Buying your first ‘worry-free’ investment? Take it from Jennifer.

It was one of those chilly Saturday nights. The weather was perfect for a light, relaxing dinner. My husband asked me to cook sinigang na hipon. “Masarap humigop ng mainit na sabaw, hon. I’m sure our friends will like it too.”  I guess he’s right. And so I cooked siningang na hipon and caldereta while J.T. prepared Caesar salad, roasted chicken with potatoes and broccoli braised with garlic. I was busy preparing the dinner table when I got a Viber message from my friend, Cristina. She’s with her husband, Andy. It was past 6pm when Cristina and Andy arrived. They brought a dozen of homemade cupcakes. Sweet! After a couple of minutes, the doorbell rang. I asked J.T. to open the door. It was Sean. He’s the marketing manager from Megaworld International the one I spoke to during the project presentation in San Diego. I quickly introduced Sean to J.T. and we all returned back to the table after. Sean brought a bottle of Morgan Metallico Chardonnay. It’s one of the best fruit-flavored wines in California. I popped the wireless speaker, grabbed my phone and played some relaxing chill-out tracks on Spotify. (Thanks to my son who taught me how to use this music-streaming app. Haha.) It was a perfect dinner.

Sean, Cristina and even Andy assured me that this will be a worry-free investment. Why worry-free? Well, because the hotel operator will manage and operate our condotel unit. It will be managed by Prestige Hotels and Resorts, Inc. (PHRI) a subsidiary of Megaworld Corporation. Prestige will take care of the leasing, maintenance, improvement and even the refurbishment of the unit. The lease shall be for a period of 15 years and will be automatically renewed for another 15 years under the same terms and conditions stated in the initial agreement. The most exciting part is that we have the privilege to stay in the condotel for 30 room nights per year! A condotel as vacation house? Why not?!

“But what if our unit was not rented? Will we still earn from the hotel operations?” I asked Sean. The answer is yes! Sean explained to us that all condominium hotel unit owners are entitled to a share in the net room revenue whether his unit was rented or not. All unit owners will have a percentage share in the share of the pooled units. But c’mon, we don’t want to think about it. We’re pretty sure that the hotel occupancy rate in Boracay will be good enough. Besides, Boracay is attracting millions of tourists every year!

My husband and I agreed that Boracay Belmont Hotel was our best bet, even from the beginning. And they were right all along. Boracay Belmont Hotel from what I heard is a prestigious project development of Global-Estate Resorts, Inc., (GERI) a subsidiary of Megaworld Corporation. It is located in Boracay Newcoast, a 150-hectare township development of GERI in Boracay. It is Boracay’s first integrated, master-planned tourism estate. Because of its world-class fine, powdery sand and clear blue waters, not to mention the numerous international awards including the recent ‘Best Island in the World’ recognition, we have come to a unanimous decision. Finally! Boracay Belmont Hotel it is!

After some business talks, Sean asked me to fill up some forms. “This is it.” I told J.T. Sean handed me the Request for Reservation and Offer to Purchase form or RROP. I wrote my name as the primary buyer and my husband affixed his signature as the co-buyer. Then Sean asked me and my husband to complete the Buyer’s Information Sheet or BIS. It was quick. We gave Sean all the documents needed plus the required down payment. We were so satisfied that we ran out of questions to ask. Sean moved up from his chair and gave us a handshake “Finally, after months of pangungulit. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Nakpil! We’re so glad that you chose Megaworld International to be your investment partner.” Cristina smiled at me and said, “You made the right decision, Jen.” Cristina is also a proud investor of Savoy Hotel Boracay, another prestigious condotel project of GERI in Boracay Newcoast.

We’re really excited about this new investment. I got to enjoy Boracay myself during my last trip to the Philippines and I want my family to experience the beauty of this island themselves. We may be far away from our beloved Philippines, but I know that Megaworld International will always put our best interest forward.

 

Worry-free investment for Filipinos abroad

In the last weekend of November, my family and I traveled to San Diego to spend some time with our family friends.  On Saturday afternoon, Cristina, my friend invited me to join her on a “roadshow”. Since I have nothing else to do, I decided to go with her. We spent our afternoon at Megaworld International San Diego office. I learned that Megaworld International is the global marketing arm of Megaworld Corporation and subsidiaries. The Megaworld team was very accommodating and I was able to also meet fellow Filipinos from nearby cities. Out of curiosity, I asked some of the Filipinos there on why they attended the roadshow, mostly would say it’s for their investment while the others would like to earn extra income as a marketing network.

