Kumain kami ni Jane kagabi sa Saigoneer, isang maliit na restaurant sa labas lang ng gate ng village namin (Rocka Complex).


Vietnamese cuisine ang pagkain. Ang pangalan ng may-ari, Loris Santos.

Masarap ang pagkain at maganda ang ambiance, makulay at maaliwalas.


Ang ayaw lang namin, anlakas nung tugtog sa katabing restaurant — beer haus kasi. Eh, si Loris din ang may-ari.

Simple lang ang inorder namin, di naman kami malakas kumain. Isang order ng Pho beef noodles, at isang fried spring rolls (5 piraso).

Masarap yung Pho! Sulit sa halaga. Malinamnam yung sabaw, lasang-lasa yung basil, malambot at malasa yung beef strips, at husto sa luto yung Pho noodles.


Nakulangan lang si Jane sa togue (bean sprouts), gusto sana nya mas marami.

Napansin namin na medyo mabagal ang serbisyo. Ang tagal bago dumating yung order naming Pho. Sa paunti-unti naubos na yung 5 pirasong fried spring rolls, wala pa rin yung Pho.


At mukhang nalilito sila kung sino nag order nung isa o dalawang putahe. Si ate serbidora 2 beses ako tinanong tungkol sa fresh spring rolls, eh wala namin kaming order nun. (Medyo na-concern din kami kay ate serbidora, kasi mag-isa sya, eh andaming customer; si boss Loris nag serbidor na nga rin.)

Hindi namin ikinayamot, at nagpasensya lang kami sa paghihintay.

Nung pauwi na kami, nadaanan namin si Loris nakatayo sa may kahera. Binati namin siya at nakipag-batian naman sya sa amin.

“Pasensya na po kayo, kulang kami sa tao ngayon,” sabi nya, “nasa kabilang branch kasi yung iba.”

May branch daw sila sa Visayas Ave. Eh, mukhang humingi ng resbak na tauhan. Balentayms kasi. Sya ngayon dito sa Rocka Complex ang kinulang ng tauhan.

O, mga tiga-Rocka dyan, dalhin ang buong pamilya nyo, kain kayo sa Saigoneer.

Kahit hindi Balentayms. 💑

Can Spiders See In The Dark?

Survival is crucial for tiny crawling creatures like the spider. And their more than 35,000 species worldwide have survived the ravages of time, adverse climate conditions, and the threat of predators, including insects, small animals, even humans. They have learned to adapt and change over thousand of years. And one of the observable habits that some spider species has adapted to is the ability to move about and hunt at night. But, can spiders see in the dark?

Can spiders see in the dark?

Most spiders (99%) have eight eyes. So, you’d think that they see clearly. But the news (good or bad?) is, they don’t. Most spiders don’t see clearly, they have blurred vision, even during the day. But not all. Some hunters have clear daytime vision. But how about during the night or in the dark — Can spiders see in the dark or at night? Hardly. But not all — there are spiders that see in the dark.


How spiders see in the dark.

Most spiders who move about at night don’t rely on their sense of sight. Spiders who go out at night, often to hunt for food, sense vibrations on the ground and in the surrounding air to detect movement. Those who don’t go out at night but stay on their webs also sense tiny vibrations on their webs to detect movement. When they detect vibrations, that’s the only time they move to go out and check. It’s a sign to them of (possibly) food. It’s like when your doorbell rings — it might be the pizza delivery guy!

Hairy legs.

Most spiders sense vibrations both on the ground and in the air through fine microscopic hairs on their legs. Their hairy legs act as both their eyes and ears, especially at night. The hairs (or trichobothria) on their legs react to intensity of vibrations and gives the spider an idea of what the moving object might be. Spiders might not be able to see clearly, but their hairy legs can tell that a winged creature (bird or flying insect) is coming, through the changes in the surrounding air. Also, spiders use their hairy legs to smell. They also use their sense of smell to help them navigate in the dark, and detect prey or predator, A spider that shaves her legs is a deaf and blind spider!

hairy legs

Spiders’ eyes.

