Twelve Years!

So we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday, woot woot! We were so busy celebrating, I didn’t have time to write hehehe. King is such a thoughtful husband that he always takes a leave and plans something for our anniversary. I don’t get in his way or upstage him by coming up with my own plans because I believe he enjoys doing that for us. I asked him the other day what the plan was, and he told me that he was thinking of checking us into a hotel. As he was saying that it’s too expensive, I agreed and said yeah, let’s not. But then he went on to say that instead of spending the money on a hotel overnight stay, it’s better to spend it in Divisoria (it is an area in Manila with a series of stores/malls that sell more affordable stuff especially when you buy in bulk). Haha. King knew right away that he got me good! I haven’t been to Divisoria in ages, and I’ve been wanting to go!

So there. We spent half the day in Divi. We went straight after dropping off the older girls at school. Gianna was with us haha. We have no pictures! But our sore backs are proof. She’s so heavy already. And you don’t bring strollers to Divi. Traffic of people can be tight and heavy. She did cooperate, staying in the baby carrier, which King and I alternated wearing, almost the entire time. We stayed in Divi for 4 hours, and travelled about 2 hours coming back for the girls in school. We were late! We were all hungry so we drove through for food, and King and the older girls proceeded to play with and assemble King’s Divi find as soon as we got home. Actually, that’s all King bought. Though we were there to supposedly buy some things for ourselves, we ended up buying mostly for the kids and our home. No matter. We were happy, and we are excited to go back. Then for dinner, King cooked a family favorite — his shrimp pesto penne.

Simplicity. I love that about us. We don’t really run after big, bright, expensive things. Don’t get me wrong. We are happy to receive those too haha. And thankful to be able to splurge (our own definition of splurge, of course) on occasion. But we are ones who are happy to simply spend time together and to bless our children even in little ways. I remember our first anniversary, for which I prepared a surprise candle lit dinner at home on the floor, with Danae on a blanket beside us. I think that was the only anniversary I planned. And now our 12th year! We have definitely had many and different celebrations as a family. I’m thankful for each one. For each birthday, each Christmas, each anniversary, each memory.

The Lord is good. The Lord is faithful. I thank God for my husband and for my marriage. The night of the super moon, we ate at Salad Stop (yummy!), and I asked King why he loves me. One of the things he said was because I love God more than him. I asked him how he knows that, and he told me it’s because I’m scared to hurt him. Hahahaha, we had an argument-slash-banter that day and I threatened to punch him for real. But of course I didn’t. We both laughed. I hope that that is true as only God can see and judge my heart. That is the very reason I was confident in marrying King as well. That he loves God more than me. I pray that holds true for us both till death do us part.

King – Jesus – Phoebe ❤ November 15, 2004

Happy anniversary King! I love you! 🙂

‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:7-9 NLT

Cherished Traditions 2016

A week after Pasko at Pamilya, our Alabang church had its own Christmas traditions event which we call Cherished Traditions. It was a busy day for me as I had to prepare for my DIY corner, do last minute shopping for some candles and Danae’s hoodie, and get some lab test results. Of course when you have 3 kids, things don’t always go the way you would hope. To make the long story short, I was late for call time and I came with a gloomy disposition. I had to ask my DIY partner, Belle, to pray for me. Thank God things started looking up from then on.



photo credit: Capella Manalang

I was happy with my table for the DIY advent wreath. People got to see and try out different ways to make an advent wreath. I got to share what we do as a family when we light the advent wreath candles every Sunday for 4 Sundays before Christmas day and on Christmas day itself. The other DIY corner for the advent calendar was also super nice! Eden was in charge of that, with her partner Liza. We also do the advent calendar with our kids every Christmas season. Our senior pastor’s wife Shirley Marquez created a beautiful dessert table. She’s always spot on with her creations. We wives learn so much from and are inspired by her. She decorates our center every year too! I did one tablescape in Sta Rosa, but for Alabang Ms Gigi Escosar generously set up 3 tablescapes! They were all beautifully Christmassy!


