The Trials of Parenthood

After three months of managing to keep THE SPAWN alive, I would have to say that there is nothing in this world that would ever prepare one to be a parent. I thought my husband and I were ready when we decided that I would finally try to get pregnant. We felt that we were at the point of our lives where we are both financially and emotionally capable to support and raise another life. But having that mental readiness doesn’t make the reality of it easier.

The physical exhaustion of having to attend to the baby’s needs 24/7 is something that needs to be talked about more often, in my opinion. The world always makes it sound like being a mother is a magical experience and that any difficulties you encounter is overcome by that special love for your child. Can I just say that it’s also possible to love your child and want to throw them wailing in a nearby ditch? Because that’s exactly how I felt trying to survive the first few weeks.

For one thing, breastfeeding is hard. There is nothing magical with the fact that I have to wake up every two hours around the clock to breastfeed my son and then have the energy to function for other things. I have become a machine that simply existed because my son needs to eat and ironically, the process doesn’t even come with a manual. Breasts do not automatically gush out milk. I even wondered if I was producing enough milk since my baby sucked almost non-stop until my nipples are cracked and bloodied. People kept telling me to eat this or drink that so that I could produce more milk but I have never come close to becoming a milk geyser spewing liquid gold at the cue of my baby’s cries. All I know is that whatever milk I managed to produce had kept my son alive to this day.

And because I have committed myself to breastfeed, I inadvertently said goodbye to decent sleep as well. I was a fool to think that I would get sleep when I give birth. The third trimester of my pregnancy had been especially trying since lengthy sleep had also been elusive what with having to pee every hour and not being able to lie on your back without suffocating from the weight of the baby. I cannot even tell you when I last had an 8-hour uninterrupted sleep. I remember how much I resented having my dad enter my room to remind me to eat whatever meal it was already. Time and food have become irrelevant when all I want is to close my eyes and never wake up.

There was also no “ME” time anymore. Even the most basic of needs such as taking a dump had to be rushed because you don’t want to leave your baby unattended. My husband tries his best to pitch in and give me “ME” time but when the baby needs to breastfeed, “ME” time is only around 2-3 hours long. Then, I have to eventually rush back home to a bawling baby and let him suckle for thirty minutes or more while I stare off into space.

The only reason I even attempted to take care of myself was because my child needed me to survive. And no, this isn’t borne out of maternal love. At that time, I did it more out of a sense of duty. I was responsible for this life that I brought to the world and I have to pay for that decision. But even then, I felt inadequate. I have had years of experience being a teacher but you do not go to school training to be a mother. I remember looking down at the sleeping face of my son one night and wondering, “What the hell am I doing with my life?”

When my maternity leave ended and I went back to work, my co-workers who were also mothers were commenting that I must have found it difficult to leave my son behind and I thought that their statements were absurd. By being away from my son a few hours a day, I get to be a better mother the moment I come home.


Supplier Hunt 5: Hair and Make-Up

As we look around for suppliers, I am always surprised with how expensive they get!!! Yes, and this will eternally will be my theme for every wedding blog related post I make. Everything is dang expensive. I was thinking that maybe I could get a make-up artist for 10K covering myself and at least several other people in the entourage but upon doing further research, 10K is usually the price of the bride’s make-up only. Whuuut. I consider this a need because I don’t have a talent for putting on “fresh” looking make-up and I just want someone to fuss over how I look on the day. I also want to make sure that my mom would like how she looks because she’s usually the most finicky in these situations.

