Season 2 of quarantine birthdays and my eldest turned 17. Away from the usual Shakey’s, we went on a day trip out of town to relax and chill.
Refreshing break from lockdown.
Season 2 of quarantine birthdays and my eldest turned 17. Away from the usual Shakey’s, we went on a day trip out of town to relax and chill.
Refreshing break from lockdown.
Subscribed to this devotional recently and I’m just gonna leave Day 2 here. Just in case you stumble across this, read up.
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 2
Scripture: 1 John 1:5-10
The first enemy of the heart is guilt. Guilt is the result of having done something we perceive as wrong. The message from a heart laden with guilt is, “I owe!”
Consider the man who runs off with another woman and abandons his family. Without realizing it at the time, he has stolen something from every member of his family. He has robbed his wife of her future, her financial security, and her reputation as a wife. From his children’s perspective, this man has stolen their Christmas, traditions, emotional and financial security, dinners with the family, and so on.
Now, the man who did all this doesn’t think in terms of what he has taken. Initially, he thinks in terms of what he has gained. But the first time his little girl asks him why he doesn’t love Mommy anymore, his heart is stirred. He now feels guilty. Dad owes.
Nothing less than paying that debt will relieve a guilty heart of its burden of guilt. People try to work it off, serve it off, give it off, and even pray it off. But no amount of good deeds, community service, charitable giving, or Sundays in a pew can relieve the guilt. It’s a debt. And it must be paid or canceled for a guilty heart to experience relief.
How do you get your guilt canceled? The answer comes in one of the first Bible verses I memorized as a child: 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (kjv).
Confession has the power to break the cycle of sin. And like most medicinal remedies, it works when applied properly. Proper application happens when we confess our sins, not just to God, but also to the people we’ve sinned against.
Guilty people are usually repeat offenders. And as long as you’re carrying a secret, as long as you’re trying to ease your conscience by telling God how sorry you are, you’re setting yourself up to repeat the past. However, if you start confessing your sins to the people you’ve sinned against, odds are that you’re not going to go back and commit those sins again.
Confess both to God and others, and you will slay this enemy of your heart.
What are you feeling guilty for? Confess your sin to God and to whomever you have hurt. Do it today.
“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”
1 John 1:5-10 NLT
I was having my afternoon coffee when my eldest kid arrived from school, yanked open the kitchen door too hard (because we Filipinos don’t normally use the front door), threw his backpack on the library floor and slammed the door shut to his room.
I was ready to rage like what the f*ck was that when his brother followed inside after him, laughing. I asked what was funny and he said that his brother got turned down by a girl on Valentine’s day.
I’m raising teenagers aged 14 and 15. I’m 34.
I remember back in high school, every Valentine’s day, a number of girls would be called to the Student Affairs office to receive flowers from their boyfriends or admirers. Almost everyone would wait by the hallway to see the enormous bouquets and gush and giggle. (I went to an all-girls school by the way.) My name was never called, I never had the shameless opportunity to claim a dozen roses because as far as I could recall, I did not waste my time tearing over some ridiculous crush when I was this age, I was busy sneaking out to drink and play pool (not something I’m really proud of). Boys were the least of my concerns.
So I found my kid’s situation kind of amusing. I’m not a bad mother.
I knocked on the door to his room before letting myself in, it was pitch black. I turn the lights on and found him crying on his bed. I sat beside him and stroked his back, asked what was wrong. For a while, he was just silent, trying his best not to cry. He finally said to leave him alone. I’m not doing that, no kid is demanding me to do anything I do not want to do, so I remained where I was, told him that he could talk to me, that he could tell me what happened at school, that he could tell me why he was so triggered. I guess he realized I wasn’t going anywhere until he spills, so with a heavy sigh, he said that his heart was broken. I seriously tried not to laugh. I AM NOT A BAD MOTHER. But honestly, I don’t know how to deal with this. Motherhood, especially parenting teenagers, did not come with a manual. I asked how his heart was broken. Apparently, since it’s Valentine’s day, he gave gifts to this crush, but she turned away and he felt humiliated. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I mean here is my baby boy, all grown up, having his heart broken by some ugly piece of shit. Sorry.
