Our U.S. Adventure (Part 2)

While we left the east coast wanting for more, we were also ready for our next adventure stop: California.

We already had a taste of sunny California as we spent two days in Los Angeles before flying to New York.  We had time to go around Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Pier.  We also checked out the Hollywood Wax Museum, Ripley’s “Believe or Not” and Guiness Museum.

Hello, Mr. President! Nice to meet you!

Hello, Mr. President! Nice to meet you!

My princess with another princess' star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame

My princess with another princess’ star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Having fun at the Guiness Museum

Having fun at the Guiness Museum

We flew back to LA right in time for Game 6 of the LA Clippers and Oklahoma Thunder.  If there was anything that F looked forward to in this trip, it was to watch an NBA game live.  In fact, when we were getting our visas, this was what told the consul when the latter asked why he wanted to go to the States.  That being said, we really couldn’t pass up on this opportunity.  But since it was the playoffs, the ticket prices were triple (or was it quadruple?!) the regular season tickets!  So as it went, saw the game with his dad while I stayed home with S, who was just happy to stay  home, watch some TV and rest.

Donning matching complimentary shirts. Go Clippers!

Donning their matching complimentary shirts. Go Clippers!

 

The next day, we took a road trip to San Francisco to visit other relatives of hubby,  N.   We reached the Bay Area around 2pm and headed straight to the Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch.  Once we got settled in our booth at Joe’s Crab Shack, the two buckets of crabs and shrimps didn’t stand a chance.

Happy tummies!

Happy tummies!

We walked off our big lunch around the Marina area where we had a nice view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.  The kids had some time to play at the nearby park before we headed off to meet N‘s cousin, Mayette.  We met at Off the Grid in Fort Mason where they had about 35 food trucks convene in one location.  There were all sorts of food, drinks and desserts, we didn’t know where to begin!  In the end, F & S got chicken barbecue, N got this super yummy Korean beef rice burger and I got paella.  We wanted to stay longer and check out the other food trucks but it was getting too cold for comfort so we decided to call it a day.

We spent the following day exploring San Francisco’s must-sees.  We walked to Union Square and the kids were thrilled to see Manila being mentioned in the monument dedicated to Admiral George Dewey for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay.  The cold weather got the kids craving for hot chocolate so we went in a Ghirardelli store to get some but they quickly changed their mind and ordered ice cream instead 🙂  We also rode the famous cable car and drove to Lombard Street to see the crookedest street in the world.

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Lunch was at the Ferry Building Marketplace where they had all kinds of food offerings – from organic veggies to freshly-harvested fruits,  from artisan cheeses to gourmet sandwiches and coffee.  It was food paradise, if you ask me!  & I loved the vibe of the place so we decided to stay longer and had coffee and pastries while we catch up with N‘s cousins.

We only had a week left in our vacation as we headed back to our base (LA) that Sunday.  This was already reserved for the kids’ main event: theme parks! Even before we left for this trip, we knew that there were just too many theme parks and attractions for our allotted time (and budget) to accommodate.  So, after careful consideration, we trimmed it down to four:  Universal Studios, Legoland, Disneyland and California Adventure.

We spent one full day in each of these parks and needless to say, we all enjoyed every minute of it! We probably took hundreds of pictures in these last four days and I’d be happy to share some of them with you.

Disneyland

Disneyland

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

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Our first trip to the U.S. is really something for the books!  We know that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the list of things to do and places to see but we all had a wonderful time.  We are grateful to our family and friends who generously opened their homes to us, took the time to meet up with us, showed us around and bonded with us.  N & I know that the memories that we made during this trip are priceless and is something that our family will cherish and remember.

Our U.S. Adventure (Part 1)

This summer, we had a great opportunity to travel to the U.S. as a family.  It’s the first time for me and the kids to go to the States so to say that we were excited is the biggest understatement!  Planning for the trip was a major production as there were 101 things to be done – from getting our visas to airline ticket bookings, from planning the itinerary to getting tickets to all shows, amusement parks and attractions that we wanted to see, watch and do! Details, details, details! Of course, foremost on our agenda was to visit our relatives there.  That was bit of a problem since my family is on the east coast while hubby’s are mostly on the west coast.  After checking almost every possible flights and airlines, we finally decided to book MNL-LAX-MNL and then just took a domestic flight from LA to New York. Ours was a jam-packed itinerary to say the least. So let me give you a glimpse of our 3-week vacation in parts.

East Coast: New York – Atlantic City – Washington D.C.

New York has always been at the top of my “places to visit” list for as long as I can remember.  Before we left, I must have looked at a dozen websites searching for the best itineraries, tours and must-see places.  In the end, I followed suggeations from family and friends who’ve either been there or currently staying there. We took the red-eye flight from LAX to Newark Airport.  We were able to sleep through the 6-hour flight so by the time we landed, the kids were up and about and ready for the day’s adventure. Our first destination is Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.   We took the tour from Liberty State Park (instead of Battery Park in New York).  It turned out to be a good decision since the lines from Liberty State were much, much shorter.

F & S listening to the audio tour at the Statue of Liberty

F & S listening to the audio tour at the Statue of Liberty

The tour was very educational and interesting, especially for who is fascinated by history.  We stayed there for a good two and a half hours before heading back.  From there, we drove around Manhattan just to get a taste and feel of the city.  By this time, the kids were dozing off already so we decided to meet up with our other relatives for early dinner and then rest.

