For My Son


Dear Lucas,

Everyday I wake up and fall asleep staring at your beautiful face plastered across my telephone screen. In the very wee hours of the morning in between trips to the bathroom, I find myself struggling to get up but looking forward to getting back to bed where I have a clear view of your picture, framed by my bedside. Everyday you make me happy.

Two weeks ago I told you that I made a very important decision. Today I realized why I made that decision, and hopefully when you are older, you will understand. In fact I think you already do, because each time I said something, you gave me a brave kick that seemed to say “right on!”. Today I am more strongly convinced I am ready for you — to love you, to take care of you, to protect you, to give you the best of myself.

As frightened as I am, I am looking forward to the next two weeks when I finally get to hold you and tell you what a blessing you have been in my life — despite all the odds. When that day comes, everything that happened in the past will stay there and will no longer matter. You and I will start anew. Just us two. I know you will fill my life with the light it needs to guide us in our journey together.

You, my son, are my one true great love.





Crafts & Stuff & Pregnancy Pet Peeves

Growing up watching all those movies/shows with pregnant women who weep, throw tantrums, crave for the weirdest food in the middle of the night, and do and think all sorts of crazy things, I thought they were all just exaggerating. I never realized that being pregnant really DOES make you weep, throw tantrums, crave for the weirdest food in the middle of the night, and do and think all sorts of crazy things.

30 weeks preggers

I am now on my 30th-31st week of pregnancy; technically I can give birth now, but my son should ideally pop in about 8-9 weeks’ time. As my other pregnant friend puts it, we’ve come to the “single-digit countdown”. Things become more real from here on out.

Other things that have become more real are my pet peeves. I’m sure other moms-to-be (first time or “veterans”) share the same sentiments for some of them. Others things I can let pass, others — like these ones — I cannot.

1)     Going for the belly. Ugh, my biggest pet peeve! People should realize that this is encroaching on private property! Some people even go as far rubbing it for luck. Respect a pregnant woman’s private space. If you absolutely cannot help yourself, at least ask permission if she will let you feel her bump.

2)     Eat this. Don’t eat that. Back off. She knows what she can and cannot eat. If she’s not in the mood to eat the pregnancy superfood in front of her, she won’t. If she feels she’s entitled to the dessert in front of her, let her eat it. Even people on a diet are entitled to a cheat day. It is no different with a pregnant woman.

3)     Forcing your beliefs down her throat. Remember, each pregnant woman is different. Some will believe age-old traditions, others will not. Sure, there’s no harm in sharing your beliefs, but insisting that she follow them is just torture. Back off a little. Pregnancy is stressful and overwhelming enough without you pressuring her.

4)     Mocking her child’s name. It’s her child. Not yours.

5)     Asking too many questions. Being pregnant outside of a legally binding or common law marriage does stir a lot of intrigue. What about the father? Is he excited? Are you going to live together? Where will you live? Whose last name will the baby take?  STFU. If the mother-to-be does not volunteer information, it means she doesn’t want to talk about it, or she thinks you have no business asking her. Either way, you are in no position to be digging into such personal matters unless you are her (immediate) family, or a person she feels could help her figure things out. Even then you’ll have to restrain yourself & just wait until she opens the floor to talk about it. Rule of thumb: don’t ask, don’t tell.

6)     In the context of information shared or not shared by the mother-to-be, judging the other parent (i.e., her baby’s father) is an absolute no-no. Remember, pregnancy stress is much like grief (for the most part) – you cannot possibly put yourself in el preggo’s position enough to understand what’s going on in her relationship. As in asking too many questions, you are in no position to be criticizing her partner. And a note to other pregnant women dealing with relationship stresses – do not speak ill of your partner/your baby’s father. EVER.

7)     Questioning & judging her decisions. She’s the pregnant one. Not you. And last but not the least —

8)     Raining on her parade. These are exciting times. Let her be excited.

Speaking of excitement…allow me to get a little “bipolar” and switch to a happier mood. I have been so addicted to Pinterest lately, that every night before I go to bed, I make a list of all the DIY projects I’d like to do for Lucas. And today, I did these.

Lucas’ rockstar onesie. Also dyed my favorite (white) eyelet sundress & now it looks vibrant & new!

Spray-bleached stencil onesie.

Both projects up close

If you’re like me whose tendency is to blow up following each “encounter of the strange kind” with my pregnancy pet peeves, you can choose to channel all the pent up emotion to crafting and cleaning. Or you can simply sleep it off. Works either way.

It will be Friday in a few minutes, and although I’d like to say TGIF (I looked away as I typed that), I won’t because it’s making me hungry for Chicken Alfredo and Oreo Mudslide. So good night and good morning!

The final countdown

On August 28, I entered the homestretch of my pregnancy, so needless to say, a countdown to D-Day has also started anew. So excited am I at the birth of my son, Lucas, that even while still inside my womb, I have already hoped to live vicariously through him. I will let the photos do the talking.


