When People are the Tourist Attraction | Driving Away



Maybe we live and learn.

Maybe we crash and burn.

Maybe you will stay,

Maybe you will leave.

Maybe you will return.

Maybe another fight.

Maybe we won't survive.

But maybe we'll grow,

We never know....

Maybe you and I.

(lifted from Ordinary People lyrics)

Posting this picture taken somewhere along the longest beach in the Philippines, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan using my long-time buddy, Canon EOS 550D .


Reflection to Life: 
You are the beach set in your own paradise. People come, appreciate you for who you are, use your beauty to satisfy and fill their emptiness up, some, perhaps will take advantage of your worth, some will learn from you and will value your existence. Very few will stay but majority of them will leave you behind when season change.

Stay humble. Stay free. Stay positive and always find the silver lining in each moment, bad or good.

Don't leave the door closed no matter how heartaches and disappointments crushed you. Be a blessing to everyone. Be true to yourself.

And continue to grow.





RECIPE | Stir-Fry Chicken Cashew with Broccoli and Snow Peas, Oriental Style




Wow! it has been long hiatus, do you miss me? I hope you do!

So, the long wait for my next post has ended (like somebody care) and I plan to revive this blog again after settling here in El Nido, Palawan. Yes, I finally decided to give-in to my desire and found an exciting yet challenging job here (will share more on my next posts). A job where I don't need a vacation from. I mean, with this view while I write this blog post, why can't I say no to destiny's offer?





Why I resigned after 8 years in the Big Blue, IBM, was of course my personal choice. I wasn't forced nor did something wrong against the company. I am proud that in this lifetime, I had a chance to work in the world's most admire, consistent top ten Fortune 500 company. Resignation has been my decision after careful consideration of my finances and the longer than regular hours I spent working with almost nothing in return. I feel undervalued after receiving excellent performance evaluations for years, exceeding all targets and given more work to do with very little pay rise. I no longer feel that I am making a contribution and an impact to the organization. Worthless, I gotta go.

Sounds like cliche but I am very grateful to the people I met along the way, for sure, I learned something in every bitch and queens my path came across with. Working in globally competitive company is not easy; office politics, peer competition, process challenges, etc - made me a tougher and wise person I am today, and all those collective experiences I've encountered, technical, moral, professional and even personal paved way for me to be ready to face another season.






Speaking of season, cashew nut season has just ended here in Palawan and we have a lot of fried and roasted cashew nut supply from friends and relatives. So I made a recipe with lots of cashew nuts to welcome you all to my blog site again. Enjoy!





Ingredients

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tbsp. garlic, crushed and chopped (I used about 5 cloves)
1/2 cup yellow onions, sliced into wedges (I used 1 small onion)
A handful of roasted cashew nuts, unsalted
500 grams boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
100 grams Broccoli
100 grams Snow Peas
salt and pepper to taste
Ginisa Mix
2 tbsp. Datu Puti soy sauce
2 tbsp. Oyster Sauce
Add hot chili peppers if you want it hot and spicy!
Sesame seeds for garnish


Procedure

1) Marinate chicken into oyster sauce and soy sauce for 15 minutes. Ready your vegetables while marinating.
2) Add about 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to your wok or frying pan and wait for it to heat up. Then toss in your garlic stir fry for about 10 seconds, and then add in the onions. Stir fry for a few seconds until the onions become translucent.
3) Add the marinated chicken including the sauce, stir-fry for about 10 minutes or until meat is cooked.
4) Add the fresh greens Broccoli and snow peas and sprinkle with sesame oil. Add in a few sprinkles of water if your wok is getting dry, but don’t add too much water. You may also want to add little sugar to have a sweet taste.
5) Grab your Ginisa Mix seasoning, salt and pepper and add it to the wok. Keep stir frying and you’ll see that the sauce quickly begins to thicken and get sticky from the oyster sauce and dark sweet soy sauce.
6) Finally, add a handful of unsalted roasted cashew nuts and gently stir fry, making sure all the sauce evenly coats all ingredients.
7) Garnish with sesame seeds, sprinkle it on top. Serve on top of steaming rice bowl! 


