December 28, 2006

Christmas Eve's dinner

Two years ago, a friend gave us a stuffed turkey from Victoria Station and it was simply divine – the meat was well marinated, succulent and tender; its stuffing was delicious and it even came with a variety of sauces and dipping, including cranberry sauce. Since mum is now in KL, hubby suggested that we order a turkey from Victoria Station and have a family dinner at home.

Being non-Christians, I've never really celebrated Christmas but this time, we got all excited planning for the dinner. A week before Christmas, we went shopping for Christmas ornaments to decorate our tiny apartment. We bought some decorative bows for the dining chairs, a decorative door wreath and some candle stands. I also found some really cute moose hair bands for Yiu Yiu and Yihao.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we busied ourselves putting up decorations and preparing spaghetti, mushroom soup and salad in the kitchen. We collected the turkey at about 5pm and mum and other family members started to arrive shortly after. We feasted on the food with Christmas songs playing in the background. The turkey turned out to be a disappointment. The meat was rather dry and tasteless, the potatoes undercooked and the cranberry sauce too watery. Well, tis the season to be jolly and forgiving. Besides the merry atmosphere more than made up for whatever was lacking in the food department, and that is all that matters.

Happy holidays, one and all, and have a Blessed 2007.

December 26, 2006


As a working woman, one the biggest concern I had when pregnant was finding a trusted day time caregiver for my baby as both hubby's and my parents live outside of Klang Valley. I started the hunt for a babysitter in the 4th month of pregnancy and a colleague gave me Yoke Ling's phone number. A friend of her own babysitter, I am grateful to her for introducing me to Yoke Ling as Yoke Ling has really turned out to be a gem of a babysitter.

A woman in her 40s, Yoke Ling has three children ranging from 15 – 21 years old. She is also caring for two brothers, ages four and six, both of whom were attending kindergarten this year. The elder boy will be in Standard One when the new school term starts.

Yoke Ling is such a nice lady and she has never complained nor demanded for compensation even though we sometimes pick Yiu Yiu up as late as 8pm. On a few occasions when both hubby and I had dinner meetings, she kindly agreed to take care of Yiu Yiu until we picked her up at about 10.30pm. Of course we do not exploit her kindness and at times, hubby, who's in sales, picks her up very early if he has no other appointments for the day. As I travel quite a bit for work, she has also kindly offered to take care of Yiu Yiu if I happen to be away during the weekends. However, as hubby is quite competent in handling Yiu Yiu alone, we've never needed her to do so. We reciprocate her kindness by giving her gifts during festive celebrations and I've never came back from an overseas trip without something for her family.

She is very supportive of me breastfeeding Yiu Yiu and was never shy to ask me on proper ways to handle breast milk. She's also very open to my suggestions on what food to give or avoid when Yiu Yiu started taking solids, my refusal to use the sarong, pacifier or walker, though I know she has different opinion on certain things. She uses cloth nappy on Yiu Yiu during the day and I'm more than happy with this arrangement as I can save quite a bit on disposable diapers.

But above all, I'm thankful that Yiu Yiu has the love of Yoke Ling's family – the whole family, including her husband, children and sister who stays nearby and visits often, and the two boys, simply adore her. I'm happy that Yiu Yiu is growing up in a harmonious family environment and she's getting lots of mental stimulation and attention. That to me is the most precious gift any working mother could ask for to put her mind at ease during the hours of separation from her baby.

December 21, 2006

Candy Christmas@Midvalley Megamall

The theme for Midvalley Megamall Christmas celebration this year is "The Sweetest Christimas Ever". It was indeed a very sweet affair at Midvalley with the Centre Court dressed to the nines with lip smacking looking lollypops, candy canes, gingerbread houses, biscuits and sweets and candies of various shapes and sizes. With all these goodies surrounding you and the fabulous lightings, decorations, and Christmas songs playing in the air, you just can't help getting into the festive and merry mood.

We stumbled upon Santa and Mrs. Claus posing for photos with the crowd. Tickets for the 12.30pm photo session were still on sale and we found out that proceeds from the RM10 ticket are to be donated to Rumah K.I.D.S. And again, being the indulgent parents, and knowing that the money is for a good cause anyway, we bought a ticket and joined the queue. It wasn't nearly as long as the queue at 1 Utama for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse photo session and our turn came pretty soon. People from Foto Shangri-La, a co-sponsor of the event, were on hand to distribute cute little moose hair bands and Christmas hats and to snap the photo. Yiu Yiu also got a small gift from Santa comprising of a little Kittycat notepad and a voucher for a single scoop Haagen Daaz ice-cream. No prizes for guessing who benefited from the Haagen Daaz voucher! Muahahahaha… The photo developed by Foto Shangri-La turned out really nice – a result of having professional photographer and sophisticated equipment.

All in, it was a truly enjoyable outing, and one of the most worthwhile returns on a RM10 investment.

December 19, 2006

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Christmas@1 Utama

Hubby saw the advertisement for the above event taking place in 1 Utama in December and so we made our way there last Saturday with Yiu Yiu, Yihao and mum. We reached 1 Utama at around 3pm and there was a Meet & Greet Session scheduled at 4pm for visitors to be up close and personal with Mickey, Minnie and Donald. By the time we reached the Oval, there was already a long queue waiting to be admitted into the area where Mickey, Minnie and Donald were to make their appearance. Without much thinking, we just joined the queue for our chance to have our photos taken with the three Disney characters.

