Saturday, April 27, 2013

On old xanga posts

i was going through some old xanga posts because i'm looking for this particular post about something a friend told me that i used to remember by heart. but while i was going through posts after posts all memories came flooding in.

there's this one post that i echoed from "jhiesms" xanga site and it says:

"hindi lunkot o takot ang mahirap sa pag-iisa kungdi ang pagtanggap na sa bilyon-bilyung tao sa mundo wala man lang nakipaglaban upang makasama ka".

(loneliness or being scared is not the difficult part of being alone, it's accepting the fact that out of the billions and billions of people on this planet no one have attempted to fight to be with you)

that was four years ago. i was a lonely and very confused soul back then. there was one comment i got from that post telling me that it might be me who didnt try to fight for it. and i replied with "i did, but i don't want to force myself on anyone who doesn't want to fight for me anymore". sounded really sad but i'm glad that happened.

you get to know the real truth in ugly situtations and if it wasn't for that discovery i might not have been able to move on. if it wasn't for that i might have not met this someone who actually fought his way to be with me.

sometimes you have to experience
sadness to appreciate happiness...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Philippines Trip Part 3 : Tagaytay

if you missed part 2, it's here (villa escudero blog)

day 10 - (1/21)

After we left Villa Escudero I took my guests to Tagaytay. A lot of you might be raising your eyebrows by now, lol. So why Tagaytay? It's one of my favorite Manila get-away! For one, because it's very close to Manila, I don't need to fly for a quick get away. Two, because of the weather. It's always nice to get away from the scorching heat of Makati even for just a day or heck, a few hours and enjoy the cold breeze in Tagaytay while sipping bulalo soup at one of the elevated huts in Leslie's. Three, because there's just always something to do in Tagaytay. Like, I always enjoy going to Sonya's garden and/or Antonio's farm and getting a flower soak spa from Nurture's spa. I always enjoy shopping for fruits and buko pie. I have always enjoyed having a hot chocolate at Bag of Beans or have a quickie lunch at Mushroom Burger. And have you tried sipping a Frappuccino sitting by the balcony of Starbucks overlooking the Taal Volcano? Have you tried visiting Calaruega and just sit on one of their benches overlooking rolling fields and blue skies? Have you tried staying overnight at Sonya's Bed and Breakfast and trying their oh-so sumptuous breakfast? Have you tried horse back riding along the Taal River? Have you tried ziplining (this is actually in my To Do list the next time I visit Tagaytay), or have picnic with friends at Picnic Grove and play Charade? Have you discovered those hidden restaurants in Tagaytay like the Chateau Hestia Garden Restaurant (if you want you are in the mood for European cuisine and want to feel as if you are eating in a house in the middle of a vineyard), how about Marcia Adams’ for a Tuscan-isnpired ambience, and a lot more (just go to this site for more:  And ofcourse, have you tried just sitting in some deck or balcony overlooking the Taal Volcano and just stare at it for hours and hours?

taal volcano

I always enjoy staring at the Taal Volcano. It has a calming effect on me.

So no, Tagaytay is NOT overrated. If you tell me it's overrated that means you have never really been to Tagaytay. Tagaytay is not just about Picnic Grove or Palace in the Sky. There's more to Tagaytay. We already know that Tagaytay is famous for the Taal Volcano but have you seen the Taal Volcano during sunset? How about during sunrise?  Although for me, the main highlight of going to Tagaytay is always seeing the Taal Volcano during sunset.

Sorry I got carried away. Hindi naman masyado obvious na I love Tagaytay so much, no? Haha. So we went there for a day trip. We stopped by Calaruega first. I told them it's one of the favorite church's to get married. They like how the chapel looks like and how relaxing the view from the chapel is. They were amazed at the different plants of all sizes and shapes dotting all around the chapel area.

