Early Christmas Gifts (And a Late Thank You Post)

I always look forward to Christmas when I was a child. It is the day to receive gifts and money from generous ninongs and ninangs, and aunts and uncles. Even my grandfather gives gifts to all of his grandchildren.

My ampao is full of money back then. I had new toys. I had new shirts. I even enjoyed the Christmas feast with my relatives. But things changed when I grew older. I’m now the giver instead of the recipient of the gifts.

That’s why I’m pleased when I received some unexpected gifts from my friends.

Mortar and pestle from Romblon

The first gift that I got came from the rocky island of Romblon. It is a mortar and pestle made of Romblon’s marble (marmol). I don’t know if my Beloved and I will use it in the future.

Souvenir from Romblon

Well, at least I already have a souvenir from Romblon even though I haven’t visited the place.

Another gift that I got came from a pro-life friend. It came from a more distant land.

Rosary from Bethlehem and necklace from the Sea of Galilee

It was a rosary from the birth-place of Jesus Christ and a necklace from a lake that is also connected to Him.

I also got an item from CD-R King during a Christmas party in the office. It is a very useful item, which allows me to charge my electronic devices on the go.

CDR King Solar Power Bank

A very good friend gave yummy mango float as her Christmas gift during my recent trip to Davao. Masarap gumawa ng mango float, pwede na mag-asawa. ;-)

Christmas message from a friend

The mango float is gone. What was left is her message.

But the best gift that I got this Christmas is...

2013 Nativity scene (Belen) of Binondo Church
Belen in Binondo Church.

...the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

No one can top this.

I just want to say: THANK YOU for all of the people who gave these Christmas presents. May the Lord bless you always and my you receive the best gift of all.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Nativity Scene

The Holy Child is here.


For all of my blogger friends who keep on visiting my blog and all the readers, MERRY CHRISTMAS to each and everyone of you.

May you receive Jesus Christ in your hearts.



Image Source: WikiCommons

Christmas Wonderland in the 3rd Kahayag Festival

I just returned from a very short visit to my Beloved's parents somewhere in Davao del Norte. It is a visit that I truly enjoyed, not only because of the good care that was given to me by my future-in-laws, but also because of the few places that we visited during the trip.

One of those places is the town of Carmen and their Kahayag Festival.

Kahayag Festival of Carmen, Davao del Norte

I didn't expect to see anything grand in Carmen. But I was glad that I was wrong. Lights filled the town plaza in front of the municipal hall.

Giant Christmas trees in Kahayag Festival
Towering Christmas trees of Carmen.

Kahayag Festival is a joint activity of the municipal government of Carmen and the private sector. Barangays of Carmen, schools and businesses in the town made their own Christmas trees, belens and lanterns. The result is a sight to behold.

Christmas trees in Kahayag Festival

It was my first time to see so many Christmas trees in one place!

I believe that Kahayag Festival is a good idea. People Carmen have something to enjoy every night at the plaza. The competition for the best Christmas decor brought out the creativity of the people and that’s another plus point.

One notable belen (Nativity scene) is this one, located in the middle of the plaza:

Belen in Kahayag Festival

The three kings are present. Mama Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are also present. Sheeps and a cow were there too. Everything seems normal until I saw an elf in Santa costume pumping water.

Mystery elf in nativity scene in Kahayag Festival

I didn’t know that there’s an elf when Jesus was born.

Kidding aside, the Christmas decors in Kahayag Festival looked great. Here are some Christmas “scenes” that I saw:

Swans in Kahayag Festival

Simbang gabi scene in Kahayag Festival

Belen entry of Sto. Nino Elementary School


Even Jose Rizal’s monument was well lighted. The national hero looks fab. :-P

Jose Rizal under lights in Kahayag Festival

We checked every Christmas tree in Kahayag Festival and the tree that got our vote is this tree:

Green Christmas tree in Kahayag Festival

And I think this is my best shot:

My best shot in Kahayag Festival

So if you are in Davao del Norte this Christmas Season, I suggest that you visit Kahayag Festival.

