* . . Serendipity is Love . . *
Shopaholic Sisters & Shamrocks
Monday, June 30, 2008 / 9:33 PM

SHAMROCK OTAP

I really feel flattered. They were only supposed to be shoppers. Girls in pretty little avatars that shop in my online dress shop. Well, if you are clueless, I actually began an online boutique almost a year ago. I sell a collection of tops and dresses. It was through this online shop that I met G and F. G, a self-confessed shopaholic, was actually one of my very first shoppers. In less than a year's time, we had about 10 transactions already. F is another Cebuana fashionista who loves to shop online. F usually places her reservations and orders as soon as I posted new clothes. That's how fast she is! G and F started out as mere shoppers. But in time, we became friends as we talked about our lives way beyond our closets. So when G came here in Manila, I treated her out for lunch at Piazza Pazzo in Powerplant. It was exciting to finally meet the pretty face in the avatar. Over pizza and pasta, we talked about our lives in Cebu and Manila. Glaiz thought that life in Manila is too fast-paced while I thought that life in Cebu is too laid back. Before G and I said goodbye, G handed me a gift from F. It was a big box of my favorite Shamrock Otaps, the pride of Cebu. F was really so sweet and thoughtful. F had asked G to bring the Shamrock Otaps for me when she found out that G is going to Manila. Actually, F and G only became friends when they bumped into each other while shopping in my dress shop. Now they became very good friends who go out on dinners. I hope I can hang out with F on her next trip to Manila. I am truly grateful to gain friends like them. Till we see each other again! :)

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Hubby and the Bachelors
Saturday, June 28, 2008 / 5:24 PM

Sometimes, it really makes me wonder why B asked for my hand and married me. I was only 22 and B was only 25 the year we tied the knot. Well, I know for a fact that he loves me very much. But isn't it that most men find it hard to say goodbye to their bachelor life? Especially at the age of 25? I certainly don't know what has gotten into B. While all his friends are enjoying bachelorhood, B chose to settle down with me in marriage. And I confess that I'm a very possessive and demanding woman. B knew that in the 5 years we were together. Wasn't that enough to scare him away? As a matter of fact, B's friends even refer to me as the commander or worse, the kryptonite.


MICHAEL'S 27TH BIRTHDAY
GREEN MARIS

When M celebrated his birthday last Saturday at Green Maris, I noticed how B acted very differently around his friends. B was the only married man in the group. All the rest were bachelors with raging testosterones. While his friends were speaking in a green language, B sat in his seat, silent and tamed, as they went on discussing about sexy FHM models and girls they hooked up with. B showed no eager interest. If anything, he tried to shift the topic to business or gadgets. Deep inside, I start to wonder if it's all because of my presence and if B would have behaved otherwise if I wasn't there at all. I also start worrying if B had any regrets marrying me and giving up his bachelorhood. I guess I'll never know, would I?

But as B embraced me in his arms that night, something told me he cherishes this marriage more than anything else in this world. With that, my worried heart was eased. :)

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Saturdays at Starbucks
Thursday, June 26, 2008 / 8:12 AM

Last Saturday, I drove to Starbucks Silvercity to hang out with my good friend, F. F invited me to attend the event "Dialogues at Starbucks" where Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet is going to give a talk. Even before I started blogging, I have always visited Anton Diaz's blog to learn and catch up on the interesting hidden places in Manila. So I was really glad to be able to meet the man behind the blog. Anton is an ordinary guy with an extra-ordinary perspective of this world. That is what sets him apart from the rest. And that is what I admire most about him. I also got to meet his beautiful wife, Rachel, who happens to be a schoolmate some 10 batches higher.


