Sunday, December 22, 2019

A look back at 2009: the year of terrible endings and one most wonderful beginning

My kids asked me today what 2009 was like. It wasn't really because they were thinking of writing a blog post about the decade (that would be me). They were talking about life before they were around and wondering what kind of horrible life that must've been for Vince and me. Haha my kids. So full of themselves.

Funnily enough, they were kinda right - it was horrible the year before they came into our life. It's not funny, of course, because 2009 was breathtaking in its horror. The months before that, in late 2008, my mother had suddenly died and then my wallet got stolen so I was still reeling. Then 2009 greeted us with the news that Vince's baby, the tech magazine T3, was getting the axe. Vince was beyond devastated. It was the end of a happy career and he had a very hard time coping. I couldn't comfort him, however, because I was still dealing with Mama's death and fighting the credit card charges. 

We sold our pickup truck and that was another thing I cried about but it was nice to have money again after we dealt with the financial blows of Mama's death and the credit card theft. That year didn't get any better as rumors of other magazines getting killed off, including mine, celebrity title OK!, set everyone on edge.

Our baby bunny

To make things worse, our dearest rabbit Galady got sick in August and deteriorated rapidly. Our days were filled with caring for a poor, disabled bunny that we'd rather see sick than dead. But the inevitable happened and she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge right after my birthday in November. Vince and I were inconsolable.

Then I was offered the dazzling opportunity to become editor in chief of the much bigger and more prestigious title, Good Housekeeping. The big bosses at Hearst over at NYC talked to me, loved me and my work, and offered me the job. I agonized for weeks because I loved OK! and my staff so so so much. Finally, I said no to Good Housekeeping (and the big raise) to continue doing what I truly loved but I knew I disappointed people and that felt heavy.

I was so sad and stressed out all of 2009 that I would forget taking my birth control pills off-and-on. Finally, all that forgetfulness resulted in my period not making its monthly visit in December. I thought it was the stress but it turned out I was pregnant.

I was pregnant!!!

And for that alone, I can never really say that 2009 was a bad year. All that horror culminated in a new life and what a gloriously happy life it has been! Ten years of absolute joy.

So when my kids asked about the year before they came into our life, I said, "Well, I missed my mama very much, your Papa lost his dream job, and our beloved bunny wabbit Galady died. But it turned out to be such a great year after all because I became pregnant with Vito."

"Yeah, Papa said I'm your lucky charm," Vito grinned.

"You're more than our good luck, kiddo," I said. "You're the life that ended all the sadness and deaths. That's why your name means life."

I keep remembering this verse when I think of Vito: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17. Old things have passed away. All things have become new. And, oh, how new and oh so wonderful!

Our baby boys

How amazing that I can look back on that year and be thankful for it. Life has its good and bad but I know, no matter what happens, I'll always think it was a good life because my dreams came true, I married my great love, and we had our three boys. So incredible!

If you're in a dark place right now, my friend, hold fast. It's going to be all right. You just need to believe it and keep going. God bless you!

Friday, December 20, 2019

You can #DoMoreNow if you lived in a home near it all

Well, it's the holidays and what does that mean? Traffic! The traffic is so terrible, it takes away the joy of the season. More and more often, my husband Vince and I are finding ourselves talking about moving away from the city because life in Manila is becoming even more toxic every day.

What gives us pause, however, is we actually really love our home. Our condo is in the middle of everything, it's safe, and has great amenities. That said, even though we're near everything, the traffic makes everything seem so far! Plus, in a few years, it will be really tight because our 3 sons will be teenagers and teens need privacy and that's why we're thinking maybe it's time to look around for a new home.

We have a non-negotiable list of our requirements in finding a good home. It has to be in a safe community, of course. It has to be near an amazing school for our boys. It also has to be near a good hospital because I'm paranoid like that. A mall has to be a short drive away so we can shop for our needs without going all the way back to Manila. And of course, our new home has to look nice, too! So, upon the recommendations of friends and the invitation of Avida Land, we drove to Nuvali to check out the Avida properties there. Take a look at what we saw!

Welcome to the Trista Model, floor area: 85sqm 

Light-filled staircase! 
One bathroom at the landing for all 3 bedrooms upstairs
Adorable girl's bedroom
Cozy boy's bedroom
Brightly lit master's bedroom!

I wasn't able to take photos of the downstairs floor since we had a shoot for Avida Land so the crew had camped on the first floor. There's a living area, a dining area, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a spare room that can be turned into anything you like: maid's room, storage area, or home office. You can see the first floor in this video we made:

That's not my voice, by the way =)

Anyway, the floor area is smaller than our condo now but we saw that the other houses in the neighborhood just extended their floor area. That's possible because the lot area is pretty big (check out the first photo of this post). There's enough for a front yard, a backyard, and a 2-car, even 4-car garage. So if you have just one car like us, there's plenty of space for expansion.

Okay ang Nuvali area, mamas! For schools, it's near Xavier Nuvali, Beacon Academy, Brent International School, Miriam College, and Caritas Don Bosco. Then kahit looban siya, it's a short drive from many commercial centers like Ayala Malls Solenad, The Landmark, S&R, Robinsons Supermarket, Walter Mart, and so many more! For hospitals, there are The Medical City and QualiMed. So convenient!

Everything's a short, tree-lined drive away!
Nuvali Sta. Rosa really looks like a fantastic idea! It's urban enough so we won't feel like we're in the middle of nowhere and yet it's filled with fresh air and so much quiet. I can imagine my kids biking on the streets, making sure our rabbit Bunny Blue doesn't devour the garden because of course we'll have a vegetable garden. I'll walk our corgi (I'll have one or two one day!), swim in the nice village pool, hang our laundry to dry under the sun and in the fresh breeze. And our kids can be home from school within minutes instead of the hours it now takes!

Our trip to Avida Nuvali made it really obvious that we can do more every day in the right community. SIGH. Please pray for us! We really do love our home and we truly wouldn't mind staying here forever. But maybe one day, God has a bigger home planned for my family and it may be waiting for us in Avida Nuvali.

*This post is brought to you by Avida Land. For more information, visit their website,

Monday, December 09, 2019

Cooking ginataang kalabasa and sitaw just got easier!

Looking for a vegetable dish to serve your veggie-resistant kids? Serve them ginataang kalabasa and sitaw! I mash the kalabasa and mix it with their rice so they literally can't separate the squash from the rice. And the sitaw, well, it takes convincing but they did agree the texture feels like meat so they ate it. And I love it that this healthy and delicious dish just got easier to cook with Coco Mama!

The kids can help cook, too!

Not a sponsored post! I'm just really happy with this mom find. For gata, I used to go to the palengke to have my coconut milk grated fresh. Not anymore! This Coco Mama is fresh and masarap! Highly recommended.

Here's the recipe sa likod ng pakete but mine doesn't have sili because my kids don't like spicy food. I also usually use tinapang isda with this (it adds a lovely smoky flavor), but my kids will NOT eat tinapa so fine, fine, I used ground pork.

If you're vegetarian, you can definitely take out the meat. If you're a meat-eater and trying to transition to a veggie diet, this dish is wonderful because the sitaw has a good consistency na parang karne.

Tada! Sarap sarap sarap nito sobra! I can't wait to cook other recipes with Coco Mama gata! Please share your gata recipes!