Give Love on Christmas Day

Hubby and I had picked up on my family’s tradition of giving food on Christmas Eve and this is our second year. Nothing fancy: just home-cooked spaghetti and ham sandwiches, cheese and a zesto. But imagine how all these must taste like to people who have nothing to eat.
I don’t have the resources to make this project a daily thing but no one deserves to be hungry and cold on Christmas Eve.

Ready for distribution – our route takes us in front of the BSP, where a lot of homeless families had set up shacks
I am also happy that our friends all agreed to donate instead our exchange gift fund to charity. Really, we have all been so blessed and what’s one less gift, right?

Also, I am posting this not to brag about the good we did for Christmas, but in the hope of maybe inspiring some of you to do the same. Hey, if Ipe and I can feed a couple of families, imagine how many families will not go hungry on such as special night as this if a couple more people do it? It would truly be a Merry Christmas then.

Varsi Amihan Christmas 2011

This year perhaps marks the first time that our annual Varsi Amihan Christmas party did not involve overnight. And it probably takes 2nd place as the most spur of the moment parties we’ve had in the ten years we’ve been doing this (guilty on both counts). Planning this annual event somehow landed on my lap but I was just not feeling Christmassy this year and throwing a party was not one of my priorities (not that I don’t want to meet up with my Varsi friends – I do, and if I could, I would hang out with them everyday).
Anyway, good thing Feli came to the rescue and organized it with less than a week to go. Since we sent out the invites rather late, it also meant we had to think of a venue that was more or less never occupied. And so we ended up at Gloria Maris, Araneta. Seriously, the place serves decent enough food but any given time that we’re in Cubao, it’s almost always empty. 
First half of the night – dinner at Gloria Maris. Party hats courtesy of Feli.
Second party this week that I’m late. They were all done with dinner and about to transfer to the next venue when I arrived. But thanks to Leah and Marisse for arriving even later, we ended up staying at Gloria Maris til they closed. Though of course, Leah just arrived from Singapore so she was excused for being late. Haha.
Followed by coffee at Starbucks
Amelia Earhart, is that you?
We usually have coffee and dessert at Gloria Jeans (ok, too many Glorias there and I find it too funny) but it closes early; hence, the Starbucks.

Of course, what party would be complete without…drumroll please! Raffle prizes! Yey! Ok, to give you a background, we don’t really spend for these raffle prizes. We just pool all the gifts we don’t want to keep or have no use for and raffle them off. Kind of like a swap thingie, except it’s more fun. Our grand prize this year is a two burner stove and a foot spa machine (which hubby won at his office party, haha). And left-over GCs. 😛

In keeping with the somber atmosphere this season, what with the terrible Sendong hitting CDO and Iligan, we unanimously agreed to forego exchanging gifts and just donate money to charity. What do you know? We raised almost Php10K (courtesy of a very generous S$100 from Leah, clap clap)! Yehey! I think we’ll be donating it to Iligan, which was hit quite as hard as CDO but is not getting nearly as much help. 
Merry Christmas my dear Varsi friends! Entering our second decade of friendship!

Holy Thursday and Good Friday 2011

Had a lot of activities the past two days – some old, some new stuff. The Holy Week holidays are rather busy days for us, but I’m glad Ipe and I have yet to succumb to partying or hitting up the beach on these holy days.
Our friends from the V met up to do our annual Visita Iglesia – now on its 10th year, though I wasn’t part of the original group; I used to do Visita with my family). We visited seven churches this year around Makati and QC, though I only joined for the last three. 

The facade is quite simple; but the interior is very nice
We actually got to do some fun 
stuff – the Padre Pio Chapel in Libis was our second to last stop and we got a pleasant surprise when we saw they were handing out these crosses for you to carry while you do your stations of the cross in their makeshift garden (the stations are in a cordoned portion of the chapel’s parking lot). 

They were also considerate enough to have laminated copies of the prayers so you don’t have to leaf through your booklets; it’s quite hard to do when you’re carrying a cross.