Most spiders can see during the day, albeit some need eyeglasses. But spiders’ eyes are not arranged in the same way for all spiders. It’s very fascinating to look at pictures of different species of spiders to see how their eyes line up. Some have four on top and four on the bottom of their face (e.g. Theridiidae, or cobweb spider; and Dictynidae, or mesh web spider). Some have six in front and one on either side of its head (e.g. Philodromidae, or crab spider). There is a species of spider who even has a pair of eyes near the back of its head (e.g. Oxyopidae, or lynx spider). And there are spiders who have two big eyes in front (e.g. Salticidae, or jumping spider) and two or four underneath (e.g. Lycosidae, or wolf spider), plus one on each side of its head. But their eyes are fixed, they can’t move their eyeballs or roll their eyes. So if you force a spider to agree to something it doesn’t like — it can’t roll its eyes!

eight eyes

Night hunters.

Spiders, e.g. wolf spiders, who have two big eyes in front of their faces, see more clearly than the others. These are daylight hunters. They are also great night time hunters. These spiders use their big eyes to focus on their prey. They also have two to four eyes underneath the two big eyes to give them an idea how far the prey is. In the case of these jumping spiders, knowing how far its prey is, is important for precision. It needs to visually measure how far it needs to jump to get to the prey. Slam dunk! Their big eyes are also useful to them in the dark of night.

spider eyes

Night vision.

Their big eyes also see in the dark. They adjust to low levels of light and are therefore good night hunters. Their eyes are lined with a tissue (tapetum lucidum) that reflects light. This is how they see in the dark. The tapetum reflects whatever light is gathered by the eye back to the retina to give it night vision. It boomerangs light back to the image perceived by the retina, like a secondary spotlight producing a clearer image. Cats, dogs, and many other night prowlers, like frogs and bats, have tapeta (plural of tapetum) in their eyes. If you shine a flashlight or if the headlight of your car hits a cat’s eyes, you’ll see it reflect back to you, in green, or red, or yellow. Try to shine a flashlight on your garden, do you see tiny reflections of green light returning to you? They’re probably wolf spiders — the night hunters.


There is a family of spiders (e.g. Deinopidae) that developed a pair of huge eyes for extreme night vision. Its name deinopidae is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘fearful appearance’. Because of their huge over-sized eyes they have been called the ogre-eyed spider. They really look ugly. Deinopidae have the largest pair of eyes and the most powerful night vision in the spider world. Their night vision is 1,000 times more powerful than human eyes. Also, they’re more powerful than cats’ or owls’ eyes. And their eyes glow in the dark.

ogre eyes

The light-sensitive membrane that powers their night vision dissolves and disappears every morning. And every night for two hours it produces a new membrane to replace it. Then it goes hunting for prey. It’s the Deinopidae’s daily life.

Net- casting.

Deinopidae are net-casting spiders. This means, they cast nets in order to catch their prey. They’re like fishermen who cast their net into the sea to catch fish. Only in this case, its a spider net. The net is woven from the same thread that spider webs are made. But they are thicker (10x) and naturally harder to break than the thin spider web. When the net is finally finished and ready for use, the deinopidae puts bait on the ground and hangs itself above the area holding the four corners of the net with four of its legs — ready to fall on its prey. Once an insect or a bug feeds on the bait, the deinopidae quickly falls on it and catches it with its net. It then wraps it all around with the net and injects its prey with venom and digestive enzymes. This all happens in the dark!

net casting

The blind spider.

Then there’s the blind spider. This spider (Sinopoda scurion) has no eyes at all. Absolutely no eyes! They live most of their lives in dark caves and lightless places. “Who needs eyes?!” they say. They have mastered the art of motion detection, with enhanced sensors for vibrations on the ground and in the air, and a very keen sense of smell. Another rare species of this eyeless spider is the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver (Cicurina venii). It’s so rare it was last spotted in the 1980s.

