Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aqua Blue - Lime Green First Birthday Party!

We initially wanted to do away with the celebration of Zohan's first birthday. Everything we did on August 18, which I had written here, was already a perfect celebration for me. I mean, Zohan just turned one! He wouldn't remember any of it even if we invited the president of the Philippines to blow the candles for him.

But as his birthday drew near, people had been raising eyebrows left and right whenever the husband and I would voice out our dislike for hosting a party. Even our immediate families had been sending signals of disapproval, so to cut the long story short, we decided on a simple lunch to celebrate the boy's birthday.

However, even if we stressed on the "simple", that's hardly ever the case when we host an event. It would always end up anything but simple - perhaps because we both came from big extended families and a bunch of common friends. So what really happened last Sunday was a festive lunch for the adults, and a swimming party for the kids.

I didn't prepare any games. I figured that throwing a bunch of kids on the swimming pool - with abundant food on the table when they grew tired of swimming - would be just as fun. (Of course, the real reason was I was too lazy to prepare games, and too thrifty to spend for an entire entertainment party package.)

I was also careful not to give in to all the "themed birthdays" scattered all over the internet. If I would work on a theme, it would be opening the sluice gate to all the party essentials attached to it. (I'm speaking of party loot bags, greeting flags, photo booths, dainty dessert table, give-aways, etc, etc.) I thought a color wouldn't hurt – so we had an aqua blue-lime green party. 

My party inspiration for the colors could be found here. (I wanted to publish the photos here, but given the recent Sotto-plagiarism hullabaloo, it's best to just direct you to the site. If you want to have theme-inspired parties, that site is a haven!)


I decided against getting an all-in catering service in order to save up money. That meant affordable but more complicated party planning because I had to scout for different suppliers for almost every thing. For balloons, tables and chairs, I chanced upon Bing's Balloons on the internet. 

A month before the event, I met up with one of their staffs to make sure they had the perfect hues for the blue-green party I was gunning for. I only settled on a color theme, so it better looked uniform. Good thing, they had the perfect shades of aqua blue and lime green - which translated into balloons and table cloth covers. 

On the date of the event, the staff arrived early to set up. Bing, the owner, was also there to supervise the work. They gave a very professional service, and affordable, too. They charged P350 for a 10-seater table-and-chairs, P150 per centerpiece balloon arrangement, and P150 per ceiling-balloon arrangement. 


Food had to be good because it would be the only thing people would go to our party for, given the absence of games and activities. I booked Aling Teresing's. (They had no website, but this article was a good review.) Considering that we had a bunch of kids as guests, ordering food on a per-head basis would be costly and impractical. I ordered viands in bulk and calculated the quantity that would suffice for our guests, which I approximated to be 150. Our guests commended the food, which made me one happy party planner! We had Baked Spareribs, Morcon, Roast Beef, Cordon Bleu, Buttered Tanigue, and Green Peas with Quail Eggs. For dessert, we had buko salad. I anticipated that the kids would go hungry after swimming, so I asked Nana Azon to cook lumpiang shanghai. Nonna also ordered Amber's Pancit Malabon and Spaghetti. 

Aling Teresing's Catering

4704 Balagtas St., Don Galo, ParaƱaque City
02(852-52-42) and 02(851-26-74)


1173 Chino Roces Avenue,
San Antonio Village, Makati City
(02) 403-7777 to 78


Despite the original plan to go for something simple, I was adamant to get a pretty cake and cupcakes. It would give life to my color theme, and kids would surely enjoy munching on some pretty cupcakes. I chose Kalea's Food Confections because of the good reviews about her work. I narrowed down a handful of suppliers for cakes and cupcakes, and Kalea's price was one of the most affordable, so it had to be her. The cake's design was also inspired  by the blue-green themed party of the Hostess with the Mostess, which I had linked to above.

I ordered 50 cupcakes, which also elicited great comments from our guests. 

 Kids licked it with so much gusto! 