The giant Christmas trees and other decors are located in front of the municipal hall. It can be reached, from Davao City, by riding any Tagum-bound bus. Alight at Carmen bus terminal and the municipal hall is just a short walk away.

Let Us Not Forget the Yolanda and Earthquake Victims

Christmas  is a happy season. People think of shopping spree, plenty of parties and unlimited food. Who wouldn't want to be happy? It is the celebration of Jesus Christ's birthday anyway. It is natural to be so merry.

There is the tendency for the people to focus on the happy things this Season. All the negative vibes are placed to the sidelines because we are supposed to be merry. Sadly, one thing that was placed to the sidelines are the double tragedies that occurred in the Visayas region. It seems like that the people suddenly forget the plight of our kababayans affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda and Bohol earthquake starting December 1.

For instance, right now in the media it is the word war between Tacloban City Mayor and Romualdez and Mar “Palengkero” Roxas that is hogging the limelight. Last week, it is the bickering of two old politicians and earlier than that it is the fight between Pacquiao and the BIR that buried the Yolanda tragedy.

Mayor of Tacloban crying during Congressional hearing
The political teledrama is on.

I hope that I'm wrong. I hope that people are still helping, albeit silently, our kababayans in Visayas. I hope against hope that the Government is doing its responsibility to the people of Yolanda-hit and earthquake affected areas.

But the reality is bleak. Hoarding of relief goods is happening. Corrupt people sell relief goods that are intended for Yolanda victims. It is sad that some people used the tragedy as money generating scheme.

A friend of mine, who has siblings and relatives in Ormoc, informed me of the hardships that the citizens of that city are experiencing. People who are ill line up in a public hospital despite the fact that all the equipments and medicines were wiped out by the typhoon. As if to confirm Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez' report, my friend said that politicians only help those who voted for them. Tacloban is still stinking because of yet-to-be-recorded corpses.

Good thing that private individuals are working together to help Yolanda survivors. One example is the Oplan Trabaho that will be conducted to provide job for the survivors. What they're doing is good but not enough because the magnitude of destruction wrought by the two calamities. More people should answer the call and bring more aid.

Yolanda survivors still faithful to God
(Source: Inquirer Global Nation)

Yolanda victims are still firm on their Faith in the Lord. They are calling to Him amidst the destruction. And His answer to them will be their fellow-Filipinos who have the resources to help. God is asking us, calling us, to help.

Let us then answer this call. Let us not forget them especially this Christmas Season. As our Lord has said, “as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”


The source of the first image is InterAksyon.com

Frenzy Christmas Shopping in Divisoria

The Christmas Season is on. The people are frantic in shopping for gifts and Christmas decors. Divisoria, that area in Manila known for cheap products, are filled to the brim with these frantic shoppers.

Crowded Recto Avenue in Divisoria
People, people everywhere at Recto Avenue, Divisoria.

My Beloved and I are unfortunate because some of our suppliers for the wedding are located in Divisoria. We were forced to dive in Divisoria's sea of humanity everytime we visit the place.

Last week, we visited our mananahi for the second fitting of my Beloved's wedding gown. We took the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.

Earrings for sale in 168 Mall, Divisoria

My Beloved made the first buy. She bought earrings for her nieces and goddaughters in a stall in 168 Mall. Each earring costs 35 pesos but we got them in wholesale price of 20 pesos because we bought 7 pieces.

Cheap earring bought from Divisoria

The earrings are definitely cheap but they look elegant enough. I bet that my Beloved's nieces and goddaughters will like them.

Divisoria is the place to go to for cheap Christmas items. People know this that's why they flock to 168 Mall, 999 Mall and the streets of Divisoria. It is so crowded that I got irritated because we couldn't get a seat in McDonalds. We waited for a long time before we got a space to eat in that fastfood joint.

