Three Years On, My Angel

Friday, 30 January 2015

I finally went home after three years. Three years since Keith left us. I didn't know how I was supposed to feel when I visited his new place on earth.  I couldn't believe that it has been that long. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. How I wish he was still here. It was not the same anymore. He was missed.

And because it was Keith's third year in heaven on the 28th of January, it was K Lighter Day. This year, I no longer expected much because I know that someday somehow people will no longer participate in our K Lighter Days, or worse they will forget. It is now my job to keep Keith's legacy so he will not be forgotten by many. But then again, even if he is going to be forgotten by other people, we, his family will never ever forget him. We will continue to remember him everyday of our lives, not just on K Lighter Days.

I woke up really early that day partly because I was still jet-lagged. I lit Keith's candle as soon as I got up and played "Lighters". I also read the Bible, one thing that I have not done in a long while. And then of course I wore blue, his favourite colour.

I feel blessed that even if it's been three years, some of my friends still celebrated K Lighter Day with me. Some of my friends sent me early texts saying that they were thinking of me. Some of them made an extra effort to do one or two of the 12 ways on how to make the 28th of January a K Lighter Day.

My friend Blossom who has not failed to celebrate K Lighter Day played "Sugar" by Maroon5 on the piano.

 A friend of mine who is also an angel Mom lit a candle for her son and Keith.

What touched me the most is a message from a friend whom I may not hang out with on a regular basis but holds a special place in my heart. She has always been nice to me since the day I met her. And although oftentimes we only get to smile and  say Hi to each other at work, it is enough for me to know that she is there. Her message actually left me speechless and teary-eyed.
3 years ago today, a friend and inspiration of mine lived through the pain of her beautiful son becoming an angel in the sky.
Today is K-lighter day.
Pagpalain ng Diyos

Back home they had a rushed dinner as no one was able to prepare. My mother was going out of the hospital that day and my sister-in-law picked her up. Speaking of this, something quite weird happened. While I was in the air somewhere between the Philippines and China, my mother was rushed to the hospital. It was the same day and around the same time as when Keith was brought to the hospital. She had an emergency operation for an impending rupture of her appendix. Thanks God she recovered fast from the operation. On Monday she was told that she could go home on Wednesday, the 28th of January. My sister and I got really worried because it was also the day that Keith left us. He was also told that he could go home that day, but he bled and left us forever. You can imagine how scared we were. But we really thank God our mother was discharged fit and well. 

Anyway, another year has passed. As I always say, the pain never goes and you can never move on from the loss of a child. You just learn how to live without them. And over the years you find yourself looking for ways for other people to remember your precious child. Not everyone will understand what you're trying to do. Just understand them for they haven't walked your path.

I hope that somehow you'll always find a reason to have a K Lighter Day even in the darkest of days.

tintin x

40 Before 40: Zip Lining at Treetop Adventure Subic Bay

Monday, 19 January 2015

I once said "afraid of heights no more" in one of my travel albums. I was convinced I wasn't afraid anymore until I went on top of the Shard and realised that I couldn't look down and felt like I was going to fall despite the the fact that I was surrounded by glass. Since then I decided to "desensitize" myself and exposed myself to heights whenever I got the chance. And then I came up with 40 before 40 list and added Zip lining on it as one way of hopefully conquering my fear of heights.

I am really lucky to have family members from the States who are very adventurous, especially my Uncle Greg. Whenever he is home, he is always looking for things to do. So one day when he got bored and wanted to do something fun, I suggested zip lining. I knew that they have already done this in Hundred Islands a week before, but knowing them I was confident that they would do it again. Yes, I had an ulterior motive in suggesting this activity because I wanted to make one of my dreams come true. Call me selfish.

I struggled to find a good place to do zip lining. I mean I knew there are really good ones in the Philippines but because my family from the States didn't have much time left, we wanted to do it as local as possible. Luckily, I also have an adventurous friend who suggested Treetop Adventure in Subic Bay. This was perfect for us as it's only about 45 minutes away.

We arrived at Treetop before 11am on a Friday and it was not busy. In fact as far as I can remember it was just our group to begin with. It was not that bad to get there as there were signs all throughout. Everything went smoothly except for the fact that some of my family members could not decide on which activities they wanted to do, myself included. I originally planned to do just the zipline, but ended up doing two more. 

I am going to write about my zip lining experience first. I was confident about this experience because I wanted to do it. Besides I need to tick it off my list. That is why as soon as I was geared up (with harness and a helmet)and ready to go, I knew that this was another dream come true.

All of the excitement faded  though as soon as I got on top of the station and watched my other family members do it first. Fear took over. I had second thoughts. I asked if I could back out, but they all reassured me that it was going to be fine  and that  it would only take 30 seconds.  When it was my turn to go, I swear to God I almost went into panic attack or maybe I did. I suddenly had palpitations and my legs were trembling. I didn't know how to reassure myself so I just kept murmuring "Oh my God, Oh my God". I know this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you are afraid of heights and not used to outdoor activities such this I'm sure you will understand where I am coming from. 

