Sunday, November 18, 2012

Best One... So Far

Where do I even begin? I dread writing about our latest trip because first, it was so awesome I'm not sure if words will be able to give justice to it, and second, photos don't even match the real thing! I don't even have decent photos to match what I've seen so forgive me if I'll just blabber with words about them. And now I'm struggling to blog but what the hell, the experience is still crisp in my mind and it will stay such for a lifetime. 

So where was my recent trip you may ask? The island of Camiguin *smiling while typing it*. Aaaah.. such a beautiful place! Okay okay, I admit, Sagada, for me, is still the most beautiful place ever, but let me explain why I tagged this one as the best trip so far. 2 words -- the experience! It was one hell of an adventure. Me and my husband loved the fact that motorcycle rental is a very big thing in that island. Can you imagine... the locals there offer their motorcycles on random tourists for a very affordable fee. After paying, they'll give the keys and will let you have it for an agreed time frame. Some of them don't even have cellphones, they'll just wait for you after you used it on the agreed time and place. They are unbelievably trusting! Yes it's an island, stealing it and transporting it outside will require a huge amount of effort, but hey, there are a lot of strategic con men who can take advantage of that scenario (duh, I'm so cynical). 

But let's begin with Day 0 first. Our Manila - Lumbia (CDO) flight was scheduled 7:15pm. We arrived very early to make sure we won't miss it. Guess what, flight got delayed. That is the start of our adventure. Because of that delay, we weren't able to go out of Lumbia airport perimeters because jeepneys, which we intended to take (cabs are always not an option), are no longer available during late nights. We had a little chat with a kind local vendor and asked where to find the nearest hotel. She said her neighbor has a transient house for only 300/head. Why not, we just needed to stay for the night. So we went there and uhmm, I don't want to sound mean and maarte, but it's just not what I had in mind. Yes, I adore cheap finds, but they have to be at least decent. And this one is not quite. A dirty restroom is my number one pet peeve, I can hold my pee for several hours just to avoid them. This one is beyond averagely dirty. I think you'll disgust me if I continued to elaborate so let's move on. 

Since we weren't able to go out of Lumbia, our itinerary had to change completely. We originally planned to visit Ma. Christina and Tinago Falls on day 1, but us, still being on point zero, it's just not feasible. We have to be on the port going to Camiguin before 5pm to catch the last ferry. I have pre-booked our hotel so yeah, we can't afford to stay somewhere else and pay for another night. So instead of going to Iligan, which is miles and miles away from Cagayan de Oro, we just went to Camiguin early. 

After two jeepney rides (one of them is weirdly half-full of firewoods but we still rode it anyway), a 3-hour-butt-numbing-nonstop-ordinary bus ride (which got broken somewhere and had to transfer us to a multicab (which has a huge videoke-quality speaker blasting right above my head), and a 1 hour barge ride, we finally arrived at Camiguin. We left the transient house at 5 am and arrived at 1pm, go figure. 

Upon arrival, we had our lunch at the very first carinderia we saw. Local food is great! Someone approached my husband offering his motorcycle for rent. For a whole day, he initially priced it at 600 Php. They ended up agreeing at 400 Php, he also offered to take us to our hotel after we ate in exchange for gas (120pesos), nice deal since we will be using that gas anyway. We agreed on a schedule. He will bring the motorcycle the next day at exactly 8am and will pick it up at 5pm. 

We checked-in at GV Hotel, a very decent budget accommodation right in the heart of Camiguin's capital, Mambajao. Since I have already pre-booked it online, transaction was very quick and smooth. For only 530 Php/night, the room already had an en suite comfort room, cable TV and aircon, basic yet very needed amenities. Upon reaching our it, we didn't even laid our backs because the bed was very comfy and I didn't want us to doze off.We instantly planned our itinerary instead. The guy we contracted earlier for his motorcycle didn't have a cellphone. We thought of doing a half day tour so we asked the lobbyist if he knew someone who can lend us one. He then surprisingly gave us keys, saying his workmate has a motorcycle. We didn't even meet the owner. We just used it. People there, again, are unbelievably awesome. 

Our first stop was the famous Katibawasan Falls. It was not along the main road but reaching it without a guide was not a problem because first, we had a map. Second, locals are so helpful. Third, the road signs are very efficient. Entrance fee is 15 Pesos.

Lovely waterfalls!

It was a very serene place. The waterfalls itself was quiet and peaceful. We stayed there for a little while, soaking in all the wonders of nature. As I always say to myself, these little moments on these perfect places, will always affirm God's presence. These little moments are life's best ones.

It was nearing dusk when we left but we still have another spot to visit. Along the way, we spotted a lady selling barbecue so we stopped by and tried their version of it. It was the same as ours only that they also sell barbecued bananas (saging saba) which they brush with margarine and sugar. Two pieces of those only cost 3 Php, can you imagine a 3- Peso miryenda which is enough to fill you?

