"I want to explore the world with two things in my hands: a camera in my left and his hand in my right." :)

Marked on the Calendar

The Day We “Time Traveled” in Manila

Traveling has always been a passion of mine (domestic, international, or even that just-a-few-blocks-away kind of travel). Traveling with my special someone — now, that just makes it all the more exciting! But since my boyfriend Paul and I aren’t allowed to go on overnight trips YET without any “chaperones” (haha, strict ang mga ate ko!),  we just make it a point to squeeze in traveling through our “day” dates. Luckily, we’re both history buffs and we both share an interest in getting to know the Philippines more — with Manila first on our minds. ;)

I’ve been living in Manila since day one but to be honest, there’s just so much more to know about its history. On the other hand, Paul‘s from Laguna so exploring Manila is also on top of his list. Having said that, it just became a priority for us to save and sign up for different Manila tours because let’s face it, going anywhere (even places you’ve been to before) makes it more interesting depending on your new-found discovery. And how do you “discover” something new when you’ve been to a place once, twice, thrice, and so on? My answer is through KNOWLEDGE and INFORMATION! And those knowledge and information? Well, their new-found “effect” on you will always depend on your tour guide! :D

And that’s exactly why Paul and I decided to avail of Manila for a Day (M4AD)‘s 3G time-traveling engagement, which basically covered God, Gold, and Glory in the Walled City — thanks to our tour guide Dustin Ancheta (who also happens to be a college course mate of mine).

(photo courtesy of Manila for a Day’s Facebook page)

(photo courtesy of Manila for a Day’s Facebook page)

Our M4AD experience has been our second Manila tour (our first was with a different tour guide and it was in the Malacañang area, but I wasn’t able to blog about that because I was on a blogging hiatus back then! hahaha!). Anyway, M4AD prefers to call what they offer as “time-traveling engagements” instead of just plain old tours. Why? Well it’s in the way their guide Dustin does his engagements! He even brings along with him a TIME TRAVEL KIT!

Manila for a Day (M4AD)’s Dustin Ancheta

So to kick off our virtual time-traveling engagement, here’s our first stop that day:

San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church

I’ve been to San Agustin Church several times before but to be honest, I was just as awed as Paul (it’s his first time in the church) during the entire tour. It was only that day that it sank in to me that we were inside a UNESCO World Heritage Site — equivalent to the Pyramids of Giza in Eqypt or the Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico! Like, really, WOW! #ProudPinoy here!

Having a tour guide who really knows what he’s doing (and saying!) does change the entire travel experience. It even has its perks, too!

San Agustin Church

One of which is having access to places that are not usually open to the public. Case in point, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi‘s resting place!

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s resting place in San Agustin Church

As a Filipino, we’ve all been taught in history class that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. But since he already died in Cebu during the Battle of Mactan, he wasn’t really able to reach Manila. Hence when you say “founder of Manila,” the title really goes to Miguel (yes, feeling close lang! wahahahaha!). And before this tour, I wasn’t even aware that the actual Spaniard who discovered my hometown actually rests IN MY HOMETOWN nonetheless! So much for being a Manila Girl all my life! Oh well, at least now I know. :P

San Agustin Church

We also walked on the church grounds as Dustin educated us in the way society influenced art back in the day. I won’t explain it to you in detail anymore (you have to avail of the tour if you want to know! haha!) but in a nutshell, that experience in the room full of religious figures reminded us that life does imitate art (or vice versa), and there’s no one definition of beauty. It changes from one generation to another, and the cycle just goes on and on. So if chinitas and mestizas were the “in” thing then, it somehow changed in the middle of history, and returned again in the present, etc. Just like in the Renaissance period, voluptuous women were all the rage because they symbolized fertility — fast forward to today, everybody wants to have Victoria Secret model-inspired bodies because that’s what the media dictates, etc. You get my drift.

Most of all, that experience showed us how God and Gold mixed back in the day — quite literally! Just take the statue of Jesus as an example:

Those threads? Made. of. pure. GOLD!

Dustin also guided us in other areas inside the church and learned a ton of things along the way. But like I said, I don’t want to spoil things for you so better attend the actual tour yourself. :)

posing in the middle of Mexican-inspired architecture

ringing a (small) bell to compare and imagine what it’s like to have the original (larger) bell ring in these walls back then; viewing the church from the top

other random shots inside San Agustin Church

After the church, our next stop was…

Casa Manila

Casa Manila

Picture-taking isn’t really allowed inside Casa Manila so for this part, I’ll be borrowing photos from Travelibre. :)

Basically, the Casa Manila in Intramuros isn’t an authentic 19th-century house (it’s an actual replica of one) — but some of the things inside it are 100% legit. It was created by the Philippine government in the 1980s (headed by Imelda Marcos) to depict what it’s like to be RICH and POWERFUL in the time of Spanish-colonized Philippines.

