travel

A Weekend @ The Farm

My husband and I tried to look for a hotel/resort with a reasonably sized tub because he wanted to soak in bath salts due to his lumbar strain. Thus, when I found out that “The Farm at San Benito” in Lipa, Batangas, Philippines had this feature in its property, I messaged its management to let me know if they had running promotions. I was positively surprised by how responsive they were via instagram, committing to get in touch incase they had one. And get this, they did not forget. They eventually offered me a buy one, take one promo and I availed of it without batting an eyelid. Just kidding! I still contemplated about this of course but eventually, I decided to go for it since I am all for new experiences and it’s for my husband’s well-being (or mine really as an excuse for his).

The day finally arrived and we left Manila late in the afternoon. At approximately 7 pm, we arrived at “The Farm” and were welcomed by a very amiable receptionist who explained to us the house rules in this resort as well as the available activities. We were then brought by one of its attendants to the Palmera Glass Villa.

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The window shades were still covering the glass panels when we arrived but with options to pull it up in the morning. Such a nice place all to ourselves, we haven’t done much yet and already, we felt that we were in a luxe environment.

Since we were famished, we went to their restaurant called “Alive.” All their food offerings were vegan so I was a little worried for my husband, a meat lover. I’m glad though that he enjoyed the Tofu Steak that he ordered.

Along with our meal came some free coconut crackers with a spread that wasn’t cheese but tasted like cheese.

We also had this tangy cabernet savignon wine – Sierra Batico – from Chile. It had a bit of spice but I am not certain if it was from the pasta I’ve had or if it was the wine itself. In all, it was a nice and quiet evening with live acoustic entertainment.

The morning after, I pulled up the shades and was welcomed by a beautiful garden.

We were even lucky to have a peacock visitor right outside our room.

It was so quiet that I actually heard water trickling and a distinct buzzing sound, probably crickets.

We then went back to “Alive” for breakfast and after this, my husband opted to rest while I went to the gym to use its treadmill. After 20 minutes of walking, I attended a “Hatha Yoga” class in the ampitheater. I was literally the only student there so I had the instructor all to myself. Here is what the place looks like.

I felt quite refreshed after this. It was my first official yoga session and the instructor informed me of the training center in Sikatuna Village where this traditional type of yoga is taught. He also informed me that Hatha yoga focuses more on breathing and general body wellness. I am very much interested in giving this a serious try, time permitting.

For lunch, we went to the city and ate at “Gastro Publiko” on my friend’s recommendation. The place was very busy and it had a pub feel with a lot of liquor on display. Surprisingly, the food was pretty cheap and delectable. For a little over Php 500 pesos, our palettes were satisfied. Talk about not breaking the bank while having the time of your life. This plus we had the best laing ever.

Afterwards, we decided to go malling at (where else but) SM Lipa. By the time we were done with window shopping, we headed back to “The Farm” and called it a night.

On our second (and last) day, we decided to join the morning’s “Power Walk” activity before taking our breakfast. While we could not follow the pace of our guide and one of the guests with us, we enjoyed communing with nature.

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The property is so huge and exclusive that one can only imagine the hows of maintaining such a massive establishment. And get this, the company grows its own vegetables. They even have a compost pit for leaves. Bravo!

Since “The Farm” is mainly a wellness spa, most of the people who come here avail of its various treatments. Needless to say, this place is tailor fit for a distinct group of clientele who are hoping to receive state-of-the art medical care in a private enclave.

As for me, I pretty much just basked in this moment of peace and quiet. I also tried to enjoy the healthy food offerings and marveled at its unique flavors. I appreciated that which surrounded me – the pools, lush greenery, man-made lakes, and cottages.

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On top of it all is the strong customer service of the staff of “The Farm.” I have been to different places for an array of reasons but nothing beats a team of welcoming professionals whose main goal is to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Super polite and greeting you with a warm smile, this is what every establishment should espouse.

We look forward to coming back with our kids in tow. We might even take a side trip and swing by “Candlelight Cafe” as my friend was saying such nice things about this coffee place.

We drove home via San Pablo, Laguna and got to see Laguna de Bay and theses awesome windmills along the road.

We arrived home a little before 6 pm but felt quite satisfied with our enjoyable Lipa, Batangas trip.

Takeaways:

What was impressed upon me was how “The Farm” at San Benito advocates sustainable living. It’s amazing that the food in “Alive” mostly come from its own vegetable garden and fruits from its surrounding orchard.

And while I am personally not into tilling soil and planting trees, I suppose it is worth a try this 2019. Making healthier food options should likewise be in my “to do” list in the coming year. Repurposing things and consuming less is a third plan of action.

