Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm Starting to Fell Like Mommy Now

High Frequency band ranges from 3 - 30 Mega Hertz. I've only known this fact for so long through school and some of its familiar application like the citizens' band and RFID among others. 

It's funny how a simple 6.7 MHz high frequency wave can make such a difference in my life though. Who knew it could trigger one thing that has been in deep slumber for some years now - my maternal instinct. I am referring to the earliest form of confirming the baby's presence and condition, a TVS ultrasound.

It was October 14, it's my 12th week pregnancy mark - finally, we can have our very first meet and greet session with our little fetus through that ultrasound. The feeling of seeing it and hearing its heartbeat was surreal! Here's the photo of our tiny one: 

So cute and so tiny!
During my 13th week, baby felt a little triskaidekaphobic and made me shed some few blood. It scared the hell out of me that I started crying. It panicked our whole household that they wanted to rush me to the nearest ER but I tried to keep it together so that I won't startle my baby. We waited for a clinic to open instead.The doctor said it could be due to one of many things such as lifting of heavy objects, stress and the scariest one, maternal or fetal abnormalities. I was advised to take a week-long bed rest and was given a set of medicines. It sucked but the couch potato in me somehow liked it, what choice do I have anyway? I tried to enjoy the mandatory vacation and indulged in some good US tv series like Arrow, The Flash and Gotham. Bleeding lasted for 3 days and after only 6 days of rest, I went back to my doctor for another ultrasound just to check. The baby made a little show for us. It started to move around actively as if trying to tell us that everything's fine. It was so active that the doctor had a hard time measuring its heart size. But by the looks of it, the doctor said it looks pretty normal-sized. Heartbeat's strong too. There's just one thing though, I have a low-lying placenta, which triggered the previous bleeding. It's still on an early stage though and it still can, hopefully, fix itself through time. I try not to worry too much about it since there's nothing I can't do about it anyway and negative emotion is a big no-no. I am just so happy we're both fine now.

Those are my recent ups and downs. That scary week made me and my husband a lot more attentive to our baby. We sing and talk to it more frequently now and we read it stories every night.  I'm on my second semester now, how time flies! I hope there would be no nerve-wracking episodes anymore and everything will just flow happily and smoothly!

***Sorry I had to address the baby as "it" for the meantime since it's still too early to tell its gender. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My First Trimester

I'm into my 12th week now and I can say I'm adjusting well to this new phase of my life. The first few weeks were nothing but weird though. Let me just share my random thoughts and experiences in my early stage of pregnancy.

* My first thought was not so mommy-ish, I was like "Omg, I'm breeding a growing human being inside me, isn't that a bit alien-like?"

* One of the things I was looking forward whenever I was thinking about pregnancy is being spared from monthly periods. Wrong. The mild nausea and cramps felt like I was about to have a bad period all day, every day for the first month. 

*The crying spells... UGH! I suddenly became the biggest drama queen in the world. There was this one time when I was watching Mean Girls on the television when I found myself welling in tears just because Cady confessed to Ms. Norbery that she wrote the burn book all by herself. Pathetic.

*I am blessed with a peaceful "paglilihi". There were no crazy craving requests, no morning throw-ups, no food aversions and any deranged habits. Food is my salvation, it makes my forget any incoming symptoms, plus it makes me happy. My husband made sure I am stuffed with everything I need. He's the greatest!

*I may be spared with morning sicknesses but my body still has some physical reactions to all the changes it is experiencing. For one, I am all of a sudden acidic. I hate it for I love eating spicy and fatty foods! Oh thank heavens for ginger tea for being the only remedy that works wonders.

*My hormones are raging. Everything I feel is heightened. Good thing I'm happy most of the time. I get annoyed quicker too. My tolerance for bullshit fell from low into dangerously low. Ugh, how could stupid people act like they know it all and think they could get away with it?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A New Adventure Awaits!

Years ago, people our age started getting pregnant. It didn't bother me, rather, I even felt proud of my choice of staying baby-free until I'm 100% sure I can handle it. Not that I'm weak or anything, I just wanted to be physically, emotionally and financially stable... you know the drill. 

Me and my partner wanted to achieve several milestones before even talking about having a baby. Our wedding is our first pride and joy. It was our blood, sweat and tears. It was beautiful. We did it for ourselves and not just because we wanted to start a family right away. It was just a beautiful union. 

We then explored places, ate fancy foods, invested, purchased both useful and useless stuff and basically just acted like a young couple. We're both carefree with nothing to worry about but ourselves. 

