Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chinese New Year Tradition

I have this annual Chinese New Year tradition with my friend T. Over the past years, we have been visiting Binondo or Manila's Chinatown, which happens to be the oldest in the world. We will eat at Estero, our favorite cheapskate restaurant and shop for tikoy (nian gao) from Salazar Bakery and Eng Bee Tin. 

I forgot to take photos of our foodie indulgences. Blame the intense traffic and hunger! Although on the way to our main destination, I was able to capture a few photos of these most awaited Chinese festivity.

Most of the photos were taken in Lucky Chinatown, the lone mall in the area.

The perfect marker for any Chinatown 

Red paper lanterns, another trademark of every Chinatown 

The lucky tree and the golden sheep

This is a new attraction in Lucky Chinatown

I had mine too :) 

And a few wishes that made me smile 

Someone is wishing for his / her forever :) I say, give this person gift checks from Forever 21 :D 

Someone wants to win the lottery 

So this is the real face of Manila's Chinatown. Years ago, it was all about Chinese traders, restaurants and a myriad of business establishments. Time changed everything and much to my surprise, high rise condominium towers are starting to proliferate despite the fact that Binondo's land area is very limited. The streets could barely accommodate vehicles and the volume of people traffic. I haven't even mentioned the nasty electrical wires that ruins the view. 

The Binondo Church or the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz is a famous landmark of Manila's Chinatown. I wasn't able to capture photos of the church's facade. What I have are the side to the rear view of this structure established in 1596. 

Almost a vertical garden until I realized that they are unknown climbing plants. Looks like a distraction but I somehow appreciate its presence.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Beautiful Sunday # 148 - Bittersweet

I'm feeling so tired and sleepy while typing this post. The past week was exhausting even though there was a holiday in the middle of the week. March will be more challenging and I can already foresee myself having those opportunities to stress eat and probably end a day crying out everything. I may sound too pessimistic but knowing my emotional self, these are definitely significant probabilities. Nevertheless (renders a huge sigh), I'm ready or I'm forced to be ready. Hahaha Whatever it is, bring it on!!! :) I can bear the tears every night provided that I will not mess up, I will be able to accomplish what is expected for me and most important of all, I can handle all the antagonists that would come my way. Hahahaha 

Setting aside all the drama I've been collecting, here are the few beautiful things that made my week. 

Loot of Happiness from the Mail - The constant content of my mail box are the piles of bills to pay. Bills here, there and everywhere. Everything is about my regular source of headaches and unhappiness. Haha Before I went home from work, I received a few postcards from my foreign blog friends. When I reached home, I was surprised to see my most awaited letter from Marieken. The Main Post Office and the local sorting office took a while before they delivered my letters. But as always, it's better too late than not receiving anything at all. 

Thank you Juanita for the handmade postcard all the way from the beautiful land down south. I love the 100% upcycled postcard. Head over to Juanita's shop to see her portfolio of creative postcards and other handmade products. Juanita has a great selection of 100% handmade bags. 

The unique circular stamp and the beautiful postcard that comes with it, thank you Terra!

The stamps and the classic friendship bracelet, it finally arrived Marieken!!! These gifts came all the way from the Netherlands. 

Define stress eating from the past week - I had a lot of these value meals from Pizza Hut. What a perfect way to end a stressful day. While others would rant in their Facebook account, I prefer to do it here with the heaviest and unhealthiest meal. Hahahaha

The rare times  - Photo on the left is how I ended the week, marking my 10th year of service at work. Gaaaahd, the perfect way to make me feel so old. First job, first decade of working, instead of celebrating I'm rather feeling the self-imposed pressure to act like the grown up I have to be. On a different note, I love how I look so tall and long legged in the photo. :p Although I have a feeling that the length of my dress was a bit too short. Blame the huge thighs that stretched up the length of the dress.  Hahaha 

Photo on the right is how I really wanted to celebrate my first decade at work - Shopping and eating with my forever BFF at the workplace, who left me on her 9th year of service last year. Thank you for the photo T! I had the greatest time yesterday. Thank you for forever hearing my rants and issues in life. 

Continuing the Chinese New Year Tradition - Despite being separated because of different workplaces, T and I managed to maintain our annual Chinese New Year Tradition. We've been eating out at Binondo either before or after the Chinese New Year. No more food photos, very unlikely for me. I'll make a separate detailed post for this.

