Whiterock Rocks!

Summer is officially on and we can definitely feel the scorching heat in the air! So if you’re up for some total fun and your skin is yearning to soak under water, it’s time to consider your options for that perfect getaway with your friends and loved ones.

If you don’t want to go too far from the metro but still want the perfect venue, a great choice may be Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel, or simply Whiterock.

Photo grabbed from Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel’s Facebook page

Located in Matain, Subic, Zambales, Whiterock is a resort covering a vast area of seven hectares. And just like what its name implies, it is a waterpark  and beach resort in one, so aside from the wide Subic beach in which guests can experience adventures like jet skiing and banana boat riding, there are also wave pools, water slides, and swimming pools to expect, and even other recreational activities like rappelling, wall climbing, and and ziplining.

It also has around 175 hotel rooms for those who want to spend a night or two in it. Guests can choose accommodations from the main building, Subic View building, Beach side area, and Seaside area as long as there as are still rooms available.

Whiterock map (Photo grabbed from its website)

Whiterock map (Photo grabbed from its website)

Hmmm… Actually, I haven’t really tried being a guest at Whiterock, I was just part of a little group on an ocular visit, searching for the perfect venue for our work’s company outing. And we aren’t exactly a department tasked for this stuff, it just so happened that the Admin Head, a friend and who’s assigned to this yearly, invited me and my package friend to join her, so along with one of the company drivers, we journeyed Zambales to check out different resorts.

Two of the rangers on a mission of finding the perfect location for a company outing! :P

Two of the rangers on a mission of finding the perfect location for a company outing! 😛 (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

Photo opportunity with our camera-shy driver, Kuya Allan. :)) (Photo grabbed from Deth Alegre Boss)

Secret photo opportunity with our camera-shy driver, Kuya Allan. :)) (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

Just a short tour around the resort was enough to get our jaws dropping. Coming from the entrance, the first we saw was the Team Building Grounds. It is so wide that I’m quite sure that the more-than 100 employees in our company can merrily run and roll at it–only if we want to, of course–all together.

Team Building Grounds

Team Building Grounds (Just guess what kind of weather we had while there)

Proceeding to the left, we passed by Pistahan ng Whiterock, a nipa-hut style  function venue, which was one of the improvements made last year.

Pistahan ng Whiterock

Pistahan ng Whiterock

And then there’s the kalesa to add to the native feel of the function area. It’s free to ride in for some photos.

Whiterock (15)

Whiterock (16)

After that, we were welcomed to a little colorful paradise for kids and the young at heart–the Children’s Play Pool area! This where my package friend and I spent most of our time talking and having fun like we were already on the actual outing. LOL.

Whiterock (17)

We just loved the playground ’cause it brought us to our childhood days where we didn’t have anything else to think about but silly stuff. A bit emo, but there really are those kind of days. hehehe

Whiterock (18)

Photos at the Children’s Play Pool area were taken by the funny Kuya Allan

Whiterock (19)

… In which he joked that when we get back to Metro Manila, he’d not only be a driver, but also a photographer. Good job on acquiring a new skill! :))

My package friend and I couldn't help but be crazy while at the swing. Photos were taken while our swings were in motion. XD

My package friend and I couldn’t help but be crazy while at the swing. Photos were taken while our swings were in motion. 😄

Right behind the playground is the pool itself complete with kiddie slides. Off limits for us on this part as we didn’t bring extra clothes with us and hey, we were merely on an ocular visit.

Kiddie slides at the Children's Play Pool!

Kiddie slides at the Children’s Play Pool!

At the side of the pool

At the side of the pool

The Children's Play Pool taken from a higher place (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

The Children’s Play Pool taken from a higher place (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth Alegre)

A little while later, the Admin Head, Boss Deth, called us to the Grand Pool. And oh, this isn’t called such for nothing. Aside from being big, it has two big white rocks in the pool itself, and even a bigger white boulder that serves as a wall, in which, yes, the name of the resort was taken. The former rocks even have an interesting legend which you can read on the second photo below.

The Grand Pool also has a see-saw slide behind it

The Grand Pool also has a see-saw slide behind it

Legend has it...

Legend has it…

Of course, we couldn't leave the place without a photo one of the white rocks.

Of course, me, my package friend, and Boss Deth couldn’t leave the place without a photo with one of the white rocks. (Photo grabbed from BossDeth)

Because the pool is huge, guests can play ball in it complete with a net and even ride on the big life buoys. And guess what, its life guard was nice enough to let me and my package friend experience one of the latter for a few seconds. hehe

With this photo, who would think that we were only on a short visit? XD

With this photo, who would think that we were only on a short visit? 😄 (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth)

At the right side of the Grand Pool is the Rampage Pool then beside it is Big Bowl Waterslide which looks so exciting to slide at.

Rampage Waterslide

Rampage Waterslide

The Big Bowl Waterslide. Shame I could only imagine myself going in circles in it at the moment.

