Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy, happy birthday to my Favorite Kuya

I technically just have one brother, my Kuya Jojo, and he's my favorite (no choice there haha). But I must say that I have the best brother in the whole wide world because he's always been there for me, through thick and thin, through no fats with so much fat, through alive and barely alive. I know I annoyed him a lot when I was a kid and I still do (it's my privilege because he's 13 years older than me!), but I know despite that he loves me.

My Kuya with his family the day we both renewed our wedding vows!

So, happy, happy birthday Kuya! Love you!

The Legaspi to Naga Adventure

I was originally planning to fly directly to Naga from Manila, but there were no more seats available when I was booking so I ended up booking a flight to Legaspi. It was a blessing in disguise though because the Manila to Naga flight was cancelled due to bad weather.

I'm always excited to go back home. Naga is where my parents grew up and my Mom is Bicolano. Naga is where they met, fell in love and married during a typhoon at the Ateneo de Naga University chapel (the tiny chapel is gone now sniff). My Dad was the superstar basketball varsity player when he was in high school (and also played for the college team!) and he said he spotted my Mom at a baylehan (party), fell in love and the rest is history.

I was only about 8 months old when they first brought me to Bicol. We'd usually stay at Pasacao during the summer where it was cooler because our nipa hut was located beside the sea. They used to call me kutong tubig because it was always hard for them to get me out of the water. My skin never really darkened, but i remember painful instances of getting sunburnt because of my hard headedness.

So I had to drag Sweetie to come with me to Bicol. I was so excited to show the Mayon off to him since he's never seen it. The pilot announced "fair weather" in Legaspi so I was ecstatic. As we were about to land though it started raining and not even the shadow of the Mayon could be seen. We thought that maybe after eating lunch she'd show up, but noooo Mayon hid behind the fog remaining unseen. Local folklore says that Mount Mayon is quite shy and would only show herself to select people. I was quite disappointed because Mount Mayon always showed herself to me. I guess I'll have to bring Sweetie again to Legaspi in the future. Maybe during a family vacation.

After having lunch at the famous Smalltalk Cafe we decided to take a commuter van to Naga since it was more affordable (just PhP140 one way). We flagged a padyak and the poor driver had to peddle really hard through the soft rain to the terminal. It was a good 15-minute ride. Sorry Kuya! He brought us though directly to the van so I gave him a hefty tip. The huge smile on his face abated my guilt :)

The van ride to Naga though was entirely another matter. The first hour wasn't so bad and we managed to get some sleep. The next hour and a half was a struggle. We had to put our bags on our lap because there was no space and it was hard to balance because we felt like we were going through zigzag roads. Apparently there were roadworks being done in Pili so the driver diverted through the towns leading to Naga. I could barely stand up when we got to Naga (sign of old age!).

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Penafrancia

Ina's old home, the Penafrancia Basilica de Minore

We decided to stay in and rest when we arrived and just had a fun day the next day in Naga City. Visited the 2 Penafrancia basilicas, hung out with my relatives at Moderna Bakery (Casa Moderna) and spent the whole afternoon with educators at Ateneo de Naga University. We capped off our Naga trip with a romantic post-Valentine's dinner at Red Platter. Hopefully next time I can bring Sweetie to my other favorite places in Bicol - Villa Merced Farm in Pasacao and Naga's Centro!

My favorite Casa Moderna offering - the Pambonete!

Afternoon well spent with educators, GEG Naga.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Modern Day Prince

I was grinning widely when I was waiting for the lift this afternoon. One of my colleagues commented, "Oh you look really happy." I said I was really happy because I had just received a surprise from Sweetie. He mentioned a few days ago that I was going to be surprised at the least time I expected it. I thought though that since I was in Singapore and he was in Manila that he would just surprise me when I'm back home this weekend.

I was wrong.

As usual.

I have been quite busy hopping from one meeting to another (that is my life at work!) in the past week that I had totally forgotten that it's Valentine's. I even had mindlessly scheduled my check-up on Valentine's day (well they say it's "hearts" day so it's just the perfect day to have my 100% pumpin' heart).

I was in a meeting which stretched to about 2 hours and I had been chatting with Sweetie when I left my desk to meet my guest. I briefly saw this photo on G+ -

And I thought, "Awww Sweetie made a card for me!" I told myself it was something I'd look forward to seeing when I got home.

Me being dense.

As usual.

