Two and a half months since I got discharged from the hospital, I am already used to getting earlier than my alarm clock to eat breakfast and then take my early morning meds. However, I still haven’t shaken off the habit of pleading for a few minutes more before rolling out of bed. But as It is Friday today, I had a lot of things to do before Mon and I go to work. I was finally able to submit all of the requirements for my SSS sickness benefits last Tuesday and I was told to return today and get my papers. First of all, it was a very long process and I had no idea if the delay was on the part of my employer but I did not expect it to be that delayed. It took us only three minutes to get my papers from SSS Makati (along Gil Puyat Ave.) and was advised that my employer would be the one to compute how much I would be getting. Then I also needed to wait around thirty days of who-knows-what because I did not exactly understand what the lady explained.

Doctors Without Borders exhibit in Alliance Française

‘Doctors Without Borders’ exhibit in Alliance Française de Manille

Then from SSS Makati, we just walked to Alliance Française to finally get my diploma for DELF. I even checked my email prior to leaving the apartment just to make sure I would be getting a different one from last time because I thought that the coupon bond one I received last November was already the diploma. I remember being a bit disappointed with it because the already-lost PLIDA certificate I received seven years ago was in colored ink, printed on a fancy paper. Good to see that the DELF diploma was also as fancy and official looking as that one. ^_^

Since we were already there, I thought of looking at the next schedule for the DELF/DALF examinations and the May schedule will be on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd. I know that I have initially contemplated on taking the next C1 level but I might probably attempt to take it this October/November again instead. I don’t think I am ready to take another exam within the next two months and the fee costs about Php 500 more than the level below.

Finally got my DELF diploma!

Finally got my DELF diploma!

On another happier note, tomorrow is my 29th birthday! I can’t be happier of celebrating my birthday again for another year, given what happened to me a few months ago. I’m also gaining weight! My thighs and legs are looking less and less stick-like as I am 160 lbs now! I am still taking one day at a time, though, convincing myself to relax and to not beat myself up. I have to admit that I still get kind of frustrated over my plans from time to time, but the lesson of patience still lingers in my head. I’ll just do what I have to do at the moment and let things fall into their respective places.

Black Chocoolate flannel shirt, black pants, Red Wing 8875

Life is wonderful!

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
— Mary Frye, 1932

It is a very sad day for us, as we heard the news of the death of Mon’s pet kitty. Uyu was found dead and probably deliberately killed by unknown men late last night. We still find it hard to fathom what pushed these people to kill such an innocent and gentle animal. It was really hard to believe that something as heinous as this can happen to Uyu.

Uyu while taking a nap last February

Uyu while taking a nap last February

Uyu was an older brother of my pet Miso (another brother was Popo), and it seems only yesterday when they were born a day before Valentine’s last year. I had been sporadically crying all day as it was really upsetting. It really pained me so hard to think how much he had to endure before his final moments. The details of what he had become were too graphic that I just can’t bring myself to fully imagine his final image. Given the choice, I just wanted to remember him as the lazy, loving cat, whose flailing paws made him gentler and more adorable. However, it would be an insult to his memory to be forgetful of what truly happened — animal cruelty makes me sick.

A friend of ours forwarded to us the “Rainbow Bridge”, a prose talking of a place where pets who passed away wait for their owners to be reunited someday. It was gut-wrenching to read it. Words cannot express the grief that we are feeling now, but we have to eventually accept that Uyu has already left us. We just imagined him to have wings, similar to Keroberos from Cardcaptor Sakura, lazily sleeping under a tree in the meadow.

Sleep well, Uyu. You are at peace now. =(

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” — Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

It has been almost four months since the last time I have written something on my blog. A lot of factors definitely contributed to the sudden drop of entries leading up to the last one — it could be the sudden loss of interest, or the overwhelming number of topics I had been keeping tab on — but  a very serious incident almost pushed me to the edge and I have been meaning to get back on my feet and write again. But where do I start?

