Home Again: Manila Trip 2019

After three years, I went back to my homeland, the Philippines.

Hi! I know I’ve been missing in action for quite a while now. If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you know that I went home to the Philippines a month ago for my brother’s wedding, and of course, take a holiday while I’m at it.

Today’s post is all about that trip. Yeah, yeah, it’s been long overdue, but better late than never, right?

We spent a total of 19 days in the Philippines. I’ll try to make this entry as brief as possible.

We had a short layover in Vancouver, and a fairly long one in Korea. We planned to take the Korea Transit tour, but we ran out of time so I just did lots of Duty Free shopping at the airport.

When we arrived in Manila, my mom, dad, brother, and then future sister-in-law greeted us with warm hugs and kisses. We were all in tears. It was a very emotional moment for our family, especially for my mom, who has been enduring a knee injury for more than a year now. We went straight to Shakey’s to have our post-arrival bonding. Van and I missed eveything on the menu!

Sumptous meal at Shakey’s

My days in the Philippines were basically planned out right before we even arrived. I already booked my friends to meet me at specific dates and times. I had to make the most of of my short stay! See the photos below.

My Friends Since Elementary and Highschool

College Friends

Former Workmates At My Nursing Copywriter Job

My Cousins From The Doctor Side

I also watched live Philippine volleyball action. I so missed watching live. Because the game was held in the far south of Manila, my friends and I had to ride the PNR, which stands for Philippine National Railway. The experience was far from comfortable. In fact, I would never ever do it again. However, because the train passed all throughout Manila, I was able to see the city in its raw form – the slums, the big buildings, the jampacked highways. I was immersed back to my roots.

My Volleybeshies/Co-Nurses

I also brought my family to the Feast, a gathering of the Light of Jesus family every week. I am happy that I was able to bring them there. It was a wish granted in the perfect time.

The Feast Bay Area PICC

The Feast Pioneer With My Fellow Bosconian

The Feast Ortigas Galleria- Monday With My Former Schoolmate/Workmate

My favorite parts of the trip were my family’s bonding moments whether at home or outside.

Bonding At Home

Jeepney Ride To Divisoria

Van Reunited With Childhood Playmates

Araneta Center And Live PBA Game

Trampoline Park

Mall Trips

We also went to my in-laws house to have some BBQ and simple get together. We missed each other so much! It was a fun day of catching up, especially for Van and his cousin, Amara.

Bonding With The Doctor Side

The day before my brother’s wedding, we checked in at a hotel near the church and reception. We bonded in the hotel and also had time to go to a nearby mall. More bonding!

Day Before My Brother’s Wedding

The highlight of my trip was my brother’s wedding. I was so proud of him and his wife for pulling off everything. It was one of the best weddings I’ve been to. No bias. It was well planned and it was an enjoyable one. It was also a milestone for our family that we will forever cherish.

My Brother’s Wedding (Raw Photos)

The remaining days were just pure bonding. We even saw The Lion King movie on our very last day in Manila. Talk about stretching the time!

On our way back, we were able to avail of one Korea Transit tour. We went to Gyeongbokgung palace and Insadong. It was a mix of traditional field trip and shopping! It was so fun to finally walk on the streets of Korea. It felt like I was in a K-drama or something.

On this trip, I realized that apart from God, it is only our family who can give that sense of warmth and joy in our hearts. Although Canada is our home now, I can’t help but question myself, every now and then: “Should we just go back for good? I miss the comforts of having my dad, mom, and brother with me. I miss our daily bonding. I miss having a noisy house. I miss being physically part of something I know I truly belong to.” But then again, there was God telling me to shrug off the superficial feeling of emptiness. He repeatedly said, “My child, you have to go. You have to trust me. I have a plan. Follow what I say.” It is only God who can fill the void in my heart, and I know that as long as I keep on running to Him every time I feel down, I am good.

There you go. My Manila trip summed up the best I could. I also made a vlog about it. Watch it below if you want to see our adventures in action.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about this entry, and I hope to see you in the next post. Ciao!

