Category: Uncategorized

School of Styling: Crafting for the (non)crafty Momma

I cannot remember doing anything DIY, or Do-it-yourself. I am one who is afraid of crafting.

So, I immediately took the opportunity to attend a crafting workshop upon the invitation of School of Styling, a new biz which offers workshops for event stylers, something that is so not me.

School of Styling has monthly workshops, and for this month, they featured tassel garland and piñata making. I actually got super interested with the piñata making workshop, something I dreamed of making for my daughter.

To my surprise and delight, there was also a quick mobile photography workshop as the afternoon started.

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Geunice of Lightkeeper Studios gave the mobile photography workshop.

They also served some healthy and refreshing juices as we are doing our output of the workshop.

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Juice Barista served these. I got fruit-infused water.

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Indy Ycasiano gave the craft workshop. I have heard her name as creator of She Dreams in Ink. Together with Em Sulit of Game Changer, they call School of Styling their Passion Project. I actually like the term!

There was also a children’s corner, wherein my daughter got to played with some kids of the workshoppers. Mommas got to craft, kids got to play.

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She was actually getting ready to work on the table. But kids gotta play!

And here was my output!

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I know. Failed attempt on the tassels!
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My mini-ice cream piñata!

What I liked most about the afternoon was, aside from making the crafts, the founders of School of Styling explained why they came about with the workshops. And I particularly liked that they emphasized how their workshops can help other people start their own small businesses. One of our seatmates for that afternoon was actually gearing up to start her own event styling business, and the workshops so far have been of great input to her, as she prepares as well for her upcoming wedding.

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Workshoppers with School of Styling movers.

As for me, I’d really work on that piñata, perhaps for Cinco de Mayo. Aria is looking forward to it.

Check out their next workshop next month!

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Visit www.schoolofstyling.ph or follow them on Facebook and Instagram for upcoming events.

12 months in 12 photos

Happy New Year 28 days late!

You probably noticed my slight hiatus on the blog. But I’ve been rather active on Instagram (follow me @touringkitty!) so you might have known the reason/s. One word: BUSY! But very happy.

2015 was definitely a great year. If there is a word to describe it, it would be “miracle,” just like how His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales describes life. Yes, life is a miracle, and so is each passing day that we’re able to wake up to.

I challenged myself to post the best photo of the month. But I chose those which are very memorable. They may not be frame-worthy (some may even be blurred!), but as they say, a picture means a thousand words. In this case, I will post 12, so that’s 12,000! But trust me, the descriptions I will write will be very brief and meaningful.

Here goes!

JANUARY: Pilgrimage

Pope Francis' Pope Mobile passing by the EDSA Extension (near Roxas Blvd.). We're THAT close!
Pope Francis’ Pope Mobile passing by the EDSA Extension (near Roxas Blvd.). We’re THAT close!

January last year was very important to the Roman Catholics, and probably to some believers as well. Pope Francis visited the country for a spiritual and political reason. Our family of three treated his visit as a pilgrimage, wherein we can be seen waiting in the crowded lines for the arrival of his Pope Mobile wherever he may go.

FEBRUARY: Long and meaningful life

Nanay Pining Canlas is our Rector, Monsignor Bobby Canlas' mother. She celebrated her 96th birthday last year, with about 40 priests concelebrating the Mass, along with Archbishops and Bishops.
Nanay Pining, with her youngest, Mons Bobby, plus the clergy who concelebrated the Mass.

Nanay Pining Canlas is our Rector, Monsignor Bobby Canlas’ mother. She celebrated her 96th birthday last year, with about 40 priests concelebrating the Mass, along with Archbishops and Bishops (yes, Cardinals Tagle and Rosales were in attendance). Great to witness God’s blessing of life to Nanay.

MARCH: Finding my voice

Meeting her was one of the best things that happened last year!
Meeting Nelly Miricioiu (and taking a three-day masterclass under her) was one of the best things that happened last year!

 

 

 

Attending Nelly Miricioiu’s masterclass last year was definitely one for the books. Her expertise, talent, humility, and positivity was a great source of inspiration for us, masterclass students, and even the observers and our audience during the two night concert. I definitely found my voice, and slowly getting back on track.