That’s our group carrying our crosses

Jere got the biggest cross – but he will probably kill me for posting this pic: look at the bottom of his cross. See something looking suspiciously like a wheel? 😛
Jere remarked that we had probably gone beyond heaven as we repeated all stations across seven churches – 14 stations * 7 churches! Anyway, all the heat and the literal carrying of our crosses made us all SOOOOOOOOO hungry, Feli and I had to agree we couldn’t care less where we eat.  We were looking forward to some sinigang and sisig and since we were in Timog, we were all set to have dinner at Dencio’s near ABS-CBN – only to find out it was closed down already. We ended up at Buddy’s instead, this one near GMA. 

view from across the street – bright lights
the inside is just as bright; summer seems to be the year-round theme as I recall their Makati branch had the same set-up back in December

Feasted ourselves on pancit lucban, sotanghon, bihon, pork and bangus sisig, longanisa and molo soup

What I love most about Pinoy restos is that they have sago’t gulaman; it’s refreshing quality is very underrated, if you ask me. 
The food here at Buddy’s is perhaps what you would expect to find in a barrio feast at surprisingly cheap prices. Can you believe the pancit lukban good for three people costs only Php 180? Food coma indeed! 😀

Too bad Ipe and I had to go home early since we were already tired (again, my total sleep hours this week probably totaled less than 20 hours – soo not good). 

Good Friday found us at the hubby’s ancestral home in Bay. I like the church here, the San Agustin, which was built in 1804 after the parish was transferred from its previous location near the bay. Sadly, the stone church was destroyed during WWII and was rebuilt in 1953. 

Love how they kept to the antique feel

Ipe and I had been spending Good Fridays here for the past seven years but this was the first time we finished the church service – we didn’t know the parishioners would be making their way to pay homage to the cross ON THEIR KNEES!
I know it was just a couple of meters – but it was on hard cement and I swear every time I crept forward, a capillary would break! I wasn’t able to take photos as I was already having a hard time balancing on my knees, and the ever-clumsy husband bumped on me from behind that I almost fell face forward.
The parish priest right before he went on his knees
The procession this year took longer than usual though I couldn’t tell if it was due to the size of the crowd or because we had several breaks in between. Last year’s crowd was quite huge already and this year seems to be the same number. But it took us two hours to circle the neighborhood and get back to the church.
Yup, that’s our cue to join; it was still bright when we started
…and well after dark when we finished. This pic looks eerie; as if the Santo Entierro’s carosa was glowing and floating on air

The family chapel, the right glass enclosure is where the Santo Entierro is kept on normal days – yes, the room is air-conditioned which is why a lot of people hang out here, aside from the powder which also has full-blast AC 😀
I only ate a measly fillet-o-fish sandwich and a snack the entire day (plus, only a glass of water), so by dinner, I was seriously famished. But we were amply rewarded coz when we got back to the house, this was the feast waiting for us:

Good Friday dinner – no meat! All seafood and veggies. Oops! Does egg count?
We’re supposed to go to the Easter Vigil tonight but I’m not sure I’m up for an all-nighter. Kinda getting old and I’m starting to get chest pains and palpitations from the hunger and thirst (hubby doesn’t believe me when I say this; but then, he doesn’t believe also that I get cold or tired easily – he really should take a crash course on heart and thyroid diseases which makes me a nifty little package). Hopefully though, I have enough energy to celebrate Easter tomorrow! 🙂

Joey’s 3rd Birthday

It was Joey’s big day yesterday so we headed off to Greenbelt for Mass and lunch with my side of the family (it was a sort of thank you for my parents actually, since they so kindly volunteered to drastically increase my checking account, har har har. translation: lent me enough moolah to quit my old job).
Started off with ice cream at Gelatissimo, Greenbelt 5 while waiting for my ever punctual (not!) family. Joey enjoyed the chocolate as you can see. I love their ice cream – it’s the creamiest I’ve ever tasted. Beats Haagen Daaz to me. 
Then, we went off to Mesa.
I know I’ve been a little unkind to this resto in the past but while I maintain that most of the dishes on the menu have nothing special, I am drawn however to their sinigang na baboy sa bayabas and pineapple and mango salad. Joey also loves the sinigang – in fact, whenever we eat there, he finishes a cup of rice all by himself!
Since there were only seven of us, I just ordered the basics at Mesa. Clockwise from left: laing two ways, mango salad (goes great with the fish and grilled foodie), crispy tilapya, wrapped sisig, inihaw platter.
One thing I really love here is the price. Imagine, I was able to feed seven adults and a kid with matching fruit shakes and the bill only amouned to Php 3,000? Hard to believe, right?
Anyway, we headed to Red Mango for dessert. I got the original yoghurt with mango and almonds. My two favorite. Did you know that a lot of my former officemates thought I was pregnant with the way I’ve been devouring mangoes? Little did they know that I can finish off ten ripe mangoes in one go. I was practically raised eating mangoes, courtesy of a mango farm on my father’s side of the family. Haha.
After meryenda, we headed back home for Joey’s birthday party – nothing fancy since I’m not really of the kiddie party type. I prefer just eating out and buying stuff for Joey. Or taking him to some carnival or sight-seeing. But of course, no birthday is complete without a birthday cake:

mcQueen cake from Goldilocks
Birthday boy at Greenbelt; Blowing the candle on his cake with friend Gabby and cousin JM:
Happy Birthday my dear little Joey!!!

