11 Years and Counting

Sunday, July 19, 2009

11th wedding anniversaryLast weekend, my wife and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. It was a simple celebration - we packed some snacks and headed to the beach, got lost along the way, but still arrived at the beach on time to enjoy the sun and the sand for a good 3 hours. Chicago's Foster Beach is one of the family friendlier ones, and the parking is relatively easy even on busy Saturday afternoons. Dinner was a visit to a Mediterranean restaurant near our place that had a good deal on kiddie meals. We dropped by for some coffee at the nearby Starbucks and went home late in the evening - exhausted but joyful. The next day after church service and lunch, we went looking for an ice cream parlor and found out that it just recently closed. No problem - the nearby grocery store had some ice cream and pretty soon, we were enjoying the treats near a fountain. A visit to a playground and hitting some balls at a tennis court rounded out our anniversary weekend.

11 years seem to have gone by so fast. After 3 children, and a seemingly nomadic existence that saw our family reside and visit 7 countries in 4 continents - still, I have that feeling that we're just starting our journey. I suppose that's a good thing. Better to have that than feeling the opposite.

My wife and I tried recalling how we celebrated our previous anniversaries. I had the better memory as she keeps on saying that part of her memories were lost due to anesthesia given on the three occasions that she gave birth. (Men, we really are blessed not to go through that). Here's my best effort in listing down our celebrations:

1998: got married in Quezon City; a morbid thought but 2 of the few present during our wedding are now gone - 1 was my paternal grandmother, and 1 was my college buddy.

1999: 1st anniversary - had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Timog. Our oldest was born earlier in the year and he was with us for that lunch.

2000: 2nd anniversary - had dinner at a seafood restaurant in Singapore, again, accompanied by our eldest who was now a toddler. We flew to Bangkok for a weekend later that month.

2001: 3rd anniversary - first time to miss my anniversary - I was on assignment in Portugal. A colleague dropped some flowers and a cake for my wife and boys. Our second child was born earlier in the year.

2002: 4th anniversary - missed our anniversary by a few days as I was in Paris. I did give my wife some letters I wrote on the plane coming home. We left the boys and had an evening on our own.

2003: 5th anniversary - we attended our first marriage retreat in Tagaytay. I was a new Christian and it was a huge realization how God had been working in our marriage even when I thought that it was "just chance" that brought us together.

2004: 6th anniversary - our third son was born earlier that year. I can't remember a specific celebration but it most likely was with our children as we couldn't leave our youngest who was breastfeeding at the time.

2005: 7th anniversary - dinner and a movie for the two of us in the Podium area. I remember this as the year we started our discipleship group. We opted out for that particular Monday meeting and then we bumped into our group as we were going for the movie.

2006: 8th anniversary - I'm drawing a blank but most likely, it was an evening just for the two of us in Eastwood - our favorite and convenient hang-out during this period. I'm also seeing photos of a family outing/picnic in UP during the weekend.

2007: 9th anniversary - first year in the US. I took a long lunch break from work, and had lunch at a Japanese restaurant with the family. We then all spent a weekend afternoon boating in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a Filipina colleague and her husband.

2008: 10th anniversary - my mom and all 5 of my sisters greeted my wife. I'm sure they know how difficult a person I am to live with, and appreciated my wife's efforts through the years, hehehe. Also, I got my wife a gift that probably was the first one she approved of in terms of it being a "good deal". (Finally, after 10 years!) And, the family spent a day at a waterpark.

My wife and I joke that we are looking forward to the next 66 or 77 years of married life here on earth. It has been a great journey, and we do feel that the best is yet to come. Not everything is smooth sailing; we do have a lot of challenges and we're working on a lot of things. But at the same time, we are very much aware that part of God's plan for us is to be good stewards of the gifts He has provided. Marriage is one of the best gifts God has showered on His people - for this, we are simply very thankful.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Sagada.wsThere's a relatively new and nice website on Sagada - and the URL uses a ".ws" domain, the Internet country code top level for "Western Samoa". I thought this strange and interesting and after doing some googling, I found out that the ".ws" domain is being marketed as "dot website". Sagada.ws is great because it is listing Sagada businesses - a first in the Internet. It has 22 in the list so far, and I hope it continues to grow. It does help to promote this website especially as it features Sagada Weaving in its front page, haha. Sagada.ws lists the Sagada Hospital website and Tom Coghill's Fasting.ws as sister sites.


