Travel theme: Inviting

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I miss joining Where’s my backpack’s weekly travel theme posts and am so excited to join back in the fun! This week’s challenge is Inviting. It’s my turn to show what makes a place so inviting for me. And since I live in tropical Philippines, it’s natural for me to find the beach inviting, especially during summer time. These are some of the views that I always look forward to in the summer and the memories that keep me sane in the rainy days.

Buri Resort, Mindoro – this was my first escapade place last summer and the ambiance of the place just blew me away. The log houses overlooking the pool and the ocean is an awesome place to stay and remove all the stress from the busy city.

Refreshing pool at Buri Resort, Mindoro

Refreshing pool at Buri Resort, Mindoro

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Big Appetites Only: Surfin’ Ribs

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In the 3 years that I’ve been regularly visiting my team in Cebu, almost always we have a go-to, famous ribs place at the Ayala Terraces for our ribs craving. So whenever I will have family or friends visiting with me, that’s where I would bring them.Only today did I experience another ribs place that might just top the other one. On the outskirts of Ayala, at Escario St. is Surfin’ Ribs. A humble, little restaurant that offers a huge slab of ribs for only Php169. A whopping 169 pesos! (about $4)

Surfin' Ribs

Entrance of Surfin’ Ribs

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Travel Theme: Beaches

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The Philippines boasts of having a lot of beaches – from white sandy beaches to pink shorelines. That’s why I became so excited with this week’s travel theme. Here are some of the beaches I’ve been to in my homeland 🙂

 

Boracay Island, Aklan

This shot was taken last 2008, before Daddy Bunny and I got married. Boracay’s white sand is famous worldwide and they have these huge sand castles at night that add up to the island’s views.

Boracay 2008

Boracay 2008

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

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This week’s photo challenge is all about showing a photo that says FUTURE TENSE to me.

Sunset

I took this photo of the sunset at Cordova, Cebu the last time I went to visit my team there. We had dinner at Lantaw Floating Restaurant and this breathtaking sunset was the highlight of our day. To others, a sunset might mean that another day is ending, but personally I feel that it can also be a beginning…

A beginning of the coming night.

A perfect time to spend quiet and special moments with our loved ones.

And a promise that a new day is coming. A promise that tomorrow will bring new opportunities, new chances and a fresh start.

An Intimate Hideaway: Costa De Leticia Resort

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Our recent team outing brought us to the Southern part of Cebu. After a three-hour drive from the city, we arrived at Costa De Leticia Resort in Alegria, Cebu and discovered that we had the entire place to ourselves. It was paradise!

Little Paradise

The resort actually has a small land area but they were able to maximize the space. Their facilities include a common room that has 2 sets of couch where you can just relax and read a book (if you just want to stay indoors); an outdoor dining area; a function room at the basement; garden and swimming pool. Their garden has an ample space for lounging around and even some drinking session under the moon and stars. The main house is really like a rest house so you will feel very at home with the place. There were different types of rooms that can accommodate honeymooners, families or the entire barkada.

The House

The House

There are several things that I really liked about the place.

1. The entire place is clean. Their bed rooms and even the rest rooms are well kept. Even their pool has clear waters and you will really enjoy swimming.

The Pool

The Pool

2. I love the little details and decors that you can see everywhere. You will see that the owners put effort in making their place appealing to the guests. They have a piano in the main living area that anyone can play. Little trinkets and figurines are all over the house and even in the garden. It just exudes a very homey vibe that will make you more relaxed and at peace.

Cute cats on a door

Cute cats on a door

3. Our room was fit for a princess! Purple satin sheets, big beds, fluffy pillows. Kulang na lang four-poster bed. 🙂

Our Room

Our Room

4. For such a small place, there are a lot of service crew. So someone is handy whenever we need anything. Talk about great service.

5. We never had issues with communications during the reservation process and even in payments. They even accept credit card payment so this helped us a lot as well.

6. Oh, and they have free wi-fi. Score! 🙂

I don’t have any negative experience with the place and I only have 3 minor areas of improvement:

1. Their function room is located at the basement. And there is very little to no mobile network signal at all. Imagine if you are in a conference or retreat and you will get to spend the whole day in the function room. You cannot be reached in case there’s an emergency.

2. Their food is okay but not really great. Well, we still get full so that’s still fine.

3. Their karaoke system is set up in the function room. The function room closes at 10pm. So karaoke happiness was cut short. ’nuff said.