When my guest left I went back to my desk and saw the end of the bouquet -- which I thought was the bottom of a wine bottle! <my eyes fail me even with eyeglasses> I actually felt quite annoyed coz it was on my keyboard! But lo and behold! When I picked it up I was surprised to see that it was a bouquet! A bouquet of white roses! And there's only one person in this world who gives me white roses... with a copy of the home-made card. [Read the link if you're wondering why he gave me white roses, yup it was a FAQ throughout the day].

So I sat there. Stunned. Surprised. Ecstatic. But I managed to discreetly have my moment because I didn't want to disturb my seatmates (who were all not on their desk when I looked around). And then I blushed and tried to contain the warm, fuzzy feeling that was spreading all over me.

It is actually the third year Sweetie and I are not together for Valentine's. 2012 I was in Singapore stuck in a bus for 2 hours with two teenagers making moony-moony eyes with each other (ugh). 2013 I was in ICU and he already had to go home. And now, well here again in Singapore. But every single year we always surprise each other (my surprise this year though didn't work out, boo) and what's important is to make each other feel loved and important (and feel like a princess!).

So who ever said that romance was dead?

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Keep Calm and Listen to The Piano Guys!

One of my most favorite channels YouTube is "The Piano Guys". I listen to the channel all day because it relaxes me. I was really happy when Sweetie bought the album. I immediately put it on my iPod so I could listen to it whenever I travel.

Here are some of my favorite videos -

I'm a frustrated pianist (stopped studying when my teacher started me on Jazz music, my fingers just couldn't keep up!), so I really, really appreciate and applaud musicians. The Piano Guys have also managed to "modernize" (for lack of a better word) classical music. Their take on some pop songs is also refreshing to the ears (check out their cover on One Direction's most popular song).

Love, love, love!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Goodbye London, Hello Singapore!

I was trying to take a panoramic shot of the Buckingham Palace when this bird distracted me!

I only had time to blog snippets of my day in the week I was in London and well it's hard to get my brain to work with jetlag and the cold, cold weather. I'm happy to say though that I fared well despite freezing everytime I went out. I was prepared for that, what I wasn't was my body's reaction. Compared to my trip to Zurich it was a bit harder to breathe while walking. I read up on it and apparently it's a normal reaction for those who have gone through surgery. Good thing I prepared for a few weeks by walking around our compound almost every night. I would have probably had a harder time if I didn't prepare for the trip.

Now I'm back in Asia where the sun shines even when it rains (well most of the time). It was a rough flight since I couldn't sleep. Ended up watching "Metro Manila" which was a really heavy film so I watched a couple of episodes of "Sex in the City" to de-stress (I watched all the available Big Bang Theory episodes on the way to London).

I'm so looking forward to this new chapter in my life! And so many new decisions to make to support this change. Woohoo!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Goodbye London!

At the airport now waiting to board my flight back to Singapore. This officially marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life. A new adventure is awaiting!

To my family, friends, communities, colleagues in Asia, see you soon!

*Hopefully won't be badly jet lagged!

Thank You World!

I visited the Queen this morning (Buckingham Palace) and there was a sea of people surrounding the palace. Different kinds of people of all shapes, sizes and nationalities! I couldn't help but think about the #PHthankyou campaign. I wanted to shout "Thank you everyone" and hug people for helping my country when Typhoon Haiyan happened. Of course I didn't because I would've probably been picked up by the police, haha.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you world!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cold - Warm

Writing this post on my tablet in my tiny hotel room in London.

The last few days have been a flurry of activities. Whole day meetings with the team and lovely dinners in the evenings. The weather has been progressively getting colder and it's been a struggle for me since I'm not used to the cold and my tiny nose (pango eh) had a hard time getting air in. I will probably get a scolding next week when I see my doctor.

I learned in the past from my BIL that the secret to keeping warm is to have as many layers as you can and then just peel it off as it gets warm. My Uniqlo heattech shirts have been my lifesaver in the last few days and the coat my sister bought for me keeps my body toasty. It's been windy though so I learned to duck into shops to defrost and get my bearings back (blame the tiny nose).

Despite the cold weather it's been like summer for me. It's been a joy to spend time with my team mates. We seriously kept hugging and poking each other because we usually just see each other over Google Hangouts. We had to go through a lot of meetings this week but we had a lot of laughter in between the serious stuff.

Happy, happy. Joy, joy. I will seriously miss everyone!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Hello from London! I was stuck in a plane for 14 hours but I'm thankful the flight went smoothly. Read a report last week that flights to London from Singapore can get rough and there was a Singapore Airlines flight that hit very bad winds recently (think coffee on the ceiling level) so I couldn't really sleep thinking about this (ignorance would've been bliss).

