Pinto Art Museum

Learning of the Pinto Art Museum is nothing short of serendipitous – I was actually googling for Meteora, a Greek-themed house in Tagaytay which you can rent for overnight stays in the city when I discovered that the owner of Meteora also owned a house/gallery/museum in Antipolo. 
Dragging hubby to Antipolo than to Tagaytay was easier, given that it’s just about an hour’s drive from our house. 
Getting there was a breeze and soon, we saw ourselves in front of this white-washed arched entrance:
“Pinto”, literally means door in Tagalog. The museum sits on a one hectare property which also houses the Silangan Gardens (the private sanctuary of the owner, neurologist and St.Luke’s Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joven Cuanang).
A huge garden to the right immediately greets guests upon entry, with its own private chapel (left structure) and gift shop/office (right).  I was going to take a photo of the nearby building and pool but then I realized that it was the house of the owner already so, I didn’t out of courtesy. 🙂

Chapel

The museum was built back in 2001 as a storage space, and eventually evolved into a gallery/exhibit hall for contemporary and modern art. Majority of the artists whose works are on display in its halls are from the province of Rizal (of which Antipolo is a part of). 

In the main gallery, you will find the sprawling Karnabal occupying prime space, a very vibrant 144 x 480 inch painting by the Saling Pusa art group – undoubtedly the centerpiece of the museum.

The Karnabal. It dwarfs anyone standing beside it. I love the unified chaos – which is actually what you get when you go inside a carnival (or probably more appropriate, a perya, the local version).

I was informed by one of the staff that the entire place was designed by Antonio Leaňo. Building such a place is obviously a mean feat but I was even more amazed when he told me that Leaňo was not an architect. I guess he just went with what felt and looked good to him and the results were marvelous. 
The place is Mediterranean-inspired, full of white walls, high ceilings, arched porticos and wide windows that allow the fresh mountain air to circulate around the entire property. I just wonder how they are able to keep the rains out.
Each structure in the complex can also be considered an artwork, with its strategic and symmetrical use of picture windows flanked by wooden beams and frosted glass. Stones discovered during the building of each “house” were left as a natural decoration. To me, it gives the place an even more appealing charm (yes, I am getting redundant with each sentence).
That’s hubby standing under one of the paintings in the main hall.

One of my favorite paintings, Uyayi kay Paraluman by Karen Flores, perhaps due to the overall feeling of serenity I got just looking at it.

Karaniwang Araw by Emmanuel Garibay. Quite accurate in its portrayal of what a normal day is like for a vast majority of Pinoys – playing/watching basketball, spying in neighbors (which is what I assume the couple is doing), the husband enjoying his pastime and the wife looking after the kids. Add in a backdrop of religious tones and yeah, it’s a typical day.
There were just too many art pieces I liked that I sometimes ended up staring at some of them for a long time before moving onto the next.

This artwork caught my eye because the artist used a very interesting medium, especially given that her subject was an altar, and the product is an eerie compilation of images that seemed lit from within.
Hallow by Nona Garcia, using x-ray and light box.
Himala by Juanito Torres
The next gallery we went to had several wire sculptures by Stephanie Torres which I really found interesting. The man sitting on a wooden swing in the middle of the room set against a huge picture window with fluffy white pillows inviting the guests – the word that comes to mind is relaxing. 
 

Oblivious wire scuplture, with Twilight by Jim Orencio in the background.
A separate loft is dedicated to works of balikbayan visual artist Mark Justiniani, whose oil on canvas work, Sessions with the Messiah serves to greet visitors who enter his loft.

I am partial to blue and yellow, and set amidst a room full of interesting yet muted paintings, the Sessions with the Messiah just pops and catches the eye.

My favorite among Justiniani’s works on display, Kubling Sayaw, an oil painting on board.
Moving from one building to another is also a visual feast, as each are separated by lush gardens; I liked it that while the plants are obviously maintained, you still get the feeling that they are growing as they would in the wild and the garden doesn’t feel too contrived.
Overlooking the Siraulo Cafe, a Bizu-run cafe inside the sprawling complex. We didn’t get to eat here since we wanted to beat the traffic back to Manila but if you’ve eaten at Bizu, then select offerings from their menu are served here.
I would love to have something similar to this in our future house, with a hammock thrown in.
The next building we went to contained the more thought-provoking/controversial art pieces in the entire museum.

