Simply December

December is usually frenzied and fun. It’s every Filipino’s favorite holiday. While there still was the usual flurry as the past weeks were peppered with parties, I can’t help but note how we kept it simple.

In school, we considered renting a beach house where we could hold our Faculty Christmas Party. We decided against it, choosing instead to have shirts printed as giveaways to the program we held at the school grounds. Simple, yet the presentations by each department, as well as the gifts they got, were much appreciated.



Mama’s birthday was on December 15, and in the past years she would prepare a grand feast for practically the entire barangay, but this year, we celebrated with a roasted baby pig courtesy of my brother, spaghetti ordered by my sister, and a small cake I bought before I headed home. The food was shared by no more than ten people.

Our annual Christmas Eve party at home, which used to be a gathering of three families, was quiet and low-key, participated only my siblings and our significant others, my nephew, and my cousin. Christmas Day was spent lounging around the house, watching Friends reruns and one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time: The Family Stone.

christmas 2017.jpg

We kept it simple, and part of the simplicity means having less. But as I realized right before I said grace for our Christmas dinner, there is still so much to be thankful for.

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Keeping Traditions

It’s less than two weeks before Christmas, and our entire compound is bare. All of the four houses in it are devoid of decorations. This makes me miss my grandparents.

I remember how Tatay would have a star put up near the peak of the roof of the main house, with trellis of lights cascading to the terrace. It was a greeting that spoke for itself every time you’d arrive at the gate. He’d have a play house set up beside a carefully arranged Nativity set and us cousins would spend early mornings camped out there, fascinated by our foggy breaths. Nanay would have the pillows fluffed and some freshly laundered curtains hung. They will have bags of candy ready for us on Christmas morning, and when we got too old for candies, they’d reward us with money after we make a show of our talents during our annual family Christmas Party.

It wasn’t too long ago when we got too old even for that, was it?

Now the main house is empty. Now we have gotten less.

I realized that my grandparents were very good at maintaining traditions, and my parents are not.

We are about to welcome parenthood in a couple of months, and today I think about all the traditions we will make, and give all our hearts to keep. I can’t wait.



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Ups and Downs

So we’re about to enter the third trimester this week, and I’m starting to feel (and look) like I’m carrying a basketball around. Like the bounce that those rubber sports things make, there are ups and downs.


  • Cleaning your toenails is a feat that tests how far you can reach and how long you can hold your breath.
  • Wearing your panties is an exercise in precision and balance.
  • Turning while sleeping disrupts slumber because the sheer weight of your belly makes you feel like your skin will be ripped apart.
  • Bending over to pick something up is both difficult and unsafe.
  • Seeing your nether regions is a game of hide-and-seek.


  • People will likely give up their seats for you.
  • Or bring you something to sit on.
  • Entitlement to the PWD restroom (no queue!)
  • Two words: Priority. Lane.
  • Extra care, back rubs, and foot massages from the husband.

Taken in Baguio with my 26-week-baby bump


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Life Lately

Life lately is about long nights, sleeping less and uncomfortably, waiting, and being out of the daily grind. A lot of it is about remembering–talking about my grandmother, reminiscing family stories, and taking time to support and be around each other.

It has been ten days since my grandmother passed away and life lately is centered on her death and her wake.

Nanay, as everyone in the house calls her, is a hardy woman, but on the afternoon of October 29, she was brought down by fever.

Well, for the past two years she also battled rheumatism, incontinence, and dementia, so when an infection we couldn’t exactly pinpoint was added to the mix, her body simply did not fight back.

It was sudden in the sense that she was doing her usual routine of walking around the compound, attempting to go out of the gates, looking around for food even after she had just finished eating, and fighting with her caretaker because of her refusal to bathe.

