Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 163: Corned Burger Surprise

Leafing through the pages of a six-year old "Smart Parenting" magazine yielded a great result for my "pambaon" blues with the kids.  It was a Back-to-School and Father's Day issue and one of the features was a set of easy-to-follow recipes for children's snack or lunch in school. 

For a budget-conscious Mom like me, this is a perfect treat to make as it veers away from the more expensive ground beef since it makes use of corned beef instead and has shredded potatoes as extender. 


Patty Mixture:
500 grams corned beef (I used the "por kilo" kind instead of canned)
600 grams potatoes (peeled, shredded and drained of excess liquid)
5 tbsp. onions, minced
5 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 eggs (try one egg first as it might get too wet/soggy if too much egg is used)
cream cheese or ordinary processed cheese, sliced

for Sandwich assembly:
1-2 tbsp. canola oil for frying
burger buns
mayonnaise or your choice of dressing

Mix together all patty ingredients until well incorporated. If mixture turns out too soggy, drain excess liquid on strainer before forming into patties.

Get a spoonful of mixture on the palm of your hand. Place a small piece of cheese in the center then add another spoonful of the mixture to hide the cheese and form into a patty.

Fry patties in hot oil. Drain on paper towels. Assemble on buns and serve.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 157: New Kids on the Block

New school...

School year 2011-2012 has brought in some firsts and some new things...after spending the first three years of school life in Butuan Faith Christian School, Jarred is now facing the challenge of being the new kid on the block. Entering the Grade II level at his Dad's elementary alma mater - St. Francis of Assisi School, he may have some bumps here and there before he gets the hang of things in this new school. Joining him is newbie student, Caitlin, who's beginning formal school for the first time as a Kinder pupil at the same school.

God has directed our path ever since we knew about our inevitable move to Cebu. The school is strategically located as it is less than 2 km away from home and is also on the way to their Lola's place of work. They may be newbies but I know they can manage and will enjoy their time at SFAS.

Many thanks to Tito Ninong Alfred and Tita Ninang Phebz for making the nearly impossible possible .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 144: Local Razor Clams / "Tudlo Dato" (Rich Man's Fingers)

I was doing the rounds of the Banawa market this morning when I spotted a tray full of local razor clams ("Tudlo Dato" in Visayan lingo). At P100/kilo, I thought it was already a steal. And so with a kilo of these fresh live shellfish at hand, I started to salivate about what's for lunch today.

Just a simple stir fry of these babies turned out to be a sweet and succulent dish that's both hearty and exotic.

Razor Clam Stir Fry

1 kg razor clams / "tudlo dato", rinsed well
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
2 pcs. thumb-sized ginger, sliced
5-6 pcs. medium-sized tomatoes, sliced in wedges
2 tbsp. canola oil 
salt and pepper to taste

In a stir fry pan, heat up some oil and fry the aromatics. Once the onions turn translucent, stir in the clams. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium and cover the pan. Turn off the heat after 10 minutes. Serve piping hot with rice.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 128: Being a Mother

Right after my class last night, my son asked to use the computer. I thought he was just going to play his fave computer game or what.

After about half an hour I saw this photo posted on my Facebook had the caption "Happy Mother's Day to my best Mom ever - (tagging my name)" It was a post from my son, Jarred.

This is why I love being a Mom...why I'll do it over and over again despite the challenges, sacrifices and hardships...because little things like this make everything else so worth it.

It was truly a wonderful Mother's Day for me. 

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all mothers, mommies, mamas, nanays and inays!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 115: I'm Two Today!!!

Time really flies so fast...wasn't it only yesterday when our cutie-pie CeeJae made her grand entrance into the world? Well, it's already two years since then and she's grown into a very witty and a parrot-like chatterbox. When you hear her talking you wouldn't believe that she's only two...she talks wise beyond her years.

A week before her special day, whenever Mama Lola would ask her what she'd like for her birthday, she'd reply with a list of specific requests - chocolate cake, spaghetti, balloon and ice cream. 