Sanay hindi na inalay sa manlilinlang ang unang tagay by Guerrero Habulan. I immediately thought of a woman who gave her virginity to a man who later left her. You?
The sunken church, We are here together forever until the world will be on the verge of sorrow, by Constantino Zicarelli
Perhaps one of the more, if not the most, controversial art works in the entire museum is this depiction of the University of Santo Tomas’ Main Building swarmed with rats. The fact that it was made by a UST alumnus made it all the more so. 
Tauntingly titled Like rats it returns to its true form by Constantino Zicarelli.

Future Violence by Constantino Zicarelli. Perfect timing of these three kids, sitting underneath that very graffiti-inspired piece just as I was taking a photo.
Beautiful picture windows such as this are artworks in themselves. This one overlooks the new wing of the museum.
Our last stop was the newest addition to the museum, which looked perfectly set against the clear sky. I felt like I was somewhere in the Greek islands.

This place would probably look just as good, if not better, at night time, illuminated by incandescent light.
Spacious and airy. Both ends of the building have a loft. One, I assume, is used as a bedroom.
That wooden door under the stairs holds another set of works portraying women.

I forgot to take the name of this set of works but it portrays women in various conversations.
Hubby, as usual, would not take my picture and I didn’t have my trusty tripod with me so I did this:
I shoot you, you shoot me? Nah, he wasn’t taking my photo but of the view. I thought it hilarious that we were both taking pictures at the same time.

There’s one hidden room near the side entrance of the new building which should not be missed. The staff mentioned that the good doctor gave Leaňo this room and allowed him a free hand in what to do with it. 
Simply titled Forest, the room mimics a bamboo forest, with large basins serving as ponds with boulders seemingly floating in the air. The floor is littered with fresh leaves – I had to ask the guy if they change the leaves regularly coz the entire room smelled of freshly cut grass.
Our last stop was the Gallery Shoppe found at the entrance of the museum where art pieces, souvenir items, and other curio are for sale.
Lutang by Mark Justiniani, is another one of my favorites.
I know practically nothing about art (styles, movements, etc) and I never attended classes on art appreciation but I love looking at them (getting envious in the process – dear parents, how come I was not gifted?), so I cannot give you any useful critique or interpretation other than describe them to you and share my favorites. But I would definitely recommend making the trip to Antipolo to visit this gem of a place.
Stairway to Heaven?

*Some tips: 
If you are driving, take the Ortigas Avenue all the way to Ortigas Extension, passing by the Cainta Junction and on to Tikling. Proceed uphill until you reach the Ynares center (should be on your left); take a right turn on the first street to your right and go straight until you reach the gate to Grand Heights Subdivision.
If via commute, take the jeepney (or FX) going to Antipolo and get off at the Ynares Center. From there, you can take a tricycle to Grand Heights.
The Pinto Art Museum is located on the first street from the gate. The address is 1 Sierra Madre, Grand Heights, Antipolo City. It’s open from 9AM to 6PM, Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance fees are Php150 for adults and Php75 for students. Senior citizens get 20% discount.
They have a facebook page where they regularly announce upcoming events and exhibits, and for those interested in renting the venue or having pictorials there, the contact information is also listed. 


Baby Drop Box

A few days ago, this video of a “drop box” started appearing on my FB news feed. I clicked the link and watched one of the most touching videos I’ve ever seen. 

ORIGINAL – Provided by Arbella Studios.

