Back from my honeymoon :)

1 December 2006     •     16 Comments
Family Stuff

I’m now writing this post as Mrs. Gail Dela Cruz-Villanueva. It’s still kind of strange saying that, but I’ll get used to it 🙂

Marc and I have just gotten back from our honeymoon in Hongkong. The first piece of news we heard was of a typhoon coming. Call me selfish, but really, it’s a weird sort of blessing. I’ve been planning to get back to work as early as tomorrow (just thinking about all the work I have to do makes me want to go back to Hongkong!), but if this coming typhoon really is stronger than Milenyo, I’m not sure if that’s even possible. I’ll try anyway—at least until before the electricity shuts down again.

I have a lot of photos and stories to tell about our trip to Hongkong, but I’m just so tired now. The plane that took us back here in Manila was just a small airbus—the experience was far from pleasant. The turbulence made me feel like I was inside a blender (I’m exaggerating, but really, the turbulence made Marc and me extremely dizzy). I’m probably more tired now than I did when we got back to our hotel in Kowloon from Ocean Park.

Anyway, I got the CDs containing the photos from our wedding. Fast huh? Well, that’s the best thing about having a photographer for a dad—his photographer friends gave me the photo and video coverage of our wedding as their gift.

Sneak peek!

We’ve got a LOT of wedding photos (I actually felt like a star being chased by paparazzis hehehe), and I’m still choosing the best ones to upload. But for now, I’m going to take a rest. I’m just so tired!

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An open letter to my favorite grandma

25 November 2006     •     5 Comments
Family Stuff

Dear Mama Nena,

How are you? I really miss you. Even though it’s been more than three years already since you left us, I still wish you’re here. I know you’ve already moved on to a better place with Ninong Joe, but I can’t help it. You were like a second mother to me. You were my mother when Mommy wasn’t around. I’m probably the most attached to you than any of my cousins—probably because you did show everyone that I was your favorite.

I wish more than anything that you could join the family when I get married this afternoon to the kindest man I’ve ever met, Marc.

We’ll be getting married in the Church where you used to take me every Sunday for mass. We tell people that the reason we chose it is because their fees are cheap, but that’s not the whole truth. I chose that Church so it will be easy for you to find. I really wish you could be there, Mama. I hope you and Ninong Joe can find time to drop by, even just for a few minutes. I won’t be able to see you, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll feel your presence.

You’ve already met Marc, but you were stricken with Alzheimer’s at that time. He’s a good man, Marc is. And I’m sure that if you weren’t sick at that time, you would have loved him too. Since you’re now watching over us, you can see why I love Marc so much that I decided to spend the rest of my life with him. You know more than anybody how difficult I can be at times, but Marc is able to handle them well and take my tantrums in stride. He’s very patient just like you, Mama.

Marc and I love each other more than life itself, Mama. You don’t need to be worried about me anymore. Marc will take care of me the same way Lolo Julie took care of you.

When I walk down the aisle later, I will be thinking of you and Ninong Joe—wishing more than anything that I could have one last hug from you (the hug that had always made me feel that nothing in the world could harm me) before I take my vows.

I love you, Mama Nena.


Coping with the wedding stress

17 November 2006     •     10 Comments
Family Stuff

In eight days, I’ll be walking down the aisle to tie the knot. I’m really excited, but it’s also very stressful. There are things that Marc and I still need to take care of, and the work I needed to finish before leaving for my honeymoon is quite overwhelming. I’ve been trying to avoid blogging since this major stress week started—I don’t want my posts to turn out to be angsty, whiny and pointless entries—but I figured that writing about the strange emotional rollercoaster I’m in now could do me good.

I do hope I’m still normal, because to tell you the truth, I haven’t seen much blogs of soon-to-weds that show an emotion other than excitement. I’m not denying that I’m also excited, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg is probably made up of fear. Am I strange to feel this way? Or am I just reading too many hyped up blog entries about pre-wedding jitters? Or maybe these soon-to-wed bloggers are just denying to themselves the fear they feel? Honestly, I don’t see any reason to just be excited and not feel scared at the same time.

Marriage will be a huge step for me, it’s like getting out of the comfort zone I’ve had for years and then starting a new one. That’s really scary, especially for someone who is extremely wary and likes to play safe.

I’m not a coward, but the idea of not knowing what to expect scares me. I’m the type of person who likes coming up with backup plans—“if this happens, I’ll do this, if not, this is what I’ll do.” Fine. I’m so not adventurous. But it only takes me one time to learn from my mistakes—I don’t like making the same mistakes just because I was careless. I’ve been so careless during my younger years that I feel I’d be an idiot to not to think twice before I act.

