Surprise Surprise

DHL sent an early Christmas present.
It came in your typical, boring box:
which opened to show a nice, yellow box with pseudo-ribbon print:
inside of which is a sort of jigsaw puzzle made up of little square boxes:
which you can dismantle and re-arrange to show various Christmas scenes:
some of the other designs (I have very low EQ so I was only able to finish one other puzzle):
I initially thought the box, while entertaining and definitely pretty, was just plain useless (oh wait, it was supposed to be a calendar, hahaha) until I took out the small boxes one by one:
and realized that something was inside, and voila:
and no, it wasn’t just chocolate. It contained different flavors of my favorite in the world — Lindt!!!
So there, lesson learned: Don’t judge a book, err, a box by its appearance. Hahaha. ūüėõ

This is not a rant, just a shoutout to the world

I am tired. Dead tired. And I’m sad. Like I told my friend Anna, I’m so sad right now it borders on depression. Just a few minutes ago, I ended up crying while typing away on my laptop.
One of these days, I will write about it. I just need to let it all out. No, it won’t be a ranting session. Just my thoughts.

Dress Code

This blog is supposed to be a one-stop shop for anything related to fashion – with me taking pictures of my daily outfits. However, I keep forgetting to buy a trusty tripod and Ipe could not be persuaded to take my picture so, I wasn’t able to post much here. The other day though, I was able to twist his arm after treating him to shabu-shabu dinner at Serendra. Hehehe.

Dress, Ilaya Couture, Archaelogy at Power Plant Mall; belt (part of a dress), Cosmopolitan, The Ramp, Glorietta; boots from Bamboo, bought online from; bag, Bayo; earrings, What Women Want, SM Department Store; bangle, Salsatrends, The Ramp, Trinoma

I know you’re wondering – yes, this is my outfit to the office. I’m a dress type of person although I normally pair them with stilettos. I just happen to have forgotten to bring¬†a matching pair and since the boots just arrived via courier, I decided to use them instead.

Bohol Day 3 – Island Hopping

For our third day, we availed of the Island Hopping Your from our resort, for a minimal fee of Php 3,000 (around this amount) then we also added the lunch package at an additional Php 480 per head.

Call time was at 5:30 am,which I miraculously was able to meet despite working until 3am the night before(yeah, I brought my laptop with me), so we can head to Alona beach and watch dolphins. Dolphins, I learned, feed early in the morning, and the waters off the Alona beach are their main hunting ground.

Now, I’ve seen lots of dolphins up close but this was the first time I’d be seeing them out in their natural habitat. And there were so many of them I could even hear their whistles from our boat.

I tried taking pictures but the dolphins were too fast. ūüė¶

After one hour of dolphin watching, we headed to Balicasag Island for breakfast and snorkelling.

Balicasag Island:

The island is only 19 hectares (imagine it as the UST campus) but it has two lighthouses, a chapel, an elementary school, market, and a diving resort. Rustic is how I would describe it – life here is so simple, there are only a hundred houses, and electricity is only available via a Napocor generator from 6pm-12mn. And of course, there is no cable TV or internet. But, surprisingly, the signal (Globe) is very strong.

My only regret is I forgot to buy a disposable underwater camera. We went snorkelling at the marine sanctuary off Balicasag Island and it was so breathtaking, particularly when manong brought us to the deep part of the ocean where all you could see was blue and you couldn’t see anything else beneath you – that was how deep it was. I felt overwhelmed, engulfed and insignificant at that moment. But, I love the water, and while I my heart thumped wildly at times, I was mentally and emotionally at peace. What can I say, I’m a water-sign, I belong in the water. Hahaha.

The manong I borrowed from Liz and Jeremy (the manong I was supposed to share with Lei was occupied full-time with Lei, since she doesn’t know how to swim and naturally, is afraid of the open seas) took me farther than the rest of our group and I was the only one lucky enough to see a turtle. Imagine, a lone turtle out in the ocean! They said it’s good luck, so we’ll see. I’ll let you know if I win the lotto in the next few days. ūüėõ

The old (left) and new (right) lighthouse:

The chapel and the school:

Kids outside the school gamely posing for our cameras:

An old fashioned wooden house:

Virgin Island – as the name implies, this is an uninhabited island, where we had our picnic:
Lunch consisted of caesar salad, bread, grilled pork, sausage, chicken, fish, and beef, all prepared and cooked by manong while we frolicked along the beach:
Me and Lei:
We weren’t planning on swimming at Virgin Island but we couldn’t resist the white sand and the fact that we had the island and the beach all to ourselves!