I was smiling during the presentation because the townships were very familiar to me; in fact I mostly stayed in Megaworld townships during my vacation in the Philippines. I am glad to be able to relate with their presentation, the photos and renderings were enjoyable but like what I said to Cristina, the real experience is the best. I agree that Megaworld Townships offer the life-work-play-learn lifestyle as reflected from the proximity of shops and stores in their residential and business areas. Though, I am familiar with some, I learned more about the on-going and upcoming projects in the Townships. I also learned about possible investment opportunities especially through the concept of Condotel which Megaworld offers as a worry-free investment. From what I understand, it works like time-sharing (like the membership with clubhouses in the US) but the difference is that you actually own the hotel room! And you earn through the hotel operations. This appealed to me during the presentation that I had to approach a marketing manager to explain it further to me. There were a lot of technicalities and conditions but overall, this is a perfect investment for Filipinos who lives abroad without the worry of looking for tenant with your property. The condotel will be managed by a Megaworld company and the owner is given 30-days free stay in the hotel but not necessary the specific condotel unit that the owner owns.

The options given to me were Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown (Cebu), Kingsford Hotel (Entertainment City) and Belmont Hotel (Boracay). After the event, I went home bringing brochures and sample computation and payment terms for these three. I discussed this with my family and their feedback is very positive towards the Belmont Hotel in Boracay.  My husband said that it was perfect location for a vacation property every time we go home to the Philippines while my children said that since it is located in Boracay which is a top destination for Filipinos and foreigners, the condotel will surely have higher occupancy rate and in the long term, a higher ROI, too.

Until now, we are still deciding and checking other options for this investment. We all have to think about this especially that this is a long term commitment of payments and coordination. Nonetheless, I was able to talk to the Marketing Manager who helped me and we are going to schedule a one-by-one presentation with my family.

I hope that this investment will push through! Now, time to focus on the preparations in the coming holidays J

Golden Girl is Back to the US

It’s been a few weeks since I returned to LA. In true Pinoy fashion, my entire clan picked me up at the airport and we went out for some Vietnamese food. My husband J.T. could not contain his happiness and I would like to think it was because he missed me, or that he was particularly excited about the spicy Pho at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I failed to mention to him that my heart (and tummy) has already fallen in love with Iloilo’s La Paz batchoy!

Being reunited with my family and grandchildren helped me get over my jet lag quickly. With pride, I passed around my phone and showed them pictures of my adventures in the Philippines.  I took 3,000 photos! Can you believe that?

When my grandchildren saw photos of the jeepneys in Manila, they immediately begged me to find one so they can try riding in it. A functioning jeepney in the U.S.? Hmm.

All in all, I can’t seem to run out of stories to tell them regarding my Manila, Tagaytay, Cebu, Boracay and Iloilo trips. I have such fond memories of the people I’ve met, the long-lost friends and hometown relatives I’ve finally caught up with, the food I’ve savored, the beautiful scenery that captivated me, the cultures of the cities I’ve experienced, and the warmth and welcoming embrace that the Philippines have given me.

Eastwood City was a wonderful surprise – shopping, dining, leisure and entertainment all rolled into a self-sustaining “city”. It even has its own Walk of Fame!

And how can I forget Davao’s majestic monkey-eating eagle? Or the tasty, though notoriously foul-smelling, durian?

I will definitely miss the one-of-a-kind Cebu lechon. Just thinking about it makes my stomach growl. How truly memorable it was to stroll leisurely in Megaworld’s Mactan Newtown to enjoy the best of Cebu and all its modern conveniences.

In Iloilo, I still remember my stay at Richmonde Iloilo and how the staff made me feel well attended and right at home. La Paz batchoy anyone?  It’s simply the best.

I have postcard-perfect photos of Boracay’s famous sunset. I will miss the fresh seafood, the powder white sand, and my ATV adventure!