And so with the support of her Ninongs (godfathers) JunJun and Jeffrey, Mama Lola Alice, Papa Lolo Fred, she got her wishes today. With family around her, she blew the number 2 candle on her Orange Brutus Chocolate Monster cake and had a feast of Spaghetti, Roast Chicken Rosemary and Baked Pork Liempo.

It was a simple celebration and yet to her it meant the world.

Thank you so much Lord for all the blessings you've bestowed upon our little angel throughout the past year. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 114:"Dirt Bike" Fun

Eyes widened in awe and excitement when my two older kids saw a bunch of other children going around a makeshift track using battery-operated kiddie dirt bikes. Back in Butuan, they usually spent whole-day weekend playdates at Jarred's best buddy Francis' home to experience such a ride. 

Well, it's a lot different here in the city...first, the ride doesn't come free - it's P35 per child and second, it's not ride-all-you-can - your money can only get you as far as 5 minutes on the bike. 

Since it was their first time and it wasn't something they would be allowed to do frequently, I thought it wouldn't hurt to let them experience it even just for once. Those precious five minutes seemed to last a lifetime as I watched them do the rounds on the track. The joy and the thrill that was evident on their faces was worth more than the seventy pesos paid for the ride.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 113: A Birthday Prelude

Our bunsoy will be turning two years old in a couple of days. Since this is her first time to celebrate in Cebu, the family thought of giving her an advanced "day out" treat at SM Cebu.

We entered through the Northwing entrance and it was clear that little CeeJae was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the mall. Her eyes widened and she seemed a bit afraid to explore. When asked, "Do you like it here?" she moved her head side to side in negation while she would nod in the affirmative when asked, "Do you want to go to Gaisano-Butuan?" Hay, my little promdi-girl!!!

We thought she'd be interested in the SM Storyland Train ride but she got kind of scared when it passed by. What caught her attention were the little tikes cars for rent going around the mall. 

She got very excited getting into the driver seat of her very own "pick-up truck". Atchie Caitlin had to content herself at the backseat while Kuya Jarred was tasked to push them around the mall.

A couple of hours making rounds in the mall capped with a simple snack at McDonald's made her day. When we passed by the entryway of Northwing, she suddenly pointed to it and said, "Go home, Mom...tired, miss Lola". When asked if she enjoyed her day, she gave a resounding, "Yes!!!"

It was just a simple day out with the whole family and yet through the eyes of a toddler, it was a magical and amazing day. This is one of the reasons why I love promdi life and exposing my kids to it. A trip to SM is already something very special when it's just an ordinary thing to most city-bred children.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 111: Reflecting on God's Amazing Love

Today is Maundy Thursday and it's an opportune time to ponder on God's immense love for us. He sent His only son Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin. From the very beginning, Jesus knew that He was going to give up His life for us - for our redemption.

God has given us the chance to spend eternal life with Him. The only thing He's asking from us is repentance and belief in His word.

We only need to think about Jesus' passion and pain to realize how much God loves us.

May the spirit of the Lenten Season fill our lives with the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 106: Entrance Exam

I'm so sure hubby and I were the more anxious ones today during our children's entrance exam at BCS.  We might as well be the ones taking the exam as evidenced by clammy hands and sweaty foreheads. Our daughter, Caitlin breezed through her preschool test by confidently following the teacher's instructions and answering the paper test in front of her. 

This was so unlike my very own experience 33 years ago when my parents took me to Maryknoll CSC for the entrance test. They brought me to the school a total of three times - the first two were unsuccessful attempts to let me take the exam as I would be kicking and screaming upon being ushered into the room. During the third and final attempt (which turned out to be the last chance to take the test), my Mom gave the ultimatum - if I didn't willingly go with the teacher to take the exam, I won't be able to go to school. Well, I went in, took the test and came out grinning from ear-to-ear half an hour later. I remember my parents telling the story of what I said upon emerging from the examination room, "Hay, ganun lang pala yun exam, may mga tanong lang...akala ko naman parang injection sa doktor yun..." - classic epic fail of my preschool life.