The video tells the story of how a pastor and his wife thought of a way to help save the lives of unwanted babies being left on the streets of Seoul.  They came up with this box similar to a post office mailbox, albeit softer, and installed it outside their house. This drop box is where moms, and just about anyone, can put unwanted babies and the pastor then takes the baby into his care. This way, the babies get a chance to be part of a family, loved and cared for, instead of being left on the streets to fend for himself, where he would most likely not survive.
I was sobbing halfway through the video.
The drop box struck a cord in me because more than two decades ago, I almost had a second brother. My parents were walking around the Blumentritt market when they heard the sounds of a baby crying. It was siesta time and the area was mostly deserted as the vendors were taking their afternoon rest so my parents got curious as to where the sound was coming from. They searched for the source and found a tiny baby in a shoe box, tossed amidst a mountain of trash.
My mom took pity on the baby (my father was more worried on being charged with kidnapping for taking the baby from the trash), especially upon seeing that he had scratches and was being feasted on by flies, and got him to  the Chinese General Hospital which was just a stone’s throw away.
The baby was just five months old and my parents said the doctors thought he’d been aborted and thrown away just like that. My parents told the doctors that they would shoulder the expenses, and to do what they can to save the baby and that they would adopt him if he survived. But being so small and already having gone through so much in his young life, the baby didn’t even make it through the night.
I never forgot that incident, even though I wasn’t there to personally witness it. It happened when I was still a small girl, even before my youngest brother was born and I had always wondered what it would have been like had the baby survived and became a part of our family.
I love babies and I can’t ever think of a valid reason why anyone would ever think of depriving them their right to live. Though they drive me crazy (especially now with all the sleepless nights), I take one look at my sons and I know I would give anything, go through anything to make sure they are alright. One time, Joey even asked me why I always give him the last piece of food (even if it was my own), and why I am always the last one to sleep (after tucking him in bed and singing his baby brother to sleep) and I can only say, because I’m your mom.
I wish there would be more people like the pastor and his wife. And I wish God would bless him with a long and healthy life so he can save more babies.

Only in Paris

Paris is such a beautiful city that just about every corner is worthy of being photographed. I for one, would be perfectly happy getting lost and just wandering around the city.

I wouldn’t mind having this setup for breakfast everyday. Perfect start!

However, Paris is also a big city and there are simply so many places to visit, not just within the city but also in nearby cities and provinces. We only had four whole days and five nights (we arrived on the 1st night via the Thalys from Brussels) and we decided to maximize it by going to the farther/bigger places like Versailles and the Louvre first and just work our way back to the city.
After we visited the Louvre, we headed back to Saint Michel to wander around and look for a place to eat before hearing mass at the Notre Dame. Honestly, I didn’t understand much since it was in French; they gave us missalettes but they were also in French so… I just prayed and hummed along. 
The Notre Dame from across the Seine River
Intricate carvings above the main entrance.
Curiously, the mass goers were so few, considering it was a Sunday, and this was the Notre Dame. I guess it’s true that the number of practicing Catholics is dwindling. But those we did meet at the church were so nice; most of them sang enthusiastically and smiled warmly at one another, even to us and I was just touched and sad that there were so few of them to take care of the church. So touched I think I actually gave 50 euros to the collection basket (or 20?).

I am again reminded of the dwarf and elf dwellings from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, what with those columns and high ceilings.

The exterior of the church, for me, is even grander. Intricate carvings, gables, and a beautiful garden – I would gladly spend my Sundays in its gardens.

Tree-lined avenue at the garden at the back of the church.

Reminds me of THE rose from Beauty and the Beast. If this pretty flower had been growing in one of the churches here in Manila, someone would have picked it already. Just saying.

Square Rene-Viviani, just across the street from the Notre Dame. I just love that just about every free space you see in the city has a garden.
 
I haven’t seen any of the “Before” trilogy of films prior to our trip but hubby watched Midnight in Paris and wanted to see for himself the bookstore that was featured there. Only later did I realize (as I was watching the trilogy over the Christmas holidays) it was the same bookstore where Ethan Hawke met Julie Delpy after nine long years, in the second film Before Sunset.
Similar to the vibe in the film, the place is a gathering of sorts for the artsy crowd – there was even a live performance when we were there, and I suppose a couple of poetry readings and discussions among the coffee-drinking crowd seated around the place.  
On the eve of my birthday, we went for a walk along the Champs Elysees, with the goal of reaching the Arc de Triomphe by night time. We started off at the Pont du Alexander, named after Tsar Alexander III of Russia, which was simply the most marvellous bridge I have ever seen, with gold cherubs and nymphs and a view to die for – the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower, among other monuments. 
Pardon the haggard face – this was almost 10PM and I was simply exhausted.

I wasn’t able to take many photos though, since it was already past 9PM when we got there, and I was tired from the whole day of walking. We had gone to the Saint Germain area earlier to visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous medal and attend a meeting at a French journalism school(okay, just the boys – I spent that time getting lost around the area and looking for the Repetto boutique nearby which was unfortunately closed).  
I wish we had bridges this wide and this pretty in our country – but then, thieves would likely steal the sculptures.
General Charles de Gaulle in front of the Grand Palais, which was built in 1897, is now one of the few surviving glass-covered exhibition places from the 19th century. Most of these structures are torn down after the exhibitions are finished.
Close up
Petit Palais
It isn’t every day I get to see a car like this.

