Friday, November 28, 2008

Mortality Musings

My mom just lost her dear friend and discipler to a horrible fire last Sunday. Tita Nitz almost made it out of the burning house, but then decided to go back and rescue her daughter and grand daughter, with two helpers and a niece, who were still trapped inside. Her husband, Tito Amante, ran into the fiery inferno in an effort to help his wife search for the remainder of the family, and all together, they died in what the news later called as the human bonfire of seven.

In just three hours, almost three fourths of the Marquezes perished.

Tita Nitz and Tito Amante are survived by their firstborn and only son, Alvin, and youngest daughter Grace. To this day, it makes me want to cry whenever I recall the horrendous incident. It was so traumatic for Alvin and Grace, who had to jump off the second floor of their house just to escape death. But it was more harrowing for Grace, who literally saw her whole family burn alive, and could not do anything to rescue them from that situation. In three hours' time, Alvin and Grace were left orphaned by that terrible incident. They also lost everything, except the very clothes they were wearing when they cheated death, and Alvin's car, which thankfully, he parked some blocks away from the house, and which was spared from being razed to the ground.

The deaths of our loved ones really remind us that life on earth is short. Everything else will fade away. Nothing will remain. All of us will eventually die; it's only a matter of time. Truly, in the final analysis, what really matters is how we've spent our time here on earth. On our deathbeds, no one will surely be regretting that she didn't do overtime work this week, or that he didn't beat the deadlines. We won't be doing a rundown of all the accolades and accomplishments we had. No one will be frantically searching for office files or sign memos. With our last breath, I'm sure everyone of us will definitely look for all members of our families, and take one long look at the faces of our loved ones and recall for the last time the memories they will leave us with. On our deathbeds, what truly counts is our relationships, and not our possessions.

So, let's say our I love you's more often. Forgive and forget. Spend more time with our moms, dads and our siblings. Hug our nephews and nieces tighter. Renew our friendships. Initiate reconciliations. Visit our grannies more frequently. Give of ourselves wholly and unconditionally to God and His causes. Listen more. Talk less. Share. Serve. Be positive. Be generous with praises and appreciation.

Pretty soon, it's going to be time's up for us. And there's little time left to get ready for that day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One, two, three

Happy, happy 3rd birthday, Enrique Miguel! How time flies! One moment I was just staring at your cute, tiny face on the night you were born. Next thing I know you're already attending school...and being the son of your mischievous and playful father, you're now displaying the same naughty streak your dad was and still is known for.

How I wish I could just 'freeze' precious moments and not let you grow older so we can still enjoy your hugs, your kisses, our 'wrestling matches', our hide and seek games, and so much more. I love hearing it when you scream my name and see your eyes light up in excitement at the sight of me. I truly miss cradling you in my arms and watch you sleep soundly while all of us scramble to be there beside you at your every beck and call when you wake up. I delight in seeing you play pranks at all of us. It warms my heart when you giggle endlessly whenever daddy tickles you and makes you laugh. Or when Tito Ron raises you high above his head, seems to throw you but catches you and does it again.

In more ways than one, you are also my mini-me. We both love chicken, and we could survive just eating that for the whole week. We both have this penchant for doing a lot of things at the same time. We like to cuddle and hug a lot. We love singing songs while we're busy. And I can't wait to see how many more similarities exist between us.

If it were only possible, I wish I could replay the time when you were just a sleeping little angel. Oh, I can no longer keep pace with you when you run and wander around. Maybe someday when you're a little bit older, I would wish that you'd still let me kiss and hug you, and that you would be willing to drive the car with me as one of your passengers, even if you already have a girlfriend.

But you know what, little one? There's one thing we are all wishing for. And that is that you'll grow up to be a godly young man who's fully committed to the Lord. It's our prayer that even as the world seems to go from bad to worse, your parents could still raise up a warrior for God in you. We hope that you would continue the godly family line that your father and mother are painstakingly trying to start, and that you would eventually build up the house of our God. We pray that you would take good care of your baby sister, and be a very good role model to her as well. We pray that you would never bring grief to your mom, or dishonor to your dad.

