Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Most Frightening Day: An Encounter with the Salisi Gang

Thank you for all the concern. This is what happened.

Saturday, December 28, my husband and I went to the grocery to buy food for Media Noche. We don't leave our kids at home very often, but when we do, we make sure that all doors are locked and that we give them enough warning to not open the doors for strangers. Repeatedly. We also make it a point to come back home as soon as possible. We left at 11:00 in the morning. For some strange reason, I wore my wedding ring and my engagement ring which I do not do when I go to the market or grocery for fear of losing them.

At 1:30 PM, we were back home. Everything was normal until my son told me that a SKY Cable repairman went to our home and that my 2nd daughter let him in. So I started lecturing them. Then my eldest said that my laptop was missing. I looked around the house and discovered my laptop and jewelries were gone. My husband was on the phone in an instant and reported the incident to SKY Cable, wanting to know if they dispatched an employee in our area for the day. They didn't. I asked the kids what happened, and this is what they narrated:

My eldest said someone rang our doorbell 3 times, and she told her siblings to ignore it. She was on the 3rd floor. My 2nd daughter was on the 1st floor. My youngest, my son, was on the 2nd floor in the Master's Bedroom.

My 2nd said the man got so annoying and told her, "May problema ang cable nyo, nag-spark. Masusunog kayo. Buksan nyo na ang pinto para maayos ko. Uuuuy. Dog. Doggie, doggie." He started taming my Labrador. My 2nd, scared of a possible fire, opened the gate. By the time my eldest reached the 1st floor, it was too late. The man was inside. My eldest said, "Manong, paki tanggal ang sapatos nyo." The man answered, "Sandali lang ito. Hindi ako maniningil. Nasan ang TV?" He went to the Family Room on the 3rd floor to check the cables and told my eldest (she's a black belter), "Pumirmi ka dito. Wag kang aalis. Mag-spa-spark." He went down to the Master's Bedroom where my son was.

My eldest felt something bad was about to happen, so she shouted and told her siblings to go up to her. My son went up right away, my 2nd stayed on the 1st floor. My eldest said that the man looked angelic when he was telling them to open the door, but when he sneaked a peak on the 3rd floor and shouted, "Diyan lang kayo," he looked demonic. My eldest said he started running around the 2nd floor and ran down the stairs where my 2nd daughter was. My 2nd said that he bolted out of the gate and hopped on his motorcycle. He was wearing a blue SKY Cable uniform and was carrying a messenger bag and folders.

After their narration, I was trembling. I cannot help but think of the "what-ifs". What if my son didn't go up and stayed in our bedroom? What if my eldest daughter tried to fight or question him? What if he wasn't able to get anything and became so frustrated? What if his mind went blank and took advantage of the fact that my 2nd daughter was alone downstairs? So many what-ifs. I was hysterical.

When I calmed down, I asked my neighbors and found out that the guy went door to door. The first unit owner let him in, but kept a close watch, so he wasn't able to get anything. The other unit owners didn't allow him inside. When he finally got what he wanted from our house, he left. Even the caretaker said that he actually looked like any SKY Cable personnel you see walking around. They thought I was home, so they didn't stop him from entering our house. But while this was all going on, people were outside our gate, in broad daylight.

My children are traumatized. Hell, I am traumatized. Even my husband is scared. It was so close to becoming a very dangerous situation. Now, we all stay together in one room since then. We reported the incident to the police. The policeman said the man was probably a member of the infamous Salisi Gang. He told us this was the first in our area, and there is a huge possibility of it happening again in other residences. Fact of the matter is, evil is around us 24/7. We just really have to learn to not be so trusting, not be complacent and to always stay vigilant.

2013 taught us something very important.
Life is the most precious. Money is easy to earn.
It was a very unfortunate incident, but it gave us a very valuable lesson.

This 2014, we will be more cautious.

Take it from me. Reading it from the newspapers or hearing it on TV is very different from the reality. Take heed. Be extra careful. Evil lurks around us.

Please re-post. Help me spread what happened to our family, so that no child will go through what my kids experienced. I also hope that SKY Cable will do something about this. This was not an isolated case. This link proves it.

I consider myself lucky.

Lucky to be able to hear my kids squabbling.
Lucky to be able to see my kids playing.
Lucky to be able to smell my kids' sweaty heads.
Lucky to be able to work hard for their future.
Lucky to be able to cook and clean for them.
Lucky to be able to embrace them anytime.
Lucky to be able to kiss them every second.
Lucky to just be with them.