❤️,

Rina

Losing A Friend Unexpectedly Is The Most Painful Thing

**I started writing this post on June 17, 2019 – the day my friend died.

I lost a friend today, and my heart is hurting. I woke up at around 3 am this morning, and I was like wooza, whhhhhyyy? I spent the whole day yesterday outdoors and I was really looking forward to a nice, long, and uninterrupted sleep. I tried to sleep back in, but still, my eyes were wide awake. Then, a friend in the Philippines called me on Messenger, and left a voice message, saying “Rina… call me…” Before I hit the callback button, I quickly checked my Facebook first as my notifications were like bursting. I mean, what’s up, world?! Lo and behold, the first post I laid my eyes on was that a close friend just passed away that morning (MNL time). My initial reaction was “Is this a joke?! This can’t be happening.”

I called back to my friend, and she confirmed that yes, Jade is gone. One of our friends called Jade’s sister and confirmed the demise. It was truly a sad, painful moment. She was so young. She just turned 31 last January. But I guess death is never tied up to a certain age or circumstance. When our time is up, it’s up.

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Her death came as a shock and a piercing pain all rolled into one. The emotions were so strong. Little by little, however, my friends and I were able to unfold some good things that came with her death.

Foremost, our group was united in communication again. Although we have a Messenger group chat, we do not talk often. Now, we are communicating almost everyday. Despite us living in different time zones, we manage to get in touch since our friend’s death.

Our first group photo ever

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Secondly, it reminded us that death is indeed unpredictable. It reminded us to take care of ourselves and enjoy every single moment.

Lastly, she died in her sleep peacefully. Nobody knows exactly how her last minutes in this world were. Her mom just found her dead on her bed on that fateful morning. But we could only be thankful that she did not die in a tragic accident, or suffered a terminal disease.

Jade and I at Nagsasa Cove

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Hi Jade! I made a blog post especially for you. I know you are in heaven, looking down at us, and hopefully smiling. I hope the angels can somehow send you a message that you are truly loved by your family and friends.

The heaviest pain is inflicted on us, who are left, but we know you are now in good hands. The ultimate goal is to be with our Savior and Creator, and you’ve achieved that now. You’ve finished the race, you’ve ran the course, you have served your purpose.

Photos taken during Jade’s burial today, June 22, 2019.

Personally, the most painful photo here is the one with her mom looking at her. I can feel the deep hurt of a mother, talking to her daughter one last time. So heartbreaking…

Below are some photos that we collected over the years. These are just about 5% of everything we have. Although it was painful for me to look at these photos, it still gives me a joy in my heart, knowing I am blessed to have crossed paths with these amazing people, especially Jade.

We are proud of everything you’ve contributed to this world, Jade. We love you, and you will remain in our hearts and minds forever.

<3,

Rina

Smile And Hope Even When Life Is Hard

The Holy Father has the simplest advice for those who struggle.

When times get rough, and nothing seems to go right, what do we do? Pope Francis says, smile.

According to the Holy Father, one of the most essential values that humankind should never lose is hope, which is vividly expressed through the simple gesture of smiling. Feelings of abandonment, resentment and rejection may plague our hearts, but as long as hope is not lost, the battle is not yet finished.

“Let us also smile even if it was a difficult day, because we see the hope,” Pope Francis said.

Keep On Smiling

Flashing those pearly whites is a struggle when we are enveloped in darkness. But then, there is the hope that teaches us to smile on that path to find God.

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If we are observant enough, we can notice that the trademark of those who break away from the Lord is the absence of their smile. While they may fake a laugh or throw in some jokes, the genuine smile that only God can give is missing.

Smiling Through The Pain

In the Bible, the desert was a popular setting. It was in there that the Israelites spent 40 years before they got to the promised land. The desert symbolizes hardship, pain, and anything that is uncomfortable.

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Life can sometimes be compared to a desert. It is hard to walk on, but if we put our full trust in God, He can turn it into a beautiful highway. This wide path is not necessarily free from pain, but those who tread it are able to see past the difficulties, knowing God’s got them.

