Watching God Be Awesome

OLA! 🙂

I know I have some explaining to do for my absence for more than a week, and it is this:

FINAL EXAMS. o________o

Surprisingly, the ill-treated “hellweek” did not seem like hellweek at all (at least to me) because I went out almost everyday with family and our balikbayan relatives from Australia. (For foreign readers, a balikbayan is a true-blooded Filipino who currently resides in a foreign country but goes home every once in a while–usually every few years–to spend vacation) The arrival of our relatives, the Dela Peñas, is the surprise news my Mom told me about 2 weeks and I shared with you guys in this post. Their vacation and my finals week falling on the same week is no coincidence and would teach me how to balance my time well.

Saturday, October 8,2011

Our relatives, the Dela Peña family, arrived from Sydney! The parents of both families are making the most out of the Dela Peña’s 2-week vacation and our (that’s me and my bros) 2-week sembreak so I’m stoked! Since our balikbayans arrived at night, we all reserved our extra energies for the next day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apparently the Filipinos abroad are more eager to watch noontime shows than most Filipinos living in their native land. Or maybe that’s just our family. Actually we do watch noontime shows (in fact our day won’t be complete without laughing to the antics of  the famous triumvirate Tito, Vic, and Joey and an emerging trio Jose, Wally, and Paolo) so obviously I’m talking about the show of the opposite network. 😀 For the sake of our balikbayans who are avid TFC fans, we went to the studio of ASAP Rocks for a live show.

Luis Manzano ❤ hihi, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 4th Runner up Venus Raj, Kim Chiu, and Jericho Rosales

Kitchen Musical stars Christian Bautista and Karylle getting their groove on

Robi Domingo and Enchong DeePrincess of All Media Anne Curtis-Smith

Biggest Loser Philippine Edition grand finalists. Larry, the guy in the middle, is the grand champion. He lost about 114 pounds, man! 🙂

Birthday boy Erik Santos

the Dela Peña fam–Tita Melissa, Tito John, Jaemie! (Jed’s not seen here though)


Although the show wasn’t finished yet, we left at exactly 3 PM, prompted by our growling stomachs. 🙂 Dad (who took all these beautiful photos–thanks Dad!) drove us to Rockwell. A balikbayan escapade would not be complete without savoring scrumptious Filipino meals, so we opted to eat at Cafe Via Mare (which did not disappoint). The food was truly worth the wait.

the adorable Jed

Later that evening, we brought the Dela Peñas to Greenbelt while our fam headed to CCF to attend the evening service. 🙂

Monday, 10 October 2011

The following morning, I attended my last lecture in Finance class. By the way, last Tuesday (October 4) we went to the Money Museum at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which was fun. The trip inside the museum was not the funnest part; rather, the 10-minute walk from Harrison Plaza to BSP Gate 6 under the scorching 1-PM heat with my classmates. Thankfully I brought my Dad’s old iPhone with me that day to document our adventure. Again, thanks to my ever doting Daddy for bringing me, Chynna, Ate Jen, and Shai to BSP! I love you Dad!

that’s our professor right there levetating. Did I tell you he was the Vice President of his bank? 😉

(last 2 photos c/o my professor, Ron Reyes)

After the tour, I walked to Dad’s office located across CCP. Good thing I remembered the way there from the route of the Manila Bay Clean-up Run (only that time I wore rubber shoes. Heels aren’t so comfy to walk around with especially in Roxas Boulevard asphalt). Since I hadn’t taken my lunch yet, Dad treated me to Pancake House in Harbor View! Yay! I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo of my bacon and asparagus pasta, but I did take a photo of the yogurt with sliced walnuts. 🙂

Dad was such a gentleman that day (well, he always is). After treating me to lunch, we walked back to his office where he parked his car then he brought me to school since I still had one class in the afternoon. After my class, he called me and told me he’ll pick me up so we can go home together. 😉 Thanks, Dad!

Going back to  Monday, I received the 1st awesome news of the week. After accounting class, my professor called out a few names, one of which is mine, and ordered those people to remain. As the uncalled people left, I noticed that the remaining classmates of mine were the smart ones in accounting. I can’t believe I’m actually part of this group! When the last uncalled guy classmate left the room and closed the door, we remained silent and waited for our professor to speak. He broke the silence with these 6 sweet as honey from the comb words:

“You are exempted from the finals.”

