Baler, Philippines March2015

Last 2015, we went on a long road trip to Baler. The scenery of mountains, trees and all greens felt like a good shower for the soul… A meditation on its own.

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Our visit to The 600yr old balete tree,

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Ditumabo Mother Falls

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and Dicasalarin cove

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was nature’s way of unfolding its presence in our children’s eyes. Though it was a rough climb to the mountains, crossing rickety bridges, passing through strong flowing rivers, and stepping on slippery big stones, amidst the nonstop rainshowers, our kids and their cousins extremely enjoyed the trails.

We then painted our first tans for 2015 by braving the large waves of Sabang beach. We are so happy to see our kids and their cousins learning how to surf so fast. Young limbs are really limber.

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Thailand, May2015

Moby and I have been in Bangkok many times but this trip was our first to traverse the other parts of Thailand with Issa and Marco. It was a wonderful trip touring the whole day for 3 days and always looking forward to going back to our hotel where happy hour was waiting for us.

 

First, we went to Pattaya and had fun under the sun at the Cartoon Network Amazone waterpark.

 

The next day, we splashed the water streets of the Damnoensaduak floating market and got ourselves some hat-and-fan-in-one.

 

Right after, our kids got the biggest shock of their lives when I told them that we will ride the elephants and tickets are non-refundable.

 

They were so scared but extremely enjoyed the experience. Mommy knows best, of course!

The elephant show in Sampran Zoo was entertaining as well and it made us understand the significant role of those animals in Thai history and culture.

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It was just so hot that we weren’t able to witness the wrestling match between crocodile and man and the Thai cultural show at the Sampran riverside garden.

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Our third day was spent going around Bangkok. We were awed by the Wat Pho,

 

 

The Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha.

 

Marco had a blast earning some bucks in Kidzania by becoming a sushi chef,

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surgeon,

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dentist,

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firefighter,

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Honda car dealer/designer

 

and construction worker,

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while Issa , as always, got busy shopping.

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Later in the evening, we went cruising at the Chaophraya river and witnessed the City of Bangkok so alive with its night lights and sights.


Before, I loved Thailand, especially Bangkok, because it made me and my sisters what we are today… Now, I love it more than ever because of the odyssey it brought to my family.

Stepping Back in Time at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar: Bataan, Philippines (June2015)

“Travel is a caprice in childhood, a passion in youth, a necessity in manhood, and an elegy in old age – Los Viajes by Jose Rizal”.

A 3 hour drive from Manila, our journey to this heritage resort was the cherry on top of our summer 2015.

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We were received at Casa Mexico and had an easy check-in at the executive suite of Paseo De Escolta ( many thanks to Asia Travel for the upgrade).

 

The building is a replica of the strip of commercial structures typical of Escolta buildings in Manila. We had 3 floors all to ourselves.

 

During our stay, Moby and I had our nostalgic moments as we both exchange stories of our summer vacations in our grandparents’ house in Bulacan and Bataan, respectively.

We joined the heritage tour which features Casa Baliuag,

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Casa Cagayan,

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Casa Candaba,

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Casa Jaen,

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Casa Lubao,

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Casa Luna,

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Casa Bizantina,

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Casa Meycauayan,

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Casa Unisan,

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Casa Biñan (La Bella Teodora)

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and Casa Quiapo.

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This was followed by meryenda cena under the trees of Plaza Mayor de Tobias which was a fun and refreshing treat consisting of sago’t gulaman, bibingka galapong, puto bumbong and fishballs.

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Late in the afternoon, we watched the “Programa sa Plaza Atienza” showcasing folk dances like Maglalatik, Itik-Itik, Singkil, and Tinikling , among others.

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By this time, our tummies were dancing as well so we headed straight to Marivent Cafe for dinner. We had a yummy feast of Lechon Carajay, tortang talong and bistek tagalog. Verdict: 4/5 considering the taste, presentation, ambience and the price.

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Our second day was spent biking,

 

 

and playing sungka, pool, table tennis, and limborak.

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As usual, Mommy Leah got the most “pambubuska” by Daddy Moby, Issa and Marco.

It was indeed an epic experience.

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Friends, we highly recommend visiting the place… Our heritage… “Pride in the past…Hope for the future- Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar”.

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Fun Taiwan, Aug2015

On our first day, we went straight to south of Taipei… The Taipei Zoo

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and Maokong Village.

