To my Firstborn

My little Thirdy,

Feels like yesterday when I first held you in my arms. You were tiny and fragile, yet you took away all the pains from giving birth. There are a lot of metaphors on my head right now in my attempt to describe the moment, but certainly, there is none that can suffice.

Now you are two (years old). Yet you have given us so much – tears, joy, fear, laughter. You have enabled us to feel the most of every emotion, and my favorite, forever will be, is love. You taught Mama to love unconditionally – to be patient when you blow things up, to be kind when you are beyond control, to be understanding when your actions are frustrating. You changed Mama, a lot. I used to throw my own tantrums and rant furiously at anything that frustrates me, but you, little human, taught me that there is nothing love cannot do. You are my clingy little furball, though you lack hair. Hahaha Your little ways – hugs, profession of love (agoogookoo aka I Love You) before you kiss, taking my hand when you want to be cuddled for sleep, snuggling on my side and on my legs, make my heart melt. Your tiny little feats are also my triumphs – your first step, your first walk, your first run, your first climb, all your words, your dance steps, and your Disney songs (or Greatest Showman and Bohemian Rhapsody). Sometimes it wears me out because you are ultra needy and hyper active, but at the same time I just have to cherish this phase, you’ll never be this tiny and clingy again.

You make me believe that there is no “Terrible Two”, annoying sometimes you may be. I understand that you are just exhausting your energy running around, bouncing up and down, dumping, building then destroying things around. With all the love you have afforded us to have, we will turn all the terrible to adorable.

I love you, my little boy. And I will never grow tired of telling you and showing you how much I love you from the smallest to the grandest of gestures. While sometimes I wish you’d be this tiny and adorable forever, I, at the same time am really looking forward to your first day at school, up to the day you’d receive your college diploma and so on. Seems like a long haul, but I will be there with you and all other instances in between and beyond. I will always remind you (like I always do when you are asleep) that you are meant for greatness, and that there is no one to make you feel otherwise. Mama will be your friend and your foe (you’d get irritated at me at times, LOL), your biggest fan and worst critic (HAHAHA!).

And now you are two (you and your little baby sibling on the way). I know you will be a great Kuya. With all the love and affection you have shown me and your Papa, you sure would never mind extending to your little sibling. Of course, you would even teach your younger sibling all your kulit and kapilyohan too. It’s true what your favorite movie, Boss Baby, says, “There’s plenty of love to go around“. You and your sibling have already made my heart grow bigger. Once it only accommodated you, now the two of you. My love will not be divided between you two. It will not come less. It will be more than enough for the two of you. Matter of fact, it will overflow, brimming at the rims of each of your glasses.

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And as I always say, I love you everyday, I love you always, I love you forever. I love you, my Thirdy Patootie.

The Big 3-0

So last night, at 11:00-ish, I hit the beginning of my 30’s. While most friends spent their birthdays partying, or at least dining out, I was just snuggled in bed with the little boy on my side.

I have changed, I get it. Some friends asked me how I was to celebrate my birthday. After all, I was, in the most recent years, the one who would initiate agenda for a Friday or Saturday night out. This time, I only had one answer: I made no plans. Matter of fact, I came to work because I really had no plan in mind. In case we are acquainted on Twitter, I said there that all I wanted for my birthday is a nice cake – maybe a Strawberry Shortcake from Visco’s (which I already had last year), an Ube Cake from Cara Mia (which we had for my parents’ anniversary), or Avocado Cake from Lia’s (which I had two years ago) – or something from Pastelaria Manila because I haven’t tried any from theirs yet. Yes, you can judge me from my cake choices. I don’t mind.

I have changed, I know. Aside from the cake, I just want a time off – maybe even a day away from my boys so I can sleep, read, and write like I used to before. Not that I don’t want their company, I do, but I just want to be in tune with myself.

As Aunt Edna said in Incredibles II: “Parenting done right is a heroic act” (Can’t believe I just quoted an animated movie, that’s such a mama move!), I do try my best in being a parent. It’s no easy task. Imagine complaining about adulthood’s bill’s and money management, well parenthood’s not a bit easier, you got to get through p*ss and sh*t, literally. I can’t even imagine how I managed to be sane for twenty months and counting.

