Finally, Sugar Crush!

We are leaving Kandy ūüė¶ Today is our last official day of packing and I just took a breather to put in my last, long overdue, entry to this blog site. ¬†So many things happened since my last December 2014 #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl post. ¬†2015 welcome me with both the highest and the lowest points in my life.

In January 2015, my family and I have been blessed to have been able to attend the Papal Mass when Pope Francis visited Sri Lanka; afterwhich, he will proceed to the Philippines.  A lot of my family and friends have told me that it was an affirmation that I was exactly where God intends me to be; I was at the right place at the right time.  Pope Francis only visited these 2 countries in Asia this year Рmy second home and my home country.  It was so surreal seeing him up close and though we were sleepless, exhausted and uncomfortable where we are, God enabled us to see the whole celebration through; I have had the most serene moments of praying for my family and friends and received the final blessings.
Shortly after, we made our way back to Kandy to rejuvenate (but we managed to pass by St. Anthony’s Kochikade to light some candles praying for the same things in my heart). ¬†As we were sleep deprived, I planned to sleep in till the following day; so after I posted a prayer on Facebook reflecting on the Papal Mass we participated in that day, I surrendered to my most needed rest.
15 January 2015 – Early morning, I missed a lot of calls from my aunts and my cousins in the Philippines. ¬†A call from my cousin in US got through and the ring woke me up finally. ¬†I was so disoriented with just suddenly waking up, my imagination running wild wondering why so much of calls and then I heard it; my cousin said “They rushed Tito (my Pops) to the hospital; he is in coma” After that, nothing registered and the rest of our lives was never the same again after that phone call – it was a thyroid storm; he may or may not wake up anymore.¬† My mom came home, my younger sister and brother in law followed home, too. ¬†My youngest sister couldn’t because she was pregnant so her husband had to stay with her too. ¬†All our kids were left to the care of friends and families. ¬†I arrived on 21 January 2015 dreading how I was going to feel if I see Pops in the hospital but then, I didn’t have to after all because he was already out of the hospital and was HOME. ¬†He was already resting with a radiant peace on his face when we came home from the airport. ¬†He already went HOME to his CREATOR. ¬†My sister was the one who was with him when he breathed his last right after “Haily Mary”, the concluding song of The Novena to our Mother of Perpetual Help. ¬†I was not there when they cleared the bills in the hospital, when they bought his last “barong”, when they went to the Morgue. I wish I could have been there because then, he was still alive. ¬†When I saw him in the white coffin not even an inch closer to it yet, I felt a different kind of pain that will indeed make you pass out because you wouldn’t know how to take it more and more. I was so glad that my husband was able to come home in time for the funeral and I know that I do not have to face the solitude when traveling back. ¬†Recapturing each and every moment when I close my eyes still hurts so, so much. ¬†But GOD and GOD alone is enabling me now to tell about it without breaking down, with serene thoughts and trusting feelings.
This was the turning point of my faith. ¬†It was a loss of a loved one but it was gaining so much more, to the point of accepting that it is difficult to fathom God’s plans but trust that they are much better and bigger plans than we can ever understand or imagine. ¬†If possible, the bond of our family was stronger than ever and our prayer life is flourishing and is continuously being nurtured by our hope and confidence in God. ¬†Now I know this much – from being in a fast-paced, corporate environment, God has put me in a place where I can turn down the sound of the world and hear HIM clearly. This is what Kandy gave me – my fortunate happenstance in FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY. ¬†I met wonderful and amazing people, I was blessed to be a part of Spem Miram English Institute and the added bonus of having my family over for a vacation before we moved.
The first day of our Serendib Family Vacay 2015. The family room served its purpose :)

The first day of our Serendib Family Vacay 2015. The family room served its purpose ūüôā

My husband finished his contract; an inconvenience I would say.  So we have to move from here. I will miss it.
The white bench in our back garden

The white bench in our back garden.

But this sanctuary that GOD gave me also renewed my heart and soul, ready for whatever comes my way. ¬†The vulnerability I feel is what draws me closer to HIM; it is what makes me call on HIM and everything follows suit. ¬†Patience made us wait for the right moment; God’s moment and we pray everyday that we can continue to do this. ¬†Now, another new beginning awaits us in Colombo. ¬†It will not be easy but Jesus never said it was going to be. ¬†He just said, it will be worth it!