A quick trip from Manila is the cool and modern city of Tagaytay. Seeing Taal Lake was breathtaking. The cool climate was balanced out by the tasty and heavenly bulalo. Oh, I would love to be able to own a vacation home in Twin Lakes in Tagaytay and have access to a vineyard.

And Manila’s hippest place, Burgos Circle, made me feel young and “cool” (is it still cool to say cool?).  I exercised and jogged within Fort Bonifacio which has been developed into a place worthy of international standards.

I am indebted to my many friends, family, and new acquaintances for making my stay in the Philippines an experience that I will cherish forever. I have indeed crossed-out a major item from my bucket list but I know that this is not the last of my trip back home.

Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to Manila!

Wow, I can’t believe the golden girl just had the final leg of her backpacking trip to the Philippines.

After how many days spent on different places in the Philippines, I realized that maybe I still needed to stay a bit more to the home country I’ve missed for more than 30 years. I thought it would be nice to catch up again with friends and relatives before going back to the States. It was saddening that I already had to wrap up my trip but good thing I was able to spend the last days in one of the most exciting places in the Metro – in Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City.

Despite the hustle and bustle, Manila welcomed me again after coming back from Davao with warmth and nostalgia regardless of its modernity. I had a comfortable shuttle ride from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 going to Eastwood City in Quezon City c/o Citylink bus with a fare worth less than 100 bucks. It was a nice and convenient trip that made me feel secured from getting lost going to my destination not to mention that I thought it was a lucky day since I didn’t experience the heavy traffic.

I had my room accommodation in Eastwood Le Grand, a condominium residence in Eastwood City that I booked easily through Airbnb. The unit owner was so thoughtful that she also prepared a bottle of red wine for me as a welcome gift. As I lay down to rest, a great idea popped into my head. I thought it is a good investment to own a unit and have it registered in AirBnb. With so many travelers going in and out of the Philippines – tourists, businessmen, even international students – I realized that there’s a guaranteed return on investment in such kind of rental business. I am only left with a very important decision to make – which property should I invest in? Where is the perfect location that is suitable for my target tenants? Oh well, this is something to think about when I get back to the US since I also have to discuss this with my husband. I hope he agrees to this. We can have a holiday together here in the Philippines without any worrying about the accommodation if we can get ourselves a property to invest in.

During my stay in Eastwood City, everything is within my reach and almost right at my doorstep. Shopping, dining, leisure, entertainment and a very nice place to stay – everything is complete in Eastwood City. No need for a ride to go to a shopping mall, or to eat and drink with family and friends in a fine or casual resto. I had fun strolling around and enjoyed the sights in Eastwood City like its park and the Hollywood-like walk of fame. I was also able to cap off the last leg of my backpacking trip with shopping at Eastwood Mall and Eastwood City Walk. (Yay! Shopping! Good thing I wasn’t charged for extra baggage, lol.)

And so for my last day, I still got the chance to drop by on Saint John Paul II Parish inside Eastwood City. I was able to say my thanks to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to have my golden year backpacking trip to the Philippines. Looking back, despite that it took me more than 30 years to do this trip, I really felt a long, warm and welcoming hug as I landed to every places I’ve been through in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Thank you, Pilipinas, for the best golden year trip I’ve ever had! Now that I am more capable enough, I would love to see you again soon and more often. Who knows, I could probably retiring with you, too!

Tapos na ang maliligayang araw (Happy days are over). One day, I woke and realized I am already back in America. It’s such a relief that everything isn’t a dream. It was a real backpacking holiday to the Pearl of the Orient, ang Pilipinas kong mahal (my beloved Philippines).

A Stop at the Melting Pot of Mindanao: A Heady Mix of Provincial and Urban Lifestyle that is Davao City

Since the new Philippine president is from the South, I wanted to visit his hometown, Davao City.  They say that Davao was among the safest cities in the world,  ranked 5th according to the data released by Numbeo.com. It was also consistently awarded as a child-friendly city, and one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world. In 2013, Davao was also recognized by the international community as the first 100% smoke-free metropolitan city in the ASEAN region.

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Davao City is consistently named as one of the cleanest and safest cities not just in the Philippines but in the world. 

