Ever since I posted our battle with infertility last year, I started getting tons of messages from women saying that they felt inspired after reading my blog post. I honestly don’t know why. But I guess some women found comfort in learning that they are not facing their battle alone. I guess that by using my blog as a platform, I have managed to increase people’s awareness about couple’s struggles with infertility. (Kahit 10 lang ang readers ko, at least nakatulong ako. Hahaha!)

A big percentage of women who reached out to me were also diagnosed with PCOS. That actually came as a surprise to me. Before I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2012, I only knew two women who have it. When I published my blog post last year, some friends sent me messages telling me that they, too, have PCOS. Wait, what?! Puwede na pala akong magtatag ng The Sisterhood of Petiks Ovaries sa dami namin. But unfortunately, despite our number, PCOS is still unknown to many. That is why September has been tagged as PCOS Awareness Month. O ‘di ba? Hindi mo rin alam na may PCOS Awareness Month!

I took it upon myself to write about PCOS. I know that I don’t have a large following, but I’ll use this blog as a tool to raise awareness kahit puro friends ko lang naman ang nagbabasa ng blog ko. Hihi. I figured that by doing this, other women with PCOS who are still “hiding” in the dark will feel empowered. I was too embarrassed to admit that I have PCOS. In a society where women are expected to get pregnant right after marriage, having PCOS made me feel really inadequate. And apart from this, I do hope that I get to raise awareness to those people who are unknowingly hurting women battling PCOS. I, too, had a fair share of insensitive comments from people around me. They range from innocent questions like, “Wala pa ba” up to the gusto-kitang-patayin-pakialamera-kang-bruha-ka comments like, “Sino sa inyo ang may diperensiya?” (Side story: An oldie holding a baby once told me and Boyet, “Cute niya ‘no? Wala! Hindi niyo kayang gumawa ng ganito ka-cute!” In my head, I was like, “Nyeta, antayin mo ‘yung anak ko!” And because I’m naturally bitchy, I whispered to Boyet, “That kid is not even cute!” Sorry na! :p)

Anyway, please note that I am not a doctor. Everything you’re about to read beyond this point is just based from my personal experiences. If you have PCOS or you suspect to have it, the best thing to do is to go to an OB/GYN. Not me, not Google, okay?

So what is PCOS? PCOS means Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a hormonal imbalance which causes irregular periods, acne breakouts and unexplained weight gain. Women get diagnosed through a blood test or an ultrasound. I’ve always had irregular periods. Unfortunately, I was only diagnosed with PCOS in my late 20s when my then OB/GYN from Manila Doctors Hospital ordered for a transvaginal ultrasound. I’ve had countless of pelvic ultrasounds prior to that diagnosis. Dra. Australia Luz, the OB/GYN from St. Luke’s Global who later on handled our fertility workup, told me that pelvic ultrasound is not conclusive. My old OB/GYN should have gone me through transrectal ultrasound at the very least.

For those who have no idea what happens to women with PCOS, allow me to give you an “overview” first of a woman’s cycle. A healthy woman without PCOS has two ovaries, the left and the right (hold them up high, so clean and bright, hihi). The ovaries release an egg cell. (Usually one lang. In some cases, more than one which explains the existence of twins.) If the egg cell is fertilized by the sperm, the woman gets pregnant. If not, menstruation happens. And then the cycle continues. These lucky women can observe their cycle to have at least an approximation of when they ovulate. This makes planning to get pregnant a bit easier for them. This is not the case for women with PCOS. Our cycle is very unpredictable. In my case, I experienced not having my menstrual period for more than a year. The OB/GYN from Manila Doctors Hospital who initially handled my case at that time said that I was just underweight. (Oo mga bes, bwisit ‘yung doctor ko dati! Kapag naiisip ko siya ngayon, sinasakal ko siya sa utak ko. Haha!) Anyway, we don’t know when we ovulate. In my case, I didn’t ovulate at all. As a result, my ovaries had a lot of undeveloped eggs which appear as cysts in an ultrasound scan. Kaya siya tinawag na polycystic ovaries. It made getting pregnant very difficult for me. Ovulation had to be induced. I had to take hormones to make my ovaries release an egg. Unfortunately, my ovaries were resistant to such medications for years.

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Apart from the hormones, I had to take Metformin. It’s one of the most common medicines given to women with PCOS. Incidentally, it’s also the same pill given to diabetic patients as it controls the level of insulin in the body. Metformin is our best friend, but that best friend is a bitch. Its side effects are horrible – nausea, headache and LBM just to name a few. Apart from people who kept on asking me why I still didn’t have a baby, I also had to face the horrible side effects of Metformin. Naisip ko nga dati, bakit hindi na lang ‘tong mga tsismosang atat na atat akong mabuntis ang magtae araw-araw?! :p

Although PCOS is one of the major causes of infertility to women, there are other things attributed to this condition that women with PCOS have to go through. Normal ovaries produce a little amount of male hormones. But the ovaries of women with PCOS produce more which result in acne breakouts and unwanted hair. And then there’s weight gain! I’ve known women with PCOS who exercise like there’s no tomorrow and eat nothing but salad, and yet they still struggle with losing weight. Blame the messed up hormones and insulin!

In a society where body-shaming has become the new norm, women with PCOS have to go through the pains of being ridiculed. In a society where women are expected to bear children, women with PCOS have to endure the never-ending emotional struggles of feeling incapable.

Mataba.
Baboy.
Panget.
Bukbok.
Baog.


A lot people are so ignorant on what women with PCOS go through!

Some may say that PCOS is not a big deal. Hindi naman siya sikat so ano nga ba ang pinaglalaban namin? A person once told me, “Malayo naman pala sa bituka ‘yan,” after I explained what PCOS is. There was also this one time when a friend told me this story. My friend has an officemate who also has PCOS. A relative said to her officemate after finding out that she has PCOS, “PCOS LANG, HINDI KA NA MAGKAANAK?” Naknampucha! So yeah, PCOS is not a big deal.

I mentioned earlier that when I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2012, I only knew two women with PCOS. Now picture this. I have lunch buddies in the office: 5 girls, and 3 of us have PCOS! One of the girls was diagnosed with PCOS four years after she gave birth. That’s 3 out 5 just in my inner circle alone! Pffffttt! So yeah, PCOS is not a big deal.