After that quick stop, we arrived at our destination - Ardent Spring. It's a resort with heated pools due to springs coming from the sides of Hibok Hibok volcano. Entrance fee is 30 Pesos, yes 30 Pesos, for a series of hot springs. How awesome is that?

Black and White Drama
I didn't have a photo of the place because it was getting dark and we can't have decent shots but trust me, it's a pretty place. It was so relaxing it calmed my tired body from the unforgiving public transport. I didn't wanna go but we had to eventually. 

We went back to our hotel and met the owner of the motorcycle. He charged us 250 for a half day rental. We explored Mambajao came night time. It was just 7:30pm but the heart of the city was almost empty of people. It was surprising. We ate at a local barbekyuhan. The owner was so warm she even told us the recipe of her home made longganisang Bisaya. I'm from Pampanga, where longganisa is our pride, but they have their own take and it's equally good.

Let me summarize our Days 0 and 1 with our waypoints and expenses (you may click the blue icons for more info):

View CDO - Camiguin in a larger map

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Family Getaway - Boracay Island

Me and my husband had some handful of impromptu travels recently. It's fun, liberating and spontaneous. Budget is the number one concern though. We travel cheap and not having an itinerary comes with downsides. There were times we suddenly have to scrimp on budget then be forced to eat cheap carinderia foods, walk some kilometers or take crazy amounts of public transportation. But it's cool, it's just the two of us anyway. We don't mind the hassle of at all.

Although it may sound exciting, I still strongly believe it pays to research, research, research. I do it every time I have a chance. Though spontaneous travels are very fun, nothing beats the joy and excitement of planning just by seeing your future travel unveil itself piece by piece even if you're still some weeks away from it. My last one was a perfect example.

It was a family vacation (with both of my parents and my brother), I had to make their convenience the priority. I booked everything online. Tickets, transfers (our flight was Clark - Kalibo) and accommodation. I scored the tickets from Air Asia airlines with an amazing total of of 3584.00 Pesos for 5 persons, all-in including online processing fee, fuel and tax. Since we live 15 minutes away from Clark airport, we brought our own car and got their park and fly service (90 Pesos per day).

I booked our transfers with Southwest Tours, Kalibo is still approx. 3 hours away from Boracay. I gotta say, I was impressed with their smooth transaction. I talked to them through email and I didnt 't even pay any reservation or downpayment fee. When we got to Kalibo airport, I was pleased to see my name on the white board held by one of their employee. We did not feel any stress at all even though we've been through a loooot of different transports (van - boat - car - walk). The van was all ours. It was new and clean. All-in fee was 1045 Pesos per head which includes 2-way transfers, terminal and environmental fees and a surcharge for our very early departure. I have to give myself a high five for it was very convenient and hassle free.

I also pre-booked our accommodation online. I chose Tan's Guest house because of its good reviews. It did not fail my expectation. I just love love love people who answers emails! It's the most convenient mode of communication for me and it impresses me when companies, especially the small ones, reply. I got to talk to Ms. Net and she quoted 2,500 Pesos/night for a big family room, with complete amenities and breakfast. Not bad for a family of 5. So it's a go! We'll be staying for 2 nights so I deposited half of the total amount on Ms. Net's bank account. Upon sending her the money, she immediately sent me a printable confirmation. Very smooth and simple. By the way, the guest house is conveniently located near the beach. It's not exactly beach front but it's just a couple of minutes walk. Really, not bad at all!

Good thing I did not book any tour in advance. When we got there, vendors immediately flocked us offering us their services and items. We entertained those who offered usual activities like helmet diving, snorkeling and the like, and waited for the lowest bidder, lol. We got Kuya Joey's services (09996537269) since he offered decent prices (though we heard cheaper offers eventually, but oh well). His rates were: 250/head for helmet diving, 700/head for parasailing, 250/snorkel set and 1000/boat for the island hopping. I have read from last year's threads and blog posts having these rates too, so not bad, no inflation yet, hahah.

Everything went out smoothly, I felt fulfilled having it all arranged in advance. Boracay is a very touristy spot. You'll be literally spending twice or thrice the real amount should you haven't known a thing about it. 

Now it's time to enjoy the island!

Lunch at 888 restaurant. Oh forgive me for gushing over a lobster. It was my first time, lol.
I did this sponge nail art inspired by Boracay's famous sunset. And yes, my nails are extremely short.
Too sad... can you spot a plastic bag of garbage over there?
The water is just oh so perfect!
I can stay here the whole day, everyday.
It was a gloomy/rainy day, but fun nevertheless! First time to parasail too, we felt like spies reversely parachuting, lol.

