Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sunny Days Call for Sunny Shoes

It's a freaking hot day, like 35 degrees hot, when I had this epiphany: Sunny days call for bright, fun shoes!

My job has been really demanding lately and I nearly forgot what social life means, so I supposed I deserve some shopping therapy. I gave in to the urge and trooped to SM Makati -  I love buying at SM! I can get everything I need in one go. I checked my wallet and found PhP 2,000 cash to spare, given my self-imposed credit card ban. And so, I made my goals specific. I want a pair of edgy flats, a pair of flirty sandals and a pair of trendy wedge shoes - each one must be perfect for summer. 

Two hours and 30 plus-pairs-of-shoes-tried-on later, here are my finds:

Welcome to the family!
FLIRTY SANDALS: Nude and Aqua thong sandals from Forever 21 (PhP 430.00)
 Perfect for shorts, flowy skirts and summer dresses. I've been wearing this almost everyday, while my Fitflops take a much needed break. This officially, is my summer 2012 sandals. =)

TRENDY WEDGE SHOES: Brown abaca wedge shoes from SM Parisian (PhP 899.00)
I was overwhelmed by the new designs of SM Parisian shoes! In all fairness, the brand has improved a lot over the years, and is no longer a "generic" choice for budget conscious shoppers. They now offer classic designs, trendy pieces and even edgy ones (think 6-inch wedge shoes!). The best thing about them is that they maintained their competitive price.

Speaking of Parisian, please don't forget to vote for my lovely friends Tara, Jheng and Alex at the Parisian Bloggers Challenge. Simply click HERE and follow the instructions. :) 

EDGY FLATS: Red patent flats with bow from Mario D'boro (PhP 699.00)
It was a tough competition between this red baby and another aqua flats with over sized buttons from Janylin shoes, but my bloody love for red shoes won me over. Perfect for days when I'm too lazy to wear heels but still need a pair of office shoes with a "kick".

Some cutesie bedroom slippers from my lovely Auntie Nitz. Thanks, Tita!

I spent a total of PhP 2,028 for the shoes, but guilty as charged, I also bought some accessories from Forever21 and so my bill raked to total of PhP 2,900. Not really bad for three pairs of shoes, a ring, and a nice bubuyog sunnie.

I'm totally summer ready and off to Kota Kinabalu this weekend to meet some friends and unwind a little under the blinding sun. J is getting his first tat, too, and we're really very excited for that. ;)

Have a happy and sunny hump day, my dear readers!

From the Nook, 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Treat for the Mind and Body: FLOW SurfYogaSamba Retreat

Oh my, the 5-day Lenten Holiday passed by like a ship in the night. I'm bound to say I envy folks who went out of town, but on another note, I really enjoyed my semi-staycation. I slept, read, caught up with my favorite shows, prayed and heard mass. I can actually be a simple girl! I only stayed one day in the province, and the rest were spent in peaceful and traffic-less Manila. How seldom can you drive from Las Pinas to Ortigas in less than 30 minutes, yeah?  Only in my dreams, in Daytona, or during Lenten season, when city folks troop to their homelands to spend time with their loved ones. You gotta love Filipino family ties. :)

But if the recent break from work wasn't enough to rejuvenate your mind and spirit, then the FLOW SurfYogaSamba weekend retreat might be exactly what you need. I got their email some weeks ago and actually considered going, after all, I want to practice more Yoga, and try my luck will power and look really funny while surfing, and the Samba, well I think I can wing it! I get possessed when there's good music! Lalu na sa beach! :)

Unfortunately, the retreat falls on my birthday weekend, and I have something planned already *gasps*, maybe next year. Here are more details about FLOW:

The 7th FLOW Surf Yoga Samba Weekend Retreat is a boutique 3-day experience that will spark your spirit and leave your body and mind relaxed and revitalized. Practicing yoga will develop focus, strength and flexibility. Surfing will develop confidence, stamina and ocean awareness. Dancing and music enhances a sense of well-being and builds social skills. The whole retreat is complemented with healthy food to help nourish this unique journey to self-discovery.

WHEN: April 28 to 30 
WHERE: Aliya Surf Camp in Baler, Aurora, Philippines
FEE: PhP 8,750

Package Inclusions:
1 Vinyasa and 1 Yin Yoga session by Monica Eleazar-Manzano
2 Surfing lessons
2 Samba lessons by Escola de Samba de Manila
Round-trip private transfers, Manila-Baler, Baler-Manila
3D/2N accommodations at Aliya Surf Camp, Baler
Healthy meals and raw food snacks
Flow tote bag and freebies from sponsors
Event Shirt

For more details, you may visit their websites: 

PS: Don't forget to vote for my loves Tara, Jheng and Alex at the Parisian Bloggers Challenge. They are too cute in their poses! :)

From the Nook, 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why I Love the City of Gentle People: Dumaguete Chronicles

Some time ago, I was tasked to do events and media engagements in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. I was convinced that this is just another rural town, with nothing much to do other than try their local delicacies and treat my lungs with whiffs of unpolluted air. Being a traveler at heart, I still did my research about the humble town and packed my bags, clueless that I was about to fall in love.

