Category: Uncategorized

Touringkitty Travels: Baguio 2020

2020 is such a…weird (?) year.

We began the year on a not so good note, with the three of us going to separate ER visits from New Year’s Eve 2019 to the first week of 2020. I was sick the longest, for almost a month, but we pushed through with this trip to Baguio which was likewise rescheduled twice from last year.

Off we went to Baguio on the third week of January, right on Chinese New Year weekend and before the Panagbenga celebrations began. At that time, COVID-19 cases have reached the Philippines, and warnings of social distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene were slowly introduced. Some Baguio events that time were likewise cancelled already, as to avoid mass gatherings.

We had second thoughts of pushing through, but we still did, and made sure to avoid crowded places and make trips outside the hotel as quick as possible. So blessed we were, we saw Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage along the way! Most of the time we stayed at the hotel, since I was also sick and it was terribly cold that time. Hello, post-Christmas winter feels!

We stayed in one of the best hotels in Baguio, Azalea Hotel. They’ve got the best room and the best service! Our daughter got to sleep on her own bed. The room was so spacious, it had areas where my husband set up his laptop for sudden work, and my daughter for her homeschool. Yup, we still have to hustle while on a trip! We got a discounted rate from Lander’s, and we booked for two nights. Plus, they have Kuya J’s restaurant, so you can really stay in the hotel, and just eat in your room. They catered our buffet breakfast, too!

It was also the first time that my husband is driving for a long trip as this one. We are so blessed to have Tomy our car, who celebrated his first birthday during the trip!

Watch this video to see what Baguio had for us. Details after this clip. Don’t forget to subscribe to Aria’s YouTube Channel!

Sleep: Azalea Hotel Baguio

Savour: Kuya J Restaurant, Pizza Volante across Wright Park, Bows and Whiskers Cafe, Bencab Cafe

Sights: BenCab Museum and Ecopark, Strawberry Farm La Trinidad, Benguet, Pony ride at Wright Park, Baguio Botanical Garden, Pilak Silver Shop

Where to next?

~ Touringkitty

The story of the small e

Almost five months into quarantine. Still okay? I do hope and pray!

As we begin another homeschool year, and as I was doing some spring cleaning, I found an old notebook, from five years ago, which had an interesting poem I wrote for my daughter, who was at that time, HATED writing. Far faaaar away from what she LOVES doing now–writing essays, stories, and songs.

On our first year of formal homeschooling (meaning enrolled as Kinder under a provider), I kicked in homeschooling my daughter a month late, because I came from a Europe concert trip. Likewise, at that time, my daughter was just turning five, so writing did not come easy. In fact, we had accomplished writing very last minute–at the last quarter of that school year.

At that time, my daughter was having a hard time writing the small letter e, which is the last letter of her super long seven letter name. So, I had to think of ways to make her like writing it.

So, this story-poem came.

The story of the small e

Once there was a letter, a letter I always see,
It’s such a lovely letter,a nd it is called small e.
Small e is in bed, hen, and bee
It is also in pencil, and so is in sea.

Small e is easy to write, if you will just practice it
You start with a small c then put a line in the middle of it.
Or you can start with a sleeping line then finish with a c
That’s the trick of the small e, now, won’t you try it?

Feel free to share to anyone who has problems writing the small e.

~ Touringkitty

Beating the quarantine blues

Hello, blog! It’s been a while.

And the comeback entry is–about this nasty virus that has invaded the world. Imagine, something so tiny will literally stop our lives.

Yet we continue, we carry on. We make do with what we have. We fight off negative vibes. We pray, no matter how difficult it is to pray.

For the past two weeks, my daughter and I have not gotten out of our condo unit. Praise God we have a balcony view of Manila, the skies, some trees, lots of buildings. We still get a grasp of fresh air (which is oh so fresh, thanks to mother nature for being clean without cars and pollution, hooray!

So, what have we been doing, then?

Husband has to work at home, a day a week outside, and do errands. Aria focuses on homeschooling, as well as online art and ballet classes. While I do the cooking, chores, and some work from home. Plus countless musical projects while quarantined. Check out my Facebook Page post with my mommy choir, the Nawtingales!

Likewise, for the past two afternoons, I have been singing arias and kundimans by the balcony, just to keep the music playing. I don’t care whether someone will listen or perhaps throw tomatoes (on the 7th floor!), but I had to do it for my voice and for my sanity.

