10 Things You Might Want to Know About My Cousin, Azenith

My cousin, Azenith, is celebrating her 42nd birthday today (April 16) and it is only fitting to honor her on my blog. She is one of our heroes. She has been on the frontlines in this fight against COVID-19 in my city- even before the quarantine started. I am proud of her and scared for her at the same time but knowing how strong-willed she is (paired with thepower of prayers), she will pull through. I won’t be seeing her today or else she’ll be the first to have me pay fines for violating quarantine rules. I hate paying fines (or worse, be in detention) so this little tribute (or roast, whichever my thoughts lead me) is my little birthday present. We will celebrate when this pandemic is over (probably on my birthday! hahaha).

I am writing this with the assumption that our common friends are reading this. Here are the ten things you might want to know about Azenith:

1. She is my first friend in the whole wide world. We were born 7 months apart. Yes, I am the older one even if sometimes it is not obvious because of her maturity in her actions. She can carry herself well like the professional that she is while I remain the family’s introverted weirdo.


2. I am always her “Ate” (big sister). I am an only child so she is my closest thing to having a sister. We are actually first cousins. Her father and my mother are siblings. But we always treat each other like sisters. Whenever she talks to someone about “Ate”, most likely, that “Ate” is me. When we were little, I also made a big fuss that she should call me “Ate”. Only 7 months older and I demanded to be called “Ate”. What a diva! Ha! My mother’s siblings did not even call her “Ate” even if some of them were more than 10 years younger than her.

3. I am her biggest bully. Because I am the older one, I got to boss her around. There were countless of times that she suffered under my childhood superiority complex. At one time, we had a fight and in retaliation, I went to her closet and got all the nice hand-me-down dresses I gave her. What a mean kid this Ate of hers! Now that I am older (hopefully, wiser), I would willingly give the dresses she likes from my closet. (Because there are only few of those that she fancies and we do not have the same size for clothes. Ha! She also gives me clothes she thinks I would wear. )

4. She was a Milo-holic! She sold her loyalty to me for a bottle of Milo! When we were kids, she visited us in Magallanes where my family used to live. She was supposed to be spending a long vacation there. We planned on playing all day, all the time. Plus, Mama was a stay-at-home mom then so we had yummy snacks every time. Alas, I got sick. I had a fever. Mama asked Papa’s co-worker to accompany Azenith back to Butuan for fear she might get the fever also. Azenith would not go no matter how we convinced her. She did not mind getting sick with me. What a loyal cousin, right? When we told her that she could bring a bottle of Milo with her on her way home, without batting an eyelash, she said yes! Hahaha Milo should pay her for her loyalty.

5. She was the prettiest girl I know. She was always this pleasant and charming kid who was a friend to everyone while I was the grumpy kid that everyone tiptoed around. Now, she holds the title of being my most beautiful cousin. (Hilly, you will always be the sexiest.)

6. She is smart. As kids, we took an IQ test and she was in the above average range. She may not be as studious as I was but she can retain important concepts that are necessary in practical life. Never mind if there are spelling mishaps and grammar mistakes when she writes or the fact that I am her lifeline in anything that deals with numbers, everyone listens when she speaks. When she completed her nursing degree in March of 1999, she took the board exams in May of 1999 and passed. She disproved the notion that she’s all beauty and I am all brains. (Pwede sab baliktad uy! Nalain ko! Ha!)

7. She is a woman of many talents. She sings well. She has no stage fright. She can cook well. She is a good makeup artist that one day I asked her to teach me how and now I get compliments that I know how to apply make-up. (Need na ni ate, di na masaligan ang natural beauty.)

8. She is one hard working woman. Life’s successes are sometimes dependent on the cards we are dealt with. She had bad cards but she powered through. She works full-time in an exhausting government job and when she gets home, she works online as an ESL teacher because it is hard to rely only on a salary that is dependent on contracts and bureaucracy. Yet no matter how exhausted she was, she would cook for us whenever I asked her. I am glad that we took that trip early this year. This girl badly needed a break. Given her workload now, I hope she will also be able to relax soon.

