Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Element of Surprise

My beloved mother turns 75 this Wednesday (May 30).

But 2 weeks prior to her birthday, my sister and I have been hatching a surprise for her.

Our plan was for my sister to come home unannounced and show up at the condo!

But her work schedule was too hectic.

I didn't want to burden her so I just kept waiting for her to tell me when she was able to come home.

That is if she would ever make it.

Last Friday, she told me with much anticipation she was able to clear all her work load so she could come home, today!

So D & I were up early to first hear the 8:30am Mass then proceeded to the airport to fetch her.

At 12:40pm, her Cebu Pacific flight from HK landed at NAIA 3 on time.

We first had lunch at the airport.

Then took a cab to the condo to spring the surprise on our unsuspecting parents.

To make the long story short, our parents were shocked and quite surprised.

Our mother shed tears of joy. There were a lot of hugs, embraces and kisses.

Everyone is happy that my sister will be here for one week.

Our plan was a success!

Hurray! :D

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Burnham Park (May 14, 2012)

After we had lunch at one of the restos on Session Road, we went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours as we hardly slept on the bus. At around 4pm, we ventured out again - this time to explore Burnham Park. We merely walked from our hotel (roughly about 5 blocks) as weather was fully cooperating with bright sunny skies and a cool breeze hovering over us.

Coincidentally the park is named after Daniel Burnham, an American urban planner and architect who laid the plans for development of Baguio.

It is a vast park where you can do various activities like reflect while sitting on benches surrounded by tall green trees. You can haggle while shopping at the bazaar stalls which sell items from magnets, garments to just about anything. Or you can indulge in the main activity which is boating on rented boats on the man made lake centrally located within the Park.

Quite fun as I had my own boatman to do the rowing - my beloved hubby!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dim the lights ... here we go

I interrupt the series of posts about my recent Baguio trip to announce that Phillip Phillips won Season 11 of American Idol. Hurray for the bluesy guitar playing singer! After Elise Testone (whom I admire for her husky tone) was voted off, I started rooting for Phil. I liked his variations on the different songs he performed on the American Idol on stage.

Be that as it may, I might be deemed a snob for not supporting Jessica Sanchez who is half Filipino, but I have my reasons. For one, Jessica doesn't internalize the emotions behind the soulful songs. Secondly, she didn't have much rapport with the audience. She also lacked charisma notably no doubt owing to her young age. Lastly, her ethnicity was another factor. We all know that so far no American of Asian descent has gone on to win the main title. I am not accusing the voting public of being biased against minorities but let's face it, it is AMERICAN idol, after all.

On that note, let me just express my disdain (for lack of a better word) regarding our attitude towards celebrities who have Filipino affiliations either by blood or by affinity. For the life of me, I don't understand why this nation is so obsessed with finding the Filipino element in every celebrity who makes it big in the entertainment industry or any industry for that matter.

For instance, news items here always feel the need to mention that Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger and Jessica Sanchez have Filipino blood. These are people who haven't set foot in our land, they don't speak our national language yet we insist on highlighting their 'pinoy-ness' every chance we get. Why, do we as a nation need to constantly uphold our nationalism through celebrities who are like 1/4 Filipino? Why can we instead concentrate on improving the chances of our local born and bred artists to make it big, internationally? Can't we simply applaud a person for his God given talent/gift without dissecting his ethnicity?

So there I've said my piece. It has been bothering me for quite some time now. It might be controversial but it's how I roll. :D So enough said!

Congratulations again to Phillip Phillips. You deserve to win. =)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tam Awan Village, Baguio (May 14, 2012)

Days before we left for this trip, I diligently researched the places I wanted to visit. Then, I came up with a daily itinerary so I simply had to tell D our schedule for that day and he willingly obliged. Either that or he had no choice! :D

As we were making our way down from Dominican Hill, a taxi suddenly appeared! So we rode it to take us to our next destination - the Tam Awan Village.

The Chanum Foundation, Inc. founded in 1966 began to reconstruct Ifugao houses in Baguio with the view of making a model village accessible to people who want to experience life in the Cordillera region.