AFter our island hopping, we headed back to the resort and I had a yummy dinner of meatlovers’ pizza, mango crepe, and mango shake (a bit mango overload, haha!):

Today is probably one of the best I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to visit Bohol again with Ipe.

Bohol Day 2 – Countryside Tour

Now, we didn’t really go to Bohol just because. It was actually an almost year-long decision since there are so many good places to visit in the Philippines. After all, we have around 7,000 island and you can only focus on one per visit. ūüôā

We narrowed it down to Palawan, Boracay, and Bohol. However, while we all agreed that Palawan is probably the best bet, it is also the least safe, at least when travelling with foreigners. We had to take into account we have an American and a Welsh travelling with us so that makes us easy target. Boracay, while it has arguably the best stretch of powdery white sand this side of the planet, is just that – a beach. There isn’t much to do there but island hop, swim and party til dawn. So, that left us with Bohol.

We originally planned on making our own itinerary but saved ourselves the trouble by booking the Countryside Tour with the resort. I think it cost us only Php 3,000 for the entire day (exclusive of entrance fees and meals) so with six of us, that is only Php 500 for the day.

After a one-hour forty-five minute drive from the resort, we got to our first stop – Chocolate Hills. Now, I’m not a “hill” person. I personally prefer water and forests to land formations but the view was superb. And everywhere you look, there was only green! I wanted to close my eyes and just tune out for an hour or so but there were many tourist and¬†it would have looked weird. Hehehe.

Next was the man-made forest, a two-km stretch of mostly mahogany trees. What is notable here is that the trees are uniform in height and the drop in temperature is noticeable. It also makes for good photo-op. I wanted to pretend like I was a diwata or something.

We also went to the hanging bridge which was quite fun although my friend probably would say otherwise .  Hehehe.

Since it was almost lunchtime, Mang Nito took us to Loboc River where we were to have our lunch aboard one of the motorized boats while cruising the river for a minimal fee of Php 300. This is probably my 2nd favorite activity while in Bohol. Something about the calm, green waters soothes me. And if the view of the Chocolate Hills was awe-inspiring, then this sent me straight to heaven. I particularly loved the cove near the singing/dancing Bohol natives near the end of our trip, as well as the streams/mini-waterfalls.

Kids hanging onto our boats while cruising down Loboc river
My lunch buffet (I enjoyed the clam soup with lots of ginger!)

There is an old church – Loboc Church built in 1602 by the Jesuits – along the river but we didn’t go there anymore since we still had around seven sights to go.¬†This is the oldest church in Bohol also the base of the award-winning Loboc Children’s Choir. Too bad we missed it;¬†I’ll make sure to go there next time when I visit Bohol with Ipe.¬†

Next on our itinerary was the tarsier. I knew they were the smallest primates but I never imagined they were so small they could fit in my palm! By this time, my  batteries were nearly exhausted so I was only able to take a couple of shots from my cellphone (Note to tourists: tarsiers are extremely sensitive to light, so turn off your flash).

After that, we went to the Clarin Ancestral House. The Clarins were an old political family, with two patriarchs serving as senators. The house, of typical colonial arhictecture,¬†was a two-storey structure with formal and informal dining rooms, master’s and childrens’ bedroom, receiving area and an old-fashioned batalan (you know – the sink/dishwashing area of provincial houses, made of bamboo slats and having the requisite clay jar or¬†tapayan). It was huge and I could tell they were a really rich family back then, although the house is now in dire need of repair. I wish the government would spare some to maintain this old house. Too bad my camera conked out by this time and I had to resort to my cellphone.¬†¬†

I’m a sucker for old structures so I was really glad we were able to go to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Baclayon Church), built by the Jesuits in the 17th century.¬†I suddenly realized that all of the popular, beautiful, old churches in the country were built by the Jesuits (according to Ipe, they build the most number anyway, followed by the Dominicans. Although the churches built by the latter are not as famous).¬†¬†

The church¬†comes with a grand altar and pulpit as well as a collection of¬†old statues and icons, one thought to have been given by Queen Catherine of Aragon (for those not familiar, she’s the first wife of King Henry, the woman he¬†left¬†for Anne¬†Boleyn).

A funny thing happened here –¬†since we were in a tourist spot, I was wearing a¬†short, sleeveless dress. I didn’t¬†know the dress code was strictly implemented at Baclayon until¬†a manang at the entrance proceeded to wrap me in a¬†baro’t saya!!!

