Happy Birthday: The One When I Didn’t Wish for Anything

Wow. It sure looks like a lot has happened since I last wrote something here. This will be my first ever November post and the blog editor looks different, but much better. I like it!

So November huh? Ain’t it my favorite month and time of the year!?! It’s almost Christmas, but not quite yet. The air is definitely cooler in the morning and most people have started to decorate. Malls are getting busier (even on ordinary weekdays) and Christmas trees are up on sale again, and so are Poinsettias! Yay! I spelled it right!

It’s also my birth month and this year, I got to have 3 days off from work! Woot woot!!

Last year, we traveled south to Cebu to visit my brother, but this year, sadly, he wasn’t with us to celebrate my 26th birthday. You see, it’s also the APEC week so most flights in and out of the country/metro have all been cancelled to make way for the world leaders’ arrival and departure.

We haven’t really planned anything for my birthday. Papa thought it would be nice to have lunch or dinner buffet (again), but a day before my birthday, I saw a pretty detailed article on Looloo on things to try up north. Papa told me he printed the article out (right then and there) and the next thing I know, we were driving along NLEX-SCTEX, heading to Tarlac!

Originally, we were supposed to try Sandbox before finding our way to Tarlac, but since it was a pretty busy and long weekend, it took us half a day just lining up on various toll gates, so we went straight to Tarlac. It would’ve been too crowded in Pampanga anyway, said the bitter girl.

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First stop was the breathtaking and sacred Monasterio De Tarlac. Behind us on the third pic is a 30-foot statue of the risen Christ.

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Among the 3 stops we were to make that day, the Monasterio was the farthest from McArthur Highway (we were counting on the km road signs to see how far it was going to take before we reached the monastery-30km from Tibag, if I’m not mistaken) and in going there, you would pass by Tarlac Recreation Park.

While traversing the almost endless and empty roads (and a single-lane bridge) across vast fields of green, one would think that the place wouldn’t be flocked by city-dwellers, but we were wrong. The parking lot was full, and the place was peppered with tourists. We even saw Fr. Jerry Orbos just before we left.

The place is a go-to hideaway in times when you have too many things going on in your mind. It’s quiet (except for some excited, shrieking tourists :P) and tucked within several mountains of San Jose, Tarlac.

You can also offer petitions and prayer requests and feel like whatever you put in there would be granted, so long as you wouldn’t lose faith.

Next stop on the itinerary was of course, the aforementioned Tarlac Recreational Park.

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Here I was, obviously with feet itching, literally and figuratively. #slippersanddenimpamore!

You should get there in 10-15 minutes from the monastery. We got there at around quarter past 3. The 2 groups that registered just before we did signed up for kayaking and dune buggies and since they said there wouldn’t be enough time for us to drive buggies after the first group does, we opted to just bike around the place.

I must say, their bikes were all in good condition and probably well-maintained. They have trails that are shared by both bikers and buggy drivers and we found an easy-enough one (at least for beginners) just beyond the football field beside the oval.

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Here are my parents flushed and probably with hearts racing at the time as it has been years since we biked together as a family, excluding that time back in May when we went to Bataan.

There weren’t a lot of guests that day (which I extremely love). Most of those I saw were young families who were there to swim, 2-3 pairs of biker couples, the 2 groups I mentioned earlier and a big group of about 25-30 students training at the oval. The place is huuuuge and there’s so much to do so there’s a very little chance of you bumping into the other guests.

An hour should be enough to go around the trails, thrice, but then we also needed time to take photos of each other. As you can see, we were there right during the golden hour! It was the best time to bring out all the cameras, including my newest, a Yashiflex TLR.

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Here we were, the sedentary trio, an hour later, all parched and weak from biking uphill and on rough terrain, but not quite ready to quit just yet as we had one more stop to make before we called it a day.

After the obligatory feetfie and groupfie, off we went to our third and final stop…

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Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, it just did!

I remember I used to be friends with this girl back in grade school, whose dad races and who happened to be the only girl I ever heard of enjoying karting, to think we were only kids at the time. I mean, how can a kid drive a race car, right?

I’ve never tried karting in my 26 years of existence until my 26th year of existence, but one thing I know now for sure, I’d definitely do this again, over and over if I can!

TRIVIA TIME! Did you know that apart from zombie-killing and other shooting games, I also love playing GTA (just so I could drive around) and of course, Forza Horizon. I’ve always wanted to drive fast and I’m really good at it with a gaming console, but I’ve also had the chance to drive soooper fast in an express way once. Of course, I was still really cautious because I’m a girl. 😛

Going back, I think I definitely got the hang of it instantly. During the first few laps, I was “half-braking” when going around the curved parts, and was sooooper stiff too, but I learned to loosen up in the end.

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I have to say, with an entire year that mostly sucked, I never thought I’d have a birthday as beautiful as this one. Like what I said, this was the only year I never asked for anything (at least none for myself). I just wanted to spend time with my family and God gave me more than that. So thank YOU.