Not sure if I'll have the time to blog this week but will try my best and just post snippets like this.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3

Back-posting for February 3 since I got so busy yesterday and conked out.

Woke up at 4am for my 8am flight to Singapore. Dropped by my cardio's clinic to get my inhaler replaced and the nurses promptly exclaimed, "You gained weight!" Argggghhh... they should've seen me last December! Housemate though said I lost weight! Hah! Met up with LP and was regaled with stories of Brazil! I hope to visit that country someday! Spent the rest of the day until the wee hours in the morning squeezing my brain for something...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Time Flies

Oh how time flies! And it's time for me to fly again after almost two months of avoiding the airport (and well I had to renew my passport).

Can you see the heart island?

It was quite a sad day for me since I'm leaving my boys again tomorrow. How I wish I could move back soon! I just need to be a bit more patient since some things need to be fixed.

Today's homily was a good reminder for me. The priest said that we are never alone because God will always be there. I found comfort in those words and his reminder that "there is a time for everything". I can just hope and pray that my prayers will be answered soon.

It's February! Time for love! Time to fly! Time to level up stuff!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My B.A. Program

With the kick-off of the local Biggest Loser show today I thought I'd blog about what I've been doing to be more healthy. A few years back I was this thin -

And I was actually thinner when I graduated. I was only 85 pounds and I already had a kid! Unbelievable huh. My metabolism was just unbelievably fast and I guess my heart condition also worked my body hard. After my surgery I lost a lot of weight and was just about 105 pounds. My doctors then told me, "Eat!"

Well... I ate too much! Haha! Now they want me to shed off about 10 kilograms. Boohoo. (Just look at my header to see how much weight I've gained!).

My metabolism slowed down since my surgery. My housemate in Singapore said, "That's because you are a normal person now!" Yeah, 100% blood flow = you now have the capacity to exercise and burn those excess fats. After surgery I told myself I was going to join a run this year. Maybe run 3K. I've been listening to my body and it's telling me it isn't ready. The most I could do is walk 1.5km before I start panting. So here are the baby steps I've taken to stop gaining weight and slowly lose some.

(1) Installed MyFitnessPal on my phone to watch my calorie intake. When I started I still ate what I would regularly eat, but learning more about what I was eating slowly helped me change my eating habits. As Coach Jim Saret said, "You shouldn't eat mindlessly. You should think about what you eat."(forgot the exact words he said). It took me months to change my eating habits and I think I'm just about halfway into understanding better what I should be eating, but at least I'm not overeating and my weight gain trajectory has stopped.

(2) Watch what you eat and drink. This is easier said than done that's why I installed an app. I did not know that beverages can contribute a lot to your weight, i.e. milk tea, coffee, juice, soda. So I cut down on "colored drinks". I can't live without coffee, but I've managed to wean myself away from high-calorie coffee drinks and now just drink sugar free instant. For food, I also learned to eat smarter because of the app.

(3) Research about food! I'm a picky eater and I like sticking to my favorite food. From watching what I eat though I realized that I needed to change what I ate since I was always going over my food quota. In my research I found out that there was a study made about eating based on your blood type. It said that there are some food that could be poisonous to your blood and may be the reason why you are always getting sick. In the last few months I've been having cough and colds often and I was sick of having to go for a check-up again and again. My immune system is just not at its prime so I thought maybe I should eat the food that's good for my blood. So I've been eating more veggies and fish in the last few weeks and my body feels so good.

(4) Exercise! Ugh! I'm not a sporty person. I've always been sedentary. I'm not pushing myself too much since I don't want to overdo it so I've been counting my steps everyday. I walk at least 3,000 steps everyday and that's already a lot of exercise for me IMHO. The most I've walked in a day in the last year is 10,000+. According to Coach Jim though if you walk only 5,000 per day that means you are sedentary. Oh okay... this is something I need to work on. I've taken a liking to walking around our compound every night lately so this helps a lot.

(5) Cook the right food! Ahhh, I recently bought "The Sexy Chef Cookbook" and I've been using it in the last week. This way we're able to measure better the number of calories we're eating since it's included in the cookbook. And I could say that I've increased the number of daily searches I do on Google because I research about food almost everyday (even on my phone!).

(6) Get a B.A. buddy! Yup, it's easier to lose weight when you have partners in crime. For me, it's Sweetie and Bagets!

These are the tiny steps I've been taking to get back in shape (hopefully in time for summer!). I hope I don't get a big scolding from my cardio when I go for my check-up!