I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EARS. Accounting–of all subjects! 🙂 Although I did not get a flat 1 (but not lower than 1.5), I was overjoyed. I won’t get to take the final exam and still pass the course with a high grade! It was the break I prayed for. With the activities that surrounded me upon the arrival of our balikbayans, I did not know how to fit Finance + Accounting + Programming + Psychology + Statistics into my schedule in less than 7 days! But thank God He removed one subject of my list, and that was good enough for me. 🙂

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Allergic rhinitis attack! From my experience, only a 1-hour sleep either in the morning, afternoon, or both cured my incessant sneezes. Last Tuesday, however, my remedy did not seem to work. So from the moment I woke up until we and our relatives went to Star City that evening, I sneezed, wiped and pressed my nose, and sneezed again from time to time. 😐 Nevertheless, I enjoyed riding the roller coasters with Jaemie, but I wished the rides were as extreme as the rides in Six Flags in the US.

the My Binondo Girl-inspired ride 😀

Finally Dad had a photo! With Tito John

with Colo the iguana

After doing some shopping, screaming and laughing through 2 horror houses, laughing some more in the various rides, and posing for hundreds of photos again shot by my Daddy, we hungered for FOOD. 😀 KFC it was!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I missed Psychology class because we relaxed ourselves in the newly opened ACE Water Spa in Kapitolyo Pasig. I enjoyed every minute of our relaxation! The facilities were clean and pleasing to the eyes. I especially loved the rainfall acupuncture. It did not hurt at all! What you do is you lie face down on the “bed,” placing your neck on a wooden pillow. (The facilities, by the way, are pools so we wore tight bathing suits) After pressing the button, torrential waters pour on your back and hind legs for 2 minutes. Jaemie and I also spent some time in the heated pools and the sauna after which we splashed our bodies with ice cold water. Unfortunately we were not permitted to bring cameras inside the spa so weren’t able to take photos. I do recommend ACE Water Spa for those of you who are looking for fun ways to relax! (There’s also one in Quezon City)

Later that evening, I hosted a talent show in my high school with my cousin, Miko. The talent show was inspired by Pilipinas Got Talent so my cousin and I were tasked to host ala Luis Manzano and Billy Crawford style. Since we hosted inside a church–Baptist to be exact–I don’t think we could not completely do justice to the superb hosting of the male celebrities. Nevertheless, we did well. Praise God! 🙂

Yesterday I took a break from the events and focused more on reviewing for pending final exams (I still have one exam this Saturday). Next week, sembreak officially begins! I cannot believe my parents would let me go to Boracay with them and my retreat in one week. Since the supposed vacation to the Visayan island fell on the same dates as my retreat, they let me choose: Bora or retreat? That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I knew I had to put God first so I the retreat. This week, however, my parents rescheduled the Bora trip so that I can go to both trips! Woohoo! 🙂

While I spent some time alone in ACE Water Spa, I thought about everything I have been receiving this past week. “Lord, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve any of this.” Truth be told, there were days when I set aside my quiet time with God, thinking He’ll understand. Yet here He is, blessing me in ways I don’t expect. Why?

Because of Who God is. He is gracious. Also, He fulfills His promises to my parents when He said that He’ll bless them when they walk according to His ways, a command my parents are faithfully keeping. God is a lavish Rewarder. When the parents are rewarded, expect the children to receive some of the blessings as well.

I knew I had to change my response. Earlier this morning, I recommitted my heart to Jesus, letting Him take all of me. Peace and joy instantly filled my heart.

I look forward to the coming days not just because I’ll be having fun and spending time with family and friends, but because I’ll get to see God work marvelously even in the simple things. I’m always on the watch for His awesomeness. 🙂

A Canine Encounter

I was scared of a lot of things when I was a kid (until now, some of them still linger): cockroaches, Sadako (especially during the The Ring hype), not passing my schoolwork on time (because I’m a true blue nerd), heights, centipedes and millipedes, spiders, snakes, rats, dragonflies (almost all insects except butterflies) enclosed slides (that’s when I realized I can be claustrophobic), and dogs. Yes, dogs.

I don’t really know why I fear dogs. The first reason that comes to my head is that I’ve never had a dog as a pet ever in my entire life (until this week) and so I never got the chance to overcome. Then there are the memorable dogs in my life who bothered me and contributed to my fear. The pitbull two cousins of mine used to own was fiercer than any of Lady Gaga’s outfits and would have made a ferocious run for the musician’s meat dress the moment laid eyes on it. I also remember watching an episode in a teleyeserye whose title escapes me. Diether Ocampo was in it, and he was entering a house when suddenly, a huge Labrador knocked him to the ground and bit and beat the hell out of him (and the dog had rabies!). The canine attack was just a fake act, (Diether is vey much alive and strong today, I suppose), but it left a mark on my mind: Dogs are salivating, red-eyed, terrifying creatures. I did not want to have anything to do with canines personally.

