Trenta

Today, I turned 30.

I haven’t gotten any epiphanies, nor do I feel any more adult than I did yesterday. I still have the same worries, the same things, the same everything. Yeah, there’s not much difference… yet. Or maybe ever. *ramble*

But one thing’s for sure: I am blessed. And I am grateful. Here’s to a new decade of numbers. Or, as I told my best friend, it’s just experience points. We’re only as old as we believe ourselves to be. 🙂

My 2010: Highlights and then some

I’ve been going through several drafts of this post, figuring out what to write as a year-ender. In the past, I’ve done this survey about the past year. I’ll still do that, but I wanted to do something else. I don’t know what, but I’ve been inspired by several people’s posts.

There’s Kimmeh’s “first” post, where listed down things she did or experienced for the first time. Then there’s the various gratitude posts, which I truly would love to do, as I feel that 2010 was the year that I have so much to be thankful about. I decided to do a bit of both, since most of the firsts are also things I’m thankful for.

Being able to travel
This year I was able to get out of the usual places I go to. I went on a rather impromptu trip with my best friend and my brother to Bicol. It was the first trip Nez and I ever took together so it was fun. We had a lot of misadventures from the get-go but everything else was just great. It was also a first for so many things: Wakeboarding, going to Peñafrancia, Daraga Church, etc. It was also Miks’ first time on a plane.

I was also able to go to Bohol, and with a people I barely knew except through Plurk. It’s something out of my comfort zone, because I always believed that it was best to go someplace with people you know. However, I was proven to be wrong and had an amazing time with them.

It was also a thrill for me to bring some friends to Zambales. Even though I’ve been inviting people to visit, this is only the second time that friends really took me up on my invitation.

Celebrations with the family
This summer, Mama’s family took a vacation in Candelaria. We spent the weekend there, singing, swimming, eating and having a great time. For Mama and Nunik’s birthday, my Tita Ruth took us to Tagaytay for the weekend. It was great fun as I was with my crazy family and it allowed Mama to catch up with her siblings. Food and laugh trip all the way. It’s something I’m so very happy to have had.

This year we also had a string of family food gatherings, cookouts and trips, mostly with the Bañares side of the family. We went to Binondo, then had several food cookouts (including my birthday) and dinner whenever Tita Ruth and Tito Vic would arrive from a trip abroad.

Lolo Sal also celebrated his 85th birthday. We invited people who knew him from way back, and it was the first gathering we had for him since Lola passed away years ago. I think he enjoyed it, and I’m glad we had the chance to give him that.

Papa also won a position in the town council as kagawad in this year’s elections. It was a tight race, and even with all the challenges he won.

New friends
This year was when I expanded my circle of friends. Most of them are people I met through those I already know, or I got to know better through Plurk (I love that site). In a year’s time, I’ve gone on trips with them, eat all sorts of food, start a new hobby, saw them get married and seen all sorts of things (good ones, mostly).

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There’s a lot more things I’m grateful for that happened in 2010. While it’s not the best year, it isn’t the worst either. There were so many challenges this year, but I’m so thankful to have hurdled them. 2011 will bring new challenges, and I think I’m set to face them. I’ve got my family, and I’ve got true friends who I know will help me, support me and give me a kick in the butt if they know I’m being stupid.

And without further ado, my yearly survey!
Continue reading My 2010: Highlights and then some

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

Last Saturday, I attended the wedding celebration of my friend Fristine to Alvin. There’s a lot of things unique about this wedding, not just on how it was celebrated, but also how I got acquainted with the couple. Fristine was a friend of my friend Lornadahl. I’ve never really spoken to her before, but Lorna asked if she could bring Fristine along when we planned on the Zambales trip a few months back. I said sure, because the more the merrier.

In all honestly, as much as I like to meet new people, I am very shy… to the extent that people see me as a snob. I am rather nervous at meeting friends of friends because I’m afraid that we may have nothing in common. There was no such thing with Fristine. From the get go, I was in awe of this woman who took whatever life had to offer — bad or good — and make it uniquely her own. The more time I spend with her, the more I admire her and oddly enough, the more I believe in myself. I don’t know if you’ll understand what I mean, but sometimes, you meet people who unconciously make you want to be a better person, people who inspire you simply because of who they are. Fristine was like that, and while I’ve got a long way to go before I’m truly happy with myself, I believe that I’ve changed for the better ever since I met her.

