Happy 27th!

Because they are avid supporters of my lil’ ol blog (and because Dad doesn’t have an FB account) — I am going to greet and honour them here. Here’s to the sweetest, the corniest and mushiest (I mean that in a good way! :D), and the most loving couple I know. Happy Wedding Anniversary! I love you! More sweet years to come! Tsup, tsup, tsup!

Photo by Karl Michael Bugante
Photo by Karl Michael Bugante

5 Gold Rings: 5 Things I am Grateful for

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 5 gold rings!!!

The Mayans had us duped. It’s already the 21st of December but the world is still spinning, the sun is still shining, and — as far as I’ve observed — zombies have not yet taken over the world.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful for that.

And really, I am just so grateful for these five gold rings:

  • I am grateful for my family. It’s hard being away from them on December. My parents will celebrate their wedding anniversary this month. My brother will celebrate his birthday a few days after that, too. And don’t forget the Noche Buenas and the Media Noches by the open fire — can someone Skype me up when the Christmas program starts? Okay? I am grateful because I shall be seeing my family again soon and I’ll get to drive them around and I’ll probably be filling their bellies up with lots of teh tarik and nasi lemak. And durian cendol. Mom won’t rest unless she’ll get a taste of that durian cendol.
  • I am grateful for my adoptive family in Malaysia. So what if we’re scattered around different parts of Asia and North America and wherever right now. Let’s watch ICE Age 4 and sing out the “We are family!” theme song together! Movie + food trip marathon starts on Sunday. Bring a crazy hat.
  • I am grateful because I have a stable job. I can pay my bills (which are currently at a minimum), I can pay my monthly rent (which, oops, isn’t really at a minimum), and I can have some good laughs with my officemates while I’m at it. I am learning the ropes of independent living. (Define independent. I don’t even have a decent jar of sugar at my house. Which reminds me. I’ll have to stock up on that. Soon.)
  • I am grateful for the Internet. All hail the Internet! Thank You, Lord, for gTalk, for YM, for FB Chats, and for Pidgin which links all my accounts together, letting me connect with everyone using just one desktop application. Thank You, Lord, for email, for social media, and for just letting us all have the means to keep in touch. Thank You for Skype, thank You for IDD calls, for — gosh. I can only imagine how it must have been like living during the time when the only means of connection between loved ones were telegrams and postal mails.  I’m not sure if I could have survived back then. I would have probably died. Or I’d have stayed at home and not made friends with anyone who was likely to go far, far away.
  • And finally, I am grateful — as previously mentioned — for the fact that the world is still spinning. Some good friends have yet to tie the knot. Some good friends have yet to give birth and cuddle their little bundles of joy. And the gospel has yet to be preached to the end of the earth. Methinks we still need a little bit of time for that.

Well, here’s to everything that we are all grateful for. Christmas is just around the corner. Enjoy your time with your loved ones. And — like a good friend told me once (or maybe a couple of times) — enjoy life. :)

Life without the Internet...
Overseas letters. I’d like to receive some, but still… e-mail is so much easier.

6 Geese-a-Laying: 6 Photos that Made Mari Smile

On the 6th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 6 geese-a-laying!

Six pictures that leave me smiling! Six pics that keep me grinning! Six — Uhh, whatever. The phrasing’s a bit off whichever way you try to sing it so never mind.

I didn’t realize it would be so hard to pick just six pictures from 2012. Browsing through my FB albums made me wish I could put all the photos posted there here.

But I must pick only six (did that phrase leave your tongue in a twist???) so here are the ones that made it to the list:

Mari, phone home.
Mari, phone home.
From the sad and lonely girl sitting next to (behind) me
From the sad and lonely girl sitting next to (behind) me.
"Oooh, what's this?" --> Photo by Xious.
Oooh, what’s this?  (Photo by Xious)
Kame hame wave!
Kame hame wave!
"We are family!" --> Photo from Arvin
We are family!  (Photo from Arvin)
"Pasko na Sinta Ko" --> Photo from the Phil Embassy in KL
Pasko na Sinta Ko. (Photo from the Phil Embassy in KL)

My family makes me smile. My friends at work make me smile. Getting surprises wrapped in shimmery wrapping paper (which I am likely to transform into tiny paper stars sooner or later) also makes me smile.

Fun jump shots with fun and passionate friends make me smile. Celebration of life  and singing my heart out at church and in choirs make me smile as well.

