Monday, June 1, 2015

Letter to Kate

1 June 2015

My dearest Kate, 

Happy sixth month, darling!

We celebrated your half-a-year ten days ago. In the flurry of things, we were only able to take your sixth month photo the next day. 

I am writing to you because I want to start a tradition of putting in a journal my thoughts, my memories, my hopes and apprehensions concerning you. I would have opted to write in a paper journal but experience tells me that papers get lost, pages eaten by moths. And so I have decided to use this digital space as our memory keeper. 

When you're old enough to read, perhaps the Internet has evolved then. And the Internet of Things has taken on a more 'tangible' meaning to the everyday life. But as I'm writing this, we only have a vague sense of what it will become. One thing for sure though, we know that there is a permanency in the worldwide web. Even if this letter gets deleted, erased, corrupted or purged, somehow if you look hard enough, you will stumble upon it at some point. Before I digress further, am ruminating on your sixth months in this world. 

Exactly on your sixth month to the day, we parted for the first time. I was to attend a five day event for my work. I stayed in a hotel (Sofitel Philippine Plaza) in Manila, about 30 minutes away from our home then. It may seem not considerable but in our time the traffic was horrible and unpredictable, and the event-hours extend until late into the night. Hence, my decision to sleep away from you. 

You have to know that this was the very first time that you and I weren't sleeping in the same bed. Saying goodbye at the lobby of our condo was hard; it felt like my heart was being ripped away from me. And there you were too innocent to know that Mama is not coming home for the next five days. You were only too happy to be outside -- because it's what you love to do. Your idea of fun is being outside the house -- in the hallways, pool area, lobby, wherever there are people you can socialize with. 

At such a very young age, you like cheering up people especially the old ones. There is one grandpa who is smitten by you because you always light up whenever you see each other by the elevator area. 

You smile, coo and laugh at other babies and their nannies. In return, you are rewarded with morning greetings of Hello, Kate! everytime, all the time. Oftentimes, I overhear neighbors inquiring about you when you're not outside yet by seven o'clock in the morning. My heart swells knowing how blessed I am that in my imperfections and shortcomings, God has blessed me with a happy child. 

On the last day of my business conference, you fetched me with your dad and grandma. Your feet bounced and your widest grin greeted me. The first embrace we had squeezed my heart so hard I was afraid I would embarrass everyone by crying. I was too ecstatic, too overjoyed to see you, I almost forgot to kiss your dad in greeting. 

It was short-lived though. You cried your heart out when the novelty of being held by me wore off. You frantically searched the hotel room for your other mama. You cried buckets. And your tears were so huge I gave up comforting you and surrendered you to the other woman in your life. I would have been jealous by your fierce and young love to her, if she's not my mother. I have never been so grateful in my life until that moment -- other working mothers do not have the same luxury I enjoy -- the care and love of a grandma of her apo (grand daughter). 

It took a long while before you were comfortable again to be with me. We played around; gawked at the pretty surroundings, the enchanting Manila bay and the charm of the resort. 

When it was time to go home, I held you in my arms. The movement of the car lulled you to sleep while I try to imprint in my mind the tightness of your hug around my neck as you lay your face on my shoulder. I feel like I'm the luckiest mother in the world!

Do you know that you like to eat everything around you including my limbs? Yes, you nibble at your stroller, the railing of your crib, my fingers, your toes, my toes... even my face when you're "nanggigil". One would think that we starve you. But then when fed, you play with your feeding bottle. You toss it around, bite the nipple, toss the bottle one more time before you would drink a few drops. Yes, you were a very playful baby. 

We played to our heart's content at night. And even if my eyes were already drooping from sleepiness, a coo and a smile wake me up instantly. I realized that I will never be sleep deprived for long because you are growing too fast. 

One day, you were so bald with only a few wisps of hair on your head. I don't see you for a week, and am struck by your seemingly full head that has grown almost overnight. 

Your face looks different everyday. The tiny changes amaze me. I cannot trust my memory for in my mind you looked bigger, longer. Your dad must have snapped over a thousand photographs of you. One afternoon, I decided to walk down memory lane, and there you were so, so tiny. You looked so fragile. It made me wonder how was it possible no one managed to crush you. 

I love calling you, my little kate. Even if you are bigger than the neighbors' babies who are older than you. I love telling you stories. I love singing my made up song for you, all the time. 

I love waking up with you. You are the prettiest sight everyday. There are no Monday blues with you. 

When I am itching to travel, I turn to my books so I can hop around the world without leaving you. Yes, one day, we will go on a world adventure together. We will scale mountains and skyscrapers, we will dive in the history of the world, and we will lounge in the grand vistas of nature's beautiful landscapes. We will catch the dancing of the lights, of the aurora borealis of the northern skies in Europe, see the geysers and visit the fjords. Admire the works of the masters and commune with nature. 

