Sunday, January 22, 2012

Luna Sleeps Over At The Galle Face Hotel!

daddy and his baby girl at gfh

Early this week we had our apartment fumigated.  We have been seeing a lot (and I mean A LOT) of ants lately!  All the way to the 13th floor.  Crazy!   It would be an impossibility leaving dishes unwashed until the next day without a trail of ants.  These are black ants and I wouldn’t have minded because as they say they “bring money.”  But at the rate there are going, we should have been billionaires!  In black ants currency, eww…  In any case it just got so bad that even red ants have come into our toilet and some parts of our room – crawling over our bed, my closet and Luna’s soiled nappies.  Noooo…  So that made up our minds, fumigation it is!

We have been coexisting with the black ants for a while now and just because it got worse we decided to go for the fumigation.  But it would have been much easier if we just had our home fumigated BEFORE Luna was born.  You see whenever we go out with Luna, we kinda have to bring the “whole” changing table with us.  Now that we had to stay overnight somewhere else, we brought the “whole” house.  Haha!  What more if we’re going on a much longer and father trip, right?

In any case it was a nice opportunity for us to have a sleep over at one of Colombo’s historic hotels.  The Galle Face Hotel faces the Indian Ocean and the Galle Face Green.  It’s colonial and quite lovely really.  The room, well the one we were in was quite a disappointment.  It was small (as in smaller than our bedroom) and it is an adjoining room without (I think) a double door which means we could hear (and smell the room service) of the next room.  Hasslelicious!

Good thing Luna didn’t mind.  Her eyes of wonder are just taking in the view of this new abode and slept through most of it.  What do you expect, she just turned 1 – month.  Hubby and I celebrated with a lovely dinner at 1864 – the hotel’s fine dining resto where hubby took me during my birthday in 2010 (memories!).  The food was awesome and the vibe was too.  With house music in the background, we were lucky Luna continued her early evening sleep.

In the morning, we saw off hubby who went to work and my little moon and I took our usual morning “sun bath” out by the Indian Ocean.  Or rather I lounged on the pool chairs and Luna slept on me.  Mahangin sa labas eh (It's windy outside)!

We then went back to our home sweet (fumigated) home…  Quite uneventful for our baby girl’s first hotel stay but it was nonetheless an Adventure of Luna La Vida Lanka! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sinhala Birth Certificate FTW!

Nothing will ever say that you are born in Sri Lanka but a Sinhala Birth Certificate.  Check it out!

Yes, it is handwritten.

The process of getting it is quite simple.  The hospital will give you the document and information on where to register the birth.  It is not done in the City Hall as it is done in the Philippines but in an “outsourced” “office” (where we went to was more like a house) that takes care of the Registration of Births and Deaths as well as the English Translation.  Took care of the registration and we were able to get the copies a little over 2 weeks after. 

Today, I also had the documents authenticated by the Ministry of External Affairs Consular Services Division as part of the requirements for the Report of Birth to the Philippine Consulate.  Luna had to stay home of course (they were serving 500+ people and I couldn’t risk exposing my lovely daughter to all the germs that could bring!).  The process was again, fairly simple.  The Consular Services is at the Old Board of Investments Building at the Fort (NOT Bonifacio ok! Haha!).  Head straight to the 5th floor to get your form and your number.  They will be calling your number to submit your forms and pay the fee (for foreign nationals, it is Rs. 1,000 per form).  You go back to the waiting area where they will release your authenticated documents.  I got there around 8am and left around 1pm.  Quite long but not bad I must say. 

Some tips, the office opens at 6am – I suggest for you to beat the rush (and the heat) and get there as early as possible.  If you are one of the first ones to arrive, your document (sans any problems of course!) will be released only after 2 hours.  If you get there a bit later, of course it will take more time – like what happened to me.  Not to mention there will be more people which makes the waiting room really, really hot (the A/C can’t handle the crowd).  Moreover, there is a cut-off time of 3pm. 

The process is smooth (I’m impressed actually!) but there’s a lot of waiting time so go with a full batt of your phone/iPad/etc. (my iPhone only had 20% of battery to begin with), a book/magazine and other paraphernalia to while away the time.  No worries with bringing food or drinks as concessionaires are there where you can buy drinks of your choice and some shorteats.

As you know, having your own documents enable you to go on more adventures (uhm, you can’t really travel without a passport for example, right?).  For Luna, as she is not born in her “own” country, the process is a tad bit more tedious.  But the process is turning out to be her mother's (and father's) mini-adventures as well. 

The Adventures of Luna La Vida Lanka!

Seatbelts, check.

I want my baby girl to remember her first few months especially in this beautiful teardrop-shaped country of Sri Lanka.  Since she still won't remember, I would like to capture that here in The Adventures of Luna La Vida Lanka series.  The prologue was Mama La Vida Lanka.  The adventure “officially” started with her arrival of course (Luna La Vida Lanka, Our Birth Story) her baptism and first Christmas.

The journey of Livin’ La Vida Lanka continues as our daughter takes center stage and makes the ride even more worthwhile.

So watch out for more Adventures of Luna La Vida Lanka!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

All The Best Fr. Neil!

