Planning a Baptism: The Reception

25 February 2015

A huge family reunion was what I had in mind when it came to the baptism of our first child. Earl though had other ideas and my entire family backed him up instead of me. As my sister pointed out, there were less than ten people at my baptism including my parents.

Earl has to return to Singapore by March 28 and as much as possible, he doesn't want to go back without us. My husband thinks that if we have too many guests, it will be difficult to coordinate and he wants our daughter baptized before we board any form of aircraft. He also pointed out that the money we save at the baptism can be used to furnish and decorate our new apartment (we plan to move to a bigger place by June).

So, there will only be around 20 guests in attendance comprising of our immediate family members, the priest, and our closest friends (some of whom are also the godparents).

With the Church and the guest list settled, it was now time to search for a reception venue. We needed a small function room that can accommodate a maximum of 25 people, has ample parking space, and is easy to locate. But most of all, we should like the food being served.

Here's our short list:

Chateau 1771
- Minimum guarantee: Php 20,000 consumable
- Deposit requirement: None unless you order food in advance
- Inclusions: None
- Notes: Maximum 20 pax, sit down only no buffet set-up

Circles Event Café
- Rate: Php 1800 per person with taxes and service charge
- Minimum guarantee: 30 pax or Php 50,000 (if you have less than 30 guests, then the difference can be used towards drinks)
- Deposit requirement: 50% two weeks in advance
- Inclusions: one round of coffee or tea

- Rate: Php 1457.40 per person with taxes and service charge
- Minimum guarantee: 20 pax
- Deposit requirement: None but one person has to be there before 12 Noon otherwise the reservation is cancelled
- Inclusions: Unlimited drinks including house wine and fruit shakes
- Notes: Maximum 24 pax in the Norway and Denmark function rooms when combined

Sentro 1771
- Minimum guarantee: Php 10,000 (11 AM to 2PM) or Php 16,000 (1 PM to 4 PM)
- Deposit requirement: None unless you order food in advance
- Inclusions: None
- Notes: Room is good for three hours, charge of Php 1000 (consumable) for every excess hour. Corkage fee applies to outside cake and alcoholic drinks. Maximum room capacity is 25 pax.

- Minimum guarantee: Php 20,000 consumable
- Deposit requirement: None unless you order food in advance
- Inclusions: None
- Notes: Room is good for three hours, charge of Php 1500 (non-consumable) for every excess hour. No corkage fee for bringing your own cake. Maximum room capacity is 35 pax.

Earl did not like the first three on the list and when he saw a picture of Sentro's function room, he immediately asked, "No windows?" We then did an ocular and he said it reminded him of a very cramped office conference room. I had also considered Conti's but they're fully booked on our chosen date, and parking could be a problem over at Milkyway Café.

I was starting to run out of ideas when we walked by Italianni's in Bonifacio High Street and on a whim, I decided to stop and ask if they had a function room. The lady said yes, we took a look, and my husband declared the reception venue search to be over. He liked that the place was not only bigger, but also brighter.

Planning a Baptism: Finding a Church

20 February 2015

A bit of panic ensued when we found out that due to a decree by the Catholic Archdiocese in 2011, parishes can only baptize residents within the boundary of the church's assigned area.

What this means is that a baby can only be baptized at the nearest church where the family resides. Since we are currently staying in Alabang Hills Village, the closest one is Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hillsborough Village. I attended a public baptism there once and found it to be quite chaotic. They give a short talk for the godparents on their duties before the ceremony and the lady who conducted it sounded like she was selling fish at the wet market. Unfortunately, they do not offer solo or private baptisms.

My sister and I both had private baptisms and I find that this is more solemn than the public version where all you think of is getting out of there as quickly as possible due to how crowded the place can get.

You could have your baptism elsewhere provided you can obtain a permission letter, but they refused to give one as they advised they are not allowed to give such letters out. My question is, if priests are banned from issuing permit letters, then why is it even listed as an option? Why not just dictate outright that people don't have a choice?

Luckily for us, if you are based abroad, you can skip this requirement and have the freedom to choose your own baptism venue. In our case, we decided on Santuario de San Antonio as they have their own baptistery (see photo below), it's easy to get to (especially for the godparents who all live north of Manila), and there are many restaurants nearby for the reception.

Other venues we considered were Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church and St. James the Great Parish, but both do not offer private baptisms. St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish in Magallanes does, but our guests would have to make a u-turn on the South Luzon Expressway just to get back to Makati (if I remember correctly). The National Shrine of the Sacred Heart also provides solo baptisms but the place is not that easy to locate especially if you're unfamiliar with the area.

