Welcoming Family

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Vassapenin! Hello everyone. I'm out and about after posting no decent blog article, no decent instagram photo and no decently engaging tweet. Although, come to think of it, I've actually been pretty preoccupied. It's just that, now, I find it extra necessary to think twice (or thrice) whenever I post something. I just wanted things to make more sense. Dang, deep heh.

Nonetheless, I'm ready to make a proper recap of the significant things that happened. That is, asides the intense reviewing, my constant listening to the Metamorphosis album, both that of The Rolling Stones' and that of Hillary Duff's, and my sad and sappy suffering of a terrible fringe haircut.

After an incredibly tiring weekend of taking my first preboard exams, I thought I deserved some time to relax. So Nina and I made plans which included attending a 90-minute yoga class. In the end, take a good guess who bailed out on me (again). Coincidentally, the coming week was when my relatives from Hong Kong, the Choi's, were to arrive. Since I was busy with the review, I thought I'd only be able to meet them on the reunion set up by our other relatives. However, it turned out that the driver they hired wasn't particularly familiar with the Makati area, so my father asked me to accompany them upon picking the Choi's up. That's when I thought, instead of struggling to reach my toes in yoga (alone), I better just clear up my week to welcome my cousins home - which I did and has happened to be one of the best decisions I've made this year so far. 

July 27, 4:00 am

We woke up early to avoid the heavy metro traffic. We arrived at their hotel around half past four and finally met up with them. It was the uneasy rudimentary stages, but my sister and I definitely felt excited. Then off we began a nine-hour-long day trip home.

The last time I remember I had a day trip to Abra was with my dear Uncle Mayo, and I can still recall I bought him two sticks of hotdog and we stopped over a drug store somewhere in Urdaneta city. Everytime I ride a bus, whether I'm on my way home or back to Manila, I have developed a habit of looking forward to seeing that drug store over a bus window. We took the the new TPLEX so I had to ask my father if we were still to pass by Urdaneta city but he said we had already passed. I guess it was just a bit discontenting. :(

10:00 am, La Union

I'm not sure if I should mention this, but I'm writing it anyway. The truth is, considering we've only known them before through photos and perhaps facebook, and knowing that Jessica studied in HKU, that Nicholas participated in the 2012 Olympics at age 19 and that Natasha is in the fashion industry, we've always thought so highly of them. I think that was one of the main reasons, my sister and I sort of found it hard to reach out and start a proper conversation at first. It was kinda funny how we actually planned what questions we had to ask and such. In fact, Cheena had been practicing how to introduce herself even a week before their arrival but she didn't really end up doing so. haha (Sorry, Cheena)

We stopped over at a Chowking in La Union for breakfast. Just as soon as we sat down, Jessica, Nicholas and Natasha began setting up the table. We thought it was really very humbling as they were our visitors and we should be the one assisting them. But upon becoming more and more aware that we actually have the same sense of humor, we started to feel more comfortable around them. 

2:00 pm, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Another change of plans. Rather than going home, we determined we should pass by Vigan city first. We ate at Max's for lunch and boy, were we surprised how much they actually know and appreciate filipino food! We toured them along the famous Calye Crisologo and then we went to the Hidden Garden afterwards. Unluckily, the rain started pouring hard so we skipped going to Baluarte Zoo and just went to Marsha's for a few local delicacies then headed to Abra.

6:00 pm, Bangued, Abra

Hello Abra! Everyone was evidently tired but there's no saying NO to food. So we then had our dinner at Origines. (More Filipino food! Woohoo) For the past month, I had been longing to taste their sizzling crispy sisig and at last, my craving was satisfied. Amen.

8:00 pm Pilar, Abra

Finally, after spending an entire day on the road, we were home. I had really missed the house, the fresh air, even the numerous sala sets, and above all, our Mamang Lolly. I had allotted all my hours these past recent months to reviewing and I had never felt so at ease and carefree until I finally lied down and stretched on that brown sofa . Home sweet home, indeed. 