The canine world and my world never intersected until my Mom brought up the idea a few months ago of having a puppy in our house (which, to me, was not an ideal place for a dog to live in). o____o I unabashedly objected. I don’t think I can handle having a four-legged puppy and a four-legged cockroach inside my comfort zone at the same time (but between the two, I’d rather take care of the puppy. Someone please rid this world of cockroaches!)

But you know what they say: if the husband is the head of the family, the wife is the neck (my dad never really objected to Mom’s idea, but he did assign full responsibility to her). My brothers were fine with it, so was my grandmother, and most especially my mother. I was up against five people plus God because He made those supposedly cute-looking creatures. However, deep in my heart, I also wanted to overcome my fear. Mom showed us photos of the dog that she bought and it really was cute and small, I deleted files in my head under “DOG ATTACK” and “CANINE BRUTALITY.”

Ecstatic and excited, Mom gathered the family force (except Dad) and conducted an election for our dog’s name (before he arrived). I suggested Peanut and Pudge, but the name that prevailed was Joshua’s suggestion: Po. Until we decided to change it the following day. Dad wanted the dog’s name to have the letter J, so I suggested Jedi. Surprisingly, the whole family agreed! So Jedi it was.

Last Monday, the name finally had a bearer. A four-legged, 2-month old male Shih Tzu was handed to us.

So he wasn’t scary after all. 🙂 And it is indeed cute. I used to have a stuffed toy that looked exactly like Jedi, only it’s lifeless and bathing in ague somewhere in our room. (did I tell you I also don’t like stuffed toys?)

my first time to hold a dog this way + my half scared, half really happy smile. Buttercup, Y U angry at my new friend

I hope Jedi would live up to his name one day by protecting our family in some way even with his size just like Singer in Nicholas Sparks’s The Guardian. So have I overcome my fear of dogs? Not completely–yet–but I’m getting there. Hopefully Jedi will take it easy on me. Who knows, he may just be my best friend after all. 😉


Creamy Chicken Macaroni Soup for Dinner

Albeit a hot, humid weather, my family and I were craving for chicken sopas. The epicure in me took this craving as a challenge and opportunity to cook creamy macaroni chicken soup or sopas for the very first time. o______o

I can imagine I’m as good as Rachel Ray, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a very amateur cook. 😐 Thus I borrowed a  chicken sopas recipe I found in Pinoy Recipe. (Chicken sopas is a Filipino comfort food)


  • 500 g chicken breast
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 white onions (minced) I used red onions; it still tastes good!
  • 1 large bell pepper (seeded and sliced into strips)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots (sliced into thin strips)
  • 350 g macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 medium cabbage (roughly shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp margarine
  • fish sauce / patis
  • rock salt
  • chopped spring onions (didn’t use this!)
  1. Boil the chicken in 4 cups water. Save the broth to be used later. 
  2. Shred the Chicken meat with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Saute garlic and onion in oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the bell pepper and cook until aromatic.
  5. Stir in the shredded chicken.
  6. Season lightly with ground black pepper.
  7. Add the carrots, a quick sauté then the macaroni. Give it a stir to get the fat all around the pasta.
  8. Pour in the chicken broth and 5 cups water. Simmer.
  9. Pour in the milk, stirring gently.
  10. Add the cabbage. From this point, the macaroni and the cabbage will cook at about the same time.
  11. Add the margarine.
  12. Season with patis or salt.
Voila! According to my family plus our kasambahay (house helper), my dish was a success! I would like to thank our kasambahay, Ate Anne, for helping me transfer the ingredients from one casserole to another, stir the sopas, and come up with just the right and pleasing taste for the buds. 🙂 I am so thankful and happy for the success of this dish! 😀 I wish you could taste it, but with your wide and extensive imagination, you could probably “taste the sopas in your dreams.” 😀
Unfortunately I did not take photos of us sipping and enjoying our bowls of sopas, but take my word for it when I said that we all enjoyed our meal. 🙂 I don’t mean to brag, but I am confident that I will excel in this skill and passion of mine, that is, cooking. 🙂 If you have any favorite recipes that you want me to try, please tell me! Send the file to or send me the link via a comment. I’ll never stop cooking and learning how to improve in doing so. 😀
Until the next cook-off! 🙂