February is almost over. Just one more week and it will be the third month of 2015 already. I'm still half-hearted about 2015. There were bad times. There were a little surprises of happiness along the way. I'm still clueless with what 2015 will bring me. Everyday feels like a waiting game. Worries, tensions and pressures, at the end of the day all I wanted is to create the happiest memories. No regrets, only accomplishments and little sources of happiness to live with. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Home away from the City : Sienatel Puerto Princesa

Almost a week ago, I had the opportunity to finally see the beautiful City of Puerto Princesa. The City is known to house one of the new seven wonders of nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the attraction. As mentioned in the previous post, I went here for work. The limited stay did not permit me to really explore Puerto Princesa. I felt a bit sad, but not regretful. On my next trip to Puerto Princesa, I will ensure that my purpose of visit is for pleasure. :) No work to worries. Only new experiences to discover and items to cross out from my bucket list.

I may not have a travel adventure to document, but my short stay in Puerto Princesa was made special by Sienatel. This place is a training hotel owned and managed by the Holy Trinity University. The hotel's name was obtained from the Catholic congregation of St. Catherine of Siena or the Siena Sisters. 

Sienatel served as our home for three days. Unlike other hotels, Sienatel provided a secluded, serene and relaxing environment. It felt like staying in a retreat house that shields the visitors from the chaotic city life.

Entering the hotel is like getting inside an exclusive resort or those high end gated subdivisions. There's a beautiful garden landscape to welcome the guests. 

Seal of the Siena Sisters

The very modest and organized reception area

Having high ceiling is another distinct feature of Sienatel

Given that it's owned by a Catholic congregation, there's a chapel available 24/7

The in-house restaurant that provides a great view of Puerto Princesa.

Another evidence of their obsession for high ceilings 

One thing I will never experience in Manila
Breakfast and Great View of Palawan 

This is our everyday view from breakfast till the dinner. Although I wish they could develop the parcel of land fronting the lake. An infinity pool, fountain or a really nice garden that complements the lake view. 

How the in house restaurant appears from the back of the building 

One of the many Cashew trees

Pathway to our rooms

Not really a perfect view, but I believe this huge space here can turn to another relaxing  and scenic space once developed. Maybe a swimming pool, fish pond, fountain, garden or  a man made landscape can make this area more beautiful. 

Thank you Sienatel!

For more information about Sienatel, you can reach them through

Telephone : (048)4330375
Mobile Numbers : +639178781987, +639392847311
Email :
Instagram : Sienatel 
Website :

As for their room rates, here's what I found from their official brochure as of February 2015

Suite (good for 2, max. of 5) -  Php 3,700
Deluxe (good for 2, max. of 3) - Php 2,800
Superior (good for 2, max of 3) - Pho 2,500
Family (min. of 4 pax, max of 6) - Php 3,000
Extra Person - Php 699 

Inclusions are the following
1. Complimentary Breakfast
2. Fully airconditioned rooms
3. Cable TV 
4. Hot and Cold Shower
5. Roundtrip airport transfers 

The rare times with Philippine Airlines

I rarely fly with our national flag carrier. Quite a shame for me. But I believe, my fellow budget travelers can understand my sentiments. Everything boils down to the basic reason, IT IS EXPENSIVE. Philippine Airlines (PAL) is like the iPhone in the local airline industry. While all other competitors are making all means to offer the cheapest flight, PAL never joined the bandwagon. It never showed signs of being affected and alarmed by that demand principle that buyers always favour the cheaper alternative. 

I only flew via PAL twice, both are just short domestic flights. I'm a bit surprised to discover that all those flights were bound to Palawan. My first was to Coron and the second was to Puerto Princesa. The trip to Coron was organized by a colleague. I don't know how they did it, but my guess is that our corporate Mabuhay Miles card was instrumental. I didn't explore how it happened because I was more concerned with the trip. :) 

My second PAL flight was sponsored by the workplace so I never felt the pain of paying. I checked the cost and was surprised to see the fare that can already afford a regular trip to Davao (way farther than Palawan) or a promo fare to Hong Kong / Macau via Cebu Pacific. If I were to go to Puerto Princesa on my own, my budget will surely refuse the cost of a PAL flight. 

While I always adhere to the idea that the best services come in a hefty price tag, I conditioned myself that this will be my experience with PAL. Question is, did it happen with my two PAL flights? To establish my own conclusion, let me recount my notable experiences.

1. Uniform of the Cabin Crew - Okay, minor issue but I believe that appearance of the frontliners always matter in a service oriented industry. Definitely 5 out 5 stars for PAL!! I love their classic scarf , white blouse, slim skirt and their practice of changing their blazers before the flight and while serving snacks. Even the uniform of their ground crew is beautiful for me. To be fair with the other airline though, I noticed that Cebu Pacific maintains a younger fleet :) 

2. Customer Service inside the flight -  I'm still confused. Or maybe, I had the same level of sentiments with PAL and Cebu Pacific.

