The Wedding Vows

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Once in awhile,
Right in the middle of an ordinary life,
Love gives us a fairy tale.
~ Anonymous ~

The Groom

We were just strangers 13 years ago
You were just a picture in my dreams
And I was a voice in your imagination
We were miles away
Separated by rivers and mountains
Connected only by man’s greatest invention

You once told me that I am your angel without wings
Not the angel comes from above
But the dearest guardian angel
Who will protect, guide and love you

And today in front of everyone
In this Kingdom of God
I promise to protect you always
To be your strength and your shelter
There’s nothing we cannot face if we stand together

I promise to love you and to take care of yoTo be your lover
Friend and partner
And your lawful husband
In sickness and in health
In failure and in success
We will stand together
And I will share my life to you for the rest of my life

The Bride

You had been my best friend, mentor, playmate confidant and my greatest challenge
But most importantly, you are the love of my life
And you make me happier than I could ever imagine
And more love that I ever had asked for
You have made me a better person
As our love for one another is reflected in the way I live my life
I am truly blessed to be part of your life
I love you hon.

The Suppliers

Church: Santuario de San Antonio
Venue: The Blue Leaf Events Pavillion
Wedding Coordinator: Events Embassy
Photographer: Mangored
Videographer: Marvin Barbarona
Caterer: Chefs’ Quarter
Cocktail: Chef’s Quarter and Starbucks
Event Stylist: Michael Ruiz of FADS
Band: SJT String Ensemble
Florist: 15-58 Flower (Entourage) and Sunny Florist (Church)
Make-up by: Eddie Bruan
Gown by: Ed Alejandrino
Photo Booth: ArtPose Photo
Invitation by: Global Invitations
Save The Date: Kenneth Uy
Pre-nuptial photo: Pol Tiglao Photography and Mangored
Pre-nuptial stylist: Paris Roxas

I love you guys!

Reminiscing The Boyzone Days

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The song “Gave it All Away” is from the Brother Album of Boyzone. This album is named in memory of member Stephen Gately, who died five months before its release.

Stephen Patrick David Gately was an Irish pop singer–songwriter, actor, dancer, musician and author, who, with Ronan Keating, was one of two lead singers of the pop group Boyzone. He died in a flat that he and Cowles owned in Majorca, Spain, on 10 October 2009. The cause was pulmonary edema resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition. -wiki

I love pop music and I am a big fan of Boyzone and Westlife band back in my gradeschool days. I heard this song in Grooveshark while Neil was reminiscing his Irish-hood. I realized, I haven’t been listening to their music for a long time now for some reason. Not because there are better ones to listen to nowadays, but because I’m too preoccupied doing other things.

I miss those times I sit on a couch, listen to their music and daydream. Those days are gone now as I don’t have to dream anymore. That part-of-daydreaming came true already.

Going back to the song, it’s kinda sad but still a thumbs up for them.

Kara-age Chicken : The Japanese Fried Chicken

I remember when Neil and I went to Guu Garlic at Robson Street in Downtown Vancouver, it was my second time in the restaurant and it’s Neil’s first time. I went to the original location on Thurlow just off Robson with my friends before and I was impressed with the food, though not everyone in the group agreed with me, I still enjoyed the experience. Guu is an authentic Japanese Izakaya with a set of traditional social customs. The servers are all Japanese if i’m not mistaken and they greet or welcome the customers, thank them and wish them well as they leave. Well I must admit, the greetings can sometimes get a little too loud but it’s tolerable and I kinda like it. It sure beats going to most western restaurants in Vancouver and getting totally ignored the entire time. I like the setting where customers can sit on the bar and have an ice-cold Dry Asahi or Sapporo (Japanese Beer). They have low tables and cushions on the floor. Customers who prefer a nice and quieter atmosphere can choose the upper level where the low tables are situated. One of the Japanese table manners is removing shoes before dining and using the chopsticks properly as it is essential for Japanese dining etiquette. Neil and I are not quite sure if the customers practice all the dining etiquette but we are there to enjoy the food and the company of each other.

