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!”  😋😋

 

50 something

as my day ends — “my day” because it’s my birthday — i take stock of my life, an aspect of it…

i am half-broke.  broke a lot of times and unable to do things that require money to do or accomplish.  can’t afford to buy a lot of things.  can’t travel far.  can’t enjoy many pleasures.  but don’t pity me: i don’t believe that life consists in the abundance of materials things.

i am not poor by any means.  yeah, poor compared to my rich friends who have a lot of money (millions and millions) and property.  but not poor, compared to the homeless street urchin or the couples with little kids who live in pushcarts, residing anywhere they find safe shelter at, and feed off whatever convenient edible items they find rummaging in garbage dumps or on whatever kindness they receive from strangers.

i have not been too attracted to wealth.  i never chased after wealth, and wealth never chased after me.  i have a carefree attitude towards money.  why?  i am not sure.  it may be genetic (born this way,) accidental (ended up this way,) environmental (grew up this way,) or religious (faith led me this way.)

i was born this way.  no one can challenge that.  i was born with the carefree gene.  too carefree to care about anything (be it failure or success) at all — and money.  it’s an empty void as dense as a black hole.  doesn’t make life easy at all!

i may have become a carefree person as a result of a head injury i sustained when i was a year old.  i remember everything around me visually spinning when i hit my forehead on the sharp corner of the glass-covered center table in our living room.  something blacked out inside my frontal lobe.  i was rushed, bleeding, to the ER — received so many stitches above my cracked right eyebrow.  there is a hitman — a cold assassin — inside of me.

but growing up may have also taught me that happiness is not only achieved by having a lot of money, and whatever a lot of money can buy.  yes, i learned that it could give you that happiness.  but i also learned that it is not only money and the things money can buy that can give you happiness.

i learned that friends, the company of friends — the ones who aren’t bought with money, that is — are a genuine source of happiness for me.  much more happiness than the things money can buy can give.  in this regard i consider my friends much more valuable than money — losing friends is a greater loss to me than losing money.  how much money can you price-tag a friend?  and, of course, family — their love, and the happiness they give — that can never be replaced!

my faith in God has also taught me to trust in him despite appearances of hard times.  it’s a divine catch-22: God tells me, “since you are content with little wealth, why should i give you more?  i’d give you more faith instead, and just enough money.”  and, in the divine economy in heaven, i learned that faith is more valuable than earthly wealth.

as far as health is concerned, it always declines, never improves.  when you hear your doctor say, “your health is improving!” or “you look better!” either you’re recovering from a stroke or a triple bypass operation, or he’s just commenting on the visible rejuvenating effects of stem-cell therapy or viagra on your general outlook in life.  50 somethings’ health is never improving, always declining.

i am 50 something.