John Legend All of Me Tour

My wife, God Bless her soul, with all her stress at work can still manage to find luck and brush up on perks from her desk job as a marketing personnel. She got two Patron seat tickets for the John Legend All of Me Tour for free! She has been planning to buy tickets for us because JL’s song “All of Me” is her absolute favorite. She plays it all the time, on her iPad, Car stereo and in her phone. She just can’t get enough of the song. I began to listen to John Legend during his breakout song “Ordinary People” and I must say, that song is  beautifully written, and soulfully sung. You can just feel the emotions of the song and you can’t help but at times use the same words when you’re having an argument with your partner. His songs after that were still very good but not as perfect as the first. Until this song came along this year. I was not a fan from the first listen, but since it is a hit song, I downloaded it. As I began to listen to the song in the car, it grew on me. First it was the piano, then the John Legend soul of a voice and lastly the words, which I think is the most important element of the song. It is one of those rare songs that reinvented the way you say “I Love you so  much”, “You rock my world”, and “You are so beautiful and you are mine”. John Legend has once again just made it easy for a guy to sweeten his way into a lady.

He never disappointed. His voice is so powerful, passionate and expressive. His piano skills is impeccable. His play of voice is tastefully done and his segues are perfect with all his jokes and what nots. It was one of those great concerts and it was made perfect because of my companion – my life, my love, my wife.

Honey and I JLIMG_6044

Advertisements

As One

The National Statistics Office data showed that there were 202,614 civil marriages last year (2012), 35% of this were solemnized in the Catholic Church. I can proudly say that I am part of those statistics. Let me reminisce some of the processes that I personally went through to prepare for and face the the reality that my life as a bachelor will soon be over.

It all started with engagement. Honestly the proposal was not that sweet and spectacular as those posted on youtube or those themed and public engagements that are rampant in the world today. I hae heard and watched so much about thees engagements but for me as soon as I got the Ring, I rushed to see her and just popped the question inside the car in a very hot afternoon in May of 2011. She laughed and then cried and I guess happy because its hard to cry and laugh at he same time unless you have some screws loose which she doesn’t have.

A barrage of announcements and celebrations soon followed and after all that the real joys and pains of preparation slowly began to creep inside our heads (and pockets).

I began to be a denizen of Wedding fairs and Expos left and right. From the SMX Convention center, to the Tent of the Fort and to the Megatrade Halls of SM Megamall. Its an hour of at least walking around the the different displays and exhibits. You can see and fit wedding and engagement rings. Try to ride and feel the comfort of your Wedding car which varies from Benzes to Chryslers and Porsches. Talk to a designer regarding you and your entourage’s themed dress. You can talk to make up artists, listen to wedding bands and negotiate over your flower and table arrangements. You can load up on wedding cakes and caterers by trying some of their best tasting menus and treats. I know I did, especially when I chanced upon Ms Joy San Gabriel’s heavenly treats. From her cakes and her smooth and delectable marshmallow cupcakes plus her little bites of brazo de mercedes heaven (my personal favorite…actually all her goodies are my favorites). We got her cupcakes with topper as our “wedding cake”.

We traversed through the endless aisles and rows of exhibits  Collecting a mountain of leaflets and brochures of different size and color along the way. My wife and I were in dire need of a caterer that’s unique and affordable. The big names of catering were all over the exhibits with their grand food tastings and unlimited freebies that will surely attract the untrained and gullible couples. We chanced upon a small but interesting caterer who captivated our taste buds with her unique pastas I think we taeted 3 different kinds of pasta which all tasted great.