I did not know what to say. I told him it’s going to be okay even if I know it’s going to hurt really bad at the moment. I told him there are still so many other girls he will eventually meet and fall in love with even if I know his heart longs for a certain someone. Not the best choice of words.
But I also told him, assured him, that even if we don’t agree on most things, Mama will never turn away from him. Mama will always happily accept even paper roses and half eaten Kit Kats. I’ve collected all those V-day cards he and his brothers gave me since they started to learn how to make one. When everyone leaves, Mama will stay, Mama will always be here. Mama will never stop loving you.
A broken heart, heavily laden with dramatic weight and sadness.
Many years ago, I too suffered from a broken heart. Lots of uncontrollable sobbing and tantrums involved. If I had a dollar for every heartbreak and disappointment I’ve ever experienced, I’d just well be able to quit work and travel the world. But I’ve long mustered forgetting and blocking out the pain, the hurt. We cannot just continue to keep reliving our misery. I’ve come to terms with what has been and have totally moved on.
There is no socially established mourning method for broken hearts. It’s just plain sad. But if we try to see it as an experience to learn about ourselves, the process of moving on opens up an opportunity of self-betterment instead.
He wouldn’t be able to understand this for now, it’s a lot to take in for a fragile 15-year old, so I just let him be sad and cry it all out.
Before I left the room, I asked my kid, curious, if his crush even accepted the gifts he gave before she turned away and he said yes (that b*tch). I told him to give it time, that maybe she was just shy (while rolling my eyes). I am not a bad mother. I asked him what he gave her, he told me he gave a single red rose and some chocolates. Hearing chocolates, I asked what kind he gave, he told me he got some of the chocolates I keep in the fridge. We had a good laugh.
I did not dream of having kids. It was never part of the plan.
I wanted to write and live in different places, experience this diverse, expansive earth everyone keeps talking about.
At some point, I even wanted to go to outer space, discover aliens, leave footprints on the moon, trek Mars, name stars.
But you see, life has a sick sense of humor and who would have imagined I’d end up birthing 3 boys instead.
I wasn’t ready.
Stuck in the mundane.
I think I’ll never be ready.
Fine, joke’s on me.
But I kept on, even when my mind was in total chaos. I still keep on.
I had the choice to get away, to run away as I always do, but I stayed.
And trying to be a mother, keeping up a facade of this supposedly strong person and parenting alone while my heart shattered into infinite pieces, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure.
But oh, the laughter of children, the sweetest songs, such beautiful music to my ears, I could listen to for a lifetime.
The course of our lives sometimes do not play out like how we pictured it in our heads but somehow, we always end up where we should be.
And most times, much happier.
Family time during the holy week down Southern Negros.
Photo Set | Nabulao Beach and Dive Resort
Day 1 | Good Friday
On our way to Hinoba-an, we passed by Campomanes bay at the Amity training camp. Thinking of letting our kids join the second batch some time in May, training on basic survival skills.
Juancho also got to take a picture with his favorite fire truck and ambulance!
Included with the camp is this view.
Arrived at Nabulao Beach and Dive Resort just in time for lunch. We booked the Master Suite, very roomy with 2 queen beds, a sofa bed, clean bathroom and a terrace with a view. I could just live here lol. Rate is P5,000 per night (peak season), room could accommodate 6 people.
Time for a swim!
The resort has 2 swimming pools, one where they have their diving lessons and one where kids could swim. They also have a mini bar by the pool, billiards and foosball. Other activities include water sports such as jet skis, banana boat, paraw sailing and island hopping.
Lazed by the shore to wait for the sunset.
Kids writing names on the sand, playing volleyball and building sand castles.
It was a Good Friday indeed.
Day 2 | Black Saturday
Went Island hopping and the kids enjoyed! You could rent boats from the resort — big boat that could accommodate 25 people is P3,500 for 2 hours and small boat that could accommodate 10 people is P1,500 for 2 hours.
