the need to update

It’s been over six months and this blog has not seen any new postings at all. Every time I start to write again, I see my fingers click on the backspace key, deleting whatever thoughts I want to put in. It’s like a basketball player losing his touch, not finding the rhythm, no matter how many attempts he makes.
Well, they say it’s got to start somewhere. So I’ll just have to force my mood into this. Knowing that 2008 is about to end, I just feel the need to update.

So where were we? On a hiatus? Not really.

I got my hands busy (as always, the lame excuse) ever since the day I started working in an architectural office. Wifey has her own excuse as well with her training schedules. And if ever we had the available time, it just had to be spent with family and friends.

I have always wanted to talk about how our church wedding went really well, now I have problems looking for the right words to explain how it felt that very day. I can only manage to thank the people who were there to celebrate with us and to the people who sent their well wishes, and to those who gave presents as well. Everyone can always look at our multiply site for the lovely photos.

alli & toni druing the church wedding
angelo getting ready to walk the aisle

About two months ago, over lunch, there was quite a conversation with a couple of relatives from the US of A. Some dwelt on the trivial subjects while others on the more pressing issues. What really struck me though was the topic about moving out of the country and finding a job elsewhere. It’s an irresistible temptation about how they describe the opportunities in the land of milk and honey. I don’t look at myself as being too patriotic, or about how optimistic I am of our country. I’d be a hypocrite if I would say it never crossed my mind, to leave the Philippines. Wifey also feels that Cebu has become too small of an island and that somehow we might need to migrate to a “better” place. This has been an insistent topic for almost a month that we had discussed over a cup of coffee, bottles of beer and even over a game of mahjong. We laid the pros and cons on the table and finally decided to just stay where we are as of the moment.

Cebu has become my place of comfort. Allison and I had made an unwritten rule that by the time I finish taking up the board exam, we can always explore different options outside our beloved island. And before that time comes, I am learning the tricks of the trade of the architecture industry through my apprenticeship - doing working drawings, visiting project sites, conversing with suppliers and, except for the deadlines, I’m having a relatively good experience.

toni with his co-workers at casa verde at the walk
alli with her co-workers at casa verde in ramos

After eight months of being a soft skills trainer, Allison now holds the position of language trainer. She gets to teach more of the English stuff to those aspiring call center agents. She tells me how Americanized she can get, with her learning the culture of the U.S., the different states and their capitals, the time zones and holidays and all of the related matter. She is a natural in training the English language.

“Let me see,” “remember,” “see I told you,” “do you have something for me?” – These words are just some of those that Zai Angelo, our little boy uses to converse with us and with other people. And he gets to learn new words as each day passes. He knows all the names of his toys and he never gets tired of watching Buzz Lightyear flying to “infinity and beyond.” He is just amazing for a two year old. One time, we had him attend a birthday party for a little girl about his age and we never imagined how sociable he can be and how he can quickly follow instructions.

zai angelo playing with his horsey toy
and posing with the smirky smile in urdaneta, pangasinan

Three days before Halloween, the three of us left for Manila, sort of a short family vacation. Thanks to my mom who shouldered most of the expenses for the whole trip. We got to spend a day in Baguio, three days in Pangasinan and two days in Manila. It was the first time for us to be in Urdaneta for All Souls and All Saints days. Angelo’s first trip to Baguio was short-lived though, because of the bad weather. By the third of November, Alli and I went to Manila and left Angelo with his grandmother. They followed us to Manila on the next day. Save for the tiring train rides, Allison and I had a pretty fun experience with our day in our nation’s capital – we toured the UP-Diliman campus, we went as far as San Juan just to buy my second FrancisM shirt, a cup of coffee and some cupcakes at Sonja’s at The Fort, a soothing shower at One McKinley Place (thanks Jackie), a sumptuous dinner at Texas Roadhouse with Jackie, Mari, Bunny and Jerome. Then we capped the night with some booze at MetroWalk in Ortigas (thanks Doris).

By November four, it was our first time to step into the gigantic SM Mall of Asia. Noticeably, it was a different style of architecture among all the SM malls. I was kind of impressed by how the mall tycoon considered more about the aesthetic aspect with emphasis on the green rather than retail space. A lunch at Italiani’s was delightfully fulfilling. Then we headed to Manila’s Ocean Park where we met up with Angelo, Mommy, Wanda and her boyfriend Edwin. Once we got inside, there’s no stopping the clicking of the cameras for pictures. You can just see how our little boy was in awe of the pools and huge aquariums of different species of fish right before his very eyes.