After waiting for close to one hour, it was finally our turn to go onstage and have our photos taken. And the organizer only allowed one photo per family! Can't blame them though as they need to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on the stage. See for yourself if the photo was worth waiting an hour for.

Hubby and I were just so amused with ourselves as a year ago, we would have balked at the thought of queuing for such a seemingly senseless activity. Aarrggghhhh…what a difference a child makes!

December 18, 2006

Not gaining weight

At 13.5 months now, Yiu Yiu weighs a mere 7.4kg. She can still wear clothes for babies 6 months of age…can't say it's a bad thing, though, coz I don't need to keep buying new clothes for her. She is still fully on breast milk and takes two solid meals a day. She is taking quite a good portion of porridge (up to ¾ - 1 rice bowl at each meal) but she just doesn't put on any weight at all. She has been hovering around this weight for the last several months. Am I worried? You bet! But every time I ask her paed, she says there's nothing to worry and babies tend to have stagnant weight for several months before undergoing a growth spurt and stagnation again...and the cycle repeats itself. So I am now eagerly waiting for her supposed growth spurt but in the meantime, I guess as long as she's healthy and achieving her developmental milestones, there really isn't anything to worry about.

December 14, 2006

Don't want to go home

When I arrived at babysitter's house yesterday to fetch Yiu Yiu home after work, her daughter was having dinner in the living room while her son was snacking on some steamed chestnuts. Yiu Yiu is having a ball of a time getting morsels of food into her tiny mouth from both sources. As the sky was getting dark and I knew it would pour, I wanted to get Yiu Yiu into the car as soon as possible. So I asked my little darling, "Yiu Yiu, do you want to go home?" To our surprise, she shook her head vigorously and continued her project of getting food from the two.

She simply did not show any signs of wanting to leave, until the babysitter packed some chestnuts into a plastic bag, tied it with a raffia string and handed the packet to her. Only when the packet of chestnuts was secure in her hands would she want me to carry her and continue our journey home.

My oh my! What a foodie I'm raising here…

December 06, 2006

Pesky passwords

Have you ever felt like your life is ruled by passwords? We need a password for almost every web applications and software systems. I have a password for booting up my office laptop, logging into the office network, online transactions for internet banking, EPF account, loyalty programs, and countless other applications. There is also a password for all the various software systems in the office such as the customer database software, sales tracking software, accounting software and many more.

The worst thing about this password thingy is that different applications have different rules for passwords. Some require six characters, others eight characters; some allow using just alphabetical letters while others require a combination of alpha-numeric characters. And yet some require a combination of both capital and small letters. Because of these varied requirements, I have different passwords for different purposes and that poses a great challenge for my ever depleting grey cells.

What takes the icing of the cake is those that require me to change my password every three months or so. And the worse thing is I'm not allowed to repeat the last 24 passwords used. How on earth could I ever remember what I've used for the past 72 months (that's six years for heaven's sake)!

I've tried various ways to help me remember these pesky passwords such as writing them down in my diary and changing only the last digit for those requiring alpha-numeric characters so I only need to remember the nth time that same password has been used. But these still have not prevented me from being logged out due to failure to remember all these pesky passwords. I really wish there is a better way to manage these passwords, just as there's for enterprise-grade online backup and disaster recovery.

November 21, 2006

My little vainpot

Yiu Yiu is demonstrating typical characteristics of being an XX-chromosome-bearing being. At the tender age of one, she already know the importance of taking care of her skin. Whenever she's out from her bath, she will take the lotion bottle, tap at the top of the bottle and rub her hand against her body, imitating the action of applying lotion onto her body.

She also knows the function of a comb. Whenever she sees me holding her baby comb, she'll grab that from me and put the comb against her head. Of course she'll mess up her hair even more but it's just so fun watching her preening herself in the mirror.

November 13, 2006

Birthday celebrations

All along, I wasn't keen on having a big do for Yiu Yiu's first birthday as I've read and seen how other babies cry and fuss through their first birthday celebration. Dad's passing compounded my reluctance as I felt it just wasn't right celebrating so soon after losing him.

Nevertheless, parents-in-law suggested that we have a small bash just among relatives and I relented. We went back to Kuantan during the Deepa-Raya holidays and had an early celebration on October 24. Hubby bought Yiu Yiu a new dress for the birthday bash. We wanted to look for a white floral dress but as the selection in Kuantan was limited, we couldn't find a nice one that could fit Yiu Yiu's petite frame. We had no choice but to settle for a Kiko corduroy dress in orange, complete with a matching pair of baby shoes.

Mum-in-law, an excellent cook, dished up some fried meehoon, fried Hokkien mee, nasi lemak, curry chicken, fried chicken, yong tau foo, red bean soup, agar-agar, and of course, the ubiquitous red eggs. Her friend baked Yiu Yiu a cake for the celebration. Before the guests arrived, mum-in-law asked hubby to help feed Yiu Yiu some red egg. Apparently it's auspicious for the birthday girl to get first bite of the red egg. Something new I learnt that day.

Yiu Yiu was a little cranky that night, and just wanted me to carry her. Perhaps she was tired as she didn’t sleep much in the afternoon. But she perked up when we sang Happy Birthday and was happily smiling while hubby snapped away with the camera.

