White Hat: Manila’s (or Italy’s?) answer to Pinkberry.

I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I’ve had only a week into my vacation here in the tropics. For some reason, the minute I decided to start feeling grateful (versus whiney) things have just been absolutely delightful.

The last couple of days have been spent hanging out with my family, Alvs gamely joining every step of the way. I am looking forward to this HUGE reunion—a get-together like no other since we haven’t been this many at a family gathering since the 80s. My family is literally scattered across the globe, and for the first time in YEARS, most will fly to town in time for my grandmother’s 85th birthday. I cannot wait!

In my mom’s words, “I feel like I’m attending an Oprah convention!”—thanks to my cousin’s superbly-organized itinerary, itemized beyond belief down to seating arrangements in the vans that will take us on our Southern road trip from Cagayan de Oro to Davao City.

The other day, we picked up my mom’s sister, Tita Espie, and her son, Manuel at the airport. Now, this is no ordinary arrival so let me tell you a bit of a background story.

Tita Espie has three sons now age 23, 24, and 25. They left Manila when they were about 10. Manuel is very very close to our grandmother, Lola, he practically asphyxiated from crying the night before they left for New Zealand. “Can’t you go with us?” he asked her, in between hicuppy sobs. “It hurts so much.”

And 14 years later, Manuel, all grown up (and super buff!) is here! In the car, I’d asked him, “So, what do you remember most about the Philippines from before?” He said, “I just remember crying so much when we left.” Aww…

When we got to Pampanga, we didn’t tell Lola right away that Manuel was with us. Tita Espie said something to the effect of, “We have a kargador [porter] with us.” Lola stared at Manuel for many many seconds before Tita Espie exclaimed, “That’s Manuel!” And then it was just hearbreaking/heartwarming from thereon. Too precious!

And that was just one weekend. There’s a lot more to talk about (the food! the salon trips!), but for now I have some work beckoning!

Manuel and Lola reunited after 14 years!United colors of… piqué.

Um, that’s not our shotgun wedding. Alvin’s nephew’s confirmation ceremony.

My dad started blogging last week.