Family, TRAVEL

HONGKONG

The first time I went to Hongkong was the day I found out I was pregnant with Danae, sometime February 2005. King and I were married only 3 months then, our first time to be out of the country together. It was pretty memorable, especially that my Dad was still with us, that a random guy bumped me hard in the MTR station (I didn’t look pregnant at all, but I was pretty shaken), that we stayed in this hotel with tiny rooms, and that I started my “morning” sickness there, which included feeling nauseous around Chinese food hahaha. Weather was pretty cold. We went on the local tour, which included the awesome Victoria Peak. We went to Ocean Park too. I realized just the other day that maybe the reason why Danae is so fearless is that she was in my tummy while I was on that very high cable car.

The second time we went, we stayed at Shamrock Hotel in Kowloon for a night and then enjoyed Disneyland for 2 days, spending 2 nights in Disney Hollywood Hotel. That and the park itself were memorable enough! Many of you may not know that I used to love love love Mickey. I collected Mickey stuff. I even have Mickey’s hands, which I got from McDonald’s happy meals while I was single and they are now being enjoyed by the girls. That trip rekindled my love for Mickey haha. I was so giddy with excitement, not only for myself but for Danae who was 4 and Noelle who was 11 months old. That was December 2009. Weather was a bit cold too. My Dad wasn’t with us anymore, but my mom was with us (of course), including my brother, his wife and 23-month-old son. I was bummed then that we weren’t able to take a picture with Mickey, but we were able to get a nice family shot in front of Cinderella’s castle for our annual Christmas card.

Last week was our third time! Us, my mom, my brother, his wife and now 4-year-old son Gabby. Danae is 6, Noelle 3. We hit Disneyland first, and stayed in the same wonderful hotel for 2 nights. I was equipped with my awesome camera so I took a lot of shots. King’s parents, brother, nieces and nephew came on our second day.  We got to spend the afternoon with them in Disneyland. We’ve all never been out of the country together. The girls surely enjoyed their cousins being there. And we finally have a picture with Mickey, yes!!!!

It was cold, showering a lot and I was prepared! I brought Danae’s princess raincoat and I brought my 17-year-old Mickey raincoat for Noelle! My cousin gave me that raincoat when I was in college. I kept it all these years, and I’m glad I am able to pass it on to one of my kids.

The day my brother and his family went home, we proceeded to Kowloon and stayed in Shamrock again. We once again enjoyed street food and the night market on Temple Street. It was colder in Kowloon, and much much colder in Victoria Peak when we went up. We were supposed to go to Ocean park but we decided against it seeing that it was really cold and the girls were already developing cough and colds.

Like I said before, even though the stress is inevitable, it’s always worth it to travel with the kids. We would do it again and again and again. Danae & Noelle actually love it so much. Noelle even cried on the plane as she learned that we were going home. She said to me “I thought we’re going to Singapore!” She also thought Manila was not home hahaha.

We hope that we are building with our kids a culture of loving to learn & explore, not being afraid of new things, people & places. One day, they may end up becoming artists who tour the world, or being business or IT or fashion consultants for different countries. Or they may end up as missionaries. Now is the perfect time to prepare them for their future. 🙂

Family, My Kids, Parenting, TRAVEL

LET’S TRAVEL WITH OUR KIDS!

TRAVELING is very much a part of our family. Aside from it being a time for family bonding, for creating memories, for rest and recreation, it’s a GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR TEACHING. Exposing our kids to different places and cultures teaches them so many things. From simple things as how sand feels like, how sea water tastes like, to more complicated matters as how to behave in certain places.

When we arrived Singapore and went through immigrations, Danae was so hyperactive! She couldn’t stay still because she was so excited. She just could not contain herself. The immigrations officer had to tell King to “tell your child to stay put” as she would move past the counter. How embarrassing! But at least we got to teach her that rules need to be strictly followed and that things may be different when you are in another country. They have different rules and different ways, which she must adjust to and comply with.

