Sunday’s Best: My New Nephew, New Books, and Lots of Seafood

Last Sunday, I finally saw the new and handsome addition to the Jarlego clan. World, meet my very first nephew, Lorenzo Jacob Jarlego Solomon!

Jacob was born last February 21 to my cousin, Kuya Es, and his wife, Ate Hiyas. When they first broke the news that Ate Hiyas was preggers last year, we were overjoyed. I’m sure Jacob will be spoiled….with love, tender care, attention, and lots of food (his momma is an excellent cook).

Later that evening after Dad & Mom’s Discipleship group (Dgroup) session, we headed to the much-talked about MV Logos Hope. It’s a floating library that carries Christian and other wholesome books as well as CDs and journals and sells them at prices lower than most bookstores. Last month (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) the ship docked in Manila Bay. Since last week, Mom and I kept pestering Dad to take us there, and he finally did last Sunday. Right now I believe MV Logos Hope is docked in Subic bay so if you’re near that area, I highly recommend you check out the library with your friends and/or family!

While I was busily reading synopses and filling my cart with books, I heard a familiar voice call my name. It was Camille, one of my batch mates and close friends in high school. I missed this woman! 🙂 We updated each on other on our collegiate lives and as usual, recounted hilarious high school memories. The way we laughed would have had us kicked out of a university library, so I’m thankful the peeps in MV Logos Hope were not so strict. Actually, they have nothing against noise, just don’t be too rambunctious.

After about an hour and a half (or was it more than that? time flies when you’re too engrossed shopping for books), our stomachs were calling out to us demanding they be fed. Since we were already in Manila (as in, Manila city), Mom suggested that we have dinner in Macapagal Boulevard, an area known for its seafood paluto restaurants. I am grateful to God for sparing us from any allergies towards seafood or else we would miss out on this scrumptious dinner. Also, I am grateful that I live in an island where fish is a staple to an everyday diet. I’d choose fish over meat any day.

After reserving seats in igmaan (an orange-themed resto that’s pretty hidden), Mom, Ericka (from the root word Erick kasi becky siya hahaha) and I shopped for our viands. I brought Dad’s camera with me to chronicle my palengke (wet market) adventure.

it was as if he was pleading to me with his eyes to take notice of his slavery and free him in the world where krabby patties exist. Whut?! 😀 We freed his other brethren so that they can make their new home in our stomachs and eventually, in the septic tank. #grossbuttrue

the fish vendor with his expensive product, the lapu-lapu. He wanted a photo for his Facebook profile daw. Or maybe it’s the fish who needed a new picture to report to his family back in the ocean of his earthly demise? 🙂

tahong or saltwater mussel Here he is again, this time, with a more expensive product: a lobster.

After shopping, we went back to igmaan and patiently waited for our dinner. After ten minutes, dinner was served! We had:

buttered garlic shrimp. I usually eat only two pieces of shrimp (sometimes none at all), but this dish was so good, I ate five (or more; I lost count).

This pako (fern) salad is simple, but its crunchiness and tastiness makes up for its simplicity. And it’s cheap too! Too bad they don’t sell these in our local markets. #boo

Other tasty dishes that we ate but not pictured here were: sinigang na tanigue, crab (I forgot the exact name of the dish, but it had a red, slightly viscous sauce), and grilled tuna belly. My top 3 favorites and highly recommended dishes were the sinigang na tanigue, buttered garlic shrimp, and grilled tuna belly. And just to tell you how hungry I was that night and how good the meals tasted, I consumed 1 cup of white rice. You see, I don’t eat more than 1/3 cup of rice because my stomach bloats easily and unfortunately, it stays that way for some time. I’ve conditioned myself to limit my rice intake since I was 12, but on that particular night in igmaan, I let loose! I’m warning you: if you’re the type that sticks strictly to a  certain diet, DO NOT go to any paluto restaurant. You will surely compromise your commitment. 🙂

After consuming five different viands and two large bowls of white rice (hey, there were five of us), our dining escapade ended with this:

Simot ang plato. In English: Wiped out the plates haha 🙂The dinner was worth the wait. Our financial manager was pleased.

so was his other half and the igmaan waiters. Waiter on the right ftw! 😀

Thank You, Jesus, for my loving family, books, and great food. Thank You for Sundays. 🙂

[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 2

Bonded more with family

Bonded More With Family

This year, I made my Dad cry.

Prior to June 19, 2011, I never saw my Dad cry. Not a single tear. It’s not that he’s stoical, but I think since my Mom does the crying of them two, he ought to stay strong and hold back the tears. Dad always remained calm, cool, and composed even in the face of problems. His threshold of tears must be high, I suppose.

Until, of course, I and my brothers exceeded that threshold with a presentation.