The village has 7 Ifugao huts and 2 Kalinga houses. By using original materials like cogon roofs, heavy hand hewn timber, hard wood - they aim to resemble the design of a traditional Cordillera village. You can actually rent these huts as accommodations to truly experience the Ifugao lifestyle.

It is a very rustic setting so be sure to wear comfy shoes as you will have to climb some steep steps that are caked with mud which can be slippery. You will also come across some bridges made from bamboo to hold on for a steady balance.

The Village is also a venue for art exhibits and workshops which aim to showcase the culture and heritage of the Cordillera people. After you have explored the different huts, you can head to their gallery to admire the intricate art works and crafts.

Tip: Be sure to tell your taxi to wait for you as the place is in a remote area.

Tam Awan Village is open from 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Entrance fee is P50 for adults.
P20 for kids below 12 years old.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dominican Hill (May 14, 2012)

En route to the Lourdes Grotto, our friendly taxi driver told us about this place that is quite near to the Grotto. He said it contains the Guinness Book of World Records largest 10 commandments tablet. The place is formerly known as Dominican Hill.

We asked people selling items in the stalls if Dominican Hill was accessible by foot from the Lourdes Grotto. Negative. It is an uphill climb so we hailed a taxi. The driver wasn't aware of the tablet but when we mentioned Dominican Hill, he knew our destination.

It is the location of an abandoned seminary of the Dominican order which was turned into a hotel. The seminary was used as a haven for refugees during the second World War. It was heavily bombed by the Japanese army. A faith healer then converted it into the Diplomat Hotel. But when he died of a heart attack, the site was abandoned. It is said to be haunted.

According to a website, the tablets were erected to ward off the spirits of people who died during World War 2. As well as the terminally ill patients who visited the hotel to get cured by the faith healer but unfortunately succumbed.

We asked the driver if he was willing to wait for us as we would only be taking some pictures. But he was visibly scared as he said he was afraid of ghosts and reassured us that we could easily get a cab back.

I wasn't scared. I'm not easily spooked by ghosts or the paranormal. In fact I got more 'worried' about the downhill road. There were no cabs to flag down. The place was quite remote. I was already drenched in sweat and I got tired from walking down the hilly road. Good thing, the view was worth the descent.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lourdes Grotto, Baguio City (May 14, 2012)

After our hearty breakfast at Cafe by the Ruins, we hailed a cab to take us to the Lourdes Grotto. A Catholic shrine and place of meditation which is located on a high hill in the western part of the city where you will find the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The grotto is a favorite pilgrimage site during Holy Week. Access to the top of the grotto could be made by climbing the 252 steps.

It was established in 1907 by the Spanish Jesuits. On your way up, you can pause to enjoy the fantastic view.

Reflect near the Statue of our Lord.

At the top, you utter a little prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Then yet again you admire the lovely view from that heightened position!

Then slowly make your way back down the 252 steps.

The Lourdes Grotto has no entrance fee. You just pay for the candles which you want to light near the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

City of Pines (May 14, 2012)

At 12:20am of the eve of our wedding anniversary, we were nicely tucked in a deluxe bus to Baguio City. I dozed on and off in a nice, comfy reclining chair. Then suddenly the lights come on and the stewardess (yes there was one!) announced we were approaching our destination. I check my watch it was only 4:30AM. Wow our driver must have zipped up the zigzag road like a formula one driver!

I was a bit worried that our room won't be available that early in the morning. Although I did list our time of arrival as 6:30am. But lo and behold, we were in our room by 5:05am! We booked at the Microtel Inn and Suites which has a walk way connected to the Victory Liner Bus terminal. How convenient.

Then it was time to explore Baguio on foot. The weather was a bit nippy since it was still quite early in the morning. So it was a pleasant walk.

We passed by the controversial SM Baguio. Just a few distance from our hotel

The Baguio Cathedral (Lady of the Atonement Cathedral)

We saw the Baguio public market already teeming with activity

We admired the Cordillera Freedom Monument - a sculptural tribute to all ethnic groups who struggled against colonial rule and aggression. It is sculpted by Toym De Leon Imao.