Two weeks ago, Mon gave a “Le Petit Prince” notebook. I never got the chance to buy a planner like I yearly do, since I got hospitalized for several weeks by mid-December (more on that later). And with everything that has been going on after I got discharged, I was lost on where to even begin. I’ve been struggling to get organized and I appreciated more the habit of writing things down on my planner. I eventually went to look for one last February but National Bookstore had already pulled out the usual planners that I buy. I took a look again at the Little Prince notebook and noticed that it had a couple of pages with little boxes for the calendar. Too bad that it has no label for months and dates, and I even had to write every number down from January 1 to December 31. It was a good throwback to my last year in undergrad, when I just used a tickler notebook to get organized and jumbled the most tasks I had just to finish my degree. Google also reminded me that today is the first day of spring (astronomically speaking) and I could not have picked a better day to breathe new life on my page. (We don’t have spring here, but hey, I needed a jumpstart!)

The Little Prince notebook

A new spring for my blog

During the Christmas rush of shopping and making sure that every people I care about has been covered, I noticed that I started to have difficulty in breathing. For several days, it became a chore just to get up and walk for dinner, and I was literally gasping for air with each step. That same weekend when I went home to Marikina, I have spent the two days lying down and feeling extremely ill. A check-up the day after, I found myself staying in the hospital than going home because my condition was getting worse by the minute. To make things more simple, both of my lungs were beginning to fail.

At first, I thought that I would be staying for just few days in the hospital. But a day before Christmas eve, I had resigned to the fact that I might be spending Christmas in the hospital. Listening to my body, I knew that I wasn’t getting better, with my oxygen saturation hanging around 75% to 85%. Since my father got home for vacation last September (which I haven’t even written about, pffft), I imagined a joyous Christmas celebration at home, with the kids running around. However, given my situation, we had no choice but to wait for the 25th on my hospital bed. With the oxygen mask firmly placed on my face, I struggled to stay awake because I was so use to staying late and eating to my heart’s content during Noche Buena. They had to eventually leave at around 2:00 AM because I really needed to get some rest.

Christmas in the hospital
But it did not stop there. My oxygen saturation got lower and lower each day, and by the 29th of December, my pulmonologist decided that it was best to rush me to the ICU. I can still vividly remember the last moments that I was conscious as the doctors, nurses and Mama prepped me for transport to the ICU. Once I started to lose consciousness, all I heard were mumbling voices and saw a white-washed environment with indistinct silhouette of people around me. I had the last fleeting sensation of a catheter being placed in me. The moment I woke up, I was in an unfamiliar place with tubes in my mouth, cables on my arms and chest and a continuous beeping sound next to me. It was a scary moment, and I had images of that Alien movie with humans being transported for food on their spacecraft. I eventually got myself together but those days that I have spent in the ICU were not the most pleasant, but they were definitely needed. I had hallucinations of Mon massaging my legs, JB standing by my side, the people I wish I could talk to and make amends, as well as my cat, Miso, dancing on top of a cupboard (which sent the machines around me beeping some more because it was making me laugh!). I have never craved for C2 Peach that hard, nor savored every oral cleaning for that taste of Bactidol (I was fed through a tube).

It was a test of patience, and I had a renewed connection with my faith. I have never prayed that hard in my life, and was always grateful for every visitor who would come to see me (translation: I cried a lot, especially over friends and loved ones I never expected to be breaking down around me). I barely talked and had to master the art of pantomime, especially when asking the nurses to turn the aircon up as I was feeling extremely hot. It was a moment of reflection. I remember not contemplating over what has already happened with my life, but over what will I do once I get out of the hospital. It motivated me more and gave me more reason to live. Of course, I’ve spent New Year inside the ICU, and I remember asking the doctor and nurse in charge to allow my mother beside me before the clock strikes 12. I said a little prayer and asked for another chance at life.