Inside, we were required to walk on a long red carpet (they say it’s to make the museum easier to clean) and if you happen to step outside of it, a guard will definitely reprimand you for it! So consider this a heads-up! Haha!

Moving on, one of the first things we saw inside Casa Manila was the kwartos. According to the labels, they were actually just “dorm rooms,” so imagine what an actual room for a family member looks like! Dustin even told us that back then, visitors inside a house owned by the rich and powerful were “filtered” by floors.

We know that back then, people in the Philippines were divided according to status: the Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain), the Insulares (Spaniards born in Manila or anywhere else but not in Spain), the Mestizos (half Spanish, half-Chinese or half something else as long as there’s Spanish blood), the Indios (pure Filipinos), etc. (Trivia: Most of our national heroes like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo were Mestizos).

So for example, if you’re part of the Insulares, you could go anywhere in the house. But if you’re part of the Indios, you’d be lucky you even made it past the entrance door! Get the picture? That’s how rampant racism was back in those days. :(

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

Another interesting area in Casa Manila was the cucina (kitchen):

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

As you can see from the photo, it was so 19th century! Dustin mentioned that during those days, a rich and powerful family had many servants and all those pots and pans were used to the max. One unique item there (unfortunately, no photo) was the vintage ice box. Since there were no refrigerators back then, only the rich could afford to import ice. But of course, you couldn’t just import ice without having the equipment to actually sustain it (the Philippines is a tropical country, so just imagine your bad ice investment if you just let it melt under the sun!). And that’s when it really hit us. There’s truly a big difference between the truly wealthy and those who are just trying to climb the social ladder — the rich can sustain their lifestyles; social climbers can’t. In relation to this is the next area, the dining room:

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

As you can see, the dining area has a long table. If you watch Downton Abbey, well you’ve already got an idea how this works. However in the Philippine setting, only the master of the house had arm rests on the sides of his chair, and the rest were seated alternately (male, female, male, female, and so on). BUT if you’re a guest gentleman and you were seated in the middle with ladies surrounding you, might as well leave the feast because that’s a form of insult. If you’ve read Rizal‘s Noli Me Tangere, Dustin shared that there was one scene there wherein Crisostomo Ibarra was seated (on purpose) in the middle of the table and knowing that he was being insulted, he charged toward the master of the house, which was none other than Padre Damaso. Hihihi. #history

Going back to the dining area in Casa Manila, refer again to the photo above and you’ll notice those two curtain-like decorations hanging from the ceiling. What are they? Let’s just say that those were their manual version of the electric fan. And since they’re manual, a person (usually a young boy servant) actually had to run them. Our very informative tour guide even said that a guest shouldn’t see the servant or else, that would also be a form of insult! Kalurkey talaga! But now you realize what the lifestyle of the rich and powerful was like back then. But unlike those who could buy ice just because they wanted to try it but couldn’t really afford it again and again, the truly rich and powerful could (and still can) sustain their lavish lifestyles. Except nowadays, I believe that the luxurious ice has already been replaced by designer items! Hahaha! ;)

There were other interesting rooms in Casa Manila, but of course, I think it’s better if you just see them for yourself!

The Manila Collectible Company

And then our last stop during that time traveling engagement was The Manila Collectible Company (TMCC).

(photos courtesy of The Manila Collectible Company Facebook page)

Upon arriving at the place, we were served refreshments and snacks. And yes, those snacks were those you can see on the above photo! Haha! I must say, they were all very tasty, especially the con cremas and the coco jam (not in photo). I actually bought a bottle of the latter for myself! Wahahahaha! But yeah, TMCC is “a one-stop shop that offers the best of Philippine products, tours and events!”. So if you’re in the mood for all things Philippine culture, then this is definitely the place to go to!

And oh, this was also the place where Dustin answered our questions about the entire tour. That’s what I like about M4AD’s offering, they really try to give you the best of history through what they know. In fact if they don’t know it right then and there, they’ll still try to answer you via e-mail. Now that’s what I call dedication! :D

So that’s our M4AD experience. Thanks so much to Dustin for making time travel in Manila such a fun (and learning) experience!

As for Paul and I, the whole point is to explore Manila one area at a time (Malacañang area, check! One area of Intramuros, check!) — which is exactly why next on our Manila adventure is Carlos Celdran‘s Walk This Way! So watch for that! :)

Time travelers of the day (#TTOTD): Paul and Mika <3

Until then… see yah! :)


The Year That Was: 2013

Read one book per week, have a healthier lifestyle (ahem!), update my blog at least once a month…

These are just some of the things in my list and it goes on, and on, and on. Because you know, it’s that time of the year again to make New Year’s “resolutions.” Kahit ang totoo, hanggang mga first week of January lang naman natutupad! Hahaha!