Hay. Writing this already brings tears to my eyes.

Birthday boy: Our pogi birthday celebrant

Three guys and tita Isa

Ella Monique and Lola Chit

Yes. Love ko 'to

Happy family: Enrique Miguel, Daddy Eric, Mommy Charisse, and Ella Monique

a word from Daddy Eric

Our snobbish princess hehe :-)

Can't wait to see if there are chocolates in that package

Birthday boy gives away prizes after a parlor game

Does she really look like me, or Tita Arlene?

Is Ronald McDonald really part of this family? Hehe

Monique: "I'm scared of this big guy!!! Waaahhh"

Yummy cake

Flanked by the only women in his life aside of course from Lola Boots, Mommy Charisse and Tita Arlene (not in photo)

Cute banner

Birthday boy gives out more prizes to his friends

Mommy Charisse and Ella Monique

Birthday boy firmly holds his friend's hand in one of the games

Monique becomes more playful with kuya's classmate

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A piece of paradise this side of the Philippines

For the sake of some mother-daughter bonding (of which I've been horribly undersupplied lately), I, along with my older brother Ron, tagged along with mama yesterday morning as she gave her clients a tour of Sun Valley in Antipolo City. For some years now, she has been bragging about this exquisite place touted to rival the beauty and amenities you’ll find in Tagaytay and Batangas. The wanderlust in me, of course, did not pass up the opportunity to go sight-seeing and get closer to my mom. What better way to relax than go nature-tripping with your loved ones, right?

I didn't expect to see what I saw. Sure, I know Antipolo for being a mountainous area and yes, the smell of air in that part of Rizal is truly refreshing to the lungs, but to find a place like this? I had to ask our driver thrice if indeed our house was just around thirty minutes away from this paradise. No wonder, Gary V. himself built his own home in this city, and thousands of Pinoys troop to this place every once in a while to do some soul-searching and yes, replenish their oxygen stock. Antipolo, after all, is home to a host of resorts and big venues and everything else that we basically hate about living in the Metro (think being stuck in hour-long traffic jams + breathing emphysema-inducing smog + hearing all the karaoke noise coming from your neighbors, and you get the picture).

The place was incredibly beautiful it almost made me wonder how the Garden of Eden looked like. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen. The whole place was almost landscaped, yet the developer preserved the mountain and the farm areas. The 300-hectare subdivision has three lagoons, a waterfall, a fishpond, and yes, hectares upon hectares of golf courses! It also has three pavilions with swimming pools and airconditioned, events halls. It’s literally living beside or at the foot of the mountains and seeing the sun kiss the mountain peaks every morning! And you don’t have to travel for two hours south of the Metro and pay all those skyrocketing toll fees to enjoy this view!

After touring the place, I almost felt like I never want to go back to Pasig anymore. Green Park had been such a wonderful home to me for the past three decades, but I could trade it anytime for a wonderland like this! Hehehe

But in all seriousness, my mind thought of a thousand things I could do in Antipolo: enjoying my breakfast and coffee while seeing the sun rise from my porch, painting and drawing on my balcony, walking with my little niece in one of the paved jogging paths, enjoying a fun-filled afternoon swimming with my nephews in one of the pavilions, preparing some grilled dishes for my folks in my kitchen, or just doing my quiet time and soul-searching somewhere in the lagoons. Ah, I spent the day imagining a thousand and one things I would want to do as a (future) resident of Sun Valley.

Well, who knows? I just might use my Pag-ibig benefit one of these days :-)

This is just one of the three swimming pools in this subdivision. With all the trees and flowers surrounding the poolside, it'll really feel like you're swimming in the middle of a forest!

Will my own house look like this? Not too simple or flamboyant. This one is a Victorian-inspired, three-bedroom residence with a view of the mountains both in front and at the back of the house (too bad the air was so foggy that my camera didn't capture the mountains at the back). Check out the balcony at the master's bedroom (left side). I'm already thinking of all the possible things I could do in that terrace...