My Beloved enjoyed our many trips to Divisoria despite the crowd. There are so many things that she can buy cheaply. I think that Divisoria has the power to unleash the shopaholic tendencies of my Beloved. She always have something to bring home everytime we visit Divisoria.

Another item that she bought is a bag that costs 50 pesos.

Cheap bags for sale in Divisoria

Since we are going to Divisoria, my Mom asked us to buy a Christmas tree and Christmas lanterns. Well, we did what she commanded. We bought her Christmas trees and lanterns and of course some Christmas decors like balls and lights.

Christmas decors from Divisoria

The Christmas tree costs 350 pesos. The big balls are 100 pesos for 20 pieces while the small balls are 25 pesos for 12 pieces. 5-meter long LED Christmas lights costs 120 pesos. The star costs 25 pesos. All in all, we spent 620 pesos which is cheap especially if it is compared with the prices in the malls.

If your going to Divisoria to buy Christmas gifts, I suggest that you increase your patience because you will experience colliding with many people or will be crushed by the crowd or your feet trampled upon or talking to exhausted (ill-tempered) vendors.

Night market in Juan Luna Street, Divisoria

There is no respite even in the evening. Hordes of shoppers flock Divisoria for the night market.

Divisoria is so crowded this Christmas Season so be prepared when you go to Divisoria. Increase your patience, be alert to the pickpockets, hone your haggling skills and then dive to the sea of shoppers. Of course, don't forget to enjoy Christmas shopping in Divisoria.

End of the Month Roundup - November 2013

Hello there! It’s been a long time since my last post on this blog. Please pardon my absence because I am getting busier and busier, not because of the Christmas Season, but of the coming D-Day for me and my Beloved.

We are getting nervous and anxious for the things that are in store for us next year. Wedding, particularly the ceremony, is like a baptism of fire, a test of patience and strength of our love for each other.

We have been busy going to Dangwa and Divisoria looking for supplies and suppliers. We talked to our friend who is wedding coordinator. We talked to the manager of our reception venue. We talked and talked and planned and planned. It seems like there is no end to it.

It is physically and emotionally taxing but we found ways to have fun for the wedding prep. I am even thinking of blogging about our experiences. Maybe I will start talking more of our wedding prep next year, after the D-Day.

Yummy shrimps from a street side restaurant in Bangkok Chinatown
Yummy shrimps from the Red Shirts.

I’m finally done posting about our trip to Bangkok Chinatown. I ended this post series with food! I really dining with Foong in Double Dogs Tea Room and the street side seafood restaurant run by the Red Shirts.

November is also a shocking month, not only for me but also for the whole country. Many people were either killed or left homeless by Typhoon Yolanda. People from Eastern Visasyas, Panay Island, Northern Cebu, Northern Palawan and other areas in the Visayas region were severely affected. It is a tragedy of unimaginable degree.

Hearts around the world were moved by the plight of kababayans. Foreign countries and foreigners in their personal capacity sent help to Yolanda afflicted areas. Unfortunately, relief efforts being done were tainted by politics.

It is December now and many people are hoping that brighter days are coming. We can hope and pray for that our kababayans can rise once again like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Merry Christmas Season to everyone!!!

Help Yolanda's Victims

It seems like tragedies never end in the Philippines. Last October, the central part of Visayas was devastated by a 7.2 earthquake. This month the eastern part of Visayas and other areas in the middle region of the our country suffered the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Ruined community due to Typhoon Yolanda
(Image from Tempo)

The sight of Tacloban City is harrowing. The whole place was flattened by might of Yolanda. Roofs of many building were torn away. Concrete walls collapsed. Fallen trees and posts blocked the streets. There reports that the dead were just placed at the side of the roads because their relatives have no other place for them.

The devastation of Tacloban City is just a portion of the whole damage caused by the super typhoon. Large portion of Leyte Province is still unaccounted for. Communication systems were damaged thus information from that area are sketchy at best. Blocked roads and damaged bridges made many towns of Leyte unaccessible.