That was one sweet November indeed.

alli & toni at sm mall of asia
the Corteses at manila ocean park

A couple of recent celebrations we attended were the second Cebu guitar festival, the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Fuente Osmeña rotunda, the CIC annual grand homecoming, where Angelo got to play the part of an angel and I got to play the shepherd in a nativity scene. Then the birthday party for our good friend and Angelo’s godmother – Maica and recently my colleague Marvin, who just tied the knot.

Then it has been quite routine ever since. We go to work on a weekly basis and we always look forward to our free time on weekends, where we get to enjoy the company of each other.

So for the past six months that this blog has not seen any updates at all, here’s hoping that this post could pretty much sum up how we were for the second half of the year 2008. And while the whole nation celebrates the victory of the Pacman over the Golden Boy, we celebrate the “rebirth” of our blogsite. And as we continue to expect more parties to attend on this merry month of December, we, The Corteses, also hope to continue posting more updates soon.

final dose:
we already started sending our annual newsletter to family, relatives and close friends...


posted by A.Cortes on 1:42 am under

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completely stressed out


not even when i was pregnant, not even when i was in labor and NOT EVEN when i didn't sleep enough for the first two months after giving birth.

i'm this way because my wedding is next saturday!!!

oh... i wish we had a big budget for this wedding... that way, i could have hired an organizer and leave everything to her! but nooooooooo... toni and i had to go at it ourselves. we wanted to personalize it. plus, we dont have enough moolah.

half of the training team at work is pissed off at me for getting on their nerves, for sticking my nose into their business, for being a bitch... one even intends to resign because of me!!!

enough said.

final dose: toni has been uber-patient with me. hell if i know how he does it.


a step at a time

Being busy shouldn't be an excuse. But it has been hectic for the past two weeks in ways explained in the next lines.

work. dammit. finding a new job. dammit.
Being busy with work is overrated and lame, but being busy trying to find a new job is taxing.

instant messenger status: six scintillating days to go.

I have started the countdown the day I tendered my resignation letter and the day I faced a dilemma. It's passion versus compensation. Of long-term goals and short-term benefits. From leaving routinary tasks to meeting new challenges. And of course by now you ought to know that I have decided, more than anything else, to pursue what I have always wanted to do with my career. Wifey has been the constant supportive partner and the one person who keeps letting me understand the things that need be.

Nevermind if life has been rough for the past couple of weeks.

At least we finally had a family summer outing in the middle of april and one in the making this coming weekend. The last task my would be ex-manager gave me is for the launching of a new incentive program for the account that has a deadline for friday. One more brainstorming with the "fun" commitee for the company's founding day on june will let me leave my last creative ideas for them to work on. It's a bit hard to leave the company I worked with for almost three years but things will be better once one has moved on, or so they say.

I never thought finding an architectural job would be as hard as composing a resignation story.

After my application with three companies I found myself presenting my portfolio at an architectural firm near the posh village of Maria Luisa park in Cebu. "You can start on may 12" are the sweet words that kept lingering in my ears while I made my way home. Finally! a day job, with a regular work schedule and rest days on weekends. Surely it will be more time with little boy and of course assured weekends with wifey and the rest of the family.

One more reason this summer has excited me, aside from our upcoming church wedding that is.

final dose:
one step closer to finally achieving my first project.


forty-eight years to go...

Exactly two years ago, Toni and I exchanged rings in a civil garden wedding ceremony. That was on the eighth of April, year 2006, and we were starry-eyed young lovers, ready to face the world hand in hand, daring anyone to cross our path and pull us down.

Exactly two years ago, Toni and I were eager for a child, excited about changing soiled diapers and breastfeeding, playing with the baby and being a family.

Exactly two years ago, we were naively optimistic. We were complacent in our own little world, never dreaming of the dragons we will have to conquer along the way.

It has been two years since that fateful wedding day, and boy, were we dumb. Dumb AND exceedingly ignorant. We knew nothing about babies and even less about the sleepless nights and incessant crying. Even dragons would be cowed by the wailing, red-faced alien masquerading as our baby. But persevere we did, since we really had no other choice, when you look at the big picture. And now...

Two years later, we ARE a family. We have been through falling down a step and pneumonia. We have been to Bantayan Island and Davao. We have been through some tears and a lot of laughter. It has all been worth it, worth the pain of childbirth and the nights of no sleep, worth the aching body and empty wallet, worth the permanent stretch marks and the loss of social life. I wouldn't trade places with Angelina Jolie herself.

