2016: Of Travels, Friendships, Family, and Spreading Happiness

“Life is meant for Good Friends and Great Adventures”

As we bid goodbye to 2016, I look back at how the past year has brought me to awesome places and taught me life lessons along the way as I travel with friends and family. Lessons that honed me as a person, a friend, a sister, a cousin, a daughter, a mother, and so much more. Lessons that not only helped me but helped those dear to me as well.

January: Cebu

My first roadtrip of the year is to the South of Cebu as I joined in the birthday celebration of a dear friend. It was with a group of friends from my previous team in Cebu and this journey reminded me that it doesn’t mean that friendships end when we stop spending (working) time with each other. It was also the time when some of my new team mates joined the older group and a good opportunity to build new friendships as well.

February: Mindanao Adventure (CDO, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Iligan)

Despite hailing from Mindanao, it was still a fresh experience for me as I went on this Minda trip with friends. We experienced the thrilling rides at Bukidnon, chased Iligan waterfalls, went on white water rafting at CDO, and drooled in amazement at the White Island in Camiguin. As I built new friendships and bonded with old ones more, I learned that you need to step out of your comfort zone to experience the beautiful things, may it be an amazing sunset or a smile of a new friend.

April: Yui turns Seven

My March and April were spent preparing for Yui’s 7th birthday. The entire celebration was blogged here. Most of the decorations were DIY’ed thanks to the help of my family and friends. It was a memorable experience not only because we pulled off the DIY party but mostly because it was a time for family and friends to meet and celebrate with Yui and with each other.

May: Tagaytay and Cebu

It was a pleasant surprise when my dear brother went home for a quick vacay last May. Although he left before our birthday, he was able to celebrate Mother’s Day with us where we spent it together at The Lake Hotel, Tagaytay. Towards the end of May, I went on another Cebu trip with some Manila team mates. It is always fun touring new people in Cebu, which feels like my second home. This month has taught me that a simple surprise is more than enough to warm one’s heart.

From top-left, clockwise: At the Lapu-Lapu shrine in Mactan; #WanderBraders in Cebu; Dayot family in Tagaytay;

August: Hong Kong, Cebu, Batangas

August was probably my busiest travel month this year. Earlier in August I went on a one-week HK trip with family, mid-month was spent at Moalboal, Cebu and National Heroes Day holiday was spent at Pico De Loro with dear friends. I’ve learned a lot from these trips also, most memorable is that I learned who my true friends are – who will stay honest with me no matter what.

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From top-left, clockwise: spending a gloomy afternoon at Pico de Loro beach; roadtrip photo op with close office friends; At The Peak, Hong Kong with sis & aunt-in-law; At the Ngong Ping village

September: Cebu

After two weeks, I went back to Cebu but this time with some of my Manila dev team. We spent some days at the office and the weekend at South Cebu. They swam with the whale shark in Oslob (I just waited at the beach since I already tried this 2 years ago). After the whale shark, we then spent the afternoon at Sumilon Island and basked in the beauty of the sea and blue sky. We trekked at the Aguinid falls and also went up Levels 6 to 8, which are not included in the basic tour. Although there were several 90 degree rock/falls climb, our tour guides and our group helped us along the way. It was a pretty scary trip but it has taught me that I just need to trust my friends and the people who are willing to help so I can reach my goals. This trip was one of the highlights of my year.

October: Singapore

Last October, My family journeyed to Singapore to witness my brother’s wedding. It was a short and sweet ceremony and was witnessed by the couple’s immediate family and closest friends. Although not really a travel escapade (we only spent the weekend at home with the family), it was memorable for me as I got to spend precious time with my family. This trip reminded me that no matter how far we all go or how long we don’t see each other, family is always where the heart is.

November: Singapore, Zamboanga

An unplanned trip, this Singapore visit was a quick one and I just spent it with my brother and his wife. It was here where I felt really close to my brother. I realized that I can move heaven and earth for him, even if we quarreled like crazy when we were little.

Quality time with the bro and SIL

A week after Singapore, we journeyed to Zamboanga to attend my cousin’s wedding (this year is really full of love and weddings :)) I had a great time spending some time with my cousins who I rarely see. I can say that this month was really all about family lovin’.

My cousin’s wedding

December: Batanes

What great way to end the year than go on The Great Batanes Dream. Our 6-day Batanes trip was full of emotional rollercoaster (delayed flights, unfavorable weather, and amazement of the view). We spent the 6 days just being at an awe of the great scenery at Batanes. It was from this experience that I was reminded that all great things are worth the wait.

