Ponderosa at our leisure

Ponderosa at our leisure

Ponderosa Leisure Farms in Silang, Cavite is a gated community. To enter, one has to either own a property there – or know somebody who does. Every time we come home to the Philippines, we visit Ponderosa. It’s almost like part of the pilgrimage back to homeland. And the wonderful part is, the whole family is there, plus the cousins, too. We often stay half a day and just laze and eat. My daughter loves this place. There’s a nice swimming area, playground, eating area, picnic area and Japanese- inspired park. People don’t come in the clubhouse during the weekdays, so that’s when we come, to monopolize the whole swimming area. My mother plans to stay there in her older years. But right now, she still enjoys our noisy crowded street in Guadalupe. We have many good neighbors in Guadalupe – and that gives a sense of security in itself – even if not is not...
Feeling the Sea Wind

Feeling the Sea Wind

We stayed at an old hotel called Sea Wind Resort when we were in Boracay. The service given to us was superb. Hospitality at its best. The staffers took care of us the best way they could. The resort is big, so it is split into two: the seaside, and the greener forest side. The seaside was full, so we took the other area. It’s nice here, too. There’s a pool and the houses are nice with Filipiniana theme. But in the evening, it gets dark (it doesn’t have much light plus there are so many trees and bushes) that it scared me. It felt spooky, even in our room – so I had the lights turned on the whole time. Otherwise, the whole stay was good. Hilot-massage in the room or at the beach every day. Hilot is a traditional Filipino massage. And a huge buffet breakfast near the beach. There was not one boring moment on Boracay because the island offers different activities. Check my link about Boracay to see what I tried  and...
Parasailing made me feel for throwing up

Parasailing made me feel for throwing up

I almost threw up on my sister as we parasailed. I swear this was one of the longest 30 minutes of my life.  A colorful parachute, a good view of Boracay’s white shoreline, to be up, up in the air. I mean, who would say no to this experience? So I said I’d take the chance. Hubby and his brother didn’t like the idea. And my sister, well, she was forced to come along because of me. We left early morning, skipping breakfast (as per instruction). We had our guide taking us on a boat that was exclusively for my sister and me, and there was a staff of around six men to assist us. It felt safe. But then I felt for backing out at the last minute, but it was too late, because the parachute whisked us away up into the skies. Now I know how it feels to be…a kite. We were rocking back and forth and sideways because it was windy that day. And by God I felt my stomach turning. “I am going to throw up!” I warned my sister. She gave me the angry Garfield look. “You are aware that the wind blows much my way?” she said with an even tone. If I threw up, she’d pretty much get a splatter of last night’s dinner on her somehow. I tried to shout and signal them to let us down, but we were too far up to be understood. And the wind was somehow loud. At that point I wished I had a plastic bag to throw up into. I did my best to...
Fire dancers warmed the night

Fire dancers warmed the night

I burned for the fire dancers on the island Boracay in the Philippines.  But ironically, prior to the show, I actually underestimated them. Something like: it didn’t matter if I saw the fire dance show or not. But it mattered, after what I saw! These dancers were not just “Oh, look at me, I’m sexy”. I mean, Philippines is unfortunately known for that kind of sexy shows. But these dancers that we saw were not that type of performers. They danced – not to seduce – but to impress. They danced seriously, professionally, and with fire. As the numbers got harder, I was almost praying that they wouldn’t hurt themselves. And what a stage. It was on the beach, under the stars. with the waves in the background. Nightlife on Boracay is wonderful. Restaurants lined the beach, we ate and drank al fresco, with the moon and skies as our ceiling and the sand as our floor. And how the lobsters tempted...
Helmet diving in Boracay

