Sunday, December 8, 2013

Giant Lantern Festival 2013

Visited the exhibition for the first time last year, and the lanterns were just a spectacle to see!  Check out the dates for this year or better yet, include a tour of Pampanga with my itinerary!

• Dec 15 to 21, 2013 · 7 PM · Robinsons Starmills, CSFP
• Dec 25, 2013 to Jan 3, 2014 · 7 PM · Robinsons Starmills, CSFP
• Dec 22, 2013 · 7 PM · Telabastagan, CSFP
• Dec 23, 2013 · 7 PM · Greenfields, Sindalan, CSFP
• Dec 24, 2013 · 11 PM · City Proper, CSFP
• Dec 27, 2013 · Nepo Center, Angeles City
• Dec 28 to 29, 2013 · Marquee Mall, Angeles City

You can read about my 2012 visit on this link:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Decorating a Luau Inspired Party

I was requested to decorate our backdrop for our company Christmas Party.  Since our venue is a Swimming Pool Lounge, the committee decided to adapt the Luau theme.  With a limited budget of 8K, I decided to just buy the decorative items instead of making them to save time as well.

I found pinwheel flowers at Anding's Toys and Flowers inside a building along Sta. Elena St. in Divisoria.  These are the same flowers pinwheels you would normally see being sold together with gardening and landscaping supplies going to Tagaytay from Sta. Rosa.

What I did was to take some apart and cascaded them on the side of a printed tarp.  I have assembled some sets and attached them to the side panels for movement and depth.

The flower pinwheel costs 70-100 pesos depending on the size.  Here's the finished set-up.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cheapest Capiz Christmas Lanterns in Manila

You will know that the Christmas Season in Manila started when stalls selling rope-light lanterns and Capiz starts to sprout on major thoroughfares.  The more popular stalls are located at Gilmore St. in San Juan and along SLEX near Buendia in Makati.  Of course there are stalls in Pampanga if you don't mind the distance. Rope light decors are actually cheaper there as well as plastic coated lanterns on wire frames.  But, if you're looking for the Capiz variety, the cheapest is located in Divisoria.

Looking for the store might be a challenge for those who are not familiar with the area.  It is located at the other end of C. M. Recto near Delpan Sports Complex.  Here you will find Capiz Lanterns that ranges from 100 for the small items to as big as you can afford.  The trick is to haggle always and to buy in bulk.

They also have decorative Capiz items in various shapes and can customize for you if you order in advance.

The stall I frequent is Mary Shell Craft.
You can reach them at Tel. No. 2316289

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Victoria Court's Top Model Suite: Vintage Glam

Victoria Court has been known it's thematic rooms since it started.  In the last seven years, we've taken the thematic design to a next level by designing not only the space, but the experience as well.   We have started with the Austin Party Room followed by X-Men and Matrix in 2006.   Then came the Oval Office (2007), Moulin Rouge (2008), Venice (2009), Jasmine and Star Trek (2010), Cirque in 2011, and the early part of 2013 saw the launching of Thor and 50 Shades.

For this launch, we are taking the thematic experience to our branches with the Top Model Suites Series.  It was inspired by the Modelling Reality Show based in the U.S.  The idea for the rooms are backdrops for different fashion shoot.

Victoria Court Las Pinas is offering Vintage Glam.  The details and patterns are classic Victorian with the damask pattern and chunky moulding, made modern by the lines and construction.  The room features large seating for parties equipped with lights and karaoke system.  It also has a large bed, whirlpool tub, 45" flat screen TV and Mini Bar stocked with beverages.  Guests are also guaranteed of the impeccable service Victoria Court is known for.  Visit Vintage Glam Room only at Victoria Court Las Pinas.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

28 Days Before Christmas in Dapitan

Home Decors in Dapitan started literally on the streets with vendors selling export overruns and slightly defected items at a very low cost. As the year progresses, Dapitan Arcade was built to house the street sellers to a more permanent structure. Although temporary stalls still exists on the streets of Dapitan and Kanlaon, Dapitan Arcade is still thriving throughout the years selling ceramics, metal crafts, home decors and small furniture.  