Always gonna be at awe with Batanes

The holiday season was filled with office Christmas party, meet-ups with friends, and quality time with family.

I’m one lucky person to have friends like them. Will always be grateful for these people


Holiday with the clan: Always crazy, Always fun, Always busog!

 

2016 ended already, but the memories and lessons I’ve learned will stay with me as I greet 2017 with open arms. Here’s a huge shout out to everyone as I welcome 2017 and spread love and good vibes. Lablab!

Tales of A Family Drayber: Driver’s License Renewal at LTO Pasig

Having to deal with government offices here in the Philippines is challenging, to say the least. It’s one of the errands that I personally don’t look forward to or try to avoid as much as I can. That’s why I’ve been dreading having to renew my driver’s license. What with all the horror stories I read online such as waiting for 3-6 hours just to complete the transaction and getting just the receipt in the end. Yes, one piece of paper instead of the driver’s license card. 

I tried to hold off my trip to the LTO. But it sort of had me “trapped” at home with nowhere to drive to, and it’s not good for a lakwatsera like me. So I literally dragged myself to LTO to get it done. I originally planned to renew my license at SM North Edsa but upon doing more research I found out that there’s a District office near my where I work. So this morning, I just dropped my things at my office, took a 10-minute cab ride and arrived at LTO Pasig.
Since I read horror stories, I prepared myself for the worse. Imagine my surprise when I was proven wrong by LTO Pasig. I finished the entire process in less than 30 minutes. I arrived around 8:30 AM and was done before 9:00 AM. Awesome! Here’s my step by step process:

1. Inquired at the public service desk on what to do. This is where he told me “ma’am we don’t have plastic cards right now” (owkay, like I can do anything about it. So, moving on…)

2. Mr. Public Service told me to go to Halili Hall for the medical certification. Here I paid Php 200 for my eye exam. After that I went back to Mr. Public Service and asked about the next step. He stapled my old card into the medical certificate and a renewal form with a number (which didn’t have any use for me at all)

3. I proceeded to Window 2 where the evaluator just got my papers upon seeing me there. Okay, no waiting time. Cool! He then asked me to proceed to window 7.

4. Window 7 is hidden on the side of Window 6, which isn’t visible from the row of windows. Really, I had to go around several times before I gave up and asked Mr. Evaluator.

5. In Window 7, this is where I waited. It was only about 10 minutes, so I didn’t mind. After the photo/sig step, Mr. Photographer asked me to pay at the cashier. 

6. The cashier is not really visible from Window 7 so I had to ask Mr. Public Service again. He then asked me to line up with the people sitting in front of the Cashier window. I paid for the renewal fees and then went to the last step.

7. At Window 5, Mr. Releasing told me to call or come back around August to get the license card. Booo!

8. After here and prior to going back to work, I passed by Mr. Public Service’s desk and thank him for a hassle-free experience. Well, technically having no card is hassle but, meh, I was done so I’m not complaining. 

Now to those who are still dreading license renewal, I suggest you renew at LTO Pasig. You just might have a pleasant experience. Surprise! Surprise!

LTO Pasig is at Shaw Blvd, Pasig, Metro Manila. It is very near Ynares Center and Capitol Commons.

Tel. No.: 636-5770

Life Skills You Learn from Minecraft

I was never a hardcore gamer and would conservatively call myself a casual one at that. The only gaming accomplishment I’m most proud of is completing Diablo II in PSP a looooong time ago. Well, aside from getting 5 stars in Just Dance. Haha. 

With this I would say that Yui’s Minecraft addiction and gaming skills didn’t come from me. But as a supportive mom, I’ve grown to love the game as well and by watching her play, I came to realize that there are actually life skills you can get from playing Minecraft. 

1. Creativity and Imagination

Yui has built a number of houses, hospital, roller coasters, boats, rockets, the Garden of Love, and even an automated farm. All of which amazed me at how her imagination turned these into communities in her minecraft world. She’s learning not just building infrastructures but also other science-related stuff like gems, potions, biomes, etc. I like how the game uses the child’s creativity to teach certain concepts through play. 

2. Patience

Buildings, boats, and other creations may take several days (minecraft days) to finish. It teaches the child that if they want to have something, they have to work hard and wait for it. 

3. Goal-setting

Minecraft also teaches Yui to have goals. When playing in creative mode, she would have a vision as to what that world will look like and then slowly build it. 