Helmet diving in Boracay

Helmet diving is walking on the ocean floor, around ten feet below water surface. I tried scuba diving once, and I am not a fan. So I didn’t try helmet diving. Hubby did. He didn’t need a wet suit, all he had to put on was a helmet with a long hose that is attached to an air compressor. The helmet was heavy. But then it felt a little lighter under water, and hubby was entertained seeing fishes swimming around him – for 15 minutes. That was how long helmet diving was. To helmet dive, we had to take a boat ride to the diving site. Was it worth it? Hubby said it was ok to try, but he would not do it again. There are many pictures of helmet diving under water in the internet. The picture above is a picture of how it looked from our standpoint on the boat – as we saw hubby walking on the ocean floor....
Tiny island life on Crystal Cove

Tiny island life on Crystal Cove

 I would have liked to stay longer at Crystal Cove in Boracay, Philippines. It’s a tiny island worth enjoying more. We took a 15-minute boat ride from Boracay to Crystal Cove. There was an entrance fee of I think 200 pesos to set foot on the island. The island is small, roughly two hectares, so we were able to walk around the island with our guide and checked every nook and cranny. We saw the island’s two caves, in which the sea waves flushed into. I had to hold onto a rope – that was attached to a rock in the cave – to keep my tiny self from being flushed out back into the deep sea. There were picnic areas and viewpoints. Half a day (or less) was actually enough to explore the island. I wish we stayed longer though – at least enough time to eat lunch and have siesta there. I think a lazy afternoon on Crystal Cove would have been very memorable. Just feeling the sea breeze, seeing my daughter run on the grassy picnic area, enjoying a good grilled fish. Oh, quiet island life!...
On chocolate hills

On chocolate hills

In the picture above, these thousand hills are green. But when the grass dries up, they turn brown like mounds of chocolates. I saw the Chocolate Hills in Bohol for the very first time in old family pictures. My mother and aunt were there as young women, posing happily in the 1970’s. Since then, the Chocolate Hills was in my list of places to see. It took many years until I set foot on Bohol. I’ve been to other countries and places, but I came to Bohol when I was 40. It was a childhood dream come true. My new dream regarding Chocolate Hills? I would actually like to stay a day or two in a nipa hut on the foot, or atop, one of these hills. With my family. And hopefully some friends in Bohol coming over. Like my professor friend Alfredo. Some of the hills were damaged after the earthquake of 2013. But I will always remember the Chocolate Hills as simply perfect....
Flowers in the menu

Flowers in the menu

We ate lots of flowers in Bohol Bee Farm. Dozens of it.  Healthy lunch was what we were after when we visited Bohol Bee Farm, which is located atop a cliff on Panglao Island in Bohol. We ordered seafood, brown rice, spaghetti made of coconut flesh, and lots and lots of flowers. More about Bohol Bee farm in this Wikipilipinas link.  And more pics and blog entries about Bohol in my Sarimanok...
Tarsiers up close

Tarsiers up close

While in Bohol, we visited some tarsiers. It’s one of the most endangered primates in the world. Before, tarsiers were spread in Europe, Asia and North America, but now they are restricted in just some islands in Southeast Asia like Sulawesi and Sumatra (both in Indonesia), Borneo (Brunei and Malaysia) and the Philippines. They are tiny, just slightly bigger than my fist. And they have a very keen sense of hearing. I’ve heard that the Philippine tarsiers are also loners and extremely shy. We were not allowed to touch them. We’re happy with that condition. We’re happy enough to have seen them up close. For more pics from Bohol, check out my blog...
Serenade on Loboc River

Serenade on Loboc River

Cruising on Loboc River in Bohol was sweet.  The boat was big enough for many customers, but my sister preferred to have the whole boat on our own. It was actually a good idea, because we danced without feeling shy in front of the singer/guitarist who played us songs. It was breezy that day and the world looked so green. We were served lunch, with coconut juice, seaweed salad and fried chicken and rice on banana leaf plates, among others. A group of local students also performed traditional dance and songs for us when we passed by their side of the river bank. I liked that day very much. We were shown Filipino hospitality at its...
A day with dolphins and sea urchins