My lifeline

Once I got out of the ICU to my room, the following days were not easy as well. I was still fed through a tube for a couple of days, and I remember being envious of anyone eating or drinking properly on TV commercials. I was doing better but far from A-okay. It was a difficult time for me, Mon and my family. However, I am extremely grateful that I have Mama as my mother. She was literally my lifeline. (Shoutout to my wonderful friend Jannet, and my sister’s officemate Jay for donating blood that time my hemoglobin went down). She was a retired nurse and had significant bedside nursing experience. On the first days that I had been progressively losing oxygen, she was the one who eventually observed my purple fingernails. When the head ICU nurse was too busy tutting over my eventual demise while I was being prepped for the ICU, Mama was the one who jumped on the CPAP machine to deliver air and raise my oxygen level. I did not know about that last one, not until I was doing better days after. Had she not acted quickly, I could not have been here typing this lengthy post.

Fast forward to my recovery period, I still have lots of things to take care of. It was not easy because I constantly find myself jumping from one thing to another. The responsibilities and obligations are honestly overwhelming. I needed to focus, but still learned to appreciate everything around me. In fact, I became more appreciative of my second life each time I pause and catch myself almost doing the same things I used to do before. I might not be at my optimal self, but I am getting there. I’m working hard to be there again.

It was a sad day to see Papa go out of the country again, but I just tell myself that it won’t be too long and it’s already December:

Papa with the kids before leaving again

But I was happy to be celebrating monthsaries with Mon again, given that our January celebration was a mere visit on the ICU. He knew I hated flowers, but came up with something ingenious because it was edible:

Flower cake from Tous Les Jours

Catch up with my close pep friends, chat with other pep alumni and also meet new faces as well, who I never got the chance to dance with:
Old faces, new faces --- with the other pep alumni

 

Photo from Coach’s FB page

And I even got to visit our apartment and was delighted to see that it was still Christmas there:

Our Christmas tree still in March

I have a long road ahead of me, and I am thankful that I still have another chance to trek it. The whole experience has taught me the importance of family, love, friendship, forgiveness, humility, courage, patience and faith. Indeed, as what the Little Prince said “What is essential is invisible to the eye”. It is the first day of spring and I am happy that that winter has finally passed — and I am happy to be still alive. =) I know that there’ll be more winters ahead, but this renewed connection with family and friends will help me weather the days ahead. I might have lost around 35 pounds upon discharge, but I have gained a lot from this experience. Over the weeks that I’m recuperating, I have also gained 10 more pounds and I could not be more thankful about it. Imagine months ago, I was whining over feeling a bit heavy. Who knew that it could have saved me from the weeks of getting sick! Be always careful of what you wish for. On a lighter note, I am also happy that I’m finally able to make this post after a long time! I have been continuously receiving e-mails from readers asking about Mulberry serial numbers, UPD graduate school admission procedures, tips in getting around Seoul and even leathercraft suppliers in Marikina! So cheers to life! And cheers to future posts!

More than a month ago, I finally took my DELF B2. I was not too sure if I was prepared enough for the higher DALF C1 and I had a lot of lingering self doubts. It has been more than a decade since I have last taken an objective-type French examination, and any type of certification won’t definitely come off as a walk in the park. So on that deadline for registering for the exam, I made a last minute decision to take it. I barely had two weeks to prepare myself for the 4-part exam, and I feverishly downloaded the book “Réussir le DELF B2“.

Honestly, I almost kicked myself for not deciding on this much earlier. I would have had more time to prepare but I could no longer wait for the next test schedule in May 2014. It was definitely now or never. I needed to get this exam over with and to stop stalling.

So from Sunday until Tuesday before the exam, I was just locked up in our apartment, trying to wrap my head around the amount of work I needed to do. From listening and writing comprehension, to written and oral production, I was very determined to jot down as many pointers as my shaking hands would allow me. I also had a stash of bread, junk food and four bottles of my ever-trusted Cobra Ginkgo Biloba. I cannot NOT pass the exam because it would be really humiliating if I were to fail.
My DELF B2 !

