Dream Big My Little Ones: To my son and daughter.

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To my son,

Just the thought of putting down words that you will someday read brings tears to my eyes. There is so much I want to say and so much I want to share with you…

Let’s start with telling you that I have always wanted to have a little prince. When I found out that you were no longer a figment of my imagination and you were really coming, I was over the moon. To think in nine short months I would get to meet you. I have to tell you… my journey is different than most, but that is okay because that’s what gets us to today. And every single day is such a beautiful day.

Sweetie, you and your spirit inspired me to make some important decisions and quickly. I decided that I can continue to be sad and feel bad for you or I could make the right choice and give you the best life that I know how and teach you that your differences are not weaknesses but strengths. And that may not make a lot of sense. Well, I have a secret to tell you. Before you were even born I realized something very special about you. Something that I struggled day after day to find the perfect word to explain…

You, my dear, are extraordinary. When our family, friends, communities and even strangers found out about you… they were moved. You wiggled your way into their hearts and were determined to never leave. You reminded them about what is important in life. You made them believers in triumph and how obstacles can be overcome. You showed them the importance of “compassionate love” and you encouraged them to reach out to us. You strengthened their faith and reminded them how God takes care of us all no matter what. You showed us how much we can rely on others and how much people care. You made us believe in each other and most importantly… in you.

You see, you have already touched so many lives… and all before your first breath of air. God has such big plans for you and your life.  Never forget that. You were put here on Earth for a very divine purpose, you started fulfilling that purpose before you could have ever known.  Just as your baby sister & I feel we have an obligation to share your story with the world and teach people about accepting and celebrating differences, we feel you have an obligation to touch peoples’ lives too. And the amazing thing is… all you have to do is be yourself and give a little smile.

We are not going to tell you that your journey is going to be easy.  There are going to be times when you will wish you were like everyone else.  You may be sad and you may wonder why this was your fate.  Just know that it is okay to have those feelings.  We will always be here for you with a handful of those surrounding us ready to love and support you in whatever you may need.  Nothing in life worth living for was ever easy.  And how do you become the person you want to become without opportunities to be challenged along the way?  Embrace these challenges and know you will be better for it.  Not to spoil the ending… but your journey is unfolding exactly as it should be and everything is going to be okay.  Better than okay.

And just remember, your sister and I, family, friends and the Lord God above loves you deeply just the way you are.  And we want you to love you just the way you are too.  Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart (Psalms 31:24).  All that matters is what is in your heart.  Fill your heart with joy and it will spill over onto everyone else.  Know that you are so blessed and God has given you so many talents.  It is up to you to unlock the doors to those talents and let them come out to play.  You are capable of wonderful things.  Yes you are… we have already witnessed it.

And what you do in this world is up to you.

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
~ William Arthur Ward

So as you go through life, hold your head up high and feel confident in knowing just how extraordinary you are.  For before you were even born you were so loved by so many.  Never before was there ever a YOU in this world. YOU are the one everyone is excited to meet.  You were called a miracle, inspiration, prince and a blessing by so many people before you ever opened your eyes.  You will always be a symbol of hope, of love and of life.  But to me & your sister, you will always be… our hero.  And love you we will… always and forever… to infinity and beyond.

XOXO, Nanay

To my daughter,

From the moment I knew you were going to be the baby princess, my heart rejoiced for you.  What an honor in life to get to grow up with with the title of “little sis.”  With this title comes lots of happy things: lots of freebies, fun and the occasional squabble.  (Occasional is me being optimistic here.)  Well let me tell you… the key to being a good little sister is that word love. All little sisters are responsible for teaching, helping and loving their big brothers.  And I have no doubt in my mind that you will embrace these tasks wholeheartedly.

But, ‘Gel… there is something else you should know.  Your brother isn’t like other big brothers.  He is fragile, and he needs a lot more care and attention than you and he will always be that way.  When you were still young, you didn’t even notice.  But there will come a time in your life when you will understand that your big brother is different.   What I want you to know is that different doesn’t mean anything other than that.  In our house, different will always be said with a smile.  Different will always define who we are and we will take on that word with pride.  Different will never mean wrong or bad.  Different is beautiful.

And as your big brother’s little sister, that word love and responsibility will take on more meaning.  You see, he will be loved by you and he will look up to you.  You will be such an influence in his life now and always.  Know that if you show him respect, so will others.  You are such a natural-born leader, I know that you will have no problems in leading the charge.  But this is your journey too.  And I know that some days are going to be harder than others.  But I promise to always be here for you.  And so will be your family, relatives, friends, and so many others.

