Thursday, May 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Princess Sofia!

"Once upon a time" (as all fairy tales begin with once upon a time), six years ago to be exact, in a tiny kingdom where my husband reigns as King and I as Queen, a precious little princess was born.

Taken on her 5th birthday

Her birth was highly anticipated and great joy enveloped our little kingdom as she was an unexpected but very welcome blessing.  I was no longer considered a young mother by any standard, at an age associated with high-risk pregnancy (gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia among the possible complications).  Thankfully, throughout the 9-month stretch, I experienced nary a problem, having normal blood sugar and blood pressure levels, with the exception of occasional morning sickness in the early days. 

However, two weeks before her due date, I requested that she be delivered.  With all the twirling and bouncing she was doing in my womb, I was worried she would get herself into a tight spot (which by the way, she still manages to do these days).  Ultrasound results showed the umbilical cord coiled around her neck.

On May 28, 2009 at 10:20 a.m., via C-section (just like my first pregnancy), the world welcomed my little princess.  Apparently, our decision to deliver her at that point was right.  This time, with the cord coiled around her neck and body, a strong fundal push was needed for my baby girl to pop out.

When they laid her on my chest, I met for the first time this little girl living in me for 9 months.  She was a  tiny pinkish white bundle and I thought she looked perfect. 

She  is the spitting image of  her father, without a single trace of my features (okay, the  nose is  mine...)  But she really is her Daddy's mini-me, in almost every way.

As she grew into her  toddler years, her  personality began to shine through.  Just like any princess, she loves dresses and ribbons, anything girly and pink.  But make no mistake.  Though she claims to be Cinderella - expectedly demure, sweet, refined, soft-spoken, she is actually more of  Merida - adventurous, independent, headstrong, brave.  Well...the exact opposite of me.

Her delicate Chinadoll features belie what brews within.  At  the age of 2, she baptized herself as "Inggo", a name we have no idea where she got, but which she insisted we call her, a name which I think reflects how astig she can get, when the situation or her mood calls for it.  (Thank  God she has outgrown that name). 

To those who don't know her, she is shy and quiet, perhaps submissive.  To those who do, on the other hand, she is quite a character.  Mischievous, naughty, feisty, strong-willed, stubborn, defiant, pilya are a few adjectives I can come up with.   I have to admit she often gets a scolding as she loves doing the opposite of what we say, testing our patience, elevating the stress levels of those she loves to cross.  She and her Daddy often go head to head.  Being so much alike, what do you expect?  Her Dad  of course emerges the winner, but can never stay mad for too long.  She, in fact, has him wrapped around her little finger, even if he refuses to admit  it.  And why not?  Staring into her face is like looking into the mirror.

While we don't look alike, we share a love for clothes and bags, lipstick and cologne.  Though she defies me at times, I am her number one supporter with whom she shares her silly secrets.  And at the end of a long and tiring day, I love telling both her and her brother bedtime stories as I cuddle them to sleep.

She and her older brother, on the other hand, are as different as night and day.  A playful sister and her serious brother may not always see eye to eye, but they love each other very much.  She may not be as cerebral as her brother, but she is street smart.  As she so aptly put last week, "When I'm with ahia (older brother), I lose the games, but I win the fights."                                                                                                    

She can be a handful, yes, but she is lovable.  My Papa adores her because of her impish ways.  Hers is the first name her Daddy calls out when he gets home from work.  After all, she is malambing, when in the mood, sometimes bordering on karinyo brutal.  But when one gets an extra dose of sweetness, something must be afoot!

When asked what she wants to become when she grows up, she once said she wanted to be a yaya.  A year later, she changed her mind; she wanted to be a Mommy as  mommies have more money to buy stuff.  Now, she tells me she wants to sing and dance.  I just hope it's Lea Salonga she has in mind.

With her artistic and imaginative side, the way she comes up with surprisingly creative and unique pieces from  random objects, I see her dabbling in the arts.

But I  would never impose on her what I want; I  would want her to pursue what makes her happy.  I would discipline her - yes I would, to help her discern right from wrong.  But I would never try  to rein  in her free spirit or tame her feistiness, nor would I suppress her from asserting and  expressing herself (without being disrespectful, of course), especially in an uncertain and cruel world where people take advantage of those who allow to be stepped upon.

I would tell her to love herself and be herself, to come out of her shell and shine to her full potential because I believe there is so much she can do.

My dearest Sofia Georgina Ysabel, you are now 6 years old, with a  long, long way to go, but just remember your favorite Cinderella song, "...if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."