I remember a friend who asked me “Bakit iiyak ka na, nagthe-thank you ka lang sa parents mo nung birthday ng anak mo?” (“Why were you about to cry when you were just thanking your parents on your son’s party?”). Only a few friends knew that I suffered from anxiety and depression months into motherhood. I haven’t actually gotten into counselling or medical consultations regarding this, because aside from me being hard headed like that, I am still trying to negotiate things with myself. And all throughout that period, it was my mother whom I called and cried to whenever I was feeling under so much pressure. She would take care of the baby and tell me to go out, walk, read, write, and spend time with myself. It made me feel lucky to have a mother who knows how critical I am of myself to understand why I feel such pressure of motherhood. She’d tell me that it’s OK if I cannot make the baby stop crying, that it’s fine not to do every household chore, and most of all, that it’s normal to get exhausted because my body is still recovering while I’m doing all the motherly stuff I’m supposed to do BUT that doesn’t mean that I should just give and give – I have to pause and rest and stay calm (the F down, really) because I have to brace myself because things are not going to stop, at least anytime soon. And yes, I owe my mother my life and sanity the past months. She’s such a pro in handling me and my weirdness. I love you Mama, part of my birthday wish (because I always have many many birthday wishes) is to have a heart like yours. May you live longer so your heart can grow bigger, more than enough to accommodate all your little grandchildren.

And now you ask where my husband has been through the ride? He was at my side, definitely. He was my rock and my support. He comforted me and made me feel loved, but my struggle was beyond him. He tried his best to understand, or at least get in touch with my frustrations, but he failed. And I cannot take that against him – my frustrations, shortcomings, self-inflicted pressure, were all my own monsters. It was definitely hard for him too, raising a little boy while taking care of me. But he tried, I know, because he was consistent in his patience and love. He did not fall short of every little thing he was as from the beginning. I always say that your love is beyond me, may it always be beyond us – me and Thirdy.

And to my little boy, Thirdy, who has transformed me in so many ways, who made me trade a night out for a cake and cuddle session at home – you are special, you are precious, you are exceptional. You have brought us so much tears and so much joy. Remember that your pain is our pain and your triumphs is also ours. Know that you are loved more than your wildest imagination (or more than you love your Pre-School Prep ABC’s, just so you know the extent). And because your favorite, Boss Baby, said that “There’s plenty of love to go around”, Mama and Papa got you a tiny human! Now, you can love your tiny human “With all of your heart”. (I was really consistent in quoting my little boy’s movies)

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My introduction to motherhood might not be as shiny and splendid as others had or at least how I envisioned it to be. But knowing I did well (at least what I think of myself), with the help of people, of course, I am ready to take on another journey with my growing tummy and family. You know, there are things you learn the easy way, some you learn the hard way. Motherhood taught me a lot of things, patience for one, and unconditional love, and a lot more beyond and between. I would never have it any other way.

And for my final wish (at least among those I am over/sharing), a little girl this time.

So here I go coming through, Thirty and Preggy!

Baguio Eats

There’s a certain kind of love that compels me to travel up North every now and then. Must be the weather, must be the food. This post will be focusing on the latter.

As previously mentioned in most of my posts, I have spent but a brief time in Baguio in 2005 during my freshman year in UP. I never actually cared about the good eats then. I relied majorly on cafeteria food, carinderia stalls, fastfood, food my roommates bring back from home, or some food I experimented. It was actually only a few years ago I realized Baguio really does boast of good food finds. Here are a few from my last trip:

Cafe Sabel is the restaurant within Bencab Museum. The restaurant has an artsy interior and a breathtaking view of the Benguet mountains. A cup of coffee would actually suffice (the view was already filling to the soul), but since it was a little past lunch time, I had to order something heavy. I opted for the Tuyo Pasta. I liked that it wasn’t too salty but still flavorful – there was a hint of herb, of cheese, and of tuyo (dried anchovies). It was a tasteful delight to the palette.

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Boyfriend had the chops. It was rather ordinary, if not for the fresh siding.
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Vizco’s Strawberry Shortcake!!! This is something you just can’t miss when in Baguio. Creamy and dreamy, just the right amount of sweetness. I’m so craving now, wish we had Vizco’s here in Manila.
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Oh My Gulay is one of the most popular culinary finds in Baguio. Owned by artist Kidlat Tahimik, it’s a restaurant and a gallery in one – the most beautiful too, methinks. I personally consider this one of the most memorable places in Baguio. Not only have I spent afternoons here after researching for my thesis, I met and had the most sensible tete a tete with artist Willy Magtibay. I believe that conversation persuaded/lead me into actually going to the direction of Artsafter Graduation.

