Happy New Year - 2013

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Nine hours from now 2012 will be gone and here comes 2013. I thank God that we are still here and that end of the world speculations were completely a hoax. I am also thankful to him for so many blessings. I am glad that I can still celebrate the new year with my family and watch Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world showcase its tallest fireworks display in the world to be recorded tonight by Guinness. Thousands of people will be flocking downtown Dubai and I am scared to face non moving traffic, over crowding, and getting home at 3 am in the morning not to mention waiting almost four hours to witness the event unfold.

We were not in Dubai last new year, we celebrated it in our home country the traditional way but the year before that we were here at the foot of the Burj Khalifa witnessing the change of year from 2010 to 2011. I don't know what to expect except that the management is closing many points of entry to Downtown Dubai. Metro will be packed and Sheikh Zayed Road will be like Karama parking area. But I will set aside my worries, this is the new year and I am excited as a child

I did not realized until today that I haven't shared our experience in New Year 2010. Here are some photos back then. I wish you all a Happy New year. MYB

Dubai Mall fountain dance all night to differenct music pleasing everyone

The crowd is growing every minute at Burj Park where we stayed. Prince was still a baby back then, about eight months now he is two and a half.

Burj Khalifa after the fireoworks display covered in smoke. 

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Fast Lane multi tiered parking

Prince is two and a half and can't write to Santa yet but we know he likes Ben 10, Barney and Thomas and Friends. Shopping for Prince wasn't easy compared to Mica, it took us more than an hour to decide what to give to the kiddo. We were rounding Toys R Us boys section so many times. I almost bought a Thomas and Friends Lego but Ferald did not like it. He wanted to give him something with cars or train, he know better what boys like so I did not argue. It was a good decision to get this gift coz Prince love it.

Of course after opening the present, Prince immediately ask his dad to build it, here with my brother helping to put up the multi tiered parking

The seal of approval is ours!!! :D

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Will you grow up to be a detective?

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When you ask a kid what she/he wants to become when he/she grows up, you get typical answers like doctor, nurse, engineer, singer, artist, etc. My daughter wants to become a detective, an agent!

I was in awe with her answer, I wasn't expecting that at all. I was wondering how and where she got the idea, she used to want to become a paleontologist before because she was watching Dino Dan - a kid who imagine interacting with dinosaurs in his everyday life and Dinosaur Train where in a train for dinosaurs go to every dinosaur era and learn things about the traits of those dinosaurs.

An agent, a detective just like the spy kids in the movie and kid detectives from e-junior TV channel is what she wants to be when she grows up. It leveled up from just a dream to role playing when she wrote in her letter to Santa Clause that she want a CSI detective kit for her Christmas gift. Oh me oh my, I know right.

When I imagine her as a detective, I see her working in the military or the police force and I get scared, it is a dangerous job. It will be astig to see my little girl grow up to be one of them but as a mother/parent I worry for her safety. I know I am over reacting, children will change their mind a thousand times until they are sure of what they wanna do.

We got her what she asked for, who knows this is what she will really become so better support her from now on.

Look at my little girl while she open her present.
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Christmas isn't over yet

We hope you all have a very merry and meaningful Christmas and a wonderful new year ahead of you.
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DIY Glitter Greeting Cards

Don't you just love making personalized cards for your friends? I know, technology is so advanced and it is super dooper easy to type your message and greet your friends but sometimes nothing beats the old fashion way.

Today is my daughters last day of school, its their winter break and it's also the holidays! Last night, Mica mentioned about a classmate who will be saying goodbye to their class because he is going back to his home country together with his family for good, the problem was the boys dad could not find another job after he lost his job or something like that. If the head of the family is jobless in Dubai, it is really very difficult to get by. Jobless expatriate families eventually would need to decide to leave UAE for good and go home. Unlike other countries, here we don't get citizenship so it is very important to have a job which means having a visa and having a visa means being able to stay and work in Dubai legally. It was a sad story but one way or another, we have to face reality and what is happening to her classmate is the reality and this I explained to Mica so she would understand.

We lighten up a bit, she wanted us to buy something for one of her classmates, they are going to have an exchange gift. It is one of her girlfriends ideas that they exchange gift because it is Christmas and so an amount for AED 25 is set for the gift. We got one for a boy and wrapped it nicely.

After wrapping up her present, we had another idea, we made some lovely glittery greeting cards for her BFFs.  These DIY stencil Christmas greeting cards were made using white card stock, different glitter colours, glue and a little bit of hard work and a lot more fun :)

Behind the card she'd written her message to each one of her friends.

I made the stencil using hard plastic for binding. This project is easy and fun to make. Something I'm sure your kids will enjoy.

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It's Raining Cats and Dogs in Dubai

Rain is one thing that people in Dubai love to see happening. It doesn't happen often here and mostly in December only that's why it is always welcome. It brings old memories, we all become nostalgic with every drop. It makes us missed our home countries though and we feel homesick much but still it warms  our hearts

Captured this video yesterday morning while its pouring and I felt like we are driving in a highway like NLEX or SLEX in Philippines.

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Finding Happiness

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This December, I am officially in Dubai for a decade:). Yes a decade in Dubai. You think its long right? But when you hear people say they were in Dubai for the last three decades, you stop and asked yourself again, is 10 years really long enough?

