Thursday, January 22, 2015

My War-Hero Lolo

Last week, I was woken up with sad news: my Lolo passed away.

It was something that we all had expected. At 94, Lolo had lived a full life. He was war veteran, a lawyer, a judge, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather. 

And yet, I wept when I read my Papa's text. I guess nothing can truly prepare you for the death of a loved one.

My sadness was, however, mixed with a sense of joy and comfort. My Lolo had become very weak in the past several months and it pained me to see him that way. More than that, I know in my heart that Lolo had waited long for his "reunion" with the Lord and also with his great love--my Lola Bella. You see, Lolo was never the same after my Lola died and we all knew he missed her every single day until his death.

At his memorial service last Saturday, I was given the honor of delivering a eulogy for Lolo. I'm reproducing it here so that "my world" can know how greatly I was blessed with a grandfather who loved and cherished me and my cousins.

There is a lot that I want to share about Lolo. In His 94 years, he enriched our lives with many wonderful memories filled with his love, thoughtfulness, and generosity. 
One of my favorite memories of Lolo was when he would take us to Fiesta Carnival in Cubao. He would treat us, his apos, to all the rides we want, and would send us home with plastic full of chocolates and candies. Ang paboritong ibigay ni Lolo noon ay Serg's chocolate. At nung nawala iyon, naging Curly Tops, tapos KitKat. Those were some of the most fun afternoons of my childhood, and that was because of Lolo. 
No matter how happy they were though, our Fiesta Carnival days were only a sneak peek into the kind of love & affection Lolo lavished on his apos. For me, it was the seemingly small, everyday things that showed how our lolo doted on us apos. 
Things like asking us how we were... in a number of different ways like: 
O, apo, kamusta na? 
Kamusta ang iyong pag-aaral? 
Ano ba ang ngalan ng maestra mo? 
Ano ang oras ng pasok mo? 
Ano ang oras ng uwi mo? 
Ano ang gamit mong sasakyan?
Saan kayo nadaan? 
On the phone, ang favorite tanungin ni lolo ay: 
O nasaan ka apo ko? 
Nakauwi ka na ba? 
Naulan ba jan? 
At ang the best ay.. Anong oras na jan? 
Makulit, paulit-uit, at nakakatawa man, pero sa tingin ko, maraming tanong si Lolo because he was genuinely interested in every detail of our lives and longed to keep up our conversations with him. That was his expression of love. 
As much as he was an avid listener, Lolo was also a great storyteller. His bestselling stories were his first hand accounts of the war particularly the Bataan March which he survived. I remember going home from a visit to Lolo, and my husband Julz was raving about my war hero grandfather. Julz quipped, "Grabe! Nakapatay ng hapon si Lolo!" I have never before heard that part of Lolo's war experience so napaisip ako kung nagkekwento lang ba talaga si Lolo o sinisindak na si Julz... ;) 
There is another memory of Lolo I'd like to share and that was when I was taking the bar. Every sunday night, Papa and I would call him because Lolo wanted to know how I found the day's exams. He was truly perplexed when I told him I found Taxation extremely difficult that even months after, he would ask me what part of tax I didn't understand. 
Later, Lolo was one of the first I called to let him know I passed the bar. Through the phone line, I could hear his excitement and I knew then that I did something that made Lolo happy and proud. 
The very next weekend, I visited him and found out that he asked to have several copies of newspapers that printed the list of bar passers. He showed them to me, and pointed out that he even had my name highlighted. Sabi nya, "Natutuwa ako, apo ko, nakita ko ang ngalan natin."  
The Bible says that there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. Today, I praise the Lord that in His perfect will, He has given Lolo this time to rest and enjoy eternal life.  
Lolo, thank you po sa lubos na pagmamahal at pag-aaalala ninyo sa aming lahat. Sabi po nila Papa, even on your last morning, you still remembered to ask about me and my sisters.  
Mamimiss po namin kayo. Mamimiss namin ang lahat ng mga tanong ninyo, mga candy at chocolate, at higit sa lahat ang coins pag birthday namin.  
Pero Lolo, maligaya na rin po kami na kasama niyo na po ang ating Panginoon at syempre, si Lola Bella. Alam ko pong inantay nyo rin ng matagal ang inyong pagkikita muli. We are sure you are even happier now where you are and with the one true love of your life.
Lo, kayo na po bahala magtanong kay Jesus kung pwede niya i-turn yung wine into... beer. Hehehe! Joke lang po.
We love you, Lolo. At tulad ng lagi ninyo sinasabi saamin pag kami'y magpapalam na, "O sige na pala, lolo ko. God bless you." 

In Loving Memory of the Best Grandfather in the World,
my Lolo Pastor.
May 25, 1920 - January 14, 2015

I love you, Lolo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More Legomania! Family fun at the Legoland Theme Park

Welcome to the (much-delayed) sequel to the Legoland Hotel Experience!