Enjoy!






Hotel and Room Review | Hotel Monticello in Tagaytay City, Philippines



General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway (past km 60), 
Barangay Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City, 4120, Philippines
Phone Number: +63-46-4131111


Finding Hotel Monticello, a short distance from Josephine's where we had lunch, did not take us long. With its charming boutique hotel appeal one can never miss from Aguinaldo Highway.

RESERVATION BOOKING and CHECK-IN - The internet has made a dramatic change in the way we travel. We have deal sites and booking sites where we can easily search for great deals and discounts of hotel accommodation and air fares too. Booking.com offers the lowest room rate at the time of my booking 10 days ahead of our trip. We booked 2 rooms: Superior Twin Room (₱ 3,781.52) and Superior Quadruple Room (₱ 5,672.27) for 1-night stay with total price of ₱ 9,453.79 excluding 12% VAT and 7% service charge, buffet breakfast included which will be featured on my next post. 

Check-in was smooth, Php 3000 in cash was collected as security deposit for 2 rooms during check-in for incidentals to cover any miscellaneous charges during our stay. Incidentals Deposit may be refunded upon check-out if unused. No welcome drinks were served though, but we were assisted through our rooms.





PARKING - Plenty of parking spots at the front and basement. The driver of our rented van chooses the basement for parking which is accessible by the hotel elevator. Elevators are kinda tricky to use but I get it eventually. 




AMENITIES/FACILITIES - Taken from their website, below is the list of Hotel Facilities. Never had a chance to roam around but we were able to use the hotel's swimming pool. My nephew and I were the only guests swimming and the lap pool's temperature was not on but its okay because I prefer cold pool. Poolside lounge at the time of our stay was not open.




Dining and Entertainment Choices 
Cafe Mercedes
Trattoria Maria
Roma Piano Bar
Temperature-controlled lap pool
Kiddie pool
Poolside lounge
Spa – open Fridays 1 to 9:30 pm; Saturdays and Holidays 8 am to 9:30 pm; Sundays 8 am to 1 pm
Gym – open daily from 7 am to 9 pm




Business Essentials and Helpful Services
VIA Grand Ballroom
Multipurpose lounge
Function rooms (with soundproof partitions)
Banqueting/events services
Business center
Parking
Non-smoking rooms
Wireless Internet access
Guest and service elevators






R O O M      R E V I E W 



Note: This room review is for the Superior Quadruple Room only, I didn't have a chance to enter the Superior Twin Room.

My Nanay is in a wheelchair so I made special requests upon booking listed below specifically to be billeted at the lowest floor and I put some comments whether achieved or not. Regardless, it would be nice to get notification via email or text message about the status of my special request prior to check-in. 

1) This guest would like the rooms in this booking to be close together if possible - not met, probably the nearest room is not available.
2) You have a booker that would like free parking. (based on availability)  - met
3) You have a booker that would prefer a quiet room. (based on availability) - met
4) Lowest floor - not met (probably the type of room we booked are not available in the lowest floors)




We’re in a 48 sqm superior quad room at the 4th floor with 4 single beds. Our bedroom is blissfully quiet — and pretty, too. With enough space to move around and with contemporary furnishings that gives the room distinctly refreshing feels. It offers a view of the nearby cattle farm during the day and the city skyline at night. 






Room FeaturesYesNoNote
BED and LINENS
INTERNET CONNECTION
AIR-CONDITIONING SYSTEMIndividually controlled
ENTERTAINMENT42-inch flat-screen TV
En-suite Bathroom


The bed is supremely comfortable. The bed linen is sumptuous too, with lots of fresh and puffy pillows. The light switches are not just for geeks , lol! and the room and bathroom are certainly clean and tidy. 