Well, that was too much an introduction! My favorite from Oh My Gulay is their Bulaklak Tempura (Deep Fried Pumpkin Blossoms) but was unfortunately already phased out (WHAAAAT?!) so I opted for this Kabute (Mushroom) Pasta instead. Must be because I was never a fan of purely vegetarian dishes, I felt some “meat” taste lacking in the pasta.
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The Sili Omelette, however, was nice and cheesy. I always loved omelettes and have been used to having omelettes with only veggies so I had no issue with this one. Don’t let it fool you though, it isn’t hot nor spicy.

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OMG’s Clubhouse Sandwich was as fresh as it could be. It didn’t bother me that the egg was substitute for meat. I actually kind of liked it, like it was a healthy breakfast sandwich of some sort. I loved the fruity, sweet, and tangy salad dressing!
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50’s Diner is one of the oldest establishments in Baguio. Best known for its Hollywood themed interiors,you’d see posters of old movies hanging on walls. I just hope the Jukebox still works though! This is also one restaurant that boasts of grand servings so just had to had She. It’s actually a protein plate – with beauty all mixed and mashed up – pork chop, chicken wing, beef sirloin, fish fillet, hotdog, french fries, and mixed vegetables, all golden fried. Taste was nothing spectacular though, or maybe I was already full upon first sighting.
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Boyfriend had the Gambler’s Choice. It was a heavy plate too. It had beef chops, prawns in barbecue sauce, and mixed vegetables. Nothing spectacular again.
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For days, we had breakfast at the Tam-Awan Village Cafe. I was very impressed with how they fused the normal food fare with traditional flavors of the north. For example, their clubhouse sandwich had etag (fermented lean pork) instead of ham and bacon. Taste was more smoky and flavorful.
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As for their omelette, you wouldn’t get butter alone for your toast. They mixed in honey, which is one of Baguio’s best produce, to give a tinge of sweetness to the savory breakfast.

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We also dropped by Hill Station for sugar fix one afternoon. We sampled on their New York Cheesecake, which was smooth and creamy, nothing special though.

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I’ve developed an instant liking though with their Lemon Meringue Bars. It gives the right tang when you’re already having a feeling of “umay” from all the sweetness.

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For the boyfriend’s Birthday Lunch, we opted to just stay in the Village and have a helping of their Cordilleran dishes. Boyfriend chose Pinikpikan, as we missed this during our trip to Sagada a year ago.

Pinikpikan is basically a chicken stew much like tinola, only more savory. Its root word “pikpik” directly translates to “light beating”, a process the chicken undergoes for its preparation. The dish originated from Cordilleran ritual of sacrifice for special occasions.

The Village’s version had thick broth with mostly fleshy parts of the chicken and a few etag strips. Etag’s strong flavor greatly enhanced the broth, lending a smoky and salty flavor to it.

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I had kini-ing. It looks like liempo, yes, but undergoes a rather complicated method of preparation too. Kini-ing is mostly left under the sun to dry, but is smoked only when it rains. These are thinly sliced and possesses a smoky flavor. But do not mistaken this for etag, kini-ing does not undergo fermentation.

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Before we left Baguio, artist friends insisted we try dining at Good Taste. It was kind of hard to find, but if you’re wondering, it’s actually near the bus/jeepney terminal to Sagada. There were a LOT of people when we visited there. It isn’t an upscale restaurant so don’t expect too much.

Good thing though we were a bit observant of what other customers were ordering. The other table, which was only a group of three, ordered fried rice. Thus, a BIG bowl of fried rice was served in a matter of minutes, it would have been good for 8 people. Upon acknowledging the fact that their servings was hefty, we had the rice meals instead.

Boyfriend had Lechon Broccoli. Big serving, big taste. This one did not disappoint. Oh cmon, it’s lechon!

IMG_0752 I had the Beef Curry. From the smell alone, I knew they used a powdered mix. There was nothing to be overly happy about my order, except for the fresh green bell peppers perhaps.

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These are but a few of the many restaurants to dine in Baguio. I might do a better food crawl in the next visits. I need to have my boyfriend sample more food choices from Cafe by the Ruins, Tsokalate de Batirol, the Slaughterhouse, Ketchup Food Community, Sage, Solibao, Chef’s Home, and the list goes on and on.

Thus I assume, this one will be the first of many other Baguio food posts.

Dear Lover, Some Little Thing I Owe You

Dear Lover,

I don’t remember saying “We’d see the entire world together”. Or maybe I did, but entirely forgotten because a few memorable places would actually already do.

