Saturday, September 24, 2016

Baguio for a night with the Nadas and the Perezes

My mom sent me a text message on a Friday informing me that we'll go to Baguio early the next day.

That's how we roll, and we're a bunch of commuters!

The group was made up of myself, Mama, Papa, my husband and our son. My sister and her boyfriend were supposed to come, but she had last minute work.

I just have to say that I like taking care of the itinerary, but my mom insisted they don't want to make reservations with the bus and accommodation.

Wrong decision! But it was an all-expense paid trip, so I didn't bother them about it. I can try to fix things, anyhow, when it fails. And it did.

We were at the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao at 4am. They were fully-booked. I have foreseen this, actually. Being the official human Waze of the family, I brought them to the other side of EDSA where Genesis was located. They were willing to pay Joy Bus seats for the four of us (because the 5th will sit on my lap), but there were no available seats, too.

We were directed to Dagupan Bus Lines, Genesis' sister company, which was again, on the other side of EDSA where Victory Liner was. They have a first come, first serve basis. Luckily, when we got there, there were still seats available. We weren't seated together. So we had to keep passing Popy around. Thank goodness, the guy beside me exchanged seats with my husband.

I love NLEX. Growing up and driving on SLEX all my life, I just can't help but admire the northern counterpart. The lush green fields were enveloped with fog an hour or so before sunrise. The Perezes enjoyed the view and the calm away from the hustle and bustle of the metro.

It was a smooth journey except when we reached La Union. There was construction going on that caused heavy traffic. I think, I slept on the most part, anyhow.

It's Popy's first time to go to Baguio, and Gab's somewhat first time. He has a vague memory of going to Baguio with his maternal grandmother back when he was a child. As for me, I've been to Baguio twice. First, with my aunt during an outing with her colleagues; and second, during a college trip last 2008, but I have the memory of an elephant, so my memories were as vibrant as HD TV.

We arrived around 11AM. We had lunch at the food court of SM Baguio because we were too hungry to decide where to eat. My parents insisted on staying at the former pension inn they checked in at last year called Callalily.


And our hungry tummies :) Popy took the photo. Kidding. :) Gab's wearing him.
This, again, because they won't let me book anything, was fully-booked.

Fortunately, beside the pension inn, in the corner of Sandico and Tecson was Megatower. It was a typical condominium where units are rented out by a broker, and they had one for us!

Sorry, puro sofa yung photos. Lol. But I swear, the room was nice.

There's a thing about me and maps and how much I love reading them. I once reached Caliraya, Laguna for the first time just by looking at Google Maps. So here's a round-up by the human Waze on its proximity to the places we visited while we were there:

1. 500m away from SM Baguio.
2. 300m from Baguio Cathedral and Porta Vaga Mall
3. 450m to the bus terminal (excluding Victory because they have their own)
4. Less than a kilometer to Burnham Park
5. A little over 4km to Minesview

Tip #1: If you want a lower rate, speak to the broker. We met a security of Megatower who overheard our predicament and offered a room for PhP 3000. When we said that's too expensive, he directed us to the broker's office and we got the room for PhP 2500. Not to ruin the business or anything, but if you're feeling generous, you can take the recommendation of the staff, so they can get a commission, but if you want to save up a few bucks, then go direct. Details of the broker is below, in case you're planning a trip.

The unit was nice. It was a studio complete with a microwave, fridge, television, a bed, a large sofa set and a terrace. It had hot and cold shower which was great and which I believe is a staple in Baguio given the weather. It also has an extra mattress; and they gave us toiletries and extra pillows and blankets, to add.

A con, though, since this isn't an endorsement and I'd like to be honest, there was a point during the night when it smelled like sewage. So, Tip #2, get a unit on a higher floor.

The main reason for going to Baguio was to visit a long-time family friend who's fighting breast cancer. She was confined in Baguio General Hospital. My parents went there and just allowed my family to roam around Baguio since we can't bring our son to the hospital.

The three of us walked around the area and reached Baguio Cathedral. There was a wedding going on when we peeked in.

Beside the Cathedral was Porta Vaga Mall. This was a funny discovery. Pardon our ignorance. :) There was a sign outside that said mall entrance. From the way it looked outside, it looked like a fenced parking space to us with stalls on the sides. We went in a shop handled by nuns that sold fresh, organic produce. It was love at first sight. I'm telling you, if we had more shopping money, we would have bought so much more. And everything was so affordable! We came back the next day to get bunches of Italian Parsley, Pako (fern), cherry tomatoes, blueberries and more. The cherry tomatoes were the best. They were the size of a marble and they were so juicy they, literally, pop when you bite it or prick it with a fork.

My husband and I are homecooks. It's a happy household. Wink wink.
And we appreciate shops like this.

