Saturday, December 18, 2010

On your 9th...

You could have been in Enchanted Kingdom, riding the merry-go-round with your brothers.

You could have been in the beach or at a resort, enjoying the water in your pink swimsuit.

You could have been in the mall, trying on dresses that effortlessly look good on you.

You could have been in Jollibee, ordering a big piece of crispy chicken joy.

... or you could simply have been at home, blowing your princess cake and eating your favorite menudo.

But you're in heaven... celebrating your birthday in a much more wonderful way.

It would have been really nice to see you turn 9, but apparently, God wanted you on His side when it happens, so I'm just writing this note and sending it across the world wide web until it reaches you. It still hurts to know that we can no longer celebrate with you, but we can always let the world know how thankful we are for the day when God gave you to us.

We will celebrate your birthday the way we know how, but no matter what we do, I'm pretty sure nothing beats the feast that heaven is holding for you right now.

Happy 9th birthday, my favorite inaanak! This is ninang's gift to you. I hope you feel how much we love and miss you. Enjoy your special day, our princess, our angel, our Andrea Camille!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our Bohol Experience

I recently got back from a 5-day getaway in Bohol! :) My friends and I visited the island last week (June 13-17). We had a wonderful time and we had a blast! I'd attribute the success of our trip to months of planning which would not be possible without the tips and reviews available in the internet. So let me return the favor by sharing also the highlights and some insights from our Bohol trip. Hope this will come handy as you plan your Bohol itinerary :)

1. Grand Luis Lodge
I would say that staying in this lodge is the best part of our Bohol trip! :) They really live up to their tagline of being "a home in Bohol". They have all the qualities of an ideal vacation abode -
cheap rates, good and cheap food, REALLY cozy rooms, quiet and relaxing environment, warm and friendly staff, and facilities that can be used free of charge: swimming pool, jacuzzi, videoke, tennis court and gazebo. A package with them also comes with other free stuff like transfer to and from the airport, daily breakfast and use of internet. They could still improve by having an in-house generator, but then again for the price that we paid and the service that we experienced with them, having a generator will just be another bonus. We were supposed to spend only 3 nights here and spend our 4th night in Danao, but we opted to extend our stay in Grand Luis because of the superb accommodation! Highly recommended especially for group of friends!

Contact Details:
Website: www.grandluislodge.com
Email: info@grandluislodge.com
SMS: 0908-643-3065
Rate during the time of our visit: Php 1,800/room/night (room is good for 2 and can cater an add'l pax with add'l charge)

The facade of Grand Luis Lodge

2. Countryside tour with Tatsky
While drafting our group's itinerary, I came across a number of sites and forums recommending the service of Tatsky for our Bohol tours so I immediately contacted him and inquired about his rates. Of all the tourist guides that I've contacted (I've probably communicated with more than 5 guides!), Tatsky offers the lowest rate with most number of tourist attractions covered. Upon arriving in Bohol, we encountered some glitches (PAL left Crystal's luggage in Manila!) so I informed Tatsky that there will be changes in our itinerary, he was flexible enough to accommodate the changes in our plan and assigned a different driver/tour guide for us. As it turns out, he owns several vehicles and employs several drivers so he can cater to different groups. The driver assigned to us was Kuya Dennis, he seems to be as equally kind and knowledgeable as Tatsky. Although we were not able to personally meet Tatsky, I can highly recommend him for your Bohol tour needs.

Contact Details:
SMS: 0915-794-5556 / 0912-747-2737 / 0922-367-1051
Rate during the time of our visit: Php 2,500.00 for a tour with 5-12 pax

The sight is lovely and so are we!