Over the course of your seven years here on Earth, you have surprised many people… especially me.  There have been many wonderful words people have used to describe you, but the one I hear on a daily basis is: smart.  And just as it is every parents’ duty to discover their child’s talents… we feel we already know yours.  ‘Gel, your ability to remember and learn and teach are talents that God has blessed you with.  Don’t think this happened by accident.  You should know that God doesn’t work that way.  He gave you these talents for a reason and He will reveal His purpose for you.

I want to educate everyone one day at a time about what it is that makes your brother different and how we can all learn something from that.  We hope you allow your experiences to light your way… sharing your story and moving others’ to be better.  You were given a gift, just like your brother, to have the ability to change the world.

More than anything… your big brother & I feel so blessed to have you as our baby princess.  You have taught us what it means to love even when your heart feels like it couldn’t possibly hold any more love, it expands in a way to make room for more.  Your smile melts our worries away and your laugh makes us wonder if there is anything in life that sounds sweeter.  Thank you for being a light in our lives and we look forward to watching you shine on and on as you wish upon your star.  We love you so much!

XOXO, Nanay

❤ ❤ ❤

P.S. Here’s a song I used to listen to when you were still little babies. It gave me strength and encouragement to go on with life amidst all the strugles and challenges. I will catch a unicorn for you if I could. You’re my bubbly little man and beautiful lady, I hope you will never change. Life has so much to offer you, I know. I love you both more than anything else in this world. You make my life this complete. You are both my life’s greatest pleasures all rolled up into one.

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Find Yourself Before You Find Love

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“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

After a few years of living through the betrayal and anger of my ex husband, my friends decided it was time for me to start dating again.

They took me out to the bars, dressed me up, bought me drinks, and showed all the men how cute I was.

I didn’t feel cute. I felt like a fraud.

The bar scene was not for me. I felt like a piece of meat wrapped in cellophane on the shelf waiting for a man to decide which one he’d like to eat.

I dressed up in my newly skinny body and looked the part of the fun loving girl, but inside all I felt was desperation.

I put on make up so men would think I was pretty.

I went through tortures of pilates exercise so my body would look good for others to gaze at.

I smiled and giggled so men would think I was fun and funny.

I didn’t feel fun, funny, pretty, or like I wanted to be looked at. I felt scared.

I kept grasping at a portrait of who I wanted everyone to think I was. I so wanted to be this picture perfect representation that I thought men wanted. I wanted a man to like me so I could feel loved and validated.

I finally realized my imaginary self-portrait was who others wanted, not who I wanted to be now. I was not being true to my new self.

So I trashed the portrait, went home, and got my act together.

I wanted to find love again but not like this. Not by picking up someone in a bar who was looking for love in all the wrong places, just like I was doing. I needed to learn to love myself, because no one else could do it for me.

I wanted to find love by knowing who I was. Then I could find someone who complemented me. So I stopped going out and started to learn who I was, what I wanted in life, and what I deserved in a man.

What I did learn from speaking to men in bars is that real men want real women. I decided to learn how to be real. Learning how to be real would require some investigative research on my part. I had lost myself in my marriage. It was time to find me.

I decided to step out of my proverbial box. I had to try new things and figure out what activities I liked, and which ones I needed to stay away from.

I travelled to developing rural areas. I had my palm read and visited a mind reader. I went food tripping, took up yoga, learned to meditate, hiked on volcanoes, rode zip lines through the forest, joined book clubs, learned to meditate, I found out what tai chi was.

I started to visit international restaurants. I went to museums and hung out in coffee shops. I got into my first Wattpad organization and started to get active. I tried things I had always wanted to do but never could while I was married.

I had fun. I learned that I favored Chinese food over Italian food. I learned that I can forget all the troubles in the world whenever I bake. I learned things about me I never knew.

I stopped wearing most of the make up I had worn thinking it made me look good so men would like me. Instead I decided to look good for myself.

I stared at myself in the mirror and told myself over and over that I am beautiful, even though I didn’t believe it. The more I told myself I was beautiful, the more I began to feel good about myself.

I wanted my beauty to be defined by my self-confidence that began to return when I started to truly believe in what I began to represent.

I started to dress the way I wanted to feel, not the way I wanted to be looked at. I wanted free flowing clothes that I could move in. I wanted to be able to feel my body, not the clothes pinching me.