Our last stop for the day was the Blood Compact site -where Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi entered a pact of friendship, the latter assuring the former that the Spaniards, unlike the Portuguese, come in peace and not to hurt/enslave the natives.

We actually had a stopover at a local store selling Bohol products. However, I didn’t really buy much¬†as their stuff was too expensive. Imagine a shirt selling for Php 500 which I can get for Php 150 outside their store?

There are lots of other attractions to visit in Bohol – Hinagdanan Cave, Sikatuna National Park, many old churches, waterfalls. Oh well, that only means there should be a second Bohol adventure. ūüôā

Up next… Day 3 where we spend the day out in the sun.

Bohol – Day 1

One of the things Ipe and I have a mutual love of is travelling. I love visiting ruins, old buildings, monuments and on the extreme,¬†I love anything that has to do with nature – beaches, mountains, forest… So I was looking forward to my Bohol vacation with my old high school friends.

First thing we had to agree on was the place – there were lots to choose from. Personally, I would have chosed Bohol Beach Club for its beautiful swimming pool and beach. Reviews say that BBC has the best beach in Bohol. However, we all decided to go for Linaw Beach Resort since it had glowing reviews on the net.

Welcome drinks:

Cost-wise, it was okay. Lei and I got the twin room for Php 3,800.¬†I¬†loved the interior of the room -cozy, countryside feel. And it had a huge bathroom with bath tub. Sadly though, they didn’t provide us with bath gels or bubble baths so we weren’t able to fully utilize the tub.

The room also has a big closet, and dvd/tv although we didn’t use it at all. And, they have free wifi 24/7!!! I didn’t have to worry about running out of load for my Smart Bro (yeah, I can be a cheapskate. I only have prepaid mobile broadband though I have high speed postpaid internet at home.)¬†=)

Here’s the view from our room at sunrise(left) and sunset (right):

I didn’t take pictures of the pool anymore since it was kinda small for my taste. Hehehe – I live in a condo with a very nice pool so my standards are quite high.

I have to say though, the people at Linaw are really accommodating and polite. From Rechiel (the receptionist), to Mang Nilo (our driver) and all the other manongs, gamely answering our questions on what to do, where to go.

And the food was just yummy!

Carbonara and pinacolada…
…and shrimp salad for dinner on our first night:

American breakfast:

The food is not cheap though Рmy dinner set me back Php 800 while my breakfast cost me Php 350. But it was worth it Рthe serving was good enough for two, and the food just taste heavenly.

Next stop- Bohol Contryside Tour:)

Thank God

Joey has been discharged from the hospital, finally, after four days. I missed my SG flight and all my friends there; hopefully, there’ll be another time.
And my parents and in laws finally pulled through. Hehe. In my last post, I was complaining about my mom not wanting to watch over Joey. Well, I figured she just didn’t know how to go about the paperwork at the hospital so I told fafsy (that’s my father). When they realized that if they don’t volunteer for today’s watch, Joey will have to go home with my in laws. And well, it’s a competition between two sets of grandparents and naturally, my parents wanted Joey to go with them so fafsy took a day off.
Thank you to all the well wishers and to my family. ūüôā


I really don’t have time right now to blog, but I just got to write this down. Joey has been in the hospital since Monday night, Ipe is covering APEC in Singapore, and for today, I have two tax audits (diff. countries, natch), two tax computations and returns to finish, and a meeting.
I didn’t want to leave Joey at the hospital; and I know he didn’t want me to leave. He kept crying whenever I tell him I’ll be gone for a few hours to go to work. I’ve been babysitting him since we brought him to the hospital, only logging in a few hours of work after he falls asleep. But having already missed two days, I had to come in today.
Needless to say, I’ve probably slept less than eight hours in the three nights since he was admitted. This morning, I had to go to Taguig at 3am, pick up some more clothes, wash his milk bottles, do the laundry, then take a bath before heading back to the hospital at 6am to wait for my mother in law so I can go to the office.
It’s hard, juggling a lot of things.