Which brings me back to this fear I’ve been experiencing for the past few days. There are so many things that scare me about this upcoming wedding, I don’t even know where to begin. But I guess the thing about it that scares me the most is the thought that I can’t just run to Daddy for the little things I don’t want to handle myself.

Yes. I’m a daddy’s girl. And I have always been. Even my mom had told me that I am when she was still healthy. According to my mom, I was so attached to my dad when I was a kid that I got to the point of volunteering to be a “watch-your-car” girl just to be able to accompany Daddy to work.

As I have told Abe, Noel, and Migs yesterday during our small meet-up after the Exist press conference, little things could easily set me off bawling these days. I haven’t cried in about a year, and now, I’m doing it on a regular basis. I can block off emotion easily (being callous really does help with my kind of job), but this one, I can’t seem to just shut off.

Yeah. I’m that scared.

After next week, I just can’t run to Daddy when I have a “situation” anymore. I would have to learn to handle things on my own with Marc. I have faith that Marc and I would be able to cope and handle any challenges that will come our way as long as we stick together, but I’ve just been so used to going to Daddy for “magic” solutions. It’s hard not to feel scared (ok fine, I’m a tad bit terrified) that things won’t be the same anymore after I walk down that aisle eight days from now.

Pre-wedding jitter #2: My sub-standard cooking skills

26 October 2006     •     7 Comments
Family Stuff

I need a cooking crash course. FAST.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really excited about our wedding. In one month, I’ll be Mrs. Gail Dela Cruz-Villanueva. I don’t mind the name change anymore (Marc and I have already decided on what to do with the name dilemma), but it’s the “Mrs.” part that’s worrying me now.

I’m not a great cook. Ok, fine. I can’t cook!

My mom and dad must have spoiled me too much. They enjoyed cooking, while my sister and I just enjoyed eating. The only difference between us is that my sister found the time watching my parents cook and learning in the process, but me? I was holed up in my computer room doing some design thing. I’ve been so caught up with being a geek that I totally forgot that I would eventually need to run a household.

Even as a kid I never wanted to become a housewife—just a housewife. Maybe I was already a feminist at the tender age of four, but I think it was really more on the fact that I never liked doing chores. My mom wasn’t fond of baking, and the recipes she cooked were far too advanced for a kid like me to help with (well, maybe except when we were making pizza—I loved making little figures with the dough). But even back then I didn’t like watching my mom cook and only went back when the food was ready.

I think the only “chore” my mom and dad were able to make me do was washing the dishes. That’s one household chore I’m proud to be really good at. I do manual washing, mind you—we don’t have an automated dishwasher. Well, at least Marc need not be worried about our kitchen sink piling up with dirty dishes. The only problem we have is putting edible food on those goddamn clean dishes.

My dad probably won’t be able to resist me if I come knocking at their door for dinner, but I know that I eventually need to learn to feed my own family. I’ve been trying to learn, you know. Cooking good food runs in the family, so I’m not giving up hope. Well, not yet at least.

The most “complex” recipes I’ve probably pulled off “perfectly” were for spaghetti and Chicken ala King. Marc loves them, but I don’t think we’d be able to live on spaghetti and Chicken ala King alone for the rest of our lives.

I’m not that good at frying either. I usually burn stuff, but I did pull it off properly at one time. I’ve been so proud of myself for frying the Ilocos Empanada perfectly that I took the liberty of taking a few photos:

Gail's perfect frying
Perfectly fried!

There’s nothing special about them, but I think this is a good start. Well, for once my frying skills delivered something edible other than the charcoal-like substance I usually come up with. It doesn’t really make me “home-maker extraordinaire,” but somehow it’s still a relief to know that we won’t live on spaghetti and Chicken Ala King alone.

Good thing that my cooking skill (or lack thereof) isn’t the reason why Marc’s marrying me 😛 Heh. So I guess he’ll be spending the first few months of our marriage (years even, depends on how soon I get the hang of this home-maker thing) eating experimental food on very, very clean plates!

Ok, fine, I’m EXCITED about my wedding

10 October 2006     •     12 Comments
Family Stuff

No use denying it anymore—I’m really getting excited about my wedding. I’m still stressing, yes, but who cares? I’m beginning to start counting the days before I walk down the aisle.

I celebrated my 25th birthday last Sunday, October 8. And at the same time, I also had our entourage over for a second fitting. Our couture brought the gowns and colored Barongs for the members of our entourage to check if they fit. I’ve also had the measurements for my gown taken, but that’s not the thing that made me this excited.

