When in Ilocos: Day 1

It has been awhile and yes, I’ve been caught up with so much stuffs a lot lately. I missed blogging and communicating with you guys. Well, enough missing, it’s time to get back on track on my blogging habit and share some wonderful stuffs I have been busy doing lately.

Summer is just around the corner again and I can’t wait to hit the beach and get my summer activities ready. What better way to start the summer is to go on a vacation like you’ve never done before. Just few months ago I had the best weekend I’ve ever had for so long together with my boyfriend. I visited Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur and was able to check my bucket list places to visit. I am just so thrilled to be sharing this to you!

Countless times I did plan for an Ilocos getaway and I can no longer remember when it started. I thought I would never ever push this trip and see Ilocos. At last after numerous times of postponed planned tour, I got to visit Ilocos this time together with my boyfriend.

For busy and “tamad” people just like us who don’t have the time and patience to plan for Do-it-yourself trips, travel and tour companies will be your best friend. They will take care of every single detail of your tour from transportation down to accommodation. They even have an official tour guide who also serves as your group’s official photographer.

Should you trust travel agencies that you see online advertising their travel packages at a bargain? Coz, we almost thought that we’ve been shammed.

Our objective is to have an affordable but memorable travel experience. We looked into different travel agencies, compared their packages and offers. The N.E.C Tours have the most enticing package among other offers we had. Also, it was recommended by a good friend of mine. They reply and give immediate quotation for my inquiries. I really had no problems contacting and updating with them. Plus the tour itself was really good, given the fact that there will always be some glitches here and there but overall my experience with them was just so amazing! If you have any inquiries about N.E.C Tours just go to their website HERE. After we narrow down our choices we did our research, looked for their official website and read reviews on their Facebook page.

Moving forward, the package we had cost us Php 3,500/person all-inclusive except for foods and activities for 3 days and 2 nights travel and stay in Ilocos. Plus the travel agency provides you complimentary breakfast on the 2nd and 3rd day. You need to made a downpayment for reservation of Php 500/person. The balance amount should be settle 5 days before your scheduled departure date.

So, let me share to you guys how we explored Laoag, Pagudpud and Vigan in 3 days, 2 nights tour :)

We left Manila at 9:30 in the evening. From Manila we had 11 hours long drive (one way) going to Ilocos Norte / Ilocos Sur including stop overs. When we found out that the trip was that long, I prepared myself for some pain for my butt. It ain’t easy sleeping in the van but with the kind of itinerary that we have, catching some Zzzzs is a must. But, it doesn’t really matter because the journey is the destination. A trip here is like going on a one – stop shop because for 3 days and 2 nights, you can have a good combination of nature, heritage, outdoor activities and food all together!

Located in the northwest of Luzon, it takes approximately 11 hours to get here from Manila by land and 45 minutes by air. If you think you don’t have the patience to travel via bus or private vehicle for 11 hours, the most ideal time of departure is around 9pm of the night before your trip so that you can just sleep away for the whole duration and reach Ilocos as you wake up in the morning.

Ilocos Norte is such a fascinating place with a lot of natural wonders that would definitely leave every tourist breathless, with its timeless appeal and captivating beauty. I’ll try my very best to write down separate entries each day we had in the succeeding blogs.

Since we only have 3 days and 2 nights to explore Ilocos, our tour guide carefully chose our Must-Visit Places.

And after 11 hours of long drive, we finally arrived to Paoay, Ilocos Norte! #TouchdownIlocos!

FIRST STOP: The Church of Saint Augustine (Paoay Church)

At around 8 AM, we disembarked at the Saint Augustine Church or Paoay Church. It was the most gigantic Spanish-era church we’ve ever seen in our whole lives! I have been wanting to see Paoay Church. Just seeing the photos of this church in the internet makes me wonder what more does it looks like up close and in-person. It is one of the spots I’ve been looking forward to see. And when I was there already, it doesn’t disappoint me. The beautiful structure and the mix of Baroque and Oriental designs of this church makes me fall in love with it.

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The church, which was built in 1704 and finished in 1710, is among the four remaining churches in the country that is characterized by a Baroque architecture. Paoay church was built using bricks, tree sap, and lumbers but what makes it special and strong is, it is mainly built using coral stones/rocks. Huge coral stones were used in the lower portion of the church to have a great hold of its weight. Its bell tower, although it is separated from the main building, is also made in coral stones. With its striking look and architectural design, Paoay Church was proclaimed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines which took part in 1993.

A huge bell tower stands some distance away from the Paoay Church; that is quite a unique placement considering that in the Philippines, bell towers are usually connected to the main church building. The separation of the structures, we learned, was a damage prevention method. In case the tower topples down after an earthquake, the debris won’t damage the main church. The Paoay Church bell tower was used as an observation post by the Katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution and, much later, by guerrillas during World War 2.

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After we offered prayers, I let my boyfriend roam around to photograph. I just sat there quietly and watched the few people inside the church. It’s so solemn; the silence and occasional soft thudding from somewhere are deafening. The solemnity and the atmosphere inside have something to do with it.

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SECOND STOP: Sand Boarding and 4×4 Ride in Sand Dunes

If you think that Ilocos is just all about historical sites and natural wonders, that of course isn’t true! Ilocos is also a place for extreme adventures. This place is a protected area that was furnished with landscapes creating a stunning view of creative nature. It has been a shooting ground of some Hollywood and local movies.  Due to the nice sand landscape this place attracts a lot of sand boarders and thrill riders. This was the most exciting part of our tour! If you are adventurous enough and looking for some thrill I recommend that you try this one.

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There are handfuls of tourists that time joining the tour on separate jeeps and as we climb up and drop down the series of ridges, we can all hear each other’s ear-slitting screams like there’s no more tomorrow! It was really a heart-pounding, action-packed adventure with so much adrenaline rush and a different kind of fun!

An Exhilarating 4X4 Ride

The whole area of Suba Sand Dunes serves as the trail for the 4×4 activity. I never thought a jeep ride would shake the hell out of me. Yeah, I’m not kidding here. The idea of this activity is simple. You have to stand at the back of the jeep, hold on tight and survive until you reach the last level of the ride without falling or fading out. Easy? Hmmm, not sure of that. You’ll be going to different obstacles and big slopes. And what makes this activity more extreme is, there are no knee pads, elbow pads, and even helmet.

