No Water? No Problem!

About two or three weeks ago, the scheduled water supply interruption in our city was all over the news. Unfortunately, they had it scheduled during the Holy Week for about three days. At the rate the weather in Manila is going (31–34°C), this year’s Holy Week will not be any different from the previous ones. If I’d choose between no water supply and no electricity, I would pick the latter without batting my lashes any time of the day. Just the thought of not being able to shower at least once [within the day] makes me cringe. It could well pass for a crime in my books!

Anyway, upon learning about this impending inconvenience, my parents thought we might as well stay somewhere else during this time. However, as I have mentioned before, we never travelled for leisure during the season of Lent. This year, we’re making a slight exception: we’re checking in at a nearby hotel for a short staycation. Fortunately, my folks copped a membership at a hotel not far off from home a few months ago. It includes includes complimentary accommodation as well as free pool and gym passes. Needless to say, the hotel’s going to be or home for the next three days.

Photos taken at the Samanea Garden (above); Junior Suite (below)

We were surprised to see a lobby full of people when we arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon. It seemed like everyone else had the same thing in mind! In fact, we chanced upon some fortuitous (not to mention, unpleasant) people along the way, and it was really an entertaining bout. Upon checking in, we walked across the hotel to grab some quesadillas and burritos for late lunch; however, such gastronomic delight seemed to have made us feel guilty, so we served our act of penitence at the gym two hours later. Since it’s a holiday, not many restaurants were operational. We ended up having dinner at McDonald’s which was just right across the hotel.

It was almost ten o’clock when we went back to our room, but thought the night was still young. Good thing Dad brought our ever-reliable board game; we had our little Scrabble tournament just like the good ol’ days. The goal has always been the same: beat Dad in Scrabble! He is good in hooking a word by adding one letter to a previously played word, and playing perpendicular, earning him a double-digit score in just one turn. I can’t even tell you how ecstatic we get when we win against him; that’s how good he is at this game!

We played three [hilarious] rounds until we all called it a night at half past one in the morning. Mom had fallen fast asleep, and it was difficult to suppress our laughter in between turns, cautious not to wake her up. It was certainly not as eventful, but neither was it entirely typical. Family time is always a good time after all.

In Her Loving Memory

You don’t get over it; you just get through it. You don’t get by it because you can’t get around it. It doesn’t ‘get better’; it just gets different. Everyday…grief puts on a new face.
—Wendy Feireisen

Our family is in deep sorrow over the passing of my father’s elder sister last Saturday. She was only 58. She died the same age as her mother—my grandmother. She had battled with cancer since 1995, but we (my brothers and I) did not know this until my aunt suffered a relapse in December 2012; her cancer had metastasized in her stomach.

I have no words to describe how painful it is for the family to find out about her demise. She was gone too soon. I don’t know how to console my favorite cousin on his mother’s demise which makes it more unbearable. How does one find the words to reassure someone who has just lost his mother that everything is going to be fine? The truth is, it doesn’t. I don’t know this yet, but I’ve seen how my mother gets emotional every time we visit my grandmother’s grave. It’s been almost seven years since, but nothing has changed. I have felt the same towards my most-loved grandfather, and I miss him to this day. I still wish he had been there on our wedding day, but he’d been gone since 2008.

We have had family issues in the past, and unfortunately, it caused a strain in our relationship. I have learned a lot from this circumstance because I witnessed the value of acceptance and forgiveness most especially if family is involved. It’s sad that we no longer got the change to make up for the lost times, but we’re relieved that she left this world peacefully. She will forever be missed.

Back To Square One

I must admit that I have been off-tracked with my fitness goals for the last few months. It’s ironic that I started slacking off with my workouts a month before my wedding. Things got crazier and I became busier, tossing my time and energy between my day job and final wedding preparations. I reported to work until a week before our Big Day, and I decided not to go to the gym anymore because I needed to get as much rest (read: sleep) as I can; otherwise, exhaustion will reflect in our wedding photos and video. My husband, however, was able to continue with his weight training by signing up at a nearby local gym, along with my youngest brother. Had my husband agreed to signing up with Gold’s Gym, I wouldn’t have a problem at all; however, he prefers their “bronze” gym (a pun he and my brother made up) over my “fancy” one. Whatever.

The other day, my friend tagged a photo of me from Sweet and Edong’s wedding on Instagram. Suddenly, it hit me. I have gained. See, that was what motivated me to do something about my unwanted weight some three years and 35lbs ago. Seeing photos of myself—face as big as the moon, flabby arms and thick thighs—was what triggered me to change my lifestyle. I knew I had to act on this personal issue sooner, not later. Scale-wise, I was not overweight. In fact, my weight still fell on the normal BMI for my height, but I did not feel good. All the wrong choices put me in this position, and I’m the one to blame. This, my friends, is a gut-punching realization.

