Meeting Destiny at Prado Farms

129

We almost ended up not going to this place were it not for a fluke of destiny when our original destination was undergoing maintenance during the week of our tour and whose staff was somewhat rude to potential guests.

Prado Farms was the perfect location and a better substitute to that other place which turned off potential customers. In Prado, there was the added surprise bonus of meeting the artist, founder, owner who turned out to be an art therapist trained in Switzerland and steeped in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.  I was starstruck to meet Reimon Gutierrez because I was a big fan of Sari Sari Store which he was a part of.  If you belong to the generation who knows Sari Sari, it’s a store for clothes and more serving the eclectic, eccentric, cooky, weird and artsy fartsy.  In short, my kind of store and I felt sad when they closed.

By a fluke of destiny, my ankle was also disabled and I wasn’t able to walk around with the other moms who went crazy posing for pictures.  I sat outside amidst the greenery and ended up having a long chat with Reimon.  After his involvement with Sari Sari Store, he set up ISIP:

The Institute for Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (ISIP) Philippines provides a space for the concepts of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian social thinker and philosopher, to flourish as forums for discussion and as applied efforts. ISIP produces events that aim to increase the depth and breadth of understanding of Steiner’s work. Steiner is best known in the Philippines as the founder of the field of study known as anthroposophy, the philosophical basis of the Waldorf schools, bio-dynamic farming, and anthroposophic medicine. The ISIP Center, located in Makati City, also houses The ISIP Store. Bio-dynamically grown rice, vegetables and herbs are available, as well as organic food products, plant-based, chemical-free household cleaning agents, organic soaps, baby products, and other personal care items. ISIP’s counterpart, Prado Farms in the province of Pampanga, 90 kilometers away from the country’s capital, is committed to similar goals and offers a space complementary to ISIP’s urban location.

Donna, my partner in this Hero’s Journey project, is very much into Waldorf having sent her daughter for two months to study in a Waldorf school in New Zealand and one week to try out Manila Waldorf in Timberland.  We were both excited at the prospect of Prado Farms as the future site for the Hero’s Journey.  We inspected the dorm-type facilities and imagined what fun the kids would have biking, swimming and taking Waldorf-inspired workshops.  Reimon put us in touch with Tammy who runs Camp Ikapudi patronized mainly by families who were into Waldorf.

For seven years, Reimon dedicated himself to helping designers all over the Philippines develop products for international and national markets.  Prado Farms is dotted by the results of those sessions with local craftsmen and manufacturers.  Reimon also helps cancer patients and other troubled souls through art therapy.

This coming October, I hope to attend a camp organized by Tammy who was introduced to me by Reimon by phone.  Their next activity is called Camp Inspire for parents and children.

Following is the description of Camp Ikapudi:

CAMP IKAPUDI for kids this summer at Prado Farms, Pampanga!

Camp Ikapudi, is a stay-in camp designed specially for kids that will be held in Prado Farms, Lubao, Siongco, Pampanga this May 14-17, 2015. For four days and 3 nights, children from 2-13 years old will have a legendary summer by getting their hands dirty, finding their tribe, and learning more than a thing or two in the process. The campsite, Prado Farms, is conducive to these activities because is a functional biodynamic-organic farm adorned with artistic creations.

At Camp Ikapudi, there are two programs for children ages 2-6 and children ages 7-13. The 7-13 year old children will get to harvest and cook what they eat (Farm-to-Table Cooking), learn science and math through Earth Kitchen Baking, and understand focus, concentration and dexterity through activities in Handwork and Craft. The camp program also includes Biodynamic/Organic Gardening, Animal Farm Care, Toy-making, Camp Survival, Painting and Clay Work, and games and movement activities that teach the hands, feet and body to work in harmony.

For the little ones, aged 2 to 6 years old, the camp’s Summer Playgarden includes a full day of care, nature, song, games, art, play, play and play!

