Getting Used to Fancy Cinema Seats

When Marcus was smaller he almost got stuck in a cinema seat when the foldable chair tilted back in place. Since then he would hesitate to be seated alone for fear of falling in the gap once more. So it did come as a surprise when he immediately loved the first time he experienced watching a movie in a stable and comfy recliner seat. It was back in 2016 in California. It was a Star Wars film.

With our recent preference to avoid Alabang traffic we discovered that Cinema 3 of Solenad in Nuvali also offers such luxurious seats. For P400+ (approx USD7) per person it’s a win-win regardless if I like the movie or not. The recliners make comfy beds when boredom or effect of graveyard shift takes over.

Uptown Mall’s ultra cinema knows how to spoil a kid.

Two days ago we found a better movie deal. Uptown Mall in BGC has what they call ultra cinema which likewise offers recliner seats except that for almost the same price tickets already include refillable snacks of soda and popcorn. Take note, refillable. Soda. Popcorn. Besides the regular buttons to control the seat’s positions, there’s a summon button for the attendant when snacks run out. Thankfully that didn’t happen and our Incredibles 2 started and ended without interruption. Sort of.

Coming out of a short nap, thanks to the spicy Scott PNC burger and the free cheese popcorn and 500ml Coke, I had to excuse myself for a pee break. But what did I miss? None. Not only that the cinema’s toilet is clean, it also has speakers that play clearly the movie’s audio. I could have stayed longer in there and wouldn’t have missed any except watching Mr. Incredible play regular parent for the most part of the movie. This is how all cinemas should be like.

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New rings after 19 years.

We stayed for three days and two nights in F1 Hotel Manila, BGC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. The hotel was average and our room is similar to what we had in A Venue Hotel wherein there’s a separate room from the suite’s receiving area.

It’s not an issue that the bathroom didn’t have a tub but it took time for housekeeping to provide a chair for Marcus to use while taking a shower. So his first shower was done seated on the floor. Lesson learned for us: bring our own monobloc chair next time.

The hotel has three pools but the lap pool was under maintenance. Two options left weren’t really good and pool area was quite tight considering Marcus has a wheelchair.

A couple of treadmills in the gym were also down. Towels aren’t readily available unlike in Acacia Hotel. I had good sessions though and what kept me going back was what I like the most in this hotel.

What the hotel lacks in its room and service, it makes up for in its breakfast buffet. F1 Hotel Manila serves remarkable food. I liked everything I had on my plate–veggie curry, Frankfurter, omelette, tortang giniling, Danish, pancakes, etc. My MyFitnessPal app recorded about 1000 calories alone for each free breakfast which was more than enough to fuel my treadmill runs and weight training. FYI, I returned home with just three pounds more.

***

It rained hard so we sought shelter and learned we can afford Denny’s.

The hotel didn’t stop us from enjoying wedding anniversary though. We tried new things like our first Grab car ride and we discovered that we can afford Denny’s. It was also nice to set aside my phone for most of the day while I give more attention to Marcus, watched cable TV movies with him and listen to his perfect impression of his mommy sleeping. Trust me, he nailed it. Good times.

Glad we grabbed a Grab.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Uneventful return to reality.)

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Fortnite Craze

(Image from Google.)

Early this year Marcus picked up on the ongoing Fornite Battle Royale craze. It’s a co-op sandbox game almost close to Minecraft so he didn’t do much adjustments before he mastered the moves using his Xbox one console. Graphics, animations, and game rules differ a whole lot from the boxy Minecraft though. Fortnite game is played in three modes: solo, squad, or 50 vs. 50.

Either game starts with all the players jumping out of a floating bus and skydiving (first hint why I love this game) towards their preferred locations in a fixed map. The players then must find and collect stuffs hidden in vaults that are randomly placed in houses, barns, bars, or other structures. Some stuffs come thru a supply drop.

The goal is to survive–as always in most games–which means some form of violence in the form of smashing, whacking, and shooting are involved but thankfully it’s not gory like in COD games. Fortnite designed the game with players dying sans the bloodbath.