I was sitting in a soft white couch in the lobby of DIFC patiently waiting for the free bus service to arrive. I am almost in the verge of hailing a taxi since it’s been like eternity to wait. The bus came though and pulled over in the parking, I stand and walk away from where I was seated and head out the door. As I help myself climb into the vehicle, the driver immediately offered me the news paper that was in the back seat. I wasn’t surprised by this because every time I am sitting in his van, I read the paper until I get to the intended drop off point. While I was busy flipping the pages, he ask me a question. “How old is your child?”

Sometimes when my husband is off from work, the kids would tag along with him to pick me up after work and they would wait in front of our building where others parked their car. He must have seen one of them. “I have two kids, a girl and a boy, which one of them you want to know?” I asked him. It’s the boy he wants so I told him he’s two and a half, almost three. Our conversation continued

Driver: He is so adorable!
Me: Thank you!
Driver: What is his name?
Me: Prince
Driver: You are Christian no?
Me: Yes we are, you?
Driver: I am also Christian. Malayalam mass in St. Mary’s church is at 2:00 pm. What time is the Tagalog mass?
Me: at 12:30pm
Driver: I once attended a Filipino mass and it feels so good to be there and see Filipinos, so many of them all are laughing during homily.
Me: Yes, Father Tom, he is using practical jokes in his sermon most of the time
Driver: It is very nice to see when people are happy.
Me: Sure is.
Driver: I have a grandson, his name is Joshua and it is mentioned many times in the bible.
Me: It is a nice name (me smiling)
Driver: My name is Josh Mathew and my wife is Sheryl so my daughter combined our names for her son.
Me: Is your daughter here?
Josh Mathew: No they are in Australia
Me: Where is your wife?

Josh Mathew: She is in India just came back from Australia. She came to visit my daughter and helped her for a few months with our grandchild. I have another daughter who’s in college that’s why she has to go back to India

Me: How old is your grandson? Why don’t you go to Australia with your daughter?
Josh Mathew: He is three months now. They are asking me to move there but I still have a year in my visa. After that I will see. In my holiday, I am able to see him, first grandchild. I have a computer at home, we are using Skype.

Me: That’s really nice, even they are far and you can still see and talk to them.

Josh Mathew: Yes, yes. My children are raised here; I used to work for Standard Chartered Bank before as a Driver Manager. I came here in 1979; maybe you are not born yet :)

Me: I was born in the 80’s only and I came to Dubai in 2002.

Josh Mathew: I have seen old Dubai. Sheikh Zayed Road is still Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway back then and there’s only the Trade Center and all you can see after that is the desert.

Me: Yes, I have seen photos like that. It is very interesting.

It must be boring to be an expat in Dubai at that time. It must be home after work and work after home, no play or fun at all but I did not brought that up to him.

Josh Mathew: But Dubai is so far from where it was before, it’s is beautiful now and it is rich, all this happened after the oil discovery. The only problem here for us is we are never going to get citizenship. It is alright if you have a job all the time because you have the visa otherwise there is no chance. I have spent thirty years of my life here already; it is very safe here not like in our countries. Also now everything is expensive, even there is no tax almost all income will go to basic necessities. Nothing is free.

Me: Yes, you’re right nothing is free. Oh wait there is one thing that’s free, this bus service is.

And we are both laughing. :)

I thank him for the ride but I wasn’t able to tell him how I enjoyed our short conversation and that I felt I was happy after that. It brings joy to my heart that people though you don’t know them willingly share their lives to you. His happiness radiates to me; his happiness of becoming grandpa he extended to me, to a nobody for him just a passenger, an acquaintance.

And I thank you for that and I thank God for bringing happiness to my life when I least expect it.
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How to renew your e-gate card in Dubai?

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Renewing the e-gate card is a pretty quick and easy procedure. All you have to do is bring with you the following:

the old e-gate card to be renewed
original passport with visa page - both must be valid
Fees of 200 AED plus 25 AED for other charges
1 passport size photo - just in case you would like to change the photo in the old card

Once you have all these documents ready with you, you may proceed to the nearest available e-gate office and present all your documents. You can also do it for someone else. The process will take ten to fifteen minutes then you will be handed with the new card with only the issue date without the expiry. Note that this card is valid for two years from the date of issue

You may come to the following e-gate offices

Dubai Airport - Departure
Dnata Office - SZR
DNRD offices (Main office in Jaflia/Jebel Ali Br. and Abu Hail)
Government Services Office-DIFC (if under DIFC)

Why it is good to have an e-gate card especially if you are a frequent traveller in and out Dubai?

This is because it will save you valuable time. No need to stand in line in the immigration and wait for your passport to be stamped. When you go to e-gate at the airport, just need to swipe the card and scan your finger and your done. When you register for e-gate they take all information from your travel document and your biometrics so you have to be present if first time applying for this card.
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Finding inspiration from music of the 90's

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Today when I was so uninspired to write, it was music where I found solace and inspiration to do so.

During my teen years, the 90s and the early 20s, I would save some of my school allowance in order to buy song books (song hits). In it you'll find top billboard chart songs with lyrics. I have many of them, I did not buy all of them though as some are my sisters and others, friends. I didn't have a Walkman or potable CD player back then, FM radio was my best bud and when the song plays on the radio, my song book are always handy for me to be able to sing it until I memorized it.

After a few house relocation, I lost almost all of it or somehow forget about them. During college, I have always kept a notebook wrapped in cute and funky wrapping paper where I write song lyrics and compile my favorite songs there. Back to music of the 90's and early 20's, here is a list of few songs I grew up with. Check the list and you'll might find one or two songs you also know. I was listening to some and it takes me back in the days of my youth.

1. Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way
2. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
3. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time
4. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion
5. Mariah Carey - Vision of Love
6. MC Hammer- You Can't Touch This
7. Hanson - MMMBop
8. Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On
9. House of Pain - Jump Around
10. Ricky Martin - Livin La Vida Loca
11. Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
12. Radiohead - Creep
13. Spice Girls - Wannabe
14. Third Eye Blind - Semi Charmed Life
15. Christina Aguilera - Genie in a Bottle
16. Shania Twain - Your Still the One
17. Sugar Ray - Fly
18. Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do
19. Will Smith -Gettin Jiggy With It
20. Billy Ray Cyrus - Achy Breaky Heart
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Kindergarten student struck by a car right outside the school gates

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I took this photo just this morning while waiting for my daughter’s school bus. I stared at her thinking how much she has grown. She's eight now and in grade four; she can take care of herself while in school and is even more cautious about her surroundings than before.

Behind that smile lies a disturbing thought in her mind. After I snap the camera, she told me and her dad that a KG 2 (FS2) student in her school was hit by a car the other day and sustained some injuries. I can sense sympathy for the fellow student and fear from her voice. I questioned her further about what happened but she can't tell no more. This is the first incident in her school but we have heard many cases like this in other schools in Dubai previously. It is dreadful news for the morning. As we kissed her goodbye, I reminded her as I always do to be very careful.

In the car, my husband and I have a theory of how the accident occurred. Either the kid clamber out of the car and suddenly cross the street to the school gates and then hit by the car or coming out from the school gates and then suddenly crossing the street and then hit by a car. I shook my head in disappointment to hear such news. I cringe at the thought of it. I couldn't bear to be in the shoes of the child’s parents, I am sure I'll pass out. We can only hope and pray that the injuries sustained by the child are just minors ones.

According to RTA in an article in the Gulf Today published last October 2012, there are no reported traffic accidents near schools in the last two years. This one's going to change that stat. RTA strongly urge parents to pay more attention to children while embarking or disembarking from the vehicle at all times
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Busy Bee

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After breaking a sweat at the gym, I went to the 11th floor where there is a place to breath fresh air and a place to sit to allow my body and my  heartbeat to return to a normal hum. Few minutes later, I'm on my way to the stairs back to the changing room and as I took my first step, I noticed some wild flowers growing with the already over grown grass in the plant box and I step back to look at it. Tiny yellow daisy like flowers in bloom swaying with the wind. I fished out my Blackberry from my jacket pocket to take some photos, as I point and shoot I notice two bees moving from one flower to another drinking nectar from each one.

Carefully leaning closer I took a shot of the busy bee making sure I would not disturb it. I look around, I wonder where could be its hive? Never mind, I stayed for a while to watch in awe how it's foraging from flower to another. I watched it to my hearts content.

I went back to the changing room with the picture of the bees in my head. Did you know that the busiest of bees in the colony are worker bees and that workers bees are all infertile female. While its young, it will do all sorts of job in the hive before it becomes a worker bee. It is said that workers bees are at the last stage of their lives and will keep on working and foraging for the hive until it dies. Only worker bees sting and only when threatened. Once it sting someone, it is the end of it because the stinger will get stuck into the skin of the one stinged and it will cause the bees abdomen to rupture thus killing it.

These worker bees are like the women in our society. In my home country, predominantly women are the ones who go working overseas. In an article I read in Manila Times.net, the absence of women in families especially the mother is a recipe for trouble - troubled children and troubled marriages thus killing the smallest unit of the society that is the family. There is a bigger underlying problem about our people going abroad. It is the poor economic conditions and unless the economy accelerates or the population decelarate, our women and her family will be just like the worker bee.
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Tasting Tradition

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I was with my family last Saturday in Global Village, it is among many of Dubai's tourists hot spots where as they say is a place the world comes together. It is a place where you can go around the world for 80 minutes for each country of the world has its own pavilion. They showcase handicrafts, woodwork, textiles, among other things. It is also a place where you can try some of the food each nation is famous for. Just a bit pricier though.

Having been in the UAE for a long time, I shall confess that there are still things-Emarati that my family and I haven't experienced yet. Food plays a big part in the UAE culture and with every chow down there are some sweet endings. Ours was called regag and luqaimat - both Emirati ttraditional desserts cooked in a traditional cooking corner by Emirati women.

To watch the ladies prepare them is a joy. I ask permission before taking this vid just to document how the traditional yummy sweets are made and prepared before serving.

This is regag (egg and cheese filling) and the later is loqaimat with date syrup

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Al Ain Engagement Session - Ronnel & Jeah

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Our good friend Ronnel and Jeah are tying the knot by end the year in Philippines. Allow me to share to you some of the photos of their official engagement session. Yours truly was given the honor to be their creative director and photographer. The camera used here is a 60D Canon with 18mm x 200mm lens.

Al Ain Paradise was the first location of the shoot and this place holds the Guinness World Record with the largest display of hanging flower baskets.

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Dubai Fountain and Sharjah Waterfront Fountain

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When I first saw the Dubai Fountain, I thought that it was AMAZING and until now when I took my son to see it for the first time and even every time I come to watch it, I am still amazed by it. The tune on the video below is a classic tune but it also dances in other tunes like Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and many more.