This is a joint project of St. Michael’s Playhouse Makati and Shaping Sophia whose initiatives center on education. Taking the cue from their own principles and practice in education, they have chosen camp counselors with years of experience in teaching and training in child appropriate activities under the Waldorf curriculum in education, art and movement. There will be camp counselors and assistants who will facilitate the programs in toy-making and life survival skills, painting and clay, cooking and baking, movement games, crafts and embroidery.

The Prado Farm compound is a secure, gated resort and your children can explore even by themselves. Each family or parent-child can choose shared accommodations with the other campers, or an upgraded private room. Parents and guardians can join the afternoon activities. After dinner, families will have your own private time.

For this initial summer camp, parents or adult guardians will accompany the children. But Camp Ikapudi looks forward to a true summer camping experience in the coming years where children can come even without their parents.

Summer is here so make your reservations early by going to www.facebook.com/campikapudi , email campikapudi@gmail.com or call/text 09166445806 or 09288560764. Last day of registration is May 8, 2015. It can be just the summer adventure your child will take about for the whole year, until next camp. Camp Ikapudi advises one adult to accompany your child depending on the personal needs of the child/children. It would be great if parents can join the children in this adventure.

Summertime is magic time. And Camp Ikapudi makes it happen for your kids. It becomes a childhood enriching summer tradition where children can find their tribe, experience nature, deepen values and virtues, and create opportunities for development.

The camp is a fertile ground where campers can understand the rhythms in nature, discover universal principles that they can apply in daily living—in other words, camping has become more relevant than a simple summer adventure for kids.

860

Check out more about Prado Farms:

7 Things to Do at Prado Farms

Day Trip at Prado Farms

Haraya Teen Camp for Creative Writing at Prado Farms

 

Las Casas Filipinas, Island Waters and Six Mothers

20170718_150444

Six mothers left eight kids in the hands of Coke Bolipata and his team of facilitators and counselors at Casa San Miguel, Zambales.  Six mothers went gallivanting and first stop was Jerry Acuzar’s heritage resort by the beach in Bagac, Bataan, the famed Las Casas Filipinas.  The place is a testimony to the power of dreams, of one man’s vision to rescue architectural treasures from the brink of decay and gather them in one place.  Brick by brick, stone by stone, plank by plank, entire houses and buildings were transported from their original location elsewhere to this idyllic place where sea meets mountain meets sky.  Some might say it’s sacrilege and the houses are better off where there were but if they had remained put, the chances of gradual destruction through time and neglect would be way, way higher.

Six mothers ooohed and aaaahed at the beautiful details of old buildings set against a gorgeous, natural backdrop.  Wide open windows allow the ocean breeze to cool the homes and each mom chose which house she’d like to live in, which house best represented her and her spirit.

Six mothers posed to their hearts delight in a boat ride echoing Venice but in Philippine waters.  A sculpture of Lola Basyang telling stories to a group of kids stood on the grass beside a bridge held by a trio of native monsters: the tikbalang, manananggal and kapre.

Not all structures in Las Casas are original.  Some are replicas with parts re-imagined and re-interpreted.  The Hotel de Oriente for instance was totally ravaged in Binondo and found another life in Bataan, this time as a showcase for the wood carving and wood mosaic skills of local craftsmen.  In this reincarnation, the hotel is now a conference area with theater and grand ballroom.  When the six moms saw the stage, they clambered up like little kids and danced their hearts away like they owned the whole world-wide platform.   They didn’t need any facilitator to express themselves freely through movement.

Six mothers flowed with the music from their cellphone.  Six mothers danced like no one was watching.

We didn’t stay overnight at Las Casas.  Instead, we drove to a gem of a discovery: Island Waters Resort, less than an hour away in Morong.  When I went on an ocular trip looking for reasonable and decent accommodation, it was such a challenge because the selection was limited and quite unacceptable, but Island Waters saved the day with crisp modern lines and clean, basic rooms.

Six mothers played in the waves and basked in the sunset.  Six mothers lounged by the pool, breathing in calmness.