Sometimes, God puts us in desert-like situations because it is necessary. From experience, I can say that it is only through the painful chapters of my life that I was able to learn the most valuable things. If God did not put me through those situations, I would never have learned how to trust Him with all my heart. I believe that just like the Israelites, God placing me in the desert, was His way of calling me back to His arms. I’m glad He called me to return home. I’m happy I heeded His call.

“It’s enough to never lose hope, it’s enough to continue to believe, always, despite everything,” Pope Francis said.

Spreading Hope

It is insufficient for us to have hope just within us. God wants us to spread the promise of hope to others as well. As a father, God consoles his children by raising up comforters, who are destined to inspire other people by declaring that their pain is over, and that their sin is forgiven.

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We do not need to be popular, intelligent or rich to be able to encourage others. In fact, God is in the habit of choosing the “little ones.” David was the youngest and weakest-looking son of Jesse, Elizabeth was infertile, Mary was condemned for carrying a child before marriage, Paul despised Jesus, and the list goes on. You see, it is the meek ones, made great by faith, that create the most unforgettable impact.

Therefore, the Holy Father is calling us to teach hope and to look forward with faith, trusting that God will turn any desert into a beautiful garden.

Smile, and keep on smiling. You got this.

<3,
Rina
Continue reading “Smile And Hope Even When Life Is Hard”

10 Things About Me

While most of my readers are already my friends, I want to have a post dedicated to those who don’t really know me yet, or have not had the chance to meet me at all.

I figured it makes sense to post this type of entry at the beginning of this blog. So without further ado, I present to you some random stuff about me.

1. My favorite color is orange

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It used to be pink, then blue, then violet, then yellow, but when I was in sixth grade, I settled for orange.

2. I am a nurse by profession

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I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the Philippines. I graduated in 2008, and passed the boards in the same year.

I worked as a pediatric and medical-surgical nurse for almost three years. Even though the work was so challenging (read: toxic), I had the best workmates there. We laughed and cried through the daily grind, and I miss them all a lot.

3. I drink hot lemon water before anything else in the morning

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I started this routine in the hopes of reducing my tummy fat. I think it is working, with diet and exercise, of course.

Fact: lemon is acidic as it is, but when it gets metabolized in the body, it turns alkaline.

We stuff ourselves with so much acid from preservatives that we need to balance the pH level of our body. I guess this routine helps with that too. It’s nice, really. It’s just like drinking lemon tea everyday.

4. I have worked for a total of 9 companies so far

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Yes, that many. I will just highlight my first job ever as I think that’s the most memorable (though shortest).

I had my first job ever when I was in 3rd year high school. My friend invited me to join her for a summer job, and the next thing we know, we were working at a donut shop. It was life-changing, I swear. It was the first time that I came face to face with real life. I realized how hard it was to earn money, and I came to really appreciate my parents’ hard work.

After college graduation, I worked as a freelance writer, then a nurse, then a medical operations coordinator, then a nursing copywriter, then a health and science writer, then an intake assistant. Note that I still do freelance writing in between up until now.

5. I love milk tea

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Gong Cha: Wintermelon Tea with Milk Foam
ChaTime: Roasted Milk Tea
Serenitea: Okinawa Milk Tea or Calamansi Black Tea
Happy Lemon: Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese or Lemon Yakult

I can’t wait to be back in Asia and indulge myself with more milk teas!

6. I can play some musical instruments

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I had piano lessons in the summer before my fourth grade, and my music teacher recruited me to be a part of the school band (we call it combo). Because I was the youngest then, I quit after a year because all my classmates were girl scouts (so I joined them to the utter dismay of my parents). Now, I teach my son Van how to play. He can play basic piano now too.

I can play some guitar and ukelele as well.

7. I used to dance a lot

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I am a frustrated gymnast. I remember when I was child, I kept on bugging my parents to enroll me in Milo Gymnastics, but I never obtained the nod from them.

I believed I had the flexibility and grace (at least that was what I thought back then) so I just turned to dancing. I would dance a lot in school, and although I became a part of the dance troupe for a year only (third grade), I was a mainstay in school dance programs. The main reason why I was not able to commit to the dance troupe was because we were only supposed to choose just one org. It was always a battle between the dance troupe and the school newspaper. I guess it’s not hard to figure out which won year after year.