APRIL: Saving Lives

To my right is my uncle (brother of my father), and to my left is Dr. Buddy Ostrea, the man behind Ostreavent, along with his colleagues.
To my right is my uncle (brother of my father), and to my left is Dr. Buddy Ostrea, the man behind Ostreavent, along with his colleagues.

God has put me in every aspect of a production last year–from artist to audience to production staff. Here’s one, where I was part of my uncle’s production team, to give life to a fundraising concert by pianist and CCP President Raul Sunico for OstreaVent, a lower-cost ventilator which was invented by Filipino doctor Dr. Buddy Ostrea (who happened to be one of our hosts in the Madz during a US tour).  I know I could not avail a ventilator, but being part of this project made me realise how noble Dr. Buddy’s invention was, knowing that there are premature infants who will benefit in this equipment.

MAY: Gift of Life

Honoring my own mother in this special month for mothers.
Honoring my own mother in this special month for mothers.

Bloggers were given this opportunity to bring in our own mothers in this event by a fabric conditioner brand. Timeless beauty my mother really is! Three generations in that photo!

JUNE: Wanderlust

When in Italy, do jumpshots!
When in Italy, do jumpshots!

I haven’t been able to blog about the entire trip! But I still hope to, before the trip turns one year in June! Anyways, this was one unforgettable trip. Two weeks, five countries, ten singers, one great work premiered and showcased to the world. Wow. Just wow.

JULY: Homeschool mom at work

One of her first photos as a bonafide homeschooler. Some days, it's still like this. Other days, well... But still fun!
One of her first photos as a bonafide homeschooler. Some days, it’s still like this. Other days, well… But still making the most of each session!

After the European trip, I got sick, but we had to begin homeschool because we have a preschooler enrolled! So we did, albeit slowly and surely. We’re now at the homestretch of the first homeschooling year, yay!

AUGUST: Turning five

This charmer turned five!
This charmer turned five!

I blinked my eye and saw five blissful years as a mother. No words can express the joy my heart feels. Probably, those five emotions in her favourite movie, Inside Out, could. Still, joy over everything.

SEPTEMBER: Another year

I turned 32!
I turned 32!

Happy. Blessed. Overwhelmed. Fortunate. Contented.

OCTOBER: Stage Nanay

My loves rehearsing. Something they do best--music.
My loves rehearsing. Something they do best together–music.

Instantly I became a Stage Mother. And why not, I had to accompany my daughter in five separate Halloween and All Saints’ Parties all over town! She even performed for her homeschool’s party (video in this link).

NOVEMBER: Seventh heaven

Celebrating seven years, on to forever!
Celebrating seven years, on to forever!

Time flies when you’re having fun, indeed. Very lucky girl to have him as my partner for life.

DECEMBER: Christmas Musical blessing

Music is God's gift to our family. We're happy and ready to share it to the world.
Singing Belen. It went something like that during Christmas Eve.

Each of us had separate singing engagements. Ton with his choir, the Ateneo Chamber Singer, who had mall shows and Masses. I at some private functions– for retired and elderly priests and for a Sacerdotal Anniversary. Aria sang at church and with my choir for a caroling event. Together we sang at church on Christmas Eve. Music is God’s gift to our family. We’re happy and ready to share it to the world.

 

The beginning of the year gave so many surprises. I definitely was fulfilled as a wife, mother, musician, teacher, traveler, advocate, and servant of God. I actually didn’t expect 2015 to be as busy, as fun, and as packed as I imagined. And this year, I just pray that more meaningful things will happen to me and to my family.

Here’s wishing you all the best and praying for all of you this 2016.

 

~ Touringkitty

Seven years of marriage

Last month, my husband and I celebrated our Seventh Wedding Anniversary in a simple, meaningful, and love-filled way.

November 8 this year was a Sunday, and we have church duties with the choir. We were really planning to ask for a prayer of blessing from our Rector, Monsignor Bobby Canlas, who graciously celebrated our wedding day seven years ago. We didn’t know whether he is celebrating Mass for that schedule or not, but we were planning to send him a message in case we won’t be able to meet him in the morning.

But what happened was this happy surprise.

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Surprise! Instant Renewal of Vows right after the Holy Mass! (See the empty pews?) This priest loves my family so much, and for that we are grateful.

