Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bottomless Bricks

One of the things I love most about my office is that we have a lot of CSR activities. I try to volunteer as often as I can. The last one this weekend was for Habitat for Humanity.

I've always admired the H4H principle way back when I was still with the Ayala group. Even back then I already made up my mind that I will spend the rest of my post-retirement life volunteering in H4H or some other similar organization. One of the MWC directors used to head it, and one of my friends in SM was also supposed to move there if not for some last-minute hitches. I like that the houses are not dole-outs - the recipients pay for it, and their payment is in turn used to build more houses for more people. Perfect execution of the whole concept of paying it forward, isn't it? I also like that H4H doesn't just build houses - it also tries to make the communities sustainable by giving the people sources of livelihood right in the area.

I just had to bring Ches along to the build. This is right up his alley. One of the things I love most about him is that he is absolutely The Most Giving Person I Know. In college he made sure to donate blood every three months or so, and would reply even to random requests for blood donation that he would see posted in waiting sheds or anywhere. Even in high school he was already spending days in Pampanga to help the Pinatubo victims, and volunteering with PPCRV in several elections. At the Ondoy drive in Malacanang, he was tireless carrying sacks upon sacks of relief goods to the trucks, that the bosses even had to tell him to rest up and take breaks. Bcoz of Ches, I learned to step up in my volunteer activities.

(And bcoz of me, Ches learned to ... wear funky clothes. HAHAHA. Yes, I thought long and hard about what good influence I could possibly have had on him, and unfortunately fashion seems to be the whole length and extent of it. Gee, a woman of so much depth and substance. Hahaha.)

The tasks assigned to us at the build were sandbagging and brick-hauling. Shoveling sand into sacks was easy enough, especially since they were short of sacks so we had to wait till the guys made a trip back from dumping the sand we packed on the other side of the construction area before we could shovel again. We had rest periods in between and had to contend only with the sun bearing down on us and the dust everywhere.

The brick-hauling, tho, was another matter altogether. We passed one concrete hollow block after another in a line until we finished what looked like an entire skyscraper when we started. I called it The Bottomless Bricks bcoz it was like we've spent hours lugging the things around without making any dent in the pile. The H4H engineer in charge at the site told us we hauled a total of 1,000 bricks which can build up to ten homes for ten families. Not bad, huh.

Suffice it to say that it was painful to even hold my arms up to wear a shirt the next day, until today. But I'm not complaining bcoz that goes against the whole essence of volunteerism, right? So, no, I'm not complaining. Note to self. Hahaha.

Besides, Ches and I were talking about how we had to do this only for a couple of hours, while construction workers have to be at it, literally breaking their backs, every single day. So we had no right to complain, really. None at all. We were also kind of sad bcoz we looked at the houses that were already built, and they were no bigger than our bedroom. Sigh.

And that is why we volunteer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mall Joys

SM claims to have it all, but I found two things in Rustan's that are so not in SM.

Omigosh. It's Jared Leto, my crush since My So-Called Life in college. I went absolutely crazy for his character there - brooding, intense, and just a little bit heartless. Kind of like his character again in Requiem for a Dream. He is also the vocalist of 30 Seconds to Mars. How infinitely hot and cool is this guy? Sigh. Now you know after whom I named little Noah Jared.

(Noah was Ches' contribution, while I fought hard to have Jared in there, too. Haha. Same thing with Ethan Joshua. Ethan after Ethan Hawke. Ches gets our kids' names from the Bible, I get mine from ... Hollywood. Ominous, huh. Hahaha.)

Will you look at these beauties. Rustan's sells authentic Cath Kidston toiletries. Not quite the bags and accessories that I'm insane over, but it's still heartening to know that I now have authentic Cath Kidston stuff within reach. The bags and accessories couldn't be so far behind, right? Go get them already, Rustans! I have total faith in you. Spare me all the trouble of having to buy online all the way from the UK, and waiting for my goodies for a full month without any guarantee that the people in customs or post office or wherever will deliver them to me unmolested. Haha.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All Set for The Season

I consider it part of my mommy duties to dress up our little home for Christmas. I feel that it's the least we can do to show Jesus we are grateful for all the blessings we receive, to welcome Him into our home and prepare it the best way we know how. It also makes us all so happy to see our house all lit up, merry and bright.