I started my tour of Davao by going to Calinan District which is home to the famous Philippine Eagle, residing at the Philippine Eagle Center. Then I went to Malagos Garden Resort, where a lot of waling-waling, also known as the “Queen of Philippine Flowers” can be found. These flowers are endemic in the area. There, the host gave me mangosteens (known as the “queen of fruits”) and pomelos to eat. And when I was thirsty, they told me that I can get a glass of water straight from the faucet because the water here in Davao is the 2nd most potable water in the world. Well I guess they have a lot to boast!

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Behold! The Philippine eagle also known as the monkey-eating eagle, is considered as one of the rarest and most powerful birds in the world. (Google Images)
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Waling-waling also known as the “Queen of Philippine Flowers”

Then I visited Davao Park District which is Megaworld’s first township development in Mindanao. It is an 11-hectare integrated development along SP Dakudao Loop, which was used to be the Lanang Golf and Country Club. This is Megaworld’s vision of a central business district and a major information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) in Mindanao. I heard that this township will have a lifestyle mall, commercial and retail shops, parks, a lagoon, and a school. I also saw ads of One Lakeshore Drive around the city. From what I saw, it is the first featured residential development at the heart of Davao Park District and will be designed for those who have an active and modern lifestyle. Wow, I can’t wait to see all that!

My friend Angela who’s also from US, a true Davaoeña and a “golden girl” just like me (peace, Angie! haha) told me about the Kadayawan Festival, a celebration of life and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, that happens every third week of August. Too bad I wasn’t able to join in the fun. Oh well, more reasons to come back again, right?

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The Kadayawan Festival which happens every third week of August. I will surely come back to see it myself! (Google Images)

As I travel along the streets of Davao City, I really did not see any litter on the gutter or sidewalk. Hmm, really clean! I went up to Jack’s Ridge where I was able to see the whole city while enjoying my lunch of fresh tuna and seafood, fresh durian and pomelo for dessert, and just my luck… I had the durian-flavored ice cream too! Oh my, it’s heaven in every spoonful. Just don’t mind the awful smell, the taste makes up for it anyway.

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The must-try Lola Abon’s Durian Ice Cream. Anong sinabi ng Haagen-Dazs!? Haha.

By the way, did you know that Davao is the only city outside of United States and Canada that has its own version of the world renowned 911 Emergency Response System? Uh, cool right? The Davao City Police is also a 7-time awardee as the Best Performing City Police in the Philippines.

Since this was my first time in Davao, I really did not know much about this city. So I vibered and rang Angela. Angela quickly sent me her personal list of where to eat, what and where to buy pasalubongs.

Where to eat:

  • If you want to taste the best tuna in town, head on to Marina Tuna in Sasa. From Bagaybay (tuna milt) to Inihaw na Panga ng Bariles (grilled tuna jaw), it was truly a tuna indulgence at its finest
  • Lachi’s in Marfori and Tiny Kitchen in Torres are also popular dining hotspots in the city
  • Dencia’s Restaurant is popular for their tokwa’t baboy. Angela made a side note that my Davao experience won’t be complete without a stop at Dencia’s – and yes she was absolutely right!
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Dencia’s Restaurant is located at Poblacion District, Davao City
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Arguably the best tokwa’t baboy I have ever tasted! Na-miss ko to. 😦

What and where to buy for pasalubong:

  • If you love durian just like I do, go to stalls at Magsaysay Park and Torres Street for their fresh and frozen durian
  • Tried and tasted: try Golden, Nenita, Dizon and Vic’s brand for suha and pomelo
  • Make a stop at Bankerohan public market or at Madrazo fruit stand for the best mangosteens! Mangosteens are cheap during the months of July and August by the way
  • Claveria Avenue or C.M. Recto St. is famous for its row of cheap barbecue (pork, chicken) and puso (rice cooked in coconut fronds)
  • Go to AhFat seafood restaurant in Bajada for the most affordable delish lobster salad
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Heaps of mangosteens at Madrazo fruit stand

After lunch, I would have gone zip lining in Zip City, but I was scared to throw up. So I just went on a pasalubong shopping spree instead. I went to Aldevinco Shopping Center and bought malong, pearls and some other native products to bring back to my friends in the US. I also bought mangosteen and durian to eat while watching movies back in the hotel. Imagine how lucky I was that the room I booked via Airbnb had a majestic view of Mt. Apo. The host probably gave it to me as a surprise.