We also did helmet diving, snorkling and island hopping. All those water activities somehow lessened my fear of fishes. I can co-exist with them on water now. Before, when I see fishes near the shore, I run. I run like crazy while screaming in utmost panic. Well now I can already go near them, I still can't touch them though, but at least it's a major improvement. I still can't imagine having a fish spa though - that would kill me :/

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

All Spiced Up

OMG! I just saw Spice Girls' performance in the Olympics Closing Ceremony. Well what can I say, I'm still a fan! They're still awesome, and hot, and pretty.. just like how they were a decade and a half ago! I can recall myself singing Wannabe on my 6th grade. Imagine, I'm married now and already nearing my 30's, so what the eff happened to them? Did they, at some point of their lives, freeze or something? Look at them, no seriously, watch the video below, they did not age a bit! 

Posh, is still my dear Posh. She's still my favorite. She's like the spiciest of them all. But I also liked Ginger and Baby. Maybe it's because of Olympics or of this long-awaited reunion, but the two really looked so happy!

Adding up to the festive mood were those cute shiny cars and crazy lights everywhere. I, myself, sitting and eating pancit canton alone, felt really really happy upon watching that performance. I just got a huge smile and an unexplainable kilig afterwards. I guess it brought me back to childhood or something, I don't know, it just made me happy and giddy giddy giddy. 

video from the Official Olympic Channel

Update: Lol, the video is not working due to their restriction, but you may use the same link to view it on YouTube. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

My 27th

When caught off-guard and asked how old am I, I had to compute. True story. I sometimes forget how old I am. Age is just a number. Yesterday, I turned 27. I compute it very quickly by getting the last digit of the year, and then adding 5. 2+5 = 7. Got it? Good. 

It was a rainy day. I stayed home all day with my family, eating my favorite foods all through out. Hotdogs and cheese spread for breakfast. Kare kare for lunch and sotanghon soup (perfect for the weather) for mirienda! I'm not really into big parties, birthday bitchness and such. I've always just wanted to celebrate it with people dear to me.

Later in the afternoon, we endured the bad weather and went to the Carmelite Monastery for a thanksgiving visit. Then we went to this old mall for some good finds. Imagine scoring a pretty swimsuit cover up for 100 Pesos! Everything's on sale due to bad weather especially for off peak items like summer wears.

We ate our dinner on a hidden gem, a resto called John's Kitchen. It is located inside Timog Park Homes subdivision, quite far from the heart of the city. I have read raves about this so what the hell, let's fight the strong rains and try it!

The ambience
Complimentary bread and pesto, cheese and butter spreads
Greek Salad (185 Php) - Greens, cucumber, oninons, olives, feta cheese, lemon vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes and pita bread. 
Surf and Turf (295 Php) - Grilled prime rib, mashed potato, mussels, prawns, amazing gravy and white sauce with a side of grilled tomato and mushroom 
Pork Ribs (265 Php) - Barbecued pork ribs, rice and a side of veggies 
The food was amazing! Aside from these, we also had a Chocolate Mousse for dessert and Fish and Chips for take out. They were equally presentable and delicious. Judging from the price versus the quality and quantity of the food, I am giving this restaurant 10 million points. I would recommend it for your birthdays, anniversaries, ordinary days, whatever. It's one of my favorite place now. I've read it's owned and operated by a top caliber chef who personally prepares the food. Just awesome.

We were home just before 9pm. Yep, that early! That pretty much is my birthday in a nutshell. I am really thankful to be surrounded by people I love which makes my every birthdays very special. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Real Life Took Over

Whoa! Two months have passed since my last post! Two very quick months... How could I even summarize that in a post? 

Let me try to think why I haven't even taken a peek to this blog. Hmmmm.. Oh yeah, real life took place and I was too busy/lazy to document it.

So let me summarize as much as I can just to keep this thing updated.

  • Around June, My bff got married. It was such a perfect ceremony. I had my role of being a bridesmaid, which basically had no role but to look pretty. I mean, I'm not complaining at all. It was such a fun day to camwhore and pose for not just one but two professional photographers. So yeah, I ended up having the most number of "extra" photos and it was funny because my face was always randomly flashed on the AVPs. Anyway, I had two teary-eyed moments during their wedding. One was during their vow and the other was during the reception. I was just so happy for her that everything turned out perfect. 
Look how lovely this is (Taken by Jaja Samaniego)