We ordered a variety of food in their menu (which is so hard to understand) and we enjoyed every bits of it. One of our favorite was the Chicken Kara-age.

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Unlike other types of fried chicken, the Kara-age never left me with the greasy feeling at all and slightly gross afterwards. It was served with a cut of lemon and you have to squeeze liberally before eating. That could be one factor that made it so special. The mayo dip was divine too, it was not like any other local mayonnaise, on the other thought, it could be the chicken which made everything special on the plate.

The Guu Garlic experience inspired me to make a simple version that a beginner like me can make.

Kara-age Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 4)

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, about 3 1/2 oz/100g each

4 tbsp shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)

4 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp finely grated fresh gingerroot

2 garlic cloves, crushed

oil, for deep frying

2 1/2 oz or 70 g or 1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch

pinch of salt

lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1 Cut the chicken into large cubes and put in a bowl. Add soy sauce, mirin, gingerroot, and garlic and turn chicken to coal well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in a cool place for 20 minutes.

2 Preheat a wok, then fill one-third full with oil, or use a deep fryer. Heat the oil to 350-375°F or 180-190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.

3 Meanwhile, mix the potato starch with the salt in a bowl. Lift the chicken out of the marinade and shake off any excess. Drop it into the potato starch and coat well, then shake off any excess.

4 Add the chicken to the oil, in batches, and cook for 6 minutes, or until crisp and brown. remove, drain on paper towels, and keep hot while you cook the remaining chicken.

5 Serve with lemon wedges.

Some people like to add a sprinkling of grated yuzu peel and/or sansho pepper.

Discovering Baler, Aurora

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Baler is the provincial capital of Aurora, Philippines. It is half an hour away from my hometown. It is a town full of history. Franciscan Missionaries founded the town in 1609 and in 1898, after the proclamation of the Philippine Independence, 54 spanish soldiers made the town church their barracks. A movie was made about the legendary story of the 54 spanish soldiers starring Jericho Rosales a fine actor and Anne Curtis an award winning actress both from the Philippines. Baler (movie title), is a story about the Siege of Baler during the time of the Spaniards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Baler 

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An old photo of the famed church at Baler, where the 54 Spanish soldiers headed by Captain    Enrique de Las Morenas y Fossi was besieged by Filipino rebels on July 1, 1898.

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Baler Church in the modern times

Baler is not only a town full of history but it also have a lot of hidden gems. Aurora is located in the eastern part of the Central Luzon Region and the province is facing the Philippine Sea. There are a lot of gorgeous, untouched and undiscovered beaches. There is the Sabang Beach, Ampere Bay, Dicasalarin Cove, Dinadiawan Beach and a whole lot more.

If you are from Manila, it will take around 6 to 7 hours by car or Genesis Bus Line to Baler, Aurora. The roads have been reconstructed and definitely a smooth drive now. There has been a lot of changes ever since I left home.

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I captured this photo captured from Bay’s Inn.

Sabang Beach has a great, laid-back surfer vibe. There are new developments going on when we arrived. They were building new hotels an a lot of things have changed. The family went straight to Bay’s Inn which is one of the most popular hotel and restaurant of Sabang Beach. We had Mojos! I must say that their Mojos is a definitely must try!

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I’m gonna have this again for sure!

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Even our Baby Flynn loves it.

Bay’s Inn is an average hotel. It is not fancy but if you want to go to Baler and do some surfing, it could be one of the best choice as it is just near the shore and the restaurant is overlooking the beach which is nice and relaxing. Its terrace overlooks the beach, and it’s lulling to sit there and watch the waves. Order an ice-cold-beer and inhale the freshest air you can get in the country! They say Bay’s Inn is also where the surfers hang-out.

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Just sharing an interesting and funny masterpiece that I took, The Five Little Naked Buddies

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This is what’s new! An ongoing construction.

I am not actually sure what the concrete walkway is for but just anticipating what would it look like when it’s all done, I think it will add beauty to the place (just my thought). It was just a narrow and steep walkway before if I am not mistaken. It is really good to see that there’s an improvement.

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Neil testing the warm and sparkling pacific waters.

