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My 2012 ended in much the same way it started – with a bang! I got to spend four weeks in Manila with loved ones and I must say, out of the many times I’ve been back home, this was the perfect balance of crazy busy and relaxing.

I landed in Manila last December 23 and left on January 24 but I still felt my trip was bitin. Had I known that drilling wouldn’t start until mid-February, I would’ve extended my stay. That really bummed me out. I could have spent my birthday in Manila!

Now, I could probably blab on about how awesome my trip was but I’d rather show you in – yes, you guessed it – pictures!!!

So much sardinas! Yummy!

So much sardinas! Yummy! But NOT for Noche Buena!

First order of business was to do the grocery for Noche Buena. Ma and I went to SM Taytay early on the 24th and by late afternoon I prepped everything in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened but at around 8PM, I plopped onto my bed for a quick nap and didn’t wake up until nearly 7AM on Christmas Day! I don’t even remember my aunt trying to wake me up. This is only the second time we’ve all ever slept through Christmas Eve ever! The first time was when we moved to Taytay. We weren’t used to the provincial quiet having lived in the heart of Manila since forever. The crickets and other night creatures lulled us to sleep. Oh wait, I digress.

So it’s Christmas Day and the Gremlins (my cousins) invade our home. You’ve seen this photo before but I’m going to post it again.

Almost complete family photo. We were missing Ysabela. (Photo from Tito Ric's camera.)

Almost complete family photo. We were missing Ysabela. (Photo from Tito Ric’s camera.)

The next day, I had to go for my bridesmaid dress fitting with my cousin, Erica. We had lunch with Alfee and his family and later joined them again for dinner. Erica, Bea, and I spent the afternoon at GA Tower with the boys.

I didn’t even stop for a breath since I arrived on the 23rd because I was still at it on the 27th with a quick trip to Tagaytay with the Nerd Herd – or at least what’s left of our herd in Manila. Oh wait, that would just be Orange. It was great timing that Malin was also in town to celebrate Christmas with her family. We had a small window of opportunity for a meet up since she was headed back to Singapore by January 2. So with little sleep and lots of adrenalin, we were lunching in Kanin Club and then having coffee at Bag of Beans in Tagaytay.

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Me, Orange, and Malin. Thanks, Camille, for taking the photo!

Bag of Beans: Bottomless Barako! Woohoo!

Bag of Beans: Bottomless Barako! Woohoo!

Later that night, I met up with Mama and two godparents I hadn’t seen in ages! Orange dropped me off in Pasig before dropping Malin off at her house in Singalong.

With Ninong King, Ninang Laly, Mama, and Tita Lorna. Namamasko po!

With Ninong King, Ninang Laly, Mama, and Tita Lorna. Namamasko po!

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Dinner at Cabalen with fellow Sydney-sider, Gerald.

I felt like an Energizer Bunny that first week in Manila. Crazy! After Tagaytay and Pasig, the following day was my alone time at Megamall. Well, not quite alone time. I had to get my nails done before the wedding and then I met up with Gerald for dinner at Cabalen.

How do you like my talons?

How do you like my talons?

And finally, the day arrives! The main reason for my trip to Manila this time – the wedding of my very dear cousin, Erica! What a wedding it was! Fabulous. 🙂 So happy for  Cai, Alfee, and Bea!

Bride and her bridesmaids.

Bride and her bridesmaids.

Erica + Alfee

Erica + Alfee

The video below is of my cousins singing Robin Thicke’s Sweetest Love.

 

La Familia. Who's missing?!

La Familia. Who’s missing?!

Best cousins!

Best cousins!

Whew! One week down, three more to go. Thankfully the rest of the weeks weren’t as hectic and I did get to spend some quality time at home.

New Year’s Eve celebrations have become tamer since we moved to Taytay more than a decade ago. Back when we were still in Paco, Manila, New Year’s Eve celebrations were more like being in the midst of a war zone! This year was extra chillax. Here’s hoping that the rest of 2013 will be a chillax year for me too.

I did take a few photos counting down to the new year and then on New Year’s Day, the Gremlins came over again for more food, music, and laughter.