We had another small bash at home last Wednesday, with my side of the family and several close friends. I took a day off to help mum prepare the dishes. We cooked pretty much the same fare as we had in Kuantan. I ordered a mango sponge cake in the shape of numeric one from a freelance baker and decorated the apartment with some balloons. Yiu Yiu was a lot more cheerful this time, maybe because she's in familiar surroundings and among familiar faces. Our friends brought their babies along so she had plenty of company.

Mum bought Yiu Yiu a gold chain as her first birthday present. Several weeks before dad's passing, mum mentioned to dad that she was thinking of buying a gold chain for Yiu Yiu for her birthday but lamented that the price of gold is so high now. Dad had a gold chain which he hardly ever wore and suggested that they sell it in exchange for a smaller chain each for both Yiu Yiu and Yihao. In honour of dad's intention, mum bought a chain each for Yiu Yiu and Yihao last weekend as a memento from dad to them. The chain will be a commemoration of grandpa's love for them. I hope Yiu Yiu will cherish this last piece of gift from grandpa to her and it will remind her of the grandpa whom she doesn't have a chance to know.

November 09, 2006

Happy 1st birthday

Yiu Yiu turned one last Wednesday, November 1. It’s simply amazing how time flies. It's as if it was just not too long ago that she was this scrawny looking 2.5kg being placed in my arms, and now, she's this active little toddler crawling around all corners of our apartment. As with all young children, she never fails to amuse us with her antics. One of her favourite past time is playing hide and seek behind doors so we have to consciously close all doors behind us. Another favourite habit of hers is putting every single thing she picked from the floor into her mouth. Several occasions we caught her chewing on something and upon prising open her mouth (against her fervent protest!), we would find bits of paper stuck in her mouth. We realize that this is really no laughing matter and we ought to be really careful now to ensure the floor is clear of anything that could pose a choking hazard to our little darling.

She can now walk by holding on to furniture and we always encourage her to practise walking by pushing her high chair. Besides waving bye-bye when leaving the babysitter's house, she will also blow kisses to the babysitter and her family. And recently, whenever I sing the song "If you're happy and you know it you clap your hands…", she'll put her hands together and clap. She also moves her hands to mimic the action of twinkling star when she hears "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". She will do that even when she hears the Mandarin version of the song! Another new exploit is pointing to herself when we ask her "Who's Yiu Yiu?" and looking up to the ceiling when asked "Where's the fan?"

Two days ago, she finally learnt to drink with a straw. Yihao has this plastic water container with a soft collapsible straw and she caught me by surprise when she took a sip from it while I playfully offered it to her. Hmmm…looks like it's time to wean her from the bottle. The next step is to train her to drink from a cup independently.

Physically, she's still rather small at only 7.3kg and about 70cm in length. That puts her in only the 3rd percentile of the WHO Child Growth Standards for Breastfed Baby Girls. Her head circumference measures 44cm, putting her at the 50th percentile. She does seem to be really petite for a one year old and many strangers have thought that she's only six or seven months old. Her paediatrician doesn't seem to worry about her petite size so I guess I shouldn't too. Anyway, she doesn't look thin but I guess she's got a small frame, just like mum. As long as she's healthy, I'm happy.

On the teething front, at the ripe age of one year old, she only has two front teeth on the lower gum. The two front teeth on the upper gum are only beginning to emerge. Some people said it's just as well, as the later her milk teeth develop, the later would they fall. This will also result in later development of her permanent teeth and hopefully, she'd have learnt to care for her oral hygiene by then and maintain a nice set of teeth.

I am eagerly waiting for her to be able to stand on her own and subsequently take her first step. As much as I look forward to her growing independence, I can't help but feel a tinge of nostalgia thinking about the times she depended on me totally to fulfill her every needs. But watching her grow day by day certainly brings lots of joy to our lives.

November 08, 2006

Dad, in loving rememberance

Dad was born in Kuala Lumpur on April 26, 1944 to a Special Branch Detective father and a homemaker mother. He grew up without a father figure as grandpa requested to be posted away to Mentakab to avoid the constant squabbles with grandma. Grandma then raised dad and his only sister in her maternal home in Tronoh. Despite the unstable domestic situation, dad had a happy childhood. He always regaled us with tales of his naughty antics of skipping school, stealing neighbours' rambutans, swimming in forbidden abandoned mining pools and getting a good beating from grandma for all these. Dad wasn't a particularly bright student and upon completing his secondary education in Batu Gajah, he took up a course in typing and shorthand.

He started his career with the Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC), which owned many tin mines around the country back then. He had a short stint at Sungai Besi Tin Mines before being posted to Bidor Malaya Tin, where he spent nearly 25 years of his life. He married mum and brought up his four children in Bidor with his meager salary as a store clerk. I remember his last drawn salary, before he was retrenched due to the collapse of the mining industry in 1995, was only around RM800. We got by with mum chipping in by working as a canteen helper. It also helped that the company provided free housing and utilities for its staff. Because of the hardships, dad instilled in us the importance of education and from very early on, we excelled in our studies. We also knew that dad couldn't afford to send us for higher education overseas or in private colleges so we worked very hard to enter the local universities, with three of us securing scholarships along the way.

