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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Honeymoon Trip

Hong Kong is truly a great place for the DIY tourist. Meaning, you can just map out your own itinerary and not join any tours at all! They simply make it so convenient for tourists to get around. :)

When you touch down at the airport and after you get through immigration and customs, you can actually find a lot of maps and guidebooks, all for free.

We didn't really have any specific plan when we got there. We just said that we'll visit Ocean Park (definitely at the top of our list, especially since there was no Disneyland yet at that time) and whatever we'll see on the maps.

Those free maps and guides were very good! There are suggestions for the places that one might want to visit. They actually gave detailed instructions on how to go there. And, for a free map and guide, the details are just right for a tourist. I mean, touristy spots like Ocean Park and Victoria Peak, among others are there, even places we don't usually go to like Repulse Bay, the Botanical Gardens etc, the hotels, the convention centers and the shopping districts. Although I wasn't looking for it, I wouldn't be surprised if they actually put down the non-tourist spots like drug rehab centers.

We ended up buying an MTR ride-all-you-can-for-3-days card and went around Hong Kong with it. We spent the afternoon of Sunday in Victoria Peak, the whole of Monday in Ocean Park, and squeezed in a temple (Wong Tai Sin, I believe), the Star Ferry and the Walk of the Stars on Tuesday morning.

Yes, it was just a 3 day 2 night trip. So short, but so memorable. I wish, though that we weren't so rushed and we could have enjoyed at least a week with just each other before having to come back. Sigh...

The Beginning Of Our Honeymoon Journey

I can't believe how time flies! It's been 5 years (and a few days) since my husband and I said our "I do"'s. That day was a really emotional one. I never thought that I would cry at my own wedding (too emotional I guess). But I was definitely, definitely happy, deliriously so, on that very special day.

We didn't go on our honeymoon trip until a week after. What happened? First, we didn't get ANY hotel bookings in Bohol, our first choice for our honeymoon. Well, there were some rooms available, but the ones available are way out of our budget. We adopted a "bahala na" (come what may) attitude and just concentrated on the wedding preps. We decided that maybe we can work on it after the wedding itself. 1 day after the wedding, still no accommodations. 2 days after the wedding, still no accommodations.

My mom was already saying, "Why didn't you just book a trip abroad? Like Hong Kong?" We realized that, hey, that IS an option. Problem is, my husband didn't have a passport yet at that time. We had to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs to have his passport rushed before even buying the airline tickets.

Our wedding was on a Saturday. Monday, the first working day after the wedding was the mandatory "going back to the bride's house day". My mom didn't allow us to go out that day. It was only on Tuesday that we were finally able to try to work for the passport. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we were only able to go out in the late afternoon.

On UN Avenue, our car suddenly stalled. As in slowed down and didn't move at all. Needless to say, we weren't able to make it to DFA that day. We called Wheeler's Club for towing. They are a big towing company and since my husband was a member, towing was free, but we had to wait for several hours. The truck they sent was big. They didn't actually tow the car but "carried" it -- which was way better, in my opinion. (I wonder if they have larger tow trucks for big vehicles, like truck and motorhome towing?) We went all the way back home to Marikina. It turned out that the clutch cable of my husband's car broke. It was quite an easy fix. The next day, we were able to go back to DFA to have hubby's passport processed. It was a good thing that rush processing only took 3 days. (You don't get that nowadays.) That was a Wednesday and hubby was told to come back Friday, 2:30pm to 5 pm. He was also warned that he has to be around when his name was called or he won't get his passport.

We went back Friday, 2pm (we were so afraid we'd miss the call). He got his passport past 5pm. The DFA had an inefficient way of distributing passports. They simply got a stack of passports and called out the names of the owners. My husband, unfortunately, was called at around 5pm already. Which meant that we won't be able to go to the travel agency to buy our tickets.

We were able to buy our tickets the next day, Saturday morning. Tickets were for Sunday morning, first flight. Unfortunately, we were not able to book a hotel but the travel agent gave us a couple of calling cards for pension houses for Hong Kong. That night, I called long distance and was able to book a room for us.

So the next day, Sunday, we were off to the first trip we had as a couple!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Work Education

People of my grandpa's generation (and to a certain extent, my dad's generation) believed that all the children should get involved in the family's business, especially since they are expected to take over the reins of it one day. My dad recalled that at 16, below the legal driving age, he was tasked to drive the truck. I'm not talking about the beautiful SUVs you see nowadays with all those glistening truck accessories which are now considered "luxury vehicles". I'm talking about actual delivery trucks loaded with wares. My dad said that he had to make himself look more mature so that he won't be harrassed by the authorities by being an underaged driver.

My dad didn't really imposed that on us. He did "hire" us on different occasions. I remember one summer when I acted as his secretary. He gave me a small salary. It was so satisfying to get rewarded for doing actual work, even if the boss was my father. Later on, when my brothers finished college and had a little bit of work experience, he employed them. Since I went to a different field -- Medicine -- he didn't really have me join the company, but he did ask me to be a company physician, while I was still in residency training. I received a retainer's fee for that, in lieu of my allowance. I had to show up once a week to check on the employees.

