Saturday, September 24

Costales Nature Farms

I have always eyed visiting this farm located in the rural town of Majayjay in Laguna. And I was glad that I finally got the chance to do so with my friends. We spent three days here and I must say it was one of highlights in my current traveling year. I have now ticked another Laguna destination off my bucket list. 

Costales Nature Farms is not the usual bed & breakfast. What makes it a standout is its practice of organic farming, thereafter promoting a better and fitter lifestyle. And more importantly, their advocacy of supporting the success of local farmers. 

Monday, September 19

A Taste of Mediterranean Countryside at Estancia Resort Tagaytay

When I think of Mediterranean, a picture of the cliff side villages of Santorini in Greece comes to my mind. But Greece is halfway across the globe and a visit to it is all but a dream for now. Recently, I got to experience how to stay in one of Santorini's all-white villa when I spent a quiet night in Estancia Resort Tagaytay.

Me and a friend arrived late as a surprise rain shower hit the metro. But I welcomed the thought as Tagaytay's cool breeze would quickly lull us to sleep that night. The rain suddenly turned into a drizzle upon our arrival. 

We went straight to our room, a Santorini Villa, as we were unable to explore the hotel grounds. But the bleak weather didn't dampen our mood and we were welcomed by a refreshing sight of an all-white room with splashes of the color blue. Our room has a veranda with a gracious view of the other villas below, the Taal lake and a partial view of the volcano itself. On a clear day when the sun is high, the landscape is simply breathtaking.

Our twin room was quite spacious. It had a shower and bath, a desk with lamp, a phone, a cable TV and a private veranda all to ourselves. A Bible was also neatly placed on the bedside table. It put a smile on my face as this has already become a rare sight in most hotels I have visited. The place is very suited for a quiet reflection. And a Bible would be the perfect aid for an injured Christian's soul.

The hotel gifted us with complimentary snacks. We had a hard time leaving our beds as the air-conditioning was on full blast. We needed to secure a few necessities but the staff turned out to be very helpful and tended to all our requests. We just called in what we needed and it was brought to our room right away. 


I prayed for a nicer weather the next morning so I could fully enjoy the hotel's amenities. And the gods answered my calls when the sun shone. I had finally seen the resort grounds in all its glory. Vast and peaceful. Serene and rustic. An all-white seclusion on top of the cliffs gifted with one of the most magnificent views. Estancia Resort Tagaytay is surprisingly magnanimous.



Guests are free to use the different hotel facilities. I peeped into their Entertainment Hall and relaxed in the jacuzzi. I also swam a few laps in their big pool with no other companion but my mermaid tail. I think though that the facilities just needed a little upkeep every now and then. The hotel could also play some music during breakfast or open the water fountains for the guests to enjoy. There is no sound more soothing than flowing water. :)


Flowering plants could also give more color in the gardens but I guess I could expect this in the summer months. But the resort is already grand in a special way and it no longer needs extravagant designs.  

Estancia Tagaytay's grounds are very suitable for gatherings like weddings and debuts. They also have several indoor functions rooms. 


The Santorini Villas are located farthest from the main hall. The elderly or those with very young kids may choose to book the Deluxe Rooms instead which are situated nearest the gardens. But if you don't mind walking and getting the best view, then these are the rooms you must stay in.

It was notable too that Wi-Fi was not available in our room. Wi-Fi is strongest in the dining hall and reception but I was still able to get a signal in the swimming pool area, strong enough to update my social media. However, this would be inconvenient for working guests like me as I still need to drag myself back to the lobby. I am not aware if internet connection was not really offered in their rooms or was simply broken. I was unable to inquire. But if it was purposefully not included in the room features, perhaps it was also the hotel's way of promoting the idea of a 
total vacation - cut-off from the latest modern communication. 

Our room came with complimentary plated breakfast. I also loved the fact that the other side of the restaurant is made of glass walls. Dining with a gorgeous view definitely pumped me up as I tend to get lazy at times.



My last few hours were spent in the four corners of my room, munching on chips whilst watching my favorite action movie on cable. I stole a quick nap before gathering my things. I snapped a few selfies before checking out. I bid goodbye to Taal and walked back to the main reception area. 

My stay in Estancia Tagaytay was made more pleasant by the attentive hotel staff, punctuated with warm greetings of a safe commute back home. 