  • Around June also, I had this very quick yet fun getaway with my husband and my friends. It was a supposed overnighter but something came up so it was even narrowed down to a day tour. Nevertheless, it was still a day full of laughters, sunblocks and positivity! White Rock, Subic, was not bad at all. It was a bit pricey at 850 Php per pax plus 2000 Php mandatory cottage rental. It had a lot of water activities including wave pools, kayaks, wall climbing, zipline, amazing slides and oh, a beach. The beach was unfortunately so-so. Maybe even lower a standard of decency. Really. It was really murky. If it weren't for their tons of other activities and their awesome staffs, we would have been really disappointed. I did mention there was a playground, right? Right. We've seen it right after we changed into our swimsuits. The seesaws looked fun so what the hell, me and my husband tried one. It was fun at first but being a lightweight myself, I actually got thrown off. Yeah, as in literally thrown off. I flew, then landed on the bars, flew again, landed on the ground. It was so dyahe pare, nakakahiya!!! And not to mention, extremely painful. It was a jolt of pain I have never ever experienced before. My inner thighs landed on the bars, bruising them badly. My whole body was shaking. Good thing it was just a sudden burst. Like a 7-minute hell and then it was gone. Still painful the whole day but it got really tolerable. So yeah, that happened maybe like an hour after our arrival, just my luck!
With our Minnie Mouse pose

What did I tell you about the beach?
  • Around July, the sweetest husband in the whole wide world gave me an early birthday present. Knowing how I wanted to have a hobby and how we both shared a love for travel, he did several weeks of research on how to scour inexpensive beginners' cameras. It was a very heart-warming effort on making me happy (even though, I swear, I never asked for it but he just knew!).We got lucky upon scoring a slighty used Canon 1000d for only 10,800 Php which is still in a perfect condition. So now, this keeps me occupied. I love this learning phase but I hope I improve more and more through practice and time (coz my shots still suck). In relation to this, I will be lauching my photo blog to document my progress. I will launch it on my birthday, August 8. I have yet to name them still (the camera and the blog). So exciting!
  • Let me turn on my rant mode for a few minutes. Last week, I finally got our wedding video. Guess what? We were disappointed. Sadly, they did not deliver according to our expectations. It was hardly HD like what we paid for (half of it is in poor quality). I won't elaborate on that sad thing because, well, because, it's a fail part on my end! I should have not hurried up in booking that company. Sigh. 
  • Present time. It has been raining everyday for the past two weeks. This sucks! Rain may have some advantages, yes, but it also comes with a lot of inconveniences! First, our bedroom roof leaks. Not a big of a deal for me, but for the house itself, it is. Second, random insects/ reptiles take refuge into our home. It's freaking disgusting and scary!!! We don't live in a jungle, but there was this one time last week, where my mom woke us up in a panic at 3 in the morning when she found a snake in our kitchen. A freaking snake! It was maybe half an inch in cross-section diameter and maybe a foot and a half long. Humor me and tell me that isn't a snake yet. Aside from that incident, something more disgusting is going on in my bedroom. Yes, as in right now. Our closet has been infested by effing cockroaches!!! Wtf, right? We hired someone earlier today to clean, cement and seal the closet's base. And night came, I thought I can already rearrange our clothes, so we can sleep in peace, but surprise surprise, I found more cockroaches! Some came from the closet's ceiling. Holy crap. This is really disturbing! It's frustrating, really. Oh well, I hope this scary phase ends soon. /Rant mode off. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Season Break

Sadness.... ohhh too much sadness I wanna cry.

Oh forgive the melodrama. I'm just still in a state of a very different, unexplainable kind of sadness that comes every year - SEASON BREAK!!

Yes I'm a series junkie. I've been dealing with this addiction for several years already. It started more than 10 years ago. I was so young then, a highschool student... so naive. And yet I watched Sex and the City religiously, lol. Together with few other HBO original series, I didn't fail a single episode. It now amazes me how awesome that era was. I get to watch series by just remembering their weekly schedule and try, against all odds, to free that time of the day, to watch it on tv. And yet now, I have all the resources, electronic program guides, streamings, downloads and yet, I still miss some some. Oh well. Let's just say our old selves are more attentive and determined.

My adventures with Carrie Bradshaw continued until movies 1 and 2. I even bought complete season DVDs and brought them to Baguio during my board review because I didn't have a television. I watched them on and on for 6 months without ever tiring. 

After finally moving on... I tried other series. That's the start of it. Then came House, Pushing Daisies, Heroes, Chuck, Lie to Me, The Vampire Diaries, How I Met Your Mother, The Bigbang Theory, The Walking Dead, Fringe. The end of Chuck really broke my heart. The ending was hopeful and yet sad. But it's nothing compared to my heartbreak when House MD, ended recently. Why?? Why do they have to make Wilson dying? Why do they have to make House's identity die? Can't they just make Cuddy appear and marry House, have kids and live happily ever after? Lol. Kidding. I commend it's originality. But still!! I can't believe I won't be seeing any more of Hugh Laurie, walking limply, while being an ass to everyone. Sad sad sad. Nevertheless, 8 seasons of that awesomeness is not bad at all.

And now, most of the ones I mentioned above are still running, but currently on a season break! I do not know exactly how they run their programs in the United States, but most of the series opens and ends almost at the same time. So when they all end a certain season, I have no choice but to wait. They will resume some time in September/October this year. Oh the agony! 

