Monday, April 30, 2012

Reunited and it feels so good

I have mentioned in my previous post that I will be attending the most awaited reunion of my paternal family. The ironic thing about my paternal relatives is that most of us reside in the same small city, yet we rarely see each other. After almost a year of planning and the efforts of some patient and hardworking relatives, I'm happy to say that we finally made it.

Our reunion was held in a private resort near the city. My family loves to have it in a resort because of the kids, who are always looking forward for the summer swim. Here are some pictures from the resort,


Hats off to my relatives who exerted all means to make this happen. Till our next reunion!  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beautiful Sunday #1

Happy Sunday to everyone! While you are reading this post, I'm on the way to attending the long awaited reunion with my paternal family. Before I head out for another summer swim, I'd like to start a regular blogging series. Starting today, I will be doing my Beautiful Sunday post.

What is Beautiful Sunday? Obviously, I adopted the name from the famous song of Daniel Boone. I chose such name because I grew up with the classic song. Sundays at home would always mean hearing "Hi, hi, hi, beautiful Sunday, This is my, my, my, beautiful day." No, I wasn't singing as I was typing that. :-)

Why did I choose to do this blogging series every Sunday? A confession to make, I have a love-hate relationship with Sunday. I love Sunday because it means off from work, rest and time for my family or friends. I hate Sunday because it signals the last day of the weekend break. Sunday makes me feel the last few hours of happiness.  To dilute my hate for Sundays, I decided to create another reason to love it. Hence, the Beautiful Sunday blogging series was conceived.

I will be compiling the beautiful things and experiences I have encountered for the week on my Beautiful Sunday series. Anything beautiful that made me happy will become a part of the series.

In my first Beautiful Sunday post, I will be sharing few of the things that never fail to make me happy, SHOES, CLOTHES (I know, pardon my shallowness.) and some interesting home pieces. So much of the boring introduction, here's my first Beautiful Sunday post.

I'm loving Kamiseta's ballet flats. This is the same pair I made on my previous post. It may not be stylish, but I'm loving it for the instant comfort it gives to my walkaton adventures. I own a black pair and I'm thinking of purchasing either beige or this pair (Warning: Shopaholic hormones are attacking!)

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I purchase most of my tops from Kamiseta or Bayo. The two brands are what my usual budget can avail. However, one sleepy afternoon day at work made me do some online window shopping. I landed in Zara's website and I fell in love with these pieces.

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  I love Chinese collared inspired blouses especially those that come in my favorite color.

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Another piece I would love to have but I won't ever dare to buy. (Ooops, let's see!)

My friend Ricki of Art at Home posted pictures of hanging bottles used as flower vases. They turned out so elegant that I dreamt of having my own floral inspired lanai. If given the chance, I'd like to have something like these at home

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 White furniture accentuated by colorful pieces appeals so much to me.
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A closer look to the vases would reveal that each are recycled pieces.

More recycled bottles converted as flower vases

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This one is so unique!
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How about you? What are the beautiful things that inspired you? I would love to hear them.

Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reviewed! The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

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I love Cecelia Ahern. I've been a fan since I discovered her debut novel, P.S. I love you. I read most of her books and so far, she never failed to appeal the hopeless romantic and kid at heart in me. Except for one book, where she seemed to join some nationalities in highlighting that we are a nation of nannies and maids. I would like to emphasize though that I was never ashamed of my fellowmen, who were forced to leave their families and embrace any occupation abroad. In fact, I admire each of them for having the courage, determination, perseverance and selfless love for their families.

I would like to believe that I'm a fair and objective person so I'm giving Ahern the trust and benefit of the doubt. To compensate, I'm reviewing one of her recent works, The Time of my Life.

The book relates the story of Lucy Silchester, a young professional who seems lose interest over her life. What happens when you feel that everything about your life is turning to a huge mess? One day Lucy receives a letter, whose sender requests for an appointment. The letter peculiarly came from her life... What happens when you meet your life? How do you see your life when it incarnates as a real human being? Better yet, how would you face your own life?

After Lucy met Life, he joined Lucy on her everyday activities, work-home-friends. As Lucy explains to Life her sentiments and some self-imposed sadness, the reader will be able to trace why Lucy's life was shaken and turned out to be so pathetic. Life on the other hand explains to Lucy the repercussions of all the mistakes and decisions she made.

The book is very ideal for women or for anyone, who seems to lose interest over the current state of their life. People who are experiencing occasional sadness and depressions (I guess that includes me.) are perfect to read the book. As Lucy relates what happened to her life, Life tries to provide a reason for everything. Along the way, the readers will learn some lessons from Lucy's life too. Some words in the novel that affected me are the following,

You never forget about the things you’ve done that you know you shouldn’t have done.” 