A lot of the shops at the Champs Elysees were closed by the time we came traipsing down its path (there goes that hidden agenda to shop at LV) and I was only able to enter the Disney store. I wasn’t able to go to Disneyland Paris – so I just made up for it by shopping at their store.


Our goal was to see the Arc de Triomphe at night and since it was summer, it didn’t get dark until almost midnight.

This is what you would call a buwis-buhay (life-threatening) shot. We literally had to stand in the middle of the street, sandwich by the fast moving traffic just to get this (and endured angry horns blasting on both sides).
This was as close as I could get. Hubby took this shot for me since I was too tired (I was sitting stubbornly on a bench nearby until the boys relented and hailed a taxi) and there was no way I would have dragged myself to go up that tower. Maybe when we go back, someday.

I woke up the next day with creaking bones and a slight fever so I opted to stay in bed and let the boys wander around on their own – too bad because I missed the Sacre Couer. To make up for it, hubby just took pictures of it and gave me a detailed description (he’d been there on a previous visit as well, so he made comparisons between his first visit and this recent one).
You might have seen a similar church in my Brussels post – and you’re not mistaken. But this one in Paris is the real deal. It’s the original Sacre Couer which so inspired King Leopold of Belgium that he had one built in his own capital!

The minor basilica, located on top of the Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. So yeah, you do get a sweeping view of the city from here.
The church,completed at the start of the 20th century, is made of travertine stone, a type quarried from the Chateau Landon. When it rains, the stones have a chemical reaction and secrete calcite, which acts as a bleacher and keeps the facade white, despite the passage of time and pollution.

Later that day, hubby and I decided to do something romantic and go on a cruise down the Seine river (translation: I nagged and twisted his arm until he agreed; a small price to pay considering I missed a chance to see the Loire Valley because of his schedule). Plus, come on, it was my birthday!
Taken on the bridge near the Notre Dame

I think of the river cruise as seeing a lot of the magnificent structures of Paris in a short time – might be useful to if you take this at the start of your trip, since it can help you map out your route as you go from one palace/museum to another. It also offered us a different angle to the buildings as opposed to seeing them at ground level.


The Musee d’Orsay, which used to be a train station converted into a museum, now houses the largest collection of impressionist  and post-impressionist paintings. I still can’t get over the fact that this was a train station.

Look at the graffiti painting along the river banks – now I wouldn’t mind vandals if they make something as beautiful as this.
The river is very wide (in fact, there are two islets in the middle) and of course, this necessitates a lot of bridges. And I am sure you all know the practice in Paris where lovers put locks on the bridges with their names on it, and throw away the key into the Seine. I kind of missed what it was supposed to guarantee though – that you’d both be back to the same place in the future, or that you’d stay together forever, or both. I would have put a lock but I didn’t bring any and I didn’t want to just buy so I just gawked at the number of bridges and the number of locks and wondered just how many couples have pinned their dreams on these bridges.
One of the bridges overflowing with locks. I spy a couple looking at the locks up there.
This is the starting point of our cruise – this is just one dry patch of land in the middle of the river which the Parisians have converted into a mini garden. Complete with lots of PDA from the couples having dates there that day.
This was supposed to be an OOTD shot but hubby doesn’t know how to take those kinds of shots (which explains the lack of OOTDs in this supposedly fashion blog turned travel/food/movie blog).

And that concludes my European travel posts! I can’t wait to go on my next trip.

* All shots taken by me except for the Sacre Couer, Notre Dame interior ones which were taken by the hubby – hubby complains I never give him proper credit. So there. Oh, and shots of me and hubby were taken by our friend.

The World According to Joey: Super Powers and Heartbroken Letters

It amazes me how kids think. One minute they’re so smart-ass, the next, they blurt out funny little quips that would have you laughing out loud. Take this one for example; I was at home with Joey trying to get him to sleep. He wouldn’t listen to me so I texted his dad (he admits it’s because I’m not as scary as his dad):

I finally got him to lie down on the bed beside me and turned off the lights and turned away from him to sleep myself. After thirty minutes, I felt squirming from his side:
Me: Joey, why are you still awake?
Joey: How did you know I’m still awake?
Me: I have eyes at the back of my head.
Joey (sits up on the bed): Really mom? 
Just two days ago, he kept looking at my head, lifting my hair and asking me how come he couldn’t see the “eyes” at the back of my head. And now he thinks his dad has super powers and that I am a monster.