Some of my choir members were still on queue for Holy Communion after the Mass, and as we were already having the Renewal of Vows, I signaled them from afar to take photos. Huge thanks to their support!

 

Photo photo! Just like a real wedding. Love and blessings abound.
Photo with the priest celebrant! Just like a real wedding. Love and blessings abound.

We somehow had a gut feel that Mons Bobby made it a point to celebrate Mass during our choir’s Mass timeslot, so we could have our Renewal of Vows after the Mass. Coincidence or not, we were truly grateful for his generosity and thoughtfulness.

Then, it’s lunchtime for this family of three! We really didn’t have anything planned for this day, except for that lunch. My husband treated us for some Japanese in a nearby hotel.

And we had this picture taken at the hotel lobby!
And we had this picture taken at the hotel lobby after the yummy lunch.

We then went home to rest in the afternoon, and in a very last minute decision, my husband asked me for a date (insert #kiligpamore here). I had to immediately call for backup (aka my mom and sister) to look over our daughter while we date. So, he asked me to choose between a romantic movie or the contemporary music orchestra concert at the CCP. Of course, I chose the…latter!

Music nerds unite!
Music nerds unite!

I sang for the opening concert of the 33rd Asian Composer’s League International Festival and Conference, two days prior this, at the UP Abelardo Hall Auditorium, with the Auit Vocal Chamber Ensemble under the baton of Katz Trangco. And this that we watched is the orchestra concert of the festival, held at the nearby Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The concert featured orchestral works of composers from various Asian countries, including one of our friends and choirmate in Auit, Jimuel Dave Dagta. Days after that concert, he won a special composer’s prize in that festival!

The music was rather new to my husband’s ears, because he isn’t used to listening to contemporary works in one sitting. But he enjoyed the experience. While I am impressed with the different textures and compositional styles used by different Asian composers.

The night won’t be complete without our usual coffee-after-the-show sesh at Starbucks. Guilty pleasure! This we don’t get to do most of the time anymore, unlike when I was in college and together with some friends, we’d usually unwind after a concert over food or coffee.

It was a simple celebration yet very unforgettable. With the love from family and friends that surrounds our household, we are beyond blessed.

And here’s a short and sweet message to my dearest treasure.

To my beloved Schatzi,

 

Here’s to forever!

Darling I will be loving you even beyond seventy.

 

Much love, 

 

Em

 

 

How do you celebrate an important occasion? Do share how, so I could also get tips for the next date night!

Manila Workshops: Bust away Boredom with Board Games

My dad raised my sister and I in a board game world. Scrabble, Monopoly, Word Factory, Passport by V-tech, even the very basic Snakes and Ladders and Chess, have been our afternoon or weekend family staple.

We loved to play games as a family, and since we were four (my mom, dad, and my sister), we could split into teams and play our home favourites like scrabble.

Join Roll Two in their quest to encourage more families to play more and be more.

Make December a time for FAMILY. Connect with your family the old-fashioned way. Join us and play board games on Dec. 19, 2015, from 1:30 – 4:00 at the Parenting Emporium and get hooked!

Sign up through this link.

Seven

Dearest Schatzi,

Happy Seventh Wedding Anniversary, Schatzi!

Seven years.

Seventh heaven.

We’re on the seventh floor, too!

Forever has seven letters. So does your name. And so does Schatzi. So, yes, you’re my forever!

I praise the Almighty for giving me an awesome partner for life. I keep thanking God for you and Ariadne (oh, seven letters on her name, too!), and praying to Him to bless you both always.

Surprise, surprise! I’ve worked on this compilation of photos during our wedding day. Hope you like this.

I love you!

Em

Mein Geburtstag

(Seriously, I can’t think of a title for this blogpost, so that’s what I can best think of right now.)

Wala na sa kalendaryo best describes my age. I won’t deny, it’s part of life.

But anyways, I celebrated the whole day long. As per tradition, on the eve of our birthdays, my husband and I waited for 12 midnight for the birthday salubong. Then upon waking up the next morning, I offered a rosary and did some meditation (my husband and I practice Transcendental Meditation, albeit I practice not so often anymore). I prayed for friends who celebrated the same birthdate as mine, and celebrants for the whole month of September. September is special to me since it is also the birth month of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

My mom and sister brought us breakfast in our condo–PAKAPLOG! Pandesal, kape, itlog, FTW. And some banoons for little girl.