See that?! 30 Pesos! Only 30 for these lovely tomatoes!
The Italian Parsley we got was around 15 a bunch.
Then we found a La Paz Batchoy stall because we were hungry again. Without a high chair, my husband and I take turns in eating and carrying Popy. It was my turn to eat first. Popy and Gab approached a guard and asked if the area we were at was already "the mall" and he was told it was six floors down.

Before I go to that, let me just mention what a lovely thing the La Paz Batchoy was. It claims authenticity, but, you know, with the weather, a hot soup was very much welcomed, and they refill your soup, too.

Look at that beauty!
So going back to Gab and Popy's adventure in "the mall", they went back up after two floors because he kept using the stairs and got tired. We, later on, discovered the escalators on the other side. The mall is Porta Vaga, by the way.

The thing about being in Baguio for the first time is that you always think you're on street level. We were at Baguio Cathedral, see? And we thought we were on street level. So we went down the mall and expect to be 6 floors deep underground, and came out on street level again. The unit we rented out was at the upper basement or the lower ground floor (sorry, anesthesia effect hihi); but when we entered the room, we found a terrace and discovered that we were 2-storeys up. It was fun, like we were being tricked all the time.

While we were eating, Mama called and said they were leaving the hospital with Tita's (family friend) two sons and daughter-in-law. I grew up with the two boys back in Oman. We even stayed with them on a vacation in their house in Abra, and that was the first time again, in years, that I saw them.

Mama said they'll meet us at Good Taste. Yes, we were eating again. I said we'll walk, but they insisted that we grab a taxi. I like their taxis. They gave change no matter how small; and we all felt like we drove a long distance already and meter was still below PhP 100.

There were so much talk about Good Taste Restaurant. When we came, it was packed. My childhood friends were grown men and didn't speak a lot. The wife of the elder was bubbly and did all the entertaining.

Again, another honest opinion, it lacked the wow factor on the food that I had high expectations for. Maybe we should try other dishes next time, but the ones we had weren't as memorable as we thought it would be.

Our three friends went ahead of us after dinner. The family went to Burnham Park.

And I...

Looked for strawberry taho! Because this was were I bought it back in 2008.

That night, we booked our tickets already for the bus the next day. We got seats from Victory Liner after Mama and Papa lined up for an hour or so, while me and the boys looked for other options.

The next day, we heard mass at Baguio Cathedral.

Then we went to Minesview Park, so Popy can see Doglas. I have to mention the boys there were such rip offs. They said PhP 50 for 2 shots. THEY continued clicking till 4 shots and you don't know about it till they give your phone back, only to find out that the 2 weren't even good photos. It was either blurred or the guy who put sunnies on Doglas was covering everyone.

Popsie adores Popy so much. :)

Well, someone seems to like the view.
We got pasalubongs. My parents have the knack of buying souvenir shirts everywhere they go. They got Popy two shirts and one for each member of the family including my sister and her boyfriend. They're thoughtful that way.

We went back to our unit, had a quick lunch and checked out, and we were on our way back to Manila by lunch.

Ok, this is the part where I would like to commend the broker who got us our room. On our way to Manila, I felt cold in the bus and searched my bag for my pashmina. That was the orange one I was wearing in every photo.

It wasn't there.

So, I sent a message to Ms. Chan and asked if they have found it, and they did. I have arranged for courier services and told her I'd pay the shipping. The pashmina is special to me because 1) orange is my favorite color, and 2) Mama gave it to me.

The parcel came a few days after. I have informed Ms. Chan that my item arrived already, and she hasn't given me her bank details yet. She declined and told me that there was no need to.

Thank you for the honesty and the thought. I really appreciated it. :)

If you need rooms in Baguio, please do contact Ms. Anna Liza Chan on this number: 09178800017.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Our Little Popy's Jampacked 5-day Vacation: Day 4 at Graceland Estates and Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center

We started our day with a hearty breakfast at Ninong Jun and Ninang Mylene's house. We all got up early and drove to the other end of the city where their house was.

The couple are one of my parents' principal sponsors during their wedding and had been long-time friends. I still remember visiting them during Christmas in the province and they used give as a hundred each when we were kids. I mean, a hundred? It made me feel rich! :)

So, here we go again.

Since Nawawalang Paraiso was fully-booked because of a company team building, we are forced to check out again at 12nn.

Ninang Mylene remembered she knew someone who rents out condo units at Graceland Estates and Country Club. Luckily, we were able to get one!

Graceland sits on 11 hectares of land. It has an in-house restaurant, pool, basketball court, tennis court, bike trail, boat wharf, camping grounds, playground for kids, manmade lagoon, and several accommodations, to name a few.

The unit we got was a studio, but was nicely designed. It also had extra mattresses and pillows. My parents stayed on the queen-sized bed and we stayed on the queen-sized extra mattress because the bed was so high. We're afraid Popy might roll off when he wakes up at night.

The unit was homey. It had a very comfy sofa, a four-seater dining set, fridge and microwave. Best thing? It was overlooking the pool and lush greenery of the estate. Lakas namin maka #rich dito. Hahaha!