9. Her confidence is something I can only aspire. She speaks her mind. She participates in various activities to the best of her abilities-be it a simple production number, skit, report, workshop or as mundane as flower arranging. In today’s millennial language, she is so extra. She does everything with pizzazz and she is not afraid to commit mistakes because she can always correct them. Nobody’s perfect anyway. I remember she would readily put her hands up in the air to answer a question of the teacher even if she is not sure her answer is right while I cringed at her side begging her not to answer! Hahaha!

10. She is my personal ad agency. With all the bullying and demands I did as an “Ate”, she is always proud of me even if I did not achieve anything significant. I heard her tell my Tita once that “Ate has a nice voice”. It made me wonder if she wanted anything from me that bad. Oh, not my St Peter, girl! (inside joke) Even the minute personal triumphs I have, she is already so proud of me that I feel like I found a cure for cancer. Labyu, Sinit!

I hope in these trying times she’ll find a way to celebrate this day. Please send her a message if you are her friend. Or just stay at home as a gift to her. That might brighten her day more. Happy, happy birthday, Sinit! Mwah!

10 Surprising Things You Need to Know About My Friend, Janus.

Last March, I posted on Facebook a link of the blog post I wrote about my friend, Ernelyn, as a way to greet her on her birthday. I got a comment from my friend, Janus, that he was sad that I did not write a blog about him. I know he was kidding but I already promised to write something by January 1, 2018- on his 42nd birthday.

This was the conversation, mostly in Bisaya. (You may skip reading this part if you do not understand Bisaya. )

So here it is! Let me tell you 10 surprising things about him.

1. Janus was a hearthrob. In grade school, girls from other schools would ask to pose for photos with him. Like an artista, he would oblige.

2. Janus once declared that I was not his friend. And it was true. Although I knew him since grade school, Janus became my friend just 6 years ago. Our common friend, Mitzi, told me that when she invited him to her birthday, he asked who were invited and when Mitzi mentioned my name, he immediately said that we were not friends. So, when I saw him in a get-together with friends, I said hi. From then on (and with much regret! Kidding!), he became my biggest bully.

That regretful day. hahaha

3. Janus may be a bully but he has a soft heart. He and another friend once organized a visit to an orphanage. They sponsored the food we brought and spent time to play with the kids. He was also quick to organize a pass-the-hat activity whenever a friend needs financial help.

4. Janus is a dog-lover turned cat-lover. He used to have a pet named Extra. He chimed that he called him Extra because of the extra expenses incurred in having a dog. He gave him up for adoption when he saw that Extra looked lonely living with him. Now, he is a magnet for stray cats. #titogoals

5. Janus is surprisingly witty. His friends know that he is effortlessly funny. To his friends, he is the undisputed comment king on Facebook. Post something on Facebook and you kind of expect he would have an opinion about it. Sometimes, when I sense a conversation that seemed like an onset of a joke, I would just ask him to tell me the punchline because I know he has something up on his sleeves and I don’t want to be outwitted again and again.

Ernelyn and I were in fits of laughter.

6. Janus is a grammar nazi. He has quite a radar for such language blunders. (So, please be nice to me when you see grammatical errors in this blog post, Kuya Janjan. I call him Kuya Janjan because I am respectful to elders. Hahaha)

7. Janus is well-loved by friends and many of them are female friends. I guess it is because when one needs his opinion on something, he does not mince his words. He gives his unedited male perspective on things. He also shows he cares even when he is miles away.

8. Janus is old-fashioned when it comes to dating. He puts on the works- flowers, chocolates and gifts. Maybe because he is older. Old dog, old tricks. Peace, Kuya Janjan!

9. For someone who likes giving chocolates, he does not like chocolate.

10. Among my friends, Janus is the most eligible bachelor and he is not afraid to find that person he is going to spend the rest of his life with. I hope you find her, Kuya Janjan.


Cheers to your 42nd, Kuya Janjan! Happy birthday!

Photos: Credit goes to the owners of the photos. (Grabbed from Janus’ FB)

The Day I Turned 40

As I write this, it has been 13 days since I turned 40 and I still do not feel like I am 40. I do not think I have my parents’ wisdom when they were at this age. My parents had everything in control at 40. I feel like I am still wading though life and trying to figure out what I want to do more in life. Adulting is hard.