Dubai Fountain is world's biggest water fountain, its spray heights up to 500 ft. It is set in Burj Khalifa Lake right outside Dubai Mall

Dubai Fountain Schedule (every 30 minutes)

First afternoon show: 1:00 pm
Second afternoon show: 1:30 pm

Evening Shows

6-11 pm Sun-Wed
6-11:30 pm Thurs-Sat

In Sharjah where I live, there is another beautiful and amazing water fountain that is attracting the attention of many. Al Majaz Waterfront has its own musical cybernetic water fountain that is set in Khalid Lagoon Corniche. Compared to Dubai Fountain - this is one is using LEDs lights with multicolor capabilities, not only that it also has special water screening shows with laser although I am yet to see that

Show is every 30 minutes from 7:30 until 12:00 am daily except Sundays

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A not yet so spooky Saturday

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Can you call this spooky? What I see in this is pure FUN! The kids had a great time yesterday and I had fun too.

We are two weeks away from Halloween but thought that we can make something out of the orange and black crepe paper that we have at home. I thought that the kids would love to do crafts since they are already doing some art stuff. We made paper spider webs like the ones you see in the photo, we got the idea from here. We also made some orange and black  crepe hanging decors and with a little bit of make faces, we already achieved a little bit of spooky atmosphere. Hey look at the little guy and and and .........the man behind you!!!!

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Siblings Reunited

My sister who’s now based in Doha came to Dubai the other day for another work related assessment. It is a very short trip though so we try to maximize the time we had with her. My older brother Dinoh and my sister Jhoce did not see each other for the last three years and the last time Jhoce was here in July, kuya (brother) was vacationing in Philippines. I couldn't remember exactly the last time we all three were together. It's been many years ago that's why I am so thankful that Jhoce had this chance to come to Dubai.

Me and my brother meet up at Airport Terminal 1 to pick her up and headed by taxi to the hotel where she'll stay for the night. Apparently some guest did not check out and left their luggage in the room and could not reach them, the room booked for her wasn't ready and there are no available rooms. To compensate the situation, the guest relation officer offered a suite upgrade in the next hotel apartment which my sister graciously accepted. The place was huge, three bedrooms, two and a half bathroom, and a separate dining and living room, not bad at all. The only thing was she will be alone in the suite for the night because we can't stay since its weekday and there's work the following day. The stories were pouring; we have so much to catch up with so little time and our stomachs are growling so we headed out for dinner.

We all fancy Chinese food so I took to them to China Palace, one of my favorite restaurant in town that serves authentic Chinese food. The restaurant interior is completely Chinese. My sister have this little obsession with Feng Sui lately and she was so curious about everything inside, she liked the two huge wooden eagles that is standing by the entrance and there is this nuts-chili like curtains that serves as divider in the restaurant. This restaurant was so successful that one may think it's because of all the lucky charms that adorn the place but I will tell you that it is just part of it; the reason why this place is so successful is because the food is really good and it won't leave you bankrupt even after treating all your friends.

Me, my sister and my husband and at the background was the eagle and chili-nut curtain

The two Chinese waitstaff who hardly speaks English took our order and we communicated via the menu book which is inscribe in English and Chinese with food photos. I liberally gave the orders and they were laughing at me as I try so hard to make them understand what I want hehehe!

We can't get enough of this prawn steamed dumpling with vinergar and garlic dip. It's uniquely flavourful so we ordered a second set.

 Part of our dinner was this sweet and sour chicken, we also had seafood fried noodle with bean sprouts, egg fried rice, spicy crispy chicken with Chinese parsley.

We didn't order anything exotic like sea cucumber or shark fin soup but they also have it in the menu.

My sister was a bit nostalgic that night, she missed her three kids and husband back in Qatar and longing for them to join us for dinner and that they would definitely love the food as much as we do. I have the same feeling since my kids are at home, I didn't have the chance to take them with me since both Ferald and I went straight from work to meet up with my siblings.

To sum it up, the night was fun, full of stories and our gustatory needs were satisfied. China Palace is in Al Maktoum Road after the Clock Tower R/A and we each took a souvinir photo with my sister.

We will miss you and we hope to see you again next time in Dubai.

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Kids Got Talent Audition

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Kid number ten's music was playing in the background, my heart's pumping, my knees shaking and my hands are sweating. Nine kids to go and she's  up. My husband was looking so cool watching the other kids perform their piece for Dubai Festival Center Kids Got Talent while I was nervous as hell. How is he doing that?

Moamen Noor - famous Arab artist escorted Lanna on stage. She was all smiles concealing her nervousness. Next to me I heared someone whisper "I suddenly feel nervous, I wasn't a while ago!" my husband said and I was laughing. :) so I am not the only one hahaha

The kiddo was under the weather and voice was exhausted with practice. Audition schedule cannot be re-schedule due to the heavy numbers of registrations received hence we have to show up. She did her best during the audition and received positive feed backs from the judges and the DFC Mall crowd.

We are still waiting for the results of the audition. In the mean time I am sharing with you my daughter's audition vid.

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Dubai Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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One night in the beginning of October on the way home, we saw the moon from the horizon that looks like a giant orange ball in the night sky. Tried to chase it to capture its beauty using only my phone camera. Did not succeed though I've tried hard but instead without realizing I captured something else bigger than the moon.

The hotel building at the Dubai Festival City was illuminated with pink lights and ribbon that symbolizes the Breast Cancer Awareness Month that is October. A lot of people, goverment organization and private companies in Dubai are supporting this cause.

Today I read about an expat woman from Abu Dhabi with three young kids who was diagnosed last year with breast cancer . She was undergoing chemotherapy although the disease had spread in her body that makes her terminally ill. She died last August in her home country in Scotland.

Cancer is the 2nd cause of women's death in the UAE and breast cancer is the most common form according to the country's experts. Women as young as 17 years old has recently been diagnosed. Early detection is the key and a healthy lifestyle and less stress.