We don’t meet up much in real life, most of our talks were mostly on the Internet. Imagine my surprise when she not only invited me to join her wedding celebrations, but also to help make the invitations. I was floored, and very humbled. Here was this awesome woman asking me to create something for her. Pressure!

Fast forward to a few months later. Plans of having a bridal shower for Fristine was hatched through email and text messaging. Ideas flew, from hiring a macho dancer to what food to prepare. In the end, we fell back to the theme of her wedding: simple, intimate and a reflection of the things the bride believed in. We had dinner at Corner Tree Cafe in Jupiter St., Makati. I immediately fell in love with the place, cozy and homey. The food, wow. I’m a carnivore, and have long lived on the “meals are not complete if there isn’t at least on meat dish” mantra. However, the food here was so flavorful that you wouldn’t even look for meat. I enjoyed every bite and want more!

It was a lovely evening of good food and great company. Fristine had already been out with Lornadahl and Ces, and she didn’t really have an idea what was going on. When she saw who else was there, she was truly surprised. I was pretty excited myself that I spilled the beans on who else was coming haha. Sorry.

The Wedding
Fristine’s wedding day fell on the same birthday as my best friend, Carmenez. The first thing I did before accepting Fristine’s invitation was to ask Nez if she had anything special planned, especially as it was her 30th birthday. When she said she didn’t, I accepted the wedding invite. It was hard to choose between two good friends, one whom who’ve had for nearly all your life, and one whom you’ve just met. I feel blessed that both friends were that amazing.

Fristine and Alvin celebrated their wedding in a very unique way. The ceremony itself, held at the Filipinas Heritage Library, was for their family, and while many expressed their disappointment in not seeing the two exchange their vows, everyone understood. The second part was a guided tour at the Ayala Musuem, which the couple said they wanted to do in order to be able to share with their guests how wonderful the Philippines is and how much we can do to help bring it to its full glory. The tour made me both sad and happy.

We saw the exhibit of works by National Artists Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo, gold works of our ancestors from the Pre-Hispanic era, the diorama exhibit and more.

Closing the day’s festivities was dinner at Travel Cafe Philippines in Greenbelt 5. It’s my first time to try the place and I love it. The Pancit Buko was very tasty and filling, and you don’t feel guilty eating a lot.

The rest of the night was spent with much laughter. I had a great time meeting all these people that were there to help celebrate the couple’s union. I was both in awe and utterly humbled by these people.

Thank you Fristine and Alvin for sharing this part of your journey together with us. I look forward to your adventures in the years to come!

Birthday celebration in Tagaytay

It’s been a while since my mom and her siblings got together. For my mom’s birthday, Tita Ruth took us to Tagaytay. We spent the night at Tagaytay Higlands, then went around exploring various shops, restaurants and places.

Family food trip
As always, it seemed like one big family food trip. We had lunch at Akasaka, a Japanese restaurant located the Highland’s clubhouse. We had appetizers of various sushi platters, while main course was a dish for the each of us. I stuck with the usual rice meal, while everyone tried something new. Dessert was at Geraldine’s a 50’s themed diner inside Highland’s (too bad the jukebox didn’t work anymore).

Dinner was at the Highland’s Peak, where we had shabu-shabu to warm us up. The band there serenaded us and even sang “Happy Birthday” for Mama, culminating with some dancing and singing. We even had our picture taken for the Highland’s magazine haha.

Breakfast the next day was a variety of cold cuts, sausages and Tito Del’s longganisa. Lunch was at RSM, with coffee at Cafe Breton then back to Geraldine’s for some dessert (although some people had sandwiches. Di pa ba kayo busog? Hehe).

Exploring
Tagaytay has always been one of the family’s destinations for weekend outings when I was growing up, since it was near Manila, allowing for a “balikan” trip instead of overnight. We went around mostly in Highlands, then a few places outside. We went to Ilog Maria (where my parents met and chatted with the owner, who is originally from Zambales), then to Maryridge/Good Shepherd, where we got to tour the retreat house. It’s such a beautiful and peaceful place. We even tried going to a pottery shop but it was closed for the weekend, so we sort of did a trek for nothing, except for a few laughs.