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There are 3 levels as far as I can remember. Those 3 stops have different levels of adventures too, care of the different obstacles and big slopes like easy, medium and hard. The first or easy trail is more likely a warm up of what you could expect from the ride. We’ve survived quite a not so heart pounding moment for that, it was just like a bumpy road and it’s still bearable.

On the medium trail was a more serious challenge, we were already heading for a bigger and higher slopes. The best parts of the ride are the downhill rushes. Our 4X4 slows down at the ridge of a downhill track. Then suddenly, the driver accelerates as he drives down the slope. We could feel our tummies rising up to meet our lungs! That was elbow-breaking and knee-bruising for me because we are not properly geared up for such ride.

And for the hard trail—well, it was like a roller coaster ride! Yeah! No kidding! From the edge of a hill that was like a 90 degrees slope we will be dropped down gushing through the dunes and that was an extreme dose of adrenaline! I think it is the most steep part of the trail, I thought I was going to fall out of the jeep, it was like we were being thrown away side by side and mind you, you need a stronghold to survive this adventure or you’ll fall out on the side, really! Holding the steel bars at the back of the 4×4 jeepney while there were 6 of us, I was really screaming my lungs out! And my heart is bursting with so much excitement! On the other side my boyfriend was securing me, wrapping me around supporting my back.

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After an hour or so, our 4X4 ride was over. I knew as well that these are professional drivers and know the trail very well. If not, they will not be issued a permit/license to drive in Sand Dunes. We can’t exactly tell you how much fun this was by just text and photos alone. It was a totally liberating experience!

Sand boarding

After the 4×4 ride we then proceed to the allotted area for sand boarding – it is a sport that uses skimboard to slide down the sand slope. Sand boarding is also held on the same place where the 4×4 ride is being conducted. It was like that kind of slope for the beginner type. They brought two kinds of boards. One is for the sitting position and the other one is for the standing position. Again, no protective gears for this activity so take extra careful guys! As a starter, we started on a sitting position as it seems much easier than the standing. You will be slowly pushed through the sands to drop down the slope. So I sit down on the board then the instructor led the board at the edge of the slope. At first I was so nervous and afraid that I might fall flat on my face or worst tumble down but desire gives you limitless experience so I did my first try, same goes with my boyfriend. Then off I go! That was one great ride and I really enjoyed it.

Part of the attraction is stopping in different areas of the area to take awesome photos. What I loved about the Suba Sand Dune drivers is that they know how to take nice photos, and they even know the features of my phone that would best capture this amazing place. He took panoramic shots all by himself! Galing ni Kuya! I was really surprised!

This was really an awesome experience. If you want something awesome don’t ever skip the Sand Dunes! The Paoay Sand Dunes is definitely something one must experience when planning a trip to Ilocos Norte.

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Here’s the video of our sand boarding experience. Enjoy watching :) Don’t forget to turn on the HD mode for good quality video :)

THIRD STOP: Malacañang of the North

Malacañang of the North served as the official residence of the former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. It is located in the town of Paoay Ilocos Norte. This place should always be present in everyone’s itinerary when visiting the historical province of Ilocos. It is within a 5 hectare property that overlooks Paoay Lake. It is one of the 29 houses that was built during the Marcos regime during is two decades of power. The Marcos family used to live here when they are in Ilocos. In 1986, the famous EDSA People Power Revolution ended his term and he was sent in Hawaii where he died a few years later. The palace was transformed into a museum of the late president’s memorabilia.

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Just as I set my foot at the entrance door of the house it immediately revealed the lavish lifestyle of the Marcos family with all the lovely and elegant interiors of the house. The entire structure is very impressive.  The spacious lobby-like receiving area and the huge rooms of the Marcos children holds the ground floor of the house. From grand living room to the elegant dining rooms, attractive guest rooms to the grand master’s bedroom – everything is a work of art. It has also an equally elegant grand staircase that compliments the grandeur of the whole mansion.

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The wooden curved staircase was grandeur. The long dining table on the other side was really impressive and the expensive paintings of various national artists that hangs on the wall speaks more about their lavish lifestyle.

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In the ground floor of the mansion is where you find lounge areas, a big dining area, Bongbong Marcos’ room and a guest room. On the second floor was the master’s bedroom and a lot more of interesting and antique finds. Just like the first floor, it has spacious halls and the interiors has a touch of elegance from the shiny wooden floors up to its ceiling with all the lavish ornaments around.

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I know there’s more to explore on that mansion but we got pressured by the time as the fellow tourists began to clear out and the staff in the mansion silently counting and looking at the tourists.

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The mansion is full of history. It’s just one of the Marcos properties took by the Philippine government when President Marcos stepped down. Visitors are allowed to go anywhere in the house, from one room to another and are allowed to take pictures.  They just prohibit anybody to sit on  the chairs and sofas to maintain its structure and finish. Thus, it has been a part of everyone’s itinerary to Ilocos. Everything you see there speaks grandeur. Take the opportunity to stop over and see it for yourself.

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FOURTH STOP: Plaza Salcedo

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The historical Plaza Salcedo is the central park of Vigan. It was named after to Juan de Salcedo who was a Spanish conqueror and founder of the old Villa Fernandina de Vigan (now called as Vigan City). But today, Plaza Salcedo is converted to a venue where one can experience and witness a dancing fountain show. It happens every night at 7:30 PM. Unfortunately, we haven’t experience watching it. The plaza served plenty of purposes during the Spanish Colonial period. It served as a parade ground for the Spanish troops, meeting venue for important announcements, and even as an execution site. Just a bit of a trivia, the famous revolutionary Gabriela Silang was publicly hanged in the plaza in September 1763 to serve as a warning to those who wanted to join the revolution.