I had to remove my flipflops in fear of dropping them. I didn't like the fact that you have to climb on a side bar to get on the ride. They were like about an inch in diameter and quite slippery (you can see it on the photo below, the yellow ones on my right). The ride is called Superman ride so you are literally in that position. I can barely remember how I managed to get on it. All I can remember is that  I went really stiff and my bottom was raised. The guides were telling me to relax. I didn't know how until I realised that I had  harness on and that I was hooked on a wire. As soon as I heard "Okay Ma'am, ready", I held onto the bar really really tight, kept my legs really still and closed my eyes. I'm sorry but I couldn't bear to open my eyes. Just the thought of looking down already made me sick. I was suspended 100 metres high. You might say it's pointless but I will defend myself for being brave enough to even try it.  Anyway, the whole trail is 140 metres long and yeah maybe it was 30 seconds back and forth, but it seemed longer than that because I was genuinely scared. I did it with my niece and all the time I just kept asking her if she was okay and if it was really high and if it was finished. And because I was preoccupied with fear I didn't even realised that the ride has stopped until the official photographer asked to have our photo taken. That was the only time I opened my eyes and smiled. Mind you, I was still hanging at this point.
Superman Ride

I am not sure if the Canopy ride was less scary  than the Superman ride. The canopy ride was slower of course and I was seated. However, it was still 100 feet above the ground so it didn't make any difference to me.I was scared just the same.

The canopy ride had three stations and it took us at least 45 minutes to finish the whole ride. Our first guide was really helpful. He probably noticed that I was scared so he tried to distract me by asking personal questions which I didn't mind. He also talked about the history of the buildings in the area and the trees as we went along,  but unfortunately I wasn't paying attention so I can not remember a single thing.

We had to cross a hanging bridge to get to the first station. 

I am glad that our guide was good at taking photos. I didn't even have to ask him. He joined us on the first two rides but left us on our own at the last station. Yes, I had my eyes closed again the whole time except of course when my photos were being taken.

The Canopy Ride

In the middle of the last ride, we hit a tree because it was windy that day. The two guides at the end of the station wouldn't have noticed if I didn't scream because they were both doing something else. I must say that they were less helpful than our first guide. We were told by our first guide to always make sure that we were hooked on the wires and he did this for us all the time. But the two guides left us on our own and when I asked if we had to hook ourselves, one of the guys said not necessarily. I thought that was the end of the adventure but I was wrong. We were then instructed to cross five hanging bridges on our own. Although the hanging bridges looked really safe, I was still scared because I had a bad experience  when I was in university. We used to cross hanging bridges in our community placements and one of my classmates made fun of us and started jumping on the bridge. I got really really scared because we were crossing a river. Since then I hated hanging bridges. 

Anyway, my niece and I didn't have a choice so we went on our way through the hanging bridges. No instructions were given apart from turning left and then follow the trail until we see the information area.

I had to stick to the safety instructions given by our first guide, so I made sure that we were hooked on the wire. The only problem was that the wire was too high for us. I had to tip toe and pull the wire with my index finger, and then my niece hooked me up. I did the same for her.

My Uncle and two cousins did the whole package so they also got to do the Tree Drop Adventure and the Silver Surfer. They all said that the Tree Drop was the scariest of all the activities. Even our normally brave cousin got scared. I couldn't take a decent photo as I was using an old camera and I was against the sun. Besides, the drop only took seconds. They were on the ground before I knew it.
Tree Drop

My cousin said that the Silver Surfer was not really scary although it rocked them back and forth 10 to 80 feet high. He only got scared because my Uncle kept moving.
Silver Surfer

All of us did the Trekking Adventure. It was about an hour long walk in the forest including some basic survival training.
Trekking Adventure

Our guide Alfred did the survival training for us. He taught us how to get water from what it looked like a small branch from a tree.

The water tasted sweet but it was not much. He had to cut it again for the next person.

Alfred also showed us how to make a cup, spoon and fork and a rice cooker using bamboo.

The most interesting part of the whole demo was the making of  fire out of a dried bamboo. My brother attempted first but he failed. So my cousin had another go and succeeded.
All in all it was a fun adventure.  I still can not say if I have conquered my fear of heights this time but I can guarantee you that it is worth it. The only complaint I have is their photo booth. Yes they took very good photos of us and it was very tempting to buy, but they were expensive -P250 per photo. For 2 copies of 4x6 and their 6x8 combo, you can only choose one photo. I mean what are you going to do with multiple copies of the same photo? Perhaps they have to add another package where you can choose different photos at a cheaper price. They probably will make more money.