Daddy, Ahia Yuan and I will be with you every step of the way, as you dance, sing and twirl your way towards life's "happily ever after..."


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, My Prince!


November 28, 2006 - 12:00 midnight
I can’t sleep.  I’m lying in the darkened delivery room with 7 other expectant mothers, most of whom are asleep, as I wait for my first baby’s arrival.  I contemplate on the events that have led to this day.

About 8 months before, on April 1 to be exact, the best-ever ob-gyne Dra. Wilma Torres announced that I was 6 weeks pregnant and that my baby was due on November 28, 2006.

The months that came after were filled with anticipation and excitement as my belly grew into a size disproportionate to my petite frame.  I would often get strange looks as I entered into the third trimester but that meant nothing to me.  I never went through a single bout of morning sickness, my blood pressure was steady at 100/70 and I did not suffer from gestational diabetes.  My tummy just got bigger and I reached 110 pounds but other than that, I felt normal.  At 7 months, we found out we were having a boy.  It was a perfect pregnancy; a wonderful journey I truly enjoyed.

As I entered my 36th week, there was no sign of labor yet, so Doc Wilma ordered an NST (Non-Stress Test) on November 27.  So, my Mom and I, with my 9-month old belly, took the 5-minute walk from my office to the hospital. 

As I lay in bed with the NST machine attached to me, Auntie Baby, the delivery room Head Nurse who happens my mother’s sister asked me if I felt anything.  I honestly answered that I didn’t feel a thing.  She calmly told me that I was having strong contractions.  After a conversation with my doctor, I was ordered to stay in the hospital because the baby could come anytime. 

As I changed into the hospital gown, I told myself, “This is it!”

November 28, 2006 – 3:00 a.m.
I’m still awake.  I’m told to sleep but I can’t.  There is still no pain but I can feel my tummy contracting. I hear a couple of mothers crying in pain before being taken into the delivery room where I hear, “1,2,3,4,5…push”.  Minutes later, I hear a baby’s cry.   I refuse to sleep coz I want to monitor my own baby’s heartbeat on the fetal monitor.  The first time the heartbeat disappeared, I panicked and called the nurse.  Apparently, the suction thingy has a tendency to get dislodged so I keep re-attaching it throughout the night, just to be sure the baby’s ok.  Auntie Baby is sleeping next to me.  She decided not to go home, just in case…

November 28, 2006 – 7:00 a.m.
I haven’t slept a wink.  At this point, I’ve been awake for 24 hours and I’m beginning to feel the slightest of pain.  It comes every 4 minutes…on the dot.  I’m breathing in and out, just like what I see in the movies.  I’ve dilated up to 3 cm which isn’t enough for a normal delivery, so I get a shot in the arm to speed the process up. 

November 28, 2006 – 12:00 noon
I feel the need to go to the bathroom and there I release the effects of the enema that had been administered earlier in preparation for the delivery.  It's also when I realize that I’ve just had the bloody show.  At this point, Doc Wilma checks on me from the bathroom door and I tell her what just happened.  She orders that I be prepped for the baby’s arrival…

November 28, 2006 – 1:00 p.m.
I am in EXTREME PAIN.  I pride myself in having a high threshold for pain, but this is something beyond what I thought was possible.  I’m lying with my legs propped on stainless steel things and I’m writhing and whining coz I simply CANNOT stand the pain.  The machine monitoring my contractions is always at 100%, repeatedly blinking as my contractions are long, strong and oh-so-painful.  The student nurse assigned to me does not know what to do.  I’m slapping my face, pulling my hair and begging for an epidural.  Unfortunately, my anaesthesiologist is performing a procedure in another hospital across town.  Auntie Baby pulls out the head of the anaesthesiology department, Dr. Lacuesta, from a procedure he is performing on the third floor, just to give me my epidural.  They ask me to curl but I keep springing back up coz of my really huge tummy.  It takes 2 male aides and a female nurse to hold me still as the epidural is inserted.  It’s only after a few minutes that I feel relief…

November 28, 2006 – 7:00 p.m.
7 cm…I have not dilated any further.  Doc Wilma checks on me and punctures my very taut bag of water for the baby to descend.  I’m exhausted but I still haven’t slept and it’s been 36 hours since I’ve had some shut-eye.