Below is a photo taken from Ermita Hill. It’s a hill overlooking the serene Baler Bay. This is a great place to contemplate I must say. The hill has it’s own story like the town church. There has been a tsunami that hit and destroyed the town of Baler and only six families survived the catastrophy. They swam to Point Baja which is now known as Ermita Hill.

Ermita Hill nowadays is a beautiful park where you can witness the beauty of nature. There is a grotto near the front edge of the hill where you can say your prayers and make a wish. At the same place, you can see the vast Pacific Ocean, the mountains that surrounds the town, palm trees, fishing boats of the locals and on the other side is the  fish port and Dimanglat Island.

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I captured this photo from Ermita Hill, Baler showing the connection of Sabang Beach and the Reserva River. As you can see, the view is   fascinating.

It’s always nice to go back to my home province in the Philippines.

He who loves not his country  can love nothing.-Lord Byron

Discovering San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila

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San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholic church under the umbrella of The Order of St. Augustine, situated inside the legendary walled city of Intramuros in Manila.

The Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish collonial period. It has been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1993. The church has a great baroque style edifice.

In 1587 the impermanent earliest building in wood and palm fronds was replaced by a church and monastery in stone, the latter becoming the Augustinian mother house in the Philippines. As a result the church was richly endowed, with a fine retablo, pulpit, wall paintings, lectern, and choir-stalls. It was the only structure in Intramuros to survive the liberation of Manila in 1945.

The land of the building had been donated by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the founder of Manila who had held the expedition to the Philippines from Mexico in 1565.

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An 18th-century pipe organ is located on the upper level of the church.

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The Ceiling is a magnificent piece of art. (above photo)

Below is the statue of the blessed virgin mary on the right wing of the church.

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A few historic and major business leaders are buried inside the crypts and walls of the church. It also contains the tomb of Spanish conquistadors Miguel López de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti, as well as several early Spanish Governors-General and archbishops. Their bones are buried in a communal vault near the main altar.

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These are wooden chairs carved to perfection!

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I’m not good in describing things especially if it pertains to the interior of a church. The main door is carved, its like an expensive sculpture by itself. When I went inside the church I experienced some goose bumps. The Baroque architecture and design really fascinated me, Neil and my family. The walls and the ceiling are mesmerizing. The ornate chandeliers and the long majestic aisle was breath-taking. The altar has the antique decorations and were so amazing in intricate designed. Everything inside was evident of the Spanish colonization.

I am so lucky to have seen a very historic church. I myself was awed with everything I saw. Neil was so amazed as well. I am so glad to have visited San Agustin Church during our holidays in the Philippines. I can’t be more proud.

I took the photos. I hope you like it.

Once Upon a Time I had a Dream

I have always been a simple girl, happy with what I am and loves what I have until a good opportunity came knocking on my door. It has always been good to be satisfied with what the world offers you, but when something big is in front of you, we cannot just turn away and decline it. Everything comes into our lives for a reason. When opportunity comes knocking, it is always wise to be there to answer the door.

The universe offered me the chance to study in one of North America’s best universities. I know that there is going to be a large decision to make as I will be leaving my family and will be thousands of miles away from them.

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Imagine how far is Canada from the Philippines

Though I have to investigate further as no one ever knows where the next door will lead or the next bump in the road will take me, my family helped me realize that this could be the one big chance for me to change my life. Alright then, what does that mean? Upon thinking it through I did not even notice that I was lost at the moment! All I know was that I am contented with everything that surrounds me, I did not even think about my future or what lies ahead! I was unconsciously putting up barriers. I was so afraid to open up and try something else. I was trapped in unsatisfying existence. I was wasting my precious time doing things that I do not want to be doing. At that time, I was working for Mercury Drug Corporation as a Pharmacist II, the occupation seemed nice-to-hear but it felt like I was living the life that society had told me to live which is to find a secure job, work hard and work your way up the ladder. It slowly came to me and started dreaming high. From then on, I dreamt of U of T every single day.

“Discover who you truly are and fully give every aspect of your uniqueness to the world. This is your path to an extraordinary life.”

