Island Romance: Braving the Storm for Gersam and Bianca’s Magical Malapascua Wedding

“It really was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever witnessed,” I thought to myself as I watched the peaceful water under the not-so starry evening sky while holding the first cocktail drink I’ve had in over two years. That moment felt so good.

A complete opposite of everything that happened just hours ago.

Credits to Air Balloon Project for all photos used in this post.

Almost 24 hours earlier: I remember still being up at 1:00AM. I had just put my adorable late sleeper of a baby to bed and my husband was out with his friends. He’s mostly a taong bahay so I really didn’t mind him coming home late. Although if I had to be completely honest, it was really because I was getting ready for an off-island overnight trip and that would mean he’d be with our little monster all alone for the first time ever, straight for 48 hours. Complexity level? Let’s just say our baby couldn’t sleep at night without me. In other words, poor daddy needed an advanced breather.

I was packing while putting on hair rollers. In two hours I would have to leave to catch the bus for Maya port,  where a pump boat will take me to the picturesque Malapascua. There, I’ll be witnessing the wedding my dear friend, Bianca and her college sweetheart, Gersam.

My plus one for the event was my ever spontaneous BFF Lovely. She willingly agreed to come with me since my husband needed to be with our son. Ironically, the last trip we had together was six years ago when she took me to her hometown Bohol, an equally captivating island, where we went on a tour amid a storm. This time, we were also braving an incredibly bad weather en route to the beach wedding.

Vague bus ride, broken boaties, delayed trips, irate passengers, and a lot of stomach-churning sea waves later, we arrived at Malapascua safe and sound. It was right before lunch time and only a few hours before the ceremony. My other friends were already waiting for us, they too had their share of “adventure” the night before when the wind was much more dreadful, which may or may not include hopping on a giant styrofoam to get on a boat. It was my second time to go to Malapascua, the first was really sunny so it was not as buwis-buhay” as we jokingly label.

It turned out to be a day of “I hope it stays sunny” to “I hope the rain would stop” to “Thank God it stopped!”

Bianca and Gersam however remained unfazed by the changing of weather. At least from our point of view, the two looked so divine and oh so in love!

In true island fashion, the newlywedsand the bridal party left the church and arrived at the reception venue via adorned pump boats.

Bianca was the type of bride who knew what she wanted, who had envisioned what her big day would look like, but was very open to suggestions here and there. The result was a stunning set-up at a cove with tall coconut trees hovering over charming Instagrammable pieces. It was a good balance of rustic and boho, while still highlighting the classy bride that Bianca was.

Tip: Separate tier cakes are easier to transport for destination weddings.

Despite the stormy sky the night before, enough stars shown bright for the evening’s celebration. It was a huge and fun gathering of family, relatives, and friends who traveled from different parts of the country and from across the globe to celebrate the couple who have found each other when they were only university students at UP Cebu.

Destination weddings are not easy to pull off but this couple made it look so easy, evident in the way they showcased their dance moves that night!

In the end, we could all agree that it was a worthwhile trip to a worthwhile sanctuary for a worthwhile couple.

Gersam X Bianca Wedding
Malapascua Island, Cebu
December 18, 2016
Photo: Air Balloon Project
Video: Franzarrogante Films (WATCH the couple’s SDE here!)
Styling : First of April
Coordination : Khendi Garcia-Ramirez | Wedding Errands Cebu
HMUA: Liz Cinco
Lights and sounds: iShow Cebu

And oh, here’s me doing my secondary sponsor duty!

Cheers to destination weddings! Cheers to windy celebrations! And cheers to all December couples!  ♥

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

Day Trip, Quick Dip

I woke up today and realized it’s already the first of May. The past three months have gone by so fast, finding myself so overly occupied with tasks piling up left and right!

Thank goodness I got a little pampering when my dear friend, Kristine came home to celebrate her birthday. She’s now based in Hawaii so you wouldn’t think she’d be looking for a beach getaway in this island. But boy were we wrong!

And sure enough, I took a day off from work and hopped on a boat with my girls for a real quick yet memorable hop from island to island to island to island!

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Travel Throwback: Hanoi Hangovers

Oh yes, the Ha Long Bay Hangover I posted a year ago was just a snippet of my drunken stupor after my trip to Vietnam three years ago!

Here’s a friendly travel guide published in The Freeman in 2012. Some of the information I have provided may no longer be relevant nor applicable today. After all, a a lot could change in a vibrant city like Hanoi in just three years. But of course, I’m yet to personally check on that—I’m planning to revisit it after my wedding next year.

When people ask me how my trip went, I always tell them that Hanoi was a city that robbed me of my usual love-at-first-sight travel euphoria. It was after all not a paradise of imposing skyscrapers or grand amusement parks; rather, it was a place that encourages immersion to be able to truly appreciate its rich culture and fascinating traditions… And I loved every bit of it.

It was raining slightly when we landed at Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi. “Feels just like Cebu,” was my first impression as I looked around not only observing the weather. The interior of the arrival area was simple. No sophisticated lighting or intimidating architectural structure. What it had was a cozy, warm feel to it.

With my Manila-based sister, I was set to stay in Hanoi for a couple of days to be with our other sister who had been living in Vietnam’s capital city for almost three years now. She works as a teacher at a recognized IELTS Review Center, along with other growing number of Filipinos. Vietnam is generally a non-English speaking country. And like many other nations, it has embraced the need to adopt the language, gradually welcoming skilled professionals such as our own.

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Since it was past midnight when we arrived, there wasn’t really much to look at as we traveled the wide highways and made our way to Hai Bà Trưng, an urban district in Hanoi. With only the street lights illuminating, I couldn’t fail to notice the houses along the road. They were all tall and narrow. I would discover later on that most houses in Vietnam are designed that way-with at least three stories and a retail shop on the first floor. They say it’s because their property taxes are based on the width of the lot at the street line. The facades of the houses and buildings are mostly colorful and somehow French (Vietnam used to be a French colony) inspired, with some having pointed, castle-like roof lines.

But the uniquely structured houses would just be the beginning of the many wonders you’d experience if you were in what’s often dubbed as the City of Lakes.

Must-visit Places

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh is almost synonymous with Vietnam. He was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who became prime minister and president of North Vietnam. Cameras are not allowed inside, but you will surely take mental snapshots of a hero’s remains cautiously preserved in this mausoleum.

Tip: The mausoleum closes at 11:00AM, so waking up late may not be a good Continue reading

Accurately Sentimental

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I’m never the post-every-minute-everyday kind of social media user. No judgment to those who love to post, but to be honest, I often find myself consciously regulating my postings per week.

But Timehop, you’ve probably heard about this mobile app, has somehow made me realize that it’s quite endearing to post something that you want to look back to years later. Although I barely remember sharing a Timehop memory to the rest of my social media friends, I always enjoy seeing what I’ve been up to on the same day in the past 5 years. It’s like time travelling without super powers!

Today’s reminiscence included how, five years ago, I had my first solo horseback riding. It was a surprise trip c/o Mr. DM and the majestic land cruise happened against the stunning sunset. Moreover, today I was reminded that exactly a year ago, the pregnant me was doing my blue, red, and white nails in preparation for the British-themed baby shower me and my wonderful friends were throwing.

Time flies so fast, indeed. ♥ 

#TravelThursday