Friday, January 6, 2012

To the One I love the most

Happy birthday to the One I love the most, my Lord, Savior and King - Jesus. Thank You for EVERYTHING. I have a wish on Your birthday – that Your will in our lives will always prevail. We love You very much.

As I write this piece, I am singing in my head a song so familiar to everyone. The same song I was humming a few nights ago just before His birthday. The same song hubby and I sang with tears in my eyes when we attended a worship service on His birthday. My soul was singing to Him.

Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error, pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'
Fall on your knees, oh, hear the Angels' voices
Oh, night divine, oh, night when Christ was born
Oh, night divine, oh, night, oh night divine

A royal family celebrates a merry Christmas

Para bang si Prince William and Kate M?

It was on the eve of Christmas when hubby arrived from Malaysia along with thousands of other OFWs. We were so excited to be with each other once again after our Cebu trip last November. Hubby lost his belly fat. Belly good!

Our girls were so happy to see their papa. Noelle and Nala proudly showed off their princess-like balloon skirts. Our Christmas color motif was violet but in photos, it appeared to be more like royal blue than violet. Oh well, royal blue or violet – the color is still of royalty.

Just like every Christmas eve, my brother and his family spent noche buena in our home. For food, we had Chinese as our theme. O diba pati food may theme din?

Our Noche Buena menu: Peking Duck, Beef with Broccoli, Pork Asado, Pancit Canton, Shrimps in Butter and Garlic, Buko Salad, Caramel Crunch Cake (from Claudette’s through Ensogo). And of course I made sure there was Coke, kasi pang OFW diba?

The following day which was Christmas day, our family went to San Mateo for the annual Baltazar family reunion (mother-in-law’s side). We, again, wore our color motif.

Our two princesses wore the crowns, which were presents from Jesus sent by Santa Claus (the delivery man).

Then, Christmas dinner was spent at home with my husband's family. For our Christmas dinner menu, we opted to order take-out from KFC, Shakey's. And oh, we also had the "tira-tira" from our Noche Buena.

Above photo: with my parents-in-law

The whole Aguilar clan

Why my eyes and nose were red...hindi naman ako si Rudolph

I’m a person who cries too easily. I remember crying over some scenes in movies, news or even commercials which many may find weird to cry over, like for example a scene from a Johnson’s Baby powder commercial, Lion King, Shrek- Forever and After, Tangled, You’ve Got Mail and a lot more.

The first time I read Inquirer’s news about how Sendong claimed the lives of thousands of children, I broke into tears. I didn’t even get to finish reading the first story - - an account of a survivor who lost her two young children - - and yet I couldn’t breathe already because I was trying hard to control my tears. Ang sakit-sakit ng dibdib ko. I was at the office and I didn’t want to create a scene. When I went back to my desk, I saw from my mirror my eyes and nose so red.

I wanted to fly to Cagayan right then and there. I wanted to just be there for those who lost their loved ones. I wanted to hug the children who lost their parents and are now orphans. Ay nako, even as I am drafting this piece, umiiyak ako… ano ba ‘yan?

But, thinking about it after, had I flown to Cagayan and seen the survivors, I would have probably suffered a massive heart attack or had an emotional breakdown. Instead of me comforting them, it might have been the other way around kasi every time I will see survivors iiyak lang ako ng iiyak.

The tragedy happened before Christmas and I couldn’t think of being merry without thinking about them. I prayed and asked God to give comfort and strength to every one who survived, because I know, only Him and Him alone can give them that comfort and hope they need.

It ought to be called the city of Sebo we come!

I have never seen so many lechons in my life. Everywhere I look, there was lechon. Oh lechon -- here, there and everywhere. Now I know why it’s called Cebu. If there’s lechon everywhere, there’s sebo everywhere, too!

After checking in to our hotel, the whole clan headed to Abuhan Pochero, which was just a few minutes walk from Crowne Regency.

I got surprised when my husband’s stomach reacted to its first taste of bulalo, sizzling bulalo steak, sisig and lechon after just 2 months of pork-deprivation. Oh boy, oh yes, he suffered from stomach ache and LBM, big time!

