Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 hot-air balloon festival (photos)

There are many things different in this version of the festival... things that I miss from the previous festivals. There used to be military demonstrations on search and rescue, an exhibit of airplanes, and a demonstration of rally racing... among other things. This year's only activity that someone from a far-flung province (who traveled a long time to get to Lubao), can do if one didn't venture deeper into the venue thanks to the extreme heat of April, was to fly kites. So that's what we did until the sunset and the balloons' night glow began. We did enjoy the day despite the weather.

Photos of our adventure in Lubao below. Pictures of me flying the kite are, of course, taken by Ate Madie using her own camera so none of those are going to show up here. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Soy sauce babble

On Easter Sunday, I was telling friends that I had cooked beef stroganoff and baked chocolate chip cookies the day before. I initially planned on prepping adobo but didn't do so because I didn't have soy sauce. Sounds feasible enough... in English. It took on a totally different meaning when I was talking with them in Filipino.

I had said, "Hindi ako nakaluto ng adobo dahil wala akong toyo."

Okay! :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

At the hot-air balloon festival in Lubao

Lubao, Pampanga

My annual pilgrimage to Pampanga was two months later than usual: the Philippine International Balloon Festival was moved to April from its typical February schedule. And this year, it wasn't held at Clark, Pampanga. Instead, I had to drive an additional hour (or so) to Lubao, Pampanga. With my kites given away by my mom and dad in February (I kept the kites in a closet and they got discovered when my parents cleaned the space up), I had no choice but to buy myself another kite... This time, I bought a big one. One day, I'll have to get one of those dual-line kites, similar to what my siblings and I used to have.

With my gear in the car (camera, tripod, pillows, tent... Yes, I packed a tent!), my cousin, my nieces, and I drove north before sunrise. Anna should have been with us but she didn't respond to my calls en route so she wasn't able to join us. It took us over six hours to get to Lubao, with pitstops and with a snail-paced traffic jam (because I missed the turn to the diversion road). By that time, I was raring to buy a kite and start flying!

My passengers chose mostly to take refuge under the shade and to keep in touch with their friends via Facebook and Instagram (yeah, with lots of self-portraits) while I was flying my kite. Hence, I'm the only one who got dark. As in, really DARK... And red. I look like I've been on the beach all day!! I didn't even get this dark when I was actually on the beach!

Finally, the day turned into night and the hot-air balloons started floating in the cool air. It was nice to watch them glow against the darkening sky. Alas, we still had a long way to go and we were fetching Anna in Quezon City so we didn't hang around to watch the program end.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Congratulations, friends and nieces!! :D

Wow, 2014 really is turning out to be a great year! I am particularly happy of the achievements that my friends and my nieces have gained. So, forgive me for carrying my chair (as the Filipino idiom goes, pagbuhat ng sariling bangko). In no particular order:

1. Trisha Palero
My niece graduated from grade school with flying colors! I just can't believe that time flew by so fast. But then, she's been this tiny kid who can knock some sense in her elders, so her high grades shouldn't be much of a surprise. Next school year, she's joining the ranks of kids taking up 7th grade... And I'm not sure if that counts as primary school or high school.

2. Ara Calabinhi
My other niece is graduating from college!! She's taken up BSc Biology in UPLB. I am a particularly proud tita because she's graduating from the same tough general program that I finished in 2002 (but I think she pursued a different specialization). But boy does her graduation remind me that I am getting old

3. Kathy Ramos
A friend since nursery school. I really believe that the school where we went for primary education introduced me to lifelong friends. The funny thing is, she's the friend who remembers more about what I had to go through orthodontically than me! Perhaps I was in pain much of the time to deal with the details or she really took note of the procedures when I had explained them in graphic detail. She finished BSc Nursing this year and is prepping for the board exams in May. I'm particularly happy because she has gone through challenges in the past. Getting that degree shows that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop her when she has set her eyes on a goal.

