Gone too soon

We buried my 36-year old cousin over the weekend after a short but very painful battle with lung cancer that has metastasised into his bones. It was devastating, and just plain sad given that he and his only surviving brother drifted apart from our family for years ever since their parents died during their teens and early twenties. In the last couple of years, his brother sort of slowly came back to us when he got married and started a family. They become part and parcel of weddings, birthday parties and family reunions again. But, Erik, he continued to stay away.

He has actually been the loner among us. Whenever we spent time in our grandparents’ house in Batangas, he would join and play with us. Young as I was, I could already feel the aloofness. It’s like he was there but he wasn’t there. I chalk it up to personality. I could feel that he liked it though, and he didn’t feel left out at all. As we grew older and our folks had a harder time putting us together in place because our interests have already varied, some of us do keep in touch sometimes. We still see each other from time to time, introducing boyfriends and girlfriends, that kind of thing. But maybe their parents weren’t there anymore to push them a little, that started the years of isolation.

I am just glad that our family was there even for Erik’s last remaining months, weeks, days, hours and minutes before he drew his last breath. More for his living brother, that he be able to cope physically, emotionally, mentally and economically, we tried to be there. There was so much to do, so much he left behind, so many questions the answers to which he took to the grave. We literally do not know anything about the man. We still wonder up to now if there was anyone who managed to break through that shell and carefully masked facade.

Good bye Erik. We will meet again.

Ushering 2018

New beginnings and new chances at life are given to us again as we stepped onto a new year. Always praying and hoping that things would be better, brighter and more bountiful than ever. We greet the new year with a renewed sense of purpose. I am just plain happy and content that we are all together.

And my masterpiece for this year hehehe

Because I received a cheese board over Christmas.

And had an impromptu get together with one branch of our family. Great reason for the great-grandchildren of Mamay Asio and Nanay Angge to bond over food and toys.

In the Windy City

My visit to Chicago was the personal highlight of my trip to the US, mainly because I got to be with family! I requested my boss if I could have a couple of days off and do a side trip after my official duties, and she agreed. Hooray! And my impression of Chicago was, they don’t call it the windy for nothing! It was bitingly cold, the kind that a person who has lived in a tropical country all her life, could feel down to deepest layers of my bones. For someone used to 30-degree Celsius weather, below 10 is not normal. But I loved the feel of the city. It was busy, but not in a frenetic, disorganized way. It was chic, and it was what I have imagined America would be, more so than Washington, DC and Philadelphia were in the limited time I was there.

I was hoping to get a glimpse of snow, but I was not fortunate enough. Hopefully I will experience some on my next trip.

My mama’s sister (4th among the siblings), who is also one of our wedding sponsors, and her family live in the suburbs of Chicago. I also have two cousins there, as well as several nephews (no girls there!). Both of them are married to full blooded Filipinos. In this lifetime, their whole family have gone home to the Philippines complete in 1992 when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Since then, it was mostly Tita Demi who has gone home every so often.

I stayed at their house in Skokie, and glad that it was before they sold the house. It’s been on the market for a month now since they decided to move in nearer to my cousins.




Next day, my cousins Craig, his elder son, Christian and Tita Demi, brought me downtown Chicago. The brought me first to the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, and we went up to the Skydeck, which about 1,500 feet, and the second tallest building in the United States. It has an observatory, and one could go up the extended glass ledge and imagine you are 1,500 feet above the ground with a thin glass supporting you. This almost gave me a heart attack! haha. But as with every experience, I cherish this (with buckling knees), and cross it off my bucket list.






We also stopped by the Millennium Park and the Bean for the touristy pictures.




And my special request for this trip was to see a real Chicago Bulls game, which Craig has indulged me with! Thanks so much cousin! The Bulls won over the Charlotte Hornets. It was exciting to be there! All that energy…It was my bad that I dozed off several times during the because my 2-week jetlag was pulling me down by this time. But I immensely enjoyed it at best.






My last day there was spent at the Chicago Premium Outlet in Aurora. Oohhh if only I had that much money..lol. Just brought some stuff for my family and colleagues at home as pasalubong. Then off we went to celebrate my nephew, Justin’s birthday. We all went bowling and had dinner at a place called Level 257.





My time here was really time well spent. I am very happy to have reconnected with them, especially my cousins and to have met my young nephews. My hope for them is for them to retain their Filipino-ness despite being born and brought up in the States. Someday I wish that they could all visit the Philippines, and see where their grandparents were born and lived.

Louise and Lucas

My twin niece and nephew (through a cousin) were born a week after Maxine, and they celebrated their first birthday yesterday. Twins are fascinating, especially if identical. But as a mom, although I would welcome a blessing like this, I wouldn’t dream of having them haha. I know the first few days, weeks, months and years would be hard. I would lose twice as much sleep, and would probably really turn into a zombie by the time their first birthday rolls around, especially for us who have no househelp. The idea would be fun, though.

Happy birthday Louise and Lucas!

Their party was intimate and not your usual kids’ party fare. It was held in Amici Greenhills, just enough for their close family and friends to gather. They did not have the usual games and shows typically present in a birthday party. But they had a caddy decorating portion for kids, which Ate Mischa definitely enjoyed.






My second family

This is the family that took me in for a lifetime. We don’t spend as much time with them as with my own since we all live in various parts of the Philippines and even abroad. My parents-in-law are both in Cagayan, as well as two brothers-in-law and their families. The eldest of course is in the United Kingdom, and their coming home was the reason for our big reunion recently. The other brother lives in Caloocan City. Meanwhile, the younger sister, Ate Vivien lives in Fairview, in a subdivision right across Mico’s, so it’s them we see a lot. I would say that our nieces there are the closest cousins Mischa has.

All in all, hubby has two sisters and three brothers. He’s the youngest. Among them, there are 14 grandchildren, and even 1 great-granddaughter now. At the time we took these pictures, the youngest grandchild hasn’t been born yet. There are four grandsons to carry on the Apattad name so there’s little chance we’ll be extinct soon. lol.

I’m not really used to belonging in a family this big, but I love it. Makes me feel secure that Mischa and Maxine has other family they can go to in case we won’t be here. I hope they all grow up close. But I know that we adults have to lay the foundation for them.

So here we are, from eldest to youngest.