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? . . .
As soon as I got up from bed, I looked out the window to see if it had rained. The clouds were pretty grey, but the weather overall looked like it was going to be in our favor. I got some work done while Glaizee was still catching some shut-eye. I thought of where we could eat breakfast and managed to locate a cafe in Intramuros, our second stop and the highlight of our Manila trip, called Marso Cafe & Restaurant. . . .
October 2015—My good friend Glaizee and I decided to visit and tour Manila. More for her than me, since she hasn't seen much of Manila when she last visited. What luck that my trip to the US would land on the same weekend we'd be traveling. I had to make a couple of adjustments to my itinerary to make both fit, and thank the heavens it worked out in the end. . . .
Kissing my kids goodbye, I stepped into my shoes and got on the car with a nervous and heavy heart. I tell myself to be thankful though. I tell myself, 'Stef, this journey is meant for you. This is your gift. Step out into new land and make memories for yourself.' I'm heading off to Baltimore, Maryland and Albany, New York in the next two weeks, this being the first time I am ever flying out of the country alone. . . .