The game’s initial weapon is a pick axe that may be changed depending on player’s skill level and credits. Anyone could upgrade as their game level progresses. Watch out for the boogie bomb which happens to be my favorite weapon.

What sets Fortnite Battle Royale apart from other video games is the storm. Besides keeping an eye on their enemies, players need to pay attention to the shrinking storm and should stay within the eye as it shrinks at a preset time and anyone left outside the circle dies. Victory is claimed by a player or group eliminating the last standing opponent before the storm closes in on everyone.

Fortnite Dance Emotes app available on Google Play.

Fortnite has something more up its sleeves. The players have emotes or dance moves. And this is where I come in, or forced to. Some of the moves are actually fun and simple to do that I would oblige when Marcus asks me to do it for him. He himself can do some like the Disco Fever while seated or lying in bed and he moves with grace better than I could.

This afternoon wifey discovered that she could download on her iOS the Fortnite game. I was expecting I could do so too but Android doesn’t have it yet. I found something interesting though. It’s the Fortnite Dance Emotes app that shows all the dance moves of the game. Guess this means I could improve on my awkward Floss dance soon.

***

Back in April we showed a carabao my best mates dance moves.

***

My Minecraft tattoo seems lonely so my next one is likely something out of Fortnite.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Under the weather so I’m taking this chance to rest my cracked fingers from the pull-up bar.)

Avengers: Infinity War 2X

Skip the Avengers: Infinity movie and save money. Besides that the sentence rhymes, it was my plan this weekend after our company treated us employees to a blocked screening at the nearby Vista Mall coming from a Friday night shift.

Other than having a bag of bland popcorn–I passed on the salt and flavoring–and a warm bottle of orange soda for breakfast, the movie treat was a deviation to my normal weekend diet, it also wasn’t Marcus’ idea of how his Sunday would be like.

I thought he and his mom already worked out an alternative when he said before going to bed Saturday night that he discovered he could pre-order Avengers: Infinity War on Xbox Live. Sounds like a plan, a cheaper plan of just $15. All he needs to do was wait until the movie becomes available online.

But I should’ve have known better that waiting doesn’t work for him. I learned sooner that Marcus is still looking forward to watching it in the cinema. Wifey relayed the message minutes before I hit the sack that night. “Your son asked if I could carry him to the seats if it’s just the two of us and I answered yes, of course. That’s his concern,” she said but left her statement hanging.

“So what’s your concern?” I asked, fishing for unstated needs–force work of habit kicking in. “That if I could actually carry him,” she replied half firm, half joking. We had a good laugh out of it. I know my wife’s humor as much as I know her hidden strength. I know she can carry Marcus no doubt.

So I went to bed that night still with the same initial plan–drive them to the mall, wait for them outside until the movie ends. I was ready to kill time with my Netflix downloads and spare purchasing another Avengers: Infinity War movie ticket in the process.

That last conversation stuck though. Our routine in the cinemas we’ve been following for the past years since the wheelchair kept playing inside my head until the next morning while I eat my oatmeal-raisin-peanut butter-banana combo to compensate for the other day’s toxic choice.

He came prepared for the cold.

Buy popcorn for Marcus, get snacks for us, transfer him to his movie theater seat, carry him to his wheelchair if he asked to go the toilet, then settle back again to enjoy the film. It’s been like that most times. And lately he’s gained more weight.

I need to be in the cinema. Period.

So that’s how I ended up watching the same movie twice in a row. Good thing the comfy Solenad Cinema 3 allowed me to snooze every now and then and to see Marcus enjoying everything–the Avengers and Guardians characters, Stan Lee’s cameo, Blazing Cheddar popcorn, and his favorite reclining seat–was worth spending an extra 400 pesos.

Weekend mission accomplished.

***

The Avengers: Infinity War is a dark movie and it could disappointment people especially those who expect a triumphant hero at the end. This movie is a game changer. Thanos has to die.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Busy week ahead.)

Ten and Counting

There’s no stopping time as Marcus turns ten. He’s become smarter and continue to be more expressive. He now knows what he wants and if he had his way, he wants things to happen.

Color of the day.

