Thank you Lord for my 2013

2013 has been fun, crazy and unbelievable. Happy news, home transfers,
 transitions, etc. It tested my character as a woman. I felt that 10 years has been added to my age!! However, it made me see and appreciate God in a bigger perspective. I got to experience and trust him more. At the end of the day, I am grateful these beautiful things that happened in a year. Cramped as it may seem, God was the author of them all. His name be praised!!

Just to be specific, I am thankful for 2013 because...

1. we celebrated our first year wedding anniversary

2. we got pregnant and gave birth 
thru a normal delivery to Risen

3. our families have been really supportive and on-call

4. inspite our sked, we still have time for friends

5. Tessie is with us twice a week. She helps us maintain our home

6. the Lord provides! Bryan is the only one working for our lil fam

7. Bryan is almost done with Law school

8. of free vaccines

9. we were introduced to Babywise. It made parenthood easier (we are on book 2 now)

10. of technology. I can blog, talk to friends abroad, study on the side and be productive

JADE KARLA RESTAURANT - from turo-turo to a restaurant

If hunger caught you during your drive around Ilocos Norte, I suggest you drop by Jade Karla Restaurant. Their menu includes traditional and authentic Ilokano dishes. Since this food stop started as a turo turo, you will surely find their cooking      affordable and tasty.

For our lunch, we had Sinigang Blue Marlin and Pansit. The Sinigang was amazingly superb! I was surprised because the sinigang only includes utong (ilokano word for stringbeans), but mind you, masarap talaga. It would be perfect if the fish was not overcooked.

As for the pancit, I did not expect much because it was only 15 pesos. According to my Ilokano husband, this is the typical pansit of Ilocos. It was okay, but I was overwhelmed of oil so we just had it taken out for merienda at home. Plus it did not match our Sinigang.

Over-all, if you want authentic Ilokano food that is surely affordable, eat at Jade Karla's Restaurant. The one we visited is located along Currimao, Ilocos Norte. 

Estancia Hotel Tagaytay

As much as I want the old Tagaytay back, I am also a happy to see boutique hotels sprout along its foggy and smoggy street.

Good thing Bryan surprised me with an overnight stay at Estancia last year. It is a Greece inspired resort-hotel.  One of its amenities is an indoor pool which we had a chance to try buy we (more of Bry hehe) were not able to stay because of the cold breeze and water. Fine, who goes swimming in Tagaytay nga naman.  However, the idea was still brilliant.  If your not ginawin, kaya naman...

The room we occupied has a nice view of the space of the resort.  Ang sarap tumitig dito sa kawalan or just people watch.  I remember making tambay here while sharing stories with Bryan.  

We also walked around and went up a certain spot wherein you can view the whole of Estancia. We went there at night so the lights, air and ambiance spelled romance. Twas a warm corner in the middle of Tagaytay.

Our accomodation came in with free breakfast. We chose between their set meals. Their morning menu was not so memorable, however, the view of Taal volcano from our table was rewarding. While waiting for our food, I went through their menu and was weirded out on why they do not have anything Greek.  Kasi diba, they are a Greek inspired hotel, so expected na may Greek food. Oh well.

Anyway, the rest of our stay was really nice. Cozy bed. Very relaxing ambiance. Warm staff.

Out of 5, I will give Estancia 4 stars. I am reccommending it for families with kids because of their wide lawn. Those who also want to have a quiet time or retreat with the Lord will find Estancia perfect. They also have other ammenities such as Jaccuzi, billiard hall and playground. 

R and R Resort and Spa

For our first wedding anniversary we went to R and R Resort and Spa. We chose this place because we wanted a quick get away that won't be too far  from Risen since he would be left to his lola. Second, I miss the water and our backs have been recently aching so we thought that hot springs would be perfect . Lastly, Bry and I needed a place that would be quiet, relaxing ( to both our body and pockets) and private.
After a whole day stay, we liked the idea of: 

1. Ample parking

2. Green everywhere

3. Huge room (we had a villa for 2)

4. Quick and good service, reasonable and tasty food, and kind staff

5. Very affordable rates

However, we think the resort needs to improve on the:

1. Pool temperature and cleanliness
     Since it was not peak season, the pool water was not hot. I think the water has been there for a day or 2.  It was not even clean when we went. We had to ask them to start cleaning so we can swim.  So we just stayed on the clean part which was near the fountain. Good thing the water was warm, nainitan ang aming lower backs.

2. Its facilities
    R and R has been in the business for 22 years already so I think that some needs renovation, particularly in their villas. Halata na kasing luma  na talaga.

All in all, I would give the resort a 3 out if 5 stars simply because of our standards. Wait, don't judge.  Let me clarify. I think we have both reached the point that vacation places needs to be flawless since we make time and pay for it. It was a cheap stay but we thought that if we have added a few hundreds to our budget, we could have checked in instead to a boutique hotel.  Will we go back to R and R? Maybe not. 

However, if your budget is really tight and you want a quiet and green resort in the middle of the crowded Pansol, R and R could be perfect for you.

For more info click THIS

How to Make a Memory Collage

What you need:

colored papers
Pens, crayons, etc
Scissors and cutter
*Memory bank

1. Using your memory bank, recall the milestones/big news that happened on ur first year (Or any span of days you are celebrating)

2. Cut paper into squares (size would matter on the frame and number of milestones)

3. Think of pictures, drawings and or symbols you can cut and paste, sketch, and make to represent each milestone

4. Start filling up your boxes with symbols

5. Fit the boxes on the board of the frame 

6. Wrap and give  ( i did not wrap mine. Instead, I wrote a love letter)


September 2010 – I was on leave from work for three days because I was hospitalized due to exudative tonsillopharyngitis (whatever that means ). When I went back, I noticed that the table next to mine, which was supposedly for a senior faculty member who doesn’t stay at the faculty room was already occupied (if not intruded) by a newly hired teacher. I was in a little disagreement when I realized that someone is occupying that spot since the same table is at times an extension of mine. However, I didn’t have any other choice but to accept her to be my seatmate since I wasn’t around to object when she occupied the said table. Having no choice, I went with my usual faculty room routine – read, prepare for class, eat and little chitchat with co-teachers including my new seatmate. Time and days passed when my seatmate and I learned to share stories and discover about each other. One of the notable discoveries: she is a cousin of a dropped-out of my class. 