As incoming Grade Two, I'm sure nothing prepared our son, Jarred, for the two-hour, more than 10-page test he encountered this morning.  If he was nervous or afraid, you wouldn't see it...he faced the challenge head on and didn't give up until he finished all pages (despite feeling some pangs of hunger midway through the exam).

My hats off to the resilience and tenacity of children today...they're growing up more confident and ready for the world compared to how we were when we were their age.

The exam results won't be in until after Holy Week...until then, we will just keep praying that God's will be done. Everything is in God's hands now...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 97: Movie Date

Thanks to a couple of movie passes courtesy of my brother-in-law Jeff, my son and I were able to have a movie date at the SM Cinemas. 

Having lived in the more laid-back places in the Philippines for the past 9 years, I was in shock to discover that cinema prices in the city are now at a minimum of P170/head. It would even go up to twice that if the movie were 3D or ultra special. Wow!!!

Well, unless we'll be gifted with complimentary theater tickets, regular movie dates will certainly not be in our family's list of bonding activities. It is simply much too expensive for us. 

For today, it was an entirely new experience for Jarred as it was his first time to watch in a topnotch theater. He was in awe of the size of the movie house, plush seats and clean smell. He was excited to see the animated film "Rio", a feature about a domesticated blue macaw from mid-west United States who gets the adventure of a lifetime when he travels to Rio de Janeiro to reunite with the only other survivor of his species, the feisty and independent Jewel. It was a great blend of comedy, drama, romance and music - all working together to impart an important message about preserving the environment, reaching for your dreams, never giving up and love in the family. 

Jarred couldn't stop laughing during the hilarious parts and would freely tap his feet and snap his fingers during song numbers. At times, I would see him shy away during tender and romantic parts (wow, they understand about that already?).  Before the movie ended, he told me that his two sisters would certainly enjoy the movie but he knew it was far too expensive for our family. He just said that they should just all wait for it to show on HBO or Star Movies. 

As we were leaving the theater hall, he noticed a big billboard featuring Disney's "Cars 2" in   3D. He knew 3D would be much more pricey than the regular P180 ticket. He said, "I wonder when Cars 2 would come out. Mom, when it does, can we watch? I'll save up for it so that we can all watch. I can keep my allowance and maybe by then, I'll have enough for the movie." All I could do was say, "We'll see son...that's still too far away to think about..."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 92: Freshly Boiled

After many months of culinary hiatus, I found myself spending more time in the kitchen in just a span of 3 days. I realized that cooking is certainly just like riding a bike, once you learn how to do it, you have it for life.

I was like a kid let loose in a candy store when I discovered a nearby weekend market along an alley. Fresh produce - fruits and vegetables, live native chicken and eggs, and a whole lot of other good stuff were so enticing to see (watch out for my blog entry on this weekend market). 

I only had a few pesos stashed in my pocket, thinking that I was only planning to buy ingredients for a couple of vegetable dishes - Squash and String Beans in Coconut Milk (Guinataang Kalabasa at Sitaw) and Chop Suey.  Those farm fresh native eggs were so tempting that I couldn't help but want to buy a couple or so. However, my daughter spotted a vendor selling freshly harvested peanuts and dragged me to the stall and insisted I buy some. And so, the moolah I was supposedly saving to buy the eggs went to the peanuts...

My little girl was a happy camper on the way home...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 91: Weekend Market

The weekend market along the corner of Ramos Extension and Escario Streets.
It begins every Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.
Barely on my second day after our move from BXU, I started to miss home terribly...the familiar places, the traffic-free roads, the corner stores and outlets where I buy our needs, and all the other stuff I'm used to there.  Well, my spirits got an uplift when I was told of this weekend market nearby (across the road from where we live actually) that's teeming with fresh produce - fruits, vegetables, live chicken, farm fresh eggs. 