On my flight to Puerto Princesa, the cabin crew failed to hand my complimentary snacks. lol The snacks that wasn't served is not my issue though. It's the mistake of not ensuring that all passengers are served. Anyway, I have a hidden bag of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which was way better than the Fudgee bar they serve. Hahaha  On the way home however, I was rather impressed with a male cabin crew who made some unexpected initiative. A few minutes after our snacks were served, he carried a huge bottle of distilled water and plastic cups. He made rounds and offered a glass of water to all passengers.

A few years ago, I remember experiencing a not-so-good customer service experience with another airline, Cebu Pacific. On the way home, another female passenger occupied my designated seat. Pet peeve! Given that I paid for a window seat in one of the front rows, there's no way I would compromise. I sought the assistance of the cabin crew only to end up doing things on my own. I dealt with two rude passengers who even forced me to do some acrobatic moves in the limited seat spaces. 

While typing this post, I remembered availing the services of another airline. I once flew via Zest Air (now Air Asia) when I went to Boracay. Surprise of surprises, the cabin crew greeted me with my first name after handing my boarding pass. Nice one! Although not part of customer service, can I just say that it was on this Zest Air flight that I encountered a young and handsome pilot. Ahahahaha

3. Cleanliness Issues - I was quite disappointed with my flight back to Manila with PAL. I noticed crumbs of bread on my seat. The trash even extended to the seat's pocket that usually contain the printed safety guideline kit. I don't know if this is still the responsibility of the cabin crew or totally the fault of another inconsiderate passenger.

4. Presence of Airsickness Bag - I don't know the CAAP's ruling for this. Should all seats be provided with this small yet life saving paper bag? In my past flights via Cebu Pacific, I noticed that the provision of airsickness bag on my seat and to my nearby fellow passengers. In my last flight from PAL, nothing was inserted in our seat pockets. Or maybe, airlines don't really follow this rules on domestic flights? They tend to be more compliant only on international flights, which is the case for all my Cebu Pacific flights.

5. Delayed flights - Although I believe that this is not entirely the fault of the local airline industry. The government has to perform its function of increasing the perimeter of our airports. Cebu Pacific has always been equated to delayed flights. To be fair with the company, I only experience a major flight delay once. Unfortunately, that rare time was almost traumatic. I was stuck in the airport for more than 3 hours!!! In the case of PAL, I experienced an anticipated delay. Days before the trip, we were informed that our departure from Manila will be rescheduled four hours after. Still counts as a major flight delay, but the advanced notice somehow lessened my level of dissatisfaction.

At this point, I have to say that our national flag carrier has not given me a highly impressive experience. Or maybe, I should not expect anything because I only availed their economy flight.  There are little things that surprised me but there are little imperfections as well.  I will not however deny that I feel a certain prestige on those rare times I fly with our national airline.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Beautiful Sunday #147 - The week that was

Half of the week was spent in Manila, the other half was spent away from the city. How I wish I could say that it was meant for a great vacay. But who am I to complain when work entailed going to Puerto Princesa? Especially when everything was already pre-arranged. I don't have to book my plane tickets, search for the best accommodation and more importantly, the budget for my everyday expenses. So to my colleagues who made everything easier, thank you!

Most of my friends have been telling me to extend my stay in Puerto Princesa. If only I had the luxury of time, I would have stayed for a week. It's the perfect opportunity to see one of the new seven wonders of the world. Underground River, El Nido, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, there are so many places to see. Unfortunately, I'm not the great person in performing multi-tasking. I just can't combine work with pleasure. Work has to be work. Pleasure has to be pleasure. When I have the next opportunity to explore Puerto Princesa, I will ensure that it will be meant for travel and pleasure. :)

While I'm still daydreaming of my next trip to Puerto Princesa, let me recount the beautiful things that made my week.

View from working inside a historical site in Manila - Not everyone has the chance to see old buildings and structures from their workplace. This is one of my favorite structures near the workplace. Although the white paint is filled with dust and dirt, I don't find it as a deteriorating factor. For me the wear and tear gives more character and appeal to the structure.