Then on the day of the exam, I just had a good ‘ol breakfast (like I always do before a major exam), ran over my notes and strategized on what best to do confronted with a particular situation. As expected, the first part (listening comprehension) was a great pain in the eardrums. It was almost impossible to hear what the first and longer recording was exactly saying . I just threw all cautions to the wind and inferred the answer from the questions in the questionnaire — 17 or 18 points left to chance. I vowed to hate recorded telephone conversations from that day on. Then for the second and shorter recording, I made sure that I get as many correct answers as possible because it was a more audible file.

I was completely taken aback and disheartened, but I still had three more parts to work on. Besides, I needed to get started with the reading comprehension. There were two texts to work on; one of them was about a digital photography article, while the other one concerned elders looking for online connections with their old friends. The difficult task was managing your time between the two articles, and I have spent more than 30 minutes answering the questions for the first article. I had to rush reading and answering the second one because each parts were only given an hour each. If I were to spend 30 minutes for the second article, that would take away precious time to conceptualize and answer the written production part.

Then for the third part, we were given a specific situation — there was a festival of different cultures of the world in Paris and we had to write a letter to the city mayor proposing an outline of activities to showcase our home country’s culture. This is where one’s imagination must really fly, and I had to make sure I get names of Filipino artists right. I was lucky to have visited the National Museum last month with Mon, and I had a blast looking at oeuvres by Napoleon Abueva and Guillermo Tolentino. I worried after the exam, though, because I knew that I got a particular word wrong. LOL

A quick lunch back at the apartment and a quick rant/sharing with Mon, I found myself back in Alliance for the oral production part. I was just waiting in the lobby for almost 30 minutes, until one of the test-takers informed me that there was a waiting area upstairs. It meant that I was late for my schedule but another person fortunately took over my slot. The topic to work on could be anything and everything under the French sun and we were made to pick two pieces of paper, and decide within 3 minutes on which one to work on. Both of them fortunately, had something to do with demographic change and I retrieved information from my memory bank on facts about population ageing, its effects with the working population and family life, as well as connect it with the European crisis. Thank you graduate school! I think I could have done better with the structure of the sentences but I just hoped I got the message across.

Fast forward to 7 weeks after, I finally got an email, while Mon and I were eating lunch. I was too nervous to open it and Mon had to read it on my behalf. It had no results, though, as it just mentioned that the results were already availabel for claiming. We left the apartment 30 minutes earlier to drop by Alliance and waited for the receptionist to fumble over papers in a folder and look for my paper. In those 15 seconds, I had been self-debating “If I’d fail, should I be getting a letter instead?”, “Why are these all certificates I’m seeing, does it mean I passed?”, “Oh Lord, please let me pass and I will be good and I will work much harder for my French!” It was funny a sight. Then when the sheet was handed out to me, I zeroed in on each parts of the exam, and then the total score — I PASSED THE EXAM!

I immediately informed Mama and Ikle about the results, and it was some sort of a surprise. I felt really bad about the listening comprehension part but how my expectations were exceeded or bouleversés. I’m not complaining, though, and all that matters now is I have passed. Now I can finally include this important bit of information in my résumé, and hopefully it helps with the important job search. I have failed myself enough this year but anyway, we don’t always get it right the first time, right? =)

So, today marks 5Y2M and we had a perfect excuse to finally watch Thor: The Dark World ! We booked our seats online but I just realized upon claiming the tickets that there was no need to reserve them. It was senior citizen day and we were queueing next to excited elderlies who were either watching Thor with us, or a Filipino horror movie. I just felt bad for the unnecessary Php 40 admin fees we paid.