Bit by bit, people around us started to worry for us. 2 years have passed since our wedding and we've heard weird judgement toward us. Why aren't we having babies? Are we reproductively-challenged? Do we hate babies? Don't I want to ruin my slim figure?Are we that poor? Are we selfish bastards who rather circle the globe rather than fulfill our written destinies, a.k.a. breeding? It drove me nuts but we did not flinch. We will have it when we want it. 

Until the mid this year, we started feeling some new found affection for these small wriggly creatures. Suddenly, they're not that annoying anymore. The thought of having one is not a scary thought after all. Maybe our body clocks kicked us because after all, our deadline is my husband's 30th birthday. We should be contemplating about a baby by that time or there really is something wrong with us. First try is a fail. Then came second, then third then fourth. I was so close to giving up and just shelving the idea but the fifth try is a charm. I believe it was made in my birthday (Sorry, T.M.I.!).

It was the first of September when we officially found out. I was happy and overwhelmed at the same time. It was a new and bittersweet feeling. There was a feeling of a having a huge responsibility slammed onto my shoulders (or shall I say slammed into my belly? lol). There was also a feeling of privilege to be able to house another human being, literally inside me. 

So this blog has been my personal, wedding, travel journal and now it has a new identity - a mommy diary. I will try to document all my significant developments, insights and experiences. Good thing this baby is nothing but a good one to me. No morning sickness and all. We're getting along real fine as early as now, cool baby!

*Now just for the record, let me answer all those weird judgments that were thrown upon us:

Are we reproductively-challenged? - I feared the same thing but we don't wanna risk an unplanned pregnancy just to disprove this.
Do we hate babies? - No, just the poorly-bred bratty ones.
Don't I want to ruin my slim figure? - I guess that's every woman's goal but that didn't stop almost everyone from reproducing.
Are we that poor? - We are not rich but that's never the reason. I always believe God will provide so poverty is not an excuse in attaining our desires.
Are we selfish bastards who rather circle the globe rather than fulfill our written destinies, a.k.a. breeding? - That's an illogical argument. We can do both without having to sacrifice one. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Pale Blue Dot

Due to my favorite series' season break, I started watching The Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. It's a science-oriented documentary series, discussing the universe seen as an ordered whole and the people related in its research. It is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose major life works concentrates on astrophysics and physical cosmology.

Taking a technical course of electronics engineering, I love to think that I am a person of science. Seeing familiar names in this series like Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, William Herschel, James Clerk Maxwell and of course, Albert Einstein, made me feel a little bit relevant. On the other hand, learning how they viewed the world like a vast and endless cosmos, made me feel small and insignificant.

The 13th and final episode of this series concluded with Carl Sagan's narration. He was the original host and brain of this series' prequel. This narration was about his thought when they sent out the Voyager 1 into the space. Voyager 1 was on a one-way ticket when sent into space in 1977. It has 2 missions - one is to collect outer space data and the other is to contain earthling data in case other intelligent beings were able to find it. It will just float away in space unless other force acts upon it. Before exiting our solar system (border of Neptune), Carl Sagan suggested it should take a souvenir "family" portrait of our solar system. From that distance, our planet would only look like a pale blue dot. Carl's thoughts about this moved me: 

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Our Quick Subic Getaway

Sharing this noobish video that I edited. I just quickly stitched them together using the Go Pro Studio software. We went to Camayan Beach Resort in Subic Bay last May at a spur of the moment. We just wanted to try if our cute little car is able to drive this far and luckily, it did! 

*Best viewed in 720p HD.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bicol Escapade

Luxury of time - that's what we have on this 4-day journey. Us, being the always on-the-go type of travelers, can manage to squeeze in several stops in one day. With that, I managed to draft an itinerary where we get to explore the whole morning and slack the rest of the afternoon off. Here's what it looks like:

Day 1 - a whole day dedicated to relaxing, eating and just walking around the surroundings of the sea port. We tried the famous Bigg's Diner that night and I hate to say that we might have chanced upon their unsatisfactory night. It looked like they were understaffed. My husband already felt a little bit cranky because he had to follow up several times for a simple spaghetti to reach our table. We were told it would take around 10-15 mins for the pasta to cook up, but hey, it was almost an hour already. Oh my gosh, I'm ranting, sorry didn't mean to.

Day 2 - morning would be for Lignon Hill, Daraga Church and Cagsawa Ruins. Afternoon would be for a trip going to Donsol, Sorsogon and the rest of the day would just be for resting and walking around.