As in previous years I recycled our decor and just spiced things up with some additions. This is my favorite of my new buys from Dapitan. It's so pilgrims. If you were a country fanatic like me, you would know that there's an entire universe of loveliness to be found in all things pilgrims. I love that the dove symbolizes peace, too, which is surely more important than all the other shallow trappings of the holidays. Plus, Ches says it reminds him of Penelope, the dove that Randy, Kai, and I slaved over thru a whole night of sleep-over at my house, and which was APSM's lantern when we joined the Lantern Parade the following day. He is so right, as usual.

I also have two new Frosty, one from my friend N in SM and another from Dapitan. Kind of phony to have snowmen this side of the Third World, but I like them bcoz they look so happy. Haha.

Aren't these moose so quirky? They have long, satin pants that dangle in their sitting position. I like.

This is how our credenza and dining table look this year. Good enough for noche buena, right?

Another favorite new buy. This Christmas tree dress is so lovely. The applique is perfectly country, too. Sigh.

Yet another new favorite. Wooden decors are a lot more expensive than the usual stuff made of resin, but they look so much better and wear out so well after years and years. In the end they are so worth the higher price.

I couldn't resist buying another Christmas sock in Greenhills bcoz it made me think of pilgrims again. So simple and yet so exquisite.

This is how the stairs area ended up with the additions. Nice, huh.

I got another wooden Santa for the washroom door. I like that here he looks old and wise and poor, more like the saint he is rather than the symbol of gifts he has been distorted to be in the commercialized Christmas we have come to know. (Self-righteously says the girl who is not at all materialistic. HAHAHA.)

Of course, I wasn't about to forget to bring out my Hello Kitty tree. This year I added my Hello Kitty buttons and even the Kitty clips from Pie and some Kitty freebies from the boys' cereal boxes. Haha. I put bears all around the base. Happiness.

How lovely are these Christmas decor? I've actually had these from way back but I don't think I found a place for them last year. I lucked out on these babies in Greenhills. There's Beauty and The Beast, Ariel and Bambi, The Lady and The Tramp, Sylvester, Scooby Doo and Tazz. Coolness.

This part of our home is clearly dedicated to the child in each of us. Haha.

I also brought out some of my old poinsettias (pink, of course) and my collection of Christmas plates. The nice blue soup mugs and saucers are Randy's gifts to the two boys. So precious.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Happy birthday, Jesus!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy List 37

1. Endless free delights from my boys – Yoshi and Bootsie singing all these songs from True Jackson VP, Victorious, Big Time Rush, and iCarly; Bootsie making up crazy words like ‘please-adadoo’; Ches bringing me yummy goodies like milk tea, nuts, and pastries every week without fail, something he’s been doing for me for close to 20 years already. I so lucked out on my three boys, didn’t I?

2. MIB’s Omakase treat to the whole gang for my birthday. It was supposed to be my treat, I was ordering all these food for everyone and stuff, but he literally snatched the bill from me. Aaargh. It was really embarrassing, but sweet, too. We love MIB. He also went out of his way to solve these issues that I raised about this project that I thought was being mismanaged, and to appreciate my work on these long-winded, controversial cases that has everyone up in arms as usual. MIB alone is already so worth giving up my SM hefty paycheck for.

3. A birthday gift from my favorite owner next to MIB – an extended battery for my BlackBerry that he said he even ordered online. Haha. Practical and techie, not my usual girly girl stuff, but it’s the thought, right?

4. Cleaning up the boys’ toy cabinet and coming up with bags of toys to give away to charity this Christmas. It is always so tiring to fix the thing – it is the most massive piece of furniture at home, and it doesn’t even fit all of the boys’ toys - but it is something that makes me happy to do on a regular basis bcoz I’m OC about keeping my home spotless and everything in its proper place, and I just have to know exactly what’s inside every darned drawer and cabinet in the entire house. I don’t give a hoot about the cooking and laundry and stuff and can leave all of that to Ate Ann, but the cleaning is something I have to do with my own bare hands. It’s a sickness, I know. Groan.

5. Board meetings of one of our subs whose CEO petrifies me bcoz he’s so fierce, but I’m happy attending the meetings bcoz he has all these brilliant ideas, like using real-life testimonies of window washers and a haleya mixer for a new TV commercial. It’s also amazing that his ethical standards have not wavered despite the competition, and to this day they still don’t send doctors to trips the way all other pharma companies do.

