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Lenten Reflections: First Sunday of Lent

Before the First Week of Lent ends, allow me to share a few words of reflections.

The Gospel passage last Sunday was about the Big T: Temptation.

When God created the world, he did not expect it to be flawless. Remember the Scripture only said that it was good, He did not mention that it had to be perfect. God wanted balance, that’s why He gave man freewill to do things. Exactly what Adam and Eve displayed with the forbidden fruit.

They were tempted. And they gave in.

Giving in. Yes, temptation is everywhere, BUT we can choose NOT to give in.

It is probably still the hardest thing yet to achieve, even ice creams are named Temptations!

Someone even argues why we should NOT resist temptation. E. H. Chapin says:

“The trouble with resisting temptation is that you may not get another chance.”

Cruel Life! Here’s something even more cruel.

Giving into temptation, I believe, is far off from taking chances. I think that if we pray for it, we would better discern the two, and we can make a really good choice between the two.

Clearly, the Big T for me is the cause of the Big C: Cancer. Cancer in society that is rooted by GIVING IN TO temptation.


What do we choose?


~ Touringkitty

Rasa Sayang Trip Day 4: MRT FTW!

Check out the collective of Singapore travel posts at this link.

Date: September 28

Location: Singapore 

So, the night before we have sent off the family back to Manila. Now, we’re three!

We had our final breakfast for the trip at Kopitiam.

Days after the trip, Aria repeatedly said upon waking up that she will have breakfast at Kopitiam. Talk about hangover!
Days after the trip, Aria repeatedly said upon waking up that she will have breakfast at Kopitiam. Talk about hangover!

Then we hit the MRT, without stroller this time. I dared bear the little girl in the sling all day long! Love my Next9 sling!

I will miss our bus stop, Bras Basah!
I will miss our bus stop, Bras Basah!


MRT selfie!
MRT selfie!

First stop: Raffles Hotel!

My hubby and his signature pose. All. The. Time.
My hubby and his signature pose. All. The. Time.

We passed by the Civilian War Memorial Park and saw this! Yes, our favorite bread is originally from Singapore! 

We passed by a war memorial park and saw this on the way!
Gardenia FTW!

Then we went to Esplanade, the famed arts hub of Singapore.

It took a while for my husband to realize it was Durian-shaped. Durian is a local fruit and is also found in the Philippines.
It took a while for my husband to realize it was Durian-shaped. Durian is a local fruit and is also found in the Philippines.

We saw this exhibit inside.

We immediately saw this as we are exiting from the train station. Quite a long walk going here.
We immediately saw this as we are exiting from the train station. Quite a long walk going here.

We also saw a familiar word in a postcard.

And a familiar name there, our Ninong Jojo Velasco of the Ateneo Chamber Singers! He guest conducted the SYC Ensemble Singers last December.
And a familiar name too, our Ninong Jojo Velasco of the Ateneo Chamber Singers! He guest conducted the SYC Ensemble Singers last December.

We went back to Ion Orchard for lunch. We settled in this place.

Who would have thought? It's their high-class food court! And was filled to the brim on a Saturday!
Who would have thought? It’s their high-class food court! And was filled to the brim on a Saturday!

Then we went back to the hotel to check out and pick up our luggage. Off we go the airport!

Leftover coins went to a couple of TWG macarons with a Filipina at the counter speaking to us in Filipino. Kinda freaked me out (because I was expecting everyone to speak English!), but she was nice.
Leftover coins went to a couple of TWG macarons with a Filipina at the counter speaking to us in Filipino. Kinda freaked me out (because I was expecting everyone to speak English!), but she was nice.
Lessons while in mid-air, with Eebee's first and only photo of the entire trip! He/She/It was her nighttime buddy to avoid homesickness.
Lessons while in mid-air, with Eebee’s first and only photo of the entire trip! He/She/It was her nighttime buddy to avoid homesickness.


When we got home, Aria immediately unpacked her new kitchen set which was a gift from my cousin Mark. She did not wait for the next day to check out her new toy.

It was indeed a fun trip for all of us, especially that this was the first family trip out of the country. We learned so much about Singapore’s culture in those four days. Such a fast-paced country with super efficient public transport system, lots of buildings, lots of things to do and see, and lots of yummy food.

And we are all happy that Aria was really really happy during this trip. Even if we had crying bouts during sleeptime (homesickness, small room and bed), she had the best time cos she still remembers everything up to now, even if she doesn’t see photos and videos of it anymore (imagine she watched the videos for weeks after the trip, even several times a day until she got tired of it!). She calls each Ferris wheel here Singapore flyer, to the amazement of taxi drivers.

