No travel plans, really. I came for personal reasons and for my OZ family. Specifically for my older sister who fell ill. Last time I visited was back in 2004. Yes, a long time. I grew complacent as it was always THEM visiting me, rather than me visiting them.




Gratitude is the memory of the heart.
(An afternoon in Mt. Annan Botanical Garden)



One overseas call and I dropped everything to secure that OZ visa and get on a flight to Sydney. Took a while and it felt like decades just waiting. Just when the visa was issued, the weekend flights were all fully booked…. except for one. I got the last seat on Qantas for a direct flight. Just in time to be around for the pre-operation medical procedures, the surgery and hospital stay, and another “decade” waiting for the pathology results. All of 4 weeks in Sydney and we finally heaved a collective sigh of relief.




Lissa and Levy are 2 years apart. I was the “baby” in the family.



Three Sisters. Two Survivors. We terribly miss our middle sister — the talented one in the kitchen who baked breads, muffins, blueberry cheese cakes, strawberry tortes and the finest-tasting sans rival cakes and other pastries. She was only 37. Levy and I took turns at the hospital watching over her. It’s been 30 years since. All 3 of us must have inherited the dreaded C disease from Mama who passed on at age 55. Papa joined Mama in 1991, some 22 years back. Levy and I — 9 years apart — survived. But we were continents apart, and Ate (older sister) Levy has yet to fully embrace this internet technology. [Once she called me and forgot to turn off her mobile. Her bill could have covered nearly half of my airfare!) 🙂




Mama with Ate Levy and Me in Baguio City back in the 60’s.




Family and friends prayed and prayed real hard. We lived from day to day until Week 4 when we received the good news that Ate Levy beat the odds. To amuse ourselves and keep us off the worries, we made family trips here and there. Ate Levy’s children took turns taking leaves from work to drive us around. I only managed ONE DAY with college friends who came by and took me off on a day out to Berrima — a wonderful break from family duties. (Thank you Lin and MA) My other friends based here and around do understand I simply wanted to be around my sister and family. Others I decidedly didn’t get in contact with as I realized it’s not a good time for “first meet-ups” (my apologies, my TravelBlogger friends). It’s just ME —- eager to make up for lost time with my OZ family. Besides, I was just too busy keeping the worries at bay. 😦




The “kids” posing in front of the ancestral house, with their grandfather’s namesign behind. Once I heard my grandnephew Xion say … “We’re cousins. We should love each other.” Makes me proud these babies are being raised as good kids as these nephews and nieces are.



But winter’s over. And that’s true literally and figuratively. At the beginning of spring and on my fifth week in Sydney, we made so many unplanned day trips. Our hearts overflowed with joy and gratitude. The first trip — from the surgeon’s clinic to the first church we passed — was most significant. Like we remembered every single step towards the church smiling ear to ear, not even missing each melodious note from street buskers nor the aroma of food delicacies from a neighborhood Filipino store. God in His mercy blessed us with a good sense of humour to survive adversities, a grateful heart for Him and the many prayer warriors, a keen sense of family and unity, and above all, a strong faith that our “winter” will soon be over.




Rookie took many of these shots in Mt. Annan Botanical Garden. Flowers abloom to welcome spring. In our hearts, it was all time-spring.



In our trying times, my sister and I nearly forgot the children have grown. THEY took over. And I’m mighty proud of them all. I have no doubt our grandchildren will all grow up as responsible adults. Like their moms and dads. Knowing that, I don’t mind growing old to welcome more “springs”…….





Here’s an amateur’s video of “Levy Beating The Odds”


MARAMING SALAMAT SA INYONG LAHAT. Thank you so much for all the prayers.