my favorite, Sonyas Garden
Then we went to Sonya's Garden, my favorite restaurant in Tagaytay for lunch. The hubby's favorite food is salad so I really, really have to take him there. They were amused at the place too. I told them the vegetable are really fresh because they grow it there and I guess they never really got to experience having salad that's just recently plucked from the ground. After lunch we went around Sonya's Garden to take pictures of the beds and benches surrounding the area. They find that amusing too. I really wish we had an extra day to stay overnight in Tagaytay because I really would want for us to stay at Sonya's Garden for a night. I've tried staying at Sonya's Garden's Bed and Breakfast and I really really enjoyed it. The window was open the whole time so there's this cold fresh breeze coming in and out of my room. And I already mentioned about their breakfast. Ahh! thinking about it just makes me miss Tagaytay all the more. I'm planning of taking the hubby and staying there for a night when we come back to the Philippines for a visit.

i was hoping to get this for my guests, but it was raining and
they closed this area to prevent accidents
(photo from the sister-in-law)

So after that we drove to the direction of Picnic Grove. My guests asked me if that's a dedicated place
for having picnics and I said yes. I told them it has huts overlooking the Taal Volcano. My sister-in-law was kinda amused by that I guess. Unfortunately, it started raining and it's kinda a long walk from the parking lot to the entrance and it's cloudy so we won't be able to see anything anyway, so we just skipped it. We then went to Leslie's Restaurant. The hubby really want to sit by the elevated huts overlooking the Taal Volcano but it was raining so they have to close that area to avoid accidents. We were a bit disappointed but Leslie's gave us a table that has the closest view of the Taal Volcano. We weren't able to see much because of the fog (or clouds?) but once in a while the sky would clear up and we could see the Taal Volcano. I ordered for them. So I ordered sisig (I didn't tell them what it is, I just said it's pork, lol) and ofcourse the Bulalo. We didn't order much because we are all still full from our Sonya's Garden lunch. They seem to enjoy the food, specially the Bulalo. My only complain is the bulalo wasn't hot enough.

buko pie
After eating (which seems like what we always do, lol) we decided to call it a day and drove back to Makati. But we did stop by at Collette's to buy a buko pie and other sweets. I didn't like the buko pie I got and tasted like it only has a few minutes left before it goes bad so I had to chuck it. The rest of the sweets though is alright. The sister-in-law bought the pastillas and she seemed to like it. I LOVE pastillas! Well, I love sweets in general, so no surprise there, lol.

When we got back to Makati we checked-in at New World Hotel this time because I like the idea of having them just cross the street and the mall and restaurants are all right there. It's not Ascott but close. But we didn't like our stay at New World. The hubby was annoyed by their customer service. He asked for an extra soap because there's just one tiny soap on the sink and  none in the shower and the operator said their policy is  one soap per room. Really? We paid $160 per room per night and they dare skimp on soap? Wow. Eto pa. We asked for a bell hopper or just those luggage cart because we need to move our huge luggage to St. Illian's Inn for storage before we leave for El Nido, but the operator said they can't provide us that unless we're checking out. Ano daw?!!! Eh we paid for all our rooms already and our check out time is not until the following morning. Operator said for security reason. Again, what?!! If they're worried we'll steal their lamps or what-nots they have our credit cards. Ang labo. Anyway, we ended up taking our luggages one by one outside the hotel to our van so we could transfer our luggages that night to the other hotel where we'll store our luggage while we're in El Nido. We were doing this a few times back and forth because we have several huge luggages but none of the Security Personnel asked us any questions like if we are checking out already or why we're taking our bags out which made us wonder, so what is this Security ek-eks that this Operator is talking about again? Kaimbyerna. Not staying at New World again.

to be continued... Corrigidor up next...

Philippines Trip Part 2: Villa Escudero

day 8: (1/19)

Like I mentioned on my previous blog, day 8 was our wedding day but I wouldn't talk about the boring details here but if you're curious on how it was like you can go to:

day 9: (1/20)

Our bestman, Ed, before we left for the Philippines, sent us this powerpoint presentation with the title 24 Truly Terrific Things (here's the link, see slide 6). He sent it to us because the Philippines is in the powerpoint presentation. When the hubby saw it he was amused to find out that it was Villa Escudero on the photo. So he immediately replied back to our Bestman (Ed), who doesn't know our itinerary yet, and told him "we're actually going there!". If you haven't seen the powerpoint presentation yet, it was a picture of the waterfall restaurant, with tables on the water at the foot of the waterfall so you will be eating with your feet submerged in ankle-deep water. Don't worry, the water is continuously flowing so you don't have to worry about it being too icky.

