Dreams Come True When You Trust in Him

2 months and 6 days. Has it been that long since I updated this blog? It seemed like forever.  Anyway, I’m back!! 🙂

I’m still alive, in case you guys are wondering. 😀 School demanded so much of my time, energy, emotions, and not to mention money the past 2 months. Finally, after more than three months of grueling research, quizzes, papers, exams, and commuting, I welcome sembreak (semestral break) with open arms!!!! #cometomama

Now that I’m on break from seemingly inexhaustible deadlines,  I shall refocus my attention on my beloved Lifeline–starting with the post that has been calling out to me since June: my trip to New York City and other places, last summer (springtime in the USA), in celebration of my 18th birthday. Yes, I blew my candles this year. YAY! 😀

Last 2004, May-June, Dad, Mom, my two brothers, Josh & James, and I spent our vacation in the US for the second time. The plan was for us to spend a few days of our 6-week stay in the city that never sleeps, along with Mom’s sister and her husband. To say that I was stoked was an understatement.

However, because of problems with the availability of my uncle and whatnot, our trip was cancelled. My  hopes of setting my eyes on the colorful electronic billboards in Times Square were dashed instantly. My heart was crushed.

Fast-forward to 2012. Mid March, my parents, especially my Mom, were excited to celebrate my 18th birthday in May, otherwise known as a debut. Debuts are a major celebration in the Philippines, much like Sweet Sixteen in the US. It  is seen as a transitional activity, as a young female moves from clumsy teenage-hood to classy womanhood. Well, at least that’s seen as the first step. Anyway, going back to my story:  my relatives and friends are all eager to celebrate my 18th year with me. It’s not unusual. People you know look forward to picking out an outfit according to your assigned theme or motif, girls especially. Those who have experience in debuts–as a planner, guest, or celebrant–probably wanted to have their share in my program. Did I mention my Mom was really excited to throw me a birthday bash? She sat me down one morning and told me to type the details of the debut: guestlist, decorations, venue, caterer….all that event planning shiz. Everyone was eager to partey!

Everyone but me.

I’m one of those girls who want to spend their 18th year differently, and by different I mean NO BIG PARTIES. Don’t get me wrong, I love parties! In fact, I’ve had my share of birthday parties when I was growing up. However, my mind and soul enjoyed different things now. Before, I was enthralled at the fact that my relatives and friends would give me presents wrapped in colorful glossy paper and played parlor games with me, or that I was going to swim from 10 AM – 3 PM at the swimming pool of a nice hotel. That was when I was seven, ten, fifteen.

At eighteen (actually at seventeen), I wanted to travel. I wanted to board a plane in Manila and after a few hours of flying, get out of the plane and see a totally different city thousands of miles away from home.

My Mom already applied for a US visa last February, and because God granted her one, she planned to leave around March and return just in time for my supposed debut. However, one Sunday, God must have worked His magic in her heart because she noticed that I wasn’t as eager as she and my Dad were about the birthday bash.

“Why don’t you ask Dad to just let you go to the US with me? If that’s what you really want. All we want is for you to be happy.”

Will I be happy if I go with her? It’s like asking Julia Child, if she were alive, if she was any good at cooking.

Dad said yes to my request to go with Mom to the US, but on one condition.  If my visa application was denied, I wouldn’t have a birthday bash. This made me quite anxious because being granted a US visa in the past doesn’t always guarantee an approval in the next application.

So I applied for a US visa and scheduled an interview. I hoped for an interview around mid-April so that Mom and I can leave immediately. But guess what the earliest schedule was?

June 14th.  That was the first day of classes.

I cried. Let me correct that–I lamented. I wanted to travel so badly, and now my chance of doing so were gone.

“Call out to Me and trust Me,” Jesus spoke quietly in my heart.

“But…it’s just impossible, Lord! The date that I prayed for has already been fully booked. Why do I always have to cry every time I celebrate my birthday?”

“Nothing is impossible for him who believes. Do you trust Me?”

And trust I did. By God’s grace, He gave my Mom wisdom so that my schedule would be expedited.

To cut the long story short, several days later, on April 23rd,  I was scheduled to be interviewed at the US Embassy in Manila city.   Six days after my interview, Dad and my uncle brought Mom and me to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Eighteen hours after our arrival at NAIA, Mom and I landed safely at LAX. Four days after our safe landing in LAX, our plane flew us safely to New Jersey, and from there, we took a bus to New York City. ❤

Nothing is impossible for him who believes!