The Big Bowl Waterslide. Shame I could only imagine myself going in circles in it at the moment. 😦 😛

To complete the ocular visit, we went to the other side of the resort where in we passed by the Giant Wave Pool and Children’s Plunge Pools, before finally heading to the beach.

The Chilren's Plung Pool at our back. Please don't mind our silliness with the innocent statue. hahaha

The Chilren’s Plung Pool at our back. Please don’t mind our silliness with the innocent naked statue. hahaha (Photo grabbed from Boss Deth)

The beach is nice! The sand is white that I don’t mind sacrificing my fair complexion just to enjoy that part of the resort!

The beach area. See the mountains there? That's the Subic Mountain Ranges! Nice view,huh?

The beach area. See the mountains there? That’s the Subic Mountain Ranges! Nice view,huh?

Whiterock (27)

Photo op with white sand! :D

Photo op with white sand! 😀

We headed to the Viewing Island which I think is perfect for some solitary thinking while staring at the horizon. Haha Oftentimes, my thoughts are only good for the lovers of solitude.

At the Viewing Island

At the Viewing Island

Then since we weren’t official guests, we were only able to disturb the peace and quiet of the jet skis on their parking space. Well, at least the staff assigned to it allowed us to experience them albeit us looking stupid. The man had fun watching our wackiness, by the way.

Turn to the right!

Turn to the right!

Turn to the left!

Turn to the left!

Stand up and put your hands up!

Stand up and put your hands up!

Wait! We were already surfing on the parked jet ski! Wahahaha XD

Wait! We were already surfing on the parked jet ski! Wahahaha 😄

Aside from the dining and entertainment areas, the only places we didn’t get to see were the accommodations since according to the crew that entertained us, all the guest rooms were full at the time, so of course, we couldn’t just barge in to check them out.

Despite that, we were happy with the visit, no matter how short, and we were convinced that it’s the perfect place for our company outing that all the other resorts we checked became so, so nothing compared to it. Sadly, it wasn’t approved by our work’s management because with a beautiful place like that, the company’s budget for the outing didn’t match with Whiterock’s rates. Pffft.

But looking at the brighter side, at least we got know such a wonderful and fun place. For free. 😛

Interested with the resort? Visit Whiterock’s webpage at http://www.whiterock.com.ph and find yourself wanting to be there in a jiffy!

 

 

Whiterock Waterpark and Beach Hotel
Matain, Subic, Zambales
Tel. #: (047) 222.2378 / 232.2857
Mobile #: +63922.813.3630 / +63917.863.0844
Telefax #:(047) 232.4446
E-mail: reservation@whiterock.com.ph

Morals of the Story

For every trouble that comes our way, it is important that we do not only overcome the pain and turmoil, but also get lessons which aims are to make us better persons and give us a better perspective of the world.

In 2012, I met my biggest problem thus far and it sure shook me, and crippled me for a while until I decided to break free and stand up if I really wanted that genuine smile on my face again.  It was no cinch, letting go and moving on with life, but with the careful analysis of everything that occurred, which helped me learn God’s purpose for giving me that chaos, I was able to do it and now I’m reaping good fruits.

I have no plans of recounting what happened now that everything is completely over, but I believe what I learned deserves a space in my blog. So here they are:

#1
Do not be too likable. Sometimes, having no one who has any problems with you can cause you a big problem.

#2
Sometimes, it’s helpful to follow your intuition. If you’ve felt any doubt about something or someone right from the start, maybe it’s better to stay away from it or that person immediately. Set aside your being stubborn and say-no-to-quitting attitude.

#3
Ask if you have questions, worries, or doubts. Ask.

#4
Be cautious on who you give your care to. Especially if you have the tendency to care too much. At the end, you may already be doing it for the wrong people and this can hurt you big time.

#5
Fight if you know you’re on the right side. Make sure you’re heard.

#6
Sometimes, it’s better to take sides instead of settling to be in the middle. ‘Cause for all you know, the safest place may turn out to be the most dangerous.

#7
Stay away from people with big problems. You may sink with them and become a codependent. Tsktsk. Bad for your health.

#8
Making a mess is sometimes good for it can show you who your real friends are. It can also yield good results.

#9
Okay, it’s your life. But sometimes, it’s goddamn better if you listen to your friends. If they tell you to stop, maybe they see that you really need to stop. Remember: They are concerned about you and they are just protecting you from pain.

#10
Do not completely trust anyone from the other side.

#11
It’s never wrong to have the habit of looking at the brighter side, but learn when not to do it. Remember, too much optimism lets your guard down, making you unaware when bamboozlers have already crept their way toward you, tainting you with their horridness.

#12
WTP  (Acronym for ‘Wag Tanga Please, in English, Do Not be Stupid.)

#13
Shut your big mouth if you can’t say it to the person you’re talking about.