During their last mid-season break, I forced myself to watch a Koreanovela, City Hunter. Forced by whom? My dear husband, lol. He watched the whole of it before me. He strongly recommended giving it a chance. I'm not against of those kinds of series, but he had to do a lot of convincing because I thought it was just an action series. Well yes, it had a lot of action, but the main story was amazing, and not to mention the lovestory! Plus, the bida is so gwapo! Lol, yeah, I mean it. 

Now I have found the perfect diversion again to somehow lessen the misery of waiting. You see, I have adopted a very adorable little puppy. Exept that, he's not so little anymore after 2 weeks. He's a Labrador Retriever, which I swear grows right in front of my eyes! I think in two months time, this little fella will be as big as my other local bred dogs, well again, except that, he'll still be a puppy! He's a crazy, hyperactive, destructive and yet a very lovable baby. I understand he's 10 time more playful now that he's still young so as early as now, I am trying my best to train him become a more disciplined dog. I can't have a 70-pound of meat running around the house destructing anything that comes along his way. Oh no, he can't be a Marley (although he looks like him). I can't afford having our future carpet being ruined or having our future babies being tumbled down by him. Right now, he tackles and bites my precious cat, it makes me angry so I have to stop that habit. 

With that, came my next series obsession - The Dog Whisperer. It's a reality tv series featuring the training and rehabilitation of Ceasar Milan to dogs and their masters. Yup, I'm a fan of Ceasar now. I personally think he's like a dog deity or something. I am really in awe when I try the things he teaches and they actually work. I have only seen the some latest episodes on tv recently. His show is already on it's 8th season so I have a lot of catching to do, which is perfect! I think I can finish all of them right before my other series start. I hope I can apply them in real life and make my little Bownie more disciplined and pleasant to be with.

For now, let me leave you with some photos of him.

Isn't he adorable?? How can you spank that little angel!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stuck in the 90's

Gaaah! Why can't I name artists today's hot artists except for mainstream ones like Justin Bieber, Adele, Lady Gaga and uhmmm, see?? 

It's so hard finding decent music nowadays. Auto tune is pretty much available to every artists plus listeners are so forgiving of repetitive lyrics as long as the beat is dance-worthy. Why can't we produce genius songs anymore like Bohemian Rhapsody or Making Love out of Nothing at all or I'd do Anything for Love. It's so sad that even our local bands produce more and more poorly revived songs. 

That's why, lo and behold, I have found a way to blast myself in the past. I found cool Youtube channels featuring 90's playlist. Yup, not just songs, but a playlist of full albums! My current thing right now is Pinoy 90's rock. That decade is very speacial. That was when I started loving music with the influence of my brother. You know how pinoy bands really rocketed back then. It was the glorious era of Eraserheads, Rivermaya (original members), The Youth, Agaw Agimat, Rizal Underground, The Dawn, Yano, etc. Now, listening to them not only makes my work 10,000 times more fun, but also makes me nostalgic in a very unexplainable blissful way.

I know being excited about discovering youtube playlist is kinda lame, makes me wonder why haven't I done it years ago! Oh well, I can still take advantage of it now, as they say, it's good while it lasts (in relation to SOPA sh*t, oops). 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hibernation over

And I'm suddenly alive! I just felt a sudden urge to blog again after being on a couple of months hiatus. What paused me? Work. 

I know, I know... I only work at home and I may not have the right to complain about being stressed and all, but yes, I did a lot of complaining already and I even let my world stop because of it. A lot of you may not understand, so I just feel the need to explain. I work online. It's a full time job, requiring 8 straight hours per day, 6 days per week. I have team mates and bosses too. The job's nature is based on an online simulation game, selling virtual stuffs which are paid in actual dollars. Sounds fun right? Wrong. Aside from playing pretend in-game, we also constantly maintain data, advertisements, promotions and every actual business things in between. 

It was actually no sweat, until recently, I got to work closely with our CEO. Ever seen House MD? He's like that, except in a geeky-gamer genius kind of way. He's also that sarcastic and has no regards to people's emotions. I feel both privileged and cursed at the same time to work with him. I have to extend work hours from the original 8 hrs a day, to 12 hrs a day. I felt mentally tired that I can't even bear the thought of opening my laptop to blog or surf after working. I almost gave up after receiving several f***s, and s***s, but what the hell, where can I find this kind of decent-paying job right at the comforts of my home. So I fought and continued to fight. 

Until now that I have finally adjusted to that change, that I have started enjoying again. I have reduced my work hours to 9 hrs. I am blogging again. I even found time to dance this morning. True enough, things are easier when you accept them. That's why it feels so nice to be back! 