Unfortunately, I had to postpone my March 8th concert, which was the week prior the quarantine began, and cases started to come out of the news. But the real reason was I lost my voice when the year began, so the concert had to be postponed at first. I was sad but God had a purpose on that one.

So, to beat the blues, I made playlists on my Youtube account (go subscribe now!) wherein you can check out my videos.

Hope you all keep safe and healthy and hydrated, and yes, stay at home!

~ Touringkitty

The store that’s got it all is now online!

Everything now seems to be easily accessible. Paying bills, online shopping, food delivery, even medical results can be accessed online. You name it, the internet has it.

Not to be left behind, our favourite store that’s got it all now has its own online platform! Just the right timing, as recently, the most accessible branch just folded, which is like one short walk or a tricycle ride away from home.

Enter ShopSM, the newest online platform of our much loved The SM Store. Over the holidays, I got acquainted with this platform, and at the perfect timing: I was not able to grab Christmas presents for my husband and my daughter!

We had quite a busy schedule the whole of December, that we went last minute shopping for gifts for our families and friends. It was not a lot, but still took some of our time to think, shop, purchase, and pack those Christmas presents.

Unfortunately, we ended December and welcomed the New Year with Emergency Room trips and medicines. Both my husband and daughter fell ill, and I unfortunately got the bug few days after.

So, browsing the ShopSM store online became retail therapy for me, as I chose gifts for my husband and my mini-me.

What I liked about the ShopSM online? Here’s some reasons:

  1. Easy to access website. The interface is easy to understand, and clearly broken down into categories: Women, Men, Kids, Home, Beauty, Sale, and New.
  2. Quick processing of payment and item delivery. I was surprised to received the order on the first Monday of the year! I purchased the Friday before that, and surprised to have received the confirmation emails immediately, and the message from the courier on a Sunday.  Quick service there!
  3. Return process is a breeze. I followed the instructions on my account dashboard on the ShopSM website, printed the return request form, brought the item to the nearest SM store’s Customer Service, and the return was easily facilitated. The item I returned was a shirt supposedly for my husband, unfortunately, I got a Teens Size whilst I was ordering. After the return process, I was given a voucher, which I can use until February to purchase another item. I decided to wait for hubby to be available so we could shop for his shirt together.
Easy to navigate website. I am always in it!
For my daughter’s ballet class, she needed a new bottle since her previous one got broken.
This was the wrong order! I was excitedly looking at another item, which did not say Teens on it. Unfortunately, all We Bare Bears for Men are only for Male Teens.

Some things that can be improved:

  1. The site kept on hanging whenever I reach the payment and delivery options. I chatted with their online chat service, which advised me to clear my browser data and cache. Which I did, and to no avail. Ultimately, I opted for a COD and delivery, which has additional cost. Still better than going out and picking up the item which would cost additional fare also.
  2. The size guide for teens and males are just the same. Here is where I got the mistake of ordering a teen sized shirt, which is also medium sized. Better check the brands and the exact name of the product before adding to your online shopping cart.
  3. Less plastics and paper for delivery of the items. I noticed that there was just too much plastic to wrap the items. I understand this might be needed to secure the flask I purchased for my daughter in SM Kids. There were also lots of excess papers—copies of orders—inside the package, which ended up in the trash. Probably some other way to reduce these excess papers and plastics?

I do hope as well that they would add more choices soon! Shopping is truly a breeze when done in the comfort of your own home, and with ShopSM, it will be easier. There would definitely be a next time, especially that the nearest SM Store now is about 5 kilometers away, which I would only get to visit on weekends or when there are Novena Masses at church.

Have you done some online shopping lately? What items do you usually shop for online?

~ Touringkitty


Happy New (half) Year!

Just a quick note for now. I’ve been through a rollercoaster of emotions the past half year, and I am slowly picking up.

As for this blog which I almost neglected (itself went through breakdown, literally), I will surely be back on the blogging track sometime soon. Meanwhile, follow my (mis)adventures first on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. All handles are @touringkitty.

Until then, hope you can wait for wee little me!

~ Touringkitty

Weight of Words: Words Create Worlds

If words could kill, then I’d long be dead.

Words are my love language and one of my self-expressions (poetry, writing, and blogging). Sadly, words tried to put me down several times in the past.