🙂

The Dragon Baby Says Thank You!

Earth Dragon baby in the 2012 Year of the Water Dragon. ~

The best year isn’t always the one that gave you the most laughs and fun times. Instead, it may be that when you received the proper spanking, which made you learn so much in life.

The year 2012 is that year for me. It topped my 2008 as the most unforgettable with the way it fastened me tight on a roller coaster, giving me the ride of my life. It made me laugh harder and smile wider and more often, breathe fire in anger, get butterflies in my stomach, feel stupid and weak, set barriers up with people I don’t feel good about, appreciate friends and family more, fight for what I think is right, feel my heart pounding hard due to stress, learn and try new stuff, spend more time awake than asleep, become more vigilant, submit to forgiving and forgetting, surrender my proclaimed independent mind and seek people for help, and even create rivers of tears for so many nights on my way home from work–which scared my Mom and sister for witnessing that one deemed the strongest in the family at her most vulnerable.

It was a crazy year that proved I’m a warrior armed with all the metaphorical weapons all over my body. It showed me that being unbelievably nice is noble, but there should be a boundary between it and that pathetic thing called martyrdom. And that I shouldn’t expect everybody to reciprocate everything I do for them. It also taught me to love myself, to put myself first before anyone and anything else, because with an incredibly stubborn mind like mine, it is only I that can really save myself from drowning at the end.

It was crazy. Crazy, indeed. But as nerve-racking as it may have been, 2012 is still the bombastic year I wished for during its New Year’s Eve. I can even confidently say that I have no regrets with every move I made. In fact, I cannot imagine doing otherwise, more so any other aftermaths than what there is now. I know everything that happened will play a huge role in how I’ll act, think, and perceive the world in the future. And with the abundant optimism God blessed me with, I am thankful that I still see the world the same as before, He only tainted me with a little bit of pessimism to balance everything out and to protect me. God designed my year 2012 to get me ready for more lemons that will be thrown at me in the coming days. And now, I’m very much ready for more challenges.

 

Of course, everything wouldn’t be possible without the people around me.

With no hard feelings now that it’s turning into a distant and blurry past, I give my sincerest thanks to those who shattered me. I have come to understand that God sent them to me to wake me up and help me realize gazillion things. They were blessings in disguise to me, and without them, I wouldn’t discover who and what matter most. THANK YOU.

Then my warmest gratitude goes to those who helped me pick the pieces up, not just to bring me back to my old self, but also to form the happier, stronger, and wiser person I am today. They know who they are. For those I have baptized as my “brutal friends”, thank you for the sweet but piercing reprimands and the constant and forceful pulls whenever I seemed to lose track of the right path. This extremely adamant Aries-meets-Dragon lady needed those blows. For those who have chosen to treat me the tender way, thank you, too, especially to those who listened to me and obligingly gave their advices and opinions ’til who knows until what time it was–thus the term “unhealthy friendship” was born. For those who listened to my stories and endless rants and never got tired of them, for those I have frightened with the tears that always came unannounced, for those who supported me and are still standing at my back waiting for the next chances to help me more, for those who didn’t and hopefully will never give me up, for those who effortlessly made me laugh, smile, and appreciate life and its every moment more, for those who shared their lives to me, for every helping hand whenever I need them and even when I didn’t ask for them, for all the good times, for the friendship, THANK YOU. THANK YOU, EVERYONE. I am unsure if I have already thanked everybody enough, so I just immortalized my appreciation in this page.

For some who are unaware of what I went through and even those who think they have little to no contribution in my life, I would also want to thank them. For just being around me, being able to make me smile, laugh, think, and some, even irk me, they have also made significant impact in my life and helped in my growth, I assure them. Again, THANK YOU.

 

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charisse Reyes

Charisse Reyes

Carlo Reyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarissa Catalina Repollo

Jocelyn Que

Mary Ernestine Yao

Rajiv Idnani

Yuko Konishi-Legaspi

Yuko Konishi-Legaspi (Photo grabbed from Yuko Konishi-Legaspi)

Meynard (the only guy on the photo)

John Joseph Santiago (the only guy on the photo)

Abigail Lucas ~

Mae Winky Mozelle Veluz

John Herald Cachola (middle) *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desiree Quijalvo (Right)

Desiree Quijalvo (Right) *

John Carell Fababeir (the only guy on the photo) *

Jorice Oliveros (left)

Tita Elvira Angeles (farthest left), Tita Gregoria Candelaria (third to the right), Tita Josefina Evangelista (second to the right), and Nanay Priscila Nazareth (farthest right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ate Beverly Candelaria-Garcia (left)

Ate Jeramae Evangelista-Santos (farthest left) and Ate Pamela Angeles (the woman holding the baby)

Michael Rey-Ann Norte

Michael Rey-An Norte (left) (Photo grabbed from Cha Reyes)

