random thoughts on a graciously beautiful life

On Her Own: My Daughter’s First Vacation Alone


I have always felt Yna is a carefree spirit, a young lady ready to burst into the world to claim her rightful space. She mentions of traveling the world, of being inspired by a young stewardess aunt and of being an international ambassador. I felt her dreams to be appropriate of how I know her as an individual.


When our family friend invited her for a vacation in Davao and knew that she liked that possibility, her Dad and I allowed her. It was not until she left that I realized though that this was her first vacation alone, meaning, not with any family member. Her cousins were in awe saying, “Wow, you allowed her to go islands away from you! That’s cool. My parents won’t even let me go to town alone.” I wondered. Were we too indulging of her freedom? But my insides said otherwise. If I were to be asked who among the three children would I be worried the most when they left home, it would not be Yna. I know her to be strong-willed, resourceful and free-spirited. I know that sooner or later, she needs that freedom to soar into life! It’s just a matter of time.


It’s been almost a week that she has been gone. Of course, I miss her. Here are a few things I specifically miss about her:

  1. Her beautiful photos. I asked the little Prince to take photos for me, for this blog. He was just plain lazy!
  2. Her playful banter with the boys in the household. There’s no one ‘annoying’ the boys these days so it’s relatively quiet.
  3. Her pesky shuffling around the house. She hovers in and out of rooms, inspecting everyone’s lives.
  4. Of course, the selflies! Her phone is always overused because of ‘over-selfies.’ Gosh.
  5. Her LUMU (her words of affection that she personally coined which stands for LOVE U and MISS U)


Before she left, we went to a wedding. There, we spent a few, nice moments. She cried when I left her but I knew that would last only for a while for when my daughter is set to take a step into the world, she’s always ready to take the plunge, to soar, to live life…with selfies at that.


6 Things I Love About My Son’s Soccer Coaches

Two years of being a soccer mom to Prince, I saw him being led by a handful of sports coaches who exemplify values that I embrace in life — faith, family, humility, fairness and respect. I have seen them as parenting partners important to the development of my son in various aspects of life. In many ways, they help me raise my son.


They help build my son’s character. 

Winning a game. Losing a game. Being benched during a crucial game. Being assigned the team captain for a pressure game. Showing up for practice. Watching your teammates play. Having to shoot a penalty kick with frantic screams from coaches, parents and an excited audience. Wow! These are things that teach you about life’s toughest lessons. I cannot teach these life lessons all with just words. The experience of sports comes with the gift of building character. I am glad my son is given the chance to experience this.

Coach Donna, one of his school coaches is quite strict during actual games. I hear her scream out encouragement to follow their strategy or her scolding when someone is not up to par.


They teach the value of discipline and dedication.

Coach Lando, one of  his first coaches is such a dedicated coach who made sure training schedule was consistent and always on track. Even outside school days, he encourages the children to train and play, making the initiative to set up practice time. I saw Prince diligently comply. I can count on my fingers the number of times he has missed soccer training.When it comes to his sports schedule, he is relatively more in order. He fixes his bag. He keeps track of his jersey, making sure his uniform is available and complete. He prepares his water jug and walks to the field independently. I’m still in a constant battle with him to have him clean his shoes and pick up after his mess when he comes home from practice. I hope we get to that soon but as to the more important facets of dedication, he has committed himself to the sport he has fallen in love with.


They nurture my son’s passion. 

I remember when Prince was 5, he was still clingy and quite withdrawn. When his uncle Daniel from Europe came home, they played futsal just for fun for the first time. Daniel saw Prince could play well. Since then, Prince was with a soccer ball in tow. His dad found Coach Clifford, a player from the Philippine Air Force. Together, they played informally in the nearby field. I watched. For the first time, I saw Prince being oblivious to me. He was playing, not knowing I was around, not minding me at all. He had direction, I sensed. I knew it was passion unfolding before my eyes and it was beautiful. Since then, he never stopped. Thus, my life as a soccer mom. Every weekend was a schedule of football tournaments and youth league games. He has never stopped being passionate about it.


