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Friday, March 2, 2012

Singapore with an Amazing “S” – the SHANGRI-LA HOTEL.

Still a bit under the influence of the Christmas spirit – not to mention the almost 24 hours of partying, I had not started packing my things for a short trip to Singapore. Although my thought was with the luggage – but my spirit was with other “spirits”. With a little help of caffeine and a dose of cold shower – I started packing my things with the “clothes compartment” a friend gave me as Christmas present.  With the “clothes compartment” (you can get one from SM department store. I saw the tag. He he he) – it was stress free and organized.  A breeze for travelers. 

It was my second time with the Singapore Airlines but having my first breakfast at their lounge was a treat. A light breakfast but with a heavy (fast) wifi – informing my housemates of my forgotten list of reminders was a relief.  

The flight was on time and a “swarm” of post Christmas revelers surprised me. All seats were taken – even the Business Class and 95% were Filipinos. It made me feel proud that news on poverty in my beloved country was not true at all.  That my compatriots are well and always find time to have FUN –even during hard times.

The weather was fine and the three and a half flight was okay except with the intermittent snore of my seatmate.  The food was great too (or I was just on eating binge).  I ordered for a fish (something). It was spicy and the sauce was a “relative” of curry.  I was offered with wine but the thought of having enough the past day made me choose a glass of water, instead. 

Fast forward to Singapore airport – the staff from Shangri la Singapore greeted us with a wide smile. He was wearing this kind of uniform but it looked like costume from a Christmas party.  The ambience was so Christmassy – except that we miss the chilly feel of Hong Kong during this time of the year.

Although this trip was my fourth in Singapore, excitement suddenly crept into my spine when we entered Orange Grove Road and ushered to the Valley Wing at the Shangri La Singapore.  A brief but gastronomically satisfying lunch at The Line Buffet at Shangri La Singapore was an indulgence beyond comparison. And don’t feed the squirrels. 

After checking my mails and facebook friends (wifi at the hotel was superb. You can get a wifi signal anywhere you go –even at the pool area. And posting photos was prompt.) I took a powerful nap before taking (supposedly) a dip at the pool but ended up sipping my favorite Singapore Sling.  

The sun sleeps late in Singapore.  It was past 7 pm (but felt like 5 pm) when somebody from the Japanese restaurant informed us of our reservation. We all forgot the essence of time as we were too busy with our Singapore Sling. 

The area was so beautiful.  Simple yet classic –a reminiscent of an old Japanese Fine Dining Restaurant. The staff can speak three languages – Chinese, Malay and English. But of course the Filipino servers are far exceptional – they speak well in English and Tagalog.

The following day was a trip to the Universal Studio. The queue was unbelievably long. It was so OMG. It took us an hour to get inside the Studio but gave us ample time checking other sites. As second timers – we already knew where to head – the restaurant. It was not another eating binge. We just wanted to get a space to stay while the rest of the “cast” chose their rides and shows.  I decided to stay at the restaurant and trained my lenses on anything.

I tried the Night Safari years back and it was an experience.  Although I am not a zoo person (but I appreciate and respect animals) the Singapore Zoo was a trip to reckon with even it was drizzling.  And for the first time – right before my contact “lensed” eyes was a kangaroo. And a short stop at the Ah Meng Kopi made the trip so refreshing. 

There were only two items on the list for this trip – the Singapore Zoo and another trip to the Universal Studio. Although we decided to cut on the shopping spree, but Orchard is just too tempting.  I bought few pieces of some Singapore “pasalubong” at Lucky Plaza like the Singapore Long Champ inspired bags for only $10.  I also deviated from buying key chains – I chose the Singapore “chocolates” for another $10 per box, instead. 


The trip was short but staying at the Shangri La Singapore was already a trip itself.  It was simple but full of beautiful memories – like a trip to Clark Quay for another Jumbo Restaurant experience.  A short walk near the river with ice cream or a solo trip to Orchard Rd with my flip flops and shorts or simply a lazy rest at the lounge of the hotel with your tablet and favorite cappuccino.  

The Lounge of the Valley Wing

Takashimaya at Ngee Ann City with my bff Liza and her son  Yuri with the never ending fish and chips.

Chocolates for .....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Being Well. Being Free: a fight with Dengue Fever.