Here’s a few quotes worth sharing on sustainable living:

No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” – David Attenborough

We can sit back, do nothing and watch our planet be destroyed. Or we can take action, become advocates and start making lifestyle choices which are kinder to people and the planet.” – Kira Simpson

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan

How to Reach “The Farm:”

PHONE

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travel

Airline Travel Woes

Today marks the third day of my being stuck in the airport. But alas, I was finally able to go home together with my husband in one piece.

Day 1 – August 17, 2018

We were more than ready to go home at half past 6 in the evening after our week-long stay in Cebu for work. However, due to an accident that took place in Manila causing an aircraft to block the runway, our flight got cancelled. This was the first time I saw the airline ground staff of Cebu Pacific in utmost panic. They were unable to appease the passengers who were going ballistic over the incident nor was there an organized system followed. Since the matter was not their fault (force majeure) according to them, they were unable to provide customers overnight accomodations to a hotel. While there was an attempt to offer meals, majority of the supposed passengers were mostly tired and confused since no direct answer was offered to them. In the end, we had to cancel our flight online as the quere in the ticketing office was rather long. We likewise purchased new tickets via another carrier – Philippine Airlines – to Clark, Pampanga. In addition, we made a last minute booking in Crown Regency Hotel since we had no place to stay. While the accomodations itself was rather shabby, we were too tired to critique it and simply went to sleep that evening.

Day 2 – August 18, 2018

Our flight to Clark via PAL was scheduled at 1:10 PM. Entering the airport a second time was surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was still in Cebu. We were informed that our flight was going to be delayed. After what seemed like forever, we were told that the flight was cancelled yet again. Already, I was thinking as to why I was having such luck. Did I wrong someone? Did I do something terrible? Or worse, am I cursed? We are talking about PAL here, one of the most reputable airlines in Asia. Still, things were pretty disorganized. The attendants, mostly contractuals under an independent service provider, did not know how to go about entertaining passengers in the most efficient way possible. While priority was given to those with connecting flights, the rest of us were kept waiting for hours. Since the problem they had was a mechanical failure, the airline covered our hotel accomodations, meals, and transportation. The actual arrangement of hotel stay and ticket rebooking was rather askew and there were only 2 persons behind the counter arranging the tickets and bookings.

Yes, while I am thankful that we had a place to stay, it was quite late by the time we arrived at the hotel due to the very slow pace of the staff in handling arrangements. I slept at around midnight already and woke up as early as 4 am the next day to prepare for our 9 am flight.

Day 3 – August 19, 2018

We took breakfast in the hotel at around 6 am. Shortly after, my husband received an advisory from google mentioning that our flight got delayed once again to 1 pm. It is good that we were still at the hotel. We had the chance to freshen up and rest a bit before heading off to the airport.

On my third day at the Mactan Airport, I was pretty accustomed to the scene. Free meal vouchers were given as soon as we arrived due to the flight delay. I was actually no longer surprised. We finally boarded the plane by 1:42 pm but stayed there for a bit because of air traffic in Manila.

Some had to transfer planes because they had connecting flights to other countries. I am just glad I downloaded some episodes of ‘Boys over Flowers’ and kept myself busy laughing and crying while watching such. Finally, we were airborne a few minutes after 4 pm. While people around me were complaining about their domestic flight that felt like an international flight due to the prolonged wait time, I was just happy to have finally landed in Manila. That concludes my three day stay at the Mactan Airport.

For sure, this dilemma that roots to the skidding of Xiamen Airlines/tarmac concern/runway closure in Manila will lead our government to realizing the change that needs implementing with regard to air travel. I will not add anymore comments on the matter as there are already plenty in local and international news. But I strongly recommend that if we have so many safety drills such as earthquake and fire drills, airline ground staff should likewise be provided ample training in systematically attending to passengers in the event of flight cancellations.

Here were the things I did to keep my sanity during these flight delays:

1. I befriended the other passengers. Of course, I did not get to know their names personally but people who are in the same predicament could definitely relate to one another. We gave each other knowing looks and smiles. We got frustrated and joked around together. Still, the general attitude of Filipinos still permeates. Mababait talaga ang mga Pinoy (Filipinos are really nice.) They are incapable of staying mad for so long.

2. I weighed myself and checked out the other empty counters. Well, nobody was stopping me. Do take note that the weight indicated there is somebody else’s weight and not mine. Haha! Defensive!

3. I tried to extend assistance to the ground staff by asking all the passengers to endorse the tickets to them so that the staff can organize this and call for the passengers in an orderly manner.

4. I urged the one who appeared to be in charge to call for additional reinforcement as the ground staff they had was not enough.