During Christmas, the Arcade transforms to a Christmas Alley with all the Decorations on Sale.

It's my favorite place to look for accents to dress up an interior especially if your on a tight budget. The best time to come is on a mid afternoon during weekdays since it becomes packed with people on weekends and holidays.  Always haggle! They always mark up the items by a few hundreds of pesos.

Dapitan Arcade is located at the Corner of Kanlaon and Dapitan Street in Quezon City.  From Quezon Avenue going to Espana, Kanlaon is where the Burger King stands on the corner. Just follow the road and you're bound to see the arcade.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Foodie Finds: RJ Bulalohan

This is actually not a recent discovery.  RJ Bulalohan has already become a landmark in Mandaluyong.  Located near the Mandaluyong Circle beside the Gasoline Station, it is open 24 hours and always packed the entire day especially at meal hours.  Photographs of famous people visiting this restaurant is a proof of its popularity.

People would always come back for the piping hot broth and feast on the beef bone marrows of their famous Bulalo.  Aside from the variety of the many Filipino dishes they offer, what's admirable about the place is that the price is very reasonable.  We ordered a meal good for 4 that comes with rice and drink for less than 700 pesos.

For 699 pesos, we had the mix barbecue platter (squid, pork belly, chicken, hito, pork ribs), a regular bulalo, four rice and a pitcher of Iced Tea

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Afternoon as a Volunteer at Villamor Air Base

Since the Typhoon struck Friday last week, my schedule has been erratic.  My Mom is in Borongan Eastern Samar and we haven't heard from them until a week later from a text message bearing the news that they are OK from a neighbor who works for the Red Cross.

A day after the typhoon, I wanted to come home for the weekend, but the long lines and the limited bus trips prevented from securing a ticket.  Last Wednesday, our company organized a relief drive for the victims.  We repacked more than a thousand bags that contained rice, canned goods, coffee and noodles plus towels and blankets.  Friday was the day the day it was brought to the DSWD, the same day I finally heard from my family.  Although, I was assured of their safety, I still can't help but get worried every time I see on Television the news on depleting supplies, panic buying and hoarding in the province.

Last Saturday, I received an invite for the Adopt a day at Villamor.  The company once again heeded the call by preparing meals good for 1000 people both for the arriving Survivors and the Volunteers.  That Monday morning, I finally received a text message from my Aunt herself.  She was with my Mother who is confined at the City Hospital because of her High Blood Pressure.  Finally, I was able to talk to her.  Hearing her for the first time after 10 days was so comforting.

With barely 2 hours of sleep, I decided to just go to the 11:00 AM call time at Villamor instead of reporting for work at 9:00 AM.  We were supposed to just help out the food tent of Ms. Iza Calzado, but I felt that there are already plenty of Volunteers in their group.  I decided to attend the Volunteer Orientation to know the different roles and what other groups I can join.  I decided to be a Marshal for the 2PM-9PM Shift.

Volunteers at the Villamor Airbase are divided into 4 groups.  

Those with medical background are encouraged to join the medical team at the medical tent.  Doctors and nurses are stationed in the area to check on the condition of arriving survivors.  Even medicines for common coughs and cold are available in the area.

Food Deliverer
People assigned to this group bring hot meals to the survivors who just arrived.  They also distribute snack and water to those staying at the grandstand.

These are runners who help out in maintaining order, carrying the loads from the survivors and ushering them to the grandstand and the Oplan Libreng Hatid at the driveway.  They also help load and unload supplies for the different tents servicing the survivors.

They require a licensed psychology background, but for volunteers, a separate orientation is conducted by the in-house psychiatrist, on top of the initial orientation.  They talk to the survivors and children and offer comfort through conversations.