 

 

 

Read more about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Hotel de Oriente:

A Walk Down Philippine History

Las Casas Filipinas website

Hotel de Oriente: Then and Now

 

 

Hero’s Journey Version 2.0

20170717_174025

For almost one month, I couldn’t blog because aside from wrapping up various assignments, I was preparing for our second Hero’s Journey.  The first one held last February had a group of parents and children from mainland China touring Southern Luzon with four facilitators who played games and organized activities for the kids so the moms and dads were hands-free to enjoy their holiday.  The kids got to practice their English in fun ways, outdoors, on the beach, exploring new places with four adults-in-disguise who have actually been running summer camps for children for a number of years.  The kids went back to their parents when it was time for bed or when there were joint activities like laser tag.  Otherwise, they were partially separated during the day time.

For the second Hero’s Journey, we experimented with what we envisioned as a more realistic heroic challenge where the children are separated from their parents for several days.  The kids participated in art, music, theater and shadow play workshops at Casa San Miguel while the parents toured Bataan, Pampanga, Subic and Zambales.  They eventually reunited for a culminating activity where the parents saw the fruits of their children’s labor.

My Chinese partner in this endeavor, Donna and I felt this type of bespoke tour was the more challenging one to implement and more truthful to the Hero’s Journey we envisioned.  The children and parents seek the hero inside themselves apart from the comforts of “home,” entering an unknown world and anticipating a transformation.

More stories to come!  Playing catch-up with more than a week’s worth of adventure!

Meanwhile, you can read more about Casa San Miguel:

Coming Home to Casa

Casa of My Dreams

Casa San Miguel: Why it breaks my heart to leave

The Economics at Casa San Miguel

and about the man who started it all, Coke Bolipata:

The Ballad of Coke Bolipata

The Story of the Filipino: Coke Bolipata

and why we named our camp Hero’s Journey:

Why Hero’s Journey

 

 

 

Thanks, Carl!

723724

Woohoo!  After weeks of trying, the video Jason took of the forum at the Princeton Learning Cooperative has successfully been uploaded into YouTube by my brother, Carlo. For those who want to know more about how self-directed education works among teenagers, here are the stories of four young people who took that unconventional route:

Princeton Learning Cooperative Teen Forum Part 1

Princeton Learning Cooperative Teen Forum Part 2

Missing You Much So I’m Rambling

97

Okay, who’s bright idea was this, anyway?  Mine.  It seemed like a bright idea then but now I am somewhat regretful.  It’s been almost a month since Jimmy and I have parted ways in New York.  Jason and Jimmy flew back to China while Joshua and I returned to Manila.  Although I know we’ll be reunited at the end of July, it seems like eternity and I feel the pain of all mothers without their child by their side.  I know I am much, much luckier, muchly much luckier, ducky, that the time of separation is relatively short at two months.  Others have years in between of not being together, of not being able to embrace each other with only Skype to ease the longing and pain of distance.

At times like these, I need to reflect on the purpose.  Since Jason has family duties to fulfill in China and I had similar duties to perform in the Philippines, we decided to divide and conquer.  Before, it had always been my two kids and me going to Manila but now, we thought it would be good for each grandson to spend time with their grandparents in both countries since they have sorely been missed after embarking our major coast to coast drive.

I also wanted to focus on Joshua’s education, since another decision Jason and I made as parents is to finally enroll them in regular school.   Alleluia!   This has been my sentiment and hope for the past year even if I had been researching these alternative mumbo jumbo.  It was my smokescreen.  It was a desperate ploy to make sense of what we were doing if it was done within the context of a scholarly research, an experiment with academic bent.  However, the search was also a legitimate project that has evolved into something greater than I imagined, leading us to places we would not explore otherwise. It was a blessing.  It was my way of turning adversity to advantage.

What was the adversity?  I was not fully convinced about homeschooling for our family. I was more on the lookout for progressive schools.  Although I admire and envy many of my friends who homeschool (e.g. Bunny, Jen, Laksmi, Nimai), I know I dislike teaching kindergarten or grade school age kids.  At that age, I’d prefer to send them to a traditional or progressive school and the option of homeschooling would only be considered in the later years before or around high school.  I prefer formal schooling until they are able to read and write well enough in English and Mandarin.  Though, I am open to switching back to homeschooling if the kids themselves request it themselves.

