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Friday, October 24, 2014

Kikay Friday: Crystalline Lady Ballpoint Pen by Swarovski

I received a package containing a gift that made me really giddy. The authenticity tag says it was purchased 16th August so I concluded it must be a birthday gift from my bosses in Sydney.

I've always admired Swarovski crystals and have always wanted to own one - a jewelry to be exact. But for some unknown reasons I have never made an attempt to buy one neither have I been gifted with one.

Not until now. Yehey!!

Look at all those pink crystals that shimmers when hit by light! And that dainty little butterfly charm. It's so me. I feel like this pen is made for me, hahaha!

It's so elegant I don't know if I will ever use it! I'd probably stare at it and not be able to write anything.

Did I say I love this pen?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Meaningful Visit at Regina RICA

They say that an unplanned trip often turns out to be one of the best. The Hubby and I have proven this many times although we often end up more tired and with empty-pocket than usual as we had to buy what we normally could have packed had we went to the trip with a plan (food, sunblock, swimsuit...get the idea how abrupt the trips were?)

But with our sudden decision to go to Tanay, Rizal to see for ourselves the retreat sanctuary called Regina Rica, we had a meaningful trip without leaving a hole in our pocket.

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia (RICA) is home to the 3rd Regina Rosarii statue (the other two are in Davao and Tagaytay) and is run by the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii. No wonder that the site is perfectly molded into a place for soul searching and reflection.

Although it looks far and steep going to the huge statue of the Virgin Mary, just keep walking and you'll reach the top before you even know it. There's a recorded voice that plays at the background encouraging visitors to reflect and suggesting instructions on how to slowly meditate and pray as you climb the hill. It somehow reminds the visitors that this is a sacred place, not a tourist spot.

Enjoy the cool breeze on top of the hill while you reflect at the foot of Regina Rosarii. The huge expanse of the property, including the church, columbarium, the animal and organic farm and the snack house called Pasilungan can be seen from top.

There is a candle room at the back of the huge statue where pilgrims can light a candle (donation for each candle is Php20) and say their prayers. There is an air of peace, of solemness that entices visitors to pray and reflect. 

Can you guess which is the most popular candle color?

We wrote our thanksgiving and petitions and dropped them in a prayer box. They will be collected by the nuns for intercession.

After walking around, we got thirsty so we dropped by Pasilungan. It's the only place in Regina Rica where visitors are allowed to eat. They sell usual meryenda fares like sandwich and pancit but what we actually enjoyed was their maiz con yelo.

Look at all those cheese and corn flakes toppings! Sulit for Php60 per serving.

I imagine Regina Rica would be full during Lenten Season. I am glad we were able to visit at this time of the year when there were only a few visitors. We were able to experience Regina Rica rather than just seeing the place.

Regina RICA
Marcos Highway, Sitio Aguho Sampaloc,
Tanay, Rizal

For driving directions to Regina RICA, click HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breakfast at Rustic Mornings by Isabelo

I've always been a fan of beautifully designed dining places; those that give diners a feeling of wanting to linger for long, relaxing conversations instead of doing the 'eat and run'  thing. I am happy to discover another restaurant to add to my "favorite list". 

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo is a garden-cafe that serves all-day breakfast (turns into Isabelo Garden for intimate dinners at night). It's actually a house with a beautiful garden turned into a homey garden cafe. Ha, a transformation that seemed so effortless and natural.

Enjoy breakfast while your eyes feast on handmade decors, colored bottles and jars, and tables made of old wood and rustic irons covered in dainty linen. It's amazing!

Indoor dining is also available; the place equally stunning as the garden with old paintings and ceramic whatnots displayed all over.

They serve usual Pinoy breakfast fares like beef tapa, tocino, longganisa, daing na bangus and corned beef and the likes. The best seller is their tocino which I agree to be delicious aside from generously portioned (just order extra rice!!!)

Tocino Php155

Their corned beef is not from the can, anyone can tell. You can request your eggs to be cooked any way you like. Mine are always sunny side up with special instructions to go over easy.

Corned Beef Php215

The Three Mushroom Omelette with Ciabatta Bread can deceive you to be light, but the huge serving could overwhelm the not-so heavy eaters. We love the accompanying herbed butter and fruit jam!

Three Mushroom Omelette Php240

I will definitely go back to try their lunch dishes and their sandwiches.