Dad was a good father to us. He would try to take us on trips most weekends in his old, trusty Datsun 120Y, which was upgraded years later to another old, trusty Nissan Sunny. We would either be splashing in the cool waters of the waterfalls in Kampung Poh or Kuala Woh, or sightseeing around Perak visiting the cave temples, Kellie's Castle, or the then famed Taman Tema Air of Batu Gajah. Or we could be found enjoying seafood dinner followed by shopping in the two departmental stores in Teluk Intan. Occasionally, we would go picnicking at Teluk Batik, Lumut or Pangkor Island with home-made sandwiches, chicken curry, fried meehoon and boiled eggs. We also made many trips to Ipoh, Menglembu and Tronoh to visit relatives. These simple trips and outings were so much fun for us children and I must thank dad for giving me such fond memories of my childhood.

Following his retrenchment from MMC in 1994, dad got a job in Ipoh and our family moved to Menglembu. I just started varsity then, as did elder sis. Several years later after the three of us elder siblings started working, we bought the family house. Dad had always worried about us buying the house as we had other commitments here in PJ. He always said that he would pay off the house loan if only he could strike the lottery.

Dad retired at the end of 2003 at the age of 59. Since then, he spent his time at leisure playing mahjong with friends, and helping mum take care of Yihao. Mum and dad had also taken several short trips to Bangkok, Haadyai, Betong, Langkawi and Pulau Ketam. They had also been to Guangzhou and Kunming together. We took a family to Phuket in 2004 and were planning another one to Hanoi in January next year. Dad was very much looking forward to the Hanoi trip as he had been talking about visiting Vietnam for the past two years but alas…

Dad was a simple man who enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. Among his favourite food were roast pork, stir fried bitter gourd with pork, stewed pork with salted fish, steamed ikan kembung with bean paste, steamed/boiled peanuts and ais kacang. He also loved the popiah sold at the pasar malam near our house every Friday night. What amuses us is that he would always buy two pieces even though he knew he wouldn't be able to finish. His rationale is that he felt awkward buying just one piece from the vendor. So mum would end up having to share the popiah with him even though she doesn't really fancy it. He also particularly loved iced cham (coffee plus tea with milk) and never failed to take it at breakfast at the neighbourhood coffee shop. Whenever I see these foods nowadays, it would invariably remind me of dad.

I'm glad I spent my confinement months at home after I gave birth last year. That was the longest I've ever spent at home since leaving to KL for further studies and subsequently work. During those precious months, I got to spend quality time with mum and dad, having meals together and just while away our time as we pleased.

I know I have not been as filial a daughter as I'd like to be. I can recall the times I got impatient with his nagging and sometimes seemingly redundant questions and requests. And each time, I'd feel guilty and promised myself that I'd make it up to him on the next trip home. I am guilty of taking him for granted and thinking that dad would still be home the next time. I am guilty for not telling him that I love him. I hope he knew that deep down in my heart, I loved him a lot and I hope he was proud and happy to have me as his daughter.

I shall keep him close in my heart, now and forever…

October 31, 2006

Coming to terms with our loss

It has been more than a month since dad left us. Everyone in the family has begun to come to terms with our loss. Mum has moved down to Petaling Jaya to stay with sis as without dad, she would literally be immobile as she can't drive. But I know she misses Menglembu and our family house a lot. She kept saying that if she were not babysitting Yihao, my nephew, she would be more than happy to stay put in Menglembu. She could make do with cycling out to the market and the neighbourhood coffee shop for her daily necessities. But with Yihao, that wouldn't be possible. Anyhow, we probably would not allow that to happen as we would be worried sick about her being alone in Menglembu, even though several of our close relatives are nearby. We've decided not to sell off the family house as we just can't bear losing it, at least not for the time being. With the family house intact, we promised mum we'll make monthly trips back to Menglembu, just as we usually did.

Life is beginning to return to normal for me too even though I'm probably not back to my jovial self. I still think of dad a lot and all the what if's. I still shed a silent tear once in a while and I've caught mum doing the same. Mum still blames the cardiologist in Ipoh Specialist Hospital for not noticing dad's paleness which could have rang some alarm bells. I guess that's just the way she's trying to cope with the loss.

Dad was cremated and his ashes are now interned at Nilai Memorial Park. We've made several trips there for prayers and will continue to do so to keep his memory alive.

October 04, 2006

Losing dad

I lost my beloved dad very suddenly on September 25, 2006 at 9.50pm. It's really difficult losing someone so dear so suddenly and the thought that I'd never see, hear, or touch him ever again is just too much to bear.

Dad died of heart attack precipitated by bleeding in the stomach. The doctor said he probably had underlying coronary heart disease and when he bled and his red blood cells count dropped, his heart tried to compensate by pumping harder and that tipped him over.

I'm trained as a pharmacist and am seen as the "doctor" of the family. I can't help but feel responsible and guilty that I could have done something to have changed the outcome. I could have suspected stomach bleeding earlier coz he was complaining to mum that he looked pale, and was feeling giddy the whole week. And I know he's got all the risk factors - smoking, advancing age, taking low-dose aspirin. If I had paid enough attention to him when he was feeling unwell that week, things could have been so different!

Or when his stress test in May turned out equivocal, I could have insisted that the cardiologist do an angiogram to look at his coronary artery. The cardiologist said it was not necessary as dad did not have any symptoms at all such as chest pain, etc. If we had done that, we probably would have caught the blocked artery and did something about it.