The “First Friday” of October – my fellow teachers have “Sacred Heart of Jesus” novena as a tradition every first Friday of the month. Since my seatmate is new in the college and it is my birthday month, we felt the requirement of attending the said novena. By the way, tradition includes a little salo-salo after the novena, that’s why I needed to attend. Novena booklets were distributed to each one and while our co-faculty were reading their prayers, my seatmate and I were just flipping one page after the other. There we discovered that both of us are Christians – she belongs to Bible-Centered Fellowship – Camella and I belong to Paoay Faith Baptist Church.

Sometime before the first semester ends or the start of second semester – my seatmate arrived at school with a big black knapsack (as if she stalked away from home). I offered her a ride home since I knew that her place is still kilometers away from school. She agreed to my offer with a counter-offer that she would be treating dinner first before heading to their place. We drove to Robinson’s Place Manila. While strolling around looking for a good place to have dinner, we happened to bumped into our former colleague who secretly asked and teased her why we were together. There was just a short laughter and stare of disbelief from that colleague. After some more time of strolling, we ended up eating in a Japanese restaurant. A very fine and stories-filled dinner concluded our mall ramble.  I drove her to her condo in Alabang and bid our good-byes.

February 13, 2011 – my seatmate, another friend and I drove to Tagaytay. We roamed around and took pictures of different beautiful and later became memorable sites of Tagaytay. After a day of sightseeing, we had a pre-valentine dinner of bulalo and tawilis. And, the best way to end a day – coffee. We headed to a coffee shop where “life and love” stories were shared. While “life and love” tales were narrated, my seatmate and I were caught revealing that the next boyfriend/girlfriend we will have should definitely be our spouses. Our friend started to tease us and said we should start considering each other. There, I started to think that our friend’s idea is worth considering. But wait, before I fully consider it, my seatmate needs to really be God’s answer to my prayers and desires when I was younger, i.e. she needs not only be a Christian, but also from a Christian family. Moreover, her family, especially her parents, need respect before I completely “give-in” to her.

Sometime on February 2011 (after our Tagaytay trip) – she asked me to meet her aunt prior meeting her family. I agreed to her. My meet – up with her aunt was okay. Nothing spectacular, just getting to know each other and just few questions I need to answer. I really wanted to meet her family and that will make or break it. A week has passed and she finally brought me to her home and meet her family. It was a dinner of a huge pizza which her dad bought in a supermarket and a cake which we brought. The dinner’s menu include an appetizer of prayer for meals, a soup of getting to know one’s business, background and Christian upbringing, a main course of asking her parents for their blessing to me and to “us” and a dessert of teasing and mockery from her sister.  A fulfilling and God-directed evening!

March 6, 2011 – she invited me to watch a theatre show in her home church. She told me that it would be a culminating show for them and a show passing the baton of BCF – Camella theater ministry to the next generation of young people. I went to see it and after the church activities, I drove and brought her to one of her cousin’s condo, only to hear an answer of “I love you, too” whatever the question was. I invited her to go to a place where we could share thoughts and have prayer time. For the first time, we held hands and prayed together. That day and night was one of the longest for both of us. Our first long night ended with a pizza and a quick hello to her cousin – the one who dropped out from my class. (Funny and ironic but true)

Days or even weeks before June 9, 2011 – since we both love travelling, we planned going up to Baguio just to feel its cold breeze. Actually, this would be our first out-of-Manila trip together and to make this extra memorable, I thought of grabbing the opportunity of asking her to be my wife. I contacted her friends (local and international) and consulted them if this or that engagement ring design would fit her until finally we had made a decision about it. I went to the jewelry shop and asked to make the ring as fast as they could.
June 9, 2011 - We didn’t have any concrete Baguio itinerary except having prayer time and breakfast as soon as we arrive, meet the former senior pastor of my home church who was then Baguio-based and travel back to Manila the same night. The morning was still young when we reached Baguio.  We then decided to go to Camp John Hay for devotions, prayer time and breakfast. However, while devotion is going on, my big break really had its break. I brought out the ring from my backpack and showed it to her. There I asked her if she could be my partner in loving and serving God. She excitingly said, “yes!” J Again, another long day for us! And again had our hands intertwined and looked up to the Lord in prayer. Our breakfast of waffles also became our first meal as “engaged.” Our Baguio trip went to its way throughout the day.

June 9, 2012 – Unconsciously, we scheduled the traditional pamamanhikan on the anniversary of our engagement. I fetch my parents from the airport  for they are from Paoay, Ilocos Norte and went straight to my seatmate’s place. A pastor and his wife, her grandmother and family were all waiting for us. We ate and shared stories as one family. It was also my first time to hear her papa call my dad “balae.”

December 6, 2012 – This day marked our union as husband and wife. After months of preparations and prayers, we finally exchanged our wedding vows and promised before God and men to be each one’s lifetime mate. My intruder seatmate is now my God-given “lifemate.”

This chapter of our lives unfolded in 27 months – 27 months of knowing and discovering God’s plan for us – as individuals and as partners. Now, we are in awe experiencing how our Life Author is writing another chapter of “us”.