Our family with Fr. Neil at Luna's Baptism

One of things that are part of our life in Sri Lanka is hearing mass at our parish, St. Theresa’s in Thimbirigasyaya.  It’s a beautiful church (think a smaller and simpler Santuario de San Antonio), it’s dedicated to one of my miracle saints St. Therese of Lisieux (praying her novena has answered many of my requests) and is headed by the lovely Fr. Neil Dias Karunaratne.  I’ve always enjoyed Fr. Neil’s service.  His homilies are simple yet capture the essence of the reading and for me it almost always hit home.  His words are wrapped in wisdom and delivered with care - never preachy or trying hard to impress.  It is what it is and he lets the Word of God speak for itself.  This weekend is apparently his last weekend as the Parish Priest.  After 10 years, he will then move on to his next apostolate.  I don’t know if Fr. Neil would ever chance upon this post but for all it’s worth I would like to dedicate this post to him and honor him.

Fr. Neil, with his sermon and his presence has been a source of consolation.  Living away from home is tough and one of my anchors, my spirituality, has kept me afloat.  His wisdom and presence in the masses we attend has kept that spirituality alive.

We were also lucky to have him baptize our baby Luna.  His calming demeanor has certainly brushed off on our baby as she did not even wince when water was being poured on her head.  It is an honor for us to have him welcome our darling moon to the Christian world.

With the man that he is, I am sure that his next apostolate will be lucky to have him.  I’m sure he will do great deeds as he has for the parish of St. Theresa’s for another community more in need of him.

I thank you Fr. Neil, for touching my life and our daughter’s life by simply being the priest that you are.  It is an exciting journey ahead for you and as they say here, all the best!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 La Vida Lanka

2011 is the first (and probably only) full year we have spent Livin’ La Vida Lanka.  We touched down in 2010 (August for Hubby and October for me) and will be taking off as per contract by August of 2012.  As we reach the end of the year, I can’t help but reflect on my 2011 La Lanka experience.  Let me share with you my 11 of 2011 Livin’ La Vida Lanka:

It was the year of discovering more of Sri Lanka.  We went to Kalpitiya and played with the dolphins.  We took an uber luxurious retreat in the heart of the tea country at the Tea Trails.  We visited friends in Kandy.  Had a feel for hubby’s Antipolo home in Matugama.  We planned more but pregnancy kept me at bay in Colombo.

It was a year of working La Vida Lanka!  It was a major learning experience – working in the biggest FMCG in the country, dealing with the corporate culture of a high-performing organization, adapting to the unique Sri Lankan culture at work, meeting new people and making lifelong friends.

It was a year of longing for home and struggling with where we are.  Blame it on the pregnancy hormones?  I didn’t have specific cravings but I craved in general to be back home.  Back to the comforts of family, friends and Filipino food.  I hated where I was – but realized that where I was didn’t matter as long as I hubby and I (and little Luna in my belly) were together.

It was a year of finding home away from home.  We discovered Kabayan, the Filipino restaurant and AFSRIL, the Filipino community in Sri Lanka.  It was fantastic meeting our kababayans here – in a country seemingly so far away from home.  And we were lucky to meet really wonderful people who gave us a sense of community and family when we most needed it.

It was a year of celebrating our first year of marriage!  We had an 11th month celebration in Singapore and on the day itself, a fantastic dinner at our favorite Chesa Swiss.

It was a year of pregnancy away from home.  Being pregnant for the first time is one heck of a learning experience – more so if you’re kind of striking it “on your own.”  Of course for us, it was us – hubby and I.  We have met wonderful people who supported us in our journey like Dr. Kamanie and Ms. Mohanie.  It was also a discovery of the city and its nooks and crannies of baby shops. I also couldn’t be more thankful for my mother friends who have been a source of virtual support – from maternity fashion to lactation consultation!  Pregnancy away from home – it is ok as my friend G said. 

It was the year of the comeback of the post-office.  For gifts from down under from Tita A and the Filmmaker bro, to purchases from Amazon and the Philippines and gifts from friends back home.  They do find a way to La Lanka in one neat piece!  Moreover the thought finds its way in our heart.

It was the year of friends and family visiting.  I’m so glad my Mentor K came for a business trip and spent the weekend with us (albeit it was the height of my morning sickness!).  I couldn’t be more thankful for my mom who came for Baby L’s delivery.  Her presence is invaluable.  More workmates from Manila found their way here for a business trip as well and it’s nice to catch up with the chismis (gossip).

It was the year of pushing for my coaching studies.  I enrolled in International Coach Academy and after a few struggles balancing it with work this early year, I was able to gain footing and finished most of my coursework.  Poised to graduate next year!

It was my 30th year.  It was bittersweet because for a milestone year I was away from my 3 F’s (family, friends and Filipino food!) but it was the time I fully embraced where I am – my life in La Lanka, the friends I have made here and how happy I am for all those.

It was the year I met Luna, became a mom and a parent with hubby.  For that, Sri Lanka will forever be special.  In as much as my pregnancy hormones made me “hate” it, our daughter’s birth made me love it.  I remember what mymommyology once said about Chapel Hill – it was the place where discovered how it is being a mom and being a mom there is all she knows.  And she will definitely cry the day she leaves Chapel Hill.  My sentiments exactly. 

For more than a year we’ve been here, Colombo has transformed me in many ways I never thought possible.  It is the place where I truly grew up.  The place where I truly became a wife.  The place where I became a mother.  The place where I have become who I am now.  The day we leave Colombo, I definitely will cry because so much of me now has been formed here and I know I will also be leaving a piece of myself behind.  But that is still a long time away!  And there is still so much of the country and me to explore.  Here’s to 2011 and to 8 more months in 2012 La Vida Lanka!   
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