After learning about it, I couldn't contain my excitement and actually rushed to the location with my two girls in tow. It was indeed a sight to behold! Just looking at the cornucopia of goodies made my fingers itch to once again experiment in the kitchen. 

The only downside to this neighborly trip is the price...I was taken aback at how expensive it is here. Well, if I got the stuff in the supermarket, surely it'll be more pricey so this was the best alternative. Gosh!!! I so miss the "bagsak-presyo" produce of Butuan!!! Imagine, here, the bananas are priced per piece and not per kilo. There goes my kids' favorite fruit...we'd probably consume dramatically less here than we did back home...

With my small eco bag filled with as much as my budget would allow, I set for home, quickly planning in my head the cooking trip I'll have this weekend...dum dee dum...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 89: From Moving In to Moving On...

The week passed by like a was hustling and bustling here and there desperately trying to beat time and yet yearning deep inside that time stand still even for just one minute.

As the last pieces of furniture and boxes got fitted into our 10-footer container, the closing of the van door shook me to the reality that we were finally closing the door to this chapter in our lives. Four years of memories are now contained in that small 10-foot space.

I clutched the bunch of house keys tightly right before turning them over to our landlord. Tears were blurring my eyes as I took a final glance at the home we've known for the past four years...the only one that became a true home for us.

It was a wonderful time that will now be forever etched in our hearts. 

Here's a trip down memory lane to that time in March 2007 when we first moved in...we've come a long way since those initial home design ideas and weekend projects...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 88: Lolo Joe and Lola Cora

During our last three days in Butuan, we were "adopted" by our very generous and hospitable BCBP brother and sister, spouses Joe and Cora. Those last few days with them allowed us to have a haven and respite while we were moving out and packing up our things from our home. 

No words of gratitude would ever measure up in response to the generosity of this couple. They made sure the kids and I were provided for in terms of comfort, safety and sustenance.  They even went the extra mile to lend a hand in the packing and stuffing of our boxes and furniture. 

The children would surely miss their Lolo Joe and Lola Cora...

On a personal note, I do praise God that He allowed us to be a part of a wonderful community that is the BCBP. A month or two before our scheduled move to Cebu, it was simply difficult to comprehend how possible it was for us to afford the expenses of such a move, not to mention that I was left alone with the kids to make it work. Through the kind and generous hearts of our many BCBP brothers and sisters, everything was made possible. God worked His miracle through them. What was impossible became a reality...

Many thanks to our BCBP-Butuan family!!!

Bro. Jensen and Sis. Grace - for the wonderful assistance, support and mileage you extended to us...we will forever be grateful

Bro. Mark and Sis. Joy - for being great sounding boards to me during my "anxiety attack" periods, for always being there ready to assist us in whatever we needed...many thanks

Bro. Francis and Sis. Marilou - for just being there as our constant Sunday "churchmates" at Miraculous Medal Chapel...your presence every Sunday helped keep me grounded...

Bro. Jeffrey and Sis. Manette - for the opportunities given to the kids to have some fun just before our move...those events gave some semblance of "family" during our 6-month separation from Jerome

Sis. Ched - for the boxes and always being ready to lend us a hand whenever we needed one...

Bro. Val and Sis. Langga - for the quiet nurturing and spiritual guidance you've given us over the past year...we take the learnings and insights with us wherever we go

Bro. Ben and Sis. Eden - for your inspiring messages and words of encouragement...

to our BCLP-12 family: 

Bro. Nonoy and Sis. Belen - though we don't see each other often, the strong bond of friendship can be felt every time...thank you for the prayers and advice

Sis. Lotlot, Sis. Fe and Sis. Delia - your strength as women continue to inspire me to continue to evolve into a much stronger woman...your points of view were indeed something I needed to view things from a different perspective

Bro. Nilo - your cheerful disposition and constant presence has made every breakfast and AGM alive and interesting...