The Culprit

You see, when he moved to Malaysia, his tummy suddenly made a “paradigm shift”. From a “baboy”-lover, his tummy learned to adapt to a pork-free diet. Clap! Clap!

Anyway, his stomach condition while in Cebu didn’t stop him from trying what Cebu has to offer --- yes, more lechons! But this time, he already knew that he had to make “hinay-hinay lang sa pagkain”.

Halo-halo dessert at Ice Castle

Day 1 Dinner: Zubuchon

Day 2 Lunch: Golden Cowrie

Day 2 Dinner: at a nearby grill & resto (I forgot the name)

Day 3 Lunch: AA BBQ

After our sebo food trip, I knew I had to go on a strict cleansing diet. Oh well, at least when I went back to Manila, I still had Cebu on my mind and (a lot of) sebo in my body.

Getting used to being an OFW's wife...or am I not?

Husband's birthday celebration at our humble abode, a month before he left for Malaysia

It’s not easy...especially when you’re also a working-mom. But I ain’t complaining. I have a lot to be thankful for. For one, I’m thankful that I have reliable helpers who look after our children and our home while I’m at work and husband is away. I don’t cook anymore when I get home. I don’t do the dishes, laundry, or iron our clothes, or clean our house. They take care of those things. What I can’t delegate are tutoring our children and the grocery-shopping.

It’s important that I get home by 7:30 p.m. every day to be with our girls. But nowadays, because of traffic, there are times that I get home at 8:00 p.m. (that’s the latest and I can still forgive myself for that). You see, I really value the time I spend with them each day. And when I get home, I see to it that I’m still at my “best”. I don’t want to short-change them by giving them the “tira-tira” of my time. To still be at my best with them is the least that I can do for them. I watch what they only watch on TV - Disney Junior. I laugh with them, play with them, cry with them. Weekends are spent watching a marathon of their favorite DVDs such as Barbie movies, Toy Story 1,2,3, Shrek 1,2,3, Tangled, Spongebob Squarepants and Mickey Mouse.

I took a crash course in driving and got my driver’s license. I have yet to drive myself to work, though. I still take the shuttle from office to our house. I use this time to recharge (sleep) and prepare to be with my kids. That’s almost 2 hours of travel, imagine? I am also thankful for my two neighbors, Rose and Fritzi, who I get to hitch a ride with to Makati almost every day.

Taking the public transport has never been a problem to me. I am so used to it. I’m used to walking, too, even long distances and I’m proud that I don’t catch my breath every time.

I have learned to become a handy man. I now know what kind of bulb or light to buy when Nanet, our yaya, would text me, “Ate pondido na ung ilaw sa banyo.” Just last night, the internet wasn’t working so I called PLDT and reported the problem. I tried my hand in trouble-shooting it, and alas the internet worked afterwards. No need to wait for PLDT. I would buy food for our aquarium fishes and instruct our helpers to help clean the aquarium (we used to have more than 5 fishes when husband left, now it’s down to 2 fishes). Those used to be Ronald’s concern. But, all things can be learned and I’m learning.

Every night, Ronald and I would talk via videoskype or FB video while the kids are just playing or watching in the attic. That’s how we talk to each other everyday, hindi nga lang face-to-face, pero screen-to-screen naman.

These are certain things that I can get used to as an OFW’s wife, but still there are things which I refuse to get used to, most especially when it involves emotions and feelings.

I miss how things were before. I miss our family bonding moments over food and coffee, our weekend trips to the malls, attending worship services together, movie-watching in cinemas, the Friday night dates with Babes, our free concert escapades (c/o our kumare) when we groove along with teenagers, our conversations while Babes is driving to and from work, our trips to the grocery, and most of all, I miss our times of family-togetherness. Noelle once told me when her papa left for Malaysia, “Mom, we’re not a family anymore. A family should have a papa, mama, ate Nisi, me, and baby Nala. Papa’s not here, we’re not complete.”