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We had Marco a.k.a “Kuya Kim”, as our navigator around the zoo. Our little boy was the one reading the map, telling us where to go and what to see.

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Noon time, we rode the Maokong gondola going to the Maokong Village.

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Upon arrival, we had our first “tastes” of taiwanese food:

rice noodles,

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tofu, oyster pancake

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giant fried chicken,

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tea ice cream,

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etc. etc. What a meal!

Not to worry about the calories because we burned everything by hiking through Maokong and exploring the tea houses.

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In the afternoon, while the kids slept, we went lights and lamps hunting at Ikea. Success!

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Later in the evening, we ate our way to Shilin night market.

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We had grilled beef steak cubes,

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grilled sausages,

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beef noodles,

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oyster misua,

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xiao long bao

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and candied strawberries.

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Party in our tummies!

On our second day, we went to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial hall which is surrounded by a park, and stands at the east end of Memorial Hall Square. The structure is framed on the north and south by the National theater and National Concert hall.

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Then off we went to the very famous Taipei 101, the 8th tallest building in the world.

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And we were speechless…

In the evening, we joined a free walking tour by “Tour Me Away”.

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We had a unique experience at the Longshan Temple,

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old buildings and alleys in the adjacent areas, and in the night market. We went back in time to 18th century Wanhua district where Taipei city was founded.

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Our last day was free and easy. Again, we went to Taipei 101, to the World Trade Center and had a stroll at Daan park where Marco had fun playing.

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We walked a lot because we were preparing for our dinner in… Din Tai Fung!!! Not to be missed when you’re in Taiwan! We had: pork xiao long bao,

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shrimp and pork dumplings,

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ground pork bun,

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noodles with minced pork,

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fried pork chops over fried rice

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and wrapped sticky rice with pork.

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What a feast!
Twas indeed Fun in Taiwan!

Guimaras, Philippines (2015)

Early morning today, we docked in Jordan wharf which is the point of entry to Guimaras.

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Morning was spent exploring the island. We visited the Smallest Plaza,

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Holy Family Hills,

Windmills,

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Trappist monastery

and Guisi 18th century light house.

Afternoon was swimming time in the island’s white beach.

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Before, heading back to Iloilo, we sampled the island’s famed and yummy mango pizza.

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Love the island life!

Iloilo, Philippines – The City of Smiles (2015)

The new Richmonde hotel Iloilo was our home for the next 4 days in our stay in Iloilo. Nice, hip and very clean.

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After checking in, we went to Plazuela de Iloilo and SM Mandurriao to do an ocular and plan our food adventure for the day.

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We chose Ted’s La paz batchoy for meryenda

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and Ponsion by Breakthrough and Maridel’s for dinner and dessert.

Our feast consists of aligue rice,

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baked oysters and scallops,

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sizzling kansi

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and bisaya chicken.

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For dessert, we had the frozen mango brazo.

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We then had a glimpse of Calle Real where we walked through the line of stores.

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Next, we went to Plaza Libertad

and San Jose de Placer church.

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Our second day was spent exploring the architectural treasures of Iloilo: the beautiful churches. We went to and pray in Tigbauan church(Latin American churriquesque),

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Guimbal church(spanish colonial style),

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the UNESCO world heritage site, Miag-ao church(baroque),

Jaro Cathedral (baroque and gothic)

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and
San joaquin cemetery chapel (baroque).

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On the way, we passed through UP Visayas.

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Our lunch was in Jarin farm.

Going back, we marveled at the beauty of Villa Arevalo.

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We also got nostalgic looking at the ancestral homes like the Molo white house, Nelly’s garden mansion and Old Jaro mansion.

Iloilo has indeed preserved our Spanish heritage through its architecture and form.

Ilocos Norte, Philippines – December 2015

Ilocos Norte: Currimao-Paoay-Batac-Laoag-Pagudpud

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To complete our Ilocos trip, we continued our travel up to the north. We stayed at Playa Tropical in Currimao, a Balinese themed resort.

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After we have settled, we visited Paoay church with its Baroque architecture,

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Marcos museum,

Paoay sand dunes

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and the grand Fort Ilocandia.

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Next day was spent exploring the Sinking bell tower,

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Cape Bojeador light house,

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Bangui windmills

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And finally, Saud beach in Pagudpud.