***
We’ve been preparing Joey for his baby brother even before I got pregnant, gently testing the idea of having a sibling with him. He finally agreed and got excited to have one so hubby and I were really happy.
But of course, he can’t help feeling jealous sometimes.
At the hospital after giving birth:
Me: Joey, go to sleep while I feed your baby brother.
Joey: Is he going to sleep beside you?
Me: Yes, because he needs to be beside mommy for a bit.
Joey: Can I sleep beside you?
Me: Maybe when we get home, the hospital bed isn’t big enough and you might squash the baby.
While I was feeding the baby on my hospital bed, I heard muffle sounds of someone crying. As it was just me and Joey, I asked:
Me: Joey, why are you crying?
Joey: Nothing mom. (But stands up and hugs me)
Me: Tell mommy so I can help.
Joey (starts sobbing loudly): It’s just that why do you have to do everything with the baby and nothing with me?
I can’t tell you how many comforting words and reassurances I had to make to get him to stop crying; although he begged me afterwards to not tell his dad that he’d been crying.
***
Joey’s pangs of jealousy didn’t end there. One time, as I was changing Georgie’s diaper and trying to get him to sleep (and scolded Joey in the process as he was creating a racket with the loud TV and his toys clanging on the floor), he told me he was leaving the house for good.
Joey: I’m leaving.
Me (trying to humor him and interested to find out how far our exchange would go): Okay.
Note #1, which he slid under the door right after I scolded him (and which I only saw later that night as it was blown away by the fan). Joey later told me (once he’d calmed down), his heart was broken when I scolded him.
Joey: Do you want me to survive out in the wild?
Me: You’re not going to the wilderness. There’s no such place near our house. (Joey leaves the room).
Joey (coming back with a pack of yogurt and milk in his hands): I’m leaving now.
Me: Okay. But how are you going to eat the yogurt, you don’t even know how to open it.
Joey (gets mad and stomps out): I’m leaving!
A few minutes later, I heard sobs from outside the door and later, this note slid under the door:
 
Pardon the sloppy handwriting, he got it from his dad.

Joey did go in eventually, saying sorry and hugging me after I sat beside him on the floor and offered him a chocolate bar. And with that, I realized I have a very sensitive little boy whose world quite revolves around me and how I treat him. So I make a promise to be more mindful of what I say to him.
Thus, he gets to sleep again on the bed with us; a squeeze considering we now have Georgie as well but, it will have to do.

PS: That sleeping on the bed part? Hubby relented and took out the foldable mattress and now sleeps on the floor. 😀

 

The World According to Joey: Lego Love (Part 2)

When I was a kid, I remember our papa bringing home a bucket of Lego bricks – the plain ones, consisting of those flat lengthwise bricks and the square and plump bricks. Back then, those were the only Lego products available in the department stores (Isetann, Plaza Fair and SM Carriedo, that is, the only department stores our family used to visit in the 80s and early 90s). But I was oh so happy to have those bricks, making buildings and houses. 
Fast forward to today and Lego has evolved – you can build practically anything. The good thing is, the bricks, whether you are using old ones or new ones, all fit together (and I can’t fault Lego for the quality and craftsmanship of each toy). And Joey has inherited this fascination with Lego (you can read about my older entry about his Lego love affair here).
But, as with all kids, Joey has moved on from his NInjago obsession, though he still asked me to buy this Final Battle thingie:

His focus now? Star Wars. Oh, be still my poor bleeding wallet. Star Wars Lego pieces are almost two times more expensive than the regular ones (Ninjago, Build City, and the more recent one, Chima) – and I am sorely tempted to curse our customs for the exhorbitant import and custom fees that make them even more expensive here (I bought a Star Wars ship in HK for around Php800 but when I checked it here, it’s Php2,399!!!). 
Started off Joey’s collection with the planets – I believe this group is up to Series 3 and there are three planets per series. Joey’s got five, so far, although we don’t strictly follow the order of things – he just picks up what to him is the prettier planet. And each planet comes with a small ship and character.

Unfortunately, the more famous characters like Luke Skywalker, C3PO, Han Solo, etc, don’t come with the tiny planets. So poor parents like me have to shell out for the bigger ships to get them.

Han Solo’s ship

That’s Han Solo in the middle

Would you believe Joey looked up this repair droid on the internet and then dragged me to Hobbes and Landes to buy it?