4. Teamwork

The multi-player mode allows for them to build teamwork and improve her relationships with others (usually her cousins). They would plan on what to create and then work together to finish their creation. 

5. Delegation

In relation to number 4, the game has also taught Yui how to delegate tasks. During multi-player mode she would assign parts of the world for her cousin to create so that they can finish faster. They would also do the same to her which teaches her to accept tasks to achieve a common goal.

6. Resourcefulness

The game helped her be more resourceful. Whenever she wanted to build something, she knows how to find them in Youtube or Google. She’s also built things without tutorial, just by knowing the blocks available in the game. She made a trampoline with a slime block and magenta carpet. Just because she wanted a magenta trampoline. 

7. Vocabulary building

Through play, Yui learned new words which she uses in our daily conversations. Not a lot of children, or even adults, would use the word parkour but this is now common in the household. She would describe the ingredients that she need for brewing her potions, talk about what happens in the nether, and if she would use an oak wood or birch wood to build her house. 

These are some of the reasons why I support her gaming. As they say, everything in moderation. So as long as it’s not a hindrance to her studies, I’ll be a minecraft mom. She’s enjoying the last few days of minecraft madness before classes start and it’s back to weekend games. In the meantime, there’s still a few more days to learn new stuff. 😄

Yui’s 7th Birthday: Tangled Party

For her 7th birthday, Yui wanted a party so she can celebrate with her friends. At first she wanted a Minecraft themed party, then changed her mind and wanted Descendants instead. I was already searching the net for ideas when she asked if she can change it again. I told her that as long as we haven’t started the actual preparations, she still can. Her third, and thankfully the last, theme is Tangled – the Rapunzel movie. I got excited as well since I LOVED that movie too! I immediately told my friends Rog, Wendy and Ivy so we can start the preps. We spent two months for the planning, Divi shopping, and DIY-ing the decorations and other items for the party. Complete with a detailed workplan, help from other friends and our hyper-mode excitement, we were able to pull our DIY event styling.

Our DIY moments

Here are the things that we DIY’ed for the little girl’s party. (Apologies for the long post, I just wanted to chronicle our labor of love ❤ hehe!)

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Pulled out my Photoshop skills to create her invite. Since we’re digital, go green and all, this wasn’t printed anymore but was just posted in the FB event

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Created 40 of these lanterns in 3 weeks

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We braided 20 of these yellow yarn, glued them on headbands and decorated with flowers

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The welcome sign board. Wood work by Rog

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The lanterns and sun bunting that we hang in the ceiling. Wendy cut 150 suns and glued them on the bunting in 2 months

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Our venue, Casa Camba, was transformed into Rapunzel’s kingdom

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Daddy Melvin hand-painted the cover of Yui’s guestbook

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Tower window by Daddy Melvin and Rapunzel braid by Mommy Ena. It took 6 hours to finish this braid! #NotDoingItAgainHaha

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We hung 50 of these WANTED FLYNN posters all around the place, which we used for the treasure hunt during the games

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Pascal party blowers. Since we can’t find ready-made blowers in Divi, I did these blowers after watching a how-to video in YT

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We opted for art materials for the loot bags since Rapunzel loves to paint ❤

 

Even the cake and the dessert buffet are all DIY. Of course, my dear mom baked Yui’s cake. It was yummy as usual! Then Rog designed our dessert buffet with goodies that I bought from my trusted baking supplies shop. 🙂

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We bought a Php40 tree branch in Divi, which we decorated with lanterns and used as backdrop for the cake

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Grandma Ethel’s cake. Yum! ❤

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Cake topper up close

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Dessert buffet station

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One of the animal chocolates. These lady bugs are so cute! Bought these per kilo at the baking store

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Grandma Ethel’s mini cupcakes

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Lots of mini choco cupcakes!

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Marshmallows. You can never go wrong with mallows 🙂

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The birthday girl at the dessert station

 

On the day of the event, I also got some help from other office friends in manning the registration booth and giving out prizes. I’m ever grateful for helpful friends. Love you guys!

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The DIYers. Thank you braders! ❤

 

Our Suppliers

Yui’s #1 request is to have inflatables (bouncy bouncy) at her party. This prompted us to find for a bigger venue but it was totally worth it! I rented the bounce castle from Smile Party Events & Balloon Decor, which I first saw in olx then contacted thru FB. The kids had 4 hours non-stop playtime at the bounce castle. If there’s anything that you want to be a sure hit at kiddie parties, I’ll vote for inflatables!

