UPDATES and RENOVATIONS  

Posted by: Laya Isabelle Garcellano Florendo

Soon!

LUSCIOUS BLOG NETWORK ROLL CALL  

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So what have I been up to lately?

I can safely say that I have a new hat to wear: the Blogger Tweaker Hat. I'm not really a hacker, I can't invent code or CSS to save my life, but I do tweak existing and Already-Hacked Blogger Templates to suit my needs and wants. Sometimes I tweak them to death (not good). An example would be that 3-column template I wanted to convert into something else, I inserted a bit of code and then to my horror, sidebars and widgets ended up all over the place and refused to be reborn into something better than its former existence. As with anything, it had its limits and I had to let it rest in peace after it gave up the ghost in bytes and pieces.

At last I was able to finish revamping three of my existing blogs (Scraps Away, Weekend Wanderings and Luscious Picks) and put up a new blog for my photos named Photoluscious (what else?!). Mommyluscious I think I'll leave the layout alone and just streamline it a bit.

So here's my blog roll call, The Luscious Blog Network (naks!):

Of course Mommyluscious remains my standard bearer. It has since evolved from being the blog of a working mother trying to juggle motherhood and the demands of a growing art studio.

Mommy Laya quit the art studio a few months back. I haven't really covered the experiences and implications the decision to be a Stay At Home Mother presents because I'm still going through it now. All I can say is, there's much more time to spend being a Mother to Oona even if I do spend lots of time on the computer pursuing personal projects.

I'm lucky enough to have a very understanding husband. He does say that he likes me being home more than being a double-income family. Although of course, it would have helped if we financially prepared for my quitting ahead of time. But when you're not happy in a particular situation, there's no contingencies for that. Anyway, I am now a SAHM who's juggling the family budget, trying to find ways and means to add to it via projects I can do at home and with my limitations (time is such a valuable commodity with a baby!).

I blog, do graphics and try to be a mother to Oona as best as possible. I can also say I'm a recovering workaholic. Sometimes I get depressed over finances especially when bills get stacked in my in-box. Sometimes I envy the other people who have schedules and places to go to and things to DO. I know that sounds like a ton of regrets in the future. Honestly, I can't say what will happen ten years down the road, if my decision to quit and stay home will haunt me. But I do know the feeling passes.

Every time Oona achieves a milestone in her young life and I'm here to witness it...no salary in the world matters. Other parents know what I'm talking about. It's different when you're single. It's different when your child discovers she has legs and can run around and the nanny just tells you about it when you get home from work. It's different when it's YOU she runs to with that face split in a smile so wide, it melts your heart, with the look in her eyes that says "Look, MOM! LOOK!!!". :D

Scraps Away is my digital scrapping blog. It's really in my DNA to do something creative and it's to make sure my creative muscles don't atrophy. Nowadays, since I took this crash course in Template manipulation and blog improvement, I haven't been able to update as regularly as before. Rest assured though, I have a couple of LO's already in the pipeline, just waiting to be finished and posted.


To satisfy my wanderlusting, I came up with Weekend Wanderings. Travel is really one of the things RF and I love. We also want to impart to Oona the wonders of the world we live in, our own backyard, most importantly. I'm not really a die-hard nationalista, but I do have an intense appreciation for this place. There's really so much to like and enjoy more than complain about. After all, it isn't the actual place you go to, but the myriad little things that get you there that makes the destination really special.

I put up this blog primarily as a partner to Weekend Wanderings. I find that I really am trigger-happy, just about as much as my husband is with his camera phone. At first, using my N95 8GB was a means to an end since I have a Canon Ixus as well. But I found myself using my Nokia more because it was easier to whip out and I didn't need to carry around extra memory cards just to augment my Canon's 16MB default card. Besides, they're both 5 Megapixels so not much difference when it comes to resolution.

So, I am currently indulging my National Geographic Photographer fantasies using my trusty camera phone with a beautiful 8GB storage space. I did adjust the photos' contrast and saturation a bit with Google's Picasa, but all the photos came from my phone. Someday, I hope to be able to save up for a DXLR, the real sweet deal! Until then, I plan to enjoy this little baby.

Last but not the least, my blog for stuff that I like online and offline. I love a lot of stuff that I can't usually afford, but you don't really need money to appreciate beautiful things. For me, the truly beautiful things are truly useful things as well. Yes, lingerie are useful things. They make you feel beautiful, so there! That's why in this blog, I have lingerie, earth-friendly furniture, baby stuff, make-up and power tools in the same place. I just don't have car accessories or hard-core guy stuff (like jockstraps or whatever only for guys thingies there are). I can't drive and I'm not a guy. Anyway, I put stuff in here in case anybody stumbles on this blog and happens to be looking for something I've already seen. Hope this blog helps!

