27 April 2010


Have I mentioned that one of the reasons why we’re always out on a date is because I’m no kitchen diva?

Please don’t blame my Mama. She’s a great cook, the type whose dishes (most popular: lasagna, adobo, kare-kare, fried chicken -- iba talaga! -- and siomai) are requested during family reunions. My personal favorite is her pork binagoongan (yum!).

She’s always tried to lure me into the kitchen. But I’ve always been afraid of the stove! I had my baking phase back in high school but even then, Mama was the one who placed the goodies into the stove, not me (ibang klaseng diva noh?).

But marriage changed everything.

Since I became Mrs. M, my kitchen adventures began. No one forced me into it. I wanted to finally learn. I wanted to cook for my husband. I wanted to feed him, to take care of him. I was especially enthusiastic when we had to save up for the condo. Less eating out, more dining in the house (hehe).

For my first experiment, I cooked J’s favorite ulam – chicken and pork adobo. To our surprise, it was good. J loved it! Sinimot niya!

My family couldn’t believe J’s raves. They had to try my adobo for themselves. So I cooked for them. And the best compliment came from my dear sister P – “Parang adobo ni Mama!”

So I went on trying other dishes. Unfortunately, not all the next dishes were as successful as my adobo attempt. There were those I had to throw – ako mismo, di ko kinaya ang lasa! Yuck!

But I haven’t given up. Tuloy ang laban sa kusina. Thanks to J who’s been very encouraging. He’s been very honest with his comments – “Medyo matigas pa ang karne,” “Kulang sa suka,” “Sobra sa calamansi,” etc.

Very recently, I tried doing Bistek Tagalog, another one of J’s favorites. I didn’t like it, ang tapang ng timpla! But he was so sweet – he finished everything! Naawa ata sa akin. He said I was too harsh on myself.

My Bistek Tagalog (in our red, black & white condo)

Me: Edible?
J: It’s good. Inubos ko nga eh.
Me: You must really love me!

I guess it's OK to be no kitchen diva especially since we have something better -- the right ingredients for a happy, loving marriage. Mmmm!

26 April 2010


One of the greatest compliments we’ve received as a couple – “Parang di kayo nag-aaway.” And this is actually true. J and I, we don’t fight. We discuss.

There are arguments, of course. Couples who never disagree must be a) living a lie b) burying battles c) dead. We’re too honest, both headstrong, and very much alive so I don’t think it’s ever possible not to argue. But coming from a place of deep love and utmost respect, we keep it at a discussion level. Admittedly, there are times the discussion can be a very heated one. But we’re never overly dramatic about it. No cursing. No plate throwing. No slamming of doors. No physical violence. None of the local TV drama fare.

Several rounds of discussions have taught us…

Not to sweat the small stuff. I used to be guilty of making a fuss of the littlest of things. But J’s accident made me face the truth behind the cliché “Life is short.” As for J, well, he’s always been the level-headed, more mature, cooler one. So no, we don’t fight about the toilet seat or the toothpaste. Such a waste of time and energy naman, diba?

It’s OK to sleep things over. Old school thinking: “Huwag matulog nang magkaaway.” Reality is it’s tiring, draining to discuss non-stop. Magdamag ba talaga nating gagawin ‘to? Sometimes, you do need to rest before you could think straight and figure things out. So if we can’t settle things tonight, may bukas pa.

Like love, arguments are two-way streets. All our discussions have proven pareho kaming may kasalanan or pagkukulang. It’s easier for us to acknowledge our mistakes and say “sorry” with this in mind.

Make sure it’s over. Discuss everything. Let it all out. And know that what’s done is done. Truly forgive. Sincerely move on. Dragging the past into the present can only mean major baggage. Who wants to carry that around? Not us.

Let me end this with a quote from the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith…

Jane Smith: There's this huge space between us, and it just keeps filling up with everything that we *don't* say to each other. What's that called?

Marriage Counselor: Marriage.

THANK GOD, we can’t relate!

24 April 2010


J and I have been together for ten years, happily married for six.

We're in no position to give out relationship tips. We don't have the key to supposed marriage secrets. We know that every couple is different. What works for us, may not work for you, and vise versa.

But being one of the happiest couples we know, I do wonder -- what makes our marriage work?

Could it be our solid sense of commitment? Since we were girlfriend & boyfriend we've always been on the same boat -- it's always been "all or nothing" for us.

It was never a half-way kind of love. We both believe in loving yourself 100%, and loving your partner 100%. The 50-50 (or 60-40, 70-30) ratio is B.S. Believe in your immense capacity to love. You can love yourself fully and still give everything to another person. We both see no point in loving if you're holding back.

I've seen relationships turn sour because the couple's not looking at the same direction -- only one party is into it, only one party is working towards bliss or forever.

Could it be that we share the same values? On the surface, we're so opposites attract. But as J said, "we walk the same earth." (One of my most favorite lines!)

We're both fiercely faithful, we love taking care of each other, we'd rather live enriching lives than rich lives.

Could it be that we love being together? We're office mates (working for the same network, in the same department, on the same floor!). We're each other's favorite travel, shopping, and food trip buddy. We're best friends.

