Friday, August 27, 2010

Butterfly kisses

As I was making my way to work today, I was listening to the radio through my phone when I came across this familiar song. I've heard this dozens of times before, but this is the first time that I've actually listened to what the singer, Bob Carlisle, is trying to say.

Samantha and Sophia are my two most treasured blessings in the world. I never thought that the Lord would grant me two such intelligent, strong and beautiful little angels - two of his best! Nothing gives me more joy than seeing my daughters look up at me and flash me those beautiful smiles.

I currently going through a crossroad in my life. I feel like the weight of the whole world is on my shoulders - heavy debts with some banks, heavy financial obligations and a job where no matter my sincerest efforts result in nothing but escalations, baseless complaints and a rash judgments.

Yes after all the chaos that seems to happen to me day after day for the past few weeks, there are two constants in my life that keep my sane: my supportive and understanding wife AND my two loving daughters.

I know that I haven't been the best dad to them - God knows that I've been terrible at fatherhood. But after all that I've done wrong, I must have done something right to deserve a smile, a kiss every morning from my two daughters. Despite my short comings, I still get to hear the sweetest "I love yous" from Samantha, and giggles from Sophia.

I love you girls. Daddy is doing his best to provide you with all that you deserve and need; with a life that you deserve. Daddy always prays for you that he be able to give you all opportunities that you deserve.

Butterfly Kisses lyrics
Songwriters: Carlisle, Bob; Thomas, Randy;

There's two things I know for sure
She was sent here from heaven
And she's daddy's little girl
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes
And I thank God for all of the joy in my life
Oh but most of all

For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair
Walk beside the pony daddy it's my first ride
I know the cake looks funny daddy but I sure tried

Oh with all that I've done wrong
I must have done something right
To deserve a hug every mornin'
And butterfly kisses at night

Sweet 16 today
She's lookin' like her mama a little more every day
One part woman the other part girl
To perfume and make up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world
But I remember

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair
You know how much I love you daddy
But if you don't mind
I'm only gonna kiss you on the check this time

Oh with all that I've done wrong
I must have done something right
To deserve her love every mornin'
And butterfly kisses at night

All the precious time
Like the wind the years go by
Precious butterfly
Spread your wings and fly

She'll change her name today
She'll make a promise and I'll give her aways
Standing in the bride room just staring at her
She asked me what I'm thinkin'
And I said I'm not sure
I just feel like I'm loosin' my baby girl
And she leaned over

Gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there
Stickin' little white flowers all up in her hair
Walk me down the isle daddy
It's just about time
Does my wedding gown look pretty daddy?
Daddy's don't cry

Oh with all that I've done wrong
I must have done something right
To deserve her love every mornin'
And butterfly kisses

I couldn't ask God for more than this is what love is
I know I've got to let her go but I'll always remember
Every hug in the mornin' and butterfly kisses

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An enjoyable 3rd year celebration

I've been wrestling around different ideas for the past few weeks on how to celebrate our 3rd year wedding anniversary.

I thought of checking out various hotels around Metro Manila - those with swimming pools and near malls. I thought perhaps that it would be a great idea for my wife and I and the kids to spend a night at a hotel, take the kids around the malls and then swimming the following morning. I was surprised to find the prices of these hotels to be extremely expensive, even for a local resident.

So I thought of other options - such as lending the kids to some family members for the night, then I could cook a special dinner for Amy and then have a 2-hour massage right at home. This was a better idea, I thought, but it still wanted to take my wife out for dinner and maybe a movie.

But after checking out various date spots and restaurants, my wife came-up with a better idea. Since we have a couple of gift certificates that are about to expire in 3 weeks time, we might as well enjoy it. Last June, we won a small promo from Smart Parenting where we received a bunch of gift certificates at The Fun Ranch. It gives us a Php500 discount on food, free family bowling for two, free mini-golf for two persons (9 round) and free ride-all-you can for two! It was a great chance for us to go out and have fun with the kids.