8. I love watching volleyball

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I am an avid fan of Philippine volleyball, especially the collegiate level. I also love to watch the semi-pro leagues when the college battle is off-season. 💚

9. I am a part of the Light of Jesus family

I am Roman Catholic. Although I attend the holy mass every Sunday, a friend made me realized that being a part of the church means belonging to a community, where you can talk about God’s word, have a support system, and have a sense of accountability among each other. That was when I eagerly searched for a community that I can best grow spiritually.

The Light of Jesus family is a Catholic charistmatic group founded in the Philippines. I am glad to have found them here in Winnipeg.

10. My favorite book is the bible

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I love reading the bible. It doesn’t only comfort me when I’m down or bring back my sanity when I’m going crazy, it actually teaches me how to live.

Some people say that the bible is archaic and has been translated to many versions, thus, losing it’s credibility. For me, however, the fruit that I reap from reading it is the same.

I will not be a hypocrite and proclaim that I have read, more so, have understood the entire bible already. I am still working on it, but I tell you, it never fails to enlighten me every single time.

There you go. I did not expect this to be long, but this is me when I am writing. I just go on and on. I hope you found this entry interesting, and felt like you earned a new friend in me with all the things I revealed here.

Till next time,
Rina ❤

I Wore A Skirt Today: A Welcome Blog Post

Welcome to my blog!

I wore a skirt today, and I feel like another person.
I wore a skirt today, and I feel like a brave, grown-up woman.
I wore a skirt today, and people are noticing me like crazy.
I wore a skirt today, and I feel like
I can do anything.

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Hi! My name is Rina. I am a 30-something single mom living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I created this blog to document my adventures, big or small, and hopefully inspire a soul or two, while I am at it.

To be honest, I am not very new to blogging. I have a quite a few blogs up there,somewhere in cyberspace, but for some reason, I just can’t maintain it.
Nonetheless, blogging is constantly in my mind. The thing is, I ‘m not sure if I can keep it active once I restart – if I can think of enough content to write, stories to feature, skills to make it worth my reader’s while. In short, I have so many doubts and fears.

Then, today happened.

In Winnipeg, we have more cold than warm months. Winter lasts for like 5-6 months November to April). It’s crazy, I know. So today, the weather started to be real nice (+/- 30 degrees Celsius) as per Weather Network. Yesterday, everyone was in their shorts, summer dresses and sandals. If we are close, you know that I am a pants-type of girl. I don’t know. It’s just more comfy for me. Today, I decided to change it up a bit and wore a maxi skirt to work.

The moment I entered the office, everyone stopped and noticed me, as if rejoicing that I was in a skirt (hahaha). It was kinda awkward, but as the day went by, I realized, it was not bad at all.

Today, I realized that the fears we have in our head are just fears inside our heads. We are so clingy to our comfort zones that we fail to enjoy life and have fun.

My realization fired me up to write this first blog post after a long time of contemplating whether or not I should start blogging again. You see, we have to stop overthinking.

I am not pushing anyone to take the plunge and follow one’s passion without discernment, rather I want to encourage everyone to be brave, and to step out of that comfort zone. People often ask me, why risk living abroad being a single mom when I can actually live comfortably back home in the care of my parents? My answer is, “you never know what opportunities may come if you do not try and do it.”

I know I can always go back to the Philippines if things go berserk here in Canada, but so far, this land of the maple leaf has been embracing me like a clingy lover. Seriously. I love it here. But I would not have known that if I did not try.

Last advice?

If you want something in life, research about it. Read. Ask. Listen. Once you’ve set your mind into a goal, there is no turning back. Work hard until you achieve it. ONE STEP AT A TIME. Do one little thing everyday to fulfill that big plan, and one day, you will look back and see that those small steps have led you to your goal. And of course, be brave.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

No matter what happens, you can be assured that God is with you. You might fail along the way, but you just have to trust the process.

Today, I wore a skirt, and I am officially back to blogging. Woohoo!

Welcome to my crib and I hope you stick around.

<3,
Rina