Yep, that’s a very young party boy in the making.

I don’t know what got into me, except that I know there’s not a lot of choices for little boys — especially here in the Philippines. Everything is either to stereotypically blue, or just simply not appealing. A fun and inexpensive way to dress up basic merchandise would be — make sure you’re sitting — heatpressing! For less than $3 (the PhP equivalent), you can buy a cotton onesie and pay for printing and labor for your baby’s uber cool new day wear. Not bad, right?


In other news, I am now on my 29th-30th week, and I have, like in the first trimester, fallen into the trap of quick exhaustion. All I want to do is sleep all day. Standing is exhausting. Sitting is exhausting. Add to that the calisthenics my son enjoys doing several times a day.


But one “nice” development is that I’ve regained my once-lost ability to even look at chicken…I can now safely say that I enjoy it again the way I used to. But on another note — I have become more and more absent-minded!


Driving home from work that day, I realized I had this dress on backwards all day!

I have about 7-8 weeks to go before it’s safe to deliver. I’d ideally like to go for the full 40-week stretch, but my only hope is that Lucas doesn’t come out before he has to. Everyday I tell him that I can’t wait to finally hold him, but that there’s still so much getting ready to do so he has to stay in there a little while longer. I hope he listens!


Happy weekend, everyone! 



November 2012

A little over 10 years ago, I developed a love for kids with the birth of my youngest sister, Juno. She became the center of our lives the minute she was born.


Juno with Ate Tina & Ate Karla (fresh from the shower!)


Juno goofing around with Dad one weekday after work.


Juno with Ate Ada & Ate Erika – the 3 bunsoys

It was also around the same time that I found out that things will never be as easy for me as it is for others.

I was 19 then. I had the world at my fingertips and the rest of my life ahead of me.

Fast forward to 2012…I find myself in what I would consider both a personally controversial and physically stressful pregnancy. Controversial because I now make it to the statistical cut of single moms, and physically stressful because my reproductive health problems from over 10 years ago have continued to manifest from the minute my doctor confirmed my pregnancy at 4 weeks. Week after week, it was one new problem after another. From a threatened abortion, to a threatened miscarriage, to 4-week bedrests without bathroom privileges, to a bout with food poisoning. To other physical and emotional factors thrown in the mix of what is already a very difficult period.

Part of this controversial period is the obvious scrutiny and judgment. As bad as it felt to know that the people you expect to be behind you are the first ones to bail on you & make you feel what a big mistake you’re making; as heartbreaking as it was to know that your happiness about this blessing is only secondary to theirs, I had to swallow it all. I knew that as complicated as our “relationship” was, we were doing this whole parenthood thing for a bigger reason — this is the single most significant miracle we could ever hope to witness. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


Our little one at 13 weeks.

So much has happened from that fateful day at the doctor’s clinic in March until today…about 84 days before D-Day. Each time I look back on everything we’ve been through, I grow only in gratitude knowing for sure who I can count on.


Broken but together in all the right places.


The best girlfriends anyone could ask for.

I also grow more and more in love with that no-longer-unidentified floating object inside my womb.


It’s a boy!


This one I can at least make out. Hello baby love…you look handsome.


Honestly…I fail to see how this is the genitalia.

It is 28 August 2012. I am 28 weeks pregnant with my first (and only?) child — a son I have decided to name Lucas. In 12 more weeks, we will get to hold him and tell him that he is everything to us his name means — Light.  I cannot wait.

Ignorance Is Bliss & Home Is Where The Heart Is

For the first time since college, I can honestly say that I have no idea what direction my life is taking, and I’m loving every second of the uncertainty. Or ignorance, if you would.

Since over a month back, I’ve simply been trying to “pick up the pieces”. When this all started, I was so afraid of the unknown — which is odd because if you asked me to choose between the devil & the deep blue sea, I’d easily pick the deep blue sea. I was so afraid of not having a grand plan for bouncing back. And with all the fear, I was afraid to let myself fall in the trap of depression.

I moved back into our family home around the same time. I have yet to get to the unpacking of everything I brought back home, but my room is back to its “I could die here” comfort — the sound of my sisters bickering right outside my door as they prepare for school; the dogs excitedly barking and scratching the lanai door as Helen comes out with their breakfast; the mocha & chestnut-colored walls that hold Judy & Mickey in all their monochrome glory; even our neighbor’s daily dose of Chris-Tsuper has become music to my ears.