Remember when I told you I’m taking you to Baguio? In my head I was actually telling you I’m taking you home. And just a month ago, I did. As promised, we took the midnight bus. We did not have the luxury to recline our seats as we missed the bus we’re supposed to take. I would have wanted to keep the curtains open for you to watch the outside pass us by, but I chose that you take rest instead, for mostly, the ride we took were all freeways in sight.

The sun had already declared its might by the time we arrived. I briefed you of my soon-to-be tendency to point out random places and tell stories of what happened then and there. You let out a small laugh because I have already started right before I warned.

We jetted to Tam-Awan Village after that. We were greeted with a massive wall of graffiti my friends did for the village. It looks brighter and a lot less gruesome than it had been. We were welcomed by my old friends, whom to you are new. But at that moment, I knew you knew what I meant how faces become places and how places become faces. Their sanctuary has also become ours.

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You insisted we take the trek past the view deck before leaving. You loved how the weather afforded us a sweat-free trek up until the borders of the village. We hopped on to museums – of people and works you knew. Might have been because you met them once, or I acquainted you with them as per stories told then and there. We took the road up to meet the Oble of the North. I roamed the halls I used to roam. Some ten years ago, I was here, without any idea we’d exist here at one point.

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The night has finally put on its veil just as the rain poured, we sought refuge in a cafe because I promised to give you a taste of the best Strawberry Shortcake. I knew you’d find it not sweet enough, you requested for a slice of Apple pie. We felt we needed something to refresh our palette so we crossed Session Road and headed to an artsy vegetarian restaurant. I know I promised you a glimpse of a lesser known road but equally beautiful as Session, but the weather did not afford us – it was washed white from where we stood. Oh, it was that night you took literally The Magnetic Fields’ The Night You Can’t Remember – deluded with alcohol, you forgot how you wounded up in our room the following morning. And I, of course remembered, how you took a cold shower and jumped to the bottom bunker naked.

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The next day was a stroll on Baguio’s scariest. I must say, I am one lucky person – to have someone like you who looks at these kinds of places with utter admiration of beauty and history rather than what they are shallowly known for. I love how you marvel and wonder like a kid presented with an idea that aliens exist or something. And of course, you made the same face when confronted with a plate full of meat and protein. We took a cab home that evening. It was a toil getting one along Session Road, but it was along the trip you admired Baguio’s city lights. You struggled to take a photo from the moving vehicle. I laughed a small laugh and slipped into my mind that image of you in awe of Baguio’s lights.

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I took you out for touristy things the following day. You knew this was not my forte, I hated to do this actually. We strolled Burnham Park, maybe I just had to lend you stories which unfolded there – afternoons at the playground and some moments affront the lake. We judged a few people because it was what I used to do there. We felt a pull towards SM Baguio, you insisted we watch a movie for sixty pesos. But that was then, two hours spent at the cinema now costs a hundred and fifty. Well, still not bad these days. We stayed a little while at Harrison as we did thrift shopping that evening. It was not really your thing, but I got you sniffing around looking for vintage shirts you could parade and be proud of.

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We woke up early the next morning to oblige for everyone’s pasalubong requests. I took you to the outskirts of the wet market – not everyone has ever been to where vegetables from La Trinidad or Sagada is dropped off, not everyone sees how vendors wash their goods onsite, and not everyone knows there’s a fifteen peso kilo of carrots there.

We no longer left the village after that. We strolled back again to the roof deck, but we caught rain. We missed the sunset, which beauty I promised you forevers ago. However, we were presented with a dazed view of the mountains and South China Sea. We stayed there for a little more while, unmindful of the sharp shudders, without need of a coat, a jacket, or a warm cup of coffee. It’s like a cheesy scene in a movie bound to make you cringe and giggle at the same time.

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I thought the trip would be totally over when we set foot at the bus. On the way down Marcos Highway though, you pointed out again how beautiful Baguio’s city lights were and how it kind of reflected the serene night sky. Just when I thought we missed that part on the beginning of our journey, you brought it to me even before it came to an end.

I kind of smiled myself to sleep, knowing those days have been very exhausting, but promising and exciting. We may not have been able to tick off all that was in my Baguio checklist, but I was glad to have brought you to my heart’s home. Now, it’s yours as well.

Love always,

Asteorra

Prelude to a Mixtape: The Beep Beep Song

Dear Mr. Snooze,

It has been months since your birthday, two to be exact. You are twenty six years and two months old today. But I have not given you anything yet, and by anything, I do not mean brand new shoes or spanking new watch or a treat to some fancy restaurant. “Anything” actually means something carefully created for you.