(Top, from left) Cedric Reyes, Lexus Reyes, Ate Charm Rebong, Cha Reyes, Alexis Reyes, Gelai Rebong, (Bottom, from left) Me, Monique Rodriguez, Jay Ar Rebong, Ivo Rebong, CarloReyes

(Top, from left) Cedric Reyes, Lexus Reyes, Ate Charm Rebong, Cha Reyes, Alexis Reyes, Gelai Rebong, (Bottom, from left) Me, Monique Rodriguez, Jay Ar Rebong, Ivo Rebong, Carlo Reyes (Photo grabbed from Lexus Reyes)

The Reyes Family

The Reyes Family (Photo grabbed from Tita Malyn Reyes)

Sir Hermie Morelos

Sir Hermie Morelos (Photo grabbed from Ms April Ramos)

Boss Deth Alegre

Boss Deth Alegre

Sir Butch Reyes

Ms April Ramos Ana Marie Nibal Juvy Tan (L to R)

Ms April Ramos, Ana Marie Nibal, and Juvy Tan (L to R) (Photo grabbed from Ana Marie Nibal)

Cristine Leal (Left) and Darah Manigo (Right)

Cristine Leal (Left) and Darah Manigo (Right)

Randolf Santos (right)

Antonio Apatan Jr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Antonette Basbas

Abraham Basbas

Jayson Domer (the only guy on the photo) (Photo taken in 2011) *

Shirley Tito (middle) *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malou Alvarez (Left)

Malou Alvarez (Left) *

Eldie Arubang (farthest right) *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Karl Acepcion (middle) *

Rosanna Manansala (third to the left) *

Licelle Andaya (Second to the left), Sir Jojo Munoz (only guy), and Ms Shiela Ecube (farthest right) *

Noli Pionilla (farthest right) *

Sam Jaictin (farthest left) *

Tito Fred Alcaraz (Only guy on the photo)

Tito Fred Alcaraz (the only guy on the photo) *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fellow Hikers

Fellow Hikers at Mt Daguldol *

Ms Ana Valencia (second to the right) and Ms Tonet (farthest right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guia Trinidad (middle) *

Suzanne Uang (Photo  grabbed from Suzanne Uang)

Ivan Anyayahan (the only guy on the photo) *

TY Joan San Diego

Joan San Diego

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna Ayroso (farthest left) (Photo taken in 2011) *

ITI Philippines Interns (people on the left side) and Michelle Joy Dela Cruz (girl in pink standing on the left) (Photo taken in 2011) *

Yttel Anne Robles (farthest right) (Photo taken in 2011) *

Of course, lastly, I would like to thank my partners- in-crime in photo taking: Kiki, my Sony digicam, and Steven, my iPod Touch. ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, and the most important of all, there’s my Creator. I have the greatest feeling now that I have completely rekindled my relationship with Him. I still have my shortcomings, but still, I know that He’s just there, patiently waiting for me and loving and protecting me. I have realized that optimism minus Him is as good as a life filled with nothing but negativity. I thank Him for the dark days for I know He placed those to make me come running back to His loving arms, and so that’s what I did. I thank Him for the unyielding love and concern. He truly is amazing and I don’t know if I have already praised and worshipped Him enough to deserve the overflowing blessings He has been showering me with. LORD, THANK YOU, I AM YOUR SERVANT AND I’LL DO EVERYTHING NEVER TO GO ASTRAY EVER AGAIN. 🙂

 

It’s been a few days since we said farewell to 2012 and my original plan was to post this on the first day of 2013. I failed because I had a hard time writing this entry as memories came rushing back, thus, I was teary-eyed every once in a while. I actually thought of discontinuing this, but a friend encouraged me saying that since she witnessed how my 2012 is very different, it deserves a space in my blog for the record. And she’s right. With everything that happened, though I didn’t specify them here, the year deserves to be written and be re-read again and again in the future to remind me and to poke me whenever my over positivity will make me forget of what I’ve been through.

With this post, I close another chapter of my life and turn to the next blank pages for a more fruitful and more blessed year.

2013, I’m ready! 🙂

 

 

—–

Photo Credits:

* – Champy Cachola

~ – Abigail Lucas

My Heart Belongs to Hong Kong!

The first is always the most memorable. And in my first travel’s case, it wasn’t just unforgettable, I even left my heart there and made sure it stays just there.

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

I am lucky to once belong in a company where travelling abroad for event coverage was part of the job’s description. During my one year and four months with it, I was able to attend and write about two international trade fairs of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The first, which coincidentally was also my first time abroad, was the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in April 2010, and the second was the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) in October of that same year. Among the two, the former has always been the one that’s on my mind.

Filipino Overseas Journalist at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

Filipino Overseas Journalist (OJ) at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

That first time opened my eyes to a dream that’s almost the only reason why I want to earn money nowadays. It made me realize how I want to travel the world and get to know other cultures and how their places look like. The best part of it was that the air fare, terminal fee, accommodation, and daily breakfasts were paid by HKTDC, it was only the other expenses that I had to take care of.

