Orgil brought us to the airport here in the Twin Cities for our 13-hour flight to Tokyo, Japan. During the entire flight, Isabelle only napped for an hour. That means her mommy and daddy had almost zero sleep! The little girl was very excited to be in a 747-400 aircraft, even though it wasn't her first time to be in a huge plane. Paul and I were excited about a different thing- that's to be with family and friends in the Philippines. The flight seemed like forever! I think it's just because we couldn't wait to get to our destination. In the plane, we got Izzy busy with reading books, drawing and coloring, listening to her music in her daddy's ipod, watching her movies in my laptop, playing with other little people in the plane, playing with her dollies and teddy bears and snacking. She would do anything but sleep. That was a little bummer!
We finally arrived at Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. We were so dog-tired that we didn't mind making a bed out of the hard floor by the boarding gate of our next flight. We had 2 hours to rest before we boarded another 747-400 plane bound for Manila, Philippines. Isabelle continued sleeping until we landed at Manila International Airport. It was a 5-hour flight. At the airport, my only sister and "bestest" friend, Grace, and her husband of 6 months, met us. They flew in a day earlier from Thailand. We got to meet her husband, Clif, for the first time. He looked much bigger than every one in the Philippines with his 6 feet height. Isabelle called my sister, "Tita Grace" right away. She also didn't complain when Clif picked her up. From the airport, we headed to our favorite hotel, Kabayan Hotel. We always stay in this hotel every time we are in Manila. It's a little different now... it's bigger, cleaner and decorated better.
We stayed another day in Manila. We visited the Intramuros, the Spanish headquarters during their colonization of the Philippines. We toured around the historic area and enjoyed the company of an expert Filipino historian as our tour guide. We also went to Manila Zoo, where Paul got to see crocodiles for the very first time. In the afternoon, we left our husbands and Izzy sleeping in our hotel while we went shopping at the Mall of Asia. We ended up not buying anything but a pair of flip flops for each of us. All we did was walking around the mall while talking... we would stop and sit in sidewalk benches when our conversations got more emotional. When we got back to the hotel, the three were still sleeping. We woke them up and went to Glorieta for dinner. We took the MRT light rail train. Oh, you should have seen how excited Izzy was to be in a "Cho-cho" ride. Anyway, we were up for Korean food so we ate at a nice Korean restaurant in Glorieta. Oh, the food was awesome! I didn't realize how much I miss Bulgogi and Kimchi until that night. With the "party in our tummy", we went to the park in the mall so Izzy could play with Paul and Clif while Grace and I went to do more shopping and talking. After Izzy's playtime, we went to Greenbelt, the mall where we could easily spot popular Filipino celebrities for a walk and coffee. Grace and I had Starbucks coffee. Oh, the coffee there tasted much better than their coffee here. I don't know why.
We woke up at 4 and had a very early breakfast because we had to be at the airport for our flight bound for Davao City at 7am. The 1.5-hour flight was very long! We couldn't wait to see the rest of the family (except for Nemrod and his family, who later joined us) waiting for us at the airport. When we finally saw them, we got more excited! My Mama and Papa looked much healthier and stronger than when we met them two years ago. My nieces have grown so much. Some of them were taller than me! From the airport, we headed to a restaurant for lunch, hugging and talking! Isabelle enjoyed the attention she got from her lolo and lola (grandpa and grandma), cousins, titos and titas (uncles and aunts). She gave each a hug and a kiss! Nemrod's wife and kids came and joined us for lunch. After lunch, we drove to Red Knight Gardens where we rented two apartments for our accommodation for 4 days. The said apartments were in the same building and were turned into some kind of hotel rooms but each one is fully-furnished. It felt like we were all in the same house... perfect vacation spot for a big family. We spent the rest of the day resting and talking.
All guys brought Papa for shopping for his attire for their 50th Wedding Anniversary the next day. All ladies also went shopping with Mama to buy her her special dress. All the kids stayed at the apartments to play. Nemrod arrived later in the afternoon. In the evening, we had Grace's Wedding Reception at a private room in one restaurant. It was a cute party with lots of food, laughter, singing, dancing, speech-ing and praying. We got to formally welcome Clif into the Maliza family. Oh, and I was the MC. Also, three of my high school buddies came to see me and my American family. Oh, how they've changed. They looked bigger and happier! All three of them have really good careers. I was so happy to see them and to get a chance to introduce my handsome hubby and my lovely daughter. After the reception, we were so tired that we couldn't wait to get to our apartment to sleep... and we did... but before we ended that day, the drama of our laptop started! Check it out here... The Drama of our Laptop.
