Spontaneous Tagaytay Getaway: The Charm of The Carmelence Lodge, A Toddler’s Sky Ranch Experience

It really was an unplanned trip.

Well, the trip to Manila was totally planned as I needed to report to the company headquarters for my orientation and training for my new role. But the weekend getaway to Tagaytay was spontaneous. It was our last weekend in Manila and since the past days were more of business (as it should), we wanted to go somewhere special for our toddler in tow.

Initially we considered the zoo or the ocean park but since we were all late sleepers and therefore woke up at noon, it was impractical to go to those places for only half the day. So, my sister suggested that we go to Tagaytay! I have to be honest, I was really hoping she’d suggest it but I didn’t want to bring it up because of the bad weather. It was so sweet of her to offer to drive us there even if she did not intend to stay overnight with us.

So before she changed her mind, I instantly went online to book. I ended up booking a quaint cottage-designed inn, The Carmelence Lodge. To save my sister from driving long hours back and forth, my husband volunteered to be behind the wheel instead. He was already enjoying the drive in a new environment anyway.

Because it was already late in the afternoon when we decided to take the trip, we arrived at our destination past dinner time. The lodge did not disappoint. Beneath the dark sky, it still stole my heart. I felt like whoever designed this place had me in mind.

We headed to grab dinner, which was easy since the lodge was located in the town proper.

My rule when in another city is to only eat at places that are not found at home. Hap Chan offered good comfort food amid the windy evening.

Despite the evening’s light rain, the morning that followed was lovely! Blue skies were hovering the now vivid purple structure. Breakfast was served at the patio. The food itself was nothing extraordinary, but the ambiance was perfect. It was extra lovely, thanks to the fact that Continue reading

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Vlog: Road Trip and Food Trip in Southern Cebu

Every year, the family goes on a road trip down south to pay a visit to our dearly departed. The cemetery we go to in Argao, being privately owned by the clan elders, has always been a serene place to spend the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day holidays. It’s refreshing to be away from the city and the crowd for a few hours, and surrounded by loved ones—living and dead at that.

This time was a bit different. I went with a mission to see how many food I could try along the way.

I was asked if I could do a vlog for a page which is  almost my namesake. It was something I’ve never done before so I was naturally hesitant. After a lot of encouragement from a few best friends, I took the plunge and was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Documenting a journey and editing it to come up with a story brings a certain kind excitement, much like writing but different.

So here it is, the foods you can try on a road trip down south for kalag-kalag. Enjoy and check out The Queen City of the South, Cebu City page for more Cebu features!  ♥

30 Things I Realized Learning Upon Turning 30

I’m used to being young.

I grew up being the youngest of five siblings and was always one of the babies during family gatherings. I started working right after graduation, making me one of the youngest members of any teams. Even today, I’m considered to be one of the few “millennials” at work.

I remember looking at female colleagues who were in their late twenties with so much admiration, thinking about how much they must have already known about life, how many times their hearts must have been broken, and how many times they emerged tougher. Heck, I even thought I’d be married by 25, because I thought I’d be mature enough when I reached a quarter of a century.

And then my very own mid-twenties arrived and I found myself still engaging in petty arguments, throwing tantrums when I’m hungry, and hiding chocolates behind my closet because I didn’t want to share them with my older brother.

Now, I’m turning the big three-oh in less than 12 hours and it’s hard to believe how the years easily went by. My lifestyle, my energy, priorities, and beliefs have changed a lot since I turned 18. It’s sad dwelling into the things that I should have done while I was younger, but it’s exciting to think about the bigger things that await me now that I am equipped with three decades worth of roller-coaster experience.

While I do not claim to be as wise as I should be at this point and while I still believe that youth is all in the mind, allow me to share my favorite life lessons learned in the past 29 years as I official make my mark into adulthood. From beauty regimen rues to being betrayed by a best friend, I include here things that I sorely—but not regrettably—learned the hard way.

  1. Sleep as much as you can while you still can. I told my husband that my only birthday wish this year is to be able to sleep the entire day.
  2. Do not ever start shaving your legs or arms or underarm or any body part. If you really must get rid of unwanted hair, go for waxing. It can be painful but worth it.
  3. Give your hair and your nails a breather. Go for the natural look whenever you can.
  4. Arrange your clothes by color, it will make dressing up in the morning a little faster.
  5. Do not buy what you do not need. You’re only wasting money, closet space, and adding to the earth’s rubbish.
  6. Never socialize by talking about your political views.
  7. “Joking” about asking for a gift or pasalubong is never funny.
  8. It’s never too late to develop a new skill. Two years later you’ll look back at the moment when you would have wanted to learn something and realize that the two years would have been enough to make you good at that something.
  9. The most crucial decision you may have to make as a teenager is  Continue reading

Wedding Inspiration: Greggy and Sunshine’s Boho Reggae Wedding

First of all, this is a total throwback.

By now, I must have made it clear how much I love weddings! And when friends ask me for tips on wedding planning, I always find myself having them watch a wedding video of a vibrant, do-it-yourself wedding that I know of.

It’s the wedding of my dear friend, Shine. I met her at work, where we were together in the same team, with another good friend who did my engagement shoot. It took me weeks before realizing that she was the Sunshine of a song I know from years back. The song, which was her namesake, was released by Bambu Spliff, where she played vocals alongside her husband, Gregory. If you’re a true blue Cebuano, you pretty much know this reggae band. Needless to say, music played an important role in Greggy and Shine’s love story.

Fast forward to 2012, the free-spirited sweethearts said their vows in a rustic, bohemian-reggae inspired wedding.