We arrived very early to catch the peak of Mayon. They say the peak is very elusive, I say there's a trick. Right after sunrise until around 9am, the peak is very generous in showing itself. From our inn, we rode a tricycle towards the hill's drop off point, fare is 70 Pesos. There's an entrance fee of 20 Pesos each but since we arrived before it even opened up, we were spared. We hiked the hill's peak together with local joggers. Mt. Mayon was not visible until you reach the other side of the hill. The moment I saw it, I was in awe. It was beautiful.

The view from Lignon Hill's peak.
After a quick rest, we descended and checked out another attraction inside the hill. Yes, inside. During the Japanese occupation, they dug holes on this very hill to make an intricate tunnel system. They used it to hide themselves in and to store ammunition. For a very minimal fee of 20 Pesos each, a guide toured us inside the tunnels. It was a bit creepy I guess.

We crawled inside that tiny opening.
Lignon Hill offered other activities too like zipline, hanging bridge and ATV ride. Ziplines, unless very unique, don't amuse me that much anymore.

It was still early in the morning when we hopped to our next destination. Legazpi's public transport is very efficient and people are very helpful that we were able to commute easily.

Daraga Churgh - the famous white-washed church

Cagsawa Ruins - a very post card kind of view :)
That concluded our morning. We then ate our lunch and packed our bags because we'll be on the move once again. We walked our way towards the terminal and rode a van going to Donsol, Sorsogon. Trip was around 2 hours and I can't remember how much the fare was (it's less than 100 Pesos, I'm sure).

We arrived at Donsol around 4pm. There aren't big hotels in Donsol, most accommodations are home-stays and dormitories. I specifically chose Aguluz Homestay because of its great reviews. We walked around town and observed the locals. They live a very simple life. We killed most of our time just sitting on one of the municipal hall's bench, watching some kids playing.

Day 3 - It was time for our most awaited Whaleshark interaction. Boat rental plus spotter fee costs 3500 Php for a maximum of 7 persons. We shared our boat with other tourists to cut the cost. We paid a separate 100 Php fee is for individual registration fees. *Random observation - I just noticed that ALL tourists were foreigners.* The tour was good for a 3-hour boat ride in which the boat will sweep the sea while the spotter finds any nearby whalesharks. Our hopes were up since it was a good season to find them. We searched and searched until our 3 hours passed by. I was in disbelief.. that was it? It was an awful expensive boat ride for nothing. I wasn't in a very good mood when we went back to the homestay. The owner, who is a charming old lady greeted us back and consoled our lowly spirits. She said she'll cook us a good lunch. She prepared a local specialty - pinangat na pagi (sting ray in coconut milk). It was a great food. We were about to leave after lunch when she asked us a favor. She wanted to give us a short seminar about some networking opportunity. Perfect! *sarcasm*. If there's one thing I loath more than an awkward human interaction is some forced awkward networking seminar. It burned an hour of our lives with something I couldn't care less. I politely smiled, gave her the ultimate rejection line of "We'll think about it" and left. It was 2 pm and the vans' last trip going to Legazpi City was also 2 pm. We were literally running when a very kind man gave us a ride on the back of his motorcycle. He was just a stranger who wanted to help and asked nothing in return. Thankfully because of him we were able to catch the last trip. Because of him, I still have a fond memory of Donsol even though we didn't see what we came to see. Because of him, my faith in humanity was restored. Suddenly, I wasn't in a very bad mood after all.

Day 4 - It was do or die. This day would decide if the whole trip was either a blast or just so-so. The whaleshark should have been the highlight of the whole trip but they were a no show so it all depended on this last activity - the ATV ride. Thankfully, it was intense!

We rode on rough terrains, drove up and downwards on 45 degree inclinations and even drove on shallow waters. It was bad ass and the reckless freak in me enjoyed every bit of it!

Right after our ATV ride, we ate and went right home. Luckily, Mayon volcano had a little treat for us - it's glorious peak showed as we ascended on to our flight. Awesome, just awesome!

To conclude, our Bicol escapade wasn't bad after all. Sure, we have other more memorable trips, but this one has its own charm. We were able to relax, meet some good people and eat our hearts out with new food finds. Mayon Volcano, with its mighty size and perfect cone, is a real charmer too. Next time, we'll be conquering the northern leg of Bicol region - Camarines Norte.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bicol Escapade - Prologue

Flashback to March 2012, exactly 2 years ago, me and my husband were rushing to the airport to catch our Manila to Naga flight. Due to some random unfortunate events, we ended up being late and to make the story short, our little Bicol escapade did not push through. 