Room Essentials and AmenitiesYesNoNote
Laundry Bag
Drinking Water4 bottled water, free of charge
Drinking Glass
Door Signs
Tissue Paper
Room Wastebasket
Disposable Paper Slippers
Luggage Racks
Electronic keycard entry system
Coffee Maker
Room Mirror
Electric Kettle
Electronic safety deposit box
Mini-barMini-chiller, micro fridge
Pencil and Paper







BATHROOM ESSENTIALS and AMENITIES
Bar Soap/ Hotel Soap Dish
Dental CareToothpaste and Disposable toothbrush
Body Lotion
Body Wash
Shampoo and Conditioner
Grooming Kit
Hair Dryer
Towel ring/ rack / hooks
Water Pressure
Shower with hot and cold water
Bathroom Mirror
Laundry Basket





SERVICE - service is all good.


My Nanay spent half day writing the whole experience in 2 pages private letter I never had the courage to read yet. She loves to write, maybe it was her legacy I'm proud of and inherited from her.
She also left a thank you note to the hotel.

Evidently, I have to agree that we enjoyed every moment and that we were comfortable and were able to relax even just for one day. Overall, it was a very memorable stay. 





What a Feast! Nanay and Kurt's Birthday Lunch at Josephine's -Tagaytay


Crispy Kangkong, Php 220



Destination: Josephine Restaurant Tagaytay
Km. 58 Gen. E. Aguinaldo Highway,Maharlika West, Tagaytay City
Tagaytay City


Josephine's in my mind, is the perfect place to celebrate my Nanay and Kurt birthdays having experienced dining here 2 years ago. So, we headed back to the restaurant near Ayala Malls Serin after our country walk at Sonya's Garden. The restaurant offers the best view of Taal lake and volcano and serves all-time Filipino favorite dishes which my Nanay absolutely liked. 

November 14 - It's the biggest event of the year for our family as my mother and nephew celebrated their birthdays. It was my Nanay's 3rd birthday against all odds of breast cancer and we wanted to make her day extra special this year so we decided to spend a day in Tagaytay City. Both celebrants had never been to Tagaytay and never seen the world-famous lake and volcano, I'm quite sure, the experience will brighten their spirits …and I'm glad they do  😍







AMBIANCE

Unlike my previous experience when we have to wait to be seated, the main restaurant was empty when we arrived around 11 AM. With Modern-Filipino interior and air conditioning system, the high-ceiling main dining area that also offers panoramic view of Taal lake and volcano would be best to dine during hot summer days.


Bulalo Soup, Php 840



It was such a lovely day, sunny but chilly, two tables were occupied by group of Chinese tourists at the al fresco area playing card games. We also picked another long table outside to have a better view of the lake and volcano and take advantage of the kinder blew of the fresh and cool air of southern Luzon. 

Nanay and Kurt were so delighted to finally see Taal Volcano so real and so close. "I only see it in books and pictures, now I've seen it personally", Nanay said with wide smile on her face that I haven't seen for months.



Chopsuey, Php 320



FOOD and PRICE

We started with Crispy Kangkong (Php 220) while waiting for other dishes. Tatay liked it and amazed how they made it so crispy. Nanay's choice was Chopsuey which was perfectly done according to her liking. We also ordered Lechon Kawali (Php 380) and Mango Salsa (Php 160) to complement with. It was good but nothing beats the Lechon Kawali of Syudad by Barrio Fiesta so far. 




Lechon Kawali, Php 380




Mango Salsa, Php 160



The prime attraction of our appetite is of course, Bulalo Soup (Php 840) in large bowl with lots of vegetables and tasty soup. It was big, steaming hot when served - the soup alone can satisfy my hunger. Sorry for bad angle of my Bulalo picture but it was meaty on the other side. The meat was tender, veggies were cooked right, and the large bowl was just enough for all of us. Who wins the bone marrow is obvious, lol!