For women who come out victorious mothers despite PCOS, the battle is not yet over. PCOS survivors who get pregnant are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. I was quite fortunate that my GD was managed through strict diet. Others had to inject insulin on a daily basis. GD is not something that should be taken lightly since it can harm both the mother and the baby. Nakaligtas ka sa PCOS, magkakaroon ka naman ng gestational diabetes. Ang saklap lang! And even if infertility is already out of the question, PCOS still poses as a health threat to women. Women with PCOS are at greater risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and ovarian cancer. So yeah, PCOS is not a big deal.

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I’m writing this post for two things.

First is to raise awareness so more people will know how serious PCOS is. The thing is, you’ll see a woman, and you won’t even have the slightest idea that she has PCOS. I have PCOS. I don’t have breakouts, and I am not overweight. I know someone who never missed a period but was later on diagnosed with PCOS. I also want people to know that apart from the physical struggles that these women go through, we also deal with our own demons. We fight the urge to eat our favorite chocolates because we’re hoping that even the smallest effort can help us succeed with our fertility treatments. We exercise to death even if we know that it’s nearly impossible to lose weight. We look at the mirror every morning hoping that one day, we’ll finally have our clear and rosy cheeks back. We throw up, go to the bathroom countless of times in a day and try to keep ourselves from banging our aching heads just because our bodies can’t handle the side effects of Metformin and Clomid. We strive to be genuinely happy for our best friends who got pregnant without even trying. We look at kids with tears in our eyes while asking the question, “Will I ever get my turn in motherhood?” We feel guilty for dreading to go to family reunions primarily because we already got so fed up with relatives asking why we are still childless. We pray at night and sometimes bargain with God with the hopes of having an answered prayer soon. We get sad each time we can’t buy that dream bag to save for the pocket-draining fertility workups. We cry every single time we hear of stories of mothers throwing babies in the trash can while our dysfunctional ovaries can’t even produce a single egg cell. We pray that our husbands will continue to love us even if we can’t give them the kind of family that they deserve. We are in a battlefield every single day, and sadly, there are days when our hearts are dying. So the next time you utter an insensitive remark, whether you said it in jest or simply out of your ignorance, remember that these women are going through tougher times.

Second, I’m writing this with the hopes to empower women with PCOS. I look back at the days when I felt so embarrassed about having PCOS, and I wonder why I felt so inferior about it. I hid it like I did a heinous crime. It’s probably because I was so ashamed that I didn’t fit the mold of a “real” woman. Now that I have this platform, I’ll be using it to make these women feel that PCOS can be managed. I want these women who are being “beaten” by PCOS to feel differently. You are beautiful! You are sexy! You are smart! You are funny! Don’t let other people feel that you’re less of a woman just because your ovaries are lazy. And for those who are still praying for a baby, let me be a living testament that although having PCOS makes it more difficult to conceive, it does not mean that it’s impossible. Hang in there! You’re going to be an amazing momma!
We welcomed Zayne to the Christian world on January 22, 2016. (I know, I know. Why am I blogging this just now? Better late than never, eh?!) Anyway, my husband and I decided to have our daughter baptized before my maternity leave ended. We didn’t really get the chance to thoroughly plan for the said event, but I’m glad that it turned out really well. Our stay-out helper started with us just a couple of weeks before Zayne’s baptism so I didn’t really get the chance to go out of the house to “physically” do the preparations. Apart from taking care of Zayne, my husband and I also agreed not to take her out of the house before having her baptized. It’s not really because of the pamahiin. We were just being extra careful since a newborn’s immune system is still very fragile. Checkup lang ang labas niya ng bahay, tapos uwi na agad. So technically, her baptism was the first time that she was welcomed by our family and friends, and the “world”, too. Hahaha!

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Nanay and Tatay sporting the New Parent’s Look
Good for Boyet he was able to hide his tired eyes with sunglasses! :p

Church: San Agustin Church

We were supposed to have a private baptism at Shrine of Jesus. But when my husband called to reserve, we found out that the only available times were 8AM and 4PM. We then decided to check out other churches, but most of them require a clearance from our parish. The parish where we belong does not entertain private baptisms. Running out of options, we decided to check out San Agustin Church. If you’ve been following me through this blog, then you probably know that it holds a special place in our hearts since we also got married in the same church.

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San Agustin Church didn’t require us to submit a clearance from our parish. There was no seminar prior to the baptism, but the priest incorporated it during the ceremony. Kapag hindi pa naman naintindihan ng mga ninong at ninang ang role nila sa anak ko sa haba at linaw ng paliwanag ni Father, aba ewan ko na lang talaga! Haha!

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We were also assisted by someone from the church before up until after the ceremony. And because it was a private baptism, we literally “owned” the entire church. Incidentally, the priest who officiated the baptism happens to be an acquaintance of one of Zayne’s ninongs. He opened the altar gate and allowed us to come closer to the altar for the picture-taking. Hihi. And of course, let us not forget how picture-perfect the church is. Lakas lang maka-we-also-got-married-here senti! :p

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Our little darling, Zayne, turned nine months old on August 8. I planned to take a day off from work so I decided to cook a pasta dish and fried chicken instead of the usual food takeout/delivery. Everything was turning out just fine, and I was just being my chillax self, when Zayne’s ninangs decided to join our celebration. Well, it was more of they invited themselves to join the celebration. Haha! My mind was already programmed that I would be preparing dinner for four people, so my mind started flying everywhere when I found out that Joie, Jeff, Aubrey, Joy and Skye would be joining us. Masarap naman daw yung fried chicken ko. Masarap din daw yung pasta ko (Thanks to the spanish sardines pasalubong of Jeff and Joie) kaso lang, nakalimutan kong patayin agad yung pasta. Ayun, overcooked. (Guys, huwag niyo na uulitin ‘yun ha?! Haha!)

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Adding more fun to our celebration, and making up for my semi-palpak pasta was the cake baked by Joie! S’mores, antokwa! Super sarap!!! It’s so good that I felt really bad sharing it with other people. Hahaha!