The gowns and Barongs are so PRETTY. Forgive me for sounding like a ditz, but really, I can’t wait to show them off. The designs fit my color motif and modern Filipiniana theme perfectly. I’m dying to post the photos my dad took here, but it might ruin the surprise.

The color motif Marc and I chose is aqua blue and silver—not exactly a “typical” wedding color motif. I like that shade of blue (Marc likes ANY shade of blue), and we wanted something that isn’t the usual. I also wanted our entourage to stand out (you know, so they won’t be mistaken as JUST guests?), so we picked a shade that’s most unlikely be in our guests’ gown and Barong color choices.

When everybody finished putting on their gowns and Barongs, Dad gathered them up for a photo op 😀 Maybe it’s because I just really LOVE the color, but having them together like that makes me really look forward to my wedding day.

Seeing the finished gowns and Barongs (the ones that needed no alterations were able to bring home their gowns and Barongs already) is probably the main reason I’m finally beginning to get into the “wedding excitement.” It also makes me realize that my wedding is getting very near. I’ve been so busy with work too much that I only got bitten by the “wedding bug” just now.

I really can’t describe properly how I’m feeling right now, actually. It’s a combination of excitement and anxiety. Kind of like you can’t wait for that day and at the same time, you feel you need more time before it comes. This is normal, isn’t it? Or am I too much of a workaholic that I only felt the excitement JUST now?!

Wedding stressing

27 September 2006     •     9 Comments
Family Stuff

Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m excited but (finally) stressing over my upcoming wedding. I got another “friendly reminder” from the darned wedding thing I signed up for, telling me that I only have TWO months to go before the “big” day. Marc has been bugging me to start organizing my side of the guest list so we can start sending out invitations (shouldn’t you be doing yours as well, honey???), which my sister and I are yet to finish! Yeah, we’ve finished hundreds of invites for our clients, but never got around to finishing mine. Ah, well. I WILL have to finish them, you know… But that’s just the tip of the stressing iceberg.

I have to finish our wedding site, for starters. A girl (sorry, I forgot your name) brought to my attention that she had seen the design on our wedding site already being used by other blogs. I don’t think she read the credits on the footer (hehe), but really, I appreciate her telling me privately that it’s weird I’m using “somebody else’s design” after what happened with the Sikreto thing. Ok… Note to self: never use a GPL WordPress theme even if I’m the one who designed and released it to the public 😀 I swear I already have a design in the works for it (it’s BLUE of course, I just love blue), I just never found the time to finish it. My clients are enjoying original designs, while people are beginning to think I ripped my wedding site’s design from MYSELF. Well, that’s enough motivation, don’t you think? I GOT TO finish that site 😛

We don’t have a wedding registry yet… As Noemi and Bimbo kindly reminded us… Yeah, we’ll sign up for that SOON, promise! 😀 I don’t want to end up with eight alarm clocks and gazillion wall clocks (ok, I’m exaggerating hehe) like my mom and dad did when they got married. But is there a way I can do that online? Call me whiney, but I’m HIGH-TECH you know (ok, I’m just lazy).

Since a marriage license is only valid for 120 days upon issuance, and our 120 days are already starting, Marc and I will have to start applying for that (next week, promise, next week!). We’ll probably just get the birth certificates online (told yah, I’m HIGH-TECH! hehe). Hmm… Is that P300 per copy? Ah, well. Kinda pricey, but I guess that’s what I need to pay for convenience. Not everything in the world can be bought (ahem *integrity* ahem), but this birth certificate, I can buy.

I know there are still a LOT of things we need to do that I can’t stand thinking about now (my dad or one of my aunts will probably remind me anyway). But when I even TRY to think about the invitations that we have to send out (omigod do we really have to give them out personally? Whatever happened to mailing??!!), I just can’t help but scratch my head and wonder how in the world we’re going to do that. This is definitely one of those instances when I wish that I can just wave a wand or something and make those invitations go to the guests’ homes by themselves. Too bad that can’t happen in real life 🙁

No, I will STILL not hire a wedding coordinator.

That’s one thing that Marc and I promised ourselves when planning this wedding: we’ll keep it within the budget. We’re not going to ask for financial help from our families unless absolutely necessary. Call it pride, but we really want to “deserve” this wedding, the wedding that we worked our asses for.

We initially planned to have 150 guests… But as I’m the first girl in our family (my mom’s side at least) to get married, and I think Marc’s the first from his side too, it’s unavoidable that our guest list would expand. And so it did. We’re now preparing for 200. But strangely enough, we’re still within our budget. We adjusted it a bit for the additional 50 heads for catering, but our total expenses are still basically affordable (well, at least in terms of today’s weddings).