July 28, 10:00 am, Pilar, Abra

I woke up early again to help cook bacon and hotdogs for breakfast and to clean the graves in the cemetery which we were about to visit later that morning. It's never really hard to wake up early when you're in Pilar. Pilar has that cold and gentle morning air that wakes you up and makes you want to nuzzle with hot cup of just about anything. Just a side note, I also took the liberty (haha) to be the first one ever to use the newly renovated bathroom - another glorious moment. At around 10:30, Msgr. Nilo arrived to celebrate a private family mass dedicated to our dearly departed loved ones.

11:30 am, Pilar, Abra

Right after the Mass, we proceeded to the cemetery to visit Auntie Winnie's father, Lolo Freddie, Lolo Con and Uncle Mayo, and to offer a short prayer. Then came another heavy lunch. Within 48 hours I bet I had gained more than what I could have gained in a month. But no regrets, just tighter jeans.

3:00 pm, Pilar, Abra

We took a short visit to Lolo Marcelino's house, something I had not done in a decade or so. I mean, we always see it every time we visit the gymnasium but it had been ages since the last time I set foot inside. Later that afternoon, we also paid a visit to our Lola Trining's home and we got to introduce them to more relatives.

July 29, 11:00 am, Bangued

We took them to Victoria Park to show an overlooking view of Bangued. I'm sure it's nothing compared to the overlooking view of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong but I hope they enjoyed it because I certainly did miss racing along the stairs like my sisters and I  used to do back in the days. We were supposed to eat at Yesha's, a restaurant located just a few steps from the park but they were closed so we went to Chowking instead. After lunch, we set off for Baguio with a quick stop at Suso Beach in Ilocos Sur.

7:00 pm, Baguio City

It was 15 degrees when we arrived in Baguio. What a great weather! I was so sick of Manila's indecisive weather, I really wished I could have stayed in Baguio a little longer. It was Auntie Chit's birthday and we celebrated it at Seafood Island in Camp John Hay. Hooray for the eldest and youngest teams, #TeamFreddie and #TeamLolly! (In case you thought these were just silly peace and loser signs lolz)

July 30, Inniliw

"Inniliw" is the Ilocano term for longing. Thank you Uncle Dammy and the entire Team Senda for arranging the Sotelo Clan Reunion. It was quite warm to see both old and new faces. 

July 31, 8:00 pm

If there was the first breakfast, there was also the last supper (which got us feeling a bit sad). We had already felt so attached that time, but we could already easily count the remaining hours before they go back to Hong Kong. We enjoyed our last dinner at Siklab in Greenbelt. Thanks for the incredibly delicious seafood meals, Uncle Harry and Auntie Winnie!

Plus, birthday surprises for Auntie Danda and Cheena!

11:30 pm, Redbox, Greenbelt

We've been planning this cousins' night out since day one. I just have to say I am extremely proud of how talented my cousins are. Both Jessica and Nicholas are remarkably good singers, but I have to say Natasha has to be the best one. Nobody can growl like Tasha, let's face it, she's such a total Beyonce. 

August 1, 9:00 am, Fraser's Place

Happy 18th Birthday Cheena! We slept at the hotel that night (or dawn, technically) and took a whole bunch of hilarious selfies I'd rather not post. We took an inexplicable amount of selfies that week. We spent the morning playing "Pinoy Henyo", and our team won. And as a consequence, the poor losing team had to do butt spelling.

click on the photos to view one by one

Basically, just more photos of food.

Right after they left, it was sepanx level 1000. To us, they're no longer just "the Choi's", they've become our family. To Auntie Winnie, Uncle Harry, Jessica, Nicholas, and Natasha, we were greatly delighted to welcome you home and we hope you had a great time. See you all soon! 

PS: We got Big Bang's Bad Boy stuck in our head for like a week. My lalalalalady... PSS: I already have 20x24! How's auntie Winnie doing in Twenty?