You know when they say it’s the thought that counts? I think it should go beyond the idea of looking for something readily available and acquiring it monetarily. Or maybe it is just my sentimental self which thinks it is more special (or the thought that should really counts is,) when it has been crafted especially for you.

So here goes my prelude to my annual creation/curation that is your Birthday Mix CD. This is not comparable to Starlord’s Awesome Mix Volume 1 and 2, but I guess it is kind of awesome too since it’s all about me and you, or you to me. This year’s mix will not be too mushy as the previous years, as I acknowledged the tides and turns and the mature and realistic (as how you pertain to it) aspect of our relationship. But you see, even how many, how strong, or how high the waves are coming to our direction, we can always swim and surf along because life and love is one big adventure with you. 🙂

I told you you’d be celebrating your birthday a bit longer!

Love,

Asteorra

 

 

’13: A Prerequisite Year-Ender

I didn’t post a wishlist during my last birthday. I thought it would be a little off listing down things I would have wanted to receive when people from the Visayas region are struggling with their lives. Thus, instead of “needs and wants” bullets, I am listing things that made me happy and/or things I should be thankful for this past year. So, that makes this a partial birthday and year-end blog

1. Less rampant skin asthma. As much as I wanted to skip the beach in summer, you just can’t say no to sunny sunny places. Surprisingly, my allergies didn’t shoot up, or was I just OC re-applying SPF like crazy. On the other hand, the trip to Sagada made my skin a lot better. I guess I am really meant to live in the mountains.

2. First time to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the boyfriend. I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule: night shift and very few holidays. For last year’s holiday however, he took the toilsome drive from his workplace to our home. He arrived with so much glee. He even played the guitar for everyone and brought a puppy for me to adopt.

3. Seeing Stars in concert. Last year’s birthday wishlist included Stars and Sara Bareilles concert. Guess I was a good kid then, heavens answered my prayers by bringing Stars to the Philippines in February! It was a surreal experience to see them perform live. I cried, sweat, jumped, and felt every kind of emotion to each of their songs.

4. Spending the Boyfriend’s birthday in Boracay. It has been a tradition for the boyfriend and I to take a week off from work on our birthdays to have it to ourselves. It’s usually a time for adventure, food, culture, and peace and quiet in between. This time, we chose the shores of Boracay. Midst the bipolar weather, we braved island hopping, parasailing, and helmet diving. Our nights were usually capped off with beer and good music. It was relaxing and fun.

5. Friendship level up with colleagues at Burot Beach. The office Breakfast Club hit the beach in late June. We were camping newbies, but we survived. Nothing fancy for us, but we enjoyed the bonfire, smores, drunk dips at dawn, crazy games/dares, and confessions. Friendship level went up notches higher.

6. Crying over John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars”. It’s been a while since the last time I shed tears over a book. (Last was Marley and Me, I literally bawled and tucked my face into pillows haha!) It made me cry buckets. It was cute and romantic which makes it all the more sadistic, sad, and heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the movie.

7. Sweets and treats delivery from the boyfriend. As mentioned, I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule, but one of its perks was he can drop by the office to hand me things I need, like for emergency: meds, supplies etc. But a sweet boyfriend is a sweet boyfriend, he randomly drops by to give me dessert, snacks, and bonus chicken rewards.

8. Well-spent birthday celebration in Sagada. I have always wanted to go to Sagada. I have always believed it has the same promise as Baguio. As part of my birthday celebration, we (friends and boyfriend) took an adventure and nature trip to Sagada. We braved the grumpy weather, trekked to Bomod-ok falls, and conquered the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I knew it will be one of my favorite places. I will be coming back.

9. Weird birthday surprise from the boyfriend. My boyfriend is abnormal. He takes delight in pissing me off first before giving me surprises, rewards, etc. For my birthday, he asked me to pick him up from his office. It’s really annoying, come to think of it, but hey, maybe he prepared a surprise with his officemates. But so happened, we just hopped and took weird routes from Eastwood to almost Marikina part of QC, from the C5 area of Pasig to Meralco Ave to Kapitolyo. And picked up an avocado cake with greetings from him and my pet rabbit (HAHA). The next week, we no longer traveled far and wide. Instead, he teased me into getting a new pet and picked me up from the office, already with a new female bunny munching grass.