Before the movie played, I was not too crazy over the new Captain America trailer. It was too ‘boys night out’ and not enough fantasy for my liking. As for the movie itself, I was so happy that Kat Dennings got too have more screentime than the first installment. I have always loved her in Two Broke Girls and I also recently watched the ‘Hot Child in the City‘ episode of SATC, where she was this filthy-mouthed adoloscent schooling Samantha. I have always loved Natalie Portman but Kat Dennings stole the show with her comedic timing and sarcasm. There was also the usual gratuitous scene of Thor for the girls and the girls-at-heart, and lots of smashing of extraterrestials. Anyway, it was an awesome movie, thanks in large part to the right humorous parts inserted here and there. I knew I would be laughing while watching this movie because the first movie pretty much made me expect it. I can’t comment on the length because it was almost the same as the other MARVEL movies, but several of the people who watched with us clearly dozed off. Bless them.

Uncanny Valley Thor in Glorietta

We then went to Landmark Makati for some window shopping, that is look for Christmas ornaments we can put in our miniscule apartment. No big trees or anything voluminous. We are in need of something sparkly to at least give a feeling of Christmas-at-home in that tiny place. As expected, as soon as All Saints Day has passed, the Yuletide Season would be on full throttle, and malls usually carry the first signs of this usually busy series of events.

On our way up to the third floor (or was it fourth?), the familiar glittery Santa and reindeers decoration greeted us and I could not wait to see what Landmark has to offer. Even from the escalator, the backend was exploding with Christmas trees and other ornaments that a lot of shoppers could not help but take pictures and selfies (I hate this word with a passion) among the fancy leaves and branches. Santa and his reindeers hanging from Landmark

We were looking for a very small tree which we can put on top of our mini-fridge. Honestly, I still do not know if it is a good idea, since it is where our oven toaster has been firmly perched. LOL We saw two little trees, one colorful with little bells, while the other was just glued with gold glitter from ‘trunk‘ to twig. Personally, I loved the second one because it will definitely much easier to store once Christmas season has passed. That coudl still change, though, because we were not to buy one until next week. I’ve also noticed that even if it was a Wednesday, there were a handful of families pushing large carts of ornaments and relentlessly digging over piles of baubles.Mini-Christmas trees

 

Our soon-to-be glittery tree

It was barely 5:00 PM but we decided to just walk from Landmark to Ayala Triangle to eat dinner. Banapple is surely a nice place to eat, but I would not dare to go there during lunch or dinner time. The waiting list to get seated is usually insane and I’d rather eat somewhere else. I also do not like getting my picture taken or even taking pictures of my food, with people looking, judging and thinking that it would be for Facebook or Instagram for hashtag abuse. (I still do not have an Instagram, but maybe things would change if I get a better phone with a better camera. But might take a long, long time to happen!) LOL It is for my blog, though, so I might as well scoff the imaginary stares. I’m all for immortalizing moments for my personal consumption.

I thought we would be waiting for about 20 minutes to get our food, similar to what happened the last time we were here (thus, my general disdain for Banapple). But surprisingly, it only took them 10 minutes to serve my food (the one with the rice), while Mon’s pasta took five more minutes. The food was still as good as I remembered it. A bit heavy considering my newly-found acid reflux has surprisingly made me digest food much quicker than before. I wish I had two cups of rice, though, but I have a rough feeling that an extra serving might cost about 2-3 kilos of NFA rice. LOLDinner!

Stuff from Banapple

 

There’s supposedly a light show in Ayala Triangle, and in the more than six years of working in Makati, I have never seen one. I’ve stalled eating, in the hopes that the moment we leave Banapple, I’d get to see the lights on in Ayala Avenue from Makati Stock Exchange. They have clearly ditched the falling-rain effect LED lights from last year, and opted for the traditional Christmas lights. The wavy, banner-like light installation was new, though. A banner is held by three concrete blocks on both ends, and covered with faux grass to make them less industrial.