Wise choice. The owner of the Zen-inspired, white, three-storey house at the topmost left side of this picture made the right choice to buy that piece of property over there. His house has a very good view of this waterfalls (see bottom right side of the picture) and the adjoining golf course (right at the edge of the falls). What an exotic view to see every morning, noon or night time!

I would love to hold hands and walk with our baby niece, Monique, or my mom in this pathway beside one of the lagoons. Too bad I can not jog anymore. But anyway, since walking is therapy for me...

This house is literally ten feet away from one of the lagoons. Nice location with an instant garden to boot!

This paved walkway leads to one of my favorite spots in this humongous subdivision...
.....A beautiful gazebo right in the middle of a placid lagoon! I can just imagine myself doing my quiet time here. Or a little bit of entertaining. Or having a small picnic with my nephews and niece. Ooh, there are thousands of activities to think of!

This place is literally a Green Park (pardon the pun on the name of our village). The landscaped areas are truly soothing to the eyes.

Just swing it: Sun Valley is a golfer's haven too. Did you know that Arnold Palmer designed the golf courses? Yes, there are at least 3 of them inside this paradise.

Mother Dear and me posing for a pic after her client call.

Would you believe that the lots to the left and right side of this road are no longer up for sale? The owners must have wanted this lush view of the mountains so badly that within weeks, the entire block on both sides here were sold out!

Will the lady smiling here eventually take up residence in this place? Who knows?!?

You can tell by the pic that I was really fascinated by the place. I could even picture myself reading a book here. Yahoo!

This huge, airconditioned hall has been the venue of some parties, team-building activities and even weddings. Spacious and with a great view of the mountains, this hall can accomodate as much as 250-300 people. The ambiance is actually pretty amazing, cozy and romantic to say the least. Below this airconditioned hall is a covered outdoor area that can also be a venue for almost any type of event, rain or shine.

This is the huge covered area overlooking the lagoon, just below the airconditioned hall I mentioned earlier. This area has a really nice view of the mountains as well. Pretty soon, the surrounding areas will be landscaped too. A great place to get married, eh? Why not? After all, hundreds of couples do that in Tagaytay, so why not here where the air is also fresh and cool, where the streams are quiet and placid, where the sun kisses the mountaintops, and where the stars can witness you saying your wedding vows?

This is a closer shot of the lagoon which you can see from the outdoor event area. This seems shallow but be careful. It's over 20 feet deep. The developer is building several cabanas somewhere near the red soil beyond the trees. Yes, it'll be a superb future picnic site!

Isa: "Mama, can I just live here?"
Mama: "Sure, as long as you take me with you. Hehehe!!!!"

Til the next wanderlust chronicles... :0)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Day She Said "I Do"

About four years ago, I was sitting in a whole-day CCF-sponsored Singles' Conference on Love, Courtship and Marriage. One of the speakers (and one of my favorites in that event, too), Pastor Clem Guillermo, remarked: "A woman's got two greatest dreams: to be married to the man of her dreams, and to be the mother of his children."
That quotable quote pretty much summarizes what happened earlier this afternoon. Today is the day she said "I do". At long last.
Our high school buddies, and inarguably the love team of all time for our batch, Rolyn and Dhabong, just got married today in a beautiful and solemn mid-afternoon ceremony at the historic San Agustin Church, capping a beautiful fifteen-year friendship, seven-year rollercoaster of a courtship and a six-year smooth-sailing romance as a couple. It's just totally awesome and I can't believe that only two weeks ago, we threw Len a bridal shower at the Astoria Plaza Hotel. Now, she is officially Mrs. Rolyn D. Sac-Fernandez. They even had a website constructed to say so!
Here are some pics and highlights of the affair:
1. Our own stylists. Is it the economy or the sheer lack of time? Hehe (methinks it's both). We did our own hair and make-up. I personally know nothing about fixing my long tresses, so as usual I just let it dry. Kudos to Sheila and Katie who know a thing or two about eye shadow.
2. The long drive to San Agustin Church. We almost didn't make it to the ceremony. By the time we got to the church, Rolyn was about to walk down the aisle! This is what you get when you don't have a map of the church. Hay! It's a good thing we brought a driver along with us. Can you imagine if it's me in my dress driving all the way to that congested Manila area? Whew! Oh, and did I mention the circuitous ride from the church to the Coconut Palace? Arrgghh!!!!!!
3. Photos, photos, and more photos. What do you expect? We see one another once in a blue moon. Say cheese! Thanks to Katie's husband, Nelson, and Aye's to-be, Raymond, for gamely clicking throughout the night.
4. Great food. Forget the diet once in a while. Josiah's catering did a great job. I loved their Mongolian bar. And yes, I didn't pass up the opportunity to try their special chicken dish. It was superb!
5. Katie's song surprise number. Hey, I didn't know about that! (Doink! Kaya nga surprise, eh!)
6. The Jaguar. Len and Dhabong got the much-talked about 1947 Jaguar as their bridal car. Check out the photo :-P (Can I test drive that one, pretty please???)
7. Tito Robert's (father of the bride) speech. It was truly touching. After all, we don't hear the men say stuff like that often enough.
8. Great AVP and photos from Wally Gonzales. What can I say? Nobody beats a pro.
9. And yes, before I forget, I loved being in the company of Kate, Nelson, Sheila, Raymond and Aye. Too bad, Ria missed the affair again. (Hmp!)
[Click on an image to view it in larger format.]