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I can’t say that I’ve been a good girl this year because I have been literally the opposite of being good. I have pushed people out of my life and I’m not going to blame anyone but myself for that. This is all me, but despite everything, I’m still thankful. Thank You, for never giving up on me and for giving me people who will love me no matter what. You are the reason why I am here and You have a purpose for me. Whatever that is, please, please help me find it. One more thing, Could you please never let go of my hand? Please?

So there goes another year and came another one for me to be thankful for, again! We can’t thank God enough and those who love us unconditionally. It was a happy birthday, indeed!

P.S. All photos were taken by my beautiful sister, Kat and yes, the title was patterned to be like those FRIENDS episode titles (I have been looking for and watching the Christmas episodes yesterday).

Fresh Film Fail!

I wasn’t too excited scanning my own negatives, knowing for a fact that my scanner doesn’t exactly yield film photos as good as what its high-end counterparts do. However, there’s also this teeny-tiny bit of a reason why I chose to scan my own films, it would cost me a lot LESS. Yeah, emphasis on the less!

So being the cheapskate that I am, I took all 4 films (2 of which were taken during our weekend family trip) to one of the labs I usually go to (and used to trust too) and had them developed. It cost me a lot less than what I would’ve paid for had I let them develop and scan 3 films.

Once I got home, I scanned a strip of film, one with my mirror selfie on it and it didn’t turn out as I have expected the photos to look like. I expected a lot of grain, NBD, but what I wasn’t expecting were the dullest colors I’ve seen of photos taken with a “fresh” FUJIFILM C200 film! I couldn’t emphasize the word, “fresh” more!

I’ve had numerous, horrible experiences using expired films so I made sure I bought fresh films for our weekend trip, but I should’ve just bought expired films. Now I know how Aia felt when she got a bunch of poorly developed fresh films back from the lab.

I’ve been going to Picture City in Farmers Plaza to get my films developed (even though I purchased a Fuji privilege card already) and I trusted the same guy who has developed my films over a couple of times to get the job done right as usual, but it looks like he and his partner bit off more than they can chew, having too many customers that night.

Now with a cheap scanner to digitize my poorly developed film negatives, I couldn’t be more impatient in editing them all. How I wish I could still do something about these photos. For now, this was all I could do.

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Palace in the Sky

We went to get our passports in our parents’ office yesterday, when my sister suddenly thought of going to Tagaytay on a whim.

No plans at all as usual, so when my mother asked us “where to kids?” (as expected), we both answered “Tagaytay!!!” in chorus!

Papa and Mama didn’t have any choice but to give in.

We had Bulalo and Tawilis for lunch with additional fresh Tilapia and Chopseuy too! Drove around the village where our tita and tito bought a new property, bought a side table (furniture industry here is really quite impressive!) and new plants from our suki before going home 🙂

Long day eh? Did I mention that we also went to the Palace in the Sky after sooooo long! We’ve always wanted to go back but our parents always insisted that there was nothing to see in there anymore. We had tons of photos when we were young in Tagaytay. It actually looked like we were there every single weekend back in the day. Then when we got a bit older (probably during gradeschool years), we went to visit the said “palace”, when I finally had a memory of what it was like to be there. It was very traumatic unfortunately, and since then, I had this memory of how when the wind blew, it seemed like I was going to fall off the cliff—major phobia in heights.

But yesterday, it didn’t feel that way! I wasn’t exactly as scared as I was before. I was leaning on to the ledge taking photos of what I thought was a real beauty from above. It was still breathtaking and a beaut (as what Aussies say!).

Looking around, we found some really good and really mossy/rusty spots that did looked good in photos! So when everyone was fighting for a selfie spot in the other side of the palace, my sister and I were here, taking sweet photos of each other.

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Closed Doors

Yesterday, I made a  stupid decision and let a few people down again, which in turn made me feel down too. Good thing, something came up that turned the whole thing upside down.

Friday night, I got horribly drunk (which was a first) with my office mates that I’ve only known for quite some time, but that’s a different story. Then I woke up at 5:30, and took a cab home, showered and made it to the 1st training day of outbound education. That night, we had to go through a diagnostic 10k run. I got home at 7:30ish and thought about what happened that day and slept. Woke up early to make breakfast, took a bath and just thought things through one more time before I decided not to go through 2nd day and I didn’t. I sent messages to my friend, her friend and one facilitator. It was nerve-wracking, but I did what I felt was right and just threw everything down the drain.

I know what I’ve done was ^%$$^%&^@$, You don’t have to rub it in! 😛

So much about that horrible, stupid move. Now on to the happy moments of our Sunday Fun day! I’m so happy, I could kiss an elephant’s butt!

So after going through depression for around 3 minutes and 28 seconds, I asked my sister the most brilliant question I have asked her in my 24 years of living, “So, where are you supposed to go today?” and the rest, as they all say is history!

A few hours later, we were crying and laughing at the same time listening to Bo Sanchez and Arun Gogna. It was one of the highlights of the day that I couldn’t help but share what I’ve learned immediately to friends on our way home.

