Category: Travel

Beware: This is a long post. It was such an experience that I could not leave out details.

I am not kidding when I say that the other day I asked loudly how it feels to be towed by a truck, and that today that question was answered.

In a previous post, I have mentioned that our dear Zsa-Zsa, our Hyundai Grace had a bout of breakdown in NLEX. Since then, we never really got to use her regularly because problems in her never seem to end. But lately, we found a good mechanic who helped Zsa-Zsa get back on her feet. The aircon of the van seemed to lose freon, enough to leave us sweating like pigs in a hot day like this. But fair enough, we get to use her everyday to and fro work since its repair last week.

My Kuya Mike (eldest bro) will be moving to BF Paranaque from his current Mandaluyong apartment. He has been wanting to use Zsa-Zsa to move his things little by little but I have been very reluctant because I am unsure if Zsa-Zsa is already in good running condition. But he’s very insistent so much so that I gave in the other night.

He called me yesterday to tell stories about what happened to them en route to Paranaque, that they had a hard time driving the van and the engine stopped more than ten times. I was like, ten times? Barrage of questions came out but he said, oh the van is okay. In fact, it ran very well save for the engine stops we had, the driver wasn’t just used to driving vans kasi daw.

So this morning, hubby and I left early for work because the company has a General Assembly at 7:30A.M. Imagine our dismay when five minutes into driving, well dressed and very fresh, Zsa-Zsa suddenly stops just as we are about to go up the Makati-Mandaluyong Bridge. Hubby and I looked at each other, our minds asking each other, did Zsa-Zsa just die on us for no reason at all? I thought, WTF! This is not happening. Hubby pressed on the hazard button, but no, its not working. He tried to start the engine, no nothing, not even a spurting sound. We were on the verge of climbing the bridge such that we were hanging there, like in the movies, when the cars are about to go down the cliff. That feeling too, exactly.

I went down and looked for big stones to prevent the van from going downhill and hitting other cars (at this instance, hubby’s foot is aching for pressing hard on the brakes, because the darn handbrake just wouldn’t work!). I asked myself why aren’t there stones anymore on the streets? Only garbages. Blah! I didn’t give up and saw a big one after I went down the bridge (thankful for the staircase for commuters) and placed it under the tires of Zsa-Zsa. Hubby then happily removed his foot from the brakes.

Some few minutes before I went down to look for stones, a car behind us and an Isuzu Crosswind bumped each other. I imagine the frustrations and dismay of both  drivers. I can see in their faces that they want to blame us but we were in the right most portion of the bridge, and we were not really obstructing their way, if they would be vigilant enough to avoid us.

Then came the endless phone calls to everyone we know about what we can do. Hubby called his brother Patrick and asked for the number of the towing service near our place, Viray Towing Service. BIL then called up the towing service, and voila! About 10 minutes after, the towing service is there.

The MAPSA officer with the name of Navotas on his shirt was very helpful. He even checked the van and told us it was the battery connection which encountered problem. He tried fixing it but we left all our tools at home. Another MAPSA officer then arrived and bullied his way around us, saying that we should be towed by a Makati  accredited towing service. I told him its up to us to choose any towing service we like, after all, this is not illegal parking or anything of that sort. He retorted:

“Ma’am, paliwanag ko po sa inyo ha, meron pong towing ang Makati, kaya dapat yun ang magtow sa inyo. San ba kayo?”

I told him we live in Mandaluyong and that we opted for the Mandaluyong towing service. He insisted that we should take the Makati towing service, even instructing Officer Navotas to call them. He turned to me and asked again, “San ba kayo, ma’am?

At that instance, I realized he was referring to my work, or something like that. So with much bravado, I introduced myself, saying the magic word “A-T-T-Y” and mentioned the company I am connected with. Hubby and I were both wearing the official shirt of the company so I guess he should have known that. After that, he hurriedly left the place, hoping he would go unnoticed. I thought like, what an a-hole. Really, what’s with Filipinos and titles anyways? Maybe if I was just an ordinary employee, he would have bullied us until we are forced to take their towing service.

I then questioned their authority to be there because we were still within Mandaluyong area, thus outside their jurisdiction already. The friendly Officer Navotas then humbly said that they were just assisting us. I almost said, yeah, maybe you, but not that a-hole there. Ugh!