Solitary in An Unknown Place

The 22-year-old me, alone in HK. :)

The 22-year-old me, alone and busy working in HK. 🙂

HKTDC allows only one overseas journalist per media firm. And as a homebody who was a greenhorn to travelling even just around Metro Manila then, one would expect that I felt scared with going to a foreign country alone and it even made me want to back out, but no, it was the other way around. It was thrilling, just thinking about it. I consider myself as the independent type and I get excited over anything new, so I didn’t mind the solitary experience at all.

So with only my baggage, the company name, and myself to carry, I went to Hong Kong alone and full of anticipation.

Just a few walks at the Hong Kong International Airport, and it already made me realize that one of my favorite quotes which says, “Perfect arrival is not arriving at all,” is not always true. The airport is humongous, in fact, it has a train inside. And first timers won’t be anxious in Hong Kong since it is very tourist friendly.

HK map, my travel buddy.

HK map, my travel buddy.

In fact, maps in English, Chinese, and Japanese languages are in abundance at the airport and one can get as much as they want. They’re easy to use and comprehend, that’s why I always say to people that if they can’t understand it, I don’t know what else I’ll think of them. Those colorful papers are complete with information from street names to all the possible exits in subways. They’re perfect even for people like me who are not exactly good in reading maps, and geography in general.

Then there’s the weather. The whole time I was there, it was quite rainy and the temperature ranged from 19°C-21°C during daylight. I don’t get cold easily that’s why that temperature, cool enough to make me wear a jacket and just right to make me still feel comfortable, is what I loved most about my stay in Hong Kong. I could just walk endlessly on the streets (which are, mind you, don’t only look safe, but are also really safe), without feeling even the tiniest bit of exhaustion. It was even during those walks when I always thought that I finally found the right place for me.

But with my work as the priority of that trip, I only had time for leisure in the evenings and the morning of my last day–the fifth one. So I was only able to wander around Wan Chai, Central, and some parts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, and Mong Kok.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Central 2

Central 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I wasn’t able to go as far as Lantau Island for Hong Kong Disneyland and Aberdeen for Hong Kong Ocean Park because:

1. Time constraint

Where to?

Where to?

2. I had limited resources, my salary then was just right for everyday living in my homeland

3. At 22, I still didn’t have enough guts to go that far

4. Besides, I couldn’t imagine myself being truly merry in an amusement park and oceanarium all by myself. For me, it’s a place where I need to have somebody with me whom I can instantly share my excitement with.

I also failed going to Victoria Peak, which entrance is just in Central, for the same reasons.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

Standin in Ave. of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Standing in Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But though I missed what could have been three of the best in Hong Kong, the places I had been to were enough to make me fall in love with the region. Solitary walking is when I think and observe most so I was able to witness the beauty of Hong Kong and the discipline of the Hong Kongers. And I began admiring the place for those.

 

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

People

 

My Temporary Home Sweet Home

As I said above, HKTDC pays for the accommodation of its OJs. And maybe because it has a connecting path to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), but Renaissance Harbour View  Hotel Hong Kong is the chosen lovely abode for OJs during their stay in Hong Kong, and I felt really fortunate for it.

Located at the scenic Wan Chai Waterfront, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong is a four-star luxury hotel complete with landscaped pool, gym, restaurant, and amenities from cable TV, to iron for clothes.

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

I was given a room with two single beds, one for me and one for my messy stuff. It was nice and comfortable with almost everything I need already there.

Inside my hotel room

Inside my hotel room

My two beds

My two beds

This is how messy I can be. And I didn't bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. XD

This is how messy I can be. And I didn’t bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. 😄

 

The hotel boasts of its harbour view, but my room was located at the other side so what I saw whenever I looked at the big glass window was the garden view. It was alright, though. It was still relaxing to stare at.

 

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel's garden view

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel’s garden view

 

Going to the hotel wasn’t without a flaw for me. Since the airport is two islands away from Hong Kong Island where the hotel is, HKTDC also pays for the shuttle service called Airport Hotelink Limousine to bring us OJs to Renaissance, and back to the airport on our last day.

What happened was because the staff of the shuttle had a Chinese accent, I didn’t understand him when he asked who would they be dropping off this hotel and that. And the thing is, I didn’t know that there is a Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and there’s also a hotel simply called Harbour View Hotel. I was dropped to the latter. Sheesh. So with my stroller with me, I walked from the latter to the former all while I was completely unsure if I was going the right direction. Good thing it isn’t at all that unusual to walk around Hong Kong with a stroller.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

‘Cause No Man is An Island

I went to Hong Kong alone, but I met a few people during my stay. The first was the Concierge of Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, Dino Recile, who is one of the three Filipinos among the hotel employees. He was introduced to me by the (cute) male receptionist who took care of my checking-in in the hotel. (Confession time: I had an instant crush on the receptionist, and we had a short conversation that went:

Me: *busy looking at the floor*

Receptionist: We have the same birthday.