The next day, we were back in the city to check out other tourist destinations: Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden.  We even had a picture with “The Bull” as we walked along Wall St.!  As much as we wanted to visit all the museums, our time allowed us to see only one.  The kids chose American Museum of Natural History and that was how we spent our afternoon.  By evening, we took the subway to the other part of the city to catch “Wicked” on Broadway.  Again, kids’ choice prevailed on which show to watch.  No complaints here though! “Wicked” was fantastic!  After the play, we lingered a little bit more in Times Square before finally calling it a day.

Times Square at night

Times Square at night

Day 3 was about a whole lot of walking. We met up with my cousin, Roy, our designated tour guide for the day.  We went to 9/11 Memorial first as we wanted to see what has become of the famous landmark.  The place, though packed with people, radiated a serene atmosphere.  It was sad thinking how many lives were lost during that time but at the same time, a little comforting that they have not been forgotten.

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After that, we attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge by foot! We only made it till the first post of the bridge  before I decided that I’ve seen enough of the bridge and was ready for lunch.

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Undoubtedly, the lunch venue was the highlight of the day – Peter Luger’s!!! A train to Brooklyn and a few blocks walk took us to (arguably) the best meal we had in the States.

Yummy food! Could you tell from our smiles?

Yummy food! Could you tell from our smiles?

After our scrumptious meal, we were ready to get back to walking.   We wanted to stroll and hang out in Central Park but it started to rain so we made a detour to the shops- NBA store and FAO Schwartz, mainly.

Checking out the BIG piano at FAO Schwartz

Checking out the BIG piano at FAO Schwartz

The next day, we headed off to West Point before going to Woodbury Common for some retail therapy.  There was just tooooo many stores and so little time!!! It was a little overwhelming for me that in the end, I only got a couple of shirts (for my sisters), a dress for my daughter, S, and 2 pairs of shoes and a bag for me 🙂

The following day was Mother’s Day and we made plans to celebrate together.  My aunts, uncles and cousins went with us to Atlantic City for a another day of bonding, shopping and eating!

Walking along Atlantic City Boardwalk

Walking along Atlantic City Boardwalk

Our family bonding time includes shopping!

Our family bonding time includes shopping!

We took off early on the following day for another road trip…this time, to Washington D.C.!  When we arrived, we wasted no time and went straight to the Smithsonian- Air & Space Museum. After the kids had their fill of airplanes and space shuttles, we went around to see the famous landmarks and monuments – The White House, The Washinton Memorial, the Capitol.

A view of the White House

A view of the White House

The next day, we checked out the remainder of the famous monuments and brushed up on a little history along the way – Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Korean War and WW II Memorial among others.  It was truly a great experience fo us and the kids.

Family picture with Abe

Family picture with Abe

By afternoon, we were headed back to NYC.  We still had a little time before I met up with my friend for dinner so we stayed in Central Park and let the kids play for a bit.  How I wish we had more time to explore the park!

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Perfect day for a stroll in Central Park

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the west coast.   We decided to spend our last day with my relatives relaxing and bonding at their home.

S with my cousin, Roy enjoying some bonding and play time

S with my cousin, Roy enjoying some bonding and play time

F & S were so sad to leave! They said they were too “bitin” and I couldn’t agree more! New York has so many things to offer and spending a week was really not enough.  We truly look forward to the time when we can visit again and hope that it wouldn’t be too long.

 

 

Football Diaries: Malaya Cup 2014

My son, first played football during his toddler summer class in Prep Camp.  He was just two and a half years old then and he was hooked ever since.

From then on, we spent our weekend mornings either watching him train or cheering him during tournaments.  Yesterday’s mid-week holiday was spent like that – on the pitch.  Coming off a long hiatus from football training due to our vacation (which deserves a separate post), F jumped at the opportunity when he and his friends were invited to play at the MALAYA CUP 2014.

Since school barely started and training has not resumed yet, there was no way to field an official school team.  It was really through the efforts of our reliable co-soccer parents that their team was formed on such short notice.

The team was composed of ten boys aged 8-10 years old competing in the U11 category.  It was great to see them outside, playing the sport they love with their friends.  Nothing could have stopped these boys from playing.  Never mind if it was raining hard and the field is muddy.  Never mind if they got bumped, bruised and hurt physically by some rough players.  Never mind too, if they lost their first three games.  Never mind all that.  These kids just came to play…and they played their hearts out.

Of course, there were times when they got tired and frustrated.  But it was just great to see them go out there and pick themselves up after a loss or a fall.  And every time a teammate scored a goal, it was heartwarming to see them burst into big smiles as they hugged and cheered on each other.

His team mates congratularing him after scoring a goal. Photo credit: Bong Gregorio

F being congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal. Photo credit: Bong Gregorio

 

At the end of the tournament, they only won one game (their last).  They didn’t make it to the semis or the finals.  There were no medals to take home.  But that’s okay.  They still went home with smiles in their hearts.  They gave their best, played the sport they loved with their friends. That was all that mattered yesterday.

Sharing with you also the PTV Sports coverage of the Malaya Cup 2014:

 

 

Hello, World!

So…this is me and my attempt to put myself out there.  This happened not without a whole lot of prodding from my sister, Faye who has been pushing me to pick up on my writing for as long as I can remember.  I started writing way back in highschool but I haven’t written so much as journal entry in my Starbucks planner that I feel a little insecure about my writing.

But here I am now, ready to share bits and pieces of me.  In here you will find  my musings on life, love, family and marriage – mostly everyday mundane things but the same ones that give me reason to smile and be grateful for.

You will probably read about my little home improvement projects or party planning undertakings that I do for family and friends as well as updates on the little cupcake venture that my sisters and I have.

There is really no single agenda, no structured program other than to share my daily adventures and celebrations.

So, pop that confetti and let’s start on our journey.