What Happens in Villamor:

As soon as a C130 lands, an announcer requests all groups to be on standby.  Marshals will line up to ensure all paths leading to the grandstand bleachers are unobstructed.  Other marshals will be at the tarmac to take the load from the survivors and help carry them to the bleachers.  Those who needed medical assistance will be taken directly to the medical tent. Once they are settled, the food deliverers will then take over and feed the new arrivals with hot meals.  The others will give them bottled water, and relief goods.  After eating, the councilors will then talk to the families with a DSWD representative to document and assist them to the Oplan Hatid Tent to bring them to their relatives anywhere in Manila for free.  For those who do not have a place to stay, the DSWD also offers a temporary shelter for them.  Marshals will once again help in carrying the bags and boxes of the surviving families from the grandstand to the Libreng Hatid Tent.

Outside the grandstand are different booths organized by volunteers and private organizations.  Survivors may visit the used clothing tent for anything from shirts, slippers to towels and blankets.  They can also request for a hygiene kit.

A play tent was set up for kids, where they can bring home donated toys.

The big Telecommunication Company set up free calls and charging tents.

Food Tent receives and dispatches food and water for the arriving guests and volunteers.  Private groups have also organized a soup kitchen to ensure food supply round the clock.

My Tips to would be Volunteers:

1. For food deliverers, it's not enough that you bring the food to the survivors.  It is also important that you take care of the food you are giving because these came from the pockets of individuals and groups with the intention that the money they gave would not go to waste.  I observed some volunteers who would just leave the unconsumed soup cups at the bleachers uncovered.  Although they were disposed, it breaks my heart to see it go to waste.  Some would also mix the unconsumed food packs with the trash.

For those donating food, try not to send everything at once.  On an average, there are only 600 to 1000 arriving survivors a day; with the influx of donors we want to avoid spoilage.  Last Monday, the food was enough to feed the survivors, volunteers and the entire Philippine Army.  Loaf bread was given at a ratio of 1:1.  The arrivals would go on for two more weeks, and this is something we need to sustain by rationing our donation.

2. To the councilors, as much as we would like to talk to them, let's give them time to get settled and rest a bit before we approach them.  It's not a race and there is no price given to the person with the most numbers of interviewed survivors.

3. Let's avoid surrounding them like they are a spectacle to watch.  Also, please refrain from taking photographs.  Instead, use your free time to pick up the trash, grab the broom and help in preparing the vacated areas for other arriving survivors.

What I Loved About the Experience:

1. Every time a plane lands and we see survivors walking at the tarmac, all volunteers would stand and applause to honor their strength for what they have overcome.  At first, it felt weird, but seeing the families reunited with their relatives in tears sent shivers to my spine.

2. The people's willingness to help is overwhelming.  I am volunteering alongside with people from different walks of life, from students to popular celebrities.  I was picking up trash not knowing that I was sharing the same garbage bag with Agot Isidro.  Iza Calzado organized her friends to provide food for the survivors from morning until late at night.

3. Leading the group were volunteers themselves, who has been on the site since Day 1 and was trying to improve the system day by day.

4. I am touched by the Libreng Hatid Program.  Car owners volunteered their vehicle and gas to take the families to their relatives in Metro Manila.  They are also on standby the entire day, waiting for families they would take to their assigned areas.

We are all aware of the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, but this also provided us an opportunity to be better persons by helping those in need.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Foodie Finds in Kapitolyo Pasig: Ba Noi's

This is actually my 2nd visit to Ba Noi's.  The first time, I find the meals a bit pricey for a single person out for lunch.  But on this visit, since am with my partner, and most of the restaurants in the area are closed for mid-afternoons on Sunday, I decided to give it a 2nd chance.  We ended up having a bill of almost 1k.  The food was great, but still a bit expensive.

Fresh Spring Rolls (195 Pesos)

Pho Bo, Split into two (260 pesos)

Ga Kho Cari Xa (Braised chicken slowly cooked in lemongrass and curry powder, infused with fresh chillies, shallots and spring onions. Best for hot food lovers 250 pesos)  and Vietnamese Rice (90 pesos each)

The restaurants quaint interiors!

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Favorite Things: Shimmy Shimmy Custom Shoes

The season for gift giving is just around the corner.  There are times when you find it difficult to look for something to give somebody who has everything.  My suggestion, give the person a pair of Hand Painted Custom Shimmy Shoes.  They will be more than willing to paint an artwork specific to the interest of the person you're giving it to.