Twas a very long drive…. But truly worth it! We love Ilocos! #morefuninthephilippines

Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines – December 2015

A luxurious hotel welcomed us when we arrived in Vigan… Hotel Luna. It’s a museum hotel which features paintings and sculptures from the who’s who of Philippine arts : BenCab, Napoleon Abueva, Ronald Ventura, Arturo Luz, Malang, Vicente Manansala, Federico Alcuaz, Guillermo Tolentino, and of course Juan Luna.
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Just outside our hotel is our very own UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonder cities of the world, Calle Crisologo. It is one of the few Hispanic towns left in our country, well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine, Oriental and European designs.

Other places we visited by calesa are the ff: Bantay church and bell tower,

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St. Paul’s Cathedral,

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Plaza Salcedo,

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Plaza Burgos,

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Burgos and Crisologo museum,

and Baluarte.

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We also sampled so much native delicacies such as bibingka, bolero, miki, empanada, longganisa and bagnet.

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Another one ticked off our bucket list

Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines, Summer 2016

From NAIA Terminal 3 via Cebu Pacific, we arrived at the Puerto Princesa International Airport after about an hour from Metro Manila. We were picked up by our driver going to Astoria Palawan, our home for the next four (4) days.

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Beach view

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Grounds

Our lunch upon arrival:

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Sinigang

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Binagoongan

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Halo halo

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Bibingka

After a short rest, we swam, went kayaking, paddle boarding and biking.

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Beach

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Paddle board

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Kayak

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Biking

We started our second day exploring one of the seven wonders of the world, The Puerto Princesa Underground River. Located in the Saint Paul mountain range, it’s the longest subterranean river in the planet accessible to man. The cave has a medley of stalactites, stalagmites, several large chambers, and lots of bats. A spiritual experience… We are truly awed by God’s creation.

IMG_0077IMG_0078IMG_0079IMG_0080After, we paddled along the mangrove forest, which serves as filter and keeps chemicals and mud from reaching the sea. It’s a dwelling place for other marine species and it’s a perfect location where fish lays its eggs.

IMG_0085On our third (3rd) day, we had our city tour covering the Crocodile farm,

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Baker’s hill (bought delicious hopia monggo and other sweets),

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Mitra’s farm,

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Butterfly Eco-garden and Tribal Village(where we met the Palaw’ans introducing us to their culture),

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Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral

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and Plaza Cuartel.

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Later at night, we went to Iwahig firefly watching tour (with star gazing).

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On our fourth (4th) and last day, we just played and swam in the newly opened Palawan waterpark by Astoria.

IMG_0073IMG_0074IMG_0119Another summer fun adventure!

Tokyo (Japan) Spring Days 5 and 6, Mount Fuji and Disneyland- May 2016

On our 5th day in Tokyo, we went on a bus ride going to Gotemba Premium Outlet Store. We went here mainly to get a view of Mt. Fuji in all its splendor and it was beautiful!IMG_9865

We had a smooth bus ride from Shinjuku using the Odakyu bus.

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We just walked, window shopped and ate at the Outlet mall.

 

 

We slept with all smiles on our faces because our destination the next day was Tokyo Disneyland!

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Here are the attractions that we explored:
1.Monsters, Inc. Ride Go and Seek

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Together with little Boo, and lots of monsters, including Sulley and Mike, We played hide-and-go-seek through the Monsters, Inc. offices and the streets of Monstropolis. Here, we used our flashlights to “find” the funny, hidden monsters.

2. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

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Here, we were in the middle of superb action in Star Wars movie in 3D!

3. Haunted Mansion

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This  gothic mansion is haunted by 999 ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. We had a scary interaction with all of them as we explored its grounds and interiors.
4. Splash Mountain

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A boat ride which took us to the world of Disney’s classic film, Song of the South. At the end of our journey, there was a 45-degree drop down and a 16-meter high waterfall. What a surprisingly wet experience!

5. Big Thunder Mountain

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A train ride up the mountain where we careened at high speed through the old, abandoned gold mine. What a thrill!

6. Pirates of the Carribean

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As we rode on a boat, we lived through the adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow, where cannonballs flew and splashed into the sea. We truly enjoyed the rough voices of pirates shouting as we sail through the Carribean.

7. Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall

Of course, nothing beats  warm, hearty sweets and treats after our exciting ans thrilling experience in Disneyland. We ate here at the Royal banquet and felt like royalties as we feasted on steaks, veggies and delectable pastries. Thank you Tokyo Disneyland for a whimsical last day in Tokyo!