Christmas is Home

“Welcome to the December #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl!
This December, we talk about the much anticipated and somehow dreaded, ultra sentimental Christmas holidays. How were the Christmas holidays outside your home country?  How is it similar and different?  What did you enjoy most spending Christmas abroad?
Find out how we spend our holidays and how it feels to spend it in different corners of the globe, so don’t forget to read more stories of fellow trailing spouses at the end of this blogpost.”

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…And so, the holiday season is upon us once again. ¬†I have begun getting into the same old warm fuzzy emotions and sentimentality I usually and consistently endure during Christmases and New Year’s (don’t we all?). ¬†Thus, the venting out on Facebook. ¬†Though the homesickness this year is more intense than expected, I still would want to relish the sentimentality and nostalgia of it all – simbang gabi and singing in our choir at 4:30 in the morning (thank God I’m alto); caroling either with my cousins and friends, randomly going from house to house or a better planned one with our Parish Choir; our small but well-lit and decorated Christmas tree beside our mama’s China cabinet full of wedding and birthday souvenirs, which she loves collecting till now; Christmas songs being played in and around malls (insert warm fuzzy feelings here again as I reminisce);¬†the Christmas Display at Greenhills Shopping Centre; the Christmas lights and decos in Policarpio;¬†the lingering smell of barbecued meat on Christmas Eve, and staying up till late for noche buena; and when I am much, much of a child, wearing my “pamasko” (new clothes and shoes bought especially for Christmas) when visiting ninongs and ninangs. These are just few of the many vivid Christmas memories (my happy place, if you will) I had growing up and it has been 5-6 years from the last I celebrated it back home.
Kids just love the Greenhills Shopping Center Christmas Display.  When I was a kid, it was held at COD in Cubao, which is one of the fondest memories I have.

Kids just love the Greenhills Shopping Center Christmas Display. When I was a kid, it was held at COD in Cubao, which is one of the fondest memories I have.

One of our simple joys during Christmas when in Pinas is driving around during the Christmas week.  I guess, it is the togetherness that counts really.

One of our simple joys during Christmas when in Pinas is driving around with the whole family to just about anywhere. I guess, it is the togetherness that counts really.

Do you remember them Home Alone movies? And just about any movie that portrays Christmas at any given angle. These damn motion pictures further magnify my already sappy state of mind right around the holidays. Perhaps,¬†for the longest time, I have lived in an Islamic country where they don’t really celebrate it big time compared to the way we do. During which, I usually am at work unless I file a leave prior (when I am unable to contain my sappiness). In Sri Lanka, speaking¬†from¬†my husband’s account of their very own tradition, it is celebrated a bit more joyously and is actually a proper holiday, with the usual gift-giving and Christmas Eve dinner, though I am yet to experience it here for the first time.
I promised myself that I would be embelishing the house with our Christmas razzle-dazzle as soon as the “ber” months kicked in. So in September, being my birthday month and my hubby’s too at the same time, put out our well-stored Christmas tree and ornaments, but much to our frustration, the first floor, the very spot I have visualized to Christmafy, started leaking water from the heavy rains. ¬†So, our early Christmas spirit had to be let down awhile until we rectified this problem first. It would take another 2 months before I can do anything about decorating our home at all and be able to play yuletide songs as much as I can and play it loud. ¬†But finally, we did it…we are officially Christmafied!
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Like what I said, I have yet to discover what it means to celebrate Christmas in Serendib (one of the first few names Sri Lanka was referred to historically) all in all. ¬†Once we put up all our yuletide twinkles, it felt more like home; every Christmas song may have been making my heart ache a little yearning for the good ol’ Christmas times, but makes me all the more grateful that I am with my husband and children, which of course doesn’t waver no matter how much I miss the rest of my family. ¬†We do not have anything fancy planned. ¬†Just, I want to be able to celebrate it with my husband and sons the way we would always want to – simply doing what we believe shows¬†the true spirit of Chrismas, the old school way, practically reliving the most beautiful memories, close to being home, regardless whether we are here, in the UAE or in the Philippines. ¬†Besides, in the words (in a song) of one of my favorite bands “Toad the Wet Sprocket”, “You can show me your home, not a place where you live but a place where you belong”.¬†Forget about commercialism as many would consider it becoming; Christmas¬†but comes once in 365 days. One thing is certain, we are already making the most out of it. ¬†I know I am. ¬†I was presented with an opportunity to volunteer as an English instructor with the Dominican Fathers Seminary in Ketawala, teaching children of the nearby villages and I couldn’t be happier and couldn’t feel more belong now, more than ever. Hopefully, I can share more of this endeavor with everybody later on. ¬†In the meantime, I end this note with the warmest Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, from my family to yours. ¬†May all our dreams come true!
“Read more about fellow #TrailingSpouseStories at:
  • Didi’s story on¬†D for Delicious¬† on how Christmas abroad start out tearful, but after some time, it turns tearless
  • Yuliya’s story on¬†Tiny Expats¬†on their¬†journey and experience of winter holidays in 6 countries along the way.
  • Abigail’s story on¬†Cuddles & Crumbs on a look back on what we have been doing on Christmas and slowly working on our family traditions.
  • Tala’s story on¬†Tala Ocampo¬†on how the Ocampo’s spent their first Christmas abroad in Colombo, Sri Lanka celebrating not only Christ’s birth but also the birth of their daughter Luna.
  • Marie’s story on¬†laughlovepractive¬†on how times change, Christmas celebrations change. But one thing keeps it the same.
  • Glendale’s story on¬†G’s Kandy Krush¬†on how she is celebrating my first Christmas in Sri Lanka, where she resides with her husband and 2 sons.
  • Third’s story on¬†Pinoy in America on how Pinoys have successfully brought the Philippines’ best-loved Christmas customs and traditions to America.
  • Marc’s story on¬†Fatherland,¬†explaining how Christmas is different this year compared to past Christmases.¬†
  • Jenny’s story on¬†My¬†Mommyology¬†on how¬†Christmas in Manila or in the US is different every year with the kids. ¬†Or is it the same?”
  • Kristine’s story on¬†Tala Ocampo¬†where¬†Mac shares her reflections with Tala on spending Christmas away from home for a total of 15 years”