Visit their Facebook Page for details:
Shimmy Shimmy Custom
Contact Number
Mhelen: 0928-5598706

Our almost 3-year old Personal Pair

My Favorite Things: Striptees

I was eavesdropping on a facebook conversation between friends looking for a particular design of tank top one afternoon.  That was how I was introduced to the link of their facebook account, and immediately I fell in love with their shirts that 2 days later, I ordered myself 2 pieces.

I just wished I found them sooner so that I could have worn them on my travels.  Anyway, I still have a few more trips coming and this would be one of my travel essential.

My first two tops!
Their collection!
Here's how to purchase:

Visit Striptees on Facebook
Browse through their albums for available design.
Please PM them the item code/s that you want to order together with your contact number and claiming option. They will reply via PM to confirm your order. Incomplete details will not be processed.

You can choose from the following payment/pickup options:
- Meetup at Trinoma | SM North EDSA |Waltermart Munoz (Meetup Days: Tue, Thu, Sat Sun | Meetup times: 1pm, 3pm, and 7pm)
- LBC shipping (add Php140 for Manila, Php150 outside Manila). For shipping, payment must be made through BDO/BPI/LBC/Palawan Express.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Foodie Find Kapitolyo: Epic Coffee Roastery

Just when we thought we have tried out every foodie establishment in Kapitolyo, Pasig comes Epic Coffee Roastery.

I work relatively close to the area, and I frequent the establishment along this street  for lunch or an afternoon coffee.  This Saturday, before visiting the dentist, we decided to have lunch at Three Sisters to satisfy our Barbecue and Java Rice food craving.  After the meal, I went out to consume a stick of cigarette, and there it was right in front of me Epic Coffee Roastery.

From the road, all you can see is a glimpse of the Cake Chiller and a Bicycle right at the window.  Inside, we were amazed with the rustic interiors using recycled wood and bricks, decorated with vintage accents.  It was hard to decide what to order from the cake stand because everything looks so good and tempting.  We tried the house brew and Cafe Macchiato that day and shared on a slice of Rainbow Cake.

To my officemates, if I'm not in my table, you know where to find me!

Cafe Adriatico Split Into Two

One evening, I received a text from my bestie asking me to go to Cafe Adriatico for their famous Red Velvet Cake.  I replied with "Ok, See you there!', because now I feel obliged after having ignored the same text message the night before.

When we got there, they don't have it on the cake stand anymore.

To get over our disappointment, we got ourselves glasses of Red Wine, an appetizer, a salad, soup, an entree and dessert.  We ended up having a full course dinner to what was intended to be a midnight snack.

We just asked that the soup and the entree be split into two to make the portions smaller for both of us.

Two glasses of the house red wine.
French Onion Soup
Half serving of the soup we had split into two
Schublig Smothered with Onions

Classic Caesar Salad 

Lola Ising's Adobo Rice 
Half serving of the Adobo Platter we had split into two.
Coupe Ariatico and Coffee Cheesecake

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Puerto Princesa and El Nido Trip Condensed with list of Expense

Day 1 October 24, 2013
11:15 AM ETA Puerto Princesa
11:30 AM Check-in at My Hotel (Island Stay, 950 pesos/night)
12:00 NN Lunch at a Turo Turo Near the Hotel (65 pesos)
1:00   PM City Tour (Booked Through Island Stay, 600 pesos)
                 Pasalubong 170 pesos for the Cashew Butter
                 Bakers Hill Hopia Munggo, 45 Pesos
5:00   PM Back in the City
7:00   PM Dinner at Ka Lui's, 545 pesos
9:00   PM Night Out, Went for a foot massage instead at Boracay Spa, 350 pesos

Total Expense for Day 1: 2,725 pesos

Day 2 October 25, 2013
7:00   AM Breakfast (Chaolong plus French brad and Pepsi, 100 pesos)
12:00 NN Check-out at Register at the Summit (Legend Hotel)
1:00   PM Chapter Presidents Assembly
4:00   PM Check-in
5:00   PM Went to Roro Terminal to confirm Bus Schedule, 300 pesos
6:30   PM Welcome Dinner
9:00   PM Night Out (Went to place, I cant divulge, hehe, 1000 pesos)