Real happiness cannot be bought by money.
Genuine joy is just within your reach.
You just need to have your eyes opened sometimes.
I am lucky that I can watch them grow old with me.

Thank You, God,
For making me realize the true meaning of luck.
Thank You, God, for all the hurdles and lessons.
They gave us stronger backs and sharper minds.
Thank You, God, for all the love and protection.
They gave us kinder hearts and braver souls.
Thank You, God, for all the blessings.
They prepared us for the years to come.

Thank You, God, for I know that You will always be here for our family to keep us safe and strong; healthy and happy; together and protected.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer of 2013 (Part 3): Oriental Mindoro

Boracay, Coron, Bohol, Calaguas, Caramoan.
These places are on top of everyone's lists when planning their vacations. White sand, pristine waters, cool breeze and breathtaking views, what every single person craves for every summer. But do you know where it all began? In Mindoro.

The famous White Beach started it all. When I first visited Galera, I was 19. I was not aware of this popular summer destination. My ex-boyfriend (my husband now) took me and 4 of our friends with him to meet his grandmother and other relatives who still reside in Mindoro. After the formalities, we rode a tricycle to White Beach. I was astounded by the beauty of it. The waves crashed on the shore, the sand fine as powder, and most importantly, the beach was clean. That was 15 years ago.

It saddens me to see that every year the place deteriorates. Negligence and money can do that.

White Beach then. Pure sand.

White Beach now. Pebbles and cigarette butts.

Luckily, we have discovered islands that were still untarnished and immaculate. I have spoken to some boatmen (magbabangka), and they said that the local government forbids the people to leave garbage such as leftover food, plastic cups, plates, etc; harm sea creatures like starfish, sea snakes, dolphins, among others; and set up bonfires near the trees in these virgin islands. Those who do not abide must pay the price. Good job!

You only need three to four hours to get there. Take a bus from Manila to Batangas, then ride a ferry from Batangas Port to Muelle Pier. I assure you that it is very unlikely to overspend when vacationing in Puerto Galera. One of the many reasons why we love going there. On that note, I want to share with you why Mindoro is still on top of my list. This is why we come back twice a year and stay for a week everytime.

1. Boat Rides. Just make sure you won't let go.

2.  Boquete Beach - The length of the island is not purely sand, most are pebbles. So for those who wouldn't want to hurt their feet while strolling, this isn't the place for you. However, if you're into sailboats, you'll surely have fun in this place. A boat is needed to get here.

3. Bukana Beach - This is one of the few islands in Mindoro where you can build bonfires and grill pork, fresh fish and shrimps (be careful not to start the fire near the trees). Imagine having a picnic beside the ocean on fine reddish sand. Perfect. Just pick up after yourselves to maintain the cleanliness of the island. If you want to get here, a boat ride is needed as well.

3. Bulabod Beach - Where the river meets the sea. Cottages are available for day tours. Road transport is possible. This is my favorite.

4. Bayanan Beach - Haven for scuba divers. A few feet from the shore, schools of fish in different colors and sizes swim around their coral reefs without a care in the world. Adults can appreciate and marvel at the beauty of the ocean more if they go deeper and further while the children enjoy the waves crashing playfully on them.  I never miss a Galera trip without visiting this place. Again, you'll need a boat.

5. Haligue Beach - Another family-friendly island that can be reached through water transportation. Ideal for day tours. Very convenient for families who just want to relax for there are halo-halo vendors, paluto, swimsuit vendors and masseuse. Children can build sand castles or swim in crystal-clear shallow waters while the adults eat and drink to their hearts' content.

6. Long Beach - Powdery sand, translucent waters, huge trees for shade and a lot of masseuse plus snorkels and goggles for rent. What more can you ask for? Ummm...maybe a boatman who can take you there? :)

7. Sabang and La Laguna Beach - Corals, sea urchins, starfish, eels, seahorses, parrot fish, floating bars, restaurants, scuba shops, swimming pools, jeeps, tricycles, church, markets. Name it. They have it. Foreigners choose to reside in this part of the province for long periods of time. Who can blame them?

8. Tamaraw Beach - A stone's throw away from White Beach. Same features, but much cleaner and quieter. It is quite near the bayan; therefore, road transport is not a problem. You can also cross these rocks to get to the other side...White Beach.