Valentine’s Weekend

Lots of stuff last Valentine’s weekend.
Had late dinner and catching up with a dear old friend. Treated ourselves to Dairy Queen (surprise! they just opened at Market Market) and took home heart-shaped dilly bars:
Had dinner at Shomal by Hossein at Trinoma before watching Valentine’s Day:
We had the mega kebab, good for two: beef, chicken, lamb, ground lamb, shrimp and vegetables. Loved the shrimp! I think it was covered with paprika or some chili powder and curry. Ipe and I both thought we’d died and gone to gastronomic heaven. Hahaha.
The kebab was served with yellow rice and two sauces – garlic and curry. Ipe liked the garlic; I prefer the curry.
 Tab was pretty neat – our bill came in at only Php 1,700 considering that we only consumed half the kebab and took home the rest. Plus – we got the nice private table, set in its own alcove and hidden partially from the other diners by purple curtains.  Cute that it has its own chandelier too, although it was a bit gawdy for me.
Actual V-day found us with Joey at the Fun Ranch in Pasig (beside Tiendesitas). In the two years we’ve lived in the vicinity, we never got the chance to explore this mini-amusement park.
Joey enjoyed it so much and we almost didn’t want to leave but the heat was becoming a bit unbearable so after two rounds at the bump boat, we decided to hit the Fully Booked at the Fort (yes – Joey enjoys going to bookstores).
So,my Valentine’s weekend was filled with dates – with friends, with hubby, and with Joey. How did you spend yours?

New Year Pigfest

I want tothank our neighborhood ihawan for the liempo, fish and relleno, the grocery for the fruits, gifts for the tortellini.
Got this cute “lechon” cinnamon bread. Hehehe. We did have lechon but not an entire suckling pig, so when I saw this baby at the palengke, I gotta have it. Cute no?
Happy New Year everyone! May you have a wonderful year ahead of you!

New Year Rush

Ipe, Joey and I braved the crowds and went to the grocery to buy some much needed supplies and here’s what greeted us:
A good thing we were able to complete twelve fruits: apples, pears, oranges, guyabano, pineapple, sugarapple, chesa (what’s is english equivalent, i can’t place right now), grapes, papaya, melon, mangoes, and calamansi (this one a last minute addition, hahaha):
Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas Eve: Gifts Galore

Never too late to post how we spent our Christmas Eve.
Our Noche Buena feast consisted of ribbon pasta, ham, chocolate cookies, sisig. Mostly easy-cook thingies I managed to pull out of our overflowing cupboard (Christmas is very good for our cupboards and refrigerator, what with our combined Christmas baskets and giveaways).
And of course, come midnight, gifts!
sneaking in Joey’s gift a few hours before midnight
the Christmas tree, notice good old Cow guarding the gifts
And finally, midnight strikes! Here are some pictures of Joey with his gifts:
Hope you had a fun fun fun Christmas!

Cruz Family Reunion

It has been a Christmas day tradition to have the Cruz family reunion for more than fifteen years now. It’s on a rotation basis and with nine  uncles and aunts to divide the hosting tasks, we’ve only had two rounds each. Now, it’s one of my tita’s turn so the party was moved to their village’s pool/clubhouse in San Mateo. 
banner greeting guests
our family (mama and louis stayed at home)
Joey’s pilyo side so obvious in this photo, hehehe

I haven’t been to a family reunion in years mainly because we’ve drifted apart (issues, issues) so I was surprised at the number of nephews and nieces. And all the little cousins have grown up and married!
Anyway, I’m glad we went there if only to taste home-made achara and Bulacan-style menudo. Trust me, you’re missing half your life if you haven’t tasted these.

Presents Galore- Italian Goodies

I so love presents and Ipe got lots of gifts – mostly giveaway bags, grocery baskets, and cards. But a few days ago, he brought home this lovely gift. Still grocery items but yummy stuff:
assorted cookies
cheese popcorn
flavored candies
chocolate paste
orange flavored chocolate chips
I guess this can be bought in a specialty store somewhere in Rockwell. I’ll try looking for it the next time I’m there. 😛