November 28, 2006 – 10:00 p.m.
Doc Wilma comes back to check on me again.  The baby has descended but I remain at 7 cm.  She decides on a C-section and I readily agree.  She asks if I want a bikini cut and I nod.  Of course I want a bikini cut for bikini-worthy moments in the future (those moments have yet to be realized, by the way).  As I am wheeled into the operating room on the upper floor, I see Mama and my husband Greg and they tell me they’ll be waiting for me and the baby.  They’ve been sleepless and haven’t left the hospital all this time. 

I tell myself, “This is really, really it!”

The first 20 minutes involve a series of procedures as the doctors and nurses talk about a whole lot of things.  Finally, at 10:20 p.m., they’re pulling my baby out and I hear his first cry.  They present me my tiny, crying baby and for the first time I meet the little person living inside of me for the past nine months.  Dr. Lacuesta tells me he’s going to put me to sleep and for the first time in almost 40 hours, I fall asleep, peaceful, happy.


November 28, 2013 – 12:00 midnight
I’m now gazing at my seven year-old son sleeping quietly between me and Greg and I can’t believe it’s been 7 years already.  His face still bears the features he’s had since he was an infant – the round innocent eyes which are now starting to look at the world with more wisdom, the cute lips which can now verbalize his thoughts, the lucky ears that don’t miss a thing.  And, boy has he grown. 

I can no longer carry the boy I once cradled in my arms but I make sure I give him as many hugs and kisses as I can, as I proudly lay claim to being the very first girl who has ever kissed him and loved him.

As the memories of the past 7 years flash before me, I vividly remember everything about him: his first word “Mama”, his first tooth at 6 months, his first step at 1 year and 1 month and a whole lot of other “firsts” which I will never forget.

He has always made us proud of his achievements:  identifying letters and numbers at 1 year and 8 months, reading his first words at 3 years old, receiving the “Student of the Year” award during his pre-school graduation at CBB, being a consistent honor student in Grade 1 and earning his green belt in martial arts under Gan Soo Do.

I know that the coming years would inevitably pass, up to the time when he’d be boarding the plane that’ll take him to college (probably with me going on frequent unannounced visits to his dorm), when he’d be going on his first date (with a curfew set at 10:00 p.m.), when he’d be walking down the aisle to marry the girl I would have to scrutinize before she earns the said privilege…ok, I refuse to go on beyond this point…

In the meantime, I’d like to keep him and his younger sister under my wing for as long as I can…to read them bedtime stories every night, to take them fishing at Eden Nature Park, to take them bowling at SM Lanang Premier, to take them to the beach and watch them build sandcastles, to watch Disney Junior and Nickolodeon with them, to play tent-tent and spaceship-spaceship with them, to sing at the top of our lungs and dance like no one’s watching, to watch them eat and get all messy around the mouth with spaghetti, ice cream and chocolates, to protect them from people who hurt them, to pick them up when they fall down, to wipe their tears when they feel sad, to hug them tightly every chance I get…

So, sweetie, don’t grow up too fast coz it's one way of slowing down Mommy's own aging process, but no matter how old you and your sister get, you’ll be my precious babies always, always and always…                                                          
HAPPY BIRTHDAY YUAN!  I hope and pray that all your wishes and dreams come true!  I LOVE YOU SO, SO, SO MUCH!!!                                    

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Age is Just a Number

August 15, 2013.  Today, I turn a year older.  When I was a little girl, I could not imagine what it would be like turning a day over thirty.  Now that I’ve far exceeded that age, do I feel any different?  Actually… surprisingly…I don’t!

Image taken the year I was born

I feel 25; sometimes, I feel like I’m 18.  The age I have depends on the mindset I have for the day.  At other times, when I feel weighed down by a lot of stuff, that’s when I feel my age.  Okay, I admit I feel some aches and pains here and there (back pain and creaky joints are normal signs of aging, I know.  At least I know I’m normal…hahaha...).  I can’t really run too quickly nor can I rush up the stairs when I feel like it.  The occasional strand of grey hair (which I have extirpated* the moment I spot one) and a faint line or two are a give-away.  But other than that, I feel the age I choose to feel.

Some people act surprised when I reveal how old I am.  (If they feign surprise or actually ARE surprised, I’ll never know…hahaha…).  That’s when I realized that being tiny isn’t so bad after all.  From behind, I guess I’ll always look like a high-school kid.  (Up front…well, that’s a different matter, of course).   I’m just lucky that the women on both sides of the family are young-looking and I hope that I keep things that way for as long as I can.