view of the falls restaurant before heading down
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas photos with us
(click image for better view)
So anyway, on January 20, the day after the wedding, we all headed to Villa Escudero with all our huge luggages. Villa Escudero is in Quezon and part of the town of San Pablo. It was a 2-hour drive from Filinvest, Alabang (where Vivere Suites is).

entrance to the reception/lobby area
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas photos with us
(click image for better view)
When we got there, first thing we did is of course checked-in. There's a lady going around carrying a tray offering sago't gulaman (vanilla drink with tapioca and jello) as a welcome drink. We had a few glitches upon checking-in because apparently, the person I emailed the deposit slip to (which is for our full payment for the 4 rooms) didn't put our reservation in their log file that when we got there the people in the reception area were all surprised that we're there! Good thing I still have the deposit slip and it wasn't a busy season so they haven't given away our rooms yet. I don't know what they'll do if they have already given our rooms to someone else. Ngee, I shudder at the thought. I pride myself as very good at travel logistics, so I don't like check-in hassles like losing your room. I know it happens, but as much as possible I try to minimize that.

photo while taking a carabao ride
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas photos with us
(click image for better picture)
So we checked-in, then I asked my guests to take the carabao ride to our rooms. I took the less exotic ride because I have their luggages with me. I told them to pack an overnight bag so we can just leave the heavy luggages in the van but both our guests forgot to do that so we ended up taking all their luggages with us. But I don't want the poor carabao to carry all those luggages so I just took the motorized service vehicle with the luggages and asked all my foreign guests to take the carabao ride.

ascending from the waterfalls restaurant

It was just a short ride. Like, 15 minutes? But they enjoyed the ride because not only was it a unique experience, but along the way a group of Villa Escudero musicians hopped on their carabao cart and played and sang songs while they are absorbing their carabao ride experience.

see their feet submerged on water?
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas pix with us
(click the image for better view)

I was already infront of one of our rooms (we booked 4 river side, fan rooms) and was already
unloading their luggages when I saw them arrived. We took our overnight bags (or in the case of my two other guests, the luggages) in our rooms and we started walking to the restaurant by the falls. It wasn't hard to find. We just followed the cemented pathway and followed the sound of the falls. You have to go down a flight of steps to get to the restaurant. It's a buffet lunch. I think it was already past noon when we got there and I was a bit worried that we won't finish in time for the cultural show. The cultural show is at 2:00pm. But we made it. My guests are not big eaters and most of the time they were just sampling the food so we finished fast. The plate is covered with banana leaf so that's a first for them too. The food consists of grilled and some common filipino dishes. They have fish, pork, vegetables and some soup. So there's food for everyone. I didn't eat much but I did devoured all their banana cue, lol. I even brought some while watching the cultural show. The funny part during our falls' lunch is when they ran out of coconut. The hubby was chuckling over that: "we are at a coconut plantation, what do you mean they ran out of coconut?". The hubby even joked about climbing one of the coconut trees to get some coconuts for all the other guests in the restaurant. But lack of coconuts is no big deal for us we still enjoyed our lunch, we just thought it's ironic.

the other restaurant where they show the cultural show
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas photos with us
(click image for better view)

After lunch we went to the other restaurant. It's bigger and semi-indoor (semi because it has roof but no walls). We went there to watch the cultural show. Show started at 2:00pm. My guests were entertained by the cultural show, which Villa Escudero calls Philippine Experience Show. Villa Escudero did that cultural show really well, atleast in my opinion.  I was actually feeling so proud about their whole performance because I get to show off how colorful and wonderful the Philippines culture is to my foreign guests.

cultural dance show in Villa Escudero
(click image for better picture)

They performed a wide variety of cultural dances from all parts of the Philippines. From the Kalapati dance of Luzon to the Singkil dance of Mindanao. They also have a Rondalla group who played while the dancers are performing (well, during half the whole presentation, anyway). I used to be a Rondalla member and I can play Banduria and Octavina, so I was entertained by that too. Our bestman and I also ordered halo-halo, stuffed that we already are, while watching the Cultural show because all other else watching the show are having halo-halo and I just couldn't resist it. The bestman, on the other hand, likes trying new stuff so he went and bought one for himself too. The Cultural show is held in their bigger more formal restaurant (the name of the restaurant skips me at the moment) and the dances were all performed by resort employees.