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She felt bad that she was still not allowed to have a piece of her own cake! :p

Zayne didn’t mind the extra faces that night. Gone are the days when she would simply stare blankly (aka tulaley) at people’s faces. She was giggling non-stop, and she definitely loved showing off her new tricks to her ninongs and ninangs. She also adores her Ate Skye. Skye was running here and there while Zayne was obviously trying to escape her booster chair! Hahaha. Ang cute nila “maglaro” haha!

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She wore a top from H&M. And in case you noticed, yes, I paired it with a Bamboo Dappy cloth diaper! Please don’t judge me. I am not a bad mother. Haha! It has been a struggle to make her stay still which explains the choice of outfit. :p

Taking a decent photo is just as hard as feeding her especially at night. She does acrobatics and action-star-level stunts while I breastfeed her. She has also developed a personal relationship with the boobies. She talks and laughs at them all the time. Akala mo tropapips sila. Parang, “O mga besh, kamusta ang araw niyo? Ok ba ang milk production?” Hahahaha!!!

Zayne’s first tooth finally erupted before she turned nine months old. She started showing signs of teething as early as four months tapos forever bago naman lumabas! Pabebeng ngipin!

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We had some issues with her slow weight gain the previous months, but she finally started bouncing back. Her pediatrician wasn’t really worried because 1) her height is above the normal range, and 2) her “skills” are already advanced for her age! She could easily stand on her own for a long time. She actually watches TV while standing up. A few days after she turned eight months old, Zayne surprised her Ninang Aubrey. Zayne was standing the whole time her Ninang Aubrey was talking to her! Ang yabang na daw ni Zayne!

A video posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on

She finally gained around 400 grams before her ninth month. Prior to that, she only gained 60 grams. Parang wiwi pa yata sa diaper niya ang 60 grams na na-gain niya. Haha! I was not really that concerned with her weight gain. First, because she is not sickly. She only had sipon once which lasted for a day. And second, she is not a picky eater!

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Yes, friends! That is ampalaya! :p

She also started walking sideways while holding on to something. Favorite hangout niya ang gilid ng couch. Haha! Everybody in the house is also so amused every time she dances. Madalas may head bang pa e! She dances when she hears songs from Hi-5, Sofia the First, and her favorite, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. And because we’re trying to raise a bilingual kid, she also dances when my parents watch Wowowin! Hahahaha!

And since we’re already on the topic of raising a bilingual kid, we’re quite amazed that Zayne gets to interact with the people around her. May kwenta na siyang kausap. Haha! She responds to people who talk to her either in English or Filipino. Where’s Papa Jesus? Nasaan si Papa Jesus? She would then point to our house altar.

Where’s the light? Nasaan ang ilaw?

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Show me your tongue. Where’s your tongue? Nasaan daw ang dila?



Beautiful eyes. Ganda mata.

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We have been exerting a conscious effort when we converse when Zayne is around. She’s like a sponge who absorbs everything she hears! There was this one time when Mama and Papa told me that Zayne had cough. Thank God for a mother’s instinct, I already knew right away that Zayne was well! She started “coughing” ehem-ehem level with matching dahak, and then she smirked! Oh yes, she did! ‘Yung parang sinabi niya sa akin through her eyes na, “Nauto ko sila Papa Lolo at Mama Lola!” I told my parents, “Umaarte lang ‘yan!” I found out the following day that her nanny was having itchy throat. Antokwa ‘di ba?! Hahaha!

Aside from mamama, papapa, dedede and tatata, she could also say - diti! Hahaha! I kept on saying DIRTY each time she holds our curtains. Loko rin e. She would hold the curtains, look at me, smile and say DITI. Haha. And oh, there have been times when she refers to her milk as BATEH (aka bottle) instead of dede. Haha. Uma-accent ang loka!

I have long accepted the fact that NANAY would not be her first word. It’s very easy for her to say TATA, but here’s the funny thing. She does not say NANAY when people ask or teach her to say NANAY. But there were a few times when she woke up in the middle of the night and found out I was nowhere near her. I went to the bathroom and from there, I heard her cries. And yes, she kept on calling me NANAY. Pang-emergency cases lang daw kasi si NANAY! Haha!

I’m also glad that she is still a very low maintenance baby. I don’t feel the pressure to buy her toys because she finds joy in playing with the ends of the puzzle floor mat, the remote control, her lampin, and whatever it is she’s holding. Her favorite game is the old-fashioned bahay-bahayan. A blanket already makes her very happy. Her Tatay and I would go with her under the blanket and pretend that it’s our house. Aliw na aliw na siya. Hahaha!

A video posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on

I look at my daughter and wonder for two things all the time. First, where did the past nine months go? And second, what have I done to deserve a sweet, smart and lovable child? At times, I still look at her with amazement, and I would tell myself, “Look at that former egg cell, the one that your effin’ dysfunctional ovaries almost failed to produce.” Hihihi! =))

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Being a neophyte mother who is currently sharing the load of paying two mortgages with my dear husband, I look at payday as a gateway to an avalanche of bills to be paid. Harharhar! Gone are the days when I could go the nearest mall to score a new bag or a new pair of shoes. Now, as soon as all my “obligations” are settled, I usually do some online shopping for my daughter. #BuhayNanay

Honestly, it wasn’t really that hard to let go of shopping. When you’re already a mom, more shopping only means two things – more clutter in the house and less college fund for your child. :p But even if I’ve already let go of a lot of unnecessary things that could put a hole in my wallet, I still make sure to treat myself once in a while. I work hard, after all. I didn’t think twice saying goodbye to shopping, but there’s one treat that I chose to hang on to – EATING OUT! If others skip meals to buy gadgets, I don't buy gadgets so I can have nice meals. Hahaha! :p

My husband and I used to eat out at least three times a week. But we made a conscious effort to limit it to one to two times a week when we started paying for our house amortization. So imagine us during payday. FIESTA! This is why I was so ecstatic when I received an invite from Raintree Restaurants a couple of weeks ago. Apart from trying out their good food (I already knew that their food would be awesome because I’ve been to Stella before), I was delighted to be a bearer of good news so foodies like me would hear about their Payday Buffet at Terraz Bistro & Meetings!