So there you have it, my starting five. Check them out and let me know what you think! Enjoy! :)

Lilypie Breastfeeding Ticker

WORKSHOP! WORKSHOP!  

Posted by: Laya Isabelle Garcellano Florendo in , , , , ,


Robo Monkey Pixel Fighters (it's a mouthful, I know!) in partnership with Euphony Music Studio, is going to be holding a series of Cartooning Workshops. For those in the Makati area, enrollment is on-going! Sign your kids up or maybe even yourself later on! Check us out at our website for more details! See you!

BAGUIO TEEN  

Posted by: Laya Isabelle Garcellano Florendo in , , , ,

When I was old enough to venture out minus the parental chaperons, Baguio was the first place my friends and I went to. It was our first big adventure.

We weren't allowed jaunts like kids are nowadays and malling was an entirely new thing. But out of town, with only your friends to boot, well! That was something special reserved only for special occasions. As a high school graduation gift, our barkada spent weeks excitedly planning everything from what we would wear and where we would go. It was Our Coming Out Party! The Declaration of Independence! The First Big Step Into Adulthood! Oh, we even agonized about the days and nights we would be incommunicado from our boyfriends, but we all secretly reveled in the freedom it brought us.

We were still accompanied by one of our friends' parents who were also going to Baguio. We were lucky in that we had a van to ourselves and a driver to take us anywhere we wanted to go. Trying to go about it as adult-responsibly as possible, we planned the logistics as carefully as we could. We pooled our money for the gas and for our food. Our accommodations were taken care of by one of the girls' aunts who had a summer home (sosyal!) and was unoccupied at the moment. After unpacking, we hit the road again and did all the usual things with the extra exhiliration of doing it without parental control.

I know it sounds like we painted the town red. We would have loved to but we were really just kids and being a kid in those days was a lot tamer than being a kid now. The sweet air of Baguio was the sweet scent of freedom and it was all that really mattered to us!

We took turns with cooking the canned goods we bought and washed the dishes. We picked strawberries for our first breakfast together. Every so often, we hammed it up for the camera (no digicams yet, just film stock so we carefully doled out shots like gold). We shopped for silver in the city market. We ogled the scenery at Mines View Park. We rode horses and survived all the way to Marlboro country without getting thrown off though we were royally sore the next day. We were supposed to roast marshmallows and toast our collective frozen feet by the fireplace but none of us knew how to make a fire. All we managed was a pitiful little flame with paper and pine needles. (Don't laugh!) So we just ate the marshmallows, told ghost stories and slept huddled together in one room.

We also went to Spirits, THE disco back then! I remember wrapping up a bottle of Cali Shandy in tissue and inserting a straw to make it look like I was drinking a softdrink because one of the girls expressed horror at the thought of liquoring up. Now we all know Cali isn't alcoholic but try telling her. I was supposed to be the adventurous, devil-may-care type so I really didn't care much after the first bottle. I didn't think I was fooling anybody anyway, so I just ditched the tissue and straw and drank straight up, baby! I think the sugar rush was what got me intoxicated after that. (Said girl can now drink as many bottles of hard liquor as she would like to, so I hear.) We bumped and grind-ed to the best of the 90's disco music and managed to get up the ledge next to the DJ. We had the time of our lives without getting drunk or getting into trouble. Yes, it was clean fun.

Sadly, there weren't any cute boys. (We looked.) Not that we really minded, we were having way too much fun to play the flirting game anyway. At around 1AM, we decided to call it a night.

We spent the next few days going around Baguio, taking pictures and acquiring souvenirs left and right. Unfortunately, after fifteen years, I don't have single picture. All I have are memories of that time in my head. Still, it remains one of my favorite memories of Baguio where we went up as kids and we came home proving that we were responsible enough to take care of ourselves!

MY CHILDHOOD BAGUIO  

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When I, my siblings and my cousins were kids, our families would schedule a clan trip just before or right after the summer peak season hits. Less people and lower prices. Besides, it was easier to cart around a gaggle of kids eager for the novelty of a vacation outing without the fear of one child getting lost in the crowd.

We went to all the standard places. Naturally we were in awe of the sights so different to the city scenes we were used to.

Mines View Park commands a spectacular view of surrounding mountains and valleys and of the gold and copper mines that formerly belonged to the Benguet Corporation. The promontories and the observation decks get pretty filled up with tourists so once you got a nice spot, it would be a good idea to hold on to it.

There are photographers that would take your picture for a small fee. There was also a pony you could rent for a photo souvenir as well. As a kid, they looked big enough but going back there when I was older, I couldn't help pitying the poor animals. They looked pretty enough with their colorful trappings with tassels and buntings, mane and tail with braids and sometimes dyed with shocking colors like pink or orange. Maybe it's just me and how I feel about horses . . . they looked so sad being tied up when they should be running free in all their natural glory! And all but for a few pesos. Sniff!