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…. and of course, the “King of Fruits”, Durian!

That night, I dreamt of a fast-paced life back in the metropolis. Young people clad in business suits going in and out of offices, cosmopolitan women shopping for signature bags and dress in lifestyle malls, young couples trying to start a family in a modern, posh condominium, kids in pretty school uniforms waiting for their school service to pick them up – what does this all mean?

Exploring the Queen City of the South

Maayong pag-abot! Two days ago, the Queen City of the South welcomed me and my friends with a beautiful sunny morning and the faint sound of waves in my hotel room. As I write this post, I am already waiting for my flight to Davao.

I arrived in Cebu in the evening and decided to call it a night after checking-in at BE Resorts Mactan. My first day in Cebu started with the freshest and delicious Mango shake during breakfast and of course, danggit! While having our breakfast, my friends and I strategized our two-day stay in the island; we decided to spend our first day at Cebu city and the second day at Mactan.

No wonder Cebu is tagged as the central business district of Visayas. It has the hustle and bustle city life but also the unceasing rich culture of Cebuanos. After breakfast, we attended morning mass at Basilica del Sto. Niño. I had a warm feeling in my heart as I observe families in the church. This made me miss my family back in the US, I miss my son, Ralph and daughter, Anica who both have families of their own but as they say, the yearning of a mother’s heart to her children is endless.

Just few steps away from the Basilica was Magellan’s Cross. I was like a child on a field trip as I finally came face to face with the historical landmark that I read on history books when I was little.

We walked around downtown Cebu and tried to fit in like a local but my friends and I would somehow find ourselves ohh-ing and aahh-ing when we pass by something that would give us a glimpse of the old Cebu.

Aside from mangoes, Cebu is quite synonymous to a famous dish, can you guess what? Well of course, LECHON! Cebu has a lot of lechon restaurants but my friends recommended eating at CnT which is said to be the most popular lechon Cebu. I have tasted a number of lechon in my lifetime but Cebu lechon is sinfully delicious!! We had to control ourselves; we don’t want to end at the hospital because of high-blood. Haha!

Continue reading “Exploring the Queen City of the South”

A Golden Girl’s Eat, Pray, Love Journey to Boracay

Retire in Miami, Florida?  No, thanks.  If given the choice, my husband and I will happily retire in one of the best beaches in the world – in Boracay. Especially now when the Philippine Retirement Authority is offering an unlimited SRRV Courtesy Visa for former Filipinos, for just a US$1,500 deposit!
This post will focus on 3 things: Eat. Pray. Love. In the book, author and heroine Elizabeth Gilbert went on a journey across Italy, India and Indonesia to find meaning in her life. I don’t have to journey across three countries to find happiness and fulfillment. It’s all here in Boracay, in my home country, the Philippines.

You might be asking why “swim” is not a part of the experience (it is, after all, a beach). My dears, my golden year only allows me to sit by the shoreline and let the waves lap at my feet. I can only admire the jet-skiers and paraw-sailers from afar. But I did ride an ATV – more on this later.

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Paraws before the setting sun.

So I checked-in at the wonderful Fairways and Bluewater. I had a few days to myself since I arrived two days earlier than my cousins, who arrived on a weekend. They are avid golfers and they had the time of their lives at Fairways and Bluewater’s 18-hole golf course. But that’s not the only thing special about the resort hotel.  The hotel has large, clean rooms with comfortable beds.  Rooms had views and kitchenettes.  I was welcomed warmly by the professional staff who asked friendly questions when they learned I was a balikbayan. Was it the American twang that gave me away?

I just can’t help but admire this well-kept, quiet property in Boracay. Apart from the world-class golf course, it also has its own beach and the developer of the property, Megaworld’s Global Estate Resorts, Inc., is selling condotels, too! Remember when I stayed at Belmont Hotel in Newport City? Lo and behold, there’s Belmont Boracay! I really think this is a sign. I am being inspired to make an investment of a lifetime, in Belmont, Savoy or Chancellor, all pre-selling condotels, in adjacent Boracay Newcoast.

So let’s get into the “meat” of the matter, shall we?

