las vegas get-away day 1

cancun resort

cancun resort

My wife called me one afternoon on my way home from work and told me that the seminar she applied for at work was granted and she was flying to Las Vegas for a two day seminar. I suggested that I can fly over to meet her there if she can extend her flight back until Sunday of that seminar week.

That night, she told me that her request had been granted. I hustled to book a flight with the same return flight as hers, found one and booked it. I contacted Diamond Resorts, our time share resort, and asked for an availability in Las Vegas on the said dates. I was told that there were a couple, I chose Cancun Resort and booked it using our banked points, no cash out. The only cash out was the plane ticket and the car rental, Hertz.

Heck, this was my third time this year flying: Philippines; then Dominican Republic; and Las Vegas. And I am not fond of flying. My wife flew out on a Tuesday and followed that Friday. My son dropped me off at the airport early in the morning and I did not want to go later because of the security. I only had one hand carry and my camera bag.

The flight was great and my experience with Delta Airlines was so much better compared to US Air. I was seated close to the front of the plane because I find it better compared to the tail section. I had a nice chat with an elderly lady (she was with her husband) who were attending some sort of a reunion with their children in Idaho. I saw her reading the daily bible reading and asked her if she was a Catholic and she nodded. I showed her my daily reading application in my tablet and told her that this was handy and it contained so much more, she countered that she finds the book better. We had a small chat and got to know something about each other. I told her about my kids and she did the same. She also mentioned that her kids were not her biological children, they were her husbands from the first marriage. She told me that she used to be a nun and was teaching were her husbands kids were going. She was friends with her husbands first wife. She moved back to Pennsylvania when her husband’s first wife died. Her husband and kids would visit her in Pennsylvania and after several years they fell in love and she left being a nun and got married. I would think that they were already older when that happened since she did not have any biological child of her own.

The pilot announced that we were passing Salt Lake and I opened the window shade and saw how magnificent the lake was. We landed at Salt Lake and we said our goodbyes and wished each other a nice time. I had to hurry out since I did not have much layover time at that airport. I quickly bought some quick lunch that I can eat inside the plane or probably while waiting for boarding.

It was just an hour flight from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and I thought that I was going to be bumped for the next flight because I over heard the ground stewardess that it was booked flight. My ticket did not have a confirmed seating assigned. I was given a seat at the last row of the plane, but I was lucky enough that my seat was by a mother separated from her daughter who was seated in row 16. The mother asked me if I mind to switch place with her daughter, I said I did not mind but in my mind I was so happy I did not have to seat at the back. Looking out at Las Vegas from a window plane, you will find out that the whole city’s surrounded by solid rock mountain ranges and no trees in sight except for the palm trees they probably brought from other places.

Landed at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, the first thing that will hit you was the presence of slot machines all over the airport terminal. Welcome Las Vegas! Walked out of the airport, it was a breeze since I did not have any checked in baggage, and the dry heat was so overwhelming. Got in the shuttle to the rental car place and picked up my rental car. All I can say was that I will not be using Hertz next time. I was told the only thing they can give me was Toyota Yaris, thinking at that time that it was comparable to what I booked online I accepted. When I got to the car,I found out that the car was much smaller than I booked and it did not even have a power windows and it did not have a remote control lock (I had to use the key to open and lock that damn car). Heck, Budget rental was cheaper and they usually upgrade you without additional charge. I also found out that I was spoiled, and those small features in the car I cannot live without.

Drove to Cancun Resort and I found out that it was not that far from the airport. I checked myself in and went to the room which was outdated. What struck me was the swimming pool and the massive Aztec pyramid. The resort was along Las Vegas Boulevard (the strip), and about a couple of miles or so away from the famous Welcome Las Vegas sign.

Grabbed my camera bag and drove to the closest IN-N-OUT burger joint. I ordered a double and milk shake, I was surprised that it only cost me less than $5. I then stopped by Target which was in the same location of the burger joint, to buy some water and velcro as well as car charger (i forgot mine, or the one I had did not work).

Talked to my wife and she told me that I can pick her up. They were staying at Red Rock Resort which was more than 10 miles away from the strip. I find it easier to drive in Las Vegas compared to New Jersey, however, their roads were not painted but rather used the reflectors. I would think that it would be a challenge driving in the rain. Picked up my wife with her new found friend who asked for a ride back to the airport.