Having tried homeschooling for a year, the results fell far short of my expectations and I need to cram review time.  I’m arranging tutorials for Joshua to get him prepared for the upcoming school year.   So that’s the other purpose of the separation — for me to be able to focus on Joshua’s academics.  I just did not realize it would be this tough without Jimmy.  We were separated when he was three months old when he had to go to China to get his passport with his Dad but we had recently been in this tight-knit, family bonding, 24-7 togetherness trip.  Without him, it feels like jumping off a plane without a parachute.  Jimmy is so sweet, so malambing.  He is the yin to Joshua’s yang.  Near polar opposites in personalities, the two boys are too dear to me for words, gushing moms know.

Another purpose for this imposed separation is the Art Camp Donna and I planned for July — the Hero’s Journey where Chinese students are flying to the Philippines to practice their English in theater, art and music workshops in Casa San Miguel, Zambales.  Jimmy is too young to join, Donna and I decided but now I wish we could reverse the decision. Jimmy has matured a lot after the US trip.

I guess I want Jimmy to know that this separation is hard for Mommy.  It’s only two months, for heaven’s sake!  It reminds me of my friend who’s having separation anxiety because her eleven year old boy is off to a three-week summer camp.  Separation indeed feels different when the child is at age 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 . . . . You get the drift.  We parents have to eventually learn the art of letting our children go.  Imagine the parents who can’t let go of their kids who are already 35, 40, 45, 50!  Yes, there are parents like those, probably more in Asia.

Imagine the difficulty parents face when they can’t accept the fact that their 25 or 45 year old child has a life of his own, who can’t trust their child to make decisions for herself because they think it’s a mistake, they’re going to run aground, bash their heads into a wall, crash and burn, fall and scrape their knees like they were four year olds.

I don’t want to be a parent like that.  My friends and I talk about it.  If we come to a point in our lives when our children are grown and we still want to exercise control over their lives, we should slap and remind each other of that time when we promised not to be that kind of parent.

My husband, Jason remembers fondly and I do appreciate how he recalls the speech that Bo Sanchez gave during the Philippine Homeschool Conference that we attended last year.  A famous inspirational speaker, Bo said that parents ought to know when to switch hats.  The first hat is the Controlling Hat when the child is small and needs a lot of firm guidance.  The next hat is the Coaching Hat when the child has developed more independence and it’s better for the parent to act as a coach or mentor.  The last hat is the Consultant’s Hat when the parent is on call if the grown-up child asks for advice.

There are parents who don’t mean to be dictators but exercise a form of veiled dictatorship.  Pry underneath the layers of euphemisms and good intentions and it’s undeniable.  It persists and the child is not able to break out of his or her cocoon.  The wings are clipped.  Their every move is scrutinized and fall short of what their parents want for them.  What they want does not matter because they have been created for serving the purpose of their parents.  Yes, children ought to serve their parents, but they more importantly, serve the purpose that they were meant and put in this universe to serve.  Who knows what is the purpose for which each person is called?  “Anak, eto na lang gawin mo. Huwag na yan,”  the parent says.  The parent assumes to know the child better than anyone else.  “He shouldn’t go down that career path,” or “He can’t take a job far away because I need him here.

Where do you draw the line between pushy meddling and friendly urging, between unsolicited advice and necessary intervention, between healthy concern and unhealthy attachment?  What message do you send to an adult child — I don’t trust you to make that decision for yourself and then that child in turn won’t be able to trust her own child because she did not receive that trust from her parents.

Oooops.  I just wanted to say I miss Jimmy very much and I’m rattling on and on.  Jimmy is still far from adulthood.  It may be my way of consoling myself.  This too shall pass.  I need a diversion.

We all try to be the best parents we want to be.  We fall short as parents.  We fall short as children.  Our children fall short of our expectations.   How can the cycle be broken? Through this, one thing is certain and that is love.  Love forgives our shortfalls.  Love understands our fears.  Love makes us whole again.  Love saves us from ourselves.