Did these pictures make you smile, too? :)

9 Ladies Dancing: 9 Women of 2012

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 9 ladies dancing!

Time to let the ladies take centre stage. Go ahead and give it a twirl, beautiful women of the world. ^_^

  1. Mom! Let’s give it up to the woman who has the same initials as I have (for now) — Mrs. MABL. She and Dad are my biggest fans. Really. Her Facebook timeline is beginning to look like a fan page for me — she shares my pictures and links back to my latest blog entries. Oha. San ka pa?
  2. Ms. PAU — soon to be Mrs. PAUP? Hihi. You are a treasure to me. Though you are far, far away (wait, Cambodia isn’t that far), I know I can always turn to someone for prayers and support. And coffee. Though I’m not really supposed to drink coffee right now.
  3. Mrs. MPHB — MPH Bookstore??? Haha!  Technically it’s MSHPHB, right? These initials are so funny. I super miss you, te. I want to see your baby soon. Like, SOON. VERY SOON. And I must, must, must talk to you. Like, SOON. VERY SOON.
  4. Ms. MABN — I can still feel your support even though you are several time zones and Centigrades away. How are you enjoying your first White Christmas? Thank you for transitioning us well. Have a happy, happy, happy holiday!
  5. Ms. YDP, let’s do the pre-marriage course, now na! I salute you for your passion. I salute you for your endurance. Lezdothis!
  6. Mrs. LLU, I so love your bilo-bilo! Next year is going to be so exciting. Thank you for your family’s warmth and hospitality. You are priceless treasures.
  7. Ms. PAO (Siopao?) — bunso! Yehez! You are precious. ;) Thanks for coming over. Thanks for your love and childlike nature. We have sooo many adventures up ahead of us next year (and in the years to come) — game?
  8. Ms. OD Ate!!! I am super grateful for your friendship, partnership, and support. We’re in this together. I have Yes Wifi na, you can access the net in my house anytime na. :D
  9. Ptr. AY — I’m going to cry rivers of tears right now. Thank you, Ate.  Here’s a big, big, hug for you. *HUUUUGGGGG*

You women deserve much honour. Group hug?

With much love,

This little woman right here
This little lady right here

10 Lords-a-Leaping: 10 Men of 2012

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… 10 lords-a-leaping!

And so the song continues. I was supposed to post an entry yesterday (Monday, because I wanted to maintain an MWF consistency) but the day’s busy-ness didn’t permit me to do so. Plus, I still hadn’t recovered from Sunday because — wait for it —

We sang as the front act for Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” concert in Kuala Lumpur!!!!! Owemgee, owemgee, owemgee, owemgee!

Okay, I still have a hangover from the event. So, before this entry becomes a blog post about that, let me get started with honouring and thanking those 10 men who have made a significant impact on life this year. And because this blog is becoming very public (here’s a cheery shout out to all those OFWs who keep on stumbling upon my How to get an OEC from NAIA 3 entry! ^_^) I’ll be using (mostly) initials instead of full names, lest this blog causes you guys to rise to too much stardom. So here goes. 10 lords-a-leaping.