March 2014, we found ourselves lining up to a ticket terminal in Araneta Bus Station. Call it trauma or whatever but I decided to take the bus going to Legazpi instead. Why not, we haven't tried that yet! And besides, the one we took was super comfy. I specifically chose Cagsawa Travel and Tour's Royal Elite bus due to its good reputation. Sure there are some with a more affordable price but having Tado's bus accident still fresh on the news, made me a little bit more careful and choosy. 

For 950 Pesos, this ride is not so bad at all. Look how wide their seats are. Leg room is also superb, I even reclined mine in a sleeping position without fearing that the person behind me will kick the back of my seat in annoyance. Each seat has arm and leg rests. And of course, the bus is equipped with WiFi. Manila to Legazpi is a supposed 12-hour ride. We left at 8pm and arrived at 7am. I slept peacefully until sunrise. 

Upon arrival, we walked around to find a good spot to eat breakfast. We found a nice eatery near the sea wall which served authentic local dishes. I am a fan of gata and spicy food so I had a feeling Bicolano dishes and I will get along. I was not wrong. I loved it!

After breakfast, we immediately walked towards RJM Apartelle. It's where we'll stay for 2 nights. It's a very decent yet affordable place which accepts check-ins at any random time of the day. Their 24-hour rate is just 650 Pesos, which is crazy, considering its convenient location and complete amenities. 

We both came with cough and colds and my husband's even feverish. We spent our first day resting, exploring around, eating, watching television and just mustering our strength. 

We observed and talked to locals that day and Bicolanos captured my heart. I think they're my second favorite people in the Philippines now (next to the Kankanaeys). They are very nice and humble people. Kids don't bug tourists around. In fact, we even seemed invisible to them. They're very disciplined too! Did you know that the whole Legazpi City is a smoking-free zone (and spit-free too)? They don't even have a little piece of smoking area somewhere near building exits. Tanods even roam around subdivisions to catch violators. Pretty amazing!

Our next three days were jam-packed with crazy commutes, misadventures and activities. Let me try to squeeze them in the next post! For now I'll leave you with my very first Mayon Volcano sighting whilst still inside the bus. I literally gasped with this one, it was just surreal!

A perfect mountain and a farm - doesn't this remind you of one of your childhood drawings?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ilocos Norte Day 2

Arghh, I've been putting off this entry for so long already, 2 months to be exact. That's the thing with packaged tours, you don't have much stories to tell. The travel company is great that's why everything's so convenient. I just want an exact concoction of comfort and adventure, that's why I love personalizing my own trip. I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong, I loved the whole trip, most especially the time I spent bonding with my parents and husband. I just don't think it's bloggable enough, if that's even a word. 

Having that said, let me just give you a photo journ of our days 2 and 3. Please don't get tired of my face.
The beautiful view in front of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.
Kapurpuruwan Rock Formations - of course, I wouldn't miss a silly/dangerous shot.
Bangui Windmills
30-minute easy trek going to the Kabigan Falls.
Blue Lagoon Beach - very pretty and wavy, uggh tempting!!
You see, we had a very jam-packed itinerary on that second day. I especially loved the rock formations since it was my first time seeing such. We spent the night on Saud Beach rather than the Blue Lagoon but no biggie, it was so cold anyway. I only got to swim for 30 minutes, what a rare event!

We left Pagudpud early in the morning to have an ample time for pasalubong-shopping. We stopped over a store somewhere in Laoag City so we bought loads of bagnet, sukang iloco and longganisa. We then had our luch in Vigan City before finally heading back home. We arrived in Pampanga around 9pm, oh what a long journey. I'm glad I'm done with that very long leg of North Luzon, I may have to take a plane if I needed to go back there :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Year-End Special

I've always been an advocate of DIY trips. I love love love researching, planning and booking. I handle my own itineraries up to the last bit of detail on transportation, accommodation and ticket. Reading the map, carefully following the researched routes and even getting lost are all part of my adventure. It what makes my travels more memorable. I love doing it for other people too.

My last trip was the test of it. I'll be travelling with my husband plus my parents. I really really wanted to scour the internet for some tips on how to manage an Ilocos Norte and Sur trip the most convenient way possible since there'll be the four of us. That northern leg of Luzon is a bit challenging since there are a lot of tourist spots that are miles and miles apart. I am about to enjoy the headaches of planning it when my father told me to just book a packaged tour. My heart sank upon hearing that. I felt restless not having to arrange anything. Then I realized, our target date is a long weekend which is just a few days away, the mere search for a legit and affordable package is a challenge itself. Challenge accepted!