To cut the long story short, we were towed all right. It felt funny, different and embarrassing. Well, not to others, but to ourselves. I felt embarrassed that I have always looked at those people inside towed vehicles in a funny sort of way, now it happened to me. It was tiring and difficult to manage all the stress that comes with it. So from now on, I will not teasingly look at those people anymore, but will empathize with them. We came late for work and missed the General Assembly but we came in with a new experience and new stories to tell.

Lessons I learned today (and tips on what to do if it happens to you):

1. Save the contact numbers of a reliable towing service in your cellphone or planner. Thats the first thing we worried the most. Good thing we have families around who can look for numbers we need on days like this. But to save from hassle, its better to have those numbers handy.

2. You always need cash in case of emergency. If you don’t, you will not be able to remedy the situation. Hubby and I are always used to bringing  just 100 bucks or so in our wallets whenever we drive to work, thinking we would not need money along the way. Today is one of the few days we carried extra cash. Call it tough luck.

3. Negotiate the price of the towing service. I called the number given by my BIL even if he already called it to know how much the fee is. As we all know, towing fees are quite pricey. So when the person I talked to told me that the fee is P1,700.00, I said whhhaaat? For few kilometers? They said they have a fixed price. I haggled with them, and asked for the person who is authorized to give discounts. After much haggling, mentioning that the distance where we will be towed from up to our house is not even 4 kilometers, even saying we are just “kapitbahay”, he agreed to give it to us for P1,200.00. I felt I could have negotiated for a lower price, but I was too stressed to do that so I agreed na rin.

All in all, it was an enlightening experience. But once is enough to last a lifetime. Although hubby and I were laughing about the experience, I wouldn’t want the same experience anymore. At least my question has been answered, and I will stop wondering from now on. 🙂

Why the name? Well, she was initially lent to us by my ever so kind maternal Uncle (now Uncle-Ninong after my wedding) before hubby and I got married. We were waiting for the time to return it, when I figured I’d call her Zsa-Zsa, because of the song Hiram. (I know, I know, its corny! :P)

Talks between my Tatay and Uncle Medel were on-going if he was going to sell it na lang since it was really up for sale anyway. (Note: Uncle and Tatay are both in the U.S…the reason why van was up for sale) After several weeks, (or was it months?!?) it was decided Zsa-Zsa will be ours. The factors considered were the overhauling we had on Zsa-Zsa and the seemingly unending stress brought about by the succeeding repairs.

In reality, she has been with us for more than a year now. We used her when we moved from Manila to Mandaluyong (yes, by heavens’ frugal name, we did not hire a truck!). Hubby and Kuya Jme insisted that the van can take all our things, one stuff at a time. After getting tired with driving, hubby realized hiring a truck would have been a better option. (oh men, really!) She has been to Lubao, Pampanga (Ima’s hometown) several times already and she can readily take the whole family in, my brothers and their families included! She has been the companion of the family for the business venture. Hubby and I use her to get to and from work everyday. We use her during Sundays when we go to the church and mall. She has been very reliable when I was hospitalized and when I was to give birth to Ira.

there's zsa-zsa parked outside the villa we stayed in at fontana. she was too big for the car port so we asked her to stay outside. plus, she was the one often used to go to and from the pool and the basketball court.

Really, she has become part of the family. Of course we dream of getting a shiny new car soon, but I never once thought of abandoning her. But of course, like any aging vehicle, I would have to accept one day that she cannot stay with us forever.

Recently, we had to change the aircon compressor, and whadya guess? The price of the compressor was skyrocketing! But we had to do it lest Ira sweat herself crazily each time she rides Zsa Zsa.

Around September of 2009, as hubby and I were on our way to work (coz we work for the same company, yey! Read: More Time Together), we were hit by a JMK bus, the one plowing the Baclaran-Ayala route. After a quick demand letter from moi, the bus operator cooperated with the fixing of Zsa-Zsa. Until now though, we haven’t got the cheque yet.

After coping up with the monetary effects of changing the compressor, we had to change brake pads and the rotary. We noticed that the strange sound was gone and she was up and running again like nothing happened to her. We used her for our trips to Pampanga for the recent Christmas and New Year and there seemed to be no problem.