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo
#11 Isabelo Mendoza Street,
San Roque, Marikina City
Walk in from 8am-4pm

Note: So as not to get lost, use the Marikina Shoe Museum as landmark. There is a huge sign at the entrance of Isabelo Mendoza street; careful when turning right as the street is quite narrow. I think only one vehicle can pass at a time.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2015 Public Holidays in Philippines

We're still a quarter away from closing year 2014 and Malacañang Palace have already issued Proclamation No. 831, officially declaring the regular holidays and special (non-working) days for the year 2015. Yehey!

Who's not going to be excited to plot the dates and realize we've got 13 long weekends next year?

Start checking for budget airlines' advance seat sales and plan for a travel-filled and relaxing 2015! I definitely will.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Kikay Friday: The Kikay in a Tricycle

Yung nagpa hair and makeup ka tapos need mo mag tricycle pauwi. Wagas!

Monday, August 11, 2014

And another year went by...

I am often told that I am a very lucky person; that I have already what most people can only wish or dream of (and they are not all material possessions). That is so true and I am humbled by the continuous pouring of blessings.

Birthday breakfast at Sofitel! We were able to buy in advance at
half the price at a group buying website. Hehe.
Syempre I used The Hubby's credit card to pay para kunwari sya nagdate sa akin!

I have no birthday wish for myself, honestly. I only pray for good health for my family especially my The Hubby and our children. I thank God for my mom, sisters, mommy in law, relatives and friends, too for their unconditional love. If people wanna know why I am have a cheerful, happy disposition, it is because I am loved (spoiled) by them despite my imperfections. 

Life is good, life is great! Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pan de Donuts by Pan de Manila

I chanced upon these new products from Pan de Manila at Market! Market!

How about pan de sal with the drama of donuts - icing, filling, toppings, sprinkles and everything in between?

They look enticing enough although most of the variants and flavors seemed to similar to Krispy Kreme donuts. Parang ginaya ng bonggang bongga!

Here's how much each donut costs.

It's not fair for me to say if the price is just right since I didn't buy any to try. I only took photos (yes, I am bad).

Anyone has tried them? Feedback please :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kikay Friday: What's on my office table?


A flower pen, Pure Seduction Body Mist by Victoria's Secret, Crabtree & Evelyn hand lotion, L'eau D'Issey perfume by Issey Miyake, Bobby nail polish, Mario Badescu drying lotion (so effective for pimples!) and a huge bottle of alcohol.

I haven't really noticed until today how much kikay stuff I have on my desk. But a bit embarrassing as it is, this is truly me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Banzai Japanese Buffet

Buffets are everywhere in Metro Manila and more are joining the bandwagon. The latest concept to open is a Japanese buffet restaurant that showcases a Teppanyaki Theater where they will cook teppanyaki on the spot. 

Introducing Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater located at Seaside Blvd, MOA Complex. The restaurant is impossible to miss with their huge and imposing signage!

They were still at "soft opening" stage when we dined and it was easy to point areas for improvement. First, the atmosphere is not as festive compared to other buffet restaurants like Vikings and Buffet 101. Nobody sings a birthday song to celebrants and the only music played are soft, instrumental, zen-type nusic. Unless the quiet atmosphere is really what they intend, I find it quite boring.

Their Teppanyaki Theater looks rather empty with minimal decorations or even food. A diner passes by the station and could not even pick something to fill his plate.

The Yakitori station is quite interesting with various grilled food on a skewer.

Here's the Takoyaki Station which again, in my opinion, looks rather sad with that empty takoyaki maker, The label said it should gave Kaniyaki but when after several trips to the station to check if they have any Kaniyaki cooked already, all I end up with is nothing-yaki,

Not to be missed as well is the Tempura Station where fresh prawn tempura and other fried breaded meat are cooked relentlessly. Unlike in Yakimix where prawn (should I say shrimp?) tempura gets wiped out as soon as the plate touches the buffet, they are replenished quickly in Banzai

I liked the breaded pork. It's lean and tender with all the fat trimmings removed.

Leave a lot of room for their Beef Teppan. It's the house specialty and I dare not question why. The beef is tender, generously portioned (huge chunks!) and cooked perfectly as you watch.