Huge thanks go to our cousin and his wife for taking time to meet us and tour us around! Lastly, we thank the Lord for covering us under His protection for the duration of the trip and always. That no one got sick or harmed. Thank You for the opportunity!

And that this happened during my 30th birthday, it was such an amazing experience. All praises for the gift of life, love, and happiness!

Will we go back? Definitely! We’d definitely plan another family trip in two years perhaps, something we’d all enjoy. Any suggestions where?


~ Touringkitty

Sumi Jo in Manila!

While picking up the customised shirts for my kids at Maestro Rio Shop before the holidays last year, I found my friend, Nadia, packing some custom-made mugs and saw a familiar face. A very familiar face, in fact.

“Sumi Jo? In Manila? No way!!!”

“Yes way,” she said, “and it’s on February 1st next year.”

I would not miss it for the world! I know I could save up some money by that date, and I am so happy I did, and chose orchestra seats.

Fast forward to that date, my husband and I had events around BGC as well before the concert, so it was indeed a day well spent. However, he went home to our daughter ahead and I watched alone. Good thing we had so many friends watching as well.

I have been a fan of Korean soprano Sumi Jo even before I entered the College of Music. She was my instant favourite because of the Queen of the Night aria, Der Holle Rache.

I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately, it was not part of her repertoire.

Her program was a variety of opera arias, art songs, even musicals. The program seemed simple, yet her interpretation of each song was fabulous, riveting, and brought tears to my eyes (and I am sure to most audiences, too).

Despite the early difficulty of having the noisy airconditioning turned on, Sumi Jo displayed her virtuosity and professionalism, really deserving to be called diva. She then asked to have it switched off, and so even the Samsung Hall got a little warm, the audience did not protest and just enjoyed the diva’s voice and quirkiness.

I almost cried after her first song, Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark. It was so beautiful, her notes precise. Her interpretation of Lascia Ch’io Pianga still rings in my ears. The modern arrangement of Ari Arirang, the signature Korean song was powerful. What impressed us the most was her beautiful dimunuendos. She does it naturally!

Donning this red gown on the first part.

What’s even more laudable are the collaborating artists, Najib Ismail on piano and fellow collegemate, Raymond Sarreal on flute. The three made wonderful music together, and the instrumentalists were going beyond being mere assisting artists.

Ismail, Sarreal, and Jo working hard to make wonderful music together.
Ismail, Sarreal, and Jo working hard to make wonderful music together.

For the second part, Ms. Jo wore a white gown, but since it was unfitted, she threw in her funny side to still carry it well.

The sleeve falls off from time to time, good thing it was during the lighter songs.
The sleeve falls off from time to time, good thing it was during the lighter songs.

We found out she donated her honorarium for UNICEF Philippines, especially for the relief operations of the typhoon victims. She also visited the beneficiaries of the concert, Tanging Yaman Foundation, a few days before the concert. Such a great act of charity!

She did not end the concert with her program, but with three more songs — Verdi’s O mio Babbino Caro, a Korean popular song especially for the Korean community in attendance (she was even the one who played on piano), and Schubert’s Ave Maria.

But wait, there’s more! She also conducted a voice masterclass the following day. I really would have wanted to sing for it; unfortunately I found out slots were already filled.

With Myramae Meneses, a masterclass participant and Farley Asuncion on piano.
With Myramae Meneses, a masterclass participant and Farley Asuncion on piano.

It’s always a learning experience to attend masterclasses even if you’re just observing. This is a good venue to find out more about the singer’s performing and teaching styles.

To all who made it possible, thank you for bringing Sumi Jo here! Kamsahamnida!


~ Touringkitty

Holiday Pause

Who said fasting and abstinence is only for Lent?

I will attempt to do mine, this Christmas and New Year.

I have finally wrapped up my last project for the year, and will try not to be online for the next week (fingers crossed!).

This year has been incredibly crazy but wonderful for me. Everything came fast, and I am thankful that God has been the most faithful God there is.

So, to all my friends, have a blessed Christmas and New Year ahead! You are all in our prayers.

Don’t forget to click this blogpost for my Christmas gift to you: a $10 credit from design website, Canva!

Handa ka na ba? (Are you ready?)

It was the fourth day of the anticipated Simbang Gabi. I was hoping the previous attendance of five kids would be more, knowing that some of my members are almost done or maybe done with exams. Unfortunately, I had four.

I don’t mind. I trust my kids too well that I know they could deliver. And deliver they did. We had a good service tonight. We even had to change the line-up to more familiar songs so that the community could better participate. They were prepared for these kinds of “emergencies.” 