Last dog standing.

Last dog standing. Once I had six dogs and now there is only Melanie.

Playing with my favourite toy while mum looks on.

Playing with my favourite toy while mum looks on.

Women rule this house.

Women rule this house. I’m not joking. Even the dog is female. But I am the Alpha Female.

Don't burn the house down!

Don’t burn the house down!

At long last, I had a break. Yeah, one day! An overseas Diyosa, Apple, was in town and I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2007, I think. We had to meet up. This was a quickly planned get-together. In other words, I was only “sabit”. This was Apple and Rachael’s high school barkada gimik. We met up at Cafe Breton then headed to Centerstage to sing our hearts out! And I’m so happy that I also got to see Rita!

At about this time, I was starting to feel some pain in my stomach. I thought maybe it’s kabag from all the laughing. I certainly wasn’t eating as much as I thought I would during the holidays. Yeah, so uncharacteristic of me but I think it was just excitement for all the adventures I was going to have in the coming weeks.

Coffee at Cafe Breton in MoA and then off to Centerstage for some hardcore singing.

Coffee at Cafe Breton in MoA and then off to Centerstage for some hardcore singing.

I have a video of me singing Call Me Maybe but you’d have to bribe me pretty big for me to share the link. :p

Now, these next lot of people are very special to me. We all became friends online and have one strong common bond – Harry Potter. No trip to Manila is complete without a get-together with these witches and wizards. Too bad Edwin, Meann, and Gary couldn’t make it. This was taken on a Friday, January 4 at Glorietta 5.

Some of the most powerful witches and wizard in the Philippines.

Some of the most powerful witches and wizard in the Philippines.

My tummy was still painful and so Ma suggested I go to the E.R. the following day. Being an obedient daughter, I did but not until the last minute. I rode a tricycle by myself and brought myself to the E.R. I didn’t feel kawawa or anything. I thought it was pretty funny! Long story short, I spent the better part of Saturday evening in the E.R. and was eventually admitted into the hospital. Being confined at the hospital was not in the calendar of activities. I was not pleased. I needed to get out of there and be well for my upcoming trip to Bataan! Luckily, I only spent two nights and was discharged Tuesday morning. Whew.

I DON'T LIKE NEEDLES! Unless they're needles used for tattooing. Serious!

I DON’T LIKE NEEDLES! Unless they’re needles used for tattooing. Serious!

Mama took this photo. As you can tell, I am not happy! I had a headache almost the entire time I was confined.

Mama took this photo. As you can tell, I am not happy! I had a migraine almost the entire time I was confined.

As soon as I was out of the hospital, it was back to party, party, party! Met up with high school classmates for dinner at Aracama at The Fort. The girls haven’t changed! I can still picture all of us in our St. Scho uniforms. 🙂

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Met up with Mary Marlowe at Megamall before heading to Aracama.

Once an L, always an R.

Once an L, always an R. We miss the rest of the class!

Major highlight of my vacation was the weekend trip to Bataan with Net, Marlowe, and Rochelle. I can’t possibly post all the photos but here are my top two. Maybe next time, I can write a separate entry about our time in Bataan. If you have time, you should go. It really is a wonderful place to visit!

There are new senyoras in town. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

There are new senyoras in town. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Wonderful weekend getaway to Bagac, Bataan. Stayed at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Wonderful weekend getaway to Bagac, Bataan. Stayed at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Oh, oh, oh! I must share this with you! I did the longest zipline in Luzon. I realise that I hardly have any fears. No, seriously. In fact, for my 36th birthday, which is coming up soon, I was thinking of going skydiving.

 

And the lunches and dinners continue. January 14 was lunch with Mama’s friends. Whenever I’m in town, we always have to have lunch. This year, we almost didn’t meet up. Our original schedule was the previous Monday but as you recall, I was at the hospital. Boo!

Mommy's amigas. Very cool bunch of ladies.

Mommy’s amigas. Very cool bunch of ladies.

While I was in Manila, Mama also needed a break from taking care of my lola. So for a few days, she jetted off to Macau with good friends and I stayed at home. I haven’t seen photos from her trip but I’m sure it was awesome.

