Tenth Anniversary Special

It was late last year when we realized that 2018 will mark our tenth year of marriage. (Gah, if our relationship were a person, it will be a fourth-grader!)
Of course we wanted to make it extra special.
Of course we thought of ways to make it so. We thought maybe we could travel, or have a love celebration with other couple friends and family members as we renew our vows to each other.
But it was late, as in we had little time. Also, realistically speaking, the money we make as slaves of the teaching profession doesn’t accord us with extra budget for travel, aaaaandd…I can barely find time to get a haircut, so time to plan a party was virtually nonexistent.
Nonetheless, we tried to make it as special as we could.

Last October, while we were in Manila to process some documents from my old Alma Mater, Rey suggested that we look at some rings from the jewelry shop where we had our wedding rings made many moons ago. I said I wasn’t much interested, but he insisted. His insistence was rooted upon the fact that he had already decided to get us new rings. I have to admit I was a bit opposed to this. I thought it was impractical, and I was worried we could not afford it. But he pointed out that I didn’t have mine (not that I lost it, but that it wasn’t where it was supposed to be) and what could be a better time for an upgrade than the celebration of our decade together?
So I agreed, and we tried out some designs and eventually landed on one we both like.


Fast forward to January 5, our anniversary date.
We started with a visit to the church, requested for a blessing by a priest in our parish, then offered a mass for thanksgiving.

We had no actual plans after, but I was craving for some sushi so we had a simple lunch at one of our favorite places for Japanese cuisine in Dagupan, then headed home.


At home, I eased Rey into a little request (though I know for him it will take a lot) which occured to me just that morning. I asked (with a tad more sweetness) if we could make a list of ten things we are thankful to each other for. He responded with pretend-annoyance and a pa-cute smirk.

The night wore on as per usual. We had dinner and watched Friends til it was bedtime, and before sleeping I asked if he had his list, because I am about to text him mine. He laughed it off and jokingly read aloud Yanni’s book: “Dear God, Thank You”, (which incidentally mentions 10 things) replacing God with ‘Hon’. I laughed along, kissed him good night and sent him my list.


I wasn’t expecting anything more from him after that, so my heart was a-flutter when I woke up to this:


It doesn’t take a genius to judge that his list is better-written, right?
So, there. Our Tenth Anniversary.
Nothing fancy, but it was as special as it could be.
My heart is content.

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It Takes a Village

When Gianna was born, I was able to tidy up around the house, do the laundry, and finish assigned papers for my online course.
But not without my husband taking charge of the stove, the dishes, and the errands. Not without my mother relieving me for two hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon so I could squeeze in getting stuff done, including bathing.

When Gianna was seven weeks, I woke up to her uneasy cries one midnight to find that her forehead was burning with fever. I was able to keep sane until her father arrived from the planned Manila trip he had to abort.
But not without my sister ready with her thermometer and medicine, checking up on us and worrying with me until the sun came up.

That following morning, Gianna was admitted in the hospital, and I got through that only because I had a sister who held her foot down as a nervous nurse inserted the IV line, and I had a husband who minded all our hospital chores.

When Gianna was ten weeks old, I had to take an exam for a subject I was enrolled in. I was able to focus and do well in it.
But not without Rey taking control. Armed with a pacifier, he shut our bedroom door and took the baby away so I could concentrate for three full hours.

The following day, I had to host back-to-back Moving Up Ceremonies. We survived a hectic day with a breastfeeding newborn that started at 6am and ended at 1pm.
But not without a small fight, a diaper disaster, and a dad that held her for 4 hours.

When Gianna was four months old, I was already back at work, and I had to do training for teachers. I was able to hold sessions without a baby in my hands.
But not without other teachers holding her in theirs. Not without my husband–a newbie teacher–having to participate in the sessions standing up because he has to rock her to sleep.

When Gianna was five months, School Year 2017-2018 opened. I dreaded how I was going to juggle baby care and the busiest time of the academic calendar, but I was able to bring her to work every day and take care of her without a yaya.
But not without having her wrapped around my torso while I did rounds in the classrooms. Not without a crib beside my desk. Not without a principal who insisted on putting that crib there, and relieving my sore arms and back once in a while. Not without friends visiting us at work to watch over her.

The point is, difficult things have been done since our daughter was born.
But it wasn’t without help.
Because it’s true what they say.

A doting husband, a caring family, loving friends, awesome workmates.
This is my village.
This is the village that my curious little girl will grow up in, and I’m already confident of the power it has to bring her up.
Way up.