6. KFC Zinger Double Down fully loaded meal. Spicy crispy cheap fried chicken all you want goodness.

7. Hot Flops slippers with giant funky trinkets for all five of us at home. You can’t help but be happy when you wear something as wacky as these.

8. A new pair of pink-trimmed gray Adidas from Ches. It’s his way of getting me to run with him more often. Or so he thinks. Everyone is entitled to his own illusions, I guess. Haha. (I love you, Chestnuts!)

9. Dinner at Fish and Co. with Ches. This was one of my favorite places in MoA. T and I love the soft shell crab salad. The chowder and fish fillet are my other favorites, of course.

10. The award-winning supreme brazo bars by Ces Lopez. I like only the original version, tho, bcoz it’s the only sweet one. The other flavors with walnuts and pistachios and stuff are not sweet enough for me. (What’s the point of being a dessert if you’re not sweet? Kung hindi ka matamis, hindi ka tunay na dessert – isa kang mapagpanggap na ulam. Hahaha.)

11. My give-it-all-out, lung-busting duets with Yosh on songs like All I Want For Christmas Is You, Wherever You Will Go, How To Save A Life, Two Is Better Than One. Yoshi’s got all the talent – all I contribute is the theatrics. Haha.

12. Lunch at DiMark’s with the Legal girls and boy, then dessert of Amber’s pichi pichi after. We all laugh so hard about every little thing, we end up so late getting back to the office.

13. Prof. Pangalangan’s Inquirer column. He was my teacher in Consti Law 1 and he was good even then, but somehow I like him so much better as a columnist. Haha. His last piece about the GMA travel issue was brilliant. I so agree with him – it all boils down to common sense. (Come on, people! Until when are you going to let that family make fools of you?! And Mr. President, could you please for once do something fast and correctly the first time? Where is it written that you have to bungle everything first before you get it right? Aaargh.)

14. Debating the merits of the GMA travel issue with Rommel. He was one of my first friends in MWC and I’m glad we’re in touch until now. On top of being a dog lover, techie, and incurable romantic, that guy also always has something to say about all the burning issues of the day. We’re usually on different sides of the fence, but that’s ok coz that actually makes it more fun. Haha. (What I can’t stand are people who have no political convictions at all or, worse, do not even bother to read up on current events.)

15. Seeing the SM marching band and hearing them play the SM theme while Ches and I were in The Block. I dunno if it's the same band as the one in MoA, but I suddenly got all senti and actually ended up crying right there. Ches could not believe his eyes. Haha. Despite all my trauma from working there, I don't deny that I had a good life there before certain people got into the picture. I was able to put in place their whole corporate governance system that they use to this day and that was fulfilling, I made good friends there, and the big bosses, in all fairness, put up a fight for me till the end. I love my current job without qualification, but I do still miss MoA all the time.

16. Working so close to home, a blessing I appreciate even more around this time of the year before Christmas when there is massive traffic everywhere. I get stuck in traffic, too, in QC, but nothing compared to what I had to endure when I was still working in Makati, the Fort, and worst, MoA. (Thank you, Lord.)

17. Late dinner at Mexican Express with the boys. We all pig out on the yummy nachos, chimichanga, cheesedog wrap, raspberry iced teas. One of the things we love best about our home is its location – we can go out at any given time and find something good to eat somewhere near.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brought To You By The Letter D

This blog is inspired by Ches' birthday gift to me - a giant purple and white polka-dotted suitcase from Kamiseta. Isn't it such a winner? It's prettiness and practicality combined. It's exactly what I need, too, bcoz the size is perfect for short trips with our entire family, and we won't have to be lugging around two or more of my smaller Hello Kitty luggages anymore. And bcoz of the funky print and color, you so wouldn't miss it in the conveyor belt. Haha. (Thank you, Chestnuts. You are perfect everyday.)

I've always loved polka dots, even as a little girl. Fast forward to old age, and I now have literally 60 million polka dots in my closet. Haha.

You know what these lovely polka-dotted tops all have in common? They are all from Kamiseta. Ate and I are obsessed with Kamiseta. It's My Absolute Favorite Store. I've been a fan since high school. I would save up my allowance just to be able to buy the lovely clothes. Even now it's one of the stores I can always rely on for a quick happiness fix and where I would buy stuff on a regular basis even when they're not on sale. Sigh. Enduring love affairs.