That morning, sis who was back for the weekend took him to see a doctor after being unwell for a week. He was planning to see a physician in Ipoh Specialist Hospital who specialises in treating elderly patients but one thing led to another and he ended up going back to the cardiologist who treated him in May. The cardiologist didn't see anything wrong with him and he was sent home. If he had consulted the physician as planned, the physician might have just picked up the stomach bleeding and admitted him, and he wouldn’t have progressed to have a heart attack.

Mum and dad followed sis to KL that afternoon since all of us siblings are here and it'll be easier for us to care for him. That evening in KL after taking his shower, he fainted for a while but recovered moments later. I was still in office when sis called and told me about it and I asked sis to take him to the hospital immediately. He was still well then and insisted that there's no need to go to the hospital. We took him anyway and he was diagnosed with stomach bleeding at the A&E. He was still well then and could even ask questions and talk to us as usual. He was then transferred to the High Dependency Unit and the gastroenterologist was planning to transfuse two pints of blood into him as his red blood cells count was only half of normal. That was around 9pm. Before they even manage to do that, I saw dad breaking out in cold sweat, his ECG got worse and his blood pressure was crashing. He was progressing into heart attack. They immediately transferred him to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) where he collapsed. The doctors tried hard to revive him but failed. And dad left us at 9.50pm. It all happened just in a matter of three hours! We didn't even manage to say goodbye as he was hastily pushed to the CCU and I could see he was in distress then. The only thing he managed to say to me was "I have difficulty breathing", and I can still remember his distressed face vividly.

People tell me he's in a better place now, a place where there's no more worries, no more suffering. I really wish to believe so but it's just too difficult. Dad was only 62. He retired just about 3 years ago. After slogging for so many years to bring four of us up, and now that all of us are doing pretty well and could afford little luxuries for just seems so unfair. He had signed up for a trip to Shanghai and was supposed to leave on October 18. We have also booked a family holiday to Hanoi in January. And he couldn't even celebrate Yiu Yiu's first birthday! Yiu Yiu would never have him dote on her and it breaks my heart knowing that she would probably not remember Gong Gong at all.

The only comforting thought I have right now is dad didn't need to suffer, but even that sounds so hollow to me…

September 22, 2006


The first time we went swimming, Yiu Yiu was quite wary of the pool. She clinged on tightly to me as I walked slowly into the pool with her in my arms. I introduced her slowly into the water by wetting her body and supporting her under the armpits and just walked around the pool singing songs. I also wet her hair and let water drip over her eyes and face, resulting in her gasping for air. After a while, she became more comfortable and started to splash the water with her hands. But I think she enjoyed watching other children more, as she kept craning her neck to watch what the other children were doing. Ah well! The intention is to get her to be comfortable around water, not to learn how to swim just yet.

For the subsequent times, she started to enjoy herself much more. I continued to carry her around the pool and whenever I carry her up into the air before splashing her into the pool, she would giggle excitedly. She's also more comfortable with letting water drip from her face and eyes. We bought a floater in which she could comfortable sit in and float around. I am contemplating buying her an arm band floater so that she can really learn how to float in the water but those that I've seen so far are just way too big for her tiny 7kg frame. Or perhaps I've not shopped enough…

September 19, 2006

The Philippines jeepney

The jeepneys are a common mode of transportation in the Philippines. The original jeepneys were modified army jeeps left behind by Americans after World War II. Modern jeepneys are built locally from durable aluminium and stainless steel, and closely follow the original design. The route of each jeepney is clearly painted on both sides of the vehicle, but it only indicates the two terminal points of the journey. It'll be rather difficult for a foreigner to get around on the jeepney as one has absolutely no idea what's between the two terminal destinations. Jeepney fare starts at six pesos, going up to a maximum of 15 pesos.

September 15, 2006

Sights not to be missed in Cebu

Our first stop was the Magellan Marker, erected in 1866 to mark the spot where the great explored died in the hands of Lapu-Lapu during the battle of supremacy and freedom on April 27, 1521. Adjacent to the Magellan Marker is the Lapu-Lapu Monument. It depicts the local hero holding a bolo in one hand and a pestle on the other. The weapons were believed to have been used during his combat with Magellan.

Magellan Marker

Lapu-Lapu Monument

We then crossed over the city of Cebu to the Heritage of Cebu Monument. The monument showcases the significant and symbolic events in the history of Cebu. Among others, it comprises sculptures of Magellan, Lapu-Lapu, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the Spanish who conquered Philippines and made it a Spanish colony for 333 years, Christianization of the people of Cebu, the three most important churches in Cebu and images of Cebu as a trading port.

View from different angles of the Heritage of Cebu Monument

Fort San Pedro is the smallest, oldest tri-bastion fort in the country. It has a total inside area of 2,025 sq meters and is built from a mixture of corals, crushed lime stones and sand, and held together by egg white. This served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. It then became an American Warwick Barracks during the American Regime and a jail for the Japanese during World War II.

Basilica del Santo Nino, the only basilica in the Far East, was built by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi on the site where the image of Santo Nino (the statue of Holy Child Jesus) was found in 1565. Considered as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines, the image has been venerated by the Cebuanos as its Patron Saint. At present, the miraculous image is kept in the Parish Convent, and a replica, adorned with gold and precious stones, is enshrined in glass and housed in the side altar inside the basilica.