In short, I stepped it up to the point that one of the passengers told me that I should work for PAL. I didn’t know if I should be happy or embarrassed for having done what I did. In the end, I was still among the last passengers attended to because my sequence number was further down. Still, it was an experience….something I don’t wish to happen again, EVER. Lol!

My Takeaways:

To be annoyed is human, to move on divine

For things to work smoothly, especially in the course of emergency situations, it requires people to think quickly and to use their common sense. It’s not enough to stay calm without taking commensurate efficient action.

A system must be in place always! Nothing beats a clear-cut system that is known to all employees.

We are all in varying situations. It’s best not to compare one’s situation with that of another. It’s human nature to feel hassled about certain occurrences. That’s just that.

travel

What’s Paris without the Eiffel Tower

How we ended up traveling to Europe in December of 2016 remains an enigma to me.

In 2015, my youngest child began with his obsession of drawing the Eiffel Tower just for kicks. He drew this on cartolina, bond paper, board paper, etc. (the list goes on and on). He placed his drawings everywhere in the house, would talk about it on end, and would express his intention to visit the actual Eiffel Tower. He copied a variation of images off from youtube tutorial videos. He even compelled us to buy him some miniature tower replicas in the mall.

Lo and behold, my parents decided to bring us all to Paris, France with side trips to Kaiserslautern, Germany (where my aunt lives) and Brussels, Belgium in December of 2016. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.

Naturally, when we were in Paris, he had the time of his life. At first, we never really intended to visit the actual tower. The rest of us were pretty much satisfied to just take photos fronting this monument. However, he is a very insistent boy and through his theatrics of crying, whining, and more crying, we went there despite the extremely cold temperature. It’s a good thing that he encouraged (more like forced) us because more than fulfilling our child’s dream, this surreal experience was beyond breathtaking and worth the trip and long queue.

Here stands our man of the hour, the happiest boy on the planet, for having gotten his way 🙂 See that cheeky and proud smile of his?


Constructed in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and human genius for the world to see.

Above you will see the Eiffel Tower from afar and then here’s another closer daytime and nighttime view of the tower.

While you have options to get your ticket via viator or klook as well as direct with http://www.toureiffel.paris, we went the traditional route and lined up alongside most tourists at the entrance of the Eiffel Tower at the Esplanade (although it would probably be just better to get your tickets online to save you the trouble of being in queue for a long period of time as we were in line for a little over 30 minutes). After the long wait, we were led to an elevator that brought us up to the tower. There was another line here because they can only fit a certain number of people per elevator ride.

On the first floor is a transparent flooring. It’s 57 meters from the ground. Surrounding the tower are elements about the different aspects of the tower such as screens, touch screens, displays, digital albums, and reproductions though we were not able to personally see these as we were lead to another floor. Between the months of December and February, an ice skating rink is put up here for the enjoyment of people. Using the facility is free of charge to those with Eiffel tower tickets.

On the second floor, you will get to see views of key French sceneries and landmarks. There are also restaurants and shops on this floor. This is where we ended up going. The gorgeous view that surrounded us was definitely something.

The top floor is 276 meters up with only the antennae above it. A replica of the tower from 1889, panoramic maps, and Gustave Eiffel’s office with wax models of him and his daughter Claire welcoming Thomas Edison may be seen here. There is also a champagne bar offering either rose or white champagne.

Above are more views of Paris although I can’t really tell where the Louvre or Notre Dame is here.

What’s Paris without the Eiffel Tower right? I am glad my son paved the way for having us visit this place up close.  I am grateful too for my very generous and loving parents who helped make this trip possible.

Quick Tips:

  1. Get your Schengen Visa via VSF-Global (for Filipinos living in Manila). Here is the complete address: VSF Global Services Philippines Private, Inc. Mezzanine Floor Unit M01 Ecoplaza Building 2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231.  Special assistance (for an extra amount) is extended to those who need to fast track their visa application. Do take note that VSF Global also caters to other visa applications for other countries.
  2. Consider flying Emirates because it is one of the cheapest couriers to Europe. Our stopover over was in Dubai.
  3. In Paris, since food prices are usually a bit expensive, why not get your food from the grocery where it’s a tad bit cheaper. Monop is one of the grocery options in the area.
  4. Be careful in selecting water because most of their offerings are of the sparkling variety.
  5. For souvenirs and other knick knacks, pay Monoprix a visit.
travel

Tips for Aspiring Professional Dancers

If you have ever considered being a professional dancer, working for the Walt Disney Company has probably crossed your mind…and how could it not? Disney now has seven resorts worldwide, and four ships in the fleet, so they are ALWAYS in search of people willing and ready to bring the magic to life! I made […]

via AUDITIONING AS A DANCER FOR DISNEY — Like No One Is Watching

Do check out the posts of “Like No One Is Watching.” More than being able to write very well, she is able to share her vast experiences in the field of dance. It’s definitely very inspiring especially for aspiring dancers.

travel

When in Iloilo, Choose Diversion 21 Hotel

Diversion 21 Hotel is part of a chain of hotels – Smallville 21, Century 21, Highway 21 – in Iloilo with the number 21 (surprise!) as its insignia. While I have been to Highway 21 and Century 21 already, I have found my home in the Superior Matrimonial Room of Diversion 21 Hotel whenever I am in this part of town.