It is officially Christmas in the Philippines! From this day forward, more cab drivers will transform into greedy beasts, and it is directly proportional to the number of theft-related crimes on the streets. On the other side, it is some sort of warning sign over the things I needed to do, and time is ticking to get things going! I get the message.Ayala Avenue's Christmas decoration for 2013

Earlier this week, there were rough talks between Papa and his siblings whether we would be going to Pangasinan for All Saints Day. It was not only until a couple of days later that the plan was finalized, but the exact time of departure had been uncertain. October 31 was not declared  a holiday, and it meant that we (Mon and I) would have to come all the way from Makati after work because I thought that we would be leaving at 4:00 AM.

On our way to Marikina on a cab, we were eventually told that we won’t be off until 9:00 AM the following morning. When they said 9:00 AM, I knew that it meant 10:00 AM, which I did not mind at all because I was hoping to sleep longer. I had already prepared myself to sleep during the long ride to Pangasinan, but to lie down on a bed will always be way better.

Hello Mt. Arayat!

It was kind of expected that there would be heavy traffic in NLEX, given that we would be travelling with a large influx of holidaymakers on our way out of Metro Manila. I already lost count of how many bottlenecks we have encountered during the trip, and a couple fo them were caused by unfortunate road accidents. The worst of them was a threesome of cars, with a Korean national’s car slightly smashed between the other two. Pass Pampanga and onto this road, whose name I have completely forgotten, the drive eventually became faster.

Several cemeteries after, we arrived in Mabini’s cemetery at around 4:30 PM. It was slightly raining and we had to walk and find our grandparents’ graves. Way back in 1992 when I was only seven, my grandmother passed away and her burial was the only time I got to visit this cemetery. From what I can remember, it was situated in a high place facing west, overlooking open fields. Twenty-one years after, it was no surprise to see lots of changes. There were already mausoleums in what used to be a structure-free cemetery, and the number of graves doubled. I could not even remember what did my grandmother’s grave look like, but  I definetly won’t recognize it anyway.

A kid by the cross in a mausoleum in Mabini Cemetery

The last time that Papa went back to the Philippines for vacation in 2013, he, his brother, and Mama, along with others, finally got to bring and drive the remains of my grandfather from San Juan cemetery to Pangasinan. There was a belief that in such an undertaking, the remains should be driven directly to the cemetery as unnecessary stopovers, especially in the houses of the relatives, seem to bring a bad omen. So from 2010, we could no longer visit his remains in San Juan and we had to wait three years after to visit Lolo again (twenty-one for my Lola)!

I would never forget Lolo’s birthdate because that was the same day I started my work in my almost six years stay in my present company. Also, I am very fond of his name because everytime I look at Saturn in my telescope, I am reminded of how little it is, thus I call it ‘Saturnino‘. =D Too bad that I was barely a year-old when he died and I have no living memory of spending time with him, except for a photo I salvaged from the flood. It was a different story for my Lola because I will never forget the peculiar manner she smoked her brown cigarettes, the straight-up rolled tobacco ones, and I was so astonished how she never felt pain nor got her tongue burned, whenever she puts the already-lit side in her mouth. I think it was already in 1990 when we moved back to Marikina that we finally parted ways, while she went to Pangasinan with her youngest child. Then in 1992, she passed away and we had to travel to pay our respects. I still have vivid memories of the open casket during the mass, as well as the ritual passing over of the little kids over the casket. I still do not know the significance of that one but in the burials I have attended over the years, I still see the same thing done.

My grandmother and grandfather's remains are finally together

Family shot - four generations

We did not stay for long and we were in the cemetery for only about an hour. Night was beginning to fall, and everybody was so hungry, as the food from our stopover can never be considered a decent lunch. We still had our food from Marikina, and we had a very hearty dinner, followed by alcohol for the boys. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to level up game by training my Pokémons. LOL I can’t help it but I will always be a kid on vacations and I needed my video games.