10. My brother finally ending up with something he really really wanted. People consider my brother the happy-go-lucky type of guy. Little are they aware that he’s the kind who’s up for just about anything just to go after what he dreams. After graduation, he sought our parents’ approval regarding entering the PMA. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t allow him because he was still young and immature etc. Just this year, he secretly filed for application for the military. He just broke the news few days before his one-month training. Now, he’s already at the Tarlac camp for his year-long training. I am so proud and happy for my brother.

11. Boyfriend’s new work schedule. How many times have I ranted about the boyfriend’s morning being my evening and vise versa? Well this year, he switched companies and received new work schedule. Though he gets to the office at around 6am, still, that means more time together. Yey!

12. More kitchen collaborations with the boyfriend. From plain brownies to smores to cookie crumble. From lasagna and baked macaroni to lemon garlic dory and baked chicken. Here’s to more awesomeness in the kitchen!

13. Welcoming new babies in the family. Just a month after my boyfriend got me a new female bunny, it gave birth to four tiny kittens! It takes a lot of effort feeding and making sure they’re growing big and strong but seeing them hop, roam around, and open their eyes for the first time is priceless. I’m a happy grandmother.

14. Mini reunions and meet-ups with college friends. My friends and I have come to a point where I rarely see each other due to our busy schedule. It’s such a delight to see them once in a while and spend endless hours talking just about anything like our younger years. Though now, we no longer opt for crazy night outs. We’d rather spend time somewhere cozy while stuffing food on our faces, if not settling down for coffee or tea.

15. My father’s survival from the Bohol quake. Perhaps this is one of the things I am really really grateful for this year. There’s no such dread as knowing someone you love has been affected by such calamity. I am just plain thankful that he wasn’t hurt or anything. Moreover, he helped people in his community.

Sagada Eats

Spotlight on food finds from Sagada:

Yoghurt House

Cream corn soup/corn soup. It was creamy and ~corny~. I could make this at home, not! I liked it, it made me warm.

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Home-made spaghetti. It was a usual mix of sweet, sour, and spicy. And yes, all red sauce pastas in Sagada tasted almost the same.

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Beef curry. I liked this because it had a strong curry taste, unlike some versions which seems to have just used artificial, powdery, commercialized sauce. It’s hot too!

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The serving size in Sagada is really big. It could be enough for two! As apparent in this baked chicken leg (as it says in the menu), which looks like a quarter of a chicken to me.

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Of course, how could you go to Yoghurt House without trying their yoghurts? I forgot how this one is called but it had banana, strawberry preserves (that’s different from jam), honey, and oats. Their yoghurt is sooo creamy, it rolled in my tongue and melted in my mouth like ice cream.

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Sagada Homestay Diner

So this is a plate of random things we had that night: Tuna sandwich, Pork Sisig, and Lechon Broccoli. We had red sauce pasta again but it was not included in this photo. I had mine separated because I am allergic to eggplant. UGH.

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Burnt cheese from the cabin we visited. Thank you, Ironman! Who loves burnt cheese? *Raises hand*

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Looks safe, but it’s fiery hooot! They served this as hot sauce for the Pork Sisig. You could actually see pepper seeds when you look closely.

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Tuna and Ham Sandwiches. Would you believe that the Tuna sandwich just went for Php65? And the Ham sandwich only for Php 85? They’re actually one of the best sandwiches in Sagada. You can even ask the diner to stack them on top of another.

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Strawberry Cafe

We didn’t actually dine here since some guy was fixing the path towards the restaurant, but I just felt like I needed to post the strawberries which they grow on bamboo poles. They’re so beautiful! Also, they were selling strawberry plants! Too bad, they cannot live in Manila.

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Lemon Pie House

Pasalubong, check!

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Salt and Pepper Diner

Cheesy Tuna Omelette is an entry in my comfort food list. I am not picky when it comes to this but the boyfriend was praying with his whole heart that this better be better than what we make. And, it did not disappoint! I loved how it looks mediocre outside, but oozing with cheese and juicy tuna inside.

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This is the only pasta we tried which had a distinct taste. It was made of fresh tomatoes, a lot of onion and garlic, and of course, tuna. Doesn’t look too appetizing in the photo, but it was actually the best we had.

And the bread was a bonus! It was buttered and toasted, yet soft. We turned it into dessert as it came with strawberry preserves.

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Last from Sagada Homestay. Lechon Broccoli! Do I still have to say something about this?