Because we’re having a Tagaytay wedding, I was looking for a make-up artist that wouldn’t charge for out-of-town fees. I had two options based on our budget: Nini Marquez and Val Villarin. Nini Marquez is based in Muntinlupa and only asks for gas and toll fees for out of town weddings and her package is also reasonably priced (Bride + 4 heads, not so sure, but there’s definitely a lot of mileage for your buck which was why I shortlisted her in the first place). Val Villarin is a well-recommended make-up artist in several forums and many brides have commented about how good he does a “fresh” looking make-up. Though he’s based in QC, he doesn’t charge for any out of town fees. His package includes the bride and 4 others with free trial make-up, retouch, and second look before the reception. I was looking at the website of Nini and didn’t feel like her style complimented me so I decided to go with Sir Val even though he’s based far and I had to go all the way to QC to avail of the trial make-up session. All the reviews I have read about him loved his work so I guess that’s enough assurance that I’ll be in good hands.

Supplier Hunt 4: Wedding Gown

This is one of my earliest expenses during the beginning of my wedding planning–around a year from my wedding date. I know some brides will have their dresses ready a month before their wedding or even before their actual wedding day but I really didn’t want to stress over a dress so near the actual wedding. I was aiming to have my gown ready months in advance. What I was not aiming for was having a gown a year ahead of time. But yeah, life happens.

It’s not like I didn’t try to look around. I have spent enough hours watching episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and have gushed over those gorgeous creations of lace, tulle, organza, and satin costing more than our whole wedding budget. I wanted that bridal dress moment where I fall in love with THE dress. However, it’s so hard to find a design to fall in love with if one can’t afford to pay for it. I was looking for something made of lace and will not make me look like a cupcake. Most of the couturiers would charge 25K for the simplest wedding gown design and I’m not even sure if I’ll be happy with the final product. Good lace usually costs a lot.

So I tried the ready-made option and went to Landmark. In my head, I thought shopping mall wedding gowns would at least be cheaper than having one specially designed for me. Needless to say, that was also a failed endeavor. Even department store wedding gowns are not cheap…they still cost pretty much the same as having a gown made at a bridal shop and the designs that appeal to me costs even more.

I head to Divisoria next to canvass prices. There are many bridal shops in Divisoria where you can get a ready-made gown for as low as P8,000 complete with accessories (cord, second veil, pillow, bag). I have gone around all the shops asking if anyone can make me a lace gown for less than 20K. Of course, a lot of them promised me they could but to be honest, I was still a bit wary. Firstly, Divisoria is far away. I can’t watch if they’re making the gown according to how I want and I’ve heard enough horror stories online of disappointed brides who weren’t happy with how the design on paper translated to the actual dress. Secondly, shops there like to finish the dress as close to the deadline as possible. I feel like it’s their way of making sure that the client will not try to have anything altered anymore in case they are not happy. The client ends up using the dress because they’ve run out of time or worse, they end up shoping for a new dress!

Just as I was pondering the meaning of life and my ability to walk down the aisle wearing a sack, Enzo tells me about a new ready-to-wear bridal store that opened around our area in BF. I decided to drop by just after a few days it opened. It’s called The Bridal Room located along Aguirre Avenue and owned by the daughters of Enzo’s dad’s friend (it’s a bit complicated, haha).

I realized that day that when one goes gown shopping, one should dress up (underwear included) a bit. Since I live only 10 minutes away, I wore my pambahay and tsinelas with matching ratty underwear and was seriously underdressed for my Say Yes to the Dress moment. In my defense, I didn’t know I was going to say yes to any dress that day! When I entered, they helped me pick gowns from their collection and was led to this dressing room with a three-way mirror and a round pedestal. When the curtains are pushed back, it reveals a couch area for the client’s guests and the client can model her gown from the pedestal. Inside the dressing area, someone helps me put on the dresses who unfortunately was witness to my really ratty underwear. That’s when I found my simple lace gown.

Nope, the gown wasn’t as cheap as I wanted it to be and in fact, even though I loved that dress so much, I already made up my mind to try my luck again in Divisoria. I was telling Enzo how I liked this dress but was way out of our budget. However, during Christmas, he told me that he already got me the dress, 11 months ahead of the wedding…

Supplier Hunt 3: Caterer

I am amazed at the bride bloggers who manage to attend several food tasting appointments with various caterers because to be honest, we didn’t have the luxury of time or money. I was initially going for K by Cunanan or Passion Cooks because based on several blogs I’ve read about these caterers, both are able to set up the place well and their food is good. Unfortunately, we had to pay out of town charges that could still be used for other aspects of the wedding.

