Friday, May 30, 2008

Tam-awan Village - Baguio

Tam-Awan Village - Garden in the Sky is around 10-15 minutes from Baguio City proper. It is literally built on a mountain so exploring the place would require some trekking (nothing strenuous, unless you're superbly out-of-shape).

Entrance fee is P20 for adults, P10 for children. I believe you can bring your own food there, just make sure to bring your trash with you when you leave. But please don't bring your own food because their cafe/restaurant serves food deliciously done at cheap prices.

The pinikpikan (native chicken that's kinda battered to become tastier) is very good, but you have to keep in mind that native chicken isn't as tender as the ones sold in supermarkets. We loved the few slices of ham that came with the lettuce/rice in their meals. The service was great, the staff warmly accommodating.

Artworks are sold there too. Check out the artist by the name of James Gambito (I think). The depth of his paintings are just so exquisite and perfect. And am not sure if you're not supposed to take pictures of all artworks or just those in specific places.

The cafe is also a souvenir shop so do browse around. It sells ethnic men's jewelry and accessories aside from decorative wooden figurines and other wall hangings as well.

Oh, one thing you MUST also do there is have your portrait sketched. It's only P100/person (P300 if you're a couple). The sketches aren't that great but it's a nice experience just the same. Plus, if you're lucky, or if it's down time in that area, there'd be more than one artist sketching you. And you get to keep all the sketches for the same price. Neat, huh?

Another MUST thing is to buy their uber--large chocolate chip cookies. It's P40 for three thin pieces but it's crumbly goodness like no other. And I tell you, I am not so easy to please when it comes to choco chip cookies. It's sold at their cafe.

One other thing that was worth going to Tam-Awan for is enjoying the fog enveloping the area. Now that is the Baguio cool you can't enjoy in the city anymore. There are authentic Ifugao huts there that people can stay in, and maybe we will try them someday, when our young isn't so young anymore.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mile Hi Center - Camp John Hay, Baguio

Mile Hi Center is located inside the grounds of Camp John Hay, offering imported products at supposedly lower prices. We checked out the imported goods and don't think they're really priced cheaper there (although the dollar to peso exchange rate used in the grocery is lower at P41 then). Plus, we noticed that shops selling Buy 1 Take 1 stuff (like Skechers shoes) are actually selling the shoes at double the price.

Am sure there are good buys there though, if you know where to look.

We tried the Mile Hi Diner... and the verdict is, better eat at the 50's Diner if it's fries and burgers you're looking for. The fare and price, and service, weren't bad though. But it was pretty so-so.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Save Money

Many have tried but few really succeed. That's because people still consider money saved as something extra they can use for anything and everything, not money that is separate from their living allowance that is intended for a bigger family project and future use.

The savings account is usually the last place to get a share of a person/family's income when it should have the first slice of the cake. What I did when I was still working is to have our payroll automatically deduct a certain amount from my salary to put into my coop savings. Part of the accummulated amount usually funds gadget buys or Christmas gifts to loved ones and insrance premiums. The other half is money I cannot touch unless it's really a dire emergency (and for that, i'd even have to leave the coop before I can get to my money... that or die, that is. That's how fixed those savings are.)

There were months when I really felt poor, having to live with a limited income and living from paycheck to paycheck. But at least I know that I havd something saved. Sure enough, the savings later on funded bigger things... like my exensive C-section delivery and my son's christening.

So ask your HR or bank for similar set-ups/services. It will do your financial viability good.

Limit TV and other media

Alcohol rehab is calling on local celebrity Baron Geisler. And he could be facing real legal troubles from what he did to William Martinez' daughter while drunk. But I think, said daughter, watching her own Mom so soft and forgiving of Baron through all of his antics in the Pinoy Big Brother Home, led to her not being properly defensive. It's not her fault, of course, that she wasn't properly alarmed the minute a drunken Baron swaggered her way... her Mom sure is friends with him. Even Mariel Rodriguez didn't express anger and offense when Baron was harassing him on the show. So why would a younger girl behave otherwise?

So now we have this. And now everybody's calling Baron a pig when they helped set him loose in society. Forgiveness has never been the answer to people with problems... and second chances should only be given to people who have properly repented and rehabilitated.