Two weeks before Father’s Day, I secretly planned two musical numbers to be performed by me and my brothers, Josh and James. Forgive me Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson, but I altered your songs’ lyrics to suit our message for our Dad (“Just The Way You Are” and “My Life Would Suck Without You”). My siblings and I capitalized on the minutes and hours our Dad was out of the house to practice our trio number.

June 19, 2011, Sunday.  Before having breakfast, I whispered to my Mom my plan and asked her to take a video of our number. Casually, I borrowed Dad’s DSLR, saying “I would just look at something.” I was certain he did not sense a surprise coming up because his reaction to our number was priceless.

I signalled my brothers to stand up and position themselves as we have rehearsed. For about eight minutes we sang our hearts out, with my voice crackling and occasionally sounding off key because I struggled to hold back my tears. After we sang the last note of “My Life Would Suck Without You,” we paused and watched our Daddy give in.

That was one moment I shall never, ever forget. I did not expect the tears because as I’ve mentioned earlier, I (as well as my brothers) never witnessed Daddy cry. Father’s day went better than expected.

Unable to suppress his joy, Dad shared his experience with his 600+ friends on Facebook with a note (the only one he’s made so far):

“Today shall be considered one of my best days in my life. I have cried this morning, tears of joy of course. My children gave me a song & dance presentation not once but twice. I usually get a greeting during this occasion but today it was so wonderfully different….After their presentation I embraced them tightly while I was crying. My wife Jean started to cry as well then she told me she has not seen me cry again until today. Also we had a great bonding time with our relatives and loved ones, eating together, laughing together, enjoying the moment as we speak of plans for the future.  And before I go to sleep I will read the lovely letters given to me by my children. As I sat down here at home I could’nt help but to thank my Father in heaven for giving me another day to experience all of these. Thank you Father God for allowing me to become a father, to receive the kind of love you yourself would want us to have. I love you Father! God is good!”

The memories and moments that followed that Sunday further strengthened our relationship as a family. No matter where God leads us, we are full of His joy, peace, and grace because He is good. I am even more grateful that God allowed us to spend time together in picturesque places such as Boracay and Balay Indang.

We are imperfect. In fact, yesterday, each of us recounted the times we hurt each other and individually asked for forgiveness. But you see, the beauty behind imperfection (and pain) is that it allows God’s grace to overflow our lives, filling the hollow cracks that were caused by our own sinfulness.

Drew closer to God

I have a confession to make.

My relationship with God is the hardest and most uncomfortable of all my relationships. Many times I am lost in the sea of confusion; sometimes I don’t know if what I’m hearing is from me or from His Spirit. The desire to unwaveringly love and serve Him is never constant so when it reaches an all time low, I usually succumb to my old, sinful self. If you’ve been a Christian for quite some time, you’d understand. I would utterly disdain my 2011 if it were not for Yahweh.

God is one of those precious few people in my life who love me in spite of my failings and never lets me go even as I suffer the consequences of my wrongdoings. When I worked my way to win Him over because I thought I was not good enough, He looked at me compassionately. Finally when I gave up, He embraced me, reassuring me that there is nothing I could do or will do that will diminish His love for me. Nothing.

He never ceased to speak to me and nudge me, reminding me of who I am in Him and the consequences I shall face if I disobey His command. Openly He rewarded me when I followed His leading; likewise, He disciplined me when I followed my selfish desires.

My Papa Sheph (short for Shepherd) heeded my prayer when I asked for discernment so that I can make the best–not just good–decisions. God also withheld many of my desired ‘what-if’ situations so that my heart would be guarded. Indeed, He is the Keeper of my heart, however deceitful it might be.

Best of all, He filled me with joy. He enables me to live my Lifeline with joy, and only He can do that because He has overcome death and sorrow. 🙂

Grasping my Papa’s hand tightly, I shift my eyes away from 2011 and look forward to 2012.  I am excited because I know God will work mightily in me and the lives of my loved ones.

I want to end this post (and year) with a verse. Each year that passes brings God’s family closer to this promise’s fulfillment:

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

-Revelation 21:8

A joyful and blessed 2012 to you! 🙂

Sembreak Part 1: Classic Boracay Vacay

It wasn’t too long ago when I first watched Sound of Music. My Dad bought a DVD of the said film and told me I should watch it because it was a classic. Without  completely understanding what a classic movie is, I obeyed. After being completely engrossed with the Von Trapp family and Fraulein Maria and learning the basic musical notes for 2 hours, I distinguished a classic movie from all the other types. A classic movie was one with an intermission. 😀

