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MILANO


When I saw B’s Facebook message asking if we’d like to go with him to Milan, I immediately asked M if she was also available. M has never been to Milano and so I was excited for her to see the big Duomo for the first time. Since I’ve stayed in Milano for days in the past, my only goal now was to shop for household stuff for half the price we’d usually spend in Zurich. I also wanted to see my family especially my goddaughter there.

It was a smooth 3-hour car ride from Zurich to the heart of the city. The fun thing about Europe is that each country has a distinct look and feel. As soon as we entered Milan, we were greeted by rows and rows of shopping stores. I gasped when I saw my favourite corner–a Sephora beside a Grom gelateria.

Italians in leather jackets and Vespas were suddenly a dime a dozen. It was days before Fashion Week and so we also spotted a number of models casually strutting the cobbled streets. Elle was also celebrating its 30th Anniversary and they put up a number of printed red umbrellas for display.

M and I feasted over the change of fashion–from the understated suits and neutral colors of the people in Zurich to the flashy metallic boots, ribboned denim pants, and floral Gucci handbags of the citizens of Italy.

For lunch, we veered away from the fancy looking restaurants and chose a hole in the wall for some authentic egg carbonara and meatballs. Of course, Italian coffee will always be on the menu. (The Italians are outraged to know that Starbucks will be setting up shop in their region.)

When we met with my auntie, she treated us to Luini sandwiches, a novelty in Milano. That was after we gorged on our caramel salz gelato + our respective favorite ice cream flavors.

I told myself that I shouldn’t be repeating countries anymore but I think Italy is just too beautiful to resist. It doesn’t help that it’s just a stone throw away from Switzerland.

Praying for more weekends like this one.

Until my next adventure,

d.

 

 

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HOME and 2016 INSIGHTS


I read this on my feed: “I hope you fall in love with someone who makes you feel like home.”

It’s crazy because the first time I kissed Mike, my husband, the way I had described it was that it felt like “Home.”

Home is your place of residence. Home is where you reside. But maybe in relationships, home is specifically where your heart resides comfortably.

2016 is a year of trying to settle in Zürich, Switzerland, my new home. It is also the year wherein I went home to the Philippines twice. I was lucky enough to spend quality time with my family. And each time I get to spend with them makes me value them even more.

It’s funny how distance made me closer to my parents. I talk to my Papa almost everyday now that we are apart. As a kid, if somebody would tell me that there will come a time that I would be super open about my life with my father, I would probably laugh in disbelief. I used to consider my Papa as “the Boss”–someone so authoritative that it’s hard to appear vulnerable around him. But as I grew older, I realized that Papa is the first person who will have my back come what may. And he has always had my back, he’s just more showy and vocal now. Papa has provided a great home for us. And whenever I feel lost, I call him to somehow feel closer to home…to my safe zone.

That’s also what Mama stands for, although just more warm and gentle. I have been blessed with such a loving mother that imagining my self as one becomes a bit harder because I am not sure how I can actually be even half as great as her as a mom!

My brother is a man of few words. But whenever he talks, it’s usually to say something sarcastic, witty, and funny. I worry about him even from afar. I worry because he is my only brother and even if he’s grown to be a responsible man, I just worry as a big sister for whatever he does. I worry he’d meet an accident during a basketball game. I worry he won’t be able to fix everything before his wedding next year. But I also hope for the best for him all the time. I remember being home alone one time with him– He opens the door of my room and all of a sudden throws a pillow at me. Of course, I asked him why he’s such a crazy person and he’d tell me it’s because he’s bored. When our parents are away traveling, we’re left with no choice but to endure each other. My semblance of home always constitutes the presence of my brother.

Before the year ended, my husband met a freak accident at a basketball game. He twisted his knee, tore his ACL, and snapped his meniscus disc. As I write this, I’m watching him feel bored in the couch as we await for his surgery schedule. This accident forced us to be together 24/7. There were moments he’d feel scared about the operation as he’s never had one and he’d ask for a hug from me. In these precious moments, I realized that the feeling of home, of being safe, of having someone to support you, of not being alone, is so empowering and is really what love is all about. When you have someone over extend himself for you… that’s concern, that’s care, and that’s love in action.

Yes, this year, I realized that the feeling of home…where your heart resides comfortably…is actually as close to feeling loved as possible. That in order for someone to feel loved, he must feel at home in one’s arms. I feel loved by my family and with them I feel that my heart is comfortable and safe. I feel extremely loved by my husband because even during the first time we met, he has already made me feel like my heart has a home to reside in. And he continues to make me feel that way up to now. 2 years into this marriage and I now fully understand that to love someone is to constantly decide to provide a safe haven for the other’s heart to reside in. Everyday, you have to make each other’s hearts feel like there’s KFC chicken and gravy, Mövenpick Swiss chocolate ice cream, or ice cold Coca-cola even when the other has a broken knee and cannot walk… most especially when the other cannot walk.

 

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PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES


Crown of the Philippines: Coron, Palawan

First time I went to Palawan, I visited Puerto Prinsesa and island-hopped with my friends. This time around, we went to see Coron with the Zurich Crew.