Since it was still early for her friend’s flight, they suggested to eat something at the nearby Jollibee and Chow King. Then we dropped her friend at the airport and we headed back to Cancun Resort.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Click here to see other pictures or just click the picture above.


ocean city 2014

boogie board

boogie board

The Alliance of the Two Hearts prayer group at Infant Jesus Parish usually plan beach outing each summer and this year we went back to Ocean City, NJ. The beach was just an hour away from us not to mention this seemed better than Wildwood. The group went to beach after we came back from Dominican Republic, which was great because we got to join them, coming from me who disliked the ocean or the sea. I guess, my reason going to the beach was my family first and then I got to relax and enjoy people watching.

We got to the beach early to get cheaper parking and to get a prime spot on the beach. We put up our umbrellas and tables, yes tables, for our food. If you could have seen our group carrying coolers and other stuff one would think that we were going tailgating.  The beach was not crowded when we got there but it did not take long. Click here or just click the picture above to see other photos.


marriage enrichment weekend class 8

marriage enrichment weekend class 8

marriage enrichment weekend class 8

This past weekend, we assisted in the Marriage Enrichment Weekend for the class 8 couples who attended at Hyatt House in Norristown, Pennsylvania. This event was hosted by FIAT-ME Ministry of Pennsylvania, there were also others like in North of New Jersey (North Jersey for short). Some members of the North Jersey ministry were also present to assist last weekend.

This event was made possible by the shepherding couple Armand and Minda who has supported the marriage enrichment weekends from day 1, financially as well as opening their home hosting the first events before moving to Hyatt House. Their home has been front and center in the organization of the said event, from holding various meetings and gatherings, staging of materials needed or even just a meeting place. They have built extensions to their home to accommodate such activities.

The weekend event was a long process starting from the creation of committees who will be responsible to make the different parts during the meeting a success, from logistics to food and others. Each committee was headed by a couple and backed up by another couple with the assistance of several couples who had attended previous marriage enrichment weekends. An overall coordinator oversaw everything and were advised by Marriage Enrichment director who informed the committees of the requirement as well as their various job responsibilities.

As you would have probably noticed, couples. In everything, it’s always couples because two married individuals should always act as one.

There were 12 candidates who were selected, or the better term was invited. In the past couple of months we have had about 16 couples going to the event, however, the number went down because of unforeseen reasons why couples could not make it.

The couples who attended need only to bring themselves and change of clothes for the duration because everything was provided to them: rooms; food; drinks; materials and other things that they may need during the event even cater to their dietary concerns. Writing what has transpired and even trying to describe them will not do justice, one has to be there to experience the joy and emotion of that weekend. Need I say that the event was free of charge!

We are seeing everywhere the deterioration of families that may be the cause of so many problems we’re facing and even the decay of our communities. Communities are built by families. Families start with a husband and wife. The weekend event centers on the husband and wife. A priest was present during the duration who provided spiritual advise and to moderate during inspirational talks of several invited couples who shared their life changing experiences. And as you may have guessed, this event is God centered.

You may be saying: “I am happily married”; “there’s nothing wrong in our marriage”; “we go to church whenever we can”; “we don’t need this”; and so on and so forth. Then I will say: “good for you, but wouldn’t you want to make it better?” In the world that we live in: we always want to be ahead; we always want to give our family a big house and lots of cars; we wanted to give our family so many material things. Nothing wrong with that, but most of the time these things cause us to lose focus on what is really important and what is really needed.

I attended in class 7 three years ago at the same location. I attended but I was skeptical. There was nothing wrong with my family much more with my marriage. I attended because I don’t want to have a disagreement with my wife because we were invited. It was free and the only thing I can never get back was the time lost. After an hour in the event my whole outlook changed and it has gotten better and better as it progressed. There was even one couple who attended, the wife tricked her husband: they just came from a week long vacation and instead of going home they went straight to the event. Both of them did not know what’s going to happen, the wife did not know how her husband is going to react. But the husband stayed. They were the head of the committee that my wife and I belonged.

punta cana DR day 5 vacation

sunrise at punta cana

sunrise at punta cana

Our last day in Grand Palladium at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, had come to an end. It was a nice vacation, it was not long and it was not short either. It was just right. Yes we were going to miss the open bar and the smorgasbord but we had to go back to our daily grind and start saving for the next vacation.

Since we had packed most of the stuff the night before, they had time to go to the beach one last time and enjoy. I still did not swim and all I did was just to be their personal photographer. I enjoyed the sunrise and the nice cool weather.

After the swim, we headed back to our rooms and gotten ready to checkout. But before we checked out we went for breakfast one last time, picked up our luggages and settled everything at the front desk. We waited at the lobby for our shuttle ride back to the airport.

Goodbye Dominican Republic, it was a great time and we hope to be back soon. Click the picture above or just click here to see other pictures.