I Love You not Because…

I love you not because You complete me
We are both individually complete as we are
I love you not because you are mine
We are not each others possession anyway
I love you not because you are beautiful
Beaty will fade with age
I love you not because you are kind and thoughtful
Sometimes you are rude and at times you forget a lot of things
I love you not because you make me happy
Happiness give way to tears when hurt
I love you not because I married you
Divorce and separation defiles its sanctity
I love yoou not because of all the good and mushy stuff
Love has in its ownership
I love you because you are God’s perfect blessing for me
I know it will take a lifetime of partnership just to show you
How much I love you, but for now
I hope that this little poem will suffice…

20121012-135214.jpg

Food Taste

It was a very tiring day both for me and my wife, but we still have to go to this food tasting for our wedding caterer. We went there near Panay avenue, in a small office space was a round table with plating set for three, since the tasters will be me and my wife plus my mother in law. The table setting was very simple but nice and definitely not the arrangement my wife has in mind. We met the chef and her crew. We actually met her in the NBC tent where a wedding fair was being held. That time she was very busy with another client so we settled for a small portion food taste of pasta (two kinds, one red sauce with jalopeno which I absolutely loved and one with white sauce base with beef, also very good and sumptous. We were impressed and settled for a calling card instead so that we can keep our options open and try to see what she can offer. There were so many caterers that day. Ranging from the very famous and expensive, to the very cheap and unknown and those who beg to be different from the usual pack. Flavors on Fire belonged to the last one.
We were first served with Lemongrass Tea. It was delicious and very refreshing! I was really surprised on how smooth and cool it washed down through my parched throat. It taste like Halls or Max candy in a form of a cold drink. So far so good. The next was a pumpkin base soup called Cream of Butternut Squash with Garlic Croutons. It sounds good and it definitely tastes even better. Next I tasted the first of the two pastas prepared. Linguini Pormodoro. A tomato based pasta whch I instantly liked. Next stop were the three entrees of poisson A la Meuniere (french style fish steak in brown butter sauce) which became my true favorite because its very creamy with a balance of sweet and salty but with a very distinct texture and taste which sets it apart from the usual cream fish steaks served in hotels and other large gatherings. I’m telling you, this one is worth the four month wait. Gai Phad King (Thai Stled Stir Fried Chicken with ginger, mushrooms and herbs), not your usual chicken but still I am sure you’ll love it just as we did. Yes its Thai but for those who are not a fan, this dish deserves tasting before you judge it unfairly. It will not alienate you with its herbs and spices but rather entice you to be a little more sophisticated in eating your chicken. I must admit I’m not a Thai dish lover but this chicken entree made me lean more in giving Thai cooking a chance in my future gastronomic endeavors. Last was the Braised Porkloin in Italian Sauce. Simply put…it was pork bathed in italian cream sauce and herbs that incorporated well with the very tender slice of pork. Dessert was nostalgic for me personally. They served black sticky rice, another thai inspired dish. This sticky rice pudding in coconut cream brought me back to my childhood when my lola used to cook Biko for meryenda. The pudding served, for me was just Biko sexed up to be more classy, but amidst all that I can only think of one thing every time I shove a teaspoon of that sticky rice in my mouth, the memory of childhood and my lola’s cooking and for that alone, I loved the dessert. After all me and my wife intend to partake not just food and drink to the guests on the reception on our wedding day but an experience. An experience that will hopefully take you places without leaving the reception and trek you down memory lane without having to travel through time. It was just a simple food taste but for us it was a big start of good things yet to come.

Paradise in Caramoan (Almost!)

I work in a company where we are given an early week long vacation during the lenten season. Starting Holy Monday, we can already go out and enjoy the holiday. For this year my wife and I decided that we want to go to Bicol and see the famous and newly discovered beauty of the Caramoan Islands. Originally we wanted to have a joy ride from Manila to Naga City but my friend from Naga insist that we commute by either train or bus. Luckily with my wife’s mastery of all things travel, she booked us a flight to Naga City at a very affordable rate.

We started the journey on a Monday late morning flight to Naga. The plane was small and turbulence was present while on air. I am not afraid of flying but when you’re constantly shaken at around 55,000 ft or so, you will definitely start to think that something bad might happen. Maybe its just me and my defeatist mind.

We arrived early afternoon and was fetched by my good friend Don. We bought snack/lunch at Bigg’s Burger – a local Burger chain in Bicol, the taste is not at all special and it is expensive for a burger and chicken meal that doesn’t have much to be proud of, plus it took them almost 30 minutes to serve two burgers and one chicken meal. It was not a good welcome experience. Not good at all.