SERVICE

Josephine's has been in this business for such a long time as proven by the great service they provided us. Offering glass of water the moment we settled-in is I think fundamental and a sign of good service according to my standards and I'm pleased they do. 

We were at home - It was like a birthday celebration with extended family when we celebrated my love ones birthdays here, they did not come unprepared for such occasion. Take a look how the crew played and sing Happy Birthday song with us. Nanay was so overjoyed to see strangers celebrating her life with us.











A delightful lunch indeed. It’s a nice place to celebrate milestones in your lives when in Tagaytay with your love ones, family or friends. Serving not only Filipino favorite dishes but also offers great view of the lake and provide exceptional service guaranteed to keep you coming back again and again.

It may be hard trying to get some quality time with your family out of your busy schedule but you gotta clear your calendar for such special moment and dine-in at Josephine's - Tagaytay. Because here, you’re at home. 









Josephine Restaurant Tagaytay
Km. 58 Gen. E. Aguinaldo Highway,Maharlika West, Tagaytay City
Tagaytay City



Country Stroll Around Sonya's Garden, Tagaytay



Address: Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, 4123
Hours: Closes 6PM
Phone: 09175329097

After breakfast at Bag of Beans, it was still too early to check-in at Hotel Monticello so we headed to the nearby Sonya's Garden for a stroll to fill the gap while deciding where to have lunch. Sonya's Garden has been one of my favorite destinations in Tagaytay, introduced by Peachy of The Peach Kitchen back in 2010. We always drop-by at Sonya's garden if we had a chance when in Tagaytay to purchase Cheese-hopia - cheese-flavored rendition of the Chinese hopia made with pure parmesan that often runs out as soon as they’re made. Secret dressing is another favorite pasalubong from their country store.




At 9 AM, sunlight was just piercing the morning mist and, high in the trees, birds chirping like warning each other raucously of our presence - it was music to my ears however. Our original plan was to avail the buffet lunch but we came too early so, we headed to just stroll around Sonya’s different paths leading to many discoveries. Kurt and Tin were pleasantly surprised to find something new and exciting behind the greenery, another secret waiting to be discovered. 




The fresh and cool air of southern Luzon blew kinder, just perfect for our morning walk. Sonya's Garden offers a scenic country, Tuscany feel. Its like walking in an Italian region which boasts vivid colors of flowers and glorious views. Nanay particularly enjoyed the small market scene at the entrance of Sonya's Garden, she bought organic fresh fruits and herbs for home cooking.






After challenging months battling cancer and many trips to PGH for treatment, this was the glimpse of old rural Philippines we had been longing for. Out on the marvelously manicured gardens, my worries seemed to evaporate with each footstep. This country walk wasn’t just pleasure - it was therapy. Exploring the garden is 100% guarantee that the sight will cheer you up and the walk will do you a power of good.



First Look - Twin Lakes Hotel, Tagaytay



Twin Lakes Hotel Tagaytay
Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Brgy. Laurel, Batangas City

Raise your hand if Twin Lakes Hotel is also on your list of travel destination for 2019! I was so excited upon knowing that Twin Lakes Hotel Tagaytay, located at the front of the country's first and only vineyard township resort and community has opened and quickly put it on my list of next destination this year.

We were at the Twin Lakes Shopping Village - a small part of 1,149 hectares estate - the Philippines’ first vineyard township community and Tagaytay’s first master-planned integrated tourism destination where stylish shops. boutiques are mixed with quaint cafes and dining spots, dinning at Bag of Beans CafĂ© and Restaurant - “West Lake" Branch when I learned about the newly opened hotel. I checked the rates instantly through their social media channels and quoted Php 18,000 nett good for 4 persons with breakfast at their Family suite on February 10, 2019. Hmmm, gotta wait for Anney's initiative to experience this place. I’ll bet she’ll book and organize once she knew about the infinity pool, lol!