Me: Huh? What? *I looked at him*

Receptionist: The same birthday, month and day. *smiling and pointing at my birth date on my passport *

Me: Oh. *I smiled, too* How about the year?

Receptionist: No. 1983.

Me: Oh. Okay. *And my instant crush on him was born*

Receptionist: Wait, I’ll introduce you to our Filipino co-worker. *Went somewhere*

Me: *Started counting our age gap*)

And it was then when Dino Recile and I met.

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I would be writing about him

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I was to write about him

Dino is a typical Filipino, hospitable, happy, and amiable. He served as my tour guide, in fact, he was responsible why I enjoyed my short stay in Hong Kong. All I had to do was go to him and ask him where best to go given my short time, and he would obligingly pull a map then tell me directions on how to get here and there. Then whenever I got bored and I needed someone to talk to, I just go to his location in the lobby and ask him about his experiences in Hong Kong, and in turn, I shared what was new in the Philippines then.

I also met two OJs at the fair’s Networking Reception. The first was Ms Kim SunJung from South Korea, and the other was Mr Rakesh Desai from India. I think I was the youngest among the OJs so I couldn’t help but be shy on everyone.

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Rakesh Desai from India

With Rakesh Desai from India

Then during my last day in Hong Kong, since it was also the day when I would be going back to the Philippines, I wasn’t required to roam around HKCEC anymore, so what I did was go to places I hadn’t been to, and it was when I met a few Filipinos.

There’s a Filipino restaurant in Wan Chai called Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, and the owner, Mang Ambo, is there during lunch time. He learned that I was in Hong Kong just for the fair and he told me that there are many Filipino journalists around the place who also eat in his restaurant, and that if I was interested in working in Hong Kong, maybe I could talk to some of them.

Then there was also an architect who has been living there with his family for already quite some time, and another, an unemployed woman on the look for a job there. It was nice talking in my native language in a foreign land.

After eating, I went straight to the Avenue of Stars located in Tsim Sha Tsui. While I was resting, I was spotted by a seaman in the name of Marny. He asked me if I was a Filipino and I said yes, and so we talked mostly about his family and girlfriend, who is now his wife, by the way. And they’re already expecting a baby soon! ^_^ Yes, we still have a connection until now.

 

Eats Time to Eat!

Of course, a travel experience isn’t complete without our palates tasting what the unknown place has to offer. So although I didn’t have a lot of money to burn, I still made it a point to eat some of the food in Hong Kong.

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On my first day, while looking for Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, I got lost so I ended up eating at Sun Thai Restaurant where I ordered Fried Noodle with Beef in Malaysian Sauce with free tea of my choice.

At first, the dish was really delicious, but as I consume those thick pasta, I felt like throwing everything up. At the end, I wasn’t able to finish it, and I didn’t feel good the entire day. I wasn’t able to eat dinner because of that, too. 😐

Lesson learned that day: Camille isn’t a noodle person, she still prefers rice all the way!

Besides, food servings in Hong Kong are bigger compared to those in the Philippines, so it was quite overwhelming to eat that much food.

"See? I wasn't able to finish this darn food. :| Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food."--My Facebook caption on this photo

“See? I wasn’t able to finish this darn food. 😐 Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food.”–My Facebook caption to this photo

The second cuisine I tried was at a Cantonese restaurant called Spicy Mama in Jordan, Kowloon with SunJung right after the Networking Reception. Its staff are pure Cantonese and cannot speak English, so its menu for foreigners are all photos, and its customers will have to rely on their sight’s judgment for the food they want to order.

We had the Deep Fried Spicy Crab and another vegetable dish. The crab was scrumptious, but the vegetable, well, I almost didn’t touch it when I saw it was full of onions.

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

Then because of what happened on my first day, I became skeptical of almost any unfamiliar food I saw. So to be safe, I ate at Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant during lunch and sometimes, even during dinner for the remaining days.

Mang Ambo's Restaurant in Wan Chai

Mang Ambo’s Restaurant in Wan Chai

The restaurant is a turo-turo style like that in the Philippines, so if you’re a Filipino living in Hong Kong and you suddenly miss the atmosphere of your homeland, this restaurant is the place to be.

For only 23HKD, a customer is served with one rice and one viand of their choice of Filipino cuisine, and it’s 28HKD for two viands with one rice.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo's with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo’s with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Shopping Time!

Hong Kong is like a big shopping center with some of the richest people in the Philippines going there only to shop whenever they want. And although I was short on resources, I still bought some stuff for my family and myself.

The best place to go to in Hong Kong for affordable items is the night market in Tung Choi St, Mong Kok, Kowloon. I heard customers can haggle all they want until they get the price they desire there, so even if it was raining during that time, I braved the night and was satisfied with everything I bought when I got back to the hotel.