The little kids were not scared, I swear (hahaha!).
First stop was Obong caves.
There are many entrances to the Obong caves, 2 of which are dry entrances, the caves where we took the kids to and one that is only accessible by boat or by swimming as the entrance is from the sea. That cave we did not get to see because it was crowded.
Arrived to people cooking lunch by the shore (lol). Sad that the cave walls are full of vandals and some leave their trash behind.
Went inside the caves with the use of our cellphone flashlights and was greeted with stalagmite formations.
The caves played a role during World War II, when the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese. The American Forces landed near Hinoba-an and used the town as their island headquarters. So glad to have the kids explore a little bit of Negrense history.
So there was a little bit of confusion with our boat booking that we ended up joining our friends on the big boat. All good.
Next stop was to a friend’s private beach where we were able to just relax and sip on some fresh buko. The place was awesome child friendly as the beach has shallow and very clear water.
Kids were paddle boarding, riding jet skis and building sand castles while we adults were all talking about random stuff like young living oils and gallstones (hahaha).
Went back to the resort to have late lunch, napped for a bit and waited for sunset but it started to rain really hard. View was still beautiful.
Can’t diet in this place. Food is really good and sold at a very reasonable price. Overall experience at Nabulao is great! Very courteous and accommodating staff, very clean rooms and facilities, good value for money.
Day 3 | Easter Sunday
Beautiful sunrise to cap the holy week.
To old ends and new beginnings.
Grateful to have spent the long weekend with the most important people in my life.
March 19, 2018 – On it’s final reading, The House of Representatives has approved the Absolute Divorce Bill.
A milestone for the Philippines, the farthest a divorce law proposal has gone in the legislative process.
Given that the PH is a largely religious country, the backlash on the bill is overwhelming.
I go on reading comments on the bill, trolls mostly citing biblical passages justifying that this is against the law of God. Others saying that if the bill gets passed into a law, divorce will be rampant in the country (WTF?).
First, why would there be a surge of divorce cases if ever the bill gets passed into a law? Does this mean that majority of the marriages in the Philippines are problematic?? Please enlighten me as I believe that if a married couple are standing on solid ground, a certain “divorce law” will not shake them.
If people only take the time to read what’s inside the bill (citing “that the proper court shall not start the trial of a petition for absolute divorce before the expiration of a mandatory six-month cooling off period, after the filing of the petition during which the court shall exercise all efforts to reunite and reconcile the parties”) instead of jumping into exaggerated conclusions, the world would be such a peaceful place.
Second, to those religious hypocrites, I fervently pray to the same GOD that you will never go through the hell I literally went through. I feel like these people who call themselves “Christians” do not care for the abused as long as their sacraments are kept “sacred.” But I wonder, why is annulment allowed when it actually weighs heavier? It was never protested even if it is unbiblical and ironically is a law accepted by the church. It’s a nullification of marriage, a total mockery of the sanctity of the said sacrament.
It is right that God hates divorce as stated in the bible but if you read in the same bible, HE ALLOWED IT because of the stubbornness of man and on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness and abandonment (see Matthew 19:8-9).
Points to ponder on:
Is the government changing any of the teachings of the Church when Congress passed the bill?
By legalizing divorce in the country, does it mean that all marriages will end in divorce?
Is the responsibility of the Church to preserve the sanctity of marriage suspended with the passage of this bill?
Suggestion: the church in general, should be more proactive in preserving marriage rather than being so reactive. This is a challenge I believe a strong church will have to endure and in the process, it will generate more meaningful engagement with it’s congregation. The church should be adaptive to change and instead be the driving force in maintaining healthy marriages in our country. Church, do not be lazy.
Third, they say to think about the children. EXACTLY.
Would you rather that the children remain in a cold and hard environment? Would you rather that the children be witnesses to one parent’s abuse? Worse, would you rather that the children would also fall victim to abuse?
What is abuse?