I thought it was the end of my world – or I just categorically over reacted.  My platelet never increased as I gulped liters and liters of Absolute mineral water, Gatorade, cans of Del Monte Pineapple juice and whatever available liquid there was. I was a good patient. I followed all the advice – even not really paying attention to my 8-hour sleep just to give way of visiting the comfort room for a regular liquid release.  Plus the every 12-hour blood retraction for an almost non-ending platelet count.  Not to forget the dextrose that each drop seemed like eternity.  I was battling with low platelet count due to alleged Dengue Fever.
It was turmoil but I had no reason to rant over.  I knew that with me at New Sinai Hospital was a bunch of sick people who were not only suffering from sickness but also with boredom. The 4-day stay seemed like eternity but it also gave me a lot of reasons to thank for and realization beyond my comprehension.

People who are born with single blessedness issues should take care of themselves. I know parties are part of the cycle but health should be on top of it. It is really hard and “self pitiful” to be in a room – not really welcoming and battling with the thought of when will the Lord of Health grant you your wish of enjoying the sun again.  Friend may send you messages of speedy recovery, true friends drop by for an hour and when the visiting hours close – you then start to feel alone and lonely.

In times of need – whom you gonna call? Family. Friends may have the sweetest text message but the mother’s touch is so magical – an extension of God’s healing power.

 Ha ha ha. This just came out after watching movies from the cable ready t.v.  At least a partner will always file for a vacation leave – just to be with you.  I mean – a mother’s touch is magical and healing but a partner’s hug is more than the heater.

Being Well – Being Free!

Although – I made a lot of promises like hearing mass on Sunday, making good and being good – my battle with the big D gave me another reason to celebrate Life with Sante’s Barley Pure. This is my companion in battling the Dengue Fever. It helped me increase my platelet count. With a little push from my sister-in law, from 95 – my platelet rose to 200. I knew miracle took place and God made Barley the instrument.

With my – a Dengue Survivor – Sante Pure Barley is my new companion – my supplement. Why not try it! 

Being Well is Being Free!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Short Trips is an anthology of my Travel Documentation, Photos, and Memories.: St. Joseph Seminary College

Short Trips is an anthology of my Travel Documentation, Photos, and Memories.: St. Joseph Seminary College

St. Joseph Seminary College

The author- first line - farthest right
1984- While the Philippines entered a year grappling with justice after the assassination of Benigno Aquino, my parents sent me to the seminary with only one intention – to become a servant of God. Without single idea on the kind of life I was joining, I was also grappling with questions a 12-year old kid could hardly muster. Classrooms became battlegrounds for the fitted and the elimination of the unfit.  Many young souls never made it to the fourth year – but few stayed with determined souls.

When I chanced this photo from the ultimate authority of memory keepers – facebook, memories flashed before me. And remembering those years of prayers, study and games, I could not help but smile and be nostalgic. As I lived with this line each year -Many are called but few are chosen.- the years that I spent with SJSC were the best years of my life. The discipline, ideals and formation are pillars that keep me strong as I continue living the life that is meant for me.

In the end, no matter where we are- we are still one of the chosen few to walk the paths we are led to.  It is just the place that makes the difference, but the calling still remains.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Originally planned as a long weekend, a short trip to Hong Kong totally altered the picture.  True to an old adage that life is all about meeting unexpected things, my short trip to Hong Kong was a trip down memory lane with twists and turns.  Aboard the Philippine Airlines after a two-hour delayed (PAL had to get an aircraft from Bacolod City because the passengers were restless), the trip was a bit uncomfortable because I was sitting next to Indian nationals with uninviting smell.

Eventhough it was the height of the anniversary of the hostage drama that involved Hong Kong tourists, Filipinos were unmindful of the issues on racism. True, shoppers care less with racism as wallets are apolitical by nature. Queue at the immigration was long and slow, but who cared? Get pass them and a piece of heaven is waiting at the conveyor.
BFF  beaming with smile after a long queue at the immigration.

We decided to take the tourist route- deviating from the usual itinerary of visiting the country (with the assistance of a travel agency).  We took the cab and welcomingly experienced getting lost in translation. A piece of paper with the name of the hotel in Chinese characters saved a 30-minute explanation and zoomed us to the Mira Hotel – a designer hotel, I read in their welcome card.  Sad I was addressed Ms. Garcia.