Here’s what got me thinking since yesterday:

  • We forget to (or sometimes completely don’t) thank God for the closed doors in our lives.
  • We don’t embrace the No’s (rejections, trials, tribulations) as much when in fact these make our Yeses sweeter!
  • We give up  just when we’re so close to getting to our goal.
  • Arun’s question: If you know the number of no’s or rejections you’d get before you get to your Yes/Goal, would you give up on your first no? Won’t you anticipate the rest of your no’s just so you could get to your yes? (hope this makes sense)
  • We don’t see the No’s or closed doors in our lives as God’s way of protecting us.
  • There are 2 types of closed doors: those that are locked on the other side that only God can help us with or those that are locked on the same side we are on that only we can unlock.

Early this morning after I took a bath, my mother who just came back from a weekend trip shook me out of sleepiness by crying out how stupid I was for throwing hair into the toilet. Normally, I’d just ignore her and throw a mature tantrum by using silent treatment and ignoring her for days, but today I managed to see past through the hurt and sadness and kissed her on my way out of the car. 🙂

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continuation…..

I slept in the middle of writing this entry, so to continue, I’d like to share that I managed to start a small talk yesterday with the magbabalut I wrote a hefty instagram post for a while back. I felt really nice because he responded gleefully and I managed to even say “ingat po” when he pedaled away. 🙂 It’s really nice to talk to old people every once in a while especially when you get to make them smile, that’s why when we visit lola, I make sure I get to tease her endlessly because it feels good to make them feel good, even if it gets on their nerves sometimes. 😛

Anyway, here are some pictures of my Sundate with Kat 🙂

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13I’ve had a lot of closed doors in my life and never had I thought of thanking God for them too, at least not specifically. I just pray and thank God for helping me get through all that and for helping me learn from my mistakes but not really for the rejections and obstacles I’ve had in life.

So clearly, God opened a window when I felt that another opportunity closed its door for me (even if it was hugely my fault). 😛

Happy Me!

I never thought I would ever feel this good about driving. I mean, who would, right? Driving is as basic as swimming or even reading and writing that everyone should learn some time in their lives……….I think. And, driving can be really, really stressful especially when most people around don’t always follow the “rules of the road”. So how did I find it fun and exhilarating?

Back in high school, papa and an uncle taught my siblings and I how to drive. My brother, obviously was the first to pick up, but since my sister and I were a little too “cautious”, we didn’t qualify as the aggressive drivers we needed to be. Even after we finished a course in a driving school and got our licenses, we weren’t allowed by papa to take the wheel.

So for a long time, we were only allowed to drive in our neighborhood, Libingan ng mga Bayani or in a vacant subdivision in Taytay, until we became too busy to practice.

When my brother moved to Cebu, I guess papa didn’t have a choice but to let me drive again, but this time, he became more lenient and finally let me drive around, for real! When I passed the “Rosario test“, (it’s what I call the ultimate balyahan test, you’ll know why when you try passing by the area on rush hour), I became more confident and more conscious of how drivers are here in the country. I guess, being a qualified driver doesn’t necessarily equate to being licensed and aware of the rules by the book, because you’d have to learn way more than that. I’m about to renew my license the second time this year, but it’s the first time I ever felt being a real driver.

This past weekend, they let drive again, but this time, they let me drive from Binangonan to Laguna. I was freaking out deep inside, but it was something I could never forget, ever! We always go to Laguna through this route so I know how crazy the roads are here. There’ll be a bunch of steep climbs, long stretches of 2 way roads, and a whole lot of zigzagging roads on the edge of the mountains, so I cannot even wish for my father to allow me to drive there, but he did so that’s something new! I guess he felt that it’s finally time to let go! I earned it! LOL!

Kidding aside, the whole time I was on the road, I couldn’t get off my mind what someone said about driving—that all drivers should be responsible enough not only for themselves or for their passengers, but for all the other road users. So even though I was still jumpy like I used to, even a chicken on the side of road can make me nervous, I felt that I’m more conscious of my surroundings. I did have a couple of mistakes, but like what my father always told me, I needed to learn the ways of a defensive driver and I think I finally did! So that’s one thing I’m proud of myself now. I never even used the car horn before or the headlights to signal other drivers or people along the way, so I maximized the use of both that weekend. I’m also very proud to have overtook a couple of slow drivers along the way, which made my mama really nervous at the back. She even scolded my sister for teasing me to overtake a couple of tricycles.

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I know I look like %$$#$%#$ here, but it’s the only photo they took of me, and I always look like %$%$%^ 🙂

Other things I realized that have changed in my driving habits:

  • I used to be too focused, you couldn’t make me answer a Y/N question
  • I never used the car horn.
  • I don’t know how to estimate distance. (I’m still now 101% confident about this)
  • Both hands will always be on the wheel.
  • I didn’t know when to shift gears.
  • I didn’t wanna drive in heavy traffic (I still don’t, but I now can 🙂

Anyway, I just had to let it out. I’m bursting with happiness, I couldn’t contain it anymore! I have this feeling, my family together with our relatives would go on a road trip again soon especially since my cousin got a new car, so I’m sure to raise my hand and give it my best Katniss Everdeen impression and say “I volunteeeeer!!” to get dibs on the wheel! HAHAHA!

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