Otherwise, it was a very good experience. 

Summer in the Philippines is almost here, so if you are looking for a real adventure that is not too intense, Treetop Adventure is for you. You can check their packages here.

 Jest Area, Upper Mau Cubi Point
Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Could this be your next adventure?

tintin x

Ashitaba Tea From Our Garden

Thursday, 15 January 2015

I am a great fan of green tea, so when my sister-in-law mentioned a tea made from an herb from our front yard, I got really curious. Apparently, she and my mother have been drinking this tea and they have felt better since (both of them have been ill previously). My sister-in-law even swears that this tea helped her lose some weight. I got even more excited when I heard this.

The herb is called Ashitaba, also known as Longevity or Tomorrow's leaf. According to webmd, this is used for hypertension, GORD, gout, constipation, fluid retention, blood clots and even cancer. This Ashitaba is widely discussed on the web and I have found multiple blogs about it too.

I was convinced that this herb works so I have been drinking it since I got home. My Ate Vicky makes the tea for me.
The Ashitaba herb in our front yard
The Ashitaba stalks
The Ashitaba stalks ready to be cooked.
We are probably only one of the few households that still uses coal to cook. According to my Inang and my Ates, coal cooks better than gas.
My Ashitaba Tea
 I drink Ashitaba tea at least three times a day, with meals normally.

I drink the tea as it is. No need to add sugar. It's not bitter at all. 

So if you are looking for an organic green tea, why not grow some Ashitaba in your garden and make your own? It's not only healthy, it's also free.

tintin x

Morning Runs in San Felipe, Zambales

Friday, 9 January 2015

As expected, they have been feeding me like a hungry pet since I arrived home. So I am determined to lose that extra "bundle" (of 10 pounds) that I gained in the last two weeks. Besides, I promised myself to stick to my fitness regime while I am on holiday. I mean it is really hard work especially if you are surrounded by people who eat 6 meals a day. Yes six times. They eat pandesal between 5-6am and then they have proper breakfast around 8am. After that they have late morning merienda and then lunch. In the afternoon around 4pm they have another merienda and then supper. In fact, food is readily available in the house so trust me, it's really hard to resist. It also doesn't help that the foods they serve me are those that I don't eat very often (or not at all) in London. I should be forgiven for overeating because after all I am on a holiday, but I will not be able to forgive myself if I can't lose the weight that I gained in just two weeks. It is only because I feel it when I gain weight. Meaning, I easily get tired and sometimes I experience shortness of breath.

Determined to keep fit, I endeavored (if this is the right word) to find the best place to run in my hometown. I have heard from my sister-in-law that there are more and more people running in the morning, which was encouraging. 

So I wake up at 0500 most mornings and then do my abdominal crunches. And then at around 0530, I go out for a run.

On my first run in our town, my brother and my cousin took me to Feather Road. I have ran there before so I knew how it was. I like running there because the road is concrete and it's not boring. It's rural but the view is amazing. I only have one concern though : the dogs. Some of them are on the street so it's a bit scary. But my brother follows me in his tricycle so I can easily jump on it just in case the dogs start chasing me.

Apparently, the most common place that people run is at the playground in Bobulon. I was not sure of running there at first because from memory it was not that big. But I thought it's worth a try. The first time I ran there I only did 6 laps because I got bored. To be honest, running to me is already boring and having to go around the track over and over again does not really help. Besides, there is nothing there to distract me. However, right now I don't have a choice. My brother is not always willing to wake up at 0530 to take me to feather road and my cousin doesn't drive. So I have been running there, but I had to find a way to make my run at the playground a bit easier. 

So this morning, I tried running from our house to the playground. That means running on the main road which I really enjoyed. The road is more even and for some reason softer to run on. Perhaps it's the asphalt. Also, it's quiet at 0530. I am actually considering running farther next time and see how it goes. I'm just not sure if people will appreciate me running on the main road as I have not seen anyone else running there.

I have always wanted to run by the sea. I thought it was easy. But running on the sand was really difficult . I don't think I'll run there again. It's a shame because I really liked the sea breeze and the sound of the waves, not to mention the beautiful view.

If you are local or even just visiting and want to go for a run, why not try the places above?

tintin x

Thank you for the lessons 2014

Friday, 2 January 2015

It was another year of journey to recovery, but I think my 2014 was not that bad after all. I can only be thankful for everything that has happened because although life was tough, I learned a lot of lessons.

It's now the 2nd of January and I am glad that I started the year right. First of all with an amazing New Year's celebration with my whole family and secondly, with positive thoughts. I am sure this year is not going to be without trials, but I am ready. Last year prepared me really well for whatever challenges I may still have  to face in the coming years.

I feel that this year is going to be a better year for me. Well, I hope so anyway.

 I hope you started your year the way you have planned it.

Signature Fonts
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...