South Beach Diet works...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

sagada igorot blog - south beach dietGrowing up, I was always skinny. No matter how much I ate, I never seemed to gain weight. This was true all the way until college, and when I started working. Then I got married. And I suppose as true in almost a 100% of the cases, I started to pack it in. I never tracked my weight until recently, but I knew it wasn't a good situation when my clothes started NOT to fit. And then came the reminders. An aunt, very much aware that my dad passed away due to cardiac arrest at the age of 48 warned me to watch it. Other well-meaning relatives warned me of the same. Aside from my clothes not fitting, I also realized I was tiring easily. I couldn't keep up with my boys on a few minutes of soccer. My annual wellness check-up last year indicated I was well into the overweight stage - closer to being obese than being in the normal range. My blood sugar was up, and my cholesterol level was not ideal.

Somehow, I got convicted to do something about it. I remember a visitor we had last year indicating that the South Beach diet worked for her. I researched in the Internet and found out that the diet was designed by a cardiologist; and was used successfully by a lot of people including former President Bill Clinton. So I gritted my teeth and decided to pursue it.

The most challenging part was the first phase of the diet - the first 2 weeks was very strict. No RICE, no FRUIT, no PASTA, no CORN, no POTATOES - the idea was to emphasize lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish. Low-glycemic-index vegetables are allowed as well as low-fat cheese, nuts, eggs. I thought I wouldn't be able to keep it but I knew I had to try.

Day 1 was fine; but Day 2 was a disaster. There was a food festival at the office showcasing various foods from Asia Pacific countries - I threw the diet out of the window and indulged in all types of food from the Philippines, India, Russia, China, Pakistan and Korea. Yum. In my mind, there was always a Day 3, hahaha. Eventually, I was able to complete 14 consecutive days of strict dieting - the final result: a grand weight loss of 12 pounds. I did minimal exercising - just following a rigid diet that didn't allow me to starve and had me snacking twice a day between 3 full meals. The results were dramatic enough for some colleagues who saw me everyday at the office to notice it. I was smiling too as I noticed my once too-tight clothes fitting more nicely.

There's a sub-story to it - my wife, who wasn't really convinced initially that I would stick to my diet saw the changes in me. When I was on my second week, she started her first week too. She never got to complete the full 14-day routine, but she has cut down on her carbohydrate intake and voila, she also has lost 10 pounds or so. It's been almost 2 months since we lost weight and we've managed to keep the pounds off - even after attending several picnics and parties. We haven't really stuck to the 2nd and 3rd phases of the South Beach diet which should lead us to reach our target body weight, but we're getting there. The first phase was a good weight loss starter. We do plan to shed more pounds in the coming months so our body mass index (BMI) would be well within the normal range.

Some of the wonderful lessons on losing weight:
- losing weight together with your spouse is a very enriching experience
- exploring new food choices can be fun
- plain boiled / steamed vegetables can be very tasty
- you don't have to starve to lose weight
- me, a Filipino, can survive without rice
- attitude matters (I guess in everything, including losing weight)
- eating the right foods will make you continually crave for the right foods
- turning your back on an ice cream cone / soda can be very satisfying
- my knees are happier when I jog now that I'm 12 lbs lighter

Online tools I use: South Beach Diet for Beginner; Body Mass Index Calculator. The photo above is a lovingly prepared meal of scrambled egg, ground chicken breast and vegetables, string cheese, asparagus and assorted nuts. And, for any weight loss activity, the BEFORE (May 2009) and AFTER (June 2009) photos serve as evidence.

sagada igorot blog: before diet

sagada igorot blog: after diet


IGOROTak (Igorot Ako / I'm an Igorot) Shirts

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

naduma igorotak shirtI'm running behind on my blogging; and will be attempting to catch up. What better way to do that than to blog about our IGOROTAK shirts. My cousin, a store manager of her older sister's NADUMA shop in SM Baguio, was searching the Internet for IGOROTAK shirts when she came across my blog post from August of last year when we attended an Igorot party here in Chicago and saw many fellow Igorots wearing the shirts. She felt bad that we didn't have our own so she sent 10 shirts through the mail - two for each of us. These shirts are just way cool! We immediately wore it to a party and had a friend begging to have one of them. My wife replied in jest - "Bakit, Igorot ka ba?" (Why, are you an Igorot?) It was just a testament of the shirts' uber-coolness. I wore my IGOROTAK shirt proudly to work during casual Friday and it was a conversation starter. I was asked multiple times what it meant, and of course, I willingly explained. Sharing more photos -

naduma igorotak shirt

naduma igorotak shirt