All in all, I had a really great time spending the weekend with my team in this little paradise. It is a good place to chill with your barkada or just for some quality time with your special someone. The place is a perfect hideaway. If I’ll have a chance, I would definitely go back to Costa De Leticia. 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

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I’ve been travelling to Cebu for work for more than 2 years now and I always look forward to my trips. Apart from being able to visit different beach resorts such as in Camotes and Sumilon, I find the work environment more laid back compared to Manila. Despite business and I.T. parks booming within the city, there’s still this rural feel. For this week’s photo challenge, they described Urban photography as something about documenting urban living space and how people adapt their environment to certain needs and vice versa.

I initially thought of featuring our home, it being at the heart of Quezon City’s entertainment district, but decided to feature the city that I is close to my heart.

As I said, I still feel that I’m in the province whenever I visit Cebu even if there are a lot of malls, restaurants and business districts that  closely resembles it to Metro Manila. It is one of the factors that still draws me every time. This shot was taken while we were on a “city tour” with my team mates. The rural feel to this is apparent to the old buildings and trucks and jeepneys on the road. There’s no fancy SUVs. No high rise buildings.

To Mandaue City

One of our offices is located at the Cebu Business Park and the buildings blend gracefully with the grass and trees. Walking from the hotel to the office is such as breeze when you have a view like this.

Pioneer House

Cebu is really urbanized that even our company is still growing its presence in the area. Definitely a mark of how people and cities adapt to changes and demand of the businesses.

Be Greater Than

Temple Yoga

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One of my colleagues in Cebu recently started attending yoga classes. When I was there last June I got the chance to attend one. But it wasn’t just an ordinary yoga class. It was a yoga and meditation class that will be held in a Buddhist temple, the very first time that the Surya Nanda Yoga studio organized.

Temple Yoga Invitation

Temple Yoga Invitation

It looks to be a promising experience so despite our tired bodies (coming from an outing the day before), we woke up early Sunday morning to attend the yoga class. There were a lot of participants, ranging from the young to the senior citizens and with different yoga experiences. Newbies like us and veteran yoga practitioners all joined together in a one-hour sweat-inducing, body-flexing yoga class.

Yoga attendees

While waiting for the class to start. Once it started, the temple was filled with participants.

After the yoga, we immersed in a 30-minute meditation with Mr. Erwin Go from the Chu Un temple. It was a very relaxing experience and something that we can all practice in our daily routines.

Inside the temple

You can pick one spot to look at when meditating, like the corner post in front of the temple

The registration fee of Php 200 included a vegetarian breakfast after the yoga and meditation session. We all feasted on tofu, mushrooms and fruits. It was a different breakfast spread from the usual tapsilog and tosilog but it was a great way to end the program. We went home with a clearer mind and a happy tummy.

Vegetarian breakfast

Vegetarian breakfast

I was able to talk with Ms. Jean Torrefranca, one of the owners of Surya Nanda studio and she mentioned that their group frequents the meditation sessions of Mr. Go every Thursday nights. Their yoga studio is less than a year old but their classes are always full, according to my colleague who goes there. Even doctors and lawyers who are regulars in the yoga classes mentioned that yoga helps them in their cases by clearing their minds and bodies. Surya Nanda’s yoga classes are also way cheaper than in Manila which makes me wish it was also that affordable here. If it is, I’ll be sure to go weekly.

All in all it was a great experience and something that I will try again soon when there’s an opportunity.

Chu Un Buddhist Temple

Chu Un Buddhist Temple

Take Me Back to Camotes

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One of the things that I was looking forward to this summer was our Cebu team’s summer getaway. The last time I was in Cebu, we went to Sumilon Bluewater Resort and had an extremely fun day. This time we decided on an overnight stay in Camotes Island. We were a large group this time consisting of about 24 team members and 10 guests including our kids. The group left Cebu Port 4 through a fastcraft that traveled 3 hours to Camotes Island. We were fetched by the resort crew and drove 45 minutes to Santiago Bay Garden and Resort where we will be staying for the weekend. Despite the long and tiring journey, our fatigue were immediately lifted by the picturesque view.

Camotes Island

Santiago Beach in Camotes Island
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo

The deep blue sea

View from the resort veranda

After a quick lunch, we went for an Island Tour and our first stop was the Mangodlong Rock Resort. Since this is a sister resort of Santiago, we didn’t have to pay for the entrance fee. The resort has a nice beachfront with fine white sand and tropical huts that serve as diving spots. The team had a great time diving from those huts and rocks and the little ones spent theirs creating sand castles and sand “mountains” in the shade.

Mangodlong Rock Resort

Enjoying the white sands at Mangodlong
Photo credit: Edmar Banquil

Sandcastles in the Sand

Little girls playing in the sand

Tropical hut

One of the many huts surrounding the resort. Good spot for diving.
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo

Perfect dive

Perfect form 🙂

Our next stop was the Lake Danao Park. It’s sort of a resting pit stop for us since there was no swimming activity done here. We had a snack of Salvoro, a native delicacy that tasted really great! The team just spent some time taking photos and recharging our energy for the next stop.