STARBUCKS

F was so sweet that she got me my all time favorite Mocha Frappuccino. I swear nothing brightens up my day like a frappe! It's no wonder that B always gets me a frappe as some peace offering after we have our quarrels. So while F had her iced tea, I had my frappe and we chatted about what's new in our lives. We were also offered chocolate frosted mini donuts that Sophie can't seem to get enough of. Sophie picked the donuts up by herself on the table and stuffed them into her small mouth. All by herself. She ate about 3 donuts and she still wanted more. Not to mention that I already bought her Auntie Anne's pretzels earlier that day. I really can't help but laugh at how cute she is.


SOPHIE EATS DONUTS

I really wish I could stay longer but I had to excuse myself and leave early because B & I still have a dinner party that night. Sophie and I truly had a fun afternoon. Well, Sophie had a yummy afternoon. Thanks so much, F! I hope we can have more Saturdates! :)

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Tope & Haydee's Wedding
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 / 7:11 AM

TOPE & HAYDEE'S WEDDING
MANDARIN ORIENTAL

I love weddings! I love seeing the bride walk down the aisle in her beautiful white gown. The most beautiful dress a girl could ever wear in her entire life. I love looking at the groom waiting in the front of the church, staring at his beautiful bride, lost in her beauty. Weddings are the closest thing to a fairytale in this world.

K was so sweet to invite us to her brother's wedding. Haydee was a radiant bride with a very beautiful smile. My guess is that Tope probably fell in love with her smile. Tope was a handsome groom in his tux. As for us girls, it was the usual dressing up and dolling up night. K, the bridesmaid, wore a heart-neck ruched fuchsia gown with her hair teased and curled. A wore a navy blue off-shoulder dress with a white belt to emphasize the waist. E wore a maroon goddess dress with a very sexy back detail. D wore a blue square-neck mini dress w/ ruched sleeves. I wore an old rose jewel-neck mini dress with a black silk belt on my waist and a pair of black velvet pumps. And B, my handsome date, was so sweet to be our photographer of the night as we posed and smiled vainly in the camera. :)

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Cotton Wedding Anniversary
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 7:25 AM

The 2nd year of marriage is symbolized by cotton. Soft and delicate. The warmest source of comfort. This June, B and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary!

Before we got married, B and I only celebrated one anniversary every May. But now that we've tied the knot, we celebrate two anniversaries every year in the months of May and June. May is the month we fell in love. June is the month we exchanged vows. It gets quite confusing at times when I try to explain it to people. But what do they know about these special dates anyway?


FRENCH BREAKFAST

I woke up early that day to prepare a special breakfast for B. Breakfast consisted of B's favorite ciabatta bread from Le Souffle with a choice of butter and a special olive oil dip. When B got out of his shower, I excitedly dragged him out to our dining room. B normally skips breakfast. But this time, B sat down and ate about 5 slices of ciabatta bread. I wished that B can declare our anniversary as a holiday and spend the entire day with me. But B had to leave for work. Before he left, B planted a kiss on my lips and reminded me about our date tonight. A kiss that lingered on my lips for the rest of the day. :)

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Valerie's 25th Birthday
Friday, June 20, 2008 / 4:49 AM

When I see my ICA friends, I always feel like I'm back in high school. I can be crazy and carefree once more. No holding back. No acting all grown-up and mature. And this is what I love most about my friends. But when V invited us for dinner at Le Souffle to celebrate her 25th birthday, I was taken aback. The numerals made quite an impact to me. Wasn't it only yesterday when we can't stop talking about our prom during algebra?! Are we really turning 25 this year?


VALERIE'S 25TH BIRTHDAY
LE SOUFFLE

V invited only us girls to her birthday dinner. No boyfriends. No hubbies. Just girls for a night of pure girl talk. As always, it was a night of dressing up and catching up on everyone's lives. K wore a green dress with a yellow belt emphasizing her small waist. S wore a green knit turtleneck over gray slacks. V, the birthday celebrant, wore a printed brown dress and wedged espadrilles. E wore a brown conservative mini dress with strappy gold sandals. And I wore my sexy brown tube dress (one of my favorite dresses) with fuchsia high heels.