God woke us up with His miraculous way to answer prayers! A knock on our door announced the miracle! What a morning that was! It sure did gave us a strong jump start for that day. It's our parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary and we were very ready to celebrate it. We did our last minute shopping for the big event in the morning. At 3pm every one was dressed in his/her best. We drove to the Waterfront Hotel where we were going to have the celebration. We had our picture taking for an hour and at 5:30pm the ceremony was started. The reception followed right after the ceremony. For more of the event and photos, check this out... Golden Wedding Anniversary.
Nemrod and his family left for Bislig City early morning. The rest remained at Red Knight and later visited the Crocodile Park and Tribal Park, where we ended up dancing with the folk dancers in the park. Paul had a great time at the Crocodile Park. I also got to see a real water dragon. Oh, it looked very ugly... the ugliest animal I've ever seen in my entire life! We also did some swimming at the pool at Red Knight Gardens in the evening. Oh, and we also had a worship service at one of the apartments we rented because it was Sunday. Paul and Clif spoke during our service.
We drove up to Tandag, Surigao del Sur in the morning without Grace and Clif(they went to visit my uncle in STo. Tomas, Davao del Norte). It was an 8-hour drive. It could have been shorter if it wasn't raining hard. The roads weren't all paved yet so there were parts that were very muddy. Dan definitely did a great job of driving his van, despite his few backseat drivers. Paul also tried driving and I instantly became the backseat driver! It was already dark when we got home (my parent's house).
Rest day. Ate a lot of grilled tuna, chicken soup with all kinds of green veggies and lots of mangoes, papayas and very sweet bananas.
We rested more but had a lot of conversations with Mama and Papa and Dan, who was off from work for three weeks to help us get to places where we needed to be and to help organized our meetings with groups and individuals. We had a mid-week service at Dan and Papa's church where Paul spoke again. We got to meet our friends from church that evening. It was great seeing them and catching up with updates in their lives.
We did more preparations for the Pastors and Church leaders conference where we would be speaking at. I started making the Power point presentations. Grace and Clif arrived in Tandag from Davao City.
Lunch with two of my closest friends from college with Paul and Izzy and Grace, Clif and Queenqueen. We ate at a restaurant at the beach. I spent time with my friends until evening, while the rest went home and rested.
We went to Tago (30 minutes away from Tandag) to buy the famous casava cake and sweet potato balls and to watch Dan and Paul's basketball match. I don't want to tell who won though. Later that day, Nemrod, joined us in Tandag. It was sad that his wife and kids could not come with him due to the heavy rains that made it difficult to travel.
We attended the service at our church. Paul spoke a little bit. Clif was the main speaker that morning. For lunch, we all went to a nice restaurant by the beach and had a long conversation over our Filipino food. We had lumpia, fish soup, rice, pancit canton, fried chicken and mango shakes. We were so full and definitely happy! Later that day, I spoke at a women's meeting at our church. It was such a blessed time with women pouring their hearts out. I prepared a whole outline of things to say but God redirected me into speaking what they needed to hear that afternoon. We all had chocolate fondue right after the meeting. It was such a joy to see them enjoy their first experience of fondue. Oh, and Grace spoke at the meeting too! She had such a powerful testimony of God's faithfulness and healing power. It was a great time with the ladies!
Grace and Clif flew back to Thailand. I was sad to see them leave. It felt like I couldn't get enough of Grace's company. She was such a happy and creative soul. Her joy was very contagious and I enjoyed every minute of our time together. I enjoyed all her sad and happy stories. She's quite a story teller! To say "bye-bye" to her was not very nice. It would be another two years before I see her and her very nice guy, Clif. Anyway, it was raining so it was nice to rest at home with lots of Filipino food to munch on. In the evening, we had a get together at our church for a few of my very close friends from college. It was fun to see some of our photos back in college. We all looked thin and innocent. We had a nice restaurant do the catering for that party. The food was awesome! I'm glad my friends could make it with a short notice.
We did a lot of preparation for the conference on the 12th. It was also time to get more rested. We went to the beach but couldn't really swim because it was high-tide. It's been raining and the temps were pleasant so we got to rest well at home and play scrabble in between napping, eating and talking with our family.
120 pastors and church leaders came to our conference for Biblical evangelism. For more of it, check this out... Conference!
We left for Maragusan, the town in a valley in the northern part of Davao, where my family lived for the first 15 years of my life. For more of it, check out Maragusan.
We drove back to Davao City and stayed at Red Knight Gardens with every one in Dan's family and Queenqueen (Grace's daughter).
We said good bye to Dan's family and Queenqueen at the international airport in Davao City. We made the "bye-bye" session as short as possible to avoid shedding tears. We flew to Manila and stayed one night at Kabayan Hotel.
We flew back to Tokyo, Japan then to the Twin Cities. The flights were shorter. Isabelle and I slept well. Paul was reading more than sleeping.