It was a great weekend. Many thanks to Tita Ruth and her family for accommodating us. 🙂

July starts off well

I took a leave from work yesterday so I could go to Zambales for my Lolo’s birthday. He’s turned 85, and my parents had the idea to invite his friends over for lunch. Tito Abet and I left Manila around 5:30 AM and arrived in Candelaria around 11.

Amongst all my cousins and siblings, I was the only one who was able to go so I was my generation’s representative. Many of Lolo’s visitors were his friends from way, way back. Some were fellow teachers, others were family and relatives. His godchildren also visited, one of whom is the current governor of Zambales.

It was a small affair, but a good one. They sang Lolo songs, told stories and wished him all well. They all had a great time and Lolo did too.


I love being here in Candelaria. It’s so peaceful. It’s also quite good for writing as I was able to write a thousand plus words last night.

The weather’s great too. At mornings it’s sunny and comfortably warm. Around the afternoon, the skies would darken and it would rain, making it pleasantly cool in the evenings. I slept rather long last night, waking up nearly eight.


Lolo hi-jacked my laptop for nearly four hours to talk with Tita Meyann over Skype. It was a good conversation though. I should buy him a microphone and good speakers for the desktop so they can talk more often.


Tito Abet brought his DSLR and I’ve been playing around with it. I still have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to adjusting the settings. Sometimes it’s too bright, sometimes it’s too dark. Composition’s ok, but it still comes out blah. It’s fun to walk around taking pictures though. The chickens are good subjects because they stay perfectly still while you take a shot at them.


One of the things I like about being here is that my skin’s so clean. Back in Manila I have to do all sorts of maintenance just to keep the oiliness at bay, or keep it clear. Here, just water is fine. Maybe I should pack gallons of it and bring it with me.

Heading back to Manila tomorrow. Today, I’m just going to relax. Everyone (my parents and all my siblings) are in Manila. Miks is taking the nursing board exam this weekend. It’s been a while since I had the house nearly all to myself. It’s as good as going to the spa.

Will post pictures later (I forgot my USB cable and the card reader).


Other July 2 celebrants: My former boss Baby O’Brien and my cousin JC. Cheers!

P.S. Last weekend we had a barbeque to celebrate the June boys’ birthday. Miks and the rest of my brothers were absent though, but we had a good time, lots of food and booze and prepared for the next Iron Kitchen Family challenge.

From Friday to Friday

I’ve been really lazy with blogging in past year or two. When I first started I could write about three entries a day. Now, I’m lucky if I would get in the mood to write one a week. I’ve got tons of drafts, but hardly get them posted. I must change that.

For now, I’m going to go through my week really quick, if you’re interested.

Friday, April 23
Went with Presea to Saleng: The Traveling Bonfires at Conspiracy Bar & Garden Cafe on Lornadahl‘s invite. It’s a fund-raising event for ACAY (Association Compassion Asian Youth), a non-profit humanitarian service organization for youth at risk and run under the Missionaries of Mary. Screening of several short films (my favorite was Khavn de la Cruz’ “Cans and Slippers”), poetry reading (best poems of the night were from Of Wisdom and Love) and music was the entertainment of the night. Artists like The Sleepyheads, Anak ni Aling Juana, Ka-Laya, The Late Isabel and one of the ACAY beneficiaries performed to a very appreciative audience.

I enjoyed The Sleepyheads, as Jayvee del Rosario’s playing style reminded me so much of Gene Krupa. Conrad Garcia’s words (poems turned lyrics) were hypnotizing and inspiring. I had a great time with my friends, even though I had to leave early (early by Lornadahl’s standards haha).



Sunday, April 25
I met with Drew late in the afternoon to watch Kick Ass. Since we didn’t make the 4pm screening, we went around the nearby shops to pass time. I had him taste Dr. Pepper (which comes in ridiculously small cans now), looked at comics, furniture shops (I saw an Eero Aarnio ball chair, not sure if it was an original but it sure looked like one) then headed to food court. He had his early dinner, while I just nommed on hakkao from President’s (ironic that I had it here instead of Binondo). While waiting we saw some men sleeping at the Glorietta 4 park. It started off with one man, then two, then three. I couldn’t stop laughing at the scene.