Terraz is a cozy restaurant housed at the third level of Zuellig Building. (Yes, that glassed building in Makati that becomes “invisible”. Hihi.) During paydays, they host eat-all-you-can buffet lunch (PHP395++) and dinner (PHP450++). It’s a perfect treat for frugal, corporate slaves like me who want to indulge in a gastronomic adventure!

Our host was more than generous to allow me to bring ze bestfriend with me for dinner. As soon as we set foot in Terraz, I already knew that it’s far different from the usual buffet places that we got used to.

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We were welcomed with a very inviting setup with perfect lighting and good music. The ambiance is cozy yet very classy. They have couches providing a quite relaxed environment which is perfect for corporate meetings or simply an extended night out with your friends.

Another thing I noticed is that the buffet spread is arranged and spaced smartly. Hindi siksikan. Hindi masakit sa mata. Plus, their presentation is simply awesome. I’m sorry, but my photos might not give justice to my claim so just take my word for it. :p

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Now, do you believe me?

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This, by far, is the most dramatic tawilis setup I have ever seen! :p

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I’m not saying this because they didn’t make me pay for my dinner. You know me, guys. I don’t lie to you. Haha. But believe me when I say that their food is sooooo, sooooo, sooooooooo good! Aubrey and I told our host, Michele, “Hindi namin ‘to sinasabi kasi nakaharap ka ha. Pero masarap talaga!”

I have to say that I’ve been to other buffet restaurants that offer a wider range of food choices. ‘Yung tipong impatso-level kind of dami ng pagkain tapos karamihan naman ng food ay forgettable. Such is not the case at Terraz Payday Buffet. First, because their buffet menu actually changes. This gives diners variety and another reason to look forward to the next payday. (Excellent marketing strategy there, Terraz! 😊) And second, what the spread may have lacked in quantity, Terraz definitely compensated it with quality. They exerted an extra effort for the presentation to make the dishes look more appealing. And oh, have I already mentioned that their food is delish?! Hahaha. Eto, para na akong sirang plaka!

Everything I tasted was good, but ranking on top of my list is the pork belly (lower right portion of the photo below). I only got two pieces of the pork, one decision I later on regretted. I stood up to get more of it. The melt-in-your-mouth pork was such a delight to my taste buds.

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I also personally loved their chicken inasal salad. I was simply just intrigued when I saw it served in a glass. I’m glad that it piqued my curiosity because it turned out to be another favorite! The smoky flavor of the grilled chicken was very evident.

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Apparently, August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month that’s why I decided to dedicate a spot on my blog to document my breastfeeding journey. My Little Kolokoy is currently nine months old. I know mothers who have been in this journey longer so I am definitely not an expert on this. But this is my blog so I have the right to write anything I wish. Haha! Just kidding. But seriously, there might be a clueless, neophyte mother out there who is probably feeling desperate and needs a boost to make her continue with her journey. I hope you will learn a thing or two from my post.

Every journey is different. Here is mine...

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I promised myself that I would be breastfeeding all my kids. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Aside from the fact that this condition made us wait for almost four years to conceive a child, I was also preparing myself for another struggle that I was about to face. Women diagnosed with PCOS usually suffer from inadequate milk supply. This is why I chose to be proactive. The moment my pregnancy was confirmed, I started incorporating malunggay and soups in my daily diet. I am asthmatic so I was trained at a young age to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Keeping myself hydrated has never been a struggle for me.

I’m glad that I gave birth in St. Luke’s Global. All their medical practitioners helped me during my first few days of breastfeeding Zayne. Zayne was immediately put on my chest for the UNANG YAKAP and for her first latch. I looked at my tiny newborn baby, looking so peaceful while feeding. I told myself, “So this is how to breastfeed a baby. It’s so easy! How hard can it get?!”

I spoke too soon!

We were wheeled in our room around midnight. A few hours later, I wanted to apologize to the Breastfeeding Goddess for my blasphemous remark about breastfeeding. It’s not freakin’ easy!!! Zayne was crying non-stop! I was doing everything by the book. I was applying everything I learned from years of reading other mommy blogs and breastfeeding forums. I was doing whatever the nurses, doctors and lactation consultants told me to do. But Zayne was still crying. It didn’t help that I gave birth via CS so my entire body was sore. I was sleepless and groggy. And this tiny monster on my arms just would not stop crying!

I wanted to give up, but I am glad that I didn’t. One of the lactation consultants gave me more tips. She said that Zayne is a natural with her good latch and sucking movements. She said that Zayne was just getting frustrated because milk was probably not coming out. She told me that I just needed to be patient and continue to offer my breast. After all, a newborn baby wants a mother’s breast not just for her milk but also for comfort. But I started to doubt my milk supply. Sabi ko, “Shet! Wala nga yata talaga akong gatas!”

Things became harder the following days. There was this one time when three pediatricians had to help me restrain Zayne while feeding her. I was about to cry out of disappointment, frustration and shame. Oo, shame. Hiyang hiya ako sa mga doktor sa pag-eeskandalo ng anak ko. Haha! But seriously, I felt like a failure. I felt like I was not giving what my baby needed. I felt like a bad horrible mother. I guess that is one of the many reasons other moms chose to stop breastfeeding. But I didn’t. I'm glad I didn’t stop.

Milk finally started flowing the next few days. My newborn baby was latched to me almost every single minute. I was sleep-deprived, exhausted and in so much pain. But if I were given the chance to do it all over again, I gladly would. That awesome feeling of looking at your baby sleeping soundly so close to your body is something I would never ever trade for anything. I finally had milk. I was finally giving what my baby needed. I told myself that everything is just hard at the beginning. I thought that things would start to get easier.

Again, I spoke too soon.

Strike 2 na ako with the Breastfeeding Goddess! Hahaha!

Other moms had issues with inadequate supply. It was something I prepared for given the fact that it is known to come with women with PCOS. My PCOS “side effect” was something I didn’t even see coming. I didn’t even know that there is such thing. Instead of inadequate milk supply, I had OVERSUPPLY! I found out later on that 1 out of 3 women with PCOS suffer from oversupply of breastmilk. So you might say it’s not a problem. Well, you’re dead wrong!

