I don’t know if it’s just me but I didn’t feel Christmas-y for the most part of December. One of the few times I was truly festive was during my visit at Ayala Triangle Garden’s dancing lights show.
Counterclockwise from left: (1) Best chicken wrap from Holdak (2) so-so pulled noodles that’s too aromatic from some restaurant in Binondo (3) the best-seller Rising Shroom burger from Burger Bar which didn’t live up to my expectations (4) Dory, Cobbler, Snapper, Cod and Halibut Fish and Chips from Chuck’s Grub. All good but aside from texture, I couldn’t tell the difference between them (5) Chef Noodle’s signature dish Starking Fire Sushi, torched on your table for added drama otherwise it’s just okay and (6) a spicy roll from Mashita (a Japanese-Korean place near my school) I enjoyed.
UP Lantern Parade with Cza. Discovered Bacsilog which would have been my favorite if only I don’t need a thick wad of tissue just to remove the excess oil and one of the best Quezo ice cream, the kind that respects the true nature of cheese which is salty (not too sweet).
Went home to the province for the Christmas vacation and helped in our canteen during the Simbang Gabi. My parents had to wake up at three just to accommodate the influx of customers. It’s tiring but it’s work. Thank you Lord for your extra provision during the Holidays!
And I don’t know how but we ended up in a plastic bag with ice-cold water relay on the middle of the road. Being showered with the same ice-cold water was the consequence, of course. SO. MUCH. FUN. We finished at around 2 AM.
Mandatory Christmas Day family picture. Matching colors thanks to Schwester. Unlike in recent years (read: 2012), I wasn’t moody and Shoti participated so no fight ensued. We have a really good batch of pictures this year. Thank God for my improvement.
Aling Luring’s, a place my family frequented during high school which serves one of the best Tokwa’t Baboy and Okoy. I would visit more frequently if only the prices weren’t too steep. Come on, a small bowl of rice porridge for 40 (or was it 50) pesos? No thanks. Hate it when a product’s price spikes after gaining popularity (read: Razon’s).
Spent the last half of the Christmas vacation with my maternal relatives. We learned from experience that Tagaytay is not really the best place to go to during the break especially on a weekend because EVERYONE is there and the traffic is impossible so you better stay the night (like we did) or else you’ll waste more time driving than actually enjoying. People’s Park? Crowded. Starbucks at night? The queue was impossible it occupied even the parking lot (on a lighter note it was the best the next morning, almost empty). Every spot you could think of except Taal Volcano (maybe) was full of people.
Saving grace was The Boutique Bed and Breakfast’s Hawaiian Bar-b-que, other ribs I forgot the name of, Bulalo and Crispy Tawilis. From Calaruega, we braved the Tagaytay taffic for more than an hour just to visit this place and the food was worth it (the serving though was very bad. Maybe because there were a lot of customers). We had to wait for close to an hour just to get a table. Good thing the view from the restaurant was beautiful.
Went to Laiya Batangas on the 30th. If Tagaytay wasn’t the place to go to, Laiya (and other beaches for that matter) is the one. Nobody (especially Filipinos) wants to have dark and peeling skin for the New Year so they stay away from the sun. Tried Banana boat for the first time and once is enough.
The day would have been perfect except I forgot that my iPhone was in my pocket and I sat idly on the water for a couple of minutes. In fact, I only remembered when my sister asked where my phone was. According to a reputable relative, salt water is the worst place you can soak your electronic gadgets into because it corrodes the chip or something. So we washed my phone in freshwater. It was painful as well as amusing to see an iPhone being purposefully wet, more so if it’s yours. After that we put it in a bag of rice. Unfortunately, up to this day, it’s still not working. It sucks to lose your camera phone a day before New Year’s eve, a time when there are a lot of happenings to take a picture of. I guess it’s God’s way of telling me to stop depending on my phone and start depending on Him and only Him. My photos, contacts, to-do list, notes and Candy Crush are all gone and I’m currently in withdrawal.
New Year’s eve, more than any other day of the year is when Tito Del’s absence is felt. He is known for spending thousands on fireworks and firecrackers that other houses in the compound need not buy their own for his is enough for the whole Landicho clan. When he died, the first thing people said was, “wala nang magpapaputok sa New Year“. But Tito Meng continued his legacy this year, igniting three 5,000-piece Judas’ Belts among others. It’s an ode to someone we truly miss.
While the third Judas Belt vanished into paper and smoke and loud sound and light, for the first time in my life, I found myself crying over fireworks. Then I turned around and saw that I wasn’t the only one. TIto Meng, Tita Maro and my mom were also crying and everyone was silent. There was a palpable sadness in the room. Our shouts of “Happy New Year” was less of a “Happy New Year” and more of a it’s-so-sad-but-Rodel-doesn’t-want-us-to-be-sad-so-let’s-hug-and-greet-each-other-instead. We miss you Tito Del. We really really miss you.
*If you’re a Catholic, it’s what you call your Confirmation (second sacrament) godparents.