We collected several catering packages from the first wedding expo we went to but ended up prioritizing Tagaytay, Cavite, or Batangas based suppliers. There isn’t much catering options actually unless the hotel or place you pick could already cater for you. Enzo’s only concern about this wedding is that the food should be good. We could all be dressed in trash bags for all he cares and would be happy if his stomach is satisfied. I, on the other hand, was concerned about how the caterer will fix the place.

The obvious choice is Town’s Delight. They are THE caterer of Tagaytay and we just went with what has been tried and tested by everybody. Ms. Camz, our account executive, was also very accommodating and helpful in all our inquiries from setting our food tasting schedule to dealing with our questions about how they will style our reception venue. The advantage of getting a well-established caterer in the business is that we are assured that our preferences will be delivered.

The only downside with their package is that their free food tasting inclusion is their standard buffet menu and not the food that will actually be served. You can get that option for an additional charge which doesn’t make sense to me because the purpose of the food tasting is for you to try out the food from the package you paid  for. It’s the only time you can adjust the food according to how you want it. Also, the restaurant where they give their food tasting is in some far flung area in Cavite. When we went there, it took us an hour and a half from Tagaytay. I think it might be faster if we were coming from Paranaque passing Daang Hari.

When Enzo and I scheduled for the food tasting, we haven’t booked them yet. We wanted to try out their food first before making any commitments. On that day, Enzo was coming in from Batanes but due to unfavorable weather, his flight had to be resecheduled. I decided to bring my mom and my tita along as we were also planning to do an ocular of reception venues around Tagaytay that day.

There were hits and misses but I was generally happy with the quality and serving size. I can’t say anything more because Enzo is the bigger foodie in this relationship. I’m happy as long as there’s something in the menu I can eat. I told him I’m satisfied with what I tried and we could just tweak a few things on our next food tasting, so we booked Town’s Delight. We will be scheduling another food tasting soon and hopefully, we’d be able to finalize our menu by then.

Supplier Hunt 2: Reception Venue (Part 2)

As mentioned in my previous entry, we had to go back to Tagaytay three times to inspect all the places that could fit our budget. These places range from 30 to around 90k, while there are other venues that offer the use of its space for even less if you avail of their catering package. There are more venues available though I prioritized the ones that we could afford and is near Caleruega. (Note: there are also reception venues in Caleruega but there’s a retreat on our wedding date so we wouldn’t be able to use those.)

Ten minutes away from Caleruega…

Club Ananda at Sandari Batulao

It’s an event venue in the middle of a still-developing residential area. The last time we visited, the lone structure stands in the middle of empty vacant lots so you definitely won’t be bothering any neighbors. The airconditioned hall is way beyond our budget but it looks new, modern, and sophisticated. The garden/poolside area outside the hall is more affordable but it doesn’t have a large flat space. It CAN accommodate 100 to 150 people but the tables will be strewn all over different sections of the garden and the pool.

Tagaytay Pacific Heights

This is another undeveloped residential area on the road going to Lemery and the venue is actually the village clubhouse. The place could be nice for a reception but it wasn’t well-maintained. The rails are rusty and the furniture dusty. I visited this because I thought it was affordable but then I wasn’t really impressed with how it looks.

Rosemont Gardens

The house itself is nice and is a perfect venue for wedding preparations near Caleruega since it could accommodate around 12 people. However, the garden venue is small and it would already be crowded if you try to fit in 100 people. There were thick posts in the covered area that takes up even more of the limited space.