We actually got lost looking for the Cafe by the Ruins. Simply because I left the printout of places to eat in Baguio at the hotel. But after walking all over Baguio and asking a tourist police, we had a hearty breakfast

I had the fisherman's breakfast which consists of fried crispy dalag with grilled tomato and fried rice (sinangag)

While D ate the Filipino Lon-si-log aka Longganisang Hubad with Sinangag and Itlog.

It is a quaint lil nook in the heart of the city. It serves fresh, organic food whose ingredients are bought from the nearby public market.

It used to be the mansion of the former governor of Baguio which was heavily bombed during World War 2. A bullet riddled and shrapnel infested wall still stands as a testimony to its historic past.

Friday, May 18, 2012


With all the food intake, we need to take some time out to detoxify our system. Especially if we don't maintain a healthy food regimen. Too much junk food, smoking as well as no exercise routine can do much harm to our body.

A regular body cleanse is a good way to refresh our system. An effective method is a 21 day cleanse developed by cardiologist and cleanse expert Dr Junger. It has been endorsed by celebrities like Demi Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow. You can gather more information through this Clean Program review video. Try it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marry month of May

I figure I can safely say that summer of 2012 has been pretty hectic. By summer I'm referring to the months that D is off work, the school holidays. It is only now that I am able to take a breather without the need to do a million things on my list. I've uploaded most if not all of the pictures on my Flickr account. That is complete with captions! I'm up to date with the latest episodes of my fave TV shows. I've done most of the pending household chores which piled up like crazy. I even managed to get my annual hair treatment at my regular salon. It was at a discounted price since there were having a promo/sale the week I visited. I've also caught up on some reading before I doze off at nights.


What I like to call the 'main event' for this month is a couple of days away. Nope, it isn't Mother's day although surely we will be treating my beloved Mom to lunch, tomorrow. It was supposed to be a surprise trip for us to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on the 15th. But it is really difficult to schedule an out of town trip let alone a surprise, at that! Ergo, I had to let D in on my plan to spend our anniversary in the City of Pines. A city which I am ashamed to admit I've never set foot on. I'm excited to explore it for the first time! I need to pack and make sure I don't bring too much as we are taking public transport. I also need to learn to leave 'worries' behind because I don't want to ruin a planned trip.

So this blog is going to be 'neglected' yet again. Poor thing. But I promise to brighten it up with lively entries upon our return. :D


Every time I get my eyes checked, I fear that the power of my eyeglasses would increase. Strain from using the computer often, reading without proper lighting and plain wear and tear can contribute to failing eyesight.

Naturally there are ways to improve one's vision. One way is to undergo a procedure known as Laser lasik. It is said to be quite effective in alleviating eye problems. As common as it is, there are still some risks involved in Surgery Lasik so it is important that a certified eye doctor would first properly examine your eyes before one avails of this procedure.

Most of the doctors I've consulted have recommended Lasik to me. They said it might correct my astigmatism and although it won't restore my eyesight to 20/20 vision (since the grades on my eyeglasses are quite high already), it is still worth trying. But I keep putting it off as this procedure doesn't really come cheap, does it?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Pangasinan, Tarlac (May 2, 2012)

After a hearty breakfast, we left Lingayen to head back home at around 6AM. Along the scenic (provincial and rustic) national road, we passed by a few churches which were begging to be captured by our photo enthusiasts. :D

St Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church (Aguilar, Pangasinan)

The main altar of St Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church

St Raymond of Penafort Parish Church (Mangatarem, Pangasinan)

Main altar of St Raymond of Penafort Parish Church

Stations of the Cross at St. Raymond of Penafort Parish Church

Side entrance to St. Raymond of Penafort Parish Church

Dome of St. Raymond of Penafort Parish Church

Ruins of the old St Michael the Archangel Parish Church (Camiling, Tarlac)

Facade (ruins) of the old St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church

Ruins of the old Camiling (Tarlac) church
(St. Michael the Archangel Parish)