Bro. Cris - your steadfast faith despite the tremendous trials that have come your way continue to be our living example of how we should live our Christ-centered lives...

and to the entire BCBP-Butuan community...thank you for always being there, constantly living your Christian lives so that we can derive inspiration and lessons from them...we will miss all of you!

...until we meet again...God bless you all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 77: After-School Fun

After the week-long fourth quarter exams, the kids let off some steam, kick back their heels and enjoy a brief afternoon playing tag. Hearing the loud shrieks and screams of my two daughters made my heart leap for joy knowing that they feel so at home surrounded by their Kuya's classmates and friends. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 75: A Decade of LOVE


...of love
...of passion
...of respect
...of understanding
...of continuous learning and re-learning

It sure seems only yesterday when I vowed to love, cherish and respect that one person I chose to spend the rest of my life with.  Then, ten years seemed light years away...

...and yet, here we are a decade later love
...bumped and bruised
...bitten without being shy
...a hundredfold blessed
...modeled and shaped continue living and loving share God's love
...and inspire others to do the same

Time flew so fast and I enjoyed the wild ride immensely...
I can't wait to spend countless decades more with only ONE...Jerome.
Happy Anniversary!!!

Our Ten Years of being TWOgether

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 73: My Last Hurrah as a Thirtysomething

Just looking at the pictures highlighting the past year of my life made me realize how time truly flies so fast. It seemed only yesterday when I celebrated my 38th birthday and now here comes another natal day, making me one year older. This is going to be my last year in the thirties and it seems that everything else in my life seem to be at the end of a chapter or ending (more on that in later posts, don't worry).

I've had a tremendous outpouring of blessings all throughout this year and the biggest one of them all was finally realizing what being a Christian truly means and having a personal relationship with the Lord God. He has opened the floodgates of my mind and heart to His word and promise of eternal life. And it is now that I realize how difficult it is to live life once you get closer to Him. He will test and challenge you all the time to know whether you're His true disciple or not. It might be weird to understand how this can be considered as my greatest blessing this year but it truly is...As I continue to be tested, rocked and shaken, I get molded and reshaped in the process.  I am now a work in progress...having a lot of downs than ups but still trying to get up each time I fall.

Lately, I've allowed myself to be troubled and afraid of these things that signal the end of certain parts of my life. God knows I've wallowed in so much fear, anxiety, grief and self-pity already. Known to be a natural pessimist, I can't seem to get my thoughts to be positive about what's in store in the future. While things seem to be going on south, I have the tendency to think that it's all downhill from here...

Now that I'm facing the big 40 just around the corner there, my biggest wish and fervent prayer is that God helps create in me a more positive outlook, one that is bold enough to look at the future and say "I'm ready, bring it on!!!".  I hope that He continues to allay all my fears and allows me to believe that indeed when He closes a door, He opens a window.

The greatest sign that He is just around, ready to take me under His care was already manifested early today, when my Facebook wall and mobile phone filled up with a barrage of greetings and well wishes. Knowing that I am loved by family, relatives, friends and loved ones boosts my confidence to face another year of my life. Your overwhelming show of love, support and care will keep me going. My heartfelt gratitude to all of you for remembering and keeping me in your hearts and minds.

Finally, to know how deeply I am loved by those closest to my heart makes everything worthwhile and meaningful. With them by my side, I know I can overcome anything...

This is hubby's birthday gift to me...I was in tears from start to finish...such a precious gift of love...

This time from my two girls...what a great birthday gift!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 71: Zoomin' at LTO

I was able to take a quick glance at my driver's license about two weeks ago and was shocked to see that it was going to be expiring this year. Time sure flies so seems only a year ago when I renewed it and now I have to go through that LTO process once again. My experiences in the past have already given me the impression that renewing one's driver's license would normally take a whole day to process plus a waiting period of no less than three months for the card-type license to be released.

Imagine my surprise when I breezed through LTO-Butuan from 10:45-11:20 am only. Well, if you include the medical check up and drug test, it took a total of one hour and fifteen minutes. I've never experienced a process as organized and smooth-flowing as this in the many years I've been renewing my license.