A Giant Shout-Out of Thanks, Gratitude and Appreciation

people to thank map

This cross-country voyage of 96 days and 10,200 miles (16,415 km) would not have been possible without the many family and friends who welcomed us into their homes, took time out to be with us and showered us with provisions.  People keep asking us which is our favorite place but I can’t think of any one impressive place although if you ask me if I could choose to live anywhere among the areas we visited, it’d be Imperial Beach.

However, my real favorite part of the trip is definitely meeting up and having long conversations with old and new friends.  Joshua and Jimmy also can’t think of one place which they like the most but what they like best is being with other kids, the numerous playmates along the way.  So in the end, it doesn’t matter where; it’s not so much about the place but about the people.

We have a lot of people to thank — for giving us shelter, for cooking for us, for treating us out and for letting Jason use their kitchen to whip up his magical Chinese meals.  He has blossomed into an ambassador of China making his love for hotpot and tea a contagious disease. More than the place, travel is about food, food, food, plus discovering people’s personal paradises more than mere sightseeing or ticking items off a bucket list.  Everyone’s warmth and generosity has touched and blessed our family.

Edmund and Darin, we carried your Marathon water bottles from the start to finish line.  The Chevy Avalanche was a dream to drive which through your help, we were able to find, purchase and sell.

Cotton and Bill, we look forward to more park dates with Jade and Noah in the future.  Noah’s shoes joined Jimmy in his adventures all the way to New York but we did part with the Lego along the way when the two kids fought over them.

Nanie, I hope you meet up with Cotton more often after our crazy night-out.

Tita Jona, the tent you gave us was the first one we ever had where we could stand up inside since it was so spacious.  Your pied-à-terre will forever be associated by the kids with their first encounter with Alexa.  Kwenby, it was fun recreating our pose from our seventies Sanrio days.  You’re the Hello Kitty to my Twin Stars.

Egay, the big bottle of peanut butter lasted and served us during emergencies and I wouldn’t have been able to figure out Spotify (which sustained the kids throughout the long drives) without you.  The kids never stopped singing the theme song from Steven Universe thanks to Gabbi‘s introduction.

Claire, your construction paper was transformed into thank you cards by Joshua and Jimmy in many stops.  Whenever we go through a gate that opens automatically by remote control, they think of you and throughout our trip, I found myself continuing our conversation in my head.

Danny, when we hear Broadway musical songs, we remember you and your 300-strong group.  What a happy night we had at your rehearsals!  Thank you for making it easy for us to see stars in Hollywood.

Tita Joesy and Tito Sonny, even if we missed seeing you, we are forever grateful that all your children warmly hosted us in their homes – Lareina in Thousand Oaks and Leo, Lil and Jay in Eastvale.  I remember how you were always raving proudly about them and now I understand why.  Jimmy enjoyed playing dress-up with your granddaughter Bella while Lauren was a great host to my sons.

Ate Badz, you know I’ve always wanted to meet Ismael and after seeing you two, I’m happy and inspired how the two of you take such good care of each other.  Sana ganun din kaming mag-asawa.

It was amazing serendipity how Bill Myers agreed to meet with us through the books given by a boy, Silas in Xishuangbanna.  Bill met with us bringing autographed copies of Secret Agent Dingledorf and even read for the boys.  Bill introduced to us, Jason, one of his students who happened to be from Tianjin. What are the chances, right?

Ashley, Jacob and Teddy, you are our first worldschooling family stop in the States.  Jimmy is always talking about how Minnie wakes him up by licking his face and we’ll never forget the ride on your tuktuk.  We look forward to hearing about your work-away adventure in Iceland and your travels through Europe and the rest of the world.

Tita Baby, what a feast you prepared for us!  Nijel and Elaine, how sweet of you to indulge in Jimmy’s obsession with Paw Patrol.  Tita Baby, we were able to catch our breath after two nights of camping and had a truly relaxing stay in your Las Vegas house.

Lesley, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have experienced living in a cozy mobile home and we wouldn’t have discovered this oasis of a community in the middle of the desert, complete with hot spring pools.  Beckett with his boundless energy was a good match for Joshua and Jimmy.  Lesley, thanks for ensuring that we have hosts in your other home in Calgary.