Continue reading “A Golden Girl’s Eat, Pray, Love Journey to Boracay”

Strolling in the Philippines’ City of Love – Iloilo

As soon as the plane touched down in Iloilo Airport, it felt as if my heart was going to burst anytime. I’ve been so excited about visiting the so-called Philippines’ City of Love, Iloilo, with a very sweet memory of love imprinted in my heart by my grandmother when I was a kid.

Leonora De Jesus (Lola Nora), my grandmother, met the love of her life and my grandfather, Caesar Vinluan (Lolo Caesar), when they were still teenagers. Both of them were serving the church as choir and altar boy respectively. Grandma was really lovely when she was young and with her voice, Lolo Caesar was totally captivated. The Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish, better known as the Miag-ao Church, in the town of Miag-ao was Lola Nora and Lolo Caesar’s witness to the blossoming of their endless love for each other. Lola Nora used to tell me that she never doubted the moment Lolo Caesar confessed his love for her in front of the altar. She thought that the angels whispered on her to say Yes to Lolo Caesar – it was indeed a love match made in heaven.

Bearing that beautiful love story in my heart made my journey in Iloilo a romantically nostalgic one. I never wasted time and made sure that I visited the beautiful and UNESCO World Heritage site Miag-ao Church.  It was love at first sight that it was no wonder an endless love just like my Lola Nora and Lolo Caesar had taken place. I prayed and talked to Lola Nora and Lolo Caesar asking for their guidance to all couples who are having a blossoming love story just like theirs in the lovely church of Miag-ao.

Masadya diri sa Iloilo! (It is fun here in Iloilo!)

Iloilo City for me is a very promising place in the Philippines. From the old nostalgic churches in Jaro, Guimbal, San Joaquin and Miag-ao; and establishments rich in cultural heritage in Calle Real and Plaza Libertad to modern hotspots in Iloilo Esplanade and Iloilo Business Park, Iloilo is truly the center of the old and new.

Iloilo is also famous with its religious and cultural festival called the Dinagyang Festival. It is a feast of faith to honor the Sto Niño or the child Jesus celebrated every fourth Sunday of January. From simple foot and fluvial processions, Dinagyang Festival has gone big with street parties, beauty contests, medical missions, and food festivals. Too bad I missed the chance to witness it for the first time but I’ll try my luck next year to attend the Dinagyang Festival.

Aside from the sceneries to go to in Iloilo, I have also enjoyed the company of the Ilonggos I’ve met along the way. They have been so malambing that there have been times I almost fell like being cradled every time they were talking to me. These Ilonggos were so sweet, hospitable and kind-hearted to everyone, especially to someone who tours around like me. To all the Ilonggos, especially to Tessie, Danica, and the Tiangao family, you all are special to me. Salamat gid!

Here are some of the highlights during my stroll in the Philippines’ City of Love:

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

From the Iloilo Airport, Tessie, my dear Filipina friend in the US who also happened to be in Iloilo during my trip, took me straight to the Richmonde Hotel. Tessie mentioned that the Richmonde Hotel opened last July 2015 under the development of Megaworld Corporation. Upon arrival, the hotel staff pleasantly greeted me and assisted me to my room. It was really a relaxing stay I had in Richmonde Hotel as well as very convenient since I had easy access on local transportation to the rest of my itinerary.

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My lovely hotel room. It was a lovely stay. Thank you, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo!

La Paz Batchoy

Since it was rainy season in the Philippines, I did not miss the chance to have one of the Iloilo’s famous noodle soup dish, the La Paz Batchoy. It has vegetables, miki noodles, pork meat and pork innards – yes, pork innards. I think I had La Paz Batchoy almost every meal during my stay in Iloilo. It did not only warm my stomach with the chilly weather in Iloilo because of the rains; it definitely also warmed my heart. Hindi lang pala talaga City of Love ang Iloilo dahil sa mga mapupuntahang lugar dito kundi dahil na rin sa mga pagkaing makakapagpasaya sa’yo tulad ng La Paz Batchoy. 🙂 ❤ Namit Ah talaga!

 

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A bowl of hearty delicious meal. Namit ah!  as they say “it tastes great” in Ilonggo.

Continue reading “Strolling in the Philippines’ City of Love – Iloilo”

A Pinay Wanderer’s Quick Escape from Manila

Good morning, Philippines! Ang sarap talaga ng feeling ‘pag alam mong isa na namang magandang araw ang we-welcome sa’yo. Hello, Philippines and Hello, World!