The following morning, I was awoken by Papa’s voice talking to Jay Ar. He was very enthusiastic to wake everbody up and capitalize on the few hours before we leave past lunch time. So around 6:00 AM, I convinced myself that I have to see in daylight this place I used to visit frequently during my grade school summers. I could not remember how foggy this place was, because during those summers, we had no reason to wake up early at the break of dawn. I was in awe of the surroundings that I wished I had a fancier camera to capture how amazing it was. JB made a beeline to the basketball court and I had to accompany him because the road in front of the house still has the fastest moving buses ever.

Foggy field in the morning

Obviously, the kids had a grand time playing, with Brie particularly running from one end of the court to the other. Every April during the fiesta, this place gets barricaded and I remember way back in the early 90s, there was an endless onslaught of Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ with hordes of people doing the LA Walk. I also remember one of my lolas doing the dance, in full town fiesta regalia (R.I.P. Lola Soleng).

Early morning shooting of hoops

Brie gleefully running from one end of the court to the other

One funny remark I won’t forget from the dinner last night was how I exclaimed that everything looked smaller now. I clearly forgot that I grew up. On another note, the house pictured below was a relatively new one, compared to the one we used to stay in before. This was built completely next to the wooden house of our childhood, where the adults had to sprinkle baby powder on the floor, the same night after Lola’s burial (to see ghost footprints, perhaps?). This house was a botanical wonder, though, and it had lots of plants and flowers that can rival the garden of Mon’s grandma from Laoag. Tito also planted LOTS of vegetables! Don’t you just lvoe vegetables grown in your backyard?

My aunt and uncle's house almost covered by an assortment of plants

Papa watching the kids play

After lunch, around 1:00 AM, we had to leave because we were to go the other way around to Manila via the Zambales route. One of my titos had to do some quick business stop in Infanta, Zambales and Subic but the former did not materialize because he fell asleep and we just droved past by it. LOL The quick stop by this bay when the gents had their cigarette break was nice, though. I got to see the sunset and there were also lots of Korean tourists taking photos. I could not recall how many times I have fallen asleep but when I woke up, we were almost in Subic and Mon went straight to the bathroom during the stop in a gas station because he had been wanting to pee since that break in Olongapo.

In Subic, they had a cigarette break again and I had the chance to buy iced coffees in can, and they cost cheaper than the ones sold in 7 11. I also bought chocolates for the kids and Mon, and my fix of Piattos Sour Cream. They estimated that we would back in Manila by 8:00 AM, which I almost doubted because we can’t be the only people heading back to the city on a Saturday. By the time we reached the NLEX proper, words cannot begin to describe how insane it was. The situation at the tollgates was motorists trying to get pass each other, in  a slow dance of I-got-this-line. We survived the tollway and reached Trinoma around 9:00 PM, because we had to drop off Mon, who had to go home and see his newborn nephew for the first time! ^_^

The sun about to set - I think this was still in Zambales

One last stop in Subic before we headed back to ManilaWe arrived in Marikina around 9:30 PM and the movie everybody got inside our house, it was the same situation as last night — people putting food on their plates, eating more and talking less. I had my second helping of rice and who knows how many serving of chicken, liempo and crispy pata. I was also busy checking on our pets and I was so happy to be finally home. Mama had to unfortunately stay home because of a construction going on, and nobody would look after the pets if she had come with us. Overall, It was really an amazing experience and I could not imagine that a less than 24-hour trip can make me reminisce over my childhood this much.

When we were informed almost a month ago that this year’s Trick or Treat would have “Adeventure Time” as its theme, I was at a lost because I had zero knowledge of the cartoon. LOL Thanks to Google and I began to understand its universe. It was really a silly show with lots of innuendos, but thanks to Lady Rainicorn, I had been cracking up since I’ve learned she speaks ONLY Korean! It was one of the most bizaare things I’ve heard and the nonchalant way that the dog, Jake, responds to her cracked me up even more.