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The Drama in Rolling Over

Dear Gianna,

You rolled over for the first time the other day, and I swear tears stung my eyes. Delight won over so I clapped my hands instead of crying.
Such a simple thing, this act of you turning over on your belly, but to me, it represents more than a physical milestone.
It’s you discovering your strength.
You figuring out the right amount of force to accomplish a task.
You were surprised, too. After days of kicking and turning, you finally got it! I saw the split-second of amazement in your eyes before you broke into a smile, mirroring my own.
It’s been eighteen weeks with you, my love. Merely a fraction in the span of time, but it’s already teeming with memories.
You’ve transitioned from gas smiles to giggles.
You’ve endured weeks of aircon-less nights in our sauna-like bedroom. You’ve gotten through fevers, colds, rashes, and IV insertions. You’ve gone to so many places newborns dare not go.
Wasn’t it just yesterday when we brought you home, uncertain and slow with the diaper change, and extra careful with handling, swaddling, watching, and everything else?
It wasn’t too long ago when you had to be fed every two hours then be rocked to slumber. I didn’t realize how difficult that was until now that you sleep for four, sometimes six-hour-stretches at night and I no longer have to get up because you can put yourself back to sleep.
Now you’re discovering what you can do on your own, and it’s both amazing and bittersweet.
I’m tempted to say slow down, but I also can’t wait to see more of the person you will be. So like what I’ve always said to you even while you were in my womb:
Grow strong, my love.
Meanwhile, I will watch in awe as you hit your milestones, and pray to dear God that I don’t miss any of them.






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Life lately

Life lately sounds like sharp cries for hunger, and wails of protest upon water touching a tiny face. Days are filled with the drone of a fan, only mildly successful in saving us from the sweltering heat. Life lately sounds like nursery rhymes and lullabies, happy, high-pitched voices and cooing responses.

Life lately tastes sweet–like halo-halo and ice cream so often craved as a momentary remedy for rising temperatures, like the mangoes that make lunch so much better.

Life lately smells like rubbing alcohol, oil and sweat; like the breath and skin of a newborn–distinct, delicate, delicious. The house has Rey’s cooking wafting through the air, and coffee shared in the morning–rituals we will not so frequently have once I get back to work.

Life lately looks like the clock being watched for the last feeding, the last diaper change, the last nap. Time is both slow and quick, chores are both easy and laborious.

Life lately feels like gentle kisses on chubby cheeks, like a solid weight on one’s arms, like sore muscles and heavy eyelids. Open, toothless smiles on an angel’s face make this life feel oh so light.

Life lately is a war between wanting to get through and staying in the moment. It is a phase of healing and reconnecting, both in body and in bonds. It is building routine, constant worrying about what’s normal, and relentless praying that everything is as it should be.

Life lately is centered on a fresh new life we brought forth, and life as we knew it will never be the same.

photo by Pascal Campion @pascalcampionart

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Recent Realizations

If there’s one big thing I realized recently, it is that things get easier with time. This learning is two-fold:

First, acceptance is the key.

Before we brought Yanni home I had it set in my mind that it was not going to be easy. But on our first night together, when she would rouse every 2-3 hours until the sun was brightly peeking through our bedroom window, I found myself in the wee hours of morning praying “No, this can’t be. This shouldn’t be.” A week went by, and then two, and somewhere in between I told myself, “if this is how it is, then so be it.” And now, almost seven weeks later, she sleeps for longer stretches and wakes only twice to feed at night.

Second, practice make perfect.

From changing nappies, bathing the baby, to feeding her, this rings true. Changing nappies used to be slow and frightening, now it’s easy and occurring less (thankfully:)).
Rey and I used to be so rattled when we give Yanni a bath, especially when she screams her lungs out, now we’re more relaxed and so is she.
There was a point when I was dreading the next moment Yanni gives a cry for hunger, because my nipples were so sore and I feared they couldn’t take anymore contact, but thanks to Medela Purelan (and the frequency of feeds, actually), it was all good eventually.
I have proven with these things (as with most things) that the more you do them, the more you get better at them.

At first I was frazzled by the amount of things to get done: baby care, house work, school work, office work, plus of course there’s time allotment for the husband, and for the rest of the family. But. Things get easier with time.
With God’s grace, a good support system, and a strong will, the floors will get swept, the dishes will get done, the laundry will get washed, the papers will be submitted, the deadlines will be met, the baby will fall into some sort of routine, and rest will sort itself out.

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Lucky Nine

Nine years.

That’s two four-year-itches, and it definitely was far from easy.

It took a while for us to get to where we are now. Now is a placid, stable state, and that while involved a lot of adjustments, arguments, and tears before we learned to accommodate each other’s personalities and quirks.

Amidst all the trials I held one thing true: we do love each other. But it was only during these recent years that I learned to appreciate my husband’s love language.

He is not and will not be the type to write me love letters or make grand romantic gestures, but he will unexpectedly ride the bus with me to Manila, just to ensure that I know my way around a new area in the city.

He will not hesitate to travel 250 kilometers just to help me construct a PowerPoint Presentation in a game show format.

Just when I was convinced he had no spontaneity, he will surprise me by coming home unannounced, settling for barely a 24-hour stay, just to say he misses me.

