Life Journal

Weaning soon

As the days draw near, I can’t help feeling sentimental that my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. As my husband and I are planning to have another little one soon, we have decided not to include Sophie on our upcoming trip overseas, so that she could wean too. I read somewhere that sudden weaning maybe traumatic for a child, but I think I have done more than enough, having been breastfeeding for nearly 3 years now. I would like to thank my tired and worn out breasts, for providing me not only a healthy and intelligent child, but also a special bond only Sophie and I share. In lieu of this, I plan on having a tattoo, to celebrate my tough and beautiful journey. ❀️ Until my next breastfeeding journey (hopefully), signing off soon. 

Three and a half decades

As I turned another year older a couple of days ago, I can’t help feeling anxious that the big 4-0 is not too far away. It will come, and it will be inevitable. As much as I wish I can go back to being 13 and that somehow a part of me still lives in the past, I know I’ve been given a good life, better even, than I can ever imagine. It is not perfect of course, and I may have a lot of regrets, but those are overshadowed by overflowing of blessings I receive continuously. Sometimes I think I’m not too worthy of them, and that other people are far more deserving than I am, but there must be something, some reasons.. I must have done something good and right in the past to deserve what I have today. Thankful beyond words. ❀️

08.18.16 celebrating with family

Guilt stricken

Its 3 in the morning and I can still hear the kitten cries. Its been crying on and off the whole day, probably looking for its mother, which Kuya Cansio said, has died in the morning. He said he saw the mother cat very weak yesterday, and earlier the kitten unknowingly still breastfed over its dead mother.

I’ve been feeding the mother cat whenever we are at the big house over the weekends. I was wondering why she suddenly passed. I remember last week when I accidentally stepped on her while she was sleeping, I still have several scratches on my legs until now. But after that I said I was sorry and had given her food, she seemed okay. And it was almost a week ago. Has she gotten into a car accident? I sincerely hoped it wasn’t my stepping on her which caused her life, which left a poor, young kitten behind. For some reason, I was disturbed by my guilt. Sigh. Rest in peace now dear cat. 😿

US Tourist Visa for Filipinos – My Personal Guide

Since we have bought our flight tickets during the last Travel Madness sale, at some point we would have to apply for the US Visa. I guess considering the numerous travels we had over the years, we’re a little (just a little) confident that we have an edge to be granted the most elusive visa of them all. Of course we did some research on the common questions to be asked for the interview. Nowadays, you can’t just complete your application and just head straight to your schedule at the US Embassy and thats it. You HAVE TO study your answers beforehand. While most of our answers are scripted, it meant positively on the consular officer, as we are answering in sync and know what we are going to say. It is still best to come prepared.

When I tried to schedule online, the earliest available is June 27. But when I called their hotline, the earliest is June 6. So I grabbed the June 6 as it will spare us the agony of waiting for so long. I guess it was better to just call the hotline instead, since they can accommodate us earlier because we have a small child. The MRV payment is needed to be able to schedule the appointment interview. We already paid this in BPI.

On the day of our interview, I brought all the docs we would be needing: (Standard Tourist Visa for Filipinos living in the PH)

1. DS-160 confirmation page

2. Appointment letter (sent in email by the US embassy customer service)

3. Original MRV receipt 

4. Passport

5. 2×2 photos 

6. All other docs (proof of financial capabilities)

Since I applied for the DS-160 online, I did not need the 2×2 photos anymore (I was wondering too why I still need to bring them). I already uploaded the digital copies during the application. As for all the other docs, the officer did not ask for any of them.

Our appointment schedule is 9:30am, and since the guards are strict about lining just 15 mins before the schedule, we walked from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (from the other side of Roxas Blvd., where my sis in law dropped us and would be waiting) just 10 mins before 9:15. We waited for just 5 mins outside, and come 9:15, we queued going inside. The first queue we were asked for the Appointment Letter, and the staff put barcoded stickers on the back of our passports. She also gave us a letter E yellow cardboard (express queueing for senior citizens, pwd and with small children), when she asked for Sophie’s age and I said she’s 2. 

When we got inside there’s a security checkpoint, and an x-ray machine for the bags and belongings. ANY electronic devices are not allowed, as in ALL, even USBs. So we did not bring our cellphones anymore.

Since we have the letter E, we bypassed long lines and headed straight to the first counter, where we were asked DS-160 confirmation questions by a Filipino staff. Next counter is the biometrics-taking, an American officer took my husband and I’s finger scanning. No biometrics for small children like Sophie.

The next queue is the Interview. We lined up with the seniors and with small children, and waited for around 40 mins before it was finally our turn. Since we were seated in the area where applicants passed by after the interviews, we have witnessed different reactions and expressions. Some fortunate ones were crying tears of joy, clapping their hands, shrieking “yes!” or just simply have joyful smile on their faces. The unfortunate ones however, have blue papers in their hands, returned passports and have disappointed, faraway looks. 

The feeling was nerve racking. I felt like I was going to get my IELTS results. (add: I was positive that I would fail my IELTS back in 2008, so when I went to get my results, I could hardly walk up the stairs going to the IDP office — I was a total nerve wreck!) It was so stressful I could not wait for our turn and get over it. When it was finally our turn, my husband carried Sophie while I gave our docs to the officer. Here’s how the interview went:

Us : Good morning.