Shirley’s dessert table

After our guests were free to go to our DIY corners, check out the tablescapes, have their pictures taken in many picture-worthy areas, and enjoy their Krispy Kreme donut and hot choco, our cool father-daughter hosts Ptr Chico and Nina opened the program with the raffle! The raffle table was full of prizes! We had about 40 winners if I remember correctly. We also had a fun icebreaker, after which our kids gave us the most awesome dance number. Haha. Yes, I love my own. It was a joy and a privilege to teach our kids, the pastors’ kids, to dance. Thanks to the ever talented Luchie, for the song. She was the one who found Mandisa’s Joy Unspeakable. I’m so proud of our kids. They did really well despite the lack of practice, and they gave it their best. Each one of them wanted to make God smile as they danced, and I believe they did. 🙂


Ptr Chico and Nina Peña (photo credit: Nina). Nina also wrote about the event here. 🙂


Julio Peña, Noelle Lucero, Bianca Gidor, Ana Marquez, Andrea Marquez, Lovely Ramirez, Danae Lucero, Benj Gidor, Coleen Huang photo credit: Capella Manalang

Ptr Ariel and Ptr Janssen & his family were our speakers. Ptr Ariel delivered such a moving testimony. Truly, he and Shirley lived their message that Christmas is not about us, but about Jesus Christ. When Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, they went through the toughest time of their lives when their son Jerome fell ill and passed away 13 Christmases ago. Despite the painful memories, they still choose to celebrate every Christmas because it is Jesus they celebrate. Jesus is the point of every Christmas tradition. Ptr Ariel shared the why of Christmas traditions. The Morados family shared the how, the message they also shared in Pasko at Pamilya. 


Ptr Ariel Marquez (photo credit: Nina Peña)


Ptr Janssen, Ging and Andee Morados

The whole Huang family rendered us a lovely song. It was their first time to perform together, and we all went AWWWWW when we heard their youngest Coleen’s beautiful voice. I made sure our dance crew was there to support their fellow dancer. Christmas is love. Jesus is love. It was like magic. Sigh. From the parents to each of their children, they are just gifted. ❤


The Huangs

Somewhere in between, they also showed our kids’ video, where they share about their favorite traditions and what impact it makes on them. To end the event, we gave each guest a really nice giveaway and they called back the dancers. It was supposed to be a celebration with everybody dancing, but I guess they enjoyed just watching the kids haha.


Our comms team is super talented. They made our shoots easy and enjoyable, the photos and videos so beautiful! I got so kilig seeing my creation on our invitaion and tickets heehee. I didn’t know about it. We also shot DIY videos that were shown on screens beside our DIY table. 🙂


Got to share some loved recipes at home in 2014. Got to get creative with plating too. 🙂

Cherished Traditions is always something we wives look forward to and work together to bring to others. Thanks to our leader Shirley who has imparted so much to us about the love of God, His love for people, about generosity, about love for family, being deliberate in making memories with our family, discipling our children and passing on our values and traditions to our children. Thanks to her leadership and Maryanne’s, and to each wife’s valuable contribution on the scene and behind, it was another fruitful event. I am just so grateful that I get to be a part of it. Things I never imagined I would be doing, they’ve given me the opportunity to. Plus it’s always a joy! It never feels like work. The motivation is always the desire to honor God, to serve and be generous. Because each one has that mindset, everyone works well together. I’m so thankful that that is the spirit I am surrounded by. Unity. Love. Servant leadership. Thank you, my sisters. It truly is an honor serving the Lord with you. ❤


South Hub Pastors’ Wives ❤ Top row, from left to right: Eden Ramirez, She Ramirez, Aileen Gidor, Maryanne Peña,  Shirley Marquez, Malou Oaman, Phoebe Lucero, Ging Morados, Liza Divierte, Thine Canda ❤ Bottom row, from left to right: Belle Villanueva, Gigi Escosar, Luchie Huang, Lea Santos. Photot credit: Nina Peña 

Pasko at Pamilya: Christmas Kiddie Tablescape

Victory Sta Rosa had their Christmas Traditions event last Saturday called Pasko at Pamilya. Ptr Janssen and his wife Ging Morados shared that Christmas traditions should be spiritual, centering on Jesus. They should be relational, bringing the family and also friends together. They should be missional, reaching out to others so that they can know Jesus too. Their 3 eldest kids (they have 4) shared their favorite traditions as well. It was so nice to hear them tell us that they enjoy and appreciate their traditions as a family.  It encouraged me to keep ours up and maybe start some new ones.