So limit TV and media time, especially for your kids. TV and other electronic media desensitizes us to a lot of wrongs, making us act (or react) too late. You see a row unfolding in a bar and you get into an "oooh, action!" mode. You think its entertainment when it's actually a situation that can result into properties being destroyed... and people getting hurt.

Plus, media steals time away from actual human interaction, and actual conversations, and reading time, and activity/exercise time. And its a lose-lose situation really, because the more of TV you have, the more games and videos you watch, the more you are also easily bored or get depressed.

Consider this, your daughter might have been led to believe that drunken people ultimately go away, or are punched by knights in shining armor. Maybe it will happen. But the precious time your daughter waits for things to be corrected is the same time it also takes to make her feel like dirt. Better she learns survival skills from you, and not on TV.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Search is On for Fastest Chihuahua in America

You can meet the fifteen regional champions at the PETCO site.

And it just so happened that one of the competitors racing at the National Finals at PETCO Park in San Diego on August 31, 2008 is the chihuahua adopted by my friend and her husband. Chloe is a chocolate brown chihuahua whose training tricks include daily hikes, uphill sprints, Royal Canin food and lots of TLC from her 'parents'. Said proud parents have recently shared with us that as a treat for their beloved pet, they are asking other pet lovers to direct them to some of the cutest pet beds ever. It will be their gift for Chloe who has worked so hard and who has thrived so much, and who makes the waiting for a real baby for them a happy, bearable one.

I'll see how I can help.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Anyway, first off... I was not an Indiana Jones fan growing up. I only saw my first Indiana Jones movie when I was already married, and mainly because my husband was aghast that I haven't seen any when he grew up with this fictional hero.

I was an Allan Quatermain fan though.

And this latest Indiana Jones movie is Allan Quatermaine and the Lost City of Gold all over again. Or National Treasure: Book of Secrets (starring Nicholas Cage). And actually, not even as dangerous or action packed as the other two movies. But still, it was a quest for El Dorado, the lost City of Gold.

My husband also says that it is not as action and humor-packed as the old Indiana Jones movies. But that is not to say that the movie isn't entertaining. It is. Very much. I also love the cinematography, the transition of the scenes, and whatever twists the movie had.

I even forgave the major loophole of having other things working (like watches and machines) when the Crystal Skull is around and uncovered when it is supposed to be highly magnetic.

If I'm going to be honest too, I think this is less a comeback for Harrison Ford than an introduction/celebration of Shia LaBeouf. Not that Shia needs introducing, but the movie, as it unfolds, felt more about him (or his character Mutt Williams) rediscovering his strengths and coming into his own.

So yes, certainly, it is not a GREAT movie but it's a good, engaging one that I wouldn't mind enjoying for years to come in my dream audio-visual room complete with home theater carpet and surround sound. Because it did manage a timeless appeal.

SM Mall of Asia - Premier Cinema

My husband's colleague sold tickets to the first day of showing of Indiana Jones at SM Mall of Asia - Premier Cinema. So off we went.

What's in the Premier Cinema? Why is it called Premier? Well, the aisles are certainly roomier, as well as the seats. The sound quality may have been better and the screen is certainly bigger. It may have even added to the great resolution of the movie (which I just assumed was great cinematography). I also believe they installed air tools there that gave me reprieve from my allergies and sniffling. Overall though, whatever it's supposed to have above the usual cinema is negligible, if I may say so, unless you're really finicky.

Plus, if you sit at the lower portion of the theater (I'm not sure if you call that the balcony or lodge or de luxe portion), the incline of the floor isn't enough to give you a good view of the screen. So you have to resign yourself to the lower portion of the movie you're watching to be peppered by the heads of those in front of you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hotel 45 - Baguio


Where to stay in Baguio is not a problem. There are many rooms for rent, transient homes, inns, and hotels there. Depending on your budget and requirements, you can expect to pay as little as P500/person or as much as P5,000/room.

But if there is only two or three of you, a transient home may not be your accommodation solution. Although most require around P500/person only, most houses are good for four-six people and they'd require that you pay for the minimum number of people. And if you don't have plans of cooking your food yourself, stoves and pots and pans aren't really amenities you should be paying for.

Anyway, hubs' engineers often stayed at Hotel 45. The older one is just along Session Road but this new one is nearer SM (as in walking distance) and just behind Bloomfield Hotel.