I also have several polka-dotted dresses. The first is my favorite dress from Zara, the second is from Promod, the two in the middle are from Mango, and the last is from Apple and Eve.

More polka dot goodness. Tops from Forever 21 and Apple and Eve, skirts from Theme, leggings from Kids of Bayo. I love.

In addition to clothes, I also have 60 million polka dots in my undies drawer, but posting pictures of them would take 'oversharing' to a whole new level, right? Besides, Ches will kill me first before I can upload anything. Hahaha.

It's my beloved Cath Kidston polka dot bag, part of what Thom brought home for me from the US. I use it every weekend and it's like it doesn't get old. How lovely is this bag? The rolled up belt is one of my happiest finds from Rustan's kids' department. I use it with my oh so formal lawyer suits to add joy to my otherwise boring work life. Haha. The blue and pink combination is one of my favorite mixes in anything.

Another lovely polka-dotted gift from Chestnuts. He got it from Linea Italia. It looks all tough and fierce, but it's actually quite comfy and doesn't hurt at all even if I've worn it all day. I guess this is why we pay a premium for shoes made in Italy. (I had another pink and white polka dot pair from CMG, but I gave that away to Roxy, who choreographed our Lady Gaga stunt at the Christmas party, borrowed it for the dance, and loved it.)

Lovely polka dot cans from Hello Kitty and Barbie. And just in case you're wondering what's inside them, the Kitty contains - what else - my trove of Kitty treasures, while the Barbie contains my cosmetics.

I love this flannel blanket. It is not only so pretty, but also so soft and cozy. I love it almost as much as my Kitty blankies. Haha. (It kind of looks like the Theme polka dot skirt, right? Funny.)

I have polka dots even in the kitchen! And I don't even cook. My only role in the area is to eat. Haha.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Latest Stunts

I was emailing Ate about Yoshi's stunt at the UN program in school last month. All the rest of his Grade 2 class prepared a dance, but Yoshi was not about to join that. Instead, he volunteered to sing solo. Gasp.

Ches and I asked him, is this in front of the whole school? And he replied, calm as you please: yes. Unbelievable the things my kids set their minds to. He asked me to print the lyrics to this long song from Victorious and spent a few minutes that night memorizing the thing. It reminded me of that time when May was just a little girl and she volunteered to play the piano in a school program - and before that she has never even had a single piano lesson! Hahaha. Imagine the distress of Jon and Malen. Sigh, parenthood.

Yosh did not proceed with the solo song number tho. Ches and I were all excited to ask him how it went, but then he said he didn't do it, and when we asked why he simply said: I changed my mind. Just like that. This boy is a complete mystery to me, I swear. I don't know where he gets all his confidence and self-assurance. I'm just thankful he has it. And also a little bit scared. Haha.

The other night he asked me what 'matakaw' was in English. So I said all properly, 'voracious', and then he asked me how to spell it. After a while he showed me another of his artworks, something like a kite this time. On one side, he put 'Daddy' and a drawing of an iPad and the words 'good', 'strong', 'brave', and 'I'm not scared of' (hahaha). On the other side, he wrote 'Mommy', drew a PSP, and wrote maldita, 'pretty', 'rich', and 'voracious'. I told him: gee, thanks, Yosh, I teach you English and spelling and you use the exact word against me. I also asked him why he thinks I'm rich, and he said: Bcoz you buy us a lot of food all the time. HAHAHA.

Yoshi also has this habit of quietly listening in to my and Ches' conversations, and as soon as he gets an opening he joins in with the perfect punchline. Say I'm talking a mile a minute as usual, bitching to Ches about one thing or the other, and when I finish, Yosh would say, with hand gestures and everything: Tama! Magaling! Palakpak! HAHAHA. I told the Legal girls about it and they died laughing. It has become our little private joke in the office.

Bootsie has his own stunts, too. On our first night in Coron, he regaled us with bedtime stories about this little girl named Carrot and another one named Jewel, who in one version was 'killed by Tito Reggie'. Hahaha. He's such a riot. Infinitely more entertaining than the TV.