Domestic abuse is not limited to just physical abuse. This is not just about the time when he grabbed his wife by the throat and slammed her on the kitchen door and banged her head on the window grills. This is not just about the time he yanked her hair and dragged her from the shower, naked, and threw her on the living room floor and kicked her leg. This is not just about the time he hit her face so hard that she had to miss her job interview because her concealer can’t even do what it was made to do. This is not just about the time that he spat on her eye because she found out he was cheating, again.
This is also about the time he made her feel ugly and worthless and stupid. This is also about the time he called her nasty names. This is also about the countless times he threatened to leave after every argument and she would desperately plead for him to stay to make things work. This is also about the time when he’d rather be lazy than help out with the household finances, even with the money he made illegally. She had to work two jobs. This is also about the emotional blackmail, him playing the victim card and putting the blame on her for whatever shit he was going through, using the sacrament of marriage as a foreground for guilt and manipulation. Hell, this is even also about the time he ripped her ragged cat doll to pieces and she had to pick up the parts and sew it back together because she can’t sleep without it.
Domestic abuse is not only physical abuse but also emotional abuse, psychological abuse and economic abuse.
The bill, in its declaration of policy, states it is intended to “save the children from pain, stress, and agony consequent to their parents’ constant marital clashes” and “grant the divorced spouses the right to marry again for another chance at marital bliss.”
It is heartless to make someone remain in an abusive situation.
Finally, how do you fix an irreparable relationship without spending for an arm and a leg? When you file for legal separation or annulment, it costs an average of P250,000 (and I’d rather spend that hefty amount of money on my kids) and is a lengthy, embarrassing and painful process. Again if people only read through the bill, the court exempts poor people (indigent is defined in the bill) from legal fees and listing domestic violence, attempts to engage a spouse in prostitution and irreconcilable differences as among the grounds other than feigning psychological incapacity.
Divorce is optional. It is not a replacement of annulment. It is merely an option and not an imposition. But because I am for divorce, I’ve been called lame, egotistic and somehow demonic. People need to recognize that everyone has a fundamental right to choose what is best for them. No one is stopping you to go ahead and live by your life principles but that does not give you the right to force your beliefs onto someone who does not share the same and start calling them out if they do not adhere to your views. Leave them to choose for themselves and stop being insensitive, self-righteous pricks.
I am for divorce not because I want to remarry, (I don’t think I will ever get married again) but because I want my freedom. I certainly did not wish for my marriage to end and fail but for more than 10 years, I’ve selflessly and endlessly gave “second” chances and I’m totally drained. I want mine too.
Please Universe, don’t jinx this.
You think you’ve got it all figured out until it all blows up in your face.
My world paused for a moment there.
Everything around me started to fade in the background and I was left staring at myself sitting perfectly still.
When the only reason you stay put in such a repugnant and uninteresting place, unselfish enough to not pack and leave a whole world behind, is the one thing that could utterly break you.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m some sort of hypocrite, preaching one liberated thought, even expending unsolicited advice but totally freaking out when it gets thrown to my face.
Thirteen. Only thirteen.
A shitload of what ifs running through my head.
What if I did better? Am I any better?
As confused as I am, I keep wondering what they might be thinking, what he may be thinking knowing that he is scared and confused as well, more confused even.
Do not add any more scars, I say.
There’s a constant inexplicable pain throbbing in my chest as if my heart is about to burst only to be filled by an unmatched emptiness that is almost too much.
Am I pushing you away?
I can’t lose you.
You are my breathing existence.
You make sense and I’m not sure how I’d go about if you decide to shut me out, reclusive, unavailable.
But I am here.
I will never leave your side, I will not look at you any less for what you truly are.
Because I know you.
Because I love you.
And I will fight for you through slammed doors and ugly bruises, through raised voices and muted conversations, through awkward puberty and drunken night outs, through an ocean of tears and countless bear hugs because I remember one morning, 13 years ago, when the sun rose over a sugarcane field, piercing the jalousie windows of a small bungalow with the rusted blue gate, soaking a slumbering infant with heavenly light, I found myself staring at the most peaceful face, your chest rising and falling in the morning glow, little gurgling coos in between snuggles, your tiny hand closing on my thumb, safe, secured, and I thought to myself, there is nothing I would never do for you.