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FIFTH STOP: Bacarra Domeless Bell Tower

It is quite obvious that Ilocos, ostentatiously evidenced by Imelda’s fondness for the arts, is a hotpot for bricks, Baroque structures and grandiosity. Old Spanish-Baroque churches and bell towers have been among the most visited tourist destinations in the Philippines where majority are Catholics. Undeniably, every proud Catholics in every town take pride in their stunningly beautiful churches and the stories behind it, just like how the Bacarreños are proud of theirs.

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Bacarra Bell Tower once reigned as the highest bell tower in the Philippine islands until it was trembled by 2 earthquakes that brought down the top most level. It is famous for its centuries-old, domeless or “beheaded” belfry known as Torre ti Bacarra.

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Though not the highest anymore, curious travelers still drop by town to see what’s left of Bacarra Tower that was declared a National Cultural Treasure. Instead of cleaning up the mess left by devastation, debris were left untouched which gave more character to Bacarra’s pride. Rather, walkways, plants, and trees, were added to beautify the the tower and the church across it.

SIXTH STOP: Pasuquin’s Biscocho

This time, we’re heading Pagudpod. Along the way, we passed by to the famous Pasuquin Biscocho House. I’m mostly familiar with this pastry on it’s toasted and crunchy form. The Biscocho here is famous for its soft and tasty bread. It has a well guarded family recipe that made it famous throughout Ilocos Norte.

SEVENTH STOP: Salt Making in Pasuquin

From Pasuquin Bakery, we next proceeded to a crude salt processing area near the National Highway to observe the long-time tradition of making of rock salt, said to be one of the finest in the country. It is a common sight to see people riding in provincial buses that often stop at these stalls to purchase salt. Sold by the kilo and contained in plastic bags, the salt is cooked in large vats in huts which are usually found behind the stalls.

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Under the morning sun, we observed the steamy process of how salt were made here. Clean sea water is first pumped into salt beds along the seashore, sun dried there for several hours and, when the various sediments and impurities have settled, the dried salt is transferred to vats in makeshift huts. Water is poured into the vats and then heated overnight (around 12 hours) by ovens directly underneath the pans, fueled by rice by-products such as dried husks, leaves and stalks.The coarseness diminishes during boiling, leaving pure white salt. So aside from using them as seasoning, it is also part of their livelihood.

EIGHT STOP: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

We arrived at our next destination, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Cape Bojeador is elevated at 386 ft. and offers its visitors a good view of the West Philippine Sea. It is the highest point in Burgos and in the whole region of Ilocos.

Cape Bojeador lighthouse also known as Burgos lighthouse is a 66-foot (20 meters) tall octagonal stone tower that seats on top of Vigia de Nagpartian Hill. Up until now, this 100+ year old structure is still functioning as a guide to passing ships and other sea vessels in the West Philippine Sea. (source)

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From the main road we were pointed to a narrow two-laned winding road going up to the lighthouse base. We parked in a small corner and walked uphill until we reached the flight of stairs going inside.

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Climbing up the stairs and feasting my eyes on the 360 degrees view of Ilocos is such an overwhelming experience. We start taking photographs. Though it’s so hot, we’re so glad the wind favored its way to us to cool down the temperature. There are vendors at the foot of the lighthouse that sell souvenirs (keychains, ref magnets, shirts, etc.) and ice scramble which was a hit for us since it was very hot then. Our visit was short and brief but the memory will surely last.

NINTH STOP: Bangui Windmills

As we get closer to Pagudpud, the sights are more likely to bring excitement to any traveler. One can never miss its extremely enormous blades waving in the sky. Bangui Windmills which are just so tiny from afar but is so huge in a closer encounter, it has really an astonishing height! The 20 units of gigantic wind turbines that were arranged in a single row stretching along a 9 kilometer shoreline of  Bangui Bay facing the West Philippine Sea has a capacity of producing electricity-  40% of which is sold and used by the residents in the area. They were said to be created to help reduce the greenhouse gases that causes global warming.

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Though the main purpose of this project is to practice and utilize renewable energy sources such as the wind, the site itself has become a tourist attraction as well. It is mainly one of the reason why tourism in Ilocos has boomed. Who wouldn’t be amaze to see those towering electric-fan-like structures? Plus, not to mention that it is situated on a beach front. Imagine walking on the shore while waves and wind splashes on your body. Refreshing! It was also difficult to have a decent photo since the wind was so strong.

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There is no entrance fee when visiting the area. You can get closer to this turbines so as to appreciate the beauty and the entirely different vibe of giant electric fan-like structures.

TENTH STOP: Burgos Wind Farm

We have arrived at the Burgos Wind Farm, the second wind farm constructed in Ilocos Norte after the more popular shore-based Bangui Windmills. And then, we got surprised at what we saw – wind turbines! I couldn’t believe it. I have no idea there’s a wind farm in Burgos. I was expecting to see the windmills later that afternoon in Bangui (not in Burgos!) as it is the last attraction to visit before we head to Pagudpud.

Check out the photo below so you’ll have an idea of the size of each of these monster windmills. Look at how that windmill dwarfs the van in the foreground. Anyway, we enjoyed the moments seeing these giant turbines.

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ELEVENTH STOP: Saud Beach

We have reached the welcoming arch of Pagudpud. It is located right after Saud Beach Resort, which is a known landmark along Saud Beach coastal line. After a filling lunch in a local carenderia, we headed to our last stop, a pretty beach called Saud Beach.

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After the day-long Ilocos tour, Kuya Romy, our driver who also served as our guide, took us to Elsa’s Home Stay in Saud Beach. It is where we booked our accommodation and after settling down our backpacks in our room we hurriedly went down to the beach. From Elsa’s, Saud Beach is only about 50 meters away.

It is no doubt that Ilocos never fails its tourists with their  beaches which is dubbed as the “Boracay of the North” and I never wonder why now. magine a beach without too many tourists, no jet skis, no speeding banana boats nor rows of anchored boat blocking the magnificent views; no strip of sleazy bars, no noise in the nightlife, no blanket of lowly or high rise hotels, and not even a mall or fast food, just you, the sun, and the beach!

Its pristine white sand, clear waters and captivating view are truly relaxing side by side with its bright and breezy surroundings. The sands are also very soft that our feet would often sink while walking along the beach. On the far left side is the Bangui Bay and I can barely see the windmills due to sun’s glare. It was far, though, but I still managed to recognize the erected wind turbines. On the other sides are coconut trees that added a more natural feel and a panoramic beauty. More than the wonderful vibe of nature on its own.