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Bounce Castle from Smile Party Events & Balloons

Our other supplier was G2Photography for the photo booth and official photos. I got them primarily because of the photo strip layout. It was a breeze doing business with Sir Gerald. He was accommodating on my feedback on the photo strip layout and responds timely on questions.

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Yui’s photo strip from G2 Photography

We also had a hair & makeup salon, c/o Christabel Santiago, sister of Yui’s Home Room teacher. It was a blast – both for the kids and kids at heart!

Lastly, the venue we got is Casa Camba at New Manila. I stumbled upon them in google while searching for venue near our place. I went to see the place and fell in love with it immediately as it fits with the Tangled theme. I read some negative feedback online but there were also more good ones so I took the risk, and I wasn’t disappointed. The head waiter that attended to us that day was great too. He was very much attentive to our needs all throughout the party.

Overall, we are satisfied with our suppliers as they helped make Yui’s party a success! 🙂

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Happy Birthday Princess! ❤

 

The Continuing Saga Called Life

I was there at the back of the boat looking far into the horizon, the sun beginning to set on that late afternoon. I was staring blankly at the waves when it suddenly hit me. Here I am, spending a day in a far away island with friends old and new, still alive and enjoying life. It’s been almost two years since the day that he went away. September 22nd, Sunday twenty five after nine. In the doorway with his case, no longer shouting at each other there tears on my face. We were letting go of something special… (okay, enough with the M2M pun) 😂

I’ve spent the last two years trying to rebuild my life and building a new one without that someone I thought would be here for forever. Well, walang forever so anong nakakagulat? Haha! Anyway, it is a very educational experience. I needed to spend time to reflect on what was, what is and what will be. It was hard, very hard. But slowly I found myself smiling again, then laughing again. With the help of my family and friends, I’m here alive and kickin’.

Reflecting back, the first year was a wake up call for me. That’s when I saw life without the rose-colored glasses. After mourning and using up all of my friend’s tissue, that’s when I decided to stand up not only for me but for the little girl that needs me most. I started to love myself more and take care of myself so that I would be healthy for Yui. It was a year of going back to a healthier lifestyle and releasing all negative energies through exercise and being with positive people. On that first year, I found myself again. I was on a mission to be happy and depend on nobody else for my happiness. That mission brought me more peace but there was still some sadness, some resentment. 

Going into the second year, I learned a lot of life’s realities from the people around me. I learned that there’s a much more complicated web in our lives that we all have to untangle to get to our inner peace. I learned that some of life’s problems are difficult to solve but it gets easier to bear when you have help from people around you. I learned that people sometimes unintentionally hurt us with the intention of loving us. And that at the end of it, we have ourselves to help us get through it all. And then there’s our family and friends to help us get through it while holding our hands. There were many things I’ve come to realize this past year and many other decisions made towards the journey to happiness and self-awareness.

Through this, what stood out is that to have that inner peace, we should remove the resentment in our hearts. We should accept that some things are meant to be, some are not. Once I accepted that, I felt lighter. Like a huge thorn has been taken out of my chest. Despite the saying, “forgive and forget”, I still believe that we can forgive but not forget. Not forgetting the mistakes we did to get where we are but forgiving ourselves for committing that mistake will make us more at peace and hopefully, happier. That worked for me. As they say, “time heals all wounds.”

The Journey to a Happier Me

As the proverb says, “fall down seven times, stand up eight.” This has been the mantra that kept me going the past months. Despite all the challenges, there was always a reason to stand up and fight another day. Thus, I stood up.

The past year has been challenging, to say it simply. It has taught me a lot of life lessons that I didn’t even fathom before. It’s showed me the harsh reality of life but at the same time it’s showed me that life is still bearable and eventually, beautiful despite these obstacles. Honestly, although I’ve known these all along, it’s different when you’re the one that’s actually there. When life kicks someone we know in the butt, it’s easy for us to offer our advices but if you’re the one in that situation, it’s very difficult to follow a sound advice. Now I know why my friends seem to never listen. Because it’s hard to.

I’ve been kicked, pushed and strangled by life and sadly the bubble I was living in was burst in an instant. I was in a deep, deep hole. And when I thought I couldn’t go up, I remembered the proverb. Slowly, I stood up. Slowly, I regained the “old me”. Slowly, I started the journey to a happier me. It wasn’t easy, but with help, I eventually found it. I know life is a roller coaster so this moment I am in will soon fade and I would find myself at the bottom again but with what I learned the past year, I know I can stand up.