4. Noan Pagdanganan
My bestfriend since grade school. Proof, again, that Christian School International introduced me to people who have become my lifelong friends. Not everyone can say that about their classmates. She graduated from her Medicine course and is now a step closer to becoming a bonafide MD, a goal we both had as kids. Well, I opted to do a 3605-mile "course correction" along the way so this achievement feels like a graduation for me too! I have an idea how challenging the ups and downs of Med school were for her because she shares stories about them with me. To see her reach the finish line (of Med coursework) reminds me that the cookie jar/ pot of gold at the end of the road can make us continue on despite the numerous reasons to turn back... but there should always be time to stop and smell the roses along the way.

5. Mark Vicente
A friend since college and a fellow AKR baby. Despite his crazy schedule and challenging patients (and patients' bantays), he'd have time (albeit very few hours---yes he's that busy---a year) to touch base with me to update each other about our lives. We'd also given each other advice and encouragement when we had to deal with troublesome youngest siblings (both have graduated from college already, thank goodness). And he was present over the phone, listening to me, during Lola Estay's last days. He's finished his fellowship and is now prepping for the Cardiology board exam that is coming real soon.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Visita Iglesia 2014

Two years ago, I went on a solo visit of churches. This year, I opted to go round a similar route. However, instead of dropping by while the sun was still high in the sky, I decided that I wanted to start my annual pilgrimage to churches by hearing the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper and witnessing the ceremonial feet washing. This turned out to be a great way to set the mood as I started my evening Visita Iglesia.

And just like in 2012, I visited five churches near my house instead of seven. Three of them are my favorite churches to go to because they seem so far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. One of the five churches, I visited for the first time. The other one... It's becoming one of my go-to churches too.

Diocesan Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Don Bosco Seminary
Canlubang, Calamba

As a child, I have never felt intimidated going to this church... somehow, this church has a warm welcome to kids. It reminds me of Church Among the Palms, where I had spent my formative years in as a student of Christian School International. My dad used to bring me and my siblings to the Don Bosco campus during summer holidays when we were younger, other than to attend the Mass. We watched football training there. I watched my very first rock concert with friends (it was the Eraserheads concert back in freshman year high school, I think) there too. 

Anyway, this church has always been one of the places I visit when I go church-hopping on my own because it has an atmosphere that allows me to stop, quiet down, and reflect... things that are quite impossible to do in churches near the highway. 

In this year's Visita Iglesia, this is my first stop and where I listened to the Holy Mass celebrated by Salesian priests.

St Joseph the Worker Parish
Canlubang, Calamba


The church that is shaped like a barn. This parish is found right beside the Old Canlubang Golf Course, so just imagine the rustic and peaceful feel of the church during the day. It's been a while since I last drop by this church in the evening but the charm was still very much visible, in person. Inside, the church-goers were all quiet because the Blessed Sacrament was already on the Altar of Repose. 

St Lorenzo Ruiz Parish
Balibago, Santa Rosa

As evidence of how much planning (or or lack of) I really had for this year's Visita Iglesia, I found this church via Google Maps. I was surprised to see that this church's architecture is not as elaborate as the other churches I have seen. Strip a church building down to its basics and we get this: a humble structure that serves as a reminder (to me) that there are essentials and there are extras. This is the same experience I got when I visited the St Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish eight years ago.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish
Laguna Bel Air, Santa Rosa

The full moon was up by the time I arrived in this church. The church architecture reminds me of the Roman Catholic churches in UP Los Banos and UP Diliman... even of the one at the Ateneo de Manila University Loyola campus. The large cross served as a beacon for people looking for the nth church to visit. Along with me were other pilgrims who had waited until the weather cooled before venturing out. 

St John Bosco Parish
Laguna Technopark, Santa Rosa

I started and ended my annual Maundy Thursday pilgrimage, once again, at a church dedicated to St John Bosco. The Stations of the Cross were situated outside, under trees lit up by numerous lanterns. Just like the seminary in Canlubang, this church feels like a kid-friendly place... The Salesians are keeping true to its order's mission of catering to children, I guess.

Another pilgrimage completed. Unlike in 2012, when I ended up in a vulcanizing shop, this year's Visita Iglesia was pretty much uneventful. Looking forward to next year!

Friday, April 18, 2014

brain-to-mouth disconnect

After an evening of traveling, I was just plain hungry. With the restaurants closed for the evening, I opted to go to the McDonald's to buy the Filet-O-Fish value meal and a Sans Rival McFlurry to go. But I was so tired that when I got home; I decided to just eat the fries and leave the sandwich for breakfast the following day.