At first I was surprised. What was an intermission? Why can’t we just rush headlong to the rest of the movie? And of all the scenes to disrupt with an intermission, why the climax? My Mom who watched beside me then told me it was a pause because the movie was actually a musical play  turned into a movie and in plays, intermissions gave the actors and actresses an opportunity to rest and the audience to go to the restrooms. My immature mind did not process the pause pretty well, but somehow I managed to wait patiently in our sofa. (My immature mind also failed to remind me that I was not inside a theatre at that time and our DVD player had a fast forward button. Oh well)

For now, I’ll put aside my Sound Of Music encounter and introduce a new one with breathtaking nature and sights in the beautiful island of Boracay. Five years lapsed since I last visited the island in the mid-eastern part of the Visayan area.  A lot has changed since my last trip, especially my memory, so much so that all I remember was my braided hair, our island hopping, and me bringing home a sample of the white sand (as well as the memories stored in photos). Thankfully God gave me the opportunity to make new memories with family and relatives (our balikbayan from Australia).

As much as I enjoyed our three-day vacation, I cannot attest to its perfection. Like there’s a perfect getaway, really. Setbacks were inevitable. Our outgoing flight from Manila was delayed by forty-five minutes. As for outgoing flight from Kalibo, Aklan, it was moved two hours earlier than the appointed time so we left Boracay early in the morning. 😦 I learned to take it all in stride and with a grateful heart, not allowing these circumstances to dampen my joy. Indeed, I experienced a vacation devoid of city noise and full of nature and delicious (albeit quite pricey) food–a vacation I’ve never had in months.

see, I’m smiling? 🙂

Admittedly, I expected Boracay’s quality in terms of cleanliness and splendor to be diminished because of the rumors I heard that the sand and the water was not as clean as they used to be. The thing about rumors is, they are 99% fiction and 1% imagination which is usually vain and fictitious in nature. The water was anything but murky and trashed. In fact, it was crystal clean and blue. The sand was white, soft, and pillowy and the sky blue, clear, and embellished with fluffy clouds. If I brought a printer with me and printed the photos my Dad took, I would have made several postcards and people who bought them would think the photos were Photoshopped. The people who posed with nature needed editing, but not the background. I appreciated the sky more than ever during our vacay–its seeming “nearness” to me, the way it reflected orange, yellow, red, pink, and white lights, and its purity (free from city smoke).

Then of course, there was the beach. This time, though, I needed not to take home a sample of the sand because the memory of the sand’s texture embedded itself permanently in my brain. Of all the parts in my body, my feet enjoyed the sand as I walked barefoot most of the time. Who needs a foot spa when you can relax and exfoliate your feet at the same time as they come in contact with Boracay sand?

And who could forget the food we ate? They were not extraordinary or expensive, but since I ate out of hunger and enjoyed happy conversations with a cool family, they became extraordinarily delicious. I ate a mozarella and mushroom burger (after several months), squid adobo, pork kare-kare (the first time I ate quite a good portion), tempura, sweet-and-sour squid to name a few. On our second (and last) night, my cousin, Jaemie, craved for buko (Philippine coconut). With my classmate, Gemma, who happened to be staying in the island on the same days as ours (her holiday there was longer, though), Jaemie and I drank about 2 glasses of buko juice and ate the buko‘s meat.

One of the best moments I spent in Boracay I spent alone with God in the early morn. I read Psalm 19 prior to my walk, and I felt the psalmist David speaking directly to me. 🙂

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. They have no speech, they use no words;  no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

(Psalm 19:1, 3-5, NIV)

The sun indeed behaved like a joyful and nervous bridegroom watching his bride walk down the aisle; its rays were diffused by the giant clouds hovering in the sky so the temperature was not warm. The best man was also present: a short but noticeable rainbow. As I slowly scanned the scene around me, I thought to myself: how beautiful and indescribably gorgeous Heaven must be! My heart once again longed for Paradise, but then, as I stood on the shore and felt the cool breeze wrap my face, I breathed a thank you to the Creator of Boracay and all things beautiful.

Just like the Sound of Music, our Boracay vacation this year was a classic, and even more than that: it was an intermission in itself. As I meditated on intermission, I learned of its purpose. The intermission does not detach the audience from what they have already seen. As a matter of fact, it helps a confused child (such as yours truly) connect the dots, identify with his favourite characters, make meaning out of a wise saying, or ask his or her parent what they will be having for lunch or dinner. The intermission somehow makes the viewer ready and excited for what’s coming without spoiling the grand finale.

And today I realized, my 3-day vacation in Boracay served the same purpose: a preparation for what’s coming. A breather. A momentary period to eat voluminous amounts of food without counting the calories; to  swim under the morning heat even if I end up two shades darker; to gaze at the stars at night and count them without dozing off; to have a Godly reminder painted on my arm, pose for the camera in scenic backgrounds, and experience the joy of flying even domestically. Most importantly, my vacation provided me an opportunity to reconnect with my Creator and Father in a relaxing and awe-striking way. 🙂 I don’t boast about my country having a beautiful island such as Boracay; I gladly boast about my Creator, Savior, and Lord Who knows exactly how many grains of sand dot Boracay’s shore and the names of every star in the sky and every galaxy named and unnamed. This is my God.