Shopping 1

Shopping 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Here and There

Hong Kong is just a three-island Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, but it’s still big enough for people not be able to stroll around on foot. So transportation is still essential to get from point A to point B. I was only able to ride on two, though (Aside from the shuttle).

A must-try in Hong Kong is the Star Ferry which operates in the Victoria Harbour. For the price of only 2.50HKD Mondays-Fridays and 3.40HKD Saturdays-Sundays and public holidays, a person can already cross from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and vice versa by sea. Then from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and vice versa, the lower deck costs 2.0HKD and the upper deck 2.50KD on Mondays-Fridays, and the lower deck 2.8HKD and upper deck 3.40HKD on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Star Ferry: 2.50HKD per ride

Star Ferry

Star Ferry 2

Star Ferry 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then my favorite is the MTR ,or the Mass Transit Railway, which serves the whole of Hong Kong. I find this really cool, especially the interchanging stations where I didn’t have to wait long for the next train to come.
Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

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But what’s cooler than the MTR is the Octopus Card, a rechargeable smart card used in paying for all the transportation available in Hong Kong, except perhaps the taxi (Not sure). It can also be used in convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parking meters, car parks, vending machines, and service stations. It’s an all-in-one card that doesn’t have an expiration date. Mine is actually still with me and it still has 48HKD, which I can use on my next visit to Hong Kong, whenever that may be. 🙂

 

 
And that was my whole first experience in travelling and Hong Kong. It was a marvelous experience and I’m looking forward to visiting more countries in the future.

Have you been to Hong Kong? Did you like it the same way I do? 🙂

 

 

 

Deboned Goodness: Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata

A few months have passed, but I can still remember that moment when I first had the taste of something sooooooooooooo delectable, and so, so worth raving about.

I am talking about Serye‘s Boneless Crispy Pata. If you look at the photo below, the presentation alone would make your mouth water in anticipation, and that’s even in person. So just imagine when it finally touches your taste buds. Mmmm…

Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata at 130 pesos per 100 grams

Discovering the Goodness

Before anything else, let me first tell how I came to learn about the restaurant.

Serye was introduced to me by a close friend and office mate who went eating at its Eastwood branch with two colleagues one lunch break. As a person who likes sharing everything to me, she quickly told me she wanted to make me try its offerings especially the Boneless Crispy Pata, and so she went on talking about it for a few days until at last, our plan to eat together there materialized.

I think we just got our salaries when we headed to the same branch (it’s very near our office) with one of the co-workers she went with her first time. So both of us decided to treat this office mate, the company’s admin head, because she has been really nice to us even if she is just a new acquaintance.

It was around 12nn so the restaurant was full and we waited a few minutes before we got our table. The place was nice and cozy and the crew was really accommodating, but waiting for the food was taking forever, or maybe we were just running out of time since we only had an hour. Setting that aside though, once the food we ordered were already on our table, I forgot that I waited (one of my greatest pet peeves is waiting) and instead, pure satisfaction took over me that by the time we went out of the place, it was my turn to rave about it ceaselessly and enthusiastically to my friends and family.

Inside Serye, Eastwood branch

The Taste of Goodness

We ordered two viands, the Boneless Crispy Pata and Sinigang na Bangus Belly (Bangus is milkfish in English). At 215 pesos per order, the latter is equally superb, only that I think there was too little bangus in it that it seemed like it was a Sinigang na Gulay (Gulay is vegetable in English.), if such food exists. It was delicious that I didn’t find myself hoping there was a fish sauce nearby, and the slices of fish took no fuss in chewing because they didn’t have even a single bone when it’s known to have lots of it, but hey, it is really, really the former that I want to focus on in this post.

Serye’s Sinigang na Gulay… Er… I mean, Sinigang na Bangus Belly at 215 pesos

So what is a Crispy Pata? (It’s so off when the photo above this is not what I’m talking about. hehe Please forgive it. ‘^_^)

Crispy Pata is a Filipino dish made of a pig’s trotter, boiled in salted water, vinegar, and onions (or so my mother said), then deep-fried making its skin oh-so crunchy. When eating, it is dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, sliced onion, chopped garlic, green chili pepper, pepper, and a little bit of sugar for added flavor.

When I was a kid, I remember how everyone would devour it once placed on the table like not doing so would leave them with nothing during family reunions. And now, I was able to have a taste of Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata. As the name would suggest, it is deboned, therefore, there’s no hassle in consuming it, ’cause all you have to do is chew and chew and chew, and indulge your taste buds and tummy. Now that’s total pampering for you!

It is also sliced to the right thickness for more ease in eating, and is cooked perfectly, so expect juicy meat meets crispy skin as you put a bite size in your mouth. It costs 130 pesos per 100 grams, or 600+ pesos for a small size (like on that first photo above) that’s good for three people. Of course, Serye also serves the regular Crispy Pata for a cheaper price of 100 pesos per 100 grams, but with the boneless one around, I believe it will be just a second option.