“Kandy” Crush Level 01

“Welcome to the inaugural run of the #TrailingSpouseStories blog crawl hosted by Tala Ocampo and Didi of D for Delicious. ¬†This November we talk about our First Voyage as trailing spouses and what we‚Äôve brought with us, rather: what‚Äôs in your suitcase?¬†

Please see the end of the post for other #TrailingSpouseStories.”

Met my husband, got married and had our two sons over the course of our over 15-year tenure in the United Arab Emirates. In early 2013, there was a falling out with his then new employment in Dubai. ¬†After already having trailed with him from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and back, been through so much all those years, we both decided t’was time to move on. ¬†Hence, the move to Sri Lanka, with one setback; I will not be able to join my boys immediately. ¬†The day I had to send them off in the airport was the most dreaded day of my entire life. It was sad to have left my family back home in ’99 when I had to leave for the UAE, but nothing has prepared me for the devastating pain this day would cause me; even with the thought that we will see each other soon enough; not even then. ¬†To cut this long story shorter, they left for Sri Lanka whilst I had to stay in Abu Dhabi with the company I am working for since earlier, a previous employer whom I’ve left when my husband got a job in Dubai, and was kind enough to hire me back. ¬†I did not leave work just then, as a gesture of gratitude for their having my back when I lost my job in Dubai amidst the recession.

I visited my husband and my 2 sons in Sri Lanka for a month-long break during the summer. ¬†At this time, I was weighing everything. ¬†It’s not much of a question whether or not I can be OK without having to work for a while, because I love being a housewife and am a very much hands-on mom. ¬†It is more of could I afford to leave them once again after the break and finish my contract or should I just tender my resignation then over e-mail and finally, stay? Besides, my husband got a good job in Kandy (hillside province of Sri Lanka) and this importantly factored out in my decision to move because it is definitely one of my favorite places in the country. My husband found us a lovely and secured place to live, transferred our sons to an excellent school and made me a promise that we will never go hungry. ¬†He had me at living in Kandy and so, I made a decision and I wanted to do it right. ¬†Enduring another bout of goodbye kisses, hugs and tears, I went back to Abu Dhabi; but this time, everything is so much clearer. ¬†With a few good strokes and finalization, transferring the flat lease, closing off the telephone line connection and saying goodbye to friends and family, I was saying Ma’a salam UAE and saying Ayubowan Sri Lanka.
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My luggage was way, way over 30 kilos, which the airline allows me to bring. ¬†Since I started packing, I have been focused only on taking as much “pasalubong” as I can for my boys. ¬†As long as I was able to pack a couple of my dresses, some shoes, tops, jeans and pair of shorts and undies, that will get me by, I wanted to allot the rest of the space for my kids’ goodies. ¬†We have never been raising the children spoiled and always wanting but I am cutting them a little slack. ¬†Having been born in the UAE, surrounded with big and small luxuries that are easily obtained while growing up; they have had a great deal to adjust with, moving to a very simple living in Sri Lanka with limited options compared to what they were used to having. ¬†So, I bought clothes, toys, food stuff and treats which are not readily available in Sri Lanka. ¬†In addition, thank God for digital book readers installed on my phone. ¬†Though I am a fan of traditional reading, which is still what I prefer and encourage on my children, I am glad being able to bring hundreds of books without having to add up to my baggages. ¬†As a book freak as I am, my shelf contains a varied selection from classic literature to ¬†Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (I am very much fascinated with Greek & Roman Mythology) to feel-good Kinsella so I am covered.
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Pretty much, I have made the 5-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Colombo on 17 January 2014, marking level 01 of my very own Kandy Crush. ¬†Been here for 10 months now and counting. ¬†With a good nudge from Ms. Tala Ocampo’s “Living La Vida Lanka” blog, which I came across whilst in dilemma of identifying myself with Sri Lanka; support of my family, the love for my husband and my 2 sons and ultimately, God’s ever-presence, I have accepted what I am where I am now, happily.
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 LINKS TO THE OTHER #TrailingSpouseStories:

 

Stupid is as Stupid does

“Forrest Gump” never gets old.¬† I may have seen this movie like a gazillion times but I still find myself stop to flicker on the remote control if I catch it on a movie tv channel everytime. It’s one of those many outside factors that put me in my place especially when my pettiness acts up.¬†

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It always make me think what if I understood things the way Forrest did – that life is indeed simple; that I can do things on faith without rationalizing and over analyzing; getting through something without too much questioning and arguing. I believe in my heart that there are no stupid people in this world, not in this lifetime anyway. I just know that people tend to do stupid things when there is too much of emotions in play, one of many imperfections, either being too in love or too greedy or too excited; falling in and out of love too fast, never being satisfied of what you are and what you have will put you in situations where you will need to decide to roughen it up or take the easy way out. Sometimes, those easy ways lead to the wrong, moreso, disaster. I found myself compromised in more ways than just a couple coz I did not listen to the whispers that it may be stupid or wrong. I am in continuous pursuit of doing things differently. Easier said than done though, plus the cinematics make you feel it is easy. However, believing that it is so is not impossible. Right now, I take one damn day at a time; I do my utmost to be grateful every chance I take and I look forward to what tomorrow brings. Besides, life is like a box of chocolates…

Read: Gone Girl

I posted a Facebook status saying “shan’t and can’t put it down now” reading Gillian Flynn’s supposed best-seller.

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It was because I was both prematurely celebrating knowing I had the ending figured out (at this point  I couldn’t literally put the book down) and I wanted to finish reading and see the movie trailer already (starring Ben Affleck to be shown in October this year).  For those who are yet to read it, I do not intend to spoil it for you but there was no jaw-dropping incidents to be honest.  It wasn’t also definitely not a feel good book, na-uh, but I thought the story was so twisted and sick for it’s own good. Read it in a course of 2 weeks till about half an hour past 12 mn ago and made it through some boring stuff, which of course is necessary to be read. It’s like watching through all episodes of #GameOfThrones – the boring and long but imperative conversations that needed to be really listened to and understood; sickening brutality; the almost inappropriate sexual encounters; the relentless violence; blood; guts; blood and more guts but without the #redwedding in the finale or #Joffrey being poisoned or the head of #PrinceOberyn getting crushed by #TheMountain . I felt like my adrenaline and holding my breath in anticipation was not redeemed; same way goes to both Nick and Amy Dunne – no redeeming light for these 2. Eh! Just saying…even if it’s not to my satisfaction, I  read a book nyways and this is my own prerogative. Others may like it more than I did. Now lemme a Kinsella to feel better. Cheers!