I was invited to create a Filipino-themed Christmas kiddie tablescape. It wasn’t the main feature or anything but it was a privilege to be part of it and a joy to support spiritual family. It was a challenge and a good opportunity to get creative, since I don’t think I’ve ever done a Filipino-themed anything haha. Now I can do something similar for our table this year. 🙂

I cut up some tiny banderitas and stuck them on my well-used cup cake stand. It signifies fiesta here in the Philippines, and Christmas is always a feast around here. I made the parol (lantern) using a Christmas ornament I bought from Kultura in SM. I just cut up some crepe paper and tied it around the bottom corners with a fuzzy wire. I wrapped a pair of chopsticks and stuck it on the top to hold the lantern up.

I wanted to put puto manapla (white puto that has banana leaves as liners) but I didn’t have time to buy them. I got small cupcake liners instead and put some special colorful pastillas in them.                                                                                                                                           I used our very old sungka (a Filipino game played with sea shells), which I use to hold Christmas balls in at home, for other Filipino treats like Polvoron and Goya chocolate coins. I even made small balls out of coconut leaves to add another Filipino touch.

I made it a table for 3, for my 3 girls. I was able to buy cool little jeepneys in Robinson’s and I used them to hold up the place cards. I asked Danae to do brush lettering for the place cards. I made the placemats out of cartolina (craft paper was just too thin and flimsy) and designed them with banderitas.

On the sungka, I also placed small colored pencils tied with fuzzy wire, embellished with ribbon made of paper twine and small berries. The kids can use the placemats to doodle on. I just noticed that the placemat is upside down hahaha.


Another inverted placemat! I researched on ways to fold the table napkin and I saw a picture of this one. I figured this was best so I could insert the parol ornament. The napkin kinda looked like a bahay kubo too, I thought. I also thought to make a yema spiky ball. Filipinos love sticking hotdogs on sticks on pineapples or cabbages. I wanted to do the same but with yema. I placed a small cabbage ball onto our old wooden bowl, and I worked my way around the cabbage using toothpicks. I then put a bow around the bowl using paper twine.


Thanks to Victory Alabang Kids Church for lending me the cute chairs. I cut up and placed big banderitas around the table cloth (it’s actually a blanket). I bought baby pillows and wrapped them with my old scarves. Noelle was the one who came up with the designs for the pillows using stickers. It’s always good to involve the kids.

Enjoy preparing for Christmas, everyone! Maligayang Pasko! 🙂

Gianna’s questions and answers

One time Gianna was trying to open something that she was having a hard time with. I forget what it was. I wasn’t really looking at her. She came to me and said, “How do dis?”  

When she’s looking for someone or something, her sentence goes like, “Where’s Noelle’s es?” “Where’s mommy es?” “Where’s ducky es?” 

When she’s asking permission for electronics, she says “Blablet? (Tablet)” or “Phone olee? (phone only)” or “Taptop? (Laptop)” 

Sometimes, when we say No to her, she says “aw-wh.”

When she wants to tell me about something that happened or that something was done to her, she goes “Mommy o, mommy o!”

When she likes something, she says “I love et!”

When she finds something or someone funny, she says “Funny.” That’s usually daddy or ate Noelle.

When she wants to keep us from doing something or going somewhere, she says “No, not allowed!”

One time…

Gianna: Where’s wowa? Me: Makati. 

Gianna: Manang mul-let? (Manang Milette) Me: With wowa. 

Gianna: Donae? (Danae) Me: School. 

Me: Where’s daddy? Gianna: School. 

Me: No, where’s daddy? Gianna: SM. Haha was trying to get her to say office. 🙂 


After dinner, Danae got an apple for dessert. Manang sliced it up for her.

Gianna: Have apple? (can I have an apple)

Danae: Go!

Gianna: What’s this? Apple? Apple pen!

Oh nooooooooooo…..

🙂 🙂 🙂


Say what?

One time a week or so ago in the car….

Noelle: Mom, what does Sereni mean? 

Serenitea (local milk tea store). I’m not sure if I was able to explain to her what serenity means because she amused me so much. 🙂 

Last week, while I was getting her dressed…

Gianna: Mickey cwack-ouse!

Me: Mickey what?! (Was thinking Mickey has a crack house????) Oh Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?

Gianna: Yes!

Mickey and crack? They don’t mix!

Last month, after their musical theater class…

Noelle: Mom, we’re going to get minus in our grade.

Danae: (was talking at the same moment) Teacher’s going to give us the music for our play.

She seriously thought Minus one was a minus in her grade. 🙂

Sometimes Gianna taps her own butt or a doll’s or one of ours and says BOOTEH!

Something she learned from her sisters. Haha. 🙂 

Happy birthday Gianna (and me too?)