I started to exercise because it made me feel good, not so I would look good. I accomplished both by doing what I wanted for me, not for them. I found exercise that I loved to do. I increased my pilates exercise and kept on walking, even planning to try rowing and biking.

I stopped going to bars to meet men. Instead, I went to the occasional hang outs with friends.

I stopped looking at men as the answer to my problems and started looking at me to solve them.

I realized that to find a man that had the same interests I had, I better know what my interests are.

When I learned what I liked, I became happier than I had ever been before. I learned to be true to me, not someone else.

I realized that I had been incomplete without the knowledge to define my own boundaries, my likes, and my dislikes. Without knowing what my boundaries were, I would never attract a person into my life that could live within my boundaries. I had never known how to define and stand up for my own beliefs.

When I felt confident with my new self, it was then that I became ready with a new steady omnipresent love. He just knocks me off my feet, but he also teaches me that I am already far better educated to know how it pays to wait for that right timing specifically for what I wanted and how I wanted to be treated. It was far better than telling someone to take me on a romantic date, when I couldn’t define what I thought a romantic date was.

So get on with it, what are you waiting for? Get out there and experience the beauty of life. Find out who and what you are. Live life by yourself; be happy by yourself. It’s your life; make it what you want. Don’t look for someone else to do it for you, because they can’t. Only you can know who you really are.

 

P.S. here’s a lovely playlist I made a year before I even met him which by the way gave me true inspiration that I have right now, hoping it would also give inspiration to others out there. XOXO

 

[FOOD REVIEW]: Josephine’s Pizza (Delicious Home Made Goodness)

 

Home made dough, real cheese, and good quality ingredients. We really enjoyed the pizza and also the great location just a few steps away from the beach! Josephine’s real American pizza in Digos is the best pizza that I ‘ve ever had.

 These are only a few of the comments being said from the customers who have been to this place. The only thing better than pizza and beer is pizza and beer with the people you love. My friends and I met at Josephine’s located near Aplaya Beach, Digos City to catch up on over a delicious meal and it proved to be a place I’ll be returning to again soon. Good food being shared with good people always bring good memories that are worth keeping.

 

 

Josephine’s has a variety of artisan wood-fired pizzas that you could spend your whole moment contemplating over. The good news is that the server/owner, Ms. Josephine Rible Alferez herself, can help you over with the pizza that speaks to you since the varieties range from bold, bolder, to boldest. Some of the finest gourmet ingredients they use include: spicy chili flakes, tomato sauce, pesto, fresh bell peppers, anchovies, arugula, ricotta, parsley, black olives,crushed red peppers, capers, mozzarella, prosciutto, pepperoni, onions, juicy pineapple slices, organic mushrooms . . . . you get the idea.

 

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Since my friends and I are absolute organic veggie fanatics, we opted for something that sounded a bit lighter. Their vegetarian pizza is actually full of premium grade cheese, and for us it’s pure heavenly goodness because we’re all cheese lovers too. After our order was served to our table, and even more so after the first bite, I couldn’t have been happier with our pizza choice. It’s certainly the best combination of fresh ingredients, delicious crispy crust with a spicy marinara enhanced by the red chili flakes — definitely a match in heaven!

 

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Overall, Josephine’s had a pleasant, refreshingly ambiance by the beach minus all that stuffiness you could expect at a sea-side restaurant. The service was delightfully fantastic and the interior is warm and welcoming, perfect for date nights or for dinner gatherings and/or drinks with friends.

A recent visitor compared them to a “food porn by the beach” with wood paneling and flower drop decorations. The owner’s only warning? “The crushed red peppers is spicier than you think.” My favorite comment though? “Josephine’s, you had me at crushed red peppers.”

 

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Dear crushed red peppers,

 

I’ll be back for you. 

With love and my best intentions,

Joy ❤

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A Panda Love Affair To Remember

As far as I can remember, it’s been quite a while since I felt that tinge of creative passion to write in my blog. For the past few weeks, there had been so many circumstances in my life and it wasn’t that easy for me to move on but eventually I did!

Life… ah well, no one can really give true justice to the real meaning of it. May it be for tons and tons of scientific or religious explanation, even the great philosophers can’t define why such events and happenings strangely occur as a person’s existence come and go.