Having a color-coded number also made it easier for the public to know who's next in line at what station. Another thing that was quite remarkable was how friendly all the staff were...definitely no grumpy Manangs or Manongs here.

I can say that technology has indeed made things so much easier and more convenient at the LTO...I'm one happy customer!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 70: The Earth Gets Shaken

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 
- Isaiah 54:10

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Google Maps
I was in shock when I got wind of the breaking news at CNN about a strong earthquake near the coast of Honshu in Japan today at about half past one in the afternoon (PHL time). Since then, my eyes and ears were glued on the tube wanting to know what's been happening in that part of the world. 

Since most of my students now are based in Japan, I couldn't help but get worried for them and say a silent prayer for their safety. I kept on wondering how scary it must be for them going through the ordeal of such a great earthquake. Being right smack in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan is on top in terms of preparedness for these kinds of situations but I don't think anyone is really prepared for such an eventuality. Fear, shock and panic would always be there and my heart goes out to everyone suffering this unexpected tragedy.

This event truly brought me to my senses when only a couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit low when I saw pictures of a childhood friend's housewarming. I felt a twinge of pain at the contrast in our lives - my friend, accomplished both professionally and financially whereas I, almost slumped on the ground in debt and nothing materially substantial to show for. Then this calamity hit...and seeing houses, cars, boats, huge properties and mass farmlands being eaten up by waters caused by the tsunamis made me realize how everything can disappear in an instant. And hubby's words shook me to the core - "He who has less, worries less."  I was so ashamed of myself for falling prey to the weakness of materialism and envy. 

For all those affected by this unbelievable tragedy, it must be heart-wrenching to see the huge damage to their property but truly, nothing is more devastating than seeing lives lost amid this calamity.  After all, it is not the material things in our lives that really matter but our lives and how we live them.

Let us continue to pray that God envelops us in His mighty protective love and spare us from imminent dangers looming in the future. And though there may be madness, chaos and fear, we have to trust that our Lord God is in control...He will never forsake us.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Day 64: Burger Madness

The photos say it all!!!  My litle CeeJae loves her burger...and she doesn't care much for the it Jollibee, McDonald's or the neighborhood "buy 1 take 1" deal (as shown here).  Give her a burger and she'll devour it...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 63: Techy Demise

I brought out my Motorola V3X today to charge it. After the usual 1.5 hours of charging, I turned it on but was surprised to find out that it powers off before fully initializing. I tried to turn the switch on and off a few times and the result was the same.  After some time, I had to accept that maybe my old buddy has reached the end of its journey.

This gadget of mine is pretty memorable and and sentimental. I bought it from the money I saved from my very first online teaching stint back in 2006.  Back then it cost about P11,000.  I purposely chose this model (after being a loyal Nokia user for many years) because I was so much into the series "24" back then and it was one of the popular mobile phone models I would see on the show.

I'm not sure if I'd try another Motorola model in the future but memories of my V3X would stay with me for a long time...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 62: All About BXU - Orange as Orange Gets (3rd of a series)

Once you enter the city boundary of Butuan, you will know that you've arrived once you spot these bright orange-colored motorized tricycles on the road. These heavy-bodied trikes are the primary means of transport around the city. I believe they're even more popular than the multicabs that ply the city's specific routes. These orange things will get you almost anywhere within the city limit and even right to your doorstep. The only place these are prohibited to pass by is along J.C. Aquino Avenue. For P6/ride it is quite a cheap way to go around...that is if you don't mind smelling like exhaust at the end of your ride. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 61: All About BXU - Malling Promdi-style (2nd of a series)

Mall of Asia it is definitely NOT!!! However, it is the only mall-type store that can be found in Butuan. Having grown up in Quezon City, I'm used to seeing big malls all over the city...from SM to Robinson's to Ayala...and the malls get bigger and bigger every year. 

