Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reunited with Tito Ninong Ryan

If there's one thing I feel bad for Nathan, it's the fact that he will grow up without a 'family' around. Kami lang kasing tatlo ng Daddy niya sa Canada eh. That is why I am happy whenever he gets reunited with the closest members of our family.

March 22, 2018 (Thursday). It was an unexpected meet-up actually. Ford's only brother, who is based in Qatar, came home here in Pinas to pay respects to his father-in-law who suddenly passed away. We, of course, went to the wake so TanTan was able to see his Tito Ninong Yanyan  after more than two years.

I was totally surprised because the little boy was instantly comfortable with his uncle. He's normally shy kasi to boys and it takes time before he adjusts to their presence. Pero sa Tito Ninong niya, sumunod agad siya nang kinandong siya. Walang resistance. It probably helped that I explained to him long before pa that Tito Ryan is Belle's dad (he knows his cousin Belle so well). Wala pa kasi siyang concept ng sibling kaya hindi niya ma-gets na kapatid ng daddy niya iyon.

It probably helped also that Tito Ryan resembles his dad! When I asked him kung kamukha ba ng daddy niya si Tito Ryan, yes daw.

The last time they saw each other was in February 2016, when Ryan and his family (plus Ford's parents and sister who are based in California) came over to our place in Edmonton for a 3-weeek vacation.

It was a short reunion that only lasted for two hours but I am glad that my boy now has a memory of Tito Ryan. One year old pa lang kasi nga siya noong huli silang magkita. Ngayon maaalala na niya at hindi makakalimutan (he never forgets, I am telling you). Sayang nga kasi once lang sila nagkita because Ryan had to go back to Qatar na after the funeral. Anyway, I am hoping na matuloy ang pinaplanong family reunion soon.

Minsan nga lang I wonder, ang saya siguro kung nandito lang kaming lahat sa Pinas. Ang dalas siguro naming magkita-kita and Nathan and his cousin Belle will constantly be surrounded by grandparents and uncles and aunts who love them. Nakakainggit din kasi kapag nakakakita ako sa Facebook ng malalaking families na palaging may outings o celebrations. How come may families na walang naga-abroad? Haha.

Cousins born two months apart

Returning I-94

We were supposed to fly back to Canada on April 13, 2018 but because we already bought a house and we're just waiting for September so we could move in, we decided to just extend our stay here in the Philippines. Tutal nandito na rin lang kami. You see, Nathan doesn't want to go back to Canada na hehe. He loves it here, where there's so much space for him to play and lots of people to "entertain" him. Ako naman ayaw ko ng bumalik sa apartment namin haha. Kung pwede nga lang bang sa August na kami bumalik sa Canada eh, kaso I can't stay here longer than six months.  Si husband naman, though miss na miss na ang anak, naisip that he'll be able to save a lot pa in the two months that we'll extend here kaya pumayag na rin. Marami kasi kaming gastos na haharapin come September kaya kailangan magtipid lol.

Anyway, after rebooking our return flight (na walang any fees, fortunately!), Ford reminded me to surrender the Form I-94 that's been stapled on my passport. Kasi nga May 3, 2018 ang expiration kaya hindi na ako aabot. Kaloka, it took me a month to mail it kasi tinamad talaga akong gawin.

Ooops by the way, ang US Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 (or Arrival/Departure Record) is issued to tourists entering the US via land border ports of entry. 

If you live in British Columbia, para kasing part na talaga ng buhay mo ang regular na pagko-crossborder sa Washington. Ang dali lang if you are a Canadian citizen kasi dadaan ka lang sa toll booths tapos ipapakita ang passport mo. But for Canadian permanent residents, medyo hassle ng kaunti. Kasi every 6 months, we would have to go through the immigration process pa and pay USD6.00 fee. Sa immigration, may konting interview portion tapos picture-taking and finger printing churvah. Then they will issue na an I-94 that is valid for 6 months. Kapag meron kang ng valid na I-94 sa passport mo, next time na magcrossborder ka eh dadaan ka na lang din sa booth at hindi na bababa. My husband (who is a Canadian citizen already) would always tease me na ang hassle ko raw isama sa US kasi nga kelangan pang dumaan sa immigration at magbayad. Liability daw ako lol!