Strange eh? Well… the universe must have a reason that even man could not fathom. Like that unexplainable feeling when I met “Darcy”, it was totally love at first sight. The moment we met… ah, I couldn’t help but totally fall in love — even head over heels! The feeling of comfort and peace was all there. I even flashed my brightest smile even though it was just the first time. Though I’m a very busy person and time is of the essence to me — I never hesitated on staying a bit longer, my world was swirling with real happiness as we spent quality time together.

And thankfully, it was all worth it. I went home with a happy heart and a very full tummy ❤

Located along Damosa Gateway, Mamay Road corner J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City — Darcy’s Place stands proud and cheerfully invites customers through their very cute and chubby display of panda stuffed toys, chic lit books, coffee mugs, artsy portraits, cute trinkets, and even bamboo bonsai ferns. The place gives off that really happy and peaceful vibe that makes their loyal customers keep coming back for more.

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And their simply delicious food….mmmm just thinking about it again makes me want to go back.

Every Monday to Thursday from 8am to 11am, they serve these two pieces of yummy homemade pancakes plus unlimited freshly brewed Café Americano for only P99 per meal. How cool is that?

Just last month of April, they started their Pasta Friday Madness promo for only P250 you get to savor unlimited gourmet pasta dishes from various origins every Fridays of the month from 6pm to 10pm. They also have a wide variety of yummy food in their menu that’s indeed sure to please your palate.

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Sending good vibes all the way! When you’re in Davao City, don’t forget to have your happy dose of Panda-awesomeness, great coffee and delicious food at ‪Darcy’s Place. Don’t forget to take a selfie though. Click! Click! Flash! Flash! xoxo ❤

There’s a Cheesecake for Everybody: Where to Get Your Cheesecake Fix in Digos City

Blueberry cheesecake makes me think like a little bit of heavenly lovin’ here…

Imagine a velvety soft and luscious cream bodied together with a finely crushed crust, and topped with assorted delicious ingredients like savory fruits, crunchy nuts, sweet syrups — anything you can ever fancy of. Everybody loves cheesecake, may it be baked or no-bake.

Last November 2014, I started learning to whip up my own recipe of this amazingly immaculate dessert and my first taste testers were my family, and my apartment landlords Rodney and Eve Dixon (who, later on became my avid customers). Generally, people loves the no-bake cheesecake version because of its light ice-creamy texture. Unlike its baked counterpart which is a bit dry and almost like a pastry.

My version of the No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake is made with pure cream cheese and premium ingredients. Some of my customers are not a fan of sweets so I try to do a bit of moderation here and there for the right balance of flavors, just the way I like my cheesecakes. If you also love no-bake cheesecake and you happen to be in our humble city of Digos, try out Kalipay Kopikeyks No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake. You can contact me through my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/letsconrealities

Oh well, I never thought we’d end up on another food trip with the office mates (been rambling about CAKES in the office all day). It was a bit rainy so we ended up going to Shuttlecock Cafe and Gym. Located right between Roxas Extension and Luna Extension (at the back of Fire and Ice), this very spacious coffee shop slash badminton gym is just the right place for a good slice of cake.

All pastries are baked fresh every day in their very own commissary, including their mouthwatering cheesecakes. Really nice ambiance…..like I could just bring a book and feel carefree sitting in their big sofa couches while listening to their cool jazz music and sipping my smoothie.

They have a very good list of food in the menu, we ordered No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake (it was out of curiosity for me). My office mates ordered Choco Loco To-Go, and Spaghetti. In an instant, we got our cake cravings fixed. Y U M M Y !

Need a cheesecake fix? Don’t forget to share a slice…

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Of Summer Sunshine, Tropical Pineapples, And The Perfect Dope Playlist

It wouldn’t be complete without dedicating the perfect playlist for today’s post:

Oh summer, you’re finally here! It gets even better when I think of all the possibilities and memories that I’ll soon treasure, and all the blog posts that I’m yet to share. Today I’m paying tribute to my site, let’s talk about PINEAPPLES! In Chinese tradition, it’s a symbol of good luck, wealth, good health, and prosperity. But let’s not really get too deep on those facts. Don’t get me wrong, I like pineapples…but I like them more on my plate. I’d be like Mmmm those luscious juicy mouth watering God-given gift for Mother Nature. And what better ingredient a pineapple can be? Oh yeah PIZZA that is…

I’m talking about this new Pizza House & Cafe in our humble city of Digos that offers nothing but only superb delicious food for the palate. You see, this popular country-style pizza cafe is nice and extra cozy (makes you feel like HOME). My friends and I tried out their pizza once (that was last year) and we keep coming back for more. The fresh ingredients, flavorful dough, and the immaculate burst of herbs and toppings (imagine their cheese and you’d be like, ooh HEAVENLY). Help yourself to this super-duper cheesy and really satisfying (not gluttony, though) pizza serving.