Another iconic edifice turns pink this october in support to the Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Oh Christmas Tree

The weekend was still great even I was sick as a dog. I promised the kids the other week that we will put up the Christmas tree, I don't want to leave them disappointed. Ferald was at work that day hence we waited for him to come home. Decorating the Christmas tree has always been a family affair for us and the kids enjoy it the most. This Christmas is Prince second year and he was given the chance to put the star on top of the tree after we finished decorating it with gold and red ornaments. This tree was the biggest tree we ever had, it is 6 ft tall and require a bigger floor area. I am yet to buy those twinkling lights aka Christmas lights to complete it.
After having the tree ready I suddenly realize that Halloween is not over yet. I checked the web for events in Dubai for the Halloween, all are paid events and are happening quite far from our place. I was thinking of asking neighbors to join trick or treat, those who would like to participate can decorate their doors with spooky designs. We live in an apartment building and I actually have second thoughts in doing that as I am not sure how it will work. Still mama needs to find something for the kids this Halloween.
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What's for Dinner: Pearl Meatballs

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I cooked these pearl meat balls long time ago and the photo was in my iomega hard drive all along but I haven't forget about its recipe and how heavenly it tastes like. Very easy to prepare and very easy to cook, it can quickly disappear from the plate too. sarap kasi!

I was thinking to have it for dinner tonight although the meat is still to be thawed and the glutinous rice are still to be soaked so as much as I want to eat this tonight, I'll have to leave it until tomorrow.


1 pound ground pork

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
10 water chestnuts drained well and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons very finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons fresh ginger,grated
1 teaspoon fresh garlic,grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup glutinous rice washed and soaked for 3-6 hours

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup good quality soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons light brown sugar sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 green onion finely minced

Combine all ingridients except for the glutinous rice (soaked overnight) using your hands and refrigerate for an hour   Form pork mixture into 1 inch ball and roll in the glutinous rice pressing gently to coat   Arrange them in the steamer and steam for about 20-30 minutes. Serve hot with your dipping sauce.
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Scented Oil Burner and Candle Holders with a notice

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"Nice to look, nice to hold but when it's broken considered as sold..." :D
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Green Salad with Fuji Apples and Oven-Grilled Pork Belly with Pinakurat

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Dinners are special for my family; it's the only meal of the day we get to share food at the dinner table except for weekends and holidays of course. Last night was no exception. After my husband pick me up from work until we reached home, we couldn't decide what to eat for dinner. It depends on what's the fastest dish I can whip up in the kitchen. Pork barbecue was his answer and mine was some greens and apple salad.

Some of the ingredients are not available at home so we pass by the grocers. Some fruit, sack of rice and veggies are already in our cart and we are almost done shopping when we saw the shelf of sukang pinakurat.  The main ingredient of this Filipino dipping sauce was coconut sap or tuba and birds eye chilies or labuyo. I heard from friends that it's perfect for grilled dishes so we gave it a try.  It did not disappoint even if its smell is too strong for me. It does compliment the oven grilled pork belly though-sarap ng anghang di nangangagat.

For the oven grilled pork belly, I mixed 1 sachet of marinade mix to 1/2 kilo of meat and then oven grill it until it's well done. Very simple and quick but on other days when I have plenty of time, I create my own marinade mix from natural ingredients- mahirap yung laging instant di ba. For the salad, I had some romaine lettuce washed and roughly chopped, 1 medium size tomato cubed, a cucumber cubed and 1 Fuji apple cored, peeled and cubed, cut into bite size. For the salad dressing, I used the juice of 1 lemon and olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. I pour the dressing just before serving the salad, this prevents the veggies from becoming limp-I like my greens crisp. Over dinner, we get to talk about what happened during the day at work and at school. Nothing beats family bonding like this.
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When I thought that there is just nothing to write and I am hit by the so called writers block, my sister was to the rescue, an inspiration.

I received a call from her this morning saying that she will travel to Dubai again and soon. She was here just recently for an assessment and now back for another assessment. "Jet-setter ka na, patravel travel na lng between Doha and Dubai" I told her. Of course she reasoned out that it's part of the job. Seeing you is a bonus. I was very happy that she has this chance and thank God they are sending her here, where we are based. Actually it is no coincidence, the company's HQ is here in Dubai. But still I'm glad that we have the chance to see each other more often.

"Except for your assessment, what else do you wan to do in Dubai?", I asked her. It's the same question I asked her the last time. In her last visit we went to dine in one of our favorite restaurants in Karama that caters both Japanese and Filipino food - Agemono and watched the Dubai Mall Fountain. This time she said I wanna go by Dubai Metro. Interesting isn't it? I know, even we are in Dubai and the train is just right there to use, me and my family rarely use it. We still travel with BEM, our car. (there is no train connection to Sharjah where we live-still wishing that they will extend it in all the Emirates). My sister left for Doha when the train is still under construction and I bet that she wanted to experience it like a tourist would.

I told you, we rarely use the metro but I honestly think that we should do more often (to cut on our carbon footprint). I took my family for a ride in the Dubai Metro one day, we took off from DCC and headed to IBN Batuta Mall, it's an hour ride at the speed of 80km/h. It's not the destination, it the ride actually that we want. My son continuously ignore the train even if he sees it passing in front of him but not after he experience it. My son is two and he would call out "choo choo train!" now when he sees it.

Looking forward to see my sister again and experience Dubai Metro with her!

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Raprakan in Dubai-I want this!