Image of Santo Nino

Planted in April 21, 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, Magellan's Cross marks the spot where the first Christian Filipinos, were baptized. Natives began to take chips from the cross believing it had miraculous power so a kiosk like structure was built to protect the cross from total destruction. To protect it further, a hollow cross of wood was made to encase the original cross.

Our last stop for the afternoon is the Taoist Temple. Located at Beverly Hills, Cebu City, the temple preserves the teaching of Lao-Tse, the 600 B.C. Chinese philosopher. People climb the 81 steps representing the 81 chapters of Taoism scriptures to light joss sticks and have their fortune read.

September 14, 2006

Journey to Cebu

Friday, August 25
Yiu Yiu was extra clingy this morning, as if she knew I'd be away for several days. She refused to be carried by papa and kept whining softly as I smothered her with kisses. Hubby finally managed to persuade her to say goodbye to mummy as the KLIA taxi driver was waiting. After checking in at about 8.30am, I grabbed a quick breakfast at Café Marche, enjoying a cup of mocha with foccacia sandwich. I surfed a little as KLIA is now equipped with WiFi facilities. The flight to Manila departed at 10.50am, after a 30-minute delay. I spent the whole time on the flight reading the long overdue "What to Expect – the First Year". Yiu Yiu is approaching her 10th month and I'm just at the chapter of baby's 5th month!

After a pretty uneventful flight, my colleagues and I arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. The airport is quite old, and such a far cry compared to our own KLIA. We were then transferred to the new Manila Centennial Airport for our connecting flight to Cebu. While waiting, I made my way to the washroom to express breast milk, which I planned to cart home for Yiu Yiu's consumption.

The flight to Cebu departed at 5.30pm and I could see the skyline changing from yellowish to pitch black, and it was just slightly over 6.00pm then. The plane touched down at Cebu Mactan International Airport at about 7.00pm. It was drizzling then and traffic was bad. The things that struck me on the way to the hotel were the old and rickety houses and lack of street lights. Many of the roadside stalls still used the rather primitive kerosene lamp as their source of lighting. It appears to me as if Cebu is trapped in a 50s time warp. Amidst the relative shabbiness of the surrounding, we found ourselves at the very posh Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort & Spa. We finally checked into our rooms slightly after 8.00pm, almost 12-hour since leaving home. Needless to say, I totally crashed out that night.

Saturday, August 26
Cebu was discovered by the Spanish explorer, Ferninand Magellan who, six days after having sailed into the harbour of Mactan, was slain by Lapu-Lapu, the chieftain of Mactan Island. Mactan Island is part of the Cebu province, which is made up of 167 islands, of which only seven are bigger islands. It is connected to the main Cebu Island by two bridges, the Mandaue-Mactan Bridges 1 and 2. The Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort & Spa is located on the east coast of this small island of 275,000 people.

I had a full day meeting today and didn't have a chance to explore the beautiful hotel grounds at all. In the evening, we went over to Cebu City for some shopping and dinner. We went to one of the major shopping malls in Cebu City, SM City and bought loads of dried mangoes, a popular delicacy from the Philippines. I was also impressed by the range and quality of children's clothing at SM City. All the Disney, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh dresses were so pretty and reasonably cheaper compared to Malaysia. I was disappointed with the infant clothing range though, and I couldn't find something nice to buy for Yiu Yiu.

Dinner was at Café Laguna, reputedly one of the best restaurants in Cebu that serves authentic Filipino cuisine. It started as a labour of love for the Urbina family. Coming from a long line of fine cooks, Lina Urbina started Café Laguna and served Filipino food with the distinctive taste which brought memories of homecooked meals shared with friends and family. Filipino cuisine has Malay, Chinese and Spanish influences. We had lumpiang sariwa (palm shoot spring roll), bulalo soup (beef shank with bamboo shoot and fresh corn), crispy tadyang (deep fried beef ribs), pandan chicken, crispy crablets, camaron rebo sado (fried shrimp coated with egg, flour and cornstarch), tangigue steak (grilled fish), kare-kare with bagong (oxtail in peanut sauce with fermented fish; very much like our own curry but not spicy) and seafood paella. The thick, ice-blended mango juice I had was so refreshing and satisfying.

Lumpiang sariwa

Kare-kare with bagong

Seafood paella

Sunday, August 27
I only had a half-day meeting today and decided to explore Cebu. The half-day city tour costs US$16 but the operator has a minimum requirement of two persons per trip. Since none of my colleagues are interested to explore the city, I went ahead with the tour on my own but had to pay for two. Michael, my guide for the afternoon, picked me up from the hotel at 1.45pm in a Toyota Vios. The tour took me to the Magellan Marker and Lapu-Lapu Monument in Mactan Island, followed landmarks in Cebu City such as the Heritage of Cebu Monument, Fort San Pedro, Basilica del Santo Nino, Magellan's Cross and Taoist Temple. Michael was a great guide who patiently explained the history and story associated with each sight so I guess the US$32 was worth paying. The tour ended at about 4.30pm and I asked to be dropped off at Ayala Centre for some shopping. I couldn't believe what I ended up buying! Maternity blouses…just couldn't resist even though I don't need any at the moment. They are a steal at between 150 – 200 pesos (RM 11 – 15) and the quality was really good.

My colleagues joined me for dinner and again we went to Café Laguna. Again, we ordered lumpiang sariwa and ice-blended mango juice. We also had sinigang hipon (shrimp soup with tamarind puree; tastes like tomyam minus the spiciness), crispy pata (deep fried pork knuckles), grilled spare ribs, crispy kangkong and pinakbet (mixed vegetables with salty fermented shrimp paste). We went back to the hotel tired, but very much satiated.