I’ve also always been one to make plans and make sure they materialize, but since unemployment kicked in, I’ve found planning to be an effort of tremendous futility. For one, plans of late never make it past the 5-day incubation period. Second, I’ve come to a point in my life where I start to “desire” for things to just fall into place as naturally as they should. It’s not such a bad thing…

My good friend that I fondly call Scooter asked me a few days ago how the “suffocation” of home made me move back. The easy answer is that it’s the practical thing to do when you’re unemployed. Plus, there’s a strange feeling of bliss the minute I see our front door. The feeling envelops me so warmly, I couldn’t think of a better place to unburden myself, and let go of all my worries. At home, there’s no need to “escape”.

And home makes it easier to not have a plan, and still be just alright.  


Helown, Tita Haydee?!?!

You’re sure to hear the word “Helown” each time the phone rings in Little Baguio & Tita Haydee is within meters from the phone — in the kitchen cooking, or in the living room watching Tagalog soap operas. I reckon some callers have actually hung up when they realized it was Tita Haydee picking up.

Yes, she was popular even among our friends.

Many of them who would come to visit us in Little Baguio would ask how Tita Haydee was related to us. As most wartime stories go, my Lola Lourdes was 12 years old when she and Tita Haydee became friends. They were neighbors in Sampaloc, and Tita Haydee would often come over to play, help with the laundry, or other “part time jobs” like selling refreshments on the streets. And like other best friends, Lola Lourdes & Tita Haydee often had bowling nights out and sleepovers. It wasn’t long until Tita Haydee decided she liked it better over at 426 Honradez.

Her parents would often attempt to convince her to come back, but she has become too attached to the Tolentinos that going home (almost just next door) was never again an option for Tita Haydee.

Of the 69 years that Lola Lourd & Tita Haydee have been friends, a full 60 years were spent living under the same roof. 

Those who know Tita Haydee would tell you that she always had a grimace look about her. This, more than anything, scared off Lola Lourd’s long line of suitors. But she made an obvious exception for a fine gentleman from Dimasalang — Herminio Reyes, who would later become my Lola Lourd’s significant other.

On May 25, 1957, Lolo Miniong & Lola Lourd wed and built a new home for the family on 222 V. Ibanez St., Little Baguio – a then sprouting community in San Juan. Tita Haydee was the instant plus one. She looked after Lolo & Lola’s every need and from 1958 onwards, took care of two generations of Reyeses — that would include most of the 13 of us in the third generation.

Having come from a HUGE family (I use HUGE for the lack of a better term; the word itself is an understatement) where Tita Haydee shared the responsibility of raising the children and grandchildren, she was often perceived as the tyrant. But a lovable one. She had a very “special” way of making sure you knew exactly what she was thinking, especially when you’ve done something wrong. For example,  “iispringin kita”, which may (or may not) translate to “isi-spin kita (ng kutsilyo)”. Some of my uncles would even argue that this actually meant “papaluin kita ng spring”, but no one really knows for sure what it meant in Tita Haydee’s world.

As the Reyes children were growing up, Tita Haydee’s clout became pretty obvious. She was the boss when Lolo & Lola were away. Sometimes, even when they were around. She knew everything about Gilbert, Ernie, Tony, Avic, Vanj, Mike, and Chris. She knew how to tell them “Lichiro kayo!”, or call them “Kulasa”, or ask them, “Nag-aadik ka no?!”. And as imperfect as her dishes were, she prepared them with love and made sure the kids had enough to tide them over until they reached home from school — pan de sal with queso de bola, champorado, even tuyo’! Other classic Tita Haydee dishes included extremely salty fried chicken, very pale adobo, and an exquisite Kare-Kare (my personal favorite).

The years passed and after many additions to the family, Tita Haydee was still very much the boss of us all.

Little Baguio was home to me and my Kuya Paolo, and we were lucky enough to have known Tita Haydee the way we did. For as long as I can remember, Tita Haydee was always there to make sure we came home to a nice merienda after school, and often had a hand in disciplining us, when Lola Lourd or Lolo Miniong — or even Dad — didn’t have the heart to do so. If she serves you something for lunch and you refuse to finish what’s on your plate, be prepared to be put on time out under the dining table, followed by a threat that the Indians are out to get you. I even remember taking a blow to my bum with the handle of a broom (In hindsight, I think Dad got his “skills” from Tita Haydee), followed by the words, “Punietera kang babaknet ka!” or “Lintian ka!” Those are just two of the many Haydee-isms over the last 60 years.

Condiments for your meat? Knords (read: Knorr) would do the trick! Getting Tita Avic too exited? Don’t do it; she’s got clipsy (read: Epilepsy)! Sick? Get an x-tray done ASAP!

She was also our very own “jueteng lord” (my uncles would often joke that Tita Haydee’s jueteng “facilitator”, Mang Flores (+), was her soulmate). Long after leaving Little Baguio and four younger siblings later, Tita Haydee would often call our house in Pasig to tell the maid to have us brought to San Juan after school to collect balato. Her winnings would translate to Php500-Php1,000 for each of us.

