Sunday, November 27, 2016

My 2016 Journey: Lessons on Fear and Faith

Have you thought about what happened to your 2016? If I'm going to look back at how my year went, I can say that it was all full of daunting tasks, challenges and self-doubt. But then, in these bumps, I saw how grace overflowed. 2016 was the year we finally finished our house - a dream project we never thought we would be able to pull off. It was also the year that I took on added responsibilities at work. It was also the year that we needed to go out our comfort zone and transfer homes from Malabon to Quezon City. It was also the year that we needed to transfer our children to another school. It was a year that made me worry about a lot of things. 1. Would we have enough funds to finish the house the way we envisioned it? 2. Would I be able to do well with a new role at work? 2. Would we be able to survive being away from a solid support system in Malabon, where all my family and relatives are? 3. Would my children be able to adjust to a new school? I can conclude that it was indeed a year of disruptions. But I realized that it was also a year of surrender. Everyday, in my quiet time, I would open my heart about my fears and worries and I would always ask for hand-holding. I find myself being consoled with this verse: "Be still. And know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Knowing that my God is greater that all my worries, that everything is in His perfect will, sends a sense of calm in my being.

Tasks seemed insurmountable. It felt overwhelming sometimes. But days passed, things moved forward, and today I caught myself contemplating on the year that was. And I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude that I'm here...In a sweet,bright spot after a mountain climb. We've finished the house. We've already moved in. My nanay and tatay checks on us from time to time. The upside of being away from our support system meant that we have to rely on each other to get things done around the house. And it feels good that there's a lot teamwork going on. The girls are happier in their current school. There are more things to do at work, but I have magical helpers.

We just need to find our bright spot. Photo by Ramir Cruz.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

DIY Pseudo-Italian Lunch: Leftover Pizza and Pasta de Sardine

Shakey's delivery was late last night. To compensate, they gave us a complimentary box of pizza. So we had some leftover for lunch. To go with this, we scoured our pantry for a spaghetti fare.

What we found:
Clara Ole Three Cheese Spaghetti Sauce
Montano Tomato Sardines in Corn Oil
Uncooked Spaghetti Noodles
Basil c/o our garden
Quickmelt cheese

What we did:
1. Boiled the noodles. Drained when al dente.
2. Minced the Garlic.
3. Chopped the onions.
4. Mashed the Sardines.
5. Sauteed the garlic and onions. Then the sardines.
6. Poured the spaghetti sauce. Dropped the basil. Simmered the sauce.
7. Arranged the noodles in a dish. Poured the sauce. Grated the cheese.

Voila! Pseudo-Italian lunch for a family of four.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Pahiyas Festival 2016: Lucban, Quezon with side trips to San Pablo, Liliw and Los Banos, Laguna

It was a trip that we had our eyes on since we had kids.  We felt that our daughters should be exposed to the happy disposition and colorful culture of the Filipinos if we bring them out to see and experience the festivals in the Philippines. 

Actually this was more of Ramir’s idea than mine.  He just convinced me to go.  I honestly feel that travelling to a place where there’s a scheduled big event doubles the effort since you would need to contend with a lot of considerations like parking, waiting time, long lines, etc.  But I believe him when he said that we should at least try.

The nearest we can think of was the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. This happens on May 15th every year to pay homage to Lucban’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador.  We felt it was something that we can do on a budget since it was near Manila.  This 2016, May 15th falls on a Sunday.  Since we would just need to file a one-day leave from work to enjoy a 3-day holiday, we went ahead.
The whole experience was fun and memorable, especially to our kids. These are what we can share with you.

Lucban, Quezon is around 3 hours drive from Manila.  But we took longer since we did some side trips.  We went through San Pablo, Laguna to see the Sampaloc Lake.  Then made another stopover in in Liliw, Laguna before we reached Lucban.  I think we made the right decision in going a day ahead and leaving the day after since we had time to relax and not really go with the bulk of the crowd. 