I see him read his “Everything About Soccer” book and doodle his own soccer shoe design. When he was younger, his dad and I would watch happily as he made origami football goals and player markers to do pretend play of a soccer game.

everything kids soccer book

The coaches play a big role in nurturing this passion. I’ve seen kids who have suddenly stopped playing because they were discouraged by coaches or parents. I’ve seen kids improve dramatically, playing more passionately because of coaches, encouraging them enough to unleash their potential. His uncle Daniel and Coach Clifford are perfect nurturing mentors. Today, even as he has moved on to other coaches, they ask about his progress. Once in awhile, they play in the field. I see Prince excitedly showing off what he has already learned.


Perhaps, one of my son’s coaches who I have come to respect the most is Coach Joseph Gensaya. Coach Joseph is actually a co parent in the soccer team. He is a football player,a coach and a match commissioner. Even his day job has something to do with sports. His wife Josephine tells us stories of how dedicated he is to the sport that she had to support his passion in ways that she never imagined. Eventually, she has come to love what they do and it shows! Coach Joseph goes out of his way to develop the children because he saw their passion and their potential. He is responsible for getting the kids to experience the professional youth league. He has blended players from all over, hosting some of them in his home. He coaches the kids himself. We see his little sacrifices in the name of training our children. As co parents, it is just right that we support our children the best way we can. With these hardwork and sacrifices, he does all these things happily. I guess that’s what true passion does!


They appreciate the children in an honest way. 

…and criticize them just as honestly. I remember Coach Joseph telling my son, “You were zero balance today. You were not giving your 100%…I expect you to do better next time.” I also remember him saying, “To me, you were today’s Man of the Match! That was good defense.” I saw Coach Lando talk to my son fervently every time he cried after a game’s loss when he was younger. The coaches’ pat on the shoulder, hand brushing of the child’s head or their playful pokes mean much to the children. As a parent, I see these gestures coming from a sincere place.


They help me let go of my son and just let him be. 

Allowing my son to be a soccer player also provided me a chance to step back or step aside. I remember telling Coach Lando, ” You don’t have to worry about me. I entrust him to the team. It’s your call.” Then, I have learned to have faith in them, as coaches. I’ve taken the backseat and just cheered during triumphs or wept in silence during heartbreaking losses. Through it all, I saw the coaches begin in big hopes, rejoice in victory and tie up loose ends after each match, win or lose.


They remind the children and us, parents that even in the midst of serious competition, the game of life should still be fun! 

The children and the coaches have their silly moments. It’s always heartwarming to see that. I remember the kids and Coach Donna excitedly getting Dairy Queen ice cream or a cup of taho after every practice. I remember Coach Lando wrestling animatedly with the kids. I noticed with my son’s teams that every after game whether they win or lose, after a coach’s debriefing, they go back to the field and do casual play in an relaxed but excited manner. I’ve seen a team playing so well so scientifically. Man, were they good! I noticed though that every time they play, there was silence as if everyone was concentrating so vividly. After each game, they are happy to win but they just go and pack up after the debriefing and head home. I wanted that for my son for a time, to be in serious play but I realized that it was scary too. It was good to see the element of fun in their games. It was comforting to know that even as they strive to be better at the sport, they’re still children and it’s still supposed to be fun.

Just like life. It’s supposed to be fun and happy and spontaneous.

Thank you to my son’s coaches.


Gracious Thought of the Day


Giving it Up for Lent


As I sat in a cafe, I read through these reminders simply pasted in the window pane.

The season of Lent is a season of penance and reflection. It is a special time of prayer and sacrifice. Not that everyday is not a time of prayer and sacrifice but I always thought of Lent as a great reminder of human frailty…that in all the great gifts that life offers, one must pause a while to reflect and make a little sacrifice to make us feel “human” once again. It begins on  Ash Wednesday, which was a few weeks ago.

My children and I celebrated Ash Wednesday together, with the mass leader asking, “What will you sacrifice this Lenten season?” This got my kids thinking. They knew that most people during Lent give up carnivorous dishes on Fridays or for the whole of forty days. I was glad that the mass leader mentioned that sacrifices need not be literal. Sacrifices out of love can be giving up something that comes to us as an indulgence in commemoration of lent. Prince asked, “What can I give up?” I told them that children are actually exempted from this practice. But they insisted that they can do it so they came up with this…

For Prince, no delicious Yan Yan for 40 days…

For the princess, no soda for 40 days… (I think this is quite difficult!)


