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Archive for November, 2010


4am.  The world is still asleep and I quietly sit in a corner of our living room watching the steady glow of the Christmas lights from our seven-foot Christmas tree.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning  “arrival” or “coming”.  It’s the beginning of  the Christian Liturgical year.

We have lots in store for friends at the Catholic site in Facebook where I am one of the admins.  Fr. Louie, Jlyn and I did some research  the past few days to share with our AFCC (Apostles Filipino Catholic Community) friends.   Most of them are overseas Filipino workers who are far from their families, miles away from their children, miles away from their wives and husbands.  Come to think of it, there is something so meaningful, so touching and so inspiring when we celebrate Christmas with our family.  Every year, people from all walks of life plan for this big event, Jesus’ birth,  with  all fervour.   For me, it is still the best season of the year.  How I wish sometimes, that  Christmas could be celebrated quietly, just being focused on the Christ Child.  Christmas celebration has been so much commercialized but still, the essence of it remains in our hearts.


I love this, it is our profile picture for AFCC today designed by Fr. Louie Coronel, OP

Yesterday was another family bonding for us,  and Obet,  helped us to put up the Christmas tree, string some lights on  our fence and garden.  We started as early as 9am and  by 10 pm we were outside admiring the view .  It’s not much but the important thing is we spent the day together, sometimes laughing at some jokes, remembering Christmas past, and thinking of  how we will celebrate Christmas 2010.  We still have lots of things to do, put up our more than  ten-year old manger set sent by a close friend one Christmas season.  I could not remember now, but years ago, I also bought a Christmas water globe which I put up every year.  It’s been a regular Christmas decor for quite sometime.  When it comes to celebrating Christmas, I am quite big on traditions.  We try as much as possible to complete Simbang Gabi masses, and  gifts from friends and family quietly stay under the tree until we have attended the Christmas Eve mass and celebrated Noche Buena.

My favorite  Christmas decor, a water globe Belen!

I actually took some pictures of the Christmas tree we decorated yesterday. It’s not yet completely done, we need to put more icicles, I think.  You see I am documenting  our Christmas preparations  because I would love to put them on video later.  I finally learned to make one a few days ago.  Poor old me, but I was proud of it.  It is never too late to learn, don’t you think?

Obet painstakingly lined our front fence with rope lights.  Nissa was his assistant and they worked non-stop even under the heat of the noonday sun.  We were rewarded by this and I love how the green lights reflect on the clear waters of the pond.

It’s the  First Sunday of Advent, so I say, Happy New Year. Let us prepare ourselves for  Christ’s coming.  Let Christmas be not just a season of gift-giving and endless shopping, let it not be a season of food galore and merry-making.  Let it be a season of hope and joy and thanksgiving.  Let it be a season of forgiving people who may have hurt us in the past.  Let us welcome the Christ Child and what He represents in our lives –  LOVE.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love .” Hamilton Wright Mabi


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I love surprises!  And I love receiving one.   Nissa’s text read, “may surprise ako sa inyo”. And I texted back, “hint???”. Then she answered, “basta, mamaya. Secret”.

So like an excited child, I waited for her to come home.  Really, I was elated  seeing  a bag  full of books which she bought at National Bookstore at Market, Market in  Global City.  A few days ago,  we were both talking of  visiting the place because they had a sale and  I would like to find books that would tide me over until next year.

I only splurge on books every time there is a sale at NBS, a 20@ discount is big enough.  This time though,  a regular- priced book of P339.00 costs only P100.00.  Wow, if you won’t be enticed by that, I don’t know what will.   And here’s the list of the books she took home last night.

