Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm Grateful

I'm thankful for everything these days :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

IDEAS - 12 years later...

I miss being a full time student - seriously.

After I completed my undergraduate course, I was immediately hired and started working. I keep on studying part time while working though making the entire experience challenging. Now that I am a mom of two with full time work, I wonder how I will ever manage when I return to school again to complete my PhD. We'll see....

During the follow up program of IDEAS last year, there were 9 of us who participated from 9 countries (Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Each of us was asked to present on our respective country experience on how we were able to cope with economic and social resilience.

In March 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which took place 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. It was considered as the fourth largest earthquake on record since 1900 and the largest to hit Japan. That earthquake even caused a huge tsunami which damaged nuclear reactors in the area not to mention massive infrastructure. Even Japan is the most prepared country on such disasters that I know of, no amount of actual experience on dealing with this kind of catastrophes can one ever deal with.

Our follow up program was the second year anniversary of this event :(

What I presented was how our country was able to cope after the Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. ["After a Storm, We Rise: How the Philippines cope after the devastating Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009]. Around September 26-27, 2009, Manila was submerged in waters; everyone did not expected this to happen. Our house in Antipolo was filled with water until the entire first floor level; the rise of it was so fast that my parents did everything they could just to save the most important furniture in our house and moved to our second floor. I was not there when this happened :(

We learned a number from the Ondoy experience. Government failed to predict the scale of disaster. Damages reached around $270 million. After this, LGUs became more prepared and civil society became more active in responding immediately to such situation.

It was nice to be back and I feel like I was a full time student again :)
"Kampai" during a welcome ceremony of the program
Met my former language sensei and colleagues since 2001. The vendo deserves a huge photo too hehe.
Even if I miss being a student again, nothing can beat the everyday learning I get from my two children. I would not trade this for anything now :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Let's all be a hero in our own way

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fresh new 'do

My daughter, Syene, is growing up to be really pretty (like her mom hihihi). Last weekend, we went to a toddler salon and had a major cut of her hair. 

Look at that Mona Lisa smile after her haircut! hehe
A reminder to all of us (all age range) to be fresh looking for others all the time :)

Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On the road these days...

It's a loooong weekend for most of Filipinos these days. It has been a stress free driving here in the metropolis so far. Traffic has been so bad since late June this year and road related accidents have increased tremendously as well. For daily drive I do to and from work everyday, I try my best to keep my mood upbeat and less be affected by the longer travel time. 

Here is a cute collage photo of Scarloe. She's too young to understand the "let's keep my cool moment while struck in traffic". That is why, she would often scream in the car:

Keep your cool always on the road :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday I'm in Love :)

Since I have no long weekends as compared to the rest of the world hehe, Im celebrating this day with this song :) 

TGIF, folks! 

video upload from youtube

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Many many reasons why I keep coming back to JAPAN!

I was a recipient of a scholarship from the Japan External Trade Organization back in 2001 where I earned my second postgraduate degree (Development Studies). 2001 was the start of my fondness and my eternal love for Japan. When I graduated in 2002, I would always go back on a yearly basis and explore each region and still find myself amazed each time. How lucky I am to work for a Japanese government based in Manila for 4 years too. This is how BIG the influence of Japan in my life.

Last year, my school, Institute of Developing Economies Advanced School or IDEAS invited me, being an alumni of the program, to a follow-up seminar. Can you imagine how excited I was of this opportunity to be back again? The last time I was in Japan was in 2010, the year I got married, and was not able to visit the country for 2 years. I was jumping with glee as soon as I got the invitation! The program time was perfect for me as it was season in the last stage of winter but approaching spring time.

I arrived in Tokyo, a day after my family spent holidays in Hong Kong. This means that I barely had the energy to plan the things I need to bring (moreso, the daily ootds there hehe). In addition to this chaotic but exciting schedule, my family was scheduled to make a big move to a brand new house a day after I will arrive from this Japan trip - kagulo no?

After I arrived in Tokyo, I went straight to our assigned accommodation which is located at the end line of Kaihin Makuhari station (Soga). My friend, Jenny, and I will meet for dinner around central Tokyo, which is around 1.5 to 2 hours away from my hotel. I quickly shifted to my rusted super basic local language and surprisingly I was able to managed to get through the crazy lines in Tokyo station :)

We went to a typical Japanese modern fusion restaurant and my first order was what else - UMESHU!!! Umeshu is a plum sake and of which is my most favorite drink in the world! hehe. How much I love umeshu, let me count the ways...

discovered this only in 2005 and the rest is history hehe
Umeshu is made from steeping ume (plum) fruits (best while still unripe and green) in alcohol. Its taste and smell appeal even those who normally dislike alcohol. Its sweet for me and I love it! The cold weather and umeshu was a perfect combination. Of course, umsehu with yakitori is the best!!! I miss this now here in Manila!!!