The price of this room type is a little over Php 2 000 (under 50 USD) per night and is inclusive of breakfast. Do take note that their actual fees are lower than their published rate online.

What’s nice about this hotel is its well -thought architecture and interior design from the all-white motif going on with a pop of colour here and there to the comfortable beds and general zen-like atmosphere. The food, while a tad bit expensive, is rather good too with portions usually more than enough for sharing.

Outside of this hotel are several restaurants, a bakery, a mini mart, and a karaoke bar. A stone’s throw away from the hotel is a mall (SM Iloilo) and more shops for dining, consumer goods, and wellness.

Diversion 21 also caters to various function from small meetings and seminars to grand parties and special events with per head prices starting at Php 500 (or 10 USD) inclusive of buffet lunch and snacks. Thus, people really flock to this hotel because it has the capacity to hold various events. To know more about this, email Ms Shiela at diversion21cafeiloilo@gmail.com.

If there’s anything to improve in the hotel, it would be the heating provisions in the shower and the availability and speed of its wireless internet. Other than that, its all good.

Just remember to book with the hotel early as the place is usually fully booked.

Some Quick Tips:

1. Iloilo is part of Panay Island. If you’re on vacation, why not tour the entire Panay – from Antique (San Jose and Tibiao), Aklan (Boracay and Kalibo), Capiz (Roxas City), and back to Iloilo (Molo and Jaro). You may stay for a day or two in each location.

2. While you’re at it, why not cross over to Negros Occidental (Bacolod City) for more sight seeing. Consider traveling to Negros via Fast Cat or Super Cat (about an hour from point to point).

3. Be sure to visit Breakthrough Restaurant in Molo, Iloilo. Their baked scallops and ‘aligue’ rice are big hits among other mouthwatering dishes. The place is also overlooking the sea so it’s very relaxing.

4. For Catholic devotees, do find time to drop by the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria) located in Jaro, Iloilo.

Uncategorized

The Magic of Disney Continues

I have been to Disneyland a couple of times with the usual staples not to be missed – shows/musical productions, family friendly rides (such as It’s a Small World), attractions for the more adventurous (such as the Space Mountain), and parades.

This time around however, since we stayed at the nearby Disney Explorers Lodge, a new facility here at the Hong Kong Disneyland compound, we were able to receive fast passes, enabling us easy access to rides and attractions. The hotel rooms are really spacious and good for large families. The room we got had two queen beds and could accommodate 4 persons. Moreover, the hotel lobby is really grand reflecting a jungle-like/tropical theme.

This particular Christmas experience for me was quite memorable because I rarely get to visit Disneyland in the evening, and during this specific time, we were able to watch the evening parade and it was just MAGICAL. I was giddy with excitement and waving at the performers with glee, as if It was my very first time to witness such a spectacle.

Iconic Disney characters were donned in LED Lights and this had a huge impact on the overall effect of the evening parade.

After the festivities, while walking down the town that leads to the castle, we were welcomed with snow along the long stretch of pavement. While these were actually just soap suds (I think), it was simply enchanting, like being transported to another world where anything and everything can happen.

I cannot even begin to explain the joy I felt. Coupled with the 9 PM fireworks display, it was definitely a memorable and mesmerizing evening. Truly, the Magic of Disney Continues and will never ever wear off.

And as Walt Disney said himself, It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

And he (kind of) just did.

Some Quick Tips:

Tip 1:  Selfie sticks are not allowed in Disneyland so be mindful of this.

Tip 2: Water and food is not permitted in the premises either. It would be best to just bring an empty water bottle and just fill it up with the water coming from the water fountains within the premises.

Tip 3: The food in the hotel is a little pricey. Consider buying your food at “Taste” located at the Citigate Outlet Mall. Using the MTR, get off the Tung Chung Station and go towards Exit C. It’s located one floor down from the ground floor.

Tip 4: You can book your Disney Tickets via klook.com but if you are with small kids and senior citizens, it would be best to just book your tickets direct with Disneyland as they have extra discounts for children and the senior ticket price is only 100 HKD.