I watched the documentary “The Secret” and started from there. The documentary has helped me a lot to move on. I know it is going to be a tough road for me as there will be series of exams ahead before I can qualify to study in the University of Toronto. Like everyone says, think positive and that’s what I always did. I got hooked on watching the documentary “The Secret”, I have to see it a lot of times to keep me on track as during my preparation, there has been drawbacks, worries, complications, dramas, strangulating relationships and pain that affected my entire being. I must say, you just have to learn to ignore, be tough and be positive at all times! I realized that the worst that could happen by following my dreams and failing was still better than the unfulfilled curiosity of never trying.

“Our feelings are a feedback mechanism to us about whether we’re on track or not, whether we’re on course or off course. See it’s the feeling that really creates the attraction not just the picture or the thought”

Jack Canfield

“You want to become aware of your thoughts, you want to choose your thoughts carefully and you want to have fun with this, because you are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David that you are sculpting is you. And you do it with your thoughts”

Joe Vitale

To cut the story short, I have passed every single exam and got qualified to study in the University! It was a magnificent feeling but it was coupled with anxiety. Just thinking about how far I am going to be from my family, it weakens me. But I have to fulfill a dream not just for myself but also for them. I have to be strong and be firm! And so I did.

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“If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” – Sam-

I felt welcomed instantly as I stepped my foot on the North American ground but the anxiety is still there.  Though I cannot contain the excitement to start attending classes in one of the most prestigious schools in Canada, The University of Toronto, St. George Campus.

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The U of T lies in the upper reaches of the downtown Toronto area. It is surrounded by a combination of big and small office buildings, eateries, shopping facilities, a hospital, provincial government buildings and a plethora of miscellany among which is contained anything you might want or need. The campus is very large as one might expect. It is obvious that the buildings on campus have been built in many phases over the years, probably in a piecemeal fashion. They look extremely rustic, but beautiful. The ivy on the buildings and the landscaping was impeccable. The Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building is a newly built one and it looks amazing.

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The Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building at night

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The Leslie Dan Pond, a historical place for the International Pharmacy Graduates who used to sit on those little round ottomans while waiting for the next class.

The inner core of the campus on the circle is supposed to be the highlight. The buildings are magnificent. In between the buildings is a green area that sets off the majesty of the 19th century architecture. It is a step back in time.

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The neoclassical Convocation Hall is characterized by its domed roof and Ionic-pillared rotunda.

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The streets are kept really clean. There are many places to find a quiet corner to enjoy the great landscapes of the great green spaces they diligently upkeep. It’s so quiet and serene and the black squirrels have a field day. Libraries were excellent and Robart’s Library is one of the cities best. My personal preference though is the Gerstein Library where my friends and I stay to study for exams. There are many places to find a quiet corner to enjoy the great landscapes of the great green spaces they diligently upkeep.

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The Gerstein Library

This is not only an international gem of higher thinking, it is also a hotbed of creativity. There are no other words to describe than BEAUTIFUL.

I am so proud to be an Alumni of the University of Toronto and I am so blessed to be given the opportunity to follow my dreams.

 

A Plan To Buy Our First House

Have you ever dreamt of winning the lottery to buy a $500,000 worth of house when you do not even buy a single ticket for the chance?

It was a nice and warm day today here in Lethbridge. Neil and I went out to look for a possible starter house for us. Lethbridge, AB is definitely growing. It has been chosen by Moneysense as one of the best places to live in Canada in 2011.

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From Moneysense

Generally Lethbridge is a beautiful city, the people are friendly, the shopping is decent and if you need something special it is just a day trip to Calgary. You can get to anywhere in the city within 10 to 25 minutes. Though I must accept that the wind can be pretty nasty sometimes and it can get really annoying. Lethbridge looks after it’s seniors and you will appreciate that someday when you are one. There is plenty of activities to do here, you just have to look and if it’s not to your liking, again Calgary and Montana is not that far away. There are a lot of job offers as well. The grass may seem greener somewhere else but it sure is pretty green here.

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The Lethbridge Viaduct, commonly known as the High Level Bridge, was constructed between 1907–1909 at a cost of $1,334,525.