Incidentally, a friend from grade school/college invited me to try out her current workout routine, CrossFit training.¹ I see that she’s lost a lot of weight since I last saw her a little over a year ago, so I thought I’d give it a shot. She goes to a nearby local gym (“box” in CrossFit vocabulary) which is only a stone’s throw away from her house. Today I promised to go with her for my first CrossFit training, and I did. I psyched myself since yesterday that I will commit to this no matter how anxious I get about this new thing.

The box is not like any commercial gyms I’ve been to. There were no fancy equipment (i.e., treadmill, elliptical machines, etc.); instead, there were sets of free movement weights such as kettlebells, dumbbells, weight plates, weight discs and medicine balls. I jumped right into the routines when we arrived at the box. My dynamic warm-up included rolling up using PVC tubes and different kinds of quick cardio exercises. It was immediately showed me a rundown of the following routines:

  1. Medicine Ball Squat Press x 20
  2. Single Leg Dead Lift x 10 on each side
  3. Big Circles x 10 (clockwise, then counter-clockwise)
  4. Toe Touches x 20
  5. Medicine Ball Russian Twist x 10 on each side
  6. Rolling Push-up x 20
  7. Medicine Ball V-Up x 20
  8. Side-to-Side Slam x 10 on each side

Here’s where the fun part goes. I had to complete four sets of all eight routines! Since I was new to this, they did not record my time. I was dying on the second set, but I had to man up to at least finish three sets of my exercises. Boy was I overwhelmed! I was sweating buckets, and it didn’t even involve running on a treadmill nor joining a group exercise. That’s coming from a semi-gym rat that is myself who used to spend two hours at gym, five to six times a week.

CrossFit is indeed designed for strength and conditioning training, and with proper form, I believe it will be an effective form of exercise. As most professional trainers say, CrossFit can be done by anyone, but it is not for everyone. I’m beginning to feel the aftermath of my workout today as I write this, and I can help to think: what did I get myself into?

Here’s to hoping I sustain this new habit to a healthier and fitter lifestyle!

Have you tried CrossFit Training? If so, do you find it fun?
If not, what type of exercise do you enjoy the most? Share your experience below.

¹This is a pretty comprehensive guide to beginners in CrossFit training.

Update [12 April 2014]: I did this entire routine again for three sets at home today using a basketball instead of a medicine ball. (I had to improvise!) My body is sore, but it’s a good kind of soreness, that I sort of missed. I might go again tomorrow morning or sometime next week before they place closes in observance of the Holy Week.

First of Summer

The eight-year-old version of me would become giddy as soon as the school ends because it automatically meant going on a summer getaway with the entire family. As early as January, the elders would have planned something for the summer. It didn’t matter whether we’re renting a private pool or checking in at a beach resort; as long as my cousins are there, I’m sure it’s going to be fun. Who would have thought that two decades later, the feeling remains the same?

Our relatives invited us over at a semi-private resort in Cavite with a swimming pool, villas for rent, and a variety of recreational facilities. It was a grand celebration for everyone who graduated this year as well as those who are celebrating their birthdays this April. They booked enough rooms to accommodate several groups of families present there; however, we couldn’t stay overnight because of prior commitments the following morning. Instead we extended our stay in order to spend more time with the family. Everyone prepared a banquet enough to feed a hundred people, and most of them are only staying overnight.

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Speaking of Birds…

The weather has warmed up here in the Philippines. It is not yet officially summer, but it’s a clear indication that the dry season will be around soon. Coming home from work on a Friday afternoon, I kicked my weekend off by doing some light household chores. While folding newly-washed clothes, I was all of a sudden brought out of my reverie by the sound of chirping birds. It was music to my ears. I realized how living in a busy neighbourhood within the city hampers one’s appreciation of nature.

Mom was telling us the other day how one family friend has gotten into birding. “Cool, he breeds different kinds of birds,” I said. Mom corrected me by explaining that people who get into this thing do not breed birds, but instead spend time taking photos of them. I’m not sure what’s more silly—taking photos of random birds or assuming that birding is the same thing as breeding? Consider the latter, please.

Apparently, birding has been a thing here in the Philippines since mid-2000s. It is actually a birdwatching quest for nature and photography enthusiasts alike. What makes it exciting is the chance to discover rare species of the aves class. That family friend of ours I was telling about earlier even goes to remote regions in the country, hoping to capture the beauty of birds, other wildlife and local culture. That—I think—gives a whole new meaning to thrill-seeking adventures.

While you indulge yourselves in these amazing photos of birds taken from different parts of the country, I’m going to start packing my bag for a quick getaway with my family this weekend. Here’s to wishing you all a wonderful weekend!