I Left My Heart (and Stomach) in Balay Indang

Two days ago my family and I, along with my paternal grandmother and aunt, visited a unique and beautiful house in Indang, Cavite. Just 90 minutes from Manila (although it took us 2 and a half hours to get there), Balay Indang (“House of Indang”) or The Red Ginger Farm is a Filipino/Asian-inspired,  bed-and-breakfast destination.

went immediately to the dining area to eat. FOOD is the best welcomer ever, if I must say 🙂

baked Parmesan fish is love! 🙂 I ate gobs of it. It was that good!

twas my first time to see and touch records. 🙂

I love surprises. Balay Indang gave me this the moment I stepped inside her wooden gate. As you saw in the photos, the interior was decorated contrarily: Christian places all over and Buddhist statues inside the living room. However, that to me was no surprise compared to what awaited us at the dining table. Since we left our own balay early, my family and I (except for the golden ladies :D) had no time for breakfast. Thankfully, a Balay rule accommodated our physical needs: upon arrival (which should be reserved, by the way; they don’t accept walk-ins), breakfast/lunch/dinner is served immediately. Although your right in choosing what to eat is deprived of you inside their home, the amiable staff have already prepared delicious meals that would pull your heartstrings. The best part about it is all ulam (viands) are refillable, so in effect, meals are eat-all-you-can! 🙂 The Balay Indang menu varies everyday so that each visit would be unique on its own. As I mentioned earlier in a caption, I fell in love with the baked Parmesan fish! What seemed to be the “crust” of the cheese tasted like the fish’s belly (or maybe it really was the fish’s belly) and it just made my jaw drop in awe. The salad (not pictured) was simple yet tasty because of the nuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese. The dalandan-orange drink was also very refreshing and natural for it was made out of real dalandan and orange, squeezed and mixed to perfection by the staff.

After lunch we toured the rooms. Each room, named after a Bible character, was designed to accommodate 4-6 people and was spacious enough to move around and play board games (I can imagine my brothers and I playing Monopoly Deal and Pictionary). We did not check-in (boo) so we just went to the Pavillion and relaxed our afternoon away (for me that meant a siesta). =)) Come 3 PM merienda (afternoon snack)  was served. Our perpetually hungry family ate mini buko pies and bread topped with pesto, cream and shrimp. 😀 More memorable photos were shot and snapped before we said our goodbyes and wished the place success (we weren’t the only customers, by the way).

Balay Indang (The Red Ginger Farm and Garden)

88 Mahabang Kahoy Cerca

0917-8374261 or 0917-8665825

PLDT number: 775-6886

She’s The Best

Next to God, Jean Jarlego-Talam is the person who has greatly impacted my life for the better. (I know I should be mentioning Dad but it’s Mom’s Day today so for now, his name shall be mentioned less :))

The best people in my life are not those who always gave me gifts and made me feel good; they lead me to what is really good even if it drove them nuts. That’s exactly what my Mom does In case I haven’t mentioned, getting to know me is hazardous to your health. Over the 17 years that she has taken care of me (yes, I have aged once again today, but more on that later), however, she has grown immune. 😀 Since she’s perfectly human and thus perfectly imperfect, she drove me crazy too. 🙂

I received the most number of spankings from her–6 to be exact. I was around 10 or 11 at that time. I misplaced the “expensive” sharpener in school, the one where you inserted the pencil inside the “claw” then rotated the handle to sharpen it.

I had 6 charges to my name: 3 accounts of lying, 1 of disobedience and 2 other “sins” whose names escaped my brain. Thus, I received quite a heavy and painful belt beating. Afterwards, my Mom and I hugged and kissed each other like never before. I moved past the tampo (emotional tantrum) stage so I never harbored ill feelings against her. In fact, I thank her for that experience. I find it hard to lie (sometimes I still give in, though) and admit that I did something wrong even if it costs me another heavy beating. I have also grown to love mechanical pencils so that I won’t have to sharpen and lose anything “expensive.” There has been a rebirth of interest in wooden pencils, though, for the past few weeks because we forgot about Mr. Pricey Sharpener. 😀

God used Mom to bring me to life physically and to teach me how to live not only physically but also spiritually. What I love most about her is the fact that she will never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up on me. Ever. 🙂

Mom, I love you. Thank you for being you. I praise our Heavenly Father for placing me under your care. Forgive me for my past, present and future disappointments, but by God’s grace, I shall strive to please you and make you proud until the end of our lives. 😀 You (and Dad) inspire me. I couldn’t imagine being with another mom.

PS: I’m sure Josh and James feel the same way. The just don’t have a blog they can use to broadcast their feelings. 😀

you can always hide behind me 😀