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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[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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My Journey To #EatPrayLove (Ep.1)

Was in Durian City with my foodie friends over the weekend; and of course, a large part of our trip was devoted to food tripping at local restos. I had stumbled upon Lyndon’s on the Facebook account of my foodie enthusiast balikbayan friend who visited Davao City during his vacation break early July, and was immediately intrigued by the name.

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Wait….what? Did I read it right?

What self-respecting restaurant would call its ribs the “world’s worst” and its chicken “awful”?

Of course, yours truly-ly just had to investigate. So we set off one evening, hailing a taxi which took us to the downtown part of Davao City. Truth be told, the area looked rather sketchy (one of my Manileño foodie friends who came with us even said it’s like being along C.M. Recto in Manila at night); and Lyndon’s turned out to be a more unassuming establishment than we had thought.

Check out their funny and interestingly unique menu for more imaginatively (and self-deprecatingly) named dishes:

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Here’s the eponymous ribs, and you can specify the quantity you wanted to order:

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Lyla’s (Lyndon’s girlfriend/wife, perhaps?) the “Awful Chicken”:

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The two varieties of “Tasteless Pancit”, represent!

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Hail to the ever so “Disgusting Tilapia”:

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And finally, Han’s Horrible Spicy Mechado and Leonardo’s Rubbish Caldereta:

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Obviously we got curious and so we asked the waiter why their dishes were named as such. He admitted that it was really to downplay or lessen the customers’ expectations of their food. Hmm nice (I’ve read somewhere in Entrepreneur magazine that you have to plan already your exit strategy for your company from day one, so I’m guessing this could be their way of guerilla marketing) but still, oh well, maybe there is something to be said about this particular strategy.

Ah so this is my favorite part, we quickly dug in once our orders came in.  Here’s the ribs, which looked really appetizing rather than being the world’s worst (just take a closer look at that):

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Here’s my order of awful chicken (rather, looks scrumptiously juicy):

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Oh what else can I say on this serving of “Fish Be With You”, pretty please?:

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Long life to the humongous plate of their “Tasteless Pancit Canton”:

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Here’s my kaluuurky friend Zarah’s handful of “Tadyang ni Ruby”:

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And, finally (play the Chinese chau gong please) here’s their delicious serving of THE “Leonardo’s Rubbish Caldereta”:

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Oh yes most definitely, we were all hungry alright. ^_^

One thing you can say about THE food is that it’s the complete opposite of the restaurant’s name. Their dishes really proved to be quite tasty, definitely nowhere near being the worst in the world, and good value for money too!

Our guest foodie even said they have the best ribs he had ever tasted and rivals the one in Racks Tomas Morato QC. Another foodie in our group surmised that the ribs were marinated in Sprite (soda), which helped account for its delicious taste. It has that sweet (but not overpowering) barbecue sauce, and the meat is just so soft that it literally falls off the bones, truly amazing!  The chicken was also very tasty as well as the Tadyang ni Ruby (technically lechon kawali). The tasteless pancit canton is not tasteless at all, it was brimming with lots of healthy yummy vegetables and in fact the serving was so big we even had leftovers for BH.

The one thing we didn’t like was the Papaitan (photo not shown) but the rest was superb! I would have eaten in here every weekend if my companions allowed it (but they didn’t, so..). Our total bill was just around Php900+ which was not bad for 6-8 people with huge appetite. If you are going to Davao, definitely stop by at this place and try their food. You would miss half of your life if you didn’t, no kidding!

Wait there’s more….check out Lyndon’s colorful decor as well:

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What can I say? There’s definitely good strategy to this owner’s madness ;-D

So with a happy, bulging tummy we set off to find a coffee place. We saw one nearby named New Orleans Cafe. My foodie friend ordered the Bailey’s Coffee, which costs 120php, but oh it wasn’t that good (sorry). It does taste like the alcohol drink Bailey’s but it lacks the taste of coffee. They have a variety of food, not just deserts and coffee but even main courses. We wanted to try their cakes but we were still so full from the ribs attacking that we just did.

Later on, everyone decided to try the last minute dessert before going home. Light bulb struck me again as I thought of the Facebook account I’ve mentioned earlier about my foodie enthusiast balikbayan friend who visited Davao City during his vacation break. And so….we hailed a taxi en route to MTS (that’s Matina Town Square, by the way) for a much-deserved deliciously creamy halo-halo treat at Aling Foping’s Halo-Halo Atbp. ❤

Indeed, Davaoeños have greatly equated the word “halo-halo” to Aling Foping’s establishment. I have been to Matina Town Square several times before but I was not convinced to visit their humble food-place until just recently (it took some convincing photo powers from my balikbayan friend to make that happen) just take a look at that lovely shot he made:

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Aling Foping’s has a cool concept because you can customize your halo-halo! Isn’t it just amazing? In most restaurants that serve halo-halo, they have a single recipe for all. But this one is different because you get to choose your own ingredients. You will basically fill up a small form wherein you can pick from a wide range of available ingredients and then they’d prepare your halo-halo for you! No need to deal with ingredients you don’t like because every bite consists of only the ingredients you picked yourself (again, this is a nice concept of guerilla marketing huh, don’t you think?)

The regular halo-halo is currently priced at Php85 while a special halo-halo will set you back at Php105. Ingredients that you can choose from include the following: gulaman, kaong, langka, macapuno, nata de coco, pinipig, red mongo, saba, sago, white beans, and a serving each of ube and leche flan. Of all these, I am crazy about the pinipig and the ube! I’ve never expected that I would love ube (that catchy Cornetto jingle ad suddenly flashes in my mind: uuuuuuube-be I looove your way…everyday…yeeaaah) as much as I do now!

In comparison though, I felt that Prangel’s halo-halo from our humble city of Digos is still the best (naks, alangan noh!). That is not meant to take anything away from Aling Foping’s halo-halo; after all, most Davaoeños seem to really love it and it’s not just all about what’s hype. I just felt that it’s a little too pricey for only six ingredients. But this is just my opinion though, they’re both equally very good and satisfyingly delicious in their own different recipe and pricing variations. Okay? Okay! We’re good, right? Now, moving on…. ^_^

//photo credits to Tito Maykee. Check out more of his food adventures and daily musings HERE.

❤ ❤ ❤

After a couple of empowering conversations and life-telling stories with these two amazing women in my workplace, I was able to ponder what my mother once said to me when I had my first successful cooked meal in the kitchen: that the best friendships are built on a solid foundation on similar likeness of pleasant conversations, silly laughter, and eating good food.

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Funny though, before we even arrived at Avenue One Hotel, I was already deeply moved because these two pretty ladies (namely, Janna and Foramel) rushed in to fetch me right after their Bangko Sentral symposium/seminar that same day. Indeed, my mother’s words suddenly rushed into my head as I stared at these two pretty ladies in front of me that moment we gathered for another food trip and conversations:

. . . .over a tall glass of refreshingly delicious pineapple shake:

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. . . .special chocolate dreamy moist cake:

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. . . . it’s so moist believe me, this is the reason why I went to Avenue One:

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. . . . and a healthy serving of chopsuey and rice:   Flare Lite_20150728_185625

All this stuff made me remember having these empowering books that I bought for only Php20 each at Booksale SM Davao. I still have to read them though…

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And so…. right after we were done with our food, we were all brimming with generous helpings of lessons learned and this rich wide array of inspirations in life that we will surely share all through out the next generations. XOXO

❤ PS. Share some love, follow the adventures of Janna and Foramel on IG:

https://instagram.com/iamforamel/

https://instagram.com/itsactuallynorjanna/