Danae also had a running commentary on everything! Like I said, super excited. She would point to an Indian woman and tell me that she’s Indian because she saw “that round thing on her forehead.” She would tell me that certain people were “ching chang chia,” trying to say that they’re Chinese or that they’re from another country. I had to remind her that it’s rude to point and blurt out anything that she notices. I had to remind her that people there (or anywhere) may respond differently than what she’s used to here in the Philippines.

I could go on and on about what we had to remind our girls about, but my point is this. LET’S TRAVEL WITH OUR KIDS! Whether it’s to another country, another city, another town or simply to a friend’s house or the supermarket! They can LEARN so much from the EXPERIENCE. Sometimes just thinking about taking our kids with us and all that it entails already stresses us out, but LET’S NOT ALLOW OUR FEAR OF BEING INCONVENIENCED TO DICTATE our decisions. It can be stressful and tiring, yes. That’s the reality that we need to learn to deal with. I’ve been doing this ever since Danae was 2 weeks old, but trust me, I’m still learning to this day. But I’ve also learned that we can actually ENJOY it and it’s almost always WORTH IT.

Tomorrow, another adventure awaits our family. All four of us are going on Danae’s field trip to Subic! It’s not our first time to go there as a family, but it’s our first time to ride a bus going there. It’s Noelle’s first time to ride to go on a field trip, and therefore Danae’s first time to bring her sister along. It’s our first time to travel on a bus, on a field trip as a complete family! Yes, it’s costly because there’s 4 of us, but the school gave us (and everybody else) terms to pay and time to save up. If you think about it, it’s a good deal because we’ll be going to Ocean Adventure, Zoobic Safari among other places, plus King doesn’t have to drive or pay toll. We couldn’t resist! More memories, more bonding, more recreation, and more teaching moments! 🙂

Family, FEATURED, TRAVEL

The Luge

On our last night in Singapore, after King and the girls swam, we decided to catch The Skyline Luge Sentosa before it closed at 9:30PM and just have dinner afterwards. We got there at the perfect time. No lines, no crowds, in the coolness of the night. We knew we wouldn’t be able to ride the cable car anymore, so I thought riding the Skyride (like a ski-lift) would be the next best thing. We needed to ride that to get to the top of the hill, and ride the go-cart going back down. King availed of the family package for us and the kids, meaning 2 rides up the Skyride and 2 rides down on the go-cart. Sounded like great fun!

We were all excited till we realized what we got ourselves into. It was nice and cool, but it was dark. There were no crowds, therefore it was quiet. Too quiet. It was like riding a cable car, except in a cable car, you’re inside. On the Skyride, you feel the wind and your legs are hanging. Well, at least ours were. Noelle’s legs reached right onto the not-so-protective “protective” bar!

Instead of appreciating the Singapore skyline for its beauty, we appreciated it for the distraction it gave us and the kids from our own fears. We were pretty high up and we had no idea how long the ride was! We haven’t even gone halfway when King and I were already backing out of the 2nd ride. King even forgot to take pictures haha! WE WERE SCARED. Danae was expressive of her fear but she wasn’t frozen much by it. We kept telling her not to move abruptly and not to look down. Noelle was quietly groaning and saying that it was scary. She stayed absolutely put, but actually said at one point “yay, this is fun!” I was so scared that she would freak out and get up to hang on to me! There was nothing keeping her legs or her whole body for that matter, from doing that. I was barely able to keep from freaking out myself! I’m so proud of her for handling it like a champ!

We were so glad that shortly after, the ride was done. I was so happy to be touching ground! We got our helmets and hopped onto our go-carts. Noelle was with me, Danae was with King. It was soooooo much fun! It was just us on the trail down, and the lights were really nice. That was enough to get us to abandon our initial plan and get us excited for the next trip on the Skyride. As King was saying that we would leave the kids with my mom, who was waiting for us by the ticketing booth, Danae protested. She still wanted to come! Noelle, of course, had enough and opted to stay with Wowa. She’s only 2, after all.