So we made our way to the The Fun Ranch at Ortigas, right next to Tiendesittas. We made it there exactly at noon, the moment they opened up for the day. We proceeded to their dining area called the Big Red Barn and ordered some food while Samantha started playing at the slides right inside the restaurant. We ordered a bowl of bacon and corn chowder, ham & cheese sticks, two-piece fried chicken with gravy and rice, two-sticks of pork barbeque with java rice, beef pot pie and a couple of glasses of iced tea.

At first we thought that these were just ordinary dishes but we were surprised with the size of their servings as well as the taste of each dish. Let me give you a low-down on what we enjoyed for lunch last Wednesday:
The corn and corn chowder was very tasty. It was a bit on the salty side most likely due to the generous portions of bacon, but the soup itself was very creamy and the corn sort of balanced out the saltiness in the end. My daugther Sophia had a good portion of it and she approves of it as well.

The fried chicken came out next and we were surprised that the pieces of chicken were quite big compared to those of other local fast food joints. The chicken itself was savory but not too salty; even the gravy was prepared nicely - it wasn't too thick and the saltiness complemented the chicken quite well.

The pork barbeque was served along with the fried chicken. I must say that the pork barbeque was perfectly grilled. The sauce was a good mix of sweet and salty, and the sourness of the atsara blended well with the pork. The java rice was also prepared perfectly - the rice wasn't too dry or wet with the sauce, and it had the same balance as with the meat.

Finally, we were served with their house specialty - Beef Pot Pie. It was beef pot roast topped with mashed potato and melted cheese. This was such a great treat for us. The beef was tender with generous servings of its sauce. The mashed potato blended well with the sauce and added richness to the dish. Finally, the cheese added that extra kick and creaminess that blended well with the mashed potato.

All-in-all, our dining experience was superb! I will definitely take my family back here for a good meal next time.

After our 2-hour lunch, we decided to use our other gift certificates and take the kids out for a round bowling and mini-golf. My wife, Samantha and I took turns hitting strikes left and right ... oh! alright! so we guttered the ball most of the time but the point is that we had loads of fun just throwing the ball and hitting as much pins as we can. Sophia was remarkably behaved and watched us from her high chair, unbeknownst to us that she was preparing a "surprise gift" for me and her mommy. After our 20-minute round of bowling, we were set to finish up with a round of golf when all of a sudden, I lifted Sophia and noticed something warm dripping out of her diaper ... ... ... Oh! What a day indeed!

Samantha and I bonded over mini-golf. I tried teaching her the right way to stand, to hold the golf club and in hitting the ball. She couldn't quite get it but had fun nonetheless just hitting the ball and putting it in the hole - whether by dragging the ball with her club or by simply shooting it in with her bare hands. Either way, she had loads of fun!

We walked around the compound checking out the other rides until we reached the far end of the facility, right next to the Avalon Zoo. We wanted to get in and show the kids around, but we were discouraged by the high entrance fee. For another day, perhaps.

We then headed to nearby Tiendesita's since Samantha was hungry yet again. She fancied some soup but later decided to have a hotdog instead. The kids were tired at this point. Sophia was already fast asleep on her mommy's arms, and Samantha almost wasn't able to finish her hotdog when she decided to have her bottle of milk and lie down on my lap.

My mom hooked-up with us that time, to see how we were doing. It suddenly rained hard, just when we were planning to go over to SM Makati. My wife suggested to just end the day at our parents' house and celebrate part of our anniversary with them. We bought some chicken inasal to share with their pork sinigang. My dad was especially happy that we were there, mostly because he got to spend some time with his grand daughters. They're always a riot to be with at home.

We were just hands-down dog-tired right after dinner. We had lots of fun and we got to spend quality time with our kids. We then made our way back home, thanks to my dad for driving us.

