Refracting Ebola Scare By Celebrating The Good Life

Just a few hours from the busy Texas Medical Center in Houston is the deadly Ebola virus waiting to unleash an epidemic. The past two weeks, health workers are being debrief of all the precautionary measures as well as the likelihood of being caught in the middle of a mass chaos. It’s like watching the movie Outbreak only this time, it’s for real.

AustinAs an ER nurse, I belong to the front line group. If ever I have a positive Ebola patient, I have to leave my family and be quarantined for 21 days. Am I scared? Terrified! But this is the profession I’ve chosen and so did the millions of health workers in America. Can I ran from it? No. Can I overcome my fear of it? Absolutely.

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Austin is one of those places where you can begin the day with Sunrises as breathtaking as the nature around them and run feeling totally free. Thus, when fate allows, me and my family always go back and it feels really good every time.

This weekend, instead of dwelling on fear and negativity, me and my family went to Steiner Ranch in Austin to celebrate my son’s 9th Birthday with our closest friends and relatives. This weekend, we chose to celebrate the good life and all its blessings.

AustinWe chose to laugh and have fun instead of dwelling on the Ebola hysteria and paranoia. We chose to trust God and believe that he will protect us from all kinds of harm.

AustinSo, allow me to celebrate with you my 2-day Fall weekend escape in Austin.  A place which in so many ways been our little oasis and sanctuary for the past two years.

AustinOur boat party begins at Emerald Point Marina in Lake Travis. No one drove a boat before, so bear with me as we listen carefully to the instructions of Mr. Boat Expert from Just For Fun watercraft rental. Better safe than sorry, right?

AustinWe’re simply going to cruise slowly for 2 hours. It’s meant to be a relaxing ride and not a pre-Halloween scare. Every now and then, we’ll experience some rough waves as other boats pass on either sides. The boat will rock for several seconds but after that, it’s back to smooth sailing.

Time to sing “Happy Birthday,” and blow the candle. My 9-year old gave a shy yet happy smile as he blew the candle and made his wish.

AustinWho wants a slice of the Lemon Bundt Cake? It so good that I guarantee all your worries will melt away with each bite. Make it two? No problem. We got enough cake for all.

AustinThe Pancit and Pork BBQ are both delicious. Pancit is a Filipino noodle cuisine commonly served during special occasions and gatherings. It symbolizes long life and good health both for the celebrant and the guests. Let’s raise our Pancit and say, “To a long, good life!”

AustinOur day’s fun is not over yet. After the boat ride, we are heading to the best Pumpkin Patch in Marble Falls called Sweet Berry Farm. Choose your own pumpkin and experience for yourself the magic of Autumn.

AustinMy son and his cousin had a great time playing at the Pumpkin Patch.

AustinJust before we left the farm, we found our perfect pumpkin. Upon reaching home, we proceeded to carve our Jack-O-Lanterns. When night came, we placed excitedly our candle-lit Jack-O-Lanterns outside the front door.

AustinSunday, it’s brunch date at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. The roast beef and smoked salmon is a must try. While savoring the food over great stories of old memories and treasured friendship, enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Travis while listening to live Country Music.

AustinIt was hard to leave. It was hard to say goodbye. We drove back to Houston renewed and ready to face any scare life may bring, Ebola included. When I look at these pictures and remember the great times we had in Austin, I am reminded that life is good no matter how many bad or scary days I had.  That life is meant to be lived, savored, celebrated every moment and chances of everyday.

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This week’s Photo Challenge is all about Refraction. Mine hopes to overcome adversities with goodness and positivity. May not be much but it’s a start. Tomorrow, I’m driving to the Medical Center to learn the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment against Ebola. Scared? Nah!

Wishing you all a good, long, happy life…

 

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Nighttime At The Plaza

It was more than just any plaza. It was a plaza of my youth. I used to pass by it everyday riding the tricycle on my way to school. In its center which most local folks call a rotunda, sat a water fountain. Through the years, the plaza became the main venue for the town’s yearly much awaited events and holidays. Through the years it heard so many wishes and many lovers sweet promises to one another. At nighttime, when the lights turns on and the traffic slows down, nostalgic memories comes alive and takes you back in time.

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After visiting the Adoration Chapel by the church to thank God for their grandma’s recovery, the twins excitedly showed my son their newly renovated water fountain by the plaza’s rotunda. The water playfully caught the colorful lights as it dropped into the bottom of the fountain. It was beautiful and yes, it made me feel a bit nostalgic.

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While enjoying a quick trip down memory lane, my son and his cousins were busy running and goofing around the plaza. Just before we left, they huddled together, whispered something and laughed. Years from now, they will be looking at the same fountain, celebrating their special bond of friendship and have their very own travel back in time. Yes, all these happened and can happen at the plaza when the Sun goes down and nighttime takes over.

 Images taken using iPhone 5S camera enhanced with Backlit Scene effect of Camera+

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Love Endures Forever

There will be times in life that we will endure pain, hardship, sickness and suffering. There will be times that our burdens seems to much to bear. There will be times when giving up seems like an easy way out. Despite of the 7 billion people in our planet, there will be times when we will feel all alone.

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“Sometimes we get so focused with our problems we failed to notice that someone made sure we overcome those problems. Those times we felt so tired to walk one more step further, our loving Father carried us till we are strong and ready to travel the many roads ahead.”