WARNING: Photo flood ahead! I think I’ve explained enough. I’ll just continue later. =)))


I really feel like Mac Taylor and I have a connection. Or any of the CSI: NY team. #fangirling

The following day, we boarded a boat and headed to Ellis Island, where Lady Liberty stands. She’s so…huge. Haha 🙂

post-processing of this photo by my Dad, who was back in Manila then with my two brothers during our 5-week stay. I really, really wished they were there with us, but Dad had work he cannot leave behind. Boo 😦

Mom and I maximized the use of our scarves! 😀 It was quite chilly even in the spring time, at least for Asian tourists such as myself.

God was just so awesome. I thought the only new & unique place I would visit over the summer was New York City. Mom and I also got to visit Chicago & Washington D.C., among other places. How cool is that? 🙂


Formerly called the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is a skyscraper in Chicago. *cue Demi Lovato song here* haha. Okay ang corny ko. Next!

Also went to where this scene was shot


This was where Channing Tatum & Rachael McAdams sealed their wedding vows with a kiss–in character, of course–for The Vow.  Since my own Channing Tatum is still in the making, I just jumped in front of the bean. 😀 Haha! This is located in Millenium Park. That bean is one gorgeous piece of architecture!

We also dropped by the Obama’s crib.

and visited good ‘ol Abe, too. 

the Pentagon as well, which was bombed during the 9-11 attack. The name that you see there is just one of the many names of the people who died there at the Pentagon on that fateful day. The birthdays of the victims were also etched on the floors (some on the benches), and some of them were children as young as 5 years old. 😦

Part of my prayer request when I went to the States was to escape the intense summer heat in Manila and enjoy the cool spring time weather in the US. I wasn’t told that the climate in the east coast is way colder than that of the west which I think is because of  the Atlantic ocean (see body of water behind us). We were so cold that after taking pictures we ran inside the casinos (we were in Atlantic city, New Jersey’s mini Las Vegas), walked to Starbucks and ordered hot chocolate. 😀

I am blessed to have many relatives living in the US who are so generous and kind enough to spend their time, money, and presence with their extended family. I especially missed my cousin, CJ, because we grew up together! It’s been 2 years since he moved to Cerritos. Akala ko may accent na pag kinausap ko eh. Thankfully he prefers to remain true to his native tongue 😀

no vacation would be complete without shopping. This was the only photo taken of us shopping (well at least a decent one) since we’re too preoccupied with trying all the good stuff we saw, including our family and friends who owned the cameras! 😀

Ate Selah treated us to the Niko Niko restaurant–authentic Japanese and delicious sushi! I’m not a fan of Japanese food (except for teriyaki and tempura), but when I tried their dishes here, I changed my mind. If ever you’re in the Cerritos area, go check out this restaurant and order Monkey Brain. Sounds gross, but it tastes really good! So diba nag-plug ako. Ano ako brand ambassador? Chos!

For the 3rd time, I went to Disneyland with my cousins from Mom’s side, Ate Charlene and Kuya Matt. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my love for theme parks, especially one as huge and unique and totally awesome as Disneyland. No one is too young or old for one of the happiest places on earth! 😀

One of the rides you HAVE to ride on at the California Adventure Park is the Mickey Mouse ferris wheel–that round ride with Mickey’s face in the middle. When you do, make sure you line up for the swinging gondolas. You might think it’s scary up there, but I tell you, you will have the ride (and for us, the greatest laugh) of your life. Seriously. Take my word for it. 🙂

Disneyland is known for its evening shows. When we were there, World of Color was showing. It was awesome! The interplay of water, light, and sounds created lifelike images of different Disney characters against the black sky (because it was evening). The show was so cool! (well almost everything in Disneyland is cool, even their utensils and napkins. Haha) Although we were several feet behind the “wet zone” we still managed to take a light bath. Eh naligo naman kami nung umaga.  😦 😀

Aside from CJ, I also bonded and hung out with my cousins (ates and kuya) Trisha, Charlene, and Matthew. I find it amazing how you can easily connect and really enjoy spending time with people you haven’t seen in four years. I’m really thankful that I have the best cousins who are so fun to be around with. I know people who won’t even talk to their siblings, much more their cousins, and that’s really sad. Big Bang theory, Total Blackout, Impractical Jokers, and Filipino food made our moments funner. 😀

the last thing I did before flying back to Manila was hiking for 2-hours all the way to the top of the Hollywood sign, although we didn’t actually get near the sign because it’s illegal. This is the most exhausting and at first, hated activity I ever participated in in our entire trip. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the experience. I needed the exercise after eating so much. I ate so much I gave birth to two pairs of twin food babies.

5 weeks passed by and ended so soon, but I was grateful for everything that happened there. A lot of other activities happened in between, but I’m afraid I don’t have the pictures to show you exactly what happened. Aside from visiting east coast cities, I had other firsts during that trip: first time to ride a local plane 4 times in 1 week; first time to hike; first time to shop in H&M!; first time to cook adobo–because if you’re like me who gets tired eating burgers and craves for “real food,” you would cook Filipino ulam (viands) to satisfy your palate. So I did. I’m so glad it was successful! My lola would have been proud.