Most of us are now all grown up, and we still recount the Tita Haydee we had in years past — energetic, always had a lot to say, always enjoyed a game of Mah Jong, always had a ready deck of powdered playing cards, that slipped easily out of her hands and onto the table to tell you — “Panalo ako!”.

When Tita Haydee started getting sick, we saw how this energy deteriorated along with her health, and it was sad to watch her almost wilt away, especially during her senile moments.

We’d often have family councils to discuss her well-being, and part of it was to make sure she had a new environment to look forward to each week, and so the siblings took turns hosting Tita Haydee’s stay in their homes. She would often “instruct” members of the family to tell Manang Ellen to stop sitting on the edge of her bed. Or tell us that Lola Meny was rummaging through her things. Or that Lolo Subring said to take very good care of Kuya Paolo. All of them gone for over 20 years.

Was it difficult to live with her? True to Tita Haydee form, yes — she made it quite difficult for the family, but we eventually learned to take all of it with a grain of salt, and managed to have a good laugh each time she said that the maids didn’t feed her for days, or that they poked fun (and a knife) at her. Of course these were all just in her head. She also hated every one that stood in the way of the fridge and stove — one of Tita Haydee’s passions was cooking, and to say that Manang Adelina (who took over cooking duties in Little Baguio) irritated the “living hell” out of Tita Haydee, was to say the least.

We also knew she was nearing the end of her life. On August 12, 2011 at 12:52pm, Tita Haydee slipped away during another harrowing dialysis treatment. We take comfort in the fact that her years of suffering have finally ended, but we wish it could have ended differently.

Tomorrow morning at 10, we say our last goodbyes to Tita Haydee. And we bid her adieu with black jack, royal flush, pusoy dos, maybe a pack of Philip Morris 100s, and the comfort of knowing that she’s in a much better place, where there is no suffering and where she can tell Lola Meny and Lolo Subring all about the wonderful moments we’ve shared together.

Thank you, Tita Haydee. I wish we could have given you more time, attention, and love. But know that in our little ways and despite the “weirdness” of our expression, we loved you very dearly, and our hearts will be filled with only fond memories of you.

I wish you could have lived to see our future. But I guess you have a better vantage point from up there. 

Three Reyes generations. Thank you, Tita Haydee.

Eric James Kelly: “The Natural”

Contrary to popular belief, mixed martial arts is not a sport that sprouted out of the infamous (not to mention phony) wrestling matches of the late 80s. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to various mixed style contests that took place throughout Europe, Japan and the Pacific Rim during the early 1900s.

Wikipedia defines mixed martial arts (MMA) as “a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills, from a mixture of other combat sports, to be used in competitionsThe rules allow the use of both striking as well as grappling techniques, both while standing and while on the ground. Such competitions allow fighters of different backgrounds to compete.”

In the Philippines, mixed martial arts is fairly new. It has never really grown to epic proportions, the same way it has in other parts of the world. In fact, a lot of people will tell you that the very nature of mixed martial arts is quite barbaric. But we do have a gem in MMA. His name is Eric Kelly, also known as “The Natural”.

At 27, Kelly has probably seen it all. And done it all. From his humble beginnings training in Baguio City, Kelly has evolved into one of the best – if not the best – mixed martial arts athletes of his time. He is the reigning URCC Featherweight champion, and is being groomed to compete in the One Fighting Championship in Singapore this September.

In school, Kelly was your average student. Garnering an average of 66.6 in Math in High School, Kelly made the most of his athleticism and started training rigorously in kickboxing, to keep himself away from the streets and to start a (professional) career in boxing. It’s not a surprise that since that fateful time he decided that fighting was for the ring and not the streets,  Kelly has proven to be a formidable fighter, making a name for himself not just locally, but across the globe.

Behind every successful man is a woman. Yes, Kelly is a family man. But he also takes a great deal of inspiration from his good friend and coach, Chef Christopher Romine. An MMA enthusiast himself, Chef has consistently seen Kelly through life’s many challenges, including but not limited to purely MMA.  Kelly describes coach Chef Chris as the person who has taught him the valuable lesson that “our kids are our strength”.

Chef’s post in Macau has not stopped him from continuing to impart lessons to Kelly. Asked why he devotes himself to the effort of seeing Kelly “fly”, Chef Chris puts it very simply — “He’s got so much potential!” That’s right, Chef — Kelly has so much potential.

Kelly isn’t known as “The Natural” for no reason. His quick reflexes and smooth moves on the ring has earned him a spot in the fight card for the upcoming One Fighting Championship in Singapore this September (yes, I’ve said that twice!). Check out to view fight details.

Now, let’s get down to business. Kelly needs your full support in this once in a lifetime endeavor. On and off the ring, what Kelly does best is REPRESENT, and we’d love for Kelly to represent YOU in Singapore.

So let’s talk!

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We promise this will be one for the books!