Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet.Artistotle The family and I are visiting Japan for the first time to celebrate the new year with my dad, his family, and my sisters. I've been looking forward to this trip since the beginning of the year that being here at this hotel desk at 5:30 in the morning truly sweetened the long and arduous wait. Though we've got our hands full with three boisterous children every minute of the day, I'm so glad we're all given this opportunity to experience what Japan has to share with the world. I've seen the torii gates in photos and anime, and have always been drawn to their serenity and history. Taking my own tranquil steps through the gates, and standing in front of the . . .
Growing up, I always looked forward to out-of-town trips with my parents, whether that's through the provinces of the Visayas or a plane ride to Manila. ✈️ Manila was especially exciting because it was a completely different environment when compared to the relaxed and laid back city of Bacolod, my hometown. The capital was filled with skyscrapers, big malls, beautiful shops, and swanky hotels with their delicious breakfast buffets. 🍳 Eventually I moved to Manila for university, and its become a place embedded in my body and memory both for its wonders and its horrors. It's this ugly, heavy-breathing beast that you have to make your way through on tip-toe and with a knife in your backpack. Despite its dangers, I continue to love it . . .
My daughter, Holly, loves making art. She's shown interest since she was a toddler and has improved over the years since the day she learned to hold a pencil. She's seven now and loves spending her free time making all kinds of colored sketches. I want to continue exposing her to what the art world has to offer, so I promised to bring her to the Art Bar once we visit Manila. ✈️ Located in Serendra, the Art Bar has pretty much everything an artist needs to do their best work. Canvases, easels, high-quality pencils, brush pens, and the like fill the glass shelves of this 2-storey shop. They carry art supplies and writing tools made in Germany, Japan, and the USA. They also host workshops for up-and-coming artists wanting to learn to . . .
Today's our last day here at Cebu, so Jayson and I decided to use it to shop for souvenirs and whatever the kids wanted to bring back home. 🛍 The original plan was to visit the renowned Temple of Leah first thing after breakfast + the morning routines. But because of how crazy traffic was yesterday, I decided to skip and Instead head directly to SM Seaside City Cebu. Jayson's extended family's picking us up again and taking us there. No complaints here. Unfortunately I didn't take a lot of photos since our hands were full with the kids the whole time. But the mall certainly lives up to its name as the Philippines' 3rd largest mall. The entire building is circular where you'd walk in a full circle to see all the shops. There were . . .
Day 2 is extra special because today is my youngest son's 3rd birthday! 🎉 The little one smiled from ear to ear while we sang him "Happy Birthday" over and over. I want him to feel all the love we have to give throughout the day, so everything he wanted he got it—a bite out of his birthday cake, being carried across the hotel, a glass of mango juice, an extra three minutes in the bath tub, etc. For Day 2, the plan is to spend the morning swimming at the beach and waterpark before heading out for our Cebu excursion. In between, my mother and her family would check in at the same hotel and join us. Unfortunately, our excursion turned out to be a lot more complicated than what I expected. After our morning swim, Jayson's . . .
This year, Jayson and I decided to take the kids to Cebu for our very first family vacation. The 6-month long wait felt like forever, but we're finally here enjoying the pools and water slides, the fancy-schmancy hotel beds and carpeted floors, the wide lawns and playgrounds. The kids are having a blast, and I'm "relaxing" after months of work and stress. We're staying at the Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark. Jayson and I visited this hotel seven years ago, so it felt a bit surreal to be back with the kids. I couldn't remember any of it when we arrived until Jayson pointed out the pool bar where we bought a mango shake while enjoying a swim all those years ago. The trip to Cebu also reaffirmed popular advice to bring kids on . . .
After a fruitful first week in Maryland, my next stop is seeing family in Albany and Long Island, New York. I flew via United Airlines and arrived just in time to see my Ai Myra and two of my favorite cousins, Matt-matt and Shoti Mark. Our itinerary is to tour Albany on the day of my arrival, and then pack up for Long Island the next day. This is pretty much the vacation/pleasure half of my stay in the US, so I made the most out of it by doing all of my sightseeing and shopping here. I soon realized that three days just isn't enough to tour and experience New York, but I managed to do 15 things before flying back home to the Philippines. . . .
When I'm on the road or visiting a different country, I don't take pristine photos of everything around me. I prefer to immerse myself in the experience of the travel, and just take snapshots of the place when something catches my eye or if there's some downtime in between moving. Maryland is no exception, but thanks to good friends and family, I managed to capture memories of the place that became sweeter because of their company. Here are my three significant Maryland experiences: . . .
As much as I hoped to reenact the famous opening scene of Hairspray on a beautiful Sunday morning, I ended up arriving at Dulles International Airport at 5:00PM in the evening. Philippine Airlines decided to wait a tad bit longer before taking off, causing me to miss my 21:28 San Francisco flight to Baltimore. Immigration check took long, baggage claim took longer, and so my flight bid me goodbye before I could get to it. I was frantic, scared, and alone. I didn't know what to do, who to go to, or where to go to get off the airport. I probably spent P2,000+ worth of data just calling my sister and Jayson for help. It was devastating for a first-time overseas flyer like me. . . .
Whenever I think of how I managed to get to where I am today, I always come to a close debate with myself. Am I here because Fate and Destiny promised this journey for me, or because I took control and action over my life? . . .