  1. Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan.   Since I read her other book,  The Joy Luck Club years ago, I was forever on the lookout for another one of hers.  I was able to buy a copy of  The Bonesetter’s Daughter  last year but it was destroyed by typhoon Ondoy before I even read the first chapter.
  2. Blaze by Stephen King  (Richard Bachman) – another thriller, perfect for those cold nights when you have nothing to do. I am not much of King’s fan but I love the way he writes and we have collected several of his books over the years.
  3. The  Almost Moon by Alice Sebold, author of the intriguing novel the Lovely Bones. Unfolding in the course of a single day, the summary reads,  “this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties within families, the wages of devotion and the line between love and hate”. It sounds interesting enough.
  4. Stalemate by Iris Johansen – I have never read any book of Johansen .  This is another suspense that begins with a phone call and leads the character on  the harrowing trail of a killer that even the most cold-blooded killers fear to face.  Formerly priced at P319.00 but was on sale at P50.00. Not bad!
  5. Foul Play by Janet Evanovich. I really haven’t heard of her but I hope this book is good.
  6. Crisis by Robin Cook – Cook is a doctor and I’ve been collecting almost all of his books the past years.   I was influenced by Lea Salonga when I read somewhere that Robin Cook is one of her favorite authors. I was intrigued and I am glad she introduced me to him.  He deals on medical thrillers and I learned a lot of medical jargon in his other books.  Another interesting read.
  7. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – pricey at P395.00  and it was not on sale.  I enjoyed reading The Red Pyramid so this one must also be interesting.
  8. Holly – by Jude Devereaux – a short novel,  a Christmas story actually  and  I am looking forward to reading it before December ends.
  9. Cross Country by James Patterson – another Alex Cross thriller.  Nissa and I have been following Alex Cross in several of Patterson’s books.  a real bargain at P100.00
  10. Border Music by  Robert James Waller – most of you probably don’t read Waller but I like almost all of his books.  Bought this hard-bound copy for a song.

I  have lots of unopened books, still in their original plastic cover but how can one resist?  I can’t and I am glad my daughter is a bookworm too.   She bought  another  book of  Suzanne Collins.  Thank you Nissa!

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We count the days, mark our calendars in red ink, make a list of what gifts to buy for friends and family, plan on what menu to cook on  Christmas Day.  And we are waiting with bated breath  when the day will come.  Yes, it will come soon!

We are happy that Advent is almost here.  And we say that Christmas is just around the corner.  So we get busy, we are frantic that we won’t be able to do the things  on our Christmas list , we are frantic that we would not be able to hang those beautiful lanterns and Christmas decor which we painstakingly chose, to the point of having Christmas motif every year.  We think of where to place the Christmas lights, the more, the better,  here or there, it does not matter as long as we have at least something to remind us of Christmas.  But after all this frenzy, we sometimes forget why we are celebrating.

In the Catholic Church, we celebrate Advent as the preparation for Christmas, the four weeks of preparing Jesus’ coming.   Sometimes though, we are in a hurry to celebrate Christmas. Some people put up their Christmas trees with all the lovely trimmings as early as October but by the time Christmas comes, they are too tired or even too drunk to welcome the day with joy.  We are too taken by  parties, shopping,  new clothes, new toys and all things that to us spell  Christmas. In the process, we tend to forget the simplicity of the Christ Child.  How have you celebrated the event in the past?

The Child Jesus is the most awaited guest.  So we prepare ourselves for His coming.  And  it’s just like waiting for some important guests in our homes,  we clean the house, put out our best silver wares, make the occasion a truly lovely celebration.   But what Jesus wants is to prepare our hearts for His coming, that is where He wants to dwell – deep in our hearts.

“The angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). 

Dear Jesus, make me worthy to receive You this  Christmas!

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In a few days, she will not just be a face that I often see every time she updates her blog.  In a few days she will not just be a voice behind the occasional chats that we exchange from time to time. In a few days, she will not just be a set of pictures that I admire.  In a few days, we will see each other for the first time in almost two years of being friends online.