Next day...

I woke up super hungry. I opened the McDo bag... lo and behold! A box of Chicken McNuggets greeted me for breakfast! 


I really thought that I had ordered Filet-O-Fish! It's either the person at the counter did not hear me right or I was thinking Filet-O-Fish but uttered Chicken McNuggets instead. 

This experience definitely joins the adobo-adobe blooper I had in high school!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lola's day out 2014

"Sasama ba si Cesar? Kasi kung hindi, di bale na lang."

That was Lola Bats' statement when we (me, Ninang Trining, and Mommy) asked her is she wanted to go to Padre Garcia with us after her blood sample was drawn in the hospital. So off we went to fetch Daddy in Calamba then to Padre Garcia to visit the farm. Guess who enjoyed the afternoon road trip the most...

The farm is empty now... planting season about to start

Lola Bats taking a breather. Her wheelchair couldn't fit in the car so we had to improvise.

Broken path near Lola's house

Lola Bats accounting the people who are still alive. A lot of her friends have gone on ahead of her.

Lola Bats and Mommy with Lola's friends.

Aling Mary and Nina Trining about to try out the fresh buko juice.

Lola Bats and friends

I wonder if I can bring her out again to the farm someday. This trip showed that she's no longer as strong as she used to. But if she feels strong enough to go on a long road trip and if someone has a car big enough to fit her wheelchair, then I think we can go on a few more visits.

Seeing her laughing out loud with her friends in Padre Garcia: priceless. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lola Bats turns 98

Yeah, two years to go and Lola becomes a century old!

The family, including the balikbayans, began planning the big 100th birthday party in February when most of us were present. As per usual, kwentong kutsero made us go around the world and back to Lola's house in 60 minutes. It has been a long time since we've been gathered that way so the 'planning' bit was hilarious!

Because of the big celebration, the 98th one was met in a more modest manner: Anna and I had dinner in my aunt's house in Pasay City. The birthday candles had been blown in February and the elders are diabetic and hypertensive so we skipped the cake but loaded up on the fruit. Nevertheless, I'm happy that we were able to contribute to marking Lola's step closer to the big 1-0-0.

Happy birthday, Lola Bats!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Rochie, look at me!"

Here we go again: Lola Bats and her quotable quotes...

One February morning, Lola Bats needed to be brought to the hospital to get a blood sample drawn. As luck would have it, it's also the day we were supposed to travel to Padre Garcia to visit her old house so it was easy to just move up the time we were dropping by and bring her to the doctor.

On our way to the hospital, Lola noticed my Cocoons (shades designed to be worn over prescription eyeglasses). She wanted to try it out so I handed it to her. She asked my mom and my aunt how she looked and then she said,

"Rochie, look at me!"

Photo by Ninang Trining (I was driving when this photo was taken)

Looked like my pair of shades was enough to entertain my grandma during the short drive to the doctor! Good job, Cocoons!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Somewhere only we know...

Burot Beach, Batangas.

This has got to be one of the best beaches I've ever visited. It's my version of paradise! It took four hours for us to get there but the long drive was well worth it. A major portion of that time was spent driving in one of the most remote places I've been to. The road to Burot led past a cemetery, into a gated property, through a mangrove forest, and then along a really dusty road. My newly cleaned car took on the color of espasol.

The good part of this trip: I was not alone. Ate Madie, Trisha, and Marco went along with me to the beach for a day under the sun. The original plan was Laiya; however, I am someone who makes plans, alternate plans, and alternate plans for the alternate plans... And that led us to what I think is fast becoming my favorite stretches of sand.

We built sand castles, played Frisbee, took a boatride to the sand bars, and watched the sun set over the West Philippine Sea. I enjoyed; the kids enjoyed; and Ate Madie didn't get too tanned. Hehehe.

What I loved about this place is it's a campsite... not a part of the beachfront-hotel-tourist trap circuit frequented by many beach-goers. Not yet, anyway. While I wish that the facilities be improved, I hope the beach doesn't lose its close-to-nature, Batangas'-best-kept-beach-secret feel.