This is just my third time to write a year-ender post and even though my blog has been inactive for the most part of the past year (2013), I still couldn’t let this go because for the past two years, my year-ender posts sort of became my “guide” for the year that followed.

In 2011, I wrote that I wanted to be AMAZED in 2012. Check!
2011 was also my “blogging” year.

In 2012, I kind of asked the universe to help me in my career in 2013. And guess what? Check again!
2012 was also my “travel” year.

In 2013, I found myself lying low in the blogging world but boy, was it one hell of a roller-coaster ride in real life! :P
I’d like to call 2013 my “career” and “friendship” year for the following reasons:

CAREER

I’m already sure that WRITING, in every sense of the word, is my passion. So when I landed a new full-time writing job at the start of the year, I was ecstatic! I was writing at least six articles per day for different food, lifestyle, and travel websites and I was living my “writing dream.” Unfortunately, that was short-lived because the company declared bankruptcy after a few weeks. And just like that, I was back in the hunt for the next writing job that could fulfill my so-called writing dream. But this time, I was also already cautious with the companies I was sending my resume to.

I just said that I’m already sure that WRITING, in every sense of the word, is my passion. However, I wasn’t really sure what KIND of writing I was talking about. Not until an opening for a great company made its way to me (thanks to a job site) in the second quarter of the year and I figured, why not? Sure, it wasn’t the kind of creative/lifestyle writing I was used to, but it’s a job that still involved the WRITTEN WORD. So yes, I ventured into TECHNICAL WRITING. :)

Up to now, I’m a “creative” writer at heart but looking back to my decision to put more importance on the actual company I was applying for instead of the actual job, I’m glad to say that I’ve no regrets! Almost a year into technical writing, I won’t deny that I’m still struggling but you know what? I still consider this as my BEST CAREER MOVE by far! I already love the industry we’re in even before I applied, and I’m glad that I still get to learn NEW THINGS every. single. day! More importantly, I love the work environment — the company knows how to value both its business and employees. And speaking of the latter, my colleagues are the best people to work with — they know how to get the work done without sacrificing the fun, and I’m thankful for the new friendships I’ve formed in the workplace! :D

Career

Career

So creative writing and technical writing both at the same time? I say, why not?! After all, they still both deal with words, words, words and for a WORDSMITH like me, that’s more than enough! ♥

FRIENDSHIP

Aside from the new friendships I’ve formed in the workplace, reconnecting with my high school friends was one of my 2013 highlights. ;)

Friendship

Friendship

I haven’t bonded with them for quite some time after our high school graduation (which was in 2005!), so I’m just really happy that I got to do so again in 2013… and beyond, of course! In fact, we’re already planning a getaway this coming 2014! So thanks, girls, for our adventures this past year! Really, really, really looking forward to our next ones!!!  ♥

And to wrap this up, of course my 2013 wouldn’t be complete without the love of my life (hehehe, sorry na kung mushy!):

Thanks, hon, for all that we’ve experienced and shared in 2013! I look forward to what’s in store for us this coming new year. I love you!!! :*

Basically, that was 2013 for me. It might look simple and worry-free, but I’m telling you that that wasn’t really the case. Besides, why focus on negativity when you can have a much better outlook in life when focused on positivity, right? Good vibes, all the way!!!

And that’s exactly what I want the universe to grant me this 2014: GOOD VIBES… and to read one book per week, have a healthier lifestyle (ahem!), update my blog at least once a month… you know the drill. Wahahahaha!

Anyway, I wish you all GOOD THINGS this coming new year!
HAPPY 2014!!!

#PeaceOut


A Malatean Day

It has been awhile since the last time I “documented” my bonding sessions with friends, so thank God for my Saturday last April 27 because it was definitely one for the books — or this blog for that matter! Haha!

It all started at lunch time when I attended the graduation party of my high school friend Talitha and her sister Jenina. From being our valedictorian in high school to now graduating from med school, Talitha is someone we’re really proud of! :)

Of course what made the celebration even more exciting was the attendance of our other high school friends and one of our favorite teachers — all while filling ourselves with sumptuous Chinese food from Hong Kong Chef Restaurant! Yuuum!

Look at these "MD" cakes! :D

Look at these “MD” cakes! :D

with our favorite Physics teacher in high school, Sir Hermano (who we call Daddy!)

with our favorite Physics teacher in high school, Sir Hermano (who we call Daddy!)

Batch 2005 FTW! Hahaha!

Batch 2005 FTW! Hahaha!