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Saud beach is where you can find a handful of resorts that offer both a budget, average and posh accommodations depending on your preferences.

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After an hour of walking in the shore and picture taking by the beach and a day-long tour it was time to get back to our home stay, recharge ourselves with dinner and getting some rest for our next destination.

Elsa’s Homestay

Our Day 1 of Ilocos tour is already done. It’s time to take some rest and recharge ourselves to prepare for next day adventure. Since we booked a package tour the inclusive accommodation is to stay at a transient home in Saud beach.

Elsa’s Home Stay is situated at Saud Beach, beside the other beach resorts. As we arrived, we were greeted by Ate Elsa and she showed us the rooms. There were 3 rooms available and what she was giving us was the one big rooms where me and my boyfriend was too much too fit in.  Each room has two queen beds, two sets of pillows and blankets on each bed, and a private bath. The room was very basic but it was all spacious and clean. The air-condition was cool and we had a wall mounted flat screen cable television. Also, inclusive in our package is a complimentary breakfast for 2  for 2nd and 3rd day, there’s also unlimited wi-fi in rooms, who am I to complain?

After we have taken a rest, we visited the beach. Elsa’s homestay has no beach front. You need to walk through the neighboring resorts to get a good swim but it’s okay. The entire shoreline was big and long enough for you to stay and swim wherever and whenever you wanted to. You’ll get great views of the windmills on both sides and the sunset during sunny days are amazing at this part of Pagudpud.

Overall we had a nice and convenient stay at Elsa’s…and it is highly recommendable indeed for big families. Budget-friendly, accommodating and truly a sweet home in Pagudpud!

This is just the first in a series of posts about our Northern Luzon adventure. In the coming blog posts, I will be showing you the more beauty of Ilocos and culture. Stay tuned for the Day 2 and Day 3! :)

The Little Things

One cold night, you’re all alone in your room, taking a break from all the stress the world placed on you. You can’t help but notice the slight pitter-patter of rain in your window as you cuddle snugly in bed.

You somehow manage to frown, thinking that time is progressive. At times you want to stop the clock—or at least slow it down a bit—you can’t, unless you want it to ruthlessly leave you behind. Life moves too fast.

You remember your childhood. You realize that life won’t be as easy as it was when you were 5, or 7, or 10. You wish you to be young again—that getting a lollipop would mean the world to you; that hugging your teddy bear as you sleep instantly safeguards you from nightmares.

All of a sudden, it comes to a halt, and after 2 milliseconds or so, heavy rain comes crashing down.

Then it hits you. You’ll never be young again. The reason why you couldn’t go back is that you’re meant to move forward. Each passing day is a step closer to your destination, and every step comes with a huge set of challenges.

The rain decides to stop. A rainbow emerges on the horizon, and you suddenly feel lighter.

You realize that life wouldn’t be the same if you were always a kid, if you always had the world to yourself, if you hadn’t moved on. You’re a big girl now, and you can handle anything you tell yourself you can handle. It’s amazing how small things could make you understand the big pictures.

After all, you could still cuddle up in bed with your teddy bear; you could still enjoy the majestic presence of the rainbow in your room.

Chew on this: Gastro Park Kapitolyo

My boyfriend and I spent one sunny afternoon in one of the newest foodie spots in Pasig City: Gastro Park Kapitolyo.

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Food parks have been popping up here and there as of late. The first one I heard about was Maginhawa’s Streat, Z Compound in Malingap Street. Both are in Teachers Village in Quezon City where restaurants of all sorts seem to bloom on a regular basis. And then recently there is Gastro Park in Kapitolyo. Kapitolyo has already established itself as a foodie destination for homegrown hole-in-the-walls that serve good and affordable food. New restaurants are opening every now and then and they never go out of style.

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Gastro Park Kapitolyo is an expansive (not expensive) space with different food stalls of different cuisines and specialties, wooden tables and chairs, and music. The garage-style food court has inventive burgers, Mexican bulalo, Filipino-styled sandwiches, bagnet, Thai-Mex street food and more. The vicinity, after all, is still partly residential even with the presence of commercial establishments. This is the exact ambiance that foodies can have at the district’s 1st Street where Kanto Freestyle Breakfast also is.

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We tried as much food as our tummies could handle, and here are the dishes or drinks that we tried that day:

Sweet Nothing

 | Menu |@sweetnothingshakes |

Upon entering the park, the first stall that greets everyone is Sweet Nothing. Sweet Nothing is the park’s beverage provider. It also serves fun milkshakes, aside from refreshing juices and canned sodas.

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I may be wrong but it seems that Sweet Nothing is the main stand for dessert items. Sweet Nothing is also the most attractive and thought out among the stands.

One of the most popular stalls in Gastropark is Sweet Nothing, which serves juices, milkshakes and desserts. We tried the Strawberry Shortcake Shake (Php 120) and the S’mores Milkshake (Php 120).

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Though I’m biased with chocolate, I was more impressed with the Strawberry Shortcake Shake, topped with cotton candy. I enjoyed sipping the Strawberry Shortcake Shake more when I mixed the cotton candy with the shake.

Brick Plate

And one of the kiosks that caught my attention was Brick Plate. Brick Plate serves American comfort food including steaks, ribs and pizza.

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The shake ribs come with two ribs packed with meat. The corn, coleslaw and barbecue sauce come in small plastic containers. The meat was slightly on the tough side and it was lightly seasoned. It is best enjoyed with the sweet barbecue sauce.  I liked the two side dishes as it added crunch and more flavor to the bland ribs.

Japbox

Menu | @japbox_ph |

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Japbox is Japanese food in a box. Putting a twist on the popular Chinese takeout boxes, Japbox is sure to surprise your eyes and buds whenever you unbox their filling and flavorful Japanese treats, from sushi to tempura to rice toppings and more.

