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.