After that, Abby, Chona, Dexter, and I had a “spontaneous” trip to The Podium and it was such a milestone for me because…

a) it was my first time to drive along EDSA without any of my sisters! I’ve been driving since 2008, but I’ve always dreaded driving along EDSA. Whenever I had to do so, I made sure that I was always with one of my sisters… kaya big deal talaga ‘to, friends! BIG DEAL talaga, ‘to! But I’m glad that I was able to share it with yoouuu! HA HA HA :P

b) it was my first time to go to The Podium! Like seriously! I’m NOT an “Ortigas” person, you know?! And since it was my first time, I really didn’t know how to go there… so imaginin niyo nalang ang kaba ko while driving along EDSA! Thank God we arrived there safely! Heehee.

Once there, we also saw our other high school classmates Jez and Reg.

Reg, Dex, Abby, yours truly, and Chona (Jez, we have to take our picture next time! Haha!)

Reg, Dex, Abby, yours truly, and Chona (Jez, we have to take our picture next time! Haha!)

We stayed there for at least four hours — or at least I did because Paul finally arrived and we were off to another place…

…my Idol Tinah‘s new “home!” ;)

The very "sweet" WELCOME! ♥

The very “sweet” WELCOME! ♥

we call each other "idol" for a reason... it's a long story! hahaha!

we call each other “idol” for a reason… it’s a long story! hahaha!

Tinah‘s also my high school schoolmate but she’s one batch higher than me. We reconnected a few years ago… which all started because of our “interest” in running.  Speaking of which… Although it’s not yet obvious right now, I’m planning to train for a run this coming May — and hopefully get back in shape, too! Wahahahaha!

Seriously though, I’m training for this:

Disclaimer: I do not own this photo.

I’m doing this because Malate Catholic Church has always been very dear to me — and not just because Malate Catholic School (or MCS, where I spent my elementary and yes, HIGH SCHOOL days!) is a parochial school of the aforementioned church. I’ve been a MALATEAN all my life in every sense of the word. I studied at MCS, lived and continues to live in Malate, and it’ll always be part of my personal history.

On the other hand, Malate Catholic Church IS part of our history. It was built in the 1500s (during the Spanish period), survived World Wars, but most of all, it was, is, and will always be a place where Catholics can go to and talk to Him.

So yes, whether or not you’re a Malatean, I’m inviting you all to join the Run for Restoration on May 26, 2013! For more details, click HERE. :D

♥♥♥

Anyway, you can see that if there was a “theme” for this day, it’d be HIGH SCHOOL! My entire Saturday was filled with nostalgia, laughter, food, and of course, FRIENDSSS. Eight years may have passed since we all left our beloved Alma Mater and went on to our own separate journeys, but I’m glad that we still get to do this NOW. Wherever life takes us — Pasay, Ortigas, Japan, or Canada (literal pala daw!) — one thing remains: there was, is, and will always be a school by the church of Malate… that in return produced the “Malateans” we are today. :)


Staycation Destinations

The heat we’ve been experiencing these days is truly undeniable and suddenly, all we can think about is it’s already summer! Like seriously, has it really been three months since the last time I heard “Jingle Bells” and marveled at colorful, twinkling lights? Oh well. Time flies sooo fast, indeed. And apparently, this post is three months overdue too! Hahaha!

It’s a good thing though that whether it’s Christmas, summer, or just about any holiday you can think of, these hotels in the metro definitely define what a “staycation” ought to be. ;)

FAIRMONT MAKATI

My family and I spent Christmas 2012 at Fairmont Makati — the newest addition to the number of properties the hotel chain owns around the world, located in the middle of the country’s business and shopping district: Makati (duh!). =))

Of course the Fairmont brand is already known for its world-class customer service but aside from that, the hotel also boasts of its “Pillow Menu” wherein guests can opt to request for additional pillows that are made of different materials, as well as give different sleep benefits — free of charge. I think that’s a signature of the hotel chain because the “Pillow Menu” was also one of the things I enjoyed when we stayed at Fairmont Singapore a few years back.

Anyway, the other things I loved about Fairmont Makati were their Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Gold Lounge, and of course, Cafe Macaron! I swear, I’m a French Macaron addict and only three brands have passed my “taste” so far: TWG, Chez Karine, and Cafe Macaron. So trust me when I say that the ones served at Fairmont Makati’s Cafe Macaron are a must-try! Wahahahaha! :D

fairmont 1

fairmont 2

fairmont 3

French Macarons at Cafe Macaron!!!

French Macarons at Cafe Macaron!!!

LIKE and SHARE Fairmont Makati’s Facebook page HERE.