3. Van Rental with Kuya Ritchie
One of the tour guides that I've talked to while planning our Bohol trip is Kuya Ritchie. Although we didn't get his services for the Bohol tour, we hired him for our trip to Danao. He offered the lowest transfer rate from Panglao to Danao and vice versa and his Starex van is relatively new. He delivered us to Danao and Panglao safely and on time, while slowing down once in a while when there's a clear view of Chocolate hills. He also accommodated our changes very professionally and modestly when we decided to go back to Panglao on the same day and earlier than the planned time considering that his schedule was really tight that day because he was booked by another group for their Bohol countryside tour. Two thumbs up for Kuya Ritchie! :D

Contact details:
SMS: 0919-765-4571 / 0923-931-5121
Helpful link: http://www.calvinshub.com/2009/02/bohol-tour-on-a-budget-with-ritchie/
Rate during the time of our visit: Php 2,500.00 per way (Panglao-Danao)

The main man - Kuya Ritchie Vasquez

4. E.A.T Danao
I don't know if I will call this highlight or what because until now I can still feel how my soul was seemingly detached from my body during the plunge! :P But one thing for sure, my Bohol experience wouldn't be complete without the Danao plunge, suislide, rapel and root climb. It was nerve-wrecking, but trying it out wis really worth it. Like what one of their signages read: "You are not only paying for the ride, you are paying for the experience." Indeed, the Danao adventure is a real must-try! My soul dropped and was left in Danao, but I brought back home a really worthwhile experience! ;-)

Contact Details:
Website: www.eatdanao.com
SMS: 0917-302-1700. Contact person: Ms.Weina Sagud
Rate during the time of our visit: Php 1,500.00/pax for a day tour package (add 600.00 to change Wall Climb to plunge)

No matter how distorted I look in this photo, I don't hesitate sharing it because that right there is not an ugly face, that is a BRAVE face! A very brave face! :p

5. Island Tour - Dolphin watching and Snorkelling
Our island tour was also arranged by Tatsky, he contacted the boatman, Kuya Vito, who met us in one of the resorts in Alona Beach. I don't know if it was sheer luck or Kuya Vito's skill that frequently led us to spots where we had a direct view of the dolphins. Our boat was near the dolphin hot spot for more than 70% of all the sightings! That's really awesome considering that there are around 10-15 boats patrolling the area with us in the hopes of seeing the dolphins jump and gasp for air. :D A tip when watching, or should I say, chasing dolphins as discovered by Nikki and Herlin: the dolphins come out every 4 minutes (or a little less than 4 minutes)! :D

After the dolphin watching, we headed to Balicasag Island for the snorkelling activity. BALICASAG REEF IS REALLY A SIGHT TO BEHOLD! I would consider this reef as the best snorkelling sight that I've seen so far (I'm expecting that only reefs in Palawan can top this). I say that it's best because in the five years that our group has been touring around the Philippines, it is only now that I anticipate each dive not only because of the fishes but also because of the "landscape" underneath! Life under Balicasag was really diverse as there were lots of schools of fishes and live corals (I was able to touch one of the corals and Nemo's home! ^_^), but more than the diversity, I was awed with the coral formation and underwater cliff! I don't know how to further describe it, but for me, it was really astounding! So if you can, go snorkel in Balicasag and be awed. :D

Contact Details:
SMS: See Tatsky's contact details
Rate during the time of our visit: Php 1,500.00/boat good for a minimum of 7pax (I'm not sure about the max headcount per boat)

The show-off dolphins! :D

Those are the remarkable experience that we had in Bohol. As for the not so good side, I would say it's the part where we visited Bohol beach club after the Balicasag tour. Don't get me wrong, Bohol beach club's facilities are good, the view is great and the resort is good for family or group with kids, the major downside for us is their food. Their food is costly but bland and the serving is small. So, if you're working on a really tight budget or craving for really delicious food, dining in Bohol beach club may not be a good idea. Crystal also mentioned that their beach is not that good for swimming. Although the water is clear, the sea floor is quite rough and there were jelly fishes around.

Bohol Beach Club - where food is tasteless but the sight is picturesque! :)

There. I really hope that this will be helpful. :) Feel free to leave a comment for additional questions or more details. Happy planning! :)

Credits: All photos above courtesy of Ronald Calulo and Crystal Gonzalez. :) Friends, I really love our pics, nakaka-inspire i-blog. :) Looking forward to seeing more wonderful photos in our future trips! ^_^

More pics in my Picasa account:

Bohol Getaway - Day 1: Hello Tagbilaran!