Anyway, today was such a good day to go out. Sun was not too hot, and the clouds were just enough to cover a bit of the sky. My friends picked me up for our road trip to Tagaytay. Yes, Tagaytay! It’s one of my favorite destinations here in the Philippines because of its cool climate, beautiful spots, and its proximity to Manila. Just a two-hour drive, with traffic and stopovers, pa yan ha! By the way, did you know that Forbes cited Tagaytay among the top two retirement destinations in the Philippines (the other one is Subic)? Cool, right? The Batangueños must be very proud. Hey, it’s Forbes! They know the best of the best.

Back when I was a child, we visited Tagaytay during the coldest time of the year, that’s between December to February, so we can literally chill in the morning air and watch the fog cover everything from our window. We used to stay at the Taal Vista Lodge where my eldest brother Kuya Paquito used to work as a hotel manager. Kaya naman puro kami discounts sa accommodation. Haha! If I got it right, its name has been changed to Taal Vista Hotel. Back then, our stay in Tagaytay was always memorable and surreal, like you were on top of a mountain or riding a cloud in the sky. We would imagine ourselves picking a bunch of clouds like cotton candy in the early morning and hug it because it’s so fluffy. Oh, how funny we were back then.

Here’s how Taal Vista Lodge looked like in the ‘60s, and how it looks like now.

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Taal Vista Lodge back in the ’60s (Google Images)
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Now known as Taal Vista Hotel. Ibang iba na! (Google Images)

During the ‘60s, Tagaytay was lush and green with trees and vines lining up the ridge. You would have to ride a pony to experience and see the lake up close. And it was not very dangerous. The air was crisp and cool, you’d feel like you are in a different country. Everything was just so fresh. Truly, Tagaytay has lived up to its notion as the “Second Summer Capital of the Philippines”, and it still is, up to now.

Continue reading “A Pinay Wanderer’s Quick Escape from Manila”

Titas of Manila Take Over Fort Bonifacio

It has been raining in the city these past few weeks and waking up in the morning with raindrops falling on my window for two weeks at Eight Forbestown Rd makes me feel really home. I told you in the previous blog that Newport City has everything accessible the moment I step foot outside Belmont Hotel and again like déjà vu, being in Forbes Town Center (the guard said this is what the area is called, I am only familiar with the Burgos Circle haha) makes everything so easy and accessible for me. Newport City and Forbes Town Center are both Megaworld  projects. I had a small talk with the caretaker of the unit, she said that these properties are called “Township” development, a city within a city and everything you need is just right outside your door. (Super true! and I love this concept!!)

Minus the heavy downpour of the rain, I enjoy walking around the area – it’s very modern, chic but peaceful and quiet.I did my own grocery at the shops in the ground floor of the building for my breakfast and light snacks for my visitors aside from the usual “states side” chocolates and chips. I have been meeting with my friends non-stop for the past two weeks. It is good to be just reunited with everyone, sometimes we stay inside the unit or my nephew and nieces use the pool in the building but most of the time, I go out with my friends, who are now staying in nearby cities in Manila. I also get to enjoy my quiet alone time in cafés catching up with my family in the US.

We’ve had lunch at the Max’s Restaurant almost right across the building. I can remember how we only eat here during “special occasions” like weddings and reunions, because we had to travel to the nearby city from Pangasinan to be able to eat in Max’s. Iba pa din talaga ang Pinoy food.  Crispy Pata, Kare-Kare and Sinigang. Yum! Surely, you wouldn’t miss our group. We’re the tita table na pinaka-maingay.

So you see, I’ve placed myself right in the center of the bustle and hustle city life which means I am in the center of food, leisure and entertainment. From Burgos Circle until at the McDonald’s at the end of Forbes Town Center, it is filled with restaurants, cafés, retail specialty stores and fitness which makes it easier for me to just go down and explore. Actually, the whole Fort Bonifacio area for me is “walkable”. In the morning when it doesn’t rain, I exercise and jog from my area to High Street, then have morning snacks or breakfast at the Starbucks Reserve on the ground floor of the condo building or Wildflour Café + Bakery.

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