Officer : Good morning. Hi Sophie, how old are you? (I was surprised she called Sophie by nickname)

Sophie quietly said “two” and raised her 2 fingers.

Officer : What’s your relationship?

I : We’re a family.

Officer : What’s your purpose of travel?

I : We would like to tour, go shopping and go to Disney World for our daughter.

RJ: We would also like to try different restaurants like the Pinks Hotdogs and Buffalo wings.

Officer : Buffalo wings (smiles) How long will you be staying?

I : Probably around 2 weeks.

RJ: We would also like to catch the Black Friday sale.

Officer : Right, so you can get good deals. (Smiles) Dad, whats your job?

Tabs didn’t hear this. So I nudged him and said, dad!

The officer was a little amused. She turned to Tabs, “You’re the dad, you’re the mom.” (To me) and laughed.

RJ: Sorry. I’m the Chief Technical Officer of a family-owned corporation. We have 3 *** gas stations.

Officer : How long have you been in the company?

RJ: Since its incorporation in 2007.

Officer : How many people are there in the company?

RJ:  In all 3 branches around 70 plus 10 accounting staff, so around 80.

Officer: How much do you earn?

RJ: I earn *** a month, excluding allowances.

Officer : And how much including your allowances?

RJ : Around *** a month.

Officer : Mom, what’s your job?

I : I’m a businesswoman. I have a *** shop in the ***.

Officer : How much do you earn including all allowances?

I : I earn more or less *** a month.

Officer : Which countries have you travelled?

I : We’ve been to London (nods her head when she heard London), Japan, Korea, China.. (she cut off, she didn’t seem interested with Asian countries)

Officer: Is Sophie always with you?

I : Yes, we always bring her with us.

After a pause and tinkering on her computer, finally she said.

Officer : Alright, you will receive your visas within 7 days.

The interview ended and we said our thanks and goodbyes. Of course we were elated after! The interview was short and concise, and we didn’t have to defend or explain further anything, like some of the applicants before us. The officer’s mood was light during our interview, very much unlike how I thought of her when we were in the queue. I thought she was scary and bitchy, but she was not. My nervousness quickly went away during the course of the interview.

In reality, getting the US Visa is probably one of the easiest to process. Since the officers face around 150 applicants per day, they do not have the time to ask for the docs to support your answers. They will simply depend on the DS-160 that you submitted and how well you answered the questions.  The DS-160 is more on personal details, but the most important thing here is that you study and know the answers to the frequently asked questions. If you will lie (unless you’re a very good liar),  they can spot in your answers as they give series of questions depending on how you answer them. They are trained to recognize your real standing and your purpose of application.

Since we passed our interview with flying colors (hehehe), we received our passports 3 days after, all with 10 year Multiple-Entry Visas! US of A, see you real soon! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Get started with your application here.

Election blues

In exactly 4 days, the Philippines is going to have its new president. The last election, I voted for someone I believed in, someone I really liked to become the president. Unlike in 2010, until now I’m still undecided who to vote for. I know thousand others like me share the same sentiments. Sometimes I caught myself thinking, are these people the best that we got? 1 of these 5 hopefuls is someone who will lead our nation in the next 6 years, someone who will be our representative in the international community. 

When I learned that MDS is running, I immediately thought she could be that someone. But she has been sick for a while now, and the last presidential debate where I thought she would redeem herself, turned out to be much too painful to watch. I would love her to be our president, but from the looks of her, she isn’t even 70% healthy. Her medications clearly deprive her of what she used to be. If ever I decided to vote for her, it’ll be not only because she deserves to be the president, but out of respect and honor for her life and deeds. Its just sad that MDS is the president we never had. 

The leading candidate now, Duterte, I’m not sure if I even like him. I know where a lot of people are coming from, being he promised to swipe crimes in 6 months. But clearly, he isn’t the role model type. He has a bad mouth (he swears on national TV all the time), a womanizer (which he is proud of), a liar (maybe? because of his undeclared wealth), a killer (i guess? how do you even intend to stop crimes in such short period? unless you quietly take care of them), and many other negatives I could think of. Duterte’s avid supporters called Dutertards (hahaha) are very protective of their bet, thats why he’s too confident in this race. Imagine jumping from mayoral to presidential. Well who knows, maybe, just maybe, he can change the Philippines. But maybe not because out of respect and discipline, but out of fear. My biggest fear would be another Martial Law under his regime.

The 2nd in survey, Poe, I disliked from the very start. I didn’t know where she gets the galls to even dream of becoming a president. Granted that she’s a foundling and maybe a Filipino, we can’t deny the fact that she used to be US citizen. If she has plans of becoming a president in the future then, why on earth did she turned her back on her PH citizenship? It just meant that she has no plans before, but because she has found an opportunity due to her popularity (using her deceased popular father’s name all the time of course) and the people’s so-called clamor, (as well as Chiz’ pushing?) she just decided to run. She must have had good intentions, but she is just one ambitious opportunist neophyte politician in my eyes.