We stayed at Darayonan Lodge. Everyday, we would hop on a boat and go to the different areas– Pass Island, Kayangan Lake, Shipwreck, Coral reefs, etc.

You see, I don’t know how to swim well and so I was wearing the life vest the entire time and had the captain of the boat swim with me with a floater I was holding on for dear life.

I swear, when I get to have a kid, I will enrol him as early as possible for swimming lessons. Life is not so much fun when you have this huge fear of the deep waters and vast oceans or lakes…and pools.

Anyway, highlights of the trip were 1) eating crabs and seafood almost everyday 2) finding the best halo-halo stand (Tita Esh) 3) feeling the warmth of the sun 4) bonding with 16 people from all over the world 5) finally having a photo taken at kayangan lake.

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BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES


Hashtag MadforCy was officially used by all last 28Nov2016.

The reason for coming home in November is to celebrate this couple’s garden wedding in Lipa, Batangas.

From the Red Planet Hotel in Makati, 4 vans transported “the Zurich Crew” to the province. We took a pit stop at SM Lipa where the boys had haircuts, the girls shopped, and everyone had early dinner. And then we headed to La Finca for the night.

The morning of the wedding, I was up early to do the makeup of the bride at Casa Luminaria. I also acted as the maid-of-honor for the pictures because the real one is camera-shy. Of course, I am not one to say no to a photo op! haha. My dress was a gift from my Papa and it was designed by Vania Romoff. I love that Nicolai Melicor’s team indulged us with a couple shoot on the side, giving us a new deck of photos for our memory box.

Mady and Cy did a great job preparing for this Provence-themed wedding. Everything went smoothly. The details were exquisite. Mady’s wedding dress, made by her fashion designer sister Teresa Hagape, was divine. I love that nothing was over the top and every corner just blossomed with romantic and rustic personal details. The place smelled of lavender and we even enjoyed cool and refreshing lavender tea. Mady’s dad also made some awesome red wine which we enjoyed all throughout the reception.

Mid-reception, it started to pour and all of the guests were forced to commune at the shed. It was a blessing in disguise because we all had the chance to come together and chitchat over some cheese and wine. How very French!

We were craving for some dancing since the rain prevented us from having the party of our lives and so as soon as we got back to Manila, we partied at Revel where my cousin and her husband pre-reserved exclusive seats for the entire crew. What a surprise because we bumped into my dear French friend Mimi whom everyone met previously at our wedding. We dozed off at 5am the next day and yet we were  still on time at the airport for our flight to Coron. It is always a nice feeling when you are part of something that is just overflowing with pure joy and love. We have all of our best wishes for the lovely couple!

 

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PANORAMA HOTEL, SWITZERLAND


A few days after we’ve arrived from Budapest, we decided to take a vacation from our vacation. 🙂

No, we are not living the luxe life. We were really just taking advantage of the summer sun. Anyone who lives in a country with 4 seasons would understand. We thought it was best to stay at our favorite hotel up the hills of Feusisberg, Switzerland again: Panorama!

We’ve been here for our honeymoon last year but one can never really get enough of this kind of a majestic place–

Instead of taking the train to Chur like last year, I drove all the way up the mountains! It was a bit challenging for me because of all the zigzags. Good thing there are not too many cars in Switzerland.

We got to witness a wedding overlooking the magnificent view on our first day. The Swiss are very simple. In fact, the mother of the groom was just in her cigarette pants and nice blouse, not even a long gown! The only one wearing a grand dress was the bride. Who needs sparkly dresses when your wedding’s backdrop is already as amazing as this, right?!


The football teams of FC basel and Qatar were also booked there. The coach of FC Basel said hi to me coz we bumped into each other at our floor. Then we saw the rest of the guys at the champagne breakfast room the next day. My husband has a video of it. 😂 He told me Sommer, my goalie crush, was there only to find out that he left the team already! 🙄

I always thank the Lord for relaxing weekends like this one!

d.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY


August 1 is Swiss National Holiday. I was supposed to spend it doing makeup for a wedding but my husband asked me to decline the gig. He wanted to go somewhere because it is rare that he has a long weekend.

We checked out the flight prices and found the ones departing from Zürich exorbitant. The idea of flying from Basel through low-budget airline Easyjet came to mind. Rates were of course much more affordable. We just had to take a train from Zurich to Basel which was a bearable one hour ride. We chose amongst the following destinations: Spain, Tuscany, Poland, and Hungary. We settled on Hungary because 1) We both haven’t been there [It will be my 34th new country to visit and his 37th.] 2) Living expenses over there are relatively cheaper and 3) It is big enough to explore for 4 days and 3 nights.

I can say that in the year and a half that we have been married, this is the first trip that we planned TOGETHER. There was division of labor. We debated maturely about the pros and cons. We equally shared expenses. We totally had teamwork and held each other accountable for making the trip a success. Our past trips were either just planned by him or by me individually. This was the first time that I sat down and showed him AirBNB and hotel options and we both chose which deal we liked best (We ended up staying at the 4-star Marriott hotel for the price of a small AirBNB!). He booked the hop on hop off tour while I reserved the cab that would pick us up at the airport. I must admit that I usually enjoy planning things alone and even doing things my way more. But I couldn’t deny that this was a really good exercise for our partnership.