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Here We Go and Dare We Stay*

It has always been a dream to spend my birthday in the mountains. In 2009, I spent several days before my birthday in Baguio. I did research for my thesis, some escapism, and time out for reflection. This year, the boyfriend granted me a trip to Sagada. It’s a lot like Baguio, only less commercialized.

Just few photos from the trip. Some are not yet available (friend hasn’t uploaded yet), and some I choose to keep inside my head.

***

Good morning, Banaue!

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Weather wasn’t too kind. Guy passengers had to go out and clear the road on the way to Bontoc.

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We freshened up, had lunch at Yoghurt House (This deserves a separate food post!), and made way for our 2 hour trek to Bomod-ok Falls. This 180 feet tall waterfalls is a beauty. The water was freezing. I wasn’t able to take photos since my ipod is not waterproof.

After the trek, we cleaned up, took a quick rest and headed for the Homestay’s Diner. We waited for our dinner to be prepared. We had hot chocolate and coffee while the boys played a 5-stringed guitar.

It’s already Christmas in Sagada, by the way.

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We hopped on to Ironman’s beautiful cabin-like abode. We had a hearty dinner while having some sort of experiment with a Teflon pan. Guinea pigs were cheese and sausage. We had wine and some good old Bugnay (rice wine).

He had a fireplace in his house. It made our stay more legit!

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We spent the rest of the evening singing random songs. It was more like an acoustic Rockeoke actually. Here’s the boyfriend doing one of the things he does best.

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The next day was scheduled for the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I was a bit hesitant to go since I had cramps the night before, but with the help of Salonpas (I smelled like an old lady) and painkillers, I managed to finish the spelunking course. It was tough. As I have mentioned in my Twitter, yes, I have never feared for my life until that moment. Imagine going through the caves’ cracks, crevices, holes, cold water (again!), assaults, there was even a rappelling portion! Not to mention, the rocks and stones were just either sharp and slippery. I was too preoccupied with my survival, I didn’t take any photo.

And here we are, fresh and clean after spelunking.

Time to look around Sagada!

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We walked wherever our feet took us, other inns, courts, cooperatives, hospitals, restaurants, schools, souvenir shops, and churches. I actually make it a point to visit nearby churches whenever going places so I did the same here. However, the Anglican church at that time was closed so we just roamed around the garden.

This view of the sun midst the pine trees is breathtaking. It gives that kind of warmth, joy, and a promise of peace, still, and calm.

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That night, we just stayed at the Homestay and had dinner at the Diner. (How redundant that sounds!) We spent the chilly evening stargazing at the Dap-ay with a dog, Pipay, and foreign visitors.

It has been a mushy dream for me to spend an evening with my lover to do stargazing in a Dap-ay. The timing was perfect. There were plenty of stars in the sky. They were bright (you know stars shine the brightest in the province), I could almost point out every constellation there is! I was secretly cringing (in a nice way) that time. HAHAHA

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We woke up early the next morning. The sun was up, giving the apt amount of warmth midst the cold winds.We headed for souvenir shops and some restaurants we have previously missed. We even walked down until the Sagada Weaving shop looking for pine cones which my mother requested.

We took a quick lunch thereafter and headed for the terminal to Bontoc.

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It’s almost goodbye!

We took the topload on the way to Bontoc. And again, I feared for my dear life. There were still rocks, stones, and dirt on the road. It was dry yet bumpy. I was scared I might fall down the cliff, but the view was awesome. Think: lush pine trees, mountain ranges, scenic terrain, ravishing river. The Sagada-Bontoc trip on topload might have scared me off, but the view was too beautiful to consider the trip bad at all.

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Farewell, Sagada! You have indeed made me fall further in love with the North.

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*Words from Rachael Cantu’s, Far and Wide.

A Not-so-Grown-Up Birthday Wishlist

It’s been a week since my birthday, but since it’s always a month-long celebration, I’ll be sharing my (insert LULZ kind of adjective here) birthday wishes.

1. As most friends are aware of, I’ve fully developed Atopic Dermatitis aka Skin Asthma in layman’s term this year after days of sun exposure at La Union’s surfing site. This happened April but I am nursing my dry skin until this moment. I am really hoping that Skin Asthma leaves me for good soonest so I can bask in the sun again next summer.

2. In relation to number 1, I’ve spent grands and bucks to have my skin treated. I swear! I wouldn’t want to spend way too much on medicine, creams, and lotions ever again. Also, please, no breast cancer scare for my mother.

3. I miss my father dear so much, so I hope his business in Bohol ends soonest so he may be back here in Manila or that we may visit him there.