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Paki rap naman Gloc 9

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YES ang sabi ko habang patawid ng kalsada
Galing sa restorang “Tagpuan” sa Sharjah
Tanong mo sa akin nagbibiro ka ba?
Sagot ko hinde, Oo nga mahal kita

Kita kong ngiti sa yong mga mata
Labi mo’y gumuhit hanggang tenga
Kulang na lang tumalon ka sa tuwa
Tanong mo talaga tayo na ba?

Hindi ka makapanilawa sa iyong narinig
Ako nama’y sigurado sa aking sinambit
I love you, I love you too bulong ng bibig
Sure akong ikaw ang tinitibok ng dibdib

Lumipas mga araw, lagi nang magkasama
Hinahatid sa subway papasok ng Sahara
Sinusundo’t hinahatid, hinatahid sinusundo
Kahit butas na ang bulsa

Dumaan mga buwan, nagbungang pagmamahalan
Sa di inaasahan ikinasal ng madalian
Lalo na’t sa Dubai bawal ang ganyang lambingan
Sumumpang habambuhay tayong magmamahalan

Ikaw ang aking buhay
Sa iyo ko lahat iaalay
Pangako hanggang kamatayan
Mamahalin kita ng tunay

Ilang taon na rin ang dumaan
Anibersyaryo nati’y ipagdiwang
Hipan ang kandila nakaguhit na syam
Habang umaasa ng walang hanggan

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Shrimp Corn Chowder

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I wanted to eat prawns, I love prawns but I know very limited recipes of this crustacean. Yesterday as I check for recipes for dinner, I found this and it’s a jackpot. My family loves it, I love it. I was uncertain how it would taste as I have not cooked this before but it was like magic. The corn loves the butter they are a perfect combo, need not use corn starch coz the potatoes have the starch leaking from it once cooked and the prawns oh yum. I can guarantee you that this is a delectable comfort food. It is very easy to cook and does not require too many ingredients. You will love this, your family will love this.

You will need:

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

1 small onion minced

A knob of butter

3 ears of corn cut off from the cob

2 medium size potatoes diced

Half kilo of medium or large prawns, skinned and deveined

5 cups of fresh full cream milk

1 cup of water
In the cooking pot melt the butter, add garlic until fragrant, add onion until translucent. Add corn including the cob and the potatoes. Pour milk and water, cover and let simmer. Boil until potatoes are soft. Add prawns and cook for 3-4 minutes, make sure not to overcook the prawns. Add little water if it gets too thick. Serve hot.

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First day of school and before it

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Mica my daughter was excited to go to school today. It's the first day of school for her since she is an old student of the school. She is in grade four now at 8. (Extended holidays!) :D New and incoming students already started last Sunday.

What do you think an excited student do the week and the day before school starts? Hmmmm

Mica (a week before school starts): Mom I would like to have that corned beef hash with eggs you cooked before for my packed lunch on the first day of school.

Mom: (the night before the first day of school): Cooking what was requested. I keep notes; it's a motivation factor for the kiddo you know. When she saw me preparing it last night, she throw herself to me and gave me a big hug and a big kiss. Thanked me for cooking her favorite. Well, almost everything I cook is Mica's favorite; she even dubbed me as the World’s Best Mom Chef every time I cooked something she likes! :D I got a title now hehehe!

Me (while cooking in the kitchen): peek at the kitchen door because I think I saw someone wandering around the house carrying a heavy backpack, looks like the ninja turtles stop by to say hi. Who else would it be but my school girl. I collected the books and the notebooks from the school earlier and that's what she was carrying around the house in that famous kitty bag. I ask what was she doing, she replied "what? I am trying on my new bag!” I go bonkers!

I wrapped her notebooks in brown paper and her books in clear plastic cover; while I was doing that I told myself, this feels like I am the one going to school again! Sooner or later Mica must learn how to wrap her school books. She helped by cutting scotch tapes. Some are too short and some are too long; it reminds me that she is still a little girl, still trying to perfect her scissors handling skills. I wrapped two dozen books and notebooks and it took me four hours, a run and a re-run of Ice Age 4 on TV and a back pain to finish it. Is that slow? Is there a notebook/book wrapping challenge around here for moms? :)

Mica: Went to bed early (but was awake for an hour after hitting the sheets.) Can't stop thinking how excited she was about school. She missed her classmates, her teachers, keeps on hoping that her classmate and friend Hilary will still be her classmate this year. Sad about Janica moving on to a new school and will not see her everyday anymore.

Mom’s reaction: Please go to sleep and you'll find out all about it tomorrow. You will still have some old classmates and some new ones and you can always make friends with them. I told her it’s really sad but those friends of hers who moved into a new school will be the new kid in the new school; they themselves will have new classmates and will also make new friends. I know it’s difficult for the kids here in Dubai to deal with the fast-phase life of expatriates who keeps coming and going every minute. After that conversation, we were both on our way to dreamland.

Mica woke up early this morning, took the towel and went directly to take a shower. Put on her new school uniform and ate breakfast; brushed her teeth and kissed me goodbye. Rushed at the door too excited.

