May 25, 2016

TwoDay: An Open Letter to Kaya on His Second Birthday

Dear Kaya,

Lately, I notice that I have become forgetful. Aside from occasional short term memory loss,  I tend to forget particular details from the past that my friends are still able to remember. For one, my memory is not exactly sharp to begin with; and two, I am inclined to believe that it might be due to the anesthesia that was administered to me when I gave birth to you and just early this year, when I underwent myomectomy.

You see, probably because of the pain of labor and the side-effect of said epidural, I have forgotten a whole lot of details about that fateful day you were born. Perhaps, your Tatay can provide a thorough narrative. For my part, allow me to try my best to share here what I can, from pieces of jaded memory.

You should know that when you were still in my tummy, I had decided that I would never opt for epidural. A friend of mine, petite frame and around 37 years old then, successfully gave birth to her first child via normal delivery without anesthesia. She inspired me greatly. In my head, "Kung kaya nya, aba, kaya ko rin!" You can say that that was my ultimate (hashtag) birth goal. I sincerely believed my pain tolerance was high. I mean, I've gone through tough sessions of facials and wax in the past-- how much worse can it be?

So, early in my pregnancy, I had resolved that I wanted to be able to say these things about your birth story: "blissful two-hour labor, normal delivery, all-natural, zero anesthesia." After all, they say that pain is all in the mind, although of course, I knew it was crucial to stay fit for the task. Up to the final week of my pregnancy, I'd walk for an hour around the village and religiously practice prenatal yoga, despite the scorching heat of April-May summer. You got to be proud of me, anak.

Fast forward to that moment in the E.R.: a resident doctor asked me, for the nth time, if I'd like her to call the anesthesiologist. I proudly answered, for the nth time, "I SAID I DON'T WANT ONE, WOMAN! EPIDURAL IS FOR THE WEAK!"

Kidding. This was what I actually said, "'Huwag na po. Nakakaya ko naman."

Four hours later, in the labor room, I wailed in pain, the intense kind that I've not known before--- definitely making those facial and wax sessions seem like ant bites--- in much shorter intervals AND in chorus with the other mother in the room. It felt like being in some sort of a contest, with hospital staff checking both of us every now and then and declaring to the whole wide world how big or little our respective vaginal openings have dilated. Anak, I am not proud of it but to be completely honest, I admit feeling some sort of relief knowing that the other woman had been there longer than I have been.

And then, I finally conceded. I begged them to call the anesthesiologist. The same resident doctor came to me wearing a grin and said vindictively, "With the way you were wriggling in pain earlier, I knew you'd give in sooner or later." I answered, "JUST GET OUTTA HERE AND CALL THE DOCTOR QUICKLY, WOMAN!"

Kidding. In a parallel universe, I would have transformed into The Hulk and "monster" my way out of all the pain. But in reality, I just looked at her with defeated, puppy eyes, and uttered "Please," in between quiet sobs.
When the anesthesiologist arrived, I remember receiving from him an unsolicited but very much-needed pep talk. "Kaya mo yan!" he said. "Pagkatapos nito, pustahan tayo, uulit ka uli next year!" he said. He must have came from home or a very long rest or at least not from another hospital duty. His spirit was fresh and upbeat. Quite irritatingly, yes, but I welcomed it nonetheless. He was saving me from an inexplicably excruciating pain, for God's sake.

When I regained my consciousness, I found myself in the delivery room. I remember hearing instructions. Relax, breathe, push. And push I did with all the might I got! It was like being in the last few steps of a race. People were cheering me on. Doctor Anesthesia was still there, to my surprise and relief, encouraging me to the finish line-- and to do it all again next year.

"Siya na ba yan?" I wondered.

You see, anak, a lot of it went like a blur. But there was one moment that I remember with particular clarity. No amount of anesthesia can ever take this memory away: They put you on my tummy and the doctor announced "Good latch." You were facing down but were looking up to me. I instantly took notice of your perfectly arched brows, and eyes, which, appeared to be searching for me. "Siya na ba yan?" I wondered. I did not hear you cry although they assured me that you did.

Now you know why I sometimes still put you on the same position. Something in me finds joy in reliving that moment.

You know how people say that childbirth is a magical moment? That it is like a blind date that ends up in "love at first sight"? That a mother instantly forgets all the pain of labor as soon as she sees for the first time her most perfect child? All those sweet-worded memes? Uhm, I hate to break it to you, Kaya, but it wasn't anything like that to me.

I hope you don't get me wrong. I was glad to finally see you and boy, was I elated to know that you were already out! But I felt so tired and weak, and really, really thirsty. I was aching all over and felt so tired and weak... These were all your mother's mortal soul could think of at the moment. 

I wanted you to wait right there while I, uhm, try to pause time. I wanted to sleep for a good 48 hours, eat and rest... after then, maybe I could start BEING a mother to you. But just as my ultimate birth goal went unfulfilled, that wish was not granted either. My super amateur mother skills were instantly put to test as they wheeled me back to the room and you were roomed in a few hours later.