Their pizza comes in different sizes, the Solo(6 inches), Barkada(10 inches), Familia(12 inches), and “the” Fiesta(14 inches). Their pizza price ranges from Php50 to Php495. There are also lots of superb desserts and beverages, especially their perfect house blend iced tea and their thirst quenching lemonade!

Next time we’ll definitely try some other dishes on their menu. All of their food taste really GOOD, but I’d give a thumb’s up and recommend their variety of popular pizza dishes (their main-attraction menu) because it’s really delicious. Summer bucket list wouldn’t be complete without the Daddy’s Pizza & Cafe experience, located at Gallarde Street, beside Holy Cross Academy.

P.S. They also have new flavors for Vegetarians and this Lenten Season! PIZZA with no MEAT!!! You may want to check their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theBESTpizzaever?fref=nf

…but for now, lemme take a selfie:

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How The World Saved Me : A Blessing in Disguise

I may be 3 inches smaller than yesterday. There are tiny crevices everywhere that keep sprouting out of nowhere and I find different kinds in everyday, some smaller than the first. I slip and find a wonderland, a time warp of amazing things. This is life — you get used to the daily grind and then you snap back. Something happens and you’re back to seeing things in a new perspective. Suddenly, all is new.

It was probably a year into work when I rediscovered momentum. In college I was confined to studying. My adventure bones were locked in a safe I didn’t have the passcode to. And then one day, I found it in gleaming fairy lights: LIFE is the password.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde

Once I got the drive to really live it up, I had a newfound sense of belief and passion. I dwelt in infinite possibilities because I saw the world and realized that because we are this and this is now, nothing is impossible.

I lacked color so I went outside. The sun felt prickly on my skin but all the shades of blue I didn’t know were everywhere and the discovery was endless. So then and there I decided that I will never stay under the shade for too long. I will let the world color me, outside the outlines of my skin. I will always go, always do, because I learned it long and hard: one of the worst things you can do is not do. Don’t ever stop trying.

Now I’ve become the kind of person who lives to try, because as far as cliches go, there’s nothing to lose. And if ever there is, remember this: there’s also something to gain.

Opening up to the world was my rebirth. It allowed me to see beauty, honesty, and the good in the most unexpected places. I started dreaming dreams so big they could swallow me whole. These big dreams make you nervous and their vastness looms over you but that only means you’re in the right direction.

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Sometimes I can’t help it. I get scared. Fear is not a choice, but what you do with it is. I traded fear for experience. The world taught me how to take fear by the hand, always believing in the great landing that comes after the big leap. I have been leaping for a couple of years now, and it has stretched me well beyond reason.

I have learned that some of the greatest experiences live in fear, so sometimes you have to knock on its door and face it, snatch your experience from it and be done with it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that turns your life around.Image

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The places I’ve been and the people I met along the way peeled my fears away. Sometimes all you have to do is speak, share, or ask. The world opened me to possibilities so I learned not to discount anything. It taught me to speak transcendently, to move through maps, to be patient amidst unbearable circumstances, to appreciate daily wonders such as sunsets, to trust the kindness of strangers, and to have the conviction of never losing hope.

I believe in longshots, in one in a billion probabilities. It will always be too early to strike anything off when it comes to things you can do. There’s always that gamechanger, that trailblazer, and it could be you.

There is so much self discovery in the world, so much to take in. It makes my head spin, a natural vertigo. I have never felt more lost but I have also never felt more sure of who I am.

So fell down the rabbit hole of seeing beyond buildings or oceans or people. I want to know the stories that make them up and explore the immensity of it all.

The unknown used to bother me, but I realized that everything I have loved took root from it. Now I live by this: “When nothing is sure, Everything is possible — Margaret Drabble.”

The world saved me because it showed me in so many ways that if this kind of wonder is possible then what isn’t? Because there is so much I want to know, see, do, I fell in love with movement. With going. With never standing still. With not getting too comfortable.

My story has just begun, my adventure just starting. I’m ready to shake it up and discover all the colors of life that have yet to be named.