The next in the survey is the government’s bet, Roxas. I have mixed feelings about this guy. Whatever the truth about his whereabouts during Yolanda, just take a look at the metro’s trains and traffic. Its a mess. I hate it when he says the government is already doing what the others still promise to do. They maybe doing it but its obvious they’re not effective. He maybe the most qualified next to MDS, or he maybe the next lesser evil of them, I just wish I have other better option than him. I seriously dislike his face, and his snotty face of a wife. 

The last is Binay. Honestly, being a resident of Makati for such a long time (I live in Paranaque now) I do not have any bad blood against him. Having practically grown up in the city where my family benefited so much under his governance, I actually feel sorry for him if he loses this election. If he wasn’t involved in too much corruption, he could have been a good president, he could have been my choice.

On May 9, one of these men and women would be the next president of our nation. I hope I pick the right one, and I hope my fellowmen do too. I wish I would live to see the day where politicians have honest intentions of serving the country. Tick tock tick tock. God bless the Philippines. πŸ™πŸΌ

Sophie’s Summer Classes

Sophie’s last class in Gymboree Greenbelt ended in March, and I’ve been wanting to transfer her somewhere nearby, since we’re in BF during the weekends. Her schedule in Gymboree as level 5 were every Fridays, and even though there’s a Skyway, Friday traffic are always unbelievably unbearable.

Anyway, good thing I was able to start her into the Summer term of Little Gym Alabang. It includes 8 sessions for 10,580 + 1,960 annual fee. Its more expensive than Gymboree but its more into gym or sporty activities. Sophie was such a scaredycat in Gymbo and holds her yaya’s hands everytime. So this time I got rid of her yaya, I personally attend the classes with her. I’m letting her do her thing and explore on her own.

Sophie seems to love her new playschool. At 30 mos she’s called a Beast (19-2.11 mos). Little Gym is more spacious, she has lots of classmates (they’re around 10 or 12), and she has more physical activities. For the past 2 sessions, they had basketball and archery as main activities. Plus they have about 10 minutes to just play and explore the gym. Even though Teacher Laurie got her hands full with the kids, she seemed to make time, encourage and compliment each one by one.

exploring on her own

I wanted Sophie to be busier this summer, as she’s growing and she’s always at home with no playmates. So apart from the summer school, I also enrolled her in swimming class. I researched and found Aqualogic Swim Co. They are more expensive than the others but they have classes at The Village Sports Club, also in BF which is very conducive for us. The classes cost 7,590 + 500 membership fee for 10 sessions.

At first, Sophie was scared and cried for more than half of the 30-minute class. She has since improved on the succeeding classes, as she’s getting used to being submerged into the water. We’re on the 4th session the last time, and even though she doesn’t seem to enjoy it, at least she’s listening and cooperating. Her age is the best time to teach swimming I think, because she can understand already, unlike the class before us, who are I think not more than a year olds. They’re always crying, and I feel sorry for the babies being submerged in the water. They’re just too young, imo.

Maybe next year I will enroll her again in a swimming class, until she learns how to do it herself. I am not a good swimmer myself, I’m actually a poor swimmer. Of course back then my parents did not have the means to enroll us in swimming classes, nor the availability of the classes. But the generation now is different, even babies starting 6 mos can now have swimming lessons. So this early I wanted Sophie to learn the basics first, how to feel safe and comfortable in the water, how to return to the ledge, and in due time how to swim by herself.

sliding down the pool

The Little Gym Alabang

Aqualogic Swim Co.

Breaking news

Adenomyosis and adenomyoma. 

These 2 are giving me a bad, hard day. 😣

Wake me up when this ends

What part of the context these people don’t understand? Do they even know that the topic here is same sex  marriage and NOT LGBT per se? I, for one, respect the LGBT community, but strongly opposes in same sex marriage. Its entirely 2 different things. #idiots


Our Family Portrait

In just over a month my parents-in laws will be having their church wedding. This is their first ever wedding, so we can tell its going to be grand. A lot of people were surprised to know that they weren’t legally married after all these years, but at least after they patched up their legal problems they still decided to marry each other. It maybe true love, after all. Hehe.

We picked out the best suppliers out there imho, since there’s no problem budgetwise. Our photographer, Jiggie Alejandrino is relatively new in weddings, but is a veteran portraitist. At the wedding fair last year, we were thinking of getting Nice Print again, since they document well and has a reasonable price. But we met Jiggie thru Team OSS (4D photobooth) that we also got, and he showed us some of his works, and they looked great and well made.

As Tabs also studied a bit of photography, he said Jiggie knows what he’s talking about. He is very detailed and meticulous, and getting him for the wedding was one of the best decisions we made. He has the best rates too. He included the prenup shoot in his package, and also included our family portrait. 

Below are some of the family shots that he took of us, amidst the prenup shoot of my inlaws. These were shot in Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. It was amazing to see the photos so bright and well lit, because I remember it was so dark during our shoot. And these are not even edited yet. He’s a surprise find, this Jiggie. 

We plan on having one or two of these blown up to put up on the walls of the house. You know, kinda like the old houses with portraits of ancestors. Hehe.


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