Even with all the uncertainties I face, there is one thing I am sure I am going to do with my life. I am going to enjoy every minute of it. I am thankful for everything I have. When I think about it, I may look like the loneliest girl in the world: single, orphan, no siblings, no child, no better half. However, God had already blessed me with wonderful parents that all the love they gave me were more than enough to help me survive life without them. I have aunts who stood as my second parents, cousins that treat me like a big sister and friends who support me with all the love and care . It does not matter if they are near or miles away. I never feel alone. Thank you, God! I could not ask for anything more.

With all these blessings, I could not let my birthday pass without a little celebration. We had a simple dinner at home. I invited my friends and relatives over and I am glad they came.

My journal is now filled with happy memories.

The celebration was a family effort. My aunts prepared the house. This meant a lot of cleaning and rearranging.

I also baked my own cake.

My cousin, Baby, helped me bake cupcakes.

Lani came to cook shrimps, sweet and sour fish and dinuguan. My cousin, Alan, arrived early to help with the preparations. My cousin, Arvin, ran errands for me. These people made my life easier so as a reward, I will not subject them to such work every year. No birthday dinner like this next year. Hehe!

My friends made this day special, too. Aside from their presence, I got wonderful gifts to treasure. I got another poem from Wela. She already wrote a poem for me 2 years ago and, now, I got another one. Here is what she wrote:

Happy 40th birthday Kat,
For this you deserve a pat,
For being a true friend to hold,
And for letting God make you into His mold.

We your friends are so much thankful,
For giving us someone who is soulful,
Not someone whom we cannot count on,
But one who is always there to rely on.

One who is artistic and also creative,
Intelligent and at the same time innovative,
What more can we ask for and search?
You’re always there and easy to reach 

So on this special day that you were born,
A prayer is sent your way not to make you cry ‘popcorn’, 
But to let you know how much you’re appreciated,
For all the things you’ve done and orchestrated.

May you live a harmonious life,
Praying that one day you’ll become a wife,
To a man who is well-deserving,
Of your gifts and unconditional loving.

For the mean time here’s hoping for good health,
May you be blessed with more friends and wealth,
Overcome every trial that comes your way,
Be grateful for all the things that you receive each day.

We lve you! 

Isn’t that beautiful?

Wela and I.

My friends also planned a little video presentation. The funny thing is that I knew all along that they were going to do this. One friend told me about it beforehand because he thought it was funny that they had a problem who will edit the video since I am always the designated editor for videos. It was funny to see how my friend, Ernelyn, wiggled her way into borrowing my laptop so she could play the video that was sent to her messenger. She said she needed to finish something for work. Ha! Although it was a lame excuse, it was an endearing gesture.

Erns trying to run the video.

Here is the video made by my cousin, Bong. Yes, they got Kuya Bong to create a video for them. The awesome thing is that he was able to get in touch with my high school friends. I was only expecting video messages from our common friends. Like the poem, I will also treasure this video.

And the celebration did not end there. My friends who missed my birthday came two days after to celebrate with me.

A week after, I got this package from Grace.

I feel loved.

I am looking forward to my 40’s. Life begins again and it looks great from where I am now. I am beaming with gratitude and happiness. For those who feared turning 40 soon, it ain’t bad!

Well-deserved!

The preparations for my friend’s birthday kept me busy the week before the Holy Week. You see my friend, Ernelyn, was turning 40 and she dreamed of having an 18th birthday type of celebration. She had this dream written in her dream book! (This made me panic a little since I do not have a dream book!) Many of her dreams have already been fulfilled: having her own family, building her own home, buying her own car and having me as a friend (kidding!). Having this party was one of those dreams she wanted to cross off her list.

For those who know her, we all agreed that Ernelyn deserved this grand celebration. When you look at her life, it seemed that the odds were all against her favor (credits to Suzanne Collins). She was born out of wedlock. As a baby, her mother left her in the care of her aunt who raised her like her own but her aunt was not rich so they lived with meager means. She told me that she used to go to school without breakfast.  She did not even own proper school shoes. Yet, she survived it all unscathed. She graduated with honors: elementary salutatorian, high school salutatorian, cum laude in college. She passed the CPA boards. All her hard work paid off and she started to fulfill her dreams.

Even with all her achievements, she never forgot to give back and share her blessings. Her home is always open for her family and friends. I was one of the recipients of her generosity. I remember last year I was working during my birthday that I did not have time to organize even a simple celebration. She came to my house and told me to dress up because she was going to treat me to dinner. What a friend!

