Tag Archives: family

The unexpected break

I was supposed to start my new teaching job on the first of February, but because of delays in the new school’s construction, I had an unexpected two-week break.

I urgently needed to start working, but I figured God had His reasons for allowing the delay. On hindsight, I am nothing but grateful. For one, I got to spend more time with my girls. That in itself would have made the two weeks worth it.

But God had more in store. I was able to take one day to have lunch with a bunch of single ladies at my alma mater. And then, that same afternoon, an impromptu dinner of ribs and nachos at a new resto in Kapitolyo—with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Two days later—a Saturday—my friend Marie treated me to a mani-pedi for the very simple reason that she didn’t want to be on her own when she had her nails done. How delightful! To top off all these simple joys, I was able to attend a three-day retreat. And that helped me view many things in their proper perspective. The retreat likewise gave me a short breather from my two girls. (Ever since I became a mom, I always tagged along my nursing child. This time around, it was just me…and I was so happy!)

The unexpected break brought many surprise blessings. A delay in my plans, yes, but not according to Him…

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Preggy Belly Tale #1: The Third Time Around!

Last month, my period came four days late. But when I took a pregnancy test, it was negative. False alarm! This month, my period came late again (although I had a good inkling this was no longer a false alarm). When I took the test, it immediately showed just one line (read: negative). “Go back to sleep, Jack. It’s negative again.” I tossed it on the bed, and left my room to munch on fries with my girls.


Twenty minutes later, Reese and Cate bolted into our room and saw the pregnancy test. They ran to it. Reese snatched it up, and they both studied it with interest. “Mom, what’s this?” When I looked at it again, it already had the two lines! Positive. “Jack, wake up! It’s positive!!!” We suddenly felt giddy (dizzy?), like first-time parents again. Reese: “What is it, Mom? What is it?” Me: “Sssh, we’re going to have another baby. But don’t tell the nannies first.”

When we went to my doctor two days later, however, she made us retake the test. And it mysteriously showed a negative result. Hmmm… either I really wasn’t pregnant (I also actually showed no symptoms) or it was just too early in the pregnancy.

Easter Sunday, I still didn’t have my period. So, we decided to take the test again. This time, positive!!! Two very strong lines. And so begins my third preggy adventure…

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Current status: I’m in a food-state of mind

Next week is Holy Week, and for Catholics, it’s the climax of religious worship. But because most of us aren’t at work, we’d usually go home to our provinces or go out of town. Either way, Holy Week is not only a matter of worship, but also a time to be with family.

I used to remember when we’re little kids Good Friday is about food and new clothes. Because my mom would often say that you’re attending the funeral of Jesus, wear something decent. And all our relatives will be coming home for vacation therefore we always prepare delicious food for them.

Ever since I started cooking, I’ve been planning our Holy Week menu. We’ve managed to veer away from meat—anyway, it’s only on Good Friday that there’s fasting and abstinence—but still couldn’t avoid but to over-cook, just in case an unannounced visitor suddenly comes to our house.

Here are some suggestions for your Holy Week Menu… and some great finds that you could try for the first time… (These are not just exclusive to Catholics only)

  1. Fresh Lumpia – If I have time, I make my own “pabalat”-it’s just a mixture of corn starch, egg and water- but “hubad na lumpia” is also acceptable. Try doing a shrimp and fillet of fish version instead of the usual ground pork or chicken. In Pampanga, we accompany our fresh lumpias with osyo. It’s a brown sauce made of flour, soy sauce, water and a lot of fresh garlic.
  2. Kare-Kare – I love this dish. For ordinary Kare-Kare, we use pata ng baboy. It’s soft and chewy. But on big occasions, I prefer using oxtail instead of ox tripe. It takes awhile for the oxtail to become tender, but if you have a pressure cooker, then you can use that too. Invest in a good brand of peanut butter because if it’s good, a little goes a long way. Don’t forget the bagoong. I have Spanish friends who eat Kare-Kare with fish sauce. It’s just not the same! I sauté the bagoong in lots of garlic and oil, I sometimes put a teaspoon of sugar, cayenne pepper or siling labuyo just liven its taste.
  3. Salted Egg flavored Ice Cream – Yes, it exists and it tastes darn good. It’s not too salty, actually it tastes a lot cheese, but the texture is different. It’s made to order, if you want I can recommend someone who makes it, just in case you’re interested in tasting it.
  4. Bringhe – It’s like the Filipino take on Paella. But instead of a tomato sauce, we use turmeric, that’s why we end up with yellowish colored rice. My mom taught me to put in the liver when it’s about to be fully cooked, or else it’ll just melt the liver instead of biting chunks of it.
  5. Ginilo – Our grandmothers have their own takes on this old Filipino drink. In our family, we’re used to sago, gulaman, fresh coconut milk with sugar then top it off with pinipig crunch.
  6. Dinuguan and puto/ kutsinta – My heritage on my mom’s side is all about food. I was exposed to Kutsinta, Tamales, Puto, halo-halo at a young age. No matter how good the Dinuguan is, we always look forward to pairing it with Puto. For beginners, use spare ribs. Cut them into small pieces.

