Sunday, April 28, 2013


It was Ate Rhea's birthday and aside from the usual lunch or dinner out we wanted to do something different, like go out of town to enjoy summer.  We ended up at Malolos mainly to visit the historic Barasoain Church.  I've been here several times but the boys haven't, so we figured this was as good a time as any to bring them.

Barasoain Church is almost 130 years old.  I love its imposing facade and the well-kept grounds and convent.  I know from a previous visit that there's also a museum at the second floor in one of the buildings.  We toured the whole place and discussed the historical significance with the kids.  Not that they listened but at least we tried, right?  Hahaha.

I also love the church doors.  They're bordered by grand arches and made of huge slabs of wood with intricate carvings.  Not to mention they're ancient.

We also went to another fantastic church nearby, the Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception.  It's less famous than Barasoain, but it's just as historical.  Emilio Aguinaldo stayed there while he was the country's president.

It makes me happy that the church is very well-maintained.  The whole place is clean and freshly-painted and is not in the usual sorry state of our heritage sites.  I love the magnificent interiors.

Like in Barasoain, the doors are also fantastic.  What talent to come up with such detail in the wooden doors.

In front of the church is a centuries-old tree known as Kalayaan Tree.  It has its own historical marker as the site under whose shelter President Aguinaldo 'conducted affairs of the state'.  Cool.  It doesn't show any wrinkles, too, for something over a hundred years old.  Hahaha.

And then we were off to the boys' most awaited part of the trip:  lunch at Hernz Ice Cream Specialties.  Our office has a manufacturing plant in Bulacan, and this is where my friends and I would usually go for lunch when we have meetings there.  Their specialty is the crispy pata kare-kare, and I just know my kids would love it, so I've been wanting to bring them over for some time now.

I love Hernz, and now all the rest of my family do, too.  It's one of those local restos that serves good food, has a nice ambience, and does not rip you off in terms of the price.

We ordered the crispy pata, bulalo, stir fried tofu, and fried rice.  All good, and we even had left-overs for home.  The crispy pata and tofu were big hits with the kids.  They also loved their shakes and floats.

Since this was Ate Rhea's birthday celebration, we also ordered for her the ice cream specialty, something called Flaming Kisses.  The waiter served it in grand production mode, complete with the promised flames.  Hahaha.  Ate Rhea was embarrassed by all the attention, but I hope she was also secretly pleased.  Hahaha.

We were teasing her that she's 130 years old like Barasoain Church.

Me:  Ate, ilabas mo na yung senior citizen's card mo!
Boots:  Ate, pag old ka na, pwede ka ng manood ng hubad!

HAHAHA.  That was definitely The Winner Joke of The Day.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Ches and I thought that this summer was the perfect time for the boys to take up swimming lessons:  1.  Boots was too young before and I was scared to let him out in the water like that;  2.  Last year would have been ok in terms of the boys' age but we were in Cape Cod for a good half of the summer and didn't have time to book classes; 3.  Now we have Kuya Dan who can drive them to their lessons.  In previous summers, Yoshi used to take art and karate in Claret, just bcoz it's the nearest to home that offered summer classes.

The boys LOVE the water, to begin with.  And it is so right that they learn to swim bcoz Ches and I don't. I'm glad Ate Rhea and Kuya Dan both grew up in seaside towns so they both swim.  Hopefully they love us enough to save us if we ever get flooded in Ondoy proportions.  (Please, Lord, no.)  In pools or beaches I mainly just pose there in my swimsuit to get a tan.  Hahaha.  One of our Epic UP Tales involves Ches taking up swimming for PE with Nico and Tarts, and refusing to even get into the water to take his final exam, hence promptly flunking out.  It's just like me and my finals in Running where I walked.  Groan.  This guy and I are so MFEO, right?  

We lucked out on the class and venue we chose bcoz the coaches were good and patient with the kids, there were only two to three kids per coach (there were even days when the coaches outnumbered students), and the pool was clean and covered.  Never mind that practically all the other kids are of this certain kind of Pinoys that I am bigoted against.  Hahaha.

One of the coaches, Coach Irvin, looks like Tito Aaron.  This is the coach who told Yoshi to ease up on his rice at night.  HAHAHA.  Good luck with that, Coach.

Boots was a crybaby for a bit and Coach VJ was patient but also stern to keep him wading about until he got over the drama.  Eventually he got back to his normal tough macho self.  Yoshi was brave since Day One and we could see he really wanted to learn.

By the end of the 12-day class, both boys were swimming on their own - Boots doing freestyle and dog paddle, and Yoshi doing those and also the breaststroke and butterfly, in several laps.  Wow!  I'm so amazed!  And also envious.  Hahaha.  Yoshi says he can't wait to go back to Cape Cod and run to the beaches there where no one will be able to stop him bcoz he will swim so fast.  Crazy boy.  

The pool was in a condo with a Via Mare at the ground floor.  Ches took us there to celebrate the boys' graduation from swimming class.  I let Boots try my favorite, lugaw toppings, bcoz he LOVES arroz caldo like me.  Yes, even in the middle of summer.  Hahaha.   I had dinuguan with puto, Yoshi the pancit luglug, and Ches the halo-halo and bibingka with quezo de bola.  Yummy.  Merienda doesn't get any better than this.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The UP Tour

My niece Princess is staying with us to take up summer classes in UP.  She's an incoming Biology sophomore at UP Baguio.  Her summer class?  Math 100.  Gasp.  If Yoshi gives me regular nosebleeds, what I get from Princess is a full-on hemorrhage.  Hahaha.  Her student number starts with 12 bcoz she started in UP in 2012.  Ches' and mine start with 92.  We're OLD.  Hahaha.

We took her around the campus bcoz she has only been to the Math Building, AS, Main Library, Chapel, and Shopping Center so far. She's such a good, responsible, gracious girl.  The boys and I love her.  If I ever have a daughter, I want her to be exactly like Princess.

Any UP tour starts with ice cream at Sunken Garden, of course.

This is by the side of the Main Libe.  There was no such sign when we were in college.  The phrase 'bulwagan ng dangal' is from the school song, UP Naming Mahal.  That song is oh so slow and solemn, kind of like a dirge, but I LOVE it.  It's so UP.

We took her to the Beta Way bcoz Ches said it's something unique to Diliman.  We also passed by the canopy of ancient acacia trees in the acad oval.  This has always been one of my favorite parts of the campus.

We lucked out on sunflowers in the amphitheater.  Happiness!  They're planted in time for them to bloom for the university graduation, I think.  Those lining University Av. are not yet in full bloom, tho.  We have to come back for our annual sunflower pictorial.  Haha.

Princess said there's an urban legend going around that if you take your pix with old Oblation before you graduate, then you will not graduate in time or at all.  So at first I was just taking her pix behind Oble.  But then then boys were climbing it and posing all over the place and I guess she couldn't resist bcoz she soon joined them.  So if Princess doesn't graduate on time, my cousin, the eminent pediatrician Dr. Belen, is so going to blame me.  Hahaha.

There was so much more to see but it was already dark and the boys were clamoring for food.  Chocolate Kiss in Bahay ng Alumni was the only choice for dinner, of course.

Princess remembers the UP Chapel and Bahay ng Alumni as the venue for our wedding, where she was one of the offerors.  (Her younger sister Precious was one of the flower girls.)  She was only six years old then.  And now she's taking Math 100 in our beloved UP.  I just love how life is so amazing like that.