Tag Archive: Family


Anna Bay in Port Stephens


The weather forecast was gloomy but we were dead set to spend our weekend with the boys in Anna Bay. The preceding week in Kiama was an all girls (errr ladies) bonding adventure which included a visit to our favorite Benedictine Abbey in nearby Jamberoo. So for this weekend, we were hoping to join the boys on some thrilling adventures. Anna Bay belongs to the Port Stephens area in the Hunter Valley region and is one major entry point to the beach and sand dunes of Birubi Point. Here, there’s an assortment of things to do. Whale-watching, fishing, surfing may sound exciting but many find more thrills with the camel and horse rides along the shore, sand boarding and 4 wheel-drives across the sand dunes.

We weren’t in luck with the thrilling rides. But we sure got extremely lucky spotting pods of whales. The downpour was put on hold to allow us some time at the Gangan Lookout, the beach and sand dunes at Birubi Point and lovely walks by the shore just right behind our crib here in Anna Bay. We could have waited for sunset (before 5pm!) but it grew cold and the looming downpour dampened our spirits. The waters were so calm and so soothing to frayed nerves. Many residents and guests like us spilled out of the apartment buildings to idle away the hours at the beach, playing with their dogs or even letting their toddlers play around the huge “sandbox”.

Back in Kiama, I missed the pods of whales. I saw more than enough here in Birubi point. The beach behind our serviced apartment here is another whale-spotting area but after putting on a show for us in Birubi, these aquatic mammals must have thought we’ve seen enough. Evenings here are so pleasant, if not wonderful. The waves crashing to shore lull you to sleep and early morns are marked by visits of different birds perched on your balcony. Imagine having your morning coffee while these birds chirp in chorus and while watching dogs frolic by the beach. Happiness!

Our Crib

Busy Since I Retired


I kid you not.

My self-imposed retirement began in early 2001. I quit to have a life. And it’s been a life of adventures and nurtured relationships since.

I love to travel. And I travel with different sets and circles of friends. No better way to bond than enjoying their company 24/7. I’m one who easily gets along with most anyone on a trip. Perhaps because I’m in my elements when traveling. But I do realize it’s better to travel solo than putting up with bad company. I’m also hell-bent when I wish to be someplace and no one’s going with me. Guess it all started when I was a child standing in line to enjoy rollercoaster rides. I don’t do that now. Not because I’m afraid but more because I’m cautious not to break a brittle bone. I go visit family and friends whenever I can. I have always maintained that life is too short to waste it. As years pass, I appreciate more and more the value of relationship. I am happy I nurtured many since childhood.

2001:

USA Roadtrip

Beijing + HK

2002:

Spain + Portugal

Lourdes, Paris

2003:

USA East/West Coast

London

Roadtrip from Paris thru Tours,

Bordeaux, Lourdes, Provence,

Barcelona, back to Paris

2004:

St. Petersburg+Moscow, Russia

Switzerland

Provence+Paris

2005:

USA

2006:

Singapore

Europe

2007:

Alaskan Cruise

Vancouver+Victoria, Canada

Seattle+San Francisco+LA

2008:

HK/Macau

Taipei

2009:

Turkey & Greece

Indonesia

HK New Year

Shanghai

2010:

Siem Reap

Shanghai

2011:

Bhutan

Shanghai

2012:

South Africa+Zambia

Spain

2013:

Australia

Spain

Mongolia

Korea

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

2014:

Australia

Hanoi/Halong Bay, Vietnam

India

2015:

Myanmar

Spain

Berlin, Germany

Scandinavian Cruise

Bangkok, Thailand

Morocco+Spain

2016:

Italy

Tokyo

Sydney+Gold Coast, Australia

Japan

Bangkok, Thailand

2017:

Spain

Sydney

Tasmania

Miami/SFO/Vegas/Utah

Peru

Fukoaka

Spain

Paris, France

2018:

Sri Lanka

Central Vietnam

Vienna, Budapest & Bratislava

Kenya & Tanzania

Sydney

Bologna, Modena, Parma, San Marino

Vienna

Plitvice Lake

2019:

Brunei

Hokkaido

London, Bath & Cotswolds

Amsterdam & Brussels

Ljubljana, Trieste, Graz

Istrian Peninsula+Zagreb

Bali

2020:

Egypt

Easily, nearly 70 international trips since I retired in 2001. Way more than my combined trips before my self-imposed retirement. And a few times, I did back-to-back trips as well as “slow trips” counting up to 3 months home-based somewhere. I’ve also covered much ground back home. I’ve been quite busy. And very happy! Traveled with family and also with different sets of friends. Oh yes, I have no shortage of travel buddies. Outside of family, there are my camino buddies, a foodie group, college buddies, travel blogger-friends, former work colleagues, dormmates, childhood friends, etc. My friends would always ask which trips rank among my Top 10. And I’m always stumped for choice. How do you choose from among so many trips you’ve enjoyed and wish to repeat? But this I say, the more memorable ones are those where I learned the most, interacted with locals the most, or simply where “something clicked” to change my outlook in life. Not exactly an epiphany; just a simple discovery or realization from a meaningful experience.

PS. Times have changed since early 2020. We were lucky to do that Nile Cruise in Egypt. COVID-19 took over and our traveling life was put on hold. All 3 pre-booked trips this 2020 cancelled.

The Gift of Time



Please do not grieve

For I have truly lived

Every single day & second

Not one moment wasted. 


I was born with some gifts

But later learned more tricks

To detach from wordly stuff

Love and harmony enough. 


I’ve seen snow-capped mountains

And far too many ancient fountains

Sunrises, glowing sunsets & moonlights

As pretty as the skies at twilights. 


Solitary walks my pleasures

Nothing fancy by any measure

In touch with myself, alone with my thoughts

While adding up all the naughts.


Yet there’s that time with you I relish

A memory I cherish 

Just as my hair turned gray

Unmindful even when things go astray.


I have gifted you with experiences

Plus memories & all the time I could give

Continue on, my loves, and understand

How precious is the gift of time.


For more blogs celebrating life, check out : 

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/

http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/



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Hi everyone! On our latest Bangkok adventure, here’s a blog summary. For updates, follow lifeisacelebration on Facebook and/or subscribe to this blog site.

Our Bangkok Cribs

Floating Market

Elephant Ride

Bang Pa-In Palace

Ayutthaya UNESCO Heritage Site

A Thai Engagement Procession

A Thai-Buddhist Wedding Ceremony

Art In Paradise Trick-Eye Museum

Chocolate Ville

Terminal 21

Keep reading!


Late Autumn Indoor Swimming

Late Autumn Indoor Swimming

This photo blog (phlog) comes with more photos than text. The photos speak for themselves. More so with young grandchildren who are totally uninhibited in expressing their feelings. A kiss here. An ouchy look there. A playful mood. A “begging” stance. A proud moment. Boredom. Excitement.

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Buddies. The 2 youngest.

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Kuya and Bunso. Gigil?

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Let’s go to Hungry Jacks please. And let’s not forget, Time Zone……

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Mom, I don’t want to milk a cow ever again. So kadiri! Yuck….

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We have a plan. Oh oh.

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My Ate Patricia smells like strawberries!

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Is this formal enough, Mom?

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Hu Hu Hu. I want my own shake. No one elses’s spit on my shake please!

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Ever since Ate arrived, Mamu became “laos”.

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Hurry up with that shot, you camwhoring Mamu!

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I love ate ❤

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WHY NOT?

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Unica Hija in OZ

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Errrr, shall we try it? Sign says “shallow water”.

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Ok guys, stay together. No jumping over the fence.

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But Ate can jump…..

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Jump down? Or climb up?

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Go Kuya. You can do it!

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Thank you, Nongkie, for the shakes.

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A Moment.

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THAT’s ALL, FOLKS. —– Elvis, the beloved family dog.


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Seventy Odd Years

 

We recall the early years
And thank God for these blessings
Such a delight this life
With triumphs and a few fights.