Even before 2018 started he was already specific with his plans for his birthday this year. He asked if he could celebrate it in Acacia Hotel Manila with just the three of us–introvert parents breed introvert kids, don’t we? Wifey tried to offer other choices but Marcus has made up his mind. Must be the pool or the rooms or maybe it’s the hotel’s proximity to Festival Mall or ATC, his comfort zones since then. Or maybe it made a mark on him when we almost lost his favorite plush Frankenbob toy the last time we were here but staff found and returned it. Whatever, he just loves the place no doubt.

Acacia pool, Frankenbob, Elmo

His affinity for this place in Filinvest Alabang over the others seemed to prove worthy once again. A grand welcome greeted him when we stepped in our room which would be our home in the next three days and two nights. Staff prepared the room for Marcus with balloons and a whole chocolate birthday cake. It was the most number of balloons he ever had. Staff spoiled him more with complimentary desserts they delivered to our room in the evening.

This birthday would have been a whole lot better if only we could promise to give him his special wish he made the morning before we set off on our staycation.

“What’s your wish?” we asked him before blowing his Homer cake–a pink sprinkled Krispy Kreme donut wifey designed as a cake with one birthday candle in the middle. Still in his pajamas with his ruffled newly dyed golden hair, he said, “That I could walk and a PS4.” I smiled and cheered but I know that wifey too silently wished and felt the same thing I did as I finish the video recording. It was something we both expected our son would say but one of it just won’t happen in this lifetime however hard we’d want to. A miracle is all we could wish for.

Happy birthday son, we still love you, we are here for you.

***

Marcus skipped his therapy this week but he left his physical therapists some pizza the other Friday to celebrate this birthday.

Marcus and wifey with staff and interns of St. Frances Cabrini PT center.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus doesn’t catch the bug. Wifey and I got the sniffles.)

Run With Marcus

It’s been my dream to do something physical with Marcus, run with him. But his wheelchair sets some limits among others. Weather and outdoor condition are other factors as he’s had history of allergic reactions.

Yesterday seems to be the perfect condition although it was a bit windy late in the afternoon. We set off anyway, stepped out of the house with my running shoes and Marcus looking forward to see the goats along the way.

I ran and pushed at the first kilometer until the goats appeared. Then it was mostly run-walk from then onwards. I let Marcus cherish the moments to see nature and animals beyond Ultra HD 4K.

We conquered 200 meters. Flaring nostrils not shown.

If only we had this Adaptive Mobility Freedom Push Chairs which I saw first on Facebook page of Athletes in Tandem. This push chair would allow me to run with Marcus better and safer. His current wheelchair rattles and it poses a challenge when going uphill thus the need to take extra care not to over tilt him backwards. The mobility chair’s price is stiff though at $900 excluding shipping since it would come from USA. Maybe soon.

We covered seven kilometers yesterday so this red wheelchair is good enough for now.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Today’s agenda: Learn the floss. (No) thanks to kid’s Fortnite game.)

Alcohol-Free, Almost

Me according to Marcus.

As parents, we play different roles. At some point we are either any or a combination of being a superhero, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, a driver, a bank teller, a teacher, a preacher, a clown, and a friend. Our children expect us to be as flexible as Mr. Fantastic and our children keep a keen eye on us day in day out. What we do is what they would become.

It is imperative that we pay attention to our actions. The sooner we realize that we have greater responsibilities the moment a child becomes part of our lives, the better. Parenting is complicated, I know, and it is normally easy on theory but a whole lot different when everything happens right in front of your face. Kid cries, kid wants food, kid poops, kid pees, kid makes a mess. And kid gets sick. And some kid, later on, would have special needs.

There is no turning back. Hard truth. It takes someone strong, wherever that strength may come from, to say “I can do this.” A good parent commits, a good parent loves…without condition. Child first, everything else takes a backseat.

It took some time to get my acts straight when it comes to alcohol. Several times I was behind the wheel under influence with Marcus inside the car, I had days I missed getting him to bed because I can barely hold my own, and there was one day I missed him blowing his birthday cake because I’ve passed out. Been that bad father.

This was a sign.

Honestly, I somehow miss drinking with friends. Those days when cheeks would get warm and tight. Those days when eyes drop halfway, then the world starts turning. Those days when inhibitions are lost and words come out freely and without care. All for the heck of doing it. In vino veritas. But perspectives and priorities changed.

