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A Day at Paco Park

Monday, August 31, 2015

I got tired of going to the mall and doing the same thing, so how do I make my day in this congested city a bit different? Paco Park came to mind so I grabbed my camera and headed to the park. It was around 9am and I'm already anticipating the traffic to be super heavy. You know the bumper to bumper kind with many stops and starts (drove me crazy!).
Took me about 45 mins to get to Paco Park from Makati. It's only about 4km from where I live and should only be about 15 mins drive. When I got there, I had the park to myself (no busloads of tourists! yay!) at least for the next 30 minutes.

St. Pancratius Chapel
Before Paco Park became a recreational garden, it was once the Municipal cemetery of Manila. It was originally constructed as a cemetery in 1807 due to the cholera epidemic. It was built exclusively for the city's affluent and aristocratic Spaniards.

Rich with decades of history, Paco Park is now a place for weddings. Yes you heard it right. Weddings. From a cemetery to a recreational park to a hip place to get hitched. With its towering trees and thick adobe walls, you can temporarily forget that you are in the most congested city in the Philippines.


Can anyone tell me what this is called?
If you are into classical concerts, you should not miss Paco Park Presents. It is held every Friday at 6pm. It is a regular public service project of the Department of Tourism. Too bad I didn't go there on a Friday afternoon. I remember watching "Concert at the Park" on tv when I was a kid. 

For instructions on how to get there, click here.

Entrance fee is only Php 10. They are open Monday to Sunday (except Wednesday) from 8am to 5pm.

Main Attractions:
1. Gomburza tomb
2. Rizal tomb
3. St. Pancratius Chapel

Pet Friendly Hotel in Tagaytay

Sunday, August 30, 2015

This is a late post.
It's been two years since I made this trip and I only had the time to post this now (been too busy!). This was a really fun trip I took with my late persian cat  and my Poodle.
Vacationing with your pets is almost impossible with the limited number of pet friendly hotels in the Philippines. Good thing I found T House Tagaytay! We booked the Tranquility Garden room for 4 nights @ Php 4,700/night. They accept small pets for a fee of Php 750/night. Please call them first before booking and ask if your pet's breed/size is allowed. Do not forget to bring your pet's vaccination records with you upon checking in.

Photo source: www.thousetagaytay.com
While they allow you to bring your pet, you are required to put them in a crate when they are alone unattended inside the room and leashed when outside the room. As a responsible pet parent, you are also expected to clean up after your pet.

Mawmaw looking comfy
Mawmaw as I fondly call her, had a great time at T House! She immediately made herself comfortable and chose her spot.

Mawmaw at the courtyard

After checking in, we soon went out and explored the hotel's facilities. We learned that pets are only allowed in the courtyard, rock garden in pavilion, parking and parking hallway. 

Mimi looking happy

Pets are not allowed in the common areas like the lobby, sitting room, dining room, spa and pool area which is totally fine for me. 

Their salt water swimming pool and Jacuzzi is lovely and inviting!

Salt water swimming pool
We got a free breakfast and it's pretty good! Here's their menu:

Source: www.thousetagaytay.com

Source: www.thousetagaytay.com
T House Tagaytay is indeed a gem for pet lovers! 

A New Beginning

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's been a while since I've actually written a blog entry. Apart from being busy building a startup company, I was also grieving the loss of my mother and my fur baby Catherine.

Getting Estranged from Family

At one point in our life, we get estranged from a family member. According to a poll, thirty percent of women have been estranged from their moms. You might wonder how on earth can someone cut off their parent/parents from their lives?
Coming from a Filipino family where children have a tight bond with their parents, what could have gone wrong? It is hard to say exactly what went wrong. The destruction of the parent-child bond was a persistent source of melancholy, a feeling of incompleteness that weighed down the soul.
After a series of unfortunate events during my childhood, I decided to limit my parent's access to my life. They were the parents I once seemed to adore. My family used to be my source of comfort and security. Since my parents separated, I lost that sense of security and we all parted ways.

Lessons Learned

1. Set aside your differences
When couples separate, children are caught in an emotional tug-of-war. Even adult children get affected. It is better to set aside your differences for the sake of your children. Children should also attempt to keep the bond alive and try to understand their parents. 

2. Tame Your Ego
Ego gets in the way of love. It distracts us from the bigger picture of love, happiness, and peace of mind. I let my ego run the show and now I have many regrets. Now it is too late to apologize to my mom.

3. See the potential rift and defuse it
A rift is difficult to repair once it sets in. Do not let things deteriorate. Set up a meeting and talk it over. 

4. Forgive the unforgivable
“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~Malachy McCourtro
Your parents may have done something wrong that they thought at the time was right. Learn to forgive and forget. Recognize the past as a dead era that you will never be able to change. 

Start a New Beginning 

Nobody can really go back and start a new beginning. But I believe I can start today and make a new ending. Losing my mom was a wake up call for me. Like all loss, it had to be a process. We'll always regret the chances we didn't take. But let it be a lesson to all of you, never take your parents for granted. Life is short. There is no time to leave important words unsaid. 