First, I wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t even have milk storage at that time. I was collecting milk in a mason jar! I would keep it in the refrigerator and put it in Zayne's water for bathing to cure her infant acne. My friend, Joie, gave me a three-piece Looney Tunes storage bottle. But it only took me 2 days to fill them. I really thought that it was the normal kind of milk supply. I only realized that I was having an oversupply when my best friend saw our freezer. She kept on telling me that I didn’t need milk bags. “Storage bottles lang, Tol! Sayang ang milk bags. Itatapon mo lang agad.” I showed her our freezer. “Ay antokwa! Dati ako isang kahig, isang tuka ang gatas. Milk bags nga kailangan mo, Tol!”

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Our freezer on February 2016
('Yung lalagyan ng ice cubes, milk din ang laman! :p)

Second, it pained me as a mother to see Zayne suffering from oversupply. Someone told me, “Ang sarap kaya ng problema mo. Ang dami mong gatas e.” Well, that person never saw my baby repeatedly choking from my own milk! She would cry endlessly after each letdown. Ikaw ba naman palunukin ng rumaragasang gatas! And she was just a couple of weeks old!

With the help of Google, I started to make things a bit more bearable for both of us. I would feed her in a laid back position. My husband was always on the lookout during feeding time. I would hand express milk before making Zayne latch, and I would pass her back to Boyet in case she starts to choke so I could hand express the milk again. I had to delay using an electric pump thinking that it would make my oversupply problem even worse. That routine made me a master of hand expressing milk. Haha!

The struggle became harder when I had to come back to work after my maternity leave. It was so hard for me to develop a pattern in expressing milk. Even if I had to pump every 2-3 hours, I still kept on leaking. Imagine niyo ha. Kakabalik ko lang ng work. Naghahabol ako sa mga na-miss ko, tapos sisirit ang gatas ko in the middle of a meeting kahit kakatapos ko lang mag-pump! Nyahaha!

But I managed to embrace my oversupply issue. I figured that it was God’s way of compensating me for having dysfunctional ovaries. I donated my excess breastmilk. I first gave a few bags to Boyet's officemate who gave birth to a premature baby. I also donated to a local hospital. I was also a “surrogate” mom to Enchang, Aubrey’s niece. Enchang’s mom also has PCOS. I also gave bags of milk to my long-time friend and mommy batchmate, Dianne. Her daughter, Padi, was born just three weeks after I gave birth to Zayne. Hirap na hirap man ako magka-baby dati, biglang dami naman ng “babies” ko because of my milk. =)

A photo posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on



My milk supply has now stabilized. I already stopped donating milk because I am now producing enough for Zayne’s needs. I still have some frozen breastmilk, but those are being used to compensate my “bad days” of milk production. On good days, I can take home around 16oz milk for Zayne. I express milk in the office using an electric pump twice a day. On better days, I can hand express 6oz of milk just from my right boob alone. Hahaha. Yes, hand express. Pake niyo ba e overachiever si right e. :p

I have been exclusively breastfeeding Zayne for nine months. I plan to do so as long as I can. I know (and I admire) a lot of mothers who have been in this journey longer than I have been. I don’t consider myself as an “expert”, but in case you’re currently lost and clueless, like I was not so long ago, here are some tips:

1. Commit to it.

I believe that commitment is one of the major contributors in being successful in your breastfeeding journey. You commit that you'll continue breastfeeding your child despite the hardships. Know that there will be days when your nipples will get sore, your baby will bite, you’ll be too tired and too sleep-deprived, but sticking to your commitment is the first step to your success.


2. Talk to your spouse and make sure you get his 100% support.

I made sure that my husband was engaged in this journey from Day 1. I tell him about everything I read online. I actually feel sad when I read stories of moms who get disheartened because they feel that their spouses are not supportive of their choice to breastfeed. Although it’s true that the final decision always falls in the hands of the mother, it will still be better if both parents are in sync. Involving my husband was the best step I took. When I was still too groggy and grumpy to answer back those who were questioning me, my husband was there to defend our choice.

Oldie: Anong gatas ni Zayne?
Boyet: Kay Je lang. Hindi yan mag formula hanggang kaya ni Je.
Oldie: Kulang ‘yan.
Boyet: Hindi ‘yan kulang. Maliit lang ang bituka ng bagong panganak. Hindi niya kailangan ng maraming gatas.

Pak!

Me: Tatay, nabasa ko sa isang group. Kumakain daw siya sa foodcourt tapos pinaalis siya ng guard kasi nagpadede siya.
Boyet: Anong ginawa nung nanay?
Me: Inaway niya ‘yung guard.
Boyet: Kapag nangyari sa atin, huwag mong aawayin… ako ang aaway sa guard!

Hahahahaha!

My husband is also making my life easier. He volunteered to make Zayne burp after every feeding session so I could at least nap or brush my teeth or go to the bathroom. We would take turns in changing the diapers. When Zayne was having growth spurts and refused to unlatch, Boyet took it upon himself to prepare healthy meals for me. Up until today, he’s actively helping me with the household chores. He throws the trash and washes the dishes while I put Zayne to sleep.

A photo posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on

TANDAAN: Talo ang breastfeeding nanay ng breasfeeding nanay at tatay. ^_^


3. Look for a hospital and medical practitioners who will help you on your breastfeeding journey.

Hospitals should be strictly following the milk code. Unfortunately, may mga nakakalimot pa rin. This is why it’s vital to look for a breastfeeding-friendly hospital. I’m lucky that I gave birth in St. Luke’s Global. Their doctors, nurses and lactation consultants were very helpful. Despite feeling that I already knew everything and thinking that my mother’s instinct would just kick in, I was wrong to think that I no longer need help. Fortunately, all the medical practitioners of St. Luke’s assisted me and Boyet – from proper way of carrying a baby up to techniques in latching and burping.


4. Be patient.

Yes, it’s hard. No matter how well-read and well-prepared you are, you’ll definitely come across breastfeeding issues - milk supply, latching, making sure that you don’t break your baby’s bones (haha, but this is true), timing, biting, pulling, cracked nipples and a lot more. It does not help that you’re tired, sore and sleep-deprived ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME! But believe me, it gets better in time. You’ll get used to it. In my experience, it was hard the first three months. By the fourth month, sisiw na lang. Taas ng shirt, salpak ng dede kay Zayne, tapos.