Back to my senses

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I did manage to import all my Xanga posts to my WordPress blog and it is so surreal being able to read from my own diary, if you will, from 9 years ago…so, so enlightening and did I say, surreal?!?¬† I haven’t written in awhile but all of a sudden, my daily routine maybe changing drastically; Though am trying really hard, neither can I seem to get rid of my phone nor my laptop; my big playlist is ready with just about a little bit of everything – 80’s nostalgia, Disney movie soundtrack, musicals, Church songs, some Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Christina Perri, MJ, EWF, The Beatles, new hit songs and old…and as I consider myself a bit of a creative mind, a hint (alright, a lot) of procrastination. Ok, I want to establish the right kind of inspiration.
So, here’s the thing – when I did the big move, I will finally admit, I was a bit of a mess here and there.¬† Didn’t want to worry my family. Besides, they do have their own little issues and instead of being a burden, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. “Oh I’m right at home there”, “I’ve been there for vacation a couple of times before, I’ll be fine”…Please cut me a little slack – no matter how positive of a person I am, perhaps a little less whinier than most people, it freaked me out. Again, I will say that feeling like this doesn’t make me love my husband and my children any less; as a matter of fact, they are and will be the main reason I was able to do it in the first place.¬† But the last 15 years of my life in the UAE, working; not being able to go home to my own country for the last, what? 5-6 years, made it really, really more difficult.¬† I love being a housewife; I love taking care of my family, cooking for the boys, baking for ’em, at times smothering them just a li’l, sure (they have to bear with some imbalance hormones on certain ocassions).¬† I miss working, yes but it was not the worst.¬† It was the acceptance that I am indeed here and it is not my own realm.¬†There is the never-ending comparisons between the Pinoys and the Lankans in words and deeds, my own people winning all my self arguments of course, duh…there isn’t a mall the size of Dubai Mall or Mall of Asia, we have to go to the city to be able to eat burgers in McDonald’s, no theme parks, nightlife…what can I say?…will suffice I think and their TV and movie personalities could really use some fashion advice and I mean that in a good, concerned way.¬† But aren’t all these, petty, I ask myself. What about…?

My husband is blessed with a good job and is lovingly taking care of us

My kids are privileged to be going to a good school, smart enough to get accelerated by a year

My eldest son has been selected to play for the under 13 Football League in SL

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My bunso creates awesome drawings just using the laptop touch pad (I can already envision Disney or Pixar)

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We are blessed with shelter, a more than enough roof over our heads, with warm beds and clothing

I have house help

Our subdivision has 24-hour security

We are living in one of the awesome places in Sri Lanka, the hillside…where the mountains are green, the air is clean and fresh, and the weather is good

I have sight and comprehension to be able to read and thank God for all the books in this world

New-found Pinoy friends…yes, there are lots of Filipinos but mostly in Colombo and Negombo

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Game of Thrones and The Voice keep me sane

Knowing that even if they are far from me right now, I will always have my Papa, Mama, my sisters, bros-in-law, nephews, the whole fam and friends and I am here for them

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The hugs and kisses and overflowing love from my boys

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God’s ever-presence in my midst

I used to keep a gratitude journal (Got the inspiration from Oprah…love her) but somehow, along the way, I had a fallout.¬† And then, I immediately came to realize what the problem is…I have FORGOTTEN TO BE GRATEFUL.¬† Regardless of Oprah,¬† orThe Secret, or what all the great minds of this lifetime teaches, being grateful to God to the Universe is imperative in more ways than one.¬† Plus, all these blessings are thrice as much as the complaints I throw to the Universe.¬† I open my eyes and pray for peace and love in my whole system. Then, and only then I see all the beauty and goodness of what, where and when I am.

37 and counting

Yet again, I said my prayer of praise and thanksgiving in the wee hours of the morning after my birthday celebration with my family (twas actually a trio birthday celeb with my twin uncles).¬† Though sleepless and emotionally cried out for the last couple of days, I struggle to find sleep or it can’t find me; and so I reflect…

37 years of living this amazing life; 37 years of strength and weaknesses, ups and downs, struggles and peace, love pain, happiness and sorrows; years and years of discovery and rediscovery, mistakes and realizations; lessons learnt, laughters, tears and everything good and bad, still hasn’t prepared me for the biggest sacrifice I have to give – being away from my children and my husband.¬† This is the the first birthday away from them and it is altogether bittersweet coz I still have my sisters and few good friends to relish this day with and I am thankful for all these blessings but my emotions overflow because the very thing that will fill the void and complete the celebration are my boys.¬† This longingness only makes me want to settle for good with them all the more.¬† But that’s part of God’s plans for me after all.

I say a prayer of blessings for all the people who wished me this day especially those who never fail to make me feel loved even on Halloween, easter, Christmas or just another one fine day. I am truly and utterly blessed and loved by our Lord without a doubt. From hereon, I will myself to realize that blessings do not always come in big bundles, it comes in its smallest particle and in tears and sufferings…God, indeed, moves in really myterious ways and if at times, rather most of the time, I could not have fathom these, I will always leave it at that. Having said so, my ultimate birthday prayer then is that Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come and Thy Will be done, Amen.