Kalea's Food Confections
San Antonio Valley 3, Sucat, ParaƱaque

One of our friends, Mel, was so nice to gift Zohan with more cupcakes! Hers was more sophisticated because they were individually wrapped, with birthday tags and Zohan's picture and all. And it's a gift, so I would take anything like that anytime :) Her cousin, a budding pastry supplier, did the job. I wasn't able to taste it because they sold like hot "cupcakes" haha, but I've been told they tasted good. Details below:

Sweet Blossoms by Heidi Cardenas

Email her at: mahhc_huesca727@yahoo.com
Cell No.: 0932-890-0727


Do-it-yourself (DIY) parties were such a hit nowadays. (Or perhaps, I only came across them now that I became a mom.) When I browsed different party planning sites, I was inspired to cut out birthday banners and cupcake toppers and all that jazz. But when I get down to it, I would suddenly feel sleepy and uninspired! 

So, here came Party Starters. If you wanted an artsy feel for your parties, but your time, or your hands, wouldn't let you do the craft, contact Mitch! She created Zohan's invitation,  and she could do a lot more! They could also supply a lot of party needs. Visit Party Starter's Facebook Page here and you would be transported to a local Martha Stewart. (Oh, and she's so nice and accommodating to my requests!) 

Address and number intentionally blurred


I would have to admit that there's still a sentimental side to this no-fuss mama. I imagined the delight of looking at old photos several years down the road. And since I did not want to delegate the job to a poor friend or relative, I decided to get the most affordable photo coverage there was in the metro. And boy, are they affordable! 

Studio 2716 Photography Services consisted of young photographers, and what I liked about young freelancers were the fresh ideas and the adrenalin they had. Judging by the photos below, they did a pretty good job. However, since our guests were scattered in different nooks and crannies, they weren't able to give everyone equal exposure! Some of our guests had one photo while others landed on a hundred. (Of course, I was exaggerating, but you get the drift.) Despite that one tiny setback, I would still get their services for future events, and I hoped they maintain their affordable price.

There you go! It was a very tiring, but fun day for us! I wasn't sure if we would have the same plans for the next birthdays. We would prefer to keep it modest and simple next time. And I'm guessing Zohan would give a whole new meaning to "terrible" two, so, we might just stay at home and sleep it away! Haha.

Happy Birthday Z! Tatay and Nanay love you - from the time that you were conceived. And there's nothing you can do to make us love you any more or any less. But please, do not work too hard on the "any less" part. :) 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zohan Turns One!

If there was wisdom in procrastination, this would be it. We put off reserving the 18th of August in the function room of our condo for Zohan's birthday celebration because the husband - in a very Kristan-fashion - reasoned it was way too early to reserve. (He wanted to chill and procrastinate like that.) As luck would have it, the date of Zohan's actual birthday had already been booked more than a month before

You could just imagine the dagger looks I was throwing at the husband's direction, and I vowed never to listen to his wisdom again. I thought I have repeated that many times over for him to get the message. But if you know him, I bet, what he had in mind the whole time I was nagging was the image of him being rocked in a hammock on a tree in a mid-day sun as he sipped his freshly made fruit shake. Nothing could ruffle his feathers, and I hate that. (Okay, sometimes, I thank him for that.)

So anyway, since we could not schedule the party on the 18th of August, we had to settle for the August 19 slot.

Zohan and I woke up early on his birthday. I showered him with kisses all over to greet him Happy Birthday, but I knew he wouldn't appreciate all of that. So I gave him something that would truly make him happy on his first birthday - freedom!

If you were also a working mom, like me, who couldn't get to play with your babies during the day, you might have a similar dilemma. Having a trusted babysitter could, albeit unintentionally, make your child sheltered. And not in a good way. 

As I had observed, babysitters had this tendency to be overprotective knowing that they would be held accountable for whatever happened to the child to the extent of sacrificing the child's opportunity to explore. That's why, every chance I get, I would always bring my child to the playground and allow him more room to explore his surroundings, to pick up that fallen leaf, or crawl to the ground, or stand up on his wobbly knees, or to do practically everything that a person other than his mother would be afraid to approve of. 