RAFFLES MAKATI

And then just a tumbling away from Fairmont (you know what I mean!) is Raffles Makati. :) Actually, this is both a residential area and a luxury hotel. Most of the floors are allotted to the former (so those are off-limits unless you know someone who owns a unit), and just a few floors for the latter. But of course, the hotel experience Raffles Makati gives also makes you feel like a unit owner — even their suites (yes, there are no “rooms”) are designed as if you’re staying in your own personal space… even for just a couple of days!

raffles 1

LIKE and SHARE Raffles Makati’s Facebook page HERE.

SEDA BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY (BGC)

If our Christmas was spent in Makati, our New Year 2013 was celebrated at Bonifacio Global City — at Seda Hotel to be exact!

Before you even wonder why name a hotel “Seda,” well it’s actually the Filipino equivalent of “silk.” And according to the management, silk is “a lustrous yet strong fabric that perfectly represents our commitment to providing a seamless accommodation experience.” At least now you know! :P

Located in the middle of Bonifacio High Street, Market! Market!, and Serendra (just imagine what a perfect location this is!), the BGC branch is only one of the Seda Hotels located all over the country; the others are in Cagayan de Oro (Centrio), Davao (Abreeza), and Laguna (Nuvali) — although this one’s still under construction.

seda 1

seda 2

LIKE and SHARE Seda Hotels’ Facebook page HERE.

♥♥♥

So the next time you plan to take a staycation, remember these three words: Fairmont. Raffles. Seda.

Now off you go and may you all have a blast this summer (or any staycation-worthy event for that matter!).

xoxo,
Mika


The Amazing 2012*

*superheroes bit by eight-legged creatures not included! :P

It’s that time of the year again — a time for year-ender posts (at least for bloggers!). It was exactly a year ago (December 29, 2011) when I posted my first year-ender on this blog, and I just realized that the universe heard my plea. When I said that I wanted to be “amazed” this year (inspired by the movie New Year’s Eve), I think I got more than what I asked for! ;)

Last year, I wrote this:

“This coming year, I also dare ALL OF US to be AMAZED!!! I don’t know… be amazed by EATING. TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS. PRAYING. TRAVELING. LOVING. WRITING. Actually, ANYTHING. As long as you get to have your own interpretation of the word “AMAZING,” do it! Just. be. amazed!”

Eating, taking photographs (hello, Instagram!), and praying are already givens. They’re practically part of my everyday life, so I’d like to focus on the remaining three: traveling, loving, and writing.

Let’s start with TRAVELING.

During the first half of the year, the travel bug was at work in my life because that was the time I decided to TRAVEL just because I could! Hahaha! I don’t know what happened, but I just suddenly found myself traveling to Brunei in January, Bohol and Cebu in April, Vietnam and Cambodia in May, and Hong Kong (for the nth time!) in June.

I have a feeling that it’ll be a long time before I can do THIS again, so I’m grateful that I was given the chance to do so in 2012. :)

photo

Aside from my own travels, I also launched my 2012 blog project (yehesss, “launch” talaga!) wherein I featured “people like you and me — who just happen to have ‘wanderlust’ as their middle names” every month. To know what I’m talking about, CLICK HERE. Haha! So to my featured travelers this 2012 — Minnie, Danica, Pia, my sisters, Cara, Joanna, Carol, Anthony, Arlene, Gian, Rema, Madel, Bianca, George and Angelo — I want to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! for sharing your travel stories and making my blog project a success! It was as if we also went to the places you’ve been to through your words and pictures. I love and thank you all!!! :D

This 2013, I’ll still feature travelers but it won’t be a monthly thing anymore. However, I still hope that you’ll read and enjoy them as much as you did when I was still doing it every month. Heehee.

Let’s move on to WRITING.

This is the part where I talk about my “chosen career” (as opposed to the “default” one). @_@

2012 has been a roller coaster ride for me career-wise. In May, I decided to leave my first full-time job after working there for two years and nine months. Three months after that, I landed my next job wherein I was finally able to pursue my passion for writing. But I believe that God has a better plan for me, so that “next job” lasted for only three months. I’m still thankful, though, that I was given that “experience” because I did learn a thing or two from it. In fact, I’d like to share with you my favorite “assignment” during my short stint there: FOOD REVIEWS!!!

(excerpts from “Family-friendly Restaurants”
found inside BC Magazine Philippines’ November 2012 issue)

Mom & Tina's, Comida China de Manila, and Aria Cucina Italiana

Mom & Tina’s, Comida China de Manila, and Aria Cucina Italiana

my favorite work “assignment”: Jamba Juice

This 2013, I still hope to pursue this “chosen career” of mine, BUT I’m hoping that I’ll also have the luck to be given the chance to pursue my “default” one. Take a hint, my dream job! (Universe, are you listening again? Hehehe.)

And to end this post, let’s talk about LOVING.

I don’t know how to start this without being cheesy and mushy. Alam naaa!