15 minutes away from Caleruega…


I have read so many positive feedback about this place that I am almost willing to shell out a bit more to avail their wedding package (which  was beyond our budget but has a lot of inclusions. All you only need to worry about was waking up for your wedding. Haha!). However, we’re not very happy with the L-shaped events hall. It’s kind of sad if some of our guests ends up sitting where they can’t see anything.

Casa di Campagna

The place is the first building you see after the arc located near Chateau Royale This was recommended by our catering accounts executive so we decided to check it out. The area can accommodate up to 120 guests. I personally liked the cozy atmosphere and was seriously considering this but my mom didn’t like it as much.

20 minutes away from Caleruega

Bali Village

This is located near Mushroom Burger. The non-airconditioned venue is a covered garden-y area that can accommodate around 200 to 250 people. I thought the venue was pretty and looked grand although it’s a bit pricy for only 4 hours of use. They have a smaller airconditioned venue that can accommodate 120 to 150 people but you’ll end up paying the same price as  the bigger area. There is enough parking space, is near enough from the church and is easy to find. However, Enzo wasn’t a fan of this place (by then, we’ve already looked at The Glens so his heart was already set on booking that venue).

Lake Hotel

This was a wedding expo find. They offered a wedding reception package and the venue they included is pretty big since it can easily accommodate 300 people. I’m not a fan of this hotel ballroom. I think the height of the ceiling is too low because I felt claustrophobic inside. The accounts executive showed another smaller venue that can accommodate only 100 people overlooking Taal Lake but it still felt too cramped for me.

Villa Ibarra

I LOVE their seafood paella. It was soooo good; we were this close to booking this because their package has so much inclusions and is reasonably priced. I wish they had a better reception area because the ceiling was too low. We love their food so much we even asked if it’s possible for them to cater at a different location but they said that the caterers would come from their Metro Manila branch if that’s going to be the arrangement and will incur out of town fees. The rates they were offering is only applicable for the use of the venue.

25 minutes away from Caleruega…

Mahogany Place

The place is beautiful but pricy (much like every other place we’ve seen around Tagaytay -.- hahaha!). The garden area can also be used for smaller functions at a cheaper price but I find it awkward to have the reception outside the main venue hall when all guests can clearly see that there’s a bigger, better option nearby.

Hotel Kimberly

This was also in the running for a reception venue option because I liked their pavilion. It can only accommodate around 150 people but the walls are all glass so it looks more spacious. They also have a lot of inclusion although their buffet package is probably the ordinary buffet food fare. I didn’t mind. I was pretty happy with the look of the place. However, when Enzo was trying to inquire about the prices and the food, the accounts executive was impossible to reach. When he calls the Tagaytay office, they tell him that the person is in Manila. When he calls the Manila office, they tell him that the person he’s looking for is in Tagaytay. In the end, I just told him that if they’re already hard to reach at this point of of the planning, it would be even more problematic if we booked and made a downpayment and the hassle is not worth it.

30 minutes away or more from Caleruega…

Hotel Dominique

The hotel has a spacious reception venue and also has a lot of inclusions in its  package but we’re just wary about the parking space. They only have limited parking outside and it can get really crowded if you bring the car inside.

Venue beside San Antonio de Padua

Well, this is definitely far from Caleruega but very near San Antonio de Padua. It’s literally right next door. When you rent the reception venue, the house is already included which can be used for preparations.

Oh my gosh. I can’t believe we visited that many places! Writing about it and recalling all the places we visited reminded me how tiring the whole thing was. 😦

Supplier Hunt 2: Reception Venue (Part 1)

I apologize in advance for the crappy pictures that I post in my blog entries or even the lack of pictures that make these things aesthetically pleasing. The pictures above do not do justice to the reception venue that we eventually booked after three venue ocular visits to Tagaytay. The Glens is a newly opened events venue along Magallanes Drive which offers an open-aired pavilion for a garden wedding set-up. Because our reception will be in the evening, we could take advantage of Tagaytay’s cool climate to keep guests comfortable despite the lack of airconditioning. The place can accommodate around 200 people, comes with its own ceiling drapes and has spacious restrooms.