Facebook reminded me this week of something I said two years ago.


Actually, King was the first one to remind me. He wished me a happy birthday on Gianna’s birthday, and said he remembers everything. I just smiled. I honestly did not think of it. But as I was watching a show the other day, I suddenly cried seeing the daughter hug her mom so tightly, thankful that her mom is alive. You see, not to sound overdramatic, well okay maybe a little, I almost died.


I was scheduled for a c-section on August 12th, so I had to be admitted the day before. I don’t know why, but through the difficult pregnancy, I had so much fear. I feared pain. I don’t know if God was already warning me about things to come, but I struggled with it. I would cry because I was afraid of the pain I MIGHT experience. I’d given birth to Danae normally — that was painful even with epidural. I’d given birth to Noelle via emergency c-section — also had epidural and recovery was painful. You would think after two births, I’d be more confident. But no, I was seriously afraid.

August 11th, my spirits were high. King, the kids, and I were excited to be at the hospital. I wanted the girls to be with us overnight so they could meet Gianna right after she came out. To keep with tradition since Danae was also there in the hospital when Noelle was born. 🙂  I tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep) and so I needed to be given antibiotics intravenously 24hrs before my c-section. I was told to shower with an antiseptic and wear the hospital gown, so they could test my skin for a reaction (or non) to the antibiotic and also insert the IV. I was ready. Bracing myself, but ready. The nurse inserted the needle….

and I WAILED IN PAIN. I cried so loudly that my girls cried with me. I had never experienced that before in my 3 previous hospitalizations. That was just the beginning. To make the story shorter, almost everything I went through was painful. Plus I guess I was super emotional. King was not allowed to stay with me in the labor room and I had no phone, so through my tears I occupied myself with singing my first favorite worship song, Great is the Lord and Most Worthy of Praise.

I sang it even while they were getting Gianna out, and King was by my head. There was no pain at that point but I had difficulty breathing. That was normal, I was told, because of the spinal anaesthesia they gave me. It was quite different from the epidural I’ve had in the past. I kept thinking, I wanna hear the baby. I’ll be okay when I hear and see her. When she was out — her skin so fair like Noelle, chubby and chinky like Noelle, and she cried softly (like neither sister hahaha) — I was relieved and happy. I even made sure my doctor fixed my fallopian tubes. She assured me that she was ligating me, haha. They put Gianna on me so she could latch, and we could have some skin-to-skin contact. ❤


They brought me to the recovery room, and they would not bring me and Gianna to my room because my blood pressure was high. I kept looking at the monitor and I would see it at 160 over something. I thought that was odd because with my first two, my blood pressure normalized as soon as I gave birth. I was in there by 2:30. When Gianna cried, we would try to breastfeed. I tried to sleep and relax. By 8 or 9pm, I asked the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She obliged and I thank God that happened because the girls did not see her again till she got out of the NICU. More on her birth here.

I was brought to my room around 11pm. They gave me meds for my BP and monitored my urine for 24 hrs. When they removed the catheter, I was able to stand up and move. I would get dizzy and have a hard time breathing, but surprisingly my wound and stomach muscles did not hurt much. On the 15th, I was given the go to be discharged. My heplock was removed. I had no dextrose anymore by the 14th actually, but the thing was still in my vein till they removed it the next day. So you know, I thought I was fine and healthy. I did keep asking about my swollen ankles and legs. My edema would usually disappear as soon as the baby came out. I thought something was not right, but they kept telling me it was normal. We opted to keep the room and wait till Gianna was finished with her antibiotics in the NICU.

Not long after that, a doctor came into my room and told me that I had pre-eclampsia. I was so annoyed that I asked her why she’s saying pre-eclampsia when I’ve already given birth. Isn’t it supposed to be post eclampsia? Haha. It’s called pre-eclampsia because it is a condition before eclampsia. Eclampsia is high blood pressure and seizures in pregnant women. The usual cure for that is to give birth. Mine was post partum pre-eclampsia, meaning after I’ve given birth. She told me I would need magnesium sulfate for 24 hours, I got more upset. I told the attending doctor that I did not want to be IVed again. I said I was done. In my head, I was thinking that they were mistaken. Not after Gianna, needing to be in the NICU. No way. It was just too much. They said they would just relay it to my OB-GYN.

