Thursday, March 28, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursdays 03.28.2013] The Good Friday walk along the Anda shoreline

If you'd ever be swept away on an island, wouldn't you want it to look just like this?

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Eight years ago My Bibe and I went on a week-long backpacking trip to Cebu and Bohol with absolutely no hotel reservations or anything. After two nights each in Cebu's Bantayan Island and Bohol's Alona Beach in Panglao Island, we ventured several kilometers up north to the sleepy town of Anda, a 5th class municipality. I still recall the three-hour ride on a non-airconditioned mini-bus and the several stops it made along the way to pick up and unload passengers. The highway then was not yet concrete and we enjoyed complimentary face powder of dust. But it was fun.

Before our trip, My Bibe came across an article written by a German visitor to Anda where he narrated his experience of walking along the shoreline from his resort (Blue Star Dive and Resort) all the way up to the town proper -- which was quite a distance, by the way! We both agreed it was something we should do. And so we spent the following morning doing just that. It was a Good Friday.

Here I'm reliving that wonderful experience in photos:

Friday, March 22, 2013

DINING | Precious Moments Makati Showroom and Restaurant

We were following a map from an old calling card a friend gave me a while back. And when we couldn't find the place, we asked around and learned that Precious Moments already moved to a new location sometime October 2012. After a bit of driving aimlessly, we called them up and eventually found the place. And then My Bibe and I were all smiles when we entered.

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A three-foot bride and groom Precious Moments figure that they rent out for weddings. The price, if I remember right, was Php 4,000 for a full day.

Precious Moments, which carries a line of Christian-themed, cutesy little figurines and dolls, is the brainchild of American artist Sam Butcher that started in 1978. The items are primarily sold in the U.S. although thanks to the internet, anyone can now order from anywhere in the world online. The dolls are made in the Philippines, while the figurines are produced elsewhere.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

[Throwback Thursdays 03.21.2013] Before QR codes became the rage

This week I'm veering away from old photographs and instead look back at something that was rather revolutionary back in 2007, in the Philippines at least. I suppose we're all familiar with QR codes, aren't we? It's now widely used  in advertisements, labels, signages, and whatnot. Scan the code with your cellphone camera and you're redirected to a targeted content-rich site.

While QR codes have only become this widespread in the last year or two, did you know that Smart Communications pioneered a similar technology in the Philippines several years earlier in February 2007? The company branded it as Decode by Smart.

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The codes then looked different from the QR codes of today. And while both are primarily marketing-driven, Decode functioned more as an avenue for downloading value-added services (VAS). Remember operator logos, wallpapers, ringtones, caller ring-back tunes, and other such stuff?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Reviewed: The Peacock Garden Luxury Boutique Hotel and Spa

Nestled atop the hills of Upper Laya in Baclayon, Bohol, The Peacock Garden bills itself as a luxury boutique hotel and spa, commanding rates of around Php 10,000 a night. It's one of those places that I've been wanting to visit ever since I've heard of it. So finally after scoring a sweet deal from Deal Grocer, My Bibe and I were finally able to enjoy a short two-night stay there over the weekend.

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Grecian-inspired statues watch over the hotel's Olympic-size infinity pool.

So was it worth all the longing? Here's the rundown:

Booking, welcome, and check-in
I had no problems with reservation and booking, which were done over the phone and confirmed via email. They have an online booking facility, though, but I didn't go through that because I was using a voucher.

Upon arrival we were shuttled in a huge van to the hotel, which was a good 20-30 minutes from the airport. Our driver didn't talk much. Well, he was a driver, not a tour guide, just so people are aware and would adjust their expectations accordingly. Nevertheless, we received a more appropriate and warmer welcome from the hotel staff once we got there. As a welcome drink, we were given piñakwan, a tropical concoction of piña (pineapple) and pakwan (watermelon).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

[Lookbook 03.10-11.2013] It's all about stripes and feeling sexy

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Feeling like a don right there. I just came back from a quick vacay at The Peacock Garden in Bohol with My Bibe. I was happy with the hotel and we were just holed up there the whole time; no tours whatsoever.

I don't have a photo of my Day 1 outfit but it was absolute camwhoring the following day, where I went around the vast hotel grounds in a striped tank, white shorts, and leather sandals. You can say it's a bit nautical because of the red, white, and blue but summer is undeniably here already, in this part of the world at least.

I haven't written my I've written a review of the place in a different post (see here) yet but in the meantime but anyway, let me show you around. Consider this a preview of sorts.

[Throwback Thursdays 03.14.2013] The graduate

March is when the school year ends for most educational institutions here in the Philippines. This Throwback Thursdays post looks back at my grade school graduation from way back in 1990. Yes, I'm that old.