The controversial rare spider.

The Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver hit the news channels in 2012 when a huge $15M underpass construction project in San Antonio, Texas, was stopped temporarily because they were building it on top of the spider’s home. Poor blind spider would have lost its home. But thanks to caring humans (biologists and conservationists) they were able to save the helpless spider. It was only the second time in history that this spider was seen by human eyes, after 1980.

blind spider

Seeing ultraviolet (UV) light.

Spiders generally see only two color wavelengths, viz. green and UV (ultraviolet). Humans see three, viz., red, green, and blue. You’ve probably seen it before, a sticker on your new color TV with the letters RGB (red, green, and blue). This means that your TV can mix these three color wavelengths to produce all shades of color, including white and black. Colors that the human eye normally sees. Unless you are color blind. And spiders are generally color blind. But they see UV light. Humans can’t.

Some species of spiders depend on UV light for survival. They make use of UV light in their mating rituals. This guarantees that they will reproduce more of their kind. The jumping spider, Consmophasis umbratica, uses UV light in their mating rituals. And both the male and female show physiological responses to the UV glow that they show each other. They get excited! But when scientists used UV blocking light during their mating rituals, both male and female C.umbratica showed no interest in each other. Talk about a wet blanket! It’s complicated.

Night life.

Night life has become a habit of spiders. One of the main reasons for this behavior is to avoid being seen. They are such socially awkward creatures. What kind of furry creature with eight arching legs, eight dark eyes (two sometimes bulging), and hanging fangs would want to be seen in public during the day?! Funny, no? But more than that, spiders avoid daytime predators, like birds and cats. Hunters like jumping spiders and wolf spiders are more intrepid and dare do their hunting during the day. It’s a risk they’re willing to take, for the thrill of the hunt and the prize. But most spiders are timid and couldn’t imagine being hunted down by predators, so they do most of their crawling and hunting at night. Besides, they don’t have the best eyesight, they argue. And they’ve developed improved sensors and a keen sense of smell to support their nocturnal hunting and feeding habits.


For most spiders, it’s a matter of survival.

reunion sa cam sur

nagpunta kami ni jane, kamakailan, sa bicol; sa baao, cam sur, sa hometown nya. dinalaw namin si ma’lydz, nanay nya, biyenan ko. matagal-tagal na rin kasing hindi nakadalaw si jane sa nanay niya.


rosalie, ma’lydz, at jane sa harap ng bahay ni ma’lydz

tumira kami sa kapatid ni jane, si rosalie, at ang bana nyang si emil, kasama nang apat na anak nila, at ang shitzu na si twinkle.


shulamite, rosalie, jane, hannah, juris (& twinkle), dondon, emil sa may garahe

agad ipinakuha ni emil ang pina-alagaan nyang kambing. maya-maya eto na si ronil pasan-pasan ang kambing sa balikat nya.


si rassel at si ronil (may pasan ng kambing)

sana daw kakaibang luto ng kambing ang gawin ko. sabi ko “curry” pero mukhang di sila masyadong excited dun.

nag-adobong kambing si emil. sya na rin ang nagluto ng papaitan. yung dapat lulutuin kong “curry” ay ginawa kong mestizong kaldereta — kalderetang ginataan na may kaunting curry powder.

datapwat ang naibigan ng lahat ay ang inihaw na ribs ng kambing.


napakasimple ng pamumuhay dito. napakabagal ng oras. ang tahimik ng gabi.

napakagalang din ng mga bata. naupo ako sandali sa upuang kawayan sa harapan ng tindahan, isang umaga.


ako at si doglas (di nya tunay na pangalan)

lahat ng batang may bibilhin sa tindahan ay lalapit muna sa kin at isasahod ang kamay upang magmano — kahit hindi nila ako kakilala.

pinuntahan namin ang hipag ni jane, si len, asawa ng kapatid nyang si desiler na nasa brunei. tiga-albay sila. at dahil tiga-albay sila ay pumasyal muna kami sa kagsawa ruins para sulyapan ang daragang magayon.

