Caramoan with Family (Day 3)

April 17, 2016. Today is my mother’s actual birthday, the very reason our family went on a trip to Caramoan. As a devout Catholic, her first request was for us to visit the town proper of Caramoan to have mass in the church. The trip from the resort to the town proper was through a boat ride that took almost an hour. We didn’t get to town early enough, however, so we contented ourselves meditating in prayer inside the church.

Before leaving town, my parents made their usual rounds of souvenir shops for trinkets and other pasalubong to take back home.

The boat ride back to the resort was a rough ride against strong currents. After the turbulent trip, my mother claimed to have finished praying all mysteries of the rosary!

After lunch, my sister and I went to the resort’s beautiful infinity pool overlooking the cove and several islands, including Catanduanes province in the horizon.

Later this afternoon, we all went to a brief trip to the national park’s lighthouse, obviously atop of the park’s highest peaks, to marvel at the sunset and absorb further, in peace and tranquility, the sight of this majestic piece of paradise.

Caramoan with Family (Day 2)

April 16, 2016. Our second day in Caramoan was spent island-hopping.

Caramoan is a large rural municipality in Camarines Sur where Caramoan National Park is located. It boasts not one long stretch of beach but hectares of jungle with a coastline that boasts many coves and beaches, and dozens of islands scattered over the surrounding seas.

The beaches are as diverse as their number. There are beaches that have white, powdery sand, beaches that have huge rocks, beaches that have coarse pebbles, beaches that are secluded by towering limestone rock formations and thick foliage, there are beaches that are visited by many, there are those that lend visitors tranquility in isolation. Take your pick. It will definitely take more than a day to hop through all these islands and coves. My family was only able to visit a handful of islands and coves during this particular day trip.

Traversing the seas to go from one island or cove to another is like a boatride through Jurassic Park with all the foliage and mountains. It was a scenic trip that I had expected from a trip to Palawan, but not from a trip in Luzon. It was pleasant surprise. It was not, then, a very difficult decision for producers of the reality-show Survivor, in its many syndicated versions across the world, to pick Caramoan as one of their choice exotic settings. (No Survivor cast sightings here though!)

Caramoan with Family (Day 1)

April 15, 2016. It has become a tradition for our family during the summer to take a trip to celebrate my mother and my brother’s birthdays. This year, we went to Caramoan, in Camarines Sur.

Our first day was spent settling in our resort accommodation and going on one of their beach-hopping tours in Caramoan National Park.

We took the first plane in the morning to Virac, Catanduanes, and a shuttle to Codon, also in Catanduanes. From there, we took a speedboat to Tugawe Cove Resort in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Located near the tip of Caramoan peninsula, Tugawe Resort is situated adjacent a small village separated from the rest of the municipality and town proper of Caramoan by the jungles of Caramoan National Park. Its isolation lends the place a very peaceful and exclusive feel, but likewise makes getting anywhere else journeys by themselves. Mobile network signal is likewise hard to get by, but who would really need that if you’re after a quiet and tranquil retreat? The staff are very hospitable and friendly. From experience, they go out of their way to grant specific requests to make their guests’ stay comfortable and memorable.

Baguio with Family

January 15-16, 2016. The family spent a night and two days in Baguio to celebrate my parents’ wedding anniversary. A sentimental trip it was because Baguio is where they celebrated their honeymoon back in the late 1980’s. It is likewise the venue of many family vacations as a young child together with my brother.

The family went for a stroll in Burnham Park and went for a boat-ride in the park’s manmade lake. My siblings went for a bike ride around the park too. Later that day we went to La Trinidad for its strawberry fields.

Kailan talaga birthday ko?

Tisay celebrated her fourth birthday last Monday. We had planned to spend Sunday in a theme park, but since the metro was still reeling from the aftermath of tropical storm Ondoy, we decided to have a simple feast of Chinese food at home.

We had a small sansrival cake for Tisay but we even forgot to buy proper birthday cake candles, so we made do with a medium-sized wax candle. Tisay’s understanding of “birthday” unfortunately, is of a party, so all along up until today she doesn’t believe it was her birthday. She insists that she still has to celebrate her “birthday” distinct from the simple celebration we had last weekend. If the weather permits, we will push through with our trip to the theme park this weekend. I think she even expects to give a blow-out bash to her kindergarten classmates.

Random family notes, again

Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite Santa Cruzan at Amadeo, Cavite

Tisay will begin her post-daycare schooling this week as a nursery student at some private school a few minutes from home. I’ve been doing errands for my mom with regard to her enrollment, so I’ve been to her new school a number of times the past week.