The day turned out not quite the way I planned it, but it actually went well- better, as a matter of fact. We finished out chores at home early in the day, spent the whole afternoon playing with the kids at a new place and capped it off with a nice simple dinner with family. Let's not forget, of course, the gift certificates c/o Smart Parenting=)

Happy Anniversary Honey! Time with you - whether along with you or with the kids - is always time well spent. I love you so much!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A dedication to my beloved

To mark our 3rd year wedding anniversary, I dedicate this song to my lovely wife, Amy Tabunar, whose love and faith in me is so strong you wouldn't believe how much she has been sacrificing to put up with a shmuck like me. I know that I don't deserve wife as supportive, understanding and loving as her, but I do my best day after day to earn the right to be called her husband.

I love you honey! I love you so much with all my heart!

"The Last Time"

The first time I fell in love was long ago.
I didn't know how to give my love at all.
The next time I settled for what felt so close.
But without romance, you're never gonna fall.
After everything I've learned;
Now it's finally my turn.
This is the last time I'll fall... in love.
The first time we walked under that starry sky,
there was a moment when everything was clear.
I didn't need to ask or even wonder why, because each question is answered when your near.
and I'm wise enough to know when a miracle unfolds, this is the last time i'll fall in love.
Now don't hold back, just let me know.
Could i be moving much too fast or way too slow.
'Cause all of my life, I've waited for this day.
To find that once in a lifetime, this is it, I'll never be the same.
You'll never know what it's taken me to say these words.
And now that I've said them, they could never be enough.
As far as I can see, there's only you and only me.

This is the last time I'll fall in love.
Last time i'll fall in love.
The last time i'll fall... in love.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A blossoming relationship

From chat mates to friends to lovers to husband-and-wife ... this is our love story (c/o Amy Tabunar) shared through Tolberone Pilipinas

It all started with a social networking website pre-dating Friendster and Facebook. I met Raffy Tabunar online on a site called back in 2003. Nothing fancy - he said hello, I said hello right back at him. A simple hello turned into a daily routine of well wishes and small chit-chat every now and then. We never met face-to-face right away, but we did find ourselves exchanging a lot of emails, pouring our hearts out on instant messengers about work, love lives and family lives. We found ourselves to be new age pen-pals! This went on for three years. There were times when we would talk everyday and times when we didn't talk for weeks and even months, but we'd catch up every now and then - all through emails and instant messaging. I instantly had a friend whom I can actually confide on. Someone from the outside looking into my life.

Three years after a simple hello, emails and instant messaging turned into phone calls and text messages. We were in our mid-20s yet we were giggling over the phone over the simplest things. We'd laught at corny jokes sent over SMS. A spark flew! Timing is everything as they say, and the time was right for us to finally meet.

It was the day before new year's day, and we decided to meet for lunch at a nearby mall. I was with my cousins and their parents at that time, and thought it would be a good chance to meet up with him. But alas! He was a no show. Saying that he was having car problems, I thought that he was just some other guy jerking me around. But he made up for it, asking me out for a cup of coffee the following night - New Years Day! He picked me up at my aunt's house, but not before he got lost on his way to finding the place. When he stepped into the house, one thought hit me - for a Filipino, he sure looked a lot like an Indian with his dark hair, bulky built, thick eye brows and his long nose. I laughed in my head. He had a surprise of his life when he saw some family pictures on the wall, with one of them containing a photo of someone familiar in his life - his high school English teacher, my grandmother! After 3 years of chatting, you'd think we'd know by then. Just comes to show you get to discover new things about each other almost every day.

He took me to his aunt's restaurant, a small burger joint inside BF Paranaque. I had fries and he had a burger. We spent the night talking a lot, exchanging stories and advice since we both were just out of relationships. We provided a good listening ear to one another. It was a relief talking to someone who wasn't judgmental and had a fair mind.

We kept in touch after that night, almost every day as a matter of fact. He spent a good amount of time with my family as well, allowing them to get to know him building up their trust on him. Each waking morning was a pleasant treat knowing that we'd talk and see each other that day. We couldn't get enough of each other - there's just something so exciting, so mysterious about him, which he also finds in me. Our friendship was going to a whole new level. My friend, my confidant was stealing my heart as I stole his in return. It was a romance like no other.