Anyway, my recent I-94 was issued on November 4, 2017 when we went to California to visit my in-laws. We crossed the border kasi sa Seattle-Tacoma International Airport kami lumipad. Ang mahal kasi kung sa Vancouver Airpot kasi bale international flight na yun, tapos tatlo pa kami. Kaya sulit na rin kahit na magdrive kami ng 2 1/2 hours going to Seattle dahil malaki talaga ang natipid namin.

We went back to Canada on November 14, 2018 and hindi na uli kami nakabalik ng US after that kaya nasa akin pa ang I-94 ko. We thought of returning it talaga pagbalik sana namin ni Nathan sa Canada by April, kaso nga hindi na aabot dahil sa vacation extension namin dito.

So to correct my records in their system at nang hindi ako maka-experience ng problema sa future travels ko in the US, ayun nga at binalik ko na sa kanila yung Form I-94 via registered mail (na binayaran ko ng Php175.00). Sana makarating huhu.

Nga pala, I wrote a letter to them explaining my situation (kung bakit nasa akin pa nga yung I-94) together with some "evidences" of my departure in the US. Kailangan talaga ng proper documentation. In my case, ang pinaka-strong evidence ko ay yung boarding passes ng flights ko (pauwi dito last January) at yung stamp of arrival in the Philippines sa passport. Enough proof na siguro yun na hindi ako nag-overstay in the US.

I kept a copy of the letter and documents that I mailed to them that I will bring the next time we cross the border. Naku, kakabahan ako for sure. Sana walang maging problema kasi sa Seattle (Tukwila) lang may Jollibee na malapit, I cannot live long without chickenjoy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Roadlink's 10th Anniversary Celebration (2018)

Our tourist bus company Roadlink Travel and Tours, Inc. turned 10 last April 11, 2018 (Wednesday). A lot of things have happened in our family the past few years but I am grateful because Roadlink continued to be the source of Mamoosh's pride and entertainment (now that she's living 'alone').

A brief background --  Our family started operating EDSA city buses in December 1995. In 2001, we finally were able to get our own franchise so the parentals established a company named Royal Star Transport, Inc. A few years after that, my father learned about tourist bus operations so he began acquiring tourist buses (which we operated under Royal Start). In 2008, we bought a tourist bus franchise and thought of establishing a new and separate company that will cater exclusively to private tours. Hence, Roadlink was born.

We sold our city buses in November 2012 and decided to just concentrate on the more lucrative and less-stressful tourist buses. I was already married then and about to migrate in Canada already. My parents were not young anymore and my only brother will be the only one to take-over the business once I am gone. Kaya ok na na isang company na lang ang i-maintain namin.

However, after so many years of tumultuous marriage, my mother finally kicked my philandering father out of our house in 2014. And in 2015, because of my major fight with his married live-in partner (who's the most evil person I've met, I swear!), it was my brother naman who left our house, our mother, and Roadlink (he took several buses and a franchise with him). Hence, my then 68-year old mother had to take over everything (sa Canada na kasi ako nakatira noon at may anak na). But with the help of our loyal employees, she's proven that she can do it even without us. Ayan nga at 10 years na ang Roadlink.

That's the reason why I couldn't let April 11, 2018 pass without a celebration, no matter how simple it may be. Ang sabi ko nga kay Mamoosh, yung ibang bagay nga napaghahanda namin, iyon pa bang nagbibigay sa amin ng kabuhayan? My mother kasi is very simple, wala siyang hilig sa mga parties. Hindi naman siya kuripot, talaga lang wala siyang hilig sa mga pabonggahan. Pero ako naniniwala that occasions are there for a reason - para tayo makapagreflect at makapagpasalamat.