What was best though was the Homily delivered by Fr. Elis Santos of Don Bosco, Mandaluyong. It was all about what my kids had shown: being ready.

Earlier in the morning, a dear friend posted the following on Facebook, and I quote:

It was a night like any other night but it wasn’t a child like any other child… How can we take such a simple story which can be read in seven verses and come up with a complicated celebration? As the world celebrates the birth of Christ for all the wrong reasons for the expressions of self-indulgence, materialism, partying and social events of any kind, may we find the real significance why Jesus had to be born in human form. Don’t clutter your mind with such Christmas clutters. 

So, why are we readying our Christmas presents, then? Why do we rush to that expensive restaurant or hotel to make an early reservation? Why are malls filled to the brim? Why are we readying ourselves for the wrong things?

Fr. Elis gave us three simple things that will help us Be Ever Ready, especially when the -BER months usher in:

Basa ng Bibliya (Read the Bible). One verse a day. Then it will become one passage, one chapter, one book, then the entire thing. One step at a time.

1 Peter 2:2 said it: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Enthusiastic (participation in the) Eucharist. One hour a week. Only one hour. That’s what is requested of us. You need not to be part of the lectors or of the choir to be able to participate. Respond, sing along the songs, focus, pray.

Regular Rosary. Filipinos are known to be Marian devotees. A Rosary a day is like a bunch of flowers offered to the Blessed Mother, and the many intentions you have prayed for each bead. Like an apple a day, a rosary a day keeps you connected with the Blessed Mother, who is praying for all of us to our Lord.

Seems easy, right? But are we really committed to do all of these? Are we really readying ourselves for the main event next week, Jesus’ Birthday?


~ Touringkitty

Toys for Joys

Toys for Joys.

This was Aria’s project for St. Nick’s Day when we sorted her toys to give away. It took me an hour of explaining and crying from her before she finally gave up her old, non-battery operated, and educational toys. She understood that other kids who do not have toys will be happily playing with them, thus she named the project as such.

I actually planned to turn them over to Jollibee, but did not have time to bring them yet. I had two bagfuls, and I might do another round of spring cleaning including books.

We did our weekly grocery this afternoon, and we rode the tricycle. It was not just us and the driver, but three other kids suddenly jumped to sit on the driver’s seat.

The driver, an old fellow who seemed to be working hard to earn them a living, seated the two girls in front of him, the little boy behind him.

I could not offer the seats inside the sidecar, as I had Aria and the groceries. Besides, it seemed as if they are used to sitting on what seemed a hazardous place. No seatbelts, no helmets. Imagine my horror. And there were three kids there!

One kid held a toy boat, an old and dirty one, which Aria took notice of quickly. They passed the toy boat to each other, and then I thought they might be the best beneficiaries to our simple project.

While in transit, I called my aunt who was at our condo to bring down the bag of toys we sorted. Then I decided which ones they can already play with.

They were surprised with the toys I gave! The boy, who was the oldest among them, said Thank You in a soft and shy tone. I reminded them all to share the toys with each other and not fight over them.

Aria was quite happy with what we did. She kept on repeating “Toys for Joys!”

Yes, honey, they thank you for sharing your toys with them.

~ Touringkitty


Want to help us make this project bigger? Let’s talk! Email touringkitty(at)gmail(dot)com

San Andres B: not your everyday Bonifacio story


Think of Andres Bonifacio and you will surely remember the heroic guy clad in white shirt and red pants, holding a bolo in the Monumento.

But here comes San Andres B. Bukid? Nay, I say. It is Bonifacio.

This is definitely not your typical Bonifacio story.

San Andres B is a new opera with libretto by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, with music by Josefino Chino Toledo, one of the foremost 21st century Filipino composers. Amazing work of art, text and music beautifully woven together.

Stage direction is by Floy Quintos and choreography by Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamagun. Both of them have been working closely with us for the past two months and we are amazed by their virtuosity, creativity, and humour. Yes, they’re happy folks, too!

So, why is this not your usual Bonifacio story?

There will be less sword fights, but more thinking, both from the actors and from the audience. The libretto and music was indeed a challenge for all of us, given that this is an untried and untested work. We are so proud of what we have done out of the material. And we would love to show it to all of you!

You will discover more of Bonifacio as a responsible brother, protective husband, caring leader, truly deserving to be called Supremo.

Cast includes Dondi Ong, Margarita Roco, Antonio Ferrer, Marvin Gayramon, plus the Auit Chamber Ensemble, TP Actors Company, and Grupo 20/21.

Interested? Get tickets now through Ticketworld or CCP Box Office. We guarantee you to have a renewed sense of freedom and social responsibility after you see this show. And I am pretty sure you will thank our heroes like Bonifacio for that.