Php155,000 for 200 guests to feed, 2-5 photographers, 1 videographer, airconditioned Church, live band, chocolate fountain, a Victorian-inspired wedding gown for me, gowns AND Barong Tagalogs for the entire entourage (etc. etc.)… Believe it or not, it’s possible 🙂

Noemi suggested during dinner at the BlogCon that I blog about how we fit all those fancy stuff within our strangely minute budget. Hmm… Maybe I will. But for now, I need to get back to work 🙂

Que será, será

29 August 2006     •     1 Comment
Family Stuff

Never in a million years will I consider a career in wedding planning.

Marc will probably tell you otherwise, but really, I am very organized. To the point of sometimes bordering obsessive-compulsive. My desk and my room look like hurricane disaster areas, but when it comes to planning stuff, I like to make sure that every detail is spic and span.

It’s now officially three months before my wedding day (as The Knot kindly reminded me through email), and I’m beginning to realize the stress that comes with planning a wedding. Especially when you keep a hectic schedule like mine.

It seems only like yesterday when my dad was amused with my “excitement” on the wedding (ie. booking with a caterer as early as February for a November wedding). Now, he’s bugging me to get a move on with my invitations and entourage gowns.

I’m really beginning to feel the pressure. I’m so pressured that I sometimes feel the need to rip my hair out (no, scratch that, I don’t think I’ll have enough money to pay for Manhattan hair transplants hehe). Seriously though. I could already feel the tension building—so many things to do, yet so little things done.

I’m probably just torturing myself with more stress, but really, the fact that I will be Mrs. Marc Villanueva in three month’s time is kinda scary. It’s going to be a whole new shift in the life I’ve been so used to. I’ve always been the “careful” type of person—I would rather eat fish than some weird exotic dish such as fried frog legs—hence, this marriage thing will definitely bring about a big change, and “uncharted waters” that I don’t have contingency plans for.

My grandma and my mom used to sing to me “Que Será, Será everytime I got into this whole “worrying about the future” funk. It doesn’t really “solve” anything per se, but hearing “whatever will be, will be” from the two women who cared about me the most made me feel safe somehow. But as my grandma has been gone for more than two years already and my mom still can’t speak properly because of the major stroke she had last year, I can’t help but wish things were different.

This is one of those instances that I wish my mom could talk.

“Gift from God”

15 August 2006     •     12 Comments
Family Stuff

Now, I’m REALLY beginning to feel Marc and I are accomplishing wedding requirements. We’re almost through with the Church requirements, can you believe that (I know I can’t). We finally got through the pre-Cana seminar, and up until now I’m still scratching my head in confusion over it.

The main reason Marc and I have only gotten to attending this seminar just now was primary because of sleepiness. Marc’s in the night shift, and I work best in the evenings (so technically, I was in the night shift too). The seminar starts at 10am, and you really can’t blame us for doubting our bodies to stay awake an entire day without any sleep. And when I think of pre-Cana seminar, I think of religious people with Powerpoint presentations on a projector screen droning on and on about what-is and what-not’s of marriage. Blame it on my tertiary education. I went to a Jesuit-run university, so it’s really not that far out to think of religious stuff in such an academic setting.

Marc and I argued who would sleep first on the earlier parts of the seminar (yeah I know, we’re evil). One of us had to be awake, you know. Just like in a classroom… Anyway, we got there at the Parish a few minutes after 10am (we’re evil AND we’re rude, we’re going straight to hell). We filled up some forms and waited for the priest to arrive, which is kind of annoying since we worried about getting late for nothing hehehe.

When the priest did arrive, we noticed that there was only one other couple with us (so much for sleeping through the thing). Which is strange… Why would you waste electricity on setting up a projector for ONLY two couples?

Duh. Because it wouldn’t be needed. The “seminar” doesn’t even come close to being a seminar (not even “counselling” for crying out loud), it was more like… CONSULTATION. And a really quick one at that. The priest just gave us bullet points of what should have been a paragraph each. His message was simple, really:

“Sex is a gift from God to married couples. Experiment! Don’t give your partner a reason to leave you.”

Ok… And then he became more specific:

“If your wife/husband wants oral sex, give it to her/him.”

Very short, but very concise. He went STRAIGHT to the point (and I thought I was lazy hehe). But you got to admit, this priest isn’t someone you’d forget in a jiffy. You won’t forget what he SAID in a jiffy.

Now that’s what I call a “unique” pre-wedding seminar! I wouldn’t have slept through it even if I tried.