Part of us saw it coming. A few months back, when my father gained access to some money, he mentioned allotting a part for when Nanay suddenly dies. Two days before her death, when I painstakingly helped her up to a sitting position and fed her dinner, I was honestly afraid I will no longer find her breathing the following morning. That night, as I worried about how she seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness, I prayed for her, though I didn’t exactly know what to pray for. Should I ask God to extend her life even when she’s alone most of the time, has no sense of purpose, and is often shunned away by her favorite child? A prayer to grant her peace and let God’s will take over seemed to make more sense.

She got a bit better the following day, so I decided to push through with my plans to travel to Manila. That morning of the Saturday she died, my siblings and I were in a flurry texting and calling each other about her condition. She was rushed to the hospital, but only a few minutes after they arrived, she was already unresponsive.

Incidentally, my aunt and her family were also about to go home for the extended All Saints’ Day break. We all went home together.

Yesterday, a close friend and I quickly met up for coffee, and one of our conversations briefly touched on the circle of life. She had just gotten married, I had just gotten pregnant, and the next points in our timelines will be about raising children, keeping homes, building a life, and then inevitably, growing old, and gradually being insignificant. Dark thoughts, but real.

But maybe it isn’t so bad. I think about Nanay’s life, and all the things she accomplished. She built a business from selling religious articles, bought properties for her children, secured bank accounts for her grandchildren, and traveled to her dream destinations.

Life lately is surrounded by death, but we’re not enveloped in sadness. We acknowledge that Nanay made her exit as peacefully as possible. She lived a full life, and we are lucky with the legacy she left.



Taken on her 80th birthday three years ago–her last lucid one, I think.


Death may be around us, and it will someday come for us all, but lately, there is life inside me. Every pound, kick, and turn lets me know that a tiny human is alive with growth and energy. Every move reminds me that life is not always easy, but it sure will be worth it.

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Halfway Through

Dear Little One,

Two nights ago, as I sat alone watching the final episode of You’re the Worst Season 2, I was hit by an overwhelming wave of emotions that compelled me to cry.

I wasn’t sad or anything. Sadness isn’t a feeling that frequents me these days, even when I’m all by myself. In fact, I think I was really, really happy.

I was struck by the thought that we’re halfway through this pregnancy. We’re halfway through something I had serious doubts happening, but my love, here we are. Here is a tiny, moving, kicking, somersaulting being inside me, and aren’t you just a huge miracle?

I sat in front of the TV, in tears, and once again just thanking God for bringing us here, in this moment laden with transition but also teeming with life.

In four months you will be breathing the same air we do. I tell your dad (with just a tinge of alarm) that I think time may be running short, considering we haven’t bought or prepared anything at home for you, but he digresses. He can hardly wait until you’re in his arms, and I find his impatience sweet.

So grow strong, Little One. Grow strong all the way through.



We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Here’s us at 21 weeks.

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Five to Love


We’ve just passed the five-month mark for this pregnancy, and I thought it’d be nice to list down five things I’m loving at the moment:

1. Our new(ish) induction cooker. I don’t cook much since we moved back to the province three years ago because of several reasons: one, food gets cooked from the main house in our compound courtesy of my father, the gallant Sir Arnulfo; two, I see cooking as somewhat of a chore and I do it in Manila mainly to fulfill wifely duties; and three, Rey and I decided that keeping an electric stove in our home will jack up electricity consumption. But here comes induction technology which promises energy efficiency, so we’ve been meaning to buy an induction cooker. Incidentally, my dear friend Kuchie recently migrated to Canada (an event filled with tears, boo-hoo) and left with us hers. In the three consecutive weekends Rey was home, he had the house smelling of butter, garlic, and chili as he experimented with sauces and dips. Meanwhile, I’m thankful I have something to boil water with for my early morning baths. 🙂

2.The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I started reading this book last year when I found it in a warehouse book sale. I stopped halfway to read another book on my phone and I kinda just forgot about it, but I remember buying it precisely because I wanted to read it to my kid someday. I’ve been reading aloud a few pages every night since Baby’s 13th week, and I just love the insights from it! It contains voluminous vocabulary, interesting characters, and valuable life lessons that I’m sure I will make it a point to read this aloud again when the bubba is old enough to comprehend it.