5. Research, research, research.

Know the facts. I spent a lot of time reading online materials (make sure your sources are credible) about breastfeeding. I was surprised that a lot of things I used to know were just myths. Hindi pala bawal magpadede ng pagod. Sabi kasi ng mga tanders madedede daw ang pagod at stress. Haha, pucha! Kainis!

Knowing the facts will help you decide what’s best for you and your child. Plus, your knowledge in breastfeeding is the best way to counterattack those who will try to question your decision.

Troll: Huwag ka na magpadede. Isang taon na anak mo, wala ng sustansiya ang gatas mo.
You: My breastmilk has fats, calcium, protein and more than enough vitamins for my baby. Plus, it has antibodies, something that formula milk can’t give to my child. O eto bente pesos, mag Google ka. Sa panahon ngayon, bawal na ang free data. (Char! Pero parang mas ok 'yung, eto bente pesos, humanap ka ng kausap mo. Haha!)


6. Join online support groups.

Members of such groups are real mothers with real breastfeeding problems. Joining support groups will help you at least have a glimpse of what other breastfeeding moms go through. But this tip should go hand in hand with the next one…


7. Filter the noise.

There’s sometimes too much noise in social media – unsolicited advice and worse, mommy wars. Although a lot of these groups really do help new moms, some may bring unnecessary stress to a hormonal breastfeeding momma. Some of the “tips” can make a mother feel guilty, disheartened and inadequate. Sorry to say, pero ang daming perpektong nanay sa social media! O e di kayo na. This is where filtering the noise comes in. Join online groups and fill your knowledge tank, but make sure that you are surrounded with your close and trusted mommy friends. They will be the ones who’ll tell you that it’s okay to bend the “rules” once in a while. They’ll be the ones to give you the assurance that you’re not a bad mother if you sway away from what the purists insist. They’ll remind you that there is no perfect formula in motherhood. Kapag pinakinggan mo kasi lahat ng mamaru mode sa social media, masisiraan ka ng bait!


8. Know what works for you.

Babies have varying needs, and so are mothers. Know what these needs are, and know how to address them. I initially used a nursing cover because Zayne allowed me to do so. Some babies are bothered with a nursing cover, but my baby wasn’t. Tuwa pa nga siya kasi akala nya peek-a-boo ang drama namin. Hahaha. As long as you are not putting your baby’s life in danger, then feel free to experiment to know the things that’ll suit your needs.


9. Get the right tools.

A photo posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on

If you’re a working mom, invest in a good breast pump. It does not have to be expensive. Just make sure that whatever you’re getting will suit your work schedule (Are you always in a hurry at work?), your lifestyle (Do you commute? Are you traveling a lot?) and your budget. Also get yourself comfortable nursing bras. Again, it does not have to be expensive. Mine cost around PHP250-350 each. May nabili pa ako na SALE for PHP199! If you have an issue with oversupply, get breast pads. If you have the time and luxury to buy a book or go to breastfeeding workshops, do so. (Because your brain is also a tool! *wink wink*)


10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

I’ve seen a lot of mothers who are failing at taking care of themselves. Yes, mothers are supposed to be selfless. But I also believe that in order for our little ones to receive the utmost care, mothers really need to pay attention in taking care of themselves. Get the right nutrition. Hydrate well. Try to get enough sleep. (I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted sleep, but I make sure that I nap instead of doing unnecessary stuff like Facebooking. Hahaha.) Seek help from friends and relatives. (I ask my mom to carry Zayne so I can finally shower. Hindi ako superwoman. Kung superwoman ka, e di bahala ka sa buhay mo, huwag mo akong idamay. Haha.) Find time to do what you love doing. (I may not blog as often as I used to before, but I still strive to find time to do it. Outlet ko ang blogging e.) And more importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Motherhood can get really stressful, but don’t forget that you need happy hormones to produce enough milk for your baby.


I don’t think any scientific study has ever proven that formula milk is better than breastmilk. I strongly believe that breastfeeding should be a mother’s primary choice. (Teh, huwag naman sana 'yung buntis ka pa lang ayaw mo na agad subukan magpadede. Bakit? Feeling mo para lang sa mga walang pera ang breastfeeding? Ayaw mong masira ang katawan mo? Ayaw mo kasi masakit? Huwag ganun!) But I’ve also seen mothers who struggled with breastfeeding. So I do hope that other moms will stop treating formula milk like a poison. If you think that your little one is no longer getting the kind of mother that he deserves mainly because you’re already too stressed out in producing milk that your body can’t produce, then don’t be too hard on yourself. And if you decide to switch because you’ve already exhausted all means of producing milk, no need to explain your decision to the world. Not everyone will understand it anyway. :)

P_20160702_142528
Zayne: I wonder where we're going!

I love to travel. My Instagram and Twitter handles won’t be @dahwanderer for nothing. I spent the first half of my adult life WONDERING how it felt like to see the world. But because I was born sickly and I desperately wanted to save more money for a wedding, a car and a house, traveling needed to wait. I got really sick around 2007, and from then on, I decided to stop WONDERING and start WANDERING. I started having frequent road trips with my best friends – Subic, Baguio and the likes.

Around 2010, I had the privilege to fly to USA for an onshore assignment. My wandering feet got even itchier! Boyet and I started traveling together as soon as we got married. Most of the time, we traveled with our constant trip buddies slash best friends.

travel
travel

From having road trips, our travels got a notch higher - from on-the-spot purchases of bus tickets to always being on the lookout for airline seat sales and meticulously comparing hotel prices while reading travelers’ reviews at the same time. Nag-level up ang travel, kaya level up din ang preparations! Booking and preparing for a trip became quite tedious.

Now, almost all of my trip buddies are married. And to add spice to that, we now have a baby (Zayne) and a toddler (Skye) in tow. Once again, traveling needed to take a back seat. Aside from the babies, another reason is that nobody has the time to organize a trip. Gone are the days when we could spend hours “analyzing” what would be the best deal for plane tickets and accommodations. Fortunately, we recently discovered Traveloka!

traveloka_flight

Consider Traveloka as an online travel agency (OTA) that provides hotels and air tickets booking. The site allows travelers to conveniently book flights and hotels in Southeast Asia. A few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes, and you are off to an adventure.

