Three and Eighty

In 2016, my family and I threw my maternal grandmother a semi-surprise party for her 82nd birthday. Previous celebrations were generally low-key with just the immediate relatives. But since my aunt and her husband has successfully beautified their backyard (it’s so green, I swear) and the overwhelming support shown by me and my older cousins and the rest of the clan, our indoor powwows have evolved into this fun, outdoor garden party.

We were supposed to make it a proper surprise but my grandma started getting too concerned about logistics. We already knew that she was probably expecting something similar to last year’s soiree, we let her in the plan and that ultimately made her relax.

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Same with last year, I was in-charge of decorations. I love arts and crafts and I personally thrive in immersing myself with projects like this. Unfortunately, most of the decorations from last year are gone. We already bought some ready-to-use decor from Divisoria and the rest were handcrafted by yours truly and the kiddos.

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May has been pretty humid this year and I was peeved that the balloons easily popped in the heat. So they weren’t brought out until past 4PM. We put up silver ribbons, glittery star garlands, balloon letters and of course, the grandchildren & fur baby bunting banner which I’m definitely turning into a party staple.

They’re cut-outs of mine and my cousin’s faces (arranged by birth order) and all of the family pet canines combined. We have party hats, we’re all smiling and it’s adorable as hell. The original banner was probably thrown out by mistake so we had to rehash it. I painstakingly had to glue, cut and finish all of it during a blackout. My fingers bled and my x-acto knife dulled.

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Below is the pretty basic banner I designed. What’s a Pinoy celebration without blowing out stuff on tarpaulin, right? Last year’s was too noisy in terms of aesthetics… so I consider this an improvement. We couldn’t agree on a proper theme so I told myself to wing it and I managed to trick my lola to take a couple of glamour shots for me without her knowing what it was for.

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My kid brother and cousin performed a couple of songs instrumental. They didn’t practice enough hence them playing with the music on an iPad. The make-shift sound system was also quite the improvement from last year’s crappy amp-turned-speaker.

I spent so many sleepless nights in preparations. I was the eldest grandkid around so I got the brunt of the responsibilities. The adults got off easy, if you ask me, all they needed to do was order the food. I also did the multimedia presentations which had me nagging various relatives and gathering old photos from multiple photo albums.

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All of that has all been worth it though because it made my lola so happy. That’s her watching the surprise greetings reel from our family from all over of the world + photo montage and her blowing out the birthday candles.

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The party in full swing! Loved ones, relatives, friends, colleagues and even neighbors were all there to celebrate her and her (so far) amazing life. The weather was nice and it didn’t rain despite the unfavorable weather from the day before. There was a lot of catching up and  reminiscing between the old chatty hens.

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Everyone was enjoying themselves. There was good food, good company, lots of barbecued meat, and even more sorbetes and it’s the genuine traditionally-street-peddled kind of Filipino ice cream to boot!

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Although, we had so many other things planned that didn’t happen – like parlor games and performances – I’m proud to say that my grandma’s 83rd was a monumental success! Not much of a surprise there but it’s a learning process and none of us are professional event planners. I imagine that we’ll keep making each celebration better than the last so there’s gonna be serious forethought going into the 84th.

I intend to make it happen and that’s a promise I’m gonna keep.

Digital Book Haul

I recently updated my phone’s e-book library. I usually go for YA novels and since NA is a thing, I get to read a bit more mature young adult but with a splash of lemon.

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I sometimes base my choices on aesthetics. If a cover is interesting or pleasing enough, I’d give ’em a go. I just hope they’re not there not of the “fan fiction turned self-published novel” variety.

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Let’s all hope I actually finish all of this before the end of the year.

xx

Succulent Appreciation Life

I’ve never really made a master post about all my succulents and cacti before. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile but I guess I’m just very lazy.

It all began in April 2015 when I purchased my first plant baby at the annual Aklan Day Community Fair. After that faithful day, I have become a full-pledged plant mom and dedicated a bit of my leisure time with re-plotting and propagating.

Much like the Pokemon games, these were my starting three plants:

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A lot of the tiny babies you see (above) have grown their own roots over the succeeding months and have since been re-plotted in their independent pots.

Every few months or so I would find a place to buy some plants. In 2015, you could barely find any places to buy these in Kalibo or in Aklan in general. Many people think they’re not great or believe they’re unlucky or aesthetically unpleasing. When I traveled to Iloilo City for work, I would make sure to stop by vendors to buy a plant or two even though they could be a bit pricey at the time.

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I would also occasionally find a house with a garden and shamelessly ask the owners if I could have some of there plants. Great thing about succulents and cacti is that they are extremely resilient and you can cultivate them pretty easily. Just cut-off a stump or branch or leaf et viola! So when I do purchase or get a new plant, I’d choose the ones I could propagate the most.

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As the popularity of succulents grew, at the next Aklan Day Fair in 2016, there were more vendors that sold succulents. More shops have popped up afterwards and sold them at an annoyingly very steep rate. They arrange the plants with expensive porcelain bowls with marble/rock chips and that extra presentation amped up the prices. I honestly prefer potting them on my own.

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These two (below) were actually hand-me-downs from my paternal grandma and maternal aunt, respectively. And I’m using hand-me-down very loosely here. Me saying having been given these is more of me walking out of their gardens with the plants with a quick thanks and a smile… or a high five.

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Here are some of my propagation efforts which my mom helped me a lot with. I lived in the province, in a very rural area, I would usually scout the neighbouring rice patties for some rice stalk hay or dayami in Filipino. Farmers traditionally burnt them and the ashes make great fertilizer.  We would mix up all these soil types we had with compost and the occasional coffee grounds (which you can get at Starbucks for free!) for potting.

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I buy most of the plants in those black disposable plastic thingies before eventually moving them to a more permanent home. And since pots and planters are so expensive I would end up bargain hunting at the local Korean/Chinese stores or get creative.  I used to eat a ton shit of Nissin Yakisoba at work so I ended up collecting, spray painting and using them as pots. My dad also drank a lot of vending machine coffee so I ended up recycling a ton shit of the paper cups too.

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Since I’ve been in Manila for months now, I never got the chance to see my propagated echeverias sprout. My whole 2017 so far has been plantless, only living vicariously through Instagram photos. A few weeks ago, I asked my cousin and mom to send me some snaps. So these are updated photos of my beautiful babies.

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My mom actually ended up commissioning a plant stand to be made to support all them. Who would’ve thought that a whimsy purchase a measly three cacti would become this monstrosity. Mom used to joke that I would end up being a vendor at future fairs but we’re not there yet. Maybe in a year or two.

I really miss the feeling of actually nurturing these bad boys though. I miss taking care and exerting effort to help them grow (and to not get pricked). It’s relaxing, rewarding and a pretty great stress reliever. I was never much of a green thumb but my succulents have been one of the best hobbies I’ve endeavored.

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This last month or so, I’ve been also doubling my efforts in trying to start a new succulent garden here at my place in Manila. You can see photos of the plants I already have in the previous posts!

Well, that’s pretty much it you guys. Please excuse my shoddy editing skills but I hope you enjoyed my plant babies!