Happy to drink this again in 2013 :)

Japanese curry is like no other in Tokyo :)
A few good shots I had just outside Tokyo station as my omiyage (souvinir)

Love this forever :)
I will be back with family in Japan so soon :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Scarloe Fynne

My dearest Scarloe Fynne was born with down syndrome, a genetic condition having an extra chromosome. I knew since my 24th week of pregnancy that she will be special. God has prepared me and my husband already at that early stage. When I gave birth to her in 2012, 5 days shy away from full term, we were still half expecting that ultrasound result from my 24th week until my delivery will a bit change. The karyotyping done confirmed her extra chromosome count immediately after her birth. We believe that our sweet Scarloe is destined to be in our family. 

Since we found out the possibilities of having a down syndrome baby, we began our heavy research of how we can raise her. We concluded that early intervention will be the main key. I will be sharing stories of how challenging and at the same time enjoyable for the family in engaging early intervention activities.

Just like Syene, Scarloe's name got so many raves from family and friends. Where does her name come from?

Scarloe's name is a unique one - I came up with a variation and derived her name from "Scarlett" which means "flaming red". Red is special and outstanding. As from this site says, people with this name has a desire for a stable, loving family and community, and a need to work with others; the need to be appreciated.

The name, "Fynne", is a respelling of the name, "Finn", an English transcription of the Gaelic / Celtic name "Fionn". It means "fair" or "white". It is actually a boy's name, but I added an "e" to make it suited for her :)

Scarloe is just 2 years and 3 months old as of this writing. She works hard from all her therapy sessions. She maintains happy disposition which is contagious to the whole family. She is the most loving and sweetest baby girl you will ever find. Most of all, we see that she will come a looooong way with her condition not hindering her.

I love you Scarloe so much :)

Our sweet Scarloe who brings joy to all of us!
Happy always!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Me - time" at Yerevan

"Me time" during my travels is a luxury and I define it as being able to enjoy food and sights by myself :) During this Yerevan trip, I was able to squeeze a super quick stroll around the vicinity and an hour lunch by myself - so happy talaga!

A quick walk around:

Eventhough it's summer time, the weather here was actually cool!!!

Walking, walking! Cool local shops around. I bought local hand made products and local toys for my children in this area :)
Since I had very very limited time, I walked back to my hotel and had a lunch at La Cucina. Located at the second floor, it is considered as one of the unique places in the city where one can experience a Meditteranean atmosphere, moreso, one feels like you're in Tuscany! :)

I read that their hand made pasta is a must try and so be-it hehe. Of course, I could not get enough of their super delicious, fresh, juicy tomatoes as well.

All these, by myself hehe
I miss my family terribly and while I was having my muni muni moments while eating all these, look at my fantastic view:

top view angle, even more wow view!
Bye Yerevan!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cafe Tiziano Yerevan

Happy Monday, folks :)

One of the major things I look forward to every time I travel is the experience of trying out local cuisine. In Yerevan, I noticed that these are staple in their dishes: Harissa (a porridge made of wheat and meat cooked together), Khash (beef or lamb feet usually eaten at breakfast over crumbled dried lavash bread), dzhash (brothy stew consisting of meat or legume), stuffed dishes, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables! 

I know that most of my friends, including my husband, love to eat lamb. I don't. In this region, they are big on lamb and even if I look forward to trying out their local cuisine, I just couldnt eat lamb huhuhu.  I always associate lamb with the song I always sing to my children: "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb..." hehehe.

It was this great opportunity that I was able to take in as much vegetables and bread, lavash and matnakash (as I was not able to encounter rice there at that time). For the record too, their tomatoes were the yummiest I have ever tasted!!! 

Our Armenian colleagues brought us to this newest, chic and classy cafe and local dinner place called Cafe Tiziano.  I was greeted by rows of desserts which were literally calling my name, "Welcome to Yerevan..Eat me now, Sharon!". I was literally drooling even before we made our order!

Photos from Cafe Tiziano FB page
"We need to eat real food", my colleague told me. 
"But these are my real food!" hehehe

What I had were: tomato and garlic bruschettas for appetizer, mushroom cream soup with truffle oil and mascarpone for soup, grilled tenderloin with mushroom sauce (puro mushroom yata) and what is dinner without wine? :)

Armenian way of cooking is love :)
And my star of the night is:

Assorted sweets! (P.S. I did not finish them all ha?) :p
Cheers to a great day that was!

Colleagues from all over :)
I was given a take out box of Armenian sweets which my family enjoyed when I went back home.

Happy me :)
Cafe Tiziano is located at:

Vazgen Sargsyan 10, Piazza
Grande Business Center
0010 Yerevan, Armenia

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Words to live by....

Enjoy life and keep your worries away!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Every time I travel to different countries, I try my best to learn basic greetings such as "Good morning", "Good day" or words of appreciation such as "Thank you." The Armenian language (or hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians and the official language spoken in the country. Armenian though has its own unique script, which is the Armenian alphabet. In one of the local shops, I even bought a book containing basic Armenian alphabet which someday I hope Syene and Scarloe will have an interest on :).

So here it goes, I was able to say this during breakfast time and got smiles from the locals - "bari luys"....wagi! hehe

After a good night sleep (and still very much worried because my main luggage HAS NOT ARRIVED yet [thinking it got lost from all of my transits] - another post in the future on lessons learned in traveling), I was greeted by these good summer weather site outside. See the beauty now of those surrounding buildings? Ganda, ganda!!!