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Bagneto

Menu | @bagneto |

Bagneto is an Asian fusion restaurant specializing in bagnet (a deep fried pork delicacy hailing from the northern Ilocos region) served in different forms and flavors. Bagneto does their bagnet right.  If you’re looking for something different, Bagneto’s sisig is made entirely of crunchy bagnet, with a lovely egg cracked on top of it. In case you haven’t noticed, the name and logo was inspired by the character Magneto from X-Men.

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We had a great time trying out various dishes and drinks at Gastro Park Kapitolyo. The prices are reasonable and the choices are numerous that one visit is not enough to try everything. This place is great for gathering of friends and family where you can buy different kinds of food and share it with every one so you can try them all. Unfortunately, we cannot try all of it because they were so many for just the two of us. I would love to visit this again and try out more food stalls soon.

What are you waiting for? Grab your friends, drive up to Kapitolyo, Pasig and enjoy the food. For more updates you can check their Facebook.

Gastro Park Food Park
1st Street, Bgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Monday 4:00pm to 12:00mn
Tuesday to Thursday 12:00pm to 12:00mn
Friday to Saturday 12:00pm to 1:00am

1 to Infinite

 

My lovely boyfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary. Today is one of the best days in my life. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BABY! I’m proud to say that we have made it already this far. Because staying in a long distance relationship is very hard for sure.

It seems so unreal. Knowing that I’m still together with someone who’s not with me for months, physically. 1 year. 1 year I’ve been praying for peace of heart and strength. It’s not easy, it’s still not easy. It’s not easy when the one you love has to be far away from you and it’s not easy when you see other people have all the time in the world to be physically close to their loved ones. When I think about it deeply, I realize that my relationship is composed of messaging and 30 minutes to 1 hour video call. That’s what I have. It’s more of dates over FB Messenger, chatting with him and making kissy and huggy noises over a phone call when we both say goodnight to each other. It’s not exactly the ideal relationship someone wants, but that’s what I have.

Distance isn’t meant for everyone. It’s not easy and a lot of people give up. I’ve also heard so many times that it can break a relationship more than it can make it. Not a lot of people believe that it can work and not a lot of people would be willing to take this risk. But for those who experience the latter, they know what strength is, they have a great understanding of patience and a deep value for time. It’s not just about the distance, it’s also going to be about the time difference, the need for internet connection to communicate (cause I’m pretty sure international text is going to be a killer) and our patience for and with each other.
4e16319f4126cc498d0316b73743e8d5 It doesn’t stop me from believing that this can be different. I guess at the end of everything, I don’t really see the distance, because all I see is the other person at the end of all the kilometers and miles that separate me from him and to know that I still have a clear vision of him at the end of everything, it makes me want to do whatever it takes and whatever I can to go through with this.

So I’ve been with John for one year already and we’ve experience being apart for several months. It hasn’t been easy, and I can’t stress that enough.

But, this is the choice I make to love him every day. To pick up the phone and message him good morning or good night. To remember that he’s the first one I can still call when things go bad, when things go good. To ask him how his day went. To see his face and laugh with him. That part of the relationship is actually pretty easy, keeping him in my life.

Not easy is seeing couples hold hands and knowing I can’t have that. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not when things go good or when things go bad. I have to wait and be patient until the next time that I can hold his hand, which is the next time that we see each other, it makes it all the more meaningful the next time. You don’t know what it’s like to go through the joy of seeing him and dreading the start of the countdown. Day 1, and the next day inches closer to the day you have to let him go again.

Most times the situation challenges you to your limits and makes you want to give up. It makes you ask so many questions like why do I have to wait for someone like this, am I ever going to be with this person, how long is it gonna take before we really end up.

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Fortunately, my luck falls on John and the kind of man that he is. If he wasn’t the one I was going through this hell-hole with, I wouldn’t have made it to 1 year of long distance. BUT (yeah, big but), I’m happy and it’s been worth it. He’s been worth it. Especially when you see that through all your weaknesses and failures, his love still preserves and he always chooses to see the best in me when I forget to see myself that way.

We’ve been realistic. We know that there’s still a lot that can happen to us, especially since we still have our lives ahead of us. A lot of things have changed through the course of our relationship. We’re not rushing into anything, to be honest. We both know that right now we love each other a lot to keep ourselves committed to one another, but we will not, in any way, sacrifice the dreams that we want for ourselves.

So we’ve actually been good at this. We’re both balancing out ourselves and the relationship and we give each other time to breathe and do our own things, live our own lives while we’re both away from each other. Most importantly, we support each other grow on our own and discover new things and abilities without the other, as well as discover new things we want and new things that could be in store for us. We never pull the other down; we both know that we plan to be together, just not now. Right now we have ourselves. Right now we have months of being independent and we want to maximize that for ourselves before entering into a really serious commitment (which is marriage duh #letsberealhere). We’re both really happy. We’re not holding each other back or denying ourselves the little bubble of happiness we get from our relationship too and that’s been the best part and that’s why it’s all been worth it.

I have to get by September, October, November, December and only God knows how many more months in 2017 till I can see him again. But I guess no matter what happens in our relationship we’d both love to see each other again and again and we both know that we’ll always love each other.

And we both trust in that.  I just hope that, that will be enough to keep us together.

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So, right now, I want to thank my boyfriend, John for never failing to make me feel like a princess every single day even though we’re thousand miles apart. You’re the most dependable, most protective, and most caring guy. In spite of my nonchalance and occasional air of ungratefulness, please know that I appreciate all this, that I appreciate all of you and that I wouldn’t have it any other way with anybody else. I’ll always stick around with you. For 1 year we shared a lot of great memories together and I will forever cherish them. Cheers to more adventure, more crazy and unforgettable moments together. I wish I could spend our day with you.

So love and enjoy the distance that you have instead of complaining about it more than you appreciate it because the more you complain, the more it causes disdain. And stress and pity-partying and just everything else that could break a perfectly good relationship. Be more appreciative and forgiving and everything will be alright!

I’ll see you soon baby. I love you and miss you always!!

This is how you lose her

This is how you lose her. 

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You lose her when you forget to remember the little things that mean the world to her: the sincerity in a stranger’s voice during a trip to the grocery, the delight of finding something lost or forgotten like a sticker from when she was five, the selflessness of a child giving a part of his meal to another, the scent of new books in the store, the surprise short but honest notes she tucks in her journal and others you could only see if you look closely.