_________

Estancia Resort Tagaytay
Book Now!
www.estanciatagaytay.com.ph
Zone II Brgy. San Jose, Tagaytay City 
Cavite 4120, Philippines 
+63.46.413.1331
+63.939.237.9813

Tuesday, September 13

Basílica Menor de San Sebastian

San Sebastian Church is made from steel and the first of its kind in Asia. It was proclaimed as a minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII in June 24, 1890. It was also rumored that the mind behind the Eiffel Tower, French engineer Gustave Eiffel, was also involved in its design and building. However, this claim was never proven. 

Though a superbly strong structure, the church has began succumbing to the tests of time. The group overseeing the church's preservation and conservation has discovered many holes on the roof. Causing water to pour in the steel frames. Over time, rust formed, eating away on the steel itself. 

Friday, September 2

Miss Universe 2016

I was still a very young lady when the last Miss Universe pageant was held here in the Philippines. I had no means to see the contestants live back then. But I fondly remember the sari-sari stores in our area were selling pictures and paper doll versions of the candidates. I never failed to buy my most favorites as it was the closest thing for me to experience the excitement this competition brings to pageant enthusiasts like me.

My favorites then were Miss India, Miss Colombia and of course Miss Philippines.
L-R: Miss Universe Philippines 1994 Charlene Gonzales, Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen of India and Miss Colombia 1994 Carolina Gomez*
*credits to owner of the photos

credits to MUO

So when Pia Wurtzbach was historically crowned as Miss Universe 2015, many Filipino fans' wish of hosting the pageant once more became stronger everyday. And when the MUO president, Miss Paula Shugart, came back and forth from the USA, I knew that the prey has been captured, just waiting for the official announcement from the organization itself. 
The best Miss Universe ever! :D <3
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach*
*credits to owner of the photos

And the day finally came when it was made official by the Department of Tourism. The next Miss Universe will be held on January 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Pre-pageant activities will be held in key Philippine cities while the main event will be held in Manila. 

What a better way to promote Philippine tourism to the world! I remember meeting several European travelers abroad literally having no idea where the Philippines is. 

Rumor has it that the events will lead to the announcement of holidays, particularly on January 30. I do hope so for I will be the first one to go on vacation once the events started happening. Miss Universe pageant could translate to local jobs and a very huge potential of tourist arrivals in the coming years. It is no joke as the Philippines is one of the most beautiful countries there is. 

But of course, let us not forget to support our bet, Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maria Mika Maxine Medina. I pray she will perform well after months of rigorous training. She has been bashed to death but I hope Filipinos will all rally behind her come pageant night.
Miss Universe Philippines 2016
Maxine Medina*
*credits to owner of the photos

The countdown begins! I would not miss this in the world, the universe rather!

Wednesday, August 31

A Sumptuous Lunch Buffet at Cafe Chino

Chinatown in Binondo has always been me and my friends'
go to place whenever we want a quick bite of Chinese culinary. Ask anyone and the one street they could think of synonymous to it is Ongpin. Ongpin St. is like EDSA. It is quite long and has many streets connecting it to the busiest parts of Manila. Along one intersection, I discovered Cafe Chino located at the family-run Chinatown Lai Lai Hotel where one of the cheapest buffet in the area is being offered. 
Chinatown Lai Lai Hotel Reception and Lobby

After touring our Japanese friend Chieka in downtown Manila, we proceeded to the hotel restaurant and had our lunch. Buffet lunch is priced at a cheap Php 299 per person. I was expecting the restaurant to be packed for it was a family day. But I was glad that it wasn't. There was a sizable amount of families and groups coming in and out that the staff replenishes the food trays every now and then.

Thursday, August 25

He Fell In Love

And Sky kissed Seaprincess just as before the sun disappeared over the horizon. At the time when different shades of warm orange blast in all directions. Her wavy hair caught some of the dancing lights. Trapped in their crystal like cage, attempting to escape from her usual swaying.

Enigmatic.

She was hypnotic. As her eyes gazed unto his, his heart stopped for a millisecond. But he was far too slow to catch himself.

And in those fleeting moments, looking briefly but deeply into her eyes, he realized that he has never seen someone as beautiful as her before.

He never dared to look back. He could no longer hold back. He finally let himself free. To finally fall.

Finally in love.

Monday, August 22

A Purply Stay at the Purple Tree Bed & Breakfast

It was another beautiful weekend to just spend at home. So I dragged my friend once more to a quiet bed & breakfast I found out at the heart of Parañaque City.

After the receptionist greeted us warmly, we were quickly given our room key card. For a small hotel, having your own is tantamount to their concern regarding privacy, safety and security. This place is perfect for those seeking solitude without the need to go out of the city. And at a much affordable rate at that.
Panoramic view of hotel grounds