While I was taking a shower, I go deep in my thoughts. I was amazed at how much she has grown over the years; now independently preparing herself for school. I hope that it's not just the first day. Really!
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Fond memories of my childhood

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I grew up climbing camachile and saresa trees, chasing white and yellow butterflies in the afternoon when I am suppose to be napping, I picked sampaguita flowers to make garlands, catch fireflies at sundown, put it inside mason jars, watch it glow in the dark and then freed it afterwards. I blow bubbles made from gumamela buds and leaves mixed with laundry soap, I played hide and seek when the power's out, and tug with my sibling to bath in the river. Ate green tomatoes by the hanging bridge, chewed freshly harvested sugarcane, and fetched water for the laundry and the dishes for my mother. It's all childs play and I am ecstatic that I still can recall them. I also played tumbang preso, chinese garter, sipa, habulan, harangan taga, piko, bending and many more of Filipino games with other kids in the neighborhood.

We lived in a stilt house native to our country that my grandfather helped my parents to build. It stands near a swamp that connects to a river where my dad sometimes put crabnets to fish. Our house was surrounded with fruit bearing trees and vegetables. My mom has a small flower bed in front of the house and the gate was made from scraps of wood. Apart from the small vegetable patch to tend, my father have ducks and hens from where we get fresh brown eggs in the morning, once we had hogs and a cow who gave birth to a calf which I actually witness coming out of its mother's womb. We had too many cats and dogs but muning and spot was my favorite. Muning was a sweet fat cat that looks like Garfield (I think) and Spot was our ever loyal stray dog who always gives birth to ten or twelve pups, some puppies are given to friends, some to neighbors, and some sold in the market. Almost every morning, my dad gets us fresh carabao's milk for breakfast. The milk is poured into hot steaming boiled rice sprinkle with little salt. We co-sleep with our parents because there is just one room, no soft beds but we had a large sleeping mat and a huge mosquito net.

This was memories of my early childhood, when  I turned grade five my parents send me to another school in a different city under the care of my aunt. I had pleasant memories there too but that's another story. I love that neighborhood, I have lots of time for play and I roam free. I came once for a visit, I think when I was in college or after college, as I look around, I feel the familiarity of the place and I see myself at every corner except for our own house. Some other family was already occupying the lot and with a bigger concrete house. In my heart I was meaning to see that old nippa hut that stood there once to bring back old happy memories but it was all gone. I'm glad that even the physical part of it was gone, all the fond memories are here in my heart. I can always go back to that place and I wanted to.

Now that I have the capacity to build my own home for my family, I wanted something like that just like what I had before. Something more decent, a place where my children can roam free and be a child, a place to build their own dreams.
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WiWi aTO!

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Potty Training Prince

It comes in naturally to parents the need to potty train their children as they see signs of readiness. I read a lot of articles how to potty train but as they say it is always different with every child. Well I guess they are right about it. I have two kids and they have big age gaps between them. My eldest stop wearing diapers by the age of two, we had few accidents but she learned from that day and become independent from nappies all the way.

We are actively potty training my two year old son right now. His auntie was so supportive of him. Thanks to her. It is much easier now that he can talk and tells me, his aunt, his dad or even his older sister to take him to the toilet to pee. Everyone in the house applauds him for good behavior and encourages him to use the toilet every time he needs to including pooping.

In the beginning, I was the one taking him to the toilet but I thought that to do it visually will help him a lot. His dad was too excited when I told him the idea to show him how men do it and he is the happiest dad on earth when he saw him doing it. He still needs to learn how to poop in the toilet and they are getting there so I guess sooner we will bid goodbyes to the nappies too.

If you need help how to potty train please click here
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Back to school and a few observations

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School is starting next week at my daughter school and I think majority of schools in Dubai and UAE are also up. I guess I will need to say goodbye to the traffic free Dubai-Sharjah  highway by this weekend. It will definitely become packed with everyone hurrying up to get to their destination from Sunday morning and then add up to that all the students heading to school transported by their big yellow buses.

I have two kids but just the eldest is attending school, for now. It's not only the traffic that's going to get congested and so is my schedule. I will not only bid farewell to a traffic free road but also to the fuss free mornings that I enjoy when there is no school.

I was at my daughter's school yesterday to settle her tuition and transport fees, buy new books and uniforms as well. On the queue, another parent was paying the fees of his kids. When the accountant told him the total amount, he took his wallet and emptied it counting thousand dirhams bills. After paying, he checked the receipt and ask where are the school uniform fees? The accountant informed him that school uniforms will be paid separately in another counter. He was disappointed, I cannot blame him you know, we are standing there for about an hour already only to learn that we have to go to another counter for another payment, why not let the parents pay everything at once in just one counter?

I got M her uniforms and paid the books although it is not ready for distribution. We left her school and headed to the mall to buy school necessities. She didn't like to have trolley bag this time, she wanted a back pack just like her friends have. This is rooted from the difficulty carrying trolley bags to the second floor of their school using the stairs since there is no elevator. I am not suspecting any other reason because I have seen this and she's telling the truth which reminded me to mention this during parent-teachers meeting.

I have nothing against my daughters school but it surprise me that I have these strange observations while writing this down. We are almost ready for the new school year and I am bracing myself for it from now.
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Weekend Links

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Its almost weekend, have you planned already?

1. 30 Habits of Women Men Don't Get I agree that we women are complex and hard to fathom but definitely man have habits that we don't get either, shall we enumerate them? :)

2. 10 Annoying Things Men Do Ok this is not a battle but I am just being fair to men and to women.

Next topic pleaseeeee...

3. The smoke that thunders I love those rainbows and I miss to see them a lot. Whoaaa is it safe to mingle with those cats? Beautiful photos to stare at.