We didn't reserve any rooms and just inquired at the desk. The smallest/cheapest available is the Family Room (good for three) at P1,600/night. I got upset with the staff of Hotel 45 when we were checking in because they said we needed to wait for an hour since they were still cleaning the room. That was okay with us (since most hotels check-in time is really 2:00 PM)... but we ended up waiting for the room at their lobby for more than two hours! Turned out, they only have one cleaning crew and a lot of people checked out at lunch time. Given that we were so tired from the journey to Baguio, I was really hopping mad that the Manager did not have the wisdom to get more people to help clean the rooms, and that the staff was so delusional in their judgment. We could have used the time to check out other hotels and got to rest much earlier.

But that was the only glitch.

Our room t Hotel 45 was clean and inviting. We never used the aircon though and just opened the window a little and used the electric fan to have the cool Baguio air circulate in the room. There was also hot water (for bathing) and we were provided with towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap. There's also cable TV.

the reception desk

the lobby con dining area

what the hotel calls "matrimonial bed" is a queen-sized one

the other bed, single

the CR

Hotel 45's rates are already inclusive of breakfast, which is the tapsilog kind (choices include tapa, ham, longganisa, corned beef, hotdog and one other) and coffee. If ever you stay here. make sure you sample their longganisa which hubs really loved.

The real advantage of staying here is that you get to enjoy some quiet but remain walking distance to restos and night life in Baguio, as well as the convenience of shops because it's really just walking distance from SM and Session Road. I'm not quite sure though if they have generators in case of power outtages but am sure you can ask them :)

Hotel 45
Bagong Bayan St., Brgy. Salud Mitra
Baguio City
(with country and area code) Tel. #: 63-74-4466306; 3042963
Cell #: 0917-7008805

Baguio Good Buys

The common pasalubongs from Baguio are the walis tambo (broom), choco flakes (the best of which is the Mikasan brand), ube jam (best brand: Good Shepherd... and do try their other jams), peanut brittle (best brand is also Good Shepherd's), silver jewelries/accessories (Ibay's at Mines View), Ifugao arts and crafts and produce.

To be more specific or a little different though... do consider the following:

At P10 per pack, you have your sugar needs already covered. Plus, it's a childhood favorite that you don't see a lot of anymore. Buy it from stalls at Mines View Park.

At P35/ea or 3-for-P100, you get Tollhouse goodness at a fraction of the cost. I'm not sure how similar products sold at supermarkets cost though. I'm also not sure if these are sold at the Baguio market because it is not sold at Mines View. We bought these at the stalls at Strawberry Farm and these are supposedly a product of La Trinidad.

All gobbled up before anybody had the chance to take pictures. Anyway, at P80 per jar, it's a healthier (and cheaper in the long run) giveaway to friends and family. It tastes a lot like lengua de gato, you know, those light and buttery thingies that just melt in your mouth? Too bad we only bought one jar at Mines View. I think it's highly likely they're also sold at the Baguio Market.

Buy in groups so you can buy by sacks at the market. Or better yet, head to La Trinidad's Stawberry Farm and Trading Post (around 15 minutes away from Hotel Veniz on a good day). Trading Post is really where Benguet's produce are delivered before these are taken to the Baguio market. Talk about fresh!

But you have to make sure that you buy produce last because they might not keep well, given that Baguio isn't that cold a place anymore and the heat in Manila makes everything wilt in an instant. We made the unfortunate mistake of buying produce a day early and ended with broccoli that was already yellow by the time we got back to Manila.

We were told that you get to pick your own strawberries at Strawberry Farm (sort of like apple-picking in the US). It may have been the practice before or it could be the rains puddling up the strawberry field when we went there but we didn't get to pick our own. We bought them off a stall at the farm so the biggest treat of having gone there actually was trying the strawberry-flavored taho, which you can also sample at Mines View. Oh, and I just drooled at the site of all those nicely-green lettuce there.

Towns leading to Baguio already sell a lot of wooden furniture, mostly for gardens and yards. They also sell huts and gazebos with all those chopped-trunk tables and chairs where workers make sure to retain as much of the original wood as possible to give the pieces their unique appeal. But if you're looking for real furniture, like dividers and dining tables and wonderfully-carved doors and exquisitely-designed shelves, then it's Marcos Highway for you. All kinds of wooden masterpieces, whether it be mahogany, pine, molave, narra, acacia, and teak outdoor furniture, they have it. These shops also offer the usual Buloys and masks and horses that are all too common in souvenir shops. I couldn't take a picture of any of the shops though because it was raining when we were going down and Marcos Highway is a very tricky road to navigate, given its sharp twists and turns.