Sealed with a kiss: The couple at the lobby of The Coconut Palace for the reception

Can I drive the car? :-)

Husband and wife: Mr. and Mrs. Henri Fernandez moments after the ceremony

Vroom, vroom: The 1947 Jaguar bridal car

The simple but elegant ribbons for the chairs
The cake
The elegant centerpiece table decor/flower arrangement

Hey, we did our own hair and make-up :-P

Buddies since our pre-adolescent days: The bride and the groom with some high school buddies
Kulet pose

We knew all along that it'll all end with the two of them walking down the aisle. It was only a matter of time before things fell into place :-)
To the newlyweds, we pray that you'll grow old together and stay faithful to each other. God bless you and your future family.
And to the next ones in line (paging ahem, Ayesha and Raymond!).....just give us a ring anytime you need help organizing for your big day, alright? :-P
Our friend Katie has a great blog entry for the wedding of the year. You can check out her write-up and her and her hubby's photos here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Chocolate Mallows Incident

When was the last time you lavished someone with all your love and attention?

It gives me immense joy and satisfaction to deliberately give whatever a loved one is asking. You know fully well what I’m talking about, don’t you? Early this year, my sister and brother-in-law were discussing plans on where their twin kids would study for Grade One. One SMS was all it took, and the following day, the Scribbling Angel immediately played genie in a bottle. Voila, I filed for a day’s leave upon my sister’s request, and with her husband, went around town looking for a school where my nephews would be spending the rest of their childhood education years. Short notice, huh?

Ah, but that’s not much of a bother. I remember one of those projects Aning (our house helper for 13+ years) was working on. With just one plea from her, I didn’t sleep for 24 hours (Yes, you read it right: 24! I didn’t even had the chance to blink!) to help her finish her assignment. You bet I looked like a zombie the next day I reported for work, and was completely zonked out.

They say that one good way to gauge if you really love someone is to measure how much time, money and effort you spend on that loved one. The amount you spend reveals how much this person means to you.

So what does a daughter do when her senior citizen of a mom goes craving for Chocolate Mallows? Do all it takes to get them, of course, no matter what the cost!

So last Wednesday night, I literally ran to our front door, and excitedly called for my mom to tell her the good news that I finally got her the Chocolate Mallows she has been craving for all week. My, if she only knew. I had to persuade and even badger my office mate to let me be among the first to purchase those saccharine goodies from her, since they so easily run out of stock, especially this yuletide season.

My mom’s reply?

Naku, na-doble. Inalok din ako sa opisina kanina, kaya bumili na ako. Ang dami naman nyan!”

Hehe. Moms…you just gotta love ‘em ---- idiosyncrasies and all.

Excuse me as I feel like munching on my sweet pasalubong. Let’s not count the calories, please….