For that I cannot wait for you to be a little bit grown up so that we can get started on a grand adventure. For now though, I will sleep and dream of beautiful places... wake up with this stunning view. This, I wouldn't trade for the world. No matter the itch if you're not in it. 

I love you, my little rascal. 



Monday, May 18, 2015

Labor Day Weekend at Hamilo Coast in Pico de Loro

Living in a tropical country means there is no escaping the heat at summer time. The upside is summer means time to hit the beach. And that's what we did over the long weekend. So apt as coincidentally we went on a labor day weekend. Cheers to the working class!

Our destination is Hamilo Coast in Pico de Loro. It's a membership resort. But you have many options to stay there even if you're not a member -- one, book at the Hamilo Sands Hotel, two, rent a friend's condo unit for the duration of your stay, and three, stay in one of the condos through the property management office. 
Photo Credit: Hamilo Coast website
Traveling these days for me is no longer just thinking about my wardrobe and packing for one. Being a mother now means packing stuff for the baby. The upside? The absolute joy you feel when your planning for your baby's outfits, shoot pegs and yeah, not forgetting her milk bottles, milk and diapers. And sleepwear. 

After the overpacking, we managed to leave the house by 8 o'clock in the morning. We took the CAVITEX road going there. I must say the scenic road going to Nasugbu where Hamilo Coast is located, is already a treat in itself. I didn't know such a picturesque place existed. It reminded me of the rock formations and seemingly enchanted highways of Samar. I was in awe and in total disbelief that such a place is just a few hours away from Manila. 

The coastal view of the coves is unparalleled. Breathtaking even. And the Kaybiang Tunnel seemed like a picture carved out from those in foreign countries -- it's modern and awesome. 

Getting There

Getting to Pico de Loro is very straightforward. By car, you drive to Nasugbu via Cavitex. You get there in two hours or less depending on traffic in Ternate, Cavite. 

At the gate of Hamilo Coast, you will be asked for your documents. If hotel guest, your confirmed reservation. If guest of a member, your authorization letter. Note, print the two forms that will be given to you as it will be asked also at the condominium reception desk. After you are registered, the staff will give you a paper bracelet which you need to wear all throughout your stay in the resort to gain access to the facilities. Otherwise, you will be refused entry.


You have to pay PHP 1,450 per guest entrance fee plus P1000 Hamilo Coast Guest Card worth P1000, it's consumable and reloadable. You need it because cash is not accepted inside the resort. 

Included in the guest fee is unlimited access to its electric jeep which will take you to any and all of the amenities of the resort. 

Rent on a one-bedroom unit starts from PHP6000 upwards per night during the peak season. The hotel rate can be as high as PHP9000 a night. 
Photo Credit: Hamilo Coast website

Photo Credit: Hamilo Coast website

Net net, it would be more practical to book in a hotel if there's just two adults in your group as the entrance fee is waived. The condo route is the best accommodation option if there are at least 6 in your party to maximize its cost.

Resort Amenities

There are several activities to enjoy -- kayaking, cove hopping, tennis, bowling and other indoor sports, biking, running and of course, swimming. There are restaurants and bars, too when you're famished. 

Pico de Loro beach is just okay. The water is not at par with the ones in Palawan. It's not aquamarine but it's clean. The sand along the beach front is not powdery white but it's clean. The beach front is short but it's not dotted with shops and stalls. 

What it lacks in feature, it makes up for exclusivity. 

We arrived on a labor day weekend and two weddings. Naturally, the place was crowded. And I was disheartened. I was so looking forward to peace and quiet. And having my baby enjoy the sand. But by the second and last day of our stay, the beach is almost deserted. We had it to ourselves for long stretches of time before a family or group of friends will settle in one of the beach lounges. 


The three days we spent there gave us a glimpse of what truly resort-living means. We were so impressed that we went crazy for a while inquiring about membership, buying a unit and all that. It fizzles once you realize the impracticality of it unless you have a whole lot of disposable cash. 

So we did what we could. We enjoyed the place. We savored the time that we were able to get away from the city and have a pleasant time with family. I'm particularly thankful that Tyrone and I were able to bring my mom, my aunt and my daughter there to have a shared experience, to bond, to create a beautiful memory as a family. 

Would I go back? Yes, in a heartbeat. It's the next best thing to escape the crowd that does not require air travel or very long drive. Although, I know that there are still other places worth exploring in the Nasugbu-Calatagan-Anilao areas. 

So, go ahead book your next weekend getaway in Pico de Loro. 

The intention is to lounge, read a good book and doze off. 

Here's the reality: watching over the sleepy babe. Or, 

Feeding this always hungry baby.

And playing our SuperKate game. 

Generally, I dipped in the water for a few minutes. And gawked at our little miss, most of the time. 

When you're at Pico de Loro, do not forget to drop by the convenience store. It sells the tastiest pan de sal I've ever tasted. And we heard the banana loaf is a good one, too. It sells like hot cake.