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.

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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.

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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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Pregnancy Photoshoot

The holidays allowed me to push for something I’ve been conceptualizing for sometime: a pregnancy photoshoot.

Like the theme of my previous post, this, too, was simple and low-key. I had a borrowed dress which I was supposed to wear to a wedding (that I had to cancel because I couldn’t imagine how I would get by commuting around Manila with my 32-week-baby bump), and I had picture-worthy gifts from friends which could serve as props. The husband was home, my cousin Nica was home, and my sister was free to do my make-up, so we proceeded.

I toyed with the idea of having it done at a studio, or hiring a professional photographer, but we made do with what we had, and I’m quite happy with how the pictures turned out. What matters most is it fulfills its purpose–which is to document this stage of my pregnancy (with my belly as big as a watermelon), as well as to announce that we are having a girl.
A girl! (cue in: Who Run the World?)

So anyway, here are some snapshots.

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Hawak-kamay sa pagsampay. 🙂


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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.

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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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