So boys and girls… Remember, when you get married… Sex is a gift from God to married people, so EXPERIMENT! 😀

Brain drain

27 June 2006     •     5 Comments
Family Stuff

I am physically, intellectually, and emotionally drained.

July. August. September. October. I have approximately 4 months to go before my wedding. Marc and I are still a long way to go on our Church and legal requirements, and I’m honestly beginning to feel the pressure. When you’re also running a wedding-related business, the reality of pushed-back wedding dates become a more possible possibility. I’ve already had two clients who had to change their wedding dates because of incomplete legal/Church requirements (good thing I run the printing of the main invites last). Four months may be long for some people. But with my schedule? No, it’s extremely short.

Dad and I have already been contemplating of putting up a showroom here. Our business is starting to take off, and meeting clients all over Metro Manila is becoming physically draining for me.

Take last weekend as an example.

I was supposed to meet with some friends in the evening and drop by the bloggers’ dinner Jayvee and Abe came up with. I met a client in the morning at Glorietta, then another at Megamall after lunch, then another one at Gateway. I was bone-tired by the afternoon (well, at least you can say that I made good use of the MRT train!). By the time I got home around 4pm, I had to take a nap before doing my freelance work which I planned to tinker with a little before meeting up with my friends and the bloggers.

I only woke up when Abe called me. But guess what? For some unknown reason, I fell back asleep after his call. I can’t even recall falling asleep again!

Good thing Marc have already contacted our friends earlier on about the status of my physical energy and the million things I needed to do. But man, we’ve been planning that meet-up for ages! The sad thing about it, I won’t be available again until the weekend after next… And that’s still tentative, I’m still not sure of my sched. And I so wanted to attend the bloggers dinner too… 🙁

My only consolation is that Marc doesn’t need to sched dates with me yet 😛 He’s been helping me with our businesses, so we’re still spending a lot of quality time together. The side comment I made about geeky in-front-of-the-computer dates in an interview at the Pinoy WordPress blog are becomming a little bit more often these days.

Pre-wedding jitter: Surname change

20 May 2006     •     10 Comments
Family Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. What happens after I get married in November?

If you look through my archives, you’ll see that I’ve been blogging on and off since February 2004. Most of my entries then had the typical “Tagalog-English” lingo (if you don’t speak Filipino by nature, I would really suggest you to not attempt to read them hehe). I’m quite embarrassed to admit that most of those entries had no substance, just random daily ramblings. Oh, well. Everyone needs to start somewhere right? I wouldn’t say my entries are fantastic now, but at least they now make some sense 😀

It’s nice to look at the “evolution” of one’s writing style sometimes. It’s self-serving, yes, but quite entertaining. And me, I know my blogging style has changed quite a lot. Heck, Kutitots started as a Flash personal site, an online playground, and now has evolved to mainly a blog. Frankly, I’ve gotten tired of having to update stuff manually in Flash. There’s a way to automate that, but I didn’t want to burden myself with it.

Anyway, looking back like this made me realize that it really takes time to establish a “self-brand” on the Net. It took me almost three years to have “Gail Dela Cruz” equate to “Kutitots,” at least in the local community. In the WordPress world, people know me as the author behind the Filipino-titled themes I’ve released so far (Dapit Hapon, Kurtina, and Isla). It took me a while to actually get the top spot on the Google search for “Gail Dela Cruz.”

Which brings me back to the surname issue.

It’s a culture thing. Women take the surname of their husbands when they get married and abandon their father’s name. I guess our ancestors never anticipated that women will get careers too in the future. 😛

By the end of November this year, I’ll no longer be “Gail Dela Cruz,” but “Gail Villanueva.”

Marc and I have actually discussed this already. We both know that I can’t just change my surname, since it’s basically my “brand name” on the Net. That’s why I’ll be using “Gail Dela Cruz-Villanueva” instead. It’s kinda long, but it’s best compromise to keep the “brand name” and at the same time acknowledge my change in marital status. I’ll also still keep my domain name… As for my credit line on my WordPress themes… That, I still don’t know. What do you guys think? Marc and I haven’t really talked about that yet. And I myself don’t know if it’s better to just keep it “Gail Dela Cruz” on my themes’ credit line. Ideas? I’m open for suggestions.

I know some people may think I’m making such a big deal about this, but the “Kutitots-Gail Dela Cruz” thing is how I have gotten most of my clients. It’s a big deal for me. If my work wasn’t tied to it, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But it is. Changing my name is like having a rebrand for a business.

Ah well. I’ll just cross the bridge when I get there 😛

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