It offers competitive prices which allows travelers to get the best deals that suit their needs. No need to go from one website to another. Traveloka also brags of honest pricing so users are guaranteed of paying without any hidden charges. No more scenes like this:

Wow, SALE! 
This is destiny! 
Book ko na agad agad!
Click NEXT
Tax...
Booking fee...
Website maintenance fee...
Other eklavu fees...
Chenes chenes fees...
Voila! 
Ubos ang pera. 
Nganga! @_@

traveloka_hotelPhotos grabbed from Traveloka


So ze trip buddies and I have been planning to go to Bacolod towards the end of this year. Our Viber group has gone crazy as we discuss our plans for our first trip with the kiddos.

I’m glad that parents who love to travel now have a lot of tools to aid them in pursuing their passion. I received quite a number of negative reactions from “oldies” who found out that my husband and I wanted to go back to traveling. But I firmly believe that traveling is one of the best gifts that I can ever give to Zayne. Plus, I don’t want her to grow up thinking that learning is limited to books. There are a lot of things to learn while traveling!

My friends and I love to mix adventure and comfort when traveling. Because we have been trip buddies for years, we already know each other’s “requirements” in traveling. Joie would always prefer a hotel with a swimming pool. And my workaholic husband cannot live without an internet connection. But this will be the first time that we will be traveling with the kids so it feels like we will be going on a trip with new trip buddies with different sets of “requirements” and probably DEMANDS, too!

I have started talking to parents who have already tried traveling with kids. I am bombarding them with questions like:

How do you pack?
Do you bring a stroller, a baby carrier or both?
What do you do when a baby decides to throw tantrums in the middle of a busy tour?

So far, my fellow wanderer parents are generous enough to share some tips.

1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Research. Research. Research.
Gone are the days when you can go on spontaneous trips. Although it is still possible, it’s now extra challenging because you now have a child to consider.

2. Know the purpose of your trip.
Are you going on a food trip? Shopping trip? Do you want to have an adventurous or laid back trip?

3. Make sure that your itinerary is age-appropriate for your kids.
My husband and I have never been to Hongkong. Our initial plan was to go to HK for Zayne's first birthday instead of throwing her a party. But we realized that we would not be enjoying it. We can’t go on rides together, and Zayne might freak out if she sees a giant Mickey Mouse! Hahahaha!

4. Manage your expectations.
All the parents I talked to told me that the itineraries they prepared were not 100% realized. The baby decided to nap a few minutes before the scheduled tour. It started to rain before the outdoor show. The baby had a diaper leak in the middle of a food trip. These things happen so be prepared to have your plans changed at the last minute. If an unforeseen thing happens...

5. Breathe and just enjoy the ride!
After all, when traveling, it’s more important to collect memories rather that those Instagram-worthy photos.


Are you also planning for an upcoming trip? For parents, how different was it to plan for a trip when you were still single versus now that you already have kids? Do you have any tips for traveling with a baby? Please leave your comments below. We badly need tips and suggestions! Hahahaha!

And oh, in case you have already been to Bacolod, where can we find the best:
1. Chicken Inasal?
2. Napoleones?
3. Butterscotch?

Hihi!
Waiting for a child for almost four years gave me more than enough time to research almost everything I needed to know about parenting. Although no amount of research can fully prepare a woman to motherhood, I have to say that the things I read on those long years of waiting somehow made me more equipped in being a neophyte mom. I formed a habit of reading some mommy blogs. But more importantly, I made sure to be surrounded with trusted mommy friends. One of the things I learned even before I got pregnant was SIDS.

I initially thought that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is just a rare occurrence, but I was so surprised to find out that it is actually one of the leading causes of babies’ death. More online reading led me to articles that relate real-life stories of parents who lost their babies due to SIDS! You kiss your baby good night, and then you wake up in the morning that your little one is already gone?! That scared the hell out of me.

According to studies, there are some practices that can reduce the risk of SIDS. I decided to stick on the said practices despite having oldies around me who kept on bugging me why Zayne’s crib looked so bare. Dapat may unan baka ma-flat ang ulo. Dapat may padding sa gilid kasi mauuntog. I patiently told them that it’s actually safer for babies to sleep on a bare crib with tight-fitted sheets. Si Zayne lang ang laman ng crib. No pillows. No blankets. No stuffed toys. We don’t hang clothes or lampin on the crib. (One time as I was looking for my baby pictures to convince my husband that Zayne really looked like me, I saw some of my baby photos. Ang dami kong unan sa crib with matching thick blanket! Was Mama trying to kill me? Hahaha! Thank God for the Internet. Parents now know better!)

Aside from these practices, I made sure that I was buying the safer alternative for my baby. I was given some blankets and swaddles, but I used them as a towel instead. I only used Halo SleepSack for swaddling Zayne. Yes, I am that kind of a praning mother.

A photo posted by Jerellt Abenoja-Andrade (@dahwanderer) on
One-day-old Zayne wearing a Halo SleepSack Swaddle

I went to a baby fair and bought two pieces of Halo SleepSack for Zayne. When friends asked me what I wanted as a baby shower gift, I would always say, “HALO!” My office mates gave me another Halo SleepSack. Don’t ever think that you’ll have too many of Halo SleepSack. Zayne soiled all three on her first two nights at the hospital! (She was a five-pounder baby so the diaper was still too small for her. Major poop tagas on the first day! Got the picture? Haha! :p)

Halo SleepSack was my lifesaver! This is not a sponsored post, ha! But I believe that it really is a great “tool” for parents. It is safer than using a blanket. Zayne was very ginawin. We even had to turn off the hospital’s AC because Zayne was crying non-stop. Giniginaw lang pala. The nurses put her in a double swaddle on her first night. The following day, I put her in her SleepSack with the AC still turned off. Ang sarap ng tulog! And because it’s a wearable blanket, I could just put her inside the sack and zip it. Medyo dumugo ang groggy ko pang utak with all the many folds that I had to do with the conventional swaddle! And I almost had a heart attack when I saw a part of the swaddle covering Zayne’s nose!