True enough, I had a hard time finding an agency that still has 4 slots left. Then I found this agency called Byaheng-Pinas which offers various tours around Luzon. Luckily, Ms. Jane, their contact person, arranged something for us on the last minute. Transaction was very smooth. It was a 3 days and 2 nights tour.

Day 0 was a crazy busy day. I still had to wake up at 5am to work. At 10am, I logged out early to prepare for a friend's wedding. The wedding concluded at around 7pm. I had a quick nap before preparing again to leave by 9:30pm. We met our driver at 10pm at Dau bus terminal. It was a convenient arrangement. We're supposed to go to Manila to meet him but he agreed to pick us up instead. Having been awake since 5am, I slept like a baby all through out the 7-hour travel going to Vigan.

Day 1 began at 5am. We arrived at Vigan while it was still dark. We were given some free time to roam around Vigan Heritage Village. It was an interesting place. I specifically admired Calle Crisologos' beautiful cobblestones. This street's old feel is nicely preserved and/or restored. Sadly, my digicam was forced to a very high ISO due to darkness hence, poor quality photo. Oh well.

Well of course, I wouldn't miss having a photo on this famous seat.
At the Vigan Church
Bantay Bell Tower
We then proceeded to our next stop, Chavit Singson's Baluarte. I wasn't exactly hyped up to visit Chavit's property, after all, I am not a fan. All I know is that he's insanely rich and has some tigers and snakes in captivity. Maybe it's the animal-lover in me, but I genuinely enjoyed it upon seeing small horses, deer and my most favorite animal in the world, the llamas! Plus in all fairness to him, there were no payments required to any area and donations were even prohibited. I now think it's very generous of him to open up his place for the public's amusement.

Well hello there cutie Llama :)
That concluded our Ilocos Sur leg. It was still early in the morning when we left Vigan City to proceed to Paoay. I was particularly excited at this point, I knew Marcos' Museum is next. I am a fan of Marcos, I think he's a genius. If only his regime continued (well of course if he hadn't got sick), we're a first world country now. That's just what I think, I'm no expert so don't start a debate on me. So there we saw his actual preserved remains. Photography is prohibited, bummer. Near his mausoleum is a museum of his photos, features and memorabilia. It was very interesting.

After a quick lunch at a local eatery, we proceeded to the famous Paoay Church. Old churches are very interesting and photogenic. That drives tourists to rather have a photo shoot than to actually pray. I'm sometimes guilty too, of course.

Beautiful Baroque Architecture
After this quick stop, we found ourselves agreeing to join the optional 4x4 ride going to the sand dunes. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Fee is not included in the tour. It costs 2500 Php, sand boarding equipment included. That will be further split up into 5, which is the capacity of the 4x4 vehicle. My father, having been used to sand dunes all his life in Saudi Arabia, decided not to go. Two of the friends we've met during the tour decided to split the fee with us. Cool, it's a go then!

Okay, this is hard, I wish I could give justice to the whole experience in a form of writing. It was a one hell of an experience! We road the 4x4, not knowing what to expect. All I knew was it'll be used to navigate the sand dunes going to the sand boarding area. Wrong! It was used as a roller coaster! We rolled down on dunes that were as high as a house on a very high speed. We were standing, clinging on to the bars, without harnesses or anything. Our lives depended on our grip. The danger is real. One wrong slip and the momentum could easily throw me out like a piece of rock. We were laughing and screaming all through out. It was totally the highlight of this trip!

Very strong vehicle indeed!
Genuinely happy!

Feeling nervous that my clumsy body will fail on me.

Sliding gracefully down this very long path. Success!
Sand boarding was a very cool experience. I never knew I had that balance within me. After some rounds, we rode our trusted 4x4 and had the second round of adventure! We had a quick stop at a nearby beach by the way. What an all-in-one experience!

After this adrenaline-pumping experience, we proceeded to a more laid-back stop, The Malacanang of the North. It was where Marcos lived during his regime whenever he's in Ilocos Norte, very interesting and educational indeed. It was a lovely place too, the balcony overlooks the Paoay Lake. I guess with that serene view, ruling an entire country will be a little less difficult.

There we also ate the famous empanada. It was okay, especially the sukang Iloko. Okay, honestly, I wasn't crazy about it. Maybe some places had better versions?

With our sore bodies from a seemingly endless road trip and adventures, we moved even further up north to rest on a decent hotel in Laoag City. I took a bath, had dinner then slept at 8pm. I think that's the earliest sleep I ever had, as in ever!

Day 2 will follow soon.