Total Expense for Day 2:  1,400 pesos

Day 3 October 26, 2013
8:00 AM  Honda Bay Tour (1,100 pesos)
                 Aqua Shoes 150 pesos
                 2 packs of cigarette  100 pesos
3:00 PM Back at Puerto Princesa
10:00 PM Night Trip to El Nido (285 pesos via Roro Bus)
                 Tricycle to the Terminal 80 pesos
                 Piatos 25 pesos

Total Expense for Day 3:  1,740 pesos
Day 4 October 27, 2013
4:00 AM Arrival at El Nido (tricycle to Tay Miloy, 40 pesos)
6:00 AM Breakfast (180 pesos)
8:00 AM El Nido Tour A (700 pesos)
                 Environmental Fee (200 pesos)
                 Kayak (700 pesos)
                 2 Red Horse at 7 Commandos (150 pesos)
5:00 PM  Back at the Resort (Room 1000 pesos for 2 nights plus 400 for Transpo)
7:00 PM Dinner (500 pesos for Dinner at Art Cafe)

Total Expense for Day 4:  3,870 pesos

Day 5 October 28, 2013
5:30 AM Morning Trip to Puerto Princesa
                 Tricycle from Terminal to Airport (200 pesos)
                 Terminal Fee (100 pesos)
                 Cup Noodles at the Airport (70 pesos)
12:00 NN Flight Back to Manila
Found This at the Taytay Van Stop going back to Puerto Princesa

Total Expense for Day 5:  370 pesos

Total Trip Expense: 10,105 pesos

There are cheap alternatives to what I did, and most of the food and accommodations are good for two.  This is what I have to shell out since I'm a solo traveller.

Check out the details of my travel with the following links:

Architect's Summit Day 0: Getting There

Architect's Summit Day 0: Dinner at Ka Lui's

Architect's Summit Day 0: Puerto Pricesa City Tour

Architect's Summit Day 1: Chao Long

Architect's Summit Day 1: Zero Carbon, RA 9266, and Bhutan as the Happiest Place on Earth!

Architect's Summit Day 2: Honda Bay Tour

Architect's Summit Day 2: Aziza Paradise Hotel and Roro Bus to El Nido

Architect's Summit Day 2 + 1: El Nido Tour A without the C

Architect's Summit Day 2+1: El Nido's Art Cafe









Architect's Summit Day 2+1: El Nido's Art Cafe

The Summit for Architects ended with the fellowship night last Saturday.  But Since the Monday was declared a holiday for the Baranggay election, I decided to move my return flight to Monday and visit El Nido that Sunday.  After my Day Tour that ended late than usual, because the itinerary says 3:30 and we got back 5:00 PM, I was only able to take a shower then proceeded to look for a place to eat.

I don't feel well at that moment from fatigue, but still was able to force myself to go out and visit Art Cafe.  From the main road of the place where I was staying, I just hail a tricycle and asked to be dropped near the place.  It was easy to find, since the place also house a Travel and Tour Office and Souvenir Shop.

Art Cafe El Nido

For an Art Cafe, the place has little collection of Art, well maybe they have been sold already.  The interior was very Filipino, with woven bamboo for the ceiling and hand painted walls.  A long bar on one side will greet you as soon as you reach the top of the stairs and on the opposite side is the veranda, that allows you a peek of the limestone cliffs during the day.  A musician plays the Piano in the background as guests dine.

The menu is a fuzion of international dishes, showcasing the local ingredients.  I ordered myself a cup of Mushroom Soup to warm me up and Tomato Pesto Pasta which is really good.  Don't get intimidated with the price since the serving allows for sharing.  I wish I had more time to explore the other restaurants in El Nido, but for my One Day Stay, I'm glad to have chosen Art Cafe.