“magustuhan ka kaya ng daragang mayon,” sabi ni jane, “magpapakita kaya sayo?”

nagpakita naman. at lubhang napakaganda at napaka-majestic ng daragang magayon — ang mayon!



masaya akong lumisan sa kagsawa. nagpakita sa kin ang daragang magayon.

nagpunta kami kina len pagkagaling ng kagsawa. pinagluto nya kami ng inihaw na bangus, sinigang na baboy, at fried chicken. may dessert din na fruit salad. pinauwian ni len si jane ng ilang tanim nyang orchids, at ako naman ay pinauwian nya ng kampit.


si len (dulo, kanan, naka-pink), si drenz (hawak ni len, at si drex (naka-dilaw na t-shirt)

kinagabihan ay pumasyal naman kami kina jake abad, si jung-jung na bunsong kapatid ni jane.


usapang barangay IRA: si jane, si vangie (misis ni jung), at si jung a.k.a. jake abad.

si jung ay isang radio commentator ng station ng RPN, Nabua. at si vangie naman ay sec ni kap sa san vicente. naglabas si jung ng kaunting inumin (johnny wong-wong) matapos ang napakasarap na hapunan ng laing at sinanglay na tilapia.


L to R: jung a.k.a. jake abad, me, emil

naka-tatlo o apat na “for the road” (tagay bago bumyahe pauwi) kami, bago tuluyang nag walk-out si rosalie. nun kami nagtapos… at umuwi.

pinagluto ko sina rosalie at emil ng specialty ko na pata tim nung linggo ng tanghali.

ipinag-ani kami ni emil ng isang buwig ng saging na saba mula sa mga tanim nya sa likod bakuran. pinauwian ako ni rosalie ng paborito kong tinuktok. dinagdagan naman ito ni jung ng saging bicol (kakaiba ito at napakatamis), kamote, guyabano, karagdagang tinuktok (pinangat), at ug-og (kamansi). ibinigay din sa ‘kin ni rosalie ang isang sangkalan na mahogany. ikinahon ni rosalie lahat nito bago kami umuwi.

kinagabihan ng linggo, hinatid kami ni emil at rosalie sa abangan ng bus sa plaza ng baao. pauwi na kami.


inaabangan ang raymond bus sa tabing karsada malapit sa plaza ng baao

napakasayang reunion lalo na’t ang magkakapatid at magulang (ina) ay magkakasundo, sa kabila nang magkakalayo.

tiyak, babalik ako. 👌


smoke alarm!

i am profusely and profoundly thankful to God for his timely intervention in my affairs today.

i endangered the well-being of my middle daughter and 3 year old grandson; and could have burned our small house down. it would have been (i am extremely relieved nothing serious happened, my head is still spinning with vague dread for what could have been) a result of careless inadvertence, absence of mind, and hurry.

i was in a hurry to get out of the house to pick up my youngest daughter from school (she’s a teacher). i was lagging behind schedule.

i had messaged her that i will leave as soon as the fried chicken was done. the clock was ticking.

as soon as the chicken looked cooked enough, i drew the pieces out of the frying pan with a pair of steel tongs and put them on a metal strainer. i put the metal strainer back on top of the frying pan, above oil level, supported underneath by the open steel tongs, to let the oil drip back to the pan. i covered the chicken and did not leave it exposed.

my daughter and grandson were in our bedroom, it was my grandson’s naptime. the air condition was on because of the summer heat.

i left the house to fetch my youngest daughter from school. after about a kilometer out, i got a call on my cell phone, but couldn’t answer it because i was driving.

after another five hundred meters, i got a text message. i stopped the car and pulled aside to check: my youngest daughter said she was called to a meeting and would be out an hour later; that i should just pick her up then.

i turn the car around and proceed back home.

when i opened the front door, the entire kitchen was filled with smoke! it was coming from the gas stove — the oil on the frying pan was turning out smoke up to the ceiling, filling the entire kitchen. a smoke alarm!