Having grown up in the province where kids were allowed to play on the ground from sunrise to sunset, with barely a supervision, I felt like I was depriving my child a lot by sheltering him within the confines of our room. I put to heart that TV ad, where the mommy would say, "When you say YES, that's when he learns best."  Unfortunately, I earned the ire of other mommies and nannies on the playground because of such attitude.  (I maybe the most unpopular mommy on the block.)

After all that playing, poor boy dozed off. Then, we headed to Glorietta for the obligatory first hair cut. We had a “pamahiin” in the province that the kid would emulate whoever cut his hair for the first time. I gave the honor to the husband. Here's a before-the-haircut photo with his Nonna.

Knowing how fussy and edgy Zohan could get around strangers, I was betting my date nights that he wouldn't allow anyone to touch his hair without putting up a good fight. True enough, he settled into the seat and played with the car-chair only for a while.

 Then, when the entire “cutting team” went full force with all their games, he cried and held his breath like he always did.

 Eventually, the monumental haircutting was finished, but only because his Tatay carried him the entire time!

After I've seen him without those misbehaved hair-strands which perpetually crowded his face, I felt an unexplainable gentle tug in my heart.  He no longer looked like a baby to me, and I affirmed this with his Tatay. He, too, had his moment of sadness, but I guess that came with the territory.

After the haircut, we whiffed off the drama and headed to J.Co. for some merienda, care of Nonna, of course. (When she's here, she's in charge!)  Zohan had his first donut, well, sans the coatings and all the sweet stuff. It was also his first time to be in Greenbelt, would you believe? And his second time to be in a mall. (First time was written here.) There's also a wisdom in not lugging around the baby to the mall, go ask the husband.

I hate to accept this, but as it turned out, his procrastination in making the reservation for the venue paid off. I realized it was happier to celebrate his birthday that way – with just us, family - in a very simple manner. In fact, it felt like an ordinary day with no special food on the table or birthday candles to blow. And that actually suited as a family - no fuss, simple, loving and happy.

It made me appreciate more the things that mattered. I have a husband, whose strength of character I truly admire. I have a mother who never stopped becoming one to me, to my son and to my husband. And I have a son, whose arrival changed me for the better, and whose first birthday I celebrated with so much happiness. Could it be any better than that? I guess no amount of birthday party can beat that!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nanay will appear on TV!

I might regret announcing this several years down the road, but for posterity's sake, this blogpost needs to hit "publish".

I used to be a part-time professor. I taught Criminal Law I, a freshman subject in lawschool, for two academic years, in one of the small universities here in Makati. By the time that I was about to embark on my third year, I got pregnant and had to painfully decline the teaching post. 

So when the Dean of that lawschool called me one day to bully persuade me into appearing in a legal segment on local TV, part of me was excited to touch base once again with criminal law. I declined, though, because you know, it would be broadcasted on national television and  there's just too much concern that automatically surfaced. Larger than life stuff, like I didn't have a good dress; TV would add ten pounds; I was busy preparing for Zohan's birthday; I would need a killer high heels and we were on a budget and killer heels meant good money; I might get criticized on TV; and I was painfully shy. I knew that these were horrible, horrible thoughts, but they were genuinely of concern to me. 

But Dean said all the right words like: that she wouldn't get me if she knew I wasn't capable; that I was only declining because I was shy but I would get my way around it once I was there; that it's a fun experience that I shouldn't miss, yadah yadah. You know the words your boss would say to get you up your feet and do the job. (I love you, Dean!) So, there, I made what could be the biggest mistake of my life and said Yes.

I was scheduled to "shoot" a week-long episode of Legal Forum, a public service program hosted by Atty. Joji Alonso, where she discussed and tried to provide answers to actual legal problems sent by their viewers. I would be the guest resource person to answer questions on criminal law. The shooting was scheduled on a Saturday afternoon, which coincided with Zohan's check-up, so I had to bring along the boy with me because we would be headed to his pedia afterwards.

I was given five problem situations, which I discussed the best way I know how. It was terrifying at the beginning, and I never really became comfortable until the very end! After the shooting, the husband, ever so supportive, congratulated me. I said I wasn't happy with the way it turned out because I felt like I was so stiff and unnatural. He said, "Of course, you'll be stiff and unnatural. Artista ka 'teh, para maging natural na natural?? Tsaka national TV yon, alangan naman magpakatotoo ka!" Hahaha! Well, he had a point. It would be disastrous to have a beki for your lawyer.