Good luck with the Cordillera region's forests though.

Or shawls for those who are not lactating. You can find them anywhere and everywhere.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rockpoint's Rainy Days Promo

I got an e-mail from Rockpoint. Aside from directing me to their new website, they also shared their Rainy Days Promo which is good for May 12 until July 31, 2008.

Consider this:

PACKAGE 1 - PhP 2,750 (Good for 2 perons)

Overnight Stay in a Deluxe Room (2PM to 12Noon the next day)

Gift Certificate at Kalipayan Nature Spa for 2 Aromatherapy "A" Massage
Free PM Snack (Taco Salad and Iced Tea for 2)
Your choice of Filipino Breakfast (Beef Tapa, Daing na Bangus, Tocino, Longganiza)
Free use of Hot Spring Swimming Pools

PACKAGE 2 - PhP 2,180 (Good for 2 persons)

Overnight Stay in a Standard Room (2PM to 12 Noon the next day)
Gift Certificate at Kalipayan Spa for 2 Shoulder & Back Massage
Free PM Snack (Taco Salad & Iced Tea for 2)
Free American Breakfast for 2 (Choice of Chicken Sausage or Ham, fried egg, bread & butter, coffee)
Free use of Hot Spring Swimming Pools

PACKAGE 3 - PhP 1,995 (Good for 2 persons)

Overnight Stay in a Standard Room (2PM to 12Noon the next day)
Gift Certificate at Kalipayan Spa for 2 Basic Foot Spa
Free PM Snack (Taco Salad & Iced Tea for 2)
Free American Breakfast for 2 (Choice of Chicken Sausage or Ham)
Free use of Hot Spring Swimming Pools

Not bad eh? Especially if you consider that I have raved about their simple but delicious food and great service :)

Since Mother's Day has passed, consider this as Father's Day treat to your Dad or beloved. Don't forget your bathing suit and boardshorts now!

50's Diner - Baguio

50's Diner is always listed as one of the best places to dine in Baguio. And it's really worth every penny considering that its fares aren't that expensive (if you're used to Manila prices).

The cheapest way to treat yourself without spending so much money is to order any of the steaks they offer. These already come with soup, salad, dessert and drink. This particular order only cost around P250:

Their sandwiches and burgers come in mightily humongous servings... the downside of which is, most of the huge bread slices only go to waste because patrons woould just finish the fillings/spreads.

A testament to how worthy of your visit the place is, my darling husband said that theirs is the best meal he's ever had. And I am married to someone not easy to please.

Giving Birth at Asian Hospital

This will be the brief version of a post i've already made in my wedblog. Giving birth at Asian Hospital may be more expensive than usual but it sure is value for money.

The facilities are top-notch. The staff are accommodating and courteous. You are briefed every turn and there won't be an attendant (nurse or resident) who does not know your chart by heart. The staff reconfirms your information though, but interviews, are reduced to a half, or a third. So you need not recount your pregnancy history the whole time you are there.

Plus, unless you'd be requiring a C-section delivery, all their rooms are birthing rooms so you need not switch rooms for labor, delivery and recovery.

Disposable gloves are provided for both mother and child which would come in handy for anyone attending to you when you're still unable to clean yourself up, or the baby. The food is catered and they even offer a pre-discharge dinner for the new parents. The rooms offer lots of privacy. And you are assured that the hospital is breastfeeding-friendly because they use nursing cups instead of feeding bottles.

It is also a breeze getting admitted and getting discharged (unless of course, you don't have the money to pay the bills, maybe). And nurses only let go of you outside their front lobby. That is dedicated service and pampering.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Looking for Videos

Youtube is a veritable mine of videos, both home and professional, and I know some people get lost for hours in it, just looking for videos and watching them.

My SIL watches MTVs there. My BIL watches concert segments there... and lots of Japanese TV programs that get him laughing. I, however, cannot seem to get the hang of it because I can't seem to be able to come up with the right keywords. Plus, there is NO KEYWORD COMMENT ON YOUTUBE VIDEO. Sometimes, you'd only learn of a good video (say, that of Howie Mandel giving away free Xbox to strangers) through friends forwarding the youtube link.