A day with dolphins and sea urchins

Tuwa was two years old when she saw dolphins swimming in the sea for the first time. We were in Bohol. It was a wonderful sight, to watch dolphins swim. It was worth waking up at dawn for and traveling two hours by a small boat. I am far sighted, so I was also quite good at spotting them from a distance and yelling to our boatmen: “Dolphins!” and pointing my whole arm to the direction, so we could follow them. People say that kids can hardly remember trips, ergo no sense in tagging them along. But Tuwa remembers this trip even now. She wants to come back to Bohol. After whale watching, we went to a long and narrow sandbar, or shoal – right in the middle of the sea – and ate sea urchins raw, before traveling another two hours to get back to our hotel, Amarela resort. Here’s my blog link to...
The White Beach of Boracay

The White Beach of Boracay

Boracay is one of the world’s best island destinations and has one of the world’s best beaches, according to Swedish tabloid Expressen. All because of the white, smooth sand, torquise blue water and there are so many activities. All very cheap, too, according to the article. Swedes have been looking for an alternative to Thailand, which has become quite “average”. The journalist ends his article: It gives a feeling of being inside a postcard – but for real. The article was written January 2014. Here’s the link to the article. And here were activities our family did. (Many of the activities below are linked to my blog entries) 1. Snorkelling 2. Quad biking 3. A boat ride to Crystal Cove 4. Eating a lot and sitting on a hammock 5. Massage 6. Parasailing 7. Helmet diving 8. Dune buggy 9. Night life 10. Shopping We stayed at Sea Wind Resort during our Boracay visit in October...
Quad biking in Boracay

Quad biking in Boracay

We went quad biking in Boracay, Philippines. It was quite fun, but I don’t think I’d like to do it again. I suppose that All-terrain vehicle, ATV, is a streetlegal vehicle in Boracay, because many of  us were quad biking alongside tricycles and jeepneys when we were there. My sister and I quad biked for two hours, while hubby and his brother rode a dune buggy with our then two-year old daughter. We stopped by at an aviary and Ocean Tower, the highest point in Boracay with a 360 degrees view of the island. Ocean Tower is a roof bar/restaurant, so it was refreshing to drink and find shelter from the sun – after driving around in the middle of the day, breathing in exhaust gas. My body felt battered after driving. I didn’t like driving alongside jeeps in narrow roads. And the sun burned me sore and crispy brown. My face felt sandy, too. But sure, it was fun to experience it for the first time. But I am not quad biking in the street...
Fainted on Antonio’s floor

Fainted on Antonio’s floor

Anotonio’s in Tagaytay is a fine restaurant that serves expensive breakfast. It’s elegant and squeaky clean – the best place to faint 🙂 It feels exclusive – we were the only customers the time we visited. Or perhaps we were just the first to come that morning. Since I knew it was going to be an expensive restaurant, I did not eat breakfast prior to the visit, even if my mom told me to eat something light. I should have listened, because it took some time to get to Antonio’s in Tagaytay  from Makati. Preparing our order took also some time. While waiting, I suddenly felt dizzy due to hunger. I was back then breastfeeding my kid, and I needed food and energy fast! I was so hungry and dizzy – and it was also very hot that day – that I collapsed twice. The first time was in the washroom – thank goodness, the toilet was squeaky clean, almost as pretty as a bedroom. My aunt was there to assist me. The second time was in the hall, near the entrance, which also has a very clean floor. We were on our way back from the washroom to our table, when I felt weak and sprawled on the floor with the waitresses and my aunt assisting me. The owner of the restaurant was also there and asked us how we were. After a drink of juice, I found energy to rise. As I sat at our table, another guest came in. A VIP – basing on the helicopter that landed on the helipad where he came from, followed by an entourage. The bill...
In the garden of Amarela