And since she asked that I take care of her slide show, I did the best I could. I am glad she was happy with what I did.  All of us, her friends and family, were there to support her.

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Here we are with our party duties: Mitzi (right) is Erns’ best friend and she was asked to deliver a speech and Bobot (left) was one of the hosts for the program.

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Jen (middle), Erns’ neighbor and bff,  was the official party photographer. Wela (left) and I (the girl with a poor posture) were on double-duty. Wela was one of the hosts and since we brought cameras, we also took photos . (Btw, I am using Wela’s photos in this post.)

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These are some of our friends who each has a role to play in the party.  Left to right: Wela, Kikim (one of the hosts), Ernelyn  (the debutante. hehe), Teram (photobooth sponsor), Me and Mitzi (the bestfriend).

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This is my photo with the birthday girl. Ernelyn really deserved this party!

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If you have noticed,  I wore makeup. You can count on my two hands the number of times I wore makeup in my lifetime. Thanks to my friend, Teram, for insisting. Otherwise, I’d look like Cinderella before the ball. Haha Good thing, I bought a black and white houndstooth printed skirt from Zalora when there was a sale last December.  (Here’s a tip: Visit ZALORA’s wide range of plus size clothing if you want stress-free shopping.)

Ernelyn’s birthday was a party to remember. Looking forward to other birthday parties!

The 37 Things this 37-year-old Learned the Past 12 Months

I just celebrated my 37th birthday early this month. Thank you those who took time to greet me.

It has been a good year.  My heart bursts with happiness whenever I think about the blessings that came my way. God loves all of us and He has a way of making His presence felt in my life. I am sure He does the same thing to your life.

Last year I made a list of of 36 random thoughts. In the same spirit, I am writing 37 things I learned the past year. These are mostly things I learned about myself.  I have to review the recesses of my brain (who am I kidding?) Facebook posts to refresh my memory.

1. It does not matter whether you know the person long enough or not. When you are comfortable with someone, it just feels right. I welcome friendship at any point in my life.

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2. You make time for people. I gained friends this way.

3. It is never awkward to randomly send a message to a friend to catch up on our lives.

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4. A little sense of humor does not hurt.

5. Good food is a good thing.

6. It is never too late to learn new things.

7. Do not assume you know everything.

8. We all have different experiences. Sometimes you can also learn from the mistakes of others.

9. Falling in love may be a wonderful thing. It may not happen to you but you can always have a different kind of wonderful.

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10. Even with unfortunate things happening in the world, you can still trust in the innate goodness in people.

11. It is okay to be nice.

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12. You do not have to buy something you like just because you can afford it.

13.  You do not need to travel far to appreciate the world around you.

14. Create your own piece of heaven on earth.

15. I may be silent when around people. Sometimes I just do not have anything to say.

16. You can be happy with the success of others.

17. Prayer can change a lot of things- all for the better.

18. Surround yourself with people who inspire you.

19.  Family means the beings who are close to my heart. This includes the pets we have at home- Joaqui, Blessy and Peachy.

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20. You do not have to have a witty retort on every unfavorable remark hurled against you. Silence can be your response.

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21. Rediscovering your own talent can be a reward itself. Being appreciated for it is a bonus.

22. A genuine smile is a thing of beauty.

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23. Welcome happy thoughts.

24. Give back in whatever way you can.

25. Do not work hard for just the money. Work hard for the fulfillment of something meaningful.

26. Listen to people of all ages. You can learn a thing or two from them.

27. A grateful heart is a vessel for joy.

28. I learn more about my friends when I travel with them.

29. I celebrate diversity. It is more fun to be around different kinds of people from all walks of life.

30. Never delay praises. When you like what you see, say it or hit ‘Like’ on Facebook. 😉

31. Make time for yourself.

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32. Savor some of those moments of happiness alone.

Source: http://brightend.tumblr.com

Source: http://brightend.tumblr.com

33. Take care of your health.

34.  Assume the best in people. Sometimes they surpass your expectations.

35. Learn how to forgive. It is better to have a peace of mind that have the last say.

36. Enjoy whatever is in front of you.

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37. Life is short  and it is not race. Just enjoy it.

 



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