Salvaro snack

Salvaro for merienda

Lake Danao Park

Group pic at Lake Danao Park
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

Lake Danao Park

One of the peaceful spots at Lake Danao Park
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo

Our last spot of the tour is the Timobo Cave. There is a P15 entrance fee to the cave and you have to wait for the previous group to come out before you can go in, as the space is limited inside. Going down the cave can be tricky as you have to walk a rocky stairway lit  sparingly by seemingly 5W bulbs along the way. Yui got scared a few steps going down so we had to go back up and wait for the guys outside. 😦 The group though had a blast swimming in the clear, cold waters of the cave. 🙂

Timobo Cave

Taking a dip in the cool waters of Timobo cave
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

After the cave escapade, we had to go back to the resort and skipped the baywalk tour since it was getting late. Santiago Bay Resort is designed with nature, its rooms are situated along the side of the mountain and you have to walk down stairs to get to the dining area and the beach. Early that Sunday morning, it was low tide and the guys had a lot of fun playing in the beach. There’s also an infinity pool where the kids stayed and had a blast. Unlike other pools, half of it is only about 2ft deep so the little girls can “swim” from end to end and were not stuck on one corner only.

Santiago Bay and Garden Resort

Santiago Bay and Garden Resort from the beach
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

Mountainside rooms

Standard rooms

Infinity pool

Santiago Bay’s Infinity pool

Santiago Beach in the morning

Santiago Beach in the morning

Beach fun

Super enjoy at the beach
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

It was a lot of fun and the whole team had a great time bonding and exploring. Hopefully one day, I can go back to Camotes with the whole family and enjoy the other great things that the island has to offer. 🙂

Camotes

Camotes…I’m coming back for you ~~~
Photo credit: Chaddy

The Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort Experience

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Having my entire team in Cebu has its perks and one of those is being able to visit different beautiful resorts around Cebu. During my latest trip, we had our team building at the Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort. Sumilon is an island about 2 1/2 hrs drive south from Cebu City with a 15-min boat ride from the mainland. The island is the first marine protected area in the Philippines and was made a fish sanctuary in 1974 under the guidance of Siliman University Marine Reserve. Since Bluewater is the resort located in the island, one can enjoy the many beauties that the island has to offer when you check in with them.

One of the main features of the resort is the shifting sandbar. It changes its shape and location depending on the time and season.

white sand

The resort offers different activities without extra charges so you can go snorkeling just within meters from the shores. You can also go swimming in their infinity pool, kayaking and trekking. We trekked up the trail and reached the lighthouse and the ruins of the baluarte. It was a day full of games, laughs and adventures. Sumilon is a place that you can just visit to have a fun and relaxing day.

The infinity pool offers a view of the vast blue ocean. It is a good spot for a relaxing dip in the afternoon heat.

infinity pool

There is a lagoon that is a nice place for a kayak or to just imagine a crocodile snapping its jaw at you. :p

kayak

Going up the trail to the lighthouse, you will be pleasantly surprised to see the great view of the island with the lagoon and the ocean separated by the picnic grounds.

trail view

Enjoying an afternoon of peace having a siesta at the hammock. There are a lot of these cozy hammocks around the island.

hammock

 If adventure is not your cup of tea, you can still enjoy your stay reading a book with the sound of the ocean waves in the background. Although their selection is sort of outdated, there are a lot of different genres to choose from. So if you forgot to bring a book, you can grab one from their library.

library

Grabbing some cookies from their souvenir shop will surely make the people waiting for you at home enjoy some of Sumilon’s best as well 🙂

cookies

Being a beach lover myself, I definitely had fun at Sumilon. The Philippines’ beaches are really the best! 🙂

beach

Woody the Explorer

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Yui’s cousins gave her a Woody cowboy doll which she just L.O.V.E. It wasn’t really planned but during the past summer, we brought “him” along in all our trips and then sort of had his own photo shoots whenever we go. This long weekend, we’re going back to the Coffee Farmhouse and we’re bringing Woody again. This time, we’re going with the cousins that gave the doll and they’ll see how much that doll brought so much joy to their little cousin Yui 🙂

Woody at The Coffee Farmhouse, April 2011.

Woody at The Coffee Farmhouse Woody at The Coffee Farmhouse

Woody at Tagaytay, May 2011

Woody at Tagaytay

Woody at White Sands Resort Mactan, Cebu, May 2011

Woody at Cebu Woody at Cebu