Crispy pata

Grilled spare ribs


Monday, August 28
I was holed up in the meeting room from 8.00am – 6.00pm today but managed to take a quick walk at the beach during lunch. The azure, clear water was just so beautiful. It's such a shame that I haven't had a chance to enjoy the beautiful beach. Mental note to self, wake up at 6.00am tomorrow to soak up the sun before meeting begins at 8.00am. Dinner tonight was at Buko Bar, which served a buffet spread of traditional Filipino food. There was also a traditional dance performance during dinner. Some of the dances are similar to those we see back home, not surprising considering Filipinos are descendents of the Malays.

Group photo with the dancers

Tuesday, August 29
Immediately after the meeting ended at 5.30pm, we quickly organized a taxi for a final trip to town. We had initially planned to do some shopping at Ayala Centre and grab dinner but one of my colleagues stumbled upon an ad for Thai massage, which only costs 200 pesos for one hour. Since we could not afford the spa at the hotel, we unanimously agreed that this is a viable alternative. We instructed the taxi driver by way of pointing to the map. We reached the massage shop at about 7.00pm due to rush hour traffic. Our initial plan of massage followed by shopping and dinner would not be workable as the lady at the counter told us that Ayala Centre will close at 8.00pm. So we changed our plan and headed to Ayala Centre instead, which is just 5 minutes walk away from the shop. After the shops closed, we had dinner at Café Laguna (again!). We ordered pretty much the same dishes we had previously with the new ones being tinola lapu-lapu fillet (soup with fish fillet), pancit palabok with puto (rice noodles with seafood sauce), and buko pandan (pandan jelly in coconut cream) for dessert. We took a leisurely stroll back to the massage shop and decided to indulge ourselves with the 2-hour package which includes one hour each of Thai and Swedish massage. The Thai massage was quite good, but still cannot compare to the real McCoy. The Swedish massage was quite a disappointment, but can’t complain as we only paid 380 pesos for the whole session. It was raining heavily as we boarded the taxi back to the hotel and we could see many of the roads were flooded. We heaved a sigh of relief when we safely reached the hotel at 1.00am.

Pancit palabok with puto

Buko pandan

Wednesday, August 30
I woke up at 6.30am this morning as I've made a pact with my colleagues to take a dip in the hotel pool and enjoy the beach before we head home. The sun was already shining brightly and we headed to the beach first. It was heavenly wading into the crystal clear water at the beach. Even near the shore, there were many fishes, albeit plain looking ones, swimming around feeding on bread given by hotel guests. We could also see many corals (dead ones, I assume, as they were all brown in colour) in the shallow waters. We decided to rent a snorkeling gear and venture further out the sea. Though the corals were still uninteresting, we were rewarded with the sight of different colourful fishes. I'm not an expert in marine life but could still recognize the sea cucumber, star fish, and many more. We also took a refreshing dip in the pool. Soon after, it was time to bid Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort & Spa a fond farewell.

Picture perfect

The inviting clear, azure, calm sea

Pool with a view

For the return trip, again, we had to transit in Manila. Nevertheless, the shoppers among us killed time by doing some last-minute shopping and frantically trying to spend off all our remaining pesos. Cebuanos are famed guitar makers so I bought a miniature one to remind myself of Cebu at the Cebu Mactan International Airport. At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I saw a handiwork of a traditional Filipino village scene assembled inside a glass bottle and thought it would look really nice in the display cabinet. The vain pot in me also couldn't resist the colourful woven clutch purse.

The entire journey was uneventful except that I practically slept the whole time. The plane landed in KLIA at about 8.15pm. As it was the Merdeka eve, I was told by the lady at the KLIA airport limo that the line for the taxi is very long as many drivers are stuck in the city due to numerous road closures in preparation for the Merdeka parade. As I braced myself for a 30-minute wait, I was pleasantly surprised that I got into a taxi after waiting for less than 15 minutes. As I stepped into my house, I was greeted by a very enthusiastic gummy grin. My little darling welcomed her mummy home with a big hug.

September 12, 2006

French kiss, not!

Yiu Yiu has learnt the art of kissing! Whenever we ask her to kiss kiss, she'll stick her tongue out and bring it to our lips and give us a big, sloppy, wet kiss.

September 11, 2006

Attracting attention

Two weeks ago, we went to Midvalley as I wanted to do some last minute shopping before the mega sales end. I was carrying Yiu Yiu as we strolled around the mall. We walked past an event organized by Body Shop where they have professional make-up artist and hair-stylist on duty to get participants ready for their photo shoot. I wanted to point something out to hubby and so lightly patted his arm and said "Eh!" To our surprise, Yiu Yiu then extended her tiny hand and patted hubby on his arm as well, exactly the same way I did! We were so amused with her antic and laughed so hard. All through the evening, we experimented to see if she'd mimic us if we were to pat each other's arm to attract the other person's attention. She didn’t disappoint us, kept mimicking our actions. Hubby was so amused that he was still laughing over it the next day. Children, they really tickle us. And the other lesson I learnt that day is to avoid behaving or speaking badly in front of her in future as she might just absorb them like sponge.