Nolan and Carter, Jimmy had a blast roaming and exploring the Mojave Desert with you guys.

Tammy, the ghosts of Virginia City will haunt us always, as well as your overflowing spirit of generosity and warmth.

Lisha and Collin, the boys enjoyed the big bonfire in the cold morning and getting the chance to chop firewood plus what a treat to tour Zoe and Nate‘s “forest school.”

Miranda, the boys tumbled down the stairs and went wild in the basement with Dexter and Theo who then enjoyed the stunt, off-road bike park with Joshua.

Lisha and Miranda, it’s refreshing to see the much simplified, sustainable lifestyle of your family which is in sharp contrast to the consumerism your countries are known for.  I had to google family cloth.

Danielle, I am so happy to meet Kurt at last!  Marion, I treasure our talk about Bah’ai and your mini musical concert with Danielle.  Jason enjoyed hearing the Chinese songs. Joshua sorely misses Toren.  I picture Danielle and Marion playing boggle and Toren on the trampoline.

Julia and Julio, our stay in your St. Cloud home was everything you said it would be – long and leisurely.  We blended in with the locals because of your generous preparations even before we arrived.  How could we ever forget Mhong night, two Easter egg hunts and the hilarious talk with Summer?

Vinny, your research laboratory was awesome and knowing you was even more awesome.

Kirsten and Ruben, you introduced our kids to Awana (where Joshua sang, danced and shopped) and you took care of them when we needed to rush to the city at night.  We are grateful for the playdates with Henry, Soren and Bjorn (Their Chinese level is amazing!) and for the sparkle box that kept us afloat.

Rinna and Chris, you know what a God-ordained meeting it was despite the unexpected.  Joshua and Jimmy now want to get a corgi because of Sir Ollie and Tommy.

Hossein, you held on tightly to your filmmaking dreams and look where it’s taking you – Cannes!  I appreciate listening to your story of perseverance and the universe conspiring to make things work in your favor. Jimmy enjoyed making homemade muffins with Laura and eating the strawberry crepes with Marjan who was a model older sister to Joshua and Jimmy.  It was lovely meeting Karen and seeing Kayhan and Janan so grown up.

Florence, we will be hanging your beautiful paintings on the wall of our new home.  So wonderful to bridge the gap of time and two continents.

Joanna and Jonathan, because of you we were able to try the best pizza in Chicago and bike ride to the school playground with Allyn, Dean and Dylan.

Ken, to add to our Nottingham memories, now we have sipping wine in your kitchen with Karen, boodle fight, hotpot in your home with a magnificent view, the maple syrup festival and our four kids enjoying themselves to the hilt.  JJ and Alicia, Moana songs form a special part of our trip because of you.

Lally, your invitation to the Royal Ontario Museum worked to keep the kids busy while we were able to catch up.  Without your help, I wouldn’t have known about nor had the opportunity to visit the Dr. Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School.  Your daughter, Avery was an excellent tour guide and I hope next time, she and Coco can play with Joshua and Jimmy.

May and Bill, from homemade beer to craft beer, what a chillaxing stay in Framingham which happened to be strategically located for my research work as well.  The boys love Aidric to bits. Even goodbye was chillaxing flying the styrofoam airplane.

Peter, who could sit through a boring, detailed discussion of the alternative schools I visited and listen to me blab about this education research?  Only you, plus the privilege comes with omelet, lake, forest and potential kayak trip if the weather was more cooperative.

Auntie Inyang, you spoiled us with your homecooked meals which took us back to the Philippines.  Uncle Pabling, you helped Jason get the Avalanche ready for the photo shoot.  While Uncle Pabling drove us to Jocelyn’s place, Auntie Inyang’s many stories kept me riveted.

Jocelyn and Paul, it’s like we made it to Cape Cod with your lobsters and a quick trip to Duxbury beach.  Kylie swings like Tarzan from a rope hanging from the tree and Jimmy kept asking for her days after our visit.