Architect's Summit Day 2 + 1: El Nido Tour A without the C

I arrived in El Nido around 4:00 AM Sunday morning.  There are plenty of tricycles at the terminal even at this hour.  I asked one to take me to Tay Miloy's Inn.  I originally planned on just leaving my things and just wait for the tour around 8:00 AM at a coffee shop somewhere.  But because I wasn't able to sleep on the bus, I decided to check in that early morning.  I texted my reservation the Friday prior for a night's stay at a Fan room for only 400php.  When I got there, my name was not listed and there's no vacancy.  The owner was kind enough to take me on his motorcycle to Egay's Place a few blocks away and finally I was settled.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the contact number for this new place.

Tay Miloy's Inn
Lisang Street, 5313 El Nido Bacuit, Palawan, Philippines

Early Morning, navigating my way around town looking for the stall of Northern Hope Tours

I booked my tour at Northern Hope Tours for A&C combination and was asked to be at their shop by 8:00 AM.  That morning, I forced myself out of bed to look for their place which is just beside the church.  When I got there, I was informed that they don't have the combination tour due to lack of participants and was asked if I am willing to go on Tour A.  Since, I was not presented with any other option, I said yes.  Just as soon as I gave my payment comes another guy in a motorcycle asking if he could just include me in their group for Tour A&C combination.  The person from Northern Hope declined saying he was able to convince me to take tour A.  I can't help but feel bad because all of these is happening right in my face.  Looking back, I wish I just went with the other guy, since I only have a day to spend in El Nido.  I'm sure Northern Hope had very satisfied clients but they need to learn from this.  Some guests have limited time and would want to maximize their tour experience.
Everybody seems to be on their way, except us!!!

I am not letting this incident ruin my vacation.  I figured, maybe this is God's way of giving me a reason to go back.  I will just go with Tour A and hope all things go well.  I was asked to be at the beach by 9AM.  The tour organizer assisted me in paying for the environmental fee and was asked to wait.  It was disappointing how other Filipinos have no respect for other people's time.  We waited almost an hour for a group of guests joining us.  That's not all, nobody explained what to expect and what we need.  It was when I had the initiative of asking if we ever need a Kayak or Aqua Shoes, when they got them for us.

Finally, after waiting for an hour, we boarded the boat to our first stop, The Secret Lagoon.

Walking from the boat, up to the beach and the entrance is made challenging by the rocks on the sea bed.  It is said, that this was once a cave that collapsed.

The small entrance to the Secret Lagoon
What the Lagoon looks like... let's keep it a secret for future visitors.

Shimizu Island

On this stop is where the boatmen will prepare our food.  While waiting, we explored the cliffs, coves, swim and snorkel in the nearby reef.

The Lunch Prepared for us.

Small Lagoon

You can either swim or kayak your way to a hole in the cliff to enter the small lagoon. 

Big Lagoon

Unfortunately, the tides are low when we got here.  We just swim on the sandy floored portions of the reef. We were encouraged to kayak to the lagoon, but I don't have the energy anymore from lack of sleep and the long travel.

Seven Commandos

The last stop, ideal for swimming, with white fine sand beach.  It also has a bar and the perfect place to view the sunset.

The Bar at Seven Commandos:  Beer Costs 75 pesos per bottle and they do have mix drinks as well.  A Buco Stand is located farther on the opposite direction of the bar

In spite of what happened in the morning, It was a great tour.  Our tour guide was fun and the crew very helpful.  I will definitely be back for the other tour package.  We arrived almost 5PM, and by this time, I feel feverish from fatigue.

Northern Hope Tours
Lisang Street, Maligaya Pob. (Barangay 1), 5313 El Nido, Palawan 
0927 735 3221

Tour A:  700 pesos
Environmental Fee:  200 pesos
Kayak Rental:  700 pesos
Coffee while waiting for the other participants:  20 pesos
Beer at Seven Commandos: 2 Red Horse, 150 pesos

Total: 1,770 pesos

Day 5: Tito's Roadtrip Travel Guide to Bicol

Our last day in Bicol is dedicated to our long drive back home. We decided to leave early around 3AM in order to reach Manila late in the ...