When asked what I do, I honestly tell them that I don’t do much.  Of course, the cleanse-tone-moisturize-sunblock products, courtesy of Dr. Neil Oropeza’s Oroderm Clinic help a lot.  Other than that, I do nothing special coz I can be sooo lazy to keep up with any other type of beauty regimen.  I’ve tried other much-hyped beauty products before, but I never got to find out if they were effective coz I was never consistent in maintaining the routine.  As they say, consistency is key.  Unfortunately, the products evaporate, “shrink” or change colors before I have the chance to use them up.  Even facials take up time, so I’d have them, like, once in two years maybe?  So, I just stick to Doc Neil's basics.

Exercise?  I know…considering my age and cholesterol levels, I should insert it somehow into my schedule.  But then again, nakakatamad.  My husband Greg and I availed of the annual membership at Metro Lifestyle coz his doctors insisted that he has to have some sort of exercise to relieve the pain in his knee and back.  We were good at it for say…two months.  That was a little over a year ago.  We haven’t been back since.  But I’m now persuading him to go back coz my midsection isn’t exactly what it used to be when I was 20 years younger than I am today…I bought a Zumba pack for Wii U but the box remains in its same unopened state as on the day it was purchased about 3 months ago.  I’ve promised myself (with fingers crossed behind my back (?)) to open it and start using it…NOW NA…not pag may time lang…Now, whether or not I regain my old waistline remains to be seen…

But really, I guess what works best for me is how I view life and the burdens that come along with it.  I’m not saying that I run away from my problems. I don’t!  I just don’t dwell on them, dissect them or rant about them. I have various ways of dealing with stress, but that in itself would be long enough to be another blog that I shall be posting in the future.  Anyway, I just identify the problem, figure out how to solve it, carry out the solution and wait for end-results.  If I can’t come up with anything brilliant, I pray for enlightenment.  If things don’t turn out the way I want them to, again, I turn to prayer.  IT ALWAYS WORKS!!!  Believe me!  I may not get what I want, but things always turn out for the best.  I may yet have some unresolved problems but I choose not to wallow in the depths of despair.  As long as I know I’ve done what I can, as long as I’ve whispered my heartaches to God, I know these trials soon shall pass and hopefully, I emerge a better person. 

And that, I believe is how I’ve been growing older.  Gracefully, I hope.  Yes, hopefully with God’s grace…

I honestly believe that the fountain of youth is not in some obscenely-priced miracle-in-a-jar sourced from the heights of Mt. Everest or the depths of the world’s deepest trench. 

Youth is not necessarily associated with the young.  It lies in everyone’s hearts…It stays forever recorded deep in the recesses of our minds.  Age?  It’s just a number.  We sometimes forget the feeling of being young because we focus on the number.  But, no matter how old we get, the moment we re-live our cherished memories, we are transported back to another place and time and we become the young, giggling, carefree kids we once were.  And maybe, just for a moment, we forget about the crosses we carry and shift back to a time when all that mattered was our youth.

Getting older is a fact of life.  No one can escape it.  It’s just how we choose to live our lives that makes all the difference between feeling older and staying young-at-heart.

May 2013

How old am I?  I was born the year the Aswan Dam was completed, the year the Beatles broke up, the year the first Earth Day was celebrated.  Sirit na ?  Okay, I was born one year after Neil Alden Armstrong conquered the moon, the year after Gloria Diaz conquered the Universe.  You do the math. ;)


*Extirpate – a term familiar to my Room 211 roommates (Trisha, Chin-Chin and Leng) at Eliazo which means to pull up by the root 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lemon Butter Sauce Disaster (?)

Two Sundays ago, my dear aunt, Tita Lita decided to have lunch with us.  My father's eldest sister used to run a successful catering business and helped set up several food establishments in the city.  In short, she knows good food when she sees and tastes it.

My husband decided to have pink salmon as the main dish.  Since we had it with oyster sauce a few nights back, he suggested lemon butter sauce to go with it this time.

Image from

I bravely volunteered to prepare the dish coz he was busy talking with Tita Lita.

Look, I'm no chef to begin with.

Baking, I can do. Since it requires precise measurements, I can say that following instructions isn't really a problem.  Besides, the baking lessons I had with Tita Lita for 3 summers when I was a kid gave me the basic know-how.

Cooking - now that's a different story.  My husband insists that it's the easiest thing in the world.  Yeah it is...for some!  But other less-gifted individuals like me struggle with it.  I mean, I've bought several cookbooks and have tried following the instructions to the letter, but something would always seem missing. I truly envy those who could prepare dishes without caring about measurements, tasting the dish as they go along and coming up with something really delish!  My husband's like that.  As for me - well, for the dishes I've successfully prepared, I need to refer to the recipe with exact proportions each and every time.  My most convenient excuse for my said "handicap" would be lack of practice as I don't do the cooking at home because I don't have the time,etc, etc...but is it really excusable? :P

Now back to my salmon with lemon butter sauce...