And look, the colours are from the Inside Out movie characters! The little kid is delighted!
And look, the colours! Inside Out movie characters! The kid is delighted.

Then my mom and sister gifted me with a body scrub, so that was one of the agendas in the morning.

Then, just brought home some Binalot for lunch–just in time for the noontime show (#alamnathis). =)

One of my voice students had a performance the following day, so I had to coach her (yes, work on my birthday!). Then I was off to hear Mass before my birthday family dinner.

Where else, but Teriyaki Boy! And here we are doing the you-know-what, haha!
Where else, but Teriyaki Boy! And here we are doing the you-know-what, haha!
My husband joined us for dinner after his work, traveling from faraway Quezon City all the way to Mall of Asia.
My husband joined us for dinner after his work, traveling from faraway Quezon City all the way to Mall of Asia.

And lastly, dessert! Which was also the birthday cake. THE birthday cake of all birthday cakes.

Death. By. Tablea.
Death. By. Tablea.

Need I say more? =)

To everyone who greeted me through text message, Facebook message, through the photo my husband posted on his Facebook, through email, a huge THANKS for remembering. Thank you for the kindness you’ve shown me and my family, for the friendship, the gifts, the thoughtfulness.

And as a treat for my blog readers, here’s what I have posted a day before my birthday. Let’s march in the light of God!

Ariadne is Five

I still can’t believe I have a five year old already. Half a decade already with a lovely little girl who makes our lives brighter, more focused, and more blissful.

Here’s a look back at her previous birthday celebrations. We wanted to keep everything simple for the little one, and I know that’s how she likes them, too.

Fresh from the oven! This is the evening when I gave birth to her.
Fresh from the oven! This is the evening when I gave birth to her.

After the 11 monthly mini-celebrations, we celebrated her first year of life with, what else, but a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party at McDonald's! Batang McDo mom here.
After the 11 monthly mini-celebrations, we celebrated her first year of life with, what else, but a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party at McDonald’s! Batang McDo mom here.

We chose to celebrate her second year in Friday's. Yes, you guessed it right, it was a Friday on August 31, 2012.
We chose to celebrate her second year in Friday’s. Yes, you guessed it right, it was a Friday on August 31, 2012. It was just a simple family celebration of about five people–us three including my mom and sister.

On Aria's third birthday, I had to attend a whole day seminar. So we chose to celebrate as a family at Friday's again, only because the discount card we got the previous year was expiring on Aria's birthday!
On Aria’s third birthday, I had to attend a whole day seminar. So we chose to celebrate as a family at Friday’s again, only because the discount card we got the previous year was expiring on Aria’s birthday!

Aria wanted a party of her own for her fourth, after attending too many birthday parties of friends. So Mommy prayed for provision, and God gave it to us. Plus, this was the year that Hello Kitty themed parties at Jollibee was launched. Perfect timing! We invited a few friends and family to join the celebration.
Aria wanted a party of her own for her fourth, after attending too many birthday parties of friends. So Mommy prayed for provision, and God gave it to us. Hello Kitty themed parties at Jollibee were available that time! We invited our beloved family and friends to the celebration.
For her fifth birthday, we didn’t plan anything, but her birthday seemed to have planned itself, and spanning four days, from Friday to Monday, her actual birthday.

Disney’s Frozen perhaps would be Aria’s favourite video for like forever! It’s such a timeless tale created in the modern times, kudos to its creators. And of course that the music was created by a Filipino, makes us proud because it speaks a lot of heart and soul! Even I would sometimes shed a tear whenever I play “Do you want to build a Snowman?” on piano with my daughter singing.

So, imagine my daughter finding out that we got an invitation for the Frozen Fever Meet and Greet, right on her birthday weekend! Good thing that we were invited to the media event the day before it opened to the public, we got to see them before everyone else!

 

Check out a video of the media event here.  

Found us? We’re on the 35 second mark! (Video credit goes to Kid’s Toys channel, which Aria watches sometimes on Youtube–we’re subscribed actually to their channel!).

In the evening, we went to a ballet performance of Ballet Manila. As of the moment, they’re now our favourite ensemble! And we went with these kids and their teachers and parents from Food for Hungry Minds. Such a happy birthday for my little girl who shared her blessings with them.