The dancing fountain show is just across our hotel

no traffic all day!

This is where we had our dinner and drinks the previous night
locals have the summer look and ambiance :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Helow, Yerevan!

Armenia belongs to Caucasus or Caucasia which is a region at the border of Europe and Asia, located between the Black and Caspian seas. Last year during summer time in the region, I had an opportunity to visit this country, which I mostly spent my stay in Yerevan city.

Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia. It is considered to be one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited city according to Wikipedia. Yerevan is also the administrative, cultural and industrial center of the country.

Our hotel is just fronting a major tourist spot in the city that is why after checking in at the Armenia Mariott Hotel Yerevan around past 9pm, we immediately went out to the Republic Square. It has a festive atmosphere at that time where locals and tourists were all out celebrating summer and awaiting the start of the famous singing and dancing fountains!

The singing and dancing fountains was initially designed by engineer and scientist Abram Abramyan. We were lucky to watch the entire show which was magical and enchanting! This operates and performs just in front of the Art Gallery and History Museum. The fountains, colors and its movements depend on the rhythm of the song. We were mesmerized with background from crowd of "oohs" and "ahhs" and were entertained through its repertoire of classical music, contemporary jazz and rock.

I was amazed and so fortunate to see this during my visit to Yerevan. I also believe that I was the only Filipina in that crowd!!!

My colleague who has been to Yerevan several times acted as my tour guide that first night. Around Republic Square are 7 major buildings which are: (1) National Gallery and the History Museum building; (2) The Ministry of Territorial Administration; (3) The Government House; (4) The Central Post Office of the Republic of Armenia; (5) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; (6) The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources; and (7) Armenia Mariott Hotel Yerevan. I did not have more time to explore each of these during my stay there but I tell you, the facade and architecture are so gorgeous during day time :)

Around the square are local cafes and local dining places so after the show and a brief tour around the square, I ended up with this:

One of the best sangrias I've ever tasted!!!

And of course, my much deserved selfie-shot!

Good night, Yerevan! See you on Day 2!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Syene, how unique your name is!

Our first born's name is "Syene Felisa". Family and friends are all raving about how beautiful and unique her name is. Where do her name come from?

Syene, pronounced as "SA-YIN" (NOT "shene" or "shin" [hehe]) is biblical in origin. It is actually a place, a city in Egypt located in the banks of river Nile where quarries of beautiful and granite abound. See a sketch map below.

Who knows someday, someday, our family could actually visit this place!

According to these two sites people with this name have deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and have personal independence. They focus on large, important issues and delegate details. They are excited by change and adventure. They are dynamic, visionary and versatile. They are optimistic, energetic, intelligent and friendly. They love to travel and try new things. Professionally, they can be successful public figure, in media or at developing new ideas for small businesses.

"Felisa", Syene's second name, is a Spanish and Latin in origin which simply and splendidly means, Lucky and Happy!

Wow! Syene is only 3 years and 4 months old as I write this yet she has most of the qualities already and living up up to the meaning of her name. Of course, more than these, Syene is growing up to be a very beautiful, loving, sweet and happy daughter to us and sister to Scarloe.

I love you so much, Syene :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hello world!!!

Hi! I'm Sharon, mommy Sharon now :)

I started my journal in my personal blog in 2004 until 2008 and took a really looong break. I have been wanting to start writing again ever since especially now that I am a wife, a mom, and at the same time, an international public servant.

I have been managing multi-billion dollar development projects since I graduated from university. Two postgraduate degrees and an ongoing PhD later, Im still here :). The thrill and excitement of what I have been doing made me realized that I have so many stories to tell to my children, most especially. I am overwhelmed with my multi-roles now as a mom and as a person with this purpose that somehow all these are worth sharing for.

I became a wife in 2010 then a mom in 2011 and 2012. Oftentimes though I wish I am a full time mom to my darlings, Syene and Scarloe who are now 3 and 2 years old. A dream "diva" where I will be able to accompany Syene to her ballet and art classes and Scarloe to all her Kindermusik sessions. Syene and I can have a mother-daughter bonding lunch in a nice and chic restaurant at least once a week (with no yaya). I will be more meticulous (than what I am now) to Scarloe's wide range of therapy sessions and appointments with medical specialists. Most importantly, I can have at least time (unhurried one) for myself - a few hours at the spa and salon; to experiment on dishes and bake goodies; shop - without feeling guilty. I can also be super OC in finishing family album projects and making all nooks and crannies pinterest-worthy of my more than one year old own new home. With more roles I am into now, I know I know I can all do these!

Don't get me wrong - I love my work so much. I consider myself instrumental in contributing to economic development of not only my country, the Philippines, but also of other Asian developing countries as well. I am thrilled with all the pressures associated with my current position and felt fulfilled every accomplishment. My eyes get bigger, my heart gets warmer while my brain gets fried every time I am in a new less "mainstreamed" country. I will forever be grateful for this blessing of a lifetime.

As I write each piece over a cup of coffee, this happy space is for all the stories to share to my Syene and Scarloe, my life.