My lovely doctor, Dra Guinto, came into my room early that evening, and pleaded with me, not just as my doctor but as my friend (her words), to get the treatment. I actually had pre-eclampsia severe — severe because I had more than 3 symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It was good that we found out while I was still in hospital, because it would have been more dangerous undetected at home. There are too many complications if we don’t treat it — seizures and nerve damage. I cried because I did not want to do it. I did not want another IV insertion. I did not want additional pain — I was told it was going to feel hot in my body. I did not want a catheter. Hearing it straight from my doctor (and because she allowed me to not wear a catheter) and with King encouraging me to just obey, I eventually agreed. Thank God my children weren’t there. They were still with my in-laws.

My God takes the broken and makes it whole again. My God takes the broken and makes me whole again. ‪#‎thankYouLord‬ — this was my post from a song I heard that day, Aug 15, 2014. (I wasn’t able to capture the memory, sorry.)


That night, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit. I was already in the groove of going down to the NICU to feed Gianna each time she needed feeding, but I couldn’t go to her again for 24 hours. I was emotional, eyes swollen from all the crying. Praise God the IV didn’t hurt and I did not feel the heat in my body. But in my heart, I kept asking the Lord to keep me alive. I did not want to let my girls feel abandoned. I did not want them to be at a loss, devastated by news of me dead. We had not seen each other at that point for 4 days. Imagine thinking everything’s fine and then your mom is suddenly gone. I did not want them to have to go through that. I was afraid that they’d get angry with God. I did not want Gianna to grow up without a mom. She’s too little. Writing about it still gets me emotional. Kawawa naman ang mga anak ko, I told God. I did not want to die yet. King did not show me, but he was also concerned. I guess he prayed like he never prayed before.

I was at the same time, concerned for Gianna because she was in the NICU. I kept hearing in my head, or was it in a song or I saw it in one of the movies, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” I told God that I don’t think I was ready to say that if He took Gianna away. Oh the tears!

After 24 hours, even my doctor was stumped. My blood pressure was still high. I asked her what might happen and she said my heart could fail from all the pumping it’s doing. I think that’s when she talked to King outside and they both decided to get me out of that unit. The place was causing me stress. I could not wait to get out and hold Gianna. We moved to a small room and by the grace of God, they released Gianna around the same time too. I got to see her and be with her again. My blood pressure went down, though still elevated. And by next morning, I was deemed healthy enough to be discharged — for real. Whew!


Later that month, I realized how much worse it could have all turned out. I was still having high blood pressure, dizzy spells, and an overall sick feeling. My friend whose son was in the NICU for 2 months, told me about a baby also in the NICU whose mom was in a coma. When I asked why, I learned that she was in A COMA BECAUSE OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA. Days or maybe weeks later, she was gone. It just became so real. My fears were not baseless at all! I cried then, feeling bad for that baby and her dad and THANKING GOD THAT I WAS ALIVE. I seriously could have died too soon. Thank God my doctor insisted on treatment and King urged me to do it. Otherwise, I would be in heaven and that would be great for me, but not so great for my family.

I thank God for my life! Despite that health scare and though I am still taking medication for high blood pressure, I am still here. God chose to not leave my children motherless. He chose to give King and I, the girls and I, our whole family more years together.

Exactly two years ago, we brought Gianna home from the hospital.


Now she’s 2, and we are both alive and well. God is sovereign and God is good. And King is right. It is also my birthday. We are deeply grateful. ❤ 


Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

The Lord does whatever pleases him
    throughout all heaven and earth,
    and on the seas and in their depths. Psalm 135:6

The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9




Gianna is 2!

Gianna is such a character! If you stick around long enough and observe her, you’ll see. The looks she gives, her cheeky smile, her dance moves, her words, singing and her actions. She turned 2 today. Sigh. Time flies so fast. Because she’s the last baby, I wish she’d never grow up. Everybody tells me that’s impossible, so I guess I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts. Hehehe. 🙂

Here are some of her funny moments.

> When Gianna was younger, King taught her that daddy is the boss.

King: Daddy’s the boss. (Points at himself)

King: Who’s the boss, Gianna?

Gianna: Copying her dad, she points at herself.


> One time I was so exasperated that I let out a big sigh.

Me: Oh my gosh!!!!

Gianna: (in a low, mocking voice) Don’t say thaaaat.

Hahaha. I tell her to stop saying oh my gosh and she caught me saying it. Story of my life!


> Two weeks ago, Gianna and I stayed (or tried to stay) at the back of the main hall to listen King preach.