 I just had to rub the salmon with salt and pepper and our helper simply cooked it.  You could never go wrong with salmon, I guess.

The lemon butter sauce?  Well, I figured, how difficult could it be? It's just lemon and butter and some other stuff. Right? Right!

I searched the net for the best lemon butter sauce recipe, came up with a few and chose the one which seemed most basic and had a four-star rating to boot.  Haha!  Boy, was I ready!

I melted the butter, added the lemon juice, put in the rest of the ingredients and confidently mixed away over a low fire.

But, something wasn't quite right.  I couldn't understand why the sauce didn't appear to be what I expected.   A thin film of what I assumed were some of the ingredients, settled on top of the sauce, with the clear light yellow liquid beneath it.  To make it even worse, it tasted bitter!  I added some salt to offset the horrible flavor, tasted it.  Now it was a cross between bitter and salty, if such a flavor does exist or if I was the first ever human being to create it.  It was a disaster!

With the soup, vegetables and salmon ready, the sauce was the only thing left undone.  I had to serve it quickly; it was a little past noon and I didn't wanna keep them waiting.

I did the first thing that crossed my mind; I scooped out the grayish film that coated the surface of the sauce.  Good!  The sauce looked all clear, yellow and pretty, if that could be its only redeeming factor.  I then transferred the sauce to a bowl and took it into the dining room.

Tita Lita and Greg sat there waiting.  My husband asked why I didn't pour the sauce over the fish.  Knowing that salmon rubbed with salt and pepper is tasty enough, I simply said that anyone could take their pick: to have their salmon plain or to slather it with sauce.  I then whispered, "The sauce tastes so bad - it's both bitter and salty".  He answered, "Impossible!"  I dared him to try it.  He did.  I expected the worst...

Greg's verdict: "Medyo matabang" ("It's a bit bland").  I was incredulous, "Are you SURE?".  I tasted the sauce myself.  It WAS kinda bland.  And when poured over the salmon, surprisingly, it tasted quite good.  I guess that film of ingredients on the top gave off the yucky taste.  I mentally patted myself on the back.  "Good thinking!", I proudly thought.  It was one happy accident.

Tita Lita's verdict:  "Masarap siya"  ("It tastes good").  But knowing Tita Lita, she'd always say the best things, be it delicious or "chapter"*.  I just love her!!!

Now on to my next cooking (mis)adventure.  Wish me luck!!!


*chapter - a term Tita Lita uses when a dish turns out bad -- in other words, "palpak". :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Tale Behind My Blog Name

It's a rather long blog name...I know. But all the blog names I came up with already exist, so I got my favorites and rolled them all together into one...


Image taken from

Well, I should say that I'm an all-around happy person, constantly viewing life through rainbow-colored glasses.  I have to admit though that at times, there is a need to don my prescription contact lenses (currently at 250/225) to see things in proper perspective -- that is from the standpoint of stark reality, lest I be gobbled up by entities lurking in the shadows, ready to take advantage of my naïveté.


Image taken from

While most people detest power interruptions, I look beyond the darkness and gaze at the soft romantic gleam from the skies above, best appreciated in my parents' quiet farm, far from the maddening hustle and bustle of city life.

At night, as the city sleeps amidst the glare of harsh sodium and fluorescent bulbs, I choose to imagine being blanketed by the warm glow of light cast by the moon and the stars as I get the best of my insights lying in bed, where my random thoughts teeter between a state of consciousness and dreamland, while my babies' steady breathing serves as my lullaby. 

(I also have to mention that I get some of my light bulb moments when I'm all lathered up with shampoo and soap - but a blog name bearing the said factors would most definitely be inappropriate!)


Image taken from

Shanez, as I was told, means "little princess".
I am little - that is a fact. At almost 5 feet, I would prefer petite. :)
I don't claim that royal blood runs through my veins; I do not have a kingdom with subjects who adore me. Though not by lineage, I can say that I am a princess to my parents, brother, husband and children who make me feel so loved.

That being said, I hope you enjoy the tales - random ramblings are more like it - of a little princess wannabe who, despite the occasional rain-shower, lives in a world basked in sunshine and rainbows, moonbeams and starlight.