How a Failed Trip Turned into an Epic Impromptu Getaway


I have been planning for two months for this trip. The night before our trip, everything's perfect. I had a solid itinerary, complete with routes, accommodations and budget allotment. The next day, me and my husband traveled to NAIA Terminal 3 to catch our flight. We alloted 3 hours travel time (Pampanga - Naia), which is actually a more than enough. To our surprise, the MRT wasn't operational and the queue went all the way to SM North Edsa. I got nervous and scared.. and frustrated, and pissed. We road a bus and crossed our fingers the traffic would spare us. It didn't. To cut the story short, we were left by the plane.

And that started our adventure. 

I'll admit, I was disappointed for like a quick minute or two. I went silent. I thought so hard, now what? We can't just go home just like that, it's like a walk of shame. I've considered taking the bus going to Naga but I read they only travel during night time. It was around 10am, where will we waste that much time? MOA? Oh God no.. not another mall.

Then it hit me! We've always wanted to go to Tagaytay. I've planned it seriously twice in the past but when it's time to go, something always happens. What could possibly go wrong this time? We drafted a quick estimated budget and alternate itinerary.

After asking several persons for the direction, we finally made it there!

Pure Bliss - Perstaym eh!
It was just a quick half day trip, but nevertheless, it was the most fun trip we ever had. I'm so lost of words on how to describe it, but think of it as our own version of The Amazing Race. Limited time, limited budget, no maps, only difference is that we had fun, giggling on every time we get lost. Again, we didn't have decent couple photos. We were so in the zone and just savored every moment we were there.

Then came dusk, we didn't want to spend the night in Tagaytay. Why not? We had another trip in mind for the next day, so a night in a touristy place is not in the budget. Yeah, we're poor travelers (#mahirap - a hashtag I never actually see on any social sites). We asked several people again, asking for a route going to Batangas. Why Batangas? You'll see why.

We were informed that there are buses going to Batangas in Turbina, Laguna. We rode a public van going to that bus terminal. We planned to stay in that vicinity so we can readily ride a bus early morning but we can't seem to find a cheap hotel in the area. We rode a jeepney going to Calamba and stayed in a cheap yet clean hotel. While walking around Calamba that night, we saw signs that Rizal's house is just around there somewhere.

The next day, we walked early in the morning to check out Rizal's house. I know, it may seem silly, but even those kind of spots excites me. We went there, along with high school children who were in an excursion.

Rizal's house. No wonder his parents were Don and Donya - their house is huge!
After a quick tour inside this house and the nearby church, we hurriedly went to the bus station to catch a bus going to Batangas pier. Fast forward, as everything went smoothly and we found ourselves under the the scorching sun in a beautiful beach. We were in Puerto Galera.

Coincidently, PAGASA announced that this day marks the start of the summer. How awesome is that!

It's so nice to be greeted by this view.
Puerto Galera may be mainstream, but it's the best beach when it comes to convenience. No plane rides, no booking in advance, just a smooth boat ride.

Puerto Galera - perfect for a quick beach fix!

The beach comes so alive during nights with pounding music and amazing fire dancers!
That night, we stayed at Las Villas del Natividad Resort, located at the White Beach. It wasn't a pretty satisfying stay, so I won't elaborate anymore. Let's just say it was one of those times when I wish I should have researched in advance. Clue: it has something to do with cleanliness.

The next day, we prepared early to catch our early morning boat ride back to Batangas. It was a fun ride since we were only 6 in the boat, already including the crew. It was a rough, bouncy and exciting ride! The waves dribbled the boat so hard that at one moment, the boat's machine shut down. We were laughing nervously the whole time.

I'm so thankful to have the best travel partner slash husband. Sudden change of plans may shake other couples but luckily, this just made us appreciate each other more. Looking forward to our next destination! I'm praying to all land and air deities to to be on our side next time. CDO - Bukidnon - Camiguin, our DIY version, coming this November (ughhhh, so excited)!

***two-month late post... will explain on next entry.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

C' Italian Dining Experience

I have read a lot of raves about this Italian restaurant near Clark. Their famous for their pizza-looking-but-even-better creation, the Panizza. Chris, their chef, revolutionized this masterpiece and the result is heavenly! People from Manila and neighboring provinces goes to the Angeles City just to dine in this resto. I am dying of curiosity. I must try it.

You see, I'm not an expensive eater. I take joy in discovering cheap finds and food is no exemption. With that, I had to find the right time to give in to my curiosity (I heard it's not very cheap to eat here so a normal day isn't just practical). Finally, thank heavens for the valentine's day, I can justify treating my husband a fancy dinner. 

C' Italia is just a few minutes drive from SM Clark. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by their staff and seated on the air-conditioned area. We found out that you can have an option of eating indoors or al-fresco. The place has this classy and rustic feel. I wanted to kick myself for not bringing an actual camera so we have to make do of these phone shots, okay? I hope they can give enough justice to the place.

You will be greeted with their lobby's wall full of signed plates which were made by their satisfied customers.

Another section houses their wine selection, which can be ordered as well. 
The stone wall certainly adds up to the Italian ambience.