It’s amusing how some of the people at her school mistook me as her father, that day I took her and bought the prescribed school uniforms. This time, she’d be taking the school bus, so there’d be no need for me to bring her and fetch her from school, as I used to do over the summer, when she was attending daycare school in UP.

A few weekends ago, we went to Amadeo for the Santa Cruzan. We had lunch at the residence of the presidente of the youth council of sorts in the community, organizing the festivities, who happens to be a second cousin also. It was the first time Tisay donned a gown for the parade. Too bad the dress made her itchy all over so she backed out from the parade the last minute. It’s hilarious how young girls are so excited over dressing up and parading, I don’t get it.

A weekend ago, the family went out for lunch together at the mall. It’s been a while since we did that. There are those rare times when we’re not all busy with our own preoccupations.

Some random family notes

Yesterday, I went with my family to Tagaytay to pay my paternal grandfather a visit at the hospital. He’s actually been at the ICU for around two weeks here in Manila, and for that span of time my parents have been visiting him almost every day. The doctors and the family decided to have him discharged from the private Manila hospital, after the hospital bills reached the seventh digit. For quite some time already, his children–my dad and his siblings–among with other relatives have been talking about how his health has been failing terribly the past months and about his possible demise anytime soon. They’ve also made plans, apparently, for his funeral. Despite everyone’s expectations, however, and quite fortunately enough, he’s still alive. I never really grew close to my grandfather at all, but I’m glad he’s still here. These past weeks we’ve been having unofficial family reunions almost every week.

On other family matters, my days of bringing my sister Tisay to school early in the morning and picking her up at lunch time are temporarily over. I used to enjoy doing it, but during the past few days it felt like quite a chore. One morning, I brought her to school too early so she didn’t want to go in. Though the school’s doors were open, she insisted on staying out and waiting for her classmates. Because I grew quite impatient, I told her I have to leave and if she wanted to wait for her classmates before going in, she could wait without me. Before I stepped into the car, I saw her crying silently and alone in the bench. It wasn’t the usual bratty-type of crying I quite detest of a brat, but the silent and genuine type that just crushed my heart. It was too cute, and too heart-breaking, I decided to walk back to her and stay. Bought her a happy meal after picking her up.

The cute naivete of Tisay

She probably gets this from playing with her friends in the neighborhood or at the daycare, but obviously this concept of “boyfriend” is something new and fascinating for Tisay. She would proudly drop the name of some of her male playmates and giggle if you ask her who her “boyfriend” is.

May konsepto na rin siya ng “kasal”. One night, as she was about to sleep on bed in between my parents, she asked “Mama, sino boyfriend mo? Si Papa?” Hilarious! And it didn’t end there, she added, “Kailan kayo ikakasal?” My mom answered, “Kasal na kami, ‘nak.” My mom then points to a wedding portrait on the wall, “‘Yan o, picture namin ni Papa noong kinasal kami.” And then Tisay starts crying! “Bakit ‘di niyo ko sinama!? Di niyo ko sinama sa kasal niyo!”

Another night, still on bed as my parents were about to sleep she points to my father’s belly and asks, “Papa… buntis ka? May baby diyan?” Hahaha! Whew, buti hindi ako tinatanong ni Tisay nang ganyan. ‘Pag dumating ang panahong ako tinanong ni Tisay n’yan, magpapapayat na talaga ako nang seryoso.

Hailey from Belgium

Hailey, the baby girl we foster-cared for a few months before she was taken by her Belgian adopters almost five years ago, was back in the Philippines last weekend with her Belgian family. We treated their family to lunch at SM Mall of Asia.

It’s pretty cool that her Belgian parents are open to introducing Hailey to her roots in the Philippines. Her parents have also, by the way, just adopted another Filipino child. Looks like Hailey has indeed been blessed with a loving and caring family.

Tisay and Hailey clicked quite well, too, even if neither of them spoke the same language. Seeing them screaming, giggling and laughing together was quite cool.

Speaking of Tisay, she’s now back in school. I bring her to her kindergarten within UP every once in a while during my lunch break. It’s quite cute how excited she is every single day for school.

Another baby in the house

A few weeks ago, a newborn baby found its way to our home, brought in by the childcare agency apparently because the abandoned infant’s supposed foster home backed out the last minute. The baby boy’s the third baby we’re fostering ever since my parents started accommodating abandoned infants. Some of us at home have been waking up in the middle of the night every night the past few weeks now. The infant turned one-month old last weekend, which became an excuse for us to have spaghetti and barbecue for lunch and dinner.