The good thing about playing with his Lego rather than toy guns and tablet is that it encourages Joey to be creative, and patient – building a ship can take hours or even a day, depending on how big it is. And may I add that even the grown-ups (ahem, hubby; and fine, me) love them too.

The Lego brand has also expanded – accessories, bags, clothes, books, and several cartoon series on the Cartoon Network. A Lego movie is even in the works and will be shown early this year!
I previously got him Toy Story and Ninjago Lego watches during their related phases, and keeping up the tradition, and to motivate him to learn the time, I got him a Star Wars watch too (honestly, I figured it was cheaper to get a new watch WITH C3PO than get the Lego ship where the droid is a part of).

This is, incidentally, also my favorite Lego watch. It’s gold!!!
Hubby and I couldn’t find Luke Skywalker anywhere (he is probably part of the big ships) so when I saw this book at the book fair last September, I had to grab it.
Joey’s Ninjago addiction may have waned, but he’s still desperate to have the green ninja (the only one missing from his collection), so I had to grab this one too. See? Now Joey spends his free time reading!

Now, kiddo and I are busy poring over the internet, researching on Legoland which we are planning to visit sometime this year, and reading the new Lego books we gave him for Christmas. 
That and watching old Star Wars movies which we have on DVD.  And gingerly stepping around the house to avoid the Lego landmines on the floor.

Burgers and Cupcakes

After giving birth last November, I was finally able to meet up with a couple of my friends for a much needed time-out from mommy duties.  I’ve been out and about several times already but always with the two kids in tow, so it was really stressful, what with having to watch over a precocious six-year old kid and a one-month old baby; today was my lucky day as nanny #2 finally reported for work.
Make no mistake – I love my kids and my mom hat is always the first one I put on. But there comes a point when I just need some time to have fun without taking care of the kids at the same time.
You know, take a breather. 
This is probably one very important thing that moms should never forget –you can be a devoted mom, but to be able to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself also. Your world can revolve around your kids but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what the universe has to offer, right? Otherwise, feelings of resentment and self-pity might kick in,  until it ends up driving you nuts.
Just a word of advice: everything in moderation. 

Anyway, it wasn’t really a night out (none of my friends do clubs and we don’t drink except for the occasional cocktails after a particularly stressful day at work or to celebrate milestones) so we just ordered what now seems to me to be one of our standard comfort food: mussels (any which way) and burgers (of the bleu cheese kind).
Bleu Cheese Burger at Draft, Rockwell
Spicy mussels at Draft
We decided to do a bit of (window) shopping as a lot of stores are now having their inventory/year-end sale and grabbed some cupcakes and coffee after at Cupcakes by Sonja. 
My choco cream cheese cupcake.
Just an observation. We really are getting old – we were home by 10PM! Hahaha!

Giving Birth


I kind of have the impression that the world was on a wild baby boom last 2013 and it seems that 2014 will be no different. Having given birth to two adorable boys via the same method but under different circumstances, here is my two cent’s worth.
Finding the Right Doctor and Hospital
I had different doctors for my two boys, mainly because we moved houses and my old doctor/hospital became more than an hour’s drive, which would be disastrous if I suddenly get stuck in traffic while going into labour. So hubby and I decided to have our second baby at the nearest hospital, which also necessitated the need for a new obstetrician, as my old one wasn’t accredited at the new hospital. I did a lot of online research on our doctor (in short, stalking and snooping; let’s hope she’s not reading this, hahaha), didn’t find anything bad, so I was basically satisfied. She was also highly recommended by one of hubby’s friends so that sealed the deal for us.
Among our other considerations were the facilities, convenience, and the cost. Since our hospital is a top-notch brand spanking new one and is just ten minutes away from our house (St. Luke’s at Fort Bonifacio Global City), that ticks off the first two factors. Again doing some online research (you can try this link for 2013 prices to give you an idea), I made comparisons among the other hospitals near us and luckily, our hospital offered competitive maternity packages wherein I ended up paying even less than for my first delivery. It did mean though that I had to endure a semi-private room since St. Luke’s didn’t offer private room packages. I don’t like sharing rooms but I just told myself it’s just for two days anyway. The hospital doesn’t get crowded too and I didn’t have to share my room after all. 
Rooming in
I once thought that it would be a very nice idea if my newborn baby stayed with me immediately after birth but looking back, I realize this wasn’t the best scenario. First, it didn’t allow me time to recuperate and recover at least some of my strength before I had to take care of him. In fact, I was still in the recovery room and I was already breastfeeding and barely had time to sleep during my two day-stay since, as we all know, babies almost always wake up and need to be fed every two hours.  
This was totally opposite from when I had our firstborn – I had a full day to rest on my own, and was given the option to just inform the nurses and my doctor if I am ready to take care of my baby. I slept almost the entire first day and by the second day, I was recharged enough to endure taking care of him without feeling as if my body had the flu.