We went straight to a hot spring resort just under the foot of a mountain in the far edge of Naga city. It was a long drive though and a treacherous one at that with sudden climbs and steep descents plus the paved road can only accommodate one way at a time. It was a simple resort divided into different pools, some hot some cold. You can see and feel the running water from the mountain down to the different pools. You also get a rainforest scenery and feel to the resort and there are bamboo cottages and room for overnight stay. I love the nature, virgin forest feel to it but my wife hated the “nocnoc” bites.

Image

Image

The next day, we woke up very early in the morning to drive for one hour and a half to Sabang port. It’s not as easy as it sounds because to my surprise thick fog covered the road and made it very difficult for me to drive because 1) I am not familiar with the road (plus they have no lines!) and 2) the windshield of the car I’m using is filled with scratches. I felt that I won’t be able to reach the port in time because of this thick fog. Fortunately, my friend who is the lead car assisted me by slowing down and after a few more minutes, the road began to clear and driving from then on was easy.

We reached the port and talked to my friend’s contact. We parked and began the tricky part of boarding the ferry. There was no paved and steady platform that will comfortably lead you inside the ferry, instead, you get to ride a floating “bridge” manually steered by the local porters from the beach front into the ferry. Scary situation number it was!

Image

Image

The ferry was packed like sardines. The seating arrangement is literally a pain in the ass. Our group sat in the part of the ferry where the leg room is virtually zero and back support is just a small plywood pushing your lower back forward. Imagine all of these punishment constantly pressing against your body for a good hour and a half. There even came a time when I can’t feel my back, my butt and my legs!

We arrived at the Caramoan port and rode a tricycle to our lodging area at the main barangay. Two things caught my attention. The first was a large printed tarpaulin announcement saying that several islands are unavailable from feb 2012 until August 2012. As it turned out, Survivor USA is renting the said islands for their upcoming season. These islands according to the locals are the best islands of Caramoan! Poor Filipino tourists. The other attention grabber was the infrastructure in Caramoan. It is poorly maintained! To think that this municipality has been visited my so many tourists and rented by so many Survivor franchises from different countries (France, Israel, Turkey, Thailand, just to name a few) and see such slow advances in port building and road maintenance truly is a surprise.

We checked in at a house with two rooms. My wife and I stayed on the room at the ground floor. We were immediately served with an early lunch of crabs, laing, bicol express and veggies in coconut milk.

Laing

bicol express

crabs

Ginataang Gulay

We left the house for the port to begin our island hopping. It was around 12 noon and the sun was striking us so hot. I can’t quite remember how long the travel was from the port to the first island. Along the way, you can see the varied islands and rock formations. Some are small, and some are huge. Some have white sand beaches in it while some have no visible swimming area, just grooves and holes that were created by the unending crash of waves. The islands are also replete with trees and vegetation. I think that’s a good sign on the health of this booming tourist attraction.

We stopped at four islands and took some pictures. I can honestly say that the first day island hop was not spectacular since my expectation for this place is very high. The islands and the surrounding waters for swimming is normally beautiful and pristine at the the most. We had late lunch at one of the island and even got to sleep for half an hour at an island where 4  bamboo shanties were built.

We started sailing home at around 430 in the afternoon, we arrived at the port an hour after that. We freshen up and ate dinner but before that, my wife and I had a taste of their local isaw and chicken chops just at the end of our street. We rested because tomorrow will be the real start of the revelation on the true beauty the islands of Caramoan has to offer.

We got up early and left for the second port of Caramoan. It’s low tide so we can see the mangrove roots surrounding the port. Our tour guide Mang Jerry (?) informed us on the next islands we are about to visit. An hour later, we were on our first island. The island’s sand bar is exposed and the water was very shallow that almost a kilometer from the shore, you can still walk and explore the outskirt of the island through the exposed sand. A helicopter appeared and hovered above us. It was the Survivor crew having an ocular  since some of the best islands were near our island. Pictures, buko juice and shells after, we proceeded to our next island, and I’m telling you, this island alone can truly represent the beauty and majesty of Caramoan.