Serye’s Boneless Crispy Pata is the restaurant’s newest bestseller and is one of the dishes, along with the Kare-Kare, that won the Sooo Pinoy, The Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish award.

The Goodness that is Serye

Serye not only offers Filipino dishes, but also cakes, pasteries, and coffee.

A little trivia about Serye: The name of the restaurant is short and simple, but behind it is a total creativity and a hidden message. Serye is an anagram of the owner’s surname, Reyes, since the menu was based on the recipes of the Reyes family matriarch, Engracia Cruz Reyes (I suggest you click the link before this, she was totally amazing). Aside from that, the word serye, or series in English, signifies the restaurant’s mission, which is “to carry on the family’s culinary tradition.” As a person who’s in love with words, I find this totally awesome.

Currently, Serye has three branches in QC Memorial Circle (924.3411 / 426.2693 / 0921.8489149), in Santana Grove, Sucat (825.4691 / 826.9317 / 0915.2276042), and at Eastwood City (911.2334 / 709.3712 / 0921.3708648). Visit one of them now and be filled with real goodness!

P.S. Yes, I am a Reyes but no, I’m not related to these Reyeses, though I have joked that my father owns it and I was assigned to manage the Eastwood branch. hehe 🙂

Touchdown, Guards Down

Both feet finally touching the land you once thought you can only reach in your dreams can ultimately give you all the excitement in the world. But it may be helpful if you stop for a while, breathe in, breathe out, and take time to check for some warning signs first.

Epic, Simply Epic

Finally… Macau! Just a couple of years ago, we were merely happily dreaming of this place as we sit on our college classroom chairs, but now, here we are, living the dream. And oh, how cool is that, there’s a mini shuttle bus that transfers passengers from the airplane to the terminal!

It was almost midnight when we arrived at the Macau International Airport, but our energies were still soaring as if a new day just began. As girls who always get thrilled over new things and experiences, we were so full of anticipation as to what we might expect and do in that foreign land.

First things first. Documentation!

Inside the “mini shuttle bus” at the Macau International Airport. Not sure if it’s called that, though. Correct me if I’m wrong. Thank  you! (Photo by Abigail Lucas)

My friend’s DSLR and my iPod Touch out, we started taking photos in the mini shuttle bus then we got more excited when we reached the terminal. Because of the time, there were only three lines and we chose the one at the middle. While waiting, my friend told me to take a pose for a photo and so I did just that and gave the cutest smile I could come up with. After a shot, she told me she’d take another one so I happily gave another pose.

She then handed me her camera which I obligingly took and we exchanged places for her turn. Looking at the viewfinder, I started to focus my friend’s gadget. Having a bigger and heavier lens than other DSLRs, plus the fact that I am thin, always makes it hard for me to use it so it constantly takes me longer to take a shot.

Oh, someone’s shouting. But who cares, I’m busy.

“Miss! Miss!”

Focus… Focus… 1… 2… 3…

Click!

“Miss! Miss!”

Another one! Focus… Focus… It’s heavy… Foc…

Hard tap! Tap! on my right shoulder.

I lowered the DSLR, shocked, and looked at the person who distracted me.

“No camera! No camera!” said the tall, thin man in blue uniform as he waved his right hand firmly at me. An Immigration officer!

The world stopped as he went back to his post. My friend and I then fell in line again silently and looked forward to be faced with a huge board with signs, Chinese characters, and Roman letters in neon lights. Among the information that were written and posted there were reminders that cellular phones and cameras (Yes!) are not allowed in the area. The Immigration area.

“Maaaaacccc (One of my nicknames), it’s embarrassing!” My friend told me and I could only smile at her.

We kept quiet and tried to act as if nothing happened but we couldn’t, and I was quite sure I heard murmurs with the word “camera” from the people around us. Uh-oh. We were at the middle of the area and everybody surely saw what happened!

Minutes slowly passed, the lines got shorter, and we were more and more terrified. What if the Immigration officer that would look at our passports decides to have us deported back to our country?

Thank goodness what happened wasn’t such a grave mistake. We were able to pass through the officer in charge of our line and we were also able to see and experience Macau as planned but with some paranoia every now and then about taking photos in certain public places.

Oh well. So much for this (too) embarrassing experience.

Caught on cam: No Cellular Phones and No Cameras signs in neon lights. Readers, don’t try this on your travel abroad. (Photo by Abigail Lucas)

Ignorance, indeed, is never bliss (Not my first time to travel abroad but it was my first with a company so I never bothered with such before). But looking at the brighter side, flaws like this at least remind us that to err is human, therefore, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves and others, and, hey, things like this happen so that we can have some worthwhile memories to laugh at in the future. 🙂