Another arched door leads to this homey little lounge.
I wanted to try three of their famous dishes, a panizza, pasta and risotto. They have a wide range of selection when it comes to their panizzas. They even vary them from time to time whenever the chef discovers a new masterpiece. It was so hard deciding but we ended up ordering Panizza Kristina. Generally, their panizzas are all made from fine crisp dough with a blend of five different cheese and herbs, then the toppings makes all the difference. Kristina has bacon, ham, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. It comes with arugula and alfalfa sprouts. 

Complimentary baguettes with pesto and cheese dip, while waiting for our orders. 

Panizza Kristina. Ugggh, my mouth waters just by seeing this again!
It comes with arugula leaves and alfalfa sprouts. Salad and a pizza combined! These are refillable btw :)
Rolled panizza. I know, the photo looks blehh, but trust me, this is really really good!
Arugula, surprisingly, doesn't taste leafy at all. It's not bitter but has this very very delicate spice and nuttiness. The alfalfa, however, has this subtle earthy and grassy taste all by itself. But when all of them combined, they really compliment each other. 

Our next dish was the risotto. It was my first time eating this dish. I knew the authentic risottos are made of fish broth. I was never a fan of fishes. Maybe I can try that when I'm actually in Italy. I ended up ordering its nearest cousin, the prawn. It's called Risotto Antonio. It's a dish made of rice cooked slowly in broth (it has this lugaw consistency). Do you know the feeling when you're eating something delicious, you always save the best parts for last? Well, it didn't happen here. This dish has unbelievably generous amount of prawns that every time you scoop up, a prawn will always end up on your spoon. It also has some tomato concase, fresh basil, cottage and parmesan cheese. It's very creamy and has no over-powering seafood taste. In short... yummy! The serving is hefty too.

You're really heavenly!
Our last order was the pasta. We chose the Spagetti Con Frutti Di Mare. It is a blend of fresh salmon, mahi mahi, grouper, prawns, imported mussels with light virgin olive oil and pomodoro sauce. Talk about seafood hardcore! I can't believe I'm gonna say this twice in a single entry, but I am not a fan of fishes. I ate the mussels but I was not generally happy with this one. It was a personal preference. I took it home to my mom and it was a sure hit! 

Huge chunks of salmons, mahi mahi and groupers.
Now the verdict.

Taste: 10/10 
No question about that, it deserves every rave it gets. Their panizzas are must-try. I think I would go back every pay day just to try all their varieties.

Service: 10/10
Their staff are very attentive and well-trained. They know the menu so well that they even suggest an order if they saw you having a hard time choosing.

Ambiance/ Location: 7/10. 
The ambiance is perfect. The location, however, is not that strategic. If your commuting, you may have to take two rides to reach it (from Angeles proper). They also have limited parking spaces if you have your own car. 

Price: 9/10. 
Our total bill was 2800+ Php for three dishes and 2 drinks. Generally, each order averages around 800 Php. Is it expensive? Not really, considering the huge servings and the quality of ingredients they offer. 

Must-try? Definitely.
Will I try it again? Definitely!

C'Italian Dining is located at 1210 Don Juico Avenue (Friendship Road), Clark, Angeles, Philippines
Accepts cash, Visa, American Express and Master Card payments.
Opens at 11:00am to 11:00pm every day except Mondays (5:00pm-11:00pm)

I have a copy of their menu if someone gets curious. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 3: a 6 - hour Cebu sidetrip!

Ughh, it took me days to finally do this post. Blame my brain-dead brain and crazy schedule (feeling busy playing Wii). 

Day 1 - Panglao Island (the only day when we felt like actual tourists)
Day 2 - Bohol City Tour (time to get dirty, literally, by driving around Bohol in a tricycle)

We had a little discussion on what to do on our day 3. Remember, everything's unplanned. So it was a choice between Bohol Bee Farm (and Suislide) or a Cebu side trip. Cebu won! So Cebu it was. We quickly planned our route and itinerary that night and woke up early to catch the 8am ferry. We slept late with sore bodies, praying we'll be able to wake up that early.

8:15am, we were still buying our tickets. Obviously, we missed our target schedule. Oh well, we bought the next one which was 9:30 am with Ocean Jet Ferries. The last cruise will be at 5:30pm. Travel time is 2 hours. With that, you can conclude that we only have 6 hours of exploring eastern part of Cebu. 

It was our first time to ride a ferry. Expectation: Titanic -looking ships with plenty of outdoor room for ocean viewing. Reality: It kinda looks like a floating bus with at least 3x4 feet smoking area. 

It's not bad at all, I'm just so naive to expect more.
In all fairness to Ocean Jet, the ferry was clean and was on-time. We enjoyed sea watching and spent most of the 2 hours travel time outside, soaking all the sun's glory without any sunscreen. We ended up looking like moisted (from the sea moist and not to mention, sweat) chocolate cakes (sunburn!).