“Sometimes wrong numbers are the right numbers”  

“How else do you think life happens? A series of coincidences and occurrences have to happen somehow. Our lives all crash and collide and you think there's no reason or rhyme to it? If there wasn't any reason for it all, what would be the point? Why do you think anything happens at all? There is an outcome, repercussions and occurrences to everybody you meet and everything you say.” 

 and like a typical work from Ahern, the book ends with a powerful quote about life.

Overall, I would recommend The Time of my Life as good read to every woman. The book evolved around the life of a sad girl, yet the story wasn't drowning with depressing thoughts. It is ironically rich with lessons and unrealized thoughts about our lives.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Best Job in the World

I dedicate this post to my blog friends who are mothers.

Not all of us are mothers, but we are all sons and daughters of our respective mothers. I have learned that over time, mothers are the key in discovering the weakness of any person. Talk about mothers, even the toughest guy in the room will cry. Whether you are a son or a daughter, you have a mother who never fails to melt your heart.

My friend shared this video clip through Facebook and I believe this deserves to be shared to everyone.

Hats off to all the mothers in the world!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Travel Diaries - Shopping in Boracay

Aside from all the water activities, shopping is another activity you can enjoy in Boracay. To us Filipinos, traveling is synonymous to shopping. Whenever we visit a new place, we have this need of buying pasalubong, gifts or souvenir items from the places we have visited. We give these gifts to people close to us such as our family, friends, colleagues and relatives.

Pasalubong from Boracay can be purchased from D'Mall, which is conveniently located at the beach front. However, if you are into real budget finds, I suggest going to the E-Mall @ Talipapa. If you have bargaining skills and can lobby prices with the tindera (sales clerks), then you are very fitted to shop in the E-Mall. The only disadvantage I can see with the E-Mall is the additional effort and patience needed in walking and exploring the narrow pathways to each store. D'Mall offers branded to cheap items. Brands such as Toms, Havaianas, Fit Flops have their own boutiques. Retailers selling t-shirts and other cheap souvenir items are also available at D'Mall.

I wasn't able to take pictures from the E-Mall. When we shopped at the E-Mall, I was all exhausted and unfortunately suffering from menstrual cramps. I was able to take a few good shots from D'Mall since we immediately visited it on our first day in Boracay. Here are some locally produced items you can consider as pasalubong from D'Mall.

T-shirts are one of the cheapest pasalubong you can purchase from Boracay. Some shops offer t-shirts for as low as Php 95 (around $2). A few shops offer volume discounts, especially if you know how to haggle. ;)

Summer dresses are also available for as low as Php 300.

The smallest red and green slippers I've ever seen :D

In case you forgot, lost or damaged your flip flops, cheap to expensive brands are available at D'Mall.
Colorful slippers from Ipanema and Grendha.

These cloth lamps are bundled as three pieces for Php 100 (around $ 2). However, you have to install your own light bulbs for the lamps to function.

Accessories, made of wood, plastic and real shells, is another cheap pasalubong you can consider.

Colorful handbags made from Abaca are sold almost everywhere too.

There is one store that caught my attention.
This shop sells decorative items that are made of pure shell. As you enter their limited space, you will be mesmerized by what you can see from their ceiling.

When I become rich, one of the rooms in my house will be filled by these hanging decorative pieces too.

I hope my namemate and blog friend, Diane of Lavender Dreams would see these.
Compact mirror and small boxes made of shells.

This is it for my Boracay trip. As much as I wanted to share more pictures of Boracay, I need to move on and delve on the next chapters of my life. Travel is over, I'm broke so I need to work. LOL It would take some months for me to visit another place.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Travel Diaries - Island Hopping is love!

Island Hopping is love! This statement summarizes my second day in Boracay. I've visited a number of beaches in my country. I've seen beaches in Batangas, Subic and Puerto Galera. Whenever I visit the beach, I'm usually contented on swimming and enjoying the scenery. Except for the trekking experience in Taal Volcano, I never had any other adventurous experience to share.

When I stayed in Boracay, I told myself that I have to add a new experience in my list of accomplishments. I'm not getting any younger and I believe it might take another lifetime for me to visit Boracay. Hence, I decided to venture to island hopping.

Island hopping is only one of the few activities you can enjoy in Boracay. Reef walking, parasailing, scuba diving, are some of the water activities you can avail. Island hopping is best experienced with your own group of friends. My usual companions during the trip were two of my female colleagues. With a group of three people, we can already take the island hopping adventure. However, lesser people means more share in the expenses and I believe it meant lesser fun too. With the help of my other colleague, we were able to form a group of eight excited and happy island hoppers.

Aside from seeing the beautiful islands in Boracay, snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming are the accompanying activities you can enjoy with the island hopping experience. Armed with my rash guard, hunger for adventure and my equally brave and happy colleagues, we rode the boat that took me to the best ride of my life.

The first stop of our island hopping is the Crocodile Island.

