Big Family Vacations: Boracay

Big Family Vacations: Boracay

We took a weekend trip to Boracay recently and it was a good break from the traffic armageddon happening in Manila lately. Thank goodness, the flight to Caticlan was not delayed (thank you, PAL!) and as a bonus there was even food served on the plane (with no extra fees!). The kids loved the plane ride, and even loved the bit of turbulence that came along the way.

I would say that Boracay island is still very safe. A lot of police always walking the beach, and even if we were there during the off-peak period – so less people – the police were still very visible.

The water current was pretty strong, so we didn’t stay in the beach too much. Spent more time on the sand and in the hotel pool. Where we stayed, there was a kiddie pool, so kids had more fun and could stay in the shallow pool.

When going around, we take extra care by pairing up. If possible, one adult buddies up with one kid; if not, they pair up and we look after each pair (with our youngest with Des). Works out well, but even with glitches, it still is a good system. We are perfecting it!

Kids love the beach, the pool, Jonah’s fruit shakes. Not so much the sand (I have no idea where that came from), but they get used to it once they are covered in it (haha). It is easier to go to a more developed beach as there is more stuff for the kids to do.

We were even able to try out off-road driving somewhere inland Boracay. We weren’t able to go island hopping this time, as we weren’t too sure when rain would fall (apparently, just a few bursts during the afternoon).

Boracay is always wonderful to visit!


Big Family Vacations: Baguio

Big Family Vacations: Baguio

One of our favorite spots to go to in the Philippines is Baguio. The summer capital of the country. It used to take 6 hours or more to get there from Manila – because you had to pass through towns and cities along the way, but now, it is much faster.

From North Luzon Expressway, it connects to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway without passing any toll booths so it is quite easy. And the SCTEx connects to the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway. And TPLEx now exits at Binalonan, Pangasinan. Which is only about one hour away from Baguio. So a total of 4 hours! So much faster.

This trip we went to some tourist places (which over years of coming to Baguio, we don’t really visit anymore) to let the kids see them – since they can appreciate them now more.

Mansion House, Mines View Park, Good Shepherd, Camp John Hay, Batirol, horseback riding – all such good experiences for the kids. Baguio is only stressful with the traffic situation, but aside from that it is safe, and the kids were happy to enjoy nature and fresh air (though there are a lot of smoke belching vehicles in Baguio nowadays).

Next time we will try strawberry picking in La Trinidad, and maybe the classic Wright Park.


Ten Years!

Ten Years!

Des and I celebrated our tenth year last September 2. We weren’t planning on anything, as we would both be on mission for most of August (me longer than her), so it would be hard to have something.

But we did decide to have a renewal of wedding vows. Our Parish – The Immaculate Heart of Mary – agreed, and we scheduled it after the morning Mass of that day. Fr. Jovi, our Parish priest would officiate it.

After the Mass, we took our places in front with our parents and our children (already a big wedding party!) and we renewed our vows. Much to my surprise, in Tagalog! Well, here’s to new experiences, right!?

Thank you for the wonderful ten years, babe. This is just the beginning (though let’s give chance to others in regards to more kids)!



Live Life in the USA

Live Life in the USA

It has been a long month! I am now back behind my desk at the CFC FFL Home Office, and I am still in awe at what actually happened over the past few weeks.

Last month, I went on mission to the USA. We started with 2 LIFT (LCSC Institute for Formation and Training) Training sessions. One in Houston with participants from all across the USA – which was held over the course of 3 whole, jam-packed days. And then in Dallas over three evenings – just focusing on the 4 pillars of LCSC: Live Pure, Live Life, Liturgical Bible Study and No One in Need, and the Servant Leaders Formation program (SeLF).

I presented Live Life and Family and Life Update on both occasions and for the rest of the trip and different appointments and assemblies.

From there, we went on the Cruise Conference of CFC FFL USA. Aside from a presentation of LL there as well, I gave the first session of the Mercy Abounds conference. It was a different experience, actually having a conference on a cruise through Mexico! A captive audience.🙂

Our schedule went full-blast after that. Flying to New Jersey, taking the train to Maryland. Train back to NJ to catch a flight to Chicago. Flying to San Francisco. Flying to Houston to drive to Rio Grande Valley. Driving back to Houston to fly to Manila. With assemblies, meetings, presentations all along the way.

All the people who helped us, hosted us, listened to us, fed us. You all inspire us to work even harder. The CFC FFL community who embraced this work, and saw how needed it is for the world – you push us even more to do better and improve what we have.