There are also bazaars and various shops selling native souvenirs and silver. Plants and walis tambo are also a staple along with Ifugao costumes for kids complete with feathered headdresses!

Back then, there were kids that would hail you from below the observation platforms. They would be precariously perched along the cliffside, daring you to throw them coins which they would scramble for, demonstrating their agility and speed. Buti na lang it's been outlawed as it was very, VERY dangerous! It was a crippling fall for anyone, more so for a young child, with one wrong move.

The Botanical Gardens was a magical fantasy forest for child. Even then, I found tranquility and peace sitting among the trees. Butterflies and dragonflies performed their graceful aerial dances among the lush growth and there would be fat bees every so often, drinking from vibrant dew-jeweled flowers.

I always fancied faeries vanishing away as the cloaking mists of early morning Baguio rolled away. How would the Baguio faeries look? I would hazard that they wouldn't look like English faeries, but rather like the diwata or enkantada of our heritage. They would have beautiful long black hair, thick as darkest night with merry twinkling eyes, almond shaped and long lashed. They would be brown skinned like the people of these mountains, but their light feet and quick steps would betray their other-worldliness. Yes, I indulged in such dreaming as a child. Walking along the winding paths in a quiet stillness that was more alive with sound than the noisiest city street, one would feel the sacredness of nature and you would watch your feet carefully, lest you tread clumsily on dainty unseen toes. (For which, many times, we were told to keep to the beaten paths or if going off it, instructed to say "Tabi tabi po!". It means a very respectful "Excuse us! We're just passing through" for any unseen nature spirits).

Camp John Hay is where we went for miniature golf. There's a real golf course newly designed by legendari Jack Nicklaus but for people who took the game less seriously, Mini Golf is the bomb. I thought I was going to be bored to death, but I came to love playing it. I was surprised by my own concentration and serious zeal to get the angle just right and hit the ball just so to get it into the little hole. You should have seen the adults' faces when they played in pairs, though. It was as serious a business as a round of poker with the stakes getting higher. us kids? We played for sheer bragging rights!

Horseback riding at Wright Park was a standard staple. Passing by the Riding Park, you couldn't help noticing the rows of stabled ponies and horses. And if you were a kid worth your mettle, you'd beg for the biggest, fastest, proudest, wildest stallion you could see. Brown, dappled and pinto horses were boring. Good if you got a pure white mount, you could fantasize being an other-worldly being, but the big black ones were the best pick of the lot. The proud, long-legged black beauties were the stuff childhood legends were made of. You would be legend among all your grade-school classmates come school days and you showed off your best vacation picture.

However, being eight years old has its utter setbacks. You were eventually set on the safest, slowest, tamest, non-kicking/biting/running/galloping, most uninteresting creature on the planet, pre-approved by your mother, aunts and assorted accompanying relatives. Lucky you if you were left to even hold the reins and a pony boy wasn't sent to look after you.
You would ride strictly in the inner circuit of the Riding Park and sneak envious looks at the bigger kids and teen-agers running helter-skelter in the outer ring or going out of the Park itself for the fabled Marlboro Country. Of course all this was for safety's sake, but a kid has big dreams, you know!

Another place we went to was the Bell Church near la Trinidad. It's a chinese temple in the middle of lush greenery. As a kid, I was bored to death. As a grown-up, I'd like to go back there and see it through more interested eyes.

What I could still remember about the place was its peace. But for such a peaceful place, the strong colors were jarring for me: the strong reds, greens and yellows of typical chinese temples. I guess I was more used to muted hues in connection with peace and tranquility. Nevertheless, there was a pervading sense of peace and tranquility encouraging contemplation. There were also little nooks partially hidden away, where you can meditate by yourself or have a heart-to-heart talk with someone. Overlooking Baguio and part of La Trinidad, you can just sit still and be.

The Lourdes Grotto is another spiritual place to visit. You get to climb a bazillion or so steps as a pilgrimage of sorts (just 252 steps, but I had short legs), to the very top where Mama Mary is. Really exhausting. I didn't get the point of climbing all that way if we could ride a jeep up as easily. Halfway through I'd be out of breath and feeling as though my soul was already at the top, communing with the angels and saints surrounding the grotto.

My mother tells the story of having a dream about a baby climbing the grotto steps before she found out she was pregnant with my sister. Hence, when my sister was born, she was named Maria Lourdes. Just a personal tidbit but it's why we have to go back there every time we're in Baguio as thanksgiving for Diday, my now 17 year old sister.

It's really best to go up there early in the morning before the crowds come up. There's a magnificent view of the city and nearby La Union when the weather's clear.