Our 2nd trip on the Skyride wasn’t as scary anymore. Only Danae was with us, whom I was pretty confident about. We also knew what to expect and we knew we already survived it once. I had a revelation right then. The unknown makes us afraid, but faith makes us hold on and break through. (We were literally praying on the Skyride. Even Danae was!) As we see that we are actually able to endure the challenge, we can face the next one with more boldness. And in the end, stepping out in faith, or in our case grabbing on to faith because we didn’t even think twice when we got on the Skyride (no faith required or so we thought haha), is all worth it. We would definitely do it again!

The Luge experience was unbelievable. We couldn’t get over it haha. It was really scary, but really fun too! And I’m so proud of my girls! They displayed great courage! Fear was present, but they remained strong in the midst of it. My kids are amazing. 🙂

Family, TRAVEL

Danae’s Singapore Birthday

One of the things that Ardy Abello reminded us about during his session in the Couples’ Getaway was that NO ONE DELIBERATELY PLANS TO FAIL…THEY SIMPLY FAIL TO PLAN.

I was again reminded of this as we tackled our second day in Singapore. I thought I had a plan, but it wasn’t well thought out at all. I just planned for us to go to Singapore Zoo at a certain time to follow the suggested morning itinerary. I did not bother finding out how to get there or how much time we needed to get there from our hotel. I did not study the maps beforehand. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I thought it would be fairly simple. Was I wrong.

It turned out that the zoo was an hour and a half away from Sentosa! We were already late for the morning itinerary, so we decided to see what we could do IN Sentosa Island itself, before we proceeded to the zoo. We decided to check out the Underwater World Singapore. Due to lack of planning again, we found out as we got there that we had already missed the morning show. Tickets are 1 entry only, meaning you can’t decide to come back later once you’ve already gone in & gone out. We decided to head to the zoo then. At least we got to see peacocks and huge turtles outside. At least we got their schedule. And at least we got to see what else was there and what we were interested in as we rode the tram going back to the Sentosa Express station.

When we left Sentosa, it was sunny. I thought it would not rain and I left the girls’ rain coats in the hotel. Well, it did rain haha. We had to buy rain coats in the zoo. Thank God it didn’t cost much. We got to see nearly all the shows. We loved the elephant & the sea lion shows. We missed a few animals, but it was okay. The kids’ water park was closed! The very thing that I planned and prepared for, with the kids’ gears & all, was a bust haha.

We ate dinner at Soup Spoon in Vivo City. It was an interesting resto, and my mushroom stroganoff soup was both filling and delicious! We got back to the hotel past 9 that night, and just stayed in our room to get ready for Universal Studios the next day. We made sure that we studied the map/guide. The day wasn’t a complete failure, but we wanted to do much better with our time.

Because there was a plan, our Universal Studios day was spent well. We got in as it opened — of course it helped that it was walking distance from our Festive Hotel. We hit most of the shows and rides that we planned on hitting. The Shrek 4D show was cool, so were the stunts on WaterWorld. We enjoyed the dance performances we caught on the street, most especially the B-boyin of The Rockafellas! Steven Spielberg’s Lights, Camera, Action was awesome — movie magic! There was the rain factor again, which made us miss the Treasure Hunters ride, wherein the kids could have driven their own jeeps, but it was okay. The girls had a lot of fun getting wet at the fountain in Lost World. Too bad Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure was closed!!! We skipped the roller coaster rides and left Universal fairly early. The kids were able to swim at the hotel for an hour or so, which they were dying to do. We then decided to have dinner late, so we could still catch the Luge in Sentosa Island. Oh The Luge. It deserves a separate blog haha. We had dinner at Ruyi in Resorts World, then headed back to our hotel for another restful night.