TWIN LAKES is master-planned integrated tourism destination by Megaworld located in Tagaytay and Laurel, Twin Lakes encompasses 1,149 hectares., designed to be the premier medical & educational tourism estate. Provides refreshing views of famous Taal Lake & Volcano Offers a cool mountain breeze amid rugged terrain and a man-made lake. The community is a showcase of themed residential phases that are seamlessly integrated with expansive nature spaces, well-designed retail, commercial and civic centers and vibrant lifestyle and leisure hubs.

So exciting and will patiently wait until the project completed. Hopefully, the hotel would offer great deal via Deal Grocer, booking or Agoda very soon.

Bag of Beans CafĂ© and Restaurant, Inc. “West Lake Branch”, Tagaytay City - More than just a Stopover



Contact Number: 046-460-4146
Address: Twin Lakes Shopping Village, DayapItaas, Laurel, Batangas



Cappuccino, (Php 140)


HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! I hope everyone had a very happy and memorable holidays. Have you spent it with your family at home or gone out of the country? However you celebrated Christmas and New Year, what matters most is that you spent quality time with your love ones. I hope you did and you were able to build stronger relationships and rekindled lost ones, because family and friends is love and love is the essence of our every existence 😊





So, let the love begin with my first post of 2019, starting with our family's short out of town getaway in Tagaytay City to celebrate "the matriarch" and Kurt birthdays. Nanay's 72nd's birthday was on November 14 while Kurt's falls on the same day. It was a double celebration indeed, and my brother decided to treat us for an overnight stay in Tagaytay who by the way, was also on vacation mode from working overseas. I booked 2 rooms for one-night stay at Hotel Monticello through booking.com giving us great deal among Tagaytay's list of accommodations 2 days prior - room review coming up on my next posts. Check it out soon!


We rented a van for just Php 8000 all included (gas and toll) - low price, but we need to depart very early on November 14 to avoid number coding. We departed around 5:00 in the morning armed with pandesal and sandwiches. Nanay was very hesitant to go because she's not feeling well but with continued encouragement, she gave in.





We arrived around 8:00 AM in Tagaytay and decided to stopover and have light breakfast at the quaint French-Country-Farmhouse designed Bag of Beans, Twin Lakes or West Lakes branch while waiting for 2:00 PM check-in time and greeted with the chic and elaborate design of the place. West Lake branch of bag of Beans is my favorite, it shows a fresh display of colors and clean whites to achieve a chic and posh look that is very pleasing to the eye. Distressed woods, machuka tiles, vintage items and hand-crafted furniture also adorned the cafe to add a visual flair, perfect match to complement the beauty of one of the country’s best scenic spot, Taal Lake. 




Nanay had Soup of the day (Php 195), a clear but tasty soup with shiitake mushrooms served with bread roll and butter while we had Quattro Formaggi (Php 550) and our own choice of coffee and/or drinks. Oh! yes, pizza for breakfast is love with four cheese toppings, hey, it's the middle of the day for us since we started that day so early, we deserved pizza! lol. Enough of justification, I had their signature iced cafe latte which is really good, Kurt had hot chocolate which he didn't like and Tatay choice was White Chocolate Mocha (Php 150) which was too sweet for him after his first sip. We switched it and both are happy and satisfied. My brother Ramil and our driver had Kapeng Barako (Php 110) and Tin had Cappuccino (Php 140) which were all fine.





The fresh and cool air of Southern Luzon completes the comfort and vibe offered by West Lake. Sipping the signature coffee brew at the veranda will give you a glimpse of a perfect sunrise or sunset and of course, a perfect view of the promising, newly opened Twin Lakes Hotel - the Philippines’ first vineyard township community and Tagaytay’s first master-planned integrated tourism destination. Twin Lakes Shopping Village is every inch photogenic and Bag of Beans is a dreamy and romantic dinning spot offering freshly-baked pastries and delightful cuisines everyday.