Photo from Joriza Unabia of Been there, done that
The shape of the island explains its name. I failed to take my own photo because we were frightened by the gigantic waves that welcomed us as we approached the island. The waves got us all wet, wild and panicking. Safety first, so I hid my camera and prayed for our lives instead. LOL

The waves frightened us so we immediately told our tour guides to direct us to the next destination, the Turtle Island. We were still recovering from our frightening experience so I failed to capture shots of the island. Turtle island was a safer place to swim and snorkel. So off we jumped out of our boat and started the fun.
Meet my island hopping buddies!
We swam in the middle of the sea and this was an accomplishment for me. I love to swim but I never went to areas that my height can't reach. It was my first time to float and swim to a depth of around 12 feet and kilometers away from the shore.

I was already happy and contented with our short swim at the Turtle Island. Since we have to maximize the three-hour limit, we moved out of the water for our next destination.

Along the way, we were able to catch a glimpse of the luxurious Boracay Shangri-La. To prove that it's indeed high end, staying here would cost around Php 20,000 per day (around $400).

Getting near Shangri-La's own shoreline is even prohibited by their management.

We finally reached our last island destination, West Cove Hotel and Resort

West Cove is said to be owned by the Filipino boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao. Although I read in some sources that Pacquiao never admitted to own the resort. The resort resembles the structures of Santorini in Greece.  In order to see the amenities of the resort, tourists are required to pay Php 150 (around $3) as entrance fee. We didn't bother to get inside the place because we were already contented enjoying the beach front.

Our boat took us off here.

Everything about this picture is so priceless. The whitest and finest sand and the crystal blue waters are things I can never experience in the city. We spent most of our time here. We took pictures and enjoyed so far the best beach I have ever seen.

Here's a better shot of my colleagues turned adventure buddies.

Toasted and Roasted!

I have never seen this piece of heaven on earth in my entire life.

And to prove that I really experienced the place, here's the photo that captured everything.

I hope my presence didn't ruin the scenic view LOL

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Travel Diaries - In the land of the white sand

Hello everyone! My summer hibernation mode is over. I'm back in the city and tomorrow, I will be reporting for work again. (Rendering a heavy and big sigh while typing.) Before I sleep and return to my everyday life, I will fulfill my promise of sharing stories and experiences of my three-day summer vacay.

Together with my colleagues, we went to the beautiful island of Boracay. My fellow Filipino bloggers are already familiar with Boracay. For typical Filipinos, Boracay has been equated as one of the best beaches in the Philippines. For the benefit of my foreign blog friends, allow me to relate some information about Boracay.

Boracay is only one of the 7,107 islands that comprise the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago (group of islands) which makes it very abundant of beaches. However, when a typical Filipino is asked to identify the best beach in the Philippines, Boracay would surely make it to the top list. The island of Boracay measures around 1,006 hectares and is shaped like a dog bone. Boracay boasts 12 beaches. The most famous include the Bulabog Beach, Puka Shell Beach and the White Beach, where I spent my vacation. White Beach is best known for the finest and whitest sand and the crystal blue waters.

Boracay, particularly the White Beach, has been a developed tourist attraction. Hence, aside from the beach, tourists can avail and enjoy a number of amenities and activities. But for any tourist, I guess the first consideration is still the accommodation. The White Beach offers a varied range of accommodation facilities. Budget to high-end travelers can choose from different hotels and resorts. You can visit this site to verify the accredited list of hotels and resorts in Boracay. In our case, we were housed in Casa Pilar during our entire stay.

Getting to Boracay almost exhausted all my energy.  The Zest Air flight from Manila to Kalibo, 2 hours of land travel from Kalibo to Caticlan, boat ride from Caticlan to Boracay and a 10-minute multi-cab ride to finally reach the White Beach. Whew! Tired, hungry and thirsty, Casa Pilar gave us this welcome drink

We consumed this drink in this relaxing spot at the beach front

We reached Casa Pilar around 1 pm. After having our recovery lunch, we decided to check in our rooms and gave ourselves our much needed rest.

Most of the rooms in Casa Pilar are inspired by the classic Nipa huts.

Our group however was stationed in a log cabin inspired room.

If I will rate Casa Pilar, I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars. The strong points of Casa Pilar are the provision of complimentary breakfast, everyday cleaning and maintenance of the rooms, excellent airconditioning units and being conveniently located at the beach front. Some weak points of the resort include the absence of telephone lines in each room and the exclusion of wifi connection in their accommodation package. You have to pay to access their wifi services.

After cocooning in our airconditioned rooms, we went out just in time for sunset. I love the beach either during sunrise or sunset. I'm lucky because my roommates shared the same preference. Here are some pictures of the White Beach I have captured during sunset.

Staying in Boracay will never be complete without a bountiful seafood dinner.

In case you will have the chance to visit Boracay, don't let this opportunity pass away. Aside from great food, I got addicted over this healthy and refreshing drink.

Watermelon shake is the best!

This is just Day 1 of my Borcay trip. On my next post, I'll share one of the best and first time experiences I made in Boracay.