 

 

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Ten years of separation and a whole ocean apart
Love spans many miles and travels over ebbs and tides,

Sisters at birth; joined at the hearts
Survivors, from the same bodily hurts.

 

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What’s there to celebrate at 70?
God’s precious gifts of love & life

Family & Friends

Come, help us celebrate!

 

 

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Call it a conspiracy. Everyone knew but her. Believe it or not, even the family dog seemed to be in on it, except her. Turning 70 is a milestone and we’re not leaving any stone unturned just to pull this big surprise.

 

 

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I flew into Sydney with the 2 “elves” (grandkids). Took PAL thinking our flight’s ETD was 10:45pm. Surprise, Surprise! It was actually 9:10pm. Flight skeds changed without notice? Did we miss it? Naaahhh. We were at the airport thinking we were way too early. Took a pee break at 8pm, grabbed a drink, and trooped back to our gate only to find we were the last 3 to board! Ran for it and finally put on our seatbelts almost out of breath.

 

 

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So we made it…. and landed 3 hours early in Sydney. My niece jumped out of bed at 7am when I messaged her that the “package has arrived”. By the time we reached the doorstep, all surprise plans went haywire. Lack of sleep and stressful departures do that to you. Just the same, we pulled off the surprise sans a video 😦

 

 

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Two days after, a niece arrived. That’s surprise #4 (the first 3 being moí+the 2 elves). The following week my dear couple friends arrived. I’ve rested well enough by then and didn’t fail to document the whole surprise scene.

 

 

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All set for the party now. April 27. Six surprise packages. Great Gatsby theme. Black, White, Silver and Gold. Only the 70 year old dons RED. Surprised? Yes. Happy? Yes. We did it! Friends and family all here to celebrate a milestone in my sister’s life. Life is a celebration!

 

 

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An Autumn Glow

An Autumn Glow

A YABU LUNCH

A YABU LUNCH

Just a day short. Waiting to pick up my elves today and then, just one more day. Tired from a week of exams, but giddy with excitement over the summer break. The chapel in school is where I wait for them. A good spot under the trees which by now seem to have an “autumn glow” after a couple of hours of rain. Kids even had fun standing under one tree as it sheds off its tiny orange-y flowers as the wind blows. 

 

Summer beckons. What’s the plan, the elves ask? Well……

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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!) 🙂

 

 

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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. 😦

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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”…….

 

 

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

http://youtu.be/ASHK8WmpOd8

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

The Day After Christmas


It’s the day after Christmas! But the festive mood is still very much in the air. After all, IT’S STILL CHRISTMAS elsewhere in the world. Greetings here and there, memories of Christmases spent here and there, family gatherings here and there. Thanks for the gift of technology, we were able to celebrate CHRIST-mas with loved ones ONLINE. 👍👍👍

 

 

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A niece’s photo (first pic) of the neighborhood church I visited daily while living in Madrid brought in nostalgic memories. Such a powerful memory perfectly matching our sentiments this Season. Gratitude. Thank You, Jesus, for the many blessings. We may not be physically together, yet technology didn’t make us feel “separated”. We chatted as we prepared our Christmas dinners. We laughed as we donned our festive hats!

 

 

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We all had a good laugh seeing how 2 sisters — oceans and thousands of miles apart — managed to don the same, IDENTICAL black dresses for Christmas Eve dinner. Not twins, but twin fashion sense. As I’ve mentioned to my nieces, fashion sense and sartorial preferences are not hereditary, but acquired preferences. Exposure counts. Much. Like my mom’s habit of shopping for 2 pairs of shoes or sandals bearing the same design — in 2 earth colors. Well, looks like we all picked up the same habit! On the other hand, there are families who simply dig vibrant hues and flashy clothes and accessories. Don’t blame the genes. It’s a passed-on lifestyle and fashion sense. Of course, there are some who “break through” — some for the better, others worse off.

 

 

Day after Christmas and some of us went back to work. The retired and “on leave” and “on holiday from school” continue to eat Christmas left-overs, review photos and videos, and simply bum round the house. So….. This is Christmas! Love it.