4. Because I’m a retard who loses mobile phones 3 times a year, I am fervently praying that I may not lose a single phone for n years starting now. Or fine, at least not have my phone lost or stolen. I may consider mobile phones dying of old age.

5. PATIENCE.

6. Since I am a loser in the kitchen, I hope find a way to redeem myself and my infamous corn soup! I wish to learn to cook and prepare delectable food other than Yakult Soju, brownies, fritatas, and frozen desserts. Good Housekeeping, yes.

7. This may really sound funny but I am actually wishing that my bunny lives as long as I have kids. I want my kids to get acquainted and remember their uncle Clyde whom I treated my baby for n years before they were born. And also because Clyde will be the ring bearer of my wedding.

8. As I have started Fiction category in this blog, I am hoping to have more creative juices out of my head, oozing out through the pen, err, keyboard. I also hope more art related reads and ideas as I am starting a writing job for a gallery. And of course, more romanticized posts for the boyfriend.

9. THIS: I wish to have more money I can spend exclusively on food and travel.

10. As impossible as it may seem, I really really really wish to see Sara Bareilles and Stars in concert. I’ll file my leaves, buy front-row tickets, and sob to each of their songs.

*Additional: I hope the boyfriend never gets tired of his makulit, maldita, bipolar, and bitchesa girlfriend. I hope he continues to enjoy every random, shallow, and nonsense thing they share. I hope they spend more birthdays together.

Notes for November (A Wishlist)

The calendar says it’s already the 9th of October, which means it’s less than a month to my birthday. I haven’t actually come up with a plan yet, just a wishlist like the good old days.

1. Books

This has been a default every year since gawdknowswhentime. Somehow I’d just like to wish for more time so I can finish all my bedside reads. But again, there are still titles I lust for. Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse is on top of my list – because it’s my favorite theorist discussing love (will he incorporate art here?). Astrid Van Royen’s Awake Monique comes in close second and to impossibility so I’m adding it here. FYI, I was named after the author and I’m dying to get a copy since I have torn and eaten pages when I was still a little baby. I should’ve known the worth of scarcity of a 1950 something book then. The only remaining copies are available on ebay which shipping fee is actually higher than the book itself. I’m open for second hand copies too. So there.

2. Instax/Polaroid

I used to always bring a point and shoot camera with me. Sadly, I’m no longer in that phase. My camera died and I don’t want to tote a bulky DSLR all of the time. I don’t know if I’ve justified enough, but bottomline, I’d like instant prints. Snap and print and stick to wherever. This is in no way connected to my patience (or lack of), or maybe it is.

3. Informal bag

I work in a retail company that offers high end bags. And I feel like I’m the only at the office not raving about it. I guess it’s because I’m not the type toting around n-grand worth of bucks, I’d rather spend the entire amount on food. So for bag, I just want Gola Redfords which could accommodate a 14 inch Macbook Pro. Also, a Fluid Surf backpack would do. (I guess that’s even better but I do hope it has a laptop sleeve.) Again, as long as my 14-inch Macbook pro fits.

4. High cut sneakers

The boyfriends recently got new sneaks from Pony and I want one too! Though I want mine high cut and light colored. My sneakers are on the verge of breaking down, you know.

5. King and I passes

Dear friend working in Resorts World Manila,

I don’t write for a living, but I’d write for free passes. Thank you.

PS. I’m counting on you.

6. Hand-written letters

I hate Facebook posting birthdays everybody’s dashboard. People just get into a routine of clicking and typing “Happy Birthday :D” to everyone like everyday. People don’t actually remember anymore and it’s not the sweetest kind of greeting there is. I’d like to think people will leave me handwritten letters or notes on my desk or send it via snail mail. Post cards will be great too! And then I dream.

7. Trip to UkayUkay

For two reasons: I miss Baguio and Cubao and I’m still a sucker for dirt cheap things. And yes, finding a time for this would be a bonus!

8. Trip to my Favorite Place

It’s been 2 years since the last time I went to my heart’s home and my soul’s sanctuary. Failed trips during the last 2 years had me upset and I’m counting on it this time.

9. Picnic

Think baskets and gingham mats and parasols and delectable snacks. Yes, I can already imagine Sunken Garden.

* List will be updated because this is a collection of random bullets. Well, obviously I slashed off “going far places” this time. I can’t avail this yet, I still have no leave credits for work. Duh, I’m a loser.

Also, don’t judge me yet. World peace and abstract ideas (patience) are included in my wishlist, like always and forever.