The rare times - The few times I fly is always spent with Cebu Pacific. Despite its very negative reputation of delayed flights and overbooking, my poor self is always attached with this economy airline. The last time I flew with our national airline was two years ago for Coron, Palawan. The next time I visited Palawan was because of work. I'm more than thankful because I was booked on the same flight with our President and CEO. To think that the management can implement cost savings measures by giving me a separate flight to Air Asia or Cebu Pacific.  The rare times I was able to experience Philippine Airlines are filled with new set of experiences... both good and not-so-good hahaha Let me relate that on a separate post.

The pile of papers is love? - One of my current projects has a lot of stories to tell.... I have a bittersweet journey with these papers. I used to be the lead person for this task 10 years ago. Along the way, I moved to another office and this task vanished because no one wanted to do it. Ten years after, (insert Celine Dion song) it's all coming back.. it's all coming back to me now.. there were moments of gold, there were flashes of light... Hahahahaha  (Maka-emote naman ahahaha) But really, I  have mixed feelings embracing this responsibility. It was like meeting an ex-boyfriend 10 years after. ahahahahahaha

Thank you Sienatel - This was our home for the past 3 days. Thank you to the Siena sisters for taking care of us. The succeeding photos are snippets of the place. I will do a separate post about this beautiful place.

Best of Palawan - Given that I wasn't able to explore Palawan, I filled myself and my luggage with the best foodie treats. The weight of all the food I brought home was heavier than my own clothes, toiletries and work related things. And Leah, you will not be proud of me. I wasn't able to buy my dream set of south sea pearls. :(

Sleeping St. Joseph - "When I have a problem or difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statute so he can dream about it. This means: Please, to St. Joseph, pray for this problem." Pope Francis last January 16. 2015."

The search is over! Pope Francis was my greatest influence for acquiring this rare piece. I got this from St. Pauls online shop. Unfortunately, this original link I used doesn't anymore work. You can try their Facebook page though.

Love + Faith + Hope - I love necklaces that connote some meaningful representations. I got this necklace from H&M, which happens to be my first purchase from the much anticipated store in Manila.

How to define happiness - is sometimes, all about a box of flavored cream puff. I discovered a new source of expenditure and weight gain. :) My random trips to the mall is not doing anything good for me.Hahaha

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Beautiful Sunday # 146 - Long Lost

I know that this is supposedly a Beautiful Sunday post. I should write positive and nice things. But just for this time, can I be allowed to rant? Someone tested my patience and composure before the week ended. I'm really tempted to relate the incident and vent out everything. Unfortunately, I knew the fact venting out here will never resolve the issue. Despite of everything, I'm still thankful that I have a few close friends around me. Before I went home, I related my sentiments to my two friends. I cursed and said all the bad words. Sorry... After a long verbal diarrhea, me and my other friend went to the mall and feasted over a great dinner. Oh well, my story always end up that way. A bad story will be concluded with a great and sinful dinner or another shopaholic attack. So imagine if my life would be converted to a plot for a drama series. It will definitely be boring, annoying, useless and a complete waste of time. No prince charming to provide those sappy or romantic comedy scenes. Wait, I think that's another issue to begin with. Hahahahaha

My friends don't really read my blog. One of them don't even know that I blog. Nevertheless, I'm very thankful to both of them. I love you to the moon and back B and M!!!! While there are some people who are best in cooking a perfect ruining dish for me, I'm blessed to have friends who can provide the best antidote.

Setting aside this not-so-good aspect of my life, here are the few beautiful things that made my week.

I found my long lost Korean friend!!! I don't have intentions of blogging in the middle of the week. An unlikely email landed and it was more than enough to make me the happiest.

Cold sunrise - The delayed sunrises and colder temperature in the morning ... How long will this last? I'm loving these cold mornings and the rare times I get an 8-hour sleep.

Two fruit boxes in a day - I needed this!!! This a great distraction to potato chips and all my coke intake. I have to admit though that all those stress caused me to double my coke intakes. At some point, I felt that my blood has nothing but sugar!!

Examination week is supposedly my favorite week - except for the fact that I'm faced with tons of paper to check and grades to pray for ahahahaha

In the middle of the workday.... - Oh well, wish I could express my full sentiments here... There are days when I just stare at my laptop's screen feeling nothing and suddenly, my eyes will release those unexplained tears. Grown up struggles I continuously battle...

It arrived! - Thanks to the Cath Kidston sisterhood!!! I was able to purchase this bag way cheaper than the price from CK's local branch. Big thanks to Mother E for arranging everything. Leah, please blog about your own CK's loot :)

Perfect read? - Found this 50% off from National Bookstore, thank you M for forcing me to purchase. Haha Although honestly, I'm not a big fan of self-help books. I always find this genre as an irony?!? I read a few pages but over time, I'm beginning to lose interest. Much of the examples and cases given were patterned to US data and settings.