So bring it on, world... we will face you together, and we dare anyone to cross our path and pull us down.

final dose:
Zai Angelo is ready and raring to slay his share of dragons!


pictures of summer

It is definitely summer and the weather outside is not at all delightful. To think that we live less than 20 kilometers from the island of Mactan, a 30-minute drive to the nearest beach still eludes us even during weekends. The tropical heat has noticeably been increasing every single year. We should have known earlier how threatening global warming is to our planet. I should have believed Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary. And humbly saying, our simplest contribution to the anti-global warming movement is NOT buying a car. Well, not just yet. hehe. The blazing heat is just unbearable and the April fool's news that the Canadian government is secretly trying to speed up global warming is not very helpful.

I know how I can be incoherent with topics sometimes, but reading through what I just wrote, it seems to make sense, don't you think? All these blah blahs are the results of me desperately wanting to have a summer vacation with my family. Obviously, I'm envious about how our little boy gets to dip in his mini-pool anytime while I just watch over him.

So until our busy schedule permits us to go swimming, we're allowing Zai Angelo to enjoy his plastic mini-pool in the meantime.

final dose:
the first picture of you, the first picture of summer seeing the flowers scream their joy
-lotus eaters


posted by A.Cortes on 6:40 am under

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the little sacrament

Toward the end of this month, a little angel sprouted wings… and silk ribbons.

Anika was born on the eve of Cebu’s Sinulog mardigras, 2008. She is two months old now and has been quite a little screaming, crying, demanding, pooping bundle of joy. Her parents are our good friends and have admitted to having sleepless nights and totally stressed-out moments when taking care of this silk-clad princess. She is indeed a princess… tiny but demanding everyone’s attention and love.

Anika, as your godparents, we have promised to be here for you no matter what. And your ‘kinakapatid’ Angelo will watch over you when you grow older. He’ll make sure you’re home before curfew, you don’t drink too much, your friends are decent… the list goes on and on. And… he’s already started.

Angelo watches over Anika during her christening last March 29, 2008

We love you, little girl!!!

final dose:
Anika is March's quotable notable... and a very deserving one indeed.
The Corteses welcome you to the Christian World.


some monday experiment

Mondays for the most part are dreadful days for people with routinary jobs. If there is nothing interesting with your monotonous work, you'll find yourself wishing weekends could have been longer. And it sucks to know that I'll have to stick with this scenario until some architectural firm is ready to welcome me into their fold as architectural apprentice or auto cad operator. While wifey trains new hires to brace themselves as call center agents, I busy myself with anything that keeps me sane.

Answering to some blog tag is a way to get rid of boredom. We really could care less about technical stuff on our blog site but a little experiment wouldn't hurt. They say it's for some blog ranking, page ranking stuff. So thanks to tita Bambit for keeping me busy while I still can't find the words to describe the fun we had these last days of March.

What is blog authority / blog rank?
Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.
What is Authority? from

The Short Story
The tag rules mandate that you tag 5 other bloggers and to just keep adding to the list. No replacements, just additions. Tag others and see your Technorati Authority explode.

And these are the people who already took part in this tag:
*Blognation, Pinoytek, Reyna, Bluep, Kotsengkuba, Buraot, Iris, KCee, Banco De Reyna, Mitch, Melai, Malen, Beng, Sasha, Divaness, Jojitah, Joanjoyce, Gzel, Panaderos, Bambit, the Corteses, <you!>

Our Story
When in doubt of something to write about, when you experience what they call a writer's block, when you can't think of anything to post - answering tags always come in handy. While I fancy myself a regular word smith, I am not like the few people I know who answer to tags without losing their blog niche.

Not to sound offensive, but there's really nothing wrong with blog tags/meme, so long that you know how to make it interesting enough for readers and so long that you still write sensibly. By the way they say this experiment will help SEO and SERPs for one's site, though I can't seem to fathom these internet jargons, I just wonder - "your blog authority is equal to how many blogs link to your site." So can someone define what authority and what link mean again?!

Now I'm trying to be a fool a day before April first on a boring monday. Anyhow, there are benefits for this experiment and they termed it as viral so I need not list them anymore. So for the five people before tita bambit who left messages on our chat box, I give you the authority to try this technorati experiment. liezl, simplymama, iammai, The-Online-Quest and tet.

final dose:
For the record, this shall be the first tag that the Corteses answered.


this summer should be fun

I reminisce about my childhood - of how we painted eggs a day before easter, of the months playing with cousins all day and all night - kite flying, biking, swimming.