Kick Ass was great! Bloody, violent, but fun and in an odd way, sexy. I liked the audience too, because they just watched appreciatively and reacted well to the scenes. No irritating commentators (like when we saw HTTYD), and I got to love the two guys in front of me who moved to different seats, leaving the seats in front of Drew and me clear. Yeeha. No more obstacles! Thanks for the movie Drew 🙂

Monday, April 26
My grandpa arrived the night before, to my surprise, because I thought it was going to be my dad and my brother. Turns out Lolo had his check-up scheduled so he had to come here. Miks accompanied him for his morning appointment, while I went with him to his evening appointment which we almost missed. The findings were good, his heart and cholesterol were normal and healthy for someone his age (going on 85), but the doctor wanted to check his kidneys. I hope that turns out well too.

Thursday, April 29
Salary came in early and I immediately set aside a substantial amount for savings. I didn’t want to end up using all up of my money and not knowing where it went. Lunch was free since the company was hosting a birthday luncheon for all the April celebrants (something they do monthly). My only expense was the iced caramel macchiato I got when the team went to Starbucks. My boss gave me a mug as a gift, which was actually a request from me.

There were some parlor games during the lunch too. My team lost, because the guys didn’t want to strip. The team that won had the guys stripping down to just their pants, much to the audience’s delight. I didn’t get a prize but since one of the winners already had one before, he gave me his extra. Yay!

After work, I headed to Cubao to meet my family. Tita Marilyn was here with her husband for my cousin Biboy’s oath-taking to the bar. We had dinner at Seafood Island and had a great time. The food was great, the company more amazing. It was wonderful to see my cousins, and get some goodies from Dumaguete. Tita knows how much I love the chicharon there.

Nunik and Cindy arrived home a little later from their road trip up north. They told us stories of what they did, and showed us the stuff they got. Nunik bought two kilos of Vigan longganisa, which I shall cook tomorrow.

Friday, April 30
For lunch, the team went to Cafe Lydia in Marikina. Our manager Mryla suggested this as a sort of belated birthday blowout. It’s a “hole in the wall” place, and I can’t tell you how to get there except ride a jeep from Pasig and when you get to Marikina, it’ll pass by there. I had some pasta with bacon and mushroom sauce, and we had anchovy pizza and buffalo wings for appetizers. It’s a lovely place, with great food (the servings are more than enough for one person) at a very affordable price. Lunch and dinner usually require reservation due to number of people who come there but our lunchtime visit had only a few diners, surprisingly.

Oh, and we did three cities in 5 minutes. Yeah. 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing my friends. I hope we make it to where we want to go. Details after.

My long overdue birthday post

Two weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday. Funny, I don’t feel any different from my previous age or the ages prior. I said it to my friend, who said back, “It’ll be different when you’re thirty.”

I still can’t believe I’m a year away from that, considering that I’m not really conscious about my age like some people are.

My new boss said that “Thirty is the new twenty.” Frankly, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. I think it means something like, thirty is when you should start getting serious with your life, while when you’re at your twenties, you’re still allowed to go gallivanting or something.

Anyway, I’ve got one year to be footloose and fancy-free, so to speak. However, I do think I ought to use that year to really get my life in order. Then again, do I want to get it in order for me, or I want it to be in order based on other people’s standards? Ah, such are the questions of life.

My birthday week was nothing out of the ordinary. I didn’t really do anything outside of my usual work-home routine. However, I couldn’t help feeling really good about a lot of things that week. Maybe it had something to do with how the planets are aligned or something (another friend mentioned that it was a good week for that), or maybe one does just feel a little bit better on their birthdays.

That week, I got a new boss. I also got into a really intense conversation with an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time (if it weren’t complicated, that conversation would be taken further but I believe in karma, so I backed off). Generally, I think I was such a nice person that week, and I felt that nothing could go wrong.

Saturday, I got together with my family for a belated birthday celebration. It was the first time that I organized it. My tita and I did all the marketing and the grocery. I didn’t get to cook much because my uncle had everything under control, so I was more or less the sous chef of the entire thing.