Totally worth it!

We arrived Cebu around 11:30am, it was lunch time already. We skipped it as we saw Fort San Pedro right outside the pier. Cebu was never short of rich history and this fort was one of them. It was built by the Spanish Government (in which one of them was Miguel Lopez de Legazpi), as a military fortress. 

We just figured using sephia tone will produce some Spanish feel. Or not?
An old Spanish Flag
The Founding of Cebu - in photos.
Good thing about Cebu Mactan Pier is that it's near to 3 tourist spots. First was the Fort San Pedro, the other one is the Basilica de Sto. Nino and Magellan's Cross. Three birds in one stone. One down, then we headed to the next one.

Getting ready for the Sinulog Festival. Too bad we didn't witnessed the actual festival.

Basilica's Facade

The amazing altar.
After stepping out of the Basilica, we immediately asked for Magellan's Cross directions to a kind-looking security guard. To our surprise, it was just outside. After few steps, a small kiosk housing the cross itself greeted us. It was said that the Portuguese and Spaniards planted this cross on this same spot, as commanded by Magellan himself as they landed in Cebu. Well, of course, this is not the actual cross, but relics were said to be inside this chapel.

The closest I can get to Magellan.
It was a hot humid day and we were walking around, asking for directions and commuting around Cebu. It was both tiring and fun! We managed to get to our last stop - the Regency Hotel. Nope, not to check in, but to get high - literally! I dreamed for so long to try their Sky Experience Adventure. Upon reaching the hotel, we immediately checked their schedule. They open up at 2pm, so we had our lunch first. Luckily, Regency Hotel is located right next to Robinson's Mall. I had to say, their food court's prices are crazy affordable. For only 49 pesos, the meal included rice, a deep fried crab, achara, soup and an iced tea. What a complete meal! And they're generous with the serving too! Yeah obviously, cheap foods excite me.

At last! It's time to test our marriage, lol. You see, my dear husband is afraid of heights. Not really acrophobia, but it's somehow close to that, hahah. I had to pull of my sad face just to make him agree of just one ride. That's good enough for me. I signed up for 3 rides (2 skyrides + 1 extreme) and he signed up for the roller coaster ride. His was 550 pesos (entrance of 250 plus 300 for the roller coaster ride). Mine was 1000 (they were on a promo, i think). 

The first stunt was fun! We got to ride to an actual roller with its tracks right on the edge of the building. We could even tilt the seats to have the 'falling' feeling. After that, I checked his pulse hands and they were cold. I commended him for the going all though that in the name of fun. The next stunt was the Sky Walk. I was on my own this time. I admit, it looked boring. I was strapped on a harness, and got to walk on a platform placed around the building's edges. Some of the platforms are transparent, so I got to see the height I were on. Then I was asked to stand on the edge with one foot raised (their signature pose) while having my photo taken. Hmmm.. strange. I felt my knees slightly turning to jellies. It was surprisingly scary. Anyway, I had a bird's eye view of Cebu. The person assisting me, showed some interesting landmarks like the dancing inmates' prison, Mactan Island and the on-going construction of yet another SM (he said it'll be bigger than MOA, let's see).
Taking photos is prohibited, souvenir photos cost 250Php each. Expensive? But they're too awesome to pass up?
My final stunt was interesting. From the package I got, this would be the 'extreme' one. I would be ziplining from one building to another. It was on the 40th? floor. I would then be returned to the original location by a Sky Lift. I had tried ziplining in Subic before, but this one feels different. It was said to be the first urban zip line in the world. Cool, but I was thinking of some worse case scenarios. If I fell from a superman ride in Subic, I will be landing on tress. Plus the trees below hid the actual height of the ride so it was less scary. While this one is pure height! You'll see cars and concrete below. I almost backed out. But wth, I paid for it, and surely, I will definitely regret not doing it. Plus I read they're into double redundancy safety, whatever that is, it sounded good. I went for it. Imagine being thrown away to another building 250m away, 473m above the ground. It was exhilarating! 
This is me, being brought back to Regency Hotel's 40th? floor, ganyan talaga akong pumanhik ng building, because elevators are too mainstream, bwahahah.
We barely noticed but it was already 4:30 and we were still in this hotel. We needed to catch our ferry for our hotel in Bohol was already paid for and getting another hotel here just because we were late is plain stupid. We rode the jeepney good thing Cebu's jeepney drivers were as aggressive as Manila's. It was rush hour and the traffic was bad. We got down on a familiar spot and just walked our way to the pier. It was still a long walk though. When we reached Port San Pedro, we saw some joggers there so we jogged along, hahah. After all the rushing and running, we reached our destination and had some more minutes to spare. That concluded our little Cebu side trip. 

Oh, and I got to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes while aboard. Nice movie. I wish I could just throw some ALZ 113 to some people (even to myself during these times when my brain is malfunctioning).