Coke + Aaaah = Happiness!

Okay, so I joined them on this too…it’s goodbye coffee for 40 days…


When you put your heart to it, there’s nothing to it. We’re doing pretty well. We’re halfway through. Such a trivial but meaningful task. Here’s looking forward to coffee on Easter and the lessons that come with it.

Gracious Thought of the Day


One Summer Morning

I cancelled an appointment today. I could not stand to leave the kids at home as they wake up to fix their own breakfast and do their own thing while I attend a whole day appointment. I remember how I used to cram everything in the morning before 7:30 AM — the children’s school needs, instruction for the helpers — just to make it to the office at 8 AM and slave the whole day at work. I reach the house often with the kids fast asleep, except Prince the littlest one. He waits up for me and together we watch Shaun the Sheep at 10 PM until we fall asleep.

Thank God it’s the other way around today. I couldn’t stand to miss an early summer morning with the children. I’m happy too that I have the luxury to make a choice.

Summer is just beginning. My big boy has just arrived. We all slept in the living room together. Even as I woke up early, I watched over them, prepared our breakfast. When the little one woke up, he said, “Mom, lie down beside me.” I indulged and asked, “Why?” He answered, “So that you can relax…” And with a tangle of arms and legs, he wrapped me in innocent love.

Just for that, the cancellation was worth it.



Kuya’s Homecoming at Kuya’s

My eldest boy, Christian is back with me for the summer. You see, he stays with his grandmother being the ‘first apo’ and all-time favorite. I remember years back when he had his summer homecoming too. He looked like this…


Now, he looks like this…


To celebrate his homecoming, we decided to eat at Kuya’s…


I always pass by this restaurant as it was in our neighborhood’s vicinity and have always wondered about it. Finally, I was convinced to give it a try when a co-parent told me about it. I was convinced because every time we had our little chat, she and her husband seemed so well-versed with finding the worthy restaurants in the metro. It was a slow day when we visited. That works for me. Parking was not a problem, when it usually is in Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio. As we entered, I noticed its tempered lighting, which kind of forces your to relax and leave your stress at the doorstep. Inside, there were art pieces that will catch your eye. The table settings were a bit formal. I remember cozy music from the late 80s playing.



The food was good and affordable. I noticed that Kuya’s was a single resto venue offering a two- themed cuisine. Kuya’s offered good, Filipino food. while Jed and Julian’s (which is the same venue) offers pizza and burgers. I was enticed by the pizza-burger-pasta menu but I opted to follow the advice of our experienced informant, I ordered their Kare Kare. The kids went for Adobo Rice and the ever kid-friendly Chicken Inasal. Hands down, the Kare Kare was the star of the night. The kids forgot about the other orders and just indulged in this original Kapampangan dish. The portioning was big too that we took home what was left. I just had to ask for that extra bagoong (fermented fish paste)…because it was absolutely heavenly. And what’s a Kare Kare without bagoong! There was no outright saltiness to it. Instead the oil and the saltiness burst together subtlety in your mouth!


IMG_4796IMG_4800IMG_4805Oh, I should mention that we were served by patient, efficient Kuyas as waiters. They embody the true big brother always ready to lend a hand.Their uniform shirts also said, “I will be a good kuya.” I’m sure there’s a very interesting story on how the restaurant was named. Who is this Kuya?, I wondered.

After a full, satisfying meal, the ambience was just perfect for us to just stay and talk awhile. Kuya, Yna and Prince busied themselves with doodling on the big paper table mat while they teased each other, as usual. There was no one ‘pikon,’ (huffy) that night, thank heavens. I watched them talk to each other. I pocketed another family moment. Why do I feel as if moments like these are running out? Is it because I’m being aware at how fast they grow up? I could just sigh.



Kuya’s at the Fort/ Jed and Julian’s

21 Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 

Tel. Nos. (02) 889-0240/ (02) 782-2802



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