In all these times, someone helped us held on to hope just a bit longer. In all these times, someone gave their heart so we can have ours back. In all these time, someone never let go of our hand and walked us through the end.

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Love endures forever. When I thought I lost so many of my dreams and my heart-broken into hundred pieces, two familiar hands never let go. Their love and patience helped me to remember what it felt like to dream excitedly. They help me create new dreams that now I don’t have to walk on my own. Love and family, a man’s true treasure. The rest the world is trying to serve in a golden plate, simply a temporary diversion to what is truly real and important. Love and family made me able to stand up and run with a big smile on my face.

God, family, true friends, they help us find our faith back on humanity and to our very own self. They help us endure all, survive all. When we felt our worst, they made us feel our best.

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Endurance is not all about physically strength but rather of knowing we are loved and capable of loving. There are three things that will endure and last forever. Faith, hope and love. Among these three, the greatest is love. Often, it takes at least one major life changing event to realize how true these words are. Imagine if we have more.

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My son and his cousins watched this man draw a house on the sand. Building a house is one thing, turning it into a home is a totally different story. Which one will endure the test of time? Which one can we carry with us when it’s time to leave and say goodbye?

So, no matter what, hang on a bit longer. No matter what, don’t let go. No matter what don’t give up on your love ones. No matter what, never lose hope. You will endure. We will endure…together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tibiao Adventure

Today, let me take you to Tibiao, a hidden exotic paradise where the best part of the adventure starts from the beginning of the journey till the very end of the much-awaited final destination.

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Our trip begins braving the muddy, narrow slippery road of Barangay Tuno. To your left on the driver’s side are the mountains of Antique.

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Several inches from our car is a ravine. It just rained and more likely our vehicle will be swerving a bit towards the edge of that ravine. Yes, seat belts are a must.

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All that rough road driving made me hungry. How about you? Let’s try some homemade peanut brittle. No need to line up. We’ll use the drive-thru.

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Our first adventure, zip lining. Surprise!

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Everyone should try this, atleast once in their lifetime. Scared? Don’t worry, you are not alone. I have some fear of heights too but I’ll gladly volunteer to be your zip line buddy. I will hold your hand and won’t let go. And yes, I will be screaming like crazy with you!

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From above, the panoramic view of the Tibiao river in between mountains and hills is just spectacular. If the zip line experience doesn’t take our breathe away, the view will. Guaranteed!

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While my son was having an amazing time zooming down the zipline, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Yahoo,” I was silently praying, “Please, don’t let this wire snap.”

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Time to lower the adrenaline level. Let’s take a fun walk by the hanging bridge. It’s best to hang on to the side rails tightly. The bridge will shake and sway wildly.

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This boy saw me taking the picture of the mountain behind him. He waved at me and gave a signal that he’s about to jump into the water. As he took a leap, he smiled, raised his arms and gave a two thumbs up. He looked so happy and free, just like all the other children we saw swimming in the river.

In Tibiao, we are reminded that "a simple life is a happy life."

In Tibiao, we are reminded that “a simple life is a happy life.”

After all the walking, gliding and screaming, I owe everyone a relaxing, warm, soothing Spa treatment inside a big cast iron “Kawa,” otherwise known as a sugar cane cooking pot used in sugar plantations in the province of Bacolod.

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While waiting for the rest to finish their water Spa, how about resting those tired legs and feet. Now, let our thoughts drift away. Let’s throw to the wind of Tibiao all our stressors and heartaches. Feels good, right?

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Who wants to get close and personal with the rumbling waters of Tibiao? How does river kayaking sounds. Never done it before? No worries, each one will get their own personal kayaking guide.

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It’s okay to fall into the water. Our kayak guides are the best rescuers/swimmers in the area.

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I fell twice. Grrr…the water was so cold.

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Saving the best for last, we are trekking for 30 minutes towards the seven water falls of Bugtong Bato.

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Never a dull moment. So much tropical plants and flowers along our path such as these Birds of Paradise.

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Local folks are very friendly. Everyone greets with a smile.

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I can hear the sound of cascading water. Can you hear it too? Close your eyes, imagine, hear the sounds of nature calling you.

Now open your eyes. We’re here. Welcome to Bugtong Bato Falls.

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As we move closer to the falls, invigorating sprays of cool mist touches our skin. Refreshingly good after that long, tiring walk.

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Climbing about 50 feet of bamboo stairs will lead us to the second water fall.

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Now, look down. This is what the first waterfall looks like from the top. Just be careful not to move so close to the edge.

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Now time to take a dip and swim. Caution: “No” diving from the top of the falls please.

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It’s close to sunset and much as we want to stay longer, it’s time to head back home. And yes, we have to walk again another 30 minutes towards the car. We better move fast, it is getting dark.

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Before we leave, let us take one last look at the Bugtong Bato Falls and breathe its fragrant misty air. Now, close our eyes and create a permanent mental picture of every adventure we all experienced today. When we want to relive the adventure, all we have to do is remember.

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Thanks for accompanying me to our adventure in Tibiao. Hope it reminds all of us that “Life is full of adventures. That life in itself is an adventure.” Each new day, we are given a chance to find our heart’s adventure. May we never let those chances slip away.

What adventure do you wish to make today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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