And I meant it, I mean it.
I will not deny that being a single mom to three boys, of which two having special needs, is overwhelming. I’m no superwoman so I too, get exhausted from juggling two jobs to attending to my kids needs and trying to take care of myself (plus dogs and plants on the side). Yep, this freedom thus have its limitations.
So what a blessing it is to have people so unrelated to me to be taking care of my kids too. My children’s teachers and therapists are my heroes. They are patient with my kids even when I can’t be most of the time. They dedicate their time to make sure my children learn things that would help them thrive in the future — knowledge and values. And I praise and thank these beautiful people for being how they are. God didn’t leave me alone and left me to be alone and for that I am so grateful.
Happy teachers day!
Thank you so much!
I’ve read somewhere that family vacations are “happiness anchors” for kids until they grow up, banking on treasured memories and bonding moments. Instead of spending so much on gadgets and expensive toys and since March was a month of so many celebrations (Joaquin’s birthday, his and Miguel’s transition to 7th grade and Juancho’s moving up from toddler class), we decided to take the kids out for a treat. So Oceanpark and Disneyland it is.
Day 1 | Take off
Early flight to Manila and the kids were very much behaved, thank you. Got our Rame Nagi fix and free donuts because the light was on.
Left Manila for HK around 5ish in the afternoon (flight was delayed), took the A21 bus to Mongkok, met with the AirBnb person and had late dinner nearby.
Touchdown! Kids seem happy (lol).
Day 2 | Ocean Park
Early start and noodle breakfast.
There’s a train line going directly to Ocean Park and Disneyland, how convenient.
Curious little kids.
My little adventurero 🙂
Kids’ new friends.
Transferring to watch the Dolphin and Seal show, picturesque view from the cable car.
And the big kids off to go on the big kids’ rides.
This view to cap off the whole day event. It was overwhelming to see the kids have so much fun.
We headed to Victoria Peak after to catch the sunset and well, was in for a surprise.
No we did not take the tram because the line was like 10 years long. We took a taxi instead and it was much cheaper, $49HKD vs. $88HKD and more than an hour of waiting to board the tram.
Entrance to the Sky tower costs $32HKD, kids half the price. Can’t really remember (haha).
It was a case of expectation vs. reality. The place was overly crowded.
On the way down the sky tower, there was an area where you could take 3D photos. This was not the Trick Eye Museum, the museum was on the other side and had a $100HKD entrance. This one was for free.
Day 3 | Disneyland
Off to the happiest place on earth!
Pretty flowers all around!
Choochoo train that takes you on a tour around Disneyland.
Everything is exaggeratedly overpriced in Disneyland (rice costs $18HKD!) but when Juancho passed by a souvenir shop with the entrance displaying Tsum Tsum toys and was like super excited when he saw it, well, I just couldn’t break his heart.
And his reaction? Well, there are just some things money couldn’t buy.
I find that Disneyland is more for small kids, the rides and attractions in general, although the older kids (including us) did enjoy the experience.
Day 4 | Free day
Roamed around Tsim sha tsui, shopped a bit and lunched on some Canton Dim Sum Expert chicken and pork buns. The siomai was also good but no photos because it was gone in an instant.
Caught up with my friend Reg and treated us to some Korean dinner. Thanks Reggie! My treat in June (haha).
The place where we were staying was right where Ladies Market is and just around the corner was sneaker street. So, off we went to hunt for some cheap shoes and buy some pasalubongs before they close. Some stores close round 11pm.
Street food…street food…street food!
Day 5 | Homebound
Flying all day, tiring week but with the wide smiles on the kids’ faces and the endless laughter makes it all worth it.
Goodbye Hong Kong!
and hello Bacolod! Home finally!
Starting a new family tradition. Til the next summer trip!
Oh, by the way, we got our Disney and Ocean Park tickets on Klook. They sell much cheaper than the tickets sold on the official sites and when you get to the park, you don’t have to wait in line.