9. White Beach - Bar hopping, fire dancers, pageants, sports, food trip, henna tattoos, booze, scramble, the works! This is the place to be for teens, young couples and single peeps.

10. Underground Caves - From Long Beach, you'll need a smaller boat to get here. I swear. I will never EVER go back not because it isn't pretty, but because I'm claustrophobic. It was beautiful, I admit. Nature at its finest, but...come on...can...not...breathe... This is the best place for thrill seekers!

11. The Dolphins. Need I say more? Hurt them, and it's lifetime imprisonment for you.

Through these photographs, people can see how astonishing Mindoro is. This is only a small part of the Philippines. I am certain that there are more places to see in our country that will leave millions of us breathless. I only hope that we, all of us not just the government, will do everything to preserve the beauty God has blessed us with. This is heaven on earth. Paradise. Let's keep it that way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer of 2013 (Part 2): Quezon City

Hello, 34!

Exactly a week after our wedding anniversary, I celebrate my day of birth. Normally, hubby, the kids and I go out of town. For instance, on my 29th, we had fun in Enchanted Kingdom. The year after that, we heard mass in Caleruega. The following year, we had a feeding program in Antipolo. Two birthdays were celebrated in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. This year I didn't want to go far. I wanted to wake up late, eat junk food, have a massage and just be lazy. But. My kids had other plans. They wanted to go swimming. So. I needed to find a place not too far for travel, a place with a pool, a place that offers massage and a place surrounded with fast food restaurants. Good thing a friend suggested Ace Water Spa in Banawe.

I got what I wished for. I took the day off  (thank God for my kind students), woke up late, cleaned the house in a jiffy and had lunch. Where? In Dimsum heaven.

One of my best friends introduced King Chef to us early this year. Since then, we never let two weeks pass without hakaw, siomai, bean curd rolls, xiao long bao, chicket feet, fried wanton, fried prawn dumplings and buchi. This killed my discipline and my diet. The promo didn't help.

Dimsum Promo Feast: 7:00 -- 9:00 am; 2:00 - 5:00 pm; and 9:00 pm - 12:00 mn 

Pork Siomai (My son can eat 10 of these in 20 minutes.)

Chicken Feet

Blood Stew

Fried Prawn Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao (Siao Long Pao in their menu)

Now I want one...

Fried Wanton


Taosi Spareribs

King Chef Banawe

It is conveniently located near Ace Water Spa. It took us less than 5 minutes to drive and park. 

It was my first time in a water spa, so I really did not know what to expect. All I knew was that we were allowed to stay in for four hours max, we were not allowed to bring food and cameras inside the wet area, and we had to wear proper attire. In fairness, the pools were well-maintained, and there were lifeguards everywhere, so I let the kids roam or rather swim around.

There were two things I found unappealing: the locker rooms and the food. In the shower areas, most of the lockers needed repairs and molds were seen on the tiles. Essential things of the guests will be left in the lockers for four hours while they are in the pools, and people go in and out of the shower area, so I think it is a must for the management to make sure that the valuables are secured. Also, for a place surrounded with water, I am guessing that it will be easy to scrub the floors and walls of the shower rooms. 

Dinner buffet was included in the package we purchased. The chicken and the pasta were not bad, but the dessert especially the halo-halo was terrible. I apologize for saying this, but my two kids vomited after. I did not want to make a scene...ummm...we actually did because my daughter threw up in front of everybody. We left in such a hurry, we forgot our bag. Luckily, the waiter kept it in Lost & Found. We were able to retrieve it the same night. 

The water spa itself was relaxing, but it is a bit overpriced. Maybe we will come back, but not this year. 

I did not label the photos for I do not know all the names of the dishes. I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.

I had my massage. My hubby got his chicken feet. The children got tired from swimming for four hours. We all got what we wished for. By the time we got home, the kids were snoring from exhaustion. It may not be the happiest birthday ever, but everyday is happy when I am surrounded by my family.

Thank You, God!

King Chef Fine DiningBanawe

989 Banawe St.Manresa, Quezon City(02) 410-4919
Ace Water Spa Quezon City:
399 Del Monte Avenue (near cor. Banaue St.) SFDM, Quezon City
Trunkline: (6 32) 367-8040 to 41 / 367-8061 to 62

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