two of our river side rooms - our room and the sister-in-law's room...
it has a divider in the middle but we just removed it
(click image for better image)

what the room looks like inside
(click image for better image)
After the show we went to our rooms and rested for a bit. I took a nap by the hammock while my
sister-in-law read her book by the balcony, facing the river. My sister-in-law loved her room so much. It doesn't have airconditioning, no tv, no fridge but who needs all that when what you have is a unique room with bamboo flooring, bamboo furnitures, a view of the river and lots of fresh air. My sister-in-law was so mesmerized at the place that she even joked about wanting to stay there for good. I was smiling from ear to ear when I heard that.

the bamboo rafts when not in use
(click image for better picture)

After recharging we went to the bamboo rafting area. Since we booked an overnight package, everything is included. The waterfalls lunch, dinner and breakfast. The use of bamboo raft is free. The entrance fee to the museum is free. The cultural show is free. So, anyway, as I was saying, we headed to the bamboo rafting area to try it. When we got there there were no bamboo rafts left so we waited for a bit. We didn't have to wait long though and as soon as there's a bamboo raft approaching the dock the person manning the rafting area started giving us a life vest to put on. Below is a video of us on the raft and the river huts with someone standing taking photos (or video, which by the way is my friend Deng) is one of the four riverside huts that we booked.  There were two of us per bamboo raft.

Then we went back to our rooms for some nap time and headed out again for dinner. The dinner is the same place where we watched the cultural show. The food is nothing fancy. It's your typical Filipino dish but I was very happy with the food. I am glad my foreign guests are willing to try new stuff so they just try whatever the Villa Escudero offers. We, however still made some choices. You can choose pork, chicken or fish. I forgot what I ordered but I liked it and my guests liked theirs too.

I think we stayed in the restaurant longer than we should but the servers don't seem to mind. We just sat there at our table chatting and enjoying the sound of crickets, occasional dogs barking, frogs croaking and the soft breeze. It was really relaxing.

the cafeteria...the only place to get free wifi
(click image for better image)
Then in the morning, we packed our bag and headed out for breakfast. On our way to the
restaurant we peeked inside their cafeteria. You can only get their free wifi from the cafeteria.
The cafeteria was also a very nice place. It would be a wonderful spot to have breakfast too.

Breakfast is the same for everyone so we really didn't get to choose. Again, it's a Filipino dish. It was a wonderful breakfast with the view of the river and the Mt. Banahaw on a blue sky.

mt. banahaw kept hiding behind the clouds.
but on our last day it finally showed up
(click image for better image)
After breakfast we made short trip around Villa Escudero and got to see their wedding reception areas. My guests were amazed by how tall some of the coconut trees are and the leaves used on the roof (anahaw). After that quick tour we headed to the museum. You won't miss it because it's pink and it's right across the reception/receiving area.

view of the mt. banahaw reflecting on the river while having breakfast.
(click image for better image)

I'm not really keen on seeing their museum because I have this notion that I would just be looking at junks that the Escudero family have accumulated thru the years but I was pleasantly surprised. The manang who was manning the museum was touring us around and was very helpful at explaining us how old the stuff are, or what a certain weird looking item is and other trivias. They have a lot of neat collections. My sister-in-law is into arts and she sculpts so she really enjoyed looking at all those oversized poon  (religious images) made of ivory. There are more interesting items there that I would suggest to allot some 2 hours to see the whole of the museum.

the pink museum of villa escudero
thanks to our friend ed b. for sharing his pinas pix
(click image for better image)
I had to leave the museum ahead of my guests because I had to run to the reception area to check-out. Turned out, it's OK to check-out a little later because there are no other occupants after us. On my way to the reception I saw a bunch of photos being sold and saw photos of my guests in the carabao kart and while in the falls restaurant. I find it really cute so I bought two of the photos and left the other photos. I made a mental note to remind them about the photos so they could decide for themselves if they want to purchase it or not.

Then we went back to our rooms to get our luggage but before that we swung by really quick at the souvenir shop inside Villa Escudero to buy some, well, souvenirs. An hour later we were bidding our farewell to Villa Escudero.