The pool behind me. :)
And there's a babywearing figurine!
Our small terrace with a big view.
Prutas, anyone? This was the dining area.
This was the view from our unit.
 Here are some more kulitan photos of the family:

They're sweet like that. Twenty seven years of marriage.
Popy enjoyed the bed

The Perezes

Popy with Mumsie and Popsie

Goofing around. Trying make Popy smile.

Popy and Popsie. They refuse to be called lolo and lola.
This was at Memphis Garden Restaurant. That's the lagoon behind them.
We had our dinner here where my parents happily fed Popy with a banana.

We went to Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center in Lucban that afternoon. This used to be the church that we go to on Sundays despite residing in Tayabas. It's where Father Joey Faller , the healing priest, conducts his healing. Before, there was just the chapel, the open space where handprints of the people who helped in putting up the place were engraved, and the grotto. Now, it has grown to such a big big area. They have a store that sells religious items, a small prayer hill where Mary stands in the middle (it's the Holy Rosary, basically) looking at Jesus on top of the grotto (which is the Stations of the Cross). There's now a Garden of Eden, too, and Noah's Ark, a retreat house and some stalls for pasalubong.

We didn't go up. I might pass out. Not as young as before. Lol.
But really, it's steep. Very steep.

He loved the Koi Pond! He was so excited when the fishes come near him
whenever his saliva dripped in the pond.

Noah's ark. There were so many statues of animals.
I don't know why we weren't able to get a photo.

Well, someone's happy with the jeepney ride.
Lucban jeepneys are humongous. We call them buwaya (crocodile) because they're big and long.
That wrapped up our Quezon trip. Day 5 was spent waiting for the van my dad rented out, so we can all have a comfy travel back to Manila.

I would just like to thank my parents for this trip. We all enjoyed so much.


If you haven't read Days 1, 2, and 3, click on the numbers. :)

To know more about Graceland Estates and Country Club, click here.

For Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center, click here

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our Little Popy's Jampacked 5-day Vacation: Day 3 at Nawawalang Paraiso, Tia Meling's House and Mainit Hot Spring

We checked out from the boarding house already, and luckily, got  a standard-type cottage good for 4 persons (because my sister and her boyfriend went back to Manila the day before) at Nawawalang Paraiso Resort and Hotel.

There's an inside joke among residents in Tayabas and nearby towns how there's a Natagpuang Paraiso since there's a Nawawala. But it's real. Natagpuang Paraiso is in the outskirts of Lucban.

Our cottage had two beds, en suite toilet and bath, mini bar, a small dining set for two and cable television. I wasn't able to get a lot of proper pictures (like, you know, when it was still untouched), but here are a few:

Photo courtesy of Nawawalang Paraiso FB Page

Pool on the right.

And dinosaur on the left. Yeah! Who would have thought?

We have a lot of stuff. Sorry, hihi.

Nawawalang Paraiso has a nice restaurant. We had breakfast there, twice; and dinner, once. I don't remember what we had anymore, but I never had an ill feeling towards the food I ordered. Definitely, there was pancit. I live for that. I can never go to Quezon and not have one.

We tried to look for laundry shops, but lo and behold! They were all fully booked, and by fully booked, I mean we could get them the next week. We should really consider putting up a laundry shop business there. Mukhang malaki ang market.

My dad borrowed my aunt's owner-type jeep, and we drove to Mainit Hot Springs. Mainit na, hot pa. :) Nawawalang Paraiso's pools are cold, so we thought of bringing Popy to warmer pools.

The boys are having fun.

And you can tell Popy's loving the pool, too.

Yes, I breastfeed everywhere. :)
There are a lot of pools in Mainit. Temperatures vary per pool. There was a small one that has a bridge over it and a warning that said it was really really hot. My husband (who was so bad at following directions) dipped his toes and yelped. At least, he found out it was true. People used to boil eggs there.

He tried the hottest pool where there was no warning of any sort. :) The trick to getting in was to jump right in the water, because if you use the stairs, you'll end up backing out. If you jump in, your whole body gets dipped and your temperature adjusts. Kapag paisa-isang hakbang, masakit sa balat yung paunti-unti na umiinit yung katawan mo. Anyhow, my husband got out immediately because he said it felt like the helmet diving experience we had in Boracay. It was a bit hard to breathe

Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

We passed by Tia Meling's house near our farmhouse on the way to the city proper. Tia Meling is my mom's maternal aunt. It was the first time I met her. Why? My grandmother had a brother who rarely showed up who was Tia's husband, so we never got to meet her. She lives beside my family's property in a quaint little house with a nice garden.

Here were the boys enjoying our short stop:

After our visit to Tia, we drove back to the city. The jeep failed us terribly and stopped along the road. Good thing we were already near.

It was off to the next adventure on Day 4. :)

Click here if you haven't read Day 1 and Day 2