Our Ninang Baby and family are visiting from the U.S. and they have needed several times the services of our good ole’ Zsa-Zsa. She has been very considerate with them until she broke down last night. Story in my next post. I am still stunned as to what to do next with her.

I love Zsa-Zsa to pieces although I may have said bad things to her in the past when I felt she was makulit with the aircon. As a mom, I feel like she is my daughter. And as she is badly sick right now, I am praying that she gets well soon. I can do  away with the commute for the meantime as we live nearby, for as long as Zsa-Zsa gets better.

Now my problem is just the money to use for the fixing. No overhauling needed, please! *fingers crossed.


barely a month ago, my ima (as the whole family and lots of friends call her) or my mother, chided me with a simple request of having her 61st birthday celebrated somewhere other than our place in pampanga. she suggested a weekend getaway somewhere since her birthday will fall on a long weekend. i gave in instantly since she didnt get to celebrate her 60th bday last year due to her mother’s demise. our initial choice was somewhere in laguna, but it was pricey and far from pampanga. then came canyon cove, still pricey and far. we needed a house, not just a room like in canyon cove.

the living room and a view of the kitchen/dining area of the villa we stayed in. you can also see the veranda where we grilled bbq and where our dog stayed. the space was enough for the whole family!

so came the fontana idea. the villa will be perfect for the size of our family. we just needed someone who can get the cheaper rates. atty. vic gladly helped me out to get the reservations and her sister obligingly helped me through the checking-in process. (lots of thanks!)

early this year, PGMA announced that november 27-28 are special non-working holidays for the muslim festival. without much surprise though, she changed her mind and recalled her earlier proclamation. so as not to ruin our plans, ryan and i just filed for leave from work.

sadly, my kuya jme couldn’t join us coz of work and coz of a long overdue issue of bringing her girl along.

days before the 27th, which is my ima’s actual birthday, i had series of hearings out-of-town. unfortunately, this prevented me from suitably preparing for our weekend getaway. as a ratpack, i hated this so much! argh!

so on the 26th, i packed and packed as much as i could, in ways that will not show that we are off for a month’s vacation. is it my fault then that i have a 6-month old baby who needed sterilizer? who needed feeding  bottles and all the stuff that comes with it? hah!

we left home at about 10:30 AM, with me cussing under my breath, coz ate freli is not home to help me with the chores and all the preparations.

we arrived in lubao, pampanga (technically, my hometown) at around 12PM just in time for lunch. we immediately greeted the birthday girl and kissed her. i knew instantly that by mere presence, we made her happy. she then started babbling with eat this, eat that. shouted at everyone in the household for rice, for water, for viands, etc. she was always like that. she has a spunk that everyone would love –and/or hate at the same time.

after eating, and after my brothers and ryan decided to play counter-strike at the family-owned computer shop, we left for fontana. we arrived there around 3pm and after settling our things in the villa, we immediately ate pansit canton and empanada for snacks. when ira felt sleepy, ima thought she can lull her to sleep by doing her old trick of putting the baby on top of a pillow and racking her feet. no-oh! not with ira. when i tried it on her, she just laughed and laughed. that’s what she did with ima too.

it was a fun-filled weekend for the entire family. the kids immensely enjoyed swimming and running in and outside the villa. ira, for one, cried at the wave pool and slept through her bathing suit. ima had almost everything prepared, from siling labuyo to marinated pork belly. she played with my little ira, with my baby immediately learning the 1-2-3 solid trick her lola ima taught her. we enjoyed eating ima’s good ole’ cooking. we all loved, oh except for ate freli and ate sarah, the free centralized aircon we had for three days. i sulked in the warm bath day in and day out.

ira's first plunge into the water...she doesnt quite like it though. 🙂

there was no regret that we went ahead with the plan, despite budget constraints. i know that ima felt, and still feels happy with her birthday celebration. i can imagine her talking to friends, bragging that her kids planned this for her birthday.

the whole family except for ima...ira is busy with something else

i stayed in the jacuzzi for hours, just letting the pressure of the water massage my over-fatigued human body. i closed my eyes and froze the moment in my mind…i prayed to God that good things like those will keep coming to my family. i thanked and praised Him for every bit of blessings i have, and thanked Him more for those to come.

kuya kenji was splashing some water on ira's face. she seemed to be okay with it as long as i was holdng her..:)

that weekend may have meant a lot to my ima, but it meant more to me, as it not only rested my tired body, it fed my famished soul.

plane rides

I have always been afraid of riding planes, but always wanted to try it. I remember the first real story that vividly described how it feels to ride a plane came from my older brother, Kuya Jme. He and my other Kuya went to Hongkong for a trip when I was still in Law School. He so clearly described to me the experience of riding a plane. His descriptions made me both scared and excited at the same time.

