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.
January 2013 was a very eventful month. And truly, it defined how the rest of the year is going to be for me. I know this year’s only been three months but it was the most difficult time of the year. So far, at least. And when things are difficult for me, I run to my refuge, back to where my heart is, to the place I call home.
As a new chapter of my life begins, allow me to look back at how we have spent the last four years together.
We used to spend every waking and sleeping hours together, just you and me. But now, there will be less time for you and me to be together because you are growing and things are changing. Soon, you will be four years old, going to school more, and spending time with more and more people outside the family.
Before you came, I was hard at work on my master’s degree and was close to taking up a 5-year doctoral degree at a university abroad. I was also a [highly-paid] Drama teacher at a prestigious all-girls high school. I had more money than I needed. But I was lost.
Only when I had you did I find purpose in life. Indeed, you are the best thing to ever happen to me, and without you, I would have been living a successful, and yet, empty life.
Because you and I will be spending significantly less time with each other, I could not help but look back to the time you came into being until now, to this. The time of being primary and sole caregiver, stay-at-home-and-hands-on mom has ended as I now go back to working full time.
But know that I am your mom and I will always be here for you. I love you in ways unimaginable. You have made me a better person altogether. For all that you have done to me, I am grateful.
Our journey has not been easy but it had been very exciting. You are my daughter and my best friend, and I could not ask for more.
I had loved traveling with you.
July 2008 – Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes September 2008 – Siquijor, Negros Oriental, and Negros Occidental November 2008 – Camarines Sur
At Lake Buhi Resort, Camarines Sur. November 2008. 16 weeks.
January 2009 – Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin
At White Island, Camiguin. Photo by Ver Estotsenberg. January 2009. 28 weeks.
At White Island, Camiguin. Photo by Ver Estotsenberg. January 2009. 28 weeks.
February 2009 – Guimaras and Iloilo March 2009 – Pangasinan
May 2009 – Camarines Sur
At Surfer’s Paradise, Pasacao, Camarines Sur. May 2009. 1.5 months old.
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.
“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
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. More
My daughter has a very good eye and I am immensely proud of it. I’d buy her her own camera soon as she is old enough to know exactly what it’s for, and is responsible for what she will get out of it. She loves looking at the photos I take and I like asking her opinion on which photos are good or not.
She also does not like having her photos taken. More often than not, she would say No when I ask if I can take her photo.
Some days I’d ask her to take photos and she’d flat out say no.
Whereas some days she wouldn’t stop taking photos. She loves taking photos of me.
So one September morning, while hanging out in our bedroom in El Nido, Lia decided it was portraits time.
And I guess that day, Lia was really in the mood for taking photos because that evening, she was still at it. She found it extremely amusing that I had Angry Birds stickers on my face, which she put on herself.
Lia and I definitely have lots of fun together. Even if we are just hanging out inside our bedroom.
Shortly after lunch at Entalula Island, we noticed that rain clouds were fast approaching. Afraid that the rain clouds will get to us and spoil all the fun with all those photo ops, we quickly boarded our boat and headed to our next destination – Simizu Island.
We, somehow, outran the rain clouds and found the beach, sunny and completely empty! All the other boats filled with tourists have also already boarded their boats in pursuit of another sunny destination and we had the entire beach all to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon.
Lovely still wanted to go to Vigan Island (also known as Snake Island) on this trip but we spent hours doing all kinds of things much to the entertainment of our other friends Janice and Lors who were just there sitting under the shade of trees, that before we noticed it, it was already four in the afternoon.
Here is a panorama of the beach:
Simizu Island, named after the Japanese diver who died in an underwater cave exploration, has always been one of my favorite destinations. I cannot count how many times I have been here, though I was surprised that I did not see a lot of photos of it when I went through my archives.
The island is popular for 1. picnic lunches on the beach, and 2. snorkeling and fish feeding.
Indeed, when I first snorkeled here in 2005, it was absolutely breathtaking! The sheer number and variety of fish were overwhelming. Through the years though, the effects of the El Nino phenomenon, coral bleaching, and extensive tourism have taken its toll on the coral life on this island, and that first snorkeling experience became just a memory that have never, even to this day, been replicated. I would now say that the best snorkeling experiences can be had at the snorkeling sites in Coron (North Cay Island, for example) and Balicasag Island in Bohol; lowered expectations for El Nido.
My very first camera was a Pentax Optio WP point-and-shoot camera that I bought in 2005. It was waterproof and I could take it to depths of 1.5 meters. I took it with me on every beach trip until 2010, when it took its last underwater video in Balicasag Island. I found these photos (above and below) and video clips from my May 2007 visit to El Nido.
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