We planned to go to Palawan Beach on the last day, Danae’s actual birthday, but we felt that the tram was taking too long and we’ve never been to that side of the island, so we didn’t know how far it really was. We decided to walk to Siloso Beach, the side we knew. It took us a while, but at least the kids were able to play in the sand, before we proceeded to Underwater World. We saw all sorts of sea creatures and watched the pink dolphin show. We were planning for King, my mom & Danae to try the Gogreen Segway after, but we ran out of time. To make up for it, King took the girls to Candylicious, this amazing candy store in Resorts World! Took a lot of photos already by the time I found out it wasn’t allowed. Oops!

We hurried to check out by 1pm. Thank God for our very nice cab & cab driver, who made our lives easier going to and coming back from the zoo, and going to the airport. It took us forever to get to our hotel when we arrived Singapore, riding the bus & the trains. Changi airport was nice. We had our late lunch at McDonald’s right by the check-in area, plus there was a playground for the kids. Inside the departure area, there was another playground, a coloring area, more restos and shops. The girls even made a cute new friend named Amethyst.

We really love traveling! If money were not an issue, we’d be doing it so much more. We love building memories with our kids. This is one birthday that Danae will never forget!

Two things I am grateful for relearning…

…..It’s hard to be the one planning, but planning can really make life easier and less stressful. It doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it definitely helps.

…..Nothing is impossible with God — you wouldn’t know that King had a slipped disc with how fast he walked and moved during our trip!

Family, Marriage, TRAVEL

long distance relationship

King’s been out of the country for over a week and though the girls and I have been doing okay, it has been tough. For one thing, the girls were sick when he left. There was no question as to him leaving because it wasn’t that bad and frankly, I didn’t even think of it even if Danae got confined. His trip is that important. But taking care of a sick child alone, all the stressing and the juggling, add to that the stress of thinking about my husband’s safety — tough. It’s our first time to be this far apart from each other and this long. The same goes for him and my kids, which is why during the first few, Noelle kept crying for her dad when she’d wake up in the middle of the night. I felt helpless. Prayer was the best thing I could do. Thank God for friends who prayed with us too.

To make matters worse, I could not contact him because his phone was dead. He left his charger here. He was not online either. We only got to communicate on the third night! You can’t imagine my joy when we were able to touch base! But every night since, I would have to wait for him to go online around midnight. I can’t sleep because I wait. I’m grateful for my girls’ busy daytime schedule, but it tires me out too. Waiting up late at night doesn’t help.

I’m happy to hear reports about what King and his team are doing there, but our chats are way too short. He gets in late and is usually tired. Skyping is next to useless because I don’t have a cam and mic. He talks, we type. And the kids can’t wait up for him anyway.

So this is what it feels like to have a long distance relationship. I guess what helps me endure is the fact that he’s coming home in a few days. My hats off to couples who go through this for real, for months or even years at a time. I do not know how they make it work. I don’t think I would be able to survive that kind of life.

Right this minute, I am literally waiting for him to go online. Waiting so I could talk to my best friend, my partner, my leader, my better half. Waiting so I could last another day without him here. Waiting so my love tank can be refilled.

And when he does, I’ll still be waiting. Waiting for him to come home to me.

Family, Parenting, TRAVEL

FAMILY FIT FOR TRAVEL!

Our family loves to travel! I guess it started when my parents took me on my first plane ride when I was newly born. My mom gave birth to me in St. Luke’s, and flew me back to San Carlos, Negros Occidental where we lived then. As far as I can remember, we traveled yearly, whether on road trips, boat trips (and I mean Negros Navigation 2-night trips, sometimes in the economy section too!), or plane rides. Batangas, Baguio, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro were the cities we most frequented while growing up. My mom, because of her job, was provided by her company with free first class trips, which she almost always exchanged to economy tickets so we could all (my dad, mom, brother and me) travel out of the country. When I was older, we visited more tourist spots in the beautiful PI, such as Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Siargao. I’ve really been blessed to have the opportunity to visit and enjoy different places.