You must remember when she forgets.

You lose her when you don’t notice that she notices everything about you: your use of the proper punctuation that tells her continuation rather than finality, your silence when you’re about to ask a question but you think anything you’re about to say to her would be silly, your mindless humming when it is too quiet, your handwriting when you sign your name in blank sheets of paper, your muted laughter when you are trying to be polite, and more and more of what you are, which you don’t even know about yourself, because she pays attention.

She remembers when you forget.

You lose her for every second you make her feel less and less of the  beauty that she is. When you make her feel that she is replaceable. She wants to feel cherished. When you make her feel that you are fleeting. She wants you to stay. When you make her feel inadequate. She wants to know that she is enough and she does not need to change for you, nor for anyone else because she is she and she is beautiful, kind and good.

You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.

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DISCLAIMER: Excerpt from Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her.

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I collect moments, not things.

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Life is about spending time tinkering your favorite old toy, reading a good book and crying about it, listening to your playlist, successful / failed surprises, whole-heartedly appreciating anybody who’s brave enough to show you simple act of kindness, sitting on a passenger seat singing songs on the radio out loud with someone you love, passionate kisses, long tight embraces and a whole lot little moments.

I figured you have to immerse yourself with anything that will make your heart happy, no matter how simple it is. Life’s a lot more meaningful by letting yourself go and feel what’s there.

Long Distance Love

Many people believe that long distance relationships are never going to work out. Nobody says it is going to be easy – that extra distance that makes many things unachievable. Things could get complicated, and you could get sad and lonely at times. I’m not going to lie to you; long distance relationships are probably the toughest kind of relationships, the ones that actually require you to give in every single thing you’ve got, the ones that can turn you into the one of the most frustrated people on the planet, and the ones that can actually make you start questioning and begin to understand why you ever agreed to put yourself through this. The endless struggle of not seeing each other, making late night phone calls and keeping the fire alive is all too real. But, there’s no denying that as challenging as it is or was, living apart from one another only brought you and your significant other closer together.

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I, like many other happy people on this earth, have found myself in a long distance relationship and while it might be difficult, it’s working out just fine for my boyfriend and I.  For the first six months of my current relationship, I had been living between eleven to fourteen hours away from my boyfriend. We had known of each other for several months until last September, both of us decided to level up our friendship and continues on a more serious relationship; however, I never experienced a serious long distance relationship beforehand.

It completely changed when my boyfriend made serious career changes and decided to work on a cruise ship line which means he’ll be thousand miles away from me travelling from one country to another. Because I don’t want to be a hindrance for his dream and I want him to be happy. I supported him in whatever dream/s he has. I also understand that if we both have our time apart to achieve some of our goals, then we can have a future where we achieve the rest together

Just like any other long distance relationship plays out, we struggled, grew and learned to love in our particular way. It was difficult but we were committed to make things work out. It’s very challenging and being in this kind of relationship has changed me a lot. You both need to adjust with each other time and schedule. It’s hard but I know it will be worth it. Being in a long distance relationship is never easy. You need to deal with the distance, time difference, the loneliness, and even jealousy of the people who get to see your significant other. Long distance relationship may be tough but it has its own surprises too.

My boyfriend and I are in such relationship and so far, we’re getting the hang of it. But sometimes, no, every single day I just can’t help to miss him. It’s hard being away from the one you love. Only people who spend their days missing another person like we do truly understand how hard it is to see someone so important to you on a screen and only on a screen. And even more annoying, every time your data is crappy or your wifi cuts out, your connection is lost or you’re left reconnecting for minutes on end. It’s absolutely infuriating.

When time difference is such real bitch, whether it’s an hour or 12, being on another time zone is a constant struggle. When you’re waking up, he’s half-finished with his day. He’s headed to bed long before you’re even thinking about clocking out for the night. I know it isn’t the end of the world and it can be managed with a little compromise between you two.

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There are times you’ll worry for no reason about stupid things. That’s the thing about distance; it can make you a bit paranoid. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I’m sure other women out there understand what I’m trying to say. Let’s just say that when you’re thousand miles away, TRUST and UNDERSTANDING is a big deal. Without those two things, your relationship will fail. I promise you that. Now, I know you might be getting a bit worked up. But you don’t have to mistrust him while thinking of horrible scenarios in your head. For me anyway, I know that any awful thing that crawls into my mind isn’t true. It also helps when you know what they’re doing and who they’re with. It leaves less blanks for your mind to fill in. It requires a lot of understanding. Understanding that his day change and our schedules are different. And that’s okay. All you have to do is understand that things get busy, and that you talk when you can. However, if you believe in your heart that the person your with loves you as much as you love them, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you trust one another, you’ll come away from your time apart a stronger couple.

I learned to adjust with my boyfriend’s schedule. I’m getting the hang of talking to him more or less one hour everyday or I say whenever his schedule is not that hectic. Even though sometimes I feel bad I wasn’t able to talk to him or see him, I can’t complain about it. The most I can do is to wait for him to be online and sit from across a screen just to look at each other faces and talk to each other as much time as we possibly can. Just being in different time zones makes scheduling much harder than it needs to be. You have to sacrifice sleep and learn how to make time and prioritize your significant other.

Yes, the waiting can be painful. It sure as hell it isn’t a Hollywood romance. Sometimes you feel like giving up, but you chose to keep going. You need to remind yourself that the results at the end will be sweet as heaven. I see every second, every minutes of our conversation as a blessing. No matter how short the time we have talking to each other. I love him and I hope this waiting, this long distance relationship will be worth it. The little things he does for me are the big things. Getting an “I love you”, “I miss you” and such a simple “Good morning” and “Good night” text in the middle of the day or when you wake up feels like getting flowers from him. It’s pleasant to know that you’re the first and last thing on your boyfriends’ mind. You appreciate the littlest things so much that the bigger things feel even better.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, when all your heart and soul has been put into this one part of your life, you will know and be proud of the fact that your relationship has come out a lot stronger and has become more resilient than an average relationship could ever be. With God in the center of our relationship, I know everything will be fine in the end. I’m just excited to see my love, to kiss and to hug him tight.