Anesthetics
I have a high pain tolerance so I basically only require the anesthesia almost when I am about to get in the delivery room. I had the epidural with Georgie, administered when I was already in delivery room (told you, I have high tolerance – I managed through the entire labor without any anesthetics and only asked for one as I was to be wheeled into the delivery room) and the general one with Joey, although I wasn’t fully knocked out during the delivery. 
My preference? Well, I can’t exactly remember all the details of my labor with Joey – I do recall shouting back at my doctor, refusing to push anymore, and remembering being so groggy that I slept for such a long time. But I do remember the details of my labor with Georgie under epidural. What I didn’t like was not feeling the contractions as they come – I mean, my doctor had to tell me there’s a contraction before I knew to push. 
I also had a very bad after childbirth experience related to epidural anesthesia which is why I am not particularly fond of it – one day after being discharged, I was back in the hospital because of spinal headaches so bad I was crying of pain and throwing up whenever I had to walk the short distance from our bedroom to the comfort room. I didn’t even want to eat because eating would mean I would have to sit up and the headaches would come again (the unique thing about spinal headaches is that you only feel them when sitting or standing up; they’re almost entirely gone when you lie back down). Turns out, the needle used for my epidural punctured my spine and the fluid leaked out. Researching a bit on this, I found out this is fairly common for back operations – 4 out of 10 experience it; but relatively rare for childbirth, where occurrence is around 1% only. (Un)luckily for me, I just had to belong to that “elite” 1%. 
Spinal headache is the worst kind I’ve experienced so far. I am not joking when I say I literally saw black spots swirling and that I wanted to hit my head on the wall if only to knock me out and numb the pain.
There are various ways to treat spinal headaches, the most extreme would be to insert another needle and inject some of my own blood into the exact spot where the puncture happened, hoping that the blood will clot and cover the puncture. But we did the non-invasive course first – bed rest and lots of fluid. Three days of non-stop IV (hence, the puffy cheeks when I finally got home), strong painkillers both taken orally and via IV, and being stuck on a hospital bed rid me of the more painful headaches. On the 4th day, I was feeling well enough to continue resting at home. 
Enjoy
Okay, giving birth may not be enjoyable, and I know a lot of women who dread it, but just think that at the end of it all- you’d have a bouncing little bundle of joy that makes it all worthwhile.

2014 Checklist

A lot of my goals for 2013 got switched up (and down; I did get to tick several items off my bucket list) and looking back, the things I would work for this 2014 are about the same.

Health. I know I said I’d look into my health problems last year, but baby got in the way (I couldn’t start on most of the prescriptions/tests until after I’ve given birth and weaned the baby). I’m not getting younger so this one gets top billing. And not just for me but for the rest of our family.