i immediately turned off the gas stove. all my joints and inward parts were trembling — trembling at the thought of what could have happened, had my daughter not been called to the meeting and had not sent a text message in time for me to read and return back home.

i turned on a couple of electric fans to blow the smoke out the front door. i positioned both fans to face the front door and act as exhaust fans.

as i turned the body of one of the stand fans, i heard a loud grinding sound coming from inside the fan and the fan began to quake and swivel uncontrollablyfrom its base — one of the fan blades broke off at high speed!


it was an evil day — a day of disaster. but God’s kind intervention thwarted what could have been a huge one, and the fault was mine.

i take all this to heart. lesson learned:

to always check if i’ve turned off the fire after cooking (i am the cook, it’s my SOP);

to check if i’ve turned off the fire, especially when i am in a hurry to go out of the house;

thinking of putting a smoke alarm in the kitchen.

God is good. God is my refuge.

good good friday

this year’s good friday was good, ergo — good good friday. it was my middle daughter’s (jikki) 27th birthday. and she’d decided to visit her lola (my mom) at loyola memorial park, marikina for her birthday.

i love her for thinking outside herself to visit her lola on her special day. my family has had many plans to visit, that had often ended up nowhere. this time it was a sure thing.


my mom’s grave has been neglected. mea culpa. i plead guilty on that charge. and this day made me realize how important it is for one’s grave to be visited every so often, even when you’ve been long absent from the body.


the lapida, after the surface was cleaned with a wet cloth

the lapida was dirty and soiled when we arrived, i had to rub off the smudge covering some of the lettering with the soles of my shoe.

a bit later, the caretaker of the grave beside my mom’s (my aunt’s and grandparents’ graves) came over and offered to clean and paint my mom’s lapida for P500. we agreed.


the caretaker’s name is danilo bandojo, a.k.a. danny bungal. there were two other caretakers named danny at loyola. one, danny bungal said, goes by ‘danny kalbo’.

danny bungal is 54 y.o. and has been taking care of my grandparents’ and aunt’s graves over the years now. he lives in antipolo and bikes two hours a day to and from work.

i asked him how much to plant grass, i particularly asked for carabao grass. “500 po,” he said. agreed.

“magkano mag-maintain?” i asked.

“150 a month po,” he said.

agreed. that is cheaper than a triple latte at starbucks! i negotiated an end of the month payment. he agreed.

i haggled for P450 for the cleaning and painting because the P500 he asked for included the purchase of spray paint. but he just borrowed paint, because stores were closed on good friday. he agreed.

for ka danny’s payment, i asked my daughters to pitch in any voluntary amount for the P450, to remind them of the thought of caring to spend a little, to show your love.


the lapida was a lovely sight after the cleaning and painting job. come first of may, we will send P500 to ka danny via cebuana lhuillier to plant carabao grass on my mom’s lot. thereafter, P150 every end of the month to maintain it by cleaning and watering the grass.

since we were already there at loyola memorial, jane also took the opportunity to offer flowers to his beloved uncle, ben f. rodriguez, and his wife. uncle ben took care of jane’s college schooling, and she lived with his family while she was in college.


another person so dear to my heart was also laid to rest at loyola — jojo abagon, my cousin. we found her lot, and also offered flowers.


the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to revisit cherished memories. the visit to loyola memorial park was a time to prepare myself for what was certainly to come in the future — my own eternal resting.

my family had lunch together and began our weekend stay-cation after lunch when we checked in for a 3D2N stay in a condo in the middle of metromanila.

jikki’s birthday was a good good friday!




stay-cation. this is a millenial catchword. baby boomers and gen-x peeps didn’t go on stay-cations; feelenials now do, however.

the stay-cation idea is what the name suggests: going a vacation, but staying within city limits or just near where you live. in our case, we stay-cationed in a condo just about a hundred steps away from my daughter’s condo.