It was also my first time to travel out of the country with just one parent. My Mom was amazing the entire trip. She rode the swinging gondolas with us (me & my cousins) even if she’s not really into rides, and she’ll tell you that riding the ferris wheel was one of the highlights of her trip, too. She bought me the food I wanted. Although my Dad wasn’t there (which explains for the not-so-good-quality photos), I felt his presence with us especially when I saw things that reminded me of him. 😉

Although I really wished my Dad and two brothers were around, I am grateful that I went to the States last April and fulfilled part of my dream. I do wish I  got to watch a show on Broadway, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, or jog around Grand Central Park, but I am still thankful to Jesus, then my parents for making my dream come true. One day, I know I’ll go back to New York–maybe work there, or study, or just do the things I was unable to accomplish last summer. I can feel it. I fell in love with that city, and I am determined to go back. One day, in God’s perfect timing. 🙂

I used to think that God would only answer my prayer requests that concern His “work” like ministry and Gospel sharing. Sure, He answers those requests, but God is not KJ. He wants us to be happy; it’s part of His good and perfect will for us. We just have to trust Him to work things out and fulfill our desires for us in His proper time, because only then will we be truly happy. 🙂

I want to thank the people who made this awesome trip possible, as well as those who accommodated us: the Talam family, Robrigado family, De Guia family, Mom’s cool high school friends, De Vera family, and of course, my parents, Dad and Mom. I pray that I, too will be used by God to fulfill your heart’s desires.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good.  Blessed are those who put their trust in Him!”

– Psalm 34:8

Back To Running & Cooking! (Pasta Recipe Included, Too)

Last Tuesday, I started running again! It felt so good to wear my running shoes and run ’till I sweat, pant, and can’t talk no more. 🙂 Next to meeting God, running a few kilometers in a garden in the middle of the Makati Central Business District (CBD) is one of the few reasons I look forward to waking up in the early morn.

I ran at 7 AM and unfortunately, didn’t get to see the sunrise. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my 30-minute run. However, since I was on hiatus for several months (only with running, not exercise), my body cried for an adjustment phase that it may recall my former running stride, if I had any. =))

Then last Thursday, I cooked a healthy, low-cost pasta dish! Now that I have all the time in the world I can run and continue enhancing my cooking skills. This dish I adapted from Women’s Health Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Sweet Peppers and Chicken Sausage recipe. As usual, I lacked the exact ingredients stated in the recipe so I tweaked the dish using  ingredients available at home. Thankfully, my Dad brought home a few cans of Spam so I used that instead of chicken sausage. It turned out swell! Everyone at home enjoyed the dish.

Spaghetti With Spam, Bell Peppers, and Basil

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 500 g pasta noodles (spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 can Spam lite, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 tsps dried basil leaves or 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 4 large assorted bell peppers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add Spam and brown lightly on both sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer cooked sausage to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Wipe out the pan.
  2. Add remaining oil to the skillet. Saute garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add peppers and saute until shiny, about 1 minute. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until peppers are soft but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add Spam and basil to pan, and mix gently.
  3. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain in a colander, leaving a little water in the pot. Pour the pasta back into the pot and toss to prevent sticking, then add it to the pan with the sauce and combine. Divide among  plates, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Voila!

I know it’s not the most appealing photo of a supposedly delicious pasta (but really, it’s good), but I don’t exactly have a very good camera (or photography skills). My Dad wasn’t home when I cooked this so I had no one to take good photos with an excellent camera. At least I tried!

By the way, if you’re a runner and you’re searching for a playlist that could help fire up your albeit monotonous run, then I suggest you update your playlist with these songs emailed to me by Chris Lawhorn of Run Hundred.

Tim Berg – Seek Bromance (Avicii Vocal Edit) – 127 BPM

Katy Perry – The One That Got Away – 135 BPM

Alexandra Stan – Mr. Saxobeat (Maan Studio Remix) – 126 BPM

Flo Rida – Good Feeling – 129 BPM

Wolfgang Gartner & Will.I.Am – Forever – 128 BPM

Hot Chelle Rae – Tonight Tonight (Goldstein Remix) – 118 BPM

Taio Cruz & Flo Rida – Hangover – 129 BPM

Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull & The WAV.s – I Like How It Feels – 129 BPM

Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It – 128 BPM (I did not use this, though, The title turned me off. haha)

Kelly Clarkson – What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) – 117 BPM

I also suggest ending your playlist with Israel Houghton’s, “We Have Overcome.” It’ll seal your hard work! 🙂

Until my next run and dish! 😀

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!