My mother and aunts also made it a point to attend at least one mass at the Baguio Cathedral as thanks for having made the journey in safety. I may not be all that religious but the Cathedral is still a wonderful place to visit for its panoramic view perched on a high point overlooking the city, and its peaceful ambiance, as with all of Baguio's spiritual centers, Catholic and otherwise.

Last but not the least, there would be boating sessions at Burnham Park's man-made lagoon. If you're not to keen on rowing around, walking through the gardens and resting on the benches along shaded pathways is a good way to spend a lazy afternoon.

There's also an Orchidarium and a Roller Skating Park. I don't think I tried skating, but I did enjoy riding around the rented bicycles.

Strawberry-picking at the end of the day made for home-made strawberry shake for dinner and breakfast for tomorrow before the day's new adventures.

If it wasn't a nice sunny day and a drizzle would render us bound to the rented van, we'd buy from the vendors selling at the entrance. The sweet, bright red fruit would be in rattan hand-woven baskets which us kids would keep to play with, after their cargo was eaten and long gone. There would also be sweet strawberry jam to eat with melting butter and hot bread and strawberry wine for the grown ups to sip while the nights grew long and cold.

With the chill of the night ending the day, our parents would call us to a home-cooked dinner. There would be crisp vegetables bought from the local market, puffy white rice and piping hot beef stew with chunky carrots and potatoes. Everything would be fresh as the farms around Baguio supplied the markets with new harvest or fresh slaughter everyday. Before bed, we'd roast marshmallows in the fireplace or on a small bonfire the adults would make. Then herded to bed, we'd tell ghost stories in the dark and giggle to sleep while the grown-ups talked all night.

As I fell asleep, I was conscious of the peaceful quiet of the Baguio night lulling me into sweet slumber. Crickets softly chirping and the cool breeze rustling the leaves of mighty trees would send me flying through my dreams to be later recalled on hot city nights when sleep was difficult.

And those, until now, are the happy memories of my Baguio childhood.

BAGUIO BOUND  

Posted by: Laya Isabelle Garcellano Florendo in , , , , , ,

There is a reason why Baguio City remains the Summer Capital of the Philippines. At least it still is for me. Mostly it's the beach for kids these days, but if you wanted to escape the hot, humid summer days, it's off to Baguio for you.

You would leave at night. It was always the best time of travel for me, falling asleep in Manila and waking to a brand new day in a brand new place. Boarding a bus at the Victory Liner at Cubao or Kamuning, EDSA, you would hunch into your jacket to beat the cold AC. All would be dark as the city slept and you would find yourself nodding off from the hypnotic procession of streetlamps dimly passing by. You would shiver and wake up later, almost as if you knew you were nearing the Lion Head carved at the side of Kennon Road, signifying you were a mere 45 minutes away from Baguio City.

Dawn would be breaking and the mountains would still be covered in fog and mist. Sometimes the view would be of a white frothy sea of clouds with mountaintops dotting into the distance like islands in a primordial sea. The sky would be an endless kaleidoscope of dawn colors as the sun slowly rose and the view of the valleys below would be breath-takingly revealed in gold.

You would then arrive at the city, just as it was waking up. The cold air outside would be crisper than the bus AC, your breath coming out like little lazy clouds drifting from your mouth. There would be chirpy birds, dew on the grass and pine trees everywhere.

Stepping onto Baguio, you enter a different dimension and the life you lived a few hours before boarding the bus becomes the memory and the dream.

In My Backyard  

Posted by: Laya Isabelle Garcellano Florendo in , ,

Most of my closest friends are abroad. Occasionally they come back to touch base but would fly away again when their vacation leaves are over.

They would always ask me when I would join the ranks of the jet-setting crowd and I would always answer: When I'm done exploring my own backyard! They'd laugh and shake their heads, thinking what was it here that could compare to foreign sights?

Well, if you think about it, there's pollution in the cities, ghastly transportation, bad roads, etc, etc...you can go on forever enumerating why it's hell on Philippine soil and heaven everywhere else. But you can choose to flip the picture and see why so many other foreigners come over to experience our land and our culture.

There are 7,107 reasons to discover about the Philippines. And since I hadn't covered even a quarter of those reasons, I'd like to start explorations here. The wonder of discovering something new and interesting in my immediate surroundings has a world of appeal to me. It's nearer too, I can be home in an hour or three at most, riding a plane from the farthest reaches!

My biggest problem would be not knowing which part of the map I'd visit first. I was actually thinking of throwing a dart, blindfolded, but I might end up hitting the blank wall. I wasn't much of a dart player in college.

Wherever I would end up though, I'm sure to have an adventure and I would find things that are off the beaten track. The people I would meet and the rich culture I would be witness to would give me a better understanding of my heritage.

It would be something I would want to impart to my child/ren: stories of this land, its people and its histories, of which we are part of.

I don't really need to go far to be truly alive. All that matters to me are right here, after all. Everything else is just gravy.