Pretending to be the girls of Sex and the City, K proclaimed herself as the ever fashionable and stylish Carrie Bradshaw. S, with her promising career and boy cut 'do, refused to accept that she is Miranda Hobbes. C, miles away in Tokyo, is Samantha Jones. While I was unanimously voted as conservative and idealistic Charlotte York. Someday, years and decades from now, we girls would still be dressing up, catching up, sitting together, having dinner, and sipping our coffees and teas while we talk about our crazy lives!

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7 Years and I'm Still Blushing
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 / 8:16 PM

It was in the summer of 2001 that we had fallen madly in love with each other. The summer of the first kiss. Of the many firsts. The summer that holds a very special place in my heart. Today, I'm no longer 17. Seven years have gone by. Seven summers. :)


BLUE ROSE


CASA ARMAS

I really wanted to go on a little vacation for our anniversary. But because we just spent a fortune on Sophie's birthday, we decided to keep things simple but still with a touch of sweetness. I wore a simple tube dress in the shade of green. I let my bangs down and clipped my hair at the back. Brushed some mint green eye shadow on my eye lids. Hooked on a pair of oval capiz earrings. And came out our bedroom and greeted B with a kiss. We celebrated our anniversary at Casa Armas, our favorite Spanish restaurant. We ordered Gambas, Chorizos, and Paella Valenciana. The sweetest part was when B requested the guitar man to serenade his wife. It was a sweet song entitled "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. Somehow, I felt like my cheeks blush.

Seven years and I'm still blushing. I love you, B. :)

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Sophie Belle's Baptism & Birthday
Monday, June 16, 2008 / 7:34 AM

SOPHIE BELLE'S BAPTISM
MAY 18, 2008
MARY THE QUEEN PARISH


SOPHIE BELLE'S 1ST BIRTHDAY
MAY 18, 2008
CORINTHIAN GARDENS CLUBHOUSE

It took me 5 crazy months to plan for Sophie's party. Brian and I both wanted a Hello Kitty theme. First, I made a reservation at the newly renovated Corinthian Gardens Clubhouse. The next step was to schedule Sophie's baptism at Mary the Queen Parish. I personally requested our family friend, Mgsr. Bong Lo, to officiate the baptism. He was actually the same priest who pronounced Brian and I, man and wife. Next, I coordinated with one of the most talked about party shops in the city, Jelly Bellies Party Experts. There in the little party shop, I was pleased to be presented with a whole lot of party choices like balloon decors, mylar centerpieces, princess booths, magic shows, dog shows, and more. It was definitely hard to choose when you have so many wonderful choices. After a few days, I finally made my final decision on the balloon decors and motifs. Then Brian and I have decided on the mascot, magic show, and bubble show to entertain the guests. Next, I called our cousin, Leilani Marcelino, for catering services. I wanted a Japanese dinner buffet to be consistent with the Sanrio/Japan theme. I chose Sushi and Tossed Green Salad for the appetizers. The main course consisted of Japanese Fried Rice, Chicken Teriyaki, Ebi Tempura, Beef Salpicao, and inevitably, Lechon Cebu. Chocolate Fondue and Decadent Chocolate Cake for desserts. For Sophie's birthday cake, I contacted cake artist, May Santos of Kitchen Krafts, to bake a 3-layer Hello Kitty fondant cake. I also ordered a few dozens of Sanrio cupcakes to surround the cake. When all the major party details were finalized, it was finally time to go dress shopping. Sophie needed 2 dresses, a baptismal dress and a birthday dress. After searching all the malls for the perfect dress, I finally bought Sophie's dresses at Purple Candy. Sophie's baptismal gown was a long white chiffon dress with laces and embroideries. Her birthday dress was a two-toned mix of velvety red and white ruched chiffon worn over a petticoat. Then I bought my fuchsia bubble dress at Okasyon and Brian's maroon button down polo at G2000. The last in my list is to shop for giveaways and loot bags. And there is only one place to shop for these... 168. I bought plush Hello Kitty and Keroppi bags and happily stuffed each bag with Sanrio toys and candies.