Dumaguete is a pretty small city, unexpectedly progressive, and highly charismatic. Everything you'll need is within arm's reach. Believe me, I never felt deprived of my usual, city girl needs - convenient stores, banks, bakeshops, cafes, restaurants etc. The center of the city cradles the famed Silliman University, the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral and stone Bell Tower and the Rizal Boulevard. Being a coastal area, they also have the "Hayahay" and "Lab-as" where you can get your beer and seafood fix - reminds me of Malate during its golden days. I won't lie and tell you that there's a lot of things to do in the city, in truth, I think that the charm of the place comes from the fact that you enjoy the goodness of rural, slow-paced life without giving up all the comfort of the big city. I spent five days alone in Dumaguete, and there's not a single moment when I prayed to fast forward time. There, I enjoyed taking my sweet time, silence, good coffee, good food, and literally motorbiking around; without a damn, and without a helmet. Oops, did I just say that?
So, if your stress level is up your neck, you may want to consider a get away that is out of the usual - and by usual I mean suspects like Puerto Galera, Boracay or Bohol. In Dumaguete, you can get lost in a motorbike, taste the freshest sea catch, live in ancestral homes-turned-inns, and talk to random people over a glass of wine in a deli, or a bottle of beer in "Hayahay" - depending on your mood. It's quite inexpensive, too.
And if you're curious to know, here are the top things I love about Dumaguete City:

  • Accommodation. They have a wide range of accommodations depending on your need and budget. I chose to stay in a mansion-turned-inn called the HoneyComb Tourist Inn. When I'm OOT, I always skip the modern hotels, which I can always get in Manila anyways. If you plan to stay here, ask for a room on the second floor, facing the sea. Double Deluxe Room costs Php 1,200/night  (USD 30/night). Service is great, and food is not bad either. They have their own restaurant and ordering room service is a breeze. Just make sure that you are okay with a bit of music from the club next door.  
Photo from the website
My room. Love the curtains!

  • The Rizal Boulevard. Much like Manila's Bay Walk, this is where locals and tourists usually go to take a walk along the coast, and do absolutely nothing. I go here after dinner and just watch people (and lots of pure bred dogs) come and go, and it calms my mind like magic. I also like waiting for the vendor selling traditional "dirty" ice cream in mango flavor. 
Romantic at night
More beautiful by day

  • Food. The Rizal Boulevard is lined by lots of restaurants, cafes and even a deli. From high-end places serving international cuisines to lesser expensive ones that serve usual Filipino short orders like Tapsilog (cured beef, egg and fried rice). They also have several cafes and dessert place for your sweet tooth. I especially liked Cafe Mamia's and Casa Blanca Deli. If you're in for a short drive, or tricycle ride, you can get fresh seafood in Hayahay or Lab-as.
If you don't mind spending a few hundreds, Casa Blanca is a good place to go.
Baked Potatoes with Blue Cheese sauce. WINNER!
Calamari is three sauce
Chicken in Green & Yellow Curry

Cafe Mamia offers really good coffee and tempting cakes at really affordable prices. Big cup of hot caramel machiatto coffee is less than Php 100.00! Their cakes and pastries on the other hand start at Php 60.00 and up. A must visit place. :) Photo VIA.

For pasalubong, they also have the best Silvanas I've tasted so far - which curiously is being sold at SANS RIVAL Cakes and Pastries (San Jose St., still fronting the boulevard). I was so addicted that I ordered more boxes to bring home, even though I have to pick them up at 7am before my 9am flight home! =D Price is Php 160.00/box of 10 or USD 3.80
Chili Crab from Hayahay

  • Silliman University. This renowned university is also the oldest American Academic Institution in the country. The University itself is a piece of history and at present, one of the top performing schools in the Philippines. It's a melting pot of cultures and religions and is gifted with a charming location dotted with hundreds of giant trees and in some part, includes the beach. I'm so amazed with Silliman, that I long for the day I get the chance to study in such an inspiring environment.
The Silliman Museum. No picture taking inside, but let me tell you that their collection is pretty wide and well-maintained. A must visit. Entrance fee is Php 40.00. (USD 1.00)
Feeling Colegiala once again! :) - Silliman Campus

  • Old Cathedral and Bell Tower. Religious or not, you will appreciate seeing one of the oldest stone churches in the country. The St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral is actually the oldest stone church in the whole of Negros, and has already undergone reconstruction, which is no surprise since it was originally built in 1754!
The Bell Tower also served as surveillance post during the colonial period. Devotees of Mother Mary can now offer prayers and flowers in the grotto built at the footstep of the tower.