Part of the reason why it took me so long to do this post is that I'm not quite sure how to write it. You know when something fantastic happens and you're stumped trying to put them in words? Ganon! We had tons of fun in Legoland, it literally overwhelmed me!

Nonetheless, because I promised so and because I know I will value it in the future, here's my attempt at telling the story of our Legoland adventure :)

We arrived in Malaysia via Singapore on a Wednesday. From Changi Airport, we were taken to the Legoland Resort in Johor Bahru by car. It took us about an hour, including the time we spent at the border (where our passports were checked and stamped).

Jaden's reaction when he saw the bright-colored Legoland Malaysia Resort from the highway! Priceless.
We arrived at the hotel just in time for check-in, which was about 4:00pm. (I know, right? What a late hour for check-in!)

For our first day there, we didn't plan any activity. We had anticipated that we would be tired from the plane and car trips. Also, all reviews told me that the hotel was a destination in itself--so I saved the rest of the day to just explore and enjoy our Pirate Room and the hotel amenities.

We woke up the next day excited and... confused! Bakit ang dilim sa labas?! A few minutes later, it poured like cats and dogs! OMG. I was so sad and stressed at the same time. Paano na yung plano naming mag-theme park? 

On account of the weather, we took it slow that morning. We came down for breakfast around 9 and then just dilly-dallied in our room. It really is a good thing that the hotel was such a winner. We didn't really feel like we were stuck in a rut.

After getting some more shut-eye before lunch, we saw that the weather improved, although there was still a slight drizzle. My husband and I decided to brave it anyway.

We geared up for the wet theme park and off we went!
We even bought rain ponchos! 
Thankfully, the weather cleared completely a few minutes after we entered the park. God is good! We were able to explore the place and go on the rides sans the yellow ponchos! Hehehe.
One of our first stops: Minion-shooting! Jaden won a small minion stuffed toy!

The MiniLand: Meticulously constructed miniature landmarks of the Asian capitals... all made of real Lego bricks! In this photo is one of my dream destinations, India's Taj Mahal.
Right smack in the center of the park is the famed MiniLand, where not-so-small replicas of Asian landmarks are displayed. These were amazing! Even better, Legoland made it interactive for kids. Jaden had a lot fun pressing the buttons to activate the replicas' fountain, shower, lights, etc. His favorite was the waterworks from Singapore's merlion.
Jaden about to launch the Merlion's fountain... directly right to my face! Basang basa ako, ano buzzzzz!
Next stop was Rescue Academy, which had me laughing and panting so hard! The idea is to race with other players--whoever puts out the fire first wins. Hindi ito pinalagpas ng competitiveness ko at natapos kaming hingal na hingal. 
To get to the "house on fire" we had to ride a firetruck na de-padyak. So super padyak kami. Then we had to pump out water from the hydrant. Jaden was in charge of pointing the hose to wherever the fire was. We had loads of fun! Competitive din yung mga boys sa kabilang team! After this, nanghina kami ng asawa ko. Serious. Haha.
Perya games! 
This is the Lego DUPLO Tent--a huge covered play area for younger kids! It had play houses, barns, hospitals, fire stations... almost all with slides jutting out! Fun!
Sophia had a marvellous time here!
Colorful animal maze! Sophia easily navigated thru this... leaving poor Mommy ducking and bendin--and still hitting her head. Hehehe.
We all loved these life-size animals made of Lego! #awesome

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#Growth2015

I've learned from a couple of wise women about "one-word themes" for the year. It's basically choosing a single word that encapsulates your theme or goal. I thought it was a brilliant idea. One-word themes has a lot of potential in simplifying life. It quiets the noise and clutter, allowing for more time to focus on the singular theme. I was so inspired that I decided to apply it for my 2015 theme, too.

But before that, a little lookback on my 2014 :)

I had declared this to be a year of RADIANCE--that our family will emanate great joy, love, and health.

Big words, but in a nutshell, I wanted only two simple things: my family's good health and protection. I believed with all my heart that we would be radiant throughout the year with just two.

As I now review the events of the past year, I can say that the Lord has been faithful (yet again!) to us and to our prayer of a radiant 2014--no one got seriously ill and, hey, we're all alive and well!

The thing is, I prayed to a God "who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20). And so, we found ourselves making lots of happy memories this year! In March, we threw a big, beautiful party for our daughter Sophia's 1st birthday.  This was also the same time when we finally had the energy to spruce up our home. Then we traveled a lot--locally and internationally. We went to Bacolod, Davao, California, Chicago, Beijing, Singapore, and Malaysia.

I experienced big and small successes too in the other areas of my life. I got a headstart with my Mommy Group, found a home church near our place, and at the workfront, I think I did pretty well. The painful task of overhauling and replacing systems in the office have been done, and we're all set for growth!

Speaking of growth, this is my one-word theme for 2015. I am praying for three big things this year, and they all involve growth of different sorts. I believe the seeds have been sown in 2014, so 2015 is promising to be a year of increase, maturity, advancement, and (to be ultra-feminine) blooming.