On our flight back, we sat beside each other in the plane and he asked me to help him with this silly game called Bug Rush or something in the iPad. After a while he said, 'Let me look for something easier for you.' And he proceeds to show me how to play Fruit Ninja or something, where the only point of the game as far as I could see was to slice as many fruits as fast as you can. Bootsie had to look for something easier for me?! Like I didn't even have the ability to squash stupid bugs by merely tapping on the screen?!

I told Ches, you need to start teaching your sons to respect me. He smirks and I know exactly what he's thinking: respect is earned, not taught.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Noah Turns Four

It was Bootsie's birthday today. I took a leave to make the most of the occasion. Ches, Yoshi, and I prepared some gifts for him that we gave the minute he woke up. We got him Megablocks (my kids are obsessed with these block things and take out their Legos like everyday), a huge doctor's kit (Boots has consistently maintained he wants to be a doctor, altho at Raffee's kiddie party he told the party host he wants to be a model hahaha), and a new Woody costume (which of course he promptly got into).

Ate Ann and I also went to his school to bring snacks for his class. His classmates sang for him and gave him gifts, and Teacher Mae prepared games and prizes for them. The little boy was so happy. He kept running to me and giving me tight hugs and telling me, 'This is the best party ever!', and announcing to his classmates, 'I love my Mommy!' Owww. One of my favorite things about my boys is that they are so grateful. Like Ches and me, they both have low thresholds for happiness, and all it takes is for you to show up and they are eternally thanking you.

Even Bootsie's classmates gave me group hugs. They also lined up to have their clothes changed by Ate Ann whom they've only ever met that day. Hahaha. They're so sweet. I don't remember Yoshi's pre-school class being so clingy.

In his report card, Teacher Mae wrote that Noah is the most well-adjusted student in class. She also told me that he is so well-behaved, obedient, giving to his classmates. My eyes grew as big as saucers. I had to ask her several times, you're talking about Noah, right? Hahaha. We love Bootsie exactly the way he is, but let's be honest here - behaved, obedient, and generous are not words that we use to describe him at home. Hahaha. Two areas that 'need follow up' in his report card are in coloring within the lines and singing nursery rhymes. Ches and I burst out laughing over that last bit. Well, clearly our son was not going to be caught dead singing nursery rhymes, bcoz, hello, he sings entire Beatles and Eraserheads songs. Hahaha.

At night, Lolo brought a huge birthday cake, Ches ordered Chicken Bon Chon, and Ate Ann made carbonara. The birthday boy clearly went to sleep happy. We all did. That's the whole essence of my and Ches' existence, after all - to make our babies happy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Signs

As in any trip, I went around reading signs in Coron. I got some really good ones that deserve an entire blog altogether.

This was at an open space behind Kakawayanan Grill, with the ruins of what seemed like an old house. 'Intramuros Boy' had the right idea using the monicker in such a setting, but 'no gots, no glory'? Maybe he meant 'goats'. Or 'Goth'. Amazing how a lot of people go to the extent of painting entire walls without bothering to check the spelling. Haha.

At a souvenir shop in town. This is a common mistake I see even in high-end shops. Close tayo pag Sunday, pero the rest of the week galit galit. Haha.

On a trike parked at the foot of Mount Tapyas. I think these are witty names for two daughters. (Altho I took this pix just to be able to tease Robby, actually. Haha.)

I love this sign. Compliant with the Anti-Epal Bill before it is even passed into law. The name of the politician is still there, but at least no annoying smiling face, and it speaks the truth: the project is paid for by taxpayers. That's what these friggin politicians hide all the time, and make like they paid for the project with their own money. Grr.

(On our way to Park N Fly we saw a funeral procession with huge tarps on the jeeps carrying the mourners, with the names and faces of politicians and signs saying stuff like, 'Libreng damayan galing kay Councilor xxx'. Omigosh. Even at an event involving death? If that isn't The Height of Epal.)

What made the climb to Mount Tapyas a bit easier was all the signs engraved on the steps. This one is too funny. Bilib kame sa yo, Koya.

Somebody knew Jewel The Maldita was on her way to Mount Tapyas and had this sign put up to welcome me. Eycee said for me to cover the M but Ches and Yoshi said, no, it's perfect, bcoz the M stands for Maldita. HAHAHA.

I dunno if there is actually a lake in LA, but in Kayangan there sure is.