Bohol Getaway - Day 2: Countryside Tour

Bohol Getaway - Day 3: Island & Sea tour

Bohol Getaway - Day 4: Danao Adventure

Bohol Getaway - Day 5: Huling Hirit sa Bohol

Monday, May 31, 2010

A darling

Since I got word from a relative about Sitti Navarro's benefit concert to be held for my cousin, I've started inviting people in my contacts list to participate in the concert and help raise funds for my cousin's treatment. But just for a while, I will stop raving about the details of the event and focus on the more important element of the benefit concert -- the beneficiary -- Andrea Camille Castilla.
This is Camille, my sweet cousin who's also my goddaughter. As you can see in the date-time stamp, this photo was taken on September 2009, a few months before she underwent radiotherapy to treat the big cancerous mass found somewhere near her spinal column and chest. The doctors' diagnosis was Stage 4 cancer.

Around 3 months after the treatment, her parents threw a party to celebrate her 8th birthday. Given her situation, it's a miracle that we were able to witness her 8th birthday, moreso, to see her walking by herself again. This was Camille during her 8th birthday party.
Notice how she can still smile is inspite of all the treatments, the hairloss and the physical pain that she experienced during the therapy! We've got one strong child here. :)

This is the most recent photo that I have of Camille.
Along with the growing of her new hair is the growing of our hope and confidence that we will see her to be a fine young lady someday. :)

Camille still complains of pains in her legs and chest until now but this child keeps on fighting and she needs all the help that she can get. I hope you are with me in giving this darling a chance to a healthier and normal life.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Dear Lord,

I am having this imaginary conversation in my head. I am not crazy or anything, I just want something too much that I imagine it. In my heart, I am hoping that, in a day not far from now, this conversation will become real and I will eventually get what I want. But in my mind, I keep reminding myself that what I want may not be what you want for me, so I entrust this thought and desire to you. I will keep believing that whatever you have in store for me is far greater that what I can ever imagine for myself.

Thank you that there's always hope in you. Let your will be done.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back from Bora!

I just got back from a 4-day getaway in Boracay! We had a great time! The weather was kind enough to let us experience the island in it’s best form – partly cloudy but still bright and sunny sky, calm sea, white sand without the agitating weeds, and not too crowded beach. I can only think of two low points in this trip:
  1. We went there on a slightly peak season. The rates for water activities were relatively higher compared to the rates that we were expecting, so we were not able to try all the activities that we were rooting for.
  2. On our last day, I can hardly look my sun-kissed self in the mirror! My skin got darker by perhaps 2-3 degrees, which is actually also a good thing, because it is an indication that we really enjoyed and made the most out of our trip! =)
Just as how online reviews and forums helped me in planning this trip (and other trips in the past), I really hope I can also come up with helpful reviews based on our experience in this vacation. In my next post, I’ll try my best to share my takes on the following:
  • PALakbayan package
  • La Carmela de Boracay Resort & Hotel
  • Places to eat in Boracay (those that we’ve tried)
  • Boracay Activities
So there, I hope the 4-day hiatus is enough to keep the writing juices flowing. =P

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday morning ^_^

My usual lazy and boring Monday morning became eventful because of this:

I got it as a "no-occasion" gift from Nikki! Super thank you, >:D< :-*

Will post the actual pics tomorrow. :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UP and Old Love

After watching UP, I searched for this passage in my email archives. It was forwarded by Nikki a few months ago. This line pretty sums up why I cried from the start to the end of the movie.

“The question is asked, ‘Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl clasping clean hands, and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?’ And the answer is given. ‘Yes there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped. Their faces are seamed, but still radiant. Their hearts are physically bowed and tired. But still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young loveold love.”
I have a thing for old love -- I fancy it. *daydreams*