I wasn't able to take a photo of their Sushi/Sashimi station probably because I was a bit disappointed that the spread is not that many considering this is Japanese buffet. On a positive note, the salmon sashimi that I took are succulent and fresh, they almost melt in your mouth!

More cooked food, unfortunately, I couldn't tell the dish as they were not properly labelled (another point for improvement).

Aside from their various cooking stations, they also have a "hot" corner with the dishes cooked from the kitchen, mostly usual buffet fares. They have a carving station too.

Dessert is a hit and miss with various cakes (a miss), a few chewy candies, select local desserts like halo-halo and leche flan (hit!), local fruits and tarts. The only novelty is the snow cone that most children liked.

How much do I pay for the buffet?

Lunch: Php699 from Mondays to Fridays
Dinner: Php899 from Mondays to Fridays
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays (Lunch and Dinner): Php1,088

Children's rate: Php499 - below 4.5 feet
                         FREE - below 3.5 feet

All rates includes tax and service charge.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Northern Exposure: Chavit Singson's Baluarte

When in Vigan and you got tired of Calle Crisologo, hop on a tricycle and visit Chavit Singson's mini zoo called Baluarte.

We wanted to have something for the kids to enjoy while in Vigan (aside from the calesa ride) so we decided to spend our morning there and see what's special about the place since entrance fee is absolutely free.

I was expecting to see a small, typical zoo where animals are kept behind fences but was quite surprised that it's actually a huge property complete appropriate to receive tourist.

As Chavit is known for his tigers, I was expecting to see lots of tiger. I was slightly disappointed because I didn't see massive ones, those that would make me say "wow!' but then we didn't pay any entrance fees so I played it on "what you see is what you get" basis. Anyway, there are 4 tigers by the entrance and more at the hilly part of Baluarte (long and uphill walk, I warn you).

Think we're at Dinosaur Land? No, we're just right here in Vigan. I think these life-size replica of dinosaurs are the most photographed attraction inside Baluarte.

Kids and adult alike have fun taking their photos with them. 

They run free animal shows on weekends and holidays when there are a number of visitors. It's quite entertaining even if they use the usual drill. 

Apparently Baluarte is also better known as Chavit's Fortress and it's not hard to see why. We saw a huge structure being completed at the far end of Baluarte; it's quite imposing and hard to miss because of the gold tinted glasses used. 

We love how animals roam freely like this "friendly" ostrich...

Our kids wanted to ride the small horses but there were too many people waiting in line and it's scorching hot.

Basically all the attractions are free, including entrance to the butterfly garden. The only attraction with a fee is the close encounter with one of the tigers and you get to take a photo.

Overall, Baluarte is worthy of a visit. Yeah, it's the usual zoo but kids love it! The whole place is clean, organized and everyone is accommodating.

Here's a summary of our Northern Exposure Experience:
Laoag to Pagudpud
A Visit to Bantay Abot Cave
Amazing Bangui Windmills

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Northen Exposure: Bangui Windmills

A trip to Ilocos Norte will not be complete without seeing the majestic Bangui windmills. It's like you've never been there if you did not make an effort to get up close and personal with these man-made beauties... 

They are simply amazing (for lack of a better term to describe them)! I must admit I got very excited as our car got closer and closer to the stretch of beach where these marvelous man-made structures were built. I almost wasn't able to stop myself from running to the nearest windmill.

a gigantic beauty at 70 meters tall!

Located in the 4th class municipality of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, the wind farm has 20 power-generating wind turbines that produces enough power for approximately 40% of the entire Ilocos Norte province.

There are plenty of directional signs along Maharlika Highway (Ilocos Highway) pointing to Bangui. Any traveler won't miss them with the windmills' imposing size - they are visible from the highway as you approach Bangui! Heck, they're even visible from Saud Beach in Pagudpud which is two-towns away.

My recommendation is to go early in the morning, perhaps on your way to Pagudpud before hitting the beach, or in the afternoon just in time for sunset (on your way back). The view of the sun's orange rays touching the beach is just perfect for souvenir photos.

I would say this is one of the highlights of our trip to the north and yes, an item I'm crossing off from my Bucket List :)

By the way, there are no entrance fees here. Absolutely nothing to pay to marvel at man's ingenuity.

Here's a summary of our Northern Exposure Experience:
Laoag to Pagudpud
A Visit to Bantay Abot Cave
Amazing Bangui Windmills
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