Enchanting El Nido, Palawan

Friday, September 6, 2013

El Nido, Palawan

Palawan holiday is not complete without basking under the summer sun and snorkeling in turquoise waters of El Nido. So much for expecting “summer sun”—it almost never happened due to nasty typhoon last August. Nevertheless, we still had tons of fun during our 3 nights stay. Lucky for us, we got a good break from rain on the third day.
El Nido is a small fishing village north of Palawan, Philippines. To get to El Nido, you will need to take an hour plane ride from Manila or take a six hour van/bus ride from Puerto Princesa City. Since we were already in Puerto Princesa, our only option is to take a bus or a van. Six hour bus ride is a bit much especially if you are riding a bus through muddy rough roads. We decided to hire a van instead. It costs 8,000 pesos (USD 181) one way but after haggling with the driver, he agreed to 6,000 pesos (USD 140) but wait there’s a catch—we will have to hire him again on our way back to Puerto Princesa city for the same price and he asked for 50% advanced payment for the return trip.

We stayed at El Nido Beach Hotel for USD 55/night with free breakfast. It has a great view of the ocean and the massive limestone cliffs. I can’t imagine a much grander view than this.
View from my hotel room

On our third day, we got a good break from heavy rains and thunderstorm. We met Hawaiian boat tours owner Mr. Stafford Montgomery early morning and he helped us set our tour for the day. His boats are one of the best in El Nido. They are fairly new and safe. For only 4,000 pesos (USD 91) for 1-3 persons, we get to go island hopping with free lunch.  
Mr. Montgomery owner of Hawaiian Boat Tours

Friendly staff of Hawaiian Boat Tours

Our First stop is Big lagoon. It is where a scene in the movie 'Bourne Legacy" was filmed.

First thing I want to do when I saw this beauty is to jump off the boat and swim but the tour guide told me to stay on the boat and wait till we reach a shallow part. The water is amazingly vivid and inviting and oh so full of marine life!

Boat stuck on a reef in Big Lagoon
Next stop is Secret Lagoon:

It reminds me of the movie "The Beach". It is surrounded by massive limestone cliffs. 

We then proceeded to Shimizu Island to have lunch. So while we are having fun snorkeling, the whole staff were cooking lunch. 

Shimizu Island
After a sumptuous meal of steamed crabs, tropical fruits, steamed rice, chicken adobo, grilled unicorn fish, and Chopsuey, we boarded the boat again and headed to Small Lagoon. You will have to get off your boat and swim through the hole or you can bring a kayak with you.

I imagine mermaids living here

On the way to Small Lagoon
Hole in Small lagoon
Beware of territorial fishes on the way in as they can get real nasty. I was bitten twice and it hurt so much I let out a loud embarrassing scream thinking it was a baby shark lol.
You will be rewarded by this awesome view inside the lagoon. Have fun swimming in this crystal clear water of Small Lagoon!

Inside Small Lagoon
Our last stop is Seven Commando Beach. The final destination after a long day of island hopping. 
Seven Commando Beach
After 10 mins of swimming, it started raining again. The boat captain decided that we head out of there asap to avoid beating huge waves on the way back to the hotel. The other boats full of tourists packed their things and headed back to mainland as well. 
It was such a fun day and I wish I can do it all over again soon!
We want to thank Hawaiian Boat Tours for a day of fun! If you guys decide to go to El Nido, you can check them out. Their contact number is: (63)926 716-2792

Kalibo,Aklan--Interesting Summer Destination

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sunset in Kalibo

Summer is here! With beaches jam-packed during this summer season, you will probably feel the same as when you are in the city. Being a loner, I hate crowded beaches! Boracay has great beaches and all that but the crowd doesn't appeal to me. Ditch the bandwagon and jet-set on a place where only few people really explore--Kalibo. I know, I know...Kalibo is also frequented by tourists--but only to get to Boracay or attend the famous Ati-Atihan festival. Very few tourists really explore the place and it has lots to offer aside from the festival.
I stayed in Kalibo Hotel since its location is near the town center. The room is quite decent and very affordable for Php 1,400 ($35). They also have free wifi in the room. They don't have a restaurant inside the hotel but there's a Mcdonald's nearby and several local restaurants a few blocks away.

Upon arriving at the hotel, I proceeded to explore the area and looked for a restaurant. The locals recommended Ramboy's and I loved their pork liempo! The meat is tender and very tasty and the skin is crispy. I have never had anything like it here in Manila.
Lechon Liempo

After dinner, I headed down to Lambingan beach to check it out. Ok it's not what I expected and honestly I was so disappointed. The beach is dirty, the sand is gray, and the area is a bit scary. I would not recommend it to anyone.
Lambingan Beach

But the next morning, I rented a van to take me to Jawili Beach and I was not disappointed. It is very pretty and serene. The beach is deserted and very clean!
Jawili Beach
A short hike from the beach is Jawili falls. You can rent a nipa hut there for Php 150 ($3.75) so you have a place to put your stuff as you explore the area.
Jawili Falls
I really had a blast at Jawili Falls. There were no other tourist when I was there, so I basically had the falls to myself. You can hike further to explore the 6 other basins which is really cool. 