After two days, my doctor gave us the clearance to go home. My entire being screamed in revolt. I told my Doctor that, well, I was still aching all over and that my milk supply was not stable yet. What if you go hungry and die? What if I carry you and you fall and die? What if I bathe you and you drown and die? What if I lay you on the bed and you suffocate in the blanket and die? I didn't want to take you home with us. Actually, I wanted to stay there-- in the company of well-trained health professionals who knew better at this newborn care thingy. I could not understand why they'd let us take you home with us. We were still having troubles latching and didn't they know I do not know how to give you a proper bath?!  

Kaya Jose Ramos. Born May 26, 2014 at 6:16PM weighing 3.35 kgs. 

At home waited a different set of challenges for me (and your Tatay-- actually, for everybody). [Later on, I learned that as much as all those were a challenge to us, they were a challenge to you too. :-( ] But sometime around then, after we took the leap of faith to take you home, I slowly felt it, anak--- that "magic" they talked about. It was not as overwhelming as described but I had a hunch that finally, albeit slowly, the magic has come to me.

I got to know you. I learned what comforts you and what irks you. I learned what excites you and what makes you cry for three hours straight in the wee of the night. I learned that you liked being sang to, that you have a fondness for male figures-- Lolo, Tito, Uncle, Kuya-- who wear spectacles. A little more later, I learned that you don't mind sharing stuff and that includes me, your mother. I learned from my mom friends that you are one of the most behaved kids they've met-- and it humbles me every time. I learned that you are very comfortable in water. I learned of your fondness for your Tatay, and that the moment he comes home from work is your favorite part of the day. 

Each day, I am able to add a thing or two to this list.     

The moment Tatay comes home from work is your favorite part of the day.

You see anak, whatever "magic" between mother and child people often refer to, for us, it didn't happen at that instant in the delivery room, although you could argue that it started there. I carried you for nine months and gave birth to you. We do share a distinctive bond and that does give us a head start. But ours is a love that is just like everybody else's. Just because we're mother and child doesn't exempt us from the maxim of love. Love is love. It is not huge right away. It grows. It grows with time-- usually spent together but sometimes, even spent apart. It grows with intentional effort.

At our first meeting, our love was probably just like the size of an M&M. I guess now, it is that of a watermelon? Your favorite fruit! But we've only been "in love" for two years. Just imagine how much more it will grow thirty years from now, at the rate we're going! As huge as Jupiter, perhaps? Or the whole solar system? However big it will grow, it will never be big enough. It will always want to grow. And we will still be able to hold it and keep it in our hearts. That, to me, is the greater wonder of our bond. That is the real magic.

TwoDay. It's been two years since God gifted us a wonderful child in Kaya.

The same love allows me to muse at the story of your birth with fondness and joy. The same love makes me hope to do it all again, just as the anesthesiologist encouraged me to. ;-)

I have faith that the same love will always help me remember, even when I grow old and grey. 

I love you always, my dear baby. Thank you for every day that you give us a reason to want to wake up (a little) earlier to see the sun rise. You are God's most precious gift to us. Happy TwoDay! 



My tummy had never been more flabby and I've never had more stretch marks than I do now BUT becoming a mother to you was the closest I got to being beautiful like Belle. Thanks for fulfilling my Disney dream!

photo credit to Isaiah Stephens

June 21, 2013

Lovers in the Park

Last Sunday, June 16, hubbyt and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. As what we had last year was a wedding in the mountain, we figured, what better way to celebrate our first year together than to go out and once again, be one with nature?

Landscaped like most parks in Singapore, the Botanic Gardens, our top pick for our picnic venue, takes pride as the country's flagship park. With 74-hectare area that houses a huge diversity of plant species from all over the world, the park boasts of impressive components such as the National Orchid Garden, Ginger Garden, Swan Lake, Palm Valley, and Rain Forest, among others. 

Parang elbi lang. We love how the Singapore Botanic Gardens reminds us of our favorite place in the Philippines.

It is said that with its 150 years of history, the Botanic Gardens stands as a living heritage of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. Indeed, while there are more popular landmarks like the Merlion, the Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa, I believe the Botanic Gardens is the most fitting emblem of Singapore: landscaped yet well-maintained, 'unnatural' yet very pleasing to the senses. 

While it's easy to feel sorry for the little Red Dot for being deprived of natural resources that neighboring Asian countries enjoy, it is impressive to note how it managed and sustained to offset what it's lacking of. One can go on ranting that the park is man-made, but it doesn't cease to be beautiful. Come to think of it. It's a hell lot of work (not to mention expensive) to manufacture a forest, but at least Singapore tried and is successful at it! I guess that's why, beyond the issue of who put it there, this emblem of Singapore gained my respect and admiration.

It is also noteworthy how a park as huge as this sits at the very center of the city-state, a fact that signifies the expanse of the tourism industry here.   

Even when devoid of color, the Garden's landscapes remain a delight to see.

Hubbyt checking out newly-installed trees from South America.

As soon as we've laid out our picnic blanket, we felt at home. Somehow, the park reminded us of the Freedom Park at UPLB, Philippines. Well, nothing beats my first love but at least the Botanic Gardens gives off the same invigorating feel. Hubbyt and I munched on our Carl's Jr. Famous Star, the only decent burger we've tasted in Singapore so far, while soaking up in the whole experience. 