4. Everyday Food with Sarah Carey For ice cream without churn, perfect omellete for breakfast or glazed salmon for dinner watch Sarah Carey's videos - easy to cook meals. you can whip a salmon dish in barely 15 minutes

5. First Space Elevator - Being taken seriously by researchers and scientist. It is a thing of the future, to build one price estimates from $10 to $50 billion US Dollars

Happy weekend everyone!!!
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Eid Mubarak!

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This photo was a print screen from the DIFC CEO Eid Greeting video I received. Truly the view of Dubai at night is mesmerizing, like glistening diamond crystals at night. I don't know how many times I played the video to see the above scene again and again. It truly makes a good impression.

See the video here. I bet it will go viral.

Anyways, its Thursday and the last day of the work week here in Dubai and it is also the beginning of a long weekend. Enjoy your holiday and Eid Mubarak to our Muslim brothers all over the world.

To my brother, Eid Mubarak bro. we love you.

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Hopscotch - Piko

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There used to be a carpet right there but in attempt to add more indoor activities for my kids, I rolled out the carpet and put hopscotch on the tiles using green vinyl sticker. I can’t use paint as it will surely damage the tiles (I don’t want that because for sure my landlord will ask me to replace those damaged tiles if one day we decided to vacate the property) while colored chalks will easily fade away and we have to draw again and again. My kids and I are turned out to be allergic to dust so removing that carpet is a relief.

When we went on vacation last December to Philippines, I find my nieces and my nephew hooked on their iPhone or computer most of the time and I admit that even my daughter was doing the same, all of them busy with their own tech-savvy world. It is sad because there is lack physical activity and social interaction thinking that they are kids, they are supposed to be out playing right. I remember when I was their age, you’ll not find me home, either I am out climbing trees and picking seasonal fruits with my friends or I am playing piko, Chinese garter, bending, tumbang preso, harangan taga, langit lupa, and sipa with them. I’m sure if you are a Pinoy kid of the 80’s, you know these games I am talking about. Hopscotch or “piko” is every kid’s game in our country and probably everywhere else in the world.

I called the kids outside one day and draw a big piko on the street, show them how it is done and what the rules are. After that they are on their own playing almost all day long. I was happy to teach them this game I played myself many years ago and even if we are back in Dubai, my kids can enjoy the game she used to play with her cousins.

I add numbers on each box and those are intended for my two year old son so he can familiarize himself with the numbers. Prince is currently on potty training and he is learning his letters and numbers

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Touring Sheikh Zyed Grand Mosque in my abaya

Touring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must when you are visiting Abu Dhabi. We've been here four years ago and it was not yet complete. The gardens outside still waiting to be landscaped. We wanted to enter the mosque to see the grandeur of the famed place of prayer but we were denied due to strict clothing policy so we content ourselves photographing it from the outside.

Four years later and we are back with two of our friends. I make sure to check the mosque management website before our trip in order not to be denied for the second time. Looking at the dress code below, I understood that we were not properly dressed before. There were dressing booths at the entrance now where ladies can borrow abaya and Shayla which were not there before. My friend and I each took an abaya and Shayla to cover ourselves. The abaya was easy to put on but wearing the headscarf is quite tricky though. We struggled to keep it in place all the time. Our partners were fine in their clothes.

Moving on to the more exciting part of the tour but first, let me tell you that this is a complimentary guided tour. It is one of the FREE things you can do in Abu Dhabi. It was Friday and we joined the 5pm schedule. A local tour guide told the visitors to come closer before a brief introduction. When he finished, we were divided into groups and different tour guides were assigned in each group.

Our local guide was well versed. He speaks fluent English except for the Arabic terms he was explaining to us. There was a myth I'd like to confirm with him so I asked if all the gold we see around are real gold. "Only those that you cannot reach are real gold", he answered with a chuckle. He was talking about those ones in the minarets and the domes.

The size of the SZGM is the size of five football fields. It can accommodate up to 40,000+ worshippers inside and out. It features 82 domes, the main dome the largest of its kind measuring 32.8 meters in diameter where the worlds largest chandelier made of Swarovski crystals weighing nine tonnes hang.

Reflective pools surround the mosque and it's best to capture the mosque reflection at night. The unique lighting system is responsible for that beautiful bluish-gray cloud projected in the external walls which reflect the phases of the moon and changes every day.

Italian white marble and inlaid floral designs adorn the prayer halls while the interior walls have decorative gold-glass mosaic features

The main glass door weighs 2.2 tonnes and measures 12.2 meters high and 7 meters wide

Inside the main prayer hall is the worlds largest hand-knotted carpet handcrafted by 1300 Iranian artisans. There are 2, 286,000 knots and it took them two years to finish it before finally spreading it on the floors of the mosque. It did not get here in UAE in one big piece. Another 500 people came to Dubai from Iran with it to finish it in the mosque itself. If you can see, the carpet has an almost invisible line pattern where the worshippers lined up during prayer.  

 The Qibla wall (facing the direction of the Holy City of Mecca) is 23 meters high and 50 meters wide in which the 99 names (qualities) of Allah is written in traditional Kufi calligraphy designed by UAEs prominent calligrapher - Mohammed Mandi. This is the counterpart of the altar and priest ( Imam in Islam) pulpit in our churches.


Gold-glass mosaic has been used in the Mehrab-it's the one in the above photo in the middle of the Qibla wall with golden ripples. The floral design clock on the wall indicates the time of prayer, it is five times during the day.

 As you can see all the details and the design are made to perfection. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the result of the vision of the founding father of UAE, the late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan whose remains finds its final resting place in the mosque courtyard.

That's me and my friend in our Emirati traditional clothes.

 For full information about SZGM please visit their website here

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