But we are just getting started. That's just the start of more wonderful adventures!

Here's how much we paid per room:
1 River unit = 2 persons occupancy/unit at P 4,145.00 /person/night, total price is: 8,290
3 River units =1 person occupancy per night at P 5,440.00, total price is:  16,320

They charge per person per night. Inclusive of welcome drink upon arrival, museum tour, carabao cart rides, bamboo rafting, use of swimming pools (strictly proper swimming attire), 3 full meals & room accommodation. No need to pay for the P1,400.00 entrance fee anymore.

all photos are by the author unless otherwise specified. please don't use any photos without permission.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Virtue is NOT the giving of the undeserved

"the men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals" - atlas shrugged

you can call me whatever you want.. i won't feel guilty that i can do things, buy things, go places that you can't... i am where i am because i finished school, i worked hard, i saved, i took chances... on the other hand, you are where you are right now because you did the opposite...i don't owe you anything...

not because someone is doing better than you are that would mean that someone is obliged to financially take care of you forever... i only help those who are deserving and not those who squander their money on alcohol, video games, barkada, and himself...

Virtue is NOT the giving of the undeserved.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Philippines Trip - Unang Hataw

day 1: (1/12)

a crappy photo of me trying to be
discreet while enjoying the hubby's
business class seat from JFK-HKG-JFK
The plane landed. It was a 16-hour straight flight from JFK airport to Hong  Kong then another 1.5 hours from Hong Kong to Manila. The husband booked a flight from Cathay. He booked 4 premium economy and one business class. Premium economy is just a slightly better version of economy. Wider seats, bigger leg room, better food, priority boarding, champagne welcome drink, toiletries and better headphones. Not bad. The hubby has long legs (he's 6-foot tall) and he hates flying and he really he won't survive the 16 hrs long flight so that's why he just sucked it up and booked for a business class even if it costs a lot more. I, on the other hand, was still able to enjoy it because we did rotation, haha. Once in a while we would exchange seats so I could be horizontal and catch an hour or two of business class zzZZs, lol.

flying premium economy with Cathay

Then my friend Deng picked us up at the airport. Terminal 1. I really wish they start using the better airports for international flights. Terminal 1 is just embarrassing. Dark and old.  Anyway, I rented a van from my friend Deng and he took care of our transportation while we're in Manila.

the dining area and living roomthe fully equipped kitchen

Our first stop was at the Ascott hotel. We love this hotel. I got lucky to have chanced upon their New Member, New Year promo. I was able to book their 2 bedroom suite for half the price. This hotel is great. The breakfast is excellent. The customer service is excellent. The location is excellent. It has fully equipped kitchen.

apartment hotel right at the Glorietta mall

The hubby and I were busy the whole time during the first few days meeting our wedding suppliers and doing our prenuptial photoshoot/videoshoot and because of that my sister-in-law is left at the hotel most of the time. But because Ascott is right at the Glorietta mall the sister-in-law can just wander around without me having to worry about her getting bored or getting mugged. We will surely book this hotel again on our next vacation to the Philippines, hopefully I'll chance upon another good deal.

day 2: (1/13)

We had to meet with our couturier that day. I bought my wedding gown here in the U.S. and just hand-carried it to the Philippines so the couturier is really just for the hubby's barong and the female entourage's gowns.

But before we left for the couturier that day, I took them to SM's food court. What better way to introduce my foreign guests to local food other than the mall food court. We just ordered food from "Sizzlers" and I ordered siomai and shark's fin from Hen Lin.

The SIL didn't come with us to the couturier because she said she had to do some shopping because she forgot some stuff that she needs for the wedding. So it was just me, the hubby and some of the wedding entourage who were scheduled to pick up their barong/dresses. After that we picked up the SIL to go to the Mall of Asia for dinner. Why Mall Of Asia? The hubby wanted to try the Japanese place with a conveyor belt (see video).