Friend: Where’s daddy? (She was trying to get Gianna to point to King).

Me: Where’s daddy?

Gianna: Ofes (office).

Hahaha. One time she saw a picture of King preaching, she said “sing.” Guess King looked like he was singing.

> Last week, we were held up at a toll booth because of our RFID.

Gianna to the toll girl: Mess? (Miss) Odu fies. (Order fries)

Hahaha. She must’ve thought it was a drivethru! She does recognize Fruitas where we buy “mago dus” and Starbucks where we buy Silk.


> Our girl does love to eat. A few months back, when we were reading one of her books, I pointed to a picture of a live chicken.

Me: What’s that?

Gianna: Chichen. Ahm (she opened her mouth and pretended to eat the chicken).


> When she bumps any part of her head, even if it’s a soft bump, she asks for “ice pack.”


> She likes to “bug wowa” and “bawow blablet” or “bawow phone.” Just this evening, during dinner, she wanted to borrow my mom’s phone.

Me: You ask wowa if you can borrow. Say wowa, borrow phone please.

Gianna: Wowaaaa….?

Me: Louder.

Gianna: Loudurrr….?


> After blowing her candles and eating all the little chocolate bits on her pancakes, she found her candles again and stuck them back onto the pancake.

Gianna: Turn on?

Haha, she wanted us to light up the candles so she could blow again.

And then when she didn’t eat her pancakes, her sisters and I ate them. She didn’t mind at all. But after a few moments…

Gianna: Heeeeey. Happened?!?! (What happened?)

Hahaha she was wondering where her pancakes went! She wanted to stick the candles back.


Happy birthday Gianna! Thank you for being you! You make us all giggle and laugh all the time. You amaze us with your smarts and captivate us with your personality. You make everyone who knows you just love you. That is a gift from the Lord. We love you so much baby! ❤️

Couples Getaway 2016

We just attended Victory Alabang’s Couples Getaway at Mt Malarayat Golf and Country Club over the weekend. There were 2 batches because more than a hundred couples signed up! We were part of batch 1, all day Friday to Saturday morning. The place was really nice! We want to go back and bring the kids there.


This was our 6th couples retreat to date. Each one has its memories. Our very first was in Caliraya with 10-month-old Danae. I remember not being able to focus much because King was also working as staff. I do remember the conversation we needed to have at that time. Wow, come to think of it, that must have been the retreat that elicited much emotion from me. I was a new mom, King was a new dad, we were not even 2 years into our marriage, and we knew each other for approximately 3 years. We were young and immature. King and I were NOT on the same page. But I guess it turned out well because here we still are. Haha. God lives!

The second was in Summit Ridge in 2010. Danae and 1-year-old Noelle, plus our then yaya, were with us. The third (2011) and fourth (2012) were both also in Tagaytay, in Taal Vista Hotel. We had no kids with us! Our fifth (also 2012) was with other pastors and their wives, in Bellevue Hotel, Alabang. King picked up the kids in the evening so they could stay the night with us. We had friends come over to take them swimming while we attended the last session the next morning. This year, we went without any kids too! My in-laws and my mom took care of our girls while we were out. My mother-in-law took care of almost-2-year-old Gianna who, except while she was in the NICU for 5 days, has not spent a night without me. There were some tears, but it was all in all good. Whew!

Attending the getaway is never easy for us. There are many things to consider — the kids, who will be with the kids, money, the schedules, the kids, not to mention things that come up, health issues, the kids. Haha. At the very last hour of me trying to get some sleep and waiting to wake up, between 4 and 5 in the morning, I was still struggling whether to go without Gianna or to bring her. It would be easier on everybody, I thought, if I just brought Gianna. But then I was reminded that King had been looking forward to being alone with me. You have to understand. In the 12 years (almost) that we’ve been married, we have spent the night without the kids around, less than 20 times. Included in the count are the 3 getaways, a couple of the older girls’ sleepovers, and king’s and my hospitalization. I was also reminded that that’s the very reason why we asked my in-laws to come, and that they are very much capable of taking care of the girls’, most especially Gianna’s needs.

Attending seminars and retreats are a great investment in our marriage. If King showed me that I am his priority by making sure we attended the getaway, I realize that I showed him that he is my priority by leaving the kids home*. I’m so glad I did. These days, we get to date once or twice a month, from mostly quickies to regular ones. The getaway was a long, lovely, fun and purposeful date.