Okay, this is a continuation of what I wrote on my year-ender post last 2011:

PAUL, huh? ♥

PAUL, huh? ♥

I wrote THAT in December 2011. And even though I didn’t really meet Zac Efron in person this year, I still got to have my very own Paul — who I met nine months after telling the world that I wanted to be amazed!

(pagbigyan na ang cheesiness at mushiness! Wahahahaha!)

I love you, hon!!! ♥

Mika and Paul :)

Mika and Paul :)

So yeah. Universe, excellent job! Consider me MORE THAN amazed!

I, thank you. ♥♥♥

This coming new year, I hope that I’ll continue to be GRATEFUL and AMAZED.

I wish the same things for ALL OF YOU.

Happy 2013, my dear friends!!!

xoxo,
Mikhaela Georgette


BLUE and REDssssss

The celebration happened a week ago, but the actual birthday happens this week! ;)  Having said that, I just want to say HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend/featured traveler/fellow blogger CAROL!!!

Happy Birthday, C! ♥

But aside from that, one of the things that made that day blog-worthy was how we all looked like with our blue-and-red ensemble! =))

See?  How can you not “document” a day like that?  Hahaha!

And oh!  If you’re wondering WHERE this took place, it was at Diamond Hotel’s Corniche restaurant:

“…Corniche offers an exceptional breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet spread and an extensive all-day a la carte menu.  The buffet selection is composed of Asian, Western, Japanese, salad, and dessert stations, all meticulously prepared by culinary experts.  Featuring signature cakes and pastries for dining and take-out orders is a cake shop at the Corniche entrance.”

dessert > Mika!

That’s pretty much it.  I just had to make this quick and simple. :)  So again…

Happy Birthday, Carol!
May you enjoy your day (even though I know you have exams in law school!)

We love you.
I love you.

I still wish we had videoke, though. Haha, PEACE!!!

xoxo, M.


Still COOKin’ in 2012!

“I’m sorry if it took us awhile to go back.”  He said during that night.  Or something like that.

Well, apology accepted!  After all, we’ve waited three years to see him again!  (By “we,” I’m referring to me, my Ate Fai, and the rest of his loyal followers since his Idol days!)

So who exactly am I talking about?  Why, David Cook, of course! :D

The guy sure owns several guitars, which he used during his concert! ;)

It’s true, it did take him awhile to come back to Manila because when he first played for his Filipino fans, I still haven’t found my first full-time job, my sister just got married, and he shared the stage with his runner-up, David Archuleta!  In fact, I documented that epic concert in my previous blog, which you can check out by clicking HERE.

Whether it’s 2009 or 2012…

…my sister and I are definitely COOKistas! Haha!

Indeed, a lot of things have happened since 2009.  And now that we’re in 2012, these happened: I just resigned from my first full-time job, my niece is about to turn three years old soon, and David Cook (DC) finally decided to have a concert of his own!  But one thing remains: my undying love for his angelic-yet-powerful rock voice!

And speaking of his “angelic-yet-powerful rock voice,” have you gotten yourself a copy of his latest album This Loud Morning?

Well if you still haven’t, I suggest you go get one as soon as you can and turn to tracks like “Right Here, With You, “Fade Into Me, and “4 Letter Word.  Why?  Wala lang, those are my favorite tracks kasi!  Eh nagbabakasakali lang na pareho tayo ng taste in music!  Wahahahaha!

But seriously, DC‘s voice never fails to put a smile on my face!  If only I could describe his voice by using an adjective that is used to describe looks, “gwapo” would be the appropriate one!  Oh wait!  I did describe his voice like that once, twice, or thrice.  Whenever I listen to his songs, bigla nalang ako mapapasabi ng ang gwapo talaga ng boses niya!”  Hahaha!

I guess you just really can’t deny “talent” when you “hear” one! ♥

Always a David Cook fan, Mika :)


Of Beautiful Weddings, Family Reunions, and Sunset Limitations

The last time (also my first time) I was in Bohol was just last April.  I was with two of my college friends, we got left by our original flight to Cebu, our flight from Manila to Tagbilaran was delayed for two hours, and to top it all off, our luggage went to Cebu instead of Bohol — so go figure.  In fact, I wrote a very looong blog entry about it.  Hahaha!

And then last Friday, I was supposed to go to Bohol again for my cousin Brian‘s wedding…  I booked a flight with another cousin, Charlene, with her husband Ryan.

Thanks again, Ate Cha and Kuya Ry!!! :D

So we arrived at the airport before lunch since our flight WAS SUPPOSED TO BE at 2PM.  But then again, it got delayed for two hours…  and then it eventually got cancelled.  CANCELLED!!!  To think that my first trip to Bohol was already jinxed!  How malas could I be? :(

The Sunset Limitation Experience

The reason why our flight got cancelled was because of LIMITED SUNSET.  Tagbilaran’s runway isn’t equipped with lights and whatnot needed for a plane to land — hence, it’s not fit for night arrivals!  Okay, understood.  But as to why our flight got delayed in the first place, that still remains a mystery!  Kaloka diba?!

