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Friday, April 30, 2010

A Family Reunion Dedicated to Appreciating and Loving God's Creation

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

For this year, our family decided to try out a family camping trip for our annual family reunion last April 30,2010 to May 1,2010 so we and the kids can appreciate and love God's Creation. The idea is to be closed to nature where we could see trees,gardens,animals,insects,watch the sky,feel the soil and where we can do stuff to conserve and protect the environment. Our chosen theme is "A Family That Plant Trees Together,Keeps the Forest Forever".

* Location Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park in Clark Airbase, Pampanga was the perfect venue for this type of reunion. Paradise Ranch is a 100-acre environmental project design to educate children and the general public on protecting the environment and saving wildlife. It is located on the hills of Clark Air Base,Angeles,Pampanga overlooking the Sacobia River, Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Arayat and other mountains and majestic sceneries! The ranch boasts of amenities ideal for our family camping trip with its large campsite and three bahay kubo (nipa hut) that could accommodate the three major families - one for Kuya Mike and his family, another for Allan's family and the bigger one for Joel and his family,my parents and me.
The ranch also has facilities for our family to enjoy being together, learning together and doing things together - with its butterfly garden, aviary, breeding of endangered species, fish pond, organic vegetable and floral orchard, massive reforestation and environmental conservation.

* Travel and Transportation – Paradise Ranch is about one and a a half hours away from home. Since the whole family is traveling together (7 adults minus my brother Joel who has to work and 10 kids),I exchanged my car with a bigger super grandia. Kuya Pert Dela Cruz was so nice to allow the exchange even though I asked the favor at the last minute.

During the travel time, I got everyone busy playing "CARS BINGO". Imee won the first game and Papa won the other category where he has to mark all items on the card.

* Food – The package that we got is a Php 650 per person which includes the accommodation, use of all the facilities (except the pool) and an eat all you can dinner,breakfast and lunch the next day. The food was great! For our first day lunch and snack we brought with us Lucban Quezon longganisa,ginataang bilo-bilo and pancit Bato,which we all got during our Bicol road trip before the reunion.

* Activities – We enjoyed feeding the ostriches, climbing the pine hill, teasing the monkeys, learning about and playing with the butterflies, rafting and fish feeding, visit to the bat cave, touching the iguanas,learning more about birds, playing and taking pictures with the bubbles, climbing tree,obstacle course, watching the sky at night, feeling the rain,hearing the sounds of the night, making natures collage, playing scrabble, swimming (although not initially part of the activity) and tree planting which is the subject of my next post.

* Games – I organized a natures trail hunt.Each family (Kuya Mike, Allan, Imee and Mama and Papa) was given a folder and instructed to pick anything that interest them during the trail like rocks,leaves,fallen flowers, unusual insects,etc.At the end of the trail we played the "Bring Me" contest where I gave Php 20 for those items that matches what I picked out during the trail. Then I gave another Php 20 for those unique stuff they've got that were not found by the other families.

* Dress – For the first day, everyone wear their most comfortable t-shirts and shorts. For the next day, they have to wear the 'I Love Pho' and 'Vietnam' tees from Saigon. It is a rule in the family that when I visit another country for the first time,I must have souvenirs for everyone so each of them have the Saigon tees in March.

* Decorations – The campsite has all we need- the nipa huts,bonfire area,cottage, garden, comfort rooms and shower area.

* Awards – We have the Collage Making Contest and the first, second and third prize were given a cash prizes which they use for the swimming to wrapped up the two-day reunion.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I was sick during the two consecutive holiday weekends of April 2010 - Holy Week (April 1-5) and Bataan Day (April 9-11).But seeing the flowers Euphorbia millii hybrids -commonly know as ‘crown of thorns’ and considered to be among the fabled “Luck Plants” of China and South East Asia)at our house terrace has brightened me up,lifted up my spirits and brought smile on my face. I have recalled those times and places I've visited where flowers gave me the same sense of wellness.

Flowers are really beautiful and that's the main reason why all countries and races celebrates the beauty of flowers through their festivals of colorfully decorated flower floats, flowers with children, and figures made of flowers.

I have not been to any world flower festivals like the Rose Parade in U.S.A. California, Carnival of Nice in France, to mention a few, but have seen equally beautiful flower floats and figures in Baguio,Philippines,Golden Gate in California,Ulsan,South Korea,and Singapore among others.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sweden and Easter Sunday

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

No,I am not in Sweden right now. But I had been there last July - August 2006 and has just taken the quiz How Swedish Are You?.The Result:8 of 10 - 80% Swedish
Nice one! You are 80 % Swedish! Learning the Swedish language will be a walk in the park for you. Just get a dictionary and get on the next plane. You are as much Swedish as late rock legend Jimi Hendrix who is also 80% Swedish.

One of the questions relates to Easter Sunday,which our family celebrates as part of our annual traditions. In Sweden, children dress up as little witches and go begging in the streets carrying broomsticks. This tradition takes place to ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

For our family, we made Easter as an opportunity to teach my nieces and nephews the connection between the common Easter traditions and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since Easter celebrates the final triumph of Jesus Christ at the end of his earthly mission as he overcame both sin and death,we made Easter celebration meaningful,and one in which the family will grow in love and appreciation of the Savior.

After the lesson, we let the kids look for the colored eggs. The eggs are symbols of rebirth and new life. For countries with long hard winters which meant little food, a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. Later, Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence. With this,our family also had the egg hunting.

Last year,we hid plastic colored during sunrise and so the kids had their egg hunt as soon as they woke up. Since they are plastic, we put coins and chocolates inside and those who gathered the most number of eggs win additional cash prize.

For this year,we use real eggs.I had the one letter of the word 'EASTER' written on each egg in different colors. Each child need to find 6 eggs and form the word EASTER. The letters must be of the same color except the specially colored egg which is a 'bonus' egg. The first to form the word EASTER gets P150,P100 and P50 respectively and the specially colored egg is an additional P50. Those who finished gets P20 and every child gets the 6 eggs!!

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