I guess that teamwork is something that we really had a hard time attaining ever since we got married because we are both strong individually and we tend to make narcissistic decisions all the time. 🙂 It’s funny because the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am not built to withstand marriage. The beauty of it though is that regardless of how you were built, in marriage, you will be made to realize that LOVE has the power to change you for the better. The love that God has placed in your heart for your partner has the power to melt your stubborn soul and clear your brain enough to give it space for understanding, new ideas, and refreshing experiences. It’s so easy to say to your spouse, “No, let’s do it MY way.” But it’s so much more rewarding to be able to extend yourself further, with ego brushed to the side, and say “Ok, what is it that we both want and that we both will enjoy?” Or better yet, “Let’s do your thing first and then let’s do mine.”

I normally talk about what exactly I did on trips but I felt like it’s more fitting to share about this very personal experience because I like reading back what I wrote after a few months. I like marking moments and emphasizing learnings. In this trip, I learned to step back a bit and make my husband lead the way. I made him win a few more battles this time. 🙂 Like the day he all of a sudden decided that instead of going to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths on a Sunday as planned, he felt like doing it right after our bus tour that same Saturday. A part of me was starting to get annoyed that he would go off-tangent but I find that I would really not lose anything if I gave in to what he wanted. We ended-up enjoying the baths more because the sun was not too strong anymore. Good call.

Marriage is a weird thing. My Philosophy professor once said that all relationships are doomed to fail. It’s because, as philosopher Martin Heidegger pointed out, what makes you drawn to each other for the first few stages are the moments of “thaumazein” or “wonder”. When you still think that the other is so beautifully strange and interesting. And then you get to spend time together. You get to share more information about one another. And then all of a sudden, your partner feels all too flawed and familiar to you already. There’s no sense of wonder anymore. And so there’s nothing else that keeps you drawn to each other. And that’s when it starts to dwindle. And so he says that the key to a lasting marriage is to keep surprising each other. Keep making yourself interesting. Keep learning and sharing things. Shake up the routine. Don’t get fixated on the same things. Stop yourself from fighting over the same mundane details. Talk about things you have never discussed. Challenge each other to evolve. Maybe this is why we travel as a couple. To be able to see new things. To be able to talk about newer experiences. To watch each other go out of our comfort zones and beam with pride as we thrive.

Marriage is a weird thing because the law of man and the law of God bind you together for life regardless of feelings and circumstances. Yes, it is weird BUT it can also be so beautiful. We always hear people joke about how marriage can be tough and how it can feel like a prison cell. But we never really emphasize the beauty of that suffering. That in those moments of suffocation, of conflicts, of having to sacrifice your own wants and needs for the other, is when true and genuine LOVE shines through. And it’s the kind of love that an unattached person will never really grasp. And that’s what makes marriage important, necessary, and sacred. It brings out that kind of love that is deeper than all the other levels of love that you have ever felt while you were not yet bound and tied to this one person. Marriage is weird, tough, and exhausting but it can truly be a beautiful and meaningful thing. My friend just recently got married and in her vows, she said that “I will never forget that this is a once in a lifetime kind of love.” What she doesn’t know yet is that it is not even the rarity of it that makes the marriage kind of love special. It’s the depth and magnanimity of it.

I joked while we were walking across the Chain Bridge atop the River Danube that I am admittedly the Buda (coz I’m chubby!) and he’s definitely the Pest! 🙂 But just like Hungary’s Buda, Pest, and Obuda, we were united by fate and all we gotta do is build bridges of love each time we feel like we are too different or far apart.

Here’s our travel video:

 

Until our next adventure,

d.

 

 

 

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LAGO di COMO, ITALY


We surprised our dear friend M with a bridal shower brunch at Hiltl Zurich. We all wore pastels and flower crowns. She thought she was just having brunch with the Oros sisters. But we were actually a whole bunch of girls waiting for her.

Her fiancé was in on the surprise as well. In fact, the brunch wasn’t the main surprise. We have actually booked for her a train ticket from Zürich to Lake Como, Italy where she was gonna spend one fun girly weekend with me, B, and C! It was the B, C, D girls with M! 🙂 We asked her fiancé to pack her things for her.

B booked for us an airbnb flat that was right smack at the center of Como’s shopping area. Last time I was in Como, I was with my cousin and her hubby from Milan and I was still single. It was super nice to come back as a married woman and see the place from a different perspective.

This was the video I created as soon as we got back from Como:

​​https://vimeo.com/171381314

I feel so lucky to be a part of this sisterhood here in Zürich. These girls make my life here away from my parents and family more tolerable. I love that we are each other’s prayer warriors and cheerleaders. I know that they are really there for me through the good times and the bad. M and I are so blessed to have found friends in our new second home.

I am excited for M! She’s going to experience so many new things! She’s going to be able to travel around Europe. She’s going to learn a new language. It’s going to be a whole new chapter! I really wish her and her fiancé all the best!


d.