we, ie. gen-x peeps, either went away on vacation via a long road trip or a plane ride OR we didn’t and just stayed home. if we wanted to get away for a day or night, it was simply called a “check-in” — magche-check-in sa hotel.

that’s a staycation.

it’s holy week weekend. i’m here (with my family) holed up in the middle of the city, on the 30th floor. i have no desire whatsoever to go out, like, to the mall, except one that’s nearby.

i can see estancia and uni-mart from our bedroom window. maybe later.


there is a small gym, a billiard and a ping-pong table, a badminton/basketball (half court) hall, all on the penthouse; there is a jogging area, which is the entire perimeter of the roof deck that goes all around the sports facilities. there is a swimming pool with a kid’s pool at the ground floor right behind the lobby.

i woke jane (wife) before 7 am this morning because the swimming pool opens at 7:00 am. i thought to have the pool all to ourselves. true enough, we were alone in our private pool for the first half hour! then a mom with two boys walked in. then a mom with four girls. but by this time, jane and i were already out of the pool drying ourselves and sipping 7-11 brewed coffee.

there’s a 7-11 between our condo and our daughter’s condo. city blends brewed coffee is a good enough alternative to my own cold brew (which i forgot to prepare ahead of time to take along with me for this staycation) to wake me up.

staycation is a good time for me to write. to write new blog. i have a couple of things i need conducive space to write from, and this staycation is a good time to string profound thoughts and vague emotions into meaningful words and phrases.

holed inside my nook and corner, with minimal distractions.


no other way out but out

images (25)

the thought of taking one’s own life is a serious thought. a serious thought that indicates a serious problem or a problem taken way too seriously. whatever the case may be, the thought of taking one’s own life — no other way out but out — is desperation.

the thought of taking one’s own life is never — almost never — articulated, especially to the people who will be most affected by its achievement, namely, your loved ones or your immediate family… until it’s too late. but ironically the thought of taking one’s own life is really a matter too private and too delicate to articulate, especially to your loved ones.

telling your loved ones that you are planning to take your own life complicates matters in your head. it either increases their awareness of your presence and their involvement in your life and thoughts, that it becomes an extra burden that takes away your thought that there is no other way out but out. or you might get lectured in return thus galvanizing your resolve that there really is no other way out but out, because your ears can only take in too much.

thinking — and believing — that there is no other way out but out, is desperation. obviously, this is how you feel, that there’s no other way out of your problem in this life but out.

but taking one’s own life solves only one problem: the feeling that there’s no other way out of your problem but out. the problem is still there, you are not. however, your precipitate decision spawns multiple problems for those you will leave behind, including your dog.

taking one’s own life only works best with people who have no family and friends who care. or a pet. but that is exactly the mindset of people who entertain the thought that there is no other way out but out — that is, that no one cares. but people (loved ones, family and friends) really care. they care enough to get hurt even over the fact that you’d thought there’s no other way out but out.

they probably just weren’t there when you felt you needed them — when you felt you were crouched crippled in the shadows, and they can’t see you. or though they were there, you felt they did not see you.

it is a form of escape, taking one’s own life. escape from the responsibility of having to care about others. it is ironic that the feeling that no one cares for you brings you to care for no one but yourself. this is the first thought your friends and loved ones who you left bitterly would entertain — that you were too selfish. and you are — or were, because by now you’re already out.

too selfish to care about the grief you caused. too selfish to care about the trouble you brought. and too selfish to care about the expense that your burial would entail. unless you signed a demand note that you be left alone where you got out and be left to rot there.

but even this becomes an inconvenience for those who’d pass by your exit point. but even the government won’t allow this and would spend for your burial or cremation if no one else will. but if someone or some may care for you to give you a decent wake and burial, it’s still an inconvenience for them.

even if your own personal estate pays for all the expenses, time will stand still for those you left, family and friends. and they all, most of them, will grieve your demise for days. and you’d leave them ever wondering why you did it, why you concluded that there is no other way out of your problem but out, why you took your own life… until they forget.

so, don’t believe that there is no other way out but out. and don’t literally jump to a conclusion! hang in there… oops!

i’m out.

