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



Happy birthday mom! 

Danae left a sweet and quite funny letter on my laptop on my birthday. It shows her personality pretty accurately haha. She warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud. Thank you Naenae. I love you too! ❤️



One of my friends is pregnant and she recently taught Gianna that there’s a baby in her tummy. The other day, Gianna surprised me by rubbing my tummy and saying, “BABY…SIDE.” She meant baby inside. I thought that was funny-slash-scary since the factory is already closed precisely because I don’t want surprise pregnancies (although if God wants us to have another via a miracle, we would welcome him — haha the older girls do want a baby brother). 

Tonight, however, Gianna gave me a bigger laugh. I put on an old onesie on her after washing her up. It’s a pretty tight fit. She suddenly rubbed her belly and said “BABY…SIDE…TUMMY.”

Hahaha. 🙂 

I am Martha

I don’t think I ever appreciated my second name. Yes, I have a second name. My real name is actually Phoebe Martha. I know my parents gave me my second name after this American lady in the newspaper the day I was born. I don’t know if growing up I knew that my name is in the Bible. I do know that when I discovered what the name Martha meant, I did not like it. Martha means bitter. Who wants to be bitter? Certainly not me. I want to be free from unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness. It didn’t compare well to what my first name means — radiant, shining. Phoebe is my mom’s name as well and it is written in Romans.

And then of course there’s the character that Martha is known for. She’s always busy doing things serving the Lord, that she forgets that being in the Lord’s presence, spending time with Him, listening to Him and enjoying Him, is most important. I am many times very much like her. Who wants to be reminded that she often misses the mark? Well, yeah, me. I need to be reminded. But I really do not want to relate so much to her. I want to be like Mary!

Until I read John 11 again a few days ago. I am sure I’ve read these verses many times. It’s the story of Lazarus. But for some reason these four words just jumped out at me and I felt so wonderfully loved.

Wow. It doesn’t matter what my name stands for. Doesn’t matter that I make mistakes constantly. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make other things more important than Him. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make myself out to be greater than others. Doesn’t matter who I am or am not connected to. Jesus loves me. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, loves me. That’s just who He is. His love does not depend on who I am or on what I do, but on who He is. He loves me. No conditions. Completely. Perfectly.

I am Phoebe Martha. And I am loved.


How about you? What is your name? Jesus loves you too. ❤️