Are you in the beginning, the middle or end of a long distance relationship? Be strong and take heart!! Here’s to us and a love that survives even the longest bouts of separation. If you’re in a committed relationship and serious about your significant other, the time spent apart will seem short in the long run. It takes time to grow together but you’ll find that distance, no matter how painful, truly makes the heart grow fonder.

Pinto Art Museum of Antipolo, City

Rizaleños are no strangers to the local and international art scene. Home to their stunning masterpieces is the museum, kept in a secret garden hidden behind the hills and mountains of Antipolo City.

Finding Pinto Art Museum might pose a challenge at first as the institution was built astray from main roads and highways, but in a quiet hillside subdivision instead. Thanks for the one who invented Waze we easily find the place.

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Though I don’t have a talent for arts, I can say, I do have a huge interest and appreciation for it. I’ve eagerly wanted to visit an art museum located in Antipolo City after hearing raving reviews about the place from the blog community and friends. The museum is named as Pinto Art Museum (PAM). However, due to my piled up personal commitments, plans of going there has always been put aside and on-hold. But yesterday, as the sun settled high on the blue skies, me and my bestfriend decided to visit this famous art museum.

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Pinto Art Museum is just a 30-minute drive from where I live, yet it feels worlds away. It is a space in Antipolo City that houses present day arts worked by different local artists. If you’re wondering where does its name comes from, well, Pinto means door in Filipino, and the museum aims to be a gateway for modern and contemporary art. This beautiful contemporary art space sits on a 1.3 hectare property also known as Silangan Gardens located inside a private subdivision in Antipolo, Rizal. Several art galleries can be found in the open-air Mediterranean-inspired villas, shrouded by well-manicured gardens and landscaped greens.

A set of statues made alternatively of stone and nature friendly gardens. In the middle of the green lawn was an antique four poster bed laid out with crisp white sheets. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be doorways and paths waiting to reveal more hidden treasures.

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As I set my feet on the entrance of Pinto Art Museum and looked at it from the outside, I would never have thought that the other side of their small door is a 1.3 hectare property which cages over 300 art pieces, installations and sculptures. The simplicity of their entrance is far way beyond of what’s inside.

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After the warm welcome, we are directed to the registration area and paid 180 pesos each for the entrance fee for regular ticket, 100 pesos for for children and students with proper school IDs, FREE for children below 3 years old and 150 for senior citizens and PWD with valid IDs. Then the lady in the registration gave us 2 pieces of papers which is a map. So our exploration to Pinto Art Museum began.

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Me and my bestfriend were so excited as we tour the place. Take note, we were still near the entrance yet we can’t stop to fall in love with the place. Aside from the massive collection of paintings and sculptures, Pinto Art Museum is also a huge garden with lots of art pieces placed perfectly around it. I was blown away with the ambiance and the architectural structure of PAM. Every detail of this place were well thought — the white museum wings, the antique doors and windows, the chapel, its pond, even the rooftops… I mean all of them!

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Walking around Pinto Art Museum is a visual a treat. With aged doorways, windows, and quirky art pieces, every turn of the corner reveals something interesting. No wonder the place is popular with pre-nuptial sessions and pictorials, everything here is so picturesque.

Although I have seen Pinto Art Museum on different blog niches, seeing it in personal still makes me go WOW. It is a haven for photography. Every corner of this place is shutter click worthy. There are countless photographic opportunities waiting at every angle to satisfy any shutterbug’s cravings. Even if you’re just armed with a cellphone camera, you’d be hard-pressed to take a bad photo in this place. It’s that photogenic.

As we walked behind a quaint chapel, we came across a garden dedicated to the love of Jose Rizal and Leonor Rivera. There was a spoken word piece being played which told the love story and failed engagement between our national hero and his erstwhile fiancee. In keeping with the theme, the small garden also contained a garden with a desk containing letters labelled “The Undelivered Project” next to stationary and pens. A handwritten guide instructed people to empty their thoughts and write anonymous letters to the ones whom they had loved and lost. I was curious to read all the letters of heartbreak and unrequited love that lay unopened in the drawers.

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Paintings are located into different wings. Each wing is interesting and has an entertaining room.

Gallery 1 seems to be devoted to more traditional art pieces with paintings depicting idyllic scenes from daily life in the Philippines. Gallery 2 had more experimental mixed media pieces with some installations. Gallery 3 had some really interesting wire sculptures. Galleries 4 and 5 seemed to contain modern and abstract art pieces that I won’t pretend to understand. I’m not really an art critic, but I think most people can appreciate the interesting art pieces here.

One thing I really appreciate about Pinto Art Museum is that it manages to make the artwork and all the structures cohesive with the environment. Unlike formal museums which preserve art pieces in controlled air-conditioned rooms, all the buildings here are open-air structures, which keeps everything natural.

It was refreshing to see art pieces not only hanging in the walls, but integrated in the seating areas and gardens as art installations. I also appreciate the fact that photography for personal use is allowed here unlike some other museums.

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Located in the lower gardens is The Museum of Indigenous Art, showcases the richness of the Filipino culture. It contains functional and ritual objects, textiles, jewelry and other beautiful indigenous artwork.

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WHERE TO EAT:

There are two areas to eat inside Pinto Art Museum. Pinto Cafe in the garden area and Cafe Tan-aw by Peppermill, a roof deck area near the entrance. The restaurant serves a wide range of dishes including soup, salad, appetizers, Japanese cuisine, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, main courses and desserts. The food is good, but a bit pricey.

We stayed at Pinto Art Museum for more than 3 hours and I didn’t feel bored during our stay.  Pinto Art Museum is a definite must-see tourist spot that’s not that far from the metro. If you have balikbayan friends or relatives visiting who only have limited time to tour around Manila, I’d rank this as one of the top places you can take them to. Allot around 3-5 hours to visit all the galleries and take photographs around the place. It actually makes me proud to see all the works in this place were made by my fellow Kababayan. I salute every artist who put and shared their talents and build this site! I can say that museum hopping is fun in Antipolo, Rizal! Hopefully more site like this will be established in the Philippines.