But you know what really made me happy that day? THESE:

Thanks to Ninang KQ for taking the photos. Ninang KQ shoot before me for the episodes on Sales Law. 
(I don't know the exact dates when my episodes will be aired. Or perhaps, I know, but just wouldn't tell you.) 

Truth be told, I actually had fun! I did not regret having said Yes in the first place, largely because of the cute photos of Zohan on a set of a tv program. How cool was that!

So there goes my first TV appearance. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Around this Time Some Years Ago

It seemed like only yesterday that I had the biggest fear of my life upon learning that I was pregnant. Before the thoughts of maternal responsibility and financial preparedness, what came rushing down my head were the innumerable cigarettes that I had puffed and bottles upon bottles of beers that I gulped down. Let's not even talk about going to work barely having slept, with Christmas parties and get-togethers to attend to left and right. I would still show up to work then, and just abused my body with caffeine overdose to be able to finish the tasks at hand.

That was one of the busiest times of my life, actually. I didn't realize it then. I was having the time of my life, and the only thing that mattered was what to wear for the next event.

I attended a friend's wedding in Cagayan de Oro on December 11, 2010.

I was carefree and adventurous, I was excited to see and experience the world.

At the white water rafting site in Cagayan de Oro
I was not dressing up my age. Unless there was a special occasion that would call for some serious dressing up, I would most likely be caught in sneakers (or even slippers), shirt and skimpy shorts. 

Terminal going to CDO
Around that time, I also attended another friend's wedding (18 December 2010). The greatest concern back then was to find a dress that had not yet been seen in any of my albums on Facebook.

Taken at One Esplanade, 18 December 2010

Then there was the Firm's Christmas Party - where I participated in everything there was to participate in.

Danced like there was no tomorrow!

Best in Participation ang peg ko.
There was also the obligatory dinner/get-together with our lawschool friends. You could tell that Kristan and I were a crazy couple - we were the "life of the party", so to speak. 

At Dad's Restaurant, 16 December 2010
After the dinner, we headed to a videoke bar in QC. Here is a photo of my constant drinking buddies, Fila and Kristan.

Christmas Party meant drinking, smoking and videoke-ing until the wee hours of the morning.

..And then, on 30 December 2010, after all the parties have ended and I had the chance to stand still, it dawned to me that there was something I might have missed that month. You all know what happened next - the ominous two lines appeared.

Confirmation from the doctor the following day revealed that I was six weeks on the way.

I was transported back to all the events I attended, all the cigarettes I smoked, the beers that I drank, the unhealthy foods I ate, the sleep I never had, the dancing that I did - and the thought of what all of that had done to the tiny creature growing inside me. It was a good thing that my little boy was a fighter, just like his Nanay.

He was a healthy baby and he gave me an uneventful pregnancy.

Now, look at me...

And look at Kristan...

Aren't we a revelation? =)

Sure, those pictures won't tell what kind of parents we are. We discuss whether to give that can of Piknik for Zohan to play with or just let him cry out - we are too cautious that he turns out to be a spoiled brat who can get everything in a snap just by fussing out. But there are times, we feel too lazy to read books to him at bedtime that we have to beat each other out in Jack-en-poy to decide who's turn it's gonna be. For the most part, I feel like we're still kids trying to figure out what to do. But everyday, we are trying our best. I read somewhere that we should just try to give the kids love, nurturing and just enough dysfunction to make them funny. And I think that's exactly the kind of parents we are. And I hope Zohan won't mind.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Arrival and Departure

Photo source

I meant literally "arrival and departure" at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Yep, the husband and I were there last Friday, August 3, to fetch my mother (Nanay) who was coming home from Rome, in time for Zohan's first birthday.

I was in my ratty shorts, loose shirt and slippers. It was raining so hard, and dressing up was the last thing on my mind. Besides, there was no big deal about it - we would just be parking our car for a while, check the flight bulletin, wait for Nanay to come out, wave and wait until she arrived, hug and chat, and then head back home.

