Thursday, January 19, 2012

Philippines - New Years in Lagro

The de Guzman side of our family all came for a big feast in Lagro, 
always a great place to gather with family.
My cousin Luchie brought her new twins - Bianca and Brielle, 
big sis Bettina still as cute as ever.

Here's my godmother Tita Laura visiting from California.  I love all my aunties!

The kids LOVED visiting and playing with their second cousins who they dubbed 
their "cool cousins" and asked every day when the next visit with them was.

Patrick, Kevin and Nicole (Pochong's kids) came to visit from Toronto,
their first time back in ten years, these kids are really superstars!
Niko fell in love with Patrick and was at his side ALL the time...
Muchi, Michi, Migi and Marty are as CUTE and LOVEABLE as ever....

I know every single one of my Dad's Filipino jokes but I still laugh a ton 
b/c he can't even get through the jokes without cracking himself up.  
He's always in his full JOKER mode when he's with his siblings.

Ethan and Ella buying "balut" from the local balut guy on the street.

I've never eaten balut and I don't plan on it.  My kids are very brave and gave it a go.  
Balut is an egg that is half egg and half ducking (or is it chick) anyway, 
Ella tells me it tastes like chicken.

New Year's Eve in the Philippines is bigger than Christmas - it is loud, loud, loud!

Mateo has always wanted to go to church in jeans, and what better place 
than the Philippines where jeans are considered "dressy".

At our local market up the street.

One of my favorite treats TAHO - silken tofu with sago pearls and 
palm sugar syrup for breakfast.  Even my kids love it!

Probably the kids' favorite mode of transportation - the tricyle - 
b/c we can all as many kids in it as we want.

Philippines - a day in La Mesa Dam like the olden days

We spent the day in La Mesa Dam Reservoir for a laid-back day in nature.
We loved the relaxed feel of the Philippines of olden times.

The kids really enjoyed the horse-back riding and the "kalesa" ride.

A highlight was fishing in the little pond, even if we caught nothing.

The kids counting their worms.  With three boys, I just have to 
pretend I'm not grossed out or else they will taunt me.

Hiking up to see a view of the Reservoir.

My cousin Ethel and her family (who live six hours away) came to spend the day with us at La Mesa, it was wonderful to catch up with them b/c Filipino style, relatives and friends just show up with no warning or appointment so I'm glad we were available that day. 
Ethel is my warm and loving cousin with whom I have so many
childhood memories with b/c her family lived in our home.

Ella loved being with spunky cousin Zoe (Ethel's daughter).

Visiting with relatives under the shade of a "nipa hut"

My kids with the de Castro next generation of cousins....

Philippines - the urban jungle of Makati

After our four days in Lagro with the rooster crowing at 4am and dogs barking, jeeps honking, etc. staying at a peaceful hotel in Makati was so wonderful!  We kind of love the Ascott Makati b/c it's attached to Glorietta 4 mall....not that we're mall rats, but having access to easy transportation, great restaurants, etc is so convenient.  
Ok fine, we were mall rats for our four days there and loved it all!

Here we are hanging out at another outdoor mall called Greenbelt mall, 
we love watching all the local and expat families enjoying the restaurants and parks.

Fun to see Christmas decorations up in Makati, including traditional 
"parols" which are lanterns made of bamboo sticks and tracing paper.

For the times I needed to rest in the hotel room (I'm still getting out of first tri), 
Mateo and the kids must have spent hours and so many PESOS 
on their favorite thing - TIME ZONE arcade!

And we have to confess....we ate as a family probably two boxes 
(maybe more) of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts every single Makati day.  
It was right below our hotel, we couldn't help it!

Phillippines - Birthdays and more Gatherings

Here I am with cousins Luchie and Ate Poching, I feel like writing she or he is my 
FAVORITE cousin, but really, truly I'd be writing that under each caption of my cousins 
- they are the BEST!

Bettina turned TWO and we had a party at Luchie and Beng's home...the highlight for my kids was playing "pabitin" game (below), hand glitter painting, and eating Filipino cotton candy which is sprinkled with powdered milk, it actually tastes REALLY good!

Ella with cousin Michi.

My mom's older sister Atsing Mickming stopped by from Pamganga (laden with delicious sumans for me) and with Ate Jeng Jeng.... lovely to see more de Castro relatives. 
I don't speak their dialect, but I love listening to it.

Here's our last night with all the de Guzman clan and my new favorite restaurant ABE's,
best halo halo in town!  Tita Mercy and her crew were there to join us.

The thing is with relatives, we may not see them all the time, but we sure LOVE them,
and I was so sad to hug everyone good-bye...we all made promises to reunite soon.
I feel lucky to be living in Asia so I can hop over to Manila so easily.