Many Filipinos who have relatives in Leyte are worried about their love ones. They can only hope and pray to God that no harm happened to them.

I am appealing, once again, to my fellow Filipinos and readers of this blog to pray for those who were affected by the recent calamities. Let us ask our Lord to have mercy to our kababayans. May He grant eternal repose for those who perished. And for those who survived, may He aid them and strengthen their Faith despite the devastation.

I also appeal for your kind hearts to send help to my kababayans in those places. May we act together so that our kababayan can rebuild their damaged livelihood. Donations can be sent to the following organizations:

1. University of Asia & the Pacific

UA&P Typhoon Yolanda Relief Efforts
(Source: The Bosun)

2. Caritas Manila

Caritas Manila poster for donation
(Source: 100% Katolikong Pinoy)

For details on how you can help please visit Caritas Manila website.

Those living outside of the Philippines who want to help through Caritas Manila may send using the organizations dollar accounts. Here are the details:

Details of dollar accounts of Caritas Manila
(Source: One Rosary)
 Those who want to give cash donations may visit Direct Donations page of the Caritas Manila website for details.

3. Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church is also has relief efforts. Those who want to donate in kind may go to Quiapo Church. They also need volunteers for the repacking of relief goods. Visit Quiapo Church website for details.

These are few of the many organizations that are aiding our kababayans. The popular ones are Red Cross and the TV networks who are asking for donations. According to their Facebook page, LBC branches serves as drop-off points of donations for Yolanda victims. LBC can be found in many places so those who donations-in-kind can go to any LBC branch.

There are many avenues to help our kababayan. Let us stop the bangayan and senseless blame game. Let us work together. Please help the victims of Yolanda.

Dinner Finale with the Red Shirts

Foong and I started touring Bangkok Chinatown once again after a satisfying merienda at Double Dogs Tea Room. We are walking around the place not to search for souvenirs but to hunt for another place to eat. It is not surprising if the list brought by my travel companion contained the name and rough address of restaurants because Bangkok Chinatown is popular for its food.

The place reminded me of Binondo Chinatown in Manila. That place is also popular because of the food. I believe that Chinese cuisine is a magnet for food enthusiasts everywhere. This is also the case with Bangkok Chinatown.

Foong is looking for a restaurant or street stall that offers a certain pork dish. Too bad that we didn't locate it so we just searched for another restaurant in his list. One of the clue that he found in the Internet is that the crew of that restaurant wear red shirts.

J & K Seafood Restaurant, Bangkok Chinatown
This is definitely not a red shirt.

We almost failed in locating the red shirts and almost dined with the green shirts. Good thing that we noticed the restaurant of the red shirts, which is located just across the road from the green shirts.

Lek and Rut Seafood Restaurant in Bangkok Chinatown
Lek and Rut Seafood Restaurant

The red shirt restaurant that we are looking for is Lek and Rut (R & L) Seafood Restaurant. It is not a formal sort of restaurant. It is more of sidestreet kind where the tables were placed on the sidewalks and the streets. This is the reason why this restaurant is only open during the evening.

Street diners on Yaowarat Road, Bangkok Chinatown

We only had a modest dinner. We only ordered a seafood hot pot or better known as Tom Yum and some prawns.

Our dinner in R & L Seafood Restaurant, Bangkok Chinatown

I am already familiar with the tom yum since I had that during my visit to Koh Samet Island. I actually had tom yum numerous times while I was in Thailand. 

Seafood tom yum in Bangkok Chinatown

This tom yum from the red shirts costs 200 Thai baht.

Delicious prawns at Bangkok Chinatown

The roasted prawns were really big. I enjoyed removing their shells and feasting on the big meat inside. This is what happened to the prawns after I was done with them:

Prawn shells at Bangkok Chinatown

Our dessert is the Bird Nest – Gingko, which I tasted for the first time.