So when I started to work for Grepa (that’s how we call our company), I was told there will be lots of travelling, plane rides included. I was sooooo excited back then coz I was looking for new experiences that will sort of revive my mundane life.

I had my first travel for work barely a week after I was hired. It was a hearing in General Santos City. I decided not to sleep there and take a return flight on the same day. It was my first time to ride a plane, so with the checking in and going through all the security checks, I was thrilled! As I was going through the motions of riding the plane, I realized it is not so bad after all. My boss advised me to take a window seat in order to fully experience the ride since it was my first time.

Then came the take-off. Boy was I ecstatic! I said a prayer as the plane was rallying. I held my breath the entire time the plane was taking off while my eyes were shut. Then I realized it actually felt good and not even scary! It even helped that I was seated right next to another lawyer who had a hearing in Gen San too. He told me stories the entire time about  the Labor Arbiter who will preside over my case and I was somehow entertained. Nevertheless, I kept glancing at the monitor at how fast we were moving, with the altitude we were at and all that other airplane stuff.

Then my seatmate said something that made my breath stop. He said there was something wrong. He said we have been turning round and round when we were supposed to land already. I breathed heavily. Thoughts came running through my mind. Like, whaaaat? Something’s wrong? On my first plane ride? Is this what the song Ironic of Alanis Morisette means? I thought, this can’t be! I just rejuvenated my life and I just started my new job. I can’t die on this plane!

It came to my mind then that there were two typhoons on that day. It was my Mom’s birthday too, November 27, 2007. So I said to God, oh no, I can’t die on my Mom’s birthday! It will crush her to pieces. I prayed and prayed. And the pilot spoke. He said the clouds were hazy and that he couldn’t land the plane as the runway cannot be seen.

Apparently, we were losing fuel so we had to emergency land at the Mactan Cebu Airport. My seatmate said, there goes your hearing. I missed my first hearing for the company. But I was more concerned with a lot of things beside that. I texted my boss and he was scared. He was concerned that I will have trauma after that incident. But at the back of my mind, I was excited to see Cebu, even just the airport. After refueling, we went back to Gen San. As expected, I missed my hearing but they knew already as my office called them up.

I found out then that taxi fares there are fixed since they barely have customers. I had to pay Php500 for going around Gen San. The driver (named Popo) showed me around, like where the grocery of Manny Pacquiao is and other stuffs. He helped me find the store where the cheapest Tuna is sold. I bought kilos of tuna and Suha. After we ate, I happily went back to the airport (though still scared).

On the way back, I forgot to ask for a window seat when I checked in. My seatmate now is a young girl, about 17-18 yrs old. She said it was her first time to ride a plane and she was holding a White Flower (the liniment?) next to her nose the whole time. She was crying. I suddenly felt like a pro and I appeased her.

I have experienced hundreds of plane rides after that. Its better when you’re not travelling alone but otherwise, its okay. I have gotten used to it. Even when I was already pregnant, I traveled via plane a lot. But I preferred to stop after 5 months because there were too many forms to fill up and I needed clearance from my OB.

Yesterday was my first plane ride after a long time (after giving birth and all). It still felt the same. I usually just doze off even before take off. I loved that there was no air turbulence yesterday and the ride was smooth.

I am looking forward to more plane rides, safe ones at that. But I hope to have more with Ryan and Ira. I hope she doesnt get sick on the plane or cry like other babies do. I want her to experience it early and get rid of the fear early, unlike her mom.

I like it up there, no pollution, no dust. I like the feeling of watching over the clouds and seeing how beautiful the world really is. It is quiet up there and the feeling that you will be seeing another place is revitalizing. I want Ira to see and realize all these for herself. Hopefully this coming summer, we will be able to do that with her.