The Gaisano Mall of Butuan is a pretty small shopping center that surprisingly served its purpose for my family for the past four years. Despite its size, it had mostly all the basic foodstuff that we would need on a monthly basis. Of course, it didn't have specialty stuff like fresh herbs, imported flavorings (if you wanted authentic Italian meals) and a lot of choices for meats, fruits and vegetables but the basic stuff were there. Overall, it was good enough.

Because it didn't have that many stalls and features, we rarely spend long periods of time's more of "grab and go home" for us. When the kids want to have their arcade fix, there's a small one at the top floor offering rides and games for only P5 a pop. Comparing with the more popular Timezone, this was a steal. Well, the rides and games are old...what do you expect for the price, eh? But they make the kids happy and that's what's important. 

This is really a stark comparison to what happens on a weekend in NCR and in the provinces...most families would be seen malling and spending countless hours at MOA, Boni High Street, Megamall, Shangri-la Mall or Robinson's whereas here in the province, the mall serves as just a place where we source out our foodstuff/clothing needs.  Most families still spend a large part of the weekend either at home or in the outdoors (beach, mountains and the like).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 60: All About BXU - The City (first of a series)

BUTUAN CITY Map (courtesy of Google Maps)
It was in March of 2007 when I first set foot in Butuan City. It is located in the province of Agusan del Norte, in the CARAGA region.  I wasn't too keen about this place when I initially found out that we were going to be assigned here after living in General Santos City for 5 years. I've heard a lot of feedback about Butuan and most of the information I gathered centered on the fact that it was not as urban as GenSan. I, of course, dreaded the fact that we were probably be moving to such a laid-back and "barriotic" place. 

Well, I soon discovered that it is all that...and more.

Butuan City has a total land area of roughly 817 sq. km. and a population of 307,942. Due to its proximity to Cebu, the widely-spoken dialect is Cebuano while Butuanon and Tagalog are also popular dialects.

At first I was surprised to see that there were only quite a handful of famous fast food places here...with Jollibee and McDonald's topbilling the very short list. What became more appealing to me as time passed by were the presence of local eating places that are considered to be pillars in the city. I shall try to introduce these places one at a time, later on in this series. 

What Butuan lacked in terms of "pop culture", it more than made up for in terms of the rustic, laid-back and relaxed way of life it offered. Staying in this place made me appreciate being at home more and actually cut back on my "lakwatsa" tendencies. 

As I go along this series, you will learn more about Butuan...the place I call home. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 56: EDSA Boy to Freedom Man

Even before February 25 became a memorable date to millions of Filipinos, it was already a special one in our family. Thirty years ago, on February 25, 1981, my parents' unico hijo and my only brother, was born. He was a "pahabol" baby, surprising both Mommy and Daddy, since they never expected to still conceive six years after my younger sister was born. In many ways, he was the miracle that Daddy was hoping and praying for...a boy to carry on his name. 

Christened PAULO REY NIÑO, his name was carefully chosen and had a lot of meaning. PAULO - to commemorate the visit of the late Pope John Paul II to the Philippines just a few days prior to his birth; REY - obviously named after Dad without having to add a "Junior" to his name and NIÑO - as a reminder of Mom and Dad's devotion to the Sto. Niño.

Onin (family nickname), was fortunate to be born at a time when the family's finances were at a boom. "Lavished upon" would probably be an understatement to the kind of lifestyle that he grew up in. Whatever he wanted or needed, he got. He was doted upon by everyone. Despite all the attention and material things bestowed upon him, he grew up relatively well-mannered and quite innocent. He may have been spoiled but he didn't grow up to be a brat. I might have a reservation or two about his being brought up too sheltered and protected but all in all, my parents did the best they could. 

He was my sidekick during my college days, oftentimes hanging out with me at the Buklod-Isip tambayan whenever I pick him up from the Ateneo Grade School. I have plenty of memories from that time in our lives and I choose to dwell on them rather than get distracted by the harsh realities of now.