It is summer. And the things in my mind that I want to accomplish just keep on adding up. I want to find a new job. I want to construct Angelo's racing car bed. I want to get the plans for our church wedding over and done with. I want to bring wifey and little boy to where doc Tes and her family went. I want to watch ToTo live in Cebu. I want to be at the kokua festival in Hawaii. iwant is like ipod. It's not a need but a want. But a few of these I can let go of without disappointment.

But what I want most in the world is to be a kid again. Carefree.

I recently talked to a man who have always been a constant source of radical views onlife, and he said that if you want to worry less, work your ass off and make sure that by the time you reach thirty five you are already filthy rich, then spend the next thirty years lazing away in luxury. I personally think this to be completely absurd.

Everyday, life is changing for everyone, no matter how small the change may be. I notice the changes in me. Some solely in myself, much in my family and a few in the community. There were things I'd let go of so suddenly when I became a husband, things I let go of gradually when I became a dad. But through all these, I have no regrets. How many more years shall I waste to satisfy the wants for myself, I question; how many years shall I expect to stay selfish for my ego. I can't say I have had much already, but definitely it's more than enough for me.

Now I worry not only for myself, but for my wife, my kid, my family, most importantly.

I had golden years and equally had a share of the dark ages. There was a time when I shared to Allison that my childhood was the best years I remembered and that my adolescence was my darkest past. There was an instance I whispered to Zai Angelo that I will let him experience the same childhood joys I had and keep him away from any trace of my disturbed teenage life.

Past deeds result in time delay. But hope is alive.
Inspirations are fuel. There is the determination to succeed.

I will not reminisce about my childhood anymore, instead, I will look forward to Angelo's - of how he'll get to paint eggs for easter. Of how we will have months playing and learning and bonding. Of how my wife and I will get to raise more children and find joy in them every time. Be kid-like. Pure, innocent.

It is summer. And the thing I wanted that I thought I wouldn't accomplish... I just did.

final dose:
random blah blahs from a new grad.


the weekend that was

Unlike the other Sunday when there seemed to be very few reasons to be jubilant, last weekend was the complete opposite. It must have been the alignment of the stars that allowed us to party on and enjoy, otherwise we'll be forced to believe in the notion that life is like a wheel, sometimes you're up and sometimes you're on the ground, rolling over dung.

Anyhow, as per the first post of this month, March is really a month for marching, or say a merry month for the graduates and a sorry month for those who did not make it. That said, The Corteses would like to extend whooping congratulations to Audrey Arcenas for finishing her nursing degree on time. We're so proud of you, Dodi!!! Audrey's graduation party was the start of a wonderful weekend, a seafood dinner at Saang in Nivel Hills Lahug, Cebu City followed by a farewell party for our friend Steven at The Outpost. On the same note, wifey has been encouraging me to march on stage come Wednesday, but it is more than enough for me to join the list of proud graduates of 2008 as well as add to the growing number of job-seeking individuals pretty soon. I would rather start my hunt for a new job than attend the lengthy commencement exercise, where you sit and wait for hours on end for your turn to be called. Honestly though, I feel it's just a formality, so I do not feel obliged in any way to "march" on stage.

Audrey's graduation @ The Redemptorist Parish Church

Speaking of formalities, we were forced to dress formally for last Saturday night's affair. A coming out party for Mia Arcenas. I wonder why use the term "coming out" party. It makes me think that there can also be a going in party? Huh??? Well, it was one fabulous evening, a party the same as one I pictured Kiki Holcombe (The Fountainhead) would host. While we thought we didn't need consultations from Inno Sotto or Jun Escario, Amparito Lhuillier and Margot Osmeña and even Jaime Picornell made us look underdressed. Nevertheless, Allison looked elegant in her long black evening gown and I on the other hand, felt uncomfortable with my borrowed coat and tie. But it feels great to dress up when the occasion calls for it, makes me practice looking good as I'll soon be facing prospect clients of mine (wink, wink).

the formal family picture before going to the party
toni & alli pose for a toast @ City Sports Club

By Sunday, we celebrated yet another party. This time a thanksgiving for Jo-Ann Ting's passing the nursing board exams. Our congratulations to her also.

Since it would be a miracle now for my VLs to be approved for our Holy Week vacation in Bantayan Island, we can only look forward to next weekend, which would be Black Saturday and Easter Sunday, and hope to have the same kind of fun we had like this last weekend. We sure need to make it up to the little boy, since he somehow seems depressed about not being able to go swimming in the beaches of Bantayan this year.

final dose:
Happy Holy Week everyone!
more pictures of the events here and here


a scintillating sunday - the alli version

"The husband is the pillar of the family. The wife is the caregiver."
"The husband is the one who makes the decisions. The wife only gives suggestions."
"If your suggestion will not be considered when the decision is made, don't feel bad, wives."