Upon learning of my engagement, Shine was quick to provide tips and share her own experience of the whole planning. She gave me the brilliant idea of having my own dress tailored at a lower price by buying my own fabric, as she did in her own wedding.

She was an avid DIY bride herself, doing her own make-up, making centerpieces through old wine bottles, and even creating her own floral arrangement! The bonbonnières were jars of jam with a whimsical tag, “Spread the Love. Thank you for JAMming with us!” See what they did there? One couldn’t really tell how much DIY or how budget-friendly the wedding was just by looking at it because it simply looked so fun and fascinating.

Official photos were taken by Erickson Herrera while the video was done by Tiano Evangelista, who’s bassist for Junior Kilat, also a prominent Cebu band. Both were good friends of the couple. It really was a celebration filled with loved ones, as Shine would recall.

And oh, the bride and groom sing an original composition in the video!

Now enjoy, get inspired as I did, and eat your heart out at how unforgettable the musical entertainment must have been on that magical night! ♥

10 Things I’ve Learned On My 10th Month of Marriage

Few weeks ago marked our 10th wedding monthsary. We did not celebrate it as DM and I are never the monthly kind of celebrators. The last wedding-related celebration we had was for our .5 anniversary months ago, when we had a lovely intimate dinner. Now we are hoping to finally have some alone time for our first anniversary come July.

Unlike a monthly tally, we both believe that years are worth celebrating. And as we celebrate a milestone in our young marriage, I look back at the times I exuberantly told my friends how well things are going whenever they ask about life after the wedding. At the same time, I realize how I tell the same people how exhausted I am with having to deal with another human being for the rest of eternity!

All smiles, but what’s life after the wedding? Photo by Airballoon Project.

It’s true what our wise elders say, marriage really is not a walk in the park. While there are a lot more experienced people whom you should listen to when it comes to golden words on how to strengthen a union, allow me to share my two cents on what marriage means for someone who’s new at it.

1. Marriage means learning to cook or at least attempting to. As young girls, we are taught that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and thus we are encouraged to be handy around the kitchen. But modern society has also empowered us not to be stereotyped. True and true. I agree with both but here’s my honest opinion: At the beginning of the relationship, your man must know you enough to realize if you do not cook and he must accept it. That’s the type of relationship I have with my husband. I know he understands. But at the same time, if this is the case, this also makes your effort of trying to cook for your better half even more appreciated. You see, boys (and girls) are raised by mothers who always cooked for them. So home-cooked meals will always be synonymous to comfort and love. DM is a food enthusiast who loves to cook but he always expresses gratitude whenever I try to prepare something for him, even the most basic fried meal!


2. Marriage means learning to be a good listener. Among other things you need to learn in marriage is being a good listener. I often find myself going on and on on just about anything, from my friend’s engagement to my work complaints while my husband patiently listens. But when it’s his turn to talk about how he’s feeling so stressed and exhausted lately, I shake him off by saying he’s only overthinking. I realized one day (only because he told me straight up) that this can turn into bottled up emotions which will eventually be toxic in your relationship. Let him talk. If he wants to talk about the Cavs and Warriors, then so be it. You’ll have your turn to talk about Riverdale later.

3. Marriage means giving your partner time for his/her hobbies. While we’re in the topic of NBA, always be reminded that boys will always be boys. My husband likes cars, video games, sports, the whole big boy package. I’m actually grateful that he has his interests and hobbies because I understand how men need some release just like how some women resort to pampering and shopping. Plus, I’d really rather have him stay at home playing PS4 all day than having  to wonder what time he’d be home after a beer night with friends. A happy wife is a happy life. But you know what can make a happy wife? A happy husband that wants to reciprocate his wife’s tolerance!


4. Marriage means never losing the intimacy. We’ve heard about this and it’s very true. There will be days that, with all the things that go through your mind while you’re busy #adulting, you will forget about your spouse. Don’t. Don’t forget to Continue reading

Cebu Food Trip: American Diner Feels at Luncheonette

It was one of those (many) moments when I’d crave for good bacon.

I begged my husband to take me anywhere just as long as I get to devour crisp, juicy strips of the sinful meat. Lucky for me, he never complains whenever I have this specific yet vague food requests. He actually enjoys the challenge.

We ended up at Luncheonette. We were on or way home from work so it was just accessible, being located at Robinsons Cybergate. We always had it in our list of places to try and my craving was a sound excuse to finally tick it off the list.

Luncheonette is part of the trusted Abaca Group, alongside Maya, Tavolata and others, so we knew right then that we were in good hands.

The first thing that I noticed was the Continue reading

Carcar Food Destination: A Taste of Heritage at 1878 Restaurant

Turning old, private homes into restos has been a welcoming treat for food enthusiasts in Cebu. We’ve seen a lot of this in the city and a quick trip to the outskirts will tell us that this trend is spreading like wildfire altogether—much to our delight of course!

We occasionally head to DM’s hometown, Carcar, on weekends. Some few weekends ago, we stopped by the new “must-visit” spot in town, the 1878 Restaurant. We’ve been seeing it in our news feed so we thought of checking it out since we were already there and it was just walking distance from his aunt’s home.

My lovely mom, charmed by the quaint facade.

It’s not at all a surprise to see old houses in this town. In fact, DM’s family lineage has a couple of century-old houses still standing to this day, one of which has been declared a national heritage. Structures like this has always been part of Carcar’s charm.

1878 is an ancestral home of the Sato family and as you guessed it, the house was built in 1878. You’re welcomed into the secret garden-ish door and right away you’ll notice the stoned walls, heavy wooden furniture, and hanging plants and bulbs everywhere.

Notice the upcycled tires.

Continue reading