People were always surprised when we tell them that Zayne had already been sleeping through the night as soon as she turned a month old. Yes, there were times when she would wake up to feed or to demand for a diaper change, but she never woke us up for no apparent reason. I really have to thank Halo SleepSack for that. (The first time it happened, my husband and I jumped out of our beds asking, “Bakit hindi tayo ginising ni Zayne?!” Hahaha!)

I also loved the versatility of the design of Halo. I bought a newborn Halo SleepSack swaddle that lets the baby’s hands be covered, too. Iwas ginaw. Iwas gulat. Babies have the tendency to wake up with their own movements. ‘Yung anak ko pa naman, akala mo naka 10 baso ng kape sa sobrang magugulatin! A few weeks later, she started to discover her hands so I stopped using the arms wrap of the SleepSack.

All their SleepSacks also have the words BACK IS BEST in front. This is a good reminder for parents to always put their babies to sleep on their backs.

I also find it ideal for babies who are super active! There was this one time when I was too sleepy to put Zayne on her SleepSack. I ended up waking up in the middle of the night because her feet got stuck in between the spaces of the crib. Alam niyo ’yung sabi ng mga tanders tuwing makukulit ang mga bata dati? “Isasako kita e!” Ayun, less kulit while sleeping with Halo SleepSack! Hahaha!

halo sleepsack swaddle (2)
Starting Position :p

halo sleepsack swaddle (3)

halo sleepsack swaddle (1)

halo sleepsack swaddle (4)
‘di ba, tulog pa rin?!



A SleepSack was also a staple in our diaper bag for the first six months. It would come in handy during our monthly visits to the pediatrician.

My husband and I were too scared of co-sleeping with Zayne so she stayed in the crib for a few months. She started sleeping with us when she was around four months old. That was the time when she was aggressively feeding at night. I still put her on her ever reliable SleepSack. I only stopped using it when she was around six or seven months old. That is because she would wake up and immediately sit or stand up. Ayun, para siyang laging talo sa sack race! Hihi.

If you’re an expecting mother who just stumbled upon this blog, believe me when I say that Halo SleepSack is a very nice investment. Yes, I consider it an investment because it is quite pricey, but I am pretty sure that my future babies can still use the SleepSacks. My husband and I specifically bought neutral colors. When one of the sellers at the fair gave us pink, Boyet said while laughing, “Huwag pink Ate, susundan ko pa agad ‘to ng lalaki!” Hahahaha!

If you’re still single and clueless about what to give a friend as a baby shower gift, consider giving her a Halo SleepSack! You’ll definitely get the Best Tita for Life award! Hahaha!

But seriously, I consider Halo SleepSack as a newborn necessity. To know more about Halo SleepSack and the safer way to sleep for babies, do check out their website and Instagram page.
Hello, my lovely readers! I hope you are safe and dry wherever you are. Parang forever na ang ulan ‘no? We’ve been having such gloomy weather for a couple of weeks already. I hope that your mood won’t get even gloomier after reading this Kolokoy Household post! Hahahaha!

My best friend, Aubrey, and I work in the same building. Madalas, sumasabay siya sa amin umuwi. Kaya naman pagsasamantalahan ko na ang pagiging user-friendly niya. Guest siya ngayon sa episode na ‘to! Hahaha!


SHIFT

One time, we were talking about her sister who was applying for a new job in Makati.

Me: O, kamusta naman ‘yung application niya?
Aubrey: Ok naman. Tanggap na yata siya e.
Me: So hindi na siya night shift?
Aubrey: Hindi na. Ang ganda nga ng shift niya e. 6AM-3PM.
Me: Wow! Ayos ‘yun! Walang traffic papasok at pauwi.
Aubrey: Oo. Tapos parang ang haba pa ng araw mo.
Boyet: Panget kaya ang 6-3!
Me: Maganda kaya!
Boyet: Panget yun!
… … …
… … …
… … …
Boyet: Ang mas magandang shift, 10-3!
Aubrey: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oo nga naman!


FERRERO RONDNOIR

Aubrey asked me if Ferrero Rondnoir is expensive. Actually, hindi ko alam kung ano ‘yun. Nag-Google pa nga ako e! Hahahaha! After ko mag-Google, sinagot ko naman ang tanong niya. :p

ferrero

May point naman ako, ‘di ba?! Bwahahahahaha!!!


SELENA

A couple of weeks ago, a radio station was having a contest, and the prize was a concert ticket.

Me: Concert daw nino?
Boyet: Ni Selena.
Me: Ahhh.
Boyet: DALRYMPLE!
Me: Wow! Bagong bago ‘yung joke mo!


BILINGUAL

We’re trying really hard to raise a bilingual child, that is why my husband and I agreed that we should speak either in straight English or straight Filipino. Bawal ang adulterated English. Bawal ang conyo.

One time, I was telling Zayne to stop holding the curtains. Maalikabok na kasi.

Me: Zayne, do not touch it. It’s dirty!
Boyet: Zayne, don’t! Don’t… don’t…
Me: O, ano’ng don’t?! Tagalugin mo na lang kasi kesa nahihirapan ka.
Boyet: Don’t, don’t lang naman talaga ang gusto kong sabihin.
Me: Huh?!
Boyet: In Tagalog, HUWAG! HUWAG!

Ako pa ang mali! @_@


FERN-C

I asked Boyet to go to the grocery because we ran out of cotton.

Me: Ay, Tatay. Pabili na lang din ako ng vitamins.
Boyet: Anong vitamins?
Me: FERN-C.
Boyet: Ok.

After 5 minutes.

Boyet: Bulak lang, Nay? Ay saka FRENZY pala!
Me: Anooooo????
Boyet: FRENZY?

May balak. Strike 1!

Me: FRENZY mo mukha mo!
Boyet: Bakit?
Me: FERN-C, Tay. FERN-C!
Boyet: Ano ba’ng sinabi ko?
Me: FRENZY.
Boyet: Bakit, ano ba ‘yung FRENZY?

Maang-maangan. Strike 2!

Hahahahahaha!


Enjoy the rest of the week! =)