Thanks to Weight of Words, I rediscovered how powerful words are, how beautiful they are.

And how they should matter, or not. Ironic, isn’t it?

Very timely to have watched this work on Ascension Sunday, which was also World Communications Day. The Homily tackled about how words are used in social media nowadays, creating fake news, among others. And how our role as bearers and spreaders of the Good News is important nowadays.

Going back to the work, honestly, I did not know what exactly to expect in a “solo devised theater performance,” as the description announced. All I know is that a dear friend and great artist, Abner Delina, Jr., will surely showcase what he is known for–being daring, brave, and true to his work.

The premise was simple: how words are used, misused, and abused. The presentation on point and exact: from birth to death and how words evolved from nothing to everything. The message was clear: for all of us to be careful with our choice of words, and not to dwell on what we hear so as not to affect us. The latter may be harder to do, as with my case, but lately I have been praying more, got back to my meditation, and choose my words carefully before speaking or writing.

Abner is indeed a storyteller. With this work, he took his storytelling a step higher and turned out to be a message bearer, speaking for those who do not have the power to speak.

He based this monologue from a book of the same title published by CANVAS. He’s got a solid team of collaborators as well, handling various aspects of the production, which all contributed positively and greatly to the show. This is not just his work, but of so many who believed that mental health is important in this generation of using lesser and more meaningless words. Unfortunately, though, I was not able to participate in the discussion after the show, since I had a rehearsal to attend.

I have been called names in high school, been judged by people I trusted, even people who do not know me that well. There were even instances social media was used against me to destroy my name, which gave me emotional trauma. I never thought that words can cut like a knife, and they made a pretty deep cut which lasted years.

I thank this show for giving me this reflective pause about words I use, misuse, and abuse, and how these very words may affect me. Since morning that day, and especially during the Homily at church, I have been praying and reflecting and preparing myself to watch this show, to have an open mind, to accept things as they are, to forgive, and to use words as source of positivity and strength.

After all the setbacks, I should keep myself reminded of the following:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, (but words can never hurt me) . (Old adage)

It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away. (Bee Gees’ Words)

For no word from God will ever fail. (Luke 1:37 NIV)

You still have four more chances (yes, four more shows!) to watch this work for yourselves, and like me, discover the power of words. See poster below.

If you have watched it already, do let me know what you think of the work in the comments.

And if any of you or your family and friends, even those you do not personally know, think they might need help, do not hesistate to reach out and tell your story, too. Sharing is caring, definitely.

Max’s introduces treats to beat the summer heat

I believe I have a lifelong affair with Max’s.

Okay, that might not sound right, but am sure you know which Max I am talking about–the restaurant, of course.

And indeed I have. From my parents’ wedding reception, the studio recital of my voice and piano students, my daughter’s baptism, reunions, meetings, or any time of the day eating, these all turn to special when we are at Max’s.

And they want you to experience the same through their special summer treats!

There’s heat quenchers, free food for kids, new products and discounted bread items.

Read more HERE:

Rice bowls: complete meal in one bowl. From Mondays to Thursdays, families craving for a hearty lunch or dinner after a long day at work and school can enjoy Max’s Rice Bowls with a free scoop of Selecta Ice Cream starting only at PHP149.

Rice pa more: unlirice!
If you’re more of a Meal Deal type of family, you can also top up with Rice All You Can by adding PHP50 to a Real Deal/Family of 5 meal of PHP100 for a Family of 10 meal.

Halu-halo ALL YOU CAN AND WANT! Looking for a merienda treat to cool you off? Or a place where you can hang out with family, friends, and coworkers while cooling down? From March 23 to 31, customers can get unlimited regular Halo-Halo at Max’s for only PHP 189 every day from 2:00-6:00 p.m.

Kids eat FOR FREE! Make the weekend extra special and troop to Max’s with the family, where kids aged 10 and below can enjoy a free Kiddie Meal, which comes with 1 pc. of Max’s classic Fried Chicken, rice, pasta, sago’t gulaman, and a caramel bar.

Take home treats with a discount. Want to make that weekend feeling last just a little bit longer? Parents looking to take a piece of Max’s home can also enjoy 25% off of Max’s Corner Bakery products from 5:00 p.m. onwards. With a minimum purchase of PHP150, the first 50 customers can avail of the discount on all of Max’s Corner Bakery products.