3. Disney Playlist. As soon as I got hold of the information that the baby’s hearing was starting to develop, I was compelled to listen to musicals. In the office, I started playing Broadway songs, and then I came across a track from The Lion King, and that led me to download a bunch of Disney albums. Another rave-worthy piece of art, these Disney songs, especially the really great hits. They boast of awesome melodies and brilliant lyrics. Rey and I have a habit of singing along when I play it during the mornings he is home.

4. Button-Downs. Dressing up takes up a lot my preparation time for work. On days that I don’t wanna rattle my brain too much from thinking of what to wear, my go-to work outfit is this: a button-down, jeans, a thin belt, and wedges. So over the years, I have accumulated a significant number of all clothing items mentioned. The past weeks however, I can no longer squeeze my burgeoning belly inside my skinny jeans, and though I can still manage the wedges, a colleague or two will likely berate me. Thankfully, button-downs go well with leggings and flats, and not only are they super comfy, they’ve made dressing up in the morning easier. Also, I think the get-up is why some students still get surprised when they find out I’m pregnant. At 20 weeks! 🙂

5. Baby’s movements. I started feeling little movements last month, at sixteen weeks. They felt like butterfly wings, like little fingers flicking, like bubbles popping. It was extraordinary. At nineteen weeks the movements became bigger, like small waves, and during our 20-week ultrasound Rey and I finally saw how much the bubba is making waves inside! What a sight to behold, though Baby will keep us wondering whether to address it as a he or a she. I was on a high seeing shadows of fingers, feet, face, and body, and knowing all the tugs and twitches indicate that it’s growing strong and healthy. Go on, Little One, keep it up!

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Taking Stock


Making: a practicum plan for my online class, but coming up with merely headings.

Cooking: nothing. The last dish I remember making is buttered oysters, and that was about five months ago.

Reading: Alternating between Persuasion by Jane Austen and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie for the daily travel home; and The Phantom Tollbooth for nighttime read-alouds with the bubba.

Wanting: sour things! Oh, and pasta.

Looking: rounder, and I must admit I have to take some time to get used to it.

Playing: Gilmore Girls in the background every night to keep me entertained.

Wasting: time surfing the internet looking up random stuff when I should get on aforementioned school requirement.

Sewing: less. I used to sew a lot to make my clothes tighter, smaller, or shorter, but none of those apply these days. I have a feeling, though, that this weekend will find me with a needle and thread in hand.

Wishing: that Baby is growing strong and developing normally.

Enjoying: this second trimester—which is supposedly every pregnant lady’s favorite. It’s a time that I’m evidently pregnant but still light enough to move around.

Waiting: for our next ultrasound next month. (Can hardly wait!)

 Liking: the current length of my hair, and the fact that I seem to be having fewer breakouts.

 Wondering: what everyone else is wondering when they see me– if I’m carrying a boy or a girl. (Taking bets before October 8!)

Loving: this stage in my life. Still basking in the unexpected wonderfulness of it all.

Hoping: that my delivery will be as easy as my pregnancy.

Marveling: at the miracle of life and the things the bubba can reportedly do (according to and some such websites), and how intelligently designed the human body is, especially during pregnancy.

Needing: a gentle massage and stretching session

Wearing: more dresses, leggings, loose tops and flat shoes—not my usual style but the situation  calls for it.

Following: pregnancy/parenting/lifestyle bloggers and photographers

Noticing: that my belly button is pushing out!

Knowing: nothing for certain; we haven’t figured a lot of things out yet, but if Rey’s desire to learn and experience first-hand everything about caring for our child is any indication of what kind of father he will be, then I am more than sure that we’ll be just fine.

Thinking: about baby names.

Feeling: loved, and so, so full (literally and figuratively. :))

Bookmarking: all sorts of pregnancy and baby things on Pinterest.

*blog post inspired by one of my favorite bloggers: and photo is courtesy of one of my favorite digital artists on facebook: Rose Hill Designs.

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