The hubby and the SIL marveled at how nice the malls in the Philippines are and they were even amused by the MOA's (mall of asia) parking lot. If you didn't know it yet, they have sensors on their parking lot with lights to indicate if a spot is occupied or not. Which is really very cool because all you have to do is look at the tiny lights suspended on the ceiling and you will know from wherever you are at the parking lot where an available spot is without having to go through each and every row in the parking lot. We even took a video of the hubby going in and out of an empty parking spot to test how to trip the sensor. The video looked stupid but it was actually funny, lol.

dampa feast
day 3: (1/14)

I was initially planning to take them to Tagaytay to do a "Wellness Tour" from Jeepney tour but my SIL wasn't in the mood so we went to Greenhills instead. I need to buy something for the female entourage. The SIL was amused by the place and the variation of unique items for sale that she asked me if we can come back so she could buy some souvenirs. She was just taking it all in that day and didn't buy anything because she said she's getting overwhelmed.

Then we went to Seaside for some "Dampa" experience in the afternoon. We went to the branch along Macapagal Blvd. They got to see what the Philippine wet market looks like. They witnessed how I haggled, lol. We bought, our lapu-lapu (for sweet and sour dish), lobster (thermidor), marinated liempo (bbq-ed), green mango (enchillada). shrimp (buttered).

They liked the food. The hubby specially liked the lobster thermidor and the SIL liked the sweet and sour lapu-lapu and bbq-ed liempo.

Then we went to some other malls including  Serendra, Bonifacio High Street and the Venice Piazza. We went to The Venice Piazza because the hubby is really interested in owning a condo there because he likes the Canal/Gondola concept. I, on the other hand wasn't too thrilled. I don't like a condo in the city, I want a barong-barong by the beach, lol.

day 4: (1/15)

We went to the Diocese of Paranaque for our Canonical Interview and some other church paperwork. Then went to eat at Dad's buffet for lunch. Nothing too exciting on day 4. Just all work (ie: wedding-related errands).

taking a break from the prenup photoshoot
(at Fernbrook Gardens)
 day 5: (1/16)

Nothing. Just trial hair and make up and prenuptial photo shoot and video shoot. Boring.

Vivere lobby

day 6: (1/17)

I took the hubby and SIL to my favorite cheap place where I get my foot spa. It's at the MRT Ayala station and it's calle Freshaire. I had to do some highlights for my hair (as suggested by my wedding hair stylist) so I figured I should make them experience foot spa while we're there and they loved it! And they were surprised how cheap it is (less than $5). I told them I do foot spa almost every payday when I was still in the Philippines but stopped doing it when I moved to the U.S. because it's just too expensive.

SIL with her foot soaked on spa suds

After that I just did some shopping (mostly spoofed shirts from T-shirt project) and then we changed hotel (Vivere). This is the hotel for the wedding preps. We can stay a day more at Ascott but we don't want the next batch of guests to change hotels 2 days in a row. We chose this hotel because it's close to Fernbrook Gardens, our wedding venue. Plus, we got big discounts at this place because of the endorsement from Fernbrook. We got the rooms for half the price. We booked 5 Executive Suites and 1 Regal suite (bridal suite).

unfortunately, this iphone photo doesn't give justice
at how awesome our view is during breakfast

We love this hotel too. The view at their restaurant (Skylounge) is worth every penny. Having breakfast at the Skylounge is awesome because of the good food, good service and very very excellent view (we always sit by the pool, overlooking Laguna de Bay). We like having dinner here too because of the live music and beautiful view of the city.

Then come late at night time we picked up our Bestman at the airport. The SIL's husband backed out and decided not to come. His loss not ours.

day 7: (1/18)

I arranged an Intramuros tour from Jeepney tours for my foreign guests but they were all busy that day and can't provide a tour guide for us. I really want them to do an Intramuros tour and there's no other day to do that so I made sure I find an alternative and that's when I discovered the White Knights Segway tour. It was a last minute booking and I'm so glad they were able to accommodate my guests (I wasn't with them, it's my relax day, being it the day before the wedding). They had a blast and my SIL can't stop talking about it (even til now). They went around Intramuros on a Segway. It's funny though, because there's a Segway tour in Philadelphia too and of all places they can try the Segway it was in the Philippines that they got to try it for the first time.

day 8: (1/19)

The wedding day. Just some boring wedding stuff. You can view some of the details from our wedding blog if you're curious.

Next part, the real tours. Villa Escudero, Tagaytay, Corregidor, Manila Bay sunset cruise, El Nido, Greenhills, staying at Resorts World. Stay tuned!