I know the Lord will be faithful again, just as He has always been. I'm excited!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Back to Regular Programming! (And why I was gone for a month)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! #betterlatethannever

While we're at it, I hope you had a merry Christmas too! ;)

I was wiped out from the blog world for a whole month because I got carried away with all the happenings (and stress) of the holidays. Although I was set on gifts for family and relatives as early as November, I found myself still shopping at the last minute for friends and godchildren! Homaygosh! I'm so not good at last-minute anything!

Then, after Christmas, we had to deal with being hands-on parents and homeowners because our househelp staff went on leave to be with their families. It was practically cruel to deny permission to them, especially since they have served us faithfully throughout the year and rarely asked for days-off (I had to impose rest days every so often because I didn't want them to get burned out).

Anyway, things are slowly going back to normal. Our househelp is 2/3 complete as I write this, so I now have some extra time to myself.

Actually, I could have done this a few days ago, but I took a "social media break" as my participation in our local church's Prayer & Fasting Week. I realize that this is such a small sacrifice compared to those who really fasted, but I believe taking a "fast" from social media nonetheless served the purpose of having time to worship and hear the Lord--allowing myself to be immersed in God and His Word, be aligned with His purpose for me, and be sensitive to His promptings. I also prayed and "fasted" for three big faith goals this year.

I must say that taking a break from social media felt so refreshing. Aside from "getting back" precious minutes of my day, it honestly felt like I was able to do some soul-cleansing and was able to focus on the things that truly matter.

Please treat this post as a warm-up to my 2015. I have a number of stuff that should go up soon, including Part 2 of Legomania and my theme for the new year! So I hope to see you again!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Legomania! The Legoland Hotel Experience

For this Christmas, my husband and I decided to give our children the gift of travel and adventure--we went on a much-anticipated trip to Legoland Malaysia!

Naturally, it was our Lego-addict son Jaden who was most excited about this. For a month and a half, he counted the days leading to our vacation. (It was also my favorite and most effective bargaining tool then. Haha.)

But when we got to Legoland Hotel, ALL OF US were enthralled!  Sophia couldn't keep still. Every member of the family became a Lego fanatic upon seeing the huge building designed with Lego bricks, the great green Lego dragon, and big-and-small Lego people. I'll never forget the look on everybody's faces when we saw a glimpse of the Lego wonderland. Everything was awesome indeed!
You'd think it literally is made of Lego!
The hotel's lobby featured a Lego pirate ship and a castle, both filled with bricks for all guests to enjoy!
As you can see, the interiors of the hotel lobby screamed LEGO FOR KIDS... to Jaden and Sophia's utter delight! Check-in was a breeze, though it did take a few minutes--time happily used by my kids to explore the big play area which the hotel seemed to be. 

Later, I had to extricate them from the lobby so we could go and rest in our hotel room. When we booked this trip months ago, Jaden chose the Pirate Room (the hotel had 3 themes: pirate, castle, and adventure). I agreed because it looked like the coolest! ;)

WE WERE RIGHT!
Big beds are LOVE! Everything was decked in pirate theme: the wallpaper, the carpet, the beddings... everything!
The best thing is that all Legoland Hotel rooms are for families! Kids get to have their own little double decker bed--with an extra pull-out for big families! Jaden was only too happy to sleep on the top bunk!
The details were terrific. What's more, the entire floor is pirate-themed! (The other rooms, Castle and Adventure, also had a whole floor each to themselves!)
What's a pirate ship without a look-out parrot? Made of Lego bricks, of course.
Little girl trying to climb to the top bunk!
We were soooooo happy! (Look at Jaden's face to see just how much! Haha)
Dining was likewise not a problem at the hotel because they have a couple of in-house restaurants: Bricks Family Restaurant and Di Mattoni Restaurant (plus Skyline bar for daddies and mommies!). We had all our meals at Bricks (including our daily breakfasts) and we loved how family-friendly that place is.
BRICKS FAMILY RESTAURANT: Sophia-approved!
Their buffet is no Spiral or Heat, of course, but I'm happy with the choices and the sheer number of the options they offered!
We had a lot to choose from. Even the kids will enjoy eating here!
Do you that dragon on the right? He roars every hour! :)
I honestly did not expect this hotel to be this fantastic. I thought all that made it special was that it's for kids--nothing more. So it was such a nice big surprise to find out it's more than just a place for Lego-crazy kids. It will make you a Lego fan too!

Also, the service and amenities can rival 5-star hotels. My son and I can be such hotel snobs when it comes to quality of bed, pillows, and sheets, and even cleanliness of bathrooms... but Legoland Hotel sure gets a two-thumbs up from us in that department. I can safely say this hotel did not scrimp either in design or quality. We're so happy we stayed here!

Stay tuned for our Legoland Theme Park adventure...
Coming up next!
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