The classic vacation shall be resumed in several hours…or days. 😐

Part 2 coming right up.

In the meantime, do The Lifeline jump!

Smile For The Camera!

Last night, I was blessed to have been fetched by  my Dad from school after accounting class because it was raining cats and dogs! (As I type this it is still raining cats and dogs) As a Filipino born and raised in my native land, I am used to soaking my new shoes in cold, rainwater and running for shelter when an umbrella is not at hand; however, I still dislike getting my feet soaked (for fear also of leptospirosis) and wetting my clothes (especially if I’m going to a place from home). Imagine my excitement when I received a message from my Dad during accounting class saying that he will pick me up. That “will”makes all the difference because he usually asks me first what time I’ll be dismissed; he already made up his mind to fetch me! Thanks Dad!

On our way home, lightning’s light flashed across the dark night sky (I say light because there weren’t any bolts). I asked my Dad if he saw the lights and he said no, but he told me to smile. “Why?”

“Because God is taking a photo of you.”

I imagined God holding a DSLR with the world’s most powerful lenses and taking photos of Filipinos squirming under their umbrellas while waiting for a jeepney, cab, or tricycle to usher them home safely. That thought of God snapping photos of mankind ignited my imagination which was not put to rest until I slept later that same evening. If God does have a wide array of cameras and lenses (and would like to believe so), how powerful those cameras must be! Anywhere between the Milky Way galaxy and thousands of other galaxies could be His location for a photoshoot. His flashes are so magnanimous they can be seen in the sky. When His setting lacks adequate light, He doesn’t wait for light to come; He commands it to come! There is nothing nature can do that can rob His photos of the best quality because He has the Creator advantage, and He can manipulate nature according to His liking. His models are creatures made after His own image. Can you say God is the best photographer in the world? 🙂 (And next to Him is my earthly Dad who is getting better at digital photography every day!)

Thanks to my loving and intelligent fathers, I have a reason to smile when lightning flashes before my eyes. When the storms of life hit me, I can be confident and joyful because the best photographer and Father in the entire universe won’t take His eyes off me. 🙂 He sees through every fibre of my being and gently molds me into the person He intended me to be. Even getting hit by lightning and dying because of it won’t be too heavy a burden for me because maybe God liked my smile so much He took me to Heaven to show the angels how the best smile on earth looked like. 😀

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Speaking of cameras–before I end this entry–my Dad is selling his CANON EOS-1D MARK II DIGITAL WITH EF 70-200MM F/4L USM LENS. Go visit the link–I know you want to. 🙂

Life Through My Father’s Lenses

Recently,  my Dad bought a Canon 70D. Just like any guy, Dad is crazy over his new toy. The good thing about him is that when he pours his heart out to master and enjoy a certain craft, he yields wonderful results. He’s been photographing people, places and things for about 2 weeks now and yet they look professional! 🙂  I am so proud of him (even if he takes candid pictures of me in my pambahay clothes) because I know that he can use this newfound interest not just to make money (which he plans to do), but to capture the beauty in God’s wonderful creation and give the Creator His deserved credit. 🙂

*all the photos were taken and edited by Ferdie Talam (I took one of my Dad’s photos, the one where he’s wearing black. haha)

Golden tinapa at Pancake House

Manila Bay

Welch’s wine in plastic cups

my adorable brother James 🙂 he’s such a cutie

josh feelin’ his cardboard friend

poor cat eating off the leftover palabok 😦

 

Mom and her bunso 🙂

gwapo 😉

Tay at Nay

 

2 Rangos and a Beans 🙂 (from the animated film Rango)

The photos are arranged chronologically (except for the Canon 70D, courtesy of Google Images):

1-2.  taken by Dad after work 2 weeks ago

3.  last Thursday during the family Bible study (which I missed :|)

4-8. Two Sundays ago at Bigby’s and SM Cinema in Megamall

9. Two Saturdays ago at Pizza Hut (Robinson’s, I guess. I wasn’t there either)

10-14. Max’s Megamall and the lobby of The Podium

I shall study photography very soon, right after HELL WEEK (which is actually this week). By the way, I just want to thank God for exempting me from my chem finals which, according to our professor, is really difficult. Woohoo! Even more good news: my Christian Civilization prof cancelled our exam this Friday because she was already exhausted from checking too many papers. HAHA! 😀 Only 4 more exams to go courtesy of Math and Theology.

And now for the best photo of the bunch! I saved the most gwapo for last. I love you Daddeh!  Good night!