~ Touringkitty


The most forgettable wedding anniversary

Last Friday, November 8, 2013, my husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It was a most special day for both of us. It was also the most unfortunate day for our kababayans in the southern part of the country.

My husband and I are already anticipating the super typhoon (or, in our words, super duper typhoon), and we are starting to get quite scared because his parents and youngest brother are in Iloilo, one of the provinces where the typhoon is heading to.

We are so thankful to the Lord that they all are fine. No damage to their house whatsoever. We monitored them through calls and texts.

However, damage and destruction were seen in other provinces. We opted not to watch any news that day. We did not want to spoil our anniversary.

We made plans of attending a Mass and having a simple dinner out, but we scrapped them for fear of the storm. Together with our little girl, the three of us stayed home, had some food delivered, and prayed the Rosary before we slept. Likewise, our city was spared from the threat of the typhoon. God is good, we exclaimed.

Through Facebook, we read updates and stories — looking for relatives, asking for food and water, wanting to leave the barren land. As the days passed, news got worse. The tragedy still has not sink in me, that is why I choose not to update my Facebook. All I did was forward directly messages to whoever can help, especially to my former colleagues in the military, who, I am aware, has an overwhelming task now. They can only do so much, and we can only pray for their safety and success.

But still, we are grateful for God’s faithfulness to our family, for giving me and my husband five years of strong marriage and 15 years of friendship. Likewise, He gave us a wonderful family and loving friends who are there for us. 

It may be the most forgettable anniversary, but it is also the most meaningful.

So, please allow me some moments of cheeziness which I was not able to do last week.

Happy Anniversary, my darling Schatzi. I love you and Aria so very much. Thank you for being my best friend, worst critic, love of my life, and partner in crime (and rhyme!). Thank you for allowing me to be who I want to be, for inspiring me to make wonderful music through my singing and through our choir–our first labor of love. Thank you for being the head of this family, for being a good husband and father to Aria. I always pray for your good health. Here’s to more adventures, more music-making, more harangs, more travels, more babies (!), and more love. To God be all the glory!


~ Touringkitty


How can you help the Philippines:

Among other institutions, we always give to Philippine Red Cross, good or bad weather alike. List of where you can donate at or


Mommy Marimbist in CCP debut concert


Aimee Mina-Dela Cruz is one of the foremost percussionists and marimbists in the country today. Finally, she will be given a chance to step up the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino for a full repertoire in her debut concert on November 12, 7:30 PM.

Though she had previously performed in well-received short segments for the Pasinaya in the past years, her upcoming performance on November 12 will underscore her versatility and virtuosity, truly deserving to be featured in the CCP’s Special Concert Series.

Program: Sarasate’s Carmen, Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two violins BWV1043 (Vivace), Levitas’ Concerto for Percussion, Cruz’ Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan, and Ewazen’s Concerto for Marimba.

Her assisting pianist is Fe Marsha V. Nicolas. Guest artists are young marimbist Mikaela Natasha Janelle Ley, percussionists Leodivino Roque and Gomer Giron, and violist Joy Allan De la Cruz, her husband and father to their cute little boy named Gioia.

Aside from the concert, she will give a percussion workshop for symphonic band and orchestra percussionists on Friday, November 15, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 12 noon and from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the CCP Main Theater Lobby.

For ticket inquiries, please call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 or TIcketworld at 891-9999. For inquiries and reservations for the workshop, please call the CCP Artist Training Division at 832-1125 loc. 1604/1605 or email.

*The concert of award-winning trumpeter Raymond De Leon for the Special Concert Series has been moved to January 29, 2014 at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino at 7:30 PM. The trumpet workshop and masterclass will be held on January 30 & 31, 2014 at the Silangan Hall, Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The Great Singapore and Malaysia Tour–upcoming posts


Four days, two countries, nonstop MRT transfers, nonstop walking, and nonstop eating (for me, haha!), I can say that we really enjoyed the trip (despite the stress, which I will try not to talk about here. Blog = happy space, remember?).

Touringkitty survived Singapore and Malaysia with a preschooler and her dad, first-time out of the country travelers (my mom, sister and her boyfie), along with a trolley bag, handcarried bag, a backpack, and a stroller (and those luggage were just for my family!). My mom, sister, and the boyfie had just one trolley, and two backpacks, reason to carry so much stuff when they were headed home, haha!

I have prepared so many stories and tips for you travelers out there. I do hope to post it in the coming days, though. So stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I’m off to work (at home) so I could save up for the next trip. Conquer the Great Singapore sale in 2014, perhaps? 🙂


~ Touringkitty