  1. Jose Mari Chan!!! Permit me to break the Initials Rule for this item because it’s THE Jose Mari Chan. As previously stated, we got to sing as the front act for his concert at KL Live. God has a funny way of opening doors up. I was just browsing through my Facebook feeds when I saw an announcement posted by the Philippine Embassy at Kuala Lumpur — they were looking for people interested in joining a choir which would sing during the legend’s December 9 concert. At first, I thought it was just a joke. And I didn’t know if I could commit to the practices. But something inside me told me to go, go, go. And so the rest was history. Throughout most of November and through the first week of December, I and a good friend frequented the Embassy to practice “Negaraku”, “Lupang Hinirang”, “Joy to the World”, “Pasko na Sinta Ko”, and “Kumukutikutitap”. Well, though it cost me a lot in terms of gas money and parking tickets, like another good friend stated — the experience was priceless. I got to meet Mr. Chan. I got to exchange a few words with him (he told us that he was looking forward to hearing us sing!!!!) and I got to have my picture taken with him as well. And of course, I got to watch him perform live — his voice is still timeless. And yes — after eight years — I also got to sing on stage as part of a choir (like, a real choir with all the four voices) again. I really, really, thank God for that awesome opportunity.
  2. Okay, that’s all for Mr. JMC. Now it’s time to give Mr. JVL honour. Dad. You have always been a supportive follower of my blog. And a supportive supporter of my life, too. Thank you. See you on the 29th! :)
  3. Ptr. PY. Our senior pastor. I know you have always loved this land. I know your prayers and support are always with us throughout each and every season. I thank God for the time that we were able to spend time with you and Ate AY this year. Salamat po. :)
  4. Ptr. LO, I have always looked up to you ever since you handled the student ministry in Los Banos. Being under your leadership again is amazing. Cheers to next year and the years to come!
  5. Mr. PS, I am transitioning slowly! Hahaha. Yes, I’m often quiet, but more often than not, I’m just — weird and crazy. So thank you so much for your timeless support. We’ll keep in touch!
  6. Mr. TCB — kuya!!!! Let me say that again — kuya!!!!! Haha. You already know how valuable you and your wife are in my life.
  7. Mr. ADG — I wanna watch The Amazing Spiderman again, kuya. Hehe. Come back and I’ll let you drive Caleb again.
  8. Mr. VPC — Ako si Sailormoon! Though you are somewhere else, your support (drama moment much?) and offer to keep us laughing is much appreciated.
  9. Mr. WU, I am so thankful for you and your family. You guys are such an inspiration to me. And I am super grateful for your generous hearts. Thank you for letting God use you in making my life (and others’ included) much, much, much easier.
  10. Mr. ASC — I wanna go to Tsoko Nut Batirol again! Hehe. I will be forever thankful for your friendship. Cheers! Merry Christmas! Gift ko! :D

I just noticed that my last two entries ended with the phrase, “So there you go.” I was about to type in the very same words, but thank goodness I checked first.

Well… So there you go! Haha. 10 lords-a-leaping. And here’s my pic with Mr. Chan so that you will all know that I’m not bluffing. ;)


Time Stands Still

(Day 23 — Favourite Movies and TV Show)

I wanna be the very best that no one ever was…to catch them is my real test, to train them is my –

“It’s starting! It’s starting, Sistah!”

“Oh! Oh! Oh! Wait, wait, wait, press pause! Wait, there’s no pause!”

I scramble over to our big bushy sofa with a bowl of frosted flakes teetering in my hand. My brother and I ogle at the screen – we’re just two little kids anticipating the appearance of Ash, Pikachu, and that famous red and white Pokéball. Our eyes are glued onto what Mum and Dad jokingly – yet often begrudgingly – call “Mama TV”.

I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Teach Pokémon to understand the power that’s inside – Pokémon!

“Gotta catch ’em all…” We sing animatedly along with the show’s theme song. Pokémon is an integral part of our morning ritual. We’ve already donned our green and gold Sandon Uniforms and – once the show would end – we’d skip off into the day, going up and down O’dell, Blake, and Niagara streets to enjoy school sweet school. But first we must have our round of morning cartoons.

But the show is only about to begin. For a moment, time stands still.

In last week’s episode of Pokémon, our heroes Ash, Misty, and Brock faced the terrible wrath of Team Rocket. How will they get out of that mess? Join us in today’s episode – ‘Charmander Strikes back’!

For a moment, time stands still.

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started wait –

“Quantum, your shows are really funny,” I chuckle to myself as the Big Bang Theory episode takes over the laptop’s screen. I had pilfered the series from my brother’s machine some weeks back and now I’m finding myself addicted, watching four episodes in a row tonight.

“Penny, Penny, Penny.”

“Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon. What???”

“Oh nothing. I just wanted to ask you if you wanted a cup of hot beverage.”

“No Sheldon, I do not want a cup of hot beverage.”

“Oh. Pity.”

I release a loud guffaw at the exchange. Thank God I am alone – any onlooker would find me crazy laughing like this on my own.

The night is just ending. After a long day at work – and after a long month of dealing with life – I let the four stooges take their place in my “cheer yourself up” routine. I’ve already donned my pajamas. Dinner is in front of me — next to my makeshift laptop — and I’m ready to laugh the night away.

“Sheldon, are you crazy?!”

“No. I’m not. My mother had me tested. The doctors said I’m not.”

“Sheldon?! What in the world – ?”

“Ha. Ha. Bazinga!”


Well, now the show is ending. Time – no longer still – begins ticking.