I haven’t stopped drinking entirely but since the red wheelchair came the drinking became less and lesser. Occasional isn’t even a close definition. I could count with my fingers the number of times I went drinking especially last year. Running and working out helped me avoid the urges. (FYI, six bottles of low-calorie beer is equivalent to one meal or a third of a day’s calorie allowance. That’s excluding finger foods!)

I am alcohol-free, almost. I’ve made myself 24/7 for Marcus as much as possible. I’m his fireman who would jump the pole and would be there for him in no time. I would only drink if Marcus is not around or if I know Marcus’ needs are all taken care of. I think I could now qualify as best parent yet not. Others have far challenging stories. So to all of you out there who continue to make sacrifices and continue to love their kids with special needs, hats off to you. Happy Sunday.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Just in time for the adobo.)

Marcus’ First Real Theme Park Experience


Build a theme park and they would come. This is what Marcus has been doing on Roblox this past few days. With a bigger and better TV for his XBox, the games have been more vivid, been larger than life like Theme Park Tycoon 2. He was never this focused on this game.

Marcus oversees his park.

For days this week I would wake up from a night shift slumber hearing him and his mother exchanging ideas on how to improve his theme park as he tries to compete with others online. Man, his park is impressive. In fact, he tops others by several number of AI guests lining up his rides and trust me, the Ultra HD screen makes first person perspective dizzying enough for an old guy like me. But it’s just another video game for Marcus, still seated the whole day and he could only imagine what a real theme park looks and feels like.

He’s finally here!

Thanks goodness, Enchanted Kingdom is just an hour away from home. It’s a longstanding plan to bring Marcus there but his recent interest in roller coasters, drop towers, and other thrill rides made us agree that this time is the right time for us to be there. It took only a short question from me and a nod from wifey, budget constraints dismissed, and we saw ourselves on a Saturday afternoon driving to Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

It’s been years since wifey and I last visited Enchanted Kingdom. The park’s entrance fees have doubled to P900 per person, P600 for persons with disabilities. It almost emptied my wallet. The park was packed as anticipated so one immediate challenge was Marcus’ access to the rides. I can still carry him but the question is if the attendants would approve it.

Real life, real thrill.

Up, Up and Away ride would’ve been Marcus’ first and only ride. The staff allowed us to bypass the queue by entering through the exit gate. All the next rides, however, weren’t as PWD-friendly. We checked Roller Skater, Jungle Log Jam, Fun Kart, and even the seemingly easy Swan Ride but these have regulations that prohibit people like Marcus to ride any of it. Bummer.

Rialto was a blast.

All is not lost though. Enchanted Kingdom has something for PWDs. Rialto for one had an Ice Age feature film that got Marcus screaming and laughing. Then the park’s Agila, The Experience theater made up for all our disappointment.

That moment when the steep entrance fee becomes worth it.

Exclusively housed in the theme park’s inverted cone-shaped building, Agila offers an interactive experience (Eldar the Wizard in Hologram would fascinate even adults) that features the promotion of EK’s environmental awareness campaign. Agila’s main attraction is its huge theater with moving seats that add realism to flying with the eagle as it soars and sweeps over popular natural wonders of the Philippines. Marcus and wifey was able to get a short glimpse of how Palawan’s Underground River looks like. I’d pay 900 pesos again to experience Agila. It was worth it.

If only there’s PWD rover in space.

We arrived late in the afternoon so we ran out of time to test other rides, individually. Right out of Agila, Marcus let me ride Disk-O-Magic alone and next was Space Shuttle which opened again after the fireworks display. The Ferris Wheel would’ve been our last but it still has a long queue until the park closed at 9 PM.

Our Enchanted Kingdom day was a welcome change to our weekend routine despite the limitations. Getting Marcus out of the house to places that give adequate access to PWDs like him is always something that we look forward to. I know EK could do better by being more PWD-friendly. I now also wish that our country has a theme park for people in wheelchairs.

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Mood 1/10 Honks! (Yesterday’s DQ ice cream made my day.)