Reservation Requirements:

1. Photocopy of Birth Certificate
2. Permission letter from your respective parish
3. List of names of godparents (maximum of 5 pairs)
4. Completed Baptismal Form
5. Non-refundable contribution of Php 4000

It is stated on their website that the requirements must be complete before you can make a reservation. But Edna, the lady in-charge, allowed us to just pay the fee and submit the baptismal form first when we explained that we have to return to Singapore as soon as possible (thus the need to plan everything in advance). They allow for a date change as long as the schedule you want is available.

We will be bringing our own priest, Rev. Msgr. Vicente Bauson, who also happens to be a family friend and the one who married us.

Update: It turns out that only our parish priest was problematic. I have a friend who lives in Pasig and she was able to get a permission letter quite easily for her son's baptism.

Thoughts to Ponder

15 February 2015

It seems my doctor favors cesarean sections. I had a routine ultrasound to check the state of the baby and I was advised that she's too large. At 36 weeks and 3 days, our little girl is in frank breech position, weighing an estimated 7 pounds and 11 ounces with fetal biometry at 38 weeks and 5 days. The ultrasonologist (who also happens to be my doctor's husband), told me that it's quite rare for the baby to turn at this late stage.

When Dr. Aina Sales Diaz looked at the results of the scan, she advised that I should have myself checked again after a week and if the baby has not flipped over to the vertex position by February 18, then I can have the cesarean section done two days later. She did not suggest other options.

I decided to do a bit of research and came up with the following:

1. Ultrasounds are usually inaccurate and are off by 1 or 2 pounds. Many women who were told that they will have 9 to 12 pound babies found that the actual weight at the time of birth was around 6 to 8 pounds.

2. Those who were also measuring a few weeks in advance (fetal biometry), were able to deliver normally as their baby turned at 39 weeks or right before their scheduled operations.

3. Most were advised to try for vaginal delivery first as an emergency cesarean section can easily be done if the baby is too big or still in breech at the time of actual labour.

Earl and I have agreed to wait it out for as long as possible before undergoing surgery, so now I'm trying to decide if I should still do the ultrasound or defer it to a later date?

Other things we need to consider:

We're almost done with shopping for the baby, but there are some items we can't seem to decide on. For example, where will the baby sleep? We plan to buy a crib in Singapore (the type that converts to a toddler bed), but for the few weeks we'll be in Manila, where will we place our newborn? I was thinking of the Graco Pack 'n Play® On The Go™ Playard. but it doesn't look too comfortable.

Another concern is should we buy a stroller? I can understand how it might not be needed here in Manila as there are a lot of people who can help with the baby - relatives, nanny, etc. But since we're based in Singapore where we don't have a car or household help, would a stroller be worth investing into? We'll need one that's suitable for a newborn and can easily be folded with just one hand. Also, which brand? We don't mind paying a bit more if it can last until our second child.

Maybe it's better to opt for a baby sling instead and buy the stroller when she's a little older? The problem is that I find them complicated and I'm not really sure how safe they are for newborns.

Are maternity binders necessary? I have yet to find a cheap one - though I've noticed that with anything baby-related, the price seems to skyrocket.

Decisions, decisions.

Coming Soon!

01 February 2015

As of today, we have exactly five weeks left before the baby's estimated March 8 due date. But I'm hoping she'll be a little early and show up at least week 37 or 38. It's hard to sleep and move around - even walking has to be done very slowly and the slightest road incline feels like I've run a marathon. Oh, and my doctor has placed me on a diet (no dessert until after I give birth).

I've been pretty lucky though as my biggest complaint thus far has been the fact I can't have anything sweet. I'm currently in Manila and it's like I want to eat everything! There really is no place like home when it comes to food. I've also been able to drive around on my own except to areas that Earl has deemed far (my husband's version of "far" is any place that's at least 20 minutes away by car).

Another update is that we've settled on a local doctor, Dr. Aina Sales-Diaz, who was referred to us by my cousin (they were classmates in med school). One thing that did give me pause was that with the two doctors I consulted with, both automatically assumed I would be undergoing a cesarean section just because we went through IVF. It's a good thing I had checked with Dr. Kelly Loi before leaving Singapore and she said normal delivery is an option (provided the baby won't get too big - thus the diet).

Lastly, I'm almost done with shopping for both myself and the baby. Hopefully by this week, I will be able to start packing my hospital bag.