But something more breathtaking than all the scenery and greenery are the sight of families and groups of friends who, like us, also came to enjoy the Garden's offerings. It was Father's Day and I guess people went there to celebrate as well. There's something fundamentally revitalizing about watching people share a lazy afternoon together: families sharing snacks, a mother teaching her daughter to ride a bike, or a father watching his son learn how to walk.

It's a joy to watch these two pretty little girls ride their scooter.

I love how benches like this are generously scattered throughout the park.

After enjoying our snacks, we took a walk around. The place was so huge that it it was almost dark when we left but we still didn't get to cover all of it. We vow to visit again and enter through the Tanglin gate next time.

I could claim that this was taken in Baguio or Tagaytay or any other place cool, but I guess my sleeveless top gives away that it wasn't.

I can't tell where our marriage will take us in the next few years, or which park we'll lay out our picnic blanket on, say, our 50th wedding anniversary. I just know for sure that wherever it is, I'm going to be happy. :-)

February 4, 2013

My Week in Praises

I know I can't ever keep an accurate count of the too-many-to-mention blessings I receive, but listing them down once a week sure helps keep a grateful heart.

  • A good run on a fine Monday morning.
  • Being introduced to a perfect job prospect (kahit prospect lang!).
  • Mid-week Bones marathon with hubbyt.
  • A simple and fun farewell dinner with foreigner friends with whom hubbyt and I shared home for the last couple of months.
  • A pinakbet and porkchop night with good friends. 
  • Hand-me-down juicer, flat iron, Coke glasses and mugs from Rosini and Luna! Such generous friends I have. :-)
  • Getting the keys to a new flat we're renting. :-)
  • Crossing out a LOT of items on my to-buy list for the new flat because our landlady, who turns out to be a Christian in her 50s, has already provided most of them. <3
  •  Uninterrupted rest on a whole Saturday morning.
  • Remembering that whatever the circumstance, my surname remains to be "of God Most High". I and my household is His, only His!

November 1, 2012


So, I've introduced to you my Ate Nhea and her little Japanice family in my last post. As I resume writing about my adventures and learnings as a kankoukyaku in Japan, allow me to share what the family does for a living.

Kagoshima Prefecture is one of Japan's biggest agricultural producers. Livelihood in the region includes raising Black Cattles and Berkshire pigs for meat production, fishery, and fruits and tea production.  

The Kato family, for one, raises black cattles for a living. The variety that they raise is known as the Japanese black wagyu, which meat is considered as one of the finest in the market. It might be homegrown but when sold in their local supermarkets, it is far more expensive than the ones imported from Australia or USA. 

October 30, 2012

Kankoukyaku Diaries: My Japanice Hosts and the Athletic Kids of Kanoya

Once again, I tasted and saw that the Lord is good... in Japan! :-)

a kankoukyaku (Japanese for tourist) by the Uchinoura beach

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to travel to the southern part of the country to visit Ate Nhea, my cousin who’s based in Kanoya Shi, Kagoshima. 

September 26, 2012

Tinola Thoughts at 29

(Mga Aral na Napagnilayan ko Habang Sinasangkutsa ang Manok or Top 10 Realizations of a Newbie Housewife)

1. Having the time and being able to take care of loved ones has become an elusive 'luxury' in today's culture of "hell busy schedules", but it remains to be one of life's greatest (yet simplest) joys.

[This could well be just a euphemism for my prolonging unemployment, but I really do take it as an incidental blessing. How many of us get the chance to really stop and smell the flowers? :-)]

2. Fairytales aren’t real, but happy-ever-afters are! It is the only kind of ending God designed for us to have. Getting there, however, is up to us.  

Or I'm probably just watching too much Once Upon a Time! 
(Photo from
3. Whoever said “Marriage is not a walk in the park” is dead wrong. On the contrary, it is what marriage exactly is – a walk in the park – not witnessing extravagant fireworks display all the time but being steadily content just the same. 

The Wife in Proverbs 31

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. "

Becoming the ideal wife in Proverbs 31 is quite a long shot, at least for a newbie wife like me. But it is my prayer and I believe the Lord is helping me get there. I'm posting it here so that I'll remember all the time. :-)

Not only does it speak the truth, it is also so beautifully written. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful poems I ever read. It's almost as if you witness the wife do all that she does with so much grace and confidence. It makes you imagine a lovely sight of a woman of enormous worth and beauty! To be the virtuous woman that she is is my prayer. She is my hero for the moment and maybe one day, I will be like her. :-)  

June 29, 2012

Two Halves, One Flesh

One fine June morning, I got married to Magtan, a man I love since seven years ago, on the beautiful, mystic mountain of Maria Makiling. The Lord sent no less than the sun to bless us and birds to hum songs of union. 

To most people who know us, it was both a surprise and something that’s been expected all along. Perhaps because even though we've been together for the past seven years (on-off, that is), it happened at a time we all least expected. It’s quite a long story to tell, but let’s just say that ours would pass as both a long engagement and a whirlwind romance. :-)