“Filipinos want to make the most of summer and make it a time to create new memories, so we wanted to make this summer extra special for every Filipino family, every day of the week” said Max’s Restaurant Chief Operating Officer Paolo Serrano. “No matter who you’re with or what day of the week you come in, we’ll make your summer dining experience one to remember with these summer delights.”
This summer, fill your family time with care, love, and hearty, comforting food with Max’s summer treats. For more information, visit

Avail one, or all! Visit your nearest branch today. Some offers come for a limited time only, so make sure to catch them, else they’ll soon be gone.

Thanks to Max’s Restaurant and Mommy Bloggers Philippines for inviting us for lunch last week to taste all the new and yummy treats.

Buy a ticket, help reach our target!

The Shrine of Jesus has been more than a church for us, it’s our second home.

Our beautiful church, standing tall for 20 years already.

There, we have built our first family, even before marriage. My husband and I formed a children’s choir in 2006 from among its churchgoers and relatives of other volunteers. We have taken part in so many Holy Masses, liturgical celebrations, activities in and out of the Shrine like recollections and pilgrimages.

You’d probably have read some of them here in the blog, like our outreach project and the dinner for the elderly priests.

Ton, Aria, and I are all volunteers of this beloved church. For all that we are, we have, and we will be, it is because of this Sanctuary and especially the community it build itself.

We got married, received the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, Aria got baptised here as well. This church pretty much is a witness to our family life.

From a once barren land, this Shrine was built to commemorate the 10th World Youth Day and St. John Paul II’s Manila visit. Now, 20 years after it was built, the Shrine remains standing tall, despite being surrounded by so many structures.

But of course, like any other object, it is wear and tear. The edifice needs repainting, the corners need fixing. The choir loft alone needs repairs. Generally, the structure needs its much needed facelift.

And YOU can help! For as low as P200, you will get one raffle ticket, and you can contribute to the Shrine repair and repainting fund.

Watch this video to learn more about our Shrine, and why we are doing this project. May God bless your generosity!

Vuelo 2018 Music: Juan 14 (Mary Katherine Trangco)

Programming music. One of the most difficult yet the most basic block in any choral group.

As a chorister, I get excited with what’s going to be the repertoire for a certain concert I sing in or watch. Always interesting to know the hows and why of putting a set of songs together.

For the recent trip I was part of, the repertoire was unique yet sophisticated. Simple yet complex. Challenging yet exciting.

The Ateneo Chamber Singers specializes in sacred music. Most of their concerts in the past would consist all-sacred repertoire. For this particular tour, we sang a good mix of songs from all over the world and of different genres and eras. Secular and sacred music were included, and for the Canta al mar competition in Calella, Spain, we participated and won in the Musica Sacra category, wherein our repertoire included two out of three Filipino compositions.

Winners in Musica Sacra and Mixed Chamber Categories at the 7th Canta al mar competition in Calella, Spain.

This is one, a setting of John 14:6. And this piece spoke to me strongly.

The first time I saw this piece, I just saw the text AKO in the first couple of pages. And when I skipped on the last page, that’s when I saw the complete text of the Bible verse in Filipino. That’s when I had tremendous goosebumps immediately.

John 14:6 is “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In Filipino, “Ako ang Daan, ang Katotohanan, at ang Buhay.”

Which is where the name of the Shrine of Jesus was taken from. Which is the verse that I always carry to mind and heart, in good times and bad.

It seemed to be a difficult piece, as the assistant conductor of the choir was dissecting a certain part of it. She, by the way, is the composer of the piece.

But each rehearsal proved to be better than the previous one, as we singers, with our conductor, witnessed how the piece blossomed into each one of us, how the seemingly difficult and impossible proved to be one of our strongest pieces.

And what’s even surprising (at least for me), I was assigned to do the short solo part, during a rehearsal I was not able to attend.

Here is Juan 14 by Mary Katherine Trangco. Video courtesy of the Tolosa Choral Contest Youtube Channel. We sang this as well for the Tolosa competition; three out of seven songs were Filipino works. The entire repertoire of the participating choirs can be found in that youtube channel, too.

It’s as if the Lord spoke to me, to cast all my doubts away, and entrust everything to Him, because all I need to do is to seek Him first.

Be blessed, be a blessing!

~ Touringkitty