Rick, after several skype sessions with you about my PhD proposal, we finally meet in person and I get to update you how the thesis has evolved to become something else different.  Thank you for showing me YOUR Cambridge.

Gambel, hanep na daig lahat ng counselors at therapists na pinagsama-sama all in one plus more.  Jun, walang walang makakatalo sa sipag at sarap sa pagluto. Kara and GJ, my kids couldn’t have asked for better playmates.  Despite the age gap, you guys rocked their world!

Peggy, grabe perfect New York escape talaga.  Wala akong masabiMarion, please make sure Peggy gets your bike and gets into fencing.

Denise, the Supermom/Wonder Woman, I look forward to knowing where Basti will be heading in the future.

Tonyboy, June, Veronica and Sophia, best impromptu barbecue ever! Hope all goes well in the crossroads decision making we’re all praying for.  We’ll remember fondly how Abigail led us up and down the dam park and showed how to make stop-motion videos using her phone.

Ate Bigi doesn’t want any mention in blogs but I hope she knows how happy I am always to see her.

Tita Shereen gave something that she has been holding for me for over a year, the most precious gift of Ma’s book of selected quotes, “Thoughts in Times of Trouble.”

Ninang Lin, we were all thrilled to watch Lion King.  The kids savored kayaking, biking, feeding the swans and visiting the beach.  Max, they also had a freezing and short swim with Harry in the pool.

Jerry, we were bowled over when you brought out your foldable ping pong table that filled the living area, ping pong machine plus rolls of cardboard to contain the balls when they fell on the floor.  Joshua had a rollicking great time with you teaching him the moves while Jimmy “fell in like” with Auroja.  Finding the books on alternative education in Jerry’s home-office was a dream come true for me.

Acela, oh to be among those trees both on the ground in the arboretum and up in the air at the Adventure Park.  David, the barbecue was superb and the breakfast sustained us in the airport.  Bu, the purple shirt you gave Joshua is now one of his favorites, a souvenir connecting him to you.

Melody and Andre, I truly miss climbing mountains with you and though, we didn’t have time for a trek, seeing you even for a short time was enough to rekindle our AMCI days.

Mew Yee, you are living our New York dream in a “secret” island to boot!  Ning and Hue, I admire your way and patience with kids.  Kin Hui, I haven’t finished “Ego is the Enemy” but I got too curious about Ryan Holiday’s other book and started reading “The Obstacle is the Way.”

Cass, I really think you should publish your children’s books.  Matthew and Sophie are so lucky.  We were able to enjoy lying on the grass with Mew Yee while Choy and Jason had their men’s talk because there were two excellent babysitters equipped with bubbles.

Jeanette and Will, your brood of five, Janelle, Genevieve, Giana, Justin, Jessica, made Jimmy’s birthday wildly unforgettable.  If you didn’t let us “park” our kids at your place, I don’t know how we could have attended that forum in Princeton.

Tita Gloria, watching you cook in your kitchen brought back so many memories of our days with Lola Pilar.  Vincent and Anna, your three daughters are so bursting with talent.

Eric, thank you very much for Jimmy’s birthday cake “from America.”  Although we are sad parting with Eve the Avalanche, we are comforted by the fact that she is now with a wonderful family who will love her perhaps even more than we could because she will stay with you much longer.

Eve, just perfect-for-us Eve.

My dad was worried sick during this whole time we were travelling even if I kept re-assuring him that we’re okay.  He didn’t know we had so many angels taking such good care of us.  It was also my dad, mom and Tito Ahing who made this trip possible for our family for which we are eternally grateful.  Actually, we have to thank our whole family in China and the Philippines for understanding that we needed to undertake this trip.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to see Jan, Lloyd, Mel and Vibes in Vancouver.  I’m dreadfully sorry we missed Maisie in Windsor when we were so near in Toronto but she was on holiday back in China.  And I apologize we weren’t able to go down further from NY to visit Yancey in South Carolina and Rusty in Florida.

52

This pick-up truck was our home for three months.  Home is any place where the four of us are together. The people who welcomed us enlarged our hearts and our home.  Words are never enough to express our gratitude, so until next time!

698