SIDETRIPS to San Pablo and Liliw, Laguna

1. Do a side trip to see the Sampaloc Lake. Try the lomi if you go hungry.
We just thought it would be nice to see a piece of nature while passing by San Pablo, Laguna.  It offered a nice view of the sun, the lake and the mountain.  Since we were starving, we also tried the lomi house overlooking the lake.  It was the right pitstop. 

2. Visit the Liliw Church and buy yourself Liliw-made shoes and slippers
We really went for the shoes and the slippers.  But when we saw the church, we felt that we should pay our homage and visit too.  We love churches in the provinces.  We feel that they exude that old-but-beautiful vibe.  The slippers and the shoes were also very affordable.  And I should say, I love their espadrilles. 

PAHIYAS FESTIVAL: What you can do (we tried all these)

1. Try Kamayan sa Palaisdaan
There’s a floating restaurant in Malabon but this one is different since it was huge.  We went in early Friday night to make sure that we would be seated immediately.  We heard that it would go crazy and jam packed come actual Pahiyas Day.  Their Filipino entrees were good.  And the ambiance added to the festive vibe.  As expected, people were going in and out of the restaurant.  It took us quite a while to be seated but the wait was worth it.  I suggest you come earlier so you’re not super hungry by the time it’s lunch or dinner.

2. Try the different activities at Batis Aramin
Batis Aramin offers resort-type accommodation in Lucban, fronting Kamay ni Hesus.  We had our reservation almost three months ahead to make sure that we’ll have something to stay in.  Since Pahiyas falls on a Sunday, we anticipated that places to stay around the Pahiyas route would be hard to come by as the fiesta draws near.  It was a little farther from all the happenings since but it was very accessible.  We just rode a trike for 5 minutes and where there.  What’s good about Batis Aramin, there were several activities that were available for kids.  They swam and played around the resort after going to the festival.

3. Climb the steps and hear mass at Kamay ni Hesus
It was a feat for me and my daughters.  We climbed and reached the top.  It was a happy sacrifice.  We went to hear mass after our climb.  It was scorching.  We brought bottled water, hat, fan and towels to counter the heat and humidity.

4. Try the pancit habhab, longganisang lucban ang kiping
All of these are sold in the streets.  We ate pancit habhab sans utensils.  We queued and endured long lines to avail of fresh longganisa being prepared right before our eyes. I must say that I don’t have feelings for the longganisa since I don’t eat pork but my husband and daughters liked it.  Fried kiping are also sold on the streets. It tasted like chicharon, only this is doused with sugar.

5. Go on a pasalubong-shopping spree
Apas, longganisang lucban, broas, miki lucban, uraro, puto seko, even native bayong.  We had a field day hoarding products to bring home and give away.

6. Go around the procession route for the wonderful decorated houses
The houses were really a sight to behold.  Two thumbs up for Filipino creativity and ingenuity.  Amazing effort.  And it was really commendable that everyone participated.  It
was a long walk but we didn’t get tired because we’re really sight-seeing.

7. Stay around and watch the afternoon parade
The streets were full.  People lined up the streets and waited for the parade.  Beautiful ladies and gentlemen paraded their garb of native dresses.  There were higantes, decorated carts, drum and bugle, the works. With the long stretch of attractions, I must say that the standing and waiting paid off.

8. Go back at night for the Kutitap where the decorated houses are all lighted up
The houses are lovely during day but they exude a different feel at night.  It seemed like Christmas in May.