It was my mom’s birthday on that Saturday, August 29th. This is the only day of that weekend the Hi-5 Gang of the family could be complete, so we thought of the best way to celebrate it: RED BOX!
Candle blowing ceremonies going on for the two birthday ladies!
Candle blowing ceremonies going on for the two birthday ladies!

Sunday was church day for us. But we still had something in store for the little bunny in the afternoon.

I just came down from the choir loft after the Mass, and got a perfect spot to take a shot of my loves being granted a special blessing by one of our priest-friends, Fr. Tony Atole.
I just came down from the choir loft after the Mass, and got a perfect spot to take a shot of my loves being granted a special blessing by one of our priest-friends, Fr. Tony Atole.

How and why would I not attend if the one who invited you for her event is your idol? Yes, Tintin Babao personally extended the invitation for her storytelling session at the Philippine Literary Festival, when we crossed paths on Greenbelt a few days prior, during the LATCH USB event. So, there we went on the event. Super glad to meet their family as well.

And finally, on Aria’s birthday, which was incidentally National Heroes Day (that makes it a national HOLIDAY!), and since it was also the last day of the Frozen meet and greet, Aria wanted to take this chance to go back, this time in a different costume.

It's Aurora this time! And as she approached Anna, she said, "It's my birthday today!" And she received the warmest hugs.
It’s Aurora this time! And as she approached Anna, she said, “It’s my birthday today!” And she received the warmest hugs.
We thought it was the end of the celebration. Another surprise treat came from my sister, who treated me, my daughter, and my mom for a morning of Disney Live at the new Kia Theater in Araneta Center Cubao last September 5.

Birthday girls before showtime.
Birthday girls before showtime.
That was such a fun fifth birthday celebration. I can’t remember having that when I was little.

So, now’s the emo-moment of this post.

 

Dearest Baby Bunny Ariadne,

I can’t praise and thank God enough for entrusting you to us. His Name is praised now and forever.

You are a great blessing to our family and to our community. Your bright smiles, infectious laughter, charm, wit, and humour make us all believe that life is beautiful. 

You are so generous, so thoughtful, so caring, especially to me and to Daddy Bunbun. You may be kulit at times but your kindness remain.

Thank you for making Mommy strong. Giving birth to you came naturally–literally nad figuratively. Thank you too for teaching Mommy to ask help, for reminding Mommy to slow down sometimes.

Thank you for allowing me to nourish you through my own milk. And thank you for being part of my breastfeeding advocacy as well. You have not stopped at five years but I don’t mind.

Thank you for allowing Mommy to work sometimes. You know that I do it because Mommy has to do it, and that Mommy likes to do it. Don’t worry, we will have lots of bonding time when work is done.

Thank you for praying with Mommy Bunny always. I like that we begin and end the day with prayer, as well as every meal (and you even remind me and Daddy if we forget!). Thank you for always praying for the sick especially the children, and lifting them up to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Thank you for being a great homeschooler. Keep it up, little learner! Last year your award was Most Helpful. We’ll see what your award this year will be.

Thank you for being a simple girl, for not asking for too much, for understanding Mommy and Daddy all the time, for sharing with us what you’re eating.

Thank you for being you. I love you. I am glad you choose me to be your mom.

 

Love,

Mommy Bunny Em

#TKEurope2015: Pasyon

What brought us to Europe is the invitation to the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. to perform for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Held every four years, PQ as it is popularly called, gathers together artists from all ofer the world for an exhibition. Prague turns into a huge arts hub, literally, including its streets.

I, and some more choristers from various groups were invited to join the trip. It is an honour for us to be part of this trip, as well as to represent the country in such a performance.

For this trip, we prepared two sets of repertoire: First is the “Kamanyang,” all-Filipino choral, ensemble, and popular music selections, and “Pasyon,” which is a cappella choral music in Filipino. One of the songs in the popular music section is Pinoy Ako (more popularly heard from Pinoy Big Brother), written by Kenyo’s Mcoy Fundales. But that’s another story for another day, so stay tuned.