The happiest out of all the signs I saw. The whole of the mythical Kayangan Lake is owned by the Tagbanua tribe by virtue of the Indigenous People's Rights Law, which just happened to be one of the major laws being debated on while I was in law school. When someone asks me if the law ever works in the Philippines, finally, finally, I can point to this one case where it actually did.

On top of all its wondrous beauty and mystic charm, Coron is also breastfeeding-friendly. It's the only local airport I've seen with a breastfeeding station. How cool is this place? Ok, now I know exactly where to go for vacation after I give birth again and have to lug around my nursing baby. Haha.



The best description of Coron came from Roy, our island tour guide: from afar it looks like nothing, just a bunch of trees and rock formations, but there is so much beauty within it when you get close. (Ok, he didn't say it quite like that, but that was the message. Haha.)

We all fell in love with the place the minute we saw the view from our hotel. We stayed at Coron Gateway Hotel, so aptly named bcoz it is literally on the doorstep of the port leading to the islands. Easily The Newest and Best Located among all the hotels we saw. We loved our suite bcoz it was big and clean, and the bathroom was almost as big as a small room in a three-star in HK or Sinagapore. The tub was big enough to fit all six of us! Haha.

We had lunch at Kakawayanan Grill first thing. Anji and Thina (who of course have been to Coron before) had recommended it, and Eycee also read good reviews about it. Eycee spent her entire sembreak arranging our trip - everything from the tours, restos, transpo. She regularly chatted up with this travel agent who spoke snooty English, and even became textmates with a trike driver before we even set foot in the island! Hahaha. We called her 'tripadvisor.com' during the entire trip. I told her the best thing about her offering her services for free to all of us like this is, if anything went wrong, we knew what to do: blame Eycee. Hahaha. I love this girl. She made sure to look for shallow, sandy beaches for my boys, too. Owww.

Kakawayanan reminded Ches and me of Ka Lui's in Puerto Princesa, altho lower-end. The food was good and cheap - we all loved the sizzling pork and seafoods, kangkong with bagoong, and for the boys, fish fillet and crispy kangkong.

Late afternoon we climbed Mount Tapyas. Yes, all 724 steps leading up to the top. Ches and I were like, this is like scaling The Great Wall all over again. Haha. And he was carrying Bootsie, too, on the last quarter of the way. The view was so worth it, tho. Actually it was already looking great from the first 100 steps alone and I so could've stopped there, I swear, me the Miss Lazy and Non-Achiever. But I've found that in the end it takes less effort to just go along with what everyone else wants than to have to explain all the time why I can't just be normal. Haha.

The best thing after Mount Tapyas is a dip in Maquinit Hot Springs. I heard everyone making A Big Deal out of it being too hot, and how you should dip your feet in first and work your way up and all that. Ches was like, this is nothing compared to the blistering showers you like to take everyday! I know. I'm The Queen of The Hot Bath. Hence, I was so there in the hot springs the minute I changed into my swim gear. Haha.

We went back to the hotel in time for dinner. They served crabs, chicken, pasta, soup, and pastries at the buffet. We almost didn't wanna get up anymore and slurped up all the yummy soup and crabs we could ever want. Haha.

The next day, our first stop for our island tour was Siete Pecados, so named after the seven small rock formations in the area. We spent about an hour there snorkeling. Or they snorkeled, while I took pictures. Haha. The boys had so much fun here feeding the fish. They went down the boat, too, and didn't wanna be left out of all the action. Good thing Ches is adventurous, bcoz I'm so not. Haha.

This was followed by my favorite out of all the sites we visited - Kayangan Lake. I think the way there is the most pictured site in Coron, in magazines, postcards and stuff - all huge limestones, trees, green waters. I love this picture that I took of Robert and Eycee as we were navigating our way to the lake. It's so perfect, isn't it?

It's one of those places where there are no words good enough to describe its beauty. To go to the lake itself you have to climb up a steep hill, and down again, but the sight that awaits you is just magical. And the best part - the whole area is owned by the Tagbanua tribe under the IPRA. Finally, a law that worked, or at least in this one instance.

On our way back, Roy showed us a cave that looked all creepy even in broad daylight. Of course, our resident Batman wasted no time going in for a pose.

