Sleepover At The Bay

Year after year ever since we got married, Mike and I have always been planning to celebrate our wedding anniversary in a special way. But because of our opposite personalities and preferences -- (I love adventure, being close to nature, and backpacking. I love to go on vacations but I hate spending much, while he, on the other hand, loves comfort and because his nature of work always involve being with so many people, he likes being away from the crowd when he is on vacation mode), we just always end up malling or watching a movie. This year, for a change, I've decided that I will not insist my preference to him. When he asked me where and how I wanted to celebrate our anniversary, I felt how happy he was when he heard these words from me, "Sasama ko sa'yo kung san mo ko gustong dalhin." (Wives, it's confirmed, husbands love it when they feel that we trust them to take the lead--in everything!) 

In response to my submission and respect to his decision to not go out of town, he lovingly gave me the privilege to choose a hotel by the bay so I can still feel somehow close to nature. He suggested Solaire or Sofitel, but as usual, I didn't feel like spending that much money for a one night staycation. As I continued searching, I found out that H2O Hotel has an ongoing promo which slashed off almost 50% of its published rates! We knew it was God's favor, so we booked their Club Bay Room for July 26-27 right away.

We (post) celebrated our anniversary on July 26 by attending the Sunday worship service at CCF first thing in the morning. After that, we had lunch at my parents house which is just a few minutes drive to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel lobbby 30 minutes earlier so the front desk officer told us that we had to wait for their standard check in time of 2pm. As we were waiting, I sensed that Mike was a bit disappointed because the hotel lobby and the ambiance didn't meet his expectation. He was expecting a more luxurious ambiance since their original published rates matched the rates of Shangri-la, Sofitel, and Solaire. It was a Sunday, and due to the hotel's proximity to Manila Ocean Park, there were flocks of people at the ground floor (he doesn't like being in too much crowd when he is on vacation mode, remember?). 

At exactly 2pm, the guests started to line up at the front desk to check in. For some reason, the check in process seemed a bit slow, and we were overhearing some of the other guests already complaining. If you know Mike and I, you probably know that there are issues in our hearts that the Lord has been addressing for many years. I have an issue with patience -- I hate waiting (that's why most of the time when I pray for something, God's answer has always been WAIT. He's been helping me to grow in this area). Mike, on the otherhand, has an issue with bad temper. Being born and raised in a military family, he easily gets irritated and angry especially with inefficient service. We were both quiet the whole time we were on the line, but from time to time we were smiling at each other, because we already knew what God was doing -- He was once again allowing these things to happen to test and teach both of us. We also remembered Pastor Peter's message that morning: to add value to people's lives. To always honor every person that we encounter, to treat them with utmost respect, whether he/she is a VIP or a servant.

It was already 2:30pm when we approached the front desk. After checking our room reservation, and after speaking to someone over the phone, the front desk officer wrote a note in a bond paper (maybe so that the other guests in line won't hear), that our room was not yet available and we would need to wait for another 10-20 minutes. Mike and I were both upset, check in time was 2pm but the room was still not available at 2:30. The guests that checked in before us were also asked to wait in the lobby for their rooms to be ready. Though feeling upset, Mike and I remained composed. Later on, Mike whispered to me that he has been praying. He told me that his prayer was, "Lord, if it is not Your will for us to stay in this hotel, please make a way. Do something that is beyond our control." So when the check in process seemed to be getting complicated, it wasn't difficult for Mike to make a decision, he has been praying the whole time. With a calm smile on his face, he politely told the front desk officer, "Hindi nalang po kame tutuloy mag-check in."  When the officer heard it, he excused himself to speak to someone in their back office. Apparently, there must have been a delay in the housekeeping department preparing the rooms, and the people at the front desk were the ones having to explain and pacify the disappointed guests. Mike was already explaining to me that as much as I like this hotel, if things won't work out, we would have to follow God's will because He has a better plan. I felt sad, but I agreed. The front desk officer returned after five minutes and told us that fortunately, there was already a room available for us! He even told us that we can check out late the following day to make up for the disappointment that they might have caused us. So at around 3pm, finally, our staycation officially began!