I do not know if my kids are going to be in the same field as we are. One things for sure, I have to make my kids appreciate the value of work, the value of money, the fact that you eventually have to work for your needs and wants and that you can't always have everything that you want.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Look Pregnant!

I'm so not loving my shape right now. People keep asking me if I was expecting, when in fact I already gave birth more than 4 months ago!

The good news is that my weight is back to what it was before I got pregnant. However, I have to yet to learn how to lose belly fat because that has always been my problem, even before I got pregnant. Now, of course, after 2 babies, it has just gotten worse.

Maybe I should just start doing those crunches...Suggestions, anyone?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Incense

What we usually light to honor our dearly departed. It's a big part of our Chinese culture to give respect to our elders, even if they have already left this life.

My mother, brother and sister-in-law went to the cemetery last November 1 to pay respect to our dearly departed -- Grandpa (paternal), Dad and Grandma (maternal). Since my baby is still small, my mother decided that I we should just stay home. They brought food, flowers and candles as offerings aside from lighting the incense sticks.

My husband and I, together with my brothers and my sister-in-law went to the temple on November 2 to light incense sticks and offer fruits to ALL our dearly departed (the ones mentioned above as well as my uncle and his children who passed away in Phuket during the great tsunami of December 2004).

It's kinda sad remembering them, especially my cousins who were so young at the time of their deaths (13 and 10) but the thought that they are in a better place somehow comforts me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Run, E, Run!

Yesterday, we brought our kids to the mall. I am thanking the lucky stars that I have a yaya to run after Kuya E. That boy sure can run! No wonder yaya doesn't get fat at all!

I'm thinking that I should have an exercise regimen when my baby turns six months. While I've lost enough weight already (I'm already at my prepregnancy weight!), I'm not very happy with my post partum shape. I'm thinking that running after my hyperactive son will be better than the best weight loss pills!!! Add some crunches to make my abs look better!

I know I can do it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembering

Last November 2, we went to the temple to burn incense for our dearly departed. What made me especially sad were the pictures of my young cousins who died in the great Tsunami that struck Phuket, Thailand on December 26, 2004. They were enjoying the Christmas break together with the whole family. The initial plan was to visit Bangkok, but somehow they decided to make a side trip to the famed beaches of Phuket.

The day the tsunami struck, the day started out bright and sunny. There was no hint of any pending disaster, no hint that a family vacation would turn into a travel emergency, and later a tragedy.

When we first heard about the tsunami, I didn't even know that my uncle, aunt, cousins and some of their relatives were in Thailand. A cousin called up frantic with worry because she knew that my uncle had plans of bringing the family to Bangkok. We were hoping that they WERE in Bangkok. Nobody knew that they actually made a side trip. I became frantic when I couldn't contact any of them on their cell phones, but tried assuring myself that maybe because of the disaster, there was a problem with the connection.

We were hoping against hope, but the reality of the horror struck us the next day when my cousins' aunt, their mom's sister called up to inform us about the tragedy...

It's been almost 5 years. And I'm still mourning for them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thinking of Angkong

Migration -- new place, new people, new environment, new job. I wonder what my grandparents felt when they decided to finally bring my dad here to the Philippines. My grandfather was already working in the Philippines for several years by then. He started as a teenager, sent alone to the Philippines to literally look for money to send back to his family. He spoke neither English nor Tagalog. No promise of work (no Executive Job Search for him, he did not have the required education), but work could be had if you were willing to try anything. He went back to China to get married, but basically stayed in the Philippines, trying all sorts of work until he found the business of trading. He tried out different types of products before he really became successful. He persevered until his business grew and he was able to have his family brought to the Philippines. THEN he became an executive--of his own company. He had his family brought over, bought lots, built his house, his office/factory, and became VERY active in the Tsinoy community.

I wonder if I could be as brave as he was. I would probably be like most people -- try to secure a job first before setting out. I guess it's easier now to look for work even before you go to another place. But then, you still need a lot of courage in order to face everything that's new.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Inheritance

I always thought that inheritance is such a straightforward issue. Just name your heirs, how you want your assets to be distributed, and when you die, your heirs get your assets.

In traditional Chinese families, even without a will, it's understood that such assets generally go to males only, and usually the eldest male. Well, at least that's how I understand it. The eldest son not only inherits the estate, he also inherits the responsibilities of being the head of the family.

In modern culture, however, sons and daughters, at least legitimate ones, are treated the same, with equal shares in the estate. The surviving spouse gets half of the whole estate (assuming properties are conjugal since he/she legally owns half of it even if his/her spouse was still alive) AND an equal part of the estate with the legitimate heirs. This is what is being followed, unless you made a WILL prior to your demise. Without a will, Chinese traditions won't be followed and the modern, legal way will be the one followed.

One more thing, before I wasn't aware that there is a large tax associated with inheritance. That's the reason why families who are land rich but cash poor go into debt after inheriting a large piece of valuable land, because the valuation of the land is so high that they do not have the cash to cover it.

While I would love to have real estate assets, I now know enough that I should have some sort of estate planning with life insurance, so my kids won't incur a lot of taxes and face a lot of problems with the government if in case they inherit my properties.

Of course that is still a long way off since I do not have the properties yet for my kids to inherit (LOL).