He will not likely declare his love on mountaintops, or with an audience, not even on social media, but I can depend on him to take care of all my computer-related needs, to handle the finances, to mind home improvement, to do the cooking, to make the bed in that special way that makes me smile,  to massage and stretch the tension away from my body, among an array of other things that suit me and our life together.

All these years, he has shown his love through his presence, his service, his time. It took a while before I understood this language of his, for I spoke a different one all along, but now that I’m the tiniest bit wiser, I simply consider myself lucky.


2008 through 2016. A photo for each year. 🙂


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2016: A Round-Up

January began busily. There was the usual New Year’s Eve Party with Rey’s side of the family and New Year’s Day mass at my favorite church, Don Bosco Parish.dsc_0670

The following day found me in the waters of Batangas, snorkelling with friends and making up for lost time.



The husband and I squeezed in a quick date before I headed home. Resuming classes after a break is always a little exhausting, so the holidays made adjusting to being alone most nights a bit more difficult.

February was a dark cloud over my head. I can still remember the jolt in my heart as our helper rapped through the window at 4:30 in the morning, hastily saying Papa was taken to the hospital. The stroke did not do much damage, in fact if only he wasn’t one of the world’s most non-compliant patients, he probably won’t be stuck with that terrible gait.
Along with going through the implications of the bleed in my father’s brain, my heart bled as an incident in the classroom forced me to let a friend and colleague go.

March is a mix-up of a month. I spent the week of my birthday in Manila, and being surrounded by friends always uplifts my spirits. But it was also during this time that I realized my husband sees me differently from how my closest friends do, and I began to question my own personality, hence this poem:

Just when I start
to believe
that I’m awesome
at being a person
you pull me back down
to say
you’re not so great

April opened with some drama. It started with us watching Les Miserables, a passionate and rather heavy musical which we have long anticipated to see live. It was a visual marvel considering the limits of the venue’s size, and it was a worthwhile experience overall, but somehow lacking in certain aspects.

Mid-month found me wallowing in self-pity for our whole semi-long-distance setup. It was hard enough trying to keep strong while missing my husband’s presence, it was made worse by the other party not reaching out enough to fill in for the absence. A long talk made him realize he wasn’t giving me enough credit for trying, and made me understand that not talking about missing me is his way of coping with being away.
This packed month ended off with a beach trip with our favorite couples friends/former neighbors, where I accomplished a personal first: I threw up from drinking one too many cocktails, thanks to Happy Hour.

dsc_0922 dsc_0913

May was slow, hot, and wet, and it saw the momentous win of a controversial Presidential candidate, promising a marked change in Philippine politics.
By the end of the month I accomplished another first: I rode a plane by myself. I met one of my best girls in Cambodia, and we had a grand old time temple-hopping, and exploring the streets of Siem Reap.



June‘s highlight was the wedding of one of my best friends. Their story is a testament to second chances, choice, and compatibility, and it tells of a love that stood the test of time. I cried too many times during the ceremony.


July brought the biggest surprise ever: conceiving naturally after eight years of marriage. Never have I been filled with so much awe and elation.

August was a downpour. Typhoons came and went, leading to a lot of class suspensions and leaving me with a lot of time in my hands. An outpouring of love and well wishes was also showered onto us as we shared our big news to friends.

In September I watched a dear friend pack up thirteen years of life in the Philippines and ship it off to the foreign land where she will start anew. It crushed my heart to think about how far away she will be and how much I will miss her, but I also had high hopes for the life she will build.

October enveloped our household in illness. My mother slipped back into depression and stopped going out of the house right after she arrived from Canada. I often had the sniffles, and towards the end of the month I caught the flu–likely from my nephew, who got it from my sister. My grandmother was afflicted, too, and after almost a week of fighting off fever, she succumbed to it at age 83.

November crept slowly as we labored over my grandmother’s wake. Days were heavy, sometimes busy, often tiring, but one thing was for sure: it was all made easier by the love and time of family.
I realized that the author of the book I was reading at the time had been right: The only constant family rule is that everyone has to keep showing up.

December charmed its way in, beginning with a trip to the beach, and with the third trimester of my pregnancy setting in, baby finally revealed herself as a girl. 🙂

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The usual Christmas rush hit us in the form of shopping, gift-wrapping, and partying, and all was fun while it lasted.

xmas-2017 xmas-2017c


Writing this round-up made me realize that 2016 was potentially a difficult year, but it was made brighter and better by our big baby news. I don’t know how different things between Rey and I will be if this did not happen, but if there is anything I learned from this recent experience, it is that we have a wise, gracious God, and we must continue to trust in that. The sentiment played a part in the names we chose for our daughter. Gianna, meaning the Lord is Gracious, and Sofia for wisdom.

We are now twelve days into the new year, and at the outset I can already tell it will bring a whole lot of change. It can’t be all bright lights and rainbows, I know, but a little positivity goes a long way, yes? I have a lot of that right now.

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