On top of this of course is my worry. I can’t help but cry when they were putting the dextrose on Joey. And when I have to clean his poop; his butt cheeks very red already and his stomach hurting. The doctors still haven’t given us any conclusive findings on what is causing Joey to poop like nine times a day. I was told this morning the lab test will be available this afternoon; hopefully, when I get there, I’ll have something.
And, this is the third time Ipe and I had planned going to Singapore together but as bad luck would have it, also the third time unforeseen events prevented us. The first time was back in December 2007, when Ipe was covering ASEAN and I was en route to Jakarta; we figured we could meet up in Singapore for two days. Sadly, my trip was cancelled and he had to go there alone. The second time was April 2008; Joey’s passport arrived two days after our supposed return to Manila.
Maybe Ipe and I should forget about going to SG together; something about that place keeps preventing us from going there. But that’s the least of my concerns – Joey is at the top of every list. I hope he gets well.

This Is It: The King Of Pop Still Reigns

When I first heard he was having a series of concerts in London, I immediately computed how much it would cost me to go there and watch him. Seriously. I was willing to go on a hunger strike if it meant being in the same city as him. And when he died, I spent the weekend holding Kleenex and watching his videos on YouTube.

Five months after his untimely death, we still can’t help shaking our heads in disbelief. For those of us who had spent our formative years listening to his timeless hits and dreaming of one day seeing him perform live, his death was the death of that dream.

The first thing I did after that seeming stupor over the shock with his death, I bought the Essential Michael Jackson CD. See, we had cassettes of his songs back at my parents’ house but I only have MP3s of his songs in my laptop. I had to have real, tangible CD to hold. And I made Ipe promise we would watch the This Is It footage when it is finally shown.

True to his moniker, Michael still is King. I can’t help but wonder at how he had managed to keep his voice in top condition – he sounded as good as when he sang Rock Your Body. And his moves are still THE MOVES. He could clearly outdance every single dancer on his team, notwithstanding the fact that they were all probably half his age. And he was such a perfectionist – the footage showing how hands on he is, from the dance step, to the beat, to the tempo, even to how each note should sound and how each number was supposed to not just look like, but how they should feel like for each member of the audience.

He didn’t compromise – in one scene for Smooth Criminal, he didn’t even want hand signals from his dancers to ruin the moment (he was supposed to turn around after a clip finishes on the screen behind him); he just said, I’m gonna feel that. And that was it.

I envy that back up singer who was to duet with him on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You – with MJ guiding her not just on how she should sing but also how she should act on stage.

Performance-wise, I don’t think MJ aged at all. Or if he did, he aged really well, like wine getting better as it gets older. He clearly had the whole concert planned right down to the minute details in his mind. And, even after singing for more than four decades, he still sounds so good. We can’t say the same for Mariah or Madonna or Whitney or Celine. They all sound tired but MJ is as alive as he ever was.

However, it didn’t escape my attention that he seemed to say “God bless you” an awful lot. I can’t help but think that his mind is probably altered by all those drugs or whatever it was he was taking. He almost always seemed lost in his own world or speechless, or not making much sense at all. But then, he’s a consummate artist and all artists have their quirks.

Whatever it is, it cannot be denied that even in death, MJ was larger than life. WhileMiley Cyrus’ Best of Both Worlds opened bigger and is the current record holder for concert films at $65 million gross, MJ is surely on track to Beat It with $57.9 million on its second weekend. And you have to argue that Miley’s was meant to be shown on theaters while MJ’s was just¬†a compilation of rehearsal footage.

Now, overseas, the battle is tilted already in MJ’s favor, breaking the $100 million mark last week compared to Miley’s $5.4 million overseas haul. How’s that for a comeback? It just goes to show that no matter how weird he may have become, or misunderstood, MJ made some of the best music in our lifetime and we would all pay with our hard earned money to see and hear him even for one last time.

Shabu Shabu addiction

I know I said I’d go on a diet but how can I, when just being Ipe’s wife means eating out a lot.

A few years ago, I would never be caught dead eating sushi or anything raw. Or anything Japanese for that matter. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I deal with Japanese on a daily basis in my previous assignment that I subconsciously avoid having to deal with them with my stomach as well. And I wasn’t the type who would travel all the way to Malate for gastronomic pleasure.
But now, I couldn’t say no to Shabu-shabu, this one from Lao Chan:

Dinner courtesy of birthday boy Yekyek (in light long sleeves):
* Shabu-shabu – directly means “swish-swish”, a Japanese hot pot, where thinly sliced raw meat, vegetable and seafood are served and cooked in front of you in a hotpot.
Oh, and I should tell you – aside from the yummie cooking, the price doesn’t hurt. We only paid around Php 2,500 for a group of ten for the almost eat-all-you-can shabu shabu and drinks.
Lao Chan is located in Malate, near Robinson’s Place.