These, and more, were the words uttered by the female speaker during last Sunday's pre-cana seminar. Traitor! She not only made it clear that the wives should be utterly subservient to the men, she also implied that if the wife is not good in bed, the husband will look for satisfaction somewhere else. And she made it sound like a given fact! Can you believe that?!?!?!?!?!?!

I honestly felt like throwing the plastic chair I was sitting on at that turncoat! If Toni wasn't gripping my hand and reassuring me that he didn't believe a single word... I don't know what I would have done. Good thing we let her words pass through the other ear... but what about the other couples listening to her? What impact did that seminar have on them?

The only reason I did not so much as breathe during that seminar, like our other participative classmates, was that I did not want to prolong the agony of having to listen to another horrid word. And because I have never been one to just sit there and keep my opinions to myself, this blog is the outlet, and you are my audience.

The husband is not the ONLY one who makes the decisions. Decisions should be made by both husband and wife. It should be a meeting of the minds and a consideration of all factors that affects all parties. If the husband and wife have a child, and the child is of the right mind to decipher right and wrong, then the child should be involved in the decision-making process as well. Whatever affects the family, each of the family members have to be part of the final say. Not only the husband, nor only the wife.

The husband alone cannot be the pillar of the family. It needs to be both husband and wife as well. When you have a roof, you do not just put up one pillar to support it. You need at least two, preferably four, right? Architect, tell me I'm wrong, and I'll retract this statement. Can a roof stand with only one pillar? Yeah... if it's the size of your monitor.

My point is that when I made the decision to marry, I did not just make it myself. Toni was involved. And so it goes that everything in your married life has to involve the two of you. It's a partnership, a collaboration. And who better to collaborate with than your best friend, your other half, your confidante.

And if my husband is not satisfied by my performance in bed and looks elsewhere, he knows his dingdong will be fed to our son's pet turtle, Ninja.

final dose:
We were asked, "What is Love?" They said it's a mystery. They said it's when you sacrifice. They said it's blind. Love is not blind. It sees, but it doesn't mind. So sue me for being trite.


a scintillating sunday

So at least we're done with one of the requirements for our church wedding, having to endure a seven-hour long boring seminar last Sunday. After two years of being civilly wed and two years of saving, we have come to realize that we need to say our sweet "I do's" in front of a pontiff to have the blessing from our creator.

The Catholic Church requires everyone who wishes to get married to go through pre-cana seminar, and I am not one to oppose lest we do not receive the sacrament of matrimony. BUT it would have been more meaningful and interesting if they provided good lecturers who knew what they were supposed to talk about. It was scheduled at nine in the morning, but because we enjoyed our Saturday night out, we ended up arriving thirty minutes late. Who would want to listen attentively to an elementaryish discussion on topics like -- what is the role of the husband and that the wife should be this and that and yadda yadda yadda. We were prejudiced as we went through a similar seminar when we applied for our marriage license, but it was very consistent that speakers from both seminars actually stated the same reminder. Wife should always boast the ego of their husband. Okay, to boast one's ego is quite, hmmm, confusing. Well, to clarify, the speaker actually meant to "boost." So as the speaker kept on talking about what we found to be unimportant, wifey and I were busy exchanging jokes and keen observations on the ongoing topics.

While we can't hide the smiles plastered on our faces as we go on commenting between ourselves on what the other participants were sharing, the speaker actually got everyone's attention when she stopped talking and asked that she be given some respect. We knew for certain that she was referring to us. Good thing she never really blurted it out, we would have been embarrassed or worse ensued in a lethal exchange of words. From then on, we controlled ourselves as we counted the minutes. Oh gawd! if only I was in the mood to participate, I could have given more cliche answers than those who religiously voiced out. Like when asked to define what LOVE is, one couple proudly said: love is blind. I could have mentioned love is... oh never mind, I would rather rant more than type the other answers not worthy to be written. So we drove home for lunch as we had an hour and a half to spare and deliberately went back late again for thirty minutes.The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing away in the unconducive non-airconditioned room, trying to absorb lectures of what was supposed to be a seminar to prepare us for our married life.

during our civil wedding @ the garden grotto in sto. niño village

So spare yourself the hassle of marriage, if you could pay proxies to disguise as couple in behalf of you then you would not waste a day or two with all these seminars. But don't take my word for it, it was a fun experience nonetheless, I am actually praying that someday the words spoken during pre-canas won't fall on deaf ears.