Lola and Mr. Lucado

(Day 11 – A quote you love)

My grandmother asks me the same question whenever I go home to my province: May boyfriend ka na ba? Translation: Do you have a boyfriend yet?

Mari: "Oh no, not this question again..."

I know she means well. She keeps a tab on all her kids and all her grandkids. At 84, she still knows who goes to what school, who works at what company, who garnered which achievement, who got together with which person. It’s not an easy feat since there are so many of us. But she does it because she loves us so. She’s so proud of all her kids and grandkids that she can’t help it.

I wonder what goes through her mind when I tell her, “No, Lola, wala pa po.” (No Grandma, there’s none yet). I used to throw in an exasperated face with this reply, but lately, I just chuck in a good-natured laugh.

See? Good-natured laugh.

She’ll probably ask me again when I go home this year. I’m thinking of adding this quote to whatever my response would be: “Lola, according to Max Lucado – well, I think it’s Max Lucado – ‘A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.’”

But then I can imagine how the rest of the conversation will turn out.

if (responseWithQuote == “wala pa po”){

$Lola = “Baka namang sobrang tago na ang puso mo, di niya na nakita.”; //maybe your heart’s so hidden, that he wasn’t able to find it

$Mari = “Edi lumapit pa siya kay Lord. Hehe.”; //then let him get closer to God still


else {

$Lola = “Tama ka, anak. Ang galing naman. Ibig sabihin, malapit talaga siya sa Diyos.”; //You’re right, child. Amazing. It means he’s really close to God.

$Mari = “He is. And the whole hiding and seeking thing is worth it.”;




Yes, I just had to add in some geeky coding to this blog post.

Haha. Cheers to Lola and to Mr. Lucado!

Prince Charles and Lady Di of Batch E

(Day 4 – Your Parents)

They were known as the Prince Charles and Lady Di of Batch E. They had the looks, the grace, the elegance and the love story to compete with the then popular fairytale couple. But though the aforementioned royal pair’s wedded life ended in a tragedy of divorce and death, Joel and Ma. Azucena’s did not. Twenty-six plus years later, their marriage is still strong, still becoming sweeter as the years go by.

The dashing Baguio boy and breathtaking Cebu girl met during their undergraduate years at the Philippine Normal University in Manila. They became college sweethearts. They graduated, got physically separated, but they battled it out for love nonetheless. Finally, on December 22, 1985, Joel and Ma. Azucena tied the knot. The pair got married in Visayan territory before moving and settling in Cordilleran terrain. Three years later, a siopao-faced daughter came into their lives, followed by a soyfee-hued son one-and-a-half year later.

They first lived in a closet-sized home affectionately called as the “sultan” during the “early years”. By the time Siopao Face turned one, they had however moved into their new home – the second floor of a former dormitory for students.

A framed picture of a brick abode with the words “A house is made of brick and stone but a home is made of love alone” hung on their house’s door. In actuality the residence was made of wood and metal shingles but with l-o-v-e saturating the rooms, it was indeed… a home.

When Siopao Face and Soyfee Hue (aka Mari Anjeli and Quantum Yuri) were old enough to listen to and understand stories, Ma. Azucena filled their nights with tales of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, Mowgli and Shere Khan, Kangaroos and Rainbow Snakes, of the King Shahryar and Sheherazade.

Joel in turn filled their skill bucket with the basic things they needed to survive life – bikes and bike-riding, balls and ball-catching, bridges and bridge-crossing, dishes and dishwashing, eggs and egg-cooking.

Together they taught the children about honesty and generosity, about patience and diligence, about dreaming and persevering. They were good parents and, though the two kids have almost grown up, they are that way – good – to them still.

And speaking of teaching and parenting, Joel and Ma. Azucena, through years of firsthand parenting, spent time being second parents as well. Both have become established in the craft of educating and inspiring college and post-graduate students. They taught them math, statistics, physics, and everything else in between.

Now, both have reached the golden years but are still filled to overflow with love. And, though their wedded years have just gone pass silver, they’ve still more affection to give out.

Sweeter as the years go by. :) Photo by Karl Michael Bugante

Cheers Papa and Mama! Here’s to the many more love-filled years to come! And so I attempted to spin a fairy tale of some sort given the handful of information that I have about your years together. I shall write a much, much longer one, when we sit down together and you share more stories with me. Love you!