Mike and I were talking as we were finding our room. We congratulated each other for passing the test of patience and the test of anger. We thanked God for being so involved in our lives and for always using our circumstances to mold us into better persons. And His reward to us -- a breathtaking beautiful room to celebrate our anniversary!

This Kid enjoyed the Jacuzzi so much!
Mike asked me where I want to eat dinner, and I immediately chose the White Moon Resto-Bar. I didn't choose the restaurant because of the food (I haven't even seen the menu yet!), I just chose it because of the romantic ambiance and the good music playing at that moment.

Photo from Manila Ocean Park Website.

I once again sensed that Mike didn't like to eat dinner there. He didn't like the menu and the prices of their food was not worth for the amount of serving. But I wasn't deciding based on it, I just wanted the ambiance and I was ready to order even the least expensive (even if I don't like it) just so we can stay there. Mike was once again quiet, he just told me, "Sige, kung masaya ang baby girl ko dito, dito nalang tayo."  He called the waitress, and when we she was about ready to take our orders, it suddenly rained, and we had to run back to the hotel. I was laughing when I asked him, "Nag pray ka noh?!" He said, "Hindi ako nag pray ah, promise!" 

Clearly, the Lord didn't want us to eat there, so He led us to the hotel's restaurant: Makan-Makan. We had our dinner (and buffet breakfast the following morning) there. The food was delicious and was really value for money! We thanked God for interrupting us, His will is always (yummy) and the best!

Sambal Squid

Mike and I had a really great time together! We laughed and teased each other. We talked about so many things, our dreams, our plans, our faith. We looked back to everything that has happened to us the last five years and we were so amazed with how God has always been so involved in our lives! He is always speaking, always leading us to right path, if we would only take the time to be still, carefully listen, and be willing to let go of our own will and follow His perfect and pleasing will. 

The next morning, we had our quiet time God while gazing at the beautiful sunrise! 
We thanked Him for such wonderful gift of marriage.

Hotel Website:

Cherished Moments With You

Dear Bebi,

The last five years hasn't always been easy for both of us, but looking back, I couldn't be more grateful for every single moment that I've shared with you. I couldn't write everything in this short post, but these moments are the ones that marked a special place in my heart, and I am forever cherishing them.

May 17, 2010 - The day we decided to secretly get married (Civil Wedding at Manila City Hall) because we couldn't wait for our scheduled public wedding in July of the same year anymore (people do crazy things when they're in love!). Although if I could turn back time, I would wish that we've already learned how to wait and seek for God's timing and will. We've missed a lot of things because of our impulsive decisions, but I'm including this in the list of my favorite moments with you because I've learned so much from it... and this is the very first day when I have vowed to spend the rest of my life with you.

July 25, 2010 - Our Christian wedding at Blue Gardens. Though we were already secretly married two months before, seeing our loved ones and friends share this occasion with us means so much to me. I'll never forget how God calmed the storm just before our wedding ceremony began, it was a glimpse of His faithfulness to us. This was the day we officially began sharing our lives together.

November 2012 - The month I've experienced a miscarriage with my very first (and last so far) pregnancy. You took care of me and provided for all of my needs while I was in the hospital. You supported me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There was a moment when I was so afraid when I found out that I have an autoimmune disease which caused our baby to loose her heartbeat... I'll never forget the words you said while I was crying in frustration and desperation: 

"Ano bang kinakatakot mo? Gusto kong malaman mo na kahit gaano pa katindi ang pagdaanan mo, kahit magkaron ka pa ng pinaka malalang sakit, hinding hindi kita iiwan. Nandito lang ako para sayo."  
("What are you so afraid of? I want to let you know that no matter what happens, and no matter if you have the worst kind of sickness or condition, I will never leave you. I'll always be here for you.") 

I knew that those words were from God... He used you to comfort and assure me that I'll never face anything in this life alone. And indeed, that miscarriage began an intimacy with Him that I have never experienced before.