Casa Lillibelle: Monet II

Ayoko ng masyadong maraming tao, ingay, at ligalig. Sapat na ang dami, ingay, at ligalig ng pamilya ko para sa katinuan ng isip ko.

Kaya’t gustong-gusto ko ang nagtagpuan naming bakasyunan sa Casa Lillibelle resort, sa Cabangan, Zambales.


Madadaanan ito sa Daang 306 (sa mapa) mga 200 kms mula sa Maynila.

Sapat lang ang dami ng taong kayang ilulan ng lugar, para sa dami ng tao, ingay, at ligalig na kayang tanggapin ng kaisipan ko.

May kani-kaniyang kusina, lababo, kalan, at ihawan ang bawat malaking kubo sa resort. Ang maliliit ay wala. May refrigerator na pinagsasaluhan, na may kani-kaniyang nakabukod na lagayan ng pagkain. At bagamat ang hugasan ay pinagsasaluhan din, maraming tubig.

Suki kami dito sa Casa Lillibelle. Subalit hindi lang kami. Ang nakasabay namin ngayong pasko ay suki rin ng lugar, ayon kay MJ Ungco, na may-ari ng resort. Ang anak kong panganay naman ay suking-suki sa resort.

Mas higit na tahimik ngayong pasko kaysa noong Mahal na Araw na huli kaming naparito. At mas higit na tahimik ang kaisipan ko.

Mabait at makwento ang mag-asawang MJ at Joanne. Mapa-ingles o mapa-tagalog, makikipagkwentuhan sila sa inyo.


MJ, Joanne at baby Monet II.

Hindi na rin sila iba sa amin. Samakatuwid, sa pagkakataong ito, ipinakilala nila sa amin ang 2 buwang sanggol nilang lalaki (ika-apat na lalaki) na si Monet II. Ipinangalan sya kay MJ na ang tunay na pangalan ay Monet (ang pagbigkas ay mo-neih na may ‘silent T’, hango sa pangalan ng tanyag na French impressionist painter noong 1900’s na si Oscar-Claude Monet.)

Tuwang-tuwa ang pamilya ko kay Monet II, lalo na’t dahil pinayagan sila ni Joanne na kargahin sya.


Sabi namin kay MJ, isang lalaki na lang, may basketball team na sya!

May 2 ‘Certified Lifeguard’ ang Casa Lillibelle kahit maliit na resort lang ito. Dalawang anak na lalaki ni MJ at Joanne ay ‘Certified Lifeguard’. Mababait, magagalang, at matulungin ang mga tauhan nila sa resort.

May 2 bagong kuwarto sa bagong gawang 3rd floor. Bagamat mas maliit ang lugar, kumpleto ito sa mga ‘amenities’ tulad ng kalan at refrigerator. May TV din.

Kung ang ibang kuwarto ang lulan ay 8 katao, dito sa bago 4 lang. Kung gusto mo lang magkulong sa kwarto — magbasa ng libro, magluto, o manood ng TV — at ayaw mong maarawan sa labas, mainam ito.

Tanaw ang dagat, na ilang hakbang lang ang layo, at dinig ang hampas ng mga alon, mula sa balkonahe ng kwarto.


Sulit sa halagang ibinabayad namin ang magbakasyon sa Casa Lillibelle. Babalik ba ako sa Casa Lillibelle???

“I’ll be back!”

casa lillibelle 2018

my family decided to push through with the planned holy week outing, though feeling very tentative: two of our daughters [the eldest and youngest] had issues; jikki [the middle daughter] struck her thumb, dislodging her thumbnail the night before our trip; skyler, our 2-yr old “baby boy”, tripped while running, his gums bled and his lower lip broke open, also the night before; ryan almost couldn’t come because of a prior commitment; and marco was nursing a fever.  BUT, thank God, we all pushed to make the trip to casa lilibelle happen.  and the rest… is now… history

casa lilibelle family pic

front row, from left: marco, dea [eldest daughter], jikki [middle], ryan, skyler [baby boy], nicko, meg [youngest].  back row: me and jane.

just search online for casa lillibelle — it’s in cabangan, zambales, a 2-3 hour drive [or 6-8 hours if you travel on holy week!] from manila via SCTEX.  ang nagma-manage ng beach resort, ang mag-asawang si joanne calica at MJ ungco.