Luckily, our airline that time was Philippine Airlines (PAL).  So to turn our kamalasan into something good, our cancelled flight was exchanged for a new flight the following day — with a free overnight stay and buffet dinner at Diamond Hotel to boot!  Malas ba?  Well, hindi pala!!!  Wahahahaha!

It was then that Ate Cha, Kuya Ry, and I met the bride’s friends: Minnie and her husband Dao, and of course my roomie that night, Ate She! :)

my shared hotel room with Ate She

And since most of us are part of the bridal entourage (Ate She was in fact the Matron of Honor!), just imagine if we all didn’t make it to Bohol in time!  Whew.

making the most of our buffet dinner at Diamond Hotel – courtesy of PAL! ;)

Magrereklamo pa ba kami?  Even the transfers to the hotel and back to the airport were shouldered by the airline.  So really, THANKS PAL!!! :D

Meet My Relatives

Of course, with weddings come family reunions!  ‘Nuff said. :D :D :D

at the beach reception ♥

The Sanvictores Family

(photobooth photos courtesy of Artline)

with my young cousin from Sacramento, California – Katrina :)

The Sanvictoreses

with the California Girl again! Heehee. ;)

Miss Bridesmaid and The Newlyweds

This wedding was actually my fourth time to be a bridesmaid.  The first time was waaay back in high school (I think!) and I don’t even have a picture of that!  But after that, I made sure to document every dress I wore — just in case I collect 27 Dresses and be my very own Katherine Heigl!  Chos!

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!” (Patay tayo diyan! HA HA HA)

Anyway, back to the real reason why I was in Bohol in the first place!  Of course, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEWLYWEDS!!!

Michelle and Brian ♥♥♥ (photo courtesy of Artline)

I wish I took more photos!  But I was so caught up with all the happenings, so I’ll just rely on my relatives’ pictures when they finally upload them!  Haha!  But overall, I say Bri and Mich‘s wedding was a blast!  And that whole sky lantern thing at the end?  Totally epic!  As Katrina put it, “It’s just like the movie Tangled!”

Again, Bri and Mich…  Congratulations!

(photo courtesy of Artline)

May you live happily ever after! ♥


Sojourning in Cambodia

Four months ago, my sisters found out that there’s already a direct flight from Manila to Siem Reap via Cebu Pacific.  Prior to that, we already booked a trip to Vietnam…  but since I didn’t know that I’ll already be free from my work come May, I passed up the opportunity to go with them to Siem Reap since I have had limited leaves!  Ahem!

But I did resign this month, and now I have TIIIME!  *tumbling here*  So days before my sisters’ flight to Siem Reap, I decided to go with them.  Bad news?  It cost me a couple of bucks since there were no promo fares anymore!  Boo!  But good news?  I was finally going to Siem Reap, baby!  As simple as that. :P

So I just got back from Siem Reap, Cambodia…  but where to start?

Okay, let’s start with Siem Reap’s airport. :)  For seasoned travelers, I bet you know the so-called “Banana Pancake Trail,” which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.  You can travel these three countries by bus, but since I’m not a big fan of looong bus rides, my best option is to ride planes — now that, I’m a big fan of!  Hahaha!  Anyway, Siem Reap’s airport was quite surprising (in a good way) considering that it’s a province.  It actually reminded me of a resort, and I can only wish that our local/provincial airports can be like it!

Next, let’s talk about our Cambodian “home” for several days: Sojourn Boutique Villas. :)  One of the things I noticed when I first stepped on Sojourn was its eco-friendly ambience, reminiscent of one of my favorite local resorts in the Philippines — El Nido Resorts.

Anyway, upon arrival, we were greeted by their friendly and warm staff.  Plus, welcome food and drinks were served!  Panalo!!!

with Sojourn’s friendly and warm staff

It’s actually owned by an Australian couple, and “with only ten private villa rooms, Sojourn offers journeys of an entirely different nature.”  I also loved their “Book Bundle” concept wherein you can exchange your books for theirs.  Unique AND useful, indeed! ;)

And one of the good things about Sojourn is that it’s like a one-stop place for everything you need for your trip — including tours (click here)!  So yes, we availed of their Angkor Trekker – Private One Day Guided Tour, and our “tour” day pretty much looked like THIS:

Sunrise at Angkor Wat…

We were actually quite “unlucky” because it’s already the rainy season…

(kung saan ako’y biglang nakakita ng mukhang Prince William!  HA HA HA)

Grabe ang ngiti ko oh! =))

Hello there, guy with the green shirt! Kaya lang may kasamang blondie eh… Hayayayay.