final dose:
Gaw, the renowned guitarist of Hastang was our classmate during the seminar.
Together with him was of course his fiancee - Phoebe.
We hope they viewed their experience as entirely different from ours.
We bet you can also give more cliche definitions of what love is. Go ahead and humor us.


on marching in

Like any given pre-requisite, March signals the season of summer. And with the early holy week, we can only imagine people rushing to book their summer trips. For sure, we won't have an extravagant vacation this time, we're tight on our budget for now, sad to say. We will stay optimistic nonetheless, something might just surprise us, we'll never know. Wishful thinking. Oh well, before you picture yourself sipping smoothies by the beach and enjoying a luau getaway, you may want to read on what's up with The Corteses this third month of the year.

It has been a laid back first week for the wifey, after months of non-stop training she finally got some room to breath. And with that, means more time to prepare for the moment she will finally march down the aisle for our church wedding. Allison has been busy with preparations - looking for the reception venue, invites, conceptualization and all the itsy bitsy details of what we picture to be a simple yet intimate ceremony. See how tight we are on our budget? It's because we are saving for the big day. Other than that, she finds comfort in watching american idol on television and playing with the little boy.

For the big daddy, well, nothing is final yet, but the scent is in the air of an end to his continuing studies. yey! Toni is almost done with all the examinations and was proud to get all the needed paperwork stamped with the word "cleared." Although he doesn't plan to march on stage as he thinks it would not be necessary anymore, he feels complete relief. The husband looks forward to finally getting his dream of building a dog house as his first project. He enrolled for a two-week refresher course to prepare himself in the dog-eat-cat-eat-mouse world of the construction and architecture industry.

The last time little boy went to the beach was about three months ago, so he can't control his excitement with just the thought of going back to Bantayan isalnd come holy week. He has been really playful as of late, he thinks running and marching around helps develop his milk belly transform into washboard abs. This early on, Zai Angelo is showing signs that he will be a talkative student in class. He mingles and joins in on any conversation. If he is not asleep, he bombards everyone with non-stop baby talk. If you don't see him dancing along with his favorite tv shows, he mimicks the sound of dogs and cats. He has always been a source of joy.

alli and zai @ samal island during our davao vacation
toni and zai during our holy week trip to bantayan island

That's about it, the month of March may not seem as lively as the previous ones, but we look forward to the surprises along the way and the celebrations of relatives and friends who will be graduating. Toni included, hopefully.

final dose:
until the official list comes out, toni is still crossing his fingers.
finally the official list is out. and yeah! toni wants to boast...he is now officially a graduate.


posted by A.Cortes on 9:33 pm under


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february's kooky couple

February will always be considered by everyone as the love month. We, on the other hand, will remember the second month of the year especially because of our Valentine's week trip. February is the month when flower vendors and chocolate manufacturers make a killing. The month of eternal bliss and of sweethearts expressing mushiness and cheesiness.

To validate the month of hearts, The Corteses recognizes Monica and Justin as the quotable notables for February.


Justin Lim and Monica Crystal

These two are so crazy – in love and in real life – that they suit each other perfectly. They are a constant source of amusement and are not afraid to be laughed with… or at. Monica’s crazy dance-antics and Justin’s 3-minute-late comments never failed to crack us up during our Baguio-Manila trip. It definitely would not have been as much fun without them. And so here’s to you, you two kooks! With love and much laughter from The Corteses. Cheers!

final dose:
because of the busy schedule, this February end month post is delayed
Justin and Monica are also proud godparents of Zai Angelo


a tale from the capital

Continuing from where we left off, we arrived in Manila at a quarter to 7 in the evening on Friday. All the while we thought that the day's protest rally in Makati had already died down; but the hustle and bustle of the capital was still evident when the bus traversed the stretch of EDSA. If not for the car that Mhon's sister lent us, we would probably have looked like "probinsiyanos" acting as tourists, and would be more inconvenienced throughout the trip. Our great gratitude to Manang Sherry.

A sumptuous dinner at Cuzina, one of the many restaurants in the sutukil strip along Roxas boulevard, kicked off the second leg of our Valentine's week trip. Good thing half of the bill was Stephen's treat, sort of his celebration for passing the nautical board exam, much to our delight, as we enjoyed the variety of seafood. Food always tastes more delicious if it's free. It was way past 10pm when we left our bags at the University Hotel; we took a few minutes to freshen up as we didn't want to miss what was already a party scene when we passed the sunken garden of the University of the Philippines - Diliman campus. Still heavy from the dinner, we scoured the backstage and the fair area, not leaving without posing for photographs with a couple of artists. This was our third night on the trip and our streak of beer drinking was far from over, our alcohol level got even higher at Quattro bar in Timog. Their beer mug was the biggest we've seen so far, I can hear my liver complaining with every gulp. Tired from the travel, we went back to the hotel at around 4 in the morning.

the University of the Philippines' - University Hotel

Alli and Toni @ Cuzina sutukil in Roxas blvd.