We're often asked -- Don't you get tired of being together? No. Ours is the kind of relationship both of us have always dreamed of -- yung walang issue sa time. In case you're wondering, we do Me Time. Lots of Me time. We recognize the wisdom in Kahlil Gibran's line, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness." So no, we can't relate to "nasasakal" or "nagsasawa."

Other than ourselves, we're each other's company of choice. =)

Could it be laughter? Women love funny men. And my J makes me laugh. Every day. Every minute.

He's the one who taught me the truth behind happiness being a choice. I'm blessed to be married to a genuinely happy soul.

We laugh when life is good. We laugh when things are bad. We laugh while getting lost in our travels. We laugh during tipid times. He allows me to cry but more importantly, he knows how to cheer me up. We laugh through sickness and health. We've laughed together through a 'life and death' situation six years ago.

Could it be talking about the big things before we actually got married? Nobody had to tell us to discuss religion, money, having children, career plans, family / relatives / the in-laws before marriage. We just did.

We laid out our cards early in the relationship. No games. And guess who's winning? Us.

I can't believe how some couples discuss the Big Things only after being married. Some have actually been married for years, hindi pa rin pinag-uusapan ang mga dapat matagal nang pinag-usapan! Major red flag!

When J & I decided to become life partners, it was not just a tag or title. We took the partnership to heart. Isn't it common sense -- how can you claim to be life partners if you can't talk about LIFE?

Could it be because we're living the life we want? Allow me to repeat a paragraph from my "No Kidding" entry last May 2009, "...our happiness is not a result of being childless by choice – I hope that's clear. We are happy because we're living the life we want." And what do we want? We share the same dream -- a simple, happy, beautiful life together.

Tell me, what makes your relationship work?

10 April 2010


Come May 1 Shanghai will open its World Expo 2010. While we were there this April, a lot of construction was ongoing. So mas maganda pa sa May!

With the big event coming up, meet the ubiquitous Expo mascot, Haibo, he's everywhere!

The Shanghai Museum...

On the pillar of the Super Brands Mall...

The pedestrian-only main shopping street, Nanjing Road

The Pudong International Airport...

He looks like a blue Spongebob, noh? =) We learned he represents Shanghai's youth. Kaya pala. Anyway, Haibo merchandise is sold everywhere -- in malls, MTR stations, convenience stores, the airport, etc.

Speaking of the airport, check out the impressive interiors!


I've heard about Shanghai UFO stories. I wonder if those are mere figments of their...architecture? Hehe. *Wink*


Who was it who said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page?"

We love each other. We love books. We love traveling.

As I've written in a previous post ("For the Books," May 2009), our book titles differ. J's into history, architecture, languages, politics, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ayn Rand, Sun Tzu, health, biographies. I'm into chic lit, best sellers, Oprah's Book Club, fashion titles, Anthony Bourdain. The titles we share: travel, writing, Pablo Neruda, arts, advertising.

For all our trips, one of J's must-check-out are the bookstores. Good thing Shanghai's were all in one area, very near Nanjing Road (the pedestrian-only, main shopping street).

1st stop: the Art Bookstore
All books were in Chinese, pass.

2nd stop: the Shanghai Ancient Bookstore
Again, all books were in Chinese.

3rd stop: the Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore

I found a corner here. We dropped by twice. And both times, I had the corner seat (by the window) to myself.

I know we have this title in Manila but I still wondered if it'd be different (mas feel?) reading the book in Shanghai! Hahaha!

Last stop: the Shanghai City of Books
9 floors of book haven! But only one floor for foreign language books.

Had to have my hot chocolate (I was freezing! Must have been 7C outside!) while J looked for a book to add to his Art of War collection

Our title preferences are proof of how we're different yet the same. Glad to know we're on the same page (pun intended!) when it comes to our marriage.


On our way to Sun Yat-Sen's Residence (J knows him better. All I know is that he's a Chinese revolutionary leader), we saw a quaint coffee / tea shop, the very pretty Antique Garden Shanghai.

I got so curious! The sign says "closed" but it's actually "open."

The shop sells antique furniture. But we went in for the tea and cake.

The house specialty, Antique Garden Traditional Tea (chamomile-based). I liked it.

It was served with rose buds! So pretty!

The yummy chocolate mousse. Wanted the cheesecake but it was unavailable when we came in.

Tea for Two


Our favorite Shanghai moments (no, it's not the shopping nor the tourist spots):

Love, love, love the cherry blossoms!

The old man doing Chinese calligraphy using water at the Fuxing Park.

Bike man. (Parang Chinese movie coming to life before my very eyes!)

Shanghai's a biking community. How green!

Street art

MTR Chinese paper-cut art

Old couples dancing at the Fuxing Park

Man doing Tai Chi

Longtang and Lilong: a peek into Shanghai alleys

Lots of kite flying in the parks

The old man's kite. People's Square.

So him! Site of the 1st National Congress of the CCP.

He takes better photos, hehe.

09 April 2010


Europe in Asia? Now, I know why Shanghai's called Paris of the Orient...

Above are sights from the Bund (where historical buildings line the Huangpu River), the French Concession (put French town in the frame), Xintiandi ("shikumen" aka stone gate houses), Nanjing Road (Shanghai's main shopping street).

We love being transported into worlds different from ours. Here's to more travels together!