We approached this next island which our tour guide told us is under the ownership of Mr Freddie Garcia – former president of ABS CBN. The island is now valued at least 25 million pesos. It was bought way way back for an undisclosed amount.  We talked to the former owner and local senior guide and now acting as the caretaker of the island and he shared some anecdotes on the sale between him and Mr FMG. The island was breathtaking! Fine white sand, clear blue water and at the edge was a winding sand path overlooking two islands. One adjacent and one to the left. We kept on saying WOW and GOD, because truly the island is spectacular. the whole island is covered with trees from the inside. This is the spot for picture taking – and lots of it! We ate lunch and my friends enjoyed the water for swimming much as I enjoyed the island for sight seeing and picture taking. The crowd began to swell after almost two hours of stay and we said that that’s our cue to leave for the next island.

The next two islands were beautiful. The first has a making for a commercialized resort. It has a big project plan displayed for a full size resort complete with a swimming pool, but for now it is still an island half touched by civilization.

My friends and tour guide were keen in getting us to a forbidden island (islands occupied by  the Survivor crew). Mang Jerry the great guide that he is, was able to sneak us in an island that has the finest sand ever (that’s what we think anyway)! I began to take pictures of my wife and the island guard told us that picture taking is prohibited in that island. It’s sad I know but I managed to steal some snapshots. The island was actually off limits and so was the mystic lagoon where according to local folklore, two Bangus were found to be swimming and living in it (you can;t find any Bangus off the waters of Caramoan and its nearby islands) and are said to be enchanted. One tourist went to the lagoon and caught one Bangus and ate it. It is said that because of that act of disrespect, he paid with his life. Now, only a single Bangus is left swimming in the lagoon and nobody dares touch that Milkfish or a curse or worse death will come your way. We stayed for a quick 5 minutes and left. The next boat of tourists were strictly not allowed to alight from their boats. We were lucky I guess.

The travel back, we saw breathtaking rock formations and had a glimpse of the islands occupied by the Survivor crew. We saw the Gota village where an overnight stay would cost 10,000 big ones. From afar I can say that it will be worth it. We went home at around 530 in the afternoon. On a tricycle ride home we passed by a parade of people and statues since its Maundy Thursday and the culmination of the Holy Week is just unraveling. It was a good second day trip. It was hot and tiring but it was oh so fulfilling.

The next morning we had breakfast, settled the bill and left for the port to Sabang Island. But before that, we visited Saint Michael Parish. An old Spanish Colonial Church with beautiful and genuine brick work from the 16th century. We left around 10 am and this time the ferry was half full so the sardine like ride that I dreaded the first day was not a problem this time. it was a good hour and a half travel. We saw Dina Bonnevie’s island just 15 minutes from the Sabang port. It stands alone in the middle of the sea and it is surrounded with swimmable white sand beach. Arriving at the port we were again greeted by the swimming porters and the single floatation bridge that will transport us from the ferry to the beach. We can see throngs of new tourists on their way to Caramoan. It’s a relief that we are done with the well deserved vacation without the usual volume of people and inconvenient situations associated with long holidays and summer vacations. My wife and I will definitely return to the islands since a lot of the really beautiful islands were off limits.

Caramoan is a true example of how beautiful, virginal and undiscovered the islands of our blessed country is. Its just sad that  due to politics and profiteering of a few, Caramoan still has a long long way to go for it to really realize and live up to its potential both in the infrastructure and tourism. I keep on telling the locals that they have a beautiful place there and that they should take care of it and always be vigilant because sooner or later the Blessing that is Caramoan can just vanish and be destroyed not just by the people that I mentioned earlier but by the tourists and most importantly by the locals themselves unaware that their island is already driven to abuse and exhaustion. Surely it still is more fun in the Philippines and may I add, more Beautiful.