I got a big surprise when she e-mailed me and suggested that we see each other when she  comes  home for a brief vacation next week.  We’ll be having lunch together on the 29th. Great!  I am just as excited as she is.  Some people think that you just can’t form a genuine friendship online.  True, it’s kind of different when you are just in front of your computer,  looking at several posted pictures and reading interesting blogs but  you can  and sometimes  the friendship is even deeper than what you think.  True, you can pour your heart out in the open when you are just talking to a face  on the computer screen but then the depth of the conversation  and sharing  becomes your springboard to take that leap  – to bring you to that wonderful world called friendship.

I persuaded hubby to go with me to Kultura to buy a gift for her, something she could bring back home to Italy.  And I am definitely looking forward to an afternoon of fun and laughter.  Hubby said, “don’t forget to bring your camera.” But of course, when have I forgotten to document something as grand as this meeting?

And I remember this quote, “When friends meet, hearts warm.”

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Home is where your heart is!

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November 21, 2010- Sunday Evening (My 350th blog at Dreams and Escapes)

Today was another unforgettable day.  Started  the day  watching Fr. Fernando Suarez’ healing mass on TV at 6am and ended it with hearing mass at Our Lady of Light Parish  at 4pm.  Nissa, Obet and I planned to hear mass at the Antipolo Cathedral but we were not able catch the last schedule for the morning service.  We had  Obet’s new car blessed  at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage,  at the Antipolo Cathedral before noon.  We had to wait for an available priest since there were so many new cars being blessed, had to walk from the Cathedral to the private parking lot where , for a brief stay of around thirty minutes, we were charged a parking fee of P40.00.  Parking space is a bit tight during  Sundays.

The  quadrangle fronting the Cathedral was teeming with  people from all walks of life and I was surprised to see that vendors were all over  the place. The last time we visited the Shrine, I was able to take pictures,  I made an album of it which I called The Many Faces of Life in the City.  We’ll come back here, probably next year.

Swinging by Metro East Mall later to have our lunch and to buy some Christmas decor, I was elated and  surprised to meet two friends at the mall.  Czar Tigno is a book buddy at Flips Flipping  Pages, a book club for,  who else,  but book nerds.  He invited me to join them  by January next year for another book discussion.  Wow, I must make an effort to attend because the last time I’ve been with them is almost two years ago.  And I miss everyone, I miss  the passionate discussion about  books we have read, about books that have somehow touched our lives.

Call it ESP or something but Nissa and  I casually mentioned a friend of hers while we were on our way to Metro East Mall and I thought of him when I saw Fitness First, the place where he used to work.   What a lovely surprise when we  saw him while we were on our way to eat lunch.  It was  a joyful meeting and we even had a photo-op.  The last time I saw him was more than a year ago.  It’s always nice to see old friends and chance meetings bring that irrepressible comfort,  and they are small surprises that tickle the heart.  It really was a pleasant surprise Paul meeting you again after quite sometime.

On our way home, we planned of finally putting the Christmas decorations this coming Saturday. I am just as excited as Nissa because I just bought a brand new Christmas tree, a seven-foot tall  slim mixed tree.  We bought some decorations earlier in the week because Nissa wants to have a combination of red and silver trimmings.  Compared to last year, prices of decor have definitely gone up again.   Hubby and I have a joint project of making a wreath.  Hopefully, we will be able to finish it before the coming weekend.   Christmas celebration is just a simple get-together for us.   The important thing is, it should always be centered  on Christ’s birth because we all know that He is the reason for all this frenzy.  Gift-giving and preparing our favorite food is a part of the celebration.  We have established a tradition in the family that we won’t open Christmas gifts until we have attended the Christmas Eve mass and prepared something for Noche Buena. We are all like small kids during the gift-opening.  What brings this kind of excitement that one feels anticipating what is on that heavy red box or that light and fragile gift box delicately laced with blue ribbons?   You can normally hear shouts of laughter when you get the gift that you long for.  It’s family bonding to the max.

Collecting memories – with the digital  camera always on the ready, that’s what friends are for and what Christmas is all about!

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