SIDETRIP for the Original Buko Pie in Los Banos (going back to Manila)

So as not to go with the pack of people going back to Manila on the same day as the Pahiyas, we decided to go home the day after. I think we made the right decision since it was easy breezy traveling back.  And the happy surprise was, when we pass by the famous Original Buco Pie in Los Banos, Laguna, there’s no line. It was the perfect cap to a short but memorable Pahiyas experience.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Top 5 Reasons why Filipinos should visit the National Art Gallery (at the National Museum)

It was the first time that we went to the National Art Gallery of the National Musuem with my kids. I love the facade.  It was such a grand-looking place.  I think the first time I went with Ramir was when I was still in college, for a classwork we need to do.  Going here was like a breath of fresh air.  It was something new to our family, but we knew we would enjoy and learn a lot from. I have been to some art galleries in the US - the Musuem of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC and De Young Museum in San Francisco, and the way ours was arranged now was something at par with those galleries.  Although of course, in terms of collections, ours wasn't as expansive, but I must say, we really have good ones.  Besides, the notable works of our country's national artists are here.  It really makes me feel proud. So here are my top 5 favorite collections at our very own National Art Gallery.

1. Sculptures of Jose Rizal
I only see them in books and I'm here face to face with the works of our national hero.  I am a fan of our renaissance man and his art pieces are representations of his creative facet. 

2. Sculptures of Guillermo Tolentino
His sculptures, to me, are the best.  His human forms are incomparable.  His iconic works like the Bonifacio Monument and the Oblation have brought the spotlight to his genius.

3. Paintings of Juan Luna
I can only swoon over his Spolarium.  His light and shadows are also wonderful.  His mastery of the medium has brought much pride to our country.

4. Paintings of Carlos Francisco
I can't comprehend how an individual can work on murals. But Botong's a muralist.  And I'm so impressed.  His four murals - The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines is proof of his great artistry.  I actually sat down in front of it and stared for at least five minutes.

5. Paintings of Fernando Amorsolo
His countryside paintings are the best countryside paintings I've ever seen.  I don't know what it is about the Amorsolos that gives you that peacefulness and laid back feel of the countryside.  The tones and richness of his colors are uniquely his.

There are many more collections and noteworthy pieces.  I also love the paintings of Vicente Manansala and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. I think even if you are not an art enthusiast, you would enjoy all the beautiful art works that are displayed at the National Art Gallery. In my opinion,  museum visits should be something that every Filipino should do.  I think there should be a conscious effort on our part to impart the good heritage that we have and pass it on to the next generation.  Filipinos have amazing talents.  We might have conquered the world with music, but there's much more in our arts and culture that are also worthy of the spotlight.  To know more about them, the National Art Gallery of the National Museum is a good start.

1. Address: P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila
2. The National Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Free admission on Sundays.

3. Entrance Fees: Museum of the Filipino People and National Art Gallery
(also includes visit to exhibits of the National Planetarium.)

Students - P50.00
Senior Citizen - P120.00
Adult - P150.00
4. For inquiries call:
Museum Education Division
Telefax #: 527 0278
Look for Lina/Tess


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On Teaching Our Children How To Save

When Rainie was Grade 2, I started giving her 10 pesos everyday as her baon. This was on top of her packed meals. I was thinking that by giving her 10 pesos I'm teaching her how to budget her money. But every time she would go home, I would inquire of her 10 pesos and she would account that her money has gone kaput because she bought, at least to me, a wide range of non-sensical food items - from gummy worms to gulaman to candies and ice cream. I was in a dilemma of not giving her anymore money and the need to teach her the lesson of financial management. Then a friend told me the wonderful idea of not giving her the money but recording it, it was a case of paper gain and paper loss. Everything was just on paper. Here's how we did it. I got a used notebook. And every day, I would record the date and write down 10 pesos beside it. I told Rainie that if she would need to spend on anything she would need to tell me. I would give her the money and deduct the amount from our record. This way I was able to monitor her expenses and she was able to track the money she has. I give her a 10 peso incentive for every week she didn't spend anything. This worked. For the two years we've been doing this, Rainie was able to save around 8,000 pesos yearly. I asked her to deposit this in the bank under her own account.

It was indeed a very good exercise. Rainie is now more cautious and conscious on budgeting and spending her money. Thanks to my friend Dang Baldonado for this brilliant idea. 

How about you? Do you have some budgeting ideas? Please do share on the comment section below.