Now, back in Manila, gearing up to do even more.

Thank you. We continue to pray for our community, our work and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.


I’m Back.

I’m Back.

Today I go through the horrendous Metro Manila traffic, back to Starmall, for my first day.

Yes, I’m back.

I was going through my past blogs, and this jumped out:

I told Des to give me these three years to “scratch this itch” called politics. And then let’s see what happens next. I know I am capable of helping the country. And I am being mentored by one of the best. We can make good laws that will help the Philippines. It’s going to be an awesome ride.

The past three years were great years to experience politics, NGO work, volunteerism, disaster risk reduction and management, and so many other things. I was in the House of Representatives as part of Congressman Lito Atienza’s legislative team for one year, and then part of Dingdong Dantes’ YesPinoy Foundation as Executive Director for 2 years.

I have learned so much from these two men – who value integrity so much. That everything is done with love for the country, and respect for Filipinos. Still being part of the Boards of both Buhay Party List and YesPinoy is an honor for me.



But now, I am called back. I was a full-time missionary for 16 years prior to the last 3 years.

16 years. I love being a missionary. And I will forever consider myself to be a missionary, even with these changes, changes, changes. Pray for me.

And now, it starts again.

Continue to pray for me. Pray for my ever supportive and loving wife. Pray for my family.

Let’s get to work.


Thank you, YesPinoy.

Thank you, YesPinoy.
The very first event I went to as part of YesPinoy was the Etude Princess Run in May of 2014. We put up a booth, and I donned a very tight pinkish jersey to receive their generous donation. It was the start of an awesome two-year journey.
Don’t breathe. Too tight.
Since then, we have been around the country – from Isabela to Sarangani – to engage young people and show them good examples of people giving back to the Philippines. So that they too can give. And it has been wonderful meeting people from all over. Making new friends along the way. Experiencing real change from the people who choose to do better because of what they have learned.
I have learned so much from these past two years. From all the people we have met, the partners we have engaged, the people we have served – and of course from the people behind the scenes who make this all happen.
Our hardworking YP office:
Team YP! Me, Sucelle, Vanie, Liza, Trina, Arvin, Pebbles and Yani
The continuous support of all the DY fans – now also our friends:
Leaders of different DY groups
And the YP Board, of which I am now joining as well – an honor and privilege:
The YP Board and Staff
(Seated are the Executive Directors through the years: Joe, Pebbles (current), me & Elmer)
Thank you Dong, for trusting me with your baby (not Zia, YesPinoy).
Here’s to more collaborative efforts and opportunities to make this country a better place. The past two years (again) were amazing! Now back to familiar, yet even more challenging, waters.

1st Birthday Parties

1st Birthday Parties
Reposting from Facebook Notes:  about 1st birthday parties! We have had 5 of them (and it most probably will be the last, considering that Des has had 5 cesarian operations already).
When thinking of planning a birthday party, our major discussion would always be: do it on our own, or go to a restaurant and have them do all the work?
For Sabine’s 1st birthday, we did it all on our own. She had it here in Alpadi, and everything from decor to hosts to food was done by us (with extended family and friends helping, of course). Pictures here.
For Aida and Franko’s 1st birthdays, we had them in Fun Ranch. Easier because the hosts, games, food – all came from there.We just spruced it up with giveaways and more decor. Pictures of Aida’s here, and Franko’s here.
For Maria, we had it in Burger King. We had decor come in from Isabela (Mix Cuisines!), but the food and program came from there – we weren’t too happy with their program though. The clowns looked scary and weren’t funny. Pictures here.
And for Jax, we had it in McDonald’s. Everything came from them. We just brought in a cake.
You can see the trend, huh? From do it all on our own, and little by little giving in to the ease and less-stress way of doing it. Yes, having it in a restaurant (especially one that throws parties on a regular basis) is so easy. Everything is ready for you to just check off the boxes. But you do not have leg room to really do what you want – there’s a time limit, a room limit, etc etc.
If you want to do more stuff, and on your own terms – then building your party from the ground up is the way to go. A lot more “labor of love” (read: OC), but also you have the freedom to do whatever you like. Just plan earlier.
Whichever you choose, just have an awesome time. 1st birthday parties can be stressful, but the reason you are doing it is to celebrate the first year of your awesome baby. Just relax and enjoy! Then start thinking of the 7th birthday party next (we’ve had two of those already)!