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That's me delivering my valedictory address, of which I remember nothing. Obviously I was still a "good student" at the time. And this photo here below is my mom placing my medal around my neck. She was obviously one proud parent that day. I'm just not sure if she is still now. Haha!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Checked out: da.u.de Tea Lounge

I was browsing through my phone's gallery and saw some photos of da.u.de Tea Lounge from way back January this year. It was a chance visit, as we were in the area then. Looking at the photos I thought, hey, that was a nice place. So I'm sharing them with you, albeit belatedly.

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The outdoor section of da.u.de.

The signage already tells you how it's pronounced: da-you-deh. da.u.de is the brainchild of Renee Sebastian Domingo, a Certified Tea Master by the American Tea Masters Association. I'm not sure but at the time, they said they were still in a soft opening phase.

The interiors
It's a cute place with dainty all-white interiors, huge glass windows, and a really high ceiling. There's a counter near the entrance and behind it are large dispensers of several tea varieties. The high shelves are occupied by canisters upon canisters of different tea blends, as well as tea sets, presses, mugs, and more. I actually loved the atmosphere here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursdays 03.07.2013] Our very first time in Bohol

Even if it's just for three days, I'm already stoked for our little Bohol getaway this weekend. So for this week's Throwback Thursday post, I'm looking back at our very first time in this province, eight years ago in April 2005.

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My Bibe and I in Balicasag Island.

My Bibe and I were backpacking then and arrived via fast craft from Cebu. We proceeded to Panglao Island aboard an overloaded mini-bus. I sat on the roof for about half of the trip and only went inside when enough passengers had already alighted. We didn't have any reservation at all and we were surprised we still found ourselves a room at Alona Beach considering it was Holy Week, which is a very busy time in the Philippines as far as tourism goes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

[Lookbook 03.02-03.2013] Monkey, Monkey, Anabelle and the sexy deep V

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I had the chance of escaping the beckoning summer heat of the Metro and hied off to Tagaytay for the weekend. Outfit-wise, I wore white shorts and a long-sleeved hoodie, which would hold fine in Tagaytay's cooler climate. But to keep myself still in touch with summer, I pulled up the sleeves and showed some chest -- lots of it. The hoodie had a severe deep V-neck, which makes me feel really sexy. Haha! I finished off the outfit with boat shoes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

TRAVEL | Moon Garden / Lily's Pond: A nice and quiet alternative in Tagaytay

Over the weekend, we tried Moon Garden for a quick overnight stay in Tagaytay. We had a little trouble finding it, though, because apparently, it's now called Lily's Pond. I don't know the reason for the name change but I didn't bother asking.

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Me enjoying a quiet moment by the lily pond. Wait, so that's why it's called Lily's pond!

Moon Garden, or Lily's Pond, is a bed and breakfast tucked away not far from the main Tagaytay-Calamba Road. Here's a rundown of our experience:

Reservation and check-in
As with most Tagaytay accommodations, full payment via bank deposit is required to confirm booking, which was just done via phone. It was quick and straightforward, with no added touches or spiels. I really don't have a problem with that except that there was no mention of the change in name. It's like they expect you to know the place already. We were looking for a Moon Garden sign throughout the whole stretch of the SVD Road and of course, found nothing because the sign was "Lily's Pond."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

From desktop to mobile with ease

While many of us spend considerable time in front of our PCs or Macs, we also access the internet a lot on our mobile phones and tablets. Come to think of it, we may even be spending more time on mobile than in front of a computer! Given this premise, I'm sure all of you have come across websites that appear on your phone exactly the same way as they are displayed on a regular computer, which is kinda annoying, right? Everything loads a lot slower and you need to zoom in just to read the text.

I'm not an IT guy, nor do I know coding, but I know that websites need mobile versions to fit into our phones and tablets much better, and make everything else much faster. However, it's one thing to make a website and another to come up with a mobile version, let alone multiple mobile versions. Your iPhone version certainly won't fit into your Samsung Galaxy S3 or even your iPad. But how to do it if you're not much of a programming geek?

I came across this India-based startup called Mobstac that allows anyone to create mobile websites with ease. It's a mobile publishing cloud platform that seamlessly integrates with your website and makes your content accessible to mobile devices and tablets. So you only publish content once, and the company takes care of everything else. A unified dashboard likewise allows you to manage all these different versions of the same content with ease.

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A sample illustration of how a website looks on a desktop/Mac, and then on a tablet and on a mobile phone. (mobstac.com)

Friday, March 1, 2013

[Lookbook 03.01.2012] White-hot legs

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As much as I love black and color, I also love white. It's just that I'm not really one who's comfortable wearing white because I can be such a slob. Today was different, though, as I mustered the confidence to put on some white pants for a fresh look. It's the first day of March, which means summer is very much at hand this side of the world.
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