January 18 was my tattoo session with Mr. Joe Saliendra. Erica and Alfee went with me to Epic Tattoo in Paranaque. I had the design drawn up by my good friend, Erin. Now people ask me if the notes mean anything but actually, they don’t play any tune. I just like the configuration. And as with consultation with Erin, it was mostly about the seven elements corresponding to the seven letters of my name. If you squint, you might actually make out that almost spells my name. Sort of. Not really. Maybe. Now I also got asked if I was a “muso” (musician) and I say no but I do love music. Was it MTV’s tagline before? Ah yes, No Music. No Life. Anyway, so what if I’m not a musician? I could ask the same question of people who have Chinese characters tattooed on them and when they aren’t even slightly Asian. My point is, walang basagan ng trip.

With Joe at Epic Tattoo in Paranaque.

With Joe at Epic Tattoo in Paranaque.

Yeah, baby! Now to think of my fourth tattoo...

Yeah, baby! Now to think of my fourth tattoo…

Rochelle picked me up from Epic Tattoo and we had a sleep over at her condo. I had the most awesome breakfast ever – bacon, pancakes, coffee, and a Vodka Cruiser. Yeah, that’s how we roll.

I am not a beer girl. Gimme my vodka and I'll be happy.

I am not a beer girl. Gimme my vodka and I’ll be happy.

After breakfast, it was off to Makati for a whole day date with Frankie. This was the night of my Rockeoke party too (January 19). Frankie’s gift was a treatment at The Spa. Boy, did I need that massage! Before that, we had lunch at Centro and then watched Les Miserables. Crying like that was good for me. I hadn’t cried in a while and it’s always good to do some old-fashioned emotional cleansing.

That evening, it was party time! Again, I have videos but you’ll have to bribe me to post them. Also, I don’t want to be the first one to make those videos public. I’m afraid of karma and I think somewhere out there are videos of me singing (horribly) that night. There is one video I can share. Here’s my cousin, Luis, singing. He’s damn good like the rest of my cousins!

 

A big, big, big thank you to Net for organising this! I love you, friend!!! Thank you also to Tito Ric for taking photos that night!

We left Bowler Bar at nearly 3AM. What an awesome night! But my weekend was not yet over. Frankie and I stayed at AIM and then had brunch at the very posh TWG in Greenbelt 5. Two eggs benedict with salmon, please. Oh, and one English Breakfast tea and one London tea, please.

Missing London very much. Brunch at The TWG.

Missing London very much. Brunch at The TWG with super friend, Frankie.

My trip is nearing its end and it’s bittersweet but I know that I can always come back and do it all over again. I had two more appointments to keep before I headed back to reality.

After having moved our dinner date several times, finally, I got to spend time with my best friend, Orange. We were 13 years old when we met. That’s a lot of memories!

After dinner drinks at the Borough, located at The Podium. This place is open 24 hours! Note to self, have more meet-ups here. Chika is from one to sawa!

After dinner drinks at the Borough, located at The Podium. This place is open 24 hours! Note to self, have more meet-ups here. Chika is from one to sawa!

And my final appointment? A last-minute visit to my doctor. When I’m in Manila, I never want to come in for a visit. I avoided his clinic like the plague! You want to know why? It’s because he keeps nagging me about losing weight. No, seriously. But this year, when I got hospitalised, I had no choice. But it worked out okay. I think it’s pretty cool when you become friends with your doctor.

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I couldn’t resist a photo with my favourite doctor.

January 24, the day of my flight. *sniff* I’ve been telling everyone that I’ll see them in two years’ time. I don’t plan on taking any overseas trips in 2013. 2014 is reserved for Brazil, right Frankie and Abbey? So my next Manila trip will have to be in 2015 or even later. I am just praying to God none of my other cousins get married any time soon!

Knowing me, I might change my mind and book my flight back to Manila sooner than anyone suspects! Who knows? *wink, wink*

Goodbye! I'll see you when I see you!

Goodbye! I’ll see you when I see you!

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