But like any other romance, it is not without its thorns. We even had challenges amongst ourselves almost on a weekly basis. But despite those challenges, we must have been doing something right. We still found ourselves arguing about everything, but no longer as friends. A year and a a half after our burger and fries, we got married. We took our romance and our friendship up to another higher level. Now, not only do we get to argue with each other every now and then, we get to love each other more. WE're still getting to discover lot of things about each other and ourselves, but we continuously find ourselves yearning for each other, craving for one another.

I am grateful for this person whom I get to wake up right next to every morning. I am grateful not just because he's my husband, but because of what we went through for the past 7 years. As a friend, he has displayed so much patience and understanding for me as well as given me a lot of joy and comfort. He helped me accept the things for the way they are; that things happen for a reason. I'd like to think that we've been through a whole lot of challenges even for a young married couple such as ourselves. But despite those challenges, our foundation as FRIENDS along for our love for one another helped kept our bond stronger. For the past 7 years, he was my constant companion both in real life and in cyber world. And this coming August 4, we will be celebrating three years of our wonderful marriage and 7 years of great friendship..

Thoughts for the day (August 2, 2010)

As I enjoy my week-long leave, I can't help but notice that nothing much has changed compared to my normal routine. Yes, I still take my daughter to school every MWF morning, but I still found myself deep-diving into my Lotus Notes emails, negotiating time-frames and chasing people for approvals ~ all just to move a handful of computers from one floor to the next!

Needless to say, despite the 3-hour delay, I still got the job done. I just hope other groups involved did their part as expected. You know who you are!

I welcomed my daughter outside her school, both of us eager to get home to Mommy and Sophia and to a heaven-sent home cooked meal. To my delight, my wife Amy cooked her special Crispy Binagoongan! Imagine slices of pork stewing in garlic, onions, tomatoes, fish paste AND coconut milk ... then imagine the pork taken out of the stew, thrown into hot oil to fry til crispy, then thrown back into the stew! A modern twist to a classic dish - one that only my wife can do creatively and deliciously! Thank you Honey for the fine, fine meal!

And as part of my routine, I gave my kids a bath right after lunch and was able to get both Samantha and Sophia to take a nap - a 2 hour nap! So what did I do while they were napping? I worked, of course - go figure! I love my wife for being so understanding and supportive. Not many wives would tolerate a husband who would bring work home - especially during those times when he is supposed to be focused on his family.

With a mission to run some errands at SM City Sucat and drop by my parents' house for a favor, I quickly took a shower and threw some clothes on myself and Samantha the moment she woke up. We eventually got invited by my mom to their house for early dinner - all four of us with them.

We never made it to SM City Sucat once we were able to leave my parents' house, but we did make progress on an important favor that I had to ask my parents.

It has never been easy for me to ask for financial support, even through a loan; most especially support coming from my family. Ever since I started working, I made it clear to myself that I will strive to become self sufficient - even more so now that I am the head of my own family. But because of the circumstances that we are in, I am left with no other option but to seek financial support from my parents to help pay debts that I have accumulated for the past 4 months - mostly as a result of purchasing a home (to think that we were debt free at the beginning of this year).

My wife and I were caught by surprise of just how much of an investment a house and lot can be. But despite the herculean conditions facing us, we still pushed through with it knowing that it will still be of great help to my parents.

But until now, I just can't 100% comprehend why such a good deed would entail so much sacrifices and challenges. So much to handle for a single good deed. I have no regrets in helping out my folks, but at the expense of my family's comfort - that, I cannot fully understand ... at least not yet.

Am I still being a good husband? A good father? A good provider?

I know that years from now, Amy and I will just look back at these events in our lives, smile at each other and maybe even laugh at it. But until that time comes, I need to figure out how to get my family and myself out of this rat race.

Please Lord, give me and my wife the strength, the resilience, the patience and the perseverance that we need to overcome these challenges.