Princess Bubblegum and Lady Rainicorn

 

In the Candy Kingdom

 

Back to the Trick or Treat, JB was originally about to attend it as well, but he had his examinations until yesterday so I was left to only look after Brie. I had been thinking of what costume she’d be wearing for her first ever Trick or Treat. Looking at the set of seemingly human characters on the show, a lot of them were either variations of a princess, and the only almost normal looking one was the axe-guitar wielding vampire. Not great choices. First of all, I thought that a BILLION little girls would want to be dressed as that Princess Bubblegum. It is a walking cliché if you ask me. I would not want my niece looking like the next two dozen girls beside her. I then zeroed in at this weird Lady Rainicorn. Who would not want a colorful costume for kids’ Trick or Treat? I personally always look at the bizaarely colorful looking one during rounds of kids. So after debating over how to properly do this, I decided that if I were to go colorful, I might as well push the envelope. Colorful is nice, but sequined colorful is way beyond nice and pretty, it is Lady Di!

 

Adventure Time Halloween

 

Our floor was decprated to be the Candy Kingdom and for days, I attest to how my colleages have painstakingly decorated the floor for the event and I just wanted to take one of those makeshift flowers home. I knew instantly that Brie would be heavily photographed. How would you not notice a sequined, rainbow-colored unicorn, with a bright yellow mane and tail cascading towards the floor? That would be very hard to ignore! All the days of manually sewing the colors on that hoodie paid off. As for Anne, Mon just asked me to sew this pink velcro tutu from 2 yards of pink tulle and I had a lot of fun sewing it as well over a couple of episodes of SATC.

 

In the Ice Kingdom

 

With Princess Flame

 

The other floors were decorated as the Fire Kingdom and the Ice Kingdom from the show. In all fairness to the latter, their floor was decorated very well and the kids had a great time having their pictures taken with the penguins. The people from this floor even had a production number of snowflake-covered girls dancing to a non-ice related song of Rihanna (which was completely weird).

By lunch time, their plastic pumpkins were already brimming with candies that we had to empty them out and keep below my PC because we would be visiting another location in McKinley. Unfortunately, the place was a fiasco as ever. I have never our McKinley offices and the airconditioning in their elevators need a lot of work. I grew tired of moving around and transferring one floor to another that we stop about halfway of it. Brie had been slowly complaining and wanted to get out of her costume. it was understandable because it might be slightly heavy for a three year old. =P

 

Finn and Jake hosts during the program

 

Fun inside the inflatable

 

So after the McKinley stop, we then went to next venue for another program. We only stayed for about an hour because I could no longer stand the noise, booming music and the uncouth adults, who should be serving as good examples to their kids. There was this one girl, a memebr part of the organizing committe, who had been egging her two kids to cut the line for the inflatable above. The nerve of that lady. I took a picture of her and I will be sending it to the HR, once they sent a feedback survey as they always do after an event.

 

DIY glittery and fantabulously weaved Lady Rainicorn costumeAnyway, by the time we got back to Makati and retrieve the candies we left back (and eat dinner as well), Faye wanted to take a picture of Brie with her costume on and the latter willingly obliged, as long as she won’t be wearing it for a long time! Look at the state of her weave, I mean the mane and tail. It has been through a lot that day that there was no point combing it again.

So what did I use to make this costume:

1) Pink hoodie from Landmark: Php 150

2) Pink net-like pants from Landmark: Php 80

3) Two yards per color (five) of that sequined stuff from Carolina’s: Php 70/yard

4) Two yellow wigs from Toy Kingdom: Php 199/each

5) Lots of patience for handsewing

As much as I want to make a better version of it, our sewing machine is still on loan as it was used during the preparation on my brother’s wedding earlier this month. The almost five days of manual sewing could have been done in a day if only I had it with me, but all was well. I managed to finish it on time, and I have the most bestest fantabulous Lady Rainicorn costume ever! ^_^

 

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