I’m sure it was part of God’s plan that He gave me a husband who also loves to travel. We got to experience it together for the first time on a road trip with my family to the North when we were still engaged. He and I first went with my peers to Pangasinan, then met up with my family in Baguio, then we drove to Vigan, then Laoag, and Pagudpud. Actually, he lived in Caloocan then, so every trip to my house in the south was a road trip! He proposed to me in Bataan. We got married in Tagaytay. Our honeymoon was in Camiguin Island.

Three months after we got married, we were set to leave for Hong Kong. That was the morning I discovered that I was pregnant. So even in the womb, Danae was already traveling haha! When Danae was 2 months outside the womb, her first plane ride, boat ride and first trip to the beach, and first Christmas were when we flew to Cagayan de Oro and visited Camiguin. Her first road trip was to Baguio at 7 months old. When Noelle was still in my womb, she also traveled to Cagayan de Oro. Her first road trip and trip to the beach was when she was 4 months old, in Dagupan and Subic. Her first plane ride and boat ride was at 7 months old, when we went to Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin for my cousin’s wedding.

When Danae was 4 and Noelle was 11 months old, we went on their first international trip to Hong Kong and visited Mickey Mouse!

Traveling is really part of our design as a family. And I can see that in how manageable my girls are whenwe go on trips. Of course it was very hard the first few times, but because we’ve done it often enough, they’re pretty much used to it. They rarely cry on the plane, even as babies. They can be a little bit too excited, in fact. Imagine, I was able to fly alone with the two girls to and from Bacolod, when Danae was 4 and Noelle was 10 months old! They’re not scared of the water either, though Noelle was, during her first encounter. But no sea or motion sickness at all.

We are in faith that God will let us travel even more! It can be costly (but thank God for my mom who treats us and for Cebu Pacific’s piso fares and the like), but the memories are worth every centavo. It is always exhausting, but the experiences we have as a family, especially for our children, are worth all the effort. This year, 2 family trips down, and 1 missions trip for King and 1 more family trip to go. But as my friends encouraged me last month, I can’t wait for God’s surprises for us! There might be more! Woohoo! 🙂

Family, TRAVEL

OUR CAGAYAN DE ORO ADVENTURE!

SEPTEMBER 1, WE WOKE UP A LITTLE LATE, LEFT A LITTLE LATE, GOT TO THE AIRPORT A LITTLE LATE. WE MISSED OUR FLIGHT TO CAGAYAN DE ORO….AGAIN! Same thing happened last year when we went for my cousin’s wedding. Ugh! Good thing the bad start didn’t define our entire vacation. WE HAD A BLAST IN CAGAYAN!

Let me start with our family (my dad’s sister and family), who always always takes great care of us when we’re there. Ever since we were kids, we would spend nearly every summer in Cagayan. I learned to swim, bake, play tennis there. We even took English classes and the like. We grew up close to our cousins and would travel places together. There was even a time that my brother and I went to the US without our parents, but with my tita Lucile, tito Rolly, manang Baba and Rando. Today, my cousins and I are all grown up. Manang Baba is now married to a great guy, Desi Fournier, and Rando is dating this mystery girl (hahahaha). Many things may have changed, but the love still remains. King and my girls are experiencing the same love and care that I did growing up. They accommodated us and fed us delicious food in their home (which is really like a 2nd home to me), drove us everywhere, took us to great restaurants, organized awesome activities for us! Not only that, Baba & Desi baby sat the kids while we were out one whole morning, Wowa Lucile gave my girls vaccinations (3 each – yeouch!), and they gave us really really really nice Crocs! 🙂

Hot spots! The restaurants we went to were all in one lane in Lim Ket Kai (a mall). If you like delicious Thai food, go to Siam. I especially loved their bagoong rice, which had green mango toppings. The best I’ve ever tasted! If you want to taste authentic New Orleans flavors, go to Bourbon Street Bistro. The chef/owner is from New Orleans, married to a Cagayan local. I loved their shrimp popcorn, their grilled shrimp, and their baby back ribs with yummy mashed potatoes! For great desserts, salads, snacks and coffee, go to Candy’s, also owned by a Cagayan local. Practically everything I’ve tried there I like, but we always order this 4-cheese spread thing with pandesal and this ball of vanilla ice cream encased by chocolate cake. Really really good!