Family-bonding over food...

and coffee

Friday-night dates with husband

Just goofing around with each other

I believe in my heart that God not will not allow us to be “separated” for long. In the meantime, we will take this circumstance as an opportunity to deepen our faith, to grow wiser, to learn from and to love and value each other more. For we know that where each of us is at this moment, is exactly where God wants us to be. We will wait on the Lord and anticipate the best of what He has in store for us. I don’t want to miss the best just because I am settling for the good.

We surely hold on to His promise: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord.

We will all be together again as a “family”. May that be here or in Malaysia, or maybe somewhere else, we just don’t know yet. All I know is that it will happen in His perfect time.

A "Changi"-ng Ina Mo Story at the Changi Airport

Weeks before our scheduled visit to Singapore where Ronald was having his 3-week training, I was already conditioning my mind that everything would be fine. From packing our bags to the waiting in NAIA to the actual plane ride and arrival at Changi. Yes, it was big deal to me because I would be traveling with my 3 girls ages 11, 5 and 2, and with tow strollers in two. I mean, two strollers in tow (hehehe). I made ID tags for them and even bought whistles which I looped over their tags. I told them to blow the whistle in case of emergency. That was the “praning” side of mommy Vivian working double time.
I successfully fitted all our clothes, shoes, slippers, diapers, and everything else (2 Ziploc bags of formula milk, stuff toys, water toys, Purefoods Deli Bologna, bilins from my husband like canned goods, Knorr seasoning, toyo, vinegar, Boy Bawang, etc.) in just 2 small luggage. The bolster pillows for my tots I was able to pack inside my carry-all bag. I am now a packing expert! 
My tween’s backpack carried her board games and other chips (hahaha). Now, we were ready to go!
NAIA 1: Kiddie Lounge
They had the place all to themselves.
We were one of the first to board the plane and as soon as we were ushered to our seats, the girls settled down and observed the other passengers coming in. Meanwhile, Nala was hyper. She would stand up then sit down then sit on my lap while drinking her milk. For almost 2 hours she was on my lap playing, reading, drinking and when she felt sleepy, she started to whimper while saying, “I wanna lie down…higa,” repeatedly. She would cry with her eyes closed. I struggled to calm her down. I was also sleepy and I didn’t want to disturb the other passengers who were sleeping at that time.
Finally, she was able to sleep while I rocked her in my arms just like a newborn baby, only 10x heavier. Geesh. I was counting the minutes until our plane reached Changi because my arms were so tired already. She would wake up every time I tried to put her down on her seat.

A few minutes before the plane landed, I immediately woke Nisi up (a very deep sleeper) and sat Noelle on her seat while sleeping. A stewardess came to me and strapped Nala on my lap. And since we were also the first ones to disembark, I had to act fast – after unbuckling Noelle and Nala, I carried Nala over my left shoulder, wore my shoulder bag over my right shoulder and carried my carry-all bag over my right arm, got Nisi’s backpack from the overhead cabin, assisted Noelle who was irritable and still groggy, continued to wake Nisi up while walking on the aisle. I didn’t want to hold up the line. Hahaha! I still managed to put a smile on my face when the flight attendant bid us goodbye and said, “Thank you for flying Jetstar.”

When I couldn’t bear anymore Nala’s weight over my shoulder, I put her down. As her bare feet touched Changi’s carpeted airport floor, just like a battery-operated toy, her face lit up and she excitedly explored her new surroundings hand-in-hand with Noelle. It was a long stroll before we reached the line to the immigration counter. And not long after, I saw Ronald eagerly waiting for us. But first, I got our two strollers and our 2 checked-in luggage.

I was tired but happy. The kids were happy. My husband was happy. It was almost 2 a.m. Thank God we made it in Changi safe and sound!
Above photos: Taken inside a big van-cab on our way to our hotel

"Thank you God for bringing us safely here in Singapore to be with papa. We love You. Goodnight."
And oh by the way… everything, indeed, turned out fine.
The end.