While the accustomed visit to the country received us with familiar tunes of the childhood past and structures of the early days’ memories, the Disneyland treat, this trip presented me an entirely different scenario.  Gone were Mickey Mouse and his friends. Gone were the boutiques of Princesses and Minnie Mouse, instead, shopping malls and boutiques of known designers.

Exactly like a buffet table with selections of various cuisines, the eyes of my BFF went full-size.  I could feel the blood rushing to her wallet, but it was cut short: we had to check in our luggage…ummm, my overnight bag, rather.

After a tiring two-hour delayed and the long queue at the immigration center, a short nap would guarantee me enough strength to battle the shopping dare, I told myself.  But the ambience of my suite room (read as SUITE ROOM 928 of the Mira Hotel…ha ha ha) gave me the chill. What will I do with the size of this room for an overnight stay? I could have brought my entire family and we still had enough space for the neighbors. The amenities were superb.  The toiletries were arranged beautifully but went straight to my overnight bag.  I could have ignored the toilet paper but the presentation was so inviting and that one too went straight to my overnight bag.  Armed with planned curiosity, I checked the list and anything not included in their menu went to my overnight bag.  Now that was the first leg of the shopping diva’s itinerary.

check my overnight bag...

The following hours were a random shopping of my BFF and her hubby.  With no list but fashion instinct, we visited the Gateway Mall and tousled with Tommy H and got a Tommy H boxer shorts for that.  Not a shoe person myself, I fell in love at first sight with Onitsuka’s shoes and gifted myself with their “New Arrival” brown suede rubber shoes named Tiger. While they went their separate way, a light dinner at the third floor of the mall was a cake topper.  I had Chinese food – whatever it was because it was in Chinese character and not a foodie myself even – a HK $95.00 dollar meal was a treat.

 And just before we called it a “half” day – we visited the first hotel we stayed, ten years back – the Quandong Hotel.  The area has a total make-over but we still felt the old feel of the place.  The money changer (that gave me my first HK dollar experience).  The magazine stand (where I first bought an adult magazine for $25) and the street food stalls.  We took some like the first time.  Memories of our first trip soon flowed as we tried (again) the sugar cane juice.  The former quaint look of façade of the hotel was all stripped down.  Though, it looks beautiful – but I just miss the old one. 

The following day (also my last day) was spent re-packing my things and a good breakfast at an ordinary Chinese restaurant but with impressive choices and a short stop at the tea store. While my BFF and her hubby decided to extend their stay - I had to go back to the Philippines. 

The line was long again at the check-in counter but there was no hint of restlessness as OFWs were so occupied with phone calls to their families back home.  Happiness and excitement were all over the area.  Fathers hand carried their gifts to their children.  While a particular husband proudly showed a pair of shoes for his wife (I doubt the wife would love.) and another father bought a lovely doll for his daughter whose birthday was so timely to his arrival. Almost teary eyed, I took a deep sigh and felt proud that families in my country still matter most.  And that there is no sweeter way than coming BACK HOME.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The sweetness of doing nothing.

The sweetness of doing nothing.  The phrase that has been my working maxim after I decided not to renew my contract with my previous employer. Although the decision was well thought of and the plans were all laid out – I still felt a sense of loss.  A sense of unworthiness…of non-contributing.  But in life we make decisions that totally change the path of our existence.  We may feel ruined inside – but as Liz puts it, ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation.   And that road led me to appreciate life better.

When they say life is a box full of surprises...I got mine when I received a phone call for a job interview.  Actually, there were three rounds of interviews and passing each interview was like getting back my confidence.  And the third interview proved to be worth getting it back…and I even got a bonus…a job.

The first day at work was good and it made even better because  my bestfriend Liza and her family treated me to a good buffet dinner at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World.  The ambience is delectable…the setting is mouth-watering. I held my excitement for a while but could not resist the temptation of taking a bite to their scrumptious prawns…presented in all its shimmering redness.  The dinner was a blast, though it is still comparable to Sofitel’s Spiral.  And a good cup of cappuccino was the best way to end the overindulging.

About Me

"There is no happiness for the person who does not travel. For Indra is the friend of the traveler, therefore wander!" by Brähmann On a personal note, I don't know Brahmann nor Indra, but the lines speak more than they are read. I gave birth to this travel blog, inspite of the fact that there are zillion of travel blogs out there, to share with you all that we can see the world without spending TOO MUCH. This is my Travel-budget-blog.