September 04, 2006

My darling is 10 months old

At 10 months now, my little darling has achieved numerous developmental milestones. She has been able to sit without support and creep since she was about six months old. She advanced to crawling by about 7½ months. Her recent achievements include being able to stand by holding on to something, pull up to a standing position from sitting, get into a sitting position from her stomach, clap hands and wave bye-bye when asked to, pass an object from one hand to the other, pick up tiny objects with her thumb and finger, cruise (walk holding on to furniture), work to get a toy out of reach and turn in the direction of a voice.

She now understands simple instructions such as "No" (but not necessarily obeys it), "Come to mummy" and "Pick up the ball". Her verbal repertoires are wider too. Besides nen nen and mum mum (that's for food!), she's also able to say papa and mama, though I'm not sure at this point it's spoken discriminately. And she's always talking in her own gibberish way while in her car seat on the way to babysitter or while playing on her own. She also seems to have developed a mind of her own and will object if we try to take something away from her.

Recently I noticed that after she wakes up from her sleep or nap, and if hubby or I are sleeping with her, she'll crawl over and lie down on our chest. I feel really good whenever she does that, it's as if she's saying, "I've missed you over the last couple of hours and I want to make up for the lost time."

August 21, 2006

How baby changed my life

I normally tune in to Mix FM while driving and the topic of discussion this morning certainly captured my interest. Richard and Shaz were discussing on how a baby changes one's lives. I thought this is a really interesting topic and decided to write about it here.

I am certainly more patient person now. Dealing with such a tiny creature who constantly needs your attention and care, patience just suddenly becomes second nature. I'm also more forgiving of people who behave badly on the wheels. I'm not sure if that's a direct consequence of being more patient, or I've simply mellowed down.

Spontaneity is out of the window too. Hubby and I arrange our schedules around Yiu Yiu's schedule. Going out on a weekend is much more than just getting ready and get out the door. We will make sure she's had her porridge, bathe and dress her, etc before getting ready ourselves. Just when we are all set to step out the door, Yiu Yiu decides to nap and we'll just have to wait till she wakes up coz I'm one who do not like to disturb a baby's sleep. Also, no more spontaneous trips back to hometown whenever we feel like it coz now everything needs to be planned with precision.

I've also become good at doing everything single handedly, literally speaking. I'll eat my noodles with chopsticks, tap on the keyboard, get her bath ready, choose clothes from a pile that is on sales, etc while holding her in one hand. Talk about multitasking!

And above all, it is how Yiu Yiu changed my perspective and priority in life. Work is not longer at the very top of my priority list and I'm no longer concerned about achieving, or trying to achieve, perfection in everything I do. As Stephen Covey would approve, I know what my big rocks in life are and I don't sweat the small pebbles anymore. And to me, that's the most important change in my life.

August 16, 2006

Otitis media

Last Sunday, I started feeling some pain in my left ear. It started as only mild pain and I didn't pay much attention to as it didn't bother me all that much. Later during the night, the pain became rather unbearable; it felt like my ear drum is being poked. I suspected that it's otitis media (infection of the middle ear) and quickly looked up some facts on it. The literature states that acute otitis media results from infection by viruses or bacteria, often as a complication of the common cold or of allergies and that it's more common in children than in adults. Hmmm, strange as I had no flu symptoms at all! Little Yiu Yiu has cough and runny nose so I suspected that I could have gotten the bug from her. That, or I hurt it during cleaning!Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night as the pain was keeping me awake.

The next morning, I consulted my company's panel doctor who confirmed the diagnosis of otitis media. She was quite perplexed too as I didn't have the flu so she asked if anyone in the family is sick. I told her that Yiu Yiu is and she confirmed that one can get otitis media from someone else flu bug. I was given a 5-day course of Augmentin (which is safe for nursing mothers) and paracetamol for pain. The doctor said that the pain will gradually subside once the antibiotic takes effect to clear the infection. I was thinking to myself, "Gosh! How am I gonna live through another 5 days of such pain!" Quite frankly, the paracetamol didn't do much to relieve the pain.

Today is the 3rd day I'm on Augmentin and the pain seemed to have abated slightly. At least I'm functioning compared to the last 2 days! I also read that otitis media is common in children between 3 months and 3 years of age. I just cannot imagine how a small child can live with such pain. An adult like me is already crying for mercy, what more a helpless little child. I just pray that Yiu Yiu will never have to go through this experience. And now that the pain is slightly less, I hope I can catch up on some zzzZZZZ tonight.

July 17, 2006

My first foray into the world of blogging

I finally did it! My inaugural post in my inaugural blog. I've toyed with the idea of setting up a blog for some time now, inspired by other moms I know who kept great blogs about their children. I registered this some months back but never found the guts to publish a post. Wasn't confident I can do it as I'm not good in writing nor expressing myself.

Anyway, what prompted me to finally post something? Hmmm...Yiu Yiu is growing up so fast and she has learnt to do so many things over the last few months. So much so that if I don't start keeping these memories in writing, I'll soon forget most of them. And true enough, many things are now just a hazy memory to me...amidst the busy work schedule and juggling to be a good mum to Yiu Yiu.

This blog has a loooooonnnnggggg way to become something people would want to come back over and over but what the heck! I've got to start somewhere, don't I? So ladies and gentlemen....let me present to you, my first ever blog posting. I shall endeavour to try to capture as much as I can remember now and put them in writing before more of my grey cells give up on me....


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