Enzo and I discovered The Glens when we attended our first wedding expo. The first time we visited, it was already dark and the place didn’t have a sign outside so we weren’t sure if we were even in the right area. We had second thoughts of entering, fearing that we might get shot for trespassing. We came back during our next Tagaytay visit, this time in the morning, and totally surprised Ms. Shane with our presence (Note: We didn’t make any appointment. Haha!). Ms. Shane was in her pambahay yet she gave us the tour of the place and accommodated all our inquiries. At that time, several areas were still under renovation, repair or construction but we liked how it’s surrounded by trees and how we have the place all to ourselves once we book it. Ms. Shane assured us that the place will be ready in time for their first wedding so we decided to reserve the place and get the reception venue off our list. We have visited the place several times after that and the place has indeed turned out nicely from our initial visit. The latest addition to the venue, in our opinion, makes the place worth every penny.


Supplier Hunt 1: Church

At the beginning, I told myself that I will not get stressed over the wedding preparations and I would choose what is cheap and convenient for us. I wanted to prioritize the church since all the other details will depend on its location.

Which is why it makes absolutely no sense why we ended up booking the Transfiguration Chapel of Caleruega in Nasugbu, Batangas. First off, it’s far. After navigating a gravelly, dirt road, minimum travel time takes about 2 hours. Secondly, it’s a bit pricey considering that the only thing you pay for is the use of the church. You still have to look for your priest (although you could request a priest from their parish), musician/choir, and flowers. Thirdly, it’s far. Remember what I said about the other details being dependent on the location of the church? After reserving our church, our next dilemma was to look for suppliers around the area to avoid out of town fees. Fourth, it’s far. Self! Why you no listen to me?!?

However, there is a reason that Caleruega is a much sought after church venue. Despite the disadvantages I mentioned, most of the weekend schedules are already booked and in December, weddings are scheduled three times a day including Christmas. Couples with a specific date and time sometimes book at most 2 years in advance just to secure their preferred wedding date.

Because it’s relatively far from civilization and sits on top of a hill, Caleruega is perfect for those who love nature and is planning an intimate gathering of friends and family. The church only has a seating capacity of 150 guests but what it lacks in size, it made up for in quality. I cannot describe every detail of the chapel but I can assure you this, I have been there several times over the years and the chapel has maintained its simple, elegant beauty that I am still inclined to contemplate the meaning of life even though I’m not religious by nature. I guess it’s not so bad to get married in a place that inspires me to be prayerful.

There are other churches around Tagaytay for those who want a destination wedding without subjecting your guests to extreme torture.

The Chapel on the Hill is located right before the gravelly, dirt path heading to Caleruega. It is also for intimate celebrations with a seating capacity of 150 and, as the name of the place suggests, sits on top of a hill. If you think about it, Chapel on the Hill basically offers the same thing Caleruega offers with the added advantage of accessibility. Why didn’t we choose this instead of Caleruega? Because torture is more fun.

San Antonio de Padua is even more accessible because you will reach it heading up Tagaytay (if you’re coming in from Santa Rosa). After passing PNP, you will see a sign telling you to make a right turn to Silang, Cavite. You will see the church about 2 kilometers after making the turn. San Antonio’s exterior looks like the bigger version of Caleruega. I know I wanted to check out this church because the altar has a huge blue mural on the ceiling gilded in gold paint and it was awesome to see pictures of it in the Internet. Seeing it in person doesn’t disappoint. The church is big and can accommodate 300 people and they have cheaper rates for residents of Cavite. However, I liked the intimate feel of a smaller chapel better. Plus, torture.

The Lady of Lourdes Parish is located right in the middle of everything in Tagaytay. I didn’t bother checking it out because I read in some forums that they’ve increased their rates, higher than the average P15,000 that the other churches in tagaytay charge.