  • Beach Resorts. Mere 20 minutes of driving leads you to many beach resorts in Dauin area. I managed to squeeze in visiting El Dorado beach resort, to unwind and feel the ocean breeze while sipping a mojito fruit shake. The facilities of the resort are actually very nice, and I learned that many foreigners often come here to dive. This is also the jump point going to Apo Island, a few minutes by boat from the beach of El Dorado. Too bad I didn't have enough time to visit the pretty, white sand diving spot. Next time!

Their sand is nowhere white, but I'm still a sucker for beach and staring at the sea is a guilty pleasure, so I don't discriminate.

  • Motorbikes for Rent! Though tricycles are available everywhere, I still think that the best way to go around the city is through a motorbike! It's a common mode of transportation for locals and tourists, and you can easily rent a motorbike of your choice for as low as Php 25.00/hour or USD .60/hour. I got a brand new (3-day old) automatic Honda scooter and boy it brought me to places! =D Talk about immersion and living the locals' way of life. For your peace of mind, yes, I have a license.
SALUTE to a fun fun day! =)

If I'm effective enough to at least stir your interest to visit Dumaguete City, then it's good for you to know that whenever Cebu Pacific has Piso Fare promos, Dumaguete is one of the slow moving destinations. More chance to get a really good deal! I promise, you won't regret it., and I don't mind sharing my "in love" feeling. No wonder why many acquaintances tell me that they usually do soul searching (and even finish writing MA thesis) in this gentle city.

Have you been to Dumaguete City? Did you like it? More Fun in the Philippines, yeah?  =)

From the Nook, 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Mother's Garden: How He Surprised the Neurochiq

Hello! Just got back from a business dynamic trip in Singapore where I met the most number of brilliant and competitive communicators per day for three days! Edelman people are all brilliant and interesting, and the trip opened a lot of doors and plethora of emotions for me, and totally deserves a solo post. 

I'm currently on holiday mode, all set to kill time, read books, meditate and sleep my heart out during the 5-day holiday in the Philippines which starts tomorrow afternoon. But before that, please allow me to indulge you in the romantic surprise that J prepared for me to celebrate our eight (8, I know!) years together. Sorry, pagbigyan na ang kiligera. :)

The magic started when he picked me up from a work-related event at the Manila Ocean Park on a rainy Thursday . I wasn't expecting anything since it's a work day and I'm honestly been tired and stressed the past weeks that I had no romantic sense in me. I tried to guess where we're going but nothing seemed familiar. Then, in a shady neighborhood in Pasay (near motels and tricycle stations!), he suddenly turned right into a massive gated property which reads 2650. From that moment, I knew he succeeded in doing something he's been trying so hard to do for the past couple of years: SURPRISE ME! 

Like Bubba's struggle with Jane, J also tells me I'm the hardest to surprise - I always "feel" what he's about to do, even what gift he's about to buy - typical boy *GRINS*! So you can just tell how delighted I was that night that my radar finally failed to work!I felt like the most beautiful, most loved girl in the world. As in haba ng blonde hair! =P

I give it to J for making me feel my best that night, a feeling I won't trade for anything else. When you're with the right person, everything may suck, but you'll still know you're exactly where God wants you to be. *sniffs*

The place is called My Mother's Garden, which is the former residence of National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio. It's now run by Ms. Malu Veloso, a bridal gown designer. J reserved the whole place for us with a personal butler (naks!), so I was able to go around and feel the warm, cozy feel of the old bungalow - which reminded me of my grandma's old lovely house where I grew up. There's a pond with Koi fishes, lots of flowering plants and interesting frames and art pieces all around the window-surrounded house. 

The food is pre-ordered and I must say, carefully prepared. Here's the rest of that magical night. :) 

Mixed greens with Mango dressing

Chorizo and black olives pasta


The best item that night - Mustard Chicken

Black sticky rice

A tired, pale, but happy happy girl!

Cheers from us! :)

My friends always tease me"Ikaw na ang Ms. Universe", because J has always been very protective of me, and served me in more ways I can imagine. I always think they're over analyzing and that all boyfriends are really like that. But this night, I finally accepted the fact that I'm wrong. I'm indeed a very special girl. :) 

Thank you for the wonderful 8 years, J! I'm excited to live the rest of my days being wrong, being right, being mad, being glad, being sexy, being childlike, being geeky, being foolish and being everything I want to be with you! :)

Do you mind to share your love story to me? :)

My Mother’s Garden
2650 Zamora St.
Pasay City
(632) 831 8407
Malu Antonio Veloso (+63917) 600 8886

From the Nook,