of course, and can also be downloaded here.
This is a message that anyone living in a city with public transportation should listen to.”- Huffingtonpost
You can listen to it here on soundcloud.
This song and video is now going viral and I can only say thanks Lia for finding this, you are amazing! Though wait, I might have to re-think about what this does to 3-year old minds.
As much as Lia loves the beach, Lia also loves the malls. But only if there are reindeers. No, just kidding. Lia loves the beach more. She will never say no to the question, “Do you want to go to the beach?” regardless of her mood or her state of hunger or tiredness. On the other hand, she would say no to the question “Do you want to go to the mall?” eighty percent of the time. Sometimes I even have to force her.
Lia also didn’t want me to take photos of her. She wanted me to take photos of puppy wearing her new funky plastic glasses that we bought at a street stall while waiting for the car’s tank to get filled up at a gas station the day before.
I had planned on going to the Global Pinoy Bazaar at Rockwell Tent earlier but Lia had fallen asleep on the sofa. We let her sleep because we knew she needed the energy, and we needed her to be in a good mood for a time at the mall and the bazaar. We left before six in the evening and traffic from Junction at the Ortigas Ave. Ext. all the way to Ever Gotesco mall was a crawl. Slower than crawl actually. The traffic was light past the mall though and we arrived in Rockwell Makati an hour later – hungry and tired already.