Our next stop was the happiest, for me bcoz it was time for lunch, and for the boys bcoz we were finally in a shallow, sandy beach (it was called Banol Beach) where they could frolic all they want. Lunch was the catch of the day, freshly-cooked by Alvin the boat owner and captain - two big broiled fishes, prawns, and crabs. We also had ensaladang talong with itlog na maalat. So, so yummy, and for me the best meal of the trip. But I also missed our island hopping in Puerto Princesa bcoz there our tour guide barbecued liempo for us. Haha. I was just dying for liempo during this lunch. I was actually snooping at the picnic spreads in the other huts in search of liempo. I'm so PG, I know. I'm glad Yoshi, Robert, and Eycee are also carnivorous, bcoz I usually don't get any sympathy from Ches when it comes to bad food. Haha.

We went to CYC beach next, another favorite of the boys bcoz it was a lot like Boracay - still shallow even so far out into the water. There was also a mangrove in the area, and tall, thick trees. A monkey dropped by to say hello just as we were taking pictures. The whole place is wild and untouched like that.

The last part of our island tour was The Twin Lagoon, so-called bcoz the two bodies of water are separated by a massive wall of stone. One is totally encased and to get to it you have to swim under this small opening that disappears altogether during high tide, at which times you can climb up a small ladder and jump to the other side. Only Robert and Eycee were brave enough to go. Ches had to stay with the boys close to the boat, while I was happy just being surrounded by the massive limestones. They are so majestic, and at the same time so scary bcoz every little edge is sharp and jagged.

It was back to the hotel after that. The buffet had different dishes of pasta, chicken, and soup this time, plus fish and fruit salad. I loved the fish, but we also missed the soup and crabs of the night before. Haha. We walked around after, and ended up having pecan pie, sansrival, iced coffees, and fruit teas at this place called Coronyzy Coffee and Tea. The drinks were so-so (nothing compared to Moon Leaf haha), but the cakes were really good. I was eating them all the way to the airport on our flight back. Haha.

Our flight was moved up, so on our last day we had time just to go to the market and buy danggit and lamayo. JJ our land tour guide took us to a souvenir shop but there was nothing that caught our interest. The cashew was not a good buy like in Puerto Princesa (Ches said it's the same price in Antipolo) so we got just a bit to have a taste of Coron cashew.

We also got to try Coron Bistro, another must-go from Eycee's guru list. It's an artsy fartsy place owned by a foreigner and that served yummy food. We unanimously loved the French bread, and I loved the sausage, while Ches enjoyed the brewed coffee.

Coron was definitely The Biggest Adventure we had all year. If you're looking for a vacation where you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view - this is so not it. Haha. Here you have to be climbing majorly steep steps, balancing on rickety wooden ledges lest you fall into the deep, dodging saltwater spraying hard on your face even when you're just riding the boat. Not an easy feat for my little family considering that only Ches is the daring and athletic one out of the four of us. Well, Bootsie, too, actually, but he's still a baby for the most part. It was Yoshi that surprised me bcoz now he dared to do everything where before he was just this scaredy cat. Me, I'm lazy and clumsy to begin with, but on top of that I also had a cut on my foot from the hot springs, plus I was having another major battle with skin asthma, and for three straight days leading up to the trip I had a horrible case of flu. I infected Bootsie, too, and he was feverish the day before. But the two of us got well on the day of our flight, we all had major, major fun, and I was so proud of all of us.

This was also our first time to travel with Robert and Eycee. Ches and I love these two like our own siblings. When Eycee issued the invite to us in July or so, I didn't hesitate bcoz we get along so well with them - no issues, no complications - and I knew they won't mind if we bring our kids. They are among our friends who are really good with the boys. (Like Randy, Nico, Babette, Thom, and Rosa too. You can tell if people genuinely love kids or if they're just faking it for the sake of the parents.) When they visit at home they are down on the floor playing board games or building Legos with our kids. When we don't see each other for weeks they'd text that they miss the kids. In Coron, Ches and I had like two extra nannies to babysit the boys.

They're so funny, too. They're not one of those sickeningly sweet couples and are more like bickering siblings half the time. We can talk to them and laugh with them about everything. They're fierce the way only UP peeps can truly be. We know they love us - tantrums, maldita hirit, and all - and we love them back.

They are living proof of why I stand by one principle when it comes to trips: I travel only with people I love.