Twenty-three years ago, that was not the case. 

I had mentioned here that Nanay had been working abroad even before I started Kindergarten. That meant we survived by constantly being at the arrival and departure area of the airport. It brought food to our table, it paid the medical bills when a member of the family got sick, it sent me to school, it afforded my luxuries. It helped us survive.

I couldn't remember how Nanay first left to work abroad. She went to Hong Kong and stayed there for a short while. Then, she moved to Athens, Greece. That was the time when she first went home, after six long years. She learned Greek pretty fast, and she was good in speaking the language. After Greece, she moved to Rome, Italy. You should hear her speak Italian, you would not associate the face with the language! (No pun intended, she just speaks it really good she would have been mistaken for an authentic Italian if you close your eyes.)

During the first few times of Nanay's arrival, we would rent a sarao jeepney, invite all relatives (you would be doomed if you missed out anyone) to come with us to the airport, cook food at dawn, and pack all sorts of disposables. We would arrive a few hours in advance of Nanay's ETA and then eat brunch/merienda while waiting for her to arrive. Of course, my dress for that special day had to be chosen weeks before, ironed out days before, and fitted way too many times. Spell anticipation.

Usually, I would be accompanied by an older relative to wait for the arrival of passengers on the waiting area. For twenty-three years, you could already imagine how many times I had stood by the railings of the arrival section, or how much tears I had controlled when I had to bid goodbye at the departure door. The arrival area was always a sight to behold. There was just too much excitement in that place that I felt like it could burst. 

The OFWs hugging their wives/husbands and children, while holding back tears, always hit me on the soft spot. That "first hug" told a lot - it spoke of the aching back that they had to endure, the cold temperature that they had to weather alone, the sadness and isolation in their bed before finally falling asleep, the phone calls that were unanswered because their sons or daughters were too busy to hear their cellphone ring, the pain of hearing the death of a relative but they just couldn't come home, the frustration that the money they sent was always never enough, the pride for a son graduating from college, or the hurt for a daughter gotten pregnant before even finishing school, the Christmasses and New Year's eve spent on the employer's home who doesn't care about the holidays, the weariness of repeating packing and unpacking over and over again. Whenever I witness that "first hug", I would be having these thoughts all over my mind. And I would have to hold back tears myself.

As years go by, arrival and departure became less and less of a deal. From the sarao jeep and a multitude of relatives, we moved on to a rented van with just the immediate family. The interval of years for vacation became shorter apart, luggages became lesser, and my clothes slowly becoming the normal day sort. 

The first chitchat with Nanay upon arrival became limited to how her flight went. Thanks to Blackberry Messaging and Facebook, we were up to date with the events in each other's lives. There was still excitement  - but the anticipation and preparation for each arrival and departure were slowly fading away.

I reckoned it was because Nanay's reason for leaving became less than necessary. After graduating from school, finding a job, getting married, it was supposed to be my turn to take charge. But knowing Nanay, she wouldn't stay home and play tong-its the entire day. The "she needed to work abroad for the family to survive" was slowly replaced by "she wants to work abroad for a few more years before settling down here". For good. 

Last Friday was the first time that Nanay was fetched with just me and the husband. And with a car. It was also her first evening flight, since she could stay at our place for the night and then head to Batangas the next day. I noticed a lot of "first hugs" that night from the sea of people beside me. I was no longer holding back tears, I was smiling. Deep in my heart, I know Nanay and I have "arrived". And looking at the other OFWs hugging their families right there, I know they would, too. 

After more than an hour of standing there, I received a call from one of my friends who's also from Batangas. She said Nanay was beside her in one of the sari-sari stores outside the waiting area. Apparently, I missed her going out from the arrival section. Perhaps because I was too busy with my reflections.

I hugged her, and nagged why she didn't stay put and wait for our car to fetch her and her luggage. "Hindi nga ako sanay ng sinusundo ng kotse!", she said. I laughed, with so much happiness inside. At the back of my mind, I was thinking, it would take her a lot of getting used to. Or maybe not. Perhaps just a few more arrivals and departures, and finally, we're done here!

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