In the garden of Amarela

Beach, garden, art – we loved these at Amarela Resort in Panglao, Bohol. But I was so scared of the tokay geckos! We were well taken care of at the hotel, which is set on a slope near the beach, with the views of Bohol Sea. I liked eating at its terrace restaurant. And it has an art gallery showing paintings, sculpture and woodwork by local artists. There’s an infinity pool, huge garden, access to the beach. The only thing I didn’t like was that there were so many tokay geckos crawling and hanging on the walls – live ones (not wooden wall decors!). I’ve never seen so many in my life – and I respect their right to live – but I don’t like them near me. We were in Bohol in October 2010. So we were able to see the Chocolate hills and the centuries old Loboc Church, before the devastating earthquake that struck Bohol in October 2013. Other places and experiences while we were in Bohol: 1. Dolphin watching 2. Ate sea urchins at a sand bar 3. Butterfly Garden 4. Loboc river cruise 5. Tarsier encounter 6. Bohol bee farm 7.Chocolate Hills 8. Firefly river cruise in the night! (This night cruise was exciting because it was dark and quiet in the river. And then we saw fireflies in trees. It was a beautiful sight. Magical. And natural. Alas my night pictures weren’t so successful.) 9. Baclayon Church 10. Loboc Church  ...
The biggest pork chop I’ve ever seen

The biggest pork chop I’ve ever seen

It took us some time to find Marcia Adams, a Mediterranean restaurant in Alfonso, Cavite. We followed Google Map and drove back and forth near it, but just couldn’t find it. Christine had been there some time ago and liked the ambience, and wanted to take us with her back. I’ve read it profiles itself as the Tuscany of Tagaytay. We didn’t want to lose more time getting lost so we asked the vendors on the road, and they knew the place. We were just a few meters from it, from the main road. There were cars parked outside the resturant which looked like a usual gated house with a big garden. The signboard was also small. The garden was wild and interesting. It has rustic interiors with old wooden chairs, hardwood tables and floor with decorative cement tiles that some bloggers call Machuca tiles. And I like that it feels open. There is an area that is walled, here’s where it feels like Tuscany. I like the window overlooking a field that gets shades of yellow as the sun sets. The other area is like a huge roofed terrace – it’s wide open. We decided to sit here, so we could talk loudly about the last 16 years. The last time I saw Christine and Sol was in UPLB 1988. She is my former roommate at the nun-run St Therese dormitory, and he my fellow Pandayan (Pandayan is a political party at the University of the Philippines, LB). They haven’t changed physically, except for a few kilos – a sign of wealth – and some white hair – a sign...
Aquaria in Calatagan

Aquaria in Calatagan

  Calatagan in Batangas, Philippines – with its cream-colored sand beaches – is said to be the leisure site of Manila’s rich and famous. It’s near the city, so I’m not surprised. You skip the plane and get here from Manila within three hours. It was even called “the Forbes Park of the South” back in the past. Forbes Park is a gated community in Makati, Philippines. The Forbes is where the wealthiest in the Philippines live. The whole family came to Aquaria in Playa Calatagan from Tagaytay. (Check: Sonya’s Garden and Hillcreek Garden in Tagaytay.) We were a convoy of five huge cars. I felt happy that we were complete. It’s not always the case. We were the only guests in Aquaria, probably because we came on a weekday. It was fun. We had the beach to our own, and the pools, too. The entrance fee is 400 pesos for adults and 200 for kids. Our families own units – in the upcoming condominium buildings – so we only paid 100 pesos per head, kids at 50 pesos. I forgot a towel. Luckily, huge beach towels are for sale at around 600 pesos. Aquaria is quite new, just over a year old, so it’s so clean! And the main was/toilet/changing area is big and clean. I love it. I wish it will be maintained this way. We ate lunch by the beach. We bought food at a restaurant and brought it in Aquaria. A table was placed on the sand, under a tree, so some of us ate standing, with plates in our hands. Others wanted to eat comfortably, so we hired a roofed platform...