But it doesn't mean getting sidetracked to other videos isn't an adventure in itself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wedding Day Savior : Delegate Tasks

If you hired the services of a coordinator, chances are you are already getting all the wedding planning help you can get. Most probably, they have also walked you through every every imaginable boo-boo that can happen on the day of your wedding and has been holding your hand for every wedding planning stress that you meet. Still, here are some insights from my two stints of assisting in weddings and from attending so many weddings over the years.

One sure way to minimize wedding day problems is to delegate tasks. As much as possible, try not to assign them to a member of your entourage who will be worrying about her gown and make-up to have the presence of mind to remember. Unless you were upfront that you are getting him for certain tasks, that is. Or, assign a list of related things to one person you can trust, as opposed to one small thing that will be easily forgotten:

* one will be in charge of the processional, recessional and offertory people... so assign someone who knows everyone in your wedding party. Remember that the coordinators do not know your friends (unless they were introduced in a rehearsal dinner) and may get confused which ones are the actual primary/secondary sponsors since even guests are wearing gowns and barongs
* one will be in charge of all wedding ceremony paraphernalia... so he/she would box everything he/she'd have to bring

Better yet, assign a set of colleagues to do all the readings for you... and a set of cousins to do the offertory. That way, they know they're in charge of that particular part of the ceremony and can already cover for each other. It seldom really matters who reads the passages from the Bible so long as the task is done wonderfully. At least, there'd be no more running around looking for one specific person (as if the wine cannot be brought to the altar by some other person). Ushers can be another group of friends. This will facilitate the execution of the task because they'd know each other and can easily make up for each other's slack, without grievously upsetting other people because one or two turned out unreliable.

For other wedding planning help, you can also visit which is a thoroughly updated blog that informs and even makes stressed wedding planners laugh.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cordillera Coffee - Baguio

When in Baguio and looking to immerse yourself in local flavor... head to SM (one of its sides) where a Cordillera Coffee can be found (I believe there's also one in Makati).

Nick told us he blogged about Cordillera Coffee already (maybe in his Baguio site) and the poor service they had, which was too bad because their coffee is really great. But that has greatly improved because when we went to their cafe, the staff were all just jumping to serve us.

Food service was prompt and the staff was really accommodating.

Tableya Cake, which isn't so moist but isn't as sweet as the Chocolate Cake

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh My Gulay

Looking for a place to dine in Baguio?

Head to the 5th floor of the La Azotea building along Session Road. Oh My Gulay is a haven of vegetable and pasta fares (the most meat in the menu I saw were ham and bacon garnishes) in an environment made beautiful (and surreal) by local artists.

There is an entrance fee of P20 per person. Shoot to your heart's content, because the place is just filled with artworks. Plus, if you're lucky, you can even meet Kidlat Tahimik himself (and his sons).

There are no elevators though, so the trek up sure is something for those living sedentary lifestyles.

really nice nook to appreciate the City and enjoy the cold night air

the menu

OH My Gulay Salad

a friend's son sizing Kidlat Tahimik up

Service is good but the kitchen closes at 9 PM. There's usually a show or impromptu party though. I liked the Oh My Gulay salad and the Chow Mien Noodles (?). Hubs' didn't like his Pasta Meztizo much though.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Baby Socks with Shoe Designs

It has been established that shoes aren't necessary for babies yet and may even be harmful to their growing feet. But allowing them to go out barefoot seems a little awkward... and it can be really cold in malls or outside at night.

So what is a Mom to do?

Well... you can buy your baby some really cute Funky Feet Not-Quite Sneakers, Loafers, Flats or Mary Janes.

Or you can head to the nearest Robinson's or SM Department Store and look for Burlington socks with shoe designs. These socks can fit 0-2 years old (compared to Funky Feet's 0-12 months) which I liked because my son's feet are big and fat. And they only cost around P70.00 per pair.

Unfortunately though, there was only one design available for boys (red sneakers... Funky Feet's looks better, at least in pictures, because it really makes you think of Converse shoes). But Burlington offers many choices (most in pink) for girls. Even bright yellow socks with black Mary Janes.

Of course, once your baby starts toddling, he will really need soft shoes to protect his feet.

my son's feet with the Burlington socks

Another option is available in the form of Oshkosh socks priced at P65.00 :)

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