The party (though I really wouldn’t call it that) was great. The food was plentiful, the company was, as usual, awesome. One of my tita’s (mom’s older sister, also my ninang) showed us her pictures of their visit to Egypt. She then gave us her pasalubongs and my gift (which was already an extra since she gave me my Neil Gaiman books last March).


*still waiting for Miel to develop her pictures*

So here’s to another year. I’m very grateful that I’ve gotten this far. Maybe it’s not what I envisioned for myself when I was younger but I can’t complain really. I have my wonderful family, really amazing friends, I have a good job, I’m healthy (even though my lifestyle isn’t so much) and best of all, I’m not stupid. Ignorant and naive sometimes, but not stupid.

Thank you for all the blessings, the gifts, the greetings and the love. 🙂

P.S. I finally got to finish a bottle of San Mig Light. I never liked alcohol, but this was consumed thanks to the help of ice, orange slices and Krispy Kreme. 😛

Hello 2010

I try not to compare each year to the other, because each is unique, with all the events that happened and the people you interact with, most of all, how you were. 2009 was as interesting and exciting as the years before it. I’m thankful that we got through it. I’m thankful for my family who’s always there, for the friends who gave me laughter, great & silly conversations, love and so much more.

Here’s to 2009, and to 2010. Happy New Year!

Weekend post

It’s one of those weekends where everything seemed to just fall into place. Despite the hectic-ness of it all, the oh-so-close and nearly missed times, things worked out that you couldn’t just help go “wow, thanks,” after everything.

Evecar & JP’s wedding
The day finally arrived. My best friend’s older sister, whom I consider my older sister too, got married yesterday. It was truly long event-in-the-making, most of the details which I didn’t really know except for a few bits and pieces, courtesy of Nez and her cousin, Manuel.

I was supposed to be at the family’s condo in Manila at 8:00 AM, but since I wanted to pass by The T-shirt Project’s sale, I arrived there around 10. I was immediately set upon by the make-up artist, who had no idea I wasn’t part of the entourage until the last minute of my, er, making up. Nez wanted me to have a hairpiece like the bridesmaids but I thought that was overkill. Besides, the color didn’t fit my dress.

Things were running great, from my point of view. I thought we were right on schedule, especially as the bride’s family was notorious for being late. Carlo, one of their brothers, told me that we were actually still late, based on their original time table, but I pointed out that at least we started the ceremony with everyone complete.

The wedding was at the Manila Cathedral, but we went by Sofitel for a pictorial with the bride. I gave in to my best friend’s request and wore 4.5″ Christian Loubotin patent pumps. I walked from the parking lot, through the side entrance to the elevator and up to the room where the bride and groom were preparing. I barely sat to rest my aching feet when we were ushered out again to the lobby/Le Bar for another set of photos. To which I whispered to one of the titas, “Why am I here again?”

I really cannot see the point of high hells, er, heels. Sorry ladies. I’m more Danny Choo’s fan than Jimmy’s. I tried to really, really, make it work, but where I’m normally the fastest walker in my group, I ended up being the slowest. It was an experience, all right… one I’d rather not repeat. Thank God for back-up shoes.

I did manage to get into the pictures. I was sitting in one of the couches when one by one, the bridesmaids sat down beside be as the bride was taking a picture with her mom. Afterwards she joined us and the photographer started to take photos. Most of the time, I just stood there (or sat haha).

We were at the Cathedral around 4 PM. I thought we were going to start immediately but it turns out that there was a previous wedding going on so we had to wait. It was a military wedding, complete with cadets and sabers to salute the bride and groom as they exited the church. It was rather interesting, even the wedding after us, where the male half of the entourage we all Caucasian men wearing Barong Tagalog. It was definitely an interesting sight and too bad I didn’t have a picture.

The wedding was beautiful. I couldn’t help but tear up as Evecar walked down the aisle. There were a lot of happy tears around but it was the groom’s dad who stole the show. He really cried as he was walking with his wife and JP and it was so touching.

The reception was at Intramuros and wow. I can’t find enough words to describe it. It was elegant, classy and just awesome (sorry for the so over used word). We were all thankful that it didn’t rain. Not a cloud in the sky to mar the beautiful evening.