TIPS AND INFOS:

  • Pinto Art Museum is located inside Grand Heights, a private subdivision in Antipolo, Rizal. We find it easier to get here from Ortigas Avenue Extension to avoid the traffic congestion of Sumulong Highway and Antipolo town proper.
  • Pinto Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Pinto Art Museum is CLOSED on MONDAYS.
  • According to their Facebook page, they are open during holidays (as long as it’s not a Monday.)
  • There’s an entrance fee of P20 for road users for non-residents of Grand Heights. You can park your vehicles on the street right across the museum.
  • Guided Tour Schedule: 09:00 am – 11:00 am; 12:00 nn – 02:00 pm; 02:00 pm – 04:00 pm; 04:30 pm – 06:00 pm
  • No food or pets are allowed. Smoking is strictly prohibited inside the museum.

Don’t the paintings, sculptures, and other artwork make you want to go there this instant? You’ll definitely get lost in the art and your surroundings. It’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, and step away from what you’re used to in the city.

For more infos about museum tour and pre-nups packages you can visit their Facebook page.

Found. YOU. YES, YOU

In times of nothingness I have found you. You’re in between the thought of a stranger to me and someone I knew. Nonetheless, you are considered a blessing and I hold that idea with me. How can someone be so gentle? I have known you so little yet it meant a lot, considering you brought something out of me I thought I no longer have. You say every day might be short-lived but yet again you always remind that life is surreal. I recall the date I have my first date with you and it was pretty awkward. But, t’was something you don’t really get a lot. You and I both, we were a complete mess. I couldn’t hide my imperfections and I thought, “Way to go for a first impression?”

It feels nice to be treated well by someone most especially if both of you feel the same way, that even if you don’t say it, it radiates. No matter what you do, you can’t just hide that certain chemistry. You know it’s sincere if you’re not expecting something in return, it comes out naturally, and you don’t take credit for any of those gestures. I still prefer the unconscious effort more than anything.

Your presence felt like home and somehow, in all the silences, awkward pauses, and unexpected laughter, I feel the safest. In every instance of you holding my hand and me, leaning towards the familiar crevice between your neck and your shoulder, there is a warmth that reminds me of a place I often connect with accepting hugs and cozy blankets.

You never fail to make me laugh, despite all our troubles. You seem to know everything that’s on my mind. You serenade me with your gentle ‘I love you’s and ‘I miss you’s. You always know when I need you. You say that you’re mine, forever, and that you’ll never let me go. You tell me that my eyes shine brighter than the stars in heaven, and all those profoundly-structured compliments. You bring all those romantic movie scenes to life, and built me the perfect love story. You seem to make me want to run away and leave everything behind. You make my life seem like a dream.

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You. Yes, you.

And cherish the moments you least expect to happen. You take it all in like as if you know so much but not at all. You experience the most unexplainable feeling yet cannot put them into words. The uncertainty of what is happening makes everything beautiful and even if you try to grasp it and keep it, all you can do is inhale it and let your heart fill the emotion.

People with good effect within us don’t come by often, for all I know it’s one in a million. Even though things will eventually fleet or chances are it will fade away. I couldn’t thank this moment enough for making me feel okay. With that being said, I say cheers to all the little good genuine feelings you gave me. :)

Happy 182 days baby! I love you!

Chew on this: The crib that’ll make you crave: AMO YAMIE CRIB

Fed up of your usual cafe spot? Wanted to try something new? Here’s a quick tour for you to my newly discovered cafe. Located at the heart of the University Belt, Amo Yamie Crib is the now being frequently visited place by students and barkadas.

One word for Amo Yamie? Everything in this place is Instagram – worthy! For those Instagram – lovers out there (like me!) who loves taking pictures of good food and good places, I have finally found the perfect place for you!

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When we’re already arrived in the place, we waited for at least 30 minutes because there’s still no vacant place. For first timers, this is the room where you have to enter to get table reservations. Place is full of students/ group of friends who actually spend a lot of time occupying the cribs, so making a reservation is recommended. Then when we already got the chance to enter the cafe, we liked the ambiance, their wooden designs and their other fancy decors that made the place cozy and feel like you’re at home.

From the cafe’s name, this coffee house indeed has a cribs inside! Yes! You heard that right. You can watch rent DVDs here and watch movies while sipping your coffee, and eating there specialty. The cribs look like a playhouse where you can do whatever you want like indian sit or even lie down. Each spot looks like a room which has a center table and pillows. I really love the theme of this coffee shop because it is very colorful and very festive.

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While most of the mainstream and well known cafes serve their blended drinks, fruit teas and other drinks using plastic cups or styro cups, Amo uses the seemingly being in the trend nowadays, mason jars. I find it very cute. It adds up to the entire feeling of being at home.

As if the fancy interiors weren’t enough; their food joins the vibe, too. From their creative names to their fancy presentation, a lot of “wows” and “OMGs” might have been blurted out, and bountiful Instagram-worthy photos were captured, as well.

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Their menu range from fun coffee and frappe concoctions, to sweet milk tea drinks. They also serve waffles, cakes served on pots, mini burgers, tacos, and other snacks to fill you up.

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Lots of choices are part of the menu, from hot or iced coffees, fairy tale frappes and frosts, cartoon characters named milk teas down to fruit teas. And yes, the list of drinks will make it hard for you to decide. But thanks to the magical named drink – Wizard of Oreos, at first glance, it  won my heart , which is a cookies and cream frappuccino topped with whipped cream and of course oreos. And, my best friend orders the  Snow White Vanilla Fairy tale frost, which is basically comprised of nuts and a crispy waffle on top. Each drink really serves true to its name. You can taste the presence of the ingredients individually, but more importantly, they jive well altogether.

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If you’re looking for a coffee house that has a twist like a fairytale concept at an affordable price, Amo Yamie is the right place for you! Their beverages and food is just ordinary but it will surely meet your taste and preferences and the money you will be paying would be worth it.

Location: AYC – UBelt is now open, located at 2nd floor, Gordi Plaza Bldg, Legarda St. Same as Bon Chon’s building, across Mendiola.