No matter what you serve your family this coming week, make sure you don’t so stressed in the kitchen. It will reflect on the food you cook. Believe me, a happy cook serves great dishes.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Continuing the dating game

Many couples tend to relegate their “couple status” to the back burner once the kids start coming. Jack and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and I have found that we have had to very deliberate about our couplehood, so that it stayed on top-of-mind for the two of us.

It’s not that married couples don’t want to spend time together anymore. It actually has more to do with the demands of parenthood. One child gets sick, another one is having a tantrum… First child gets well, the other child catches the virus. The yayas nowadays come and go at lightning speed. Husband and wife are often just trying to keep pace with the daily mishaps that crop up. Before they realize it, the month has passed, and they have not managed to go out on even one true-blue date.

What can we wives do to get back into the “dating game”? (And I speak to the wives because I believe the women carry the tone of the relationship… or at least, women read up more on relationships!)

  1. Don’t always expect to be surprised by your husband. Before life takes over, sync your calendar with your husband’s, and set your dates.
  2. Pencil in your dates, but don’t break your heart if plans change. Be flexible, especially if your husband has to deal with urgent matters at work. But, make sure to reschedule that canceled date.
  3. While on your date, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS! I learned this from a book I read to prepare me for the birth of my second child. The author devoted a short section to “protecting the marital thread” (as having another child always turns a couple’s world upside down). She specifically gave this tip. Couples should make the deliberate effort to focus on each other. Talk about things that you learned at work, new interests you want to pursue, challenges that you have in the office. Anything about YOU!
  4. Last, but not least, don’t give in when your kids cry as they see you leave for your date. They will be thankful later on when they see their parents continue to be happily married to each other. When they shriek and beg you to stay home—or worse, beg to join you!—be firm. State what time you’ll be home and why you’re heading out. “Friday night is time for Mom and Dad to spend time together.”

Ironically, switching off the “parent mode” for a few hours every week has helped Jack and me become more effective and happier parents. And the wonders, of course, that dating has done for our marriage. Getting married does not excuse couples from continuing to play the dating game!

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Pre-Valentine brunch… Korean Style

I’m the kind of girl who thinks that Valentine’s Day is overrated. It just feels like everybody is forced to be sweet and extra generous on this “special” day. I appreciate it more when I receive gifts randomly, just because that person thought of me that day. I don’t need an assurance on the 14th of February that someone loves me or is thinking of me.

Our pre-Valentine brunch

But my family finds this as an excuse to get together and dine outside. Any excuse to be able to dress up and eat in a fancy place is always good on my book. So we decided to eat at our favorite Korean restaurant. Disclaimer: I’m not mocking this special day, because I know a lot of people are really looking forward to this, but my family and I are game on anything so we all wore red that day.

I love Korean food. Actually, I love spicy food, but contrary to popular belief, not all Korean food is spicy. And even if it’s spicy, you can still taste the different ingredients in it. My favorite part in eating Korean food is that they have tofu in almost all their dishes. I love tofu. It literally melts in your mouth.

I like Sundubu-jjigae, which is spicy stew with soft tofu. I love how it’s served in traditional clay pot and it’s really piping hot. I like having it with rice and some kimchi. Of course, Korean food wouldn’t be complete with their array of side dishes, including the famous kimchi.

My mom likes Japchae, but we didn’t order it because we often eat stir-fried noodles. We opted for the clear beef broth with transparent noodles. It’s good in clearing the palate, especially when you’re eating spicy and oily food.

I would’ve loved some Tukbokki but they don’t offer it (I wonder where I can buy my own rice cakes so that I’ll just cook it myself when I feel like having some!). Bulgogi is an all-time favorite of my family. We always order it, as Pansit is always ordered whenever we eat in Chinese restaurants. I know, it’s just four of us in the family, but we love to eat.

And for our protein, grilled pork wrapped in lettuce leaves. I don’t know how much lettuce leaves we consumed that day but it was so delicious. I don’t get it? I grill pork belly all the time, but the taste is different. Maybe because of all the side dishes, and the dipping sauce, but grilled meat is something to look forward to when you crave for Korean food.