Found a long lost favorite - Fried potato on a stick!! (Piniritong patatas, masaya si Princess Sara ahahaha)

The past week actually started good for me. The problem I've been dealing since January was finally over. In the middle of the week, I heard from a long lost friend. Before the week ended, I was served with a perfect ruining dish. The weekend started with another set of challenges. Grown up problems!!! I really hope that the upcoming week will be so much better. I needed it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mission Accomplished : Found a long lost friend

A week ago, I posted my sentiments about my attempt to reconnect with my long lost Korean friends. Part of me was very doubtful with the outcome of my plan. Sending a letter to someone after 17 years? The odds that the letter would be returned to me was not impossible. My friend could have transferred to a new address, moved to another country, the reasons and chances for the unsuccessful outcomes are so endless.

Just when I was conditioning myself that nothing will happen, something surprised me this morning. It started when I saw an unusual mail in my gmail account. The email has an extension of In my mind then, who would email me from South Korea.? I checked the email and the happiness just overflowed. 

My plan didn't end up as a futile attempt. I was able to successfully find my Korean penfriend after 17 years. OMG! OMG! Did I just say OMG!?!

I'm exaggeratedly speechless. :) I thought I was the only person who loves to keep letters. Turns out, my friend also kept my letters. I cannot anymore contain my happiness!!

Although I have to say that part of me is regretful for not reconnecting earlier. I later discovered that my dear friend stayed in my country for quite some time. Best about everything, she was assigned to a school near my hometown. Only God knows, our paths could have crossed already. She went to places I frequent during weekends. If only I had the courage to write years ago, I could have given my friend a decent tour in my hometown. 

We may not be able to meet here but if God will allow, I hope I will be able to reach the Land of the Morning Calm. But for now, I just want to savor the fact that I found a long lost friend.

PS I have to commend Philpost's Main Branch and South Korea's Postal System too. My registered mail reached its destination in one week.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Beautiful Sunday # 145 Rush! Rush!

This has to be the fastest Beautiful Sunday post that I have to prepare. It's 10:56 pm in my clock, I barely have an hour to publish this post on a Sunday. I had an unexpected freelance work over the weekend. How could I not prioritize the much needed money in the bank. I usually finish this kind of freelance work overnight. Unfortunately,  it was too late for me to discover the easier way to work around. So my ending, I slept around 7 am just halfway with my task. I slept the entire day and woke up to finish the remaining workload. Unfortunately, laziness hit me so like a typical student, I ended up cramming.

Now that I'm all done with the serious work, I have to press the rush button for this blog post. I hope this will not end up so messy and lousy.

A new set of notebook - Nice, only to realize that the notebook is too beautiful for my ugly handwriting. Not really a perfect match, another friend actually deserves the notebook. I will give it to her this week.

When the going gets tough ...  - Still dealing with some issues at the workplace.. Hopefully I'll be able to finish everything tomorrow. I had enough last January. I will definitely do more walking this week.

Goody's Ouchless - Goody stopped producing my reliable hair accessory. It was hard for me to look for a replacement. It was only this brand who can manage my excessively thick hair strands. With the help of a very accommodating Sales Assistant from SM Manila, I was introduced to a new alternative... minus the little hefty price tag.

This is what Saturday nights are made of -  Oh dearest Bamboo :) I may not agree with your choices and decisions, but you still have my support.

Papal Memorabilia - I was able to purchase last of the limited edition stamps. Hopefully my other friends will receive their own copies too. Dear Philpost, don't make the wait too long :( The rosary was a gift from my previous student. I was quite happy to discover that the mother-in-law of this famous celebrity also had the same rosary :)

Best Message in a Random Hallmark Card - Shout out to AC and Mother E! Yes, we are the hottest :) 

Loving my bag from Sakroots - Got this bag last year and it's only now that I discover the hidden messages around

 And how can I forget the food uploads

Cheapest but at least decent cheesecake from a food bazaaar - Two cheesecakes for only Php 150, not bad I guess :) I should buy another set on Friday

When the going gets tough part 2 - When things are starting to agitate me, I treat myself to the unhealthiest yet delicious meal from Binondo

KFC fooled me again - Hahahaha Spicy gangnam chicken on a Saturday night, I still prefer Bonchon or Manang's Chicken

Stupid is forever - I just need a light and humorous read these days

I'm crossing my fingers, when I hit the publish button it will still be Sunday!!!!