At first, I planned on just treating all our employees sa isang buffet restaurant dito sa Bulacan. But we later realized that it's impossible to gather all of them in one place at a given time. Scattered kasi sila. Yung iba nasa biyahe, nasa garahe, nasa gas station, etc. Peak season din kasi ng tours ngayong summer so everyone is busy (at iba-iba ang schedule), hindi ko pwedeng hilahin sila, say lunch time para sabay-sabay kaming kumain. Marami rin kasing rush na trabaho, lalo na sa maintenance ng mga buses na bibiyahe the following day/s. Tapos malalangis pa sila kasi nga gumagawa sa bus, kaya sobra silang mahahassle kung iinterrupt ko.

So I told Joanne (our trusted overall admin staff) na sa bahay na lang kami maghanda ng merienda. Kahit ano lang, basta may cake lang to celebrate a milestone for our dear Roadlink. Ang sabi ko itext na lang niya lahat ng employees na pumunta sa amin kung gusto nila, no pressure.

We just bought a cake na lang from Red Ribbon. Buti na lang blue ito kasi blue ang color ng Roadlink.

And prepared some ihaw-ihaw. (Sorry naman sa high-tech na ihawan namin, palpak kasi yung talagang ihawan kaya nag-improvise na lang lol).

That's my famous pork barbeque haha!

 Then Joanne cooked spaghetti, request ng isang driver namin na ayaw ng pancit haha.

Super simple lang talaga.

But my little boy was so happy na kasi may cake, makakapag-blow siya ng candle haha.

Only three of our employees came. Yung mga mekaniko, nahihiya ng pumunta kasi marumi raw (kasi nga naggawa ng bus), alanganin kung magbibihis pa sila at babalik kasi sobrang traffic dahil ginagawa ang kalsada malapit sa garahe namin. Yung ibang drivers, nasa biyahe. Yung iba pang drivers, nasa mga bahay nila (kasi nga walang biyahe). Oh well, at least nasabihan naman sila.

Buti na lang may iba pa kaming bisita -- si Tita Oya (Mamoosh's only living sibling na palagi namang nandito) and Raxie (my BFF na talagang pupunta sa amin that day, natapat lang na may chibugan).

Many of our buses are parked in gas stations (malayo kasi ang garahe namin at ginagawa pa ang kalsada kaya mas gusto na ng mga drivers na doon mamalagi at tumambay) so we decided to pack some food para sa mga employees doon. Pakisama saka syempre sharing of blessings.

So there, nairaos din kahit pano. Haha, pero ang sabi ko next time eh ayaw ko na maghanda sa bahay talaga. Sa totoo lang, sa napakakonting pagkain na yan, grabe naging pagod naming lahat haha. Mas mura at madali pa kung kumain/nagpakain na lang kami sa Jollibee o tapsilog lol!

Happy 10th year, Roadlink! Maraming salamat kasi hindi mo kami pinababayaan ni Mamoosh. Mahal ka namin!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Lalin's Birthday Treat (2018)

February 18, 2018 (Sunday). We were supposed to do an early morning picnic at Quezon City Memorial Circle (Lalin will bring all the food) but we changed plans the last minute. There's no way that Raxie and I could make it before 9am so masyado ng mainit. Kaya yun, kain na lang daw sa new favorite mall ko -- UP Town Center.

I told my friends that I can only go/drive to Manila on Sundays kaya naging linggo na talaga ang meet-ups namin.

We were the first to arrive so pinakain muna namin si TanTan sa Jollibee (kasi chickenjoy lang ang gusto nyang kainin kainis). I brought our kasambahay Ate Charry nga pala kasi na-trauma ako the last time I met up with my girls na kami lang ni TanTan. It was so hard! Grabe ang pagod at hirap ko kasi nga ako lahat.

I was thankful because his Ninang Atty. Mels brought something for him that would keep him busy the whole day.

We didn't want to pressure Lalin into spending a lot for us (she's the breadwinner of her family) kaya ayos lang samin ang Rodic's tapsilog. Ang importante magkasama-sama lang kami. But she insisted that we look for a nicer place naman. Raxie suggested Silantro. Sakto naman because Mels wanted to try their food din daw.

Sobrang puno ang restaurant. I didn't expect that we'll wait for almost an hour to be seated. Ang tagal naming tumayo sa labas. Medyo tinotopak na nga rin si Nathan dahil sa inip.