Another hot spot in Cagayan is my cousins’ CROCS store in Robinson’s, in Lim Ket Kai. They’ve got great new styles for both kids and adults, and they’ve got this awesome promo going on with increasing discounts, the more you buy!!! They also newly opened this wonderful clothes  & shoes store called BLISS, also in Ket Kai, that carries a lot of local brands. Very chic and stylish, yet affordable! Both stores are worth checking out. The times that we dropped by, they were almost always full of customers. I am truly proud of my cousins. 🙂

Cagayan’s town plaza is called Divisoria, which they turn into a night market every weekend, with music, food, and all sorts of other things. We weren’t able to try it then, but we did get to visit the SLERS cafe there. SLERS is famous for its yummy chicharon (pork cracklings) and delicious meat products. It’s locally owned and their products/brand has been around for decades. I enjoyed their pastrami sandwich, and we brought home some of their tocino, longganiza and chicharon! 🙂

Ptr Auggie Rabara took us to another restaurant called Sentro in Divisoria too. We just had a light snack there, but we actually enjoyed their chicken fingers. What makes it more interesting is the fact that it’s right across VICTORY-CDO. They’ve got a beautiful center and a growing congregation! Wish I had pictures to prove it. Wish I had pictures of King preaching that Sunday too haha. 🙂

Adventures! When I was still single, my cousins took us tubing on the Cagayan River. We went through the rapids riding those donut-shaped salbabidas that were strapped together, so we were actually on the water the whole time. It was really fun! I almost even went under one time haha. Oh, I forgot to mention that the starting point of that trip was near a steel bridge, and we had an option to jump off of it. Rando and I jumped off, of course. So I guess you know where Danae gets her guts haha. For our honeymoon, before proceeding to Camiguin Island, King and I went tubing as well, but neither of us jumped off the bridge. This year, we went white water rafting! We were asked if we wanted our ride to be mild or wild. Everyone was willing to go wild, including my 62 year old mom! But my good husband wanted it mild. I guess you know where Noelle gets her timidity haha. To be fair, King was worried about his dislocated shoulder, hence his apprehension to flip the raft a lot. And it was a good call because we saw what the other raft went through! We did flip once, and it was a major major flip! Our raft went up a huge rock before flipping over and spilling its contents (us, the guides and our things) into the water! When I went under, I felt someone’s body on me that pushed me further down. Turns out it was my mom haha. I drank in some river water, but it was cool. It’s not white water rafting after all, if you don’t experience that!

The day before we went white water rafting, we went up to Dahilayan Adventure Park. It was an almost 2 -hour drive, passing Del Monte farms even, but it was really nice! They have pine trees and very cool weather, almost like Baguio. That’s where they have the Zorbit, that big transparent rubber or plastic ball that you get into and roll down a hill. They also rent out ATVs, you can go horse back riding and wall climbing. What we did, however, was the amazing ZIP LINE!!!! The first one, which Danae was allowed to try but as a tandem with King, was long and high enough. The second one, which Danae did solo, was shorter and lower but also fun. The last one we went on was the longest and the highest! We had to leave the kids with my uncle because my mom (yes, my mom!), King and I had to ride this monster truck who had a monster driver haha (he drove fast and hard!), to go up to its starting point. Your blood starts pumping from the ride alone! Super fun!  The zip line is 840M long, and it’s the longest zip line in Asia. Not only that, we weren’t merely strapped and hanging or sitting on our harnesses. We were on our bellies, like Superman! What a rush, whoo! Everyone who goes to CDO must try it. It’s definitely worth it! Check out the videos on the right side of this page! or click here.

Chy

For your white water and zip lining adventures, I highly recommend GREAT WHITE WATER TOURS! Jerome, who has been on tv quite a few times, and his crew have been the ones taking care of us ever since. They’re the best! What are you waiting for??? Book now! 🙂