In the past 8 years or so, Onin has undergone two tremendous heartbreaks, both incidences having endings that are much too alike. It is the kindhearted part of him that gets broken and it continues to pain me knowing this. Despite his shortcomings and weaknesses, he certainly didn't deserve to be treated the way he did. Most would probably give up after suffering such powerful blows in life, but Onin remains strong, steadfast and upright.

It is this strength in him that I see which makes me believe he is definitely capable of doing great things in his life - if only he believes it and acts with bold faith in God and himself. At this important milestone in his life - the big 30, may it signify his transformation from being identified as EDSA Boy to Freedom Man. As I've mentioned to him many times before, he needs to spread his wings and just fly.

To dearest Onin - Happy 30th Birthday!!! May God continue to work His miracles in your life  and give you the true desires of your heart...Ate loves you very much!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 51: Spaghetti Sunday

My three kids are typical youngsters who love Pinoy-style spaghetti. It's no wonder that it's on top of their minds whenever we pass by the towering signages of either Jollibee or McDonald's.  However, ever since discovering that a typical meal at any of these two outlets would cost our brood of five at least P350, we've tried to lessen, if not eliminate, going there for meals.

The last time the kids were treated to their fave spaghetti was over the Christmas holidays in Cebu. I knew they'd love a spaghetti weekend so I tried to fit the meal budget so that I can prepare their favorite. Looking for frugal means to still enjoy a childhood favorite, I discovered that using certain ingredients could still make a mean spaghetti without being too expensive. Instead of ground beef, I use CDO corned beef that's being sold per kg at the grocery. By substituting such, I can still afford to add mushrooms and hotdogs to the recipe. As for the hotdogs, I use the secondary hotdog line of a famous brand - in this instance, instead of the CDO premium Bibbo brand, I use their Idol brand. The kids would barely notice the difference since it's mixed in the sauce anyway. With a budget of P260.00, I was able to make enough spaghetti that stretched to three meals. The first two meals were with pasta and the third one was with rice already as the pasta ran out. Not bad eh?

As you can see, the kids had bulging bellies after eating and it was "clean plate" all the way!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 46: Love Overflows

As the two girls and I picked up Kuya from school yesterday, he proudly presented us with a Valentine craft he did during English class. Two hearts mounted on a popsicle stick, it was such a beautiful Valentine's gift knowing that he poured out his heart and love into it. 

Before I could take a photo of all of us with it, little CeeJae already took the liberty of "tasting" the heart by biting off a teeny weeny piece off one heart. Maybe she thought it was a chocolate heart or something eh?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 45: I Carry Your Heart

Today is Valentine's Day and since hubby and I won't be able to spend it together, I'll venture out of the obvious romanticism associated with this day and instead focus on the other meaning of Valentine's for me and my family. 

Here is a 5-year old blog entry on my old blog which paid tribute to my sister on her birthday. So on her Valentine birthday today, I re-publish it to let her know that I continue to carry her heart with me...I carry it in my heart, always.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 43: Her Father's Daughter

For the past several weeks, I would let my youngest daughter tag along whenever I attended the BCBP Joint Breakfast. I noticed that she has already learned the usual mechanics upon entering the breakfast venue. She'll be the one to hold on to the meal ticket and would also get her Dad's name tag for her to wear.  CeeJae likes to be the one to choose which meal to eat too and gladly hands over the ticket to the server after making her choice. 

The BCBP breakfast is one she eats with gusto, especially when there's an egg cooked sunny-side-up and ripe banana for dessert. 

Here you will see how proudly she wears her Dad's name tag...and with that look on her face, she's truly her father's daughter.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 42: It's A Small World (shìjiè zhēn xiǎo)

After a week's delay due to the massive flooding in Butuan, the Chinese New Year's presentation of the students of Butuan Faith Christian School finally pushed through today. Nothing prepared me for the amazingly majestic showcase of dances and song that the entire student body spent weeks and weeks of practice on while under the able tutelage of their teachers and advisers. From the way the audience reacted after every number, it was obvious that they were blown away. Well, you be the are the different performances of the talented students of BFCS...