Like I said, the journey wasn’t easy. Some would say it looked like I was taking it easy, some people told me they never felt something was wrong, but during those days I was fighting an internal battle. Every single day was a war inside. How I was able to overcome that battle, I didn’t know at first but looking back now, I think I understand better. Given that I love lists, I’ll list down the things that helped me in my journey. These are what pushed me to become an updated version of me.

1. Have a support group.

This one is tops on my list. I don’t know how I would ever have gotten here without a support group. These are the guys that kept me busy, giggly, sad, happy and scared at the same time. They held my hand and led me to happiness but they also kept me honest with myself and supported my decisions every step of the way. If there’s one thing I’m grateful for from this journey is that I knew who my true friends are. And I’ve built a stronger relationship with them.

2. Follow your passions. Build new ones.
I kept myself busy almost all the time. I went back to do things I missed doing and started doing new ones.

I cooked, ran, touched base with long-lost friends, travelled and spent more time with family. I was always on the go which helped me keep awful things from my mind. I surrounded myself with good moments and great company.

3. Have some “me” time.
Even if my life moved in a blur of activities, I spent some time alone. To recuperate and think things through. One thing I learned at work is to do a Post Mortem regularly. And so I did. What went wrong? What did I/we do right? How can I avoid it in the future? So my action items were identified. One by one, I had to act on it. Geeky but helpful.

I don’t think the list can be as exhaustive as how the process went but these 3 things are what kept me sane. I’ll be forever grateful to my support group because with them, life can be grand. They taught me that standing up for myself was not a selfish act but rather a necessary step to move on in life. And luckily, I did.

Zac’s First Birthday: Lego Party

My friends and I had another opportunity to plan and setup an event this month. This time it’s a Lego themed party for the first birthday of Zac, the little boy that we did the Dr. Seuss baby shower for. We started planning for the party around May, went on two trips to Divisoria, spent a weekend painting boxes and sleepless nights designing and printing stuff for the party. It was truly a team effort and on top of the successful event, I was grateful to have spent more bonding moments with friends. It made the party much more special for me. I hope Zac would look back at his first birthday fondly when he grows up, since mommy, daddy and his ninongs, ninangs, titas and titos, all made the party special. Here are some details of the setup we did for the party. 🙂

Preparations started around 10AM and since we lost the balloons we bought at Divi, we had to make a quick trip to Market! Market! to buy additional balloons. It was worth the trip, since the venue truly brightened up with all those balloons hanging from the ceiling.

Rog and Kaye setting up the ceiling decor

Rog and Kaye setting up the ceiling decor

Epoy putting up the decor

Epoy putting up the decor

Zac standee and Registration table

Zac standee and Registration table

"Guess How Many Lego?" mini game

“Guess How Many Lego?” mini game

Kiddie tables and the stage

Kiddie tables and the stage

Our DIY backdrop. Not bad for first timers :)

Our DIY backdrop. Not bad for first timers 🙂

The venue, all dressed up

The venue, all dressed up

Zac's play area: a great idea to keep little kids out of boredom

Zac’s play area: a great idea to keep little kids out of boredom

Our Lego Centerpiece

Our Lego Centerpiece

Game prizes and DIY loot bags

Game prizes and DIY loot bags

Zac Corner: baby photos and scrapbook where guests can sign at the last page

Zac Corner: baby photos and scrapbook where guests can sign at the last page

Mommy Destiny created this scrapbook to document Zac's first year. The last page is reserved for guests to write their birthday messages

Mommy Destiny created this scrapbook to document Zac’s first year. The last page is reserved for guests to write their birthday messages

Candy Station

Candy Station

Personalized water bottle

Personalized water bottle

Sweets galore!

Sweets galore!

More sweets

More sweets

"Lego of your sweet tooth"

“Lego of your sweet tooth”

The amazing birthday cake ^_^

The amazing birthday cake ^_^

It was really a surreal experience after we dressed up the venue. There’s a proud and happy feeling once you see all those decorations. The project wouldn’t be a success without the help of everyone in our “build team”. Everyone exerted their efforts and shared their time and skills in building all those decorations that we have planned. In the end, I would say it was our biggest project thus far. Looking forward to more events in the future 🙂

The Build Team. =)

The Build Team. =)