The third day ended with the boys separated from the ladies. Freaking hotel rules.

Rise and shine we did on Saturday as we enjoyed another free meal for brunch at Heaven and Eggs in Eastwood city Libis, care of Manang Sherry this time. She sure is generous. I can't figure out why of all the stars in the celebrity walk of fame, I posed for a picture on Chiquito's. Wifey opted to show her being a Sharonian. There's no denying that Eastwood has a well-planned cityscape. After that, we made our way to Global City - the Fort, and I can't be more amazed with the architecture, the streetscape and the whole built environment. If only the country was designed in such a way, fountains and greens, all clean and neat. Anyhow, if not for the map we bought in a gas station we would have difficulty finding our way from the Fort to Trinoma mall. There we met up with Allison's cousin Mari, and his wife Grace. I was about to spoil the day for acting like a kid, not getting the FrancisM shirt I sought, but the aroma of a cup of coffee from Figaro's, paired with a good smoke, plus the landscape architecture on the topmost floor of Trinoma somehow pacified me. After which I was already in the mood to give my wife a shopping spree, while also buying something for the little boy we left behind. When we figured that our pockets were almost drained, we opted to have an inexpensive dinner at Mang Jimmy's, a known carenderia among the students of the schools along Katipunan Avenue, so says my wife.

Toni poses at the star of Chiquito at the walk of fame in Eastwood
Mari and Grace with Alli and Toni @ Figaro's cafe in Trinoma mall
Alli, proud to be a Sharonian at the walk of fame in Eastwood

Satisfied with the sizzling dishes we had at Mang Jimmy's, we were ready to rock the last night of UP fair, but not without drowning some bottles of red horse. Now it goes without saying that we pretty much had a good drinking spree going at Four Brothers along Maginhawa street in Teacher's Village that we lost track of the time, especially with Allison meeting up her cousin Bunny, resulting in us not being able to catch a few of the rock artists that played in the Fair. But hell, we still enjoyed the rest of the night, big thanks to Doris for the backstage passes. I said to myself, What the eF! the last time I was able to rock and roll with a lot of bands of this magnitude was god knows when, probably since time immemorial. Sugarfree, Cambio, Chicosci, Hilera, Mojofly and Urbandub were among the bands who played. Wifey couldn't be more ecstatic to be back in UP-diliman and be part of the centennial celebration of her alma mater. As The Dawn was playing their undying hit Salamat, we were on our way to the backstage after secretly drinking the beer in cans we sneaked in at the sunken garden's fairgrounds. We continued to rock on together with yan2x, genee and the few remaining artists among others. The time was a little over 2 in the morning when Cebu-based Indie band Hastang went to play onstage. Groupies that we are, we proudly jammed with the band as they sung Oblivion and Random. Then it just dawned on me - hey, I just experienced UP fair for the first time.

the three pairs at the backstage together with Doris
with the band Hastang, while waiting for the band's turn to play

Our last night of the Valentines week trip ended with a bang! Definitely.

By ten in the morning on Sunday, we were out of the Hotel, out of the UP campus and on the way to Ortigas to leave the borrowed car at Paragon Suites. The delay of our flight back home made us savor the Valentines week trip one last time. That was three days of paid leave, two weekends, six unique individuals, three dynamic pairs, a cold Baguio vacation, an enjoyable Manila trip, two nights of rocking at the UP fair, a million memories made and of course hundreds of photographs to cherish.

final dose:
again you can view more pictures at our multiply site
other related stories here and here, more pictures here and here.


posted by A.Cortes on 11:58 pm under


links to this dose

a tale from the cold

Don't you just love how it is only in the Philippines that you get to buy a one peso airplane ticket? Yup! That's how they advertise it, but that's not exactly the amount you actually pay. Cebu Pacific may not have a straightforward advertisement, like the warning in a pack of Marlboro cigarettes saying "Smoking Kills," but we bought tickets at their promo prices and we're happy about it. It was big savings after all. Two thousand seven hundred pesos++ per person brought us from Cebu to Manila and back.

