Mommy Growing up: December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas with friends

For almost five years of living as a graduate student in Taiwan, it means I've also been missing having five Christmas with my whole family back in my country. Back home, we have bright and festive Christmas celebrations everywhere, well, crazy it may sound some do as early as September. Homes are highlighted with Christmas decors while streets are filled with mostly DIY stars. On Christmas Eve, the whole family attends a midnight mass followed by Noche Buena, a midnight dinner filled with all sorts of delicious Filipino delicacies shared with joy and laughter by the whole family. The dark skies then will be decorated with colorful fire crackers as fathers showed off to their kids how to create loud colorful magics, the safe way lol.

With my daughter. Hubby and youngest daughter were back in Philippines.

On the other hand, Christmas here in Taiwan is not considered a holiday. Everybody works on December 25th, classes and examinations are held as if nothing happens, which was very frustrating and depressing the first time. I understand they have Chinese New Year which is more important in their culture, however I'm thankful at least Jan 1 is considered a holiday.

Back to our Christmas celebration, I'm very grateful our Filipino community here still continued our tradition by holding midnight masses from December 16th to the 24th, followed by simple merienda. On the 24th, we heard a midnight mass and shared the Christmas spirit with fellow Christians, sharing of gifts and delicious Filipino foods. After the mass, I and my daughter, along with three other Christian friends (2 Filipinos and 1 Indonesian) ran to our Christmas party held with our fellow foreign students (venue: a friend's dormitory). Everybody brought their own country's dish to share with everybody, enjoyed the games and simply caught up with everyone's lives. Indeed, I'm so blessed to have a group of friends here to share the spirit of loving and sharing.  Though we're of different religions and nationalities, we came together to celebrate Christmas as a family.

Christmas with fellow students and friends from our university.
Simple Christmas gathering with friends. No Christmas trees or decor. Just us.
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all!
Though far and away from our loved ones this special season, still we managed to celebrate Christmas. Thanks to our dear friends who were always there to celebrate with on special occasions as this. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flash flood donation drive

As Typhoon Washi (local name Sendong) passed by the Southern Philippines last week, along with it came the monstrous rainfall that created fatal and highly damaging flash floods and land slides. Unprepared for what was coming in the middle of the night, more than a thousand from Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City sadly succumbed while a lot more were missing as muddy flood waters covered their roof tops in few minutes and horrifyingly swept out entire villages towards the sea. At present, hundreds of thousands were homeless. Such tragic event happened so close to home, a mere 3 hours drive away, and it was very heart-breaking.

My hubby didn't pushed through with his supposed Christmas trip to Samal island and instead donated the money and some clothes and tents for the victims. I've never been so touched and proud of him. Meanwhile, wanting to help in our own special way, I along with two other Filipino students organized a donation drive here in our university for relief assistance of the flash flood victims. For three days, we set up donation boxes at the Office of International Affairs and by the end of the day, we were extremely touched to see the boxes overflowing with donations. Clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, comforters, bottled waters, canned foods, shoes and even cash were donated. Such warm responses were so touching and indeed, they're the best Christmas gifts we received this year.

Extremely touched by people's generous hearts!

 As of now, the goods were shipped towards the Philippines via LBC, courtesy of a generous donor from our church. Amidst the tragedy hitting us, God still find ways to touch our lives through people's goodness. We continue to pray for the victims of the flash floods and may God strengthen everybody especially in this tragic moment. Christmas may be gloomy this year but with our help, little they may be, makes a big difference to a victim's life. You may donate here - via Philippine Red Cross. Thank you. May God bless us all.

Wordless Wednesday: Xtremely tall xmas tree

This extremely tall Christmas tree reached til the 4th or 5th floor of our local shopping mall. Must be more beautiful with glittering lights at night.
 We felt like dwarves under it lol. Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Resting in the shadows

My daughter was resting under the Cypress tree...
In few minutes she was snoring.
While everybody around her was havin' fun, she was lost in her own shadowy world.
Let me dream under your shadows...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ostrich eggs

Visiting an ostrich farm today, we were greeted by these gigantic eggs.

A parade of ostrich eggs. .. and their shadows :)

Just lovely!
My good friend showing off how big  these eggs are.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eventful Birthday~

Another milestone of my life. Ever thankful to God for giving me another gift of life. Another age. Another year full of blessings and adventures.

Since hubby and youngest baby (they're back home to our country) are not here with us, I celebrated my big day with my eldest daughter and bestfriend. Other great friends joined us for a birthday trip the next day. Simply Awesome! My daughter had a sportfest/Christmas party at their school that day and we were there to cheer her up and just enjoyed the program.

There was a bazaar at their school too and I bought a lot of stuff at very good prices. I had so much fun rummaging through their treasures.

After a hearty lunch, I bought a birthday cake from 85 degrees and again celebrated my birthday in the lab with my labmates (and bestfriend).

I and best friend then went shopping and this was what we found.

A humongous Christmas tree! Merry Christmas!!!!

In the late afternoon we decided to pamper ourselves in the hair saloon. Bestfriend convinced me to cut my hair short for a change. Heck why not! But throughout the cutting session, I freaked out lol. It's my first time to cut my hair this short from a long beautiful one (wink*), and not even sure if I can pull it through. Anyway, that experience was exciting, thanks to this crazy adorable friend! 

Then I ran for a Christmas dinner that night with the MECO staff (mini Philippine embassy here) and other Filipino students. The dinner was sumptuous! 

Me with my new hair (2nd from right) with other Pinoys, after a hearty dinner!
Delicious hotpot and other  scrumptious Chinese dishes for dinner!

The following early morning as what I mentioned in my earlier post, my friends who organized a surprise birthday trip brought me to a very beautiful mountain in Nantou, about two-hour drive from our place. It is called Aowanda National Park. The view is spectacular. We had a picnic and a long trek in a breathtakingly panoramic mountain. Here are some of the photos... 

Overall, I had a very memorable birthday! Though my family is away, I got a family here by my side in the person of my friends.

Have a great week to you all and advance Merry Christmas!

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