Sophie's party was filled with so much fun and laughter. The children were all amazed by the bubble show and mystified by the magician's tricks. They were also very delighted with their Sanrio giveaways! As for the grown-ups, I'd say it was the kind of party where they felt young at heart once again. It was only when the party was over and all the guests have left that Brian and I realized how exhausted we are. But despite our exhaustion, we found ourselves smiling silly while we loaded Sophie's gifts in the car. And Sophie, still in her velvet petticoat dress, truly looked like a princess as she fell asleep after her birthday banquet. :)


PARTY SUPPLIERS

Jelly Bellies Party Experrts
Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong
02-7247695

Kitchen Krafts
Calbayog St. Mandaluyong
02-5335288

Leilani Marcelino
0922-8330016

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The Story of Sophie Belle
Saturday, June 14, 2008 / 3:10 AM

MOMMY & SOPHIE
LATE AUTUMN IN VANCOUVER

Has it really been a year? I close my eyes and look back at the year that had gone by so fast. It was as if it was only yesterday. Only yesterday when I carried a watermelon-sized tummy strolling at the parks of Vancouver. Each heavy step anticipating the birth of Sophie Belle.


I clearly recall the pack of Diane 35 I got in the drugstore. I told Brian that I wasn't ready yet. To please give me a year or two. He nodded with love and patience. With that, I was set to start on the pills on my next period. But my period never came. A home pregnancy test revealed that I was pregnant. Positive!


I don't want to lie and say I am overjoyed. Frankly, I felt scared. I have only been married for 2 months. Yes, I wanted to marry the man I love. I wanted a beautiful wedding and a romantic honeymoon. But I've never thought about having a baby. It was the farthest thing in my mind.
A tear rolled down my eye as I realized that it's never gonna be the same again. Silly carefree crazy live is all gonna be part of yesterday. I am going to be a mommy. I smiled and cried as I lay a hand on my tummy.

But that was me. Brian was overjoyed. I remember how his eyes shone the day he knew that he was going to be a daddy. That's what he really wanted. It was then that I suddenly saw a change in him. He worked more and dreamt more. Dreamt more and worked more. He wanted to give the best and only the best of this world to the little baby in my womb.

l remember the 1st ultrasound I had when I was only 6 weeks pregnant. My gynecologist pointed a tiny little dot in center of what looks like my uterus. The dot was as tiny as a pea with no features and bodily form at all. The only thing it had was a heartbeat. It was pounding strongly for its tiny size. Brian held my hand as we looked at our baby in the screen. "Baby is due on May 8!", my gynecologist announced.

Brian had always wanted a girl. I had always wanted a boy. The odd thing was that despite how much I wanted a boy, I instinctively knew that I was carrying a girl. The ultrasound on the 5th month of my pregnancy announced that I was indeed having a girl!

Canada or Manila. It was a difficult decision. It was even more difficult because I knew what the right decision is but I don't have the courage to make it. I was procrastinating. As the weeks went by, I found myself presented with a plane ticket to Vancouver. My mom has already planned and prepared everything for me and her granddaughter.

BRIAN & SAB (6 MOS. PREGNANT)
SHANGRI-LA MACTAN ISLAND, CEBU

Days went by and it was time to say goodbye. He never let go of my hand as he drove me to the airport. I remember how my heart felt as heavy as the luggages he unloaded from the car. I forced myself out of the car. The pain of parting killing me inside. There were tears building up in the corner of his eyes as I released myself from his tight embrace. Goodbye for now, Brian. The best decisions are made with sacrifices.

The flight was unbelievably long. There wasn't a second that I didn't feel like screaming and pleading the pilot to fly me back to Manila. But the exhaustion has taken over. And when I woke up, I saw peaks of snow-capped mountains from my window. Was I really half a world away from Brian now?