After swimming at the falls, we headed back to the hotel. Since it's already late in the afternoon, I decided to just head back out and look for a new place to have dinner. I ran into this restaurant called Latte Coffee Cafe. The ambiance is nice but the food isn't so great. They serve Asian and Western Cuisines. Their Penne Pasta is dull and the meat is not good. 
Latte Coffee Cafe's Penne Pasta

I also ordered Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and the meat is tough. But hey I love the potato chips.
Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich
Their milk shake is okay, nothing special about it. All in all, Latte Coffe Cafe is a semi-decent restaurant and the price is very affordable.

Milk Shake
What I like most in Kalibo is the people--they are always polite and always ready to help tourists. Not just the people--even their dogs! :)
This dog served as my tour guide in Jawili Falls!
Kids smiling while catching crabs at a mangrove park
Kalibo has many other attractions but sadly I didn't have time for it all. My last stop is La Herminia. Kalibo is known for Pineapple Fabrics. Here you can buy souvenirs like bags made from pineapple or Abaca.

Macau Food and Sights

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Macau is a culture bonanza open to all. Thanks to the Portuguese, Macau represents an exotic blend of Oriental and Western influences. Having been a Portuguese territory for almost 500 years, it developed a rather unique culture. 
You will never run out of hotel choices--from cheap to expensive accommodations, Macau has it all and most of them are renowned for exceptional services and luxurious comfort. We stayed at Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Their superior room is about $170/night during low season.
Hotel Lisboa
Their superior room has a rich and regal interior and offers free in-house movies, free local calls, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary use of mini bar. But be warned: you can only consume the items in the mini bar inside the room. If you decide to take the food outside while you stroll, they will charge you for it.

Superior room
The bathroom features a massage shower and Jacuzzi bathtub. I love it!

The hotel is only a few minutes away from Senado Square and other attractions. In fact, you can walk all the way from your hotel to several Macau attractions. Ladies, wear light and comfortable walking shoes! It is a bit hard to get a cab at night from Senado Square, so if your hotel is nearby, prepare to just walk! I ended up with blisters on my feet one night coz I wore high heels and there were no cabs available (been waiting for about 30 mins or more) so we proceeded to walk back to the hotel. 

Senado Square at night
For foodies out there, you will never run out of restaurant choices in Macau. But prepare to spend more than you usually do if you want real good food. The high-end restaurants in hotels are less likely to be crowded. McDonald's and other western fast food restaurants in Macau are crowded all the time. We always have breakfast at Starbucks's in Senado Square since they have a second level which isn't too crowded. One time we tried this restaurant called Macau Recipes but never again!! I repeat..NEVER AGAIN will we go to Macau Recipes. I find the restaurant unsanitary and the food is not so appealing. And you need to pay for your own paper towel! Yeah you heard it right--you will have to pay for paper towels! Never did I encounter a restaurant that doesn't offer free paper towels until I went to Macau Recipes. But anyway it isn't the main issue here--the staff were grumpy, the kitchen is dirty (wish I can tell you exact details of what I've seen in their kitchen!), and the food is not good (That's what I get for being a cheapskate!). Their meals are priced around USD $10 and above which is considered real cheap there. We ended up leaving after having one bite. The utensils smell fishy too as if they were never washed properly.

Macau Recipes menu
The sweet and sour pork I ordered is 90% bones with bell pepper, onion and some lousy sauce served with rice.

Since other restaurants are full, we crossed the road adjacent to Senado Square and found Pizza Hut! Pizza Hut saved our night! Though it is not the usual Pizza Hut that I'm used to, it's at least decent and somewhat familiar and clean! I ordered their Lasagne which is a bit different but still yummy. It is smothered in a tangy minced meat sauce and together with melted cheese and creamy mashed potato. Prepare about USD $20 for a full meal in Pizza Hut Macau.

Noite e Dia Café in Hotel Lisboa is awesome! They offer a wide selection of Japanese, Cantonese dim sum, Chinese barbecue, and Western dishes. They are open 24/7 and is located at the lobby level of Hotel Lisboa. A meal per person will cost about USD $30-40 or more. But I'm telling you, it is so worth it!
Noite e Dia Café
For those seeking adventure, head over to Macau Tower and try their bungy jumping at 233m (764ft). It is the second highest commercial skyjump in the world. Are you an adrenaline junkie? This can be the perfect Macau adventure for you!
Macau Tower
Here's a video I took (the quality isn't great since I just used my phone). Anyway it will give you an idea how it was like bungee jumping there.

People on a budget will also enjoy Macau, take a stroll at night and soak in the amazing view of the casinos and hotels. Walk around St. Paul Ruins and learn more about Macau's history.
Grand Lisboa at night
You can also ride a bus to Taipa and visit Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and ride a gondola for USD $16.

If you have more time, drop by A-ma temple to get a glimpse of Buddhist tradition in Macau.

Macau is truly an interesting place. You can even make the most out of your trip here in just one day. It is only about 250 hectares so don't you dare blink and miss something! :D

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Certified foodie. Crazy cat lady in training.