Graduation

It has been almost 14 years since I graduated High School at Immaculate Conception Parish High School. Early this afternoon I attended my youngest sister’s graduation at the new Basketball court of the school. Entering the new establishment, I can’t help but compare how this place was during my high school years. Back then we call it the Jurassic Court since it literally looked like a scene from the Jurassic Park movie. You can only see two  almost dilapidated basketball hoops, a semi concrete floor and layer upon layer of vegetation, and it has no roof to protect the players from the heat of sun or from the harsh cold of the rain. Many years after and the place is very modern and well equipped even to host the class 2012’s commencement exercise. Watching the program from the side with my dad while holding a camera and taking snapshots of Maima from time to time, I saw some familiar faces from the stage. Former advisors and subject teachers were there overseeing the program. I saw my adviser from my sophomore year – Mrs Sandoval (Ms Halog when she was still single and was popularly coined as the “crush ng bayan” then), my best adviser from senior year – Mr Llanos who thought me a lot and helped me get through the difficulties of my financial and personal situation from before. As the years pass by I can see lesser familiar faces. One familiar face who doesn’t seem to forget who I am is my 4th grade teacher, Mrs Tabbal. She waved at me and I approached her and we began to talk for a few a minutes. I said to myself after the conversation that these teachers are really dedicated with what they do. I have high respects for teachers. They should be treated well and compensated more because the future of this country depends so much on them – literally!

I can see my sister from afar, i took some pictures when an opportune time and angle shows itself. Me and my Dad laboriously watched and listened to all the speeches and addresses plus of course the awards – academic and non academic. Their non academic awards were named after saints. I wasn’t able to hear and understand what those saint named awards stand for, but I am sure that the salutatorian got almost the saint named non academic awards. He is not only good academically but he is also good in his extra curricular activities. It is also worth noting that during my time we only have less than 10 awards but now I think they gave away 20 plus awards plus scholarships from the University of the East and Fatima University. The kids right now are blessed to have so much opportunities given to them especially to the very intellectual ones.

My sister is a member of the pilot (star) section. She is a very smart kid, curious and naive at times. I can still remember her time as a small and very cute baby. I call her our family’s miracle baby not because of anything magical but because when she was born things for and within my family turned for the better. Now that she’s all grown up and will soon become an adult and indulge in a new chapter of her life, I can only thank the Lord because he has always been there to help and guide us through the difficult task of keeping Jemaima in a very good Private and Catholic school. I only have gratitude for my parents because they did everything just to make today’s event a beautiful reality. Four more years and Jemaima will face the real challenges of life but until then, she must first prepare herself and take all the opportunities and learnings college will offer her.Image

I am so proud of my Baby sister Joan. Congratulations and We are always here for you.

Image

One Mistake

What can one mistake do? May it be the simplest of mistakes or the most offensive sorts, i know what it can do. It can surely ruin even the best of relationships. It can hurt deeply inside a worried lover’s heart. It can lose one’s most sacred trust. This is most true with the mistakes of infidelity and dishonesty in a relationship may it be romantic, family or business and work. Some mistakes can only be forgiven with time, and I mean a very long time. For some people a mistake can be forgiven but not forgotten, for in the memory of the mistake can the person learn the lessons of life. An innocent mistake even though it sounds less obnoxious is still a folly that carries consequences that affects countless people for so long time.
Throughout the course of History, mistakes from the past are still repeated over and over and over. Even with the advent of advanced technology and telecommunication, people, states and nations still commit the same mistakes. You might have thought that by now we know better, but we only learn its lesson for a while and start to rebuild the new way and course of a much innovative but equally destructive form of it for the future generations to experience and figure out on how to solve it and learn from it again. It’s a cycle i guess.
For me, I have learned what my mistake taught me. I saw the person that I truly love get hurt really bad. I saw her eyes change from love to fury. I heard her voice change from sweet to bitter and I almost saw the end of my so perfect life and love. We always hear the adage that we only realize what we got only until its gone. I for a split second thought that those words will be the theme of my life but God is good and she’s very kind that amidst my mistake, she still accepted and loved me more and more. Im the luckiest guy this side of the world, I almost became the biggest douche to have lost the greatest love and blessing of his life.
Note to self: learn from your mistakes and never ever commit the same mistake again. Bow.