The Whole Year 2013 - It was the hardest season of our marriage financially and emotionally. We've almost lost everything materially, we've had broken relationships, we've experienced the consequences of our wrong decisions, but for me, this has been our sweetest year with the Lord. In His love, He disciplined us, as a Father disciplines His child. Though it was hard, I was grateful to sit next to you at the front row as we witnessed God's amazing miracles -- His unexpected provisions to our needs, how He spoke to us and made us feel His love through our circumstances, how He started transforming both of us into the man and woman that He wants us to be, how He aligned our priorities to His will, how He started revealing and removing other gods in our lives so we can be completely His! I wouldn't wish to experience this difficult season again... but I wouldn't trade what we've learned, who we became, and how God revealed Himself to us through it all -- He is always good, and we are always loved.

May 11, 2014 - After a few years of walking with the Lord, we've started to understand the cost of following Jesus -- to die to our own fleshly desires daily so we can live lives that are glorifying to Him. This day was so precious to me, as we've both decided to publicly recommit and declare our decision to follow and serve Christ all the days of our lives, no turning back, despite every struggles and spiritual battles that come with it.

May 16-17, 2014 - Being in awe at the greatness of God, as we watched the beautiful sunset, and spent our early morning quiet time with Him at the shore of Nagsasa Cove, being surrounded by the majestic view of the mountains, river, and the sea. 

November 25, 2014 - We celebrated your birthday driving around the streets of Quezon City to give meals and gospel tracts to street children. We were both teary-eyed as we saw the smiles in their faces. My heart was overflowing with joy as I witnessed how God has transformed your heart to be more compassionate, selfless, grateful and generous. I'm so proud of the person that you have become. You make me fall in love with you more as I see Christ's love, compassion and gentleness in you.

November 30, 2014 - Our Dgroup Outreach with the PWD Children of Bangkal, Makati. The privilege to be used by God to be a channel of His blessing to the children He loves, we knew we were undeserving of such call, and yet He chose us. It was heart-warming to see you share the Gospel of Jesus to the children and their families, I wouldn't trade it to any worldly success that you have gained in the past. That moment, I knew that you are walking in the center of God's will for your life... And that for me was enough, a husband who honors and serve God first place in his life... I couldn't ask for more.

April 2015 - We've experienced the worst fight that we've had in the last five years. We've exchanged hurtful words and actions. I told God that I cannot serve Him anymore, it was just so hard... but in the end, once again, God's grace carried us through... We forgave each other, as God has forgiven us. God taught us to be brave, to stand firm in the knowledge that no weapon formed against us shall succeed because we are covered by His steadfast love. We stumbled, but God picked us up, and placed our feet on solid ground... we were ready to serve Him again, ready to fight our battles together. A few days later, we wept as we unexpectedly renewed our vows at a Couple's Dinner, it was such a wonderful night.

July 4-5, 2015 - "Unconditional Couple's Retreat". We once again renewed our vows before God, this time, fully understanding every word -- I now know everything I have to give up when I vowed to submit and to respect you as the leader of our family, to always stand behind you in sickness and in health, through joy and sorrow, in abundance and in lack, til death do us part...

One of the most meaningful part of the retreat for me was when we shared our marriage testimony in front of all the 68 couples, and of course, in front of my parents who were also there. It was the first time that they've heard all the struggles that we've gone through in the last five years. It was the first time that Daddy learned that we had a secret marriage. Thank you for being sincere in honoring my parents in front of everyone by publicly apologizing to them for our rush decisions in the past, and for all the mistakes that we've made. Thank you for loving my family the same way that you love me.

As I look back, I realized that most of these were not moments when everything was going perfectly well, in fact most of them were from difficult seasons in our marriage...  but these were the times when I have felt the presence of God the most. It's not just the two of us, it has always been: you, me, and God! He has always been involved in our lives... His grace has carried us through... And as long as I continue to see you bowed down on your knees every single morning, crying out to Him, surrendering our future in His hands, seeking His will in every decision that you make... I am not afraid to face the next chapters of our marriage, because I know that even if we stumble at times, we will always be covered by God's perfect love. Thank you for loving God first more than you love me... Thank you for loving me.

Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary Bebi! I'm excited to see the great future and plan that God has prepared for us! Excited for many more years of walking with the Lord and serving Him with you! May He alone be glorified in our lives!

Always and Forever,

"... A Cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
- Ecclesiastes 4:12