Photo by Nelwin Uy

I got roped into the bouquet toss, but it was my best friend who got picked in the end. The guy who got the garter was a classmate of the groom.

Afterwards, I went with Caryl (one of the bride’s sisters), Manuel and his friend for pictures around the grounds. What I’d give for a professional photographer (or at least, a tripod), but I think we made great use of our point and shoot cameras. Hey, it’s only once in a while that we’d be all dressed up and in such a fabulous location.

It was late when we left Intramuros. I ended up sleeping at their house, because I thought my bag was at the condo so I had to wait for it in the morning. Turns out it was in the car all along, so I could’ve gone home. Oh well, it was nice to be able to just relax after such a hectic day.

Everything was just beautiful that day. The church, the dresses, the make up, the location… I could go on. Even the little glitches were things that you could overlook because of the way everything just fell through.

Did I mention that the bride wore two gowns? For the church ceremony she wore a Vera Wang wedding dress, then for the reception, it was a St. Pucci one (or I got it the other way around?). The maid of honor, my ever fashionista best friend, wore Oscar de la Renta. I get my fashion education from them haha.

Congratulations and best wishes to JP and Evecar-Cruz Ferrer!

Toy Story
Supposedly, I was going to watch “A Christmas Carol” with Drew. However, I was late… and it was 3D. Kuripot the two us were, we ended up doing a small food trip (well, it was mostly me who was eating/drinking) while walking around.

Legos are love, love, love. They cost an arm and a leg though, so I’ll end up doing some wishful thinking. Ah, but it’s nice to dream, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up buying something one day.

On the way home, I managed to buy some gifts for the office Kris Kringle. Got a few items that I needed as well, so I ended up spending a bit more than I expected. Oh well.

Tired, but in a good way. Here’s to another work week!

Little things that make me happy

The long weekend was good. My sister was here, so that meant all five of us sibs were complete.

Saturday, my sister and I spent some time together. We went to SM Manila to look for a gift for my best friend’s sister. I’m glad for the gift checks that I have because I didn’t have to spend much for anything. Afterwards, we went to meet my best friend. Notorious for being late, I knew that we were going to wait for a bit.

Thankfully there was a Starbucks nearby, so while waiting, my sister read the newest Kiko Machine compilation, while I played “Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.” Yes, I managed to find a copy.

The Starbucks branch we were in was busy, and there were a lot of Korean students. I joked that I felt like I was the foreigner.

An hour later, Nez finally arrived and we went ahead to decorate their place for the party.

It was a good night. I had a blast hanging out with my best friend and her family, and it was great to finally introduce my sister to them. I’ve known Nez since we were 2nd grade but they rarely get to see my family. As her brother said, he had this idea that I was an only child. Haha.

Sunday, Dion, Otki and I went to Megamall because Dion wanted to buy some cards. He’s pretty much into card tricks these days, and he’s collecting different types of these cards. He’s pretty good at saving up his allowance so whatever he buys, he gets from his own money.

We just went around the shops, had lunch and merienda. It was a sale weekend, although surprisingly, there weren’t that much people compared to the last time I was there during a sale. Probably people already spent their money… or they were there the day before.

Monday, I took Otki to the bus station, then played most of the day. Half of the puzzles I solved thanks to the help of my siblings. The game itself became a joint effort between us haha. I finished the game last night.

The story here is a bit more dramatic than “Curious Village,” and instead of being on one location, here you actually get to solve puzzles in three (or at least, the major locations anyway) places: the train, Dropstone and Folsense. Four, if you count London. Oh, and the final puzzle is really clever. It’s so simple to solve but it took me a while to figure out what to do next… and it wasn’t with the stylus either.

Some of the puzzles really stumped me, but a good chunk of them were pretty easy to solve. With “Curious Village,” there were some instructions that had me scratching my head because it was so vague, but the clues here were a lot more clearer, and a few of the puzzles were related to the story, so it works well. I love the animation and the music, and I’m really hoping that the movie will be subbed soon!

I’ve got a few side puzzles and some unsolved puzzles within the game that I’m going to finish, but I want a new Layton game, mostly for the story. Ah, poor Final Fantasy III, I never got back to you.