We’re too full to even order dessert, so we decided to walk it off and do some grocery shopping. Lunch was not just about the food but also the company that made it so much fun. So, maybe I do celebrate Valentine’s day, if that means spending it with the ones you love.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

The Prize Winner in CJH, Baguio

Back in February, I attended a PLDT Bossings event and won the best prize ever: a three-day, two night stay in Camp John Hay! Call me a geek, but the first thing that came to my mind was that I could work on my thesis in Baguio 😉 Nerdy me finally scheduled a thesis-writing weekend on the last week of March.

But even if I had every inclination to make this a solo trip, I wasn’t about to waste the prize. The room I was given could take a maximum of four people! So I went ahead and brought along the most obvious companions—mom and dad.

Speaking of mom and dad, here they were right after we arrived at the hotel:

Mom and dad sleeping in our deluxe room at The Suites
Mom and Dad knocked out from the trip

They’re really the perfect paper-writing companions. As you can see, I don’t have much of a problem asking them to leave me alone 😀 I unpacked our stuff in the most OC way and fled the scene to scout the area.

We were billeted in The Suites because The Manor was full. But this hotel was equally world-class:

The Suites bathroom fixtures The Manor stuff at The Suites Hallway at The Suites

Here’s the very relaxing lobby area:

Lobby, The Suites Lobby, The Suites Lobby, The Suites Lobby, The Suites

and how it looks from outside:

The Suites at Camp John Hay The Suites at Camp John Hay Entrance of the Suites at Camp John Hay

The hotel experience was so wonderful that I’d go back when I could afford it. I was surprised to find out later that they give a 50% discount during the yearly rainy season, so that’s probably my chance!

I went to the proverbial Mile-Hi, where I spent the rest of that afternoon and where we would eat most of our meals during this trip. The Manor’s restaurant, Le Chef, is very famous but the prices are beyond us. Mile-Hi and the Filling Station (farther down the road) were our meal stops.

Cordillera coffee Liempo Longganisa with garlic rice Beef with broccoli

We wanted to try Chocolate de Batirol but it wasn’t open when we went 😦

Chocolate de Batirol signage Chocolate de Batirol Chocolate de Batirol

And to take advantage of the relaxing air in Baguio, I went around taking photos of the scenery:

135.JPG 146.JPG 136.JPG 197.JPG  025.JPG 018.JPG 183.JPG 221.JPG

We also visited two churches:

1. Baguio Cathedral

Baguio Cathedral Baguio Cathedral Baguio Cathedral

2. St. Joseph Church

St. Joseph Church, Baguio St. Joseph Church, Baguio


And the thesis? No photos. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything done 😛

Outing to Bato Springs (San Pablo, Laguna)

Note: This blog post is a review. If you’d like to post an inquiry for Bato Springs Resort, kindly send them an email at batospringsresort@gmail.com.

Man-made waterfalls beside a pool
Man-made waterfalls beside a pool

I’ve been to many resorts in Laguna, but this one really stands out. Amidst the lush landscape of Bato Springs are pools that aren’t your usual tile-lined vats of chloroform–the walls are made of stone and the floors of cement, allowing them to blend into the surroundings as if they were natural springs. One refreshing feature is the presence of artificial waterfalls beside many of the pools. If only for aesthetics, the waterfalls already do a great job, but even more, they make swimming in the pool a much livelier experience as well. For those who aren’t so comfortable with such natural-looking pools, there is one tiled pool. It didn’t miss out on the special feature, though. A lovely artificial waterfall still enlivens one side of the pool.

Huts in Bato Springs

Taking a walk around Bato Springs is a real treat. It’s not your usual square-ish resort; the paths are winding and surrounded with lovely scenery. At times, you’ll get to cross some of the pools using a short footbridge (a la Gaugin) or big stones that rise above the water. You’ll also see the different types of huts and cottages that guests can rent. The cottages are your typical booth + table in the middle + nipa roof on top. The huts, which are of different sizes, are reminiscent of the kubo but with some obviously modern furnishings (metal roofing, cement ladders and posts, glass windows). I was also told that some venues had air conditioning.

I’d recommend Bato Springs for a family getaway. With its affordable fees and quaint facilities, all the members of your family will get a good rest in this resort in San Pablo.

Natural-looking pool
Who’d think that this is a pool?
A beautiful pool
Tiled pool with man-made waterfalls
Tiled pool with man-made waterfalls
A pavillion
A pavillion
Bridge over untroubled water
Bridge over untroubled water

For inquiries, please email batospringsresort(at)gmail.com or post on their Facebook page.