Sunday, July 13, 2014


Almost every Saturday, Leny, Rose, Marivi and I would have breakfast before we start our day at the UST Hospital. It would be an hour or so of coffee, some food and a lot of story swapping. It's a ritual we have gotten accustomed to for the 6 years since I retired from teaching at the medical school. Like giddy girls who meet up for the usual chatter, breakfast on Saturdays is something I look forward to.

Today we had our banter at Jollibee along the corner of P. Noval and Lacson. We were missing Marivi who is attending a dermatology meeting in Idaho. While we were half way through breakfast, 3 children caught our attention. The eldest was girl of around 9 who had in tow, 2 boys around 5 and 3 years old. They brought up a tray - one piece of Yum Burger, one small cup of ice cream and a glass of water to share. Yup! They were street urchins who probably had collected enough from their begging so that they too, could have a decent meal.

A decent meal? What they had on their plates was even being share by three hungry children! The youngest of them had no slippers and their clothes were ragged and torn. They not only needed food, but a good bath as well.

They caught our attention and Leny was telling Rose and I that we should get them something decent to eat. I jokingly told her that if they develop diarrhea or abdominal pain from the food we give, their parents would run after us. Yet something kept tugging at our hearts. Watching the three of them share the little food they had would make one appreciate what we have because there are others who have even less.

Rose and I asked Rince (the crewmember's name at Jollibee) to get the kids one spaghetti meal each! After giving Rince some money, he dashed off with much enthusiasm and came up serving the three children a whole meal for each. I've got to give it to Rince because he treated them like VIP, serving them the hot plates, arranging the sodas for them properly, giving them utensils and paper napkins. The three children stared at the food and began enjoying the spoils in front of them.

What was amazing was that the kindness we shared was shared by those who saw us. One man bought the children some fries. Another man came up with more ice cream and sat down and talked to them.

While they were still enjoying their meal, Leny, Rose and I decided to go back to the hospital to work.

No, we never took a selfie with the kids. I didn't think it was appropriate. I just wanted to share the story.

No, the children never said thank you. Their hunger and happiness on their faces was all the thank you we needed. Besides, we did it not because we wanted compliments in return.

No, we didn't get a chance to talk to them. They were busy with breakfast.

And yes, to us it was an ordinary Saturday. To the children, it may have been a very special Saturday. The ritual gathering among friends was made special by three children who tugged our hearts and taught us that sharing takes on a different meaning and perspective when you know somehow, even in a fleeting moment, you've made a better day for someone.

"The little things we give to others will come back as blessings in some other day..
To those who share their unselfish hearts never get tired of doing little things for others because sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

#europevacation2014 - the highs and lows (final chapter)


Located in the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea is the second largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (after Marseille.

Nice was selected as our residential destination on this part of the final legs of our vacation for the location. It is a 30-40 minutes train ride to other two destinations - Monaco and Cannes.

After getting new train tickets from Milan to Nice (via Ventimiglia), we arrived almost 10PM at the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee (only 3 blocks but 20 euros) from the train station in Nice.

The front desk and concierge of this hotel was wonderful and because the restaurants were closed already, and they fully understood my unfortunate incident in Milan, the hotel manager called the bar restaurant to serve us dinner at the bar (instead of having to have a cluttered room service). Tired, hungry and yes, depressed, the Hyatt Regency Nice was a notch in service and style. It would be home for the next 4 days and 3 nights.

Transportation in Nice is perfect. The train station is called Nice-Ville and the Cote d'Azur airport is the second busiest airport in France. While Nice is actually compact - you get the best of the French Riviera in Nice and in Cannes.


Lucky stars shine on you when you've prepared for a vacation but didn't know that surprises awaited you. We were there in time for the Annual Cannes Film Festival. After a late breakfast, we took the short train ride to Cannes. (Remember to get the direct train rides. It takes you there in a shorter period of time sans the multiple stops in other towns.)

In Cannes, there were just rows and rows of high-end luxury shops by the beach. From the train station to the beach area, one will pass rows and rows of restaurants where both tourists and the locals mingle for late (and very late) lunch. And the boats, yachts and ships that were parked on the seaport were screaming signs of wealth and opulence. The lifestyle of truly - the rich and famous.


The Principality of Monaco is bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second smallest country in the world with an area of around 2 km and a population of less than 40,000 people. It is governed by a constitutional monarch and Prince Albert II (belonging to the House of Grimaldi that have ruled since the 1200s) is the current head.

Monaco saw its rise in economics and fame during the reign of Prince Rainier III who married Hollywood star Grace Kelly. The latter was loved by the people of Monaco and the adulated by the world as Princess Grace!

As in the previous leg of our vacation, we were lucky to see the opening of the annual F1 race in this affluent principality.

It's a very small country and don't forget to visit the residential palace of the Grimaldis, the church where the royals are buried, the Casino Royale (from the Bond movie) and the beautiful gardens and museum of cars of the Princes.


The final leg of the vacation (and yeah - we didn't think we would say this, but this was getting too long, too weary and too tiring to enjoy). We took a short plane ride from the Cote d'Azur Airport and landed at El Prat Airport in Barcelona, Spain.

Of all the hotels during our stay, the Ohla Hotel in Barcelona was by far the best! It was the swankiest and had a divine one star Michelin restaurant in its premises. The food was excellent and breakfast was simple and very good! It wasn't one of those buffet spreads that would make you literally puke at the abundance! The hotel serve you Cava Champagne on arrival (with cold towels). It is located right in the middle of the 5 km shopping district! The subway is right in front (to the left) of the hotel and the stores are just miles and miles of walking at our back. What's great about the hotel is the fact that it smells sooooooo good, which is a nice thing about boutique hotels. [Just a note: If you're a bit shy, and you're just sharing the room with a friend, I suggest you get another hotel. The shower in the room is all glass and is found right in the middle of the room!]

Barcelona is Gaudi land. There will always be a piece of Gaudi that you will need to explore and explore we did. For the 3 days stay, we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off tour and enjoy the Tapas and exquisite Spanish Cuisine!

Emirates provide transfers to and from the airport to the hotel of your destination if you're flying on Business Class. It's an added benefit to beginning and ending a wonderful vacation.

It's finally back to reality and back to working to earn enough for next year's vacation!