I believe that these retreats aren’t only for troubled marriages. Yes, it is a great way to open the door to have those crucial conversations, to resolve issues, to forgive and heal, to reconnect, to rekindle the passion. But we don’t need to wait for our marriages to be in trouble before we start taking care of it. Invest in your marriage early. We all have issues anyway. None of us is immune to temptation or to acting like humans. We all need to be equipped to be better spouses. Let’s keep our marriages strong early on.

One of the important points Ptr Ariel made in the last session was that MANY OF OUR PROBLEMS ARE NOT MARRIAGE PROBLEMS, BUT GOD PROBLEMS. It’s so true. If we continually walk with God, honor and obey Him, love Him above anything and anyone else, then of course the overflow will also be evident in the way we love and honor our spouse. We cannot build and strengthen our marriages apart from God. We cannot be good spouses apart from God. 

So invest in your relationship with God. Aside from going to getaways, seminars and talks, aside from going out on dates, read your Bible. Apply it in your life. Pray. Pray for each other. Go to church. Surround yourself with people who want and do the same thing. Let God work in you. By His grace, the quality of your marriage will follow. ❤ 


*I do not condemn those who did bring kids. Like I said, I’ve done it too. In fact, kudos to you because you did it just so you could attend the getaway! We all know it is difficult to leave our kids, but it is also difficult to bring them when we’re trying to focus and learn. You will also have your time alone with each other, in Jesus’ name. 🙂


I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray. Proverbs 10:17

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24


Finding Dory. Finding Me.

Finding Nemo is one of my all-time favorite Pixar movies. It was also Danae’s favorite when she was around 2 years old. She would ask to watch it again and again. Needless to say, we were excited to learn that they were making another about the most beloved character, Dory.

Ever since we watched Kung Fu Panda 3, I decided that there was no more going to the movies with Gianna. Not til she’s 3 maybe. She’s really active and loud haha. I used to be able to just breastfeed and put her to sleep, but that’s a thing of the past now. Snacks kept her busy for a short while during Kung Fu Panda, but after that, I could not concentrate on the movie anymore. On and off her seat, up and down the stairs, in and out of the theater! But for Finding Dory, I was in faith that we would both enjoy the movie. There have been other movies but I let King, Danae and Noelle enjoy those without us. I just had to with Finding Dory. And despite some movement and some noise (waving and saying “Hi Vuwan” to everyone), we did it! Gianna now recognizes “Meemo” and “Find Doyee” when she sees them on pictures, posters, videos.

I do not think it was as special as Finding Nemo was, but I still loved it. My favorite part was when Dory discovered that her parents had been waiting for her to find the shells they had been continually setting up, so that she could come home. That just really reminded me of God’s love for me. Dory’s parents never gave up. Despite their daughter’s difficulty in remembering, they still believed that she would be able to find her way home in case she got lost. They loved her, taught her, and took care of her well while she was with them. They encouraged her and believed in her. And when they had lost her, they continued to hope. They made sure they did their part so that Dory could find them again.

I have short term memory loss too. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to forget the goodness of God. When I am faced with a difficult or painful situation, doubts and complaints set in. But God never gives up on me. He continues to draw me to Himself. He tests me, He disciplines me, He teaches me. Sometimes in the process, I get lost. But God is faithful. He always gives me nudges, reminders, revelations to lead me back to Him. He lays out all kinds of shells for me so that I can find my way back home. What a beautiful picture of the Father’s love, faithfully waiting for the return of His child.

Though Dory’s parents did not go and look for her, our Father seeks us when we are lost. God is a gentleman and would never force Himself on us. But He is the one who pursues us and reminds us of His love because He wants to be with us. He wants us to be with Him. He waits until we remember that life is empty apart from Him. He waits until we remember His love, what it is like to be without it and to come to a place of not wanting to be without Him. He waits until we remember that He is home. Dory started remembering that love and she just had to find her parents because she did not want to be away from them a second longer. Even though she already belonged to a new family with Nemo and Marlin, she still was compelled to find her original family, her original home. When we realize that we belong to God and there is no other person we would rather have with us as we go through the ups and downs of life, we come running back. When we do, we are humbled, forgiven, reunited, restored, reignited, faith-filled and complete again. Oh the patience, perseverance, and great love of God! It happens over and over and over, our unfaithfulness and faithlessness — unbelievable. But He remains forever and ever and ever faithful.

I love Finding Dory because the heart of the story is very much like Finding Me.


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39