WINTER IN CANADA


First things first. The day after my arrival was my first visit at Dr. Shelley Ross's clinic. I was asked to take off all my clothes for an internal examination. I laid uncomfortably in the examining table while I let Dr. Ross do what is to be done. And then I felt a force so strong and a pain so raw. I screamed. Then I was whimpering like a little child. I have never felt a pain of such degree in my entire life. And I feel cheated that I wasn't told about what to expect. Violated, even. But Dr. Ross showed no sympathy. My mom looked at me with pain in her eyes as she saw me limping my way back to our house.

MOMMY & I
SALMON HATCHERY, NORTH VANCOUVER

My tummy grew bigger and bigger each day. I had completely forgotten what my tummy looked like when it was flat as a bed. Will my figure ever go back to the way it used to be? Taking a bath is becoming very very hard. Standing upright, I can no longer see my toes. Do I still have toes? There were times when the soap slipped from my hand and I almost slipped in the tub trying to reach for it.

My day was never complete without a letter or a phone call from Brian. We miss each other terribly. It was his soothing voice that tells me to be strong and to conquer my fears. I was becoming impatient, waiting for the day that he'll arrive in Vancouver. I had made a count down in the pages of my diary. 58... 46... 34... 22... 12... 5... 1. And then I saw him come out of the double doors of the airport. I threw myself in his arms!

Anticipation becomes fun when you have someone who shares the joy of it with you. And that's what husbands are for. Each day we waited for the arrival of Sophie Belle, we explored the interesting places of Vancouver. We also attended those pre-natal seminars that taught us about the basics of labor and childbirth.

May 8 came along but I never felt any signs of labor. I was asked to wait for another week before they induce labor. The week went by and it was finally time. I checked in the hospital early in morning where the doctor inserted in me a hormone called prostaglandin. And then the contractions happened.

If you don't know what contractions are like, let me tell you. It's a strong force wringing and gripping my abdomen that leaves me breathless and weak every few minutes. It's a hundred times worse than my worst dysmenorrhea. But this is not the time for me to curl up in pain. Amidst the pain, I am to push and fight. "PUSH!", the nurses all shouted and encouraged. I was honestly using the last ounce of strength I have inside my tortured and battered body. And yet it wasn't enough. I almost thought I would die. I was crying and screaming for epidural.

I thought it would never end. The two other expecting mothers who checked in the hospital later than I did have both given birth to their babies already. I heard cheers and clapping of hands amidst my pain. It was already 4 am in the morning and I was the only woman left in the birthing center of the hospital. Is my baby ever coming out? Just when I was just about to give up, one of the nurses suddenly shouted, "The head is coming out!"

I mustered all my body's remaining strength for one last push. And then my baby was born into this world. I laid back in my bed, breathless, as Dr. Ross placed my newborn baby in my arms. The umbilical cord was still intact. Her frail little body still stained by blood. I looked at her and smiled. She looks like her dad, I thought. She's got chubby cheeks. Lotsa hair too. I was smiling down at her, cradling her in my arms. My baby was taken momentarily away from me as she took her first bath.



NEWBORN SOPHIE BELLE & DR. ROSS
BURNABY HOSPITAL

I woke up to a sunny spring morning and I found myself in a different room with a view of the garden. I looked to my right and I saw Sophie Belle, wrapped up like a burrito, sleeping innocently in her glass bassinet. That day, I became a mother. A mother to a beautiful baby who Brian and I named, Sophie Belle. Sophie that which means wisdom. Belle that which means beauty. Today, it's been a year since she was born into this world and brought so much joy into our lives.

SOPHIE BELLE

I may have never asked to be pregnant. I may have never wanted a baby. But now, I can no longer imagine what my life would be without my baby. I forgot what it was like to be living selfishly for myself only. I feel so much joy by simply staring at Sophie. I feel so much love when I carry Sophie in my arms. I never thought I can ever love as much as I love her.

I can never thank God enough for giving me the gift of family.

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