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The Henderson Lake. The park contains many amenities and attractions, including a 24 hectare (60 acre) man-made lake, the largest lake in the city. Several annual events are held in the park.

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Whoop-Up Days is an anual non-profit festival, exhibition and rodeo held in the city. The event includes a 4-km parade through downtown, daily concerts, bull riding, a rodeo, an indoor and outdoor trade show, entertainment on the free stage, a midway, HobbyWorld and city-wide pancake breakfasts.

I agree that it is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada as for the moment as there are a lot of developments going on. The city is great during summer season. Master builders like Galko, Avonlea, Milestones, Greer, Ashcroft and a lot more has been building gorgeous homes.

Galko Homes is, and has been Lethbridge’s premiere award-winning homebuilder for over 40 years as they claim. They have been building creative homes with unique features and superb quality that comes from decades of experience. Having said that, we entered their show room. They call it “The Prescott with Bonus Room” where the plan features 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. The family friendly main floor plan features a large island, fireplace in the great room, and main floor laundry. A large bonus room above the garage adds more square footage. The upper level is completed with master bedroom with ensuite as well as two additional bedrooms and full bath. The interior design was absolutely awesome. I was stunned and fell in love with the place! We checked out other plans too, but we cannot seem to like anything else. We already have set a standard for our dream home. They have a lot of exclusive home plans that we have checked, (http://www.galkohomes.com/?p=5&sp=23) and so far The Prescott was the most impressive for us.

The Prescott with Bonus Room by Galko Master Builders

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The Prescott with Bonus Room Living Room

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Dining Area

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The Kitchen

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The Master’s Bedroom with Ensuite

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The Large Bonus Room turned into a 2nd Living Room

Thinking carefully, the house was really amazing but it cost a fortune. We have a lot of questions to deal with.

Is it going to be practical if we are to buy this absolutely gorgeous home?

If we plan to settle in the Pearl of the Orient in 10 years time, is it a good idea to splurge on a massive house like The Prescott here in North America?

Can we still invest properties in the Manila if we are to pay a huge amount of mortgage every month?

Did we want to be a prisoner of our own house for the rest of our youth?

Can we still travel Europe, go on a Safari in Africa, discover the ancient civilization of Egypt, see the most beautiful beaches and a lot more if we are thinking about our monthly dues?

Is it a better idea to just be practical and buy a nice average house just for starter that will not cost us too much money?

Are we better of buying a house that is fully developed in a reasonable cost?

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It is really a tough decision to make. Maybe I should start buying a lottery ticket!

In buying a house, there are a lot of things to consider.

If you really are decided to fullfill a lifelong dream and buy your own home, you should be ready for all the pros and cons that is waiting ahead of you as it is one of the biggest emotional and financial decisions you will ever make.

Going from apartment renter to a home-owner is a huge change. A lot of different expenses might creep up. We will never really know for sure how much it is going to cost us until we jump in. It is not just about falling in love with the interior design of the model home. It is important to have some financial security, just in case something big goes wrong.

A lot of friends say that borrowing money nowadays are not as difficult as the skeptics make it out to be. Banks have tightened up their terms but now homebuyers can only have a 25-year mortgage with less than 20 per cent down payment which is not a bad thing at all. A shorter term means that we are more likely to purchase within a realistic budget, and we will end up paying thousands less in the long term.

There is so much more to buying your first home besides picking out the house and signing the papers. If you do not know how it all works before jumping in, then how will you really know what’s going on?

After our trip today, we learned a lot of things. As we browse the web looking for houses on sale, we had a second thought on buying a new house in developing areas. There are a lot of houses on sale that are already fully developed and gained it’s character in time. It could be fun to own a 5 year old house and make it your own, have a little project each month and decorate it the way you want it. But since we are still new to this buying-your-first-home dilemma, we have to have proper answers to these questions :

  • Do we have the necessary financial management skills?
  • How financially stable are we?
  • Are we ready to take on the responsibility of all the costs involved in owning a home, including mortgage payments, repairs, and maintenance?
  • Are we able to devote the time required for home maintenance?

For now, we have to save for our down payment.

Have a blessed day!