Well, sabi ko naman mukhang Prince William…  “mukhang” being the operative word!  Wahahahaha!

breakfast…

my favorite was the Asian rice topped with a sunny-side up egg = yumm-eh!!!

the temples…

Wat Athvea

Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom
(Bayon Temple)

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm was where Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) kicked some butt in the movie “Tomb Raider.” :D

The so-called “Lara Croft Tree”

After touring the temples, we went back to Sojourn to have aromatherapy massages at their in-house spa called Origins Spa.  By nighttime, we went back to the town center to eat a buffet dinner and watch a traditional apsara dance at Koulen II Restaurant.

Right after that, we went to a night market — where a bunch of sellers called me “lady” to get my attention and eventually buy their products!  Haha, feelingera! =))  But seriously, feel na feel ko ang pagiging “lady” dun!  Bukod sa puro may “royal” ang pangalan ng mga hotel,  ‘sang katutak na sapphires ang binebenta dun!  And as the Duchess of Cambridge‘s royal loyal follower, my eyes easily spotted lots of replicas of her engagement ring! @_@  Kung nalaman ko lang ng mas maaga na sa Cambodia lang pala makakabili nun, edi sana nakamura ako ng mga $20!  Harharhar.

Now you know where to buy a replica of THE royal ring!

Ooh, two more things to remember when in Siem Reap:

-the US Dollar ($) is widely used, so you don’t really have to think twice about foreign exchange; and
-the tuk-tuk is their sosyal version of our padyak!

riding a tuk-tuk!

Last but not the least, let’s go back to Origins Spa.  The day after our tour was our “relax day” because that was the time my sister decided to have another spa treatment!  The best news?  My sister “sponsored” my own spa treatment!  Heehee.  Kaya thanks talaga sa ate ko!  I love her to bits!!! ♥

Anyway, each treatment at Origins Spa includes a complimentary drink and footwash.  As for the main part, my sisters and I each had the Sojourn Signature Spa Package:

“The ultimate in pampering and the perfect way to complete your Sojourn experience.  We start with your choice of body scrub and wrap to cleanse and treat your skin.  While basking in your body wrap, enjoy a Kaffir Lime hair and scalp treatment.  After your body wrap, enjoy a refreshing drink and light spa treat in your garden oasis.
This is followed by a one-hour aromatherpy massage”

Define “bakasyon.” :D :D :D

(shortly followed by merienda at the poolside!)

feasting on Khmer cuisine!!!

Overall, I can say that this Cambodian vacation I just had is one of my best vacations ever!  Kasi hindi lang puro sightseeing, may kasama ding “relaxing” part (a.k.a. spa treatments).  SERIOUSLY.

So babalik pa ba ako sa Siem Reap?  Aba naman, SIEM… pre!  And I hope that you get to experience a Cambodian vacation like this, too!  Kaya ano na...  tara? ;)


Gotta Love A Travel-Themed Debut ♥

First of all, I’d like to greet the debutante, Rossell, a HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! :)

Ingenious theme; gorgeous debutante ♥♥♥

Anyway, the last debut I attended was more than three years ago…  and that was the debut of Rossell‘s Achie Minnie.  In fact, I also blogged about it on CandyMag.com!  You can check it out here. ;)  Time flies sooo fast that I can’t even fit into the dress I wore for Minnie‘s cotillion!  Wahahahaha!

2008 and 2012 (don’t even mention the 30 lbs. I gained! HA HA HA)

Going back to Rossell‘s debut, it was truly a night to remember!  And based on this post’s title, you can already tell what its theme was: TRAVEL! ♥♥♥

Actually, Rossell‘s Achie Minnie was my very first featured traveler when I started my 2012 blog project — click here! :D  So no surprise there at all because their family truly loves traveling.

From the invitation…

The Lady’s “passport” to Rossell’s travel-themed debut ♥

the stage…

Eiffel Tower, anyone?

down to the cake!

Talk about EDIBLE LUGGAGE!!!

Everything was truly lovelovelove.

Plus, I was able to catch up and DANCE (haha!) with friends I haven’t seen in a looong time!  Perfect night, indeed!

Special mention goes to my seatmates during that night: Stephanie, Bianca, and John!  Heehee. :P

And of course, thanks to my friend Carol for my dress that night!!!

Thanks, C! ♥♥♥

And that’s it!  Once again, I’d like to greet Rossell a HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!  Thanks for inviting me!  From The Lady to another lady, may all your wishes come true and I wish you all the best in your studies and future career — Doktora Rossell diba?  Hehe.  Stay gorgeous and sweet.  Love you!

Ate Mika xx