“calica…” i said, “calico, calica… ok.”
“yes, with a ‘c’,” joanne said.
“ungco,” i said, “with a ‘g’… ‘u’ ‘n’ ‘G’ ‘co’?”
“yes, u-n-g-c-o.”

at the resort, MJ is so easy to find.  he’s that [stand-out] caucasian-looking dude na balbasin.  joanne is the pretty “zambal beauty” with darkish complexion.

casa lilibelle mj

MJ [he volunteered to take the group-fie] and joanne [rightmost]. me [with peace sign], dea [eldest; front]; jane [my wife; with shades]; jikki [2nd; behind dea]; ryan [rearmost].

chances are pagdating na pagdating nyo sa resort parking area, andun na si MJ… to welcome you.  joanne would probably be waiting for you at the counter area or greet you at the entrance to the resort.  you’ll also see MJ running here and there, in and out of the resort, taking care of business.  they’re both hands-on guys who give personal attention to and converses with their guests.

“MJ has caucasian features,” i said.
“‘kana’ ang mommy nya,” joanne said, “but his dad is chinese… ungco.”
“ikaw, are you from here?” i said.
“yes, just before the steel bridge coming here.”
“you are a zambal beauty.”

joanne was very thoughtful of our situation.  we were only booked for friday and was scheduled to leave and look for another place to stay that saturday morning.  lumakad na mga kasama namin [marco, dea, ryan, and jikki] that saturday morning, to make an ocular inspection of the other resort, and book it for an overnight stay; while jane [my wife] and i packed our bags and brought them to the hut.  they just got back, around 11 am.

“papa, wag ka na mag prepare ng lunch,” our eldest daughter dea said, “dun na tayo magluto sa kabila.”
“ahh, ok,” i said.

just then, joanne came to our hut to tell us that a reservation for that saturday cancelled; but instead of giving out the now available room to their friends who just arrived and were looking for a room; she remembered our predicament and decided to just let us stay for another day in our room to spare us the trouble of moving to another resort.

“si daddy nga kanina, nung sumilip ako sa kubo, mukhang nagdadasal na kung saan kayo magse-stay after eh,” joanne said, “mabuti na lang may nag-cancel.”

casa lilibelle nagdadasal

nagdadasal… nakatulog 🤣🤣

of course, we were all relieved and very grateful!  ryan raises two fists in the air!

the large air-conditioned room we occupied, comfortably accommodates 8-10 persons [we were 8 adults + a 2 yr old toddler], with cushioned beds; a spacious bathroom; a beachfront terrace; and ample space to walk around inside.  beach huts had individual grilling areas.  they have gas stoves [for rent] provided with saucepans and ladles.  you can order basic food items from the counter, like coffee, beer, eggs, ice, etc.  but there’s also a sari-sari store nearby if you want to go for an adventure into the small community.

casa lilibelle stove

marco and the stove

the resort is quite secure.  we were assured that our belongings would be safe in the hut overnight.  we just left them there… found them the next morning just as we left them.

joanne and MJ made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed: they would check on us every now and then, to see if everything was alright.

“ano, sir, ok ba kayak ride,” MJ said, “nakapag workout ka na?”
“oo,” i said, “ang lakas nga ng hangin, kinokontra ko, tinatangay yung kayak eh.”

casa lilibelle kayak

this was my second time to go to casa lillibelle.  and it was my first choice when my family decided to go on this holy week getaway.

as the terminator would say, of course… “i’ll be back!”  😋😋