The main event of the tour was the Prague Quadrennial, where we are to perform scenes from the Passion of Christ in the streets of Prague, which is widely performed as a theater production all over the Philippines during Holy Week. Our production has a different take– even if the text was purely Filipino, choral music was the main vehicle to transcend the message to the foreign audience, in Europe especially, where choral music is rich and accessible.

And the man behind the wonderful music we’ve sung is musical director and composer Ato del Rosario. I’ve known Kuya Ato since my Madz days, when we used to record songs in his Quezon City home. I got to know him and his music more during this tour. And what wonderful music he created!

Since we first rehearsed songs for the Kamanyang part, some songs for the Pasyon Kuya Ato would write the day (or perhaps hours) before we’d meet for rehearsals. And they were gems! Easy-to-the-ears melodic lines. They may talk about Christ’s passion which was supposed to be sad and melancholic, but the melodies in his works are heartwarming. I have never liked the Pasyon (because I know it’s sad) until this work came along!

The scenes chosen complemented each other, and were sequenced well. We had three-line interludes in between musical numbers, which tied up the next scene from the previous one. Script was written by Joseph Sonny Cristobal, and stage direction was by Arman Sta. Ana. The staging in Prague was in the streets, so we had liberty to use a 40 ft x40 ft space and move around with props and costume changes. As with the church as venue (in Venice and Vienna), we were limited, so we did it concert style. Not your typical choral set up–some are sitting and some standing. Add the fact that we are limited in number–only ten singers (3 sopranos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, and 3 basses). So this was for us a challenge yet a blessing, because we got to work harder therefore work closely with one another. And hearing positive feedback from our audience, as well as our hosts and friends who watched was definitely the cherry on top of the icing!

 

PQ15 performance and the PQ15 Philippine contingent.
 
Enough of the descriptions, here’s a sampling of one of the works. The last two scenes, “La Pieta” and “Pagkabuhay.” Soloist for La Pieta is Verona Fortaleza McDonnell, who did the part with so much emotion and passion. This was the last performance of the tour in Fava, Venice, Italy.

Be blessed! Be a blessing!

~ Touringkitty

Organic Baby Wipes: The gentlest and safest for your littlest

Who doesn’t want the best and the cleanest for their little ones?

Germs are everywhere. Chemicals kill germs. But some chemicals harm the environment. Good thing people are now turning to organic.

And what better product to turn organic is baby wipes. I am sure whether for our babies or for ourselves, we’d always want a pack handy.
We checked out Kokopax to find which baby wipes work best

We also checked out Organic Baby Wipes.

I like it because:

It has no paraben, no alcohol, no harsh chemicals. We’re sure it’s safe for the little ones.

The material is sturdy and strong, and does not produce excess fiber or himulmol.

Has sizes for big and small hands. It has an extra large size for those tougher stains.

Sanitizes everything in a whip, literally. I am one who is very OC on the eating table, so I make sure tables and chairs or high chairs, especially those used by my kid are clean. My kid always has a pack of wipes in her bag and uses it to wipe her hands before and after eating.

100% biodegradable. And this is the best part for me. Organic baby wipes loves the environment as much as our babies.

Sold? You can get them from these stores.

Thanks for letting us experience these great wipes! Will sure to look for this when our stash runs out.

Kumusta ka?

Have you said a simple “how are you?” to anyone lately?

Such powerful words. One of the things I taught my daughter is to ask a person how he or she has been after not seeing them for quite some time. Or upon meeting an acquaintance for the first time. I get kilig when she asks me that on the phone when I am away. I am excited, meanwhile, to hear her stories as I get home and ask how her day had been. 

My friends would know it. I would send a random hi or hello or how are you via text or Facebook, and the conversation sparks up as if we just last met yesterday. I am also blessed to have a few friends checking on me, whether there is an occasion or not. These few but true friends are the ones who matter. I am glad I have them in my life. 

That’s why my husband and I have been trying to catch up with people dear to us. We hope to do more of it soon. 

The other day, a dear friend from my preschool days sent over this article. It struck me how we have been friends for life despite the academic rivalry. The distance is not a problem, we might have probably been conversing/interacting on Facebook more than my friends who are just here in the country. So, thanks, G, for the friendship we both treasure so much. 

I ask you, dear reader: Kumusta ka? How are you? Wie geht’s? Como estas? Come stai?
~Touringkitty