Bird's nest and gingko dessert in Bangkok Chinatown

The bird's nest that I had is not the typical bird's nest that is made of straw and grass leaves. I believe that it is the same as the nests being harvested from our local birds called as balinsasayao.

Red shirts' bird's nest felt grainy but tasteless. The same goes with the yellow-colored gingko fruit.

Our dinner may be simple but what made it special is the friendly chat with a fellow blogger. It will be a long time before I see Foong again. But who knows? I never expected to meet him in Bangkok. I might meet him again in Manila or Singapore or Kuala Lumpur or anywhere in Asia.

A Relaxing Stop at Double Dogs Tea Room

Our adventure at Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun and Bangkok Chinatown is fun but it is also very tiring. My feet are already aching and I am thirsty. That's why I felt so relieved when travel companion Foong asked me to stop awhile in a tea shop.

I find Foong to be a peculiar tourist. He is the only friend of mine that brings a piece of paper containing a list of popular restaurants. Such habit is good since the restaurants that we visited during our trip are truly good. Double Dogs Tea Room is one of the restaurants that is in his list.

Double Dogs Tea Room at Bangkok Chinatown

I wondered why the owner named the tea shop as double dogs. My best guess is that the owner has two dogs and he likes them so much that they graced the name of his tea shop.

Double Dogs Tea Room at Bangkok Chinatown
Made me think if the dogs also like drinking tea.

We immediately settled at a table upon entering the tea shop. We were obviously tired of the long walks and we needed to recharge.

I ordered one bowl of egg soup. We both ordered Bloodhound Beer because the name sounded interesting. Another thing is that the menu said that this beer-mix can be “find nowhere”. A preposterous claim that challenged me so.

Choice of drinks at Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

Aside from tea, Double Dogs' pride is their homemade desserts. We ordered a cake and a homemade ice cream for desserts.

Double Dogs Tea Room is neat. It is cool enough due to the air conditioner, which is perfect for tourists who want to take a break from the heat outside. I like the design of the whole shop, especially the bookshelf. It means that patrons are being invited to stay for a while and read a good book while sipping their tea.

Interior of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

The waitress that we met is polite but a little reserved. The reason maybe is that she is not fluent in speaking English.

Interior of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

The Bloodhound Beer came first. Followed in a few minutes by the egg noodles.
Bloodhound Beer of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

I tasted nothing special nor weird with the Bloodhound Beer. It tasted like ordinary beer. This beer can't be found nowhere but everywhere. Nonetheless, the beer is cold and refreshing. I partnered it with the egg noodles.

Egg noodle soup of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

I enjoyed eating the egg noodles, though its taste not that different from the ones I had tasted in other places. Or maybe I'm not an expert in judging food since I am not a food connoisseur.

What we enjoyed the most is the homemade cake and ice cream. We ordered a tart named Tarte Au Citron and Kulfi Ice Cream.

Tarte au Citron of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

The Tarte Au Citron tasted fine. But the award goes to Kulfi homemade ice cream because of its unique and very delicious taste!

Double Dogs' homemade ice cream has three flavors; namely Tradition (with ten spices and the “scent of the Orient”), Dance of Orient (with spices and 23-year aged Guatemalan rhum), and Mixed Fruit. We ordered the first one on the list.

Homemade Ice Cream of Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

I can't explain the taste since I can't fathom what spices were placed in this ice cream. It does not matter because it tasted really good. I guess that anyone who visit Double Dogs Tea Room should order the Kulfi Homemade Ice Cream.

Our receipt from Double Dogs Tea Room, Bangkok Chinatown

We paid a total of 450 Thai baht. I think that what we paid should be lowered since the Bloodhound Beer that we had is just an ordinary beer. Well, at least I tasted a very delicious ice cream and I was refreshed.

I guess it's time to finish the day with another walk around Bangkok Chinatown.