Be a more hands-on mom.  Not that I am not already – I used to give Joey his daily bath up until he was four, before going to work, wash his feeding bottles, and take care of him the minute I get home from work. I intend to do the same with Georgie (which makes health all the more  my priority).
Keep up with my Joey dates. Joey and I have established an almost regular weekend thing wherein I take him to Timezone, eat out at whichever restaurant/fast food he chooses, and do whatever he wants for the day. We haven’t gone out together since I gave birth but hopefully, when the new nanny comes in, we can get back to this mom/Joey bonding thing before I go back to work.
Travel. I don’t think hubby and I (or me for the most part) can go on long trips this year since Georgie is still too young and I don’t want to be away from him, but I am hoping to visit Japan to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and go to Malaysia and Singapore – I promised Joey we’d go to Legoland for Christmas last year but obviously, we couldn’t do that with a newborn baby in tow so it’s a good thing he agreed to go this year instead.
Locally, I hope we can squeeze in Palawan and Batanes this year. It might be a stretch but if I am to choose, I’d pick the latter before it gets all commercial and stuff. I’d twist the hubby’s arms just to get this to happen (or go there on my own if he won’t).
Blog more. Forty-one posts in 2013?!? No wonder my blog has been gathering dust.
Save up for a new house. Okay, let’s be honest. I don’t think I’d be able to save up enough for a new house by the end of the year (unless I win the lotto or a rich relative suddenly adopts me), but maybe enough for a lot and then let’s go from there? Our condo is getting quite crowded and for someone who grew up in a relatively big house, I keep dreaming of my own walk-in closet and garden. And I think I’d go nuts if we don’t get a bigger place.
Be more organized and manage my time better. I don’t know why but I often get the feeling that 2013 just breezed past me and that I’d gotten so overwhelmed. On a side note, I really am getting old – I am now of the opinion that tangible organizers (you know, of the pen and paper kind versus the gadget thingamajigs) are better. And to that end, I am going to haul my ass off the bed in a few minutes to get myself one of the nice ones at the bookstore (I already have several new notebooks to go with it).
On the material side, I wish (but not necessarily hope for) more bags and shoes, what else? Just one will do. I am still undecided whether to get a Chanel (not the flap one – but the bigger ones) or a Tod’s this year (yeah, another proof I am getting old is I now prefer the mom-bags). 😛

2013

2013 may have been a very bad year for our country and for a lot of people (judging from the news feed on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts), and in some ways, it was for me as well. But there were a lot of good things that happened to too, several items I was able to cross off my bucket list, which makes the year that was quite an awesome one, overall. 
  • Went on two out of the country vacations this year. Hubby and I have clashing schedules (it ain’t easy planning trips between a workaholic journalist/professor and a workaholic accountant in operations) so I’ve pretty much toned down my travel goals – go on at least two domestic and one out of the country trip during the year. After years of nagging the hubby, we finally went on a trip to Europe. Granted, the latter half of it I spent touring Belgium by myself and I wasn’t able to make the most of the trip since I was like a fat walrus, but eating Laduree macarons on the steps of Versailles, going on a cruise down the Seine River on my birthday, hearing mass at the Notre Dame, and time-travelling to the middle ages in lovely Bruges more than makes this mini-vacation one of the best I’ve ever taken.
  • This year too, we were able to revisit Cebu, if only for the weekend, which is a memorable place for us since we had our honeymoon there (and Boracay) seven years ago. We also went back to Bohol, one of my favourite spots in the country, and saw the old churches before they were destroyed by the devastating earthquake a couple of months ago. 
  • And as a bonus? I also travelled with two of my friends to Hongkong. I haven’t travelled out of the country with friends in three years and as much as I love our little family unit, it’s also nice to travel with friends, or even by yourself (which is practically what I did in Belgium this year, and in the US last year).
  • Bought a new car. Honestly, I was thinking of getting a new car in 2014 (along with having baby #2), but since baby #2 made an early entrance, then the car had to be bumped up a bit as well, out of necessity. See, our old sedan would have been too cramped what with four of us now (six, if the nannies tag along; nanny #2 will be reporting for work tomorrow). And you all know how much stuff a baby needs when travelling. It’s like bringing your own house.
  • Started my collection of designer shoes. And added a couple of little trinkets to my bag/wallet stash. This is not a hobby I’m particularly keen on growing (hello, money doesn’t grow on trees), but it doesn’t hurt to splurge every now and then. 
Bought my first Giuseppe Zanotti, Repetto, and French Sole (and I sneaked in some Longchamp rubber shoes). FIghting the urge to get a pair of studded Valentinos – see? Shoes are my weakness.

  • Made it to our family reunions this year. See, I’ve always had what I call the holiday curse since I was a kid. I was always sick during either Christmas or New Year! Last year, I spent the day before Christmas in the emergency room (and another day prior to that), getting shots for a wound on my foot and literally unable to walk because of an infected boil on my leg.
  • A new baby! I’m not as young and as strong as I used to be and I had a very lousy nine months, but seeing his cute face, even scrunched up while crying, erases all the pains. I now have two adorable little boys – and life is perfect. There are no words to describe this kind of happiness, or maybe I just become inarticulate all the time in the face of such joy.
Okay, so baby #2’s in a not so good mood here but this is the only photo(as of now) I have of the two of them together.

Funny, I was thinking 2013 was a bad year but just coming up with the list above suddenly made me realize how fabulous and blessed 2013 had been. Here’s to wishing 2014 tops it!