The Valentine's week trip - three days of paid leave, two weekends, six unique individuals, three dynamic pairs, a cold Baguio vacation, an enjoyable Manila trip, two nights of rocking at the UP fair, a million memories made and of course hundreds of photographs to cherish. That's basically how our much-needed vacation can be summarized.

Our few hours of sleep were compensated the moment we arrived in the nation's capital, plus the thought of finally getting the vacation we had long wished for kept our spirits more awake. We went straight to the bus terminal, catching more nap hours in the 7-hour trip to Baguio. It was almost zero visibility on the ascent of the zig-zag road and the fog made me want to believe in the feeling of heaven. Damn me for not bringing a jacket and no thank you to my body fats, which weren't enough to give me insulation from the cold. After a late lunch at Steaks and Toppings, my usual food stop every time I go to Baguio, we left our baggage at the hotel, visited the Cathedral and proceeded to have coffee at Starbucks SM after what seemed to be a brisk shopping at the flea market, read: ukay-ukay. While waiting for my mom and sisters and while admiring the fabric architecture of the mall, it's hard to resist the thought of someday owning property in this city on a plateau.

Dinner at Kubo Grill made us learn a lesson: not to eat in open areas during nighttime, as it may just leave you shivering from the cold breeze, but we enjoyed the variety of dishes they offered, nonetheless. It's also funny to note that we went to Alberto's bar. Had we known earlier that the bands playing there sing "Wowowee!" and that their Red Horse Stallion is unreasonably priced, plus their weird sign on the dance floor that dicourages man to man dancing, we would not have bothered to enter. We settled at Brew Yard in Nevada, a chill-out bar with a more civilized crowd and relatively inexpensive beer. With the booze flowing and the cold growing, wifey dared me to play along with Justin on stage. Knowing nobody recognizes us, we did three impromptu alternative tracks and shamelessly failed to finish two of them. A quick stop at seven eleven and then we were at our respective hotel rooms at around three in the morning of Valentine's day.

coffee @ Starbucks SM Baguio, Kubo Grill restaurant in Legarda

Lights out, cuddles and hugs... ...and that ended our first day in the summer capital.

I hurriedly went to the concierge to get the bouquet of a dozen red roses around eight in the morning just in time to surprise Allison as she woke up. Blame it on cupid for being such a sharpshooter that made me quite romantic to give my wife flowers for the first time. (Yup, first time indeed, I courted her bringing a box of beer in cans.) To the ladies' surprise, they just wondered how the boys got the bouquets when we were together all the time and there were no flowers for sale at the front desk - "We got resources!" is our answer in unison. We really wanted to be cool romantics. With the start of the obvious cheesiness and eternal mushiness, we had breakfast at the least romantic fastfood store - KFC.

Coffee at Cafe Zola perked the mood even more, and we were ready to paint Baguio's tourist spots red. A quick stroll at Burnham park was first on the list. Mines' view was next, and we enjoyed wearing Igorot costumes. We also bought silver jewelry and other memorabilia there. Like scenes from mushy Tagalog movies, we amused ourselves with horseback riding at Wright Park, as well as posing for photo ops at the Botanical Gardens. Because of the limited time, we weren't able to visit Camp John Hay and PMA. The sloping terrains of the city was more than enough to make our stomachs rumble with hunger - so we indulged in one day old chick, boiled sweet corn, pizza and pasta at Volante in Session Road. Then there was the need to go back to the hotel to freshen up and rest, well let's call smooching and the moments it will lead to next "rest" for now. We had a late dinner at 18BC in Legarda and we decided to stay in the same place to gulp a couple of rounds of beer. The place was cozy and the live band's music was to our taste.

maica, alli, mhon with their respective bouquets
stephen, justin, toni fight as igorots in Mines view

And so another day ended...still with lights out, cuddles, hugs and "rest"

We felt like Chinese traders enjoying breakfast after a tiring morning at Sunshine Lunch and Panciteria. It's one of the oldest established food shops in the city, which offers a variety of noodles, soups, big siopao and other food choices. A hot meal fueled our haggling prowess in the city market for delicacies and pasalubongs. Vacations are always synonymous with the obligation to bring something for friends and family back home. What was three bags at first turned into five. So little time so much to do, that always sucks to hear. But we took the 11:30am bus going down to Manila because we needed to. So farewell to the cold atmosphere, it's time to get to our next leg of the Valentine's week vacation.

the three pairs pose at Mines view park
outside our hotel room, our last day in Baguio

That wraps up half of the third day.... we'll continue further on the next pose.

final dose:
view photographs of our trip here
and more pictures on this album too