Finally, nakaupo rin! We were all starving!

Truly a "cantina-style."

Here's their menu. Very concise. At affordable nga.

We had...

Beef Nachos


Grilled Pork Chops

Grilled Marlin

Silantro's Pork Ribs


We liked the food, medyo bitin nga lang because we were all very hungry haha! Hindi na kami nag-order ng additional kasi ang tagal mag-antay eh. I think Lalin only paid around Php1,600. Not bad at all. I want to bring my husband there kapag nagbakasyon siya sa Pinas.

As usual, direcho sa Starbucks after kumain.

While lining up, ito ba naman ang nakita ko -- my two favorite cakes in Starbucks! Waaaah! Pero talagang tiniis kong hindi mag-order hay. #ihateyoudiabetes

My girls with my boy, such a pleasant sight.

Haha, hindi payag ang anak ko na wala siya sa picture.

I am so happy whenever I am with my friends. They are my people. We don't see each other as much as before, but I know they're just there.

Ooops by the way, nakahabol pa ako sa Starbucks planner! Haha, nag-extend kasi sila ng promo duration. Special thanks to Raxie!

And because katatapos lang ng Valentine's Day, Atty. Mels gave us a little gift. We would always give gifts to each other kasi dati kapag araw ng mga puso. Medyo na-guilty nga kami kasi hindi namin naalala haha. Among us, si Mels talaga ang mahilig magbigay ng kung anik-anik.

Thanks, pare ko! =)
So there, another birthday has been celebrated. I am looking forward to two more birthday treats before I leave -- Mich's (super late na kasi last November pa ang birthday niya) and Mels' (sa July pa ang birthday niya pero iaadvance na niya habang nandito pa ako).

I love you, my girls!

Swim time at home

Ang init init na sa Pinas! Nag-fullblast na ang init after Holy Weeek at parang gusto ko ng magsisi sa page-extend namin dito haha. Ang sabi ko pa naman last year, hinding-hindi na ako magsa-summer dito, kaso eto olats! Sapul na sapul namin ang buong tag-init kalurkey!

Anyway, I am so sorry for the lack of posts for the past month. I have no excuse, sadyang tinamad lang ako. Parang wala lang kasi akong masulat, ewan ko ba. Pero I am back at magkukwento na uli ako.

We were in SM BF Paranaque last April 7, 2018 (Saturday) to attend my friend's son's birthday Party in Vikings. We were such early birds so tambay muna sa mall. Nagawi kami sa area na ito and I saw how excited my son was upon seeing so many inflatable pools. Bigla kong naisip, ba't nga ba hindi ko bilhan nito ang anak ko? Meron siya kasing maliit na inuwi namin last year na once nya lang nagamit kasi nagka-ubo siya after. Since then, hindi ko na siya pinasawsaw sa tubig. Yep, 3 years and 5 months na siya pero hindi pa siya talaga nakakapagswimming. Hindi kasi kami mahilig ng asawa ko sa swimming (saka taga-Canada kami at walang paliguan masyado), that's why.

I saw somewhere in IG na mura ang pools sa Shopwise kaso hindi na kami nakadaan after the party kasi ginabi na kami. Kaya sa SM Marilao na lang ako bumili the following day.

I chose this swimming pool kasi malapad siya at hindi malalim, perfect for a toddler. Fifty percent off daw kaya Php2,000 na lang (pero feeling ko yun naman talaga ang regular price). Ayos naman ang price, ang problema Php1,000 electric air pump waaah! No choice naman ako kaya pikit-mata ko na ring binili.

In addition, I bought some floaters din and goggles for Nathan.

Ang dami-daming bumibili ng pools! Sa sobrang init ba naman!
Syempre atat agad ang bagets na gamitin ang pool. Medyo nakakanerbyos lang ang dami ng tubig na kailangang ilagay kasi nga ang mahal nun kaso sige na nga rin, hindi lang naman kami ang may inflatable pool sa bahay lol.

This is Nathan's very first swim wear. Ang mahal rin pala ng mga ganitong panligo ng bata. Parang Php800 yata ang bili namin dito sa SM Store.

The little boy was so happy! He was so thankful sa akin for buying him daw a pool. Super sulit ang pagkabili ko kasi sabi ko nga kay Mamoosh (I had to justify it to her lol!) hindi naman kami naga-outing noh. Dito lang talaga kami sa bahay kapag summer. Hindi nga rin kasi ako mahilig talaga lumabas dahil sa sobrang init. Saka talagang hindi ko trip ang mga swimming swimming na ganyan. Pang-indoor lang talaga ang beauty ko.

Ang ironic nga kasi we are so busy kapag summer dahil we rent out tourist buses (yun ang family business namin dito sa Pinas) pero kami mismo hindi nga naga-outing. Haha, boring kami!

By the way, syempre join din ako kay Nathaniel sa pool kasi nga malaki naman. Nag-enjoy din ako kasi nga ang init at masarap magtampisaw sa tubig. At dahil bihirang-bihira kaming tumambay sa second floor balcony ng bahay namin, feeling ko nasa ibang lugar na rin ako hehe.

Mental note -- enroll him to a swimming class soon!

What a fun bonding activity for us! =)

May kulang two months pa kami rito sa Pinas so masusulit pa talaga ang pool na ito. The past nights, puro night swimming ang ginawa ni TanTan. Wala kasing bubong sa balcony grabe ang init kapag hapon (we wake up at noon so hindi pwede ang early morning swimming).

Another mental note -- buy more swim wears for the little boy haha!

Haha, for sure sobrang laki ng water bill ni Lola! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Goodbye, Old Casa Blanco.

Now that we're moving to a new home, my husband told me: "O ayan makaka-move on ka na sa dati nating bahay." 

Admittedly, whenever I feel depressed kasi with our current living situation, palaging yung dati naming townhouse ang bukang-bibig ko. Hindi nga talaga ako maka-move on. Half of my heart wanted to go back to Edmonton, where we can afford an even bigger dwelling (yung hindi lang townhouse). Hanggang wala kaming bagong bahay sa BC, feeling ko hindi pa kami talaga taga-doon.

Ngayon I can finally say goodbye to our old house. Our first home in Canada.

Ang since it's throwback Thursday, allow me to post pictures of our Edmonton townhome. Para na rin may reference kami someday. Saka para makita ni Nathan later on (since this blog is my personal diary/journal na rin).

These were the official photos used by our Realtor in selling the house. He commissioned a professional photographer to take the shots. We decluttered the house syempre before the photoshoot kaya ganyan.

FRONT EXTERIOR. Ours was an end unit.

FRONT DOOR. Bad daw sa Feng Shui ang stairs facing the door, kaso naisip ko hindi naman kami Intsik haha. 

LIVING ROOM. We had a very spacious living room. It's good though that I wasn't able to put up yet the photo frames that I was collating for that huge blank wall.

Yes, I love white. Our new place will be white again.

DINING AREA. That bench will always be memorable to us haha. It cost us $900, would you believe?

KITCHEN. It might be 'small' but I learned to cook from there.

POWDER ROOM. I loved this room. It was so big.

MASTER BEDROOM.  Our first room as a family.

The door on the right side was for the closet. 

MASTER BATHROOM. It wasn't that big but the size was just perfect for me.

GUEST ROOM. Several visitors have stayed in this room in less than three years that we lived in that house.

MY "ME" ROOM. My favorite place in that house. I was thankful to the husband for giving this to me.

That white couch is a bed, too.

MAIN BATHROOM. This was Nathan's.

BALCONY. This big balcony compensated for our lack of backyard.

I will always remember lots of barbecue sessions that took place here.

GARAGE. It was deep and spacious.

BACK EXTERIOR. Simple but functional.

Now it's really time